Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Welcome to Atlanta Army...

March of the Penguins

Boy, I'm glad its over aren't you? Maybe now I can actually get some work done at the office! I said in an earlier post, that I had complete confidence Don Waddell would get the right deal done. I think it would be hard to argue that now. It hurts to lose Hossa. I'll save that article for another day. Right now, I'd like to take a look at the actual trade and give my thoughts.

Gone: Hossa, Dupuis

New Thrash: Colby Armstrong, Erik Christensen, Angelo Espisito and a 1st round '08 pick

We all knew Hossa was gone at the end of the year. Dupuis had a chance to stay, and maybe we will sign him in the offseason, but a trade certainly hurts those chances. It seems to me we got a lot in return for two players that could have walked at the end of the year. Hossa almost certainly will not sign with the Pens next year. I don't think they have the cap room. He is purely a rental.

Speaking of rentals.... remember last year when the entire league was flipping out over how much we gave up for Tkchuck: Metropolit, 1st and 3rd in '07, and 2nd in '08. Now, lets compare the two deals. Metro didn't fit into our plans for '08 so he was going to leave anyway. So, to me that means all we gave up were two picks in the weak '07 draft and our 2nd rounder in the '08 draft. Not too bad if you consider the impact Tkchuck had on our franchise.

Now, the Hossa deal: Colby Armstrong will become a fan favorite at Philips. He hits, can score, and will be a great teammate. He can play on any of the top 3 lines. Signed through next year at a good price and then he is a RFA. Christensen has a similar contract to Armstrong. Great on the faceoff, great at the shootout, and will probably be a 1-2 line center on this team. Espisito was a first round pick last year that seems to have potential. I'll refrain from commenting on him too much as I have never seen him play, but he seems to have upside. And we get a first round pick in the deep draft this year that we can use or trade for immediate help.

Seems to me we did better than the Blues did last year in the trade with us. Lots of people have problems with Waddell. Some deserved, some not. Give him credit for what looks to be a pretty good deal with his back against the wall.

I strongly believe the makeup of this team needs to be changed. We have had a lot of Europeans on this team for far too long. I'm not trying to say anything negative. But you cannot dispute that, for the most part, their style of play is soft and fades in the playoffs. Obviously I'm not talking about guys like Holik, or Kovy. The point I'm trying to make is you need guys like Armstrong if you want to make it in the playoffs. This is a huge chance for us to change the direction of our team. We could very easily wind up with the NUMBER 1 pick in the draft! And we will have a ton of cap space to spend money this offseason (SIGN JASON SMITH!).

Come on Waddell. Looks like you get a do-over. Build a team that is tough and plays with grit. It can be done quickly with our cap space and the '08 draft picks. Don't get too down Blueland. I still think the future is bright.

For The Blueland Chronicle, I'm Big Shooter.

The Game Last Night

Our first post-Hossa game extended our losing streak to 4. Fabulous. I had high hopes for this road trip; I thought it might propel us to first place in the division. But maybe I'm being ungrateful; maybe fourth is close enough to first.

We actually played pretty well in the first two periods: Kari was again our saving grace, and it goes without saying that I was pleased that the Czar scored a goal. Why did we collapse in the third period? Are we cursed or are we just easily rattled? Are we trying to set a new losing streak record? Why haven't we played a consistently solid game and won decisively since that first post-All Star game against the Penguins? Why? WHY?

Apres moi le deluge...

I'll leave an open thread on the departure of Hossa. Thoughts? Predictions? Lamentations?

Monday, February 25, 2008

4 Hours and Counting...

Here we go kids. Be sure to buckle up! Mats Sundin has stated he will not wave his no trade, so he will remain a Leaf. This leaves Hossa as the only big name on the market (that we know of) that is for sure to be moved at the deadline. I can't say it any better than Bob McKenzie of TSN, so here is what he has to say:

"As part of the fallout from the Sundin decision, I expect to see some action sooner rather than later. The happiest guy in the world has to be Thrashers' GM Don Waddell. He's sitting there with Marian Hossa whom he has every intention of trading before Tuesday's deadline and this will likely accelerate the process. A lot of the teams who were interested in Hossa were also interested in Sundin, but they were likely holding back and waiting to see what the Sundin deal was going to bring and how much it would cost to get Sundin as opposed to Hossa.
Montreal and Ottawa appear to be the two front-runners for Marian Hossa's services and there is every reason to believe that this is a trade that could go down as early as Monday as opposed to Tuesday. Waddell had an extended stay in Toronto after the Thrashers' played the Maple Leafs last Saturday. He watched the Hamilton Bulldogs play the Toronto Marlies in an AHL game as he attempted to size up some of the Habs' prospects."

People give Don Waddell a hard time, but you can't dispute most of his trades. In my opinion, that is his strongest aspect as a GM. I have every confidence that he will make the right deal.

For The Blueland Chronicle, I'm Big Shooter.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A Team of Ghosts

That's what the Thrashers are at the moment. Our defense is insubstantial in both senses of the word: we let every single player from the Canes, or any opposing team, skate clean past our "defense" and pretty much offer them the net in the hope that our goaltender will get us through. We never attack the opposing offense's bodies; we just stare at the puck being passed, heads clicking back and forth like tennis spectators, and wait for someone to shoot the puck into Kari's glove. Which, of course, can't ALWAYS happen.

Meanwhile, our offense didn't pick up the whole "To Score a Goal You Must Shoot the Puck" concept when they were in hockey school.

Toby Enstrom is a skilled defenseman, but his sly and subtle finesse isn't always what's needed against a solid offense. We always need a big, aggressive thug to hit somebody. Which brings me to our other Achilles heel (this team has at least four heels): lack of passion. Sometimes it appears we just show up to the arena knowing we're going to lose, resolved to lose in fact, and not giving a fuck. In some games it seems like we have no drive, no aggression, no energy or life. Jesus H. Christ guys, show some grit! PUNCH SOMEONE IN THE MOUTH!!!

Message from the Blueland Chronicle to the Thrashers:

Jumbotron Nominees #2

To be played after the opposing team scores a goal:

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Kari's Krib

I'm sure you've all seen this via Fire Wagon Hockey already, but here's the link to Mr. Lehtonen's pad nonetheless.

I quite like Kari's place; it's minimalist but warm, spacious and modern without being pretentious. Scandinavian, in a word. I never would have pegged him as a Brookhaven man, though. I wonder where the other Thrashers live...I know that Kovy lives in Buckhead (only the best for the Czar), but aside from Kari that's about all I know.

I imagine Exelby and Holik glam it up in the Piedmont Park area. Yes, I can see it now...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Trade Deadline Madness

I'll second Morty's most recent post singing Little Kovy's praises. I think a three year deal is just fine. Hopefully they will get it done. I also will not comment on all the Hossa rumors. We still have a week to go, and I'm doing my best not to get caught up in it. I'll admit, it's very difficult. I will say this... I don't think anything will happen until after the Carolina game on Thursday. Why not at least keep Hossa until AFTER that game. To this point, the biggest two points of the year. Keep Hoss until at least Friday.

