Wednesday, March 25, 2009




Well, in what could have been The Sudbury Wolves last game of the year, they went out and played hockey. Good hockey. They were loose, they skated, they didn't force the puck, and they scored. The final score was 6-2.

The Sudbury newspapers will read that the Wolves stepped up their game, played for their lives with their lives on the line. The Belleville papers will read that Belleville didn't show up, phoned this one in, assumed the win before the puck was dropped.

Perhaps both are true, but it was a fun game to watch if you were cheering for the home side.

Matt Dais, in what could have been his last hockey game, made sure it wasn't by scoring four goals, including a natural hatrick in the first period.

This likely was the last home game for the Wolves this year. It would be a huge upset if they were to win the final two games of the series in Belleville, but of course, I hope they do.

And while they would never admit that it was their final home game of the '09 playoffs, they gave a nice salute to the fans at centre ice after the final buzzer, raising their sticks in thanks.

I'd seen teams like the Rangers do this on tv,



but it was touching to see it in real life, from a team I was cheering for. Thank you Sudbury Wolves.

But the real treat in watching these two games was being able to see PK Subban play live.






He truly is a madman, who is stacked with talent, and Sudbury fans had begun to catch onto this. There was a smattering of boos every time he touched the puck, something that wasn't heard in game 3. And Subban is hardly ever off the ice. He must be averaging over thirty minutes a night, and literally does not sit during powerplays, or penalty kills. He carries the puck like a forward, and pinches like the best of defensemen. I'm glad I got to see him up close.

The worst part of the night? The nearly 2000 empty seats in the arena.





I guess Sudburians gave up on this team a bit early. It was sad.


***



Marion Hossa says he will take less money to stay in Detroit, as long as the deal is fair for both sides.


Don't toy with me, Hossa. My heart can't take it right now.


If anyone can get this deal done, it's Mr. Holland. C'mon Kenny, I'm counting on you. Oh, while you're at it, can you please show Samuelsson the door? Thanks.

***

Favourite Player Stat of the Night - My new, instantaneous favourite player, Matt Dias: 4 G, Natural Hatrick, GW

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Damn you Cherry!, Minor league hockey

So, the most anticipated Coach's Corner in years came and went with only a few tears, and those were from Cherry himself.

I can't remember the last time I was excited to hear what Don The Dick was going to say, but I wasn't about to miss Saturday night's edition. After Ovechkin's 'hot stick' routine after scoring his 50th of the season, I was sure Cherry would have something to say that would boil my blood.

But...nothing, really. I mean, he did have that one dig at the beginning, "Ovechkin - Alex - is that his name?" - I'm sure you had no idea what his name was Donnie. But after that, he was almost magnanimous. "You're a class guy," said The Dick, more than once. "You don't need to do that."

Ok, you're right, Mr. Cherry, he doesn't need to do that. It was over the top, and no matter how much I enjoyed the theatrics, I hope it ends there, and Alex the Great returns to his glass pounding celebrations.

I mean, you must admit, Donald, that Ovie would never have warmed his hands on his hot stick (that's what she said) if you hadn't babbled some nonsense about him 'being a goof' in the first place.

In fact, something seemed wrong with Don the Dick this week. The tears I mentioned above were shed while naming the Canadian soldiers that had died recently in Afghanistan. While Cherry does this regularly, (and I have issues with it) I've never seen him get so emotional. Something personal was bothering him this week, and it seemed to make him a non-confrontational person.

So maybe that's it. The Ovechkin vs. Cherry feud is over. Much to my chagrin.

I can only hope Ovechkin keeps filling the net and pounding the glass, and that 'Hot Air' Cherry keeps saying things to piss me off. I don't know what to complain about otherwise.

***

I was fortunate to see an OHL playoff hockey game tonight. It had been about 17 years since the last one I had seen, and it stirred all kinds of emotions.

If you're lucky enough to live somewhere where you can see junior hockey, do yourself a favour, and go and see it. The small arena creates an atmousphere of familial familiarity, and I'd forgotten how much I loved that.

I used to be this fat little kid, that went to see every Sault Greyhounds game. I'd grab a big bag of chips, and an extra large coke, and at the end of the game, the chips would be gone, the coke would be empty, and my voice would be horse. I knew everyone that sat around me, and while most of them were adults, they accepted me as the fat little kid that adored these Greyhounds (my favourite player on that Soo team was Adam Foote, by the way).

And, in remembering these times, I remembered a whole time of my life that I had forgotten. I recalled feelings, and feelings I didn't feel then, and I missed being twelve.

