Saturday, August 30, 2008

Will McCain Get the Hockey Vote?

Ah, one o'clock in the morning on a Friday night-Saturday morning. As I've said before, I'm normally out carousing with supermodels and rock stars at this hour, but tonight, dear readers, I'm sitting at home pondering McCain's pick for Vice President, Sarah Palin.

Puck Daddy has been all over her hockey mom bona fides, and why not? I mean, I still won't be voting for Grizzly McCain, but Palin is a refreshing personality for a few reasons. Not only does she like hockey (and have kids who play it), but she seems to have named her kids after TV witches (look here), she admits to smoking pot (while it was legal in Alaska), and she admits to having gay friends as if it's normal. Nice.

If the GOP is smart, they'll make her a sort of party leader in the near future. Perhaps she could even run for President one day. But right now...are you kidding me? I won't make any jokes at the expense of our Alaskan friends, nor will I mention anything about oil drilling or foreign policy experience (lack of); suffice it to say she wants to take these adorable and deadly creatures off the Endangered Species List:

Friday, August 29, 2008

The GM Who's Slow to Act...

Has a serious lack of tact?

The Tampa Bay Lightning have replaced Dan Boyle with Andrej Meszaros. I wonder if our General Manager is going to make any more moves this summer. Because we could, like, use some.

I have advice for Don Waddell (again): T-R-A-D-E S-O-M-E-B-O-D-Y.

Early thoughts on nicknames

Some old, some new, some ridiculous.

The current crop:

Ilya "The Czar" Kovalchuck (Of course)
"The Late" Slava Kozlov (To be Lazaruslov if he comes back to life this year)
Jimmy "The Tulip" Slater (see The Whole Nine Yards)
Eric "JP" Perrin (Because we didn't want to learn his name after taking JPVJ's number)
Ron "Mr. Hankey" Hainsey (Hainsey just kind of sounds like Hankey)
Tobi Keith Enstrom
Zach "Bogo the Bull/Bogo the Bogosian; Bogo the destructor" Bogosian (see Ghostbusters)
Kari "Squirrel" Lehtonen (Sorry, Kari, but your nickname is dependent on your backup goalie)

Some old favorites:

Serge "Everybody Wins!" Aubin
Peter "Bonsai" Bondra
Andrew "Bruno" Brunette
Kelly "Bucky" Buchburger
"Big" Greg DeVries
Hnat "Dahmer" Dominicheli
Sean "SEAN!!!!!!" Donovan
Pascal "Little Kovy" Dupuis
Ray "Chicken Parm" Ferraro
Maxim "Magazine" Galanov
Darcy "Chucky" Hordichuck
Tony Hrkac "Circus"
Chris "Not Curtis" Joseph
Andreas "The Swedish Porn Star" Karlson
Norm "Double Cheeseburger" Maracle
Shawn "Captain America" McEchern
Rumun "Nder's Game" Nder
Jeff "The Sherrif" Odgers
Ron "Pedro" Petrovicky
Pascal "Manon's Brother" Reheume
"Poor" Jiri Slegr
Steve "The Bruise" Staios
Mike "Whitey" Stapleton
Patrik "Patty/Stephanie" Stefan
Per "The Fartman" Svardtvadet
Dean "Dino" Sylvester
Chris "Sarge" Tamer
Steve "Been Out Skatin' The River" Weeks
"What does" Zhitnik Shmelik?

Even older favorites:

Stan "The Captain" Drulia
Norman "The Rock" Rochefort
Steve "Mushy" Larousche
Jeff "Bucky" Buchanan

And last but certainly strangest:

Ukulele Yannick and his Yo Yo's of Mystery

This Just In...

Former President Jimmy Carter proves himself to be a total dick.

Jimmy Carter said John McCain "milked" his experience as a POW when he was interviewed by Rick Warren a couple of weeks ago. Carter explained that McCain tried to mention he was a POW in nearly every single answer.

For those of you who didn't see the interview, Rick Warren is a Pastor and most of the interview was centered around Faith. I feel pretty confident that the only way McCain made it through those horrible years was because of his Faith. That is why he talked about it so much President Dimmy.

And one more thing, in nearly every speech he has given since that interview, Obama has said how McCain thinks Middle Class is anywhere below $5 million. I really thought Obama was above that kind of nonsense, but he continues to prove me wrong. To anyone who actually saw the interview McCain was clearly joking, in fact he even said so about 2 seconds after making the remark. Our boy Obama never seems to mention that. Don't believe me that he was joking, watch:


Due to the comment by Anonymous (couldn't even post under a made up name could we?) complaining that this is a hockey blog and we should only talk about hockey... we shouldn't talk about what is going on in the world, I say to him or her, this is August. Not much going on in the hockey world there Sparky. If it makes you feel better I will type this: Go Thrashers.

For The Blueland Chronicle, I'm Big Shooter.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

NHL Guide: San Jose Sharks

Finally cashing in on Razor Catch Prey's fine idea, then.