Lots of other rumors circulating about the trade deadline. The only thing I'd like to see us do is dump Zhitnik. He has played much better recently. The reason I think we should dump him for WHATEVER we can get, is because of his nearly $4 million price tag for next year. That is money that can certainly be better spent. Zhitnik also has some trade value. An offensive defenseman draws interest, even if they haven't had a great year. A team needing this would most certainly give up a draft pick (I don't care what round) in order to get him. Lets get him off the books for next year to free up the money.

I also would like to see us keep Holik. I think he has been a great Captain, albeit overpaid. This is his time of year and I think we need his physical presence. We also need his skill on the faceoff. I'd love to see us resign him next year. .. don't start yelling at me yet!! I'd love to see us resign him, and pay him as a third line center, not a first line center.

Looks like it will be a long week in Blueland. Lets hope we all survive.

For The Blueland Chronicle, I'm Big Shooter.

Dupuis Wants to Stay + More Hossa Rumors

Essential post from Craig Custance.

For now, I'll go without commenting on the rumors swirling around Hossa. I WOULD, on the other hand, like to add my two cents to the possibility of Dupuis being signed to a long-term contract. Dupuis is a valuable asset: he skates fast, he scores goals, he won the game against Martin Brodeur the other night. We haven't sung his praises and chronicled his heroic deeds quite enough on the Blueland Chronicle, so let me clarify our editorial position:

Pascal Dupuis will henceforth be known (on this blog anyway) as Little Kovalchuk.

The End of Fidel and the Consequences for Hockey

Well, there you go: no more El Presidente. The Blueland Chronicle's man in Havana is off this week (what a terrible irony!) so I'm afraid you'll have to direct your attention to less reputable news sources. The New York Times' take is here, the Guardian's is here.

The implications are huge, of course. For one, we might actually get a chance to GO to Cuba now, and I've always wanted to see the place. Secondly (though probably more importantly) the citizens of Cuba might finally be granted something in the way of individual freedoms and political rights. Thirdly, poor Hugo Chavez is now without an amigo among heads of state in this hemisphere, and his face will come to resemble a sad fat kid's even more now.

But since this is a hockey blog of some kind, we should take a moment to consider what the consequences of Castro's resignation might be for hockey. You see, Cuba used to be a quasi-colony of the United States; it was never an official territory like Puerto Rico, but everyone knows that from the time of the Spanish-American War in 1898 to the Revolution of the 1950s Cuba was an elegant Caribbean Las Vegas. After the US liberated Cuba from Spanish rule, the country was formally independent but heavily enmeshed with US interests and strategies, and it provided a helpful outpost for the US military during both world wars.

Castro's revolution and the American embargo that followed abolished all of that, and the people of Cuba are living with the consequences today. Since Castro has stepped down and relinquished power permanently, the possibility of an end to the embargo and more commercial and cultural engagement with the benighted island seems all of a sudden quite likely. Barack Obama is the first of the Presidential candidates to offer a reaction, and it looks like he's advocating just that. Given all these new conditions, I think it's only fitting that we finish that McKinley and Roosevelt started in 1898 and 1) annex the place and 2) lobby the NHL to expand itself to the Caribbean.

I'm not kidding. Imagine what a test of the NHL Commissioner's mettle it would be, what a bold experiment, what a great advertisement for hockey around the world! They thought it was a challenge to establish hockey teams in non-traditional markets like L.A. and Phoenix and Dallas and Atlanta; imagine what a noble struggle relocating the Hurricanes to Havana will be! Ice hockey in Cuba, I can see it now...

Do any of you share my vision?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Corporate Logos on Hockey Jerseys?

I strongly suggest all of you go over to Fire Wagon Hockey to read an article on the possibility of hockey jerseys going corporate, a la football clubs in Europe and Latin America. Be afraid.

Jumbotron Nominees #1

This is the first post in a new series brought to you, reader, from the Blueland Chronicle. As I'm sure you, as a citizen of Blueland, know: At Philips Arena (and some other hockey venues, I've heard; though the ones in Canada I've seen are totally bereft) the Jumbotron Screen graces us with clips from all sorts of movies at various points in the game. The purpose of these clips and montages is to rouse the crowd into a bloodlusting fury, and I can attest it's quite exciting.

I love several of the clips and montages they play at Blueland, my personal favorites being the footage of Jean-Claude Van Damme dancing (played when we score a goal), the infamous "Unleash the Fury" montage, and the montage they play before an overtime that concludes with a scene from the magnificent Western Tombstone in which Kurt Russell-Wyatt Earp bellows, "Hell's comin' with me, ya hear? HELL'S COMIN' WITH ME!!!"

I get chills every time.

Some of the clips and montage are mediocre, though, and we here at the Blueland Chronicle would like to share a series of different movie clips with you readers, clips that we think would make a fine addition to the old stand-by's of Blueland. I posted Kenneth Branagh giving the "band of brothers" speech from Shakespeare's Henry V a few days ago; that's simply the most stirring speech of all time and it pumps me up more than any scene from Remember the Titans. I accept, though, that Blueland might not respond to the Bard in the same way I do...and yes, I'm a snob.

My more populist suggestion for this post is an old stand-by and a classic in its own way, of course. Imagine this before an overtime...take it away, Jules!

More suggestions/nominees are welcome.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Coach's Corner

Now, our most loyal readers will know that The Blueland Chronicle strongly supports the great, Don Cherry. Well, now we are putting our money where our mouth is. Starting today, you will be able to watch each week's episode of Coach's Corner right here at the Chronicle. Enjoy...

Heart Attack Game followed by Punching Hole in the Wall Game

I'll have to second Big Shooter's two posts about this weekend. The game against the Devils was probably the most exciting and dramatic of the year; I nearly had a heart attack during the shootout. Moose was wonderful, Kovalchuk looked like he was on the mend a bit (scoring a goal in regulation and in the shootout), Hossa played exceptionally well, etc. etc.

When Hossa scored to tie it up with roughly 18 seconds left in the game I screamed and threw a pillow across my apartment. I knocked some things over, but I don't think my neighbors were too disturbed. In fact, they probably weren't even home; since they don't have the beautiful disease of hockey addiction they were out enjoying a Friday night on the town like normal folk.

As for the game against the Islanders, I, uh, I....I'd rather not.

Thrashers vs Islanders: Post Game Commentary

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Way to Go Boys!!

