Sunday, February 28, 2010

olympic notes: review

well, i gotta say thanks to my blogmates for TRULY picking up the slack and writing a whole helluva lot while i was (mostly) off the grid in vancouver.... very *ahem* surprising, and enormously well done... i'm incredibly proud of you dudes and your insistance on capital letters... ;)

with two days til the flames suit up again, i've got juuuuust enough time to do a superfast olympic review. i'm gonna do it in reverse cause it'll be easier... feel free to skip over parts that don't interest you.

closing ceremonies
according to duthie and laflamme, the theme of the closing ceremonies was "canadian humour," which pretty much explains right off why nickelback, simple plan, and hedley all shared a stage, or why avril lavigne sang motionless in stilettos.... the show started where it left off in the opening ceremony, with the final ice crystal in the fortress of solitude cauldron being "pulled" out of the floor by a mime ("see ?" says my buddy SV texted me from the rafters in bc place, "it was a chicken ! no one is to blame, and it's also hilarious.")... too bad the comedians featured (shatner, o'hara) weren't funny, and the projectionist missed his cue, thereby totally effing up the michael j fox lever gag.... on the other hand, the michael buble number (complete with rockette-style mountie girls, enormous inflatable beavers, and oldschool tablehockey players) was pretty solid. i like buble, and i like tongue-in-cheek over-the-top humour where canadians can make fun of themselves.....

gold medal hockey: canada v. USA
i gotta say: the states probably should've tried to net a couple more goals during the parts of the game where canada seemed to either get bored, not care much, or fall into the defensive shell. ultimately, this is where the game was tied up, and i was in no way convinced that we were gonna be the ones to score in OT. i will also freely admit that moments before crosby tallied the "golden goal," i was bitching about wasting him on a line with iggy.... ;) in a postgame interview with ryan rishaud, crosby was asked to describe the game winner, "i don't really remember. i just shot it from around here, i think it went fivehole." no doubt about it, the entire country went apeshit, and crosby is inarguably the face of hockey canada, and they sure couldn't be more ecstatic..... bob nicholson ruffled sid's hair in congratulations like a father, and jaques rogge rightly paused before placing the medal around his neck ---a moment for the crowd to applaud him....

the other little things that amused me about the gold medal game:
-whatever bobbylu said to pattykane in the post game handshake line
-whatever iggy said to crosby while skating towards the team photo setup
-dave hodge saying "well done to the losers of this game."
-commenter and friend, goad, texting "just playing scrabble. why, is there something going on ?" midway through the second period.
-eric staal joining the triple gold club
-a lot of people seeming to know the iggy holler, including sid the kid, as stated in this article (well worth the read):
"All of a sudden he was yelling, going for the net," said Iginla. "I was hoping I wasn't too late. He was screaming ... yelling 'Here Iggy Iggy Iggy ..."
-this license plate, seen around salmon arm enroute back to calgary:

quarterfinal: sweden v. slovakia
hockey is superfun when you don't really care who wins. i was pulling for foppa and the boys but wasn't overly disappointed when they lost. the game was actually pretty lame for a QF, and the most notable stuff came in the third when the slovaks were protecting their lead. one defensive tactic they employed was lining up all five skaters on the red line in hopes of 'trapping' the opposition. mikeH referred to this as the "red rover defense." the only other gamenote was that lundqvist was noticably pissed off the coach wasn't pulling him out with 1:45 left (and sweden down a goal). he would skate about ten feet out of the net and throw his arms up in disgust. i'm sure he was yelling "WHAT THE FUCK !!?!" but we certainly couldn't hear'im.... ;)

qualification playoff: canada v. germany
i still can't believe i went to this game.... it was so incredibly fun, it should have been illegal. mikeH did a pretty good summary below and i don't have a whole lot to add, aside from noting that while he was in the bathroom counting the number of provinces on the poster by the urinal, i was doing this:
most awesome olympian
jon montgomery is my new hero, pretty much. there's nothing like a redheaded herb tarlec jumpin' on a cafeteria tray and sliding at 150kph down an ice track in a full-body speedo. add to that the fact that he holds a jug of beer like a man, and chugs it like a pro.... oh, and he has the best description of skeleton ever.... of course, i think joannie rochette is truly amazing for accomplishing what she did under duress (mind you, jasey jay also overcame some serious adversity ---aka, the elements)... i went to university with bobsleigh gold medalist, heather moyse, and i KNOW she's a rad chick. she was my buddy's girlfriend back in the day, and she was always way cool. now she's way cooler cause she grooved out on the top of the podium with an olympic gold around her neck..... oh, and i guess the entire canadian womens' hockey team are in the running for getting their drink on at centre ice post-win.... tough call, but i'll go with montgomery FTW.

most awesome accident while i was in vancouver
the winner in this category will be the fact that i bought qualification playoff tickets and they turned out to feature canada.... running into jeremy roenick and craig button (not together) at GM place was kinda cool, and discovering the anza club on west 8th and ontario (a seriously amazing place to hang/drink during a game) were also incidents in the running for the title.... as was catching clara hughes and her bronze on the train.... really, it was no contest, though.

other final olympic notes:
-i was the official tripleJ drive show correspondant for the vancouver games. i didn't get accreditation, but i WAS offered an expired guest pass for their 2009 xmas party.
-i totally would've bought a dan boyle #22 tshirt but they didn't make any... my options were luongo, iginla, pronger, niedermayer, and crosby. go figure....
-i could have bid on a dan boyle #22 jersey in silent auction but that's so not my thing, and REALLY not my thing for $380.
-the czech republic and slovakia have been seperate countries for about 17 years but people still refer to them currently as czechoslovakia with absurd frequency.... this drives me mental.
-mikeH owes me money :P

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Canada-U.S. gold medal game: I'm excited

I'll try to keep this short, because my analysis isn't going to add much at this point. But I'm sufficiently jazzed for the gold medal game that I feel compelled to write anyway, so here I am, after enjoying the Finland-Slovakia bronze game. (Which, incidentally, is the best game I've seen Sex Panther play. Guess country means more to Olli than the Flaming C. Guess that makes sense.)

The thing I'm most excited about, honestly, is being excited. Hockey brings out every best emotion in me and, as usual, the Winter Olympics are pretty much the most enjoyable thing in sports, so having my country in the gold medal game of my favourite sport, in my favourite sporting event, couldn't be better. I do, absolutely, remember exactly where I was in 2002 for that win: Kamloops, fairly new to town, watching in a co-worker's basement. I remember Bob Cole's Jeooooo SAKIC! like it was yesterday, and not just because it's been replayed every day of these Olympics. I think I've been more excited about a hockey victory only four other times: The Flames' wins over the Oilers in '86, the Habs in '89, and the Canucks and Red Wings in '04. (The Sharks win just filled me with dread at the potential for forthcoming disappointment, which obviously turned out to be prescient.)

