Saturday, May 04, 2002

Leafs are back!



Cujo stops 52 and Gary Roberts beats Laline in third period of OT.
RED WINGS 3 ST. LOUIS 0 at the end of the second. Could have been 4-0 with Federov in all alone on Johnson. Hasek with five periods of shut out play looks like full value for the $8 million stopping Tkacuk on a St. Louis power play.

Friday, May 03, 2002

THE SPIRIT OF SALT LAKE CITY?

Canucks go 5-0-0 after a squeaker against the Swiss. Next up, THE CZECHS.

"No question," Smyth said of the camaraderie. "We stick together on and off the ice. It's not just one or two guys going here or there. Everybody sticks together. It's the closest team I've ever been on in the past four years."


YEA BABY!

Scarberia's own Kevin Weekes shuts out Les Maudit Habitants.

Weekes recorded his second straight playoff shutout and extended his current stingy streak to 136 minutes to backstop the Hurricanes to a 2-0 victory over the Montreal Canadiens in Raleigh, Carolina on Saturday night.
Alright, now that both teams I would've loved to see win the Cup are out (Chicago and Boston), I can relax and just enjoy the rest of the playoffs. I wonder if all the old legs on the Wings won't begin to tire in the next few weeks?

Watching the Detroit-St. Louis opener, I wasn't surprised to see Hasek flop like he'd been shot after Tkachuk bumped him in the corner near the end of the game. Neither was Tkachuk:
No question he is a great goaltender — one of the best, but he is very dramatic.
Even Yzerman couldn't help but grin when asked about the hit that Hasek described as a "cheap shot":
Every goalie in the league, when they get touched, goes down like they are dead. Everyone does it.
Yeah, and it's pretty funny too. Goalies wear heavy protective gear and throw themselves in front of pucks travelling 100 mph, yet tap them on the shoulder and they feign serious injury.

Thursday, May 02, 2002

OK Howard - I'll bite:

Regular season awards - my picks

Hart Trophy : Jarome Iginla, Flames

Calder Trophy: Ilya Kovalchuk, Thrashers

Jack Adams Award: Robbie Ftorek, Bruins

Lady Byng Trophy: Joe Sakic, Avalanche

Norris Trophy: Rob Blake, Avalanche

Selke Trophy: Michael Peca, Islanders

Vezina Trophy Sean Burke, Coyotes

Fair? Probably not. But there you have it.
TURN OUT THE LIGHTS THE PARTY'S OVER
Sens 4 Leafs 0 - White with his first on a nice play.Check the crowd the ACC is empty.
END OF THE FIRST: Sens 3 Leafs 0
Kaberle having his problems. Sens using the same power play option that beat Philly in OT. You can't do the Flamingo when blocking a shot. If you don't want to get hit get outta the way.
At the Worlds, Canada 3 Germany 1

Meet the Swiss on Friday.
More on the Isles. Yes, the future is bright and I think that they only need a couple of more pieces to make a serious cup run. Yashin had a better playoff than you give him credit for, at least as far as effort was concerned. He didn't bury all of his chances but at least he was able to make some chances, which is a vast improvment over his Senator days.

Speaking of Yashin, I was cleaning out my filing cabinet and I stumbled across a mint condition Yashin rookie card that I got when I bought NHL '96. I wonder how much it's worth (CAN $1 ?). I also happened to have a Hamrlik card from when he was with Tampa Bay and a CuJo card when he was still with St. Louis. I am getting old.

As for the remaining playoff teams, I'm with Martin on this one, I too am rooting for the Habs (out of deference to my Montrealer girlfriend...)
Regular season award finalists:

Hart Trophy

Jarome Iginla, Flames

Jose Theodore, Canadiens

Patrick Roy, Avalanche

Calder Trophy

Dany Heatley, Thrashers

Kristian Huselius, Panthers

Ilya Kovalchuk, Thrashers

Jack Adams Award

Bob Francis, Coyotes

Robbie Ftorek, Bruins

Brian Sutter, Blackhawks

Lady Byng Trophy

Ron Francis, Hurricanes

Nicklas Lidstrom, Red Wings

Joe Sakic, Avalanche

Norris Trophy

Rob Blake, Avalanche

Chris Chelios, Red Wings

Nicklas Lidstrom, Red Wings

Selke Trophy

Craig Conroy, Flames

Jere Lehtinen, Stars

Michael Peca, Islanders

Vezina Trophy

Sean Burke, Coyotes

Patrick Roy, Avalanche

Jose Theodore, Canadiens
On the Isles: The Isles are still a young team. They missed Peca, who is their most inspired player and leader. Given the ownership's newfound commitment to winning, I see nothing but bright skies ahead.