Huge two points. HUGE!!! Interesting observation from last night... I think that is the first time in three years that I've seen Hossa take a slap shot. It sure caught Marty off guard in the shootout didn't it?
Here's to the effort the boys put up last night! It's going to take that kind of play the rest of the year if we are going to make it. Captain Carolina is down with an ACL tear. Washington hopefully will slow down. Other than Vokoun, I don't think the Panthers have what it takes. All we need now is for the Late Slava Kozlov to awake from the dead. Especially if you know what happens before the trade deadline. Good Lord, he is a scary looking man.
For The Blueland Chronicle, I'm Big Shooter.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Day With My True Love

Valentine's Day... what a load of crap! Now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's take a moment to reflect on our true love, the Thrashers. In particular, I'd like to take a look at the goaltending situation. Boy we've all been through a lot with THAT relationship haven't we! But, like any true love, we have struggled through the hard times to get where we are. God bless Kari. There are those who say he is inconsistent; well, sometimes I guess. He's still young. Let's step in the way back machine and go through each goalie:
  1. The One Who Shall Not Be Named: Wow, our first goalie. And if memory serves, the first EVER Thrasher. Even before the expansion draft. What a colossal mistake. No more needs to be said.
  2. Norm "Double Cheeseburger" Maracle: The name says it all doesn't it? The best memory I have is when he shut out the Flyers 1-0. I think that was the last time we beat them wasn't it? In my opinion just as big a mistake, if not bigger, than #1.
  3. Scott Fankhouser: Faith in Fank! God I loved Fankhouser. I still think he never got the shot that he deserved. One of the few bright spots in the early years.
  4. Scott Langkow: Just another name in the long list of goalies. Not much talent here. I think he only played 10 games or so. Still, to me better than #1 or 2... not saying much!
  5. Rich Tabaracci: Finally, a real goalie I thought! Too bad he only played one game for us! We have a history of getting goalies at the end of their career.
  6. Trevor Kidd: Got him in the expansion draft, but then traded him away before he played a game. At the time, I thought to myself I'd rather have him than #1.
  7. Milan Hnilicka: Our best goalie to this point. Still love his name! When we had a hard time trying to sign him in the offseason, I thought we should dump him and go after Dafoe. We didn't, and still wound up with Dafoe in mid-season. I'll address that a little later.
  8. Frederic Cassivi: Everyone rooted for this guy. He was adequate. Played about as good as his talent would allow. I guess that's all you can ask of someone.
  9. Pasi Nurminen: Ah, good 'ole Pasi. The fan favorite. Too bad his knee injury ended his career. He flopped around a lot, but he was good and fun to watch!
  10. Byron Dafoe: As I said earlier, I wanted him so bad in the offseason. It didn't happen 'til mid-season. He missed half the year due to not having a team, and never recovered. In my opinion, the first true #1 goalie on our team. My gosh it didn't turn out that way. Injury after injury (remember when he slipped on the ice outside of the hotel!). Another goalie that was great for his previous teams, and sucked when he got here.
  11. Adam Berkhoel: Career minor leaguer forced into action due to injuries.
  12. Michael Garnett: Career minor leaguer forced into action due to injuries. Seeing a pattern here? He actually played above his head while he was here. Good for him.
  13. Mike Dunham: Son of a bitch.
  14. Steve Shields: See Byron Dafoe. See Rich Tabaracci. Stevie still has the BEST goalie mask of all time!
  15. Johan Hedberg: MOOOOOOOOOOSE!!! The best free agent signing in our history. What a teammate! The Anti-Norm Maracle.
  16. Ondrej Pavelec: Tons of potential here. Ondrej, Moose, and Kari. One will be the odd man out.
  17. Kari Lehtonen: Remember when he got called up at the end of the year and won the last 4 games! I think Kari has all the potential in the world. And we are starting to see the results.

Sorry for the long post. I just wanted everyone to see what we went through to get to Kari and Company. Many struggles. So, the next time Kari gives up a bad goal, remember how lucky we are to have him. This offseason is going to be very interesting from a goaltending point of view. Three goalies, two spots. Moose without a contract. Kari and Ondrej both very young and very good. I still say Kari is the guy, but you never know what will happen. One thing is for sure... after reading this list, it is safe to say this is a good problem to have.

For The Blueland Chronicle, I'm Big Shooter.

There is Only One Thing I Want For Valentines Day

Tonight Carolina plays Pittsburgh. I think it is pretty obvious what I would wish for the outcome to be. It would be a nice gift to the boys I think. Sure, we can't rely on the other teams to lose in our division and only depend on that. I would love it if Carolina, Florida, and Washington just tanked, but I just don't think that's going to happen, especially in the Washington's case. The boys embark on a crucial road trip.

The only thing I want them to do is just take care of their own business, and we'll be fine. I think right now we have a the ability to do wonders. My God, Kari is playing on a level that I haven't seen in a while. Hossa and Perrin are playing very well as well. I have faith in Kovy. I know he hasn't been his usual self, but if it weren't for him we wouldn't be here fighting for the top spot in the south. We should always be grateful of him no matter if he is in a slump. His leg probably still hurts, but he wouldn't want anyone to know this because he would become a target.

I have total faith in this team. When we are playing at our top, we are very hard to touch. This road trip will be a test. I hope to see Hossa back in Blueland with our jersey on. If he left I wouldn't hate him. Being a more recent convert to this greatest of games, I owe a great deal of my love of the game to him. I would be sad to see him go, but because his level of play and his ability to skate and handle made me realize what true talent it takes to be great in this game. I can only hope and wish the boys the best in this cold month of February.

A Poem for Valentine's Day

My true love hath my heart and I have his,
By just exchange one for another given;
I hold his dear, and mine he cannot miss,
There never was a better bargain driven.
My true love has my heart and I have his.

His heart in me keeps him and me in one,
My heart in him his thoughts and senses guides;
He loves my heart, for once it was his own,
I cherish his, because in me it bides.
My true love hath my heart and I have his.

-Sir Philip Sidney, writing from the point of view of a chick

"Kovy the Czar, Hedberg, and Recchin' Ball, Lehtonen and Koslov, Eric Perrin and Hossa..."

Okay, I was going to save this until the playoffs. But because we're tied with two other teams for the top spot in the Southeast Division, and because we have to fight tooth-and-nail for a playoff position, and because we will be fighting on enemy territory for the next five (crucial, decisive) games, I think it's time to unveil a little speech to the troops, courtesy of Will S.

FIGHT BOYS, FIGHT! All things are ready if our minds be so!

Kari Kills Caps Again

Kari Lehtonen and Uno the Beagle. Does anyone else see the resemblance?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Victory at Madison Square Garden

Uno the Beagle made history in New York tonight.

Beagle Making Headway

Good news, everyone: Uno the Beagle won the Hound Group competition and is set to compete in the final seven at the Westminster Dog Show!

Carolina and Ottawa make a trade

This has implications for the Thrashers, obviously. What's everyone's take? Will this help or hurt Carolina?

Monday, February 11, 2008

Beagle Trying to Break Barriers at the Westminster Dog Show

Could Uno become the first of his kind to win Best in Show?

Kovy in the NY Times

That last post reminded of something I'd been meaning to post for a few weeks: on the day of the All Star Game the New York Times did a profile of the Czar.

When you put that article alongside this profile from ESPN Magazine, it seems the Czar is finally getting some national attention. If only our Atlanta media was so thorough. Here's hoping the Czar catches up with Ovie and gets the Rocket Richard Trophy.

The Russian Civil War

Nice article at today about Alex O.

He's been playing like a man possessed lately; maybe his recent burst of goal-scoring will inspire Kovalchuk to go on another tear when the Czar and the fast-rising Czarevitch collide on Wednesday evening.

Finn in Ascent

Craig Custance at the AJC has a fine article on Young Mister Lehtonen. The central point seems to be that Kari is finally beginning to join the likes of Kovalchuk in delivering on his initial promise.

Money quote:

But with 24 games left, Lehtonen can completely bury his frustrating first half and as a restricted free agent following this season, he also can cement his status as the Thrashers franchise goalie.

"I want to stay here, that's my No. 1 thing," Lehtonen said. "I just have to play well and earn my spot here so that the owners and management believe I can help this team. That's my No. 1 goal."

