Tuesday, May 29, 2007

finals: my picks

as pointed out in the last round, i generally choose my teams based on personal affection. this doesn't always work out, but i HAVE noticed that some murphy guy really has it out for me... because of this, i would generally pick whichever team has the player I most want to punch, but this year it's a real tossup between alfredsson and pronger...

I've developped a huge appreciation for emery, and of course I love spezz... and heatley may very well bring the cup to calgary so i seem to be rooting for that side, but then I think about giguere and his baby and how badly teemu needs a cup.... and then i think that i'm cheering for THAT side...

"scientifically" i think the ducks D will be too much for the sens O. alfredsson touched the wales trophy. the team that wins the first game wins the series 78% of the time (60%, apparently, in the last 5 years). maggie the monkey chose the sens, and i don't think she's ever been right in the finals... (??).

all signs point to the ducks in 7. but i might change my mind later.

Friday, May 25, 2007

the new preds

i wish i could but i can't take credit.

your boyfriend george stroumboulopoulos has a new name for the team that will probably be moved to southern ontario by prospective new owner, jim balsillie:


puuuure genius....

[amy, i'm so sorry to mock your pain, but this is funny.]

Thursday, May 24, 2007

the preds sale (an inside track)

okay, it's not an inside track. but it's a helluvalot closer than where i am (getting snowed on in calgary). for your reading pleasure:

Craig Leipold
Nashville Predators
501 Broadway
Nashville, TN 37203
May 24, 2007
Dear Predators' Season Ticket Holders:
June 25, 2007 will mark the 10-year anniversary of the awarding of the NHL franchise to Nashville that became your Nashville Predators.  It's been an incredible 10-year journey for me.  I can't tell you enough how much I appreciate your strong emotional and financial support of the Nashville Predators.  You are a big part of the team's on-ice success.  On behalf of the entire franchise, I thank you.
Ten years ago, I couldn't call myself a hockey expert.  Today, my family and I are as passionate and competitive about the game as the most hardcore fans.
When the franchise began, I said we would run it as a business in order to be successful.  We developed a game plan both on and off the ice.  We became an integral part of the community, especially downtown Nashville.  We made sure we had some fun.  And, we indicated that making a huge profit was not a top priority – but we certainly didn't make plans to lose a significant amount either.
As part of those plans we developed a loyal fan base – every team should be fortunate enough to have a Cell Block 303 and the loudest arena in the league.  We built a team that the community could be proud of on and off the ice.  We grew our hockey skills exactly as general manager David Poile outlined, using the draft as a foundation and then supplementing at the appropriate times with trades and free agents.  We gave back to the community – well over $2 million in grants and in-kind donations through the Nashville Predators Foundation.  We created an entertaining in-arena atmosphere for every game night.  And, we did it all while keeping our ticket prices near th e bottom of the league.
Unfortunately, the success on the ice has not translated to success for me as business owner.
Here are just a few facts as to why:
- The Nashville Predators tallied up 216 points in the last two seasons, fifth most in the NHL, yet because of below-average attendance, the team will still have a real cash loss of $27 million during that time.  Additionally, that loss is despite receiving the most money in the league from revenue sharing.  Over the last five years, the team has lost over $60 million.
We've invested heavily in sales and marketing efforts, spending over $50 million in 10 years, most of that with locally-based businesses.
- Our average regular season attendance this past season was 13,589, up from the year before, but still 2,000 below the NHL average.  A low turnout, combined with a low ticket price results in a poor financial situation.
The new NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement with revenue sharing is not a cure-all.  Each local market must still support its local team. In addition, this attendance does not qualify us for our full revenue sharing allocation under the collective bargaining agreement.
- While individual fan support has always been strong, we've worked aggressively to increase our local business support since Season Four.  We've tried a variety of approaches with minimal success.  Our records show today that corporate support for the Nashville Predators makes up about 35% of our season ticket base.  The average in other markets is around 60%. During our first two years, approximately 4,000 businesses owned season tickets. Today, only 1,800 businesses have season tickets.
While my heart and my love of the game tell me we can still be successful, the facts outlined above suggest otherwise.  I've reached the only possible conclusion and it's one of the most difficult decisions of my personal and professional life.
Later today, I am announcing an agreement to sell the Nashville Predators franchise and Powers Management to Jim Balsillie.  We plan for the sale to be final in early July after a short period of due diligence and approval from the NHL Board of Governors.
I've carried the franchise as far as it can go from a business standpoint.  It has been well-reported that we have attempted to attract local ownership since 2002.  The truth is, we had only one serious inquiry in that time from someone who was interested in a small minority share of the team.  Jim Balsillie is interested in full ownership.
It's time to give someone else a chance to take the Nashville Predators to the next level in terms of local business support.  Last week's announcement that the Sommet Group has signed on as a naming rights partner for the arena is a strong first step in the right direction.  The new energy and leadership of Jim Balsillie will be another.
Jim Balsillie is co-CEO of Research in Motion, the company which developed the Blackberry device.  He is an avid hockey fan who still plays recreationally. I know he is dedicated to putting a great team on the ice.
The past 10 years have laid a foundation, but there's still much to be done to both build corporate support and to win a Stanley Cup.  I know Jim shares my passion for the game and my commitment to a strong franchise to pursue the greatest trophy in sports.
Despite the financial challenges we faced, owning this franchise has been the thrill of a lifetime.  I've made many friendships here in Nashville.  It's been an exciting 10 years, and as I move on from the ranks of team ownership, I'll always remain a fan.