Over the past two weeks, I've really come to like this Canada team, but I've also liked watching pretty much every game in the tournament; International hockey at its highest level is so pure, so much about the game.

But it's been especially fun seeing so much of my personal elation at Canada's success reflected in so many people around me. It hasn't always been perfect, but it's been close, even when Canada's lost. Watching Finland and Slovakia just now, I found myself rooting for Slovakia because they'd never medalled, but happy for Finland because it meant so much to them, to win a bronze medal.

If that makes me a sucker, getting excited watching rich hockey guys get excited about winning, I'll be happy to be a sucker. If Canada loses tomorrow, I'll be happy for the Americans, just like I was when the U.S. won at the world juniors in January.

But if Canada wins? Well, I'll never forget where I was.

Let's have some fun.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Olympic Break Thoughts No. 3: Farewell, Sex Panther

Good riddance, Olli Jokinen. I'm sure you're a lovely person, but I liked nothing about your game but your occasional shootout prowess and goofy involvement in post-whistle scrums.

Here's how bad it was for me with you: A year ago, I started, then aborted, a list of my Top 10 and Bottom 10 Flames of all-time. (Perhaps one day I'll actually finish that list.) It's been modified, and let's just say, if it wasn't for a Cro-Magnon Man from Sudbury, you'd be No. 1.

Nothing else left to say, other than: Matthew Lombardi and a first-rounder for Ales Kotalik and Chris Higgins. Nice trade, Darryl.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Report from Vancouver, pt 4

These episodic titles are starting to remind me of Lethal Weapon and Die Hard.  With that in mind, WI and I are basically living the buddy picture (her aussie experience means she's Mel and I'm Danny Glover) and I think she would back me up with a little, "Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker."  Apologies to Duncan for interrupting his great stream of Olympic break posts with one of my own, but some seriously fun stuff is going on.  To start with, this is the "revised" the view of the cauldron:

I have been buying 50/50 tickets at all the games, because I don't think I've ever been luckier than the past few days.  Tuesday, we attended the Canada vs. Germany qualification match, and pretty much had the best time you could ever have at a hockey game.  The seats were spectacular, and if we haven't already beaten the point into the ground, our ticket angel rocks.  Every "Luuuuu..." was followed by a chorus of "Go Iggy" to cleanse the palette.  The beer was flowing and of course, we all know the outcome.  The Canadians sent the Germans home with a round of handshakes and "Good games", as you can see:

Post game, WI was lucky enough to be introduced to Jeremy Roenick while I was recycling some beer and embarrassing myself.  See, I was taking pictures in the bathroom, because I noticed something on the sponsor advertisement.  So, here is a picture of me with Jeremy Roenick:

The point is I'm an idiot. But still, if you count the provinces and territories on this poster, one of them is missing.  I'll let you figure it out, but for those who may be reading from Sackville, feel free to write your minister.  The even less interesting point in this photo is the duct tape covering the NewAd logos throughout the venue.

Yesterday, we holed up at the ANZA Club to watch the Canada vs. Russia game with a bunch of Calgarians, ex-Calgarians, one aussie, and one unfortunate Leafs fans. (Dan is awesome actually, but I needed an excuse to use the singular "fans").  We ordered in pizza, pounded some Coopers, and watched Canada beat up on Ovie and his boys.  I was kind of hoping for a "hot stick" celebration, but in its absence, I'll take the win.  WI loves Dan Boyle now more than ever, and Iggy wasn't really much of a factor.

After the Canada game, we made tracks down to Canada Hockey Place to attend the Sweden vs. Slovakia quarterfinal match.  Getting there early was a huge plus, as we got down close for the warm up.  I have a few photos to share, to start off with, its always the little things that make an experience worthwhile:
Nice touch, VANOC.  Later that night this was dubbed the, "inukpuck".  Love it.

WI digs swedes, and Foppa is her all time fave, so here you go:
I also was able to get in close on Zatta:
Not much to say about the game, both teams came out flat for the first half, then the Slovaks started to turn it on.  Halak looked solid, and a here's a little tip from watching Flames games... a 2 goal lead in the second is not enough to fall into the "shell".  At one point they actually lined up 5 across the blue line and practically linked arms.  As long as they stayed on the attack, they looked pretty effective.

We actually ran into Craig Button wandering the concourse between periods, WI was impressively restrained and all smiles in the pic I got with the two of them.  He appeared to be there with his daughter, so that probably helped keep the profanity in check.

The lineups for the skytrain were nuts, so we bailed out into a Yaletown bar for a beer just to get out of the rain and let things calm down.  Sometime after midnight, we headed into the station, and had one of the best random sightings of the whole trip (so far):
Clara Hughes was heading out with her husband and a couple of other friends.  We noticed her early on, but waited until the fan fest broke before I jumped in to take her photo.  She was really friendly and gracious to the passengers, showing off her medal and posing for people.  Someone asked her if she's retiring from competition, to which she responded, "I am soooo retired. Totally."  Still, what more is there for her to win?

Friday against the Slovaks, venue to be determined.  Can't wait.  And good luck to the Canadian Women's team in the final today, pound a few home for me.

Olympic Break Thoughts No. 2: The new players

By acquiring a six-pack of new players without long-term contracts or expensive commitments, my feeling is that Darryl Sutter is hedging a bit. This has, without question, been a troubling season from Jarome Iginla. He's Jarmoe'd it up quite a bit, and in alarming ways: He's getting beaten along the boards routinely, makes weak plays with the puck, and doesn't get shots from the danger zones nearly enough.

I'm not convinced yet that he's on the "downside" of his career, but on this Flames team, he lacks a complimentary, distracting talent. Last year, it was Mike Cammalleri, who Sutter apparently thought was not as useful as Olli Jokinen, but somehow managed 39 goals, a lot of them off plays where Iginla was getting all the attention. That's called taking advantage of your opportunities, and we all know how well our Flames have been at that in 2009-2010.

Cammo, who was in the Flames' grasp, could have been that guy. Instead, he's in Montreal, Olli Jokinen is in New York, and the Flames have Iginla and about 10 second- and third-liners to try to score with for the rest of the season.

Now, back to my hedge theory. Sutter has created wiggle room now that he (or, if we're lucky, some new management team) can work with in the off-season to bring in a forward who can actually be that second top-level threat. And in the meantime, he can use the rest of this season to assess the usefulness of each member of an extremely deep, if not extremely dangerous, forward group — then decide who to keep in the off-season.

Before we get to the new forwards, I'll start with Ian White. This is a player I've liked since junior, and as far as swapping talent-for-salary goes, the Phaneuf-for-White move is, frankly, phenomenal. I'll take him for four years at $3M per after this easily, and he'll be a talent and leader on the team for years. From what I could tell in Toronto he (along with Stajan) were the best character players on the team. White's like Andrew Ference with more talent and consistency, and that's a good thing. I also thing he has higher upside than he's already shown, and love that right-handed shot on the PP.

