In Response

Dirk Hoag from the excellent Predators blog, On the Forecheck, left a comment in the previous post about bloggers credentials that I wanted to address. Please keep in mind that I know Dirk, like him a lot, think he’s an excellent blogger, and have met him in person. This isn’t snarking at him, and I asked if he minded me replying to his comments here. So this is all on the up and up.

Dirk’s comments are two-fold, so I’m addressing them as such:

1) Good luck on getting accreditation for bloggers. From what I understand, it was Colorado which led the charge to restrict credentialed bloggers in various cities from having access to visiting teams.

I don’t know if this is exactly the case or not. I know that I have heard the same things, and I know I have heard from people that have talked to the Avs that they don’t seem to keen on the idea. That said, I don’t know how it has been presented to the Avalanche, and I don’t know if there has been a group effort to do so. That said, it doesn’t hurt to try, and it might lead to all of the bloggers here upping their game. Which never hurts.

2) What would media credentials do for bloggers that would truly enhance their ability to counter what you see as failings of the Denver Post? Do they really need ‘we need to work hard and take it one game at a time” quotes to do that?

This is something I’ve heard from plenty of people, and I don’t buy it. Looking at the Washington Capitals experience, they have a rich field of content that goes beyond the stock quotes. I recently discovered the work done by Media Chameleon, and I would say their audio documentaries go beyond what most of the MSM would consider worth doing.

To address the specifics of the Denver Post, You would diversify the tone of the reporting,which is essential to any medium. We don’t just have Law and Order as the only crime drama on TV. We don’t just have on 24 hour news station. But in Denver, we have one newspaper, with two guys. That’s it. Terry Frei was the best of the hockey writers, but he doesn’t do as much Avs writing anymore. Just to spread the coverage out would help. How was the hockey media in Nashville before bloggers were introduced to the press box? That’s where Denver is right now.

I understand the concerns, but I would rather see the chance taken that things will change for the better than not at all.

Time for the Avalanche to Open Up

Today on twitter, I went on a bit of a rant.  And hey, that’s what twitter is there for at times, a bit of a rant. But once you get to around 10 tweets on the same topic, it’s time to close twitter for a minute and open up the old blogging software, dusty though it may be.

I read yet another sour-puss post in the Denver Post today, which I usually avoid at all costs.

Aside – I want you to think about that for a moment.  I’m a  fan of the Colorado Avalanche, and we have one newspaper in town.  And I try to avoid reading it because of the content.  One source with press credentials, and I TRY not to read it.  Isn’t that kind of telling?

There were parts of the post that bugged me, but none more than this:

When push came to shove, the Avs couldn’t win the big ones – again. It was right there for them: two out of three wins against Phoenix, Vancouver and San Jose, and they would have been in good shape for the playoffs. But they got one out of six possible points. Let’s face it, the Avs choked away a win the other day against Vancouver, the one game that stood out to me as proving these guys still aren’t ready for prime time yet.

The number one thing that bugged me was not the word ‘choked,’ but the word ‘again.’  Yes, again the Avalanche were not good enough to make the post season (most likely, as there is the mathematical possibility that they could sneak in).  It isn’t the gloom and doom of that word or that sentence that bugs me.  It’s that we have seen this before.  We have seen this perspective over and over.  It’s copy / paste every few games.

It isn’t that the Denver Post (and to be honest about it, Adrian Dater, the most visual of the Post writers) needs to be fans of the team.  That isn’t their job, and isn’t the way their writing should be structured.  But at this point, the emo message is that you are a fool to think this team was anything but losers.  You would be a mook to be a fan of this team.  And it was all inevitable, and is going to continue.

The Post needs to do it’s job, and that is report the news.  And they need to be given the leeway to state their opinions in the appropriate places.  It isn’t that the Post needs to conform to us, the fans.  But we don’t need to conform to their output either.

The overall issue here is a lack of choice on the part of the fans.  The Denver Post is the only credentialed media outlet that consistently puts out Avalanche material.  They don’t have to do anything other than what they are doing, because they aren’t pushed to do so.  They are the only game in town, and that’s the choice made by the Avalanche themselves.  The Avs are traditionally very closed off to the media.

But tradition has a way of falling when confronted with new successes, and as the blogoshphere has proven, success is available.  Examples like the Capitals, Predators, and Islanders have shown that bloggers can be healthy additions to the media availability.  They can provide what the papers can’t, won’t or don’t have time for.  They can be a positive addition to the ranks of the press box.  And now, more than ever, it’s time.

