O’Reilly and Waivers?

I was just reading Elliotte Friedman’s as-usual excellent 30 Thoughts column, and ran across this:

14. Another ESPN slave, Craig Custance, reported some teams had interest in Brent Sopel, playing for Metallurg Novokuznetsk. Teams are definitely looking for defencemen. Problem with Sopel is that, according to the NHL, any player who dressed for a game in another league after Jan. 19 must clear waivers. The KHL’s website indicates he played on Jan. 26.

Which sent of some bells and whistles in my head. When was the last game Ryan O’Reilly suited up for a KHL game?

Because I must be inept, I can’t seem to figure out the KHL website, and Jared Clinton did the heavy lifting and sent me the info. From this gamesheet, it looks like the last game was January 23rd.

So the question is, does Ryan O’Reilly have to clear waivers if the Avs sign him? Anyone know? Because that could be a severe hinderance to the process, eh?

My initial assumption is that this doesn’t apply, or the numbers are wrong, otherwise we would have heard much more about it before. Can someone let me know? Comments are open.

Thin Air: Panic in Panictown

Thin Air is just a collection of hockey thoughts. Short, to the point, and out there. Comments are open for discussion.

– The Colorado Avalanche are terrible right now, losing to San Jose, Edmonton and Vancouver with a combined total of one goal for and eleven goals against. The penalty kill is awful, the power play is ineffective, and their five on five play is a wreck. I don’t think this is a team that has any chemistry, and it’s a top down problem. I hate to agree with Adrian Dater, but in a blog post that was as populist as pro-air rally, he is correct that the shiny happy attitude of the organization is not helping matters. The team is burying it’s head in the sand, and keeps it’s one sterling example of hope locked away in a closet: Joe Sakic. They are more interested in presenting a good corporate image than actually being honest with the fans.

If the Avalanche were to say that they have been in a rebuilding mode, it would probably have the opposite effect from the mass exodus of fans that has been happening in recent years. It would give the fans hope that something was going to happen. It would tell the fans that there is a reason to stick around. The head-buried-in-the-sand approach has been played out. The same message over and over, year after year – that these hard working boys are victims of circumstance – only reveals itself to be less true as those words are presented every game, much like the in arena presentation that hasn’t changed since Jose Theodore stole back his starting goalie position. Folks, that’s been a while. If there was a single phrase that Avalanche fans are tired of, it has to be “good hard work down low,” the Peter McNab-ism that finds its way into every broadcast. Spare me. Hard work isn’t everything. You have to point that work in the right direction, in the right way. And the fans see that it isn’t happening.

– You may notice that I linked to Dater’s blog post. It feel a little dirty. I don’t think I should have to link to a site that routinely leaves out source links and plays games with attribution. But you have to do the right thing, even if the big boys don’t. Give credit and links. It only makes the internet better.

– At what point, in a 48 game season, do you push the panic button? Where is the line? We are only 6-8 games into the season, and it feels like there should already be coaches fired, players traded, and Brian Burke denying anything and everything (kind of miss that, to be honest). If you fail in a 48 game season, does it matter? It certainly matters if you succeed. Just ask the New Jersey Devils. Their Cup win in 1995 was the start of something big for them. What kind of sacrifices do you make in a season that almost halves your gate revenue potential?

– O’Reilly: Trade him or sign him. This is tantamount to when the Avs started the season without a Captain. It’s more important to the fans that he is there, especially as the Avs continue to lose games. The quiet determination of management to be in absolute control, to make offers that aren’t negotiable, and to treat the salary cap era as though it were the pre-NHLPA, pre-Alan Eagleson era is ridiculous. Times are changing, so change with the times, you can’t move forward if you’re looking behind. ( < ---- Possibly misquoted Warlock Pinchers lyric)

- If you read the name Alan Eagleson, and you don’t know who that is, look him up. It’s fascinating.

– In fact, if you want to see the how the current NHL business model and it’s silly dealing with money (which seems to be a drug that turns the league into a bunch of meth addicts) haven’t changed much over the years, I recommend reading Road Games by Roy MacGregor and Game Misconduct: Alan Eagleson and the Corruption of Hockey by Russ Conway. These are interesting reads in light of the recent lockout, and the disfunction of the NHL and NHLPA that led to it. All of this has happened before, and it will all happen again (correctly quoted Battlestar Galactica reference).