It's no secret that I love the finned denizens of HP Pavilion. After the mighty Thrashers they're my second favorite team in all the universe. Why, you ask?

Well, first thing's first. Joe Thornton. He might well be my second favorite hockey player...hell, it's probably more accurate to say that he's my favorite human hockey player. The Czar, as we all know, is some kind of Russia-dwelling demi-god.

Speaking of the Czar, I genuinely think there's a correlation between Thornton and Kovalchuk. If Ovechkin is roughly analogous to Sidney Crosby on the NHL Goal-Scoring Monsters to Assist-Machine Centers spectrum, Kovalchuk is Joe Thornton.

Think about it: they're both thrilling players, blessed with superhuman accuracy and a shot that seemingly comes from nowhere and--via laser beam--ends up in goal. Or in Thornton's case, on the tape of Cheechoo or Michalek or Marleau. Then into goal. Kovalchuk can score goals from anywhere, it seems (of course he has his favorite spots, like his One Timer Perch during the power play), and Thornton can pass the puck from anywhere. Finest center in the game today, if you ask me. I've always said, comrades, that my Heart Attack Line is Kovalchuk-Thornton-Iginla.

DID he see Marleau's reflection in the glass?

It's not just that Thornton is a magical player. He's a supercool guy as well, a goofy and lovable personality. Have I ever mentioned his facial hair?

But back to the Sharks. It's amazing that they have a player of Thornton's calibre but insist on having OTHER amazing players as well. This seems the logical place to talk about the marvels of Nabby.

What is there to say, really? He dances around in not unMooselike manner (though with a Russian twist), makes jaw-dropping save after jaw-dropping save, and uh, uh...well, look at his season-closing performance this year:

I enjoy Nabokov's personality as well. He's a quiet, meditative type, a good foil to Thornton's adolescent charm. He seems to be the responsible adult of the Russian national team. Did I mention he's a blinding goalie?

But it doesn't end there, folks. Oh no. The Sharks have Patrick Marleau as well.

He looks like a giant puppy, but he's one of the finest power forwards around, in my opinion. His last season was sub-par, certainly, but I have no doubt he'll be back to his old self come October (how long IS it 'til October?). I mean, what more could you want out of an NHL forward? He scores plenty of goals, allows himself to get banged up more than Ryan Malone, and bangs people up in return. All the while looking like a giant puppy.

And he likes Formula One! And he has (if I remember correctly) a hot wife! What's not to love? God bless him.

Then there's the Cheechoo Train from Moose Factory. There's a lot of things I like about Jonathan Cheechoo, but the most appealing thing about him (aside from the name of his home town) is that when he gets in a fight, he smiles the entire time. I think that wears his opponents down more than punches. He seems like a kind, sincere sort of fellow. I'd love to have him on the Thrashers.

There are plenty of other things I love about the Sharks. Milan Michalek is a fine speedy winger who might one day evolve into a Hossa-esque player. And I can't imagine how awesomely cool the Sharks will become when Rob Blake hits the ice with them next season. For now, I'd like you to direct your attention towards the two GREATEST things about the Sharks:

As the ancient proverb says: "Hit Joe Thornton, get punched in the head by Mike Grier."

and finally...

NHL Guide: New York Rangers

Paradoxically, no team in the NHL benefited quite as much from the new CBA as the New York Rangers. With a salary cap in place, the Blueshirts could no longer pretend to be the Yankees, throwing obscene money at every free agent who had ever been on a winning team. Glen Sather held a fire sale before the lockout, sending the majority of his over-paid under-performing primadonas to any takers in exchange for prospects and draft picks. After the puck dropped again, the former Oiler-GM used his old touch to put together an actual TEAM, rather than a collection of individual players who wore the same jersey and wondered why the other guys kept trying to hog thier puck.

The first day of free agency last year felt like the old days, as the Rangers made a huge splash by securing not one, but two of the biggest names on the market immediately. This year will mark the first year in which the team really belongs to Scott Gomez and Chris Drury. Jagr is off to Mother Russia, so the burden of putting the biscuit in the other team's basket falls mostly on last year's two big free agent acquisitions. The difference between this situation and the one that faced so many Rangers' squads in the 90's and earlier this decade is that there's a solid lineup of young, skilled contributors on the roster after the Hockey God and the Mexkimo (nicknames courtesy of Bucci and an old roommate of mine).

Obviously, if you don't love Chris Drury, then you have a crap-stained hammer and sickle where you should have a soul. Nothing more needs to be said about him.

Scotty Gomez is also one that you pretty much have to love, despite the fact that he was a teammate of Martin Brodeur for most of his career. He's American, he's a good guy, and he works hard on the ice.

For some reason, I don't really like Lundqvist. I really don't know why. It's just a negative feeling I get when I look at him. But he's been a Vezna finalist almost every year he's been in the league, and it's hard to argue that he didn't deserve it.

I'll leave the analysis of Marcus Naslund to French Catalogues, but his Nike commercial with the Czar is reason enough to root for him.

