Friday, July 31, 2009

interesting, but only to a flames nerd like myself. :)

so i was at the sutterdome last night for a pre-teen rock show, and ran across this little number by the entry to the club seats:

obviously this is a composited shot of the flames' bench, not a photograph, which i found very compelling with it's bizarre mix of old and new.... jamie lundmark and brandon prust (in his old #29, not his new #33) seem like an odd pair of 4th liners to display on one end of the bench.... bertuzzi features prominently as the right hand man of our captain, but on iggy's left is mikael backlund. additionally intriguing is that dion phaneuf (franchise player and longtime flames' posterboy) is absent, replaced by john negrin (of all people). JOHN NEGRIN ??! like, for REAL ? the guy is a heartbeat out of junior and he gets a spot in the composite bench shot ??! that seems... well.... interesting...

but only to a total hockey geek like myself (and probably one or two of you guys as well).

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

rumours.... uh.... scare me

so i was talking to my roommate tonight about the primeau trade, and explaining how (from the sounds of it) anton stralman seems to be a very similar player to mark giordano. y'know; good outlet passer, well-positionned, smart etc.etc.etc.

even though i'm totally comforted by some stuff that kent and robert cleave said over on the boards at M&G (like "any player that is acquired in a trade where the primary piece going back is 1.4M Wayne Primeau probably isn’t going to make a big dent in the big league any time soon"), i still have to wonder if gio's days in a flaming C are numbered.

so anyways, i'm explaining to my roommate how i'm.... well.... concerned about gio's future, and he relays a story that he heard from some dudes who... welll.... MIGHT be in a position know something about things that would happen behind closed doors.... anyhow. i'm just trying to say that this is probably totally not true, but in my experience: rumours don't start from nothing (right, pronger ?)..... but i'm not one to really perpetuate them.... or to name names....

so i was told a tale whereby a certain underperforming/overpaid young blueliner got into a fistfight with a potential future olympic team captain in the dressing room because the latter was awfully angry about the former having *ahem* relations with my favorite player's ladyfriend....

capiche ?

my fear is, of course, that this story is true... if it IS, then the easiest way to diffuse that situation would be to ship my favorite guy out of town and hope that the other two guys (both franchise players) come to some amicable conclusion...

this rumour would also probably explain why hilary duff and mike comrie are the current undisputed nhl+hollywood supercouple, if you catch my drift....

it's late. i'm wide awake. sorry for the tabloid rag post....

on a lighter note, who else is looking forward to watching the brad may/ wayne primeau / colton orr line ? :)

Monday, July 27, 2009

bourque still on crutches ?!?

i guess when rene bourque came back to play in the playoffs after 2 or 3 months out with a high ankle sprain, he was nowhere near healthy.... either that or he's had more recent surgery, but here's the dude during a summer conference very clearly utilizing crutches to stand.


new socks, new jerseys.....

when darryl sutter signed my boy freddie sjöström a few weeks back on "free agent frenzy" day, i was simultaneously listening to the fan960 and perusing the comment thread over at matchsticks&gasoline. it went a little something like this:

Freddy Sjostrom!
by Colin S on Jul 1, 2009 5:50 PM PDT

Get ready to hear WI SQUEE!!
by Kent W. on Jul 1, 2009 5:50 PM PDT

this is totally me listening to the fan 960 and going “wait a sec…. uh……. i love sjöstrom !!!” uh, whoah….. um. i’m stunned….. uh……

if i squee'd, i would do it now.

instead, i’m gonna have to try to figure out how the hell long it’s gonna take for the flames to release the third jersey, cause i’m earmarking a #11 (?).

by walkinvisible on Jul 1, 2009 5:54 PM PDT

[and, later, the following realization, on my part:]

is it embarassing that i thought his jersey number was actually the slot he was drafted ? it’s not embarassing, right ? it just makes me a total loser, right ?

