Saturday, July 30, 2005

NHL Draft

Jack Johnson became the highest Michigan player ever taken, when the Carolina Hurricanes nabbed him at #3. Cogliano, much to the joy of Mgoblog was taken #25 by the Oilers. Jason Bailey became the third incoming-Wolverine taken, when he went #63 to Anaheim with the 2nd pick of the third round.

And that loud burst of profanity you just heard from two separate rooms of The Blog That Yost Built household was TJ Hensick going 88th to the Colorado Avalanche.

The Red Wings, as predicted, grabbed a Euro in the first round. Jakub Kindl, a 6'2" defenseman from the Czech Republic who played in the OHL last year. He was projected to go top 5 before the season but slid after he didn't have a good year. In the second round they took Justin Abdelkader...finally a college player, but he's going to State. So that doesn't count. In the third round, rather than nab Hensick, they took a 6'3" 187 center from Sweden, who wasn't on The Hockey News' top 100 or the Toronto Star's top 160 players.

Colorado has had a great draft. They've taken Hensick, Ryan Stoa, Tom Fritsche, and Paul Stastny, along with some guy from the WHL. I had previously annointed JM Liles as "The Anti-Christ" for being an MSU player and being a Colorado prospect. Said the same thing about Stoa and then Fritsche today (Minnesota, and Ohio State)...then those bastards from the Rocky Mountains get Hensick. Go have an oyster Pierre.

There's still time for the Wings to take a Jiri or Tomas.

About Me

My name is Tim. I started The Blog That Yost Built in 2005 after gaining an appreciation for blogging due to the excellent work over at MGoBlog. My goal is to provide the best coverage of Michigan Hockey anywhere on the internet. I have religiously followed the team since starting college in 2000. I had season tickets at Yost for seven years and missed just four games in that time span. After the 2006-07 season I moved away, but thanks to Dish Network, Slingbox, the B2Network, and WOLV-TV (through MGoBlue), I am still able to see around three-quarters of Michigan's games. While at U of M, I also worked for the Michigan Athletic Department in various forms from 2003-2006. I was fortunate enough to be able to watch from the field as Michigan defeated Ohio State in football in 2003, which was one of the coolest things I have ever done. Additionally, I was the official timer for three Big Ten Championships. In addition to having Michigan Hockey season tickets for seven years, I was able to attend the Frozen Four in 2002 and 2003 and have seen road games at Ferris State, Michigan State, Bowling Green, Ohio State, Western Michigan, Notre Dame and the XCel Center in St. Paul. Besides Michigan Hockey (and the other Wolverine teams), I'm a huge fan of the Green Bay Packers, Detroit Red Wings, Detroit Pistons, the American Le Mans Series, the Indy Racing League, Nascar, and pretty much every band/singer that Australia has produced. In 2007, I was able to fulfill a dream by playing a hockey game at Joe Louis Arena. I participated in the CCHA Media Game, and notched an assist in a blowout win for my team. You can reach me via email at Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Montoya Says Adios

Al Montoya signed a contract with the New York Rangers today, forgoing his senior season at Michigan. If he had come back for his senior season, he likely would have been second to only Marty Turco in terms of career wins.

While not at all unexpected, The Blog That Yost Built will still miss seeing him on the ice, and I don't harbor any ill will towards him (see Richmond, Danny) even though I think he had a crap year last year. Yes he won thirty games and that's nothing to sneeze at, but when you don't rank in the top 60 in save percentage or the top 30 in GAA, methinks those 30 wins had a lot more to do with the nation's #1 ranked offense, rather than the goaltending. All I know is that his first two years, I never once wanted to see Al yanked from a game. Last year it happened regularly.

Personally, I was looking forward to a refocused Al coming back next year and ready to prove his critics wrong. It's always been The Blog That Yost Built's position that it would be best for the short-term and the long-term of Michigan hockey that he return for his senior season, leaving Sauer and Jakiel to get a full season's worth of experience as starting goalies in the USHL before battling it out for the starting job as freshmen. But Al felt he was ready to go, and more power to him.

My 2 favorite Al Montoya memories (if you read the Yost Post, you've already read these):
1) My first Al Montoya experience. I went to go see him play at The Cube shortly after he committed to Michigan. No more than seven minutes into the game, he clocked a guy in the face with his glove and was ejected.
2) FREE MON-TO-YA! Nuff said.

This leaves the goaltending duties to Bill Sauer (since it appears the coaches have picked him over Jakiel to come in, according to The Wolverine's article about Montoya's departure). He had a good season for Chicago in the USHL in a platoon role, though he didn't play in the playoffs. He's thought of a one of the top goalie prospects for the 2006 NHL Draft.