If the Thrashers emerge from the pack and make the playoffs, it'll likely be because Lehtonen rises to his oft-discussed potential and talent level.

More than any player, Lehtonen can be the one to propel such a push.

He Just Keeps Crankin' 'Em Out

So we're back to a tied 2nd place. Carolina plays the Boston Bruins tonight, so we'll see how things stand after that. I, for one, am looking forward to the Battle of the Russians on Wednesday night.

Here's a question for everybody: When can we officially consider the hockey season "down to the wire?" Things are getting tense now, but it seems a bit too early to call this the beginning of Down to the Wire. Will it begin for us on our upcoming road trip? When we return? Or are things not officially Down to the Wire until, like, the last two games?

Did anyone see how hobbled and broken Martin St. Louis looked Saturday night after getting roughed up by Bobby Holik? Hilarious.

Meanwhile, Richard Zednik is going to be fine. That was well and truly horrifying; I think I speak for the entire Blueland Chronicle when I say "Get well soon Panther King!

I don't have a whole lot to say about hockey today, readers, and I apologize. Perhaps Big Shooter/Big T/T-Man will have something hockey-oriented AND substantial later today. For now I thought I'd direct your attention to a new 2-volume set of books by English essayist and critic William Hazlitt. It's a selection of some essays and articles that haven't been available in book form before, and it's titled "New Writings."

Why is this interesting, you ask? Well, Hazlitt has been dead for nearly 180 years. He was the finest prose writer of his age, an associate and friend of Wordsworth and Coleridge before violently breaking with them over political disagreements, and a good friend and intellectual mentor to John Keats. His essays covered all sorts of topics: poetry, philosophy, the characters of Shakespeare's plays, the state of infatuation and love, "Whether People Ought to Sit in the Boxes" (which might have some relevance for us frequenters of Phillips Arena), theatre, travel, politics, painting, and more, all in a lively and arresting style. Which becomes doubly impressive when you consider the fact that the man is still writing and publishing essays nearly 180 years after his death. Much like 2-Pac, his productivity refuses to be bound by some boring obstacle like the grave. Keep crankin' 'em out, Hazzy, Thug Life 4Ever.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Reflections on the Thrashers' Inter-Divisional Play

First of all, a commanding and definitive analysis of last night's game:

Good effort by Kari, sweet goal by Hossa, the late Slava Koslov seemed alive again, could've done with an earlier lead and/or a shutout and/or a game without a Vincent Lecavalier goal. But we won, so I'm not really complaining...

Which brings me to Zhitnik. Zhitnik. Zhitnik?

Now then, on to other matters. I was in conversation with T-Man/Big T/Big Shooter (he changes his name every two weeks I think) a few days ago and he told me that Don Waddell said in an interview that the reason the Thrashers won the division title last year was because they had the best record against their fellow Southeastern Division teams. Apparently our record of inter-divisional victories is highest this year as well, and it looks set to continue that way. It's great that we wallop Carolina, Washington, Florida, and Tampa Bay more often than not (that's what we MUST do), but it would be awfully nice to have won against the Flyers and the Canucks this past week! Ah well. We've proven we can compete with Big Dick Teams like the Senators and the Penguins, and our play against Western Conference teams is far from disastrous (read: the Detroit Red Wings game). Which is why the coming weeks will be interesting and stressful: most of our remaining games are against Southeastern teams, but we'll also be running into Westerners like the Minnesota Wild, Colorado Avalanche, and Calgary Flames. I'm fairly confident about our road trip and the final homestead; I predict that...well, I don't want to jinx anything. Suffice it to say that our record is identical to Carolina's and we now share the top spot in the division (with the Caps and Panthers just behind us). The play among our main competitors for the top spot has been in our favor this weekend: for us to tie first again, we needed Carolina to beat Washington, then lose to the Devils, and now the Caps have to lose to the Rangers today. If that happens we'll be set to add some handsome points to our lead come Wednesday.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Thoughts From Last Night...

It certainly appears Morty has taken last night's loss pretty hard. Don't get too down Mr. Peacock... we still have a long way to go.

Unfortuantly, I have this thing called a job. I have this job because I have this thing called a house payment. I had to work last night and missed the game so I feel as though I can't comment that much on it. I did see the replay of the last goal. Now, I love Kari as much as the next guy (OK, maybe not as much as Maal:). But I'm really big on NOT diving. It was Perrin's stick last night that hit Kari. And not very hard at that. Lehtonen thought it was the other player's stick and he went down like he was shot, trying to draw a call. Of course, the call never came and Kari was scored on while he was on his rear end.

This is unacceptable. Goalies are the most known for diving, but all players do it. Most times, if there is an infraction against you, they will call it. Keep your legs moving if you are being tripped. Don't throw your arms up in the air like you are trying to win a Golden Globe. The next time Kari gets bumped, he needs to keep his feet and not give up on the play. More times than not you will get the call anyway. Now, I'm not blaming the loss on Kari. Looking at the stats he must have played a pretty good game. Remember, we are only going to go as far as he takes us. Hopefully he can learn from this and move on.

The other thought I have about the game last night is how much the radio signal strength of the Atlanta Thrashers Radio Network SUCKS. I was in Athens and had about an hour and a half drive home and could only pick up the game for about 10 minutes as I passed through Gainesville. This is pretty sad. Kamal and Odgers do such a fine job they should make sure the signal strength is good for at least an hour all directions from Atlanta. Just a thought.


What they said. Money quote:

The Thrashers played a strong physical game and kept the bulk of the play in Vancouver's end in the first and second periods and entered the third period with a 1-0 lead before Vancouver got back into it in the third. A power-play goal by the Canucks gave them life at 6:32 and five minutes later they pulled ahead 2-1. The good news for the Thrashers is that the Florida Panthers fell to Ottawa and the Hurricanes and Capitals were idle, leaving Atlanta tied for second in the Southeast and one point behind Washington. With two straight division games coming up the Thrashers have an opportunity to make up some ground.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Division Madness Update

The Panthers are playing the Senators tonight. They've beaten them before.

If the Panthers win tonight and we lose, we're looking at a Southeast Division where the Capitals and the Panthers are tied for first while Atlanta and Carolina languish in the back. I second Maal: I need a drink.

The Difference Between First and Third

Well, this sucks.

Then again, if we win tonight we're back in first, correct?

And on Friday the Capitals and the Hurricanes play EACH OTHER. I can't be sure, but that tells me at least one of them will lose. If the Thrashers defeat the Orca Army tonight, and the Hurricanes win tomorrow night, we'll be tied for first place again. If the Thrashers win tonight and the Caps win tomorrow, we get bumped to second. The Canes and the Thrashers both play on Saturday night (we against Tampa Bay and they against the Jersey Devils), and the Capitals play the Rangers on Sunday. Wouldn't it be nice to have a clear-cut first place team, provided that the clear-cut first place team is us?

My brain can't even compute how the Panthers will factor into all of this. I need to breathe into a paper bag.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Ilya Kovalchuk on Don Cherry

I just discovered this:

"You know, I don't care what he says, he's one of the guys, you like to watch him on TV because he always says some stuff. It's a free country, you can say whatever you want. I don't know, hockey, it's a fun game and some media guys, they are pretty fun, too, so that's okay."


