Avs vs. Blues Preseason: Minor League Tryout

Hockey. Is. Back.

Well, sort of.

While we have all been pining for the NHL to return to our TVs and arenas, the people lucky enough to be near CHL teams have been watching hockey, as their season has already started. The rest of us have been doing unspeakable things to watch hockey this week. For me, that meant getting up at 7AM for training camp. And watching a game in St. Louis.

I like the arena in St. Louis. I hadn’t been to Scottrade since it was the Savvis. But more important, it was time to pay outrageous money for a game that was closer to the minors than the NHL. Honestly, paying over $70 for upper deck tickets to a game where the third line of an NHL team is the first line for the night is not outrageous, it’s thievery. With the arena less than half full (maybe a third? Maybe?), lowering prices for preseason games could garner the NHL a few more fans in the seats, but could also bring in some new fans as well. But this isn’t the way of the NHL.

And yet it was the first hockey of the season, so I was happy to be there.

Photos!

(click anything to make it bigger)

Warmups:

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The excitement for the fans was centered around the first game of Jaroslav Halak as a Blue:

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Game on:

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Talking over the penalty kill (which looked decent):

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Halak played the entire game, while Trevor Cann subbed in for Peter Budaj. It’s the preseason, so what do you want?

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It wouldn’t be a minor league game without a fight.

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Some people still wanted to go:

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A few ejections later, the Avalanche won. Or the Lake Erie Monsters won. You know. Preseason. Don’t write too much into it.

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Season Previews, Twitter Style: 30 Teams in 1 Day

If you could chart the how long a post has to be for it to fall under the tl/dr (too long / didn’t read) banner over the years, it would probably take a serious downward slope over the last year or so. I know that I don’t have enough time to read as many hockey blogs as I would like, and there are more and more hockey blogs every day (I’m not going to get into a ‘back in the old days’ rant, but I think I may have to some day soon, for my own sake). It’s probably part of the reason Twitter is so popular, with short little blasts that can sometimes get the point across (minus the tone).

On top of that, everyone is doing a season preview. And how many season previews do we need? When the twenty players (and three healthy scratches) hit the ice, most previews will have gone out the door. Much like the best laid plans, they have nothing to do with reality when the puck drops.

So how many previews do you need?

One more, of course.

This is a pocket sized preview of all thirty teams, in 140 characters each. Every one a twitter sized nugget in one place. I presume that I don’t have to tell you how twitter nomenclature works, or what a hashtag is. Thirty team previews, everything you need to know, all in one place. Enjoy.

Atlantic

New Jersey Devils – One guy won’t make all the difference, but it certainly will help. Lots of questions in goal now, the old get older. #1stRoundExitAgain #Lou

New York Islanders – Like Battlestar Galactica, they tell you there is a plan, but it never seems to form. A new building won’t solve everything. #IsDiPietroBack

New York Rangers – The circus is in town. Cap management by way of The Office, there isn’t a player they won’t overpay. #AveryIs… #ReddenToMinors #Torts

Philadelphia Flyers – Did this team get better in the offseason? Did they have to? Goalies won’t get any respect, but are trying to earn it. #ProngerLikesPucks

Pittsburgh Penguins -When you can get guys to take a pay cut to play with Crosby, you will have success. Rotating supporting cast for the big guys. #Flower

Northeast

Boston Bruins – A huge monkey on their back, it will loom the entire season. Thomas will be back to checking guys while Chara won’t. Potential. #Seguin

Buffalo Sabres – One day, this team will return to glory. This doesn’t look like the year. What will it take to kick them in the pants? #MillerTime #Defense?

Montreal Canadiens – Nice to see the Habs have a goalie. What else to they have? Some character, not much excitement. #GeorgeLaraqueMustHaveBeenTheProblem #Right

Ottawa Senators – The Senators would have an easier time winning the Grey Cup. This team can’t buy luck, or trade for a goalie. #SpezzaDrama

Toronto Maple Leafs – It’s truculence and Phaneuf vs. reality. Who will win? Putting my money on reality. Remade team in a classic Burke image, may just make P/O

Southeast

Atlanta Thrashers – This isn’t your Thrashers of old. A legitimate shot at the playoffs with this roster, but they will be battling a Cup hangover. #KovyWho?

Carolina Hurricanes – I don’t know. Probably out of the playoffs again. How many Staals can you fit on one team? Cam Ward will have to carry the team #2staals1cup

Florida Panthers – You can’t even sit in the cheap seats. There’s been a lot of talk of remaking the team, and Tallon may do it, but it will take more time.

Tampa Bay Lightning – A very improved team. Yzerman has done his job, now lets see what the coach can do. TBL got what they needed. #DanEliisProblems #ShutYoMouth?

Washington Capitals – Goalies have a lot to prove. Of course they will make the playoffs. But to go deep? Maybe. Defense is decent, but offense is sizzling.