Craig L. Leipold


WTF, over ?

with all the ducks v. wings action and with the sens beating the slugs in 5, there is really fuckall news about the other stuff going on in the NHL... but really ? most of it is like "oh, big shocker, the caps have signed backstrom," or "how can the avs WANT leopold for another two ????" so you learn to not really pay attention, so much...

well it's a good thing i've got a mole in nashville.

i found this little note in my inbox today, and i truly do not have a clue what to make of it:

"So - was just curious as to your thoughts on our latest news. Heard this evening that Leipold sold the Preds to BlackBerry owner Jim Balsillie. They said the team would be in Nashville for at least next season but no promises after that. That's not what I want to hear. I'm sure we'll hear more over the next few days...but we were a bit surprised after all of Leipold's statements of reassurance that the team would stay here. Weak."

HUNH ???

how is it that i watch sports channels and read hockey news and blogs all the time and was totally unaware of this ??!?!

is ol'jimmy gonna try to move the worst jerseys in the league to KW ? maybe to the hammer ? or (OMG) WINNIPEG ??? or is it reasonable to think that my roommates cousin (rich peverley, if anyone is paying attention) might spend the remainder of his career in nashville ???

thoughts ??

Sunday, May 20, 2007

in case you missed it....

ray emery: half goaltender, half zoolander...
(how can you NOT love this guy ??)

Saturday, May 19, 2007

silence on the airwaves


(anybody out there ??)

it's been awfully quiet on the blogger front these days, i notice that nobody is really writing much of anything [myself included]. buuuuut, things are chugging away as they should. the sens took the slugs in five, as expected by most [myself included]. i popped down to flames central today to watch the 3rd/OT periods & got the grand tour from my sidekick who helped build the joint. it's pretty sweet, i'll be honest, though you pay for all that sugar... i mean, who needs to pay seven bucks for a pint of canadian ? the upper decks are pretty rad, though, and if i had 4K to throw around, i'd definitely book a room for some random flames game par-tay...

everyone will be glad to know that my boy loob is well represented in the VIP area, along with various other selected flames superstars (mikey V, gilmour, lanny, lombo), though they did spell brad mccrimmon's name wrong.

the end.

Monday, May 14, 2007

triple gold club

for some reason i have a pretty keen interest in guys who can rack up the hardware, and i found it interesting that scott niedermayer and joe sakic are the only canadian hockey players to have a stanley cup, olympic gold, world championship gold, world cup gold, and world junior gold. the first three listed are generally considered the elite three, and are known as the triple gold club. not surprisingly, there are only 18 members...