The One to Watch Tonight

Apparently the Capitals and the Flyers are playing tonight in Philly.*

The Capitals have to deal with a rough equivalent to what we dealt with last night, presumably, and if they win they become the lead team in the Southeast. Both teams played last night; I think we can assume they'll both be somewhat tired. The Flyers were actually a little bit slow last night, slow but terribly efficient, like scrapyard robots. If they're the same tonight they'll be no match for Ovie's energy...though as Yogi Berra once said, Russian flair beats scrapyard robot defense every time, and vice versa.

I love Ovie and the Caps and hate the Flyers, but necessity is a bitch and I'll be hoping for a Flyers victory tonight.

*NHL Network, 7:00 PM

Bob Mckenzie of TSN: Hossa Rumors

The Montreal Canadiens do not have permission to talk to the agent of Atlanta winger Marian Hossa about a new long-term contract. So says Atlanta Thrashers GM Don Waddell, amid reports yesterday that Habs' GM Bob Gainey had been given permission to explore options with Hossa, who is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, in advance of a possible trade with the Thrashers. "There's no truth to it," Waddell told TSN. "None at all."

In fact, Waddell is still trying to sign Hossa to a long-term contract to stay in Atlanta. Waddell has been negotiating this week with Hossa's Edmonton-based agent Ritch Winter. The Thrashers expect to know by the beginning of next week whether a deal can be reached. If a deal isn't in place by the beginning of next week, sources say Waddell will shop Hossa to see what he will fetch, but that should not be confused with an absolute commitment to trade him. That decision will be dictated by the Thrashers' play between now and the Feb. 26th trade deadline.

If the Thrashers are competing for a Southeast Division title and/or a playoff spot, Waddell will have to weigh his options – keep Hossa for the stretch drive and playoffs and risk losing him for nothing on July 1 or weaken his team in the short term and perhaps derail the playoff run to acquire long-term assets by trading Hossa before the deadline.

Chasing a Playoff Position

Okay, our Boys in Blue are tied with the Carolina Tropical Depressions for the top spot in the division, both teams for the moment stalled at 56 points. The Washington Capitals and the Florida Panthers are both just one point behind us and Carolina, so one could argue that the Southeastern Division is the most competitive division in the League right now. The only team that looks like it doesn't have a shot is the Tampa Bay Lightning, but even I wouldn't rule out some kind of hot streak to give them a respectable finish.

That all has to do with the number one spot in our division, of course. Whoever clinches the Southeast Division will get the number 3 spot in the Eastern Conference and glide into the playoffs that way. I think the Caps, the Hurricanes, our Thrashers, and even the Panthers now all have a a realistic chance of being the division winner. The other way we could sneak into the playoffs, of course, is by lurching into that number eight spot. I would actually prefer this route, as I'd love to play the Ottawa Senators in the first round and humiliate them. An 8 or 7 spot for the Thrashers looks plausible when you consider the possibility of a) a Thrashers hot streak (I know we lost last night, but if we win several games in the coming weeks we can end up with a consistently badass record) and b) a collapse from one of the current Top 8. I think the Rangers or the Bruins could certainly choke and lose their position; both teams lost last night, and I think that losing to the L.A. Kings and the Buffalo Sabres (respectively) could bring about a loss of confidence and a fall from the top eight. Perhaps.

Meanwhile, the Southeast Division is in a feeding frenzy for the top spot. If enough games are won we could see at least three Southeastern teams making it to the playoffs. I'm not a great Florida or Carolina fan, but wouldn't be exciting if this year the New York Rangers and the Boston Bruins choked and some combination/variation of the Thrashers, the Hurricanes, the Caps and the Panthers all made it to the playoffs?


A Strange Night in the NHL

I largely second Monsieur Catalogues' post about the game last night. There was definitely a weird vibe in Blueland: one of the fire-breathing Thrasher heads wasn't lowered, there was some weird lighting rig dangling pretty close to the ice when it should have been near the roof, Announcer Steve was AWOL, T-Man was deathly ill, M. Catalogues was late, and NO ONE had any time for one of those scandalously large beers at Gorin's in the CNN Center (who are not paying me to write this post).

Worst of all, perhaps: Did anyone else notice a larger-than-usual proportion of the crowd last night was frat boy fucktard-ish? I ran into at least six UGA cap-wearing dudes who had clearly never been to a hockey game in their lives. During the first intermission I was standing in line for a beer and one behind me goes, "I think I'm gonna a Foster's; I hear it's an Italian beer." Sad sad sad.

I blame them and the bad vibes they created in the arena for our defeat, by the way. The Thrashers played pretty well, gave up some stupid and rash penalties, were victimized more than once by some dreadful calls, and the Czar was skating slower than normal (more out of caution than actual pain, I think).

It was a weird night all over the NHL, though. The Carolina Hurricanes lost to the Nashville Predators, so both they and us remain locked at 56 points and tied for first place in the Southeast Division. What else went on in the Southeast last night? The Capitals, the Panthers, and the Lightning (yes, that Lightning, from Tampa Bay) all WON. The Caps and the Panthers are chomping and clawing and beating their wings (a mixed metaphor, I know; can you imagine some kind of eagle-panther hybrid?) at our talons, but we have to keep flying (remind me never to use mascot imagery ever again). Alex Ovechkin managed to out-score Rick Nash (3 goals to his 2) and the Caps beat the Blue Jackets 4-3 and look like serious contenders for the division lead. The Panthers totally destroyed the poor Toronto Maple Leafs in an 8-0 blowout, and the Lightning managed to beat the St. Louis Blues.

The team we play this Thursday, the Vancouver Canucks, lost in a shootout to the Dallas Stars last night. They and us are both positioned at number 9 in the Western and Eastern Conference charts, respectively, so Thursday's game could admit either them or us to the playoff-eligible Top 8. The Canucks are one of my favorite teams, but the Thrashers are my Favorite Team, so GO BOYS GO!

Also: did anyone see clips from the Calgary Flames-Phoenix Coyotes game last night? It looked like an EXCELLENT game: a hat trick by Peter Mueller put the Coyotes in the lead, then Jarome Iginla and Dion Phaneuf staged a blistering comeback in the 3rd period, culminating in a quality punch-up between Iginla and one of the Coyotes (I'm ashamed to say I can't remember which one). Iggy earned a Gordie Howe hat trick. Quality. My heart is really with Mueller and the Great One and the Coyotes, but I love the Flames too.

Meanwhile, the Boston Bruins lost to the Buffalo Sabres and (this is the one that makes me giddy) the New York Rangers were overtaken by down-on-their-luck L.A. Kings. If that isn't justice I don't know what is.

Alright everyone, all together now: "Oh! The good old hockey gaaaaaame, is the best game you can name. The best game you can naaaaaame..."

The Czar Returned, But Couldn't Conquer All

This is my first post on The Blueland Chronicle. For those of you who are not too keen on the French or Les Quebecois, know that my name comes from my previous blog which was mainly a music blog, and my name comes from a song. So to get that out of the way......

