Takes and trash talk from both ALL sides of the NHL's most obscure PATHETIC* rivalry

* Thanks, Kevin Lowe!

Friday, June 30, 2006


Pardon my spotty posting, as I just got my wisdom teeth yanked - an odd bit of irony in that I feel three times as an intelligent without my so-called wisdom teeth.

I'll keep the clamoring masses updated on whether or not any of my family members takes any humiliating pics of me with an ice pack wrapped around my giant melon.

Anyway, to keep with the "extraction" theme I imagine that most of the "moves" the Kings will be making this off-season will be subtraction-centric. Judging from the fact that Mr. Elisha Cuthbert and the former king of digital hockey JR are more or less out, not to mention the sad but necessary departure of Demitra...I think this is going to be one of those dreaded "rebuilding" years.

As of the rumor of adding Rob Blake back, I don't mind the idea of a two-year deal. The Kings, much like their Cali brothers, could certainly use the boost of having Blake's terrifying point shot and brutal checking skillz. But, again, judging from The Dean's draft-day moves, old looks to be trampled by new.

Much like Sleek, I look upon the old Elias-Arnott-Sykora line with admiration, although mostly with sad memories of them ripping out the Penguins' hearts during Lemieux's memorable comeback run. Elias and Arnott would be welcome additions, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

Goalie-wise, the Kings clearly still need to look in the direction of getting a young'un. Obviously, getting Luongo would have answered that question for a decade. Rolo is a little old. Legace had a rocky run in the playoffs, and you have to wonder about the whole "contract year" thing.

My guess is that the Kings won't make a major splash, keeping an eye on the light at the end of the tunnel they extended with the Demitra trade. Still, if they get the urge, I'd be more than happy to have Elias, Zdeno Chara, Pavel Kubina or Wille Mitchell.

Shuffle up and deal

Well, tomorrow the free agents start signing, providing NHL fandom with some real shock and hope for the future. Players you hated yesterday might suddenly find their way to your home ice, and your fan favorite might become your worst nightmare.

I've never been the best at speculating "what ifs"; I'm more of a guy who reacts with "what the fs" instead. However, if I could sign one guy for the Ducks tomorrow morning (considering salary, of course), it would be mid-coveted defenseman Rob Blake.

Blake, I should note, was a big part of my NHL 94 conversion to hockey, as I played as the LA Kings, and only one other time did my NHL 94-Mighty Ducks stars align, when Tomas Sandstrom decided to grace Anaheim's second line.

I know Blake is somewhat past his prime, and still not 'cheap' or anything, and there are better blueliners out there (but quickly diminishing), but once the possibility was mentioned, I liked it quite a bit.

  • For one, we are in a pretty salary-friendly situation, with so many inexpensive kids promising to take so much ice time. Blake's $4 - $5 million would be quite manageable in our current salary structure.
  • Secondly, I think Blake is a guy who ages gracefully rather than drops suddenly, a la Al MacInnis, who let solid positional play and his booming shot keep him in the league well past his 'shelf life'.
  • Thirdly, our team needs and what Blake offers seems to be quite a nice fit. I think the Ducks need a PP quarterback that is better than Scott Niedermayer. While Scotty is a smart puck rusher, I drop my jaw the odd times when he decides to shoot the puck. I think the 'one-shooter' PP strategy the Ducks employed made defenders' lives much easier than it should have been, and allowing Blake to take over the blueline PP responsibilities makes the team a lot stronger right away.

At any rate, Blake probably signs with the Kings and ruins my month of July, but I guess a guy can wish.

Side note #1: If salary and profitability were not concerns, I would love to sign the A-Line trio (Patrik Elias, Jason Arnott, and Petr Sykora). How odd that what I considered to be the best line in hockey a half-decade ago are all UFAs at the same time. Ah, fantasy.

Side note #2: I guess reading around that other teams somewhat expect us to be dealing J.S. Giguere. Quite honestly, I'm not on either side of this fence. He's not saving us like in 2003 or particularly costing us that much in our current cap flexibility. I'll give Burke the call on this one.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Sleek returns from ancient times

I thought I'd just throw a post out there while still in a very disoriented state. Each of these probably deserves its own separate post, but for now, we'll just stick to the gloss-over version:

  • I spent the last two weeks on a boat completely cut off from the world, travelling around Greece and Turkey visiting ruins from the dawn of mankind. All I really knew on the boat was that the 'Canes won G7 and the Ducks would have a new logo when I returned. Now I find that there has been a monumental Bertuzzi-Luongo trade and Demitra has gone Minny Wild. And what's this I hear about Pronger? An interesting start to the offseason; I must read more on this, it seems.
  • I should note that I have spent the last 26 hours on an airport-airline trek, going from Istanbul to London Heathrow to Chicago O'Hare to LAX. A journeyman's tour of some of the least efficient airport hubs on the face of this earth, but at long last I am home again, jiggety jig. And unlike my flight out to Turkey, this time my bag made it home with me.
  • I am very glad to be typing on an Anglo-friendly keyboard once again. Nothing more infuriating than trying to access this blog from Turkey, only to find that there is a different key for everything.
  • Great work, James O'B! Looks like there will be lots to discuss with a Kings voice in town, although I am a bit dismayed that I have already been assigned some summer reading.
  • As for the new Ducks look, well I knew I wouldn't like the notion of changing logos, and at first glance, I was right. Somebody tell me again how we get respect by not stepping on anyone's toes? Our new look is one step above good old Courier font.
  • I imagine that I will need to put a post together about the devaluation of the Conn Smythe trophy. Cam Ward my ass.