As for the forwards:

MATT STAJAN: In Toronto, Stajan faced the weight of Leafy expectations in a completely unfair manner. Based on draft position and forecasting, my take is he's already having a better career than his expected top-end of playing third-line centre. He's responsible all over the ice, and is on his way to a Daymond Langkow-type career, which is awfully good.

To my eye, he's been value for the Flames so far, figuring his way into some chemistry with Iginla relatively quickly, and scoring a very pretty skate-to-stick goal. Given his UFA status, there's low risk here, but a nice opportunity to sign a quality player ahead of other teams.

NIKLAS HAGMAN: To be honest, I don't get this player. He obviously has mad puck skills, but makes me mad with his stickhandling mishaps at the offensive blue line. Can't figure out the scoring streaks and slumps, either, for a guy who has as good a shot as Hagman does.

But, he's a bona fide 20-goal scorer, and can do it without top-level distribution — and the Flames need that. I'll take it, especially at his price tag.

ALES KOTALIK: Still can't figure this one out. They didn't need him on the power play with Giordano/White/Bouwmeester, and this can't have been a cancelling out of the expiring Jokinen contract. From all indications, in fact, it's a weird deal that allowed the Flames to acquire the seemingly in-decline services of ...

CHRIS HIGGINS: Kent did a nice job in this post of outlining the quality play of Higgins in a Flames jersey (not Flames "silks", a horrible replacement for "uniform" popularized by wordsmithing Herald sportswriters). Those numbers match what the naked eye saw, as well: He's been strong in both ends, and has complimented Kotalik and Daymond Langkow as a great group at producing chances, especially off the cycle.

JAMAL MAYERS: Like I said in an earlier post, he seems good on face-offs. He also appears to get along well with coaches and teammates. Here's hoping Brent realizes he's the 14th forward, and not the third-line centre.

Like I said, the one thing I do like about all these acquisitions is that the Flames are now awfully deep. I like the lines like this coming out of the break/when healthy:

(Conroy, Nystrom, Mayers, McG)

I liked Dawes's ability to play with Langkow earlier in the year, and think Backlund/Kotalik/Bourque could really overwhelm some teams given softer matchups. No reason why Boyd-Moss-Glencross shouldn't be an absolutely killer fourth line, and allow Brent to roll four easily. If Boyd or Conroy can't keep up, Nystrom's at the ready.


I get what they're trying to do splitting up Bouwmeester and Giordano, but I don't really like it. Coming out of the break, I'd rather see more minutes out of the top four.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Olympic Break Thoughts No. 1: On Phaneuf

My veritable blogging orgy continues thanks to the rare free time provided by the combination of a couple of flights — flights with on-demand movies I've already seen.

I actually decided to vacation to cut down on time spent in Toronto the past few weeks fending off "hey, Duncan, we sure fleeced you on that one!" taunts. I built my reply quickly:

1. Tell Leafs fan to enjoy his "quality play" while he's motivated
2. Do a pantomime of the patented Phaneuf manoeuvre where, rather than clearing the front of the net, he stands behind the goal line and weakly pokes his stick into the crease
3. Announce that I really like Ian White, which I do

Truth is, I also like Matt Stajan, and I think Niklas Hagman is a bit of an enigma who could be very useful. Jamal Mayers is barely worth talking about, but I hear he can win face-offs, which might be useful at some point this year. (More on my thoughts about the new guys, including Ales Kotalik and Chris Higgins, in a later post.)

I understand the questions about the value of the return, and whether the Flames could have received more in return. I haven't come around to deciding what I think on that one. I do think that, perhaps, this is the biggest "cap" deal in the era to date — the Flames needed to redistribute funds to the forward area, and they made the call to redistribute Dion.

As frustrating as Phaneuf has been the past three seasons, I've insisted they should hang onto him until just recently. The toolbox was just too valuable, and I know how mature I was at 23. But as much as I blame Darryl for a lot of things, I can't blame him for the decision to cut bait. Might it be difficult going through four head coaches and a bunch of assistants in such a short time early in your career? I'm not really sure. But I wouldn't expect regression from a player such as Phaneuf, and that's what's happened, steadily, since the Norris nomination.

So, in the end, I'd much rather have Bouwmeester at that salary than Phaneuf, despite the offensive dropoff — which, frankly, Mark Giordano and Ian White cancel out.

Also, Phaneuf does come across like a huge dick, and that does mean something. If the "Bouwmeester and Regehr hated him" rumours are true, it's not surprising. Of course, this could also mean he'll get along great with Ron Wilson, who's a great coach but a total asshole. That might be what Phaneuf needs, and my greatest fear is that Toronto suits the guy, and he becomes that "Scott Stevens with offence" threat everyone was expecting.

Toronto, as in the city, is certainly expecting it. They're still on Cloud 9 weeks after the fact at landing this player, who's immediately, without question, the biggest star here. It appears from his man date with Kessel at the Raptors game that he's getting along with the other big new star here, too.

I just wonder if they know what they're in for. Because Cloud 9, in my experience, doesn't last long in Toronto.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The view from Orlando: I'm really hoping I'm right about Mike Babcock

With massive jealousy of my blogmate's location and tickets held (read the posts before this one), I had to make do with sunshine, watermarks, and watching the Canada-Switzerland and Canada-U.S. men's hockey debacles while on vacation in Florida. There are worse fates. It was a little tough, especially during the Canada-U.S. game, to not be surrounded by a crowd that cared enough to yelp loudly at Canada goals, as I did. Apparently, not that many Canadians and/or hockey fans at my hotel.

Anyway, lots to be angry about going into tonight's game with Angela Merkel's troops, but here are my overarching thoughts so far/going ahead:

• The switch to Luongo had to be made. I was a Brodeur supporter going in, but dude is clearly way too distracted by the liberation of a non-trapezoid game, and not playing behind a Jacques Lemaire-style system. All of Switzerland's and the Americans' goals probably have been stopped by a butterfly goalie, of which Luongo is the absolute best. The Canadians' systems aren't at fault, because they're forcing outside shots. It's just, Brodeur isn't stopping them because his style isn't aces against deflections and screens. Plus, he's giving up the chances because he wants to be a defenceman.

• I'll say this, too: If Luongo doesn't play well against Germany, but Canada manages to advance, anyway, my next play would be Fleury, and I wouldn't hesitate.

• I really, really like Mike Babcock as a coach. He's great at in-game adjustments, at reading his team, at matchups … it's all good. I blame him for nothing to date, because I think he can expect that this group should all be good, and he's getting a read at who to play situationally. For instance: Never play Corey Perry again when the game's on the line, because he'll apparently loaf it in his own zone with an empty net and Ryan Kesler on his ass.