Bandon Dubinski and Ryan Callahan are badasses, and should both make the USA squad in the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. Great blue-collar type guys who work amazingly hard and show a lot of heart. You have to respect the Rangers for the fact that they've always tried to keep a lot of Americans on their roster. The current roster has 7 American starters (Drury, Gomez, Dubinski, Callahan, Rissmiller, Mara, and Fritsche), and the numbers in the rafters include American greats Brian Leetch and Mike Richter.

Fredrik Sjostrom also deserves to be mentioned just because his name is so fun to say. It's pronounced shoe-strum. He's also called Freddie Shoes.

Finally, the Rangers also have the second Staal brother, Marc. Like all the Staal brothers, he's immensely talented and has enough grit and fire that he had a very physical rivalry with his own younger brother in the NYR/PIT series.

Gone are the dark days of Jagr, Kasparitis, Avery, Hollweg, and Shannahan. It's ok to like the Rangers again.

IN OTHER NEWS: Stu Barnes announced today that he is retiring and will join the coaching staff in Dallas. Despite his years with the Stars, we here remember Stubarnes fondly from his run to the finals with the Panthers in 96 and his time in Buffalo.

For the Chronicle, this is Razor Catch Prey.

Super Joe Inks

Joe Sakic signed a $6 Million contract for one year. I'm glad he's still in for at least one more year even if I think the Avs won't be up to par, which is a sad state when you think about it, wonderful team. But man, isn't Joe Sakic great?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Mixing hockey and politics #4

Rattle and Hum. Great band, awful movie. With the exception of that and a few other scenes. At that point, they were only a few years away from their greatest period.

Dans les news:

"Values voters" my ass. God LIVES in the Pepsi Center.

Master criminal relocates to Calgary.

Good-old Marc-Edouard Vlasic returns to the Shark Tank.

Why I like Joe Biden:

M: Can I ask you a question? It seems that one of the shortcomings of the neoconservative worldview is precisely their focus on states.

B: Exactly right, bingo.

M: Okay.

B: You're one of only three goddamn guys that've gotten this.

M: Well, can you --

B: The fundamental flaw in the neo -- forget flaw, the fundamental difference between Joe Biden, John Kerry on the one hand, and the neoconservatives on the other is that they genuinely believe -- I'll put it in the negative sense -- they do not believe it is possible for a sophisticated international criminal network that will rain terror upon a country, that has the potential to kill 3,000 or more people in a country, can exist without the sponsorship of a nation state. They really truly believe -- and this was the Axis of Evil speech -- if you were able to decapitate the regimes in Iran, Iraq, North Korea, you would in fact dry up the tentacles of terror. I think that is fundamentally flawed reasoning. If every one of those regimes became a liberal democracy tomorrow, does anybody think we wouldn't have Code Orange tomorrow in the United States? Rhetorical question. Does anybody think we don't have to worry about the next major event like Madrid occurring in Paris or Washington or Sao Paulo? Gimme a break. But they really believe this is the way to do it.

Bogo's a Go

Knobler is reporting that DW has begun negotiations with Zach Bogosian to get him signed to his rookie contract. Under the current CBA, the base salary for rookies is fixed (but varies based on where you were drafted) but lets the teams work out incentives.

Apparently DW wants to have the contract done and filed in time for Bogo to lead our prospects onto the ice at the Traverse City tournament in mid-September. From there, he'll come back to the Ice Forum for his first NHL training camp. DW had good things to say about how Bogo was looking at the Team USA juniors evaluation camp where he met with him in Lake Placid recently. He seems to think that his body is ready for the NHL, and the only thing to worry about is his mind. From everything I've heard about the kid, he should be mentally fit to handle the transition, too.

This is good news since Nikulin is obviously not going to be heading our way, and Bogosian is the biggest pick up of this off season for Atlanta. But who knows? Maybe Joe Sakic's press conference will be to tell everyone that he has always loved the Varsity, and thus wants to finish his career as a Thrasher.

If Joe Biden Were a Hockey Team...

I have no idea. The Plymouth Whalers, perhaps?

I mean that as a compliment.

So it's been a while since I've posted. Hats of all shapes and sizes off to Razor Catch Prey and even to Monsieur Catalogues for keeping this blog afloat while Grand Shooteur and myself languished in depressed August writer's block.

I'm not saying that I have anything to say about hockey right now (really, what is there to say? I hope we get Teemu Selanne?), though, so why not talk about what the rest of the world (and I do mean the world) is talking about?

The Democratic National Convention is afoot. Next week is the Republican National Convention. Last time I counted, this blog is split down the middle when it comes to this here general election. Monsieur French and I are for the black guy and the guy from Delaware; Grand Shooteur and RCP will be voting for the Bionic Man and his mystery running mate.

What does this mean? Much like Patrick Marleau's Formula One coach, the Chronicle tolerates political diversity. And shit.

