Saturday, December 22, 2001

Jagr's return to Pittsburgh: They booed him when he came out for warmups. When his name was announced in the starting lineup. When he first touched the puck. Every time he touched the puck. Not all of the 17,148 in attendance booed, just the ones who felt betrayed. Betrayed by the reality of modern professional sports. (Pgh Trib-Review)

Kasparaitis scored a goal, butcommitted two penalties in the third period, one of which led to a goal. Even steven, if you ask me. Besides, he was crushing Caps left and right and stirring up the Penguins. Good enough to eke out a 4-3 win. We'll see how they fair in DC tonight.

Friday, December 21, 2001

Looking back at the 1st round of the 1994 Amateur Draft: I was just thumbing through some old isses of LCS Hockey, the hockey mag I used to write columns for. They stopped publishing after Brett Hull's infamous Cup-winning goal in 1999, but may be ready to start up again soon. And I came across this list, and pondered what a bunch of losers got picked that year. Let's see:

1 - Florida Panthers - Ed Jovanovski - Alright, so Jovocop is good.

2 - Anaheim Mighty Ducks - Oleg Tverdovsky - OT has never lived up to epectations

3 - Ottawa Senators - Radek Bonk - a good defensive forward. that's it

4 - Edmonton Oilers - Jason Bonsignore - Did he even play in the league?

5 - Hartford Whalers - Jeff O'Neill - ok, so it took a while at least. He is a good player, finally.

6 - Edmonton Oilers - Ryan Smyth - ok, a good player

7 - Los Angeles Kings - Jamie Storr - loser goaltender

8 - Tampa Bay Lightning - Jason Wiemer - loser "power forward" with not much power.

9 - New York Islanders - Brett Lindros - he's a better NHLPA representative than player.

10 - Washington Capitals - Nolan Baumgartner - toiling in the minors somewhere

11 - San Jose Sharks - Jeff Friesen - speedy guy, but still highly inconsistent.

12 - Quebec Nordiques - Wade Belak - big guy that finally seems to have found a place on an NHL roster with Toronto. But considering how thin the Leafs are on defense, that does not say much...

13 - Vancouver Canucks - Mattias Ohlund - if he had full eye-sight capabilities, he would be in business. If.

14 - Chicago Blackhawks - Ethan Moreau - LOSER!

15 - Washington Capitals - Alexander Kharlamov - WHO?! Son of one of the all time greats, Valery

16 - Toronto Maple Leafs - Eric Fichaud - the next great butterfly goalie, set to retire having never played more than a few nhl games

17 - Buffalo Sabres - Wayne Primeau - power forward playing now for pittsburgh, but not with much power

18 - Montreal Canadiens - Brad Brown - tough guy, but mediocre player

19 - Calgary Flames - Chris Dingman - see above

20 - Dallas Stars - Jason Botterill - see above

21 - Boston Bruins - Evgeni Riabchikov - Never heard from again.

22 - Quebec Nordiques - Jeff Kealty -- see above.

23 - Detroit Red Wings - Jan Golubovsky -- has not yet delivered even a pizza at the NHL level.

24 - Pittsburgh Penguins - Chris Wells -- a big guy with a big gaping hole where his talent and effort should be.

25 - New Jersey Devils - Vadim Sharifjanov -- currently shifting back and forth between the Canucks and the minors

26 - New York Rangers - Dan Cloutier -- Vancouver knows he may one day be a good goalie, but he ain't yet.
A player finally takes a stand on dumb statistics:
"The standard of what they consider a hit throughout the league is very different from rink to rink and that's why it's a bad stat," Gauthier said recently.

"It's not like a blocked shot or a shot on goal. You can't debate those. If it's on the net, it's on the net. If it's blocked, it's blocked. But a hit? Some people say you have to separate the puck from the player. Some say you have to break his momentum. Some say you have to knock him down. There are some cities where you blow on a guy and you get credit for a hit.

"In Calgary, they don't give any hits and we play there 41 times. You have to kill a guy, knock his helmet off and make him turn 180 degrees in the air in order to get a hit."