by walkinvisible on Jul 1, 2009 11:55 PM PDT

something i noticed a few days ago and have been meaning to discuss is the fact that, for some absolutely impossibly random reason, freddie sjöström WILL be donning the #11 next season. how the hell i came up with that for a guy who has historically worn #20 (NHL) and #21 (WHL) is kindof funny to me.... obviously those two numbers were unavailable on july 1st when sjöström signed (glencross/jokinen), but i still find it strange that in the first moments i found out he was a flame, i accurately announced his jersey number....

i AM looking forward to the third jersey, even if i have a feeling it's gonna kinda suck. a very knowledgeable insider has told me that it's crimson in colour, so i presume that to be true. if the organization wants to market the C of red (as they have been doing the past six-or-so months) and release a jersey that's any colour outside the red family (and let's be honest: we're talking orange or crimson here), they're out of their minds.

most of the other info (read: hearsay) around on the 3rd jersey is that there will be a wordmark on the front ("flames" i'm guessing) and it will probably be remarkably unremarkable because of it.... ;) let's hope it's as lucky as the gio jersey was last season.....

another uniform-related item that was brought to my attention today from my longlost blues fan buddy jason is that the horrific/godawful swoosh socks appear to be changing this season to the far more industry-standard horizontal band in tricolour. where am i getting this info from ? well from and interesting article over at icethetics, of course, based on recently released stills from nhl10 and nhl2k10.... hm. thanks for doing the hard detective work, icethetics guy.... gimme more info on the flames' 3rd jersey !!!!!!

and, finally ---for those of you unaware, the other newly allotted jersey numbers are :
#15: nigel dawes
#10: brian mcgrattan
#33: brandon prust (i honestly can't remember what he used to wear)
#4: jay bouwmeester (obviously)
#8: staffan kronwall
and, interestingly:
#7: adam pardy

while not an official announcement, i would definitely say that pardy taking the #7 jersey acknowledges that bertuzzi's time with the calgary flames is over for (at least) the forseeable future....

happy day.

Friday, July 24, 2009

prospect camp day 4&5: hilarity

the only facts coming out of my last two days at prospect camp are as follows:

1. kent is a pretty hilarious dude
2. jim playfair has a more ridiculous haircut than jamie mclennan.

these are indisputable, thank you very much, but the following items of note are entirely my opinion, substantiated only by my perception of what i watched on-ice over the past two afternoons.

- matt pelech looks awfully good. the problem being that i thought he looked awfully good last summer too, and then somehow he managed to look like a clown during training camp (most specifically in the oil country tournament last september). i would think he's pretty much where adam pardy was at this point a year ago, and seems poised to skate into a spot on the big club if/when there's an injured starter.... staffan kronvall, however, might have something to say about that....

- mitch wahl also looks awfully good. i wasn't counting, per se, but i'm guessing he netted well over 80% of his shots this afternoon. incredible potential on this guy, even if he is totally funny-looking.

- mikael backlund (get this !!) looks awfully good as well.... he absolutely KILLED the opposition in faceoff drills today, can skate very proficiently, has a good shot, and is dynamic as he approaches the crease. definite superstar potential.

- aaron marvin, while quite a few paces behind the above standouts, skated ahead and broke from the peleton today. it will be interesting to see how he develops.

- it was no surprise that grantham and jd watt were the first two guys to fall over (before the ice got choppy and started taking out superior players), and they both seemed to struggle with the skating drills (watt moreso, to be fair). i still think grantham has potential for growth, but i'm getting the feeling that watt may have hit his ceiling....

- once again, i'm impressed with the coaching style of ryan mcgill. from what i've seen in the past days, i think he's got the patience and understanding for teaching younger players....

- the guy behind me seemed to think that the sutterdome ice is better than any other ice. "it's different. smoother," he explained to his friends/family. i would suggest that the fact it's a pro rink, with pro icemakers/zamboni drivers etc. would make it better than your community rink, yes. but i'm guessing it's pretty much the same as every other pro rink with A/C. so, thanks for the update captain obvious. also ? you don't need to do play-by-play on drills. we can all see what the defensemen are doing, and we all know it's probably fairly challenging....