Central
Chicago Blackhawks – Wouldn’t it be nice if the Blackhawks made a legit push for the Cup? Yeah, and if puppies would learn to take out the trash. #NotGonnaHappen

Columbus Blue Jackets – Will the real Steve Mason please stand up? Many good elements, and a new coaching staff that needs to make them play as a team #CoachHinote?

Detroit Red Wings – If they can stay healthy, they will be a dangerous team. But they aren’t getting any younger, and ‘certain players’ are still hanging around

Nashville Predators – What will it take for this team to stop being average? No team needs a top three draft pick more. #BetterCaptain

St. Louis Blues – I know there are NHL players on this team, but I just can’t name any. Goalie issues solved?

Northwest

Calgary Flames – Hey guys, were getting the band back together, but the bass player sucks, and the drummer is bad in the locker room. #PhaneufWasTheIssue

Colorado Avalanche – The song remains the same. It’s almost the Kings model, but less activity. Proof of youth, or another high draft pick? #ConsistancyNeeded

Edmonton Oilers – Oilers should miss the playoffs again. They need to, so they can get a few more good players. Re-Khab could be an issue. #OKCOilers #AHLTeam

Minnesota Wild – I’m sorry, did I fall asleep? I know they did something, but I don’t know what. Reduced ticket prices? #ItsLikeTheyDontCare

Vancouver Canucks – A few free agency moves will make up for FA losses. But the issues are larger than a few people. Everything starts with Bobby Lou. #Twins

Pacific

Anaheim Ducks – Selanne’s back, Kariya isn’t, and nothing else changed. But man, they are raring to go. Still a solid core, but what will be different? #Meh

Dallas Stars – Seriously, how could they have done nothing? The minors are pilfered already, and they are no better in goal. #DefenseWasTheProblem #StillIs

Los Angeles Kings – Losing out on KovalBucks could have been the best thing for them. The future is bright & experience is what this team needs. #TheFutureIsNow

Phoenix Coyotes – Will someone just buy this team? They can build on last season, didn’t need many more pieces. A few cheap forwards away from good things.

San Jose Sharks – How do you spell revenge? S-H-A-R-K-S. Offer sheet and Niemi will teach those ‘Hawks. Will goalie changes be enough? #SharksJumped

That does it. If you have twitter previews, I would love to see them. Throw them in the comments.

Labor Day and the Work of Hockey Bloggers

I’ve been on a nostalgia kick lately for the hockey blogosphere of old. This isn’t to say that the current version is bad, but there are things I miss about the way things were, before blog networks and twitter (blog killer).

I was pruning my links in my blogroll, taking out some of the dead links and adding a few others, and clicked over to James Mirtle’s Big Blog Listing from several years ago. It was a list of blogs, big and small that Mirtle had compiled to point out other hockey blogs all over the blogosphere. Other attempts were made, including this gigantic list of links from the old Japer’s Rink site, but most of these lists went away pretty quickly. Even my own attempt to help promote new hockey blogs and podcasts didn’t gain much traction, and over half of the blogs listed have faded away, less than a year into their life.

What’s striking about these lists is how many blogs are no longer around. I’d say about a third of the blogs on Mirtle’s list are still in existence, with some of those moving on to join SB Nation and other blog networks. Hockey blogging is sometimes it’s own reward, but sometimes, that reward isn’t enough. And sometimes, life just gets in the way.

If I were to shut down Jerseys and Hockey Love, something I think about from time to time (let’s be honest, I don’t have the time to dedicate to this blog that I would like), after a brief period of time, no one would miss it. Not in the way many of us still pine for Jes Golbez’s Hockey Rants, or sidearm delivery.There are many solid hockey blogs out there to take up any slack I show on a regular basis.

The point is, it’s labor day today, and there are many hockey bloggers and podcasters out there that do this for free. They enhance our hockey lives by caring and devoting time to their craft. Most of them will never get paid for their work, and many will give up at some point when life gets in the way.

Take a minute to thank them for their work. Do something that takes a little effort on your part to tell them you appreciate what they do. Something a little more personal than a blanket follow friday mention, or a link. Sometimes, all it takes to make someone feel appreciated and to stay with it is to post a comment, or a tweet.

Hockey blogging and podcasting, much like pimpin’, ain’t easy.

That’s all. Enjoy your labor day.

Tomorrow, thirty twitter-sized team previews in one post. Oh yes, it will be done.

Thin Air: Notes from the SLC

I don’t have enough depth of insight to post a full write-up of everything I’m thinking today about hockey, but there is enough going on in my head to warrant a notes post. Just some quick thoughts for the day:

Kovalchuk

- Remember when everyone said that this was better than the LeBron situation? If American sports fans cared as much about hockey as you or I, they would probably be laughing at us right now. Is this as bad a LeBron? Sure, but from a different angle. Even without a special, the Kovalchuk camp has done plenty that looks bad to fans of 29 other teams. That’s just business, though, with negotiations and gamesmanship designed to benefit the player. We wait (and now, we wait even longer).

- Lopping off two years and two million dollars from one of the silliest contracts ever submitted – one that so obviously tried to subvert the salary cap – seems like the smallest gesture the Devils could have made. The cap increase from the old contract to the new contract is only 666,000 dollars per year. Thanks for nothing, Lou.