It takes a young defenceman with a mean streak to say those sorts of things. And after Gauthier's phone rings and he finds commissioner Gary Bettman on the other end of the line, he likely won't be repeating these astute comments. After all, he's not helping in the sale of the "product" - in this case the statistical package - even if his comments are right on the mark.(The Vancouver Province)
Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus? From NOAA News: NORAD will answer children's questions on its comprehensive, six-language Santa tracking Web site. All site material, including the live tracking event, will be available in English, Japanese, French, Spanish, Italian and Brazilian Portuguese.
final Czech Republic Olympic rosters release: No major surprises. The Czechs had to find replacements for Straka and Svoboda, both on the shelf, and they did. Here is the complete roster.

Goaltenders: Roman Cechmanek (Philadelphia Flyers), Dominik Hasek (Detroit Red Wings), Roman Turek (Calgary Flames).

Defenders: Roman Hamrlik (New York Islanders), Tomas Kaberle (Toronto Maple Leafs), Pavel Kubina (Tampa Bay Lightning), Martin Skoula (Colorado Avalanche), Richard Smehlik (Buffalo Sabres), Jaroslav Spacek (Chicago Blackhawks), Michal Sykora (Pardubice).

Forwards: Petr Cajanek (Zlin), Jiri Dopita (Philadelphia Flyers), Radek Dvorak (New York Rangers), Patrik Elias (New Jersey Devils), Martin Havlat (Ottawa Senators), Milan Hejduk (Colorado Avalanche), Jan Hrdina (Pittsburgh Penguins), Jaromir Jagr (Washington Capitals), Robert Lang (Pittsburg Penguins), Pavel Patera (Omsk), Petr Sykora (New Jersey Devils), Robert Reichel (Toronto Maple Leafs), Martin Rucinsky (Dallas Stars).
Huzzah for fighting! The Kings beat the Senators 4-2 last night.

I don't say it often, but in a season of progressively degrading penalty standards, I'll take a game littered with fisticuffs (especially goalie smackdowns) and 252 penalty minutes with a Coke and a smile.

Thursday, December 20, 2001

ESPN actually carried a good game: Who'd have thunk it, but the Rangers-Devils rivalry was actually good hockey and good entertainment last night. I would not salivate over a 2-2 tie the way Brian Engblom, but it was pretty good nonetheless. If only the zebras would call penalty shots properly more often...
Team USA goalie position sorted out: Last night, Team USA announced that they would add Mike Richter and Tom Barrasso for Salt Lake. The right choices, certainly. Announcing Dunham on the first go was a big mistake, but he will be there to sit on the sidelines and will do it well...

Final rosters must be turned in to the International Ice Hockey Federation by Saturday. Team USA currently has three goaltenders, four defensemen and 10 forwards on its roster.

Wednesday, December 19, 2001

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune does it again: A few days ago, they were whining that one of the worst skaters in pro hockey, Andrew Brunette, was not picked for Team Canada. Today, they are lamenting that Darby Hendrickson will most likely not be joining Team USA in Salt Lake. They sketch this wonderful story about him bouncing around the league as a borderline player, until being picked by the Minnesota Wild in the expansion draft. "Suddenly, with more ice time and an expanded role, Hendrickson blossomed. He pumped in a career-high 18 goals. That impressed enough USA Hockey bigwigs that Hendrickson scored an invitation -- one of 37 -- to the United State Olympic hockey team orientation camp in September. It was the first step in a possible invitation to the Olympics."

A possible invitation that will never come to pass. He is a great person, but he was invited to camp because they needed bodies. USA may not be that deep a team, but the lineup is not so piss-poor that they would ever need Darby there.
Always look on the bright side of life? Mark Recchi can make any lousy situation look better. Just ask him about the Flyers trade for Donald Brashear. "We need a little more grit," Recchi said. "I think he's a pretty good player. When I knew him, he had just come off scoring [38] goals in the minors [for Fredricton in 1993-94]. He kind of wanted to be like Bob Probert - a tough guy who also was known as a good player. He's a really nice guy and a great skater."