This is easy to say right now. Germany should be a gimme but, presuming Canada gets to the Russia game, he needs to outcoach every team going forward. Russia-Sweden-Gold Medal Game is an awfully difficult road, if that's indeed how it ends up.

• Duncan Keith and Drew Doughty are both fantastic, poised, and guys who I want on the ice in difficult moments. Pronger is done, and having both Niedermayer and Boyle on this team with him was a mistake. One experience guy is fine. I'm thinking they're regretting no Bouwmeester right now, who could have replaced any of the three. Similarly, Mike Green would be looking pretty good on the power play, and could have been protected as the No. 7, because Doughty is obviously good enough to play Top 6 in this environment. Imagine if they could have sent out Keith-Seabrook, Doughty-Niedermayer, Bouwmeester-Weber and Green? Better.

• Nash needs to have some finish, the puck-handling, power-forward exhibition is only any good if it's there.

• It isn't going to happen, but they should consider dropping Thornton to the 13th forward. Most of the Sharks' chemistry so far has been from Marleau and Heatley, and you can't tell me that Crosby or Toews wouldn't look amazing there right now.

• Finally: There IS finish on this team, and they're not going to outshoot teams by 20 for much longer without starting to see results. The tournament is wide open, that's for sure. But with Luongo in goal now, there's plenty of reason to be optimistic.

Plus, regardless, the hockey is bloody amazing.

Have fun at the game, WI.

Monday, February 22, 2010

report from vancouver pt3, technically

it's monday morning, 9:45am, and i'm well into my second cup of tea... i have to say that, even though the only food i've got going at this lovely place of residence are some grapes and trail mix, i commend myself for the foresight of bringing tea and powdered milk from calgary for the cruisy, lazy lie-ins... :)

i really have to say that i'm pretty much exhausted, at this point. i think i'm gonna need a vacation from the vacation upon my return, and i'll want to sleep for days..... and the reallly good stuff hasn't even started yet !!!! according to googlemaps, mikeH and i walked 5+ kms to gm place on saturday, and yesterday, my buddy Z and i walked about the same distance to the fairview pub on broadway for the game..... it turns out i didn't bring the right shoes for hiking. ;)

i also had a conversation, before leaving calgary, about what outerwear to bring and opted for a raincoat (unused, thusfar), a light spring jacket, and a heavy spring jacket. i realized yesterday that i should've brought my 1988 era sun-ice. bummer....

i don't really want to talk about canada's loss last night. a lot was made about brodeur's ineffectiveness and the sentiment was largely that bobbylou (or bob luongo to some) should get the start in the qualification playoff on tuesday.... i fully admit we're in a jam, here, cause that's a recipe for disaster, IMO. marty looked pretty rough but i think the hometown goalie's gonna get lit up... i guess it depends on who we end up facing.... not a pretty situation for babcock and stevieY...

the silver lining is, of course, that the tickets i have in-hand are for the 16:30 QP tomorrow (tuesday), which probably means it'll be the canada game. it also means that the sweet angel from heaven who sold them to me coulda got a LOT more dough.... oh, and it means the spectators in the vicinity are gonna hate me, my voice is going to fail, and my liver might not make it until wednesday.... the other silver lining is that canada got a shameful 5 points out of a total of 9 in the round robin and still could win a gold medal (albeit unlikely with their current level of play).

the OTHER silver lining is that, if canada doesn't take home a medal in men's ice hockey, jon montgomery is clearly the new face of the olympics (and i'm okay with that). the pub i was in for the US - CAN hockey game absolutely ERUPTED when they showed skeleton's gold medal winner sluggin' back a few sips from a jug of ale after his big win..... pure awesomenes... :)

today will probably be spent laying mostly low. i should try to figure out where i'm gonna stay wednesday night after the superlate quarterfinals game (starts at 9pm), wednesday, thursday, and friday. i'd also like to sort out where mikeH and i are gonna be for the gold medal game if we start heading eastward on saturday (to avoid the traffic). these things need to be sorted out...

oh, and none of my photos, currently, are worth posting. i need to learn how to use my camera. :)

Report from Vancouver, mikeH style

Apologies in advance for the quality of this post, since I only got a total of 4 hours sleep last night.  And even that was split up between 1:30-4:15am and 6:00am until my little nephews piled on.  Good times all round, so here's a recap:

Friday:  A sensational 12 hour drive with the best weather I have ever seen between the home of the Flames and 'nuckledom.  Picked up a pig of Crannog Ale on the way through Salmon Arm, some of the best organic beer I've ever had.  Try their Back Hand of God Stout if at all possible while you're in BC.

Saturday:  Okay, this was a full one.  Established WI in her place off Commercial, and walked (a long ways) into GM Place (a.k.a. Canada Hockey House).  There are people EVERYWHERE, and I've been in Van lots of times, but the weather has never been better.  Beers (Shaftesbury Cream Ale) at the Media Club (a.k.a.Rock 101 House), picked up our hockey tix underneath Dunsmuir from the best guy ever, beers (Crannog) and lunch at the Alibi Room (great beer list), grabbed a pair of CBCs at the Fluevog store, and rolled on over to Hitz Boutique at Cambie and Cordova (huge props to Joel for storing my shoes while I went to watch hockey).

About 4'ish, WI and I stopped off at Steamworks Brewing Co. for another beer (Nut Brown Ale) while we waited for my brother (we must have been losing our buzz).  Olympic tip #1:  If everyone in the line in front of you is a pair, tell them you have a party of 3.  My bro (adamH?) shows up, and immediately disappears to find his friend who came in to work German House.   Olympic tip #2:  Know someone on the inside.  His friend scored us passes to the German House beer garden, where $9 buys you a glass of German sunshine (Warsteiner) and access to a tent full of dudes.  Where are der frauleins you ask?  Damned if I know, but maybe they come out after dark.

AdamH and I had tickets to the Germany vs. Belarus game, so while WI went off on her own adventure to the Black Frog, and we headed over to the actual German House to get organized for the game.  These guys do it up, face paint, flags, sponsor swag, and the full colour scheme.  Check out my bro and his new best buddy Arnst mugging on the red carpet, and adamH modelling some of my free team Germany swag (head sock and cowbell):

The game was hopping, with tons of German fans, a few very vocal Belarusian supporters, and many more Canadians just grabbing a piece of the Olympic hockey experience.  Olympic tip #3:  DO NOT offer pastry filled with shit to our international guests.  One of those Canadians sitting in front of me came close to starting an international incident when she strung together the only two German words she knew, and asked her neighbours if they had tried the "sheisse strudel".  On the upside, the zambonis at the hockey arena ARE working (smug?):

My seats were within spitting distance of the CTV desk, but even with Kypreos and Bob McKenzie (whatever happened to Doug?) that close, I managed to check my rage and not do anything that would get me Tazed by the Vancouver fuzz.  The desk was pretty neat actually, everything rises out of the floor, and the stools all rise to the correct height for its respective talking (air)head.  Here's the angle:

Anyway, the game was generally pretty close, but ended up in favour of Belarus 5-3.  Needless to say, the Germans weren't that happy about coming out of their group 0-3, but they did play like garbage, Ehrhoff took a couple of dumb penalties, and generally Belarus looked to be the better team.  Often it seemed a little like watching AHL action, but with less physical play.  The sole Belarus NHLer, Sergei Kostitsyn played great, and number 71, Aleksei Kalyuzhny had an awesome game, with 2 goals, an assist, and a +3 on the night.  If he wasn't 32 years old, I would say he deserves to be scouted.  Somehow, even at 0-3, every team still has a (slim) chance at the podium, and even if that doesn't work out, at least everyone ended up friends:

Sunday:  With no sleep and a hangover, I still managed to pack in a little Olympic experience with a trip to the  lauded Olympic Cauldron/Fortress of Solitude/Prison Camp.  Its a zoo down there, and personally I think the thing looks kind of cheap (sorry, TOO smug?).  The chain link is kind of garish, but they've done some work down there, and if I hadn't forgot my camera, I'd have a photo for everyone.  I only caught the first period of the Canada vs. USA hockey game with WI and some of her buds (family obligations), so I'm going to have to leave the final review on that to her.  I must say though, its good to hear Peter Maher on the radio out here.

Two more hockey games and a medal ceremony left on the Olympic bill, so we'll keep you posted.

Go Canada!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

report from vancouver pt1

this isn't gonna be a LONG post, cause i don't have a whole lot to tell.... what i wanna write is that the olympics are INSANE and there are people EVERYWHERE..... some people wanna talk about dion, others wanna talk about iggy... some people wear iggy jerseys but don't respond to the "GO IGGY" call, so i don't like them much... ;)

i walked around alot today, i spent some time around gm place (aka: canada hockey place) waiting for goad to show up with tickets (massive thank yous, my friend) and i have to say, this city is insanity. i should also probably thank mikeH for driving me out here, and for patricia for giving me keys to her place while she's out of town.... seriously ? that's awful kind....

theo's got a book signing tomorrow that i'll probably miss and it sound like i'm going to ANZA house for the canada game.... also, i'm working wednesday pre-game at hitz boutique on cordova at cambie for a few hours for something to do... ;) come say hi if you're in town....


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Report from the farm, if the farm is Toronto's Ricoh Coliseum

I return to report my findings from the Family Day clash between the Toronto Marlies and your Abbotsford Heat.

First things first: Abbotsford was ably coached by Jimmy Playfair, who appeared to be aiming to put his Canaryshirt days behind him with a contemporary blue-shirt-with-striped-tie outfit. He's rocking the assistant-coach goatee, and is still rail thin.

Now, onto the players. Guys who stood out, for right or wrong reasons:


Mikael Backlund: Dangerous on about 75% of his shifts, and showed a great ability to anticipate the play and get himself in dangerous areas, Iginla-style. He still seems small to me, but was the best Heat player by a country mile.

Jason Jaffray: Consistent, hard-working … just unspectacular, which is the only reason he doesn't stick in the NHL. Still, a perfect call-up guy.

David Shantz: In texts after the game, WI asked if he was better than Backelhinney. I replied, "well, more controlled," which he was. While McE often seems unaware of his position in relation to the crease, Shantz was the opposite, and made a couple of nice reaction saves against admittedly second-level competition. The Marlies had Christian Hanson, Viktor Stalberg, and what appeared to be the Ajax Bantam Rep Squad filling out the roster.

Olivier Latendresse: I called him "not Guillaume" until Googling his name midway through the second period, but the Victoria Salmon Kings loaner had a nice pair of hands, displayed on a pair of goals.


Gord Baldwin: Seemed slow, lost puck battles along the boards, still needs tuning. In fairness, lack of anyone else of note on the blueline probably has him out of sorts, but that should be a big opportunity for him.

Staffan Kronwall: Man, he's tall. And he plays a lot. But with his experience, should probably dominate on the blue-line in games like this, and that didn't happen.

Between Periods Human Bowling: The perky coed who hosted the occasion admitted they "hadn't tired it before," and it showed, as the ice crew failed to stretch the bungee far enough to get mascot Duke the Dog and Competitor No. 2 to the pins. Competitor No. 1 was declared victor after slowly sliding into one pin. Apparently, the Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment folks' ineptitude reaches even these levels.

My Game Later in the Day on the Same Ice: Purely by coincidence, my Division C beer league game with my team, the Sharks, was played on the same ice later in the evening. We were handed the visitor dressing room, which had two showers and a 1990s-era TV on which we watched speed skating. Alas, the room didn't bring the Heat's winning feeling, as a late goal sunk our team and I missed an opportunity to tie it with a backhand over the crossbar with less than two minutes to go.

Should have asked Canaryshirt to stick around behind the bench.

an oilers tradition

oilers' goalie, nik khabibulin, becomes yet another in a long-standing tradition of oilers' players to get a DUI. this time in arizona whilst speeding in his ferrari.....

olympic notes: day 6

i've been a bad non-poster these last few days but i have a couple of decent excuses.

1. a really old friend of mine from australia is touring with a band called the hilltop hoods, who played calgary on saturday and banff on monday.... i don't know if i need to elaborate much but those guys definitely know how to throw a party.... ;) sleep has been at a premium these days, to be sure.

2. duncan went to the HEAT v. marlies game on monday and it REALLY sounded like he was gonna post something, so i felt like i was off the hook for a day or two... i guess it could still happen but the mini-notes he sent me by text were that backlund is "a man among boys," that oliver latendresse (a loan-out from victoria) was killing it, jason jaffray was (as always) way solid, and david shantz looked fairly impressive.... if you think about it, that's pretty much the whole of the baby flames team competing, and it sounds like keith aulie is out with a shoulder injury to boot.

and on to the olympics.

i watched the canada v. norwegia game last night and can sum it up as follows: norway has been practicing in vancouver as a complete team (minus bengt ake-tollefson who has yet to suit up) for almost a week, now, while canada had a 45 minute practice earlier in the week. i use this bit of knowledge to explain the game's first period, which was hardly dominated by the superior canadian squad.... by the second period, they'd settled in a bit, got the first goal behind a very strong pal grotnes, and the rest was history.

jarome iginla was in vintage form, which is a GREAT thing for canada (but a curious thing for flames fans).... mikeH queried, "when was the last time you saw iggy in the high slot on a PP ??" and i will go one further with, "when was the last time you saw iggy in front of the net, waiting for a tip-in ????" ... it seems today that everyone wants to talk about how the flames should get #12 some all-world calibre linemates but, having attended the red v. white game in august, i would say it's something altogether different (cause iggy struggled in that match on a line with crosby and nash). all i can chalk it up to is that either jarome is FINALLY healthy, or mike babcock is the best coach in the universe....

