Monday, August 31, 2009


"Miscellany" sounds an awful lot like Messolonghi, does it not?

Anyway. I peered into my Gmail this morning and what did I see?

Dear Mortimer,

The 2009-10 Thrashers Season begins in just 4 weeks!

Your 2009-10 Season Tickets will be mailed via UPS (an adult signature will be required) to the address below during the second week of September:

Mortimer Peacock
250 Rue de Peacock
Apt. #3314
Atlanta, GA 30309



Seems that the various nationalities' Olympic training camps are all over and done with. Via Dmitry Chesnokov's Twitter feed, here's a pornographic photo of Team Russia's camp:

Little Ivan and Big Ivan.

Rumor has it that Kovalchuk will be playing on a line with Malkin and Frolov. Just thought you should know.


Speaking of international tournaments: At the moment your Chronicle editor is reading the diaries of his hero/nominee for greatest living human Vaclav Havel. Came across this entry, dated May 16, 2005 and written in some place called "Washington DC":

Yesterday at the embassy, together with many of the local Czechs, we watched the final match in the World Hockey Championship, which the Czech Republic won. As usual, it seems the whole nation was caught up in it. I shared in the general excitement, the admiration of the players' skills, and the joy of victory but I couldn't help thinking again about something that has bothered me for a long time: these marvelous players are like billboards on skates. Anyone who didn't know what the Czech coat of arms looked like, which probably means most of the people in the world, would have no idea these boys were playing for the Czech Republic. It looked more as though they were playing for the Skoda automobile works and a cooking pot called Zepter.

Much better to go with a tasteful Nike swish.


I'm going to do my best impersonation of a Leaf/Ranger fan* and say that if Peter Forsberg is able to make a comeback and play in the NHL this season, the Thrashers should sign him to a one year contract.

Much like Cam Neely and Bobby Orr, Foppa was once the best player in the NHL but nagging injuries have threatened to end his career far earlier than anyone would like. A lesser man would have hung them up five years ago. Foppa is a tough SOB and a man who loves hockey too much to let blinding pain keep him off the ice.

In addition, he's a man who has previously stated that Philips Arena is his favorite place to play. He loves our home rink. Let's give him 41 regular season games here.

As a member of the Avalanche, Foppa turned all the players around him into forces in their own rights, and has shown that he is a great teacher of young talent. See Hejduk, Milan; Drury, Chris; Deadmarsh, Adam.

Imagine the possible line combinations. Early in the season, when he's still getting his wheels back, he could play third line minutes mentoring young stars-to-be like Evander Kane or Tim Stapleton. Then, once he's back up to speed, John Anderson could roll these forward lines:


WHEN (not if) Foppa gets hurt, you can move Pevs up to the top line, have Marty the Party play center on line 3 and bring up an able body from Chicago.

I submit to you that's not just a playoff team, but a third-round playoff team. Of course signing Foppa for one year isn't going to be much evidence to the Czar that the team is on the right track for the long haul, but it would help improve the team's overall image around the league and help convince free agents to give us a more thorough look in the future.

*- It's not that good of an impersonation. A real Leaf/Ranger fan would say that Foppa OBVIOUSLY WANTS to come to our team and it's a foregone conclusion that it will happen.

Friday, August 28, 2009

JR To Save America With Roenicklife Insurance

                       a very important man

This came to my attention yesterday, thanks to Aaron the Outsider. It's possibly the most awesome news of the century, but words defeat me. Its awesomeness simply transcends anything anyone could possibly say about it.

Click and marvel.

Lots of fighting in the Politics these days, about the Insurance. JR is selling something called "life insurance" which is apparently not the same thing as the health insurance that's such a popular subject right now among political folk like Obama, poor old dead Ted Kennedy (who your editor once saw, in person, in a chamber of a senatorial committee, sitting next to John McCain and Hillary Clinton, red-faced-ly haranguing Paul Wolfowitz about something or other; this is true!), and all those horrible old people screaming things at town hall meetings about African socialism euthanizing their Medicare.

Nevertheless, I think all of America's troubles, from the pretend-civil-war bickering between libtards and Flat Earthers to our bad health insurance arrangement itself, will be solved immediately if everyone in these United States simply buys life insurance from Jeremy Roenick. Because when Jeremy Roenick is doing well, we're all doing well.

So THIS Will Win Them the Cup

Ah ha, it turns out, all of a sudden, that there IS hockey stuff to talk about! On the other hand, this is hockey news that nobody except your editor cares about, probably.

Anyway, the San Jose Sharks have just made their long-anticipated ultra-big off-season move that will solve their playoff woes forever. Evil hockey baron Doug Wilson has traded the awesome-on-the-video-games Christian Ehrhoff, as well as that Brad Lukowitch guy, to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for some guy and some guy, the end, you can read about it here.

At least they didn't trade Marleau for Heatley.

ALSO, apparently ancient squirrel Mike Babcock put together a line of Marleau-Thornton-Heatley during last night's People-Who-Might-Be-On-Team-Canada scrimmage. Haw!

"Last Week, I Sawr a Film/ As I Recall It Was a Horror Film..."

Nothing hockey-related to talk about, so here's the funniest thing to come from people associated with SNL in a long, long, long time:

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bradley Gets It

Well, after getting crapped on by so many people from so many different outlets, it's nice to know that Mark Bradley of the AJC understands us Thrasher fans.

Why doesn't everyone think like him? Hmmmm? Heeenngh?


Edit (for our newer readers out there):

In Which Rawhide Tries to Scare Us With Waddell Quotes, Then and Now

So your Chronicle editor is trying to enjoy his lunch hour by drinking a whiskey-and-coke to take the edge off his case of swine flu, reading a bit in the first volume of G.M. Trevelyan's great trilogy about Garibaldi, and listening to NWA and Rick Astley. Miserable as I am with this were-pig sickness, I'm enjoying relatively untroubled thoughts about the Atlanta Thrashers. From where I sit, the future looks bright, especially if we get that damn Kovalchuk contract signed.

