Partick Kane is a public relations genius.
We've all grown accustomed to watching professional athletes sabotage their own reputations through a combination of selfishness & stupidity. Think of Plaxico Burress, Rogers Clemens or Stephon Marbury.
Chaka Khan? Really? Chaka Khan is the star the NHL picks to "headline" their 2009 awards show? The same Chaka Khan whose biggest hit - "Tell Me Something Good" - came in 1974, the year Denis Potvin won the Calder? Robin Thicke?
Shame on Sidney Crosby and a few other members of the Pittsburg Penguins for disrespecting the Red Wings. I guess Lebron James is their role model.
After being defeated by the Penguins in game 7, the Red Wings gave the Pens a few minutes to celebrate the win. The Wings then lined up for the traditional handshake. Sadly, Crosby and few other Penguins were too busy celebrating to notice that the handshakes had begun. By the time Crosby did join the line many of the Detroit players had already come to the end of the line and headed for the dressing room. This left Crosby to shake the hands of a couple of players and some members of the Detroit training staff. Shameful, and a mockery of what the CBC announcer described as one of the greatest traditions in sport. In case Sid or any other members of the Pens are curious about how thew whole handshake thing works here' a video of the 2008 postgame handshake. Not surprisingly, every member of the victorious (and classy) Red Wings managed to get to the line in time to shake the hand of every Penguin player.
Update: NHL.com has posted a video of the handshake. Take a look - it confirms that Sid wasn't in the lineup until late. Nick Lidstrom led the Wings line and he even waited for some Penguins to get in line, but Crosby was very late arriving and by the time he did get in line Lidstrom, Draper and many others had peeled off.
Update 2: Kris Draper has confirmed that Crobsy missed shaking hands with a bunch of Red Wing players, including Lidstrom.
"Nick was waiting and waiting, and Crosby didn't come over to shake his hand," Draper told an Associated Press reporter a couple of hours later as he was leaving Joe Louis Arena. That's ridiculous, especially as their captain, and make sure you write that I said that!"
Crosby has attempted to clarify what went on.
"My intentions were to shake hands," Crosby said. "That we didn't wasn't me trying to avoid it. "That's the last thing I'd want to do. By no means was I trying to avoid shaking the other team's hands. "I think it's important to do that."
Crosby is still missing the point. The issue is not whether or not he intentionally delayed joining the line in order to miss Lidstrom - nobody has accused him of that. It was his job, his obligation to get in line promptly, to show respect for his opponent and to uphold the wonderful tradition of sportsmanship that the post-Cup handshake represents. Crosby did not fulfil this obligation.
For those who have forgotten, Yashin held out for a new contract not once, not twice, but three times before the Senators were finally able to ship him to Long Island where he proceeded to alienate a whole different group of fans.
Apparently Heatley doesn't like the role he was given by Cory Clouston, the coach the Senators brought in after the Craig Hartsburg experiment failed. Under Hartsburg, Heatley usually lined up beside Jason Spezza and averaged a little under 21 minutes a game. Clouston experimented with different line combinations and frequently split up the Spezza -Heatley duo and Heatley saw his minutes dip by about a minute a game. Clouston also shook up the Ottawa powerplay and rewarded the speedy, hard-working Ryan Shannon with time on the first PP unit, at Heatley's expense.
Fans are more than a little disappointed that Heatley appears to have soured on Clouston after only 30 games. Heatley's move comes just a year after he signed a massive, long-term contract. Last year Heatley earned an eye-popping $10 million and he still has 5 years left with Ottawa at $37.5 million.
Heatley is a proven goal scorer who should be relatively easy to move. When the Senators unloaded Alexei Yashin they got Jason Spezza and Zdeno Chara in return. Ottawa fans are hoping that GM Bryan Murray can pull off similar swap for Heatley.
On the brink of become the winningest goalie in NHL history, The Onion profiles Martin Brodeur.
SI's Jim Kelley has grown weary of the "Todd Bertuzzi is a good guy" stories that crop up in every city Bertuzzi lands in. Kelley thinks Bertuzzi and the NHL should continue to pay a price until Steve Moore has his day in court. (Todd Bertuzzi's 'good guy' image is just a charade)
The Huffington Post, one of the most influential political blogs in the US has something to say about Sarah Palin's billing as a "hockey mom."
This endearing appellation was intended, we suppose, to show Sarah Palin in a favorable light, as someone who would arise at 4 am to make sure her children were able to get ice time at the local rink as they played the national game of nearby Canada.