This summer, I’m asking for an Avs blogger summit.  A meeting of the bloggers who want to be granted credentials or given access to the Avalanche.  This would be an initial first step in collectively seeking to work with the Avalanche to get in the door.  I’m asking for this in the spirit of inclusiveness, to get many perspectives.

This will not be an overnight process.  Bloggers of many stripes have been around for years waiting for the opportunity.  But if the mountain won’t come to us, it’s time for us to go to the mountain.

If you’re interested, please let me know in the “contact me” link up above, or click here.  Lets do this.

Open Post: What Media Outlets Do You Like

I’ve been thinking a lot about the hockey media lately. If you believe twitter, there isn’t much to like about the MSM hockey media. I don’t completely buy it, but sometimes I struggle to think about who I am drawn to in the media.

So I’m asking you for your thoughts and conversation. The comments are open. What mainstream media outlets do you like? Which ones do you have respect for? What reporters do you like, and what do you like about them?

Texas Brahmas vs. Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees: You Cannot Unsee

First, a warning.  I am going to have a photo or two in this post which probably is Safe For Work, but I don’t 100% guarantee it.  And I don’t know if you are going to like it or not.  But damn it, I was there, and I will share with you the sights I have seen, whether you like it or not.  “Enjoy.”

Tonight was a strange night for Fort Worth hockey for two reasons.  First, it was Star Wars Night.  We will get to that in a moment.  The other reason it was strange was that the game was played at the old home of the Brahmas, the Fort Worth Convention Center.

The Fort Worth Brahmas used to play at the FWCC until the 2006-07 season, when they couldn’t work out a lease agreement with the Convention Center.  They suspended operations for the next season, and came back in the 2008-09 season as the Texas Brahmas, playing at a rink in the suburbs that isn’t much more than a rec rink with more seating.

The first Brahmas game I went to was in the 2005-06 season at the FWCC, and I’ve seen one at their new home.  The Convention Center is a bit big for the Brahmas, but the new location, the NYNEX Sports Center is too small.  The Brahmas are popular.  They are very popular for a minor league team, in a way that the Dallas Stars probably wish they were.  They have fans who have been around for a long time, and will continue to be for a long time.  They could use the space the FWCC has to offer, but a lease can make or break a minor league hockey team.  So in a small venue they will stay.

Let’s go to the game!

Walking up to the FWCC:

I mentioned that it was Star Wars night, and that conjures up images of awful rebel themed jerseys, wacky sound effects, and in-game promotions centered around using the force, right?  No, it just means Stormtroopers in the lobby.

Stormtroopers that liked to point their guns at you:

 

Yeah.  Oh, and there was a ZZ Top cover band in the lobby as well, which just goes perfectly with the Star Wars theme, right?

The lobby isn’t all that interesting.  But the inside of the venue is… not all that interesting either.

There is a certain symmetry to the place, but that weird ceiling makes it feel  open and cavernous, like you could yell at the ref all night and it would just bounce around up there.  Come to think of it, I didn’t hear nearly as much abuse of the officials from the crowd as I usually do.  I wonder why?  No, really, I wonder why.

Thirty-four seconds into the first period, we had our first fight.  The weird part about the fight was it featured a very familiar name, Aaron Boogaard.

It was startling to realize who we were watching, and for the most part, the fight looked like a hugging match.  But look a the next picture, even though it’s out of focus.  Someone was bleeding.

Boogaard had to leave his jersey at the bench to get cleaned up (you can’t use a jersey with blood all over it), and when he was released from the box, we got a look at his pads.  NHLers have all the latest and greatest gear, all light and fresh.  It probably even smells halfway respectable.  But not in the minors.

Those are old school.

How about some more game action:

I mentioned in the Odessa Jackalopes post that they throw rubber carrots on the ice after goals, and in Laredo, they throw rubber corn.  Here they throw rubber purple Brahmas.  That’s a bull for the rest of you.

There’s another tradition after goals with the Brahmas fans.  I don’t know when they do it, but tonight, after the third goal, some of the fans take off their shirts and twirl them over their heads.  Not a big deal, right?  We’ve seen this happen before at games, it’s nothing special.  But lets just say that this isn’t the demographic that normally does this sort of thing.

Remember that warning I gave at the top?  This is why.

You can not unsee that.  But if you’re going to be a fan, be a fan and don’t apologize for anything.  I was smiling and laughing the whole time, and so was everyone else.  And if you ever go to a Texas Brahmas game and they score a few goals, I hope you do to.

In other news, you can’t go to a damn arena without some tool putting on a body suit.  We get it, enough already.

I tweeted earlier that with all the Stormtroopers around, this was the most dangerous hockey game ever.  It was true for one fan who slipped on the concrete steps and broke her ankle.  I’m no doctor, but when the ankle swells up and turns purple that fast, it’s broke.