– So the Blackhawks finally lost a game. In the ultimate game-of-inches allegory, Patrick Sharp hit the crossbar as the last shooter in the shootout, which could have kept their hope alive for perfection. An inch or two lower, that’s all it would have taken. That said, perfection in hockey, and in life, is overrated. It leads to disappointment when it inevitably falls short. So the Blackhawks are human. Imagine that. Now they can go back to being hockey players.

– Don’t get me wrong. Winning hockey games is awesome. I love winning hockey games as much as the next person. But if a major winning streak is so important, tell me who, since the Canadiens of yore, has that made a major difference to in the regular season? If the last Stanley Cup winner was an eight seed in the West, anything can happen.

– Have you been to an NHL game this season? How did you feel about it? Did you feel like you got your money’s worth? Comments are open.

– The Avalanche broadcast team was talking about how the media was all over Alain Vigneault about whether or not Roberto Luongo was his number one goalie or not. AV was not going to say yes or no, and he is right to do so. The media wants a nice tidy story, but a nice tidy story isn’t going to win you hockey games. Every other coach in the league gets to pick his starters based on what wins hockey games, or potentially wins them. Not AV. Not that I have any real sympathy for his position. It might even be his fault that Luongo wants to leave the Canucks, but that isn’t the point. That he has to manage a team, and the expectations of the media can’t make things any easier. It’s time for the media to drop it. If he isn’t biting, they should stop fishing.

– Nail Yakupov is getting way too much scrutiny for having a personality and showing it. It doesn’t fit into the strict narratives the media and fans expect from their hockey players. Not only is Yakupov expected to fit the mold of the quiet humble hockey player, he is also breaking the stereotype of the cold Russian enigma. It’s asinine to expect every player to behave the way we want them to. It’s leading to a more dull NHL, and the last thing an over-coached, over-priced sport that’s trying to make itself less violent needs is spiral even further down the drain pipe of boring rhetoric. Players with personalities can save this league more than another lockout. You can’t make the fans care about a beige wall.

– Kari Lehtonen: who knew?

Thin Air: Sunday Morning Hockey Thoughts

Some hockey thoughts for you on a Sunday morning:

- I don’t think I need to watch NHL Tonight with the sound on.  The highlights from the previous seasons on the NHL Network were simple: use the local broadcaster audio, and roll the tape back a bit more than your average ESPN highlight.  The best part was that we got not only the goal, but also what led to the goal, something hockey fans want to see.

Instead, we get short clips that the talking heads don’t have enough time to banter over, which they have to yell to be heard over the squealing guitars that every sports highlight producer seems to think enhance the sports highlight watching experience.  All in an effort to quickly get back to the talking heads.  And the talking heads are doing a decent job when they aren’t trying to get a word in over a highlight, but I don’t tune in for them.  I’m here for the hockey.

Were I able to take a screen shot of my TV, I would show you what GameCenter Live looks like on my Apple TV.  I get the games, but I also get about five minutes of game recap for every game.  Perfect for someone who isn’t making a living off being a hockey person, and has a job to attend to.  Local broadcasters, more than just the goals, and a little extra time to digest the action.  What more could I want?  So NHL Network, take it down a notch.  Until then, I’ll keep the mute on.

- Cam Fowler: I can’t decide if he is any good.  Opinions?

- The Brad Stuart hit on Gabriel Landeskog.  I didn’t like it.  His elbow came up to the head and he wound up leaving his feet.  Give Stuart a game or two and call it done.

- The Blackhawks are scary good.  Their creativity shines though night after night.  And to think Joel Quenneville was on the hot seat a week ago, whispers of a possible firing if the Blackhawks didn’t produce.  Are they ever producing.  This is what you get when good players are allowed to do what they do best in the offensive zone.  OK, the Blue Jackets goal waved off in their 3-2 defeat by the Blackhawks was a load of crap, but it was the creativity when Chicago skated to the net that made the real difference.  They have a lot of tools, and show no fear in using them.

- Alex Ovechkin has made a lot of threats.  He might stay in Russia, he will go to the Olympics no matter what the NHL decides it’s participation is going to be.  How about becoming a scoring threat again?  No goals and one assist on the season, his steady decline is remarkable.  You can’t blame three coaches in a row for this, it’s all on him.  There is no reason he should be this far behind at this point.  He played in Russia during the lockout, so his legs should be ready for this season.  I wonder what is holding him back.

