Notes From a Hockey Day

I just wanted to pop in here with some notes and thoughts from the last few days.

  • Anyone see Gretzky drop the F-bomb right after Grier scored the first goal in last night’s game between San Jose and Phoenix? I don’t know who he was directing it towards, perhaps an assistant coach said something stupid, but he clearly said F*@k you.” I wonder about the great one. If this coaching business is too much for him, or at least, the wrong direction. How do you, as the greatest player the game has seen, who saw the ice in a different way from your normal player, communicate your vision of hockey to your team of normal players?
  • Perhaps he was frustrated over the penalty shot. I am still wondering where the penalty was. Stick on ice, not on body, taps the puck away, using the body to check the player, no holding. I hope the ref gets an email over that one. If the game didn’t feel tilted before, it certainly was after.
  • Setoguchi’s first goal was absolutely beautiful. Falling to the ice, a desperate swipe at the puck, should be highlight reel for sure. That is, if we had a highlight reel.
  • Speaking of highlight reel, what the hell is up with Versus? Four games to show highlights from, and all we get are goals. I get it, goals = outcome. Goals = excitement. Would it kill anyone to show a little more, like a few great saves? Or a few battles? Watch some CBC, and you see what I mean. They talk about the whole game. They talk about the battle. I understand that there are many variables involved in a Versus broadcast, and the decisions made about what to air, but that doesn’t mean we have to be left out on the dark. And I don’t want this to turn into the episode of Sports Night where Jeremy has to cut a baseball game down into a quick segment, and it winds up being almost as long as the game itself, but a little more would be nice.
  • And speaking of Versus (wait for it), I thought that Joe Beninati did a good job of calling the Canes / Panthers game, which is to say, he didn’t forget about the game like many of the Versus crew is prone to do. For being a busy day, with HHOF inductions and all, and having Potvin on for a chat, they kept with the game pretty well. I think the experiment of having the backup goalie on to do analysis is dead. And thank god for that, since he had little to say, and his head took up too much room on the screen during a power play.
  • Speaking of the Canes game, everyone is going to be talking about Erik Cole. Is he prone to neck injury? Will his career be cut short? What if he had hit the boards or a post, rather than a soft goalie? I’m sure he is asking himself those same questions. It was a scary scene after his injury, and seeing him carried off the ice on a stretcher is a hard thing to watch, but the Canes cowboyed up after a few strange minutes of hockey to seal the deal with just over a minute left. I’m sure the fans in Florida were expecting to leave with at least a point, but got nothing. Not the most exciting hockey I have ever seen, but it was still hockey.
  • Speaking of the Cole injury, one of the general complaints about the MSM is that these are the type of stories that get latched on to and splashed around ad nausium, the negative hockey story. Someone gets hurt, someone gets attacked, someone does something stupid, and all you see for days is the stretcher, or the hit, or the blood. So my question is, are we any better? Did anyone see the lead image of today’s Ice Sheet at AOL Fanhouse? Yeah, just what you would expect, Cole on a stretcher. Now, understand, this isn’t so much a rip on the Fanhouse, but an assessment of the situation. You could view it as sensationalism, but it really isn’t. This incident was the story. As much as we want every person involved in hockey, be it a writer, coachr, coach, or reporter, to be an ambassador to the game all the time, that just isn’t the case, nor is it practical. You have to follow the story. I don’t like seeing the picture that much, but it paints an honest picture of the game in that moment. That’s all any of us can do. The blogosphere in general tends to admonish the MSM for it’s behavior around incidents like this, while doing the same thing. Because if it gets attention…

The Avs took a bigger lead in their division last night, and it was in front of the smallest crowd ever to watch one of their games in Denver.
Listen, I know that if I didn’t have a press pass, I would go to, like, one game a year. No way in hell I’m paying over 100 bucks a ticket for a game.