We'll be fine in net. It's unrealistic and unfair to expect Sauer to have the kind of season that Montoya had his freshman season (when he carried Michigan to the Frozen Four) or his sophomore season (when he did his darnedest to do the same), but I don't think it's very reasonable that Sauer could be an upgrade from the Montoya that we saw last season. A 2.5 GAA and a .895 save percentage doesn't set the bar overwhelmingly high. I fully expect Michigan to struggle a little bit early on as the freshmen get used to college hockey and we break in a new goalie, but by the end of the season, the Wolverines should be a very dangerous team.

As pointed out by MHNet on the Yost Post, Kyle Woodlief had a chat on USA Today's website where someone asked about Cogliano's draft status. Woodlief told him that he expects Cogs to go around #20 and that he's "bar-none the fastest skater" in the draft. He went on to say that if NHL teams are truly convinced that the new rules will open play up, that a team could grab him in the top 10, though that's unlikely. High praise for Cogliano. I can't wait for the first power play that Michigan gets when they put out Cogliano, Hensick, Tambellini, Johnson, and Hunwick. Even if that group never materializes, between Cogliano, Hensick, Tamby, Kolarik, Porter, Ebbett, and Johnson (who's like a forward sometimes) you can make some pretty lethal power play units.

Mike Spath posted this message to the Yost Post that talks about how committed Andrew Ebbett and Matt Hunwick have been in the offseason. He's not the first person I've heard mention how huge Hunwick has gotten this offseason. Our defense corps is going to be hit a lot of people this year (and Tim Cook will poke check a lot of smaller people this year).

MGoBlog has more stuff about Montoya and a couple of articles about Jack Johnson. Hensick made CSTV's article about college hockey's top draft-eligible forwards. They should know, because they were in the house when he scored one of the sickest goals I have ever seen against Notre Dame down in Fort Wayne. He came around the front of the net with two guys on him, faked a spin one way, got both defenders to bite, then spun the other way and put a laser into the top corner. I can't do it justice.

Also, a handy link to keep around on draft day. The Toronto Star released their draft rankings, all 160 of them. From scanning the list (mainly for Michigan players) it seems pretty reasonable, and if nothing else, it's 160 profiles for me to look at when the Wings draft a European instead of Cogliano. They too give Cogliano more love than the CSB, but they're not as kind to Bailey and MacVoy (the latter of which I didn't see on the list, though I was scanning it pretty quickly).

So another player is gone to the NHL, and the streak continues. Van Ryn, Comrie, Hilbert and Jillson, Komisarek and Cammalleri, Richmond, Helminen, Montoya.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Thanks Mac, Good riddance Whitney, Hatcher we barely knew ye

The Red Wings waived Derian Hatcher, Darren McCarty and Ray Whitney, opening the door to buy the three of them out of their contracts if they go unclaimed on waivers (which they will). This was completely expected, as those were the three players rumored to be going from the time the NHL announced the ability to buy players out for no charge against the cap.

It's going to be tough seeing McCarty in another jersey. Even though he's probably on the down side of his career, the guy has provided so many big moments in his career: Whaling on Claude Lemieux, to scoring the game winner against Colorado in that same game (which propelled the Wings to the 1997 Cup and was probably the most entertaining hockey game ever), to scoring the Cup-Winning goal by turning Janne Niiniimmaaaaa inside out, to scoring a hattrick against Roy on the way to the 2002 Cup.Thanks Mac. I'll miss seeing you in Detroit.

As for Hatcher, it would have been interesting to see how the guy would've done with a year off to recover from his ACL injury. I think he can still play in this league, but if the Wings buy him out, they can use his money to sign another defenseman (Mathieu Schneider would still be my preference) or another body up front.

The thing that sucks about them buying out Whitney is that you know he's going to end up going to Columbus or Nashville and being a Red Wing killer for the rest of his career, even though he did next to nothing in Detroit. paraphrases assistant GM Jill Nill who says the team is considering buying out a fourth player, who is rumored to be either Manny Legace or Robert Lang. If you keep Legace, he has to either be the starter or a 1/1a in a goalie platoon. You can't keep him at his salary as the backup. If they're dead-set on bringing in Osgood, they need to keep Legace. I'm not comfortable with a Osgood/MacDonald goalie tandem.

As for the idea of buying out Robert Lang, unless they've got a pretty good idea that Fedorov will be bought out and that he'll come back for the type of money that Lang is making, they're nuts if they get rid of him. When your best player is making $3.8 million, you don't cut him. When the leading scorer in the freaking league (if he stayed healthy for the last week) is making $3.8 million, you don't cut him. The cap is $39 million, so he'll be making just under 10% of the cap. That's not at all unreasonable for a guy who has put up 65, 80, 50 (in 62 games), 69, and 79 points the last 5 seasons.