- the annoying dude i see every summer showed up today and literally sat directly behind kent and i for about 3 minutes; long enough to actually enjoy his inane commentary, but not long quite enough to drive me crazy.

- aulie's stick looks too short for him, and pelech's skates look too loose. no point really.

- irving's fivehole is still scary. joni ortio looks tired.

that's about all i've got. i don't "do" saturdays at prospect camp, so i guess i'm done for the year.... i look forward to seeing some of these kids line up with the big boys in september, and i presume that backlund, wahl, and pelech will be the first in line to help solve the flames' cap issues in the next couple of seasons.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

prospect camp day 3: quick notes

i woke up this morning at 9:08 and made it to the dome by 9:43... this all occurred partly because kent wanted to meet up, partly because i was excited to go, and partly because i drive fast. ;)

the sparsely attended morning power skating sessions were a yawn (last year they were done in the afternoon, so i'm pretty sure i just skipped 'em), but it was good to be there, nonetheless. it was much more entertaining after kent showed up, as the banter helped keep the attention off the fact that there was a lot of standing around being done on the ice....

noodles was out today, getting big ol' smiles and laughs out of leland irving at least, and we got our first look at the latest crop of draftees such as joni ortio (fast glove), tim erixon (nothing spesh, so far), and gaelen patterson (who ??!).

i kept a fairly keen eye on keith aulie and was altogether disappointed in his performance in the skating drills. he looked awfully average, slow and somehow clumsy with his enormous frame and massive head (i swear his helmet is bigger than everyone else's). he fared far better in the afternoon drills, so i'm still hopeful for his future development.....

i opted to not refer to my roster sheet during the afternoon session, and while i'd already pinpointed #56 (pelech), #60 (backlund), #61 (negrin), #54 (aulie), #51 (erixon), #74 (carpentier), #75 (armstrong) & each of the goalies (irving, keetley and ortio), i thought i'd allow the players to stand out on their own. the guy that kept impressing me was wearing #52, and i discovered later it was mitch wahl.... he has some good skating skills, decent positionning during drills, and has impressively soft hands....

other notes:

- ryan mcgill ran some drills with the defensemen, and i was impressed with his insistance that the boys get the drill RIGHT. at one point he made negrin re-start three or four times until it was clear what he (mcgill) wanted, and you could hear him repeating "go slower if you have to." bottom line: thusfar, i'm a fan.

- for some reason that is entirely unclear to me, john armstrong was singled out mid-way through the afternoon practice to do skating/puckhandling drills at centre ice on his own. he was getting feedback from some mystery coach who was sitting on the bench, but he set up a couple of pucks as pylons and was skating around them.... this went on for quite awhile. initially i thought he might still be injured, but the drills that the forwards were doing at the south end of the ice didn't seem overly physical... it's a bit of a headscratcher. maybe he was being punished for missing curfew or arriving late or something.

- backlund's hands are killer. from what i can see, his defensive game is still trouble.

- i still really like lance bouma. he's a DVDG in the making (and i still really like DVDG)...

that's about it for tonight. i'm skipping the a.m tomorrow but intend to head back down for 230. feel free to join me.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

just killin' time

today's the day the boys land in cowtown....

there's no posted schedule, at this point on the flames' site, but my knowledge from previous development camps tell me that the next day and a half are fitness testing, and a bunch of briefings on such off-ice subjects as media and finance. the monday is usually goalie practices with a couple of select skaters taking shots (and noodles taking shots in the verbal sense). the rest of the week is group A & B practices and skating drills where we'll get our first look at tim erixon, and a chance to see the progress made by such guys as backlund, negrin, aulie, and nemisz. kris chucko, now into his second pro contract, will not be attending (and thus exempt from the running for the fourth annual dreamcrusher award, that will be selected by me and announced right here sometime next week).