whilst surfing the vancouver2010 site, i came across the official player photos and found some to be rather *ahem* interesting.....

there is nobody in this world i love more than forsberg, and it made me really effin' excited to see him carry the torch in the opening ceremony.... (freddan, mickis & wallin should all shed a single tear). all i gotta say is that this pic looks like a mugshot, and foppa needs an updated haircut....

speaking of haircuts.... um.... zäta ----what were you THINKING, here ??!?

norweigan captain tommy jakobsen gets the haircut right.
norway 1, sweden 0

.....really ?? REALLY ???? i mean, could finland NOT find a current photo of miikka ? or was he really a teenager the last time he played in the suomi jersey ?

i'm told i have a doppleganger in vancouver, and that she made the jumbotron in the first intermission. i'm heading out west on friday with mikeH to check out the scene ---should be fun. i've got dibs on tickets to a couple of games (a qualification playoff and a quarterfinal --none of which will be canada) so that's cool, and i'm looking forward to catching up with a few friends in and around town.... i'll be sure to post some pix as things go forward, and (if you're handy) you can get my thoughts on things on australian radio station, tripleJ, as i've sortof become the unofficial olympic correspondent for the DRIVE show. apparently it's not gonna get me actual accreditation but they say i can have a laminate pass to their xmas party.... ;) i'd link you to it but i'm definitely not a radio personality, and i use my real name.

i guess that's it for now.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

update on backlund, by backlund

mikael backlund sheds some light on his future over on his blog:
It becomes AHL games for my part in the Olympic break. Tomorrow I fly to Toronto to join the team there. We play on Monday against the Toronto Marlies directly. In total there are 7 matches. Then we'll see what happens but as I understand it, I will fly back to Calgary on 28e February to play with again. We'll see it's not 100% but I hope it becomes so, and that I may finish the season up there and play in the NHL playoffs with Calgary.

I think it has gone well for me all the games with Calgary in the NHL. I was really nervous before the first match but then dropped it to the other and then have confidence and everything come more and more and I have dared more! I'm really happy with my 9 games up in the NHL so unfortunately, we have lost too many games but we won today against Anaheim, so we can take with us during the Olympics leave and then play even better in March, so we get to play in the playoffs since end of April!

Now I'll unpack the end and then sleep and tomorrow ...

it was nice to see the boys go out with a win last night, and it's nice to see iggy regain vintage form with a couple of sniper-type goals (hilarious commentary by kevin weekesm in suggesting that iginla doesn't miss those very often.... weekes obviously doesn't watch much iginla these days).... anyhow. happy heart day, people.

Friday, February 12, 2010

giddyup, olympics

it's sortof scary devastating that the olympics haven't even started yet and have claimed their first life. how awful to hear about the death of a georgian luger on the track today, and it seems to me that the very basics of safety (namely: padding the exposed STEEL girders) have been overlooked. a tragic tale, to be sure.... my deepest condolences to his friends and family, as well as the unfortunate onlookers who will forever have that moment engrained in their memories.....

wayne gretzky and bobby orr were both in attendance at the opening ceremonies' rehearsal, leading many to believe one (or both) will be lighting the cauldron. terry fox's mother's name has also been mentioned in this capacity. curiouser and curiouser.

as for the cauldron itself, apparently they wanted it to look like the ice fortress in superman II:

totally top secret leaked photo c/o

i guess that's pretty much all i've got for now. in flamesville, jamie lundmark has been placed on waivers, which means that two of bourque, moss & dawes will be available for saturday night's game. if backlund remains on the bench, one of the three will be inserted and the other will hang in the pressbox with mcG as a healthy scratch. in other david moss news, apparently mikehH overheard some chick talking about how she thought he was hot, largely based on the fact that his wife is a sweetheart. girls are funny. ;)

stevieY is rumoured to be headed to cowtown to see if ryan getzlaf is, infact, healthy enough to play in the upcoming international tourney.... kindof a mixed feeling for me, there. i hope he's awful against calgary but i hope he's healthy enough to stick it to the russians. :P

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

god bless versus

i can only hope there will be more clips to come, but darren mccarty made his versus debut in november and i finally caught a clip tonight... it's the first i've ever heard of any network hiring a guy with no front teeth to join their broadcast panel, and i have a total newfound respect for the american channel.... here's a clip of the cleaned-up former flame discussing the season of jonathan quick:

too awesome. according to my buddy lanny (yeah, that's his REAL name !!!), the former grinder was" witty and a pretty good talker. Could be a natural. And his comment "If I had Jamal Mayers on the ice I'd keep punching him too." Priceless!!!"

i miss pardy-laich-mccarty.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

a love letter to the st.louis blues

dear gateway city blues:

i just wanted to write you a really quick note to say thank you for beating the detroit redwings tonight, it was really helpful since my team didn't bother to get any points today....

i'm not gonna lie ---i was way happier with your score mid-way through the third but apparently you like to keep things interesting and let the badguys tie it all up before regulation's final buzzer. because i ate all of the delicious snacks at scottrade in section 170 that one time, tonight i was really pulling for that dude with the sad eyes and the pronger jersey who sat infront of me... i just know he jumped out of his chair when z'berg missed in the wings' final shootout attempt.

even though chris mason went into the game tonight with a GAA for the week over 11 (i've got him in my fantasy pool and MAN did he look bad last night), i knew he'd pull it together. not to mention that two of the guys on your team have the most fun names to yell really loud (future captain, tj OSHIE and d-man carrlooooooooo COLAIACOVO !!!) so i'm sure the fans were whoopin' it up at the end, there.

anyways, i sincerely appreciate the effort.... don't get any bright ideas, though. i see you in the rearview, there.... if you start winning too much, we're dead.


Monday, February 8, 2010

monday randoms: mostly swedes

i'm at work and i can't spend much time here so let's get straight to it. :)

- first off, i would like to send massive htp condolences to brian burke and his family for the loss of his youngest son, brendan. no other words to describe how utterly awful that situation is....

- nice MS paint job over at turning dion's red flames jersey into a blue leafs one... like, um... wow. way to take 30 seconds to do it up RIGHT.... the flames put some time into the "new jersey' project.... as for freddan, they just opted to use last year's rangers headshot... might as well, hey ? it's already blue. too bad the haircut's dated and he's 'the remnants of one black eye' short.. ;)

- niclas wallin heads west to shore up the D out in the bay city, waiving his no-trader to leave carolina for the first time in his nhl career. a big move for the big swede... he'll be missed by teammates and fans alike, and with boyle and pickles out of the san jose lineup, his big body presence™ will be necessary to keep the team afloat 'til june. i've had the good fortune to meet this dude once, and i gotta say: if the flames can't do it, the sharks are now my west coast pick. presuming, of course, that he remembers to shoot on the right net.