Mike Wilbon on PTI was up-in-arms today because the four Andretti-Green drivers boycotted a mandatory autograph session this weekend because Danica Patrick was going to be given a separate line than every other driver. They've been unhappy since Indy, when Patrick completely overshadowed Dan Wheldon actually winning the race. Wilbon says that those drivers are just being punks and that Patrick is bringing exposure to the sport, which will ultimately make them more money.

While The Blog That Yost Built believes that more exposure is a good thing, the IRL was wrong for putting her in a separate autograph session. Basically the way it works is that a fan waits in line and then goes down the row, meeting each driver. To put Patrick by herself means that the fan who waits to meet her (and there'd be a ton of them) won't be meeting any of the other drivers. They won't realize what a great person Bryan Herta is, how funny Tony Kanaan and Helio Castroneves are, and how Patrick Carpentier will steal your pen. If they build a huge fanbase for Danica, and then she bails to go to NASCAR or something, what have you really gained?

It's great that she's actually getting the media to talk about the Indy Racing League, but at the same time, the IRL should be using her to help promote its other drivers as well. The AGR guys have a right to be upset. (For the sake of recognizing my own biases, Bryan Herta and Tony Kanaan are my favorite drivers) I've started rooting for quite a few drivers based on how cool they were in person. Danica doesn't seem like the most friendly person on the planet based on interviews I've seen (though to be fair she might be great with the fans). By putting her in a separate line, if she is having a bad day or something and doesn't treat a fan well, they might be turned off on the series as a whole. If she's in a line with Kanaan and Helio (amongst the others), who are pretty darn funny guys the fan might say "Well screw her, I'm gonna root for Kanaan!" and the series still has a fan.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Sidney Crosby is a Diamond in the Rough

The NHL had its lottery draft on Friday and the Wings ended up with the 19th pick (and the Rangers got the 16th pick, hahahaha). That should put them in prime Ryan Stoa territory (or Andrew Cogliano territory if you believe Bob McKenzie over the CSB who ranked Cogliano 63rd. Other Wolverines listed on the North American Skaters list were Jack Johnson 4th, Jason Bailey 56th, TJ Hensick 78th, Zach MacVoy 99th, Tim Miller 140th, and Steve Jakiel as the 27th rated North American goalie. They have Jack Skille as the 11th rated North American forward (Stoa is 13th), which seems kind of low for him...but if they're right and a few Euros get in there....dare I dream? I don't think he falls to us (since McKenzie said that most teams like him in the top 10), but he'd look great in Red and White (and I'm not talking about Wisconsin).

Fox Sports put out a mock draft and while I don't know a ton about most of the prospects that a) Aren't coming to Michigan or b) Didn't play for the NTDP, I know enough to know that I don't like a couple things about this one. If the Wings pass on Skille and Stoa for Dan Bertram, I'm going to go burn down Ken Holland's house (not really). About Jack Skille:

23. New Jersey Devils: Jack Skille, Right Wing, USA NTDP

As one of the best drafting organizations, the Devils will be patient with this potential goal-scoring threat. If you are looking for a sniper, then Skille is your player, since he has a nose for the net and seems to always be in right place at the right time. He needs to work on his defense and consistent work ethic but he is a diamond in the rough.

It's at this point that I would like to say that I feel Phil Kessel and Peter Mueller are my diamonds in the rough for future NHL Drafts. Jack Skille is gross. And I will be absolutely livid if the Wings pass on him (unless they're taking Andrew Cogliano, in which case I will be fine since I'm a big homer). He took a lot of penalties last year simply because he was so much bigger than everyone else. He's got a cannon of a shot that he's pretty accurate with. He seems like a pretty good skater, and he's got some nice moves for a big guy. I'm not too worried about his work ethic. It's natural to get bored when you're playing waaaay above the level of your competition (which he was in the U18 vs. USHL or bad NCAA teams games). Skille, Johnson, Mueller, and Kessel could have all played in college last year and done just fine.

TSN has their mock draft out. They have the Red Wings taking Guillaume Latendresse with their first round pick. Red Line has him at #6. CSB didn't think so much of him, ranking him at #52. Redline says this about him:
The biggest and strongest power winger this year is Guillaume Latendresse, who is not only huge at 6-2/220 pounds, but also freakishly strong. He's impossible to move off the puck, and few even attempt to drive him out of the crease. Though not at all dirty, Latendresse often injures opposing defensemen with the sheer force of his crushing hits in the corners and along the walls. He's a heavy-footed skater, but has soft, quick hands and a nice release on his shot.
Sounds good to me, except I'm generally not a fan of taking players whose names I have no hope of learning how to spell since I type so much. This is the same reason that I'm against trading for Curtis Leschyshyn every year at the trade deadline (Google actually recognized Leschyshyn as being the correct spelling when I typed "Leyshyschyn" into the search box.)