There is no evidence yet uncovered that the Governor was the kind of hockey mom who sought blood as well as wholesome activity for her children. We have learned, however, just how she campaigns as a hockey mom. Before partisan crowds apparently oblivious to any sense of propriety, Sarah Palin calls out for blood to be visited upon her terrorist opponents, most particularly, upon Senator Barack Obama. She has incited a cadre of miscreants to scream for his head. She has turned the campaign into a hockey brawl.
I love the NHL, but sometimes they realllly make it tough, like when they bring in Def Leopard to participate in the celebration of the Red Wings' Cup victory.
In an apparent effort to solidify Sarah Palin's "hockey cred" Flyers owner Ed Snider (a McCain campaign supporter/contributor and fan of the Iraq war) invited America's most famous "hockey mom" to drop the puck at the Flyers vs Rangers game last night.
Not surprisingly, hockey is also playing a role in the election campaign currently underway in Canada. The leader of the Liberal Party, Stephane Dion, apparently thought it would be good politics to be filmed playing a little ball hockey. Unfortunately Dion's handlers were unaware that their leader would be shooting on some guy who plays like a freakish hybrid of Brodeur & Luongo wearing a pair of Ken Dryden's old Kenesky pads.
Uniwatch thinks the Thrashers have set a "new standard for bad design with their new alternate uniform."
Not really. As bad as it is, the Thrashers have nothing on the Canucks "flying V" jersey from the late 70's.
The announcement that Roberto Luongo would be the Captain of the Vancouver Canucks for 2008-09 got me thinking about the current slate of NHL captains. In recent days several teams have announced their new captains (view list of teams/captains here), although three of the NHL's favorites in the Tavares Cup - Atlanta, Florida and Toronto - have yet to annoint a captain for the coming season. The Toronto Maple Leafs are in the unusual position of having an ambivalent captain who seems unable to decide where or even if he will play this season. The "C" has yet to be stripped from Mats Sundin, despite his failure to commit to the Leafs (or anyone else) for the coming season.
Just like most PeeWee hockey teams, the captain is usually the best player on the team (Crosby, Ovechkin, Iginla, Luongo...), or at least someone who was at one time the best player on the team (Koivu, Arnott, Brind 'Amour?). Patrick Marleau was also the best player on the Sharks when he was named captain, but lost that status when Joe Thorton cam to San Jose. But the case can be made that a handful of teams have stitched the "C" on someone other than their best player. On this I would include:
Washington Capitals - Chris Clark
Buffalo Sabres - Craig Rivet
New Jersey Devils - Jamie Langenbrunner
Philadelphia Flyers - Mike Richards (likely will be the best, but not quite yet)
Edmonton Oilers - Ethan Morrow
Los Angeles Kings - Dustin Brown
Carolina Hurricanes - Rod Brind'Amour
Nashville Predators - Jason Arnott
Here's a snapshot of the league's current collection of Captains.
Nationality: 17 Canadians, 5 Americans, 2 Swedes, 2 Slovaks, 1 Finn
Age: The league's youngest captain is Jonathan Toews (20), the oldest is Joe Sakic (39). The average age is 31.
Position: 10 captains play centre, 7 play right wing, 4 play left wing and 5 play defence and 1 is a goalie
Drafted: It helps to be a high draft pick if you want to become an NHL captain. Three current captains were drafted first overall (Crosby, Lecavalier, Nash) 10 more were drafted in the top 10 and another 7 were first rounders. The lowest draft pick to make it as a captain is Ottawa's Daniel Alfredsson, selected 133rd overall. Is Alfie the lowest drafted player to ever captain a team?
Games/Points: Joe Sakic leads all captains in games played (1,363) and points (1,629), a long way ahead of Toews (64 games, 54 points).
To see a simple spreadsheet of the league's captains and some related data, click here.
If the Ottawa Senators are going to return to the form that had pundits labelling them bona fide Cup contenders they are going to need more from Mike Fisher.
Now, before the legions of Fisher fans out there jump down my throat screaming that Fisher is the heart and soul of the Senators and the team's captain-in-waiting, take a breath. Mike Fisher is a good hockey player and by all reports a real stand-up guy who does a ton of great work in the community. But...