(but, you'll notice, one of my faves is listed at #2).

i would think eric staal is the next likeliest canadian candidate, as he'll probably be playing for gold in vancouver 2010 and has already won the other two.

no pointo.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

in sutter we trust ?

word is coming out that sutter may look to deal our boy lombardi this summer while the gettin's good. sure it's just the calgary sun, but it wouldn't surprise me, just as it wouldn't surprise me to see playfair in his bad suits behind the bench next year.

although i once accepted anything sutter did, as part of a "master plan," it seems to me that this plan might be fatally flawed. sutter seems to want to build a team like the 03/04 flames: a bunch of gritty forwards that have both skill and size --but if you look at the remaining teams gunning for the cup, they all have at least one very skilled 'finesse' line. i'm not sure i feel like tanguay/conroy/iginla is anywhere near as good as heatley/spezza/alfredsson or zetterberg/datsyuk/holmstrom.

the more i think about the way the flames have treated lombardi, the more i think about the way the sens treated spezza in his first few years. jacques martin was not a spezza fan, the same way playfair doesn't seem so keen on lombardi. when bryan murray came into ottawa, he showed some tough love for the young centre --often riding him about his backchecking (or lack thereof) but still applauding his speed and stickwork. we all know that spezza has flourished under murray, was given first line status and has improved in his defensive play along the way. i just hope lombardi is given a similar opportunity to improve, instead of getting dealt for another gritty 3rd liner that we just don't need.

speed and skill is the way of the new NHL. so let's keep our speedy, skilly guys....

Saturday, May 12, 2007

where the hell is arto tukio ??

when i first started playing NHL07, i always chose to play the flames --i liked the way you knew where your guys were gonna be (ie: streaking up the wing), so you could pass blindly. but chris simon and darren mccarty were too slow and annoying so i tried out some other teams. vancouver was alright, mostly cause matt cooke had some good moves, but i found that the frolunda indians of the swedish elite league were the most fun; my boy henrik lundqvist backed a group of really active finns like koivisto, esbjörs, kallio, niemi and (of course) arto tukio with his killer pokecheck.

sure, you can't base your opinions on how good a country's players are on how engaging they can be in a video game, but i'll tell you what --they don't call 'em "pesky finns" for nothing. they are, historically, a nation of skill players (jari kurri, teemu selanne) but have a current wealth of young goaltenders (kiprusoff, lehtonen, toivonen, norrenna, noronen, niittymaki, toskala, markkanen, rask). overall, however, i'd say that the finns are known for their uncanny ability to agitate the opposition; most notable in this capacity are jarkko ruutu and ville niemenen, who have enough skill, speed, and size to get around most defensemen, and to get under anyone's skin. that, and the fact that they can put more vowels in a name than any other nation (read: niinimaa).

the team that finland will ice v. canada in the world hockey championship finals are a talented squad, with a nice mix of NHLers and players from the scandy leagues. in the end,i think the four working canadian forward lines will be too much for guys like aki berg, but if it goes to shootout, watchout for my boy petteri nummelin.... this looks to be a solid match. i just wish tukio was playing...

Friday, May 11, 2007

maggie the monkey

maggie the monkey out-guessed roenick in the quarterfinals, which makes me pleased as punch.

maggie the monkey also out-guessed yours truly, but it's because i have been selecting winners based on personal affection, and i'm realizing that doesn't make me look too smart (how the hell did i take vancouver over anaheim ???). this is also the reason i did terribly in both my hockey pools this year (HUSELIUS ??? in a PLAYOFF POOL ??? what was i THINKING ?!?!?!).

this time there's no love. i'm going for the straight goods.

i'm taking detroit in 6. partly cause they beat the flames in 6 and the sharks in 6, but mostly because i think they have the best coaching of the remaining teams. i worry a bit about hasek ("worry" is a misnomer, cause i would prefer them to lose: teemu needs a cup), but the rest of the team is sound and healthy ---schneider aside--- and appear to just be ramping it up... everybody's talking about nieds and pronger and how they're gonna play some good shut-down hockey, but the detroit coaching staff seems to find a way around every system that's thrown at them. these guys appear to be watching tape.
[this, btw, is the job i want. i wanna be a tape-watcher. please, please, please if someone knows how the hell a person becomes a tape-watcher, let me know !!!].

this one looks to be a no-brainer: miller is overrated and briere is having some confidence issues. the slugs jersey is so ugly that the hockey gods can't possibly allow anyone wearing it to hoist the cup. oh, and ottawa is the best looking team in the nhl (i picked my 2003 playoff pool team based on player looks and won 600 bucks). you can take these scientific theories to the bank. sens in 5.