Then I look up from Trevelyan on Garibaldi, "Never Gonna Give You Up" blaring in my earphones, and click my way to Rawhide's blog. I read the following:

Thrashers’ GM Don Waddell had this to say two years ago regarding the contract talks with Marian Hossa:

“It’s progressing, and as long as we continue to have the kind of talks that we had, they’re very upbeat and on target with where we’re headed, then at some point here we’ll be able to announce a deal,”

Contrast that with his recent comments to Chris Vivlamore:

“We’ve had several face-to-face meetings…We’ve had some very, very long discussions….I feel very confident that at some point - I don’t know when that point will be - but at some point, we will get a contract done”.

The similarities in those two comments are spookily similar, don’t ya think?

Oh man. My first impulse when I read this kind of thing is, of course, to panic. But when I look at the two DW comments again, I have to say there's a slight difference. I hate to disagree with our esteemed friend, and that recurring "at some point" certainly gives me pause, but let's examine these two comments a bit more closely-er:

The Hossa comment: "It’s progressing, and as long as we continue to have the kind of talks that we had, they’re very upbeat and on target with where we’re headed, then at some point here we’ll be able to announce a deal."

This DW comment is just vague all the way through, and therefore it's impossible draw anything concrete or meaningful out of it. In some ways, "on target with where we're headed" is pretty accurate: I'm sure that by that point Hossa was well on his way to jumping ship.

The Kovalchuk comment: "We’ve had several face-to-face meetings…We’ve had some very, very long discussions….I feel very confident that at some point - I don’t know when that point will be - but at some point, we will get a contract done."

This is still a bit vague, which is inevitable with any kind of PR-to-reporter-speak, but I think DW is much more specific here. He clearly says there have been face-to-face meetings (even "very, very long discussions"!) and he says that HE'S confident, not that the talks themselves have been "upbeat" or whatever. I feel like we're on better footing here.

But then again, I might be wrong, and should sink further into swine panic. Whatever the truth about the Kovalchuk negotiations might be, Rick knows my heart:

P.S. Not to mention the fact that Kovalchuk is the captain, the Czar, the franchise player, seems to feel committed to the team, etc. This is common knowledge.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Puck Daddy Meets, Er, Transcribes the Czar

Surely this is a record for posts in a day.

Anyway, here's the link to Dmitry Chesnokov's interview with our glorious and ass-kicking Czar, the end.

UPDATE: Wait a second. Chesnokov didn't interview Kovalchuk in this post; it's merely a translation and transcription of a Russian interview with Sovietsky Sport. What a fool is I!

Why Does Anyone Take This Smug Earnest Fucktard Seriously?

Late to this, but thanks to Aaron the Outsider (only recently returned from his sabbatical chopping down oaks and turning them into guitars) in the comments, I've come across this filth from some pedant in Minnesota.

It's a list of the Top 10 Best and Worst Fan Bases in the NHL (even though it's not, really; it's actually a ranking of all the teams' fan bases). Wyshynski has already trashed it, which is exactly what this shit deserves, and, well...

This Derek Felska character made the same list last year; somehow it came to my attention and I wrote this:

I'm not really interested in where Atlanta ranks (#26) or where anyone else ranks, for that matter. What interests and appalls me is that commentators like Derek Felska (Minnesotan's name) talk about fan attendance and "hockey markets" in a vacuum, as if there are no external factors that influence fan turn-out or local press coverage...

But there's hope, hockey fans. You see, I've heard about this new invention called the Internet, and I'm aware there's a serious market for hockey coverage thereabouts. I suggest you look into it.

Which brings us to what really riles me about Felska's piece this time around:

#30 - Atlanta Thrashers - 9.2

Pct. of Capacity in 2008-09: 78.8% (14,626, 29th in the NHL) Online Presence: 3.2

Last Year's Rank: 26th

Justification: I am going to share a little story with you which will might explain why the Atlanta Thrashers are deserving of being called the league's worst fans. Just this spring, I went down Georgia as part of an Educators Tour to Ft. Benning. On our way back, we were given the day to enjoy downtown Atlanta. While there I went into a sports apparrel shop, which was filled with all sorts of Atlanta sports team clothing; Braves jerseys, Falcons jerseys, and some college football jerseys yet nowhere to be found was anything pertaining to the Thrashers. I asked the attendant, "Do you have any Atlanta Thrashers stuff" and I was met with a confused look and then a quick question to her co-worker, "Do we have any Thrashers stuff?" A few seconds later they pointed me to the only two items they had pertaining to the the Thrashers along with an explaination of how extremely rare it is anyone is looking for their merchandise. Now does that mean that there are almost no Thrashers fans out there? No, but in the larger scheme of things there does not appear to be too many. In a Southern city where its almost a challenge to find someone with a southern drawl, it might surprise people just how many Atlanta residents are people who used to live in areas which are quite familiar with snow and ice. The Thrashers online presence is very small and that does little to help a team that many in Atlanta seem to struggle to remember they are even there. That sound you just heard was Ilya Kovalchuk screaming over the fact he has at least one more season with the team.

Haw haw. In what fucking universe can the Thrashers' online presence be considered small?

What's really fucking amazing about this Felska character is that he freely admits to not really investigating team blogs and forums to get an adequate idea of "online presence" (follow the link and read his comments about last year's Dead Last Fans, those of the New Jersey Devils), but he trusts his arbitrary pseudo-scientific reasoning so perfectly that he can't be bothered to adapt his opinions when he encounters new facts.

One more thing: for a guy who fancies himself a thorough and comprehensive hockey mind, his writing, in style and thought, is fucking atrocious.

Perhaps in some way I was inspired by David Letterman's Top 10 list, but I can't stand his show with his lists being the one redeeming quality of it. I know I've used that concept for a few post-season banquet speeches at the conclusion of a sports season and admittedly its a very effective delivery style. Wayne Campbell (Mike Myers) and Garth Algar (Dana Carvey) of Wayne's World fame used to also utilize their Top 10 lists and just like the shootout I can't pry myself away until its over. Hopefully 30 thru 11 has you captivated much the same way. While some hockey purists hate the shootout, how many of them shut the TV off during the shootout? Precisely. They don't, they watch with perhaps just slightly less interest than those who either have embraced it or the very least accepted it as a way to conclude a regular season game. Before I go too far off on a tangent about the shootout I will redirect this back to the main point of this series.

Is there really a definitive way to determine whose fans are the best?

In all honesty, I don't really believe there is.