i plan to be in attendance on wednesday if anyone wants to come with/meet up.

check out this super rad pic i got this morning, from my buddy sjc, of the current state of the sutterdome ice:

Monday, July 13, 2009

2009 flames development (aka: prospect) camp

well, the stars have aligned and this year's 2009 prospect camp happens to fall in the week i'm NOT out of town, so that's an enormously strange turn of events.... ;)

apparently, according to the lady answering the phone over chez les flambés (the non-bitchy "i'm stuck in this office during stampede while everyone else is partying" one), the boys arrive on saturday july 18th and begin on-ice on july 20th.

see you'z there on the 21st or the 22nd.
i'll be the one with the most enormous mug of tea you've ever laid eyes on.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

good luck, boys !!!

i thought i'd share the little gift that my good pal and frequent commenter, mike h, got me on his recent trip to vegas.

20-1 odds to win the 09/10 stanley cup.

good thing he bought it about three days before we signed jaybouw.... i bet the odds decreased on july 1....

ps: don't try to cash it in, i've changed some stuff (and not very well, either)....

pps: you bought it 9 mins late, mike.

Friday, July 3, 2009

välkommen åter till calgary, freddie sjöström !!!!

to any long time reader of hitthepost, it will come as no surprise to hear that i'm a big fan of the swedes. my alltime favorite nhler is håkan loob, and i went through a decade-long era where i fawned something fierce over peter forsberg (note: this period is not quiiite over yet). with the latest nordic addition to my favorite team, i decided that i'd do an information and pictoral overview of a kid i've been following for the better part of his pro career. ;)

it's entirely because of this propensity towards scandinavian forwards that fredrik ("freddie") sjöström caught my eye while playing for the calgary hitmen between 2001 & 2003. in his sophomore year with the local major junior club, he produced 34 goals and 43 assists in 63 games and looked like a budding star... he remains the only vyable nhler to be drafted by the coyotes between 1998 (ossi väänänen) and 2004 (enver lisin), and was taken 11th overall in 2001.... like a lot of the late first round selections in his year (r.j. umberger, marcel goc, colby armstrong), sjöström became a decent utility guy, but never quite met the top-six potential he was thought to achieve with his promising whl numbers.

(so CUTE !!!! and so TINY !!!!)

after a few years in the ahl, sjöström was promoted to the bigs in the 03/04 season, where he spent some 4th line minutes on a basement team (which ended up with all of 22 wins). he spent the lockout in the ahl as a 21-year old, before returning to the coyotes for the next two and a half seasons. in 2008 he was traded to the new york rangers, where he continued to play low-end minutes (averaging about 12), got a few shots on goal/night, and ended up squarely in the minus column.

(still with the whl-era hair but putting on some bulk; yr 1 with the 'yotes, i think: 03/04)

(if i'm not mistaken, this would be 07/08; the year he got traded to NYR)

i think, at this point, that sjöström can be considered a poor man's jordan staal; he plays a physical, grinding game, has decent speed, and is useful on the pk. while i don't think he'll ever again be a top-six forward, he'll be a useful young (and cheap) veteran for consistant fourth-line duties. he notches the odd shorthanded goal, and takes far less penalties than most players near the bottom of the roster.... he's a good sutter-type guy who will take a hit to make a play, and ain't afraid to sacrifice the body.

(i'm quite certain this is last year: 08/09 in rangers' blue)

(taking some abuse to help his team to a 6-1 throttling of colorado in feb)

i'm not gonna pretend that i think sjöström's return to the dome will magically revert him into the player he was when he last donned the hometeam's jersey.... i WILL hope, however, that he can help the 09/10 flames by eating some 4th line minutes, contributing to special teams, and (with any luck) improving his career +/- statistics..... and if not ? hey, well at least darryl sutter's addressed the loss of matt lombardi and has finally provided the ladies with someone to look at....