Well, I am in some desperate need of some 'horizontal' sleep, and I think the DVR G7 and some liquor are just what the doctor ordered. A few shots of sake should knock my Rolie mask off.

Good night (good god, it is night time?).

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Goaltending update

Remember the supposed offer the Kings made for Roberto Luongo? It was Alex Frolov, Dustin Brown, and Mathieu Garon.

Holy goalkeepers, Batman! According to ESPN and the Ottawa Sun, Lombardi offered that to Doug Wilson to try and bring Evgeni Nabokov (whom he drafted way back when he was John Nabokov) to LA. Wilson reportedly turned it down because he didn't want to ship to an in-division rival.

If that was me, division be damned, I'm pulling the trigger. Yes, Nabokov could pull another Kipprusoff and bite you in the butt, don't you think Lombardi would be thinking the same way about Frolov and Brown? It's a risk for both teams, but I would think that would be a very calculated risk on San Jose's end. Can you imagine Frolov on the left side with Cheechoo and Thornton? Brown's a promising young player as well and could potentially be repackaged for some defensive help.

Just look at Calgary and Colorado -- in-division rivals who realize that due to the nature of the CBA, trading within the division is sometimes a necessary evil when it produces results.

Apparently, the Leafs tried to put together a package for Nabokov but took themselves out of the running when Wilson's price was too high and instead opted for a reclamation project in Andrew Raycroft. Ottawa reportedly offered Martin Havlat for Vesa Toskala straight up, but that's not something I'd go for give Havlat's contentious contract situation.

It does seem that the goalie situation is going to produce a major acquisition for the Sharks, though. I just hope Wilson isn't holding out for too much, then winds up letting all of the good deals fall through.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Pavol, we barely knew thee...

After talking some smack in my intro post, I was hoping that the Kings would hop on 'ol Pavol Demitra's shoulders next year. In between scoring nearly a point per game, he suffered every calamity short of an anvil falling on his head last season.

Welp, so much for that. The Kings traded Demitra for up-and-comer Patrick O'Sullivan and the Wild's pick, who ended up being Trevor Lewis. Also, with the 11th pick, the Kings took the highest-ranked goaltender in the draft, Jonathan Bernier. He happens to be the brother of San Jose Shark forward Steve Bernier, who was a real solid fantasy hockey pickup during the end of last season.

Demitra-Gaborik could be a terrifying combo. Even though I'm very upset to not get to watch Demtira play this year (when his limbs are attached, at least), I have to admit -- The Wild needed to add some friggin' talent sooner or later. Their fans deserve it.

Argh. This might be a bumpy year. Lombardi might have said it best when he used the term, black hole.


Well, so much for the Kings picking up Roberto Luongo. The stud goaltender was sent to the Canucks for Todd the Neckbreaker, Bryan Allen and Alex Bauld. The Canucks also got Krajicek, who happens to be a perennial 79 in the NHL 2k games.

Considering Bertuzzi's PR-implications off the ice and middling effort on it, this is a huge victory for the Canucks. From what I've read, they're saving about $2 million off the cap, which they'd be well-advised to spend on Anson Carter and some depth throughout their lineup.

In other big trade news, The Orbs of Power might, in fact, be in the vice grip of the Yoko Ono of hockey, Lauren Pronger. Apparently, the Hilton-ish daughter of a Mo. rich man doesn't really appreciate dealing with the yokels of Whyte Ave.

The details, are honestly, still pretty sketchy. But considering the fact that the Oilers alreadly have 9 free agents, it looks like the Cinderella Run they had might be short lived. Not exactly bad news for anyone in the Battle of Cali, especially the two California teams that were squashed like some kind of bug under Pronger's big boot.

I shared this sentiment about Luongo, and I'll do it again for Pronger: if there's any way the Kings can convince #44 to suit up in LA, they sure has hell need to make it happen. I have a hard time believing that the Kings would rank in the lower depths of PK and powerplay if they had the Norris and Hart trophy winner on their squad.

Anyway, I should have some thoughts on the NHL Draft this afternoon/tonight, as it will have an impact on the Kings (no. 1o) and my other team, The Penguins (no. 2).

