West Coast Hockey Tour Update: T Minus Two Weeks

The west coast hockey tour turns into reality in two weeks, and aside from San Jose Sharks and Seattle Thunderbirds tickets, everything is set. There have been a few changes to the schedule, but it has remained very similar to the original plan, minus the Fresno Falcons.

Itinerary (home team listed first):
Feb 12: LA Kings vs Calgary Flames
Feb 13: Public Skate at Paramount Iceland with the first Zamboni
Feb 14: Ontario Reign vs Utah Grizzlies
Feb 15: Anaheim Ducks vs Atlanta Thrashers
Feb 16: LA Kings vs Atlanta Thrashes (Armenian Heritage Night)
Feb 17: San Jose Sharks vs Edmonton Oilers
Feb 20-22: Bakersfield Hockey-Thon
Feb 21: Bakersfield Condors vs Victoria Salmon Kings
Feb 22: Condors Alumni vs. West Coast All-Stars
Feb 22: Bakersfield Condors vs Alaska Aces
Feb 25: Stockton Thunder vs Las Vegas Wranglers
Feb 28: Everett Silvertips vs Vancouver Giants
Mar 1: Tri-City Americans vs Portland Winterhawks
Mar 3: Portland Winterhawks vs Everett Silvertips
Mar 6: Seattle Thunderbirds vs Tri-City Americans
Mar 7: Seattle Thunderbirds vs Tri-City Americans
Mar 11: Spokane Chiefs vs Everett Silvertips
Mar 13: Rapid City Rush vs Tulsa Oilers

Along with all that, the Bakersfield Condors will be having a 41 hour hockey-thon to benefit a breast cancer resource center, which I am planning on skating in. Who cares if I am out of shape and a defensive liability. That hasn’t stopped the Avs this season (ZING!!!). I doubt it will be as “hot” as this breast cancer awareness night, but the refs may be better dressed.

Paramount Iceland doesn’t have a schedule up of skate times in February, but as soon as I know, I will put the time here. Come down and say hi.

The days off have been booked with a little time to decompress, like a few days in San Luis Obispo, and two in Yosemite. The drive from Stockton to Everett, WA will be along the pacific coast highway.

If there is something I should see that I am missing, please let me know in the comments. It’s hard when there aren’t enough hockey travel resources (even on the web) to get a good overview of what this land of ours holds.

I will be microblogging the trip with short updates here, as well as turning JAHL into a travel blog of sorts, with pictures from the games, updates from the road, and trying to take you all with me. And I have a facebook group here. Because anything worth doing is worth having a facebook group about, right?

If you are going to be at any of these games, stop by and say hello.

Thomas May Be My New Favorite Goalie

Look, I don’t do many pure youtube posts anymore.  But this is too good.

Tim Thomas is my new favorite goalie.  I always had a fondness for the guy.  His story of how he got to the NHL is compelling, but his play has sold me in the past.  Acrobatic, as well as entertaining, Thomas was the funnest part of the Bruins until they started acting like the big bad Bruins again.

And now this:

Thomas is the man.  And I have no idea what is wrong with this play.  Thomas checks a player.  There is nothing in the rules that says he can’t.  If Jason Blake doesn’t get his a$$ handed to him from Brian Burke, it will be because he is on waivers (yeah, won’t happen, I know).  Dude, you just got checked by a goalie.

UPDATE: I am lame.  Rule number one of hockey blogging is that you give credit where it is due, mostly in the form of a link.  Some bloggers (aka: the MSM) do not care for this, since it takes away eyeballs from their own blog, or so they believe.  They are flat out wrong, but that is for another time.

I would have seen this highlight on the NHL Network, but Kukla’s Korner brought it to me first, so all credit goes to Paul.

Game Of The Nought?

I’m at the game tonight in Phoenix. Where were these Coyotes on New Year’s Eve vs. the Avs? The ‘Totes have yet to show up to the game.

Pictures later, or tomorrow.

Winter Classic Post: Can’t Live Without It

It wasn’t a question as to wether I would watch the Winter Classic (can you call something classic before it happens?), it was if I would enjoy it or not. How good a job would NBC do? How good would the NHL do? Was it going to be old hat?

Last year versus this year couldn’t be more different for me. Last year, I was in Detroit, cold and hellish. I was sick, over the city, and ready to move on to Pittsburgh, which was my next stop (note that I was in Detroit and Pittsburgh over the season last year. coincidence?). I was staying downtown right next to the Joe Louis Arena, and my view from my apartment was of Windsor, which was strategically placed by the Canadians to make Detroit dwellers jealous of quality roads and air. This year, I am in Tempe, AZ, in a nice spacious house, it’s warm enough for short sleeves, and after the game, I drove with the windows down. Last year felt a little more winter, and I watched on the CBC. This year was a little surreal. But I was entertained.

Here are my thoughts:

The first period was exciting, but once the Wings got ahead, the tempo and even perceived interest in the game was sucked out of the Blackhawks. Late in the game, the announcers lost interest as well.

The seventh inning stretch was horrible. All the anticipation of “take me out to the ball game” destroyed by bad singing and a hockey rewrite that didn’t hit a single point with me.

Lilija went off for roughing, but this is what it looked like on NHL.com right after the penalty:

Screenshot 01-38

Removing sweater? In this weather? I know they were calling everything in the first, but removing the sweater was a little much. That, my friends, would be a ticky tack penalty.

The Blackhawks going to the funeral story is nice. It’s a great showcase of the humanity of hockey players. But the NHL and NBC took the story and overproduced it into a lifetime network movie. I didn’t need that. I was disappointed beyond description as to the treatment.

Oh, I didn’t mind the Blackhawks jerseys as much as some.

How was that for a national anthem? It was fine doing the Canadian anthem, but the American national anthem was awesome.

Kudos to the hockey blogosphere for it’s involvement for this event. A few high points:

SB Nation and Puck Daddy had to have the most epic of live blogs. I thought it was a little too big and quick to enjoy as well as watch the game. Good job for the execution, but still, it was a little unwieldy.

Super kudos go to Eric McErlain at AOL Fanhouse. The game was good, don’t get me wrong, but Eric, unlike NBC (and most likely, the NHL) figured out quickly that the real story wasn’t in the press box, and after the first period feistiness ran out, wasn’t on the ice either. Two points were never the important part of the game. Eric ventured out in the crowd and talked to the fans. There isn’t a more tortured fan than the Blackhawks fan. I don’t even think the Leafs fans really compare. Eric was out there talking to them, and putting it out for us to see. If anything, there wasn’t enough of this. I think Eric needs a runner to upload the videos for him so he can stay out in the crowd more (note to Eric: I will make myself available).

So really, good job overall, NHL. And decent job NBC. Let’s do it next year. But let’s skip the olympic year, OK?