Fisher is entering the first year of a 5 year contract extension that will pay him $21 million. Under this new deal Fisher will earn $6 million, an eye-popping raise over the $1.5m he earned in 2007-08. This means he will be making more than Daniel Alfredsson ($5.4m) and any other Senator except Dany Heatley ($10m) and Jason Spezza ($8m). Three things have to happen for Fisher to fulfil the $6m in expectations he has set for himself:
Early reports indicate that new Senator boss Craig Hartsburg will follow in the footsteps of his predecessors and separate the Alfredsson-Spezza-Heatley trio. This will likely mean that Fisher will be paired with Alfredsson. Alfredsson is an exceptionally smart, hard working and creative player with whom Fisher should do well, but this is not the first time for the this experiment and in the past it has failed to produce the desired result.
If Fisher and Alfredsson do succeed in developing some chemistry, Fisher should have little trouble improving over his 2007-08 production of 23 goals/24 assists. The defensively responsible Alfredsson should also help Fisher rebound from his 2008 team worst -10 plus/minus rating.
Consistency, at least in terms of scoring, has always been one of Fisher's biggest problems. Last season he went on 7, 14 and 18 game scoreless streaks that are simply unacceptable for a player averaging close to 20 minutes a game playing time.
Mike Fisher's work ethic, combined with occasional burst of brilliance, mean that Fisher has few detractors. Nonetheless, there are some who are whispering that Fisher is the league's best third line centre and wondering if he will ever develop into the solid number two centre the Sens have been lacking for years.
It would be unfair to say that Ottawa's 2008-09 fate rests on the shoulders of Mike Fisher. Nonetheless, now that Fisher's a $6 million dollar man he has to step up and make a consistent and significant offensive contribution if the Senators are going to be a factor in the Eastern Conference.
To avoid the wrath of Fisher fans, I've posted some links to Fisher-related videos, below.
I received the following from several people - but no one seems to know the original source. Hockeydirt would love to give the author of this the credit he/she is due, so if anybody knows the author of this piece please let us know.
Update: the source of this has been found. This article originally appeared on August 31 in the Vancouver Province under the title Kurtenblog helps draft that beer-league team. Thanks to Alan for the tip.
It's a well-known fact that there are only two seasons in Canada: summer and hockey. According to long-standing tradition, the former starts with the hoisting of the Stanley Cup, as fans in an American city celebrate. The latter officially kicks off after Labour Day weekend.
In fact, there are hundreds, possibly thousands, of managers across Canada who will spend the long weekend making personnel decisions in time for the September dawn of a new season. Granted, the majority of these managers are in charge of teams with names like "Old Puckers", "Rusty Blades", "Just the Tips" and "Nine-Inch Males," but don't be fooled; beer-league hockey squads can be downright tricky to put together. As with any successful organization, you need the right mix, and that means drafting from the following beer-league player categories:
Which one are you???
Some teams wait until the playoffs to unveil this option. Others go with it right from the opening face-off. Either way, without a ringer, your team is done. The challenge for managers is convincing a good player to suit up for a bad side. This can be accomplished a number of ways, including promises of goal-scoring glory and awe-inspired teammates. Most effective, however, is let him play for free. It's simple math, really. Everyone else pays an extra $50 and everyone else gets a shot at the "DD" Division title.
by Tim O'Connor
Like most Canadians, the news that Republican Vice-Presidential nominee Sarah Palin is, of all things, a hockey mom caught me off guard.
At first blush it seems a little odd that Palin is being branded by her own party as a "hockey mom" when the Republicans are trying to create a broad appeal for her with the electorate. I mean, in the US, being branded a "hockey mom" has about as much broad appeal as being branded "muslim preacher." So, why have the Republicans chosen to do it?
Oxonomics is a terrific blog written by a group of Oxford graduate students. A recent posting, Why do footballers dive?, discusses the tendency of soccer players to dive in an effort to draw fouls. The author asks "Why do footballers dive more than other sportsmen?"
The author's answer is that the risks associated with diving in soccer are far outweighed by the potential rewards. The risk - a yellow card and "opprobrium from neutrals and the media" are modest. The reward - a free kick or a penalty shot if the "foul" occurs in the 18-yard box - are magnified by soccer's low scores. Faced with this risk-reward ratio, many soccer players opt to take the fall.
The NHL attempted to deal with the diving problem in hockey in 2006 by making it a penalty. In addition to a two-minute minor, players caught diving receive a letter from the league (Oooh Scary!). Second offenders receive the penalty and a $1,000 fine while three-timers are hit with a whopping $2,000 fine. With an average salary is $1.9 million, does the league really expect such piddling fines to alter behaviour? Player can also receive supplementary discipline.