to numb the pain of the idea that alfredsson might win a cup, i will imagine him wiping the champagne from his eyes while cabbie asks "so, now that you've won the cup, will you retire or go back another season to try to score 50 goals ?"

i must say that ray emery is my new favorite character in the NHL and needs to win so he can design his cup ring with "extra bling."

beware the scandies...

it's no secret that i love scandinavian hockey players [well, i call 'em all scandies but technically finland isn't part of that group.... did you know ??]. i keep yapping about why detroit might pull this off with 7 swedes on their active roster... but in the WHC, both the swedes and finns are into the semis, as they thrive out on the big ice and are so fast and skilled and fun to watch....

if you've ever played nhl07 and pitted a swedish club team like frolunda vs. an NHL team, you'll know that there are players (ronnie sundin, for example, no relation to mats) who are outstanding and completely anonymous to the average north american hockey fan. the 07 WHC team is the same -- the roster is full of guys you've never heard of that are hella skilled, to be sure... they are used to the larger ice surface, international rules and, quite frankly, they are used to each other. end of story...

take jorgen jonssen... this guy has played almost three hundred games in the tre kronor blue and gold, he's been to FOUR olympics (winning two gold medals), TEN world championships (winning two gold medals), and the swedish elite league finals EIGHT TIMES in the past TEN YEARS (winning the top prize FOUR TIMES for the håkan loob GM-ed färjestadsBK). dude knows how to win.

note: mats naslund is listed as "team leader," whatever that means...

i'll leave finland for another day, if we end up seeing them in the finals. i have some stuff to say about them, as well (namely "excuse me, finland. where the hell is arto tukio ??").


Tuesday, May 8, 2007

interesting developments...

i was doing a little light reading last night and came across this article. it starts out by blandly describing how there will be some NHL exhibition games in europe next year (*yawn*... the maple leafs did a mini-tour of sweden and finland in 2003 exhibition play) and finishes with this little gem:

"Some believe this is the first step in what would be a long process that could lead to having European teams one day compete for the Stanley Cup. Last month, [IIHF President Rene] Fasel proposed a Champions League format that would pit the top club teams in Europe against each other in a tournament similar to soccer's Champions League."

hunh ??? .....uhhhhh..... SORRY ?????

having watched intra-league play in both the swedish eliteserien and the czech extraliga in 2004, i can safely say it's exciting hockey. and, honestly, i actually really like the idea of a season-long international champions-league-type elimination tournament in hockey (like... i REALLY like it), but c'mon... not for the stanley cup.


Monday, May 7, 2007

the centennial !!!

congratulations to me, it's my 100th post !!!

sure, 99 was a bit of a copout, admittedly, but i met a dude yesterday that had this very distinctive tattoo ---it says 100B (his other hand says UCKS) which is partly why it's applicable here.
the other reason ?

AS IF it doesn't look like it says "LOOB" :



yay GRETZKY !!!

why i hate playfair: the proof


matthew lombardi playing on a 4th line with dud players (06/07 flames): useless.
matthew lombardi playing on a 1st line with good players (07 WHC): hot. [edit: hat-trick]

bottom line: playfair was mis-using (read: benching) a player who should be one of the team's best.

solution: if playfair stays on, we should trade lombardi to the desert dogs so he can be used properly by playing with a good winger.
[if this actually happens, i'll be devastated].

Sunday, May 6, 2007

pet peeves: the hockey commentator

it drives me crazy when the commentators call the wrong man (ie: harry cole referring to simon gagné as "jarome iginla" numerous times in the 06 olympics), but obviously this happens all the time and is totally forgiveable over the course of two-thousand-some-odd NHL & international games per year.

what is completely unforgiveable is the commentators referring to the czech republic as "czechoslovakia." it happened at least twice during today's matchup v. canada in the WHC, and made me irate both times. i don't care how busy, dazed or unfocussed you are about what you're yammering on about, 14 years after its' "peaceful split", if you can't figure it out, you should get a new fucking job. you never hear these chumps slip up with other former-communist countries ---nobody ever says, "ovechkin with a huge goal for the soviet union" or "italy needs a win over east germany to advance." but the numbskulls just can't put together that there are two distinct and seperate countries (maybe they should visit ??).

that's my rant.

it was nice to see roman "the chickmagnet" cechmanek is still annoying as ever.