- PK Subban and Ryan O’Reilly: sign a contract already.  Your stock is going down quickly.  How much more time are you going to miss out there?  I ask them directly because, of course, they read this blog. 

- Rec League hockey is going well, when I can get there.  I’ve missed a few games lately, thanks to work.  I hate missing games so much, it makes me see paisley.  That’s pretty mad.  I have one goal, one assist, and one penalty on the season, which is more points than Alex Ovechkin.  Just saying. 

Thin Air: Hockey Thoughts

Thin Air is a collection of hockey thoughts from a mile above sea level. Things get a little weird up here. Send oxygen when you can.

– I woke up Sunday morning (OK, late Sunday morning) to several texts asking me if I was going to training camp. Until that point, I really hadn’t even thought about it, and was only vaguely aware that training camp was happening. Perhaps it’s my evolving as a hockey fan, perhaps it’s my disappointment in the lockout, or perhaps it was that I’ve just been that damn busy. I think this short season will say a lot about how I am as a hockey fan. Or maybe it will be next season that really says so. But for a guy with a (dwindling) hockey blog, and a hockey podcast (two if I decide to bring back The Rink), that says a lot about the apathy I feel for the NHL right now.

– Ryan O’Reilly is still unsigned. No one knows what’s going on, but the fans want to see the deal get done. Nothing else really matters to Avs fans right now, as every other piece seems to be in place for the Avalanche. O’Reilly is the missing link on a team that is largely intact from last season, and a difference maker for a squad that didn’t have enough of those last year.

– Brian Burke won’t stay out of a job for long, but the question is if he will be willing to tone down his style enough to me more friendly to a front office or not. He is a smart and successful hockey guy. Had the Kessel trade worked out in his tenure, would have been heralded a genius. The real question is if he can look past the win – loss record of the Leafs for other reasons he may have been let go. Can he be as honest with himself as he expects everyone else to be?

– Everyone is waiting to see if the money the Minnesota Wild spent on two free agents will be worth it in the short term. No one is looking at five – or even two – years from now. They want success now, or else the money spent on Parise and Suter will have been wasted. Absolute silliness, of course. After years with only on truly successful postseason campaign, the Wild should be looking for the long term, even if the fans want results now. It’s going to be the critics, the ones who were there before, who are going to have the highest expectation. Those are usually the ones who want to see the team flop in the first place. Time will tell if this pans out, a few years rather than a few weeks.

– Adrian Dater put the Edmonton Oilers in the third slot for his SI Power Rankings. His reasoning was that their core young players have been playing in the AHL together this season, while much of the rest of the league’s talent has been spread out over the globe, playing overseas with random teammates or sitting on their couches. I agree with his reasoning, but not his placement. If this lockout had lasted the entire season, we would be looking at another Carolina Hurricanes after the 2004-05 lockout, where Eric Staal, Mike Commodore and Cam Ward played before their Stanley Cup season. The factor here is if stepping from the AHL directly into the NHL is going to be a big help. I think it will, but will it be enough to overcome the issues they had last season? It couldn’t hurt.

– Who cares about how Tyler Seguin left his apartment when he departed Switzerland? This is TMZ garbage. Enough already. Make sure your house is in order before commenting on other people’s. If the hockey blogosphere spent a little more time writing like they could, emulating the good hockey writers in the mainstream, rather than racing to the bottom for pageviews, they would be a lot better off. As Seth Godin says, the problem with the race to the bottom is you might just win.

– I am not looking forward to having to learn another CBA. In fact, I may just skip it. Last time it was capology (one letter away from apology) and waivers. What is it going to be this time? Trying to understand the waiver system made my head spin, and I don’t think I have to patience or tolerance for it. My general interest in the business side was tested during the lockout. It did not fare well.

– The NHL is back, but is the NHL Network back? I’ve had my fill of the World Junior tournament, even as USA skated to the gold medal. I’m ready for highlights, games and news, not just rehashes of old games. I bought a nice TV and paid for the DVR package when I came home to Denver. Time to put it to good use.