So far the DNC has been as exciting as a New Jersey Devils game with the back-up goalie. None of the speeches have shown much in the way of fire or inspiration; there seems to be a 2004-esque over-cautiousness in the air thus far. Like I said in my comment on Big Shooter's latest post, I hope Joe Biden will offer up a rabble-rousing barnstormer tomorrow night. Surely Slick Willie will deliver, or at least be interesting. To be honest, watching him chatting up some lady in the nose-bleed section was the most interesting moment of the convention so far. She looked like she knew she was doing wrong, but her defenses were clearly crumbling...

Where's the passion, DNC folk? Where's the rage? It's not like taking gratuitous shots at Bush, Cheney, the oil companies, Gitmo, and Iraq would be a risky, vote-losing display of crazy lefty radicalism. Negative opinions about all of the above are the fucking consensus now. Come on, kids. Give the people what they want.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Random Thoughts

It has been a really long time since I have posted. To the two of you that missed me, please accept my sincerest apologies. Your ole pal Big Shooter has been working hard trying to keep the lights turned on in this down right disgusting economy (to anyone else who is in the land business like myself, I FEEL your pain!). According to the Dems, we can't afford another four years of Bush/McCain... I'm sorry, I didn't realize McCain spent the last 8 years as VP! Vote for whoever you want to folks, just don't vote against McCain because they are trying to lump him in with that idiot Bush. MCCAIN IS NOT BUSH!!!

Sorry, I momentarily forgot this is a hockey blog. As Frenchy pointed out, Pop has gone to gr$$ner pastures in Russia. Good for him. Although if I were a GM I wouldn't offer him more than a two way deal. Also, as Frenchy pointed out, we don't care too much about football. For more reading, Knobler gives his views on the "other" Ilya.

Not much else is going on folks. Ah, August. We have almost made it through this most horrible of months. We still have to hear from Sundin, Sakic, Shanahan, Selanne (what is it with the S's?), and Chelios. Hopefully some news will trickle in to keep us busy until training camp.

Until next time, enjoy this Coach's Corner Classic:

Popovic To Russia

Mark Popovic is going over to Russia to play. Apparently all the deals he had from the NHL were two way deals, and I guess he just wanted to get right in it, and he's getting paid $1 million. I'd go to Russia for $1 Million for one year.

Also in other Hockey news, USA Today announced its preseason rankings. Surprise, surprise we didn't make the top 16, which is all he ranked. Oh well, by this point I just don't care about what writers say. This guy did put the Lightning, Sabres, and Senators above the Blackhawks. I just don't know. In my mind, I see such grand things for those youngins from Chi-Town. Oh well, power rankings........what are you going to do?

Also, no offense to anyone, and I mean anyone. I just can't think about football right now.

Also did anyone check out the trade value rankings? Interesting stuff. My top trade guy was #39, Dustin Brown. That boy is a bargain in my opinion. I'd be happy if we could get him. 23-years-old improving each year with 60 points last season.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Off Topic: Pro Football

I have been mourning Brett Favre ever since I heard the awful news. At least he didn't go suddenly. We saw it coming for several weeks. Both Favre and the Packers are to blame. On one hand, even Brett Favre can't keep jerking a team around about whether or not he is going to retire. But on the other hand, how can any team possibly do anything but accommodate even the flightiest behavior from BRETT FAVRE!?!?!?

Alas. Since my mind cannot wrap itself around Brett Favre playing for the New York Jets, he is dead to me, and now I must seek to fill the void that has been left by this icon.

Luckily, a new Brett Favre is already in the league and ready to accept the devotion that was previously very deservedly heaped upon Brett Favre. From hence forth, the title of Real-Man Quarterback will be held by Big Ben Roethlisberger. If you have any doubt whatsoever that he deserves to be the next Favre, go read the Maxim article about him linked at the bottom of this post.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

NHL Guide: Boston Bruins

The Bruins were my favorite team back when I started watching hockey in the early 90's. It was their heyday, not because they were winning championships (obviously), but because they boasted a roster of champions. Raymond Bourque is the greatest defenseman to ever play the game, and the only one who can even make an argument is fellow Bruin Bobby Orr. Adam Oates is probably the best playmaker ever, and a classy guy. Cam Neely was the original and still the best power forward, and richly deserved his place in the Hall of Fame. Joe Juneau was a stellar player in his day, and a clutch performer who went on from Boston to score the goal to put the Caps in the Cup Finals for the first time. Andy Moog was a great goaltender who went on to become the Thrashers' first goalie scout, which unfortunately means he probably suggested signing He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named.

However, shameful, penny-pinching, disinterested management that is only rivaled by the Blackhawks prevented the Bruins from really competing in the playoffs after 1990. Oates left as part of a blockbuster deal that saw him go to the Caps along with Billy Ranford and Rick Tocchet (of Coyotes gambling infamy) in return for Jim Carey (not the actor), Anson Carter, and Jason Allison. Cam Neely was forced into early retirement due to knee problems and became a great post-career ambassador for the game. Joe Juneau was traded to the Caps shortly after his fellow RPI-alum Oates in exchange for Big Al Iafrate. And of course, Ray Bourque, fed up with the team's management, finally decided to head to Colorado to seek a Stanley Cup before retirement, which he achieved in the greatest moment in professional sports history.