And I wouldn’t want to pay those prices either. In fact, most of the time I don’t. I usually get a cheap seat to the game, and sometimes, it turns out to be a great seat. How about $50 for a club level? That’s just plain dumb luck, but if Dater is worried about the amount of money he would spend, keep that press pass handy. We all know that hockey is over-priced. It has to do with a lot of factors, but there isn’t anyone who wants to spend $100 dollars (which is a very nice seat at Le Can) for an event that happens 41 times a year. Hockey is way too expensive for the average family, we all know that. Strangely, I have nothing bad to say about what Dater is saying here. But I still think that he should pop down to SoBo 151 for a game. They may not serve PBR, but you get your money’s worth.

  • Speaking of SoBo 151, I can’t wait to get there for a game. It looks like that time will be soon, as I get to head back home for a few days at the end of the month. More on that soon…

Hey, I didn’t really talk about the Avs much. I should, since this is supposed to be a blog from an Avs fan. But for now, their record speaks for itself. They are getting enough of everything right now, even if the defense could be a little tighter. But you show me a team where that doesn’t apply. Even the Devils are falling apart these days. The Avs lead their division, but these things are fleeting early on. I just look at points, not position in the standing. You know what they say, king for a day, fool for a lifetime.

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NHL.com Stats Suck

I am not one to put the word “Suck” in a post title too often, but I am feeling compelled. One of my coworkers is from Pittsburgh, and all fired up about the Pens and Sidney Crosby. Of course, he hasn’t had much to cheer about lately, and I have been the barer of bad news. I was keeping track of the score today, and this is what the penalty summary looked like after the game.

Pitt Phil Bad Scoresheet

And what’s wrong with that? You mean aside from four single sided fights? Not much. How about Sydor taking a penalty 2 1/2 minutes after he took a five minute major? The NHL has corrected the sheet, but I have no idea if this is correct or not:
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Am I nit-picky? Sure, but I feel that I deserve to be. Sometimes this is the only way I get to follow a game. And if you can’t trust the stats, what can you trust?

But seriously, these stats are put out by the NHL. They should be accurate, and something as simple as making sure a penalty, and certainly a fighting major that should line up with another fighting major, is logged at the correct time. If you read a blog, article, or anything that gives you misinformation, you are going to stop reading it, or at least stop trusting it. The NHL is no different. If the problem is a new person handling the online stats, or the new stats system, there is no excuse. The season is over a month old.

Remember, it’s the little things that make you look professional.

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Wild vs. Edmonton: OMG (lots of photos)

Thanks to the strangest work schedule known to man (yes, stranger than the Acid Queen’s), I had Monday night off, and so I was able to attend another game at the Xcel Energy Center here in Minnesota. The thing that made this special was that I went as a guest of Branko Radivojevic. Trust me, I know. What the hell? Who the heck am I that I get to be a guest of a player? Well, the truth is, I had never met the man until last night. The guy in our show who plays Timon played with “Radi” (I believe with the Belleville Bulls), which just goes to show, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. And in this case, it’s not just who you know, but it’s who that guy knows. When we got to the arena, there were four tickets waiting, along with four of these.

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Now, I looked at that, and I thought a family pass meant a pass that was for people who bought family packs or something (I know, I’m kind of thick). As we soon found out, it was for people who were family members, such as wives, girlfriends, and moms. And, in this case, us.
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That’s Dawn and Mike, two Canadians out on the tour with us. Mike works in puppets, while Dawn is being a tour wife right now. She is an actress in her own right, most recently on Broadway in Les Miserables, playing Eponine. The wall they are holding up is where the family members wait for the players. While we were waiting here, Gaborik, Demitra (yes, Jes, him), and Rolston walked by. Jacques Lemaire walked by, and Mark (our patron saint of getting us in) said “Hi, Coach.” Seriously, what balls. It was awesome.

Our seats were great.