OK, but when he becomes a good player, call me. I would like to be known as a good skater, too -- I simply am unburdened by the expectations of it ever coming to pass...
Thank the Hockey Gods for NBC? I never thought I would hear myself say that. After their disastrous coverage of the Nagano olympic men's hockey games, the AP reports that NBC will show 30 of the 32 men's hockey games live from Salt Lake City. Every final-round game, which will involve NHL players, will be telecast live. The games for gold and bronze medals will be shown live on NBC. Most of the games will be shown on the cable network CNBC, which is available in 83 million households. Some games also will be broadcast by NBC and MSNBC.

Eleven of 16 women's games will be televised, excluding the consolation round, with the tournament opener set for Feb. 11 and the championship game Feb. 21.

Tuesday, December 18, 2001

Air Hockey and Table Hockey merge: How whacky is that? The National Post reports that the NHL Ice FX: Magnetic Air Power Hockey was recently released in Canada. Ice FX has no grooves carved out of its game surface -- giving the plastic cut-out players more freedom of movement than in the classic table hockey set-up -- and features a puck that rockets around on a cushion of air -- just like in air hockey. I can't wait to try one out, maybe when I am in Toronto over New Years...
Hockey's Future praises Shayn Corson: "Whereas last season, GM/Coach Pat Quinn's decision to keep playing him on the third line stank of an agreement made on the eve of a contract signed, this season Corson has earned it in spades. Some even might go so far as to call the Corson, Tucker, Mogilny unit the second line in the offense and they'd have an argument. Darcy Tucker's in-law has picked up a step, learned to pick his spots better, and has found his previously AWOL scoring touch. Never mind the fact that he has already scored as many goals as he did last year. The one timer he slammed past Sean Burke on Tuesday and the nifty move he made on Theodore Saturday night before going upstairs are not the kind of tallies scored by a garbageman. In short, the Barrie, Ontario native has basically righted all of the wrongs that were there for everyone to see in his first campaign"

Canucks-Flyers trade: Vancouver trades tough guy Donald Brashear and a 6th round draft pick to the Flyers for skilled but still developing winger Jan Hlavac (part of the Lindros trade this summer) and a 3rd round draft pick. This is a winner for the Canucks, as Hlavac will provide a few more goals for their offense-starved squad and should develop into a good player. Meanwhile, Brashear is a great goon, but that is all. If this is GM Bobby Clarke's master plan to resuscitate the Flyers' chemistry, he has got some worry...

More on the Lecavalier rumors: "Reportedly, the hangup in trade talks regarding Lightning center Vincent Lecavalier revolved around the additional payroll Tampa would've had to take on. According to those around the club, the team had serious discussions with Ottawa for Radek Bonk and Chris Phillips and Vancouver for Mattias Ohlund, Todd Bertuzzi and Brendan Morrison, but the Lightning didn't want to assume the cost. GM Rick Dudley said that wasn't the problem but didn't specify what was, other than to say he didn't find the deal he was looking for." (From

Flames almost Thrashed out a dull trade: "As of last night, Jeff Cowan was still a member of the Calgary Flames and Petr Buzek remained with the Atlanta Thrashers. After that, the matter is somewhat muddled. Refuting a television report Calgary had sent left winger Cowan and junior defenceman Kurtis Foster to Atlanta for blueliner Buzek, a Flames spokesman yesterday flatly stated: "There's no trade." The Sports Network first reported the deal and then claimed the trade had been called off because news of the swap had leaked. Flames general manager Craig Button refused to comment on the subject. There's a certain logic to the rumour -- with centre Jeff Shantz ready to return to action after completing rehab on his surgically repaired knee, the Flames have a glut of forwards while Buzek recently left the Thrashers for a few days because of a contract dispute. (Flames reportedly pull deal off the table, Calgary Sun)

Monday, December 17, 2001

Canada takes the right path: Team Canada is built on speed and skill. After the crumbling of the 98 team which could not score, Gretzky and Kevin Lowe have abandoned the Bobby Clarke model.