This is really beyond commentary, so I'll just stick to matters of taste: This dude hates David Letterman but actually enjoys the Top 10 list. I repeat: he hates David Letterman but actually enjoys the Top 10 list.

I rest my case.

They Don't Call Him "The Czar" For Nothing, Part 302

Suave Chronicle operative "Speaker of Truth" has alerted us to the following Tweet from Puck Daddy's in-house Russian Dmitry Chesnokov:

Ilya Kovalchuk likes kids. He's got two. Apparently, his wife is pregnant with another one.

Mazel tov. Also: Damn.

A bit later, Chesnokov tweets:

I am now really "looking forward" to what kind of comments the upcoming Kovalchuk interview at Puck Daddy will generate. *scared*


August is Boring

Because August is so intolerable for hockey fans such as ourselves, we at the Chronicle spend most of this month indoors with the AC cranked up high enough that we can pretend it's October already. To help pass away the time, here's a list of first-half dates to look forward to once this vile month is behind us.

September 8- EA Sports NHL 2010 is released. No word yet as to whether or not Patty Kane will lose his place on the cover after his run in with the cabbie. New "Be a GM" mode allows you to hold press conferences to tell your season ticket holders that the team is "very close," and give Falconer the evil eye as he reminds you that he thinks you should trade Kovy. Details here.

September 14- Thrashers prospects vs. Preds prospects at the Ice Forum. Tickets here. Hopefully this will be a chance to see Evander Kane and Jeremy Morin take on Colin Wilson, but the rosters haven't been finalized yet. Either way, it's our first chance to see some hockey action.

September 21- Philips Arena doors open for the first preseason game of 09-10. Big Shooter will probably make his annual vow to save himself for the regular season, followed by his annual cave-in when we mention Wetzel-dogs and Beers Around the World.

October 3- Home opener! John "Somebody Slap Me" Anderson tries out his new roster as they slap around the Bolts in game 1 of 82.

October 22- Razor's predicted date for Kovy's 300th career NHL goal. He usually starts the season out a little slow, so I'm saying that his third of the year will come in the second home game, against his buddy Ovie.

November 21- Stanley Cup Champion Penguins visit Atlanta. Look for Kovy to put the biscuit in the basket at least twice to show Crosby and Malkin who's still the boss. (Hint- it's not Tony Danza.)

Hockey Clichés, Part 10,697

To: Dear People Who Write About the Hockey For a Living
CC: People Who Post Comments About the Hockey on the Internet


It's bad enough that the word has become a handy stock phrase (is there really anything "enigmatic" about Pavel Datsyuk or Marian Hossa or Nik Antropov? I mean, REALLY. It's not like they're fucking Professor Moriarty or North Korea, for fuck's sake), but it seems that it's become so overused that a lot of people think it means a whole host of other shit that has nothing to do with being enigmatic or mysterious. I.e. people are so used to reading "enigmatic Russian" or "enigmatic European" that they seem to think it means "soft" or "finesse player" or simply European or Russian.

This madness has to end. Like, now.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Best of The Hockey News

OK kids, some of you may remember a while back when I called out our friend Rory at The Hockey News for his article about the Czar. Yes, as I tend to do sometimes, I went a little over the top. Long story short, The Chronicle became best of friends with Rory. We even went on a summer vacation together at Banff. A lovely time was had by all.

Well, now Rory is back with a splendid article about Bogo. And if you are wondering, yes, any article I agree with is defined as splendid. So, much like last time, I call on all Chronicle readers to flood The Hockey News with your comments!!! But this time, may they be words of encouragement and gratefulness that finally someone has taken proper notice of Bogo! He got lost in the shuffle last year after his injury, and I suspect most people really won't take notice until next year. Anyone who failed to notice Bogo last year can only be considered a tool. Maybe a douche bag, asshat, or weeine. But not Rory. You can't fool someone as good as him.


Don't you find it sad, the lack of drop-outs in today's society? You'd think the life of a hobo was frowned upon or something.

Imagine the stir Patrick Marleau could create if, instead of waiting to see if he's asked to waive his no-trade clause (note: this won't happen) and suffering the public indignity of losing the Sharks captaincy, he announced he was leaving the NHL for a year to hop freight trains and practice the banjo. He could grow a tremendous beard, I bet.

Then there's Dany Heatley. He could reverse his (justified) now-dominant image as a petulant brat if he simply left the NHL to walk and hitch-hike from the 49th Parallel to the Panama Canal. Perhaps with a walking stick and handkerchief satchel holding only the Oxford Book of English Verse. The climax of his journey would, of course, be saving the village of Santa Poco from El Guapo's marauders. Does he not have a publicist?

Monday, August 24, 2009

DW "Very Confident" About Kovy Contract

Via Vivlamore

"I feel very confident that at some point — I don’t know when that point will be — but at some point, we will get a contract done,"Waddell said. “I’m OK at this point because of the conversations we are having. If the conversations were broken off or argumentative, I would have a lot more concern."

That is what I call good news.

Nation of Hockey Derelicts

Do you people not care about the planning behind our great nation's 2010 hockey offensive? Brigadier General Razor Catch Prey wrote a post last Friday wondering about possible line-ups for Team USA in Vancouver next February, and it got a measly 4 comments, all of them written by either General Prey or myself. Needless to say, this has caused great distress at Chronicle General Staff Headquarters. Where is our morale? Are we so intimidated by Russians and Canadians and Swedes and Czechs and Slovaks and Finns that we've lost the will to strategize?!

But seriously: are you kids excited about 2010 or are you simply not that interested? I ask in the spirit of disinterested inquiry, not judgement; regardless of what everyone else thinks, the Chronicle shall go on looking at maps and drawing imaginary lines.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Question of Lines

OK, so what do you think?

Is it going to be...









Amazingly, none of us have much influence over John Anderson's line combinations, but it's always fun to speculate. I really liked the Kovalchuk-Peverley chemistry when they were together, and a line of Kovy-Pevs-Little would be super-fast. Then again, as Ben Wright recently pointed out, Todd White is a 70-point-plus center who actually produced as many points as Jason Spezza did last season.

Another question, of course, is who plays at right wing on the top line. Regardless of who centers Kovalchuk, do you put Nik Antropov on the top line at right wing? Antropov would be an appealing big-dude-who-plays-down-low to help out Kovy, but then again, Kovy and Little were awesome together and can generally keep up with one another's speed and style of play.