– It’s odd to feel sorry for Scott Gomez, but I do. I’m sure this isn’t how he thought his NHL career would end. He might take a massive pay cut (don’t worry, he can afford it) to join an NHL team after being bought out next summer, but to sit for the entire NHL season in anticipation of that happening is a sad way to end a career. The other New York Rangers mistake is harder to feel bad for. Wade Redden has been toiling in the AHL for a while now, waiting for a buyout, and he might finally get one. The Rangers have always amazed me how they can make their mistakes vanish, but now they might get stuck with a real concern with Redden’s money actually counting against the Rangers cap space.

– Is it time to actually feel bad for Gary Bettman? I don’t think most fans will (I don’t), as he set himself up as the face and voice of the owners as well as gathering as much power as possible. But he has to be tired of apologizing for the way negotiations turned out. It isn’t entirely his fault the lockout lasted as long as it did. The stall tactics of Donal Fehr were widely reported. He doesn’t deserve any real sympathy, but I’m sure this is wearing on him. If he leaves his post or is tossed out, I don’t think it will be until at least the end of the 2013-14 season. Otherwise, it looks bad for the owners.

– Yes, fans came back for training camp. They came back for free events. Wait to see what happens when fans are asked to put their cash on the barrelhead. That might tell a different story. And it might not. What the overall fans will do will doubtfully follow a pattern. This will be an individually fueled outcome. One things I will put my money on: fans might be quick to forgive, but I guarantee they will not forget.

Trapped in a Lockout (based on R. Kelly’s Trapped in a Closet)

If you aren’t familiar with R,. Kelly’s hip hopera Trapped in a Closet, I am not all that surprised.  It was only brought to my attention this past year.  Most people I ask refer to the South Park episode where R. Kelly tries to get Tom Cruise to literally come out of the closet.  No, that was referencing R. Kelly’s series, which was picked up by IFC and continues.  Each episode is short, and increasingly ridiculous.  It takes a real turn around episode eight, but you have to start somewhere.

This is part one of Trapped (there might be some NSFW language):

 And so it begins.  But if you watch just one episode, I recommend episode 9.  It’s so over the top it’s genius, and so bad it’s good:

You can thank me later.  No, really. 

So with this in mind, I present Trapped in a Lockout.  The end of the lockout R. Kelly style. Because some things just belong together.

 

Trapped in a Lockout Part 1

(sung by Gary Bettman)

5 AM and I’m sitting across from a man that I knooOOooww…
He looks at me with a look that says he knows me toooo…
He has a pen in his hand and he looks like he’s going to sign.
He looks at the paper once more, checking the figures a final time.

He looks at me and looks back and looks at me another time. (Oooh)
This whole damn thing has taken way too much tiiIIiimmee (Oooh)
Now he looks at the first page
Now he looks at the next page
Turns over the next page
What’s he see on the page

He puts down his pen and puts on his reading glasses
I say “Don, can we get this done, we’re tired off our asses.” 
He looks down his nose and says it’s just this one thing.
I say, what thing, he says Don’t worry, it’s not a real thing.

One! I reach in my pocket.
Two! I pull out by blood pressure meds.
Three! I take off the cap.
Four! I take out a pill.

Now my mouth is dry and and I’m looking around
And there’s no water to be foooOOouund.
I’m going to have to dry swallow this pill
Now I know how the fans feel. 

I look at the water cooler and look back
And Donald put down his pen
I think, “He didn’t sign it,
Oh no, here we go again.”

I look for the smirk on his face, the one that says, “I got you”
He’s had it on his face ever since November two.

But I look at the paper.
Looking down at the paper.
Bring my eyes to the paper.
Looking close at the paper.
There’s ink on the paper.
He put his name on the paper.
There’s his name on the paper.
He signed his name on the paper.
Then he hands me the paper.
And I pick up the paper.

And this lockout….
Is going… to… end….

(end…end…end…) 

Trapped in a Lockout Part 2

Now there’s a contract with the players 
Sitting in front of meeee…  *
What am I do?
I’m feeling kind of loopy.

This lockout could end any moment and I’m ready to go home.
My wife and kids keep wondering when I’m going to be done. 

Then Don looks at me and says
“Oh wait there’s one more things.”
My heart sinks wondering
What’s this s#$@ he’s going to briiIInngg…

Don says did I put the date next to my name?
I think to myself, this guy is playing some f@%$#ing game.

I look at the paper and see the date is there.
I tell him it’s on the sheet and he say, are you sure.
I say “Yes,” he say “No,” I say “Yes!,” he says “No!”
I scream “Look right here,” He calmly sits back and he says “Oh.” 
I want this done, I hate this man,
I’d sign just about anything.