Tonight was an odd night to start off with. The Thrasher heads weren't completely down to breathe fire upon Blueland. Arena Announcer Steve was not in the house. I arrived just in time for the game to begin, and I didn't have a pre-game beverage in the CNN Center. The game was a good one on the whole I thought. The boys played hard. They were tough on the attack end. Nitty was letting a good deal of rebounds out, and the boys scrambled to get to them. There were some chances that got taken from us like when Slater and Hossa almost got a goal, but the post was not in our favor. Kovy returned, and I was pleased of course to see him out. I was then overjoyed when he scored, truly a wonderful human being. Yet, in the end, we fell. It felt like we were finally going to shoot the Flyers down, but tonight was not that night.

Going into this game I told Mortimer Peacock that we must not take penalties. Sure enough, we did, and they took their toll on us. You cannot take penalties to the team with the 2nd best power play in the NHL. It is just not a good idea. Philly showed they certainly earned that 2nd place power play with scoring on two power plays out of their first five. The boys need to learn from what they did in Washington against the Caps. They did not take stupid penalties, and we were glorious.

Then there was another thing tonight that just felt bad. Big T and I were talking about it a good bit during the game. The refs just seemed like cruel extensions of hockey gods' hands tonight. Even Don Waddell got very upset at some of the calls, two in particular.

We are still tied for first in the Southeast Division with the Canes, but we barely hold this tie. The Caps and Florida both won and are gaining ground. We need to take Vancouver down Thursday. It's hard for me to say that considering I personally have quite an affection to the Canucks, but we must take them down. And WE CAN!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Czar Returns Tonight!


Now don't get me wrong. The Thrashers are a team rich in potential all around, and we can certainly win without him (didn't that happen recently?). We have glittering young talent in Kari Lehtonen, Tobias Enstrom, and Colin Stuart as well as fierce vet power and depth in Bobby Holik, Mark Recchi, Eric Perrin, and Moose.

I'm ecstatic that Kovy will be leading us against the Flyers tonight not merely because he's a phenomenal player and our Star Czar, but because he's passionately committed to the team. The man loves to score goals, obviously, and he enjoys the attention he gets (as he should; he puts on a great show), but he is above all else committed to the Atlanta Thrashers and doing whatever he can to bring us victories. Hossa is a wonderful player who seems--and it pains me to admit this--committed to the team about half the time. Kovy is a true team leader; true as in "a real live team player" and true in the Renaissance-Shakespearean sense of "loyal and devoted." He'll make a great captain next year. Long live Czar Ilya I!

Pre-Game Hopes and Fears, 02-05-08

Isn't it fitting that on Super Tuesday we're playing the Philadelphia Flyers? How so, you ask? Philadelphia being the cradle of our democracy and such, Independence Hall and the Founding Fathers and all that...we would probably have never been granted the right to get up early to drive to the polling stations before work if the signers of the Declaration of Independence didn't have Philadelphia to meet in. Am I right or am I right?

It has to be said, though, that the modern-day hockey representatives of Philadelphia don't embody the heritage of William Penn and Benjamin Franklin extremely well. The Flyers are one of my least favorite hockey teams (I think I hate only the Rangers and the Red Wings more), and Philly sports fans in general are psychopathic Visigoths.

It doesn't help that the Flyers almost bloody always beat us, or that Mark Knuble scored a hat trick against the Anaheim Ducks a few nights ago. The Flyers are thugs on fire right now, and I am a little bit uneasy about tonight's game, especially since it seems the Czar won't be returning tonight. We CAN win, of course. If Kari can keep up his awesome recent performance we can humiliate the Flyers' shots on goal and rely on Hossa, Recchi, Koslov, and Perrin for scoring. I really have full confidence that Kari can shut down the Flyers; and perhaps more importantly, I think it's possible that Bobby Holik and company can break up their defenses and their attacks. So with or without the Czar we have a chance. I'm chomping at the bit.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Franchise at a Crossroads

It's no secret that the weeks leading up to the NHL trade deadline will be very important to the Atlanta Thrashers. Just how important remains to be seen. This is a franchise that desperately needs to take the next step after winning the division last year. A step will be taken for sure, but will it be a step forward or a step in reverse? That will depend on the events that take place in the next couple of weeks.

Marian Hossa. A sentence all in itself. My goodness, what do you do if you are Don Waddell? By now you've probably heard that Waddell was in Montreal for the Rangers game on Sunday. Ding, ding, ding... we have a rumor! I'm not going to sit here and tell you what I think Waddell is going to do. I have no clue. What I can do is list our options as I see them:

  1. Sign Hossa: OK... probably not going to happen. Can't really blame Hossa there either. For the first time in his life he gets to pick where he wants to live/play. I know it's hard to believe, but the number one place might not be here. Also, with our ownership mess, we can't sign a player to more than a 4 year deal with out ALL owners consent. Let me tell you something, these guys can't even agree on whether or not Santa is good or evil. Why sign for 4 years when you can easily go anywhere else and get 5, 6 or 7?
  2. Sign and trade: Slim odds of this as well. As far as trade value goes, this would certainly be a blockbuster much like the trade that brought him here. I just don't see Hossa putting his John Hancock on anything before July 1st.
  3. Trade for immediate help: This is where the Montreal rumors come into play. Ryder has scored 30 goals the last two years but has only 8 so far this year. He fell out of favor with the coach and has been either on line 3 or 4, or scratched all together. They seem to think he has lost his touch. A change of scenery might do him good. Sound familiar (Mark Recchi). The problem is he is a UFA next year like Hossa. So any deal involving Ryder, would either be a secondary deal or a deal in which he is not the centerpiece.
  4. Trade for the Future: I know, not as much fun. Most deadline deals are for the future though. Why would a team want Hossa for a month or two and want to give up someone that has value on their team right now? Any team wanting Hossa is making a push for the Cup and more than likely will not give up someone off their roster that has close to the value that Hossa does. We could possibly get a top prospect or two, and a good draft pick. It would be nice to have that Number 1 pick the Ducks have courtesy of Kevin Lowe, but Hossa alone would not bring that.
  5. Gut the Team: This would only happen if we ABSOLUTELY tank in the next couple of weeks. We have several players that we could trade (keep in mind these are players that have value to other teams and are UFA's next year, I'd like to trade Zhitnik and so on, but it would be tough). Hossa, Holik, Hedberg, Recchi, Dupuis, all would be attractive as rental players for any playoff team. This is not a very fun option, but it's an option nonetheless.

What say you Blueland? Does Hossa stay or go? Is it a trade for now, or the future, or somewhere in between? Things are about to get interesting. I have faith Waddell will do as good as any other GM could do under this circumstance. He has pulled off many a shrewd trade in his day.

I realize I have to go out on a limb and make a prediction. So here goes: I say Hossa is traded for draft picks and top prospects. We then take part of the picks or prospects and trade for immediate help. Try and offset the loss of Hossa for this year and the playoff run. Just a guess!

Mixing hockey and politics #3

Another way to evaluate the prospective nominees hockey-wise would be making note of each candidate's hometown team (or closest-to-home team). Let's see...

Barack Obama: Chicago Blackhawks. And on the AHL front, let's not forget our own pool of prospects, the Chicago Wolves!

Hillary Rodham Clinton: New York Rangers, New York Islanders, perhaps the Jersey Devils (proximity to NYC) and also the Buffalo Sabres (they're in her Senate constituency).