- you can't buy a ladies cut retro throwback flaming C jersey but you can sure buy this monstrosity on (of course, at $49.99 why would you WANT to ??!):

- who's up for a blogger meetup on thursday for the flames v. stars PPV ??? it was discussed last week during all the trade fun, but i'm all for it. i'll suggest flames central as a jumping-off point, but we can move northward or southward as people want in.... or i'll just end up watching the game with mikeH somewhere like i usually do.... ;)

- giorgasm. 'nuff said. ;)

- i generally have a lot of time on my hands and like to spend it trying to find interesting photos of interesting people on the ol'intergeek. i won't attempt to get sued for posting unauthorized pix here but i WILL link to something that i find truly and outrageously awesome. hey, it's out there in the world, unlocked and available for public consumption (though i'm sure it won't be for long).... ;) PLEASE note the name on the hat, and we can proceed with this nickname throughout his (hopefully lengthy) career.

-AWM bought a delorean.... how fucking cool is THAT ?!?!?!

i guess that's it for this week.
lemme know about the meetup. i know AWM is in... well, he would be if he could be... ;)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

team canada's lineup (as envisionned by stevie Y)

the lineup, as seen on the dry-erase board, as the players were being selected by stevieY, kevin lowe, ken holland, bob nicholson and whomever else was involved in decisionmaking:

e.staal - crosby - bergeron
nash - perry - getzlaf
marleau - thornton - heatley
morrow - toews - iginla

niedermayer - pronger
seabrook - keith
boyle - weber

my initial thought was that tipping your cards towards the russians/swedes/czechs/yanks is probably a bad idea. then i realized that there will be plenty of round robin games against lesser opponents where the russian/swedish/czech/american scouts will become fully aware of the combos.

my second thought is that i wouldn't be surprised to see mike richards draw in for iggy once the goin' gets tough. i guess we'll see but if iggy plays in vancouver the way iggy's playing' right now, he should probably take a seat.... tough, but true. it's comforting to know that stevieY and entourage appear to be aware that the nash - crosby - iginla unit was a trainwreck in the red v. white game....

monday randoms tomorrow at some point.
i'm actually gonna be working so that's novel. :)

Saturday, February 6, 2010

flames v. bolts: do it like a gio

htp friend and x92.9 radio personality, darren ollinger, told me the other day that there was a battle song he wished they'd play after a huge mark giordano goal, hit, or fight (jump to about 1:35 or 2:15):

it'd be rad. not sure how easy it would be for the PA dudes to get a good cut without profanity but i'm with ya, my man. do it like a gio for realz. we can only hope that the rest of the team bucks up and puts in their 110% like my boy #5. helluva timely goal last night.... and they say dion had a cannon. ;)

in saying that, there was a lot of good to take away from last night's game in sunrise florida but the quality of competition is only going to improve from there. like i said yesterday, it was a bit of a blessing (or, i'll offer it: daz with a good sense of timing) that the new-look flames got carolina, florida, tbay, then hottawa as a ramp-up to see how decent this 2010 version of the team actually is.

i thought higgins was crazy hard on the boards --as mikeH said to me: you can't move that guy off of the puck. kotalik and backlund, both with properly managed minutes, were effective. i still think glenX on the fourth line is a better idea (to exploit the opposition's lowest three) and that brent should reunite the killer Bs but no biggie. oh, and sarich ? somebody has to either remind that guy how to play hard, clean D or he needs to be reunited with adam pardy on the third pairing. topline competition is eating him alive.....

Friday, February 5, 2010

flames v. cats: can we do two ?

the flames played pretty well the other night against carolina but then again.... it was carolina. fortunately, the schedule has allowed the new-look flames to take on three mediocre teams before a real test of skill and chemistry; the surprisingly red-hot senators.

without going into any real detail, i met a couple of the players and a couple of the coaches during their sojurn in cowtown. interesting times.... there are some halfway funny moments that i'm not so big on posting on the internet, but if this proposed blogger meetup DOES happen on feb 11 (stars @ flames, 730 MST... flames central ??), maybe i'll share with you one of the proudest moment of my entire life. :P also ? i'm told that my gio is a superamazingly nice guy, so that's extra cool.....

the boys take on the florida panthers tonight and i'm trying to convince my parents to go cause they're on vacation and staying about 10 miles away. i doubt they will, though. they never seem to seize that opportunity the way i would (infact, if i'd done my homework earlier, i probably would've gone with 'em just to catch this tilt !!!). i know very little about what's going on, currently, in the citrus state but i do know that both teams we meet this weekend are in the same predicament as our beloved flames: fighting for the 8th and final playoff spot. i presume we'll see some desperate hockey....

in other flames news, mickis has finally updated his blog and it says some kindof interesting stuff about what's going on in the ever-changing life of a 20 year old brand new nhler. feel free to use the translator of your choice, i'm a fan of this one ---even though it gets stuck on some words. mickis describes the phoenix game as "...a very special match for me because I made my first NHL goal! It was an ugly feeling and I became first a bit shocked that it went in but then it was just pure joy and it gave us 1 point in the match because it was the 2-2 goal. " i'm guessing by "ugly" he means "sick" or something similarly slangy that means pure awesomeness... ;) he says the phaneuf trade "came as a shock" and that he "may still remain, which is good and now I'm playing again." i like the look of that kid.... he's sharp and will only get better.... ;)

i realize this is posted over at m&g but being that this is both the home of the rational flames discussion, and the home of all things mark giordano (all apologies to eric staal who very nearly gets his eye taken out by pitkanen's skate), i have to also put it up here:

fyi: the beginning of this clip has the play-by-play guys presumeably talking about dion and saying how brent thinks he's "as smart a player that he's ever coached." hahaha, well that's obviously not true but honestly --what's brent gonna say ? "dion phaneuf is exactly the meathead you guys think he is. " yeah. right. ;)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

kotalik a no-show at his first practice

kotalik was absent at practice this afternoon cause, well.... it sounds like his flight outta newark was cancelled. for all the conspiracy theorists out there, consider this: the only direct flight out of new york/newark this morning WAS, infact, cancelled. higgins would have, presumeably, been coming from either denver or cali (and could feasibly have arrived last night). if you wanna go crazy on the maths, kotalik's flight was due to depart at 745. there was an 850 to yyz and he could have then jumped a noon flight, which would have had him in calgary about 15 mins after practice started. ie: i'm sure he's here now. you can stop the wishful thinking that daz traded up...

at practice, there was an obvious white jersey missing from the langkow line. with higgins taking the right wing, it's pretty clear that kotalik would have slotted in on the left. the only thing leaving ME wonder if kotalik will ever suit up in a flaming C was the fact that higgins appears to be taking #21. with #12 clearly unavailable for the czech winger, i would have thought his seniority over higgins would give HIM olli's old number....

anyhow. here's the lines and my thoughts:

1. hagman - stajan - iginla (aka: the leafs line)
hagman's good. right now, he looks really, really, really good. stajan can pop the waterbottle, so that's also good. everything else was mediocre at best.