Now I’m picking the pen up
Pick the pen in my hand up
Now I’m signing the paper
Put my name on the paper
My first name on the paper
My last name on the paper
Put the date on the paper
What’s the date on the paper
I just signed the paper. 
Did I just sign the paper?

Bill Daly sneaks up behind me and says,
“What do you want me to do?”
I say, “Bill, it’s time,
Get the Podium out.”

Bill’s jaw goes slack and he doesn’t know what to doOOooo….
Last time we got the Podium, it was a circus, and he knows it tooOOO…..

I say “Move.”
He says “No.”
I say “Move!”
He says “No!” 
BITCH, MOVE!
HE MOVES!
And then….

He looks at the tech guys
He walks to the tech guys
Get close to the tech guys
Now he talks to the tech guys

NOW PAUSE THE MOVIE because what I’m about to say to y’all is so damn random
Into the room bursts our old friend, Brendan Shanahan! 

(Shanahan…Shanahan….Shanahan…)

Trapped in a Lockout Part 3

Brendan looks around the room and says, How’s it going, friends? **
Bill say’s “Hey, what’s up, what can I do for you, Bren?”

Brendan say he’s been watching a lot of ESPN.
Did you know there’s thing called football, what will they think of next.
Everyone looks at Shanny wondering what he’s going to say.
He looks like he hasn’t shaved in one hundred and thirteen days.

Then Brendan pulls out his Beretta and he he’s waiving it around!
He screams “This lockout better end, and it better end RIGHT DAMN NOW!”
Now Daly is on the floor, covering up his head,
But Donald just sits in his chair, and says, “Listen to what that fool said.”

Now the room is silent, you can barely hear a tech guy cry,
But Don holds the CBA up to Shanny, and says, “Looks, the ink isn’t even dry.”
Brendan can’t believe it, did he just hear what he heard,
He looks at the contract, but he can’t read a word.

Tears stream down his face, and he say, Gary, what am I going to do?
And I look at Brendan and say, “Get to work, pal, I still have a job for you.” 

Now I’m ending the lockout
I just ended the lockout
Why did we have a lockout
Never needed a lockout
This is my third lockout
I just love the lockout
No games for the lockout
Relax for the lockout
Gave the fans a lockout
It’s entirely my fault

Ten years from now, when it’s someone else’s problem
I won’t have to worry about this, let the new guy solve it
I’ll be on a beach, away from the ice, where I belong,
Basketball on a TV as I like it, wearing my bikini thong (sorry)

And I won’t worry about Donald Fehr or his brother Steve
Hockey will be a distant memory, one I’ll be happy to leave.
I like hoops the best, that I can’t deny
I never cared for hockey and that’s no lie.

I look at the Podium
Walk up to the Podium
Get close to the Podium
Put my hands on the podium.

And all I can think about is my wife and kids and my dog Rover

And tell the press, The lockout..
Is finally…

Over.

(Over… over…. over…) 

*- continuity error, he has the CBA in his hand at the end of the last part, here it starts on the table – INSANE!

**Bonus points if you hear Brendan Shanahan’s voice in the style and drawl of the Cop’s wife in Episodes 8-10.

Cedar Rapids Roughriders vs. Tri City Storm: Death to Cowbell

Somewhere in the depths of my storage unit, there is a cowbell.  That cowbell has the logo of the Cedar Rapids Roughriders on it.  It is black, with a white strap on it, bought at the Roughriders store many years ago.  I haven’t seen that cowbell in years. 

When I find that thing, I am going to mangle it into an unrecognizable shape that would not make noise unless you split it’s atoms apart.  It’s parents will weep openly at the destruction of their little baby cowbell.  There will be outcry from activists and anger from the media at what I do to that cowbell.  It will be amazing.

I hadn’t been to a game in Cedar Rapids in a very long time.  I could have – and hindsight tells me should have – gone to a game in Dubuque tonight, but I chose to go back to the City of Five Smells (no kidding, this is what they call it, and the smells are not of the pleasant variety).  It is a mistake my left ear might live to regret.  