- I know the default position is to be angry with the league, but if it takes one or two days to approve (or dismiss) a fifteen year contract that could have far reaching implications beyond the current CBA, so be it. Instant gratification is wonderful on twitter, but when it comes time to negotiate the next CBA, how the league handles this contract specifically will be used as evidence. This isn’t just about one player anymore.

- Besides, Kovalchuk will get his money. Maybe not every single dollar he thinks he should, and his escrow hit will be enough to easily fund a solid 4th line, but he will get paid. It just shouldn’t cost the Devils nothing against the cap. Signing a star player to a big contract is supposed to have implications to your roster. That’s part of the point of the cap.

The Interwebz Have Gone Crazy:

- Twitter made me look up two things today. The first was what QFT meant (Thanks, @bzarcher), and the other was who Paul Bissonnette is. I don’t really care about this whole BizNasty thing, and nothing would make me happier than to see this all be one big joke. Sure, it’s fun and all that, but in the end, it’s just going to end in tears. And unless he gets his hand slapped, it has nothing to do with hockey. And since he plays in Phoenix, that’s a given.

- The other thing Twitter made me do this week was read Deadspin. I’m not the target audience of Deadspin (I like hockey, don’t care about the other big three sports, and think public figures should be allowed private lives), but they seemed to have the most information on the Mike Wise fake twitter news situation. Wise’s point was that people will pick up just about any report online and run with it. It was not only done better elsewhere (I don’t remember where I saw the hockey blogger who announced that he was making a fake trade tweet, then posted the tweet, and people still picked up on it), but it shouldn’t have been made by a ‘reputable’ source (or at least one hired by a mainstream source). Wise cost himself some credibility, but from what I know about him, he seems more like a sports personality than a reporter, ala Jim Rome. Credibility doesn’t sound like the number one thing he trades on. Unsurprisingly, Wise was suspended by the paper for a month, which seems about right. Will that be the end of it? Oh, hell no.

- If you didn’t know, newspapers and other mainstream media outlets have ethics policies, and they are usually posted on the website of the media outlet. For example, here is the ethics policy for the Denver Post. And if you don’t think this applies to online media such as blogging, this section addresses that specifically. This doesn’t mean that media outlets actually follow these policies, but it does allow them to point to the accountability that independent bloggers are generally accused of lacking. Would you consider adopting and following an ethics policy? It’s a good question, considering how anonymous rumor sites and other outlets that don’t always adhere to the truth are scorned by most of the blogosphere.

- In the interests of unity and fairness, Ian Mendes of Sportsnet.ca posted his thoughts about bloggers being issued press credentials. Even if you are sick of this debate, you should read it. It takes on both sides of the aisle, and is one of the most honest looks at how each side views the other I’ve seen. (I saw this from both Kukla’s Korner and Greg Wyshynski’s twitter feed).

- See that? That’s called an attribution. If you blog, you should do it. Most hockey blogs don’t have sources that didn’t come down the series of tubes we call the internet. My blog and my podcast would be nothing without the hard work done by other people, who gather the news, do the reporting, and do the real work. It would be nothing without other people, and when I use something from them, this is how I show where it came from. Being first doesn’t mean as much as being smart. Attribute where things came from.

Odds and Ends

Khabibulin – Today on XM Home Ice was the first time I heard any mention of Nikolai Khabibulin possibly having travel issues with his DUI conviction. Chances are, no matter what happens in his appeal, the conviction will not be overturned. If I were a judge, I would be pissed that the ruling was challenged after what is essentially the lightest sentence possible being handed down. But Canada is not a fan of having DUI offenders allowed into their country. Look up what a Queen’s Pardon is. Things aren’t going to be easy for the Khabibulin. If this sticks, he earned it.

NHLPA – I know the news of Donald Fehr possibly becoming the NHLPA Executive Director strikes fear into the hearts of hockey fans who are still battling the nightmare of the last work stoppage, but it’s time to relax for a moment. It’s been so long since a real leadership in the NHLPA was around, fans (the hardcore who actually care) don’t remember what it looks like. The ‘partnership’ that was enjoyed by the Player’s Union and even more so by the NHL was nothing more than a face saving tactic. It diffused the anger of the fans, and brought them back with less fury and less of a target to blame for the lockout. This was the most one-sided partnership in history. The players can’t afford to roll over in the next CBA as much as they did in this one. The Fehr nomination is a step in the right direction for the NHLPA to start acting like a negotiation body again. It is a negotiation. Nothing goes 100% in anyone’s favor, but the last CBA sure leaned heavily.

Blatant Self Promotion :

If you made it this far, allow me to tell you about a few things. I set up a ‘support’ page over at The Rink Podcast. I’m not asking you for money, but instead a small amount of time. Please, take a look, and thanks. I’m starting to get the next season in order, and get some guests lined up.

I have been spending too much time on twitter. But if you want to follow me, you are more than welcome. I’d love to hear from you.