Interesting advertisement from the Sharks marketing department. You might be a Sharks fan if... you like your beer fresh (check), your Pronger flat (check), you imitate a Latvian accent when you say 'Like Wall' (check), you have a pavlovian response to boo anything with the words 'Los Angeles' in it (check), you are still in denial and waiting for upcoming league nullification of Anaheim's "Mighty" Stanley Cup run (check).
But this advertisement makes one wonder, is the marketing department writing checks that the players on the ice can't cash? Mark Bell tried to flatten Shane O'Brien last season. Scott Parker did flatten George Parros with a 2-punch knockout. Ryane Clowe and Shawn Thornton unsuccessfully tried to flatten each other at the Honda Center regular season finale.
Throughout the intra-state rivalry, Chris Pronger remained relatively unflattened. Will it change this season? The San Jose Sharks marketing department believes so.
Friday, August 31, 2007
It's not Montreal. It's not Toronto. It's not Boston. Patrick Marleau's not going anywhere.
Part of me's relieved because I know that prior to last season, he'd been the Sharks most consistent playoff performer, plus he played injured. The other part of me's just relieved that the stupid rumors will finally, finally end.
[Update] Patrick Marleau and Doug Wilson conference call transcripts - Sharkspage.
The league projects out to score 1300 more goals this season. That's 104 more goals on the shootout, 1068 more goals on the power play, and 44 more goals shorthanded. If present trends continue, we can expect over the course of the season to see a total of 84 more even strength goals than we saw in 2003-04.Matt Fenwick, April 7, 2006:
...79% of the scoring increase this season is attributable to special teams goals, and 21% is attributable to even strength goals. Regardless of whether you are happy or unhappy about this, those are somewhat jarring numbers. ...Make of it what you want. I simply think that if we're going to evaluate the changes in the game, it's nice to know just what we're talking about.Tyler Dellow, May 6, 2006:
If the players can adjust to the new rules and play penalty free, the game would still be left as a higher scoring one, albeit marginally so. Whether it was worth the cost is probably in the eye of the beholder—the change in ES scoring on a per game basis this year is so small as to be almost unnoticeable—it’s like the difference between a 15 goal scorer and a 23 scorer.There are certainly other hockey bloggers who have written about the NHL's post-lockout scoring increase and its power play dependency, but I think these three guys have addressed it as well as anybody. Well, now that we're two full seasons into the New NHL™, I figured I'd take a graphical look at the goals-per-game trends across the league. The chart below takes the last two seasons and splits them into 27 weeks each. For each week (roughly 45 games per week), I have plotted three statistics:
- Average goals scored per game (excluding shootouts)
- Average power play goals scored per game
- 1/6 * Average power play opportunities per game
In 2003-04, the year before the lockout, the NHL averaged 5.14 goals per game, 1.40 power play goals per game, and 8.48 power play opportunities per game. In April 2007 (56 regular season games), the NHL averaged 5.30 goals per game, 1.43 power play goals per game, and 8.82 power play opportunities per game.
Now I'm not really a guy who subscribes to the "more goals equals more excitement" school of thought—as a matter of fact, probably some of the most boring hockey in my opinion is penalty-parade hockey (it not only kills the flow of a game, but there's only so much no-hit, set-play, ice-the-puck, play-in-one-zone time that I can tolerate). Whether the game is more exciting now than the pre-lockout NHL I'll leave to the reader, but as salaries and scoring rates gravitate back to pre-lockout levels, one has to wonder how meaningful the lockout really was and whether it could happen again.
Anyway, I found the chart pretty eye-opening. Reactions?
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Why don’t players who get a penalty get a minus if the other team scores?
This has been bothering me for a while. I understand why a defensive player on a penalty kill shouldn’t be subject to a minus because it’s not his fault, but isn’t it the fault of the guy who got the penalty in the first place? If he hadn’t committed a penalty, they wouldn’t have had the scoring opportunity. It makes more sense for that guy to get a minus as opposed to the guy who jumped on the ice two seconds before the goal was scored.
I understand some problems along with this: they don’t give a plus to people who draw a penalty (if they did, Patrick Marleau would lead the league every year), and it might overly punish players with poor goaltending. It would punish guys like Matthew Barnaby and Sean Avery (although Avery does draw a lot of penalties too) for their antics, though. I don’t know, what do you guys think?
Dave Lewis was hired as an assistant coach for the Kings a couple of days ago. My opinion of coaches is that they’re not that important in the grand scheme of things except for power play coaches, but Dave Lewis is known as a pretty good guy and he should balance Marc Crawford’s dickery. I would be a little worried if I were Lubomir Visnovsky, though; he might wake up tomorrow and find out that Lewis has annexed his house.
I’m getting all set up for season previews, starting next week. I’m going to start with the guys who are guaranteed make the team. First up: Rob Blake. Last season was a while ago, though, so my memory is a little hazy. If you have any stories from last year about Blake, or just general impressions of his play, please leave them in the comments. Otherwise, I’m just going to write about the size of his ass for 20 minutes, and nobody wants that.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Sorry, kids, but this picture/title is a bit of an older reference, before my time, even.
At any rate, word on the web is that Scotty is considering coming back for another season, though for whatever reason, he doesn’t want to go to England. Severe anglophobia aside, this would be a tremendous development for the Ducks’ hopes of repeating.
The team went a whopping 54-13-12 last year when Niedermayer, Pronger, and Beauchemin all played, and that was before the addition of Schneidermayer. Plenty more to say about this, but I'll wait until speculation becomes fact.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
He sucks. I’m not sure if this is that big a deal, other than for those Manchester Monarch fans out there. It may be an indication that Cloutier isn’t feeling too great, but it’s more likely that Dean Lombardi doesn’t want to get burned by a lack of goaltender depth like he did last year. At least we won’t have a goaltender with zero NHL experience backing up if either Labarbera or Cloutier get hurt. If this ends up becoming a big deal during the season, I'll probably be pretty pissed. I imagine the only time you'll hear about him is if Earl writes an article about Giguere and then picks the wrong tag.
The Kings also signed defenseman Drew Bagnall a couple of days ago. Bagnall was a Hobey Baker finalist last year with St. Lawrence last year. I like this because it’s not that big of a risk if he turns out to be a bust. Only good can come from this signing. Meanwhile, the Dodgers refuse to sign pitcher Kyle Blair in the draft over $400,000 and then give contracts to guys like David Wells and Shea Hillenbrand. One out of two ain’t bad.
Well, I’m a day late on this, but top line winger Chris Kunitz, who is already under contract for $1.15 M this coming season, signed a UFA-avoiding extension yesterday: 4 years, $14.9 M (with a cap value of $3.725 M per year).
I’m fairly happy with this signing, though I will note that it is a bit difficult to peg a value on Kunitz’s contributions. After all, Kunitz is rarely the opponent’s focal point on any of his line combinations. But whereas some players are purely "passengers" on scoring lines, Kunitz is more of an "enabler"—he noticeably improves scoring results around him.
To demonstrate this, I stole some numbers from an even-strength teammate evaluation site created by HockeyAnalysis.com’s David Johnson. Basically, this site looks at last season’s even-strength ice time and determines scoring rates (GF and GA) when certain players play together and when they play apart. Below are the top 4 forwards and the top 4 defensemen that Chris Kunitz played with at even-strength last year. Note how all 8 players had improved results playing with Kunitz compared to their even-strength ice time without him.
GF, GA, and GD with and without Chris Kunitz
|With Kunitz||Without Kunitz||Kunitz Factor|
+1.25 -0.61 +0.64
+0.91 -1.26 -0.35
+1.27 -0.62 +0.65
+1.13 -0.92 +0.21
+1.31 -0.60 +0.72
+0.91 -0.57 +0.35
+1.12 -0.56 +0.56
+0.93 -0.58 +0.35
+0.89 -0.61 +0.28
+0.83 -0.81 +0.02
+1.18 -0.90 +0.28
+0.87 -0.81 +0.06
+1.31 -0.50 +0.81
+0.71 -0.82 -0.11
+1.41 -0.45 +0.96
+0.90 -0.60 +0.30
The defenseman results in the table above aren’t really that telling—after all, their minutes played with Kunitz mostly correspond with their minutes played with the top line. But the forward results are very revealing—the top two lines were both much more dangerous with Kunitz as the third option. His abilities to skate, shoot, and play the body provide enough options and flexibility for scoring lines to thrive. As Brian Burke notes, “He’s one of our Swiss army knives. He’s good enough to play on the top line and tough enough to play on the fourth line. And he can do almost anything in between.”
All told, I am happy enough with the extension, which I should note is at the “Burke Maximum”—four years. Burke has not negotiated or acquired any contracts extending beyond four years, which I approve of to stay flexible in the face of a vaguely predictible future.
4-year contracts that Burke has negotiated:
4-year-remaining contracts that Burke has acquired:
For those who have not heard it, PJ at Sharkspage has linked to what might be the definitive Battle of California theme song to date—The Whiskey Avengers’ single “Cheechoo / Tameu”, which despite its spelling error in the title quite hilariously tells the story of California’s purest goal scorers—SJ’s Jonathan Cheechoo and Anaheim’s Teemu Selanne.
Check it out now before retirement renders it obsolete!
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Part of me thinks that NHL marketers are devious geniuses—they are purposely producing shitty Reebok designs so that fans will demand another design as quickly as possible. Consumers will pay twice—grudgingly buying a lackluster jersey this summer and enthusiastically buying an improved version the next.
Secrets and unveilings may be exciting, but remember: fans are the ones cheated by having no voice in the design of the product they are expected to buy. It would have been nice if the NHL sampled its fans' reactions prior to mass production, but then again, if the new uniforms looked too good off the bat, how could they get away with a re-re-design next summer?
Anyway, as for Scott and Teemu vs. retirement, there are still no concrete decisions as of yet. At the start of the summer, I decided that I wasn't going to write too much about offseason moves or projected lineups until those questions were answered, and I won't start today. I guess I still lean towards optimism about the players returning, but all summer I have mostly focused my attention on Scott's return status—I realize that I've been way too spoiled watching last year's double-Norris blueline, but dammit! It turns out I like being spoiled!
Friday, August 24, 2007
Mike Myers has a terrible new movie in production where he plays some sort of love guru who grew up in India or some shit, I don't know. Anyway, he serves as a counselor to a hockey player (who plays for the Maple Leafs) and his wife. The hockey player's wife tries to hurt her husband by dating a rival hockey player, played by Justin Timberlake. That's bad enough, but that's not even the worst part: Justin Timberlake's character will be a member of the Los Angeles Kings. I know some of your brains might not have been able to process that information (I know mine couldn't), so let me say it again: Justin Timberlake will be wearing a Kings' uniform. It's all over folks. Make your peace with relatives and with God, because the end times are upon us.
I thought "Dick in a Box" was kind of funny, but there's no way Justin Timberlake has nearly enough credibility to play a hockey player. He looks like a hot chick for fuck's sake. Have you seen him in a picture where he doesn't look like he's about to cry? I'm doubly outraged because I know the Kings are in the movie because Myers is still pissed about the '93 Western Conference finals. (He's a Leafs fan.) And now I'm going to have to watch as my team's jersey is soiled by the chairman & CEO of Douche Bags, Inc.? Fuck that. I will do everything in my power (read: type angrily) to prevent the release of this filth. Who's with me?
Damn you, Mike Myers: first you cause my dad to imitate Austin Powers (which was probably the scariest thing I've ever seen), and now this. Fuck!
So don't worry, Kings fans. There's still odds that your first cup could be completely Prongerless, if you wait long enough.
Off-topic: I’d like to extend a BoC Happy Birthday to my kid brother in New York, who’s still aspiring to be a musician. His band Mercer is still selling their first album, Hourglass, accessible through their MySpace page or through their official site, and I definitely think it's worth a listen. If you like it, buy a copy for someone you like. If you hate it, buy a copy for someone you detest.
Regardless, why not join me in raising a glass of your favorite beverage tonight in honor of Brother Sleek? Happy birthday, brother. Thanks for an excuse to get drunk tonight.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
I must admit, I was pretty inspired by Pfizer's mother-of-all-Canucks-logos (happy birthday, Alanah!); it really got me to thinking--shouldn't the Ducks get back to the logo game? If you recall, last summer the Ducks introduced their new look uniforms, featuring a webbed-foot text which was at least successful in reminding absolutely nobody of Disney, but still it lacked a true logo. Instead of a picture of an actual duck, we instead were treated with forensic evidence that suggests that duck-like creatures may have once inhabited the earth.
Anyway, now that the team has divorced itself from the Disney movie, I can't really say what association the team or the city of Anaheim has with actual ducks. But with the right logo, maybe we could re-associate the team name with the actual identity of the team--we could stop pretending that “Duck” refers to some animal, and instead acknowledge that it better reflects an appropriate action to take when May, Bertuzzi, or Pronger is skating up to you.
So here's my proposed Anaheim logo for '07-'08. Enjoy!:
I've been spending a lot of time this summer commenting at Interchangeable Parts--I'm not sure how best to describe it, except the commenters there are hilarious; it's really a blog to hang out at. Pookie and Schnookie have been diligently running a summer series "118 reasons why we love hockey", where they celebrate different aspects of today's NHL (or hockey in general). Anyway, I got to write one as a reader submission, so if you're interested you can see one reason why I love hockey, though if you cruise the archives you'll see that they've got a lot of better-written posts than mine.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
I'm calling it "the new expansion" because the revenue ramifications worry me: owners obviously like re-designs because it's a pretty easy way to make a cheap buck, forcing their fans to buy into a new look. And sure, there's nothing wrong with doing that once in a while. But I don't really trust the NHL to treat these one-time revenue streams appropriately. Before the lockout, expansion fees were another one-time revenue source that really escalated the league's spending appetite, but once that revenue stream dried up, all that remained was an unsustainable salary structure. Nowadays, with salaries linked to revenues, the dangers are different, but I worry about contract commitments made after a year with artificially high revenues (under an artificially high salary cap).
From an Anaheim fan's perspective, I'm getting sick of these re-inventions. Three seasons ago the team wore white Mighty Duck jerseys at home. Two seasons ago they switched to dark-at-home and introduced a 3rd jersey. Last season the team re-designed its team name and logo for a brand-new look, and next season it will convert to Reebok-style fitted jerseys. While I'm sure that each year's sweater development has earned the franchise tons of money, I think the market is shrinking for jerseys with a one-year shelf life. Be warned, NHL. You may have found a nice trick to scrape together some quick cash, but like expansion fees, I don't think the boost is sustainable. If and when it loses its steam, I really hope you're not planning on making up the revenue on already-high ticket prices.
Readers: If you are curious about these new uniform developments (and yeah, it is still kind of exciting), check out NHL Tournament of Logos, who's doing a great job of keeping track of all the league's changes.
Meanwhile, in other BoC news:
- Since Mike Chen is knee-deep in wedding preparations (congrats, btw!), I'll go ahead and give a BoC shoutout to a new Sharks blog that started this summer, Bleed Teal, run by Sharks fan Gautham Ganesan. I've linked to his story on the latest re-signing by Doug Wilson: a 6-year, $26 million extension for winger Milan Michalek. Though the Sharks have been quiet this summer when it comes to player addition, they have done a great job preparing for the future with extensions for Thornton and Michalek, and promise to be a scary team for the next several years.
- The ever-industrious James Mirtle has listed out the early standings projections of two major summer publications: McKeen's and The Hockey News. McKeen's has the Pacific Division as follows: Dallas (3rd), Anaheim (t-4th), San Jose (6th), Los Angeles (9th), and Phoenix (15th), while THN has it as: Anaheim (2nd), San Jose (4th), Dallas (11th), Los Angeles (12th), and Phoenix (15th). Feel free to spit on these Pacific projections in the comments, if you wish.
- Meanwhile, Steph at No Pun Intended has taken an enormous step for a Red Wings fan—admitting her admiration for a Duck. Actually, it's known as BryzgaLove, and its obvious target is the Anaheim backup-for-now, crazy Russian Ilya Bryzgalov (His best asset from a Wing fan's perspective? He's not Giguere). She has a great recap of Breezy's day with the cup (including his kick-ass shirt-of-many-colors), and is trying to find photo evidence of his allegedly-awesome Buccaneer costume, if anyone can help with that.
Monday, August 20, 2007
Friday, August 17, 2007
Hockey is not a sport that gets a lot of coverage by the media. This means that only the major stars of the sport usually get covered: the Crosbys, the Iginlas, the Brodeurs, etc. As such, many of the fringe players get unnoticed; one such player is Douglas Murray, defenseman for the San Jose Sharks. This is a shame, because Douglas Murray is the coolest dude in the NHL. Why would I think Doug Murray is awesome, given that he’s on a division rival? Well…
…for one, his name is Doug Murray. This isn’t that awesome in itself, except for the fact that he’s Swedish. I mean, what kind of Swede is named Doug Murray? I don’t know why, but it gets me all giggly. (Side note: According to Wikipedia, Doug’s mom doesn’t like people calling him Doug because it sounds like “Dog” when pronounced by a Swede. I will now only refer to him as “Dog Murray.”)
…secondly, his nickname on the team is “Crankshaft.” That’s fucking cool. I wish my nickname was “Crankshaft.” It sounds like the nickname of the big guy who carries the machine gun in a war movie.
…thirdly, despite being a big, lumbering defenseman, Dog is also a Cornell grad (just like Andy Bernard) and an entrepreneur. It's not just any company, either; Dog Murray is the owner of a business called “Ubertap.” The company has created a new kind of tap for your keg that has 3 nozzles, which enables you to pour 5x faster. What makes the tap especially awesome is that it allows you to pump with your foot instead of your hand. Okay, it’s not that awesome, but it seems cool to me for some reason. Apparently, Murray’s friend had the idea create a new type of keg pump and Murray provided the money to start up the company.
If you don't think this is great, you're uber-gay! (See what I did there?)
If I could be a hockey player, I’d be Dog Murray (from Sweden). The guy is a millionaire hockey player (albeit not a very good one) who hangs out with his friends and creates the cutting edge in drinking technology. You may not be well known, Dog, but I salute you.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
It’s no big secret that since well before this blog began, Sammy Pahlsson has been my favorite player. He was the first player featured in Meet Your Mighty Ducks, Part 1 (whatever happened to that series?), he was my dream centerman in If I were an NHL Player, he is the subject of my famous man-crush poem, and I’ve picked him to score a goal in every gameday prediction. But a strange thing has happened—slowly but surely Sammy has turned from a personal cult hero into a recognized playoff hero.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. To get a better sense of the scope of this heroism, I’ve taken the liberty of splitting the season into four different segments, with a fifth segment representing the playoffs. Each segment represents 20 or 21 games, and I’ve included winning percentage and power play results in the table.
|Record||Win Pct.||PPG for||PPG against|
1: 1 – 20
2: 21 – 41
3: 42 – 61
4: 62 – 82
5: 83 – 103
In all segments except #3 the Ducks were a dominant team, and in segments 1 and 4 a lot of credit goes to special teams domination. In the playoffs, however, you can see that power-play scoring was a wash—it didn’t carry the team to playoff success. Instead, segment 5 was about winning through even-strength play.
Now when it comes to 5-on-5 hockey, Randy Carlyle was fairly strict in his mostly-three-line approach. Each line served a specific purpose, and each line generally saw the same type of opposition. For purposes of this exercise I am really going to look at the three centermen, but they really are just to demonstrate the results for each forward line.
- Andy McDonald (C. Kunitz, T. Selanne)—Andy Mac was the #1 offensive line for the Ducks, and was fairly assured to see the best defenders from the opposing team. As such, Andy’s defensive responsibilities weren’t too strenuous—he generally was in a position to outscore his opponents.
- Ryan Getzlaf (D. Penner, C. Perry)—Getzlaf centered the second scoring line, a pretty favorable spot to be in—secondary defenders had to put up with the size and skill of the kid line. Considering his soft minutes, he too was in a position to outscore his opponents.
- Sammy Pahlsson (T. Moen, R. Niedermayer)—Pahlsson had the defensive role against the opposition’s best scoring line. He played the team’s murderer’s minutes—the icetime in which the Ducks could expect to be outscored. His job was to limit the bleeding, and contribute when he could.
(Click image to enlarge)
I guess the first takeaway is that there’s plenty of ways to win. In Segments #1 and #4, the Ducks won a lot on Getzlaf’s results as well as a strong power play. In #2, the McDonald line really powers things. In #3 (the injury segment), we can see crummy results across the board. But really, look at the green bars: it’s really amazing how Pahlsson explodes come playoff time.
Here’s how his season rates and postseason rates compare, looking at goals for and against per 60 minutes. Bear in mind that the results in the regular season column earned Pahlsson a nomination for the Selke trophy.
In the playoffs, Pahlsson’s line was on the ice for more 5-on-5 goals-for than McDonald’s line or Getzlaf’s line, all while shadowing Gaborik / Sedin / Zetterberg / Alfredsson. Sammy’s line was also on the ice for 8 of Anaheim’s 16 game-winning goals, including 7 of its last 10. Now I’ve stated before that I’m not overly concerned about whether or not Sammy ended up winning a Selke or Smythe trophy, but I do think it should be recognized how strong his postseason contribution was—it blows away his supposedly-strong regular season.
And that really is really what made this cup win so especially sweet for me—not only does my franchise’s dream come unbelievably true, but as a bonus my longtime favorite, once-cult hero plays like a fucking superstar to make it happen.
And it's not just this past postseason, either. He's played a big part in the '03 SCF run, the '06 WCF run, and now the '07 Cup win. Only he and Rob Niedermayer played in all 58 of those playoff games, and only Sammy played in all 246 regular season games between them too. And picked up a Swedish Elite Gold, a World Championship Gold, and an Olympic Gold along the way.
C'mon, Ducks fans, say it with me. Sammy is god.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Not to steal any thunder from Rudy's hilarious post below, but today the Hockey News decided to break out their Finnish translators to report that indications are that Teemu Selanne is likely going to retire.
Just because the Hockey News is run by dunces doesn't mean that their translation is wrong--I've seen enough message board affirmation to think this is the way Teemu is leaning. All I can offer is one last reason for Selanne to consider coming back.
Here's Selanne's numbers since his post-lockout return to Anaheim:
Look at it, Teemu--you're right on the brink! 99 power play points? 99 goals scored? 199 games played? How about you just come back for one more game and score that one game-winning power-play goal that will round your comeback out nicely?
Just a last-ditch suggestion before things get official.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
For the first time since 2000, I’m feeling optimistic about this Kings team. There’s good young talent at every position and there’s a general manager in place that I trust. There’s just one thing about the Kings that’s bothering me: not many of them look like hockey players. The Kings probably have the biggest collection of babyfaces, whelps, and fops in the entire league. I mean, just look at these guys:
Alex Frolov: Professional hockey players should not have a facial expression that can best be described as “coy.”
Anze Kopitar: Do they sleep in
Dustin Brown: What's up, Baby Huey? I’m sorry, but he looks like he ate paint chips as a kid. Seriously, someone needs to check him to see if he has whatever Slingblade did.
Jack Johnson: I look at him and all I can think is: durrr.
Jason LaBarbera: Nice fu manchu, dumbass. Plus, you’re fat.
Joe Piskula: Hahahahahahaha!
Lubomir Visnovsky: He’s a cute kid; when he grows up, I’m sure he’ll be great.
Michael Cammalleri: Any man that gives me a boner shouldn’t be playing hockey.
Kevin Dallman: He kind of looks like a hockey player, but he also kind of looks like a rapist.
Michal Handzus: Oh what the fuck. He looks like the bastard love-child of Robert Carlyle and a muppet.
Derek Armstrong, Scott Thornton, Dan Cloutier, Raitis Ivanans
These guys, on the other hand, are members of the Kings that look like hockey players. I mean, look at Scott Thornton; there’s a guy I’d want on my side in a fight. Fuck, I’m afraid to look at Ivanans’ picture the wrong way for fear that he’ll show up at my house, rip off my arms, and shove one down my throat and the other up my ass so I can shake hands with myself. The only problem with all of them? They all suck at actually playing hockey. That’s the problem with the Kings; they ones that are good all look like doofs while the guys who look like hockey players suck balls at the sport. What does this mean for the upcoming season? I’m not sure, but I think the Kings may have to trade for a guy like Rod Brind’amour or maybe bring Bob Probert out of retirement just to satisfy the hockey gods. On the other hand, if the Ducks can win with Scott Niedermayer, Travis Moen and Corey Perry, maybe there's hope after all.
Monday, August 13, 2007
Isn’t it great how an internet blog-venture with no planning, no organization, no communication, and no leadership can still manage to run smoothly? Case in point, Saturday afternoon, after nearly six months of having Rudy Kelly posting on this site, I finally decided to actually meet the guy and have some drinks. Seeing as we’re both into Eklund-level anonymity, I “neglected” to bring my camera, but the scene looked something like this:
"So, those Sharks sure choke a lot, huh?"
As for impressions, considering the team-rivalry aspect it’s good that we didn’t immediately hate each other—I was impressed with the fact that Rudy plays hockey outside of a video game setting, and Rudy was probably impressed with my willingness to pick up the tab. Besides, in talking we found we have many similarities—we both hate Chris Chelios, we both hate the Avalanche, and we both agree that the Kings franchise had better get its act together—it would be a real kick in the teeth for L.A. fans if their team became the last California team to win a cup.
Anyways, it was a pretty fun meet-up with Rudy, now the fifth blogger I’ve been able to drink in front of (Finny, Cassie, PJ Swenson, and Eric McErlain can all attest to my liver abuse too). There wasn’t very much in the way of “blog business” discussed, but we did both agree that there was no need for any aggressive ambition when it comes to BoC—we’re pretty content in whatever niche we’ve fallen into.
(On a serious note, though: Like Mirtle, from time to time I get e-mails from emerging bloggers looking for advice. As a guy who (a) didn’t even start this blog, or (b) doesn’t have a lot of “vision” or “expertise”, I usually don’t know what to tell them. If you are looking for guidance, the best collection of hockey blogger advice I’ve found is in Christy’s Behind the Blog features—dig through those and you’ll find plenty of good tips from plenty of good bloggers.)
As for us? Look for more of the same rudderless brilliance, I guess, although now that I’m assured that Rudy’s not a monster, we’ll probably be catching a game together this coming season.
Anyone want to fly us to England?
Friday, August 10, 2007
Some lazy Friday links for you:
First off, today is one of the days I've been looking forward to all summer: Sleek's favorite Sammy Pahlsson's day with the Stanley Cup (courtesy of the HHOF). Pictured to the right is Sammy at his summer home in Sweden, in front of a sign that commemorates his career achievements:
- Swedish League Gold (2005)
- World Championships Gold (2006)
- Olympic Gold (2006)
- Stanley Cup (2007)
While I'm lazy-linking, I also have been procrastinating on blog promotion a bit: there's another new Ducks blog to highlight: The Flying V. New blogger Citizen Saint is the third new addition this summer (along with Varius and David) and may need a little constructive criticism—like a little spell checking on his "Player of ther Week"—but even so, he's got some unique content to check out, and is on the lookout for another contributor. Check it out, and as always, welcome aboard the ever-expanding Duck-blogosphere!
Lastly, this may have gone under the summer-doldrums radar, but superblogger Jes Gölbez put together the first of what may be a summerlong series: a blogger opinion poll that includes such BoC heavyweights as PJ Swenson, Mike Chen, and myself. Check out poll question #1: What was the worst free agent signing of the NHL off-season?
From the looks of things, the popular answer was Philadelphia's monster-contract for Daniel Briere (including Chen and Sleek's votes), but PJ instead had some gloom-and-doom predictions for the Ducks' signing of a washed-up Todd Bertuzzi. Normally, I'd just shrug that off as petty cup envy, but then again, PJ did make a strong prediction last summer that has already come true:
"I believe I can accurately sum up the crux of this Hockey News issue and this blog post as a firm challenge directed by California at the province of Alberta. We Californians may not know what a province is, we may not paint ourselves blue and red and hang from streetlights in Mexican wrestling masks after a single playoff win, but we can guarantee that the Stanley Cup will be visiting here before stepping foot on Albertan soil again."Glad the Ducks could help you make that threat a reality, PJ.
Thursday, August 09, 2007
Oleg Tverdovsky, the well-traveled defenseman once hailed as the "Ukranian Bobby Orr," looks to be taking his puck and going home. Russian newspapers are reporting that Tverdovsky has signed a 5-year deal with Yulaev of the RSL after realizing that there was no way he was going to play for the Kings this year. He’ll probably say that he missed his family and wanted to be back in Russia, which we all know is bullshit because no one wants to spend a winter in Russia (except maybe Ilya Brzyzgalov, but he's insane).
This is good news for the Kings because it means Tverdovsky’s $2.5 million dollar contract comes off the books; the Kings probably won’t spend any more money, but it’s nice to have in case they want to pick someone up for the stretch run. And I’m sure Carolina GM Jim Rutherford is cursing the heavens, wondering why Tverdovsky didn’t do this earlier. In the end, the Kings traded Eric Belanger and Tim Gleason for Jack Johnson and $2.5 million dollars (since Tverdovsky barely played for the Kings). Belanger was later traded for Josef Vasicek and the Canes have since indicated that they won’t re-sign him. Going forward, this essentially makes that trade Jack Johnson for Tim Gleason. To the Canes, I say: whoops.
Earl Sleek is now curled into a ball, muttering, "No, no..."
With the NHL career of Oleg Tverdovsky essentially over, I think we should all take a moment to reflect on an, uhh, interesting career. Tverdovsky was drafted 2nd overall in the 1994 NHL entry draft by the Anaheim Ducks. (I was going to point out what a terrible pick that was, but the Kings drafted Jamie Storr 7th, so I’ll shut up.) Tverdovsky was always a 4th forward out there, but his unique defensive play (ie., letting people skate right by him) made it difficult for any team to handle him for more than a couple of years. He bounced from Anaheim, to Phoenix, back to Anaheim, to New Jersey, to Russia, to Carolina, and finally to the Kings. I didn’t really get to know him while he was on the Kings so I don’t have any great stories about him. I call on Ducks fans to please share their favorite (or most infuriating) Tverdovsky moment if it’s not too painful. So long, Oleg. I hardly knew ye, thank God.
(P.S. Please refrain from calling him “Turn-overdovsky.” If I hear one more person call him that, the hilarity of the phrase might actually make my sides split.)
(P.P.S On the pre-show for the Dodgers game, Steve Lyons said that Reds pitcher Phil Dumatrait “…got whacked around in his last start.” Teehee.)
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
You know, pretty much since the outset of this blog, there has been a pretty steady stream of taunts directed towards the L.A. Kings, and why not? The 2-year pattern we’ve observed involves the Kings missing the playoffs, the Sharks choking on a round 2 series lead, and the (Mighty) Ducks either losing in the conference finals or winning it all.
But amazingly enough, things were not always so—there was a time not that long ago where things were drastically different. To see what I’m talking about, take a look below at the Western Conference standings back on December 31st, 2005 (back when teams were ranked by standings points, then wins):
|Team||GP||W – L – O||Pts||GF – GA|
26 – 9 – 3
144 – 100
25 – 14 – 2
141 – 121
23 – 12 – 4
103 – 97
24 – 9 – 3
114 – 102
24 – 12 – 1
121 – 99
22 – 14 – 4
130 – 125
21 – 12 – 5
128 – 117
20 – 17 – 3
148 – 134
20 – 18 – 2
116 – 116
18 – 17 – 4
110 – 95
17 – 15 – 6
107 – 103
16 – 16 – 5
113 – 114
13 – 20 – 4
99 – 130
12 – 26 – 1
79 – 138
9 – 22 – 5
95 – 140
That’s right. The Kings, second in the western conference, sticking out their tongues at the lowly Ducks and Sharks, who at that point were fighting to stay out of the Pacific basement. Can you imagine the fun-loving posts that Kings bloggers would be writing back then? (And really, this was not that long ago—the Kings were atop the BoC standings through March 19, 2006, less than two months before this blog's first post.)
It’s pretty astounding how much the tables have turned since then. In regular season games in 2006 and 2007, the Kings have gone a combined 44-62-17 (.427), getting outscored 325 – 425. Meanwhile, the Sharks have gone 79-37-11 (.665), outscoring opponents 408 – 318, and the Ducks have gone 74-32-20 (.667), outscoring opponents 398 – 317. Plus the Sharks have won 2 playoff series and the Ducks have won 6.
So I don’t know—part of me wants to apologize to the Kings bloggers—back then, there wasn’t a BoC blog forum for them to properly taunt us Sharks/Ducks fans. Then again, if they had, how much shit would they be eating right about now?
But I guess the real lesson here is one of caution: in this state of California especially, tables can turn awfully fast. Literally, in the span of a few months, bottom-feeders can become cup contenders, and division leaders can see their golden era get quickly flushed down the toilet.
Looking for a new logo, Los Angeles?
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
The Kings “won” their arbitration case against Mike Cammalleri, locking him up for 2 years at $3.1 and $3.6 million dollars a year. This is awesome. I was hoping that they would have been able to get him for $4.5 million, and praying that we got him for $4 million. To get him for that price is fantastic, because now it frees up money to sign the other young guys and to sign another free agent with the money we’ll get when Rob Blake’s contract runs out. This is very good for the future of the Kings.
From what I can piece together, Lombardi argued that Cammalleri’s contract should only be determined by what other restricted free agents have been given, not by unrestricted free agent contracts and offer sheets. I’m sure he pointed to Alex Frolov and Jonathan Cheechoo’s contracts as starting points for Cammalleri’s. I’m sure he also pointed out that while Cammalleri is 25, this is only really his 4th year in the league. Whatever he said, the arbitrator obviously agreed with him. (I personally like to think he gave a impassioned speech like Matthew McConaughey at the end of "A Time to Kill.") I feel like carrying Lombardi around on my shoulders, that’s how proud I am of him.
Some people are mocking the fact that Cammalleri asked for $6 million in the arbitration hearing, but I’m not going to. I doubt he actually thought he deserved that kind of money, but why not ask for it? He’s a good young player, and he’s going to make millions more in his career. And I think people aren’t giving Cammalleri nearly enough credit when they say that this will create bad blood between him and the Kings. The Kings did not say anything bad about him in the arbitration hearing and they didn’t ultimately decide his salary; what would he have to be mad about? He’s an adult (although he admittedly doesn’t look like one) and I’m sure he’ll be just fine. If he feels like crying, he’ll have $3.1 million to wipe away his tears.
Don't feel bad: maybe you just got paid by the foot.
I also don’t think this changes anything between Cammalleri and the Kings, either. Cammalleri has one year to prove that he’s deserving of elite player money, and if the Kings don’t think he’s done it, they’re probably going to look to trade him at the deadline in two years. I’m sure Cammalleri will want to test the free agent market in two years, because that’s the smart thing for him to do. I don’t ultimately see him in our long-term plans, and I don’t think Lombardi does either, but it’ll be nice to have him for the next two years.
What this does affect, however, is the attitudes of the other young guys. A guy like Dustin Brown or Patrick O’Sullivan may be a little quicker in signing a long-term deal because of what happened to Cammalleri. They may figure that they might as well save themselves the hassle and sign a team-friendly deal because at least they get to dictate the terms of their deal. At least, that’s what I hope. Now sign that 10 year, $10 million dollar deal, Anze!
Oh, and one more thing: eat it, Edmonton. We signed our best player to a two-year deal for a combined $6.7 million, while you get monolithic Dustin Penner for $4.25 million dollars a year for five years. It’s amazing what can happen when you have a competent general manager.
Monday, August 06, 2007
So in the wake of Dustin Penner’s recent departure to more Oilish pastures, I thought I’d take a brief look today a bit closer at how his on-ice performance last year broke down by opponent.
Similar to what I noted last February about the Sharks’ Jonathan Cheechoo, it appears that Penner greatly increased his scoring rates against BoC opponents compared to his scoring rates against the rest of the league. Penner scored 8 points in 8 games against the Sharks, 7 points in 8 games against the Kings, and 38 points in 87 games against non-BoC opponents. The table below is a simplified version of the findings (regular season + playoffs, broken down by even-strength and power play results):
|GP||ES Min.||ES G-A-Pts.||ES Pts./hr||ES +/- /hr|
|Opponent||GP||PP Min.||PP G-A-Pts.||PP Pts./hr||PP +/- /hr|
I don’t think there’s enough here to draw any hard conclusions, but either Penner really got motivated for in-state divisional rivals, or else these two teams specifically had trouble controlling the big body. In either case, it’s probably a good thing for the Sharks and Kings that they figure to see half as much Penner in the coming season as they did last year.
Of course, the real question might be for Penner himself: is it a bad thing for him and the Oilers that he'll see half as much Kings and Sharks as he did last year? Theories are welcome in the comments.
Friday, August 03, 2007
The Kings have a little charity game this Sunday where Kings Alumni will face off against the Narconon Miracles. As first reported by Deadspin.com, the Narconon Miracles are the hockey team of Narconon International. What is Narconon International? It is a drug rehabilitation program based on the writings of L. Ron Hubbard, shitty science fiction author and Scientology founder. The founder of the program is one William Benitez, a former Arizona convict who, with the help of L. Ron Hubbard's writings, was able to kick a heroin habit without the use of any drugs. I encourage you to go to the site; it has kind of a creepy feeling, like the company in The Island.
It appears that the alumni are not affiliated with the actual team, but still, this seems like a bad idea. Seeing as how Philip Anschutz is heavily involved with right-wing Christian groups, I would imagine he won't be too pleased with this development. If Jim Fox blames a Frolov scoring slump on the presence of thetans this season, we'll know where it started.
Cammalleri's arbitration hearing was yesterday, but so far today there has been no word on the outcome. It's looking like it might have to wait until tomorrow (or possibly Monday, I don't know if arbiters work weekends), but if I hear anything I'll let you know. According to my boss, I've seemed distant all day. I tried to explain why, but she just gave me a funny look and walked away.
In former Kings' news, Kelly Buchberger was named the head coach of the Springfield Falcons, Edmonton's AHL team. Kelly Buchberger is probably my least favorite King ever (with the possible exception of Len Barrie), but I thought some of you might like to know.
Thursday, August 02, 2007
So yeah, I know today’s kind of a big day for BoC, what with the Penner decision due soon and the Cammalleri arbitration hearing today also (and feel free to comment on either, if you wish), but aside from the NHL offseason, it’s also my baby brother’s 22nd birthday today. He’s the only other Ducks fan in the Sleek family, and probably the only member who would really appreciate a blog shoutout.
Anyway, I never really know what to get kids for presents, but seeing as he is the baby of the family, I figured you can’t go wrong with fun-for-all-ages Fisher Price:
p.s. Per James Mirtle, Dustin Penner is an Edmonton Oiler. Discuss.