It was a time of my life that I miss deeply. My world existed in the few blocks that surrounded my house, and no further. I loved girls, but they didn't love me. My best friend tried to beat me up on a regular basis, simply because somebody suggested he try (I easily outweighed him by twenty pounds, but I would never fight back). The summer, at dusk, smoking cigarettes stolen from my mother, with my group of friends will forever be one of my favourite memories.

There was pain, and sadness, and heartache, and I can still remember all of that hurt. But I'd return to that age in a second.

In the middle of those most formative of my years was the Greyhounds. My sweet mother, a single parent, provided me with season's tickets each year. I lived and died with those Greyhounds, and they never let me down. I'm sure there were bad years, years they didn't make the playoffs, but I don't remember them.

I do remember the Eric Lindros fiasco. Remember what he did to the Nordiques? That was old news to us Sooites, as he had done it to us a few years before. Which was fantastic, because it set up one of the finest rivalries I've ever been partial to.

Lindros ended up playing for the Oshawa Generals.

That year, Oshawa met the Greyhounds in the playoffs, and defeated them on their way to a Memorial Cup championship.

That only made us hate Lindros more.

The next year, we met them again. It was some of the most amazing hockey I've ever seen (in my overly-biased, memory-blurred mind).

In fact, the only thing I really remember from that series was Bob Boughner and Eric Lindros getting into a fight, and the end result of that fight being Lindros down on one knee with a bloody nose, and Boughner skating to the penalty box with his hands in the air, a decisive victory.

We won that fight, and the series. It was amazing.

The Greyhounds went on to the Memorial Cup, which we lost handedly.

The next year, we went back to the Memorial Cup, and lost again, though this time it was much closer.

That summer, I moved to Sudbury. For the following year, I had to stomach many hardships as a 14 year-old. I had to get used to a new city. I started highschool, without any friends. I had a step-father, two step-brothers and a step-sister to get used to. And that spring, the Soo hosted and won the Memorial Cup, and I had to watch it all on tv.

Talk about teenage angst.

I remembered all of those feelings tonight as I watched the Sudbury Wolves lose to the Belleville Bulls. It was a fun, close game, and it reminded me of why all hockey fans should go to junior hockey games.

Not because we owe it to those teams, or that support should come at all levels. If you don't like junior hockey, don't go. It's your money, and you get to decide how to spend it.

But, if you enjoy hockey at an intimate level, go support your local hockey at every chance you get. We were in the second row, and while we couldn't see what was happening in one corner of the ice, it was fun letting the crowd that could see that angle dictate how we should cheer at that moment.

There was a pregame tribute to Matt Dias, a player who's been with the Wolves for four years, and who is not going to the NHL. His career is all but done after these playoffs. It was touching, even in its brevity, and he received a standing ovation.

When you attend an NHL game, you cheer for your team, but it feels bigger than you. You know thousands or hundreds of thousands or more people are watching on tv. Even more will read about them in the paper. It's exciting, and it's fun, but it's beyond you.

When you watch a junior game, you become almost family with the other four thousand people in the arena, and the players become your own.

When I was twelve, these guys were heroes to me. Now that I'm 31, they still are.

Go Wolves Go!

***

Favourite player stat of the day: Well, he's not a favourite player of mine, but it was fun to see PK Subban live. During the juniors, he was exciting to watch, and he was no less tonight. So the stat? Well, I can't find any stats on tonight's game, but I believe, for a 60 minute game, he played about 74 minutes. Seriously. He was never off the ice. Even if he left, it was only brief, and he was right back on. AND HE WAS GOOD!!! Canadiens fans, you've got something to look forward to.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Ovie Warms His Hands on Cherry's Hot Air

Well, I guess I should post something about this after my previous post. If you haven't seen it, here's the goal and celebration.



Now, as I stated previously, I love Ovie's celebrations, and think Don Cherry is an idiot for saying that they are wrong.

But my first thought when I see this: It's too forced. Don't get me wrong - I like it, but it's not the same as the exuberance of him crashing into the glass, which seems a spur of the moment reaction to the excitement of scoring a goal.

This, though, this was premeditated. Admittedly. Apparently, Jose Theodore gave him the idea.

And, while it strikes me as slightly cocky to plan a celebration for a goal you haven't even scored yet, I still laughed. I like it. It's funny. And I don't see what's wrong with it. I prefer the spur of the moment jumping, but throw in one of these every once in awhile, and I'll laugh, and defend it to the death.