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Right where you want to be. We could see everything.
How About A Penalty-1

The game looked like it was going to be a blowout, even if the first few minutes were kind of sloppy. Roloson got pulled after the first period, and I don’t think anyone was surprised. And let’s not get into the penalries. Forget that, let’s…
How About A Penalty

It’s hard to score goals when you have a third of a game in penalties. Is it any wonder that the Oilers are in the basement of the league (5-10-0)?

After the game, we took the walk backstage. Stay with me, I have a few pictures.
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This is where most people wait who have passes. We had different passes, so we moved on.
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Not that we went very far. Just past that rolling door. Hey, what’s in that truck?
Oh, just bags of gear.
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Want to be on the post game show? Just step forward.
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Then Radi came out and met us. At first, I felt like a hanger on. I was just there, and he didn’t know me. That didn’t last long, and it felt like we had known him for a while. Then he took us into the dressing room. At this point, I didn’t take as many pictures as I thought I would, because I didn’t want to look like a tool in front of Branko (but I probably did).

The first thing you get to is the work area, where the work on the skates and other equipment happens. Dawn got about three steps in, and then was quickly ushered out (no girls allowed).
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Then you make it into the dressing room proper. First up is the goalie corner.
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As soon as you walk in the room, you can smell the hockey.

There’s the big logo in the center. Don’t step on it.
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More dressing room.
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Then there’s the workout room.
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And the stick room.
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I never did get any pictures of Radivojevic. I didn’t want to ask, even though I’m sure he would have been fine with it. He was really nice, and I didn’t want to bug him too much. He was already going above and beyond for us.

After that, we left the arena. Hopefully he can come to our show on one of his nights off (they have most of this week before heading to Colorado) so we can do something to return the favor. Aside from going to the game, we got a whole other experience, something I have never gotten to do. It makes you feel even closer to the game.
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OK, maybe not quite that close.

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Koivu Doesn’t Speak French, Plays Damn Good Hockey Though

I seem to remember this came up last year, didn’t it? Wasn’t that when reporters were upset that Saku Koivu, Captain of the Montreal Canadiens, was taken to task for not speaking French while recovering from an eye injury after taking a stick under the visor? And wasn’t there a lesson learned in all of this? Apparently not.

From TSN:

Montreal Canadiens captain Saku Koivu was on the defensive with the media again on Wednesday, and this time the issue was language.

The veteran forward from Finland was mentioned Tuesday by Quebec lawyer Guy Bertrand at provincial public hearings looking into reasonable accommodation for religious minorities. Bertrand was upset that during the Canadiens’ Oct. 13 home opener, Koivu, as part of a videotaped pre-game ceremony, introduced his teammates in English only.

“I have the right to be served in my language,” he said. “He has been playing for 12 years (for the Canadiens). He is married to a francophone. It demonstrates contempt for our language. It is not respectful.”

Obviously, a remark made by a man with nothing but respect for others. Aside from the fact that religious minorities must feel like their interests were being respected by this derailment, this is what if found offensive to lawyers in Quebec? Is this what a founding member of the Parti Québécois has to do with himself all day?

My favorite point comes from Robert at Eyes on the Prize:

Perhaps Bertrand is confusing the Canadiens with a publicly funded institution. While the Habs may be an institution in many minds, Betrand has little right to dictate to it in any form.

Well said.

Or how about this little tidbit, from The Gazette, when comparing Koivu and Bertrand:

Consider contributions to international understanding:

Koivu helps promote peace and understanding as a member of the International Olympic Committee’s athletes commission.

Bertrand defended (unsuccessfully) Rwandan hate-mongerer Léon Mugesera and, in the process, was censured for making anti-Israeli statements.

Wow. Nuff said? No, not quite. I’m so happy this is on YouTube. From the movie Canadian Bacon, when the economic differences between the US and Canada were a little wider. The good stuff starts in about 45 seconds in. Seems kind of familiar, doesn’t it?
Go to youtube to watch