From the Canadian Press: "So perhaps the most important aspect to emerge from Saturday's announcement was the vote of confidence given to today's crop of Canadian players, that they are just as skilled and creative as the best Europeans -- something many Canadians have come to doubt in the past two decades.

It says that a team of Mario Lemieux, Paul Kariya, Joe Sakic, Eric Lindros and even younger players like Simon Gagne, Eric Brewer and Jarome Iginla can go head-to-head with any country without resorting to neurotic schemes to slow opponents down."
'Killer' pondering retirement: It looks like Montreal Canadiens 38-year-old centre Doug Gilmour is pondering retirement again. The buzz at the Molson Centre as the Canadiens readied for their game against the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight is Gilmour will play through Christmas and then make a decision on his future. Gilmour got a standing ovation from Toronto Maple Leafs fans Saturday night during the Habs' 6-4 loss to the Leafs when he was recognized as one of the top 25 Leafs of all-time. The fans came to their feet as videoclips of a feisty Gilmour, bloodied and battling, flashed on the big screen on the scoreboard. (Slam sports)

The game passed him by. He doesn't have the speed and scoring touch he once had. He is eons from his Leafs hay-days. A pity, but the killer must move on...
Brunette not bothered by Olympic snub: "The Wild's Andrew Brunette never considered himself a candidate for the Canadian Olympic Team. So when he wasn't named to the final roster on Saturday, he wasn't surprised. "No, not at all," Brunette said. "It was never something I ever thought about it to be honest." The question is: Why not? When the final Canadian spots were filled Saturday, Brunette was 22nd in the NHL in scoring, but ninth among Canadian-born players. Of the Canadian-born players ahead of him in scoring, only Edmonton's Anson Carter and Chicago's Eric Daze were not named to the team." (The Star-Tribune)

What a ridiculous story! Andy can pot goals, but can't skate much better than me! Only a lunatic would send him onto the Olympic ice surface. He never would have been considered for Team Canada.
Caps Await Word on Kolzig The Washington Capitals will find out today whether star goaltender Olaf Kolzig's sprained right ankle, which forced him to sit out Saturday's 5-2 victory over woeful Atlanta, has improved. It marked the first time in 37 home games Kolzig did not start. (Washington Post)

The Caps claim it is not a serious injury. If it is, the season will be thrown back into serious doubt...
Here we go Steelers! Congratulations to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The black and giold clinched their division by beating the evil Baltimore Ravens last night.
Chicago Blackhawks interested in dealing Tony Amonte to NY Islanders: This report from NY Newsday sounds like a lot of hot air (Amonte in exchange for Rick Dipietro and/or Brad Isbister), but it seems likely Amonte will be traded at some point this season...

Team Canada, finally! The final additions to the team came Saturday morning. Eric Lindros, NY Rangers; Theo Fleury, Rangers; Jarome Iginla, Calgary; Mike Peca, New York Islanders; Simon Gagne; Philadelphia; Brendan Shanahan, Detroit; Ryan Smyth, Edmonton; Joe Nieuwendyk, Dallas; Adam Foote, Colorado; Eric Brewer, Edmonton; Ed Jovanovski, Vancouver; Al MacInnis, St. Louis.

The goalies added were Martin Brodeur, New Jersey; Ed Belfour, Dallas; Curtis Joseph, Toronto.

There's nothing too much to gripe about here. Ryan Smith will be unlikely to have recovered enough in time, so he can be replaced at the last minute if so. But I am disappointed that Phoenix Coyotes netminder Sean Burke got denied a chance, he has been so good!

As always, a junior varsity team could be fielded from Canada's leftovers which would be on par with most any other olympic team.
How best to disrespect Canada? The Canadian Press reports that Victoria, B.C., underwear designer Trish Tacoma said cotton "panties with an image of" ex-PM Pierre Trudeau "on the front are hot sellers across Canada." Tacoma: "We didn't think a lot of people would buy it, but we were wrong. ... Lots of people are buying it. It's a very popular design." (From The Hotline World Extra)