Thursday, July 2, 2009

olympic team invitations announced

while it was surely a painstaking task for steve yzerman and his cronies to choose the top 5 canadian goaltenders, top 16 canadian defensemen, & top 25 canadian fowards, i certainly do not envy him the task of whittling that roster down to 3, 7, and 13 (give or take).

Martin Brodeur, New Jersey
Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh
Roberto Luongo, Vancouver
Steve Mason, Columbus
Cam Ward, Carolina

i think these are all good choices, and well-deserved. the absence of marty turco demonstrates that the powers-that-be all think his terrible 08/09 season was a career downturn and not sean avery-related. i can tell you this, though: i know i'd be pretty effin' pissed off today if i was chris osgood.... here i think brodeur will make the cut, luongo should (by all accounts) be the starter and i'll put my bucks on cam ward as the third.

Dan Boyle, San Jose
Brent Burns, Minnesota
Drew Doughty, Los Angeles
Mike Green, Washington
Dan Hamhuis, Nashville
Duncan Keith, Chicago
Dion Phaneuf, Calgary
Chris Pronger, Philadelphia
Robyn Regehr, Calgary
Shea Weber, Nashville

uh, whoah. a lot of serious talent on this list, and i really don't know how you eliminate 50% of these guys. i think it will be important to identify "types" of defensemen (offensive/stay-at-home/good two-way guys) and fill those roles for a major international competition like the olympics. i also think it will be important to identify who is hot and who is not, come xmastime.... i've also been a longtime proponent of the "keep lines together" theory, which means that, by quickly eyeballing the list above keith & seabrook, hamhuis & weber and any two of bouwmeester/regehr/phaneuf (most likely the former two) should make the final roster. after that, i suppose i'd like to see dan boyle or brent burns round out the lot, but i'm sure niedermayer and pronger will make the cut... le boo on elbows.

Jeff Carter, Philadelphia
Dan Cleary, Detroit
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh
Shane Doan, Phoenix
Simon Gagne, Philadelphia
Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim
Dany Heatley, Ottawa
Jarome Iginla, Calgary
Milan Lucic, Boston
Patrick Marleau, San Jose
Andy McDonald, St. Louis
Rick Nash, Columbus
Corey Perry, Anaheim
Mike Richards, Philadelphia
Derek Roy, Buffalo
Joe Sakic, Colorado
Patrick Sharp, Chicago
Ryan Smyth, Colorado
Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay
Eric Staal, Carolina
Jordan Staal, Pittsburgh
Joe Thornton, San Jose

this, my friends, is a fairly interesting cast of characters... it proves that yzerman is juuust about ready to take the team into the future, but that he's still got a lot of respect for the past. the inclusion of joe sakic really stands out to me because, even though there are already a hell of a lot of team captains and "good leaders," one of canada's former greats has not formerly retired and deserves acknowledgement.... will burnaby joe acutally make the squad ? i'd call that a longshot at best. at least, i hope he doesn't take a spot away from a player who's actually currently relevant.... (sorry, joe).

the other interesting thing i see here is naming milan lucic over his boston teammate marc savard. again, i think yzerman is identifying roles and role players, and it makes me a little excited for february's tournament.... the guys i think will make the cut without a doubt are: crosby, doan, heatley, iggy, nash, roy, st.louis, eric staal, toews. that's 9 of 13 right there. add to that a couple of successful role players in jordan staal and danny cleary and you're really only left with room to round out your left v. right wingers....

will it be a good team ? most definitely.
will it be good enough to beat the russians ? it'll be a hell of a good game....


Wednesday, July 1, 2009


okay so he's not that good, and i have no idea how much he costs, and we don't really need a grinding PK/4th line guy if we've got the likes of nystrom & dvdg (!!!), but the former calgary hitman/new york ranger is one of my favorite swedes in the league.

i'm on my way to the stamps game but i'll try to write more later.