Well, what do you kids think? What's it gonna be? HEEENNNGH?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Olympic Daydreaming

With the US Olympic orientation camp over and done, I'll take a minute to put together a potential lineup. Coach Ron Wilson and GM Brian Burke basically stated that this was not a "try out" of any kind. It was exactly what it was billed to be- namely, an "orientation" in which players got to know each other and the expectations of the folks that are building this team. Their try out consists of the first half of the 09-10 NHL regular season. That doesn't just go for the folks that skated in Chicago this week, but for every American born player in the league.

It's going to be a young squad no matter how you slice it. Barring an amazing resurgence from some of the older folks like Modano, Tkachuk, Guerin, and Weight, the "old men" of the 2010 US Men's Ice Hockey team will consist of Chris Drury, Ryan Malone, and Timmy Thomas. The good news is that the US National Development program will see the fruits of its labors for the first time in the Olympics this time around, with a lot of talented players filling the roster.

This is a pretty quick and dirty lineup, not paying attention to which wings players normally favor or how chemistry would force a shuffle. It's just my initial sorting-out of players and lines based on skill and reliability. So without further ado, here we go:

Forward lines:

1- LW Z.Parise C C.Drury RW P.Kane
2- LW B.Gionta C P.Stastny RW P.Kessel
3- LW K.Okposo C S.Gomez RW B.Ryan
4- LW R.Malone C J.Langenbruner RW R.Kessler

Defensive pairings:

1- P.Martin and M.Komisarek
2- R.Hainsey and B.Rafalski
3- J.Johnson and B.Orpik



Of course, I'd love to see Zach Bogosian get a shot with this team, and if he keeps up the momentum he had at the end of last season, it'd be hard to keep him off the ice in Vancouver next February. Rob Scuderi is another guy who could easily unseat someone on that blueline. Erik Johnson, Ryan Whitney and Tim Gleason will also keep the heat on the six D-men I've listed above. Nobody's got room to take a night off between October 3 and February 15.

I've already mentioned the prominent Team USA veterans still playing in the NHL that I've left off my roster above. Since Brian Burke is making the lineup, I could see him eschewing youth and skill in favor of grit, so don't count Tkachuk out yet. There's also plenty of younger guys who fit Burke's idea of blue collar workhorses who may get the nod over some of their more one dimensional countrymen. Joe Pavelski, Dustin Brown, David Booth, David Backes, and T.J. Oshie would all probably appeal to Burke more than someone like Brian Gionta, and if someone like Kyle Okposo or Bobby Ryan shows that he can fill that top six role, it'd open up a spot on one of the more "grind" oriented lines below.

The crease will be occupied by either Timmy Thomas or Ryan Miller. It's just going to depend on who has the better first half this season. My money is on Thomas, since he'll have a better team in front of him in Boston than Miller will in Buffalo. True, Burke and Wilson should take that into account when evaluating the two, but we all know it's hard to mentally handicap a comparison that way. (Who is better, Kovalchuck or Ovechkin? If they swapped teams, who would win the Richard Trophy?)

I don't see Mike Modano making the cut for Vancouver. Not at his age, not with the year he had in Dallas last season, and not after the whining and complaining he did after the fiasco in Turino. If I'd been in Burke's shoes, I wouldn't have even invited him to Chicago.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Chronicle Would Like to Announce

We don't want to fight but by Jingo if we do/ We've got the ships, we've got the men, we've got the money too/<br />We've fought the Canuckle-draggers before, and while we're Thrashtards true/ The Canuckle-draggers shall not have Thashtantinople.
...that a state of war now exists between us and the moosefuckers who leave comments at TSN. Canuckle-draggers, when it comes to hockey, generally don't enjoy it when reality gets in the way of their cherished worldview. That's why you'll find factual, empirically accurate statements like "It's important to note that the Thrashers are tied to the naming rights deal with Philips for the arena" voted down to a -32 rating via that stupid TSN thumbs up/thumbs down feature. All those syrup-stained downward-pointing thumbs mean...what, exactly? Not that the statement isn't true, but that it's not true in their pre-existing, impervious-to-outside-facts worldview.

Because the Chronicle is a warblog, we encourage all of our readers (the war effort requires everyone's effort, after all) to invade TSN and bomb the shit out of it whenever they post an article about the Thrashers. Leave parody Canuckle-dragger comments singing the praises of the Winnipeg Jets and moosecock, remember to say something about Kovalchuk inevitably leaving the Thrashers before predicting a Leafs Stanley Cup in '10, etc.

You can start here. If your comments are obscene enough they'll get deleted, but that's okay. The point should be to make Canuckle-dragger self-congratulation impossible. To arms!

UPDATE: I feel I should make clear that our quarrel here is not with the polite, pretty, and healthy people of Canada. The Canuckle-dragger is a separate animal from Lord Beaverbrook, Pierre Trudeau, Glenn Gould, Adrienne Clarkson, John Candy, Jarome Iginla, Joe Thornton, Anne Carson, John Ralston Saul, and Danielle from West Edmonton (if you're reading please email me; we could be so happy...). The Canuckle-dragger is a braindead Canadian chauvinist, the sort that only appears among hockey fans (because what else are Canadians going to be obnoxious about?).

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Great Atlanta Spirit War Ends, Begins Again

The AJC sez:

The ruling, issued Monday afternoon, tossed out the initial purchase and sale agreement to buy out Belkin and keeps him in the partnership as a minority owner. The partners are now placed back in precisely the same position they were in before August 2005.

These people, man, these goddamn people...

Monday, August 17, 2009

Don't Let It Get You

Your Chronicle editor has the pig cholera again. I beat it last time; I fear this time I may not be so lucky. This PSA video will show you how to avoid becoming like me.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Please, Give ESPN Your Money

So, Sunday morning here at The Chronicle's satellite office and I thought I'd get my August hockey fix before heading out to Church. Keep in mind, I did say August, so one has to dig a little deeper to get one's fix. I hit the normal spots. Rawhide, Puck Daddy, TSN, and so on and so forth. Desperate for more, I go to ESPNBA.