Provided that Yashin can grow up. He was monumentally better in the playoffs this year than ever before. But given his previous disappearing acts, that is not saying much. If he can learn to play hard consistently, this team will contend for the Cup.

Wednesday, May 01, 2002

Since the Kings are gone, I'm back to rooting for the Habs. So - sorry Leaf fans. But you do live in Toronto, you have learned to live with it.....

P.S. Go Sharks!
GEOFF: Isles didn't play that bad. Osgoode doesn't flop and guess on that third goal and suddenly it's 2-2 and who knows what would have happened!
LEAFS, RED WINGS FOR THE CUP - FIRST TIME SINCE 1963?

1963 Game 1 Detroit:2 Leafs:4 (Dick Duff scores 2 goals in the first 50 seconds of the game !)
1963 Game 2 Detroit:2 Leafs:4 (Gordie Howe scores 2 at Maple Leafs Gardens)
1963 Game 3 Detroit:3 Leafs:2 (From the Detroit Olympia,Sawchuk & Howe in home red !)
1963 Game 4 Detroit:2 Leafs:4 (From the Detroit Olympia,Terry Sawchuk & Howe in home red !)
1963 Cup winning game 5 Detroit:1 Leafs:3 (Leafs win the Stanley Cup at Maple Leaf Gardens !)
Oh well. It was fine while it lasted, but my beloved Isles are now out of the playoffs. Toronto deserved to win that game and frankly, except for the last 10 minutes of the third, the Islanders were an embarrassment on ice. Maybe it's because they were young and inexperienced, but they came out with no heart and no brains. I guess there's always next year.
Flyers' coaching staff given their pink slips: Bob Clarke is laughing in the background. Yet another playoff no-show and he gets to blame it on someone else as usual. All that money, all that talent, and it just will not work in Philadelphia. It is not like he puts together an overpaid roster of has-beens like in the big apple. What is wrong? Hell if I know. All I know is that Clarke has to take the rap some day. But it won't be today.
BEAR GETS BOOT FROM BOBBY'S BAYOU?

Augusta National chairman Hootie Johnson also decreed that past champions must remain active in tournament golf to get a Thursday starting time in the Masters. He defined active as playing in 15 events a year on any sanctioned tour.

Tuesday, April 30, 2002

Bill Barber lost the team, and then his job.

Barber was fired by the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday, one day after players blamed the coach for a first-round collapse in the playoffs for the second straight year.

Barber was criticized Monday by several players, including captain Keith Primeau.

``We say when we come to the bench, make that adjustment. He wants the player to make the adjustment. Our job is to play,'' Primeau said. ``I felt like I was having to make the adjustments on the bench. I don't feel that's part of my job description.''


There, my friends, is the problem. It's not my job, man. The monkeys are running the zoo. After Barber loses his wife to cancer in December, doesn't miss a game, the team still wins the Atlantic Division and then he gets crap like this from Primeau, does it matter what Clarke or Snider say.

Before you go Billy, leave the knife. We need it for the next guy.
Bobby Clarke fired his former teammate Bill Barber after a disappointing playoffs. While some players blamed Barber, I blame Clarke. What do you guys think?
Indeed. When Dryden came back after sitting out a year, he switched to the better known "bullseye" mask. After that it was never the same for me, but all those Stanley Cups did cushion the blow somewhat.
Ken Dryden!
Cheevers was the easy one, and Plante was a good guess, but Plante wore these two:



A picture of the goalie who wore the first mask can be found here. To see a bunch of cool classic goalie masks, click here.
Plante and Cheevers.
Howard - thanks for the invite to talk hockey. I'm still in mourning over the Kings loss last night. At least the Habs advanced. Since I seem to have jumped into a discussion of equipment, I'll start off with a a quick (and easy) quiz. Can you name the netminders who wore these classic masks?