TSN has Cogliano going off the board one pick before the Wings draft. Basically it seems to me that he's better thought of in Canada, where they obviously get to see him more. In TSN's mock, Skille goes 10th, which I think is a lot more reasonable for him. Still, if he falls to 19, I won't be complaining. Unless we don't take him.

I'm excited about where the Red Wings pick. I was hoping for the chance to get Johnson (obviously), but 19 isn't a bad spot at all. That means they'll get the 11th pick in all the even numbered rounds, and the 19th pick in the odd numbered rounds. So in both cases, it's a lot better than we usually pick. Depending on where the plateaus of players fall, they could end up with some really nice prospects.

Actually screw all that talk above, the Wings are just going to draft the best available "Jiri" or "Tomas".

Next weekend is going to be a blast. NHL draft on Saturday, going to the IndyCar race at MIS on Sunday.

The NHL also announced officially their rules changes. Among them:

The addition of shootouts after the 4 on 4 overtime: I like it, especially since it's only for regular season games and the losing team still gets a point. I hate ties and this means there aren't any more

Two line passes are legal now: Love it, especially if the Wings bring Schneider back. They'll have Lidstrom, Kronwall and hopefully Schneider who can all make a great breakout pass.

The tag up rule is back: Love it! Offsides slows up the game, and if Babcock wants a team that can forecheck like the dickens, they should also be pretty decent at dumping and chasing, no?

Goalies are restricted in playing the puck behind the net: Don't like this one...more lines on the ice make it more confusing for fans on TV, and it's always been my belief that if a goalie is a good puck handler, more power to him. This really hurts Turco and Brodeur (amongst others). Though if the Wings bring back Osgood, this might not be the worst thing in the world. Lest we forget this guy:

Teams aren't allowed to change lines if they ice the puck:
This is a big rule change and I like it a lot. It rewards offensive pressure, and anything that does that should be encouraged. Teams can still ice it if they want a breather, but the opposing team will be able to put out fresh skaters, and the offending team will not. I think this also places an added emphasis on having good faceoff people (hence it would be a bad thing if the NCAA enacts this rule, because Michigan? Not a good faceoff team).

Players will be named, fined, and eventually suspended for diving: They tried to make it public when players would dive, but somehow Peter Forsberg never ended up on the list. Hopefully they'll be more vigilant this time. Petey and Paul Kariya should be the first two guys on that list. Apparently the players don't have to be caught by the ref. They can review the game tape and find violators of this rule.

Public comments against the refs or the game will result in fines: Can Brendan Shanahan just add this to the part of his salary that will be put in the escrow account?

TSN has a "transaction log" which I added to my Firefox browser, and will now be clicking on every 10 minutes for the rest of the summer. Thanks TSN. They'll be updating it with all the NHL transactions. Currently all that's on there is the Flyers buying out John LeClair and White Trash Tony Amonte. No real surprise except that if I was Ken Holland, I would have made sure that "Red Wings buy out Ray Whitney" was the first transaction of the new NHL.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Amir Johnson: Player. Al Montoya: Ranger?

The Pistons summer league game against New Orleans was shown on NBATV tonight, and being that we bought the sports pack for our digital cable (mainly to get all the WCHA games), we decided to experience Darko-mania in all its glory.

After missing the first 16 minutes of the game due to NBATV starting the game at 9:30 instead of 10:00, we got to see the rest of the game. Impressions:

Darko Milicic:
Darko was very impatient with his shots. He said in an interview not too long ago that the summer league is a "me-first" league, where everyone is trying to make a name for themselves rather than worry about winning. I can definitely see where he got that from. Guys were pretty reluctant to give him the ball in the post and there was a lot of dribbling around and guys jacking up bad shots. So it seemed like Darko went "The Blog That Yost Built in Parks and Rec Basketball Back in Troy" on the Pistons there....he wasn't going to get the ball that often, so anytime he got it, he was taking the shot by God. He put up a lot of 18-footers, knocked down a couple but they weren't really in the flow of the offense. When he got the ball in the post against a white boy that's worse than he is he fared pretty well (despite getting rejected by the rim one time...he had enough strength to still get that shot to fall though). The kid can run...he steps out on the pick and rolls and is fast enough to get back to guard his man. He's also a great passer. He threw a great bounce pass to set up someone for a dunk. Nash couldn't have put that ball in there any better.

Jason Maxiell: He was touted as having had a great summer league, but he did absolutely nothing in this game. I was trying to watch him, but he was very very quiet. Didn't play a ton in the second half either, which was the main part of the game that we saw. No real first impression of him at all.

Carlos Delfino: Didn't play. See Rogers, Charles. I think he was out with a yeast infection, but that hasn't been confirmed.