If you haven’t guessed, the Roughriders and their fans are obsessed with cowbells.  They ring them at every opportunity.  They ring them whenever the guy singing their country theme song, Ridertown USA (again, I wish I were kidding), says the name of the song. Imagine you are watching a Vancouver Canucks game, and every time Luongo made a save, instead of the annoying “LOOOUUUUUU” the crowd bellows, they ring their cowbells.  Or a pass is completed, or a check of even the slightest intensity was delivered.  Ring ring ring.  

And it’s the guy behind you, ringing it right next to your ear (who finally figured it out after I looked back a few times and started ringing it in slightly-the-other-direction).  And the guy across the aisle.  And hundreds and hundreds of other people.  All the time. 

Then I found out you can get earplugs for free.  Who knew? 

So I guess I’m that guy.

I have talked about this before, but I love the way hockey sounds.  The skates as they dig in for a hockey stop, the way a puck smacks on a stick as a pass is caught, the crashing into the boards.  Take away the sounds and it’s a surreal feeling.  You don’t even feel like you are there.  You feel like there is something going on, but it’s unfamiliar.  You’re floating above the action, a casual observer.  The sounds of hockey are why we tolerate Pierre McGuire or half of the awful Versus/OLN/NBCSC calls we have heard over the years.  We want that sound.  We love that sound.  Tonight, I really missed that sound. 

Also, this guy?  The one in the hat?

CRJerk

Yes, I am not feeling very charitable.  Screw this guy.  He needs to get his prostate checked.  He pees more than a drunk 19 year old girl. Also, don’t stop to go back once someone has stood up to let you by (repeatedly) to see if your buddy needs a beer.  And the dude in front of him with the chops in the jersey?  Yeah, him as well.  Prostate checks, boys.  And about the tenth time you squeeze past someone, say something at least hallway apologetic.  Otherwise, you’re a jerk.  Or maybe you’re a jerk anyways.  Seriously, screw hat guy.  Such a jerk. 

ALSO – can you tell I’m pissed off tonight? – every hockey fan knows you wait for a stoppage in play to take your seat.  And if you don’t know where your seat is, figure it out before going down the stairs.  Two groups of people who can’t figure out their tickets, standing in the way while play is going on, are two to many.  The Roughriders could have done something about this, had they had ushers.  But there don’t seem to be any, which seems insane.  Don’t get me wrong, ushers aren’t the absolute solution, but you wouldn’t have had people figuring out how to count to row 7 if there were ushers.  

Cedar Rapids beat the Tri City Storm 3-2, but I wish they had lost 7-0. I wanted to see these fans suffer, even if only a few deserved it.  I was not in a good mood, and it was the game that turned me sour.  I was tired before the game, and I am ready to head home, but from the start of the game, it was hard to find anything positive about this experience.  

To the photos:

Welcome to The Stable, the most annoying arena known to mankind (OK, I’ll try to give it a rest for a bit).  

The Stable

There are two ice surfaces here, a practice / public rink and the Roughriders rink.  This is the practice rink.

Practice Rink

Go up the stairs, with RR logos…

Sorry it's blurry

Through the doors…

Doors

And you get to the rink.

Rink

Seems kind of dark, doesn’t it?  It’s like that most of the time.  Unless the game is on, the lights are out.  You can mostly see where you are going, if you are by the concession stands, which are on the left side of that photo.  If you are on the penalty box side, you won’t see what you just stepped in.  Considering the name of the place is The Stable, perhaps that is a good thing.

It seems you can’t go to a hockey game without some guy in a body suit.  It was barely cute after the fifth time the guys in Vancouver did it.  Now it’s just stupid.  At least have a gimmick, or show a sense of humor.  Just walking around in a body suit?  Who cares? 

CedarRapids010413 134

This turned into a goal.

CedarRapids010413 125

The third goal, in fact, which led to a change in goal.

CedarRapids010413 127

Which was a good move, because this guy stopped every shot he saw.  

That change in goal led to a fight, which led to a wrestling match. 

CedarRapids010413 128

The Roughriders must not be hurting for cash.  They sell pretty well, but they also have sponsorships and advertising everywhere.  It is so ubiquitous, they even have signage on their shovels. 

CedarRapids010413 136

How much do you think that costs?  

Let’s say you score a goal, and you are a Roughrider.  The horn sounds, the cowbells ring, and at some point, something like this plays:

This did NOT play tonight. No, they had some longer version before the game.  After the Ridertown USA song had played.  I don’t get it.  I’m sure there is some hockey history at work here, some sort of tradition started with guys wearing horned helmets and uncomfortably revealing shorts that led to whatever this is.  But I’ve been to some of the most shameless minor league arenas (other than the Las Vegas Wranglers) and have NEVER seen anything like that.  Never.  