Bauer 5000

Bauer 5000
Dual density liner , tooless adjustment , Bauers best helmet.

*Please note NO helmets are concussion proof *


Proper Equipment. You bring up a good point, Howard...I'll never understand why NHLers don't at least tighten the straps on their helmets. But an interesting fact about the aforementioned Kenny Jonsson is that he wears a helmet that was specifically designed to reduce the chances of getting a concussion, yet, Roberts' hit was so hard that it cracked his helmet and still knocked him out.
Probably a litttle known fact, but Fergie Jenkins was a decent puckster as well.

The young Jenkins participated in a number of sports, but he excelled at hockey, basketball, and baseball. As a hockey defenseman, he played at the Junior B level, Canada's highest amateur level, and several of his teammates went on to play in the National Hockey League.
Lawrence is that why they call it the City of Brotherly Love? Or is that Toronto. Now Howard will get some nasty letters!!
Typical Flyer Fans?


Wear you gear, kids:
Tupper,

Your are right that the players need to watch their asses better. But a significant improvement would happen overnight if they would just wear their equipment properly. My fiancee was stunned to see a player's helmet pop off while he was simply jostling with another player after the whistle.

"What's wrong with his helmet?"

They don't do them up properly, presuming they are even wearing a proper helmet, rather than a Gretzky-style broomball one.

She was dumbfounded by NHLers' stupidity.

That rise in concussions and injuries would disappear if the damned fools would just tighten the straps around their helmets.
Just like clockwork - Round up the usual suspects: The Flyers bomb and the players blame the coach.

Monday, April 29, 2002

Charles,

You made my day! Thank you.

Red Auerbach observed, "Robertson wastes the least amount of motion of any player I've ever seen. Every move has a purpose."

The Big O. Man, old age is a hellish thing.
Howard don’t be too hard on Clarkie. The toothless terror battling diabetes and myopia became the first Flyer and first player from an expansion team to record 100 points in a season when he registered 37 goals and 67 assists for 104 points. He was appointed Flyers captain that season. It was the first of six consecutive seasons and eight overall in which he led the team in points. Clarke broke the 100-point barrier again in 1974-75 (116) and 1975-76 (119). His 89 assists in each of those two seasons still stands as the Flyers’ record, and was the NHL record for a center until Wayne Gretzky topped it in 1981. Clarke took home the Hart Memorial Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player in each of his 100-point seasons and for the 1972-73 season. Great players are multi-dimensional, and Clarke was no exception. In addition to his offensive talent, he was one of hockey’s top face-off men and won the Selke Trophy as the NHL’s top defensive forward in 1982-83.

Clarke’s tenacious pursuit of the puck and disdain for the opposition were never more evident than in the fabled 1972 Summit Series featuring the NHL’s top pros on Team Canada versus Soviet Union players. Trailing in the eight-game series, 3-1-1, Team Canada won Game 6 in Moscow, 3-2. But the game is best remembered for Clarke’s bone-chipping slash across the already-injured ankle of Valeri Kharlamov, hindering the Soviet’s star player for the remainder of the series. Team Canada went on to win the historic series, 4-3-1.

Clarke defended his action with typical "Broad Street Bully" bravado that endeared him to Flyers fans. "It wasn’t premeditated," he said. "He (Kharlamov) had speared me and it wasn’t a clean series from the start."

That was only the beginning of Clarke’s run-ins with the Soviets. In January 1976 the Flyers became the first NHL team to defeat the Soviets. The 4-1 win over the Central Red Army was marked by the Soviets’ decision to leave the ice in protest of the Flyers’ tactics. It was the only game the Soviet team lost during its four-game tour.

But the man with the legendary toothless grin and choirboy looks earned the crown of Mr. Hockey in Philadelphia for the two Stanley Cup championships he delivered to the Flyers following the 1973-74 and 1974-75 seasons. "Clarke," said Cup teammate Dave Schultz, "was the heart and soul of our club."



Charles,

Here's the best place to go for more on Oscar Robertson. On top of everything else, he's quite a fine man of the court.