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Fuel for the Fowl Queens rivalry

Hey SoCal boys, what do you think of this rumor? From the ever-reliable Toronto Sun:

Rob Blake: After years of high-level, not to mention high-priced, service, Blake is leaning towards making a decision based upon quality of life. He's a free agent and there are those who believe that when Joe Sakic signed at a reasonable price this week, he did so to allow the Colorado Avalanche to keep Blake. But Blake has a fantastic home in Manhattan Beach in Los Angeles and feels that he would like to see more of it. Therefore, an offer from the Kings would be well received. There's another possibility. Anaheim isn't exactly next door to Manhattan Beach, but it's not very far either, and there are those who think Blake could be a waterfowl by next season.
I doubt it will happen, but it'd sure be entertaining to watch Kings fans get extra-extra-extra mad at Mr. Blake for visiting Staples in the new stunning non-Mighty jersey.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Bye bye Scott Thornton

I guess the story about Joe and Scott Thornton not being really close as cousins was true. Otherwise, you'd think Joe would have lobbied for Scott's option to be picked up. Instead, the Sharks move forward without Scott Thornton -- a good foot soldier during his time here, but never a vital component once the Ricci/Thornton/Sundstrom line disintegrated during The Year From Hell (2002-2003).

Thornton was counted on to be a power forward that would battle in front of the net while the rest of the Sharks used their speed. Unfortunately, Scott never consistently played with that grit this season. There were flashes here and there, especially right after cousin Joe was acquired, but Scott was rendered a non-entity for the majority of the season and his option at $1.5 million was nowhere near justifiable for pickup.

However, the Sharks still have grit to fill with Thornton's role now absent. There are plenty of free agent options out there, and they're not always going to be terribly expensive (I've always thought luring away someone like Mike Grier would be a good idea). Bottom line, whoever steps in on Thornton's spot on the third line needs to be faster than Scott and be more willing to plant himself in front of the net. Scott was effective when he did so, but he didn't always get there on a regular basis.

Longing for Luongo

As “delicious” commented and The Los Angeles Times reported (thanks to Mirtle for the link), the Kings are in hot pursuit of the most-hyped goalie in recent memory, Roberto Luongo. I’m on record of saying that I’m fine with the Kings goaltending pair, but as I responded in the intro Kings comments section, it isn’t every day that you get a chance to add an All-World type goalie.

The question is: is Luongo really that good?

My gut reaction from watching him is a tentative yes, but I’ll break down the plus and minuses anyway. Since I moonlight as a Penguins fan, I figure it fits the bill that I look on the not-so bright side first.

The Cons

To paraphrase everyone’s favorite sports humorist “The Sports Guy” Bill Simmons: does a franchise player really get traded twice before he’s 30?

And, yes, he hasn’t had much talent in front of him…but he’s only had a single season in the NHL where he reached the 30-win plateau. In only his first year as a starter, Mathieu Garon got 31 Ws to Luongo’s 35, while playing in 12 less games.

Luongo has not played a single playoff game, and he’s been in the NHL (and the weaker Eastern Conference) since 1999. Hell, Rick Dipietro has seen more playoff action with the woeful Islanders.

The Kings would have to give up one or more of their young stars including Alex Frolov and/or Dustin Brown, along with Garon, to get Luongo.

The Pros

Sure, he got traded twice if this deal or a similar one happens. But look at the GMs who are/might get rid of him: “Mad” Mike Milbury and a man best known for being Mark Messier’s bitch and a bitch in general – Mike Keenan. So, actually, he hasn’t been dealt by a competent, rational being up to this point.

He set the single-season record for saves by a goalie in 2004. So you know he can handle a ridiculous amount of rubber (kind of like Elisha Cuthbert).

Anyone that can push Marty Brodeur for Team Canada’s top goalie spot has to be doing something right. His talent is obvious, even to casual observers.


There are three basic no-brainer archetypes for franchise players in the NHL: a superstar forward (Joe Thornton), an uber-defenseman (Chris Pronger) or a goalie who can carry a team on his shoulders (Henrik Lundqvist).

Even if the Kings have to give up a bit more than a Stuart-Sturm-Primeau type package, All-World goalies…especially under 30, are a rare find – despite what stud rookies such as Lundqvist and Ryan Miller might make you think. Luongo is an absolute rock in net, as his season save totals suggest.

He’d be one of the best goaltenders in the history of the Kings the moment he steps foot on Staples Center ice. Overrated? Possibly. But trading for Luongo would be huge any way you slice it.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Summer reading

Welp, folks, Game 7 was pretty good - maybe not a "doozy" - but pretty darn good. Can't ask for much better than this year's playoffs, although it would have been nice to see a Battle of California or Alberta thrown in the mix. Yep, the only thing really missing from this year's playoffs was a serious rivalry.

But hey, new rivalries have to start somewhere, right?

Anyway, I anticipate some serious hockey withdrawal for many of you. While I'm sure many of you have exciting summer plans such as "socializing" and "excercising," I feel obliged to recommend two books that can ease you off playoffs withdrawal.

The Boys of Winter by Wayne Coffey

This is the book I'm reading at the moment. Hockey fans often try to defend their place in the relative sports universe, but beyond the pure majesty and geometry that seperates hockey, I think that the sport has some of the most literate observers this side of football and baseball. Not to mention that hockey has one of the best blogging communities in all of sports...

Anyway, if there's one event in hockey history that's gotten its historical due, it's the Miracle on Ice. Along with a fantastic documentary, I thought Disney's Miracle was more than solid. And Coffey's book stands shoulder to shoulder with some of the best sports books I've ever read. That's a nice little trinity - great book, great dramatized movie and top-notch documentary.

This book really underscores something: despite the fact that I mock their furry hats and accents, Russians have really done a lot for me. Albeit indirectly.