2. (presumeably kotalik) - langkow - higgins (aka: the rangers line)
hard to get a read on this with mcG and lundy taking turns on the left, here, but one thing is for sure: with their 2-day growth, langkow and higgins look like brothers. i'm keeping an open mind, here, partly because i thought higgins looked halfway decent (plus, langks is instant chemistry), and partly because i don't really seem to have a choice in the matter.

3. boyd - backlund - bourque (aka: the killer Bs)
to be totally honest, i think this line might be awesome... boyd and backlund have already proven they have a bit of chemistry, and if you sub in bourque for a struggling iginla it might just work. additionally, having two of the team's best PK guys on a line with their youngest forward is an insurance policy in the defensive zone.... could be interesting, to say the least.

4. glenX - mayers - nystrom
as far as fourth line goes, this one is a huge step up from anything else the flames have put together this year. mayers looks like an interesting mcG/prust cross who can take a faceoff and might actually score a goal or two. another thing is they're FAST. two more solid PK guys together make me think they might do well in their own zone, and mayers seems a forward move from freddan when we talk about goals.... curiouser and curiouser.

the REALLY good news is that we can try these combos out on a struggling canes team, and not have to put them to the test against an elite opponent.

other notes:

- i heart nystrom. higgins spent much of the warmup by himself, but nystrom gave him a sortof quasi half-hug midway thru practice and they had a few laughs. i like that those guys are buds. as we learned last night, there is a human element to this game and it's nice to see a newguy get welcomed into the fold....

- i heart noodles. mostly because he's got astroboy hair.

- the mood at practice seemed relatively light, though brent did have a good fifteen-or-so minute talk to his troops right off the top. glenX and kipper were laughing pretty hard at the end. ian white is more vocal than dion (and i thought dion was the loudest).

- backelhinney's stick has the hugest knob i've ever seen. he must use an entire roll of tape on that mofo. just sayin. check it out on the right:

here's a general pic where if you click to enlarge it you can pretty much see everyone. higgins in white.

in the light of day: trade talk

i, like all flames fans, am shocked by the sheer magnitude of trades daz has made in the past few days and i, like alot of flames fans, am totally put off by it. it's sortof disgusting... i'm actually dreading having a conversation with my pops ---a notorious darryl despiser-- about the kotalik deal. with time ticking away, and with "kotalik" & "higgins" presumably getting stitched onto red jerseys as we speak, it's hard to imagine them hitting YYC on a stopover.... welcome to the new-look flames. stay tuned to see which one of 'em gets to wear #21.

what fascinates me, through all of this, is that i'm not that upset by the loss of dion or jokinen (the "marquee" players). their play in the past year or two has been godawful at points, and mediocre at the best of times. not to mention that i'd been cryptically warned that the two guys were leaving town long before it was ever announced.... i guess i just imagined that the return would be more "superstar" than "project" in both deals.... the one thing i know is this: if darryl doesn't have some masterplan blueprint on wtf he's doing, there will be a massive front office overhaul come may.

a couple of notes:

- a message i wrote on my buddy ddb's facebook, on a thread where he and all his leaf fan friends were discussing the awesomeness that tonight's game against new jersey will be:

"it's funny the way eastern conference pundits are spinning it: you guys think you got a ferrari but you actually got a pinto.... a REALLLLY expensive pinto. i'm not suggesting that burkey/wilson won't play the xzibit part and pimp it out to eventually RUN like a ferrari, i just think that you should understand that CURRENTLY you own a pinto."

- kudos to daz (i guessss) for preaching accountability and meaning it... although, i thought when he said it at the end of last year that he was thinking along the lines of penalizing underperformers with extra time on the bench, not running them straight to the city limits.

- nowhere in sportsmanship or gentlemanly treatment of professional athletes would you ever see another GM force two all-but traded players to dress for a game. leaving andrew ference on the side of the road was one thing, inserting jokinen and prust into last night's matchup (when backlund and mcgrattan were available to play) is something altogether different, and i don't think the word "rude" quite covers the malice.... i don't care who leaked the information on the trade (cause i'm sure the excuse from the flames' camp will be "not our fault, and we gotta do the best thing for the team") the bottom line is that yesterday must have been an absolute nightmare for the two guys and their families.... brutal, brutal treatment of a couple of human beings that led in no short part to the complete breakdown of the chemistry on the ice. absolute PR disaster and in no way considering the fallout implications on the remaining players.

furthermore, and i said this after the ference debacle as well, i don't know why anyone would WANT to sign a deal in calgary when there's the potential of being treated in that utterly discourteous manner. there is absolutely no excuse, in my mind, for darryl to have done that to a couple of guys who showed up to play "for the logo on their chest" every night. prusty's exit interview was gracious. olli threw a little more emotion in there and the soundbyte "slap in the face" is honest in a situation where few people ever are...

hagman, stajan, white, and mayers must be wondering what kind of circus they just landed in.

practice at 2. come hang with me and mikeH.

Monday, February 1, 2010

on dion, re-post (aka: "accountability")

my thoughts from a month ago on phaneuf.
absolutely nothing has changed here aside from his jersey colour....

i would also like to point out, in case dion is the type to read the blogs (and i'm sure he's not.... insert joke here) that i do wish him all the best in the big smoke and i actually hope that he DOES improve his game there.... god knows it couldn't get much worse... i hope if there were problems in the lockerroom that he gets a fresh start, and that his teammates like him, the fans want him, and the media leaves him the eff alone.... ;)

as duncan said yesterday, "i’m worried that burke is the right guy to knock sense into him, but equally optimistic he ends up spending a LOT of time at jillys."

bob mackenzie considers that perhaps dion is only playing at about 70% of his potential and, in all likelihood, will improve.... as i said over at flamesnation, my biggest question is this: who in their right minds (as a fan, teammate, coach or GM) would be satisfied with a player coasting along at 70% ??? the cliché is, of course, 110% every night (unless you're markus naslund, then you cap out at 100%), but in my world i want a player that's doing everything he can to help the team win. if dion has been holding back +/- 30% of his potential for the past two or three seasons, then good effin' riddance. i think i'll like this new #3 better. if dion wants to give his "all" in the big smoke, then good for leaf fans....

lastly, i'd like to point out that brian burke made mention that dion was absolutely not up for grabs at the start of the year. being that his play didn't really change from last year, you gotta think that there WAS some kind of scuffle between him and the rest of the flames (either that or brent pointed out to daz that the kid was effin' terrible, OR dion asked for a trade). darryl's assertion that money is better spent around than invested in 4 or 5 guys seems way too reasonable for darryl to have come to on his own... ;)

more on the jokinen trade as it unfolds (which i'm convinced it will, with backlund still in calgary).