A few choice excerpts from a time when there were only 9 teams in the NBA:

He is the only player in NBA history ever to average a “triple double” (double figures in scoring, 30.8 points per game; assists, 11.4 per game; and rebounding, 12.5 per game) for an entire season, 1961-62.

He averaged a cumulative “triple double” over his first six seasons.

Holds all-time rebounding records for guards: season, 985 rebounds/12.5 average, 1961-62; career, 7804/7.5 average. Only guard ever to lead his team in rebounding (twice with Cincinnati Royals).

Ok, back to hockey!

Having reviewed the Zednik, Peca and Jonsson hits over and over and over again one thing becomes evident. In this game, you have to protect yourself. Most of the contact in hockey is incidental. The game is played on ice so unlike, say football, a sport mostly played on concrete covered in carpet, with 350 pound behemoths instructed in the science and art of premeditated, organised and well-planned violence, teeing off on an opponent where the surface friction is near zero, even considering the fact you are wearing razor sharp blades, is not easily accomplished. How many forty year-olds play in the pit in the NFL?

Gigantism in the NFL or NBA certainly is an enormous benefit to achieving in those sports. However, in hockey, playing on an unnatural service, the ice serves as a great equaliser and size is not always a determining factor. Gretzky and the Europeans have proven it repeatedly.

Nevertheless, one cannot discount the physical aspect of the game of hockey. There are golden rules. Always keep your head up. Admiring a long sent pass or looking behind you to accept one is a sucker play and unadorned suicide. Somebody is going to pop you. Play along the boards is always dangerous and in Jonsson’s situation, you have to have both hands and the stick on the glass to support you against someone running you from behind. Play the puck with your feet and use your hands for support. Alternately, dropped your hand down the shaft of your stick propping the toe of the stick against the boards so if you get run, the bastard will be impaled on the but end. Believe me, he will not do it again.

Unfortunately, experience is a great teacher. Hopefully, Zednik, Peca and Jonsson will learn.
Charles,

I love it. Especially the stuff about Oscar. You are absolutely correct, it would be great to see him today. There is no doubt that Bill Russell was an enormous talent and its a tough call but I'd still go with Wilt over Kareem. Wilt handled Kareem like no else, even though he was an old man. Wilt would turn him inside and force him to shoot the jumper. None of this sky hook BS when Wilt was on the court. Chamberlain could do it all. In his rookie year, 1959-60, he averaged 37.6 points a game. He scored 50 or more points in seven different games. And he outrebounded everybody, averaging 27 a game to Russell's 24 and Petit's 17. Still has the league record of 55 rebounds in a single game!!! Wilt would dominate Shaq.

Sorry Howard, but Charles, please, please tell us more about the "O".
Charles,

I'll assume you were referring your questions to me, but if I'm wrong, so be it...

Rather than an All-Star team, here's what I think would be the best NBA team that could be assembled in heaven where everyone is at their best forever:

Center: Bill Russell
Power Forward: Elgin Baylor
Small Forward: Larry Bird
Shooting Guard: Michael Jordan
Point Guard: Oscar Robertson
Off the Bench: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Rick Barry

I guess some explanation is now in order since almost everyone else picks Magic for their starting team and almost nobody picks Russell. Scoring is not an issue on this team, therefore I picked the best defensive center ever, and he could score as well. When it comes down to it for an offensive center on a team like this, I'd rather have Abdul-Jabbar than Chamberlain, but that's a personal preference. Shaq doesn't merit consideration yet, being the best today isn't as impressive to me. Oscar Robertson averaged a triple double one season before such stats were considered important -- absolutely amazing. Again scoring isn't as important for this team, and Magic took a while to develop a reliable outside shot, and Magic had more talent around him than anybody else, so I'll take Oscar's skills over Magic's. Oh, and Oscar played before everyone was allowed to palm the ball and take three (or four) steps to the basket. Imagine what Oscar could have done today. If I can swap players around, I'd start Magic in the power forward slot over Elgin Baylor, though. Baylor is only marginally better than a lot of power forward who could be picked, some of whom are still playing, but I'd still take Magic over all them if given the chance. Since Magic can play center or point guard, he can surely play power forward. Larry Bird was the epitome of the point forward, he could shoot as well as anybody and he was an excellent passer. For shooting guard, who doesn't want to be like Mike? Off the bench, there's one at each position. Barry allows the team to go to what could essentially be a 4 guard offense to finish a team off with a whole bunch of high percentage free throw shooters to receive the inbounds pass from Russell. Yet another advantage to thinking of Magic as a forward. One of the most interesting aspects of this team is that I don't think there would a problem with not enough shots to go around, unlike most all-star teams.