I don't believe it's taunting the other team. Like Greg Wyshynski stated on his blog, "If he wants to taunt, he'll taunt; mouthing off on the ice or skating past the opposing team's bench."

Well, maybe that's true, but I do believe there was some taunting going on here. No, not to The Tampa Bay Lightning, but to one Don 'The Dick' Cherry.

I truly doubt this 'hand warming' would have happened if Cherry had never opened his vile mouth in the first place.

No, I believe this celebration happened purely for Cherry's benefit. And that makes me love it all the more.

Looking forward to this weekend's Coach's Corner.

***

The Blue Jays Beat The Rays today 15-4. Looks good for the Skychiefs (the Jays triple-A affiliate) seeing as all but one of the RBI's came from guys that won't be on the major league roster (and that single RBI came from a guy who will be a bench player, and even he might not make the team - sorry Bautista).

Brad Mills gave up 4 ER in 5 IP, with a walk and 4 K, but Jason Frasor, Shawn Camp, Brandon League and Jesse Carlson threw an inning each, and combined to give up 2 hits, 5 K, 1 BB and gave up zero runs for the rest of the game. The three 'sure thing' Jays starters in the game (Rios, Wells and Barajas) went a combined 1 for 6 with 2 walks (both Rios') and no RBI's.

According to Mike Wilner, my favourite baseball blogger, despite Mills poor line, he actually increased his likelihood of making the team. You see, Wilner's in Florida, watching all of the Jays games. He's up close, watching the action, talking to the players and coaches, and I'm here, in Canada, reading Wilner's posts and checking MLB.com for all of my Jays info. I can't wait until I can finally watch some games, so I can put some of my own well thought out analasys (read: drunk ramblings) into the Jays, rather than stealing it all from 'my sources.'

***

The Red Wings play the Thrashers tonight, in Atlanta. Kovalchuk is back in the lineup for the Thrashers after missing the last three games with an injury. It is Hossa's first game in Atlanta since he was traded from the Thrashers to the Penguins last year.

If we lose this game, we don't deserve the President's Trophy. The Stanley Cup, yes, but not the President's Trophy. I just don't want to play the Sharks without home-ice advantage.

By the way, does it really seem like 22 games since the Wing's five game losing streak?

***

No favourite player stat today. In it's place, I'll make mention of my favourite Beatles song of the moment. Being a bit heartbroken these days, I find myself listening to The Night Before about every second song now.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Poppin Cherry, Lick my Laraque, and a Little Bit O' Ass

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

***

So, this is a little bit overdue, but I feel it is my duty to mention that I hate Don Cherry. I mean, I really hate him. He infuriates me with every word he utters. So, the latest Cherry-ism to piss me off is this whole business of Alexander Ovechkin acting like "a goof" with his celebrations.

I'm sorry, was it not Cherry himself who for years has criticized the Europeans at every chance he gets? They are talented, but they don't have what it takes to win, because they don't care enough. They don't have enough grit, they don't check, they don't play hard, they aren't tough enough, THEY DON'T PLAY WITH ENOUGH HEART. Tomas Holmstrom alone is enough to make all of Cherry's comments laughable.

Yet, let's celebrate players like the skate stomping, stick swinging, all-the-time-elbowing Chris Pronger.

However, now we get a player like Ovechkin, perhaps the most talented player in the game today (my vote is for Datsyuk and Zetterberg, and I could argue this, but I also admit I may be biased), who is tough, who plays with grit, who checks (he was voted as the most underated and hardest checker in the game, in a player poll last year), and doesn't skate a stride without displaying his heart. Every shift, every game, Ovechkin is the hardest working player in the game.

Surely, Cherry couldn't find fault with Ovechkin, even despite his non-Canadianess.

Wait a sec, you know what's wrong with Ovie? He celebrates too much when he scores. We've all seen it. He jumps around, he cheers, he jumps into the glass. It's fantastic, and it shows that he LOVES the game he is playing. Yet, according Don 'The Idiot' Cherry, this is showboating, and going too far. This is acting like "a goof."

So, let me get this straight. Play hard. Play tough. Play with heart. Just not too much. And especially not if your European. In fact, if you're European, just take dives, so that Cherry can keep slamming you.

I say that we do our best to get Cherry off the air. Write letters to the CBC, send emails, turn the tv off between the 1st and 2nd periods.

And when he finally does leave the air, let's all jump around, cheer and jump into the windows of our neighbours. It's a bigger goodbye than Cherry deserves, but too apt not to do it.