Amir Johnson: This kid is going to be a player. It might not be anytime soon, but he's gonna be something. He's big (6'9 or 6'10) but he's very very athletic. The kid needs to get in the weight room because he's really lanky (he looked like he's maybe 210 or so). But he's got hops. Man does he have hops. The kid had 8 points on dunks off missed shots alone. He was crashing the offensive boards, and taking it back up strong (or just dunking it as it came off the rim). He can also run the floor. He's got good speed for a big guy. He also had a couple nice passes. I came away very impressed. One thing about him....kid's got the most jacked up shot I've ever seen. I didn't get to see him take any outside shots, but I can see why the knock on him was that he gets shots blocked by smaller players. His shot starts around his belly button and he releases it by the time it's at eye level. Really really odd shooting motion. They're gonna need to work on that. At the very worst, he'll be an energy guy off the bench who can get the crowd fired up. Worst case he's Ronald Dupree. But I think he's gonna be a player.

Alex Acker: I guess he played very well before we turned it on, and he showed some flashes of being really good. He didn't play a ton in the second half, but he was hittin' shots and finishing around the basket. He had some nice moves in deep. I can see why they like him.

Ricky Paulding: Don't see him making the team. He put up two airballs from outside that were just horrendous. I swear he missed one short by a yard. It was Derreck Whittenburg short. He did have some nice moves around the basket, but his shots that were off were really really off. Don't think he showed enough in the summer league for them to keep him around.

On Al Montoya: The New York Daily News had an article that sounded like he was leaning toward going pro. He admitted that he wasn't focused last year and that he was bored sometimes to the point of distraction during games. His quote at the end made it sound like he might come back---"I know I'm ready for this level - I know that," Montoya said. "But the thing is: Is another year of college going to hurt me? I don't think so."---but the overall impression I got is that he's probably gone. And that's fine. If the kid thinks he's ready to take off and now's the time to do it, then more power to him.

I think this seems a lot like the Jeff Jillson situation a few years ago. Berenson said in an interview later that Jillson should've left after his sophomore year because it was obvious he didn't want to still be in college his junior year. They both had very good freshman and sophomore seasons, and lackluster junior years. It seemed like last year Montoya's head was in the pros, and I feel like it'd be better for him to jet now than come back and be bored again. I'd rather see Sauer or Jakiel in the net than an unmotivated and bored Montoya. We've seen before how goofy he can be in net when he gets bored. And it ain't pretty.

Best case scenario to me is that Al come back committed and ready to prove his critics wrong. In addition, our two verbal commits in net get a ton of much needed experience in the USHL this year (Sauer because he's really young, Jakiel because he hasn't played hockey very long) and they're both ready to come in and battle it out in 2006-07. We'd be better off in the long-term and in the short-term if this is the scenario. If Al leaves, they'll bring in one of the two and I'm sure he'll do fine. They're both highly touted prospects. We might take some lumps early on, but come the stretch run I think they'll be gearing up to have a pretty good season.

The NHL Lottery will be streamed on on Friday at 4 pm. The question is are they going to actually show the drawing, or will it be like the NBA when they just reveal the cards in reverse order. Because I'll have a 15 minute break at work on Friday...gotta decide if I want to go right at 4 or go closer to 4:10ish. Decisions, decisions.

I guess this would be a better thing to post after the lottery (since if they get a top 10 pick there's no way it happens) but I think Cogliano goes to the LA Kings. They seem to like the Italian Wolverines. Tambellini-Cogliano-Cammalleri line anyone? Pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, GOAL. Or check, check, check--THUD since they're all kinda small.

The NHL2k5 Wolverines are into the second round. We swept Anaheim in 4 games that were tougher than the scores (4-0, 4-2 with an empty netter, 2-1, 3-1 with an empty netter) and now have a 3 games to 0 lead on the Red Wings after 7-2, 5-2, 4-0 wins. All 3 of those games were close going to the third before the flood gates opened. Comrie and Cammalleri are having stellar playoffs, as is Turco. If we close the Wings out, we'll take on Chris Osgood and the St. Louis Blues, who swept Dallas. The Boston University team is the only NCAA team remaining. They're down 3 games to 2 to Atlanta.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Lucky Canadians

TSN will be showing the draft lottery live on Friday. Nice to see the NHL is smart enough to realize that the Crosby lottery will get huge ratings in Canada. Too bad it doesn't seem like they're going to let anyone in the USA cover it (yet). Hell, put it on ESPN News. Do something. It may not be as big of a deal in the USA as it will be in Canada, but there are people who would watch it, since it basically affects every team in the league.
TSN's also showing the draft. Anybody know if ESPN's gonna be showing that, or did that go bye-bye when they didn't renew their contract for hockey games?

Monday, July 18, 2005

Larry Brown Out in Detroit

Tough to be a coach in Detroit these days. Less than 2 weeks after Dave Lewis was let go by the Red Wings following a President's Trophy winning campaign, the Pistons and Larry Brown are negotiating a buyout of his contract according to various news sources. Flip Saunders is thought to be the Pistons first choice as new coach.