Now, my expectations were low, relatively speaking. I normally only go there during the season to read Buccigross. To my surprise, they seem to be running some sort of offseason report for each team in the league. Right there on the front page they have written one on my least favorite team of all time, the Stars. What the heck, I think to myself, let's see what they have to say. So I click on it...

You've got to be kidding me. They won't allow you to read the article unless you are an ESPN insider and pay them money!!!!!!! How preposterous do you have to be to think you can pull this off? Now, I realize this is how coverage is more than likely going to be in the future for newspapers and the like. Much has been talked about that right here on this very blog. But ESPN... come on, really? Their hockey coverage SUCKS and they want me to PAY for it! Now, it isn't that much money, but I'm a principles kind of guy. No way, no how.

I haven't heard anyone else mention this so I thought I'd throw it out there. Am I the only one that thinks this is just plain wrong?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Friday, August 14, 2009

Hockey Players: Are They Virtuous Farmboys or Just Violent Dickheads?

I think the offseason withdrawal has hit me particularly hard this summer. Can't say I know why.

You may or may not have noticed that no one on the Chronicle staff has yet talked about Patrick Kane's greedy and demented attack on a Buffalo cab driver. Not sure why this is, either. If the cabbie's account is true then Kane is a douchewizard, but then again who really knows? Even the cab driver's lawyer says things have been blown out of proportion. Whatever the truth of the Kane-kills-cabbie incident, this is a good time to wonder about one of hockey's central myths: that hockey players are "better" people than the scary blinged out hippity-hop thugs of other sports.

James Mirtle wrote a fine post about it a few days ago in which he confessed that he still likes to think of hockey players as somehow less horrible than other athletes, however contrary to reality this view might be. I'd say hockey players probably aren't as intolerable in their personalities as many of the more famous football, baseball, and basketball players, much nicer and more pleasant and such. But any notion that they're somehow more moral than players of other sports seems pretty delusional. Plenty of hockey players are good people who don't assault aged cab-drivers, of course, but the NHL isn't anywhere near as squeaky-clean as it presents itself, or as its fans imagine.*

Which can sometimes be just dandy. The "hockey players are different" myth is a close cousin of the "hockey players are boring" fact, so in too many cases we get the worst of both worlds: players that do obnoxious and sometimes horrible stuff off the ice with mind-numbingly bland personalities. Patrick Kane certainly isn't bland, of course; as SamFels at Second City Hockey says, "Another [myth] is the portrayal of Kane as some sort of sweetheart. Please. If you've paid any attention over these two years, it was obvious that Kane was a cocky little twat (and I loved it). He's not out to take your daughter to prom."

Part of Jeremy Roenick's quixotic mission was to make the NHL a bit edgier and more interesting, and sometimes that entailed being a cocky twat**. Not sure if he succeeded in his quest, but there are plenty of players these days who I enjoy quite a bit because they can be obnoxious and arrogant. Ovechkin is one (remember this?), though he doesn't seem like a dick as a human being. Kane is another, even though he's clearly a dick. Kovalchuk isn't as blatantly cocky as he once was, but he's still massively arrogant. He simply controls his pride's more juvenile manifestations better now. Still comes out in his violent outbursts though; the guy's extremely touchy, and he has a serious temper on the ice.

From everything I know about him off the ice, though, he's (amazingly) not only not a dick but actually kind of a decent and admirable human. But then again, who knows? For all I really know he keeps a private gulag in his backyard.

What exactly am I trying to tell you here? To go read the posts at Mirtle and at Second City Hockey about how hockey players are really all murderous ice demons, no matter what those terrible Lord Stanley's Summer documentaries on the NHL Network try to tell us. Seriously, have you ever seen one of those? They're a real vision of hell: nothing but lakes, autograph-signing, very flat land, and "Well it was a team effort."

Happy Friday, everyone.

*The element of race can't be ignored here. It's just a fact that (in the US at least) lots of hockey fans think hockey players are white-as-snow because they're literally white-as-snow.

**Ever noticed that the expression "cocky twat" SOUNDS great as a description of a disagreeable person, but is in fact the perfect verbal picture of the hermaphrodite?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Strange Death of Waddell-Disdain?

I guess this is as good an excuse as any to talk about hockey in a dry season.

According to the famous Chronicle-readers at the Hockey News, the Thrashers have a general manager who calls himself "Don" "Waddell," and apparently some people simply do not care for him.

A member of the Hockey News gentleman's club (108 Pall Mall, SW1Y 5ER) makes the case that this Sicilian patriarch is not, as many had previously thought, the worst GM in human history after all. That honor, he says, belongs to LA Kings GM Dean Lombardi. I suppose that in some small way I'm pleased that this Ryan Kennedy human is being somewhat generous to the Thrashers, but truth is a wicked wart-faced harpy: Lombardi is actually a good GM, hence the almost-a-contender team he's built over the last few years. Waddell, while certainly not as catastrophic as some people have made him out to be (remember Rich Peverley), isn't Benjamin Disraeli either.

And the article fails to mention the advent of Rick Dudley--marked by minor miracles like the Antropov signing, the drafting of Klingberg and Morin behind Kane, etc.--which is surely a reason to JESUS CHRIST WHEN DOES THE SEASON START?

So what do you folks say? Absolute worst GM in the league or merely bad or just misunderstood?

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Friendly Dissent, Offered in All Humility

I mean that! Sarcasm-free, such as.

Soren Kierkegaard, the world's 2nd most famous neurotic Dane (most famous if we except fictional characters from consideration), once wrote that "Numbers are the negation of truth."

Provocative and startling and sometimes true, but not always true. Sports is one of the few realms of human endeavor where numbers pretty much always represent the whole truth. Game scores, win-loss ratios, personal stats, league and division and conference standings, etc.

But numbers, when pressed into formulas like the hockey plus/minus ratio, can mislead. There are ways to make the plus/minus formula more precise and more accurate, and our Thrash-blogging comrade (and sometime PJ Harvey concert companion) the Falconer does just that in an excellent recent post on Colby Armstrong's value as an even-strength forward. He goes beyond a simple look at a player's plus/minus rating and examines what happens when a specific player is playing in a unit at even strength. What does he find? That Colby Armstrong is awfully useful, our most valuable even strength forward to be exact. I see no reason to disagree with this, if one defines "valuable" as "almost always makes the right choice" or "sturdy" or "dependable." The Falconer, sometimes unfairly caricatured as a stats extremist, goes to great lengths to describe Armstrong's habits of play, the different ways he finds to keep the puck in the opposing team's zone, his overall sanity and good hockey sense.