Mascot:

Another fight, leading to some game misconducts.  When a guy is down, don’t keep beating on him.

It was a bad night for the officials tonight.  The ref got tangled up in a check and may have a few bruised ribs.  And a linesman took a full slap shot in the back.  They don’t wear that much padding, and it stung him pretty good.   Also, one of the Brahmas took a puck in the Galiardis.  He skated it off, but I know it hurt.  It was also one of the better called games in the minors I have ever seen.

This game was titled the Fort Worth Faceoff, since it was a special two-nighter with the Brahmas playing in their old stomping grounds.  Maybe next time, they can play the crosstown Allen Americans.  The Brahmas wore special jerseys that were auctioned off after the game.  I did not stick around for that.

Your final, Brahmas 4, RGV Killer Bees 1.  You tell who won from the photo alone.

Tomorrow I’m off to Austin and Houston, and then six weeks in New Orleans.  Not a hockey-centric existence for a while, but it was nice to see some of the best the other side of hockey has to offer.  And there are more venues out there to find, more games to see, and more unusual history to be searched out.

Boxscore.

Odessa Jackalopes vs Corpus Christi Rays: End to End Inaction

I’ve been meandering my way down to New Orleans, through Las Vegas, NM (where they shot the city scenes in Red Dawn) and Roswell, NM.  Saturday night will see me in Ft. Worth, TX for a game between the Texas Brahmas and the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees of the Central Hockey League.

On my way down, I got the nice surprise of a game on one of my bucket list teams, the Odessa Jackalopes.  Yes, you heard me.  Bucket list.  Mind you, there are still a lot of teams on my bucket list, but this was one I wasn’t sure I was ever going to see.  Odessa was on shaky ground before when they were part of the CHL, and along with several other team left the C for the financially friendlier confines of the NAHL.  I would consider the N a step down from the C in that the CHL is a minor league while the NAHL is a junior league.  Most of the kids in this league are playing for college scholarships or to be drafted.  Many will not.  The talent level in the CHL is well below the NHL, but in the NAHL, it’s still mired in development.

Still, Texas was, for a long time, the state with the most professional teams in the US.  These days, it’s lost many of those teams to financial issues, some moving like the Jackalopes, and some shutting their doors completely (such as Lubbock).  As the fortunes of the Dallas Stars have faded into the eventual bankruptcy and sale of the team, the rest of hockey in Texas seems to have followed suit. The junior ranks seem to be the right fit for some of these cities, at the least saving hockey from leaving completely in many of them (and wait to see how many more CHL teams leave next season).

So with that, let’s hit the road.  First, the drive:

This is the World Arena in Colorado Springs, CO.  It’s next door to the offices for USA Hockey.

Don’t get the people of Las Vegas, NM wrong.  They don’t tolerate drinking and driving.  They do make it rather convenient, though.

This is not racist.

On my way in to Las Vegas, NM (which is not as exciting as the other Las Vegas), I did see a bright streak across the sky.  I did not see any aliens.  At least, not until I got to Roswell, NM.

It’s telling that the name of a mini-mall is The Landings at Roswell.  Also, the most popular restaurant might be the local IHOP.  And I saw a guy clipping his nails at a Starbucks under his table.  Stay classy.

I did learn one travel tip:  if one of the touted features of a hotel is it’s indoor pool, or has an indoor water park, something else will suffer, and it’s usually the service.  If you don’t have a surly front desk attendant, consider it a lottery win.

On the road from Roswell to Odessa, I passed though the saddest town I have ever seen.  And yes, I have been to Cleveland and Detroit.  This was worse.  I will spare you the poor photos I took, since they don’t really do justice to the sorry state of the place.  If you have a batch of plywood to board up windows, you might make a small fortune in Tatum, NM.  But it did have one bright spot:

Moving on…

Oh…. OK….

But they also put ketchup on a chili burger.  And that ain’t right.

I finally made it to Odessa, and was greeted with a rather… large… sight.

To call a venue a barn is somewhat of a complement.  It implies a certain amount of character.  This place is a shed. 

Whoa.  There are times I go to a venue for the first time and I worry about the sight lines.  I don’t know what I’m getting when I buy a ticket.  This place has plenty of unobstructed seating.  Plenty.  I’ve been in bigger places, but they rarely feel this cavernous.