The Blog That Yost Built's view on this situation is as follows: Personally, I wish that the Pistons and Pound For Pound could've worked things out. I know that Mr. Davidson wasn't thrilled with Larry's wandering eye during the playoffs, but there's no denying that the guy took the Pistons to 2 NBA Finals, and a championship. LB had a good thing going here. That said, for the good of the future of the team, they have to find a way to get Darko Milicic--and to a lesser extent Carlos Delfino--into the game. The only way that Darko isn't going to hightail it out of the D at his first opportunity is if he gets into some games, and it seemed pretty clear that LB wasn't going to play him unless there were no other options. I would have liked to have seen Brown stick around and agree to play the younger guys more, but if LB refused, or there was a legit concern about his health (or if a replacement as good as Saunders would be available should he have to bail later on), then I can see letting him go. It's too bad things happened like this though. I've learned my lesson, however. I will not doubt Joe Dumars.

I wish Larry the and in his future jobs (because I don't doubt for a second that there will be at least one more). In Flip, the Pistons would be getting a guy who hasn't had a ton of success in the postseason (though to be fair, the West has been loaded lately), but whose team was 7th in defense in 2003-04 (without as much talent as the Pistons have). He's also a more offensive-minded coach than Brown. It should be interesting if he gets hired to see how things will look next year.

Detroit is obviously a great situation to get into personnel-wise, but for job security? I can't help but notice that the Pistons will be on their third coach in 5 seasons. The first coach had back-to-back 50 win seasons, back-to-back division championships, and won Coach of the Year. The second coach won an NBA title and had the team one quarter away from a repeat. The first was fired and the second (it appears) is being essentially fired. They've gotten rid of 2 of the top 5 coaches in the NBA in the last 2 1/2 years. Tough crowd.

I hope you like the new look of The Blog That Yost Built. It's going to be a work in progress, but this is what I've got so far. At least the color scheme is right!

Best moment of the ESPYs last night: Michael Phelps wearing a Michigan t-shirt during his interview and closing it by saying "Go Blue". That was awesome. I'm sure it won't hurt swimming recruiting any.

Lastly, the NHL2k5 Michigan team won the President's Trophy and made it to the playoffs. My roommate and I created a team of all the Michigan alumns in the NHL and we play using them. There is also a Michigan State team (was looking great for awhile, lost 18 of their last 20 and finished dead last), a Boston College team (just missed the playoffs), a Boston University team (up 2-1 in their first round series), a CCHA team (down 2-1 in their first round series...second overall in the West in the regular season), a WCHA team (just missed the playoffs), a Minnesota/Wisconsin team (down 2-1 in their first round series), a Hockey East team (didn't get in), and a ECAC team (didn't get in). Yes it took forever and a day to make those rosters. The Michigan team leads Anaheim 2-0 in the first round after a 4-0 win that was much closer than the score indicates and a hard-fought 4-2 win. Anaheim tied it up with 6 minutes to play but a late goal by Mike Cammalleri and an empty-netter by Raffi Torres (there's a few players on each of the teams that aren't from the respective school) put Michigan up 2-0 heading to Anaheim.

Love those 2ksports games. Marty Turco is on the cover of NHL2k6. The goalie animations look just sick for that game. EA Sports is apparently bumping back the release of their game to incorporate the new rules. Not sure if 2ksports is planning on doing the same for NHL 2k6.

The NHL is still dumb

After 300+ days of a lockout, the NHL finally reached a deal, but it appears that they still haven't gotten any smarter. According to Al Strachan (link is dead) and backed up by TSN, the NHL draft lottery will not be televised. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. You guys take away hockey for an entire season, and then right off the bat you have an opportunity to get fans of every NHL team excited about the game again and you're not going to take it? Do you have any idea what the ratings for that telecast would be in Toronto? Granted, Joe Fan in Raleigh probably doesn't care all that much, even though if you care about hockey at all you have to have heard the name Sidney Crosby, but it's a good opportunity to get a lot of fans excited again.

As a Wings fan, I know that it's just over a 2% chance that the Wings will get Crosby, but I also know that there's a very good chance (I'm not doing the math but I figure it to be about 30%) that they'll end up with at least a top 10 pick. Even if the Wings don't get Crosby though, I really want to see who will get him. Even if you don't show the lottery drawing itself live, at least do what the NBA does and pull out the envelopes one by one. I want them to start at 30 and reveal the team. I want to be holding my breath every single envelope, hoping that the Winged Wheel won't show up for a few more picks. I want to exhale and cheer when I see an Avs logo in the 30th spot. According to the articles I've read, the networks have been begging the NHL to show it and the league said no.