This is all good stuff, but I do have a quibble with the fact that he then uses Armstrong's game as a cudgel with which to beat Ilya Kovalchuk. As far as I can tell from his writing, the Falconer has always been ambivalent about Kovalchuk: of course he doesn't deny Kovalchuk's tremendous gifts as a goal-scorer, but he finds his defensive play not just questionable but downright bad. This is healthy, much-needed skepticism. Too many of us, myself included, too often blindly worship the Czar and rarely question his worth.

But perhaps the main reason that his value is so rarely questioned is because he's one of the best players alive. Not the most complete, certainly, but also hardly the one-dimensional sniper that some people have decided he is. I won't go into the other good qualities Kovalchuk brings to the party (passing, super-fluid skating, over-the-top passion that every now and then explodes and leads to an exciting fight, the ability to reverse the direction of a game and control the momentum of his team). For now I just want to point out two sentences from the Falconer's post:

At ES Kovalchuk's highlight reel goals are wiped out by his own bad defensive play and those of his teammates. Simply put at ES Kovalchuk is doing worse than breaking even.

I have to admit I don't really know what the Falconer means here. The ES plus/minus that the Falconer is examining here is simply a mathematical formula for summarizing the full regular season, and as such it's seriously incomplete and general. According to the abstract generalities of the plus/minus formula, Kovalchuk scores a certain (high) amount of goals, but all these goals are negated by the anti-Thrashers goals that occur when he's on the ice. Kovalchuk may or may not be a poor defensive forward (my opinion: he's improved a great deal, and not every goal that occurs while he's on the ice is his fault). The trouble with this ES plus/minus formula is that it ignores the particulars of each game and of an individual player's style. The kind of stuff that the Falconer writes about with such subtlety and perceptiveness when it comes to Colby Armstrong.

The Falconer says that he has a fuller post on Kovalchuk's plus/minus woes on the way, and I look forward to reading it, but allow me, Thrashblog readers, just a few points right here and now:

First of all, why SHOULD Kovalchuk play a defensive game similar to Dastyuk's or Zetterberg's? It's not even close to what he does well, so surely the answer to the dilemma of Kovy's questionable defense is either a) get rid of Kovy, or b) implement a system that accommodates Kovy's style whenever he's on the ice. I think that with the hiring of Coach Anderson and the recent acquisition of Pavel Kubina, the team has embraced Option B (something the Falconer acknowledges in his post). No bad thing, in my opinion. My position is and always has been "Let Kovy play his game." Green light. Drop the leash. Let him follow his unique daemon. Let slip the dogs of war, and stuff. Just be sure that the rest of the team is on the same page.

Secondly, the plus/minus formula (in whatever variety) totally obscures the details of whatever happens on the ice when a particular goal is scored. Kovy's thrilling goals might be wiped out by his goals-against number in the abstract universe of season-summarizing stats, but that's hardly ever the case in individual games where Kovy scores. What's the old Kamalian adage? "When Kovy scores, the Thrashers win," or something like that? Simple, but more or less accurate I think. Think of the goal-scoring tear that Kovy went on as last season wound down; it coincided with some Thrashers winning streaks and an overall respectable record. Kovalchuk, though he never gets the credit for this kind of thing, can be as much of a "game-changer" as Alex Ovechkin. I have to admit I'm not eyeing the stats right now (proof of my unscholarly inexactness?), but there are certain games from last season that leap to mind when I think about Kovalchuk's game-changing abilities. He can score with seconds left in a period and single-handedly turn a losing Thrashers game into a comeback win (as he did, off the top of my head, against the Florida Panthers and the New York Rangers this past season) and he can baffle and crush the will of an opposing team with a hat trick (as he did last season against the Anaheim Ducks).

Perhaps I also think more of Kovalchuk's leadership qualities than the Falconer does. From everything I saw during his so-far short captaincy, he has the power to win games single-handedly, whether through his own scoring or through what people like to call "intangibles": raw energy, encouragement-by-example, whatever.

And that's, like, totally cool.

The Falconer ends his post about the merits of Armstrong with a wish for the cloning of Colby so we could have a checking line of 3 Army's. I dream such dreams myself; any seriously contending team needs Colby Armstrongs, and I'm VERY glad to have him on the Thrashers. If only we had a few more like him and Marty Reasoner. It's not impossible to find such valuable pieces, of course, but there's only one Ilya Kovalchuk.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Czar Update

He's taking some time off from considering his contract to have his new son christened:
behind him

Does this man know how to dress or what?

A bunch of other pictures of the Royal Family from Life Russia.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Important Things (To Keep You Jumping Like Kangaroos)

Still no hockey. I checked.

First of all, hey! Are you looking for a good musical time tonight? You could do worse than to head over (or down, or up) to the Highland Inn on the corner of North Avenue and North Highland for a curious ensemble called Roman Photos. Sort of a cross between Kraftwerk and Kylie Minogue and Everclear. After their short set you can walk across the street to the greatest non-Thrasher place in all Atlanta and rent a movie.

Secondly, here's some songs, for entertainment:

And just because the JR footage made me long to hear it again:

Roman Photos, folks, Highland Inn. Mention the Chronicle and you get in free!*

*In a non-literal metaphoric sense.

Friday, August 7, 2009

A Note to John Hughes

All the Molly Ringwald movies are great, and long ago I memorized every line, pratfall, and camera angle in Home Alone.

But it's 3 movies that will make you immortal.

And in my opinion especially this one:


Thursday, August 6, 2009


Over the next few years, the "Does JR belong in the Hall of Fame?" question will become an ugly point of contention between Americans and Canadians, in which national traits and prejudices will play a large part.

Hockey Needs More Tasers

There really aren't enough of them. Perhaps it's because there are never drunken loud fans at hockey games.

Haw haw. It's just like in that movie, say the ultra-macho dipshits at the Sporting News:

...this gentleman, we'll call him Belligerent Santa, was clearly not happy about something going on at the A's game last night. (A YouTube commenter who claims to have been sitting near where the incident took place said it was a loud Texas fan who was yelling inappropriately and got angry when he was asked to quiet down. Judging from how few people were around him, that doesn't really sound like much of a stretch.) After what seemed like a decent amount of time trying to reason with Belligerent Santa, the jig was up, and like that scene from The Hangover, they had to unleash the full power of the Taser.