As to baseball, perhaps the Rocket is the best in a long time. I'm looking forward to Bill James next book to help answer that question. As Mr. James has noted, we have to distinguish between what he calls peak value and career value. They usually produce different answers. For peak value, one could make an argument that Bruce Sutter was one of the most dominant pitchers ever for a few years. It's real hard to compare across eras, but Roger's only serious competition would seem to be Gibson, Seaver, Koufax, and Jenkins (won 20 games a year when the Cubs were not that good year after year). I'm partial to Fergie, but he seems to merit a lot more credit than he usually gets since his strikeout totals weren't as high as the others. The only guy who might be in that class today other than Roger might be Greg Maddox. If Kerry Wood can stay healthy, is he the next Nolan Ryan?

Enough digression?

STEVE MOORE: Greatest hockey cartoonist ever?

Too bad for the Flyers (and the Blackhawks) that scoring opportunities aren't really identified as clearly as they are in the above-linked cartoon.
The Flyers suck: I love it when even my friend Eric, a Philadelphia fan, agrees with me on such a statement. 5 games and they could hardly score a lick at the goal. What has become of John Leclair? Will the Flyers ever score again? Will Bobby Clarke finally get sent packing?
AND A LITTLE BASEBALL-

Look it up - Clemens is best.

Charles, What do you think? I'm still partial to Koufax and Gibson even though Big Bob only had one great year.


Charles,

If I may digress, following are my picks for the NBA's greatest teams, Black & White.


Black Team: Wilt, Elgin Baylor, Magic [at forward] Jordan and Oscar Robertson.

White Team: Walton, Bird, Rick Berry (maybe Havlichek), West and Pistol Pete [maybe Cousy].

All-time NBA Team: Wilt, Bird, Baylor [maybe Willis Reed], Jordan and Magic.

‘Give me a log and make it even’

Former Toronto, Detroit and Oakland defenceman Kent Douglas used the heaviest stick in NHL history. At almost a pound, it’s three times as heavy as modern-day sticks. As his career progressed, Douglas started to use different sticks for different game situations. “I used to have three different sticks. One for the power play. One for regular play. And one for penalty killing... they got heavier as you went along. For penalty killing, I’d just skate to our bench-- the benches were real close together and the sticks were at the point where they were closest-- and I’d say, ‘Give me a log and make it even’. Of course, they could hear you on the other bench.”

Considering that Douglas logged 631 penalty minutes in just 428 games, a request for the heavy lumber could only have meant one thing to nervous opponents. Stan Mikita remembers Douglas’ jumbo stick-- “It was the biggest handle I’d ever seen on a stick, it was a two-by-four.” Mikita’s other memories of the Douglas lumber were less fond. “He took a swipe at me with the stick and he hit me dead over the head with it. I wasn’t wearing a helmet at the time. Right in Toronto-- some people saw it, and as soon as he hit me, the blood came out like a fountain of youth. It was a good 40 stitches-- on the outside. I don’t know how many they put on the inside.”


Mikita speaks the truth. Douglas swung at Stan the Man like he was felling a B.C. fir. Everybody at the Gardens, that night, thought that Mikita was dead. Amazingly, he came back and finished the game. Stan never took his helmet off after that incident.

The Mad Men of Hockey



Twenty-some years ago, Chicago defenceman Keith Magnuson broke the jaw of Vancouver forward Chris Oddleifson during a game in Chicago.

Outraged fans were in the concourse at the Canucks' next home game, circulating a petition demanding that Magnuson be thrown out of hockey.

"If Oddleifson had broken Magnuson's jaw, would you be doing this?" a petitioner was asked.

"Of course not," he snapped.

"Chris is one of ours."