I need an adult.

CedarRapids010413 094

 

Action!

CedarRapids010413 102

CedarRapids010413 108

Part of why I wanted to go to the RR game?  I have this guy’s jersey.

CedarRapids010413 111

I don’t think he was any great shakes, but his photo is on the wall.  As far as I can tell, every former RR’s photo is on the wall.  

CedarRapids010413 088

Ladies….

Ladies...

If you aren’t familiar with the juniors, this might look odd to you.  At least one linesman is out on the ice for warmups in the USHL.  I think it’s a good idea, and I wish every league did that.  I believe that is linesman Brent Hooks.  I know you don’t care, I just wanted to say his name, because it is an awesome name for a linesman.  Hooks. 

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Rather than a jumbotron with video, they have two video projectors at either end.  It’s a good way to get around an expensive video scoreboard, but it isn’t the best looking thing.  Also, no replays of goals, for or against.  Explain that one to me.  

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OK, enough of this.  I’m obviously in a mood, and I don’t want to prolong the pain for either of us.  Here’s hoping tomorrow’s game in Lincoln is better.  I mean, it has to be, right?  Riders win it 3-2.  They were up 3-0 going into the third, but decided to make a game of it.  Also, the TC player Moore?  Kind of a punk.  

My only regret was everything.

From the Travel Blog:

Period 1 

Period 2 

Period 3 

Boxscore

Admirals Torpedo Wolves 4-3

There was a part of me that didn’t want to go to tonight’s game.  It was a small part, the part that was a little tired and knew there was a new book on my kindle to read (The Icarus Deception by Seth Godin, and I can’t wait to get to it).  Also, the part that was a little bit lonely.  I admit, it does get a little tiresome with no one to talk to on the road, and while I enjoy having my time to myself, driving for hours between cities does take it’s toll.  These games would be a lot more fun to share with people. 

So I share them with you here.  And when I look at the stats of the travel blog, I don’t see hits or traffic, I see people who come along for the ride.  I see hockey fans I get to share the games with, and the places I get to see that they aren’t able to (yet, I hope).  So if you are one of the people who go to the travel blog while I’m on this journey, thanks.  You make a difference in my enjoyment of this trip.

I didn’t want to go to the game, but I’m glad I did.  It wasn’t the most amazing game.  There wasn’t a lot of aggression, and it was one of the cleaner games I’ve seen in a while.  What it had was a serious tone.  You could sense it immediately in warmups.  Perhaps it was my perspective from only seeing CHL hockey live this year, rather than the NHL.  Perhaps the difference in play from the CHL to the AHL is really that stark, or maybe it’s that there are enough fourth line NHLers in the A right now that it makes that big a difference.  But the tone was completely different.  It had a professionalism I haven’t seen in a while.  

First things first: the arena.  The Admirals play in an NBA arena.  It was built for an NBA team, and it feels like it.  Arena

When you sit in the seats, you sink an inch or two lower than you think you should.  It reminds me of sitting down at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, home of the Islanders.  You wonder when you are going to stop.  For some reason, this screams of “basketball first” design.  The boards in hockey are closer than the floor of a basketball court.  You could see everything a basketball game had to offer, but for hockey, you will be looking past the heads of the patrons in front of you.  

Jay Vean of the Avs Hockey Podcast made the comment on the travel blog that there were “Plenty of good seats still available.”  And he is right, but that’s just how it goes.  You aren’t going to fill up the home of the Milwaukee Bucks when the Admirals take the ice.  No minor league team would, unless it was the finals, and even then, good luck.  Sellouts are a rare enough thing in minor league hockey.  This smacks of impossibility.  

That is a big scoreboard. I wonder how players who call smaller and less fortified places like Rockford or Peoria home feel when they come to a place like Milwaukee, which plays in a major league arena.  Is it intimidating?  Does jealousy set in?

Scoreboard

This is a special seating area.  Other than that, I have no idea what it means.  Anyone? 

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Refs pre-game post-huddle. 

Refs

Action!  And let’s go to our first goal.  Look at the left of the net, that’s the puck in there.

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No doubt about it, that’s a goal. 

GOOOOAAALLLLL!!!!!!