The high point of the video is obviously when he puts his thumb on his nose and does that thing 7-year-olds do where they wiggle their fingers. That'll show 'em!

Jocks love brutality until they see it in person. Final-stage-of-decay America's love for cops tasering people to "send a message" comes from a psychological source about which I dare not speculate.

Only a matter of time until this is standard procedure at sporting events. After all, nearly killing people by shooting high quantities of electricity into their bodies is so much easier than just kicking them out.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Time I Met Roenick

(updated below with some JR highlight clips)
it's tricky
Many a tribute already here at the Chronicle about JR, and many more to come I'm sure. I feel as though it's my turn to chime in on who I believe is the greatest American born player of all time. 513 goals, 703 assists. Add in all he brought to the game off the ice, no question. Go ahead and stamp it. Greatest American born player, and I believe he should be in the HOF.

The only question now is in what capacity do Versus and NBC use him. Perhaps NBC can have the pretend coaches (Milbury and the MONSTER), well uh... pretend coach the pretend player? I've never really gotten why NBC does that by the way. Much less why they do it three times a game but that's another story. Nonetheless, I wonder if he will be in game or in studio.

Hey, did I ever tell you about the time I met JR? No... well, by all means let's have a listen: So, once upon a time I was at the World Cup of Hockey in Minnesota. JR wasn't playing, sadly, but he was in the broadcast booth. Several games into the tournament I had all sorts of autographs. I'm normally not into autographs, but I do think they look sharp on a jersey. In between the games I spot JR at the Zamboni entrance. Lots of people spotted him at the same time I did. Knowing this was probably my only chance to meet JR, I had to act. So I take off running. Leaping over rows of seats. Knocking small children out of my way (sadly, this part is not exaggerated). Until the moment I weave my way in front of the group, looking at JR face to face. Now, keep in mind I've been fortunate over my life to meet all sorts of "famous" people. Athletes, movie stars, singers... and I've only been nervous once... when I got to meet Stan Drulia a couple of years ago. Minor league hockey player and I was awestruck. Funny, I know.

For the most part, famous people are just people to me. But when I came face to face with JR I had absolutely nothing to say. Sweaty hands. More than likely urine running down my pants. He signed my jersey and I uttered what can only be guessed as a poor attempt at "thank you" and ran away (knocking over little kids again in the process).

So, thanks for the memories JR! Looking forward to seeing what you have in store for us in the future...


Some JR highlights, ladies and gents. First, from his high-flying days with the Chicago Blackhawks:

And something from his days with Run-DMC:

Next, the reason why--after Ilya Kovalchuk--he's my favorite hockey player:

And finally, his 500th goal. Hilarious and touching, perfect really.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Blueland Chronicle Comment of the Day

Sarasvati, pure water. Sarasvati dressed in white, her face rubbed white with sandalwood paste. The brightness of a thousand moons. Sarasvati astride her swan. Sarasvati who never marries. Sarasvati seated on a white lotus, floating above the mud of the world.
pictured above: an actual photo of an actual awards ceremony

It's back, folks! For today, at least.

And today is as the grass, passingeth, etc.

Today's Comment Win of the Afternoon goes to Katharine Hepburn-esque many-time winner the Jointhead, for this gem about what Michael Vick ought to do with his life, in response to my questions about why you people hate democracy:

You forgot to add: come back as part of the bluecrew ( yes in bluecrew uniform!), and we get to throw footlong hot dogs at him during the second intermission. That would have got me voting.

Thank you, the Jointhead.

And So It Ends

Comcast SportsNet Bay Area has learned exclusively through multiple league sources that San Jose Sharks center Jeremy Roenick will announce his retirement from the National Hockey League after a 20-year career this Thursday. The Sharks have scheduled a press conference on Thursday at 11:00 a.m. PST, at which time Roenick is expected to announce his retirement.

-CSN Bay Area

I wrote an obituary for JR's career a few weeks ago. The short version: great player, knew when to shift his role from top forward to energy grinder, colorful personality in a sport played mostly by vanillans. Never won the Stanley Cup. The Sharks blew it for him last season. MUST become a TV commentator. JR today, JR tomorrow, JR Forever, comrades!


It's summer, it's the offseason, I get it. Traffic naturally plummets in these conditions.

Nevertheless, some 150 of you have visited in the last day or so.

But only 17 of you have voted in our important Michael Vick poll.

Who are you people and why do you hate democracy?

Heater-into-Shark Metamorphoses?! Is it Possible?!

ERRRRRRG. Famed rumor-monger (but published in the Serious Newspapers) Bruce Garrioch is reporting that Ottawa GM Bryan Murray turned down an opportunity to send Dany Heatley to San Jose in exchange for Jonathan Cheechoo, Christian Ehrhoff, and a 1st round draft pick.

I'd hit it. Murray, apparently, wouldn't.

Other folks are talking about some sort of 3-team trade that would make Heatley a Shark.

The 3-team trade sounds plausible, but even the journalists reporting this say Doug Wilson is dragging his feet on acquiring Heatley. As he should. Why blow up a roster as good as the current Sharks for Dany Heatley?

"But Dany Heatley is awfully good," I hear you say.

This is true. After Ovechkin and Kovalchuk, I'd say Heatley is the best sniper in the league. He IS awfully good. But does Doug Wilson really think that Heatley is the guy that's going to get them through the playoffs, all the way to a Stanley Cup? Having Heatley on his wing would inflate Joe Thornton's regular season assist statistics into the 800s, I'm sure, but I don't think Heatley is the guy that will bring them the Cup. Which is, after all, all the Sharks need right now: someone to carry them through the playoffs, not a super goal-scorer.

The Sharks are an insanely talented team, but they don't have a ton of mental or physical toughness. That's why they can't giturdun in the post-season. In an ideal (for them) world they'd sign someone like Iginla or Kovalchuk or Ovechkin to play with Marleau and Thornton, someone highly dogged and competitive.

That's not Heatley. Yes, he'd score 50 goals during the regular season. But he won't bring the Cup to Silicon Valley.