Today, the Bruins just don't have enough in the tank to really muster much in the way of admiration or spite. In Atlanta, we all remember Marc Savard's assists fondly, but cringe in memory of his stupid, ill timed penalties. He's also a jerk.

I have a hard time not liking Zdeno Chara, at least a little bit. He is the biggest guy in the NHL and could barely skate when he first joined the league. It would have been easy for him to become a joke, collect his rookie contract money and fade off into obscurity. But Zdeno worked his ass off and became much more than just an intimidating force. He went from an awkward rookie to a legitimate Norris Trophy finalist.

TIMMAY!!! You have to feel bad for Tim Thomas. He's a solid goalie with a temper (Pasi, anyone?) on a team with practically no defense. And he's American. And I had a great time yelling TIMMAY!!! at the All Star Game.

Phil Kessel. The Bruins seem ready to give up on him already, as he's been rumored to be on the trading block since before the deadline this past season. I would love to have this future Team-USA Captain in Atlanta. He was scratched for the first few games of the playoffs, then came back and single-handedly almost got the Bruins to the second round.

So the Bruins have a few admirable players, but not much heart these days. That's why they're on my list of teams that are just kind of -there.

For the Chronicle, I'm Razor Catch Prey.

Monday, August 18, 2008

More On Sundin

Ok, so now the Fourth Period is saying Sundin wants to be a Ranger. That's fine, good for him, whatever, but...........that means there is a cap space issue. I mean I can only assume that there would be a cap issue with how much they'd sign him for. So, maybe we should pick up somebody on the team because of the cap issues. I can think of a few players that I'd like from them, one name that comes to mind is Michal Rozsival. Apparently they want to move him. So we take that contract off their hands of four years for five million, and things look a little better for us. So if this happens with Sundin to New York, It makes me think a couple things : 1. We should take advantage of this cap room issue 2. Poor poor Canucks (kinda got shafted on that one, their offense isn't what it used to be)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sundin Hillarity

We haven't spoken much if at all about the Sundin situation here. Why? Well to be honest, we don't give a damn.

But it is funny sometimes to sit back and watch the Toronto and New York sports media fight it out over conflicting rumors.

The latest spat has the New York Post claiming that Matt Sundin really wants to be a Ranger. What a shock. The New York Post has claimed that every player from Kovy to the fat guy who got cut from his C League team at the Southside Ice Forum secretly wants to be a New York Ranger.

Of course the Toronto media (TSN) immediately shot back claiming that it's absolutely false and that Sundin wouldn't be caught dead on any team that didn't play under a maple leaf flag.

Sitting back with a bourbon and watching our cold blooded brethren fight it out, I'm Razor Catch Prey.

Friday, August 15, 2008

NHL Guide: Joe Thornton's Facial Hair

He looks best with a scruffy, not-shaven-today sort of look. Tall and lanky types need facial hair; they look like telephone poles otherwise. 

Joe Thornton is an excellent hockey player. More on his team later. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

NHL Guide: Calgary Flames

In today's second installment of the Chronicle's August Guide to the NHL, where we tell you who to love and who to hate, we take a look at the Atlanta-nee-Calgary Flames.

Who doesn't love the Calgary Flames? Even Big Shooter, who as a die hard Oiler fan is bound by all that is Holy to despise the Flames, has a Jerome Iginla tattoo in an sensitive location. Below are Razor's top ten reasons to join the C of Red any time they're not playing the Thrashers.

10) The Red Mile- Really like 1.8 miles of Calgary leading out from the Saddle Dome and Rodeo grounds, this street is packed with bars and restaurants that overflow with fans after a game. The Melrose Cafe & Bar is an awesome place to catch a game if you couldn't score tickets.

9) Dion Phaneuf- One of the best defensemen in the NHL from the second he first hit the ice. Despite also being one of the UGLIEST defensemen in the NHL, restored some of my faith in humanity when he stole Jack Bauer's daughter away from Sean Avery. He would be higher on the list, if he didn't refer to himself as "The Dion."

8) The Calgary Stampede- The biggest rodeo in the world isn't in Montana, Wyoming, or even Texas. It's in Canada. If you've ever been there, it's easy to see why. Alberta feels like Colorado with slightly funnier accents and better beer.

7) Darryl Sutter- I am still in denial over...well, a lot of things really. The Flames made a huge mistake when they allowed Sutter to give up the bench boss duties and hire Mike Keanan. Sutter was an iconic NHL player, and a heck of a coach.

6) Robyn Regehr- Another Flames D-man who blew away expectations when he entered the league, but Regehr did it more through determination and grit than natural ability. He's the kind of guy everybody wants on their team.

5) Chris LeDoux- The world's greatest all-time singing cowboy once recorded a song titled "Hippies in Calgary" about a joke he once played on buddies while they were in town for the Calgary Stampede Rodeo. LeDoux narrowly avoided having his clock cleaned by a fellow rodeo cowboy because he dressed up in a wig and beads.