Old-timers insist it's your basic much ado about screw all, that the violence in today's game is nothing to what it was in the helmetless '20s, when the likes of Sprague Cleghorn were assassins on skates.

Consider this quote from the legendary Jack Adams, as reported in Trent Frayne's 1974 chronicle, The Mad Men of Hockey:

"If you were lucky enough to skate by them in one piece, they'd turn and hook those sticks at your face or crack you over the head. That Cleghorn, why, that son of a b---- was an unwashed surgeon."




Old Time Hockey, Just Like Eddie Shore

First of all, thanks to Howard, et al, for the invitation to the Puck Hog Blog. But is this a blog? I would venture a guess that the reputation for pugilism in hockey is sufficient for this to be considered a warblog by the overly sensitive types. So, sure, why not?

Second, I must neccesarily be more of a reader than a writer on a hockey blog. The NHL was always fourth on my list of major league sports as I grew up outside Chicago, so my knowledge of the NHL's history is slim (not that this stops me as the Sine Qua Non Pundit). I remember the days of Hull, Esposito, and Mikita vaguely, but since my dad was more of a baseball and football fan that got more of my attention in my formative years. I was always a baseball fan first, but a year overseas followed by the baseball strike pretty well killed the love affair I had with baseball from my earliest days and it has never come back (are you listening Bud Selig?). As I've gotten older, I've come to appreciate football and hockey a whole lot more -- the power, the speed, the skills, and how much success is dependent on a team-oriented approach vice an individual-oriented approach, which has virtually killed any interest I had in the NBA (are you listening David Stern?).

Third, I must admit that hockey only gets a passing interest from me during the regular swason, but I do watch quite a bit during the NHL playoffs. As some of you may know, I now live in St. Louis, and the Blues present some interesting challenges and lessons on what a good hockey team is and isn't. It is fairly easy for me to get tickets to the Blue's regular season and playoff games at will, so daughter #1 is learning to be a hockey fan. The playoff run in St. Louis last year was outstanding, but the Av's had way too much firepower and, of course, Patrick Roy. I've also had the good fortune to have Rams season tickets and while they've had a good run the last few years, nothing has compared to a double OT playoff game at Savvis center last year against Dallas.

Fourth, please add the St. Louis Blues website to the links list.

Finally, here's a couple of observations...

Keith Tkachuk is one helluva strong, skilled, underappreciated player here in St. Louis.

Slapshot is more than just the best hockey movie ever made.

...and a couple of questions:

Why isn't hockey more popular, aside from the difficulty and expense of playing it when one is young?

Even though the goon quotient seems to be down in the NHL, the willingness to injure other players seems higher than ever. Are these two related?



Swedes, Czechs remain unbeaten at worlds

Sweden fell behind with just 1:41 gone when Solvenia's Marcel Rodman converted a power-play goal but came back to win 8-2 against a team making its debut in hockey's elite group.

The Czechs, winner of three straight world titles, rallied to beat Japan 5-3 win as Jaromir Jagr got his first two goals in the tournament.

Two NHL players dashed Slovenia's hopes of an upset against Sweden.

First, Kristian Huselius of the Florida Panthers connected on the power-play 39 seconds into the second period. Ulf Dahlen made it 3-1 after 55 seconds.

Russia and Germany also improved their first-round records to 2-0. Russia beat Austria 6-3 and Germany shutout Switzerland 3-0.





Howard should I try again? SLOVAKS dark horse to upset Czechs in bid for fourth straight World Championship. NAW!

They began their title skein in 1999 and ran it to three in a row by beating Finland in last year's finals. Another crown would put them in elite company, as only the former Soviet Union has ever won more than three straight in the post-World War II era.

The Soviets last won four straight, with the Red Army team grabbing five titles in a row between 1978 and 1983. Earlier, the Soviets set a potentially unbreakable streak with nine consecutive world championships between 1963 and 1971.

Czech hockey success has diluted the domestic market, with the better players headed for North America. Augusta admits he may yet add more NHL players -- but only if the team makes it to the semis. Before that, it must escape a preliminary round-robin group with Germany, Switzerland and Japan.