This is the penalty box.  We will get to the penalties in a moment:

The hallways of the Ector County Coliseum, which would not handle a capacity crowd:

There were plenty of framed jerseys sprinkled around the halls as well.  Here are a few, including a WPHL All Star jersey:

A few action photos:

One of the Corpus Christi players was hit in the side while prone on the ice, and was in considerable pain.  It turns out the Rays don’t bring a trainer on the road with them, so the Jackalopes trainer has to attend to both team’s injuries.  The juniors are a different world from the NHL.

I said we would talk about the penalties.  3:27 into the third period, the ref called an interference penalty on the Jackalopes, and sent Tyler Minx to the box.  The problem was, Minx didn’t commit the penalty, Ryan Doucet did.  Minx argued the point until he got an unsportsmanlike penalty as well.  So this would be four minutes of 5 on 4 play, right?  No, the ref finally realized the mistake he had initially made and send Doucet to the box for the interference.  Now we have two penalties at the same time on two separate players, which meant that it was now two minutes of 5 on 3 play.  Of course, were it not for the initial mistake made by the ref, there wouldn’t have been any unsportsmanlike penalty, as there would have been nothing to get ‘unsportsmanlike’ about.  Still, the penalties were handed out, and as you would expect, the Rays scored… the game winning goal.  Of course.

Minx certainly earned the unsportsmanlike penalty, and should have either shut up and gone to the box, or calmly made his case to the ref.  Instead, he let his mouth get him in trouble and cost his team.  I don’t blame him for being upset.  He’s a defenseman who would probably been on the penalty kill, and he had scored both goals the Jackalopes wound up with for the game.  Instead, he was sitting.  Unjustly.  Oh, the humanity.

Dirty Little Minx

What didn’t help was that shortly after, a Jackalope player kicked the puck  into the net and the ref immediately waived the goal off.  It was a good call, but after what had happened earlier, the Jacks fans were none too pleased with the ref.  And they let him know.  They even waived money at him, saying he was bought off.

Moving on, is this the creepiest looking mascot you’ve ever seen?  If not, it might be up there.

Sleep tight. Hopefully you won’t dream of this thing chasing you down on an ATV:

Words are said:

At least they care about the environment:

At Laredo Bucks games, they throw ears of corn on the ice.  At Texas Brahmas games, they throw purple Brahmas, the team mascot.  In Odessa, they throw… carrots.

Holy cow, that’s a lot of photos.  Enough already.  The Rays win it 3-2.

Boxscore

Tomorrow, on the Fort Worth to see a game with James O’Brien.  You know there will be more posting.  Oh yes, there will be more.

Two Jerks, One Desk: The Beatings Will Continue Until Intelligence Starts

Well, this pissed me off last night:

This pathetic display was shown after the Dallas Stars shootout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins Wednesday night on the NBC Sports Network.  It’s is what passes or hockey talk in America these days, Jeremy Roenick and Mike Milbury yelling over each other for five minutes.  Ridiculous.

Jeremy Roenick isn’t much of a broadcaster.  He is unpolished, and brought on because he has a personality and a mouth.  He needs to wait his turn, which is what starts the issue.  Mind you, Milbury was going on and on, and it was questionable if Roenick was even going to get a turn.

The main argument was whether or not the point of contact was with the head or the chest.  This is enough to get this angry about?  At the 1:40 mark of the video (and at this point, I can’t believe there is still two and a half minutes left of this), Milbury watches the replay, and you can hear him start to soften his view on the point of contact, but then gets rankled by JR to the point that he isn’t going to back down.  None of this is shocking, but the fact that it lasted this long is amazing to me.

And the saddest part is Mike Milbury telling Roenick that he needs to leave, and it’s the last time he will be on the show.  Perhaps Milbury has that kind of power and will choose to exercise it.  But doing so on the air is a pathetic move.  He was obviously tired of the debate (as were the rest of us), but commenting on someone’s job like should have no place in front of other people.  Not that Milbury cares about what kind of image he projects.  And in the end, I hope that he is right.  I hope Roenick doesn’t come back to the show, if only so we don’t get these two guys in the same room again.  Who would have thought we would be appreciate Pierre McGuire next to Mike Milbury as an alternative?  That’s desperation.

We don’t need this.  Every conversation about hockey doesn’t have to be an enlightening experience.  Every moment doesn’t have to be about ‘selling the game.’  And as proven multiple times, it doesn’t have to necessarily be smart.  But it should at least be a conversation, or a debate.  Or intelligible.  If two particle physicists were yelling at each other like this, they would still be acting like jerks and babies, even if they were smart jerks and babies.

Hockey post game shows don’t need to be like reality TV.  They don’t need to be about yelling and being tough guys.  Excitement, sure.  But this isn’t excitement.  It’s just sad.  We deserve better than this.  And there is a better way, folks.