4) Stephane Yelle- Yeller is the prototypical role player. If he were on the Thrashers, he'd win the Dan Snyder award every single year. It's impossible not to be proud of his effort and quiet leadership.

3) Miikka Kipprusoff- Our loyal readers know that Finns have a hard time getting respect here in the Chronicle. But we've always had room in our hearts for Kipper, from the time he was 95th on the Sharks' depth chart, through his performance in the 04 playoffs that should have won him the Conn Smythe. Once again, Brad Richards is a prick.

2) The C of Red- Few teams can pull off the "blackout," regardless of what color they actually choose to use. Even fewer can do it without actually passing out t-shirts to fans on their way to the game. Calgary doesn't even have to plan. Opposing players skating onto the ice during the playoffs look around and think they've found a patch of ice amidst the fires of Hell.

1) Jarome Iginla- The perfect hockey player. He's Cam Neely with healthy knees, and a great ambassador of the game of hockey. The Chronicle staff unanimously agreed recently that Iginla is the one player we would all choose to build a franchise around.

Please note- It is still perfectly acceptable to hate both Mike Keanan and Todd Bertuzzi. That is all.

Other notes- Congrats to Brett Hull, Mike Richter, Brian Leetch, and Cammi Granato on their induction to the U.S.A. Hockey Hall of Fame. Well deserved in every case. In 1996, Mike Richter displayed the greatest goaltending performance we are ever likely to see in the World Cup of Hockey. Also, congrats to Scott Gordon who has been named head coach of the Islanders. I made fun of ole' Flash a couple of weeks ago, and all of that is still valid, but it's nice to see an old Atlanta Knight making good.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Chronicle's August Guide to the NHL

Greetings loyal readers. This is of course the hated month of August. The playoffs are a distant memory. The draft is done, and the free agent frenzy has died off. Training camp won't start for another month, and October seems woefully distant. But that doesn't mean that we should resign ourselves to a hockey free existence.

To help you get through the off season doldrums, we here at the Chronicle, over the next few weeks, will present our own unique thoughts on each team in the NHL and why we love them, hate them, or pity them. Occasionally we may take a day off for a tangent on an individual player, aspect of the game, or other random thought.

I will start things off today with my thoughts on the Dallas Stars. I feel certain that Big Shooter and Morty will chime in with their own take on the evil zombie that once was the benevolent Minnesota North Stars franchise. Tomorrow I will let one of my colleagues pick the topic of the day and will add my thoughts to theirs.

So with the introductions out of the way, let's begin.

As I have recently stated, I love the state of Texas. I lived there when I was young and have always felt a kinship with the Lone Star State and Texan culture. It is where the best barbecue, mexican food, and music are found. So it would stand to reason that the Dallas Stars would be one of my favorite teams in the NHL.

Not so.

I will spare you a retelling of the Stars past, in part because in deference to Shooter who will undoubtedly take joy in spitting venom on the memory of the Stars teams that forged a fierce rivalry with his beloved Oilers in the late 90's. Instead, I will focus on the Stars of today and impart upon you, dear readers, the reasons why they deserve our animosity.

Now, I will give credit where credit is due. I like all the superficial aspects of the Dallas franchise. Their marketing has been excellent, and having a winning franchise in Dallas has made Texas love hockey. I wish that I could love the Dallas Stars, because I am envious of the fans who can proudly wave the green tinted Lone Star flag with the gold star. That's just one of the coolest pieces of merchandising that I've ever seen. However, it is the players that darken the Dallas locker room that make it impossible for me to cheer for them unless they're playing the Red Wings. Or maybe the Habs.

Let us start with the most obvious target. Mike Modano. I used to like Mikey. Mostly because he played for Team USA in international tournaments, and it is very difficult for me to find it in my heart to dislike anyone from the 1996 US World Cup of Hockey team. But two years ago, Mike Modano killed all respect I ever had for him. After turning in a pathetic performance playing for his country at the Turin Olympics, this little piss-ant had the gall to rant to the media about the folks at USA Hockey. Keep in mind that most of the people who work for USA Hockey are volunteers. They have very few paid employees. But Mike Modano felt that they deserved a public reprimand because he had to make his family's travel arrangements on his own.

Apparently using takes a lot out of a professional athlete. So much that MM could only muster two points throughout the games.

The Stars got more diabolical at the trade deadline this past year by picking up Brad Richards. This guy just looks like a prick, and I've heard from folks who knew him off the ice, the appearance is not at all deceiving.

Unsatisfied with their already impressive level of douchebaggery, the Stars made headlines this offseason by acquiring none other than Sean Avery. This guy has so little respect for the game of hockey that the Kings organization openly expressed their chagrin at having him as a part of their franchise long before he became the impetus for new rules in the NHL forbidding behavior that any four year old would have known was inappropriate for someone engaged in sports. I am all for getting under the skin of goalies, especially Martin Brodeur, but Avery earned that punctured spleen during this year's playoffs.