John McCain: Phoenix Coyotes.

Mitt Romney: Boston Bruins in the state he governed, Detroit Red Wings in the state where he was born.

Mike Huckabee: Arkansas doesn't have a hockey team, so I reckon the nearest one is either the Dallas Stars or the Nashville Predators.

I'll let you draw your own conclusions. My own feeling is that McCain wins this one, as the Coyotes are one of my favorite teams.

Why vote for McCain?

The Blueland Chronicle supports McCain for the Republican nomination because he was endorsed by this man. If you go against McCain I fear for your safety.

We will get back to hockey later tonight...

Mixing hockey and politics #2

I've been thinking: what if each Presidential candidate was an NHL team? Who would match up with whom?

Barack Obama would be a new-ish Sunb
elt team like the Anaheim Ducks. He’s new, fresh, vital, and is shaking up the establishment by flourishing in a non-traditional market. He gets flak for being a Disney-ish “fairy tale” phenomenon and is libeled as not being particularly serious, then confounds his critics with his rich skills. He might also be the Pittsburgh Penguins, due to his youth, talent, and ability to intoxicate a fawning media.

Hillary Clinton would be the New York Rangers, not because of the fact that for some reason she represents New York in the Senate. Rather, I link Hillary to the Rangers because of their shared characteristics: neither are particularly notable or striking, both but both nonetheless command immense popularity due to their name recognition and their "veteran" status. This gives them a nauseating sense of entitlement. The theme here is unmerited prestige. And irritation.

John McCain would be the Minnesota Wild or the Colorado Avalanche. Rugged, Western, doesn't give a damn what anyone thinks, always surprises people. Also a true comeback and resurrection story, much like how the Minnesota North Stars disappeared and were replaced by the splendid Wild. Or like Ray Bourque and the Av’s winning the Stanley Cup.

Mitt Romney would be the Ottawa Senators. Slick, over-hyped, overrated, and lacking in anything resembling a soul.

Mike Huckabee would be the Tampa Bay Lightning. Both of them are surpassingly awful in just about every way, though not without star power.

Mixing hockey and politics #1

I'm sure, readers, that you recognize that the Blueland Chronicle doesn't do politics as a habit, even though the two current contributors are certainly interested in it while off the ice, so to speak. Since Super Tuesday falls tomorrow, and our own Peach State will be taking part, I think it's only fitting that we take some time to mull over the contenders for the Democratic and Republican Parties' nominations.

If the Blueland Chronicle were a serious newspaper and in the business of endorsing candidates, it would whole-heartedly support Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination and John McCain for the Republican nomination. I'll let T-Man explain Senator McCain's virtues; right now I'll tell you why I, M. Peacock, will be casting my vote for Barack tomorrow.

For one, he isn't Hillary Clinton. For my case against Hillary Clinton, I'll just reprint the letter I sent to the New York Times after reading their daft and confused endorsement of her:

To the New York Times Editors,
I am writing to express my confusion over your endorsement of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton for Democratic Presidential nominee. I'm not confused over your decision to back Senator Clinton (though I disagree with it); rather, I'm puzzled by the language and notions you use to justify your endorsement.
You write that Senator Obama and Senator Clinton are essentially the same in wanting to change "America's role in the world, not just its image." You go on to link the two candidates in terms of their views on the war in Iraq, taxation, civil liberties, and curiously, you claim that they both promise "an end to the politics of division of George W. Bush and Karl Rove." This last claim is difficult to substantiate, I think. Senator Obama has consistently resisted the lure of Bush/Rove style politics, but the same cannot be said for the Clinton campaign. In the last few weeks the Clinton campaign (the primary mouthpiece of which seems to be the former President Bill Clinton) has aggressively distorted and mischaracterized Obama's record on the Iraq War and his view of recent political history. I'm sure there's no need to recount exactly what was said, but it should be obvious to any thinking person that the Clinton campaign has lied about some of Barack Obama's statements and policy positions. The Clintons also practice the Bush/Rove tactic of criticizing an opponent for non-existent weaknesses, often their own weaknesses, and they haven't gone far enough in disavowing the pernicious and slanderous mass emails that have been circulating recently accusing Senator Obama of being an Islamic extremist bent on destruction of the United States. The Clintons have also gone to great lengths to force identity politics into this election: 1) Hillary Clinton has painted herself as "the woman candidate" whose administration would be uniquely beneficial to American women, and 2) Bill Clinton has used racial innuendo against Obama in an attempt to portray him as "the black candidate" who is fit only to lead blacks and who is wholly unworthy of support from white people. Clinton has doubled his offense in this area by proceeding to suggest that it was Senator Obama, and not himself, who brought race and identity politics into this election. All of these tactics bear more than a passing resemblance to those used by Karl Rove and George W. Bush.
Later in your editorial, you write: "The sense of possibility, of a generational shift, rouses Mr. Obama's audiences and not just through rhetorical flourishes. He shows voters that he understands how much they hunger for a break with the Bush years, for leadership and vision and true bipartisanship. We hunger for that, too. But we need more specifics to go with his amorphous promise of a new governing majority, a clearer sense of how he would govern." This is worse than a mischaracterization or a distortion of Barack Obama's positions. It is one thing for people who gather their opinions second-hand, without spending too much effort in thought or research, to make this mistake. It is quite another for the newspaper that markets itself as America's "paper of record" to repeat a glib cliche without further investigation. It is lazy journalism. Even the most cursory glance at Obama's ideas and policies reveals that there is more to him than amorphous platitudes about "hope" and "change." Shame of you for repeating a lazy political cliche and presenting it as the conclusion of long and tough reasoning. Elsewhere, you write: "Mr. Obama talks more about the damage Mr. Bush has done to civil liberties, the rule of law and the balance of powers. Mrs. Clinton is equally dedicated to those issues, and more prepared for the Herculean task of figuring out exactly where, how and how often the government's powers have been misused — and what must now be done to set things right." How do you know that Senator Clinton will perform this "Heruclean task" and Senator Obama won't? And finally, you write: "As strongly as we back her candidacy, we urge Mrs. Clinton to take the lead in changing the tone of the campaign. It is not good for the country, the Democratic Party or for Mrs. Clinton, who is often tagged as divisive, in part because of bitter feeling about her husband's administration and the so-called permanent campaign. (Indeed, Bill Clinton's overheated comments are feeding those resentments, and could do long-term damage to her candidacy if he continues this way.)" Why back the Clinton campaign at all then? It's obvious that Bill Clinton has inserted himself into this race in an unconstitutional way; from many perspectives it looks like the nominee "Hillary Clinton" is actually a dual ticket. These dynastic politics are perhaps suited to feudal or autocratic societies or to banana republics. It is not becoming of the world's first non-monarchist constitutional republic. Why the New York Times would lend its venerable name and reputation to this style of politics is baffling to me. Judging from the tortured reasoning and bad faith of your endorsement, it seems like it might be to you too.