Friday, May 4, 2007

national anthems

can someone please explain to me why they played both the canadian and american national anthems tonight at the HSBC centre, before a game between two american teams (the rangers & slugs) ?

is this common practice, during playoffs, and i was just completely unaware ? is this a new thing ? was this an error ?

patiently awaiting response,

Thursday, May 3, 2007


something i've thought of, historically, many times (mostly when i'm really really really bored) is what would happen to hockey if canada seperated. y'know... like if we had to split team canada up into "team quebec" and "team canada," who would win. this whole shane doan fiasco has brought it up again in my mind, and i've taken a bit (emphasis on BIT) of time to puzz it out.

if you go by proper position (LW/C/RW), i think "team canada" looks slightly more skilled, though we're lacking in LWers. clearly, if this were a real tournament situation, you'd get guys like lecavalier playing the wing, instead of his listed position (C). in the D position, we have a wealth of riches.... but still, if you factor in the goalies, we're pretty much screwed... clearly the best 'tenders are grown in québec...
team quebec in italics

1. brodeur 2.luongo 3. giguere
1. turco 2.emery 3. cam ward (roloson ??)

begin/PM bouchard/bernier

smyth/staal (you pick)/doan
sullivan (again, we're short on LW)/richards/iggy

MA bergeron/ME vlasic


feel free to comment. i just kinda did this all superfast, and came up with the best shit i could before bedtime....

Wednesday, May 2, 2007


kyle is ignoring me about a meetup. maybe he's shy. or in AA. or just likes to ignore me...
MG sounds game, but waiting for kyle to pony up.
the rest of the fiveholers are also more than welcome. so is william, even though he appears to not really like hockey as much as he said he did...

SO: this week's beer options are:

thursday 7pm: nucks/ducks or
friday: 5pm rangers/slugs

otherwise, it's on to next week for me. :)


not only do i think jonathan toews is a shoo-in to win the calder next year, i think that if he keeps playing the way he is, he might actually win it this year.

phaneuf needs to remember that it's roloson, and not kiprusoff, backing him up --meaning he needs to engage a lot more infront of the net, instead of letting guys like satan or demitra shoot freely.

lombardi likes the tricky play. too bad that even when he plays with nash and doan, the tricky play is not always the best play.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

conspiracy theories

in march 2004, the toronto maple leafs then-rookie GM, john ferguson junior, traded two prospects (jarkko immonen, maxim kondratiev) and two draft picks (which came to be lauri korpikoski & michael sauer) to have brian leetch lace up his skates in the blue and white for 20-or-so games. while all my toronto hockey buddies [leafs fans, mostly] thought this was one of the best trades ever, i saw it for what it was ---far too dear a price to pay for a player that would simply not be the guy to end toronto's 40 year cup drought.

this was also the trade that saw my east-coast allegiences jump from the leafs to the rangers... and my dislike for JFJ increase thousandfold. sure, kondratiev isn't really that great (heading back to russia this season after a stint in the AHL), and leetch did have a few decent games at the ACC, but immonen and korpikoski are both top ten rangers prospects (immonen slotting in at #3, just behind al montoya and marc staal). the bottom line: JFJ traded a good chunk of the leafs futures for an unrealistic shot at the third round of the playoffs.

this is my take.

since then, i still think JFJ has made some questionable moves, the biggest being the really expensive, really long deal with bryan mccabe that includes a no-movement clause. i'm having a hard time tracking down which (if any) other current leafs have a no-trade clause but i believe there to be at least one or two more (kubina ? kaberle ?). his lengthy contracts above market value on numerous players make them impossible to move, regardless of legalities (kubina, again, and hal fucking gill, for example).

somebody said to me a couple of days ago "do you think the reason he's making the team so un-changeable is so that no other GM will want to come in and take it over, thereby solidifying his own job ?" sure, it's a stretch, but then the sundin hip saga started today, and one has to wonder ---who better to "sabotage" sundin's contract negotiations than the weasel at the top ?

just a theory... ;)

MG, kyle ---beers thursday ?