And then, perhaps the crowning jewel of them all. Mike Ribiero. If you don't understand why I reserve the most hatred of all for this former Hab, then try to think back to the playoffs three or four years ago, when he put on this impressive display of sportsmanship:

I actually like Marty Turco, though I can't really figure out why. He just seems like a decent guy who doesn't realize that he plays for an evil team. Perhaps he will figure it out some day and sign with Colorado to ease their embarrassment that is sure to ensue when they start the season with Andrew Raycroft and Petr Budaj holding their goaltending hopes.

All in all, as much as I would love to be a fan of a franchise in Texas, I detest the Dallas Stars, and I hope you do too.

For the Chronicle, I'm Razor Catch Prey.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Oiler Salary Dump Brought the Czar to Atlanta

The entire hockey world is taking this opportunity to reflect on the Gretzky trade made 20 years ago today, and we at the Chronicle will, for once, conform. Because there is really no hyperbole when it is said that there would be no Atlanta Thrashers, Florida Panthers, Carolina Hurricanes, Nashville Predators, Dallas Stars, Phoenix Coyotes, San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Ducks, or probably even any more LA Kings if it weren’t for the trade. Had Gretzky stayed on a Canadian team, or worse, if he’d gone to Detroit (as almost happened), it would have only been news in the frozen north, and no one would ever hoist the Stanley Cup, then step outside into 90 degree Southern heat.

Today, everyone is looking back in wonderment at the far flung effects of the trade. However, as much we Southern fans appreciate it every day, I can’t help but notice a bit of hypocrisy from our northern friends. Day in and day out we read the products of the Canadian media, and those they have co-opted even closer to home (need I remind anyone of Scott Burnside’s recent transgressions?) which more or less openly lament that the great CANADIAN sport of hockey is being sullied by having to include the hated “non-traditional hockey markets.” The sportswriters in Toronto and Ottawa would obviously prefer that there were only eight teams in the NHL, with Detroit and New York remaining only so that they could have a couple of token American targets for their spite.

But today is different. Today the bitter writers of newspapers with Sun in their name pretend that they are happy about the post-trade expansion of the NHL and hockey in general, and reminisce about the initial shock of learning that the Great One would be leaving his beloved Oilers to reign in Los Angeles.

The Oilers survived the loss of their captain and went on to win one more Stanley Cup in 1990 under the leadership of Mark Messier. The Kings turned their team around and made it to the Cup finals in 1993 before Gretzky moved on to St. Louis and eventually the Rangers. The other players involved in the trade all had respectable, if not highly memorable careers. No, it wasn’t what happened on the ice that makes this the most influential trade in the history of sports, it was the fact that it spread the ice throughout the United States. It is the fact that the Atlanta Thrashers were able to draft Vinny Saponari, a native of Powder Springs, GA in 2008. Wayne Gretzky IS hockey, and the trade quite literally secured the future of hockey south of Denver.

Because it is responsible for us being able to go to Philips Arena and cheer on the Czar and his army, the Gretzky trade also remains the only salary-dump Oiler trade in history that Big Shooter doesn’t mind.

Now we at the Chronicle are going to sit back and watch some Gretzky Week on the NHL Network and hope that all this reflection on the 20 year old trade will inspire our own DW to go out and get us that final piece that will vault us back into the playoffs. But don’t get too carried away, ok Don? Kovy needs to stay right where he is. The NHL doesn’t need to expand into Brazil.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Custance Commits Blasphemy

Fact #1: Puck Daddy proves himself to be truly class by allowing Our Craig to guest-write at his esteemed blog. 

Fact #2: Our Craig is a funny man. The True North's small faction of irony-impaired are already furious with item 1 on his list of ways he'd change the NHL. 

Fact #3: I want press credentials now. 

Fact #4: I want the NHL to expand to Europe so I can take advantage of said press credentials. 

Fact #5: Puck Daddy has done his research. Craig is definitely a cult hero round these parts. 


So Russia and Georgia are on the verge of slugging it out.

Question: Which side does Ilya Kovalchuk fight for?

I think I hear a cymbal crash. 

Thanks folks. Try the veal, remember to drink responsibly. 

In other news: Totalitarian state holds Olympics, ice hockey not an event. Apparently that's reserved for the Winter Olympics only...ridiculous, I say. Every sane person knows that hockey is a winter AND summer sport. 

At the very least they could let the likes of Russia, Canada, the USA, Slovakia, Sweden, Finland, and the Czech Republic fight it out in field hockey. I wonder how Joe Thornton and Vincent Lecavalier and Alex Ovechkin would do on the green?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Who Has The Best Logo?

Let me state up front that this is a direct rip off of The Hockey News post ranking the ECHL logos. Can you tell it is August yet? I'm sure I'll get flamed for some of this, but nonetheless, here is my list:

1) Chicago Blackhawks - You just can't beat a good old fashion logo. Widely considered one of the best in the league.

2)Toronto Maple Leafs - You will probably see a pattern here. I've always loved the simple blue leaf. Simple, many times, is better.

3)Calgary Flames - One of the best. Gotta love the old Atlanta Flames logo they use for assistant captains.

4)Phoenix Coyotes - Much improved over their original logo.