Wait, what dude? You're actually going to TURN DOWN free, positive publicity? You're going to turn down a chance to be on national television? Ugh. They've got a great chance to get people excited about hockey again and they're going to pass it up. I'm not going to dive into the conspiracy theories as much as the article on TSN does. I'm just pissed more than anything because draft lotteries are FUN. Especially when there's a prize as big as Sidney Crosby out there.


According to this post on Red Wings Central, Art Regner said that McCarty, Hatcher, and Whitney are going to be bought out. Hatcher and Whitney are no brainers. Ray Whitney should be the first player in the league to be bought out. Hatcher makes too much money to keep, especially when we could use his cap space to maybe re-sign Mathieu Schneider (who was Detroit's best dman in 2004, not Lidstrom). Plus, with the new rules opening up the neutral zone, Hatcher is going to be exposed even more. I don't think he's as bad as he looked last year. Those ACL injuries are tough to come back from, especially in the same season. But he's not going to be nearly as effective a player under the new rules as Schneider. I'd lover to see him back. That'd give us Lidstrom, Schneider and Kronwall who can make breakout passes. I think Kronwall is going to just be a stud with the new rules. He impressed me when he was up last year. As for McCarty, I'd hate to see the guy go. He might be getting toward the tail end, but man it'd be tough to see him in a different jersey. That might be a buyout they have to make though, as you could probably get a pretty solid player for the 1.5 million in cap space (or so) that they'd free up with Mac gone.

The Free Press reported that Dmitri Bykov might be coming back from Russia. He played on Detroit's blueline a couple seasons ago and actually did pretty well. He was an overager that we drafted (If I'm not mistaken) and didn't look out of place at all as a rookie. I was sorry he went back to Russia. I'd definitely be a fan of him coming back though.

In the near future I'll make a post as to if I was Ken Holland what I would do with the team. This offseason is gonna get good. Apparently EJ Hradek (so take this with a grain of salt) reported that the draft is going to be July 30. And Jack Johnson will likely become Michigan's highest drafted player ever, beating out Aaron Ward. Yes, that Aaron Ward. Can't wait.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

All Star Idea

I'm not a baseball fan, but I watched the homerun derby last night and had a blast. That was definitely a show that Abreu put on. I had the game on tonight for a good while too, and something kind of hacked me off. Francona was talking about how he wasn't going to "empty the bench" unless it was a blowout, but that he'd like to see it so that he could get everyone into the game.

Now, I'm sorry...this isn't a regular season game with a normal roster. You're not taking out your best player to put Bobby Higginson in the game. This is the freakin' All Star game with (theoretically) the 20 whatever best players in your league on the same team. There's no real "emptying the bench". That's called "going to the next stud".

I understand wanting to win the game, especially nowadays with homefield on the line for the winning league, but doesn't seem right to me that Carlos Guillen last year gives up his all-star weekend to represent his team and his league in the all-star game and he doesn't even get to play. I'm sure if you told him "Hey, come along, join in the festivities, but you're not playing" he would've said thanks but no thanks.

These guys play a freaking lot of games. It doesn't make sense to me for a player who is willing to be honored and give up his 5 day break--time he could spend with his family--only to ride the pine. The Blog That Yost Built believes that baseball should implement a Little League policy for the all-star game. Everyone has to get in. They don't have to go all out and say they have to play 6 outs and bat or anything like that, but everyone should get in. Pitchers for at least a batter, positional players for at least an inning or an at-bat.

Then--because the game actually does mean something now and winning is important--invoke softball rules, allowing players to re-enter the game. That way, everyone gets a shot to play, and the manager can have whatever lineup he wants out there for crunch time.

Very rare I'm going to mention baseball in this blog, but that was just something that irked me tonight. As a side note, this very issue bugs me in NHL 2k5 when I have to have players scratched in the All-Star game.

TSN's sources told them that Mike Babcock reached a deal with the Wings. Good thing. Boy would Ken Holland's face have been red if he didn't renew his head coach's contract in favor of another guy who ended up going elsewhere. It would almost be like if he were to sign a goalie to a huge contract only to have his other high-priced goalie come out of retirement and force him to put the first goalie on waivers a half-dozen times throughout the season only to see the second goalie incur a season-ending injury, requiring him to bring the other guy back up from the minors, then have his doofball coach start a third goalie in the playoffs, knee-jerk back to the first guy after the third guy lost a game, and then lose in the second round. Man that'd be embarassing.

In other hockey news, Bob McKenzie (aka the best hockey writer around) says the NHL is still considering using the big nets for the upcoming season. So much to the point that they're trying to figure out if it's possible to have enough of them made before the season starts in October. I don't like it. Try the other stuff...shrink the goalie gear, take out the red line, bring back the tag up offsides, enforce obstruction, enlarge the blue line...and see how that works before you enlarge the nets and we have to start qualifying stats as being "in the big net era".