Masters of the Hip Check


The Plagers were universally loved by the hockey-crazed fans who filled the St. Louis Arena in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Their no-holds-barred play delighted fans, who sang "When the Blues Come Marching In" in those early years. The anthem inspired Barc, nicknamed "Barc the Spark."


"We did anything to protect the goaltender," recalled Bob Plager. "The greatest time for us was the year we won the Vezina Trophy (in 1969).

"We’d hear the fans singing and the hair on the back of your neck would stand up," recalled Barc of the early days.

The Plager brothers were key elements to the Blues’ three consecutive trips to the Stanley Cup finals between 1967 and 1970 — the first three years of the franchise. Along with Hall of Famer Doug Harvey, tough guy Noel Picard and steady Al Arbour, the Blues were talented and deep on defense. They took great pride in keeping opposing offensive players at bay.

"We did anything to protect the goaltender," recalled Bob Plager. "The greatest time for us was the year we won the Vezina Trophy (in 1969). Glenn Hall and Jacques Plante were in goal and we only allowed 157 goals. That record will probably never be broken. Winning the Vezina was the finest reward anyone could get."

The Plager brothers were savage hitters and fiery competitors. Bob, who was plagued by injuries early in his career, was the master of hip check. Barc was no slouch, either. And neither brother took any lip from opponents during an era when tough players were the rule, rather than the exception.
The whining continues, but then what would you expect from the RED STAR:

You're going to hear lots about Game 7 drama and history and all kinds of stuff over the next 36 hours, but the bald facts are that these two hockey clubs have dragged the game down to a most uninspiring level over the past two weeks.

Trailer park hockey. Shinny for the lowest common denominator.


That and senseless partisanship, the kind that has one team screaming bloody murder after every game while the other team feigns complete innocence, the kind that inspires the moronic fans of Long Island, surely the most vile and obscene in hockey, to hiss and boo the Canadian national anthem with great gusto and chant "U.S.A., U.S.A." as though it were an expression of fervent patriotism.

Not that the Islanders coach had the basic morality to vigorously upbraid his hometown fans for booing another country's anthem.

Of course, if "The Star Spangled Banner" received such treatment, the Massachusetts-born Laviolette would undoubtedly be up in arms, with multiple references to Sept. 11.

But every Islander is blameless, according to Laviolette, just as Quinn would never, ever admit that one of his players had done something wrong or unsportsmanlike.

Then again, there's the disgusting Long Island audience. Just ask Keith Acton, who courageously battled with cancer this season, after he walked back to the Leafs dressing room last night drenched in beer while fans screamed curses at him.


The hip check is one of the most difficult to complete in hockey. It's a combination of timing and artistry. And when it's done right, it can be devastating. Mostly a defensive maneuver, it is crushing and is as exhilarating as a game seven winner. It teaches one thing, that pros like Peca should already know. ALWAYS KEEP YOUR HEAD UP!
The best revenge. Like most Islanders' fans I was screaming for blood after the Leafs continued their dirty play with Roberts driving Jonsson in to the boards head first on a charge and Darcy Tucker intentionally taking out Peca's knees. However, the Isles did the most to hurt Toronto by defeating them last night.

I'm not surprised neither Roberts nor Tucker were suspended. I wouldn't expect the NHL to do anything to hurt the chances of their beloved Leafs. However, it was obvious Tucker was trying to hurt Peca, especially after Tucker threatened to take out Peca the game before. You don't finish checks with hip checks and Tucker crouched low after Peca passed the puck.

Sunday, April 28, 2002

"That's all right, Eddie. It's all part of the game."



On December 12, 1933, Ace Bailey's brilliant career was suddenly ended by Boston's Eddie Shore with a vicious hit from behind.

It's as old as the game itself. Violence is and always will be a part of hockey. Hockey without the heavy hitting is shinny. I've played it both ways and there's a world of difference. Just ask the Oldtimers.

"It makes me sick to my stomach," said former Islander Clark Gillies, who went to Game 5 in Toronto Friday with ex-teammate Bob Nystrom. "To not pay the price for what happened to Kenny Jonsson is not right. To not pay the price for what happened to Michael Peca is not right. This is not the way it used to be."

Yes it is. You're just getting old Clark.