That said, Ottawa is foolish to turn down a Heatley-for-Cheechoo trade. If Heatley really, really wants to leave Ottawa, you could do worse than to unload him for the likes of the Cheechoo Train. Heatley, of course, is 100 times better than Cheechoo, but he doesn't want to stay in Ottawa and a top six that includes Spezza, Alfredsson, Kovalev, and Cheechoo really ain't so bad. This has already been said by quite a few folks, but I see no reason not to repeat it: Cheechoo isn't as good as his 56-goal season (a product of him at his absolute best playing alongside Joe Thornton playing at his absolute best), but he's not as bad as his recent low-scoring seasons either. He's suffered quite a bit from injuries, and last season saw him stuck on the 3rd line with limited ice-time.

As PJ at Sharkspage says:

That Ottawa allegedly didn't "want anything to do" with right wing Jonathan Cheechoo according to Garrioch is short-sided and foolish. His heavy shot and quick release have not diminished in the slightest, and he remains a deadly option for any power play. Cheechoo struggled with a broken thumb and a double hernia surgery which limited his production to 37 goals and 23 goals the two seasons after his Rocket Richard winning 56 in 2005-06. This year Cheechoo was the odd man out in a numbers game that saw seven top-6 forwards in the same lineup. Cheechoo was relegated to limited minutes on a third line that was racked with injuries (Goc, Plihal, Marleau, Roenick).

Cheechoo has struggled to regain the form that allowed him to slide into open areas in front of the net, but in the proper situation he should be a lock for at least 20-30 goals.

Sounds about right to me. I, for one, would love to have him on the Thrashers power play.

ALL THAT SAID, I really don't want Heatley to become a Shark. If he does I'll, I'll...well, I'll run away to Coyoacán.

Monday, August 3, 2009

NBC Fail

the gold horseman
Their Universal Sports division, reporting on the roster for the Russian Olympic team's summer camp, reports that the camp includes a forward by the name of:

Ilya Kovalchuk (Atlanta Trashers, NHL)

No respect, just no freaking respect...

No More Quoting From AP Reports, Ever

(updated below)
(updated again below)

New rule here at the Chronicle: Never cut-and-paste a passage, however short, from an AP wire report.


It appears that the world's worst news agency has decided to start charging for quoted content at the rate of $2.50 per word. That's $12.50 for anywhere between 5 and 25 words (WTF? As if there's not a difference there?), $25 for 100, etc.

A huge amount of reports about hockey at and in major newspapers, including our own AJC, are AP wire reports, so it's now officially too expensive for the Chronicle to quote newspapers ever again.

Here's $12.50 worth of words for you, AP: You're not, and never were, Reuters or Agence France-Presse. Go eat a bag of dicks.

That said, I'm not against wire services charging a bit for their content. I won't bore you with the details, but right now some folks and I are wrapped up in an enterprise where we're considering buying news stories from some of the more affordable wire services (usually Eastern European ones that offer good stories about werewolf sightings). I have no problem with paying for news. I have a problem with transparently greedy, frivolous-lawsuit-enabling control freakery like this. And AP is well known for its control freakery.

Reporting on games has never been a problem for the Chronicle, but if we want to write a somewhat substantive, non-profane piece that makes use of an AP interview with a Thrashers player or John Anderson or Don Waddell, well...we can't do it.

But AP sucks anyway so why does it even matter? What's happening with that Kovalchuk? Heeennngh?

UPDATE: Interesting that the AP should blow a gasket the same week that some Washington Post dude comes down hard on Gawker for (horrors) quoting his piece about something or other. I would think any semi-literate person knows that quoting is not the same thing as copying. Otherwise the shades of Petronius and H. Rider Haggard would be suing Michael Dirda.

UPDATE II: The AP has already claimed ownership of Thomas Jefferson.

You Don't F With The Ghost of Billy Mays

this man perfected the art of black beard dye
Yes, big news over the weekend. The Ghost of Billy Mays has stopped the Heatley to the Oilers trade.

The only thing that puzzles me about this is why did it take the Oilers this long to realize they had been dumped? In the process it is likely that they lost out on other FA's or possible moves while they were waiting on someone to change their mind. Anyway, all is well in Big Shooter's world with this news. It now looks as if the Sharks are a possible destination. But really, if you are Doug Wilson is this really the type of personality you want in your locker room after everything they have been through?

Look out Morty, not sure if the Ghost of Billy Mays has it in him to pull this off twice...

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Leahy on the Kovalchuk Question

Based on articles by the likes of Craig Custance, Jeff Schultz, and famed Chronicle antagonist Rory Boylen, Puck Daddy's Sean Leahy shares some thoughts on that ever-ambiguous contract situation, all of which I agree with. Most amazing of all, he's the only journalist I've read on this subject who uses Kovalchuk's actual words as a basis for some kind of tentative conclusion.

The former No. 1 overall draft pick has only played four playoff games in his seven seasons with Atlanta. For most players, there's only so much talk of "progress" that one can take before deciding to start looking elsewhere. But even with all the lack of success to date in Atlanta, Kovalchuk is not the type of player who will force his way out, instead, he wants to help in the turnaround process. In other words, he's not going to turn into Dany Heatley over the next few months.


The Thrashers ownership situation, as Schultz pointed out, is hindering Waddell's ability to spend money to further improve the team. If Kovalchuk enters the season without a new deal, suitors will be lining up outside of Waddell's office door with packages for the 26-year old left winger. As much as Kovalchuk would like to believe that contract talks during the season wouldn't be a distraction, it'll be almost impossible to not have it affect him in some way.

The one intangible that gets lost in even a piece as clear-headed (I won't use the word "nuanced"; it is sadly overused) as this one--perhaps because there's no way it should be obvious to anyone who doesn't watch every Thrashers game--is that Kovalchuk acts and plays like he wants to be the Thrashers' equivalent to Yzerman. Okay fine, laugh all you want, but that IS, I think, what he wants. There's a reason Russia made him captain of the Olympic team; they realize he's a great and committed leader. The same is true of his Atlanta gig.

He's the anti-Heatley. Or maybe Heatley is the anti-Kovalchuk.

Also, the Thrashers got a lot better at the end of last year and stuff, also. Exhibit A.