It's still incredible to me how long these bargaining sessions are lasting. TSN also said today that the NHL and NHLPA were meeting still after midnight EDT. That's yet another 12+ hour session which once again begs the question I asked in the last post....why not do this sooner? Dumbasses.

Courtesy of this link from Canada. Apparently the mother of a 14-year-old girl hockey player is suing to allow her daughter to be able to change in the boys locker room. What dude? If they end up allowing this, they should make the mother sign a release stating that she will not sue once her daughter is harassed or one of the players sneaks a digital camera into the locker room and she ends up plastered on the Internet. How does she think this is a good idea? People amaze me. I also amaze myself that I made it through this entire section of my post without any immature comments about said girl. They'll all come out when I tell my roommate about that article tomorrow though!!

I was having a discussion with someone at work today about the upcoming NFL season and he said he thinks the Lions have the best WR corps in the NFL. I understand the optimism of Lions fans coming into this season, but let's keep it in perspective. I had another friend tell me he's thinking Super Bowl. Your team has won one playoff game in 40+ years. Let's not start doing the high-jump before you can walk.

While the Lions have put together a collegiate all-star team on offense (Harrington, Jones, Williams, Williams, Rogers) it remains to be seen if they can do it in the pros. Harrington is more of a miss than a hit at this point. Jones looked great last year as did Roy Williams but they both have to stay healthy and show they can do it more than once. Mike Williams has sat for a season and is yet to catch a pass in the NFL and Charles "China Doll" Rogers is taking over for Fred Taylor as the variable in the "It's not football season til xxxxx is hurt" jokes.

As for the "best WR corps in the NFL" comment--even if you ignore the Colts, Raiders, and a few other teams that I'm much too tired to think of right now--a team in their own division who I'm very biased towards has a pair of Pro Bowl WRs in Javon Walker and Donald Driver.

The Lions have a boatload of talent (especially adding Pollard to the mix and the fact that they've got Jeff Garthia behind Harring.....poor choice of words....backing up Harrington if he falters. That said, the most proven guy of the 5 that I mentioned above only has done it for half a season. And it's not like you're talking about the 1996 Packers or 2000 Ravens on defense. Lions fans should be very disappointed if they don't at least contend for a playoff spot, but to me, making the playoffs is a successful season for them.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Weekend in Review

These weekends sure are dull sports-wise this time of year (especially since I don't like baseball).

First are foremost, kudos to Jalen Rose for sticking it out and getting his degree. He did his last year online, and it took him 5 1/2 years to get through it but he finally finished. Someone brought it up on the basketball board over at The Wolverine but no one really commented on it before it got buried beneath the DeShawn Sims thread du jour. He indicated that a big reason he went back for his degree is that it would mean more that way when he tells kids to stay in school. Good job, Jalen. And I hope we see you with the Pistons next year.

Packers defensive tackle Grady Jackson signed with Drew Rosenhaus (aka The Devil) and promptly indicated his desire for a new contract. But ha ha ha he might not be able to get one! The Packers gave him a $65,000 advance on his contract for next year and NFL rules prohibit a team from giving a veteran player a raise in the twelve month span following a contract renegotiation. The advance is considered a contract renegotiation. I'm sure they'll find a way around it if they want to (signing bonus + the same salary for 2005?) but I think GB is going to play hardball with these guys. If he had stuck with Bus Cook as his agent (the same guy that represents Favre) he might have had a better chance, but I think Green Bay is getting really sick of Rosenhaus, especially after he orchestrated Walker missing the minicamps. I still can't get over the fact that Cletidus Hunt is holding out. Next thing ya know Bill Schroeder will be asking his team for more money (if he's still in the league).

From all accounts, but especially this one because it has an awesome recap of all the summer league games, Alex Acker and Jason Maxiell are having great summer leagues so far. Acker has put up 16 and 21 points (somewhere around there) and Maxiell has had two great games, showing how hard he's willing to work (he even made an opponent the freaking summer league). Darko didn't have a good first game but I guess he looked better in game #2. Delfino apparently hasn't shown much, neither has Paulding. The giant Greek kid whose name I'm not going to attempt to spell isn't playing because of a broken hand. He's on the Darko-track apparently. Amir Johnson apparently looks lost out there, but that's to be expected. I hope they get the D league up and running for this coming year, because he could really benefit from playing and not being our 15th man, carrying Darko's towels. Not to put too much stock into the summer league but it sounds like Acker and Maxiell could contribute next year.

According to TSN the NHL and NHLPA were still meeting today as late as 9:45 pm. They've met 7 straight days, and 80 times since the middle of February (very roughly, that's every other day). What The Blog That Yost Built would like to know is why the hell didn't they start doing this...oh...LAST SUMMER! They had known for at least a year, probably more, that a lockout was very possibly going to happen, but it seemed like last summer both sides were willing to let it happen. They met quite a bit in the time leading up to EJ Hradek's false announcement that there would be a season and got pretