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

* Thanks, Kevin Lowe!

Showing posts with label Wayne Gretzky. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wayne Gretzky. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

All-Time LA Kings Hockey Team, '91-Present

Here's an idea we had kicked around a few months ago that I'm just getting to now. Hey, you get what you pay for. Anyway, we here at Battle of California thought it'd be fun to comprise a all-time all-star team for your enjoyment and also because we're bored. Obviously it'd be unfair if I were allowed to choose from the entire history of the Kings, so it was decided that I would only select from the creation of the San Jose Sharks franchise in 1991. What you'll see is an eclectic mix of Hall of Famers, flashes in the pan, and guys that are inexplicably etched in my memory. If you don't agree with my list then, you know, fuck off.

(Thanks to Hockey-Reference.com, which I'm seriously thinking about making my home page.)


1st Line:

Luc Robitaille-Wayne Gretzky-Jari Kurri

Luc Robitaille is the greatest King in the history of the team and obviously belongs on the 1st line. Wayne is 4th all-time in Kings' points and has the highest points per game total in team history (1.70). Jari Kurri was only on the team for a little while and wasn't as great as he was in Edmonton, but he played a great two-way game and was a leader on the ice. He was my 2nd favorite forward from those early '90s Kings teams, behind someone else that'll make an appearance later.

2nd Line:

Ziggy Palffy-Jason Allison- Adam Deadmarsh

The LAPD line was only really together for one season, in 2001-2002. Though they were never healthy together for a long period of time, they managed to tally 195 points as a line and were 1-2-3 in scoring on that team.* It's crazy to think that those three comprised one of the best lines in hockey in 2002 and by 2004 they were pretty much done as NHLers. When people declare Dave Taylor's tenure as Kings GM a failure they usually neglect to reference that point.

*4th? Jaroslav Modry. Hockey is weird.

3rd Line:

Alexander Frolov-Anze Kopitar-Tony Granato

It's weird to think about, but Alexander Frolov has been on the team for 5 seasons now. He's the last link the Kings have to the playoffs, and for that he earns a spot on this list. Kopitar is there mostly because the Kings haven't had good luck with centers in the past 2 decades. (Seriously, who was I supposed to put here, Josef Stumpel?) I imagine he'll actually earn his way onto this list before too long. Tony Granato was my favorite forward growing up, mostly because he was a huge asshole and had a nice shot. I know, he sticked that one guy in the head, but I thought that was hilarious so it's okay. Plus, he's related to Ray Ferraro and I don't think Ray would allow that if he didn't think Granato was cool.

4th Line:

Ian Laperriere-Dave Taylor-Gary Shuchuk

If hockey goons were The Brothers Karamazov, Ian Laperriere would Alyosha. That doesn't make sense, but it makes me sound smart, doesn't it? Dave Taylor wasn't a great player by the early '90s, but he's still Dave Taylor and he would provide invaluable leadership to my imaginary team. I've always had a strange affinity for Gary Shuchuk that I can't explain and I'd appreciate it if you respected my right to privacy.


Rob Blake-Matty Norstrom

Rob Blake may be a horrible bastard that enjoys kicking sand in children's faces but he's still the best defenseman during this time period and he would've gotten more recognition in the late-90s if he hadn't been on those horrible, horrible Kings teams. Matty Norstrom embodies what you'd want your kid to play like when he or she were out on the ice. Hell, he's how I want to be when I grow up.

Marty McSorley-Lubomir Visnovsky

Marty probably doesn't belong here because he probably caused more harm than good, but I'll be damned if he didn't scare the shit out of people when he was on the ice. Lubo was a solid NHLer that blossomed into an elite player in the New NHL. Hopefully he can recover his game in Edmonton and make their All-Time team.

Alexei Zhitnik-Mark Hardy

Zhitnik was special for 2 reasons: he was the 2nd best defenseman in a core of young players that the Kings had during the early to mid-90s, and he was the subject of the one of the worst trades in Kings history. Zhitnik was traded with Robb Stauber and Charlie Huddy for Grant Fuhr, Denis Tsygurov and Philippe Boucher. Fuhr would play 14 games for the Kings, accumulating a 4.04 GAA and a Cloutier-esque .876 save percentage, while Zhitnik would go on to be a key contributor to a Sabres team that went to the NHL Finals. Mark Hardy did this:


Kelly Hrudey
Felix Potvin

Fuck what other people say, the fact is that Kelly Hrudey had the longest tenure of any goaltender on the Kings and wasn't that bad. Felix Potvin had the best peak of any Kings' goaltender, posting a team-best 2.35 GAA and a .906 save percentage. I had a Felix the Cat shirt during the Kings' run in 2001 and wore it to school throughout that period. I was beaten mercilessly.

So there you go. I'm throwing down the gauntlet to Sleek, O'Brien and the San Jose Clan: come up with your own all-time team that can beat mine. I can't wait to hear how Paul Kariya and Owen Nolan are somehow good.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

More Bad Puns: the Pensblog submissions

As I noted a week ago, it's hockey photoshop contest season, and today I'll show what I've done for the Pensblog's anti-Wayne movement. If you recall, their challenge was easy enough: "The task is simple, make photoshops that depict Wayne Gretzky in a negative way or just make fun of him."

Well, just like before when I had trouble making Gary Bettman look heroic, I'm similarly challenged in bringing out Wayne's negative side. So as usual, I just ignored the stated challenge and went back to what I'm good at: lame-ass puns. Let's take a look, shall we?

Submission #1


So I don't know if this is truly negative, though it does show off a bit of an angry side for Gretzky, and historically the T-Rex was pretty bad at avoiding extinction. It was actually kind of difficult to find pictures of "Angry Wayne" to put on this dinosaur's body. Strangely, the only angry shots I could find featured Gretzky the head coach. Ha ha, I wonder why.

Submission #2

Quite talented and yet quite inept.

OK, this might get a little more "on theme", though Rain Man has as many positive qualities as he does negative. Still, I think there's some parallels with Gretzky -- a sheltered upbringing, a superhuman talent, and a questionable grasp of reality. I don't know how well Brent Gretzky was able to exploit his brother's talents, though.

Submission #3

Aha! Finally some evil!

This one's sort of appealing to me: it's got a negative spin, a villainous overtone, and a built-in dose of hilarity. I like this pun-parallel, except for the fact that Wayne was successful in his takeover attempt (while the Brain is regularly frustrated in his).

So, what did I miss? Anybody have any good Gretzky puns they want to see made? My next project (barring any Ducks news) will be the ol' Sanford mask. Trust me, though, I'm betting it will be lame like Wayne.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

'Tis the season for hockey photoshop contests

Wow. Well in the wake of Puck Daddy's wildly successful Gary Bettman Photoshop Contest (230 submissions, not even counting my own), I guess art contests have become the blogger rage to help cope with the dead days of August. Of course, as a hockey-photoshop fiend myself, I wholly endorse all creative endeavors in this field, so I'm here to highlight both of the current contests before even starting on my own entries.

Contest #1: The guy with the most free time in the NHL is seeking your help to design his goalie mask.

King of bloggers James Mirtle has this one covered, but Curtis Sanford, the Canucks' backup to Roberto Luongo, is having a team-sponsored contest for fans to design his mask. To put it in Ducks terms, Sanford is the modern-day version of Danny Sabourin, the guy who occasionally gets called in when Luongo has to take an overtime shit in a playoff elimination game.

The winner of the actual Canucks contest stands to have his art featured up to six times this season, but if you're clever enough, you might even get featured on Mirtle's site, which may represent more eyeballs. Or if you have no skills but want to suggest an idea, I'm certainly not above stealing. Or whatever, if you feel like doing a Duck, King, Shark, or Star design, we'll show 'em here.

Follow the Mirtle link above to find the mask template. Deadline is August 25th.

Contest #2: It's about time the best player in the history of hockey got taken down a notch, right?

If Mirtle's the King, these guys are the Joker. The Pensblog, sick and tired of all the Great One's infallability, have put together a simple challenge: "The task is simple, make photoshops that depict Wayne Gretzky in a negative way or just make fun of him."

And why not? If there's 230 heroic aspects of Gary Bettman, there's surely a million negative facets to Wayne Gretzky. There's no template required for this one, so have fun with that one, if you're photoshop-inclined. I'll warn you, though -- the photoshoppers reading The Pensblog are a sharp and talented bunch -- if you think you won't measure up, send 'em our way and we'll show 'em here too. Deadline is August 24th.


So now that I've promoted these contests, check back in nearer to the deadlines and I'll put together my "brains" and my "talent" and we'll see what emerges. Perhaps I'll get rushed and draw a combination-entry hockey helmet featuring the old lesbian telling Pronger's wife to get the fuck out of Edmonton. Or perhaps I'll just do a series of Gretzky movie posters.

Yeah, I know. Suspense sucks.

Go Ducks.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

In Celebration of an Old Lesbian

"So I was watching Ellen the other day and..."

Wayne Gretzky is not a physically imposing specimen. He basically looks like an old lesbian, someone who'd teach a cooking class at the local community center. I always have trouble explaining to friends just why Wayne was better than Michael Jordan, because they can see why Michael Jordan is great. They get why jumping 10 feet and unleashing a thunderous slam dunk is cool; explaining why a no-look pass through 3 defenseman for an easy tap-in is cool is harder. I think the best explanation you can give is to imagine John Stockton, and then imagine if he averaged 40 points a game for the first 10 years of his career.

I'm not sure this whole trade anniversary is as big a deal to me as it is to some; if anything, it's more important to Phoenix and Nashville fans than it is to me. But still, it provides an opportunity to think back and realize how great Wayne Gretzky really was. My favorite memory of Wayne will always be that game 7 against Toronto, when he stood before the collective will of all of Canada and gave them the finger. That's the only moment where I think he let that hatred that drives all great athletes actually show. Don't let Star Wars fool you: the best motivation people can have is hate. All great athletes excel at being able to create that hate when necessary, whether it's from a throwaway comment by a lesser opponent or a flppant comment on a message board. They take that comment and let it consume them until their sole goal is to punish that person for having the temerity to challenge. The greatest moments, however, come from when that hate doesn't need to be created because it's already there. Gretzky was good at hiding it, unlike someone like Tiger Woods, but I know he desperately wanted to shut up the people who were saying he had lost a step, or that Doug Gilmour was better than him, even the people that had accused him of betraying his Canadian-ness by defecting to Los Angeles. And he did. He scored a hat trick in that game and dashed hopes of an all-Canadian final. He did for the same reason he married a model, and scored 92 goals in one season, or made ice hockey a popular sport in Los Angeles, California. He did because he's Wayne Gretzky.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The Fatuous Four

The Kings Madness competition is now down to its final four. There have been upsets, buzzer beaters and heartbreak so far, but now it's serious, folks. Here are my original predictions and here are the final match-ups:

Wayne Gretzky


Luc Robitaille

Holy shit. This is basically the Western Conference Finals, because whoever wins is pretty much guaranteed to win the whole thing. I mean, you have the world's greatest hockey player versus "Lucky" Luc Robitaille. Here's the way I see it:

Wayne Gretzky is The Great One. He's so far above Luc Robitaille in terms of hockey ability it's ridiculous. But, he doesn't belong to the Kings. He doesn't belong to the Oilers.* He belongs to hockey fans everywhere. Gretzky gave us 8 great years, but that wasn't unique to us; he gave that to fans of hockey everywhere. I mean, last year Columbus fans gave Gretzky a standing ovation at the NHL draft. It's ridiculous and foolhardy for Kings' fans to try and claim him for themselves.

Luc Robitaille, on the other hand, is a great player who completely belongs to the Kings. He was drafted, groomed, and celebrated by Los Angeles. He owns the Kings all-time scoring record is staying with the team after his playing career ended. More importantly (at least to me), he was never really the same when he was with another team. He gets traded to Pittsburgh and then New York and puts up a high of 69 points in 3 seasons; then he comes back to LA and puts up 74, 74, and 88 point seasons in consecutive years. He goes to Detroit and wins a Cup, but then he comes back to LA and has a renaissance. Plus, Luc has a way better personality and is far more fun than Gretzky. You wouldn't vote for Luke Skywalker over Han Solo, would you? Wayne Gretzky is hockey, but Luc Robitaille is the Los Angeles Kings.

*Gretzky's Hall of Fame display has his Edmonton and Team Canada jerseys hung up, proudly displayed. His Kings jersey? On the ground, wrapped up so you only see his name on the jersey and not the Kings crest. Oh, Canada.

Rob Blake


Anze Kopitar

What the hell? This is like if George Mason and Davidson both made it to the Final Four. Hold on, I need to talk to Kings fans. If you're not one, skip this.

C'mon guys, the Kings have 41 years of history and you vote for the guy who has been on the team for 2 years? That's stupid. Blake is acceptable, since he's the only King to win a Norris Trophy, but Kopitar? Maybe one day, but it's retarded for him to get this far. He was in the same division as Marcel Dionne, for God's sakes! Who did he lose to anyway... Marty McSorley? And in the Elite Eight you voted for Dustin Brown over Rogie Vachon??? And you voted for Kopitar over Kelly Hrudey????????????? God you guys are idiots. How are we supposed to brag about how we are an actual team to Anaheim and San Jose if you guys are going to only pick players that have been around for the past 15 years? At least fake like you care about the past. You're embarrassing me.

So, in conclusion, I think it should go like this: Robitaille wins over Gretzky (with all due respect), Bowlby beats Kopitar, Luc wins the whole thing. Afterwards, the Kings start showing mandatory history films before games.

Edit: Fuck, Ovechkin tied Robitaille's record last night. Well, now you better vote for him just to make him feel better.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Jokinen and the Yotes

My computer went kaput last week, so I was unable to follow up on my promise for a bad Olli Jokinen-related headline (it would have been: "The Stars should trade for Olli: I'm not Jokinen!" by the way). For that, I apologize.

So instead, I'll include that Jokinen thought along with another tidbit from the NHL/BoC:

  • When I decided to start covering the Stars, I made some harsh jokes at the expense of the Phoenix Coyotes. After watching them take it to the Stars, who happen to be one of the hottest teams in the NHL, I must say: a Battle of the Pacific blog might be more and more worthwhile now.

The Coyotes have more than just Ilya Bryzgalov, although he probably sparked Phoenix's climb to puck relevance. That Mueller kid is another great rookie wearing Lindros's No. 88, Jovocop is having a startling resurgence and Shane Doan has a really cool beard. Plus, Wayne Gretzky seems like he dyes his hair and Rick Tocchet looks like he's going to whack somebody. This team has some definite upside.

Battle of Pacific next year? Just throwin' it out there...

  • Since I'm lazy and dumb, I don't really know much about the Stars' cap situation. And a case can be made that Dallas is looking so great right now that it might be foolish to mess with a good thing.

But after watching a startlingly sluggish Detroit Red Wings team on Sunday, it made me feel that much more confident that the Stars should not let current success deter them from making that one extra trade that would make them a Western Conference playoff force.

At first, I thought Mats Sundin would be a great fit and that Michael Ryder could follow in Mike Ribeiro's footsteps and go from struggling Hab talent to burgeoning Dallas Star.

But then I remembered that, of all the teams in the NHL, the Stars might resemble the Finnish Olympic team the most. Not only do they have a crapton of Finns (relatively speaking), they also play that smart, defense-first style that every non-Selanne Finn seems to adhere to.

So, after much deliberation I decided that Olli Jokinen would be the best target for the Stars to snatch up before the trade deadline (again, under the assumption he could fit into their cap and the Panthers would once again decide to foolishly trade their best player).

A quick glance at his statistics indicates that, honestly, there aren't many players on the Stars roster who would be "untouchable" in such a trade (at least straight up). The only guys I'd say "no way" to are probably Marty Turco and Brendan Morrow. But that's more for the Ambassador of Fun to decide.

Depending on who you trade, there are quite a few options for Jokinen linemates. You could opt for the Finning Hair Line (good god I deserve to die for that) of Jere Lehtinen - Olli Jokinen - Jussi Jokinen. You could keep the productive Morrow-Ribeiro combo together and give yourself a nice 1-2 line punch by having Modano or Jokinen move to a wing and form a line together. There's a lot of exciting possibilities.

Jokinen would be a great trade move because of his aforementioned Finn background and his good fit as a power forward. You also cannot look past the fact that Jokinen is wallowing in awful Florida Panther obscurity, and must be hungry to finally play for a good team. Couple that with the Stars growing exasperation over playoff failures and I think you'd have a perfect fit.

Another exciting factor is that Olli Jokinen wears the 'C' in FLA. Just look at the leadership in Dallas, just counting former/current NHL captains: Jokinen, Modano, Morrow, Stu Barnes, Matt Norstrom and Jeff Halpern. That's a lot of leadership for one team.

No one wants to give the Stars credit for this year's amazing success, but put Jokinen on this team and the West better be scared...just throwin' it out there.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Ducks Gameday—Two guys that should switch jobs

Anaheim Ducks (5-7-2, t-9th in west) at Phoenix Coyotes (5-6-0, t-13th in west)

One lesson that's been reinforced the last few weeks by Anaheim's punchless power play: personnel matters. When you've got the wrong guys in the wrong situations, it's sure tough to be effective. That same lesson can also be applied off the ice, though, and in that light I offer one suggested job switch that I think could really help the NHL improve its effectiveness going forward.

Candidate #1: Gary Bettman
Commissioner, National Hockey League

Depending on who you listen to, Gary Bettman has been either a clown or a villain during his reign as NHL Commish. Even aside from the policies the guy has had to promote (unbridled expansion, a season-long lockout, a mega-complex salary cap formula, untested rule changes, untested uniform materials, and selling a sport in the U.S. using its bull-riding network), he's also just not a very likable guy. Even when he's talking up hockey fans as being "the greatest fans in the galaxy", you can see the dollar-signs light up in his impish eyes. The guy is grabby, too; Scott Niedermayer had a heck of a time trying to extract the Stanley Cup from Bettman's slimy fingers—a cup that Gary never really earned the right to carry.

Why not consider someone who is trustworthy and charismatic with the job of Commissioner? Why not bring in some true hockey royalty—someone the fans can not only stomach but possibly even support? Someone worthy of handing the Cup to a champion, someone fans will believe has the best interest of the sport in mind.

Candidate #2: Wayne Gretzky
Head Coach, Phoenix Coyotes

There is such a guy coaching in the desert. Perhaps hockey's greatest scoring legend, who's been an ambassador for hockey since his teenage years. But whereas the Great One has been a symbol of on-ice excellence, thus far in Phoenix his story has been one of behind-the-bench mediocrity. Under his leadership, the Coyotes (who to be fair, have not put together the strongest roster) have finished 5th in the Pacific both of the past two years, and even though this year has started more promising (having shut out both the Ducks and Stars), they still start November with less standings points than their four Pacific neighbors.

Wayne is a guy who's hockey charisma is still off the charts, and while it has served as a draw for hockey fans in Arizona, it seems that it could be better utilized on a larger leaguewide stage. He's a guy I'd trust to keep the game of hockey as a priority, thinking both for team owners and players, something I'm not easily saying about Bettman these days. Plus, as a bonus, I wouldn't cringe when Wayne's hands touch the Stanley Cup—he's at least a guy who's earned it before.

As for Bettman as a hockey coach, well, that might not work out splendidly but I'd like to see if Gary is capable of actually generating worse results than Phoenix has put up with; there's hardly anywhere to go but up. Besides, Gary's vision has really been about promoting hockey in non-traditional markets; this would help him focus even more strongly on that vision.

So, it's just a lazy Saturday theory, but one that I think could work out for everyone. Put Gary behind the Phoenix bench and Wayne in the commissioner's chair and I for one would support it. Who's with me?

Prediction: Per my television, Wayne Gretzky has 72 wins in 170 games as a head coach. Won't it be nice to give the Great One his 99th loss? Ducks offense explodes, they throw 45 shots on net and win 2-1, both goals by Pahlsson.

Go Ducks.