The fans tell the Wolves goalie that he sucks.  It’s not entirely true, but there were times they had a point. 

Hey, you suck!

Random action photos.  Click to embiggen.

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Thinking about face offs deep into the future.  

The Future looks Face-Offy

Intermission antics:

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OK, enough of that, back to the game. 

 

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This is the game winning goal, with 1:33 left in the game.  A shot on goal is stopped by the goalie’s stick, but it hops up in the air a bit.  See it in front of his blocker?

Hop

Bounce

And the Admirals crash the net. Chaos ensues. 

Chaos Ensuing.

And number 51 who you see right there swats the puck in.

GOOOOOAAAALLLL!!!!!

And there was much rejoicing. 

That's a lot of rejoicing.

The Wolves did what they could, but to no avail. 

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And that’s the game.  Admirals win 4-3.  

Updates from the travel blog:

Period 1 (somehow didn’t upload)

Period 2

Period 3

Boxscore from the AHL website

With that, I’m off to bed.  I’m exhausted, and I’m going to try to make it to stick and puck time tomorrow before heading to Cedar Rapids.  See you on the road.

 

    

Flocked Up: Quad City Mallards vs. Wichita Thunder

As you can probably tell, things did not go well for the boys from QC tonight.  

Other possible titles for this post: 

Mallards Mallase
Molting Mallards
Bird of a Feather Lose Together
What The Hell Was That?

I kid, but really, what was that?  The Mallards had a rough go of it tonight, in a game that could have gone their way.  Had they played the entire game like they played the first few minutes of the first two periods, they would have dominated.  But a few bounces, a few strange plays, and a glove hand that just wasn’t enough at times, and this game was out of hand quickly.  The Thunder take it 5-1.  

I am usually not one to dog on the refs, but there was an obvious point in this game where things could quickly get out of hand.  While looking right at the play, the ref didn’t call a boarding call that shouldn’t have gone gotten by him.  I thought things were going to turn into a circus, but that thankfully didn’t happen.  I can’t credit the officiating crew for keeping things calm, but I will say they could have done a much better job.

To the photos.  Hey, who’s that? Why, it’s my old pal Aaron Boogaard.  I seem to see him everywhere.  In fact, he scored his first goal of the season tonight.  I would like to think that I’m his good luck charm, but if I told him that, he would probably beat me up.  Better just keep that to myself.

 

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The Mallards have a giant inflatable duck head wearing a helmet that vomits players onto the ice. That is the only way I can describe it.

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The I Wireless Arena (formerly known by it’s better name, the MARK) is a nice place, big and comfortable.  Too big, it turns out, so they black out some of the seats with curtains.  You might be familiar with the Florida Panthers doing the same thing.  Also the Hartford Wolfpack Connecticut Whale.  Giant pillowy curtains really make for an intimate setting. Or something.

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Did I mention spacious and comfortable?  Yeah, this is the polar opposite of the Des Moines Buccaneers arena, as you can see here, and here. 

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Nice knob. 

Knobby

OK, a little action.  

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I have to admit, I didn’t get a lot of photos from this game.  The glass put some warp into the images, and I got kind of fed up with it.  In fact, it’s some of the tallest glass I’ve ever seen on the sides of a rink.  Tall and crappy.  Kind of like (insert player from your hated rival here).  Yeah, good one. 

Here is the chuck-a-puck aftermath.  And while six of those are mine, on’y one of mine won a free sub. That’s right, I’m a winner.  Mad skills. 

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I kind of like this one.  It’s like artistic chuck-a-puck photography.  I don’t think I should start of business around it, though.  Niche audience for sure. 

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A half salute for a half effort.  Actually, that isn’t fair. The Mallards put effort into it tonight.  They just didn’t hold on to any momentum they earned early in the periods.  

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Swag report – I picked up this puck.  

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How do you like that key card for my room? ‘Merica.

And then I got the mascot to hold it for a photo. 

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Rocking.  

Recaps from the travel blog:

Period 1
Period 2
Period 3

Boxscore

 You can follow along on the travel blog.  Lots of smaller posts, with some real gems along the way. 

On The Road

If you didn’t know, I’m on a hockey road trip right now. Headed to Moline, IL for a Quad City Mallards game tonight.

I’m updating quite a bit at the travel microblog, jerseysandhockeylove.com/travel. Cool photos of the arena in Des Moines today.