5)Montreal Canadians - Perhaps the only thing I like about this team.

6)St. Louis Blues - Didn't Ray Ferraro look great in this sweater? Has always been one of my favorites.

7)Vancouver Canucks - I LOVE THE ORCA WHALE!!!!!

8)Colorado Avalanche - One of the best primary logos along with one of the worst secondary logos.

9)Edmonton Oilers - Perhaps a little biased here.

10) Atlanta Thrashers - And here as well.

11)Boston Bruins - See Colorado Avalanche.

12) Detriot Redwings - I hate them, but not a bad logo.

13) New York Rangers - This rounds out the original six.

14)Minnesota Wild - I was curious how they would pull this logo off, but I think they did a very nice job with the name they had to work with.

15)LA Kings - MUCH better than the Chevy logo in my humble opinion.

16)Tampa Bay Lightning - What else could they have done?

17)Pittsburgh Penguins - A little goofy, but who doesn't love a skating penguin?

18)New Jersey Devils - Plain and boring, just like their style of play.

19)San Jose Sharks - I kind of liked their logo until this year. They only made some minor changes, but somehow they lost me. Sorry Morty.

20)Dallas Stars - Eh.

21)Florida Panthers - Great Tiger says "could have done better with logo".

22)Carolina Hurricanes - I get dizzy when I look at this.

23)Washington Capitals - For some strange reason I think this looks good on a sweater, but don't like it on its own. Don't even bother, I know I'm weird.

24)Anaheim Ducks - Daffy would have been just fine with me.

25)Ottawa Senators - I'm sorry, they play in Canada's capital city, not in Rome.

26)Nashville Predators - For the love of God please go see a dentist.

27)Philadelphia Flyers - I've never really been sure what was going on here.

28)New York Islanders - Poor team, even their logo sucks.

29)Columbus Blue Jackets - WTF?

30)Buffalo Sabers - Holy Crap!!! I'm truly at a loss for words.

For The Blueland Chronicle, I'm Big Shooter.

Monday, August 4, 2008

In Memoriam

Far too many times we witness greatness and never really realize what we have seen until it is gone. Skip Caray passed away yesterday at his home in Atlanta.

What an icon.

Take it from someone who grew up in the 80's and 90's, the Braves were really all we had. Obviously in the 80's they sucked. But as a young boy, I still watched the games. Because that is what young American boys do isn't it? It was then that I decided what I wanted to do for a living. I didn't want to be a baseball player, I wanted to be an announcer. Specifically, I wanted to be Skip Caray. The Braves were bad, but the announcers were the best. Skip, Pete, Ernie, Don, Joe. You would watch the games just to hear the perfection of their announcing. Even when the game was a blow out, you wanted to hear what they said next.

The suits at TBS didn't realize this at times. They took Skip and Pete off the air a few years ago and forced them to radio. Skip and Pete you see, were too identifiable with the Braves. And TBS was moving towards a more national audience. Halfway through the season, bombarded by fan complaints and letters, TBS allowed Skip and Pete back on the TV airwaves. Yes, that's right folks, Skip and Pete were baseball's version of Ron McLean and Don Cherry. Right here in our hometown.

I kept my baseball announcing dream kind of in the back of my mind all the way until my first year of college. A funny thing happened along the way, I found this sport called hockey. All of a sudden, my dream of announcing baseball games faded; like all good childhood dreams do I suppose. In my mind we are blessed to have another icon announcing for the Thrashers. Dan Kamal. He and Odgers call a wonderful game. As does Darren Eliot. Perhaps one of these days Eliot will be given a partner to work with.

I'm sure you all have your own Skip Caray memory that stands out. A great call perhaps? For me, it is the blow outs that I will always remember. Skip and his partner, keeping the game interesting for all the fans and making a few jokes along the way. Baseball has lost me as a fan due to steroids among other things. Now it has lost one of the only reasons I tuned in at all anymore. Just last week I watched half of a game because I was missing my friend Skip.

Boy, I'm glad I did.

For The Blueland Chronicle, I'm Big Shooter.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Fun In August

We all know how much this month sucks. Thank goodness we have the NHL Network. Starting August 6th, they will have Gretzky week.

Why hasn't anyone thought of this before? Surely the best way to get through the worst part of the offseason is to dedicate a week to The Great One. One of my all time favorites (in non Olympic years anyway... USA USA USA!). Just what is Gretzky week you say? Look here.

What fun this will be. If only they will follow it up with Messier week, Mac T week, Roy week, Bourque week, and Drulia week we will be set.

On a side note, I was reading Cambells Cuts (on the recommendation from our old pal Custance) and this caught my eye:

"The Atlanta Thrashers had the inside track on Campbell in the first hours of free agency. He was reportedly about to accept Atlanta’s offer when McDonough apparently ordered Tallon to improve the Chicago’s offer to Campbell, who ended up signing with the Blackhawks for $56.8 million over eight years."

Just thought I'd pass it along. Enjoy Gretzky week everyone.

For The Blueland Chronicle, I'm Big Shooter.