I mean, seriously folks, WWI and WWII? The Russians were those minimum-wage defensemen dropping in front of 100 MPH slapshots while us prima donnas scored some finesse goals. And speaking of finesse goals, I would like to personally thank those smooth skating pinkos for making the dump and chase strictly voluntary.

OK, got a little off topic...

The Game by Ken Dryden

Yes, it's true that many hockey fans are already aware of "the greatest hockey book ever written." But that's exactly why I have to bring this up. If you haven't read this book, then I must revoke your Real Hockey Fan membership card until after you finished it.

This book helped me appreciate the Habs, kind of like how Covered in Oil made it hard to root against the Oilers. Even if I totally did anyway.

I know that this topic's probably been on hockey blogs so many times it's sickening, but I still would like to keep the topic fresh. Maybe we can make regular updates to this post, with your hockey book recommendations. It'll help educate hockey fans, one historical puck anecdote at a time!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Switching bandwagons?

I have a deep, dark secret to admit.

For much of this summer, I was rooting for...the Sharks (!) in the West and the Canes/Senators in the East. Once a hockey fan's favorite team gets bounced from the playoffs - in my case, the Penguins in mid-October and the Kings during the stretch run - you can't help but adopt a "foster team" in order to simply have someone to root for.

Over the years, I've had some pretty dim reasons for my rooting interests. I jumped on the Flames bandwagon because Jarome Iginla helped my fantasy hockey team win a championship, although it never hurt that Miikka Kiprusoff bares an uncanny resemblance to the lead singer of Rammstein.

So, I followed the Sharks despite their tuph stick-shattering jersey logo, mainly because Jonathan Cheechoo CONSTANTLY saved my fantasy team this year. And, now that you mention it, I rooted for the Canes and Senators because of Eric Staal, Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza.

As you can see, my devotion to fantasy hockey is strong, yet socially crippling.

And for most of the playoffs, I jeered the nameless-aside-from-Pronger Oilers. I couldn't stand Rolo and his flopping (if his injury isn't the Goalie Who Cried Wolf (or Interference) then I don't know what is). I also wasn't fond of Raffi Torres, and not just because he's a redhead version of Gary Busey's son.

But, damn the man, those passionate Canadians just WANT it. Hell, they >WANT< it. This situation reminds me of the World Cup of Soccer. I cannot find the karmatic logic in rooting for the US - a country where soccer interest dies around 4th grade, unless you're not from this country originally - when every other country wants it SO much more.

Now I'm just torn. Do I root for Staal, the likeable, injured Doug Weight and former Penguin Mark Recchi? Or should I go with what's right and root for those hard-luck Canucks to see the Cup for the first time since 1993?

Just a mind-melter, folks. But it brings up an interesting question, mostly for fans outside of Raleigh and Edmonton: What makes you pick your 'favorite' backup team when your No. 1 squad goes down?

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Return of the Kings? It's all about the hair.

Before I give you all a rousing introduction, I first must throw down the 'ol LA Kings gauntlet.
There is little doubt that the Kings will be a dominant force in 2006-2007, after a rough season last year. Though it started off promising, I’ll admit it: the Kings fell apart worse than Brittany Spears during the home stretch.

But even before making any major additions, the Kings have already profoundly altered their team. They shit-canned coach Andy Murray and GM Dave Taylor, then picked up former Sharks GM Dean Lombardi.

And Lombardi, I can already tell, is whip-smart. Unlike Taylor, Lombardi realized a key fact: coaches with ridiculous haircuts absolutely thrive in LA. Just look at the last 30 years:

In hockey, of course, Barry Melrose and his Hall of Fame mullet divinely inspired Wayne Gretzky. Only the greatest goalie in hockey history could stop that combination. And the Showtime Lakers were about four things: Magic Johnson, Kareem, James Worthy and Pat Riley’s haircut. Last but not least: he’s not a coach, but the Clippers resurgence is peculiar in that center Chris Kaman and his Hulk Hogan hair descended upon the once-moribund franchise right around the time they stopped being (much of) a joke.

So with Los Angeles’s follicle history in mind, what does Lombardi do? Why, he hires the most important active haircut in hockey, Marc Crawford. (OK, maybe second best. Jacques Lemaire’s epic combover probably takes the cake).

Let’s not forget, Crawford and Lombardi are inheriting a team that just barely missed the playoffs last season.

Before injuries derailed his season, Pavol Demitra scored at a point per game pace and sped up the progress of Alex Frolov. While Nik Lidstrom and Scott Niedermayer get all the pub for being elite defensemen, Lube Visnovsky scored 67 points and had a breakout season. And though he's not a superstar, I'm sure Jarome Iginla wouldn't mind having Craig Conroy around these days.

With young ‘uns like Frolov, Tim Gleason, Mike Cammalleri and Dustin Brown in the pipeline, the Kings just need to add some punch to their powerplay and blueline over the off-season and they’ll be Oilers-ing the Ducks and Sharks in no time.

Even a perceived weakness, goaltending, is stronger than it initially seems. Mathieu Garon is Martin Gerber to Jason Labarbera’s Cam Ward. There’s certainly a chance the Kings will shoot for Manny Legace or someone of that free agent ilk, but if they stick with their current goaltending, they’ll be more than fine.

So, enjoy your playoff bed shitting, Sharks and Ducks fans, while it lasts. The Kings are a different team now, and they’re ready to take their rightful place, sitting on the throne – as the Kings of California.

A Royal Welcome

Well, after some loose advertising, we may have found our Kings voice, although I will leave introductions for his first post. I am very interested to hear about how the Kings plan on making NHL noise without Jeremy Roenick or Sean Avery spewing their 82-game whinefests.

The doors are not shut on this blog, however; more contributors are welcome to apply.

On a side note, I am leaving for a 2 week cruise, so let's hope that our King sympathizer avoids a severe typing injury while I'm out. It's probably best to avoid big words like 'Kostopoulos' or 'Visnovsky'. In fact, just stick to 'Val Bure'; that should prove amusing.

Meet your Mighty Ducks, part 4

Teemu Selanne, a.k.a. The Finnish Flash

Most of this is an interview I am stealing from the MD message boards (credit to poster JouMan from Finland). It really shows what a great guy this sniper really is, particularly for a young team and a market like Anaheim:

On re-signing with the Ducks:

I'm back in Finland right now and I'm very happy that the deal was done before I came here and I can start thinking about hockey again. I'm excited to be a Duck again. The money wasn't an issue with this thing. I'm just so happy with Anaheim and so happy they gave me an opportunity to come back here last year. The whole year was so much fun, but I just needed a couple of weeks after the season to think about things. I felt so strongly that I wanted to come back and the money wouldn't be an issue. As long as you're happy and playing in a place where you want to play, that's all that matters.
On whether he gave serious thought to retiring:
Not really. I was enjoying the hockey the whole year. It was so much better than the time when I was hurt. On the same hand, I think we have so many special things going on with our team. I felt there was some unfinished business there. But the biggest thing is I was enjoying every day coming to the rink. I would have loved to win the Stanley Cup and maybe retire with that. But it did't happen, and after that I wasn't thinking about retirement at all. The big thing is when you play with those young puppies, they make you feel young too.
On the negotiations with Burke:
I'm very happy that Brian and I were able to do things so smoothly and it was so easy to agree on everything. The biggest thing is that I want to win and I really think this is a special team right now. We're a better team than how we finished the year. To sign for less money, we're talking about huge money anyway. I've never really played for money, but like we've said, this gives Brian the opportunity to make some other moves and give him some room to do what he has to do. It's all about winning right now. I'm very happy with what's going on with our team and I know it's going to be better. That's why I'm so excited about next year and why I wanted to sign this so early, so that Brian and the organization could make their plans about what they want to do and see the whole picture really early. I'm very happy that everything turned out so well.
On when he started thinking about coming back next year:
Before the last season I really thought I wouldn't think about my future before the season was over. I didn't want to do any thinking when I felt too high or too low. I needed a couple of weeks to think about things. I started to re-evaluate the whole thing and the whole year. I really believe that every player on our team is going to remember that feeling after the last game, how disappointing it was. It was so tough because we all felt we were a better team, but we lost. Everyone is coming back with a stronger mind and even more hungry. I'm so excited about this whole thing. It's tough to watch the Finals right now, knowing we could have been there. But I feel so strong about this thing and it was an easy decision for me.
On what the Ducks need to do to get better:
I know that we can improve our team. Brian has some ideas. Like I said after our last game, I think we had all the things we needed to win the Stanley Cup. It's tough when you can't do it and you feel like you should have. The biggest thing is I hope everyone remembers that feeling we had after that last game. I think that feeling can make all of us a lot stronger.
On whether he was surprised by how well the Ducks finished:
We had some tough times earlier in the year and I think those were important times for us to heal together. Sometimes when you have some tough times together that makes a team stronger and everybody grows together. We really found a way to win together. After Christmas, I don't think there was one team that was a better team than us. We lost here and there, but there was never the feeling that we had no chance. That was the kind of feeling I hope everybody is going to remember next year. Everybody is going to be better. The youngsters will be a year older and they will be better. Maybe it was a bit of a surprise, but when I look back right now, I'm not surprised at all. I told a lot of my friends at the beginning of the season that we would surprise a lot of people and I think we did.
On signing a one-year contract:
That was all my idea. I have done one-year deals for a long time now and I like it that way. I want to go one year at a time. I really found it's the best way to motivate myself. I don't know how good I am with long-term plans right now at this age and this stage of my career. I think that's the best way and I think it was the right thing for both sides. It's worked in the past and I'm very happy with how it's worked this time.
On his motivation for next year:
I'm going to find a way to get my motivation the same way. Obviously it was different last year because I wanted to prove to myself and lots of other people that I could get back to my level. On the same hand, I feel like I have all the tools back and I know I'm going to be better. I'm already one level higher than I was last summer. I'm expecting I'm going to be way better. Right now it's more about team, more about winning. That's all that matters. Sometimes when you come back from surgery or injury, it's a motivation of a different kind. Right now I'm motivated for what I can bring for this team and how much better I can be. That's all that really matters right now.
On taking less money ($3.75 M + bonuses) than he could have with other teams:
I never really think about money too much. I have a good agent and in the past he was trying to find the fair market price for me. But at this stage, it's not about money. When I came back from knee surgery, I wanted to make sure I would play in the place where I would be happy and enjoy the hockey and everything. That's the most important thing right now.
Teemu's real on-ice strengths are not only his shot and vision, but what impresses me night-in and night-out is his ability to change speeds with the puck. His 'stutter' moves are fantastic. Sure he's one-dimensional, but what a great dimension to have.

After Teemu was traded and then went to the Avalanche, I will admit to heckling him from my close seats, most frequently with the line "I'm gonna name my daughter Teemu!" Since he has come back in full force, however, now I am really considering doing exactly that, except now in honor of the Finnish Flash. He is, after all, the #1 Mighty Duck of all time.

Meet your Mighty Ducks Archives:
#1 Sammy Pahlsson
#2 Vitaly Vishnevski
#3 J.S. Giguere

Friday, June 16, 2006

Sharks injuries revealed

The injury list from the 2006 playoffs was finally revealed:

Joe Thornton: sprained knee
Jonathon Cheechoo: sprained wrist (kind of important for that whole shooting thing)
Mark Smith: separated shoulder
Scott Hannan: broken foot
Pat Rissmiller: broken foot
Kyle McLaren: sprained knee
Milan Michalek: concussion
Alyn McCauley: bone chips and other weird crap in his knee

Oh yeah, and one more significant one to note:

Evgeni Nabokov: bruised ego

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Random Fandom

  • [Edit] It appears the Ducks have re-signed uberDuck Teemu Selanne to a 1-year extension. Selanne is 8 goals away from his 500th career goal; it will be nice to see him get it in an orange-and-black (!) uniform.
  • Speaking of which, June 21st is supposed to be the date of the new uniform and logo unveiling. I don’t know how much I will be able to comment (I will be on a boat for most of the latter half of June; I don't know if I will be posting anything between June 17 - 29 or so), but I’m sure it will be available for viewing online.
  • As for these playoffs, here are a few lessons to consider:
  1. Off the top of my head, were there any two more additive teams around the trade deadline than Edmonton and Carolina? Roloson, Samsonov, Weight, and Recchi were among the biggest four names moved. I doubt trade deadline activity dies based on this year’s results.
  2. Depth is the name of the game in the playoffs, in all positions. Edmonton and Nashville look to be two teams that could not overcome an injury to their top netminders, whereas Anaheim and Ottawa to some degree managed better (and Carolina, though Gerber is more lazy than injured). It seems a second netminder, a seventh defenseman (Buffalo), or another scoring forward (Rangers) are likely to be pretty critical for a lengthy playoff run.
  3. Higher goal scoring might be the product of poorer teams letting in more goals, not because the game is improved. Note that in rounds 2-4 of these playoffs, there are 5.42 goals per game (compared to regular season’s 6.05). A lot of this comes from PP production; rounds 2-4 saw 1.61 PPG per game (compared to the regular season’s 2.07), even though the number of PP opportunities remains about the same.
  • Over at Battle of Alberta, Sacamano is taking his gig to Europe. Hitting Blogger since September 2005, his worst post would still be this site’s best. I almost want the NHL to expand to jolly old England just so I can read a little more about toeing the hubris line. Fortunately, he leaves behind what will still be the best set of team-bloggers in the Oilosphere. Best of luck, Sac.
  • Andy Grabia and mudcrutch have noted a preference of NBC telecasts to CBC and particularly Bob Cole. I can’t comment on him too much, as I don’t get to see CBC in the postseason, but I will say that even if we do get a better telecast, for me to find something in the realm of “postgame reaction” means going online and looking it up. ESPN’s NHL Tonight is sorely missed.
  • I think the league still has a lot of way to go towards ‘selling the game’ on its own on-ice merits. Seemingly, we need more Game Ones and less Games Three/Fours. However, you cannot fault players for prioritizing winning at this stage more than entertaining. The league just needs to find a way to have both priorities coincide better, so that the SCF doesn’t just become another year of “Who will be this year’s Calgary Flames?” In other words, winning should hopefully someday become more than just smothering puck movement, lining up along the blueline, and chipping the puck off the glass. Someday chances will be traded once again, I hope.
  • Lastly, for any Oilfans who have truly given up hope, I offer two things. One, a karmic story from the recent past, and two, a proposed new target in Las Vegas. Best of luck with that.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

There are THREE teams in California?

Now that the Ducks have been eliminated, I think we can look to bring this site back to its original intentions.

That is, a collection of fools who think that the Stanley Cup might one day end up in sunny California.

We have one Duck guy and two Shark writers, but I'm sure we could do a little more for all three teams as we move to '06-'07.

If I can post on a blog, then the bar is really low. I should note that the only real benefit is that your opinions will be corrected by the masses.

C'mon, Kings fans. Certainly one of you should be able to type.

[Edit: I'm going to keep this up top periodically, but more recent posts are below.]

Some Numbas on the Playoffs

I've updated my ol' stats sheet with some playoff numbers. Home numbers are in red, Road Numbers are in blue.

Click here for a clearer look. Some observations:

  • Goal scoring is down in the playoffs, particularly from home teams in the west. They are down half a goal a game.
  • Power play goal scoring has shifted significantly for eastern teams. Home teams in the east are now enjoying quite the postseason PPG margin. The west, meanwhile, has seen its home margin decrease.
  • PP opportunities in both conferences have shifted more to the home team. Home teams are getting more power plays than in the regular season, particularly in the west.
  • Also, road teams in the east are getting one less power play opportunity per game. That is a big drop.
  • The eastern conference and western conference were fairly even in terms of regular season power play opportunities, but in the playoffs, the west has gotten more refereeing than the east.
Anaheim was the only western conference team to win a series it started at home (Colorado) and Buffalo was the only eastern conference team to win a series it started on the road (Ottawa), so that somewhat skews this data.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Thursday, June 08, 2006

2 quick comments

I'm currently on the road in Orlando, FL, and last night I spent having dinner with my uncle for his birthday. His present was that I pretended there was no such thing as hockey, so I haven't seen G2. Even so...

Comment 1: Look back to 2003. I can't imagine that the Oil fans are as desolate as I was back in 2003 after losing games 1 and 2 in New Jersey by identical 3-0 scores. Hey, at least the Oil have scored 4 more times in their first two games and have been shut out half the times.

Bottom line: things at their lowest can turn around. Anaheim came home to win two tight OT wins and evened the series, ultimately forcing a game seven. Long layoff hurts a team again, but it isn't over until that last, last whistle.

Comment 2: Play Ty now. If there's one lesson we can take from the 2004 SCF or the 2006 Olympics, it's that Finnish netminders love second place. Unfortunately, that will not get it done in this series.

Bottom line: 2004 was the first time (nay, the second time!!) a non-North American goaltender won the cup, which was inevitable considering there were two non-NA goalies battling it out.

I will write something a little more meaningful and/or educated when I get back to L.A. this weekend. Yay travel!!

Monday, June 05, 2006

The Conklin Effect

Mr. Mudcrutch, attorney at law, has calculated a phenomenon known as the Roloson Effect, in which a so-so team with horrible goaltending can become a superlative team with a better goalie. And aside from some dispute as to how much better, I agree with him.

Edmonton in front of the goaltender is a really good team. They score playoff-style goals, use the body, and block a lot of shots. And Roloson, aside from a few moments, has stopped a lot of puck.

Only problem is, I hate Rolie and his whiny tactics. For a teammate of Ryan Smyth, he certainly yaps a lot to referees about guys near him. He feels slighted when opponents chip at near-covered pucks, and likes to take his time drinking water on the PK. Yeah, yeah. Veteran moves, like his pop-o-matic mask. Whatever it takes to win.

So when he went down tonight after a Bergeron-assisted Ladd hit, I didn't even believe he was hurt. I was thinking, "Oh, Pronger needs another rest?"

Turns out, however, he was hurt. He is hurt. He's done for the series.

And all of a sudden, I am not so indifferent to this series. I am now rooting for the Oil, who have been knocked off their Rolie-horse. Their blemish now is gone.

In Rolie's place is Ty Conklin, the long-neglected black eye in Edmonton. You see, in order for the Roloson Effect to be meaningful, Ty had to have played very poorly this season. Oilboys found the stats to villify him (notably the .880 save percentage pops out) so that Rolie could become all the more critical, all the more crucial.

Oh sure, Ty got the loss tonight, but at worst, you can chalk that one up to miscommunication from distancy. More critical, I think, is that the Oil played better. Those, I think, were their best minutes of the game. Their Roloson blanket (and the lead) gone, they played some really good hockey, up until the Conklin-Smith-Brind'Amour handoff.

So Ty, here is your shot. Everyone has thanked the lord enough for Rolie, but now you are back. Four wins from the Cup, playing behind a great team. Can you be the guy, the authentic zero-to-hero? I love those guys.

I, for one, am hoping you can win those four games with a flourish and set hockeymetrics back 4 years. You can be legendary, man. Go Oil*.

(Oh, and if necessary, replace Markkanen for Conklin and Jussi for Ty. They both contributed to the Roloson Effect.)

* No Rolie

Meet your blogger 2

5 more fun facts about Earl Sleek:

  1. I spent my undergrad as an Econ major at Duke University in Durham, NC. This was during the era where the Carolina Hurricanes had temporarily relocated to Greensboro, NC, while their arena was being completed in Raleigh. As I had no car, I had to cajole a friend to take the hour-plus drive, so I didn't get to go very often. However, Greensboro Convention Center was great in that you could purchase a student-discount $10 ticket for the worst seat in the house, but then go sit by the glass. Security was non-existent. Two items of note: that was the only time I saw Paul Coffey play, and Greensboro Convention Center does not let people outside during a game. There was an indoor smoking area, basically at one end of the concourse. It was a glorious smoky mess; only in North Carolina, I guess.
  2. The only other arena I have been to (other than Staples Center or the Pond) was GM Place in Vancouver back in 2003. Two buddies of mine and I planned a hockey trip to coincide with a homestand. It had been somewhat of a desire of mine to see a hockey game in Canada, as I was sure the animated fans would contrast the lullish crowds of southern California or North Carolina (note that this is historical; both regions' fans have really improved). We attended two games, and watched another at Sharky's bar across the way. It was a fantastic trip, Vancouver is an awesome city, and they have great fan support.
  3. I am very unpatriotic when it comes to international hockey; I routinely cheer for other teams besides the U.S., including the gold-medal game in Salt Lake City. I don't know exactly where this stems from, but I do hate Chris Chelios. A lot. Hatcher's not my favorite either. And I don't like bustin' chairs at Nagano. I love the diversity of hockey, and lately the rage is to root for Selanne and his Finns, who have done very well lately. But honestly, I cannot remember ever hoping Team USA would win anything.
  4. Aside from the Ducks, the one team I have followed the most is the New Jersey Devils, who are somewhat of a second team of mine. I have only bet on hockey twice, but once was a preseason bet for the Devils to win the 2000 Stanley Cup, which won me $300 in Vegas. I still think the A-Line of Arnott, Elias, and Sykora was the best line I have ever seen. And Mike Emerick is the best announcer there is. But since the fateful game seven in 2003, it has been a different story. Now I have an Elias jersey and a Brodeur poster that will sit in my closet forever.
  5. As for this year's Stanley Cup Finals, I am a little bit indifferent who wins. If the Oil wins, then I can say at least we lost to the Cup winner (which of course is very lame, like saying I slept with a girl who slept with Brad Pitt). The Oil also has a great collection of bloggers. If the 'Canes win, I have the NC connection, and I can celebrate for former Ducks Martin Gerber, Oleg Tverdovsky, Matt Cullen, Mike Commodore (briefly a Duck), and Craig Adams (never played for the Ducks, but came to camp this year). I will say that no matter who wins this year, I like it better than a Tampa Bay or Calgary cup winner. For some reason, I will never like those teams.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Stanley's nightmare is over

On June 21st, 2006, one of my NHL dreams will officially be dead. The Stanley Cup will not be tainted.

On June 21st, the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim will officially die, and the Anaheim Ducks, complete with a new logo and color scheme, will begin. The Arrowhead Pond will simultaneously have its contract expire at the end of September that will probably remove both 'Arrowhead' and 'Pond' from its moniker.

These moves further distance us from Disney and its silly trilogy, and cements us as a 'respectable' member of the NHL (well, I'll believe that when I see it).

5 reason's I'm against changing the name/logo/colors:

  1. The new colors, supposedly, will involve orange and black. Orange kinda makes sense because of Orange County, but it is quite a clash with the ol' teal and purple. If we want an 'orange-out' or something it will look pretty awkward with a lot of people in the old gear, and I'll probably be one of them. It could be the perfect color scheme to alienate 'old' from 'new', and I'm not confident that's going to be a smashing success.
  2. The Mighty Ducks teams have played some great hockey of late to give Anaheim fans the right to wear the jersey proudly. The logo means something way different now, especially with recent success, so who cares what the non-fans think? Judging a hockey team by their jersey is not 'hockey purism', it's 'hockey racism'. Whatever fans we are losing with the old name, quite frankly, I don't want them.
  3. If Disney disrespect is such a concern, then why take this middle ground? Will people forget that this "Ducks" name came from a movie called The Mighty Ducks? Are we hoping for the generation of kids someday who will assume that Anaheim was once ridden with ducks, sort of a local symbol? There are some ducks in OC, but not enough to warrant a franchise. I don't really see how this distances us very far.
  4. Umm, money? Yeah, reinventing the team and slaying the Disney dragon is cool, I guess, but let's not pretend some Robin Hood came in and did it just in the name of corporate justice. Tell me the story any way you want to, but this is a fast way to generate revenue. Like in the case of gasoline, profitability doesn't always work out for everyone, no matter how we're spinning it these days.
  5. It's sort of a bad precedent for sport, particularly one like the NHL. To pull this on a fanbase might work a couple times in a couple of markets, and might do things like artificially inflate revenues and thus salaries. But this could be another case of expansion fees, where once-and-done income sources allow the league to inflate expenses to a tough-to-sustain level. That wouldn't be so troubling, except we have also now put a precedent in place that the league can take a year off to solve its stupidity, and its fans (myself dutifully included) will storm the gates upon its return.
So, I'll take it, I guess. But forgive my pessimism. I worry when the new colors don't really impress, will we do it again in another decade? Or will it dawn on us that it is the waffly fanbase of Southern Californians that might really be the object of ridicule?

And probably the more important lesson--a LOT of business has been put around this sport of hockey. Let's not lose sight of what the real product is.

Quick hits: Earl Sleek's cartoons

When it comes to computers, I am a hack, but not in the good sense. I blog but barely get it, run some stats but for sure people are doing that better than me, and I make cartoons through MS Paint and Power Point, not the best tools on the market.

The cartoons in particular have garnished sufficient praise to continue. Here are links to five you may have missed:

Meanwhile, back in California...

If a Battle happens in California and nobody tunes in to see it, does it make a noise?

The Calberta Slugfest

Cookin' with the Oil

Burying the past