Mortimer Peacock
Now then. Does Senator Obama have any virtues to recommend him besides not being a Clinton? Yes indeed! It's de rigeur to talk about how likable a personality and how rousing an orator he is, and that is all true (and, to me, appealing; wouldn't it be nice to have a President that can actually speak and write English well?) but the thing I like most about him is his calm, reasonable, and thoughtful mind. In nearly every debate and interview I've seen, his answers to questions are nuanced and carefully thought out. This is probably a hold-over from his days as a professor of law at the University of Chicago (a place renowned for its conservative legal scholars, mind you). His slow, deliberate answers are depicted as evidence of not being able to think on his feet by the Clinton campaign, and if he's the nominee there's no doubt the Republicans will do the same thing. I think it's refresing that a candidate takes the time to work out his thoughts and give a coherent answer to a complex question rather than spout whatever readymade slogans the pollsters and consultants have put into his mouth. Obama is a smart, thoughtful guy with a history of learning quickly: he made up his mind to be a lawyer, did that, decided to be a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago, did that, wanted to run for the Illinois state legislature, did that, and finally decided to run for the US Senate and Presidency. Like Alexander Hamilton, he seems to learn whatever his minds lights on with rare speed and comprehension. That assuages any doubts I have about his experience or his fitness for foreign policy. Speaking of foreign policy, another reason to vote for him is that if elected he would probably make Joe Biden Secretary of State. Biden's the most knowledgeable guy in Washingont when it comes to foreign affairs, so I think that would be a constructive development. One last characteristic of Obama that I really like: he tells people what they don't want to hear. He doesn't often pander to interest group audiences or flatter his listeners. He told a teacher's union that he thinks merit pay for teachers is a good idea, he told a Miami meeting of Cuban exiles that it might be wisest to lift the embargo against that benighted island, and he told Detroit autoworkers that their industry needed to raise fuel efficiency standards.
The Clintons and others have criticized Obama for not having enough specific, nitty-gritty policy positions. This is false. He has plenty of them.
Here's a list :
  • He supports network neutrality, which is vital to the survival of free flow of ideas and information on the Internet.
  • He opposes stupid and cruel mandatory minimum sentences, saying that they take too much discretion away from independent judges.
  • He opposed the Military Commissions Act. Nice of him to defend our ancient liberties, rights that go back to the Magna Carta.
  • He wants to expand health care coverage to everyone, but he has enough sense and respect for American history and tradition that he isn't going to coerce everyone into a single-payer health system overnight, a la Hillary.
  • He supports biofuels and energy independence.
  • He wants to reform/do away with the barbaric No Child Left Behind Act and actually, you know, let teachers teach and not tailor their lessons to filling in bubbles on standardized tests.
  • He's raised the possibility of instituting merit pay for teachers. A fine idea, I think. He gets extra points here for unveiling this idea in a speech to a teacher's union. The man has balls.

Well, this has been an awfully long post. I hope I haven't alienated any readers of this blog, but I felt I had to make a last-ditch case for Obama and against Clinton. As to the argument for McCain, take it away T-Man!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

A change of opinion

Maybe football isn't all that bad. This has been a pretty exciting Superbowl. This is coming from someone who hasn't watched a single football game in six years though.

"My boy Ovechkin..."

Well, the Patriots seem to have made a touchdown. I would live-blog the Superbowl, but I'm not a football fan and I don't understand why anyone else is. Furthermore, look at this video of Kovalchuk being interviewed earlier this season (he's being asked to comment on the Caps' troubles earlier this season). What a class act. I love him.

What a Weekend

I won't attempt to improve on any of the commentary about the two splendid but very different games the Thrashers won this weekend. Analysis of the games is readily available all over the hockey web and blogosphere, and this blog is more vaudeville than Senate, so...

Friday night's game against the Buffalo Sabres was the most tense and stressful I've ever seen; I was literally cowering in my Blueland seat and hiding my eyes at points (most often during the shootout). The Enstrom goal near the end of regulation time was exhilarating, as was Eric Perrin's game-winning shot. I nearly wept with joy. The game against the Capitals was obviously much lower scoring and less dramatic, though just as tense in its way; I spent most of that one silently commending our defense through the TV screen, with a brief eruption upon that Todd White, Recchi-assisted goal.

The secret of our success in these last two (Kovalchuk-less) games? I think it goes without saying that Jimmy Slater has abolished all of the Blueland Chronicle's doubts and successfully transformed himself into a goal-scoring machine. Vets like Bobby Holik and Mark Recchi (my non-Kari Player of the Game for last night) have played wonderfully, and our defense is all-around tight and solid. I could go on and talk about how much of a prince Enstrom is or how Exelby has been consistently good of late, but the reason we've done well in these last three is something obvious but under-mentioned: teamwork. We're, like, actually playing as a cohesive unit, all for one and one for all and all that. If we keep playing like this...

Oh, and Kari Lehtonen is one of the finest goalies around. Thank the skies over Finland for such a jewel of a goal-artist.

Super Bowl Sunday

So, it's here. The biggest day for sports in America, perhaps the world. The media has been talking nonstop for two weeks about the Pats and Giants. Friends and family will all gather 'round the TV all afternoon and evening to watch the Super Bowl. I, myself will be watching the game. But to be honest, I really don't see what the big deal is. I like football. I just have a hard time with the fact that, if the Patriots win, they will have won the championship, all the while only having to play 3 playoff games!

If you only win 3 games in the Stanley Cup playoffs how far will that get you? It will get you all the way to the golf course! I've never understood why football teams play so few games. Do their bodies really get beat up that much more than hockey players? The football season is 16 games (coincidentally, that's the number of games you must win to hoist the Stanley Cup). The NHL plays 82 games, plus a two month playoff. You can't tell me that there is THAT much difference in the contact that the players go through. Now, I'm gonna get in trouble for saying this, but hockey players are tougher than football players, that's what it is. I'm sure most will be angered by this comment. You just have to accept the truth.

Football is such a big deal because it televises well. Let's be honest though, there is very little action. You will have a play, for maybe 10 seconds, and then you wait 40 seconds until the next play. Repeat this process for the enitre game. When you read it sounds kinda boring doesn't it. Hockey on the other hand, is nonstop action. Players will have a shift for about a minute, then have to come off the ice because they have sprinted the enitre time. They are replaced by teammates that do the exact same thing. Repeat this process for the entire game. When you read it sounds kinda EXCITING doesn't it.

I didn't mean this to be an anti-football column. It just cannot stand up to hockey. When you watch the game and see the winner tonight, look into his eyes as he lifts the trophy (that gets fingerprints all over it almost instantly). Tell me if you see the same passion as you saw in Ray Bourque's eyes as he lifted the Cup for the first time in 22 years. Tell me if you see the sacrifice that you saw as Shjon Podein openly wept over the joy of winning it all. It's not that football players don't care or have no passion. The point I'm trying to make is it takes two months of playing a game every other day and two months of blood, sweat and tears to win the Stanley Cup. You can win the Super Bowl by playing three games over the course of a month. The final game is also in a neutral site. Take it from someone who has been to both a Super Bowl and a Stanley Cup final game, there is no comparison. Imgaine if the Thrashers made it to the final and it was played in Phoenix. The Super Bowl is not only lacking the passion from the players compared to hockey, it is also lacking the passion from the fans.

So, as the entire world watches football tonight, let's take a moment to realize how wonderful our game is. Don't let it bother you that it is not as popular. It's our game, and if the majority of the world doesn't understand it, too bad for them.