***

So, recently a bunch of NHL GM's made some recommendations to try and curb fighting, perhaps leading to it's eventual all-but-elimination from the sport, and poor Georges Laraque thinks this is just terrible. Tons of players whose only job on their team is to fight, will lose their jobs.

Oh no. So a bunch of guys who can't play hockey won't be allowed to play hockey anymore? Yes, I can see how this might be bad for the sport.

I mean, imagine if they got rid of all the baseball players who can't catch or hit for shit, but who can charge the mound like no one else.

Look, I like a good hockey fight, like anyone else. One of the best fights I ever saw was Lecavalier vs. Iginla in the cup finals a few years back. Not because it was a great fight, but because who was fighting, and when they fought. It was the intensity of the moment and situation that they were in, not because that was their job. These guys actually play the game. They score. A lot. You may have heard of them.

Hockey is an intense game, and tempers are going to flare. Fights will happen. But the league needs to eliminate the guys whose sole purpose is to fight.

As long as the NHL allows fighting with no severe penalty for it, there will always be a place on a team for a Laraque or a Boogaard. Make the penalty more severe, and these guys will be weeded out of the league, much to Laraques chagrin. And no one will miss the five points a year they were producing for their team.

By the way, these are the type of guys Don Cherry just loves. Can anyone say Tie Belak? Or was that Wade Domi?

***

Doesn't this unknown Puerto Rican player look like he's concentrating just a little too hard on where exactly to pat Alex Rios on the ass? I mean, I know he looks good in those pants, but really, anywhere on the cheek will get the message across.















***

The Flyers haven't won in Detroit since 1988. Children born in The City of Brotherly Love the last time Philly won in Motown can legally drink their sorrows away in green beer tonight as the Wings beat them once again 3-2. If you get the chance, watch the hilights, as the second goal was a Datsyukian thing of beauty. And it wasn't even Pavel who scored.


Favourite player stat of the night: Henrik Zetterberg 1 G, GWG

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sign of things to come?

I know it's only spring training, but as a Jays fan, I don't really have much to look forward to. The one thing that baseball can offer when you cheer for a lacklustre team is the individual achivements of players.

The Jays have, in my opinion, the best pitcher in base ball in Roy (Doc) Halladay, who, in this short spring, has pitched in a way that shows he will have another dominant year. Coming off of a 20 win year, where he pitched more complete games than most other teams, he has not allowed a run yet this spring, in the equivalent of a complete game. 9 innings, no runs allowed. I know, it's only spring, he's facing mainly A and AA ballers who have never seen major league action before, and the Doc probably hasn't mixed in too many off speed pitches yet. Still, I'm excited.

Halladay has one Cy Young so far, but should probably have three, maybe even four. He should have won last year, if you compare his numbers to Lee's, and injury prevented at least two Cy Youngs before. Let's hope that this year he picks up his second.

Plus, the Jays can welcome back Aaron Hill this year. We can look forward to seeing Adam Lind in his first full season with the Jays, and Travis Snider, our rookie and hope for the future is crushing the ball in the grapefruit league. Also, the Jays have decided to carry Johnny Mac, the worst hitting - best shortstop in the AL, if not the majors.

It should be fun to watch.

Well, no, probably not.

Favourite player stat of the day:

Halladay - 4 IP, 1H, 4K, 1BB, 0ER

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

You ain't much if you ain't Dutch

Wow. How do you take a diehard Red Wings fan, and get him to turn off the hockey game, to watch a baseball game with two teams he has no affiliation to?

Well, first of all, make it an international competition. I love watching professional athletes compete for their country. In fact, I quit my job (well, never showed up again, rather than quit) because I couldn't stand to miss any of Canada's games in the hockey portion of the 2002 Olympics. Truly worth it.

Second of all, make sure that one of the teams is a baseball powerhouse. Put superstars on it like David Ortiz, Robinson Cano, etc.

Thirdly, make the other team from a country that seemingly has no right whatsoever playing baseball. I don't want to ever have heard of any of the players, and I want their place in the tournament to be a joke.

Fourthly (and here's where it gets fun) make that team of nobodies push the superstars to extra innings, without giving up a run. Nothing. Five hits after nine. No runs.

And fifthly (fifthly?), after the superstar team scores in the top of the 11th, on a heartbreaking play by the right fielder, make sure that same right fielder scores the winning run in the bottom of the 11th, after reaching third on a throwing error by one of the greatest relievers in the game, sending the Cindarella team into the next portion of the tournament, and sending the superstars home.

Yup. That's how.

Oh yah. And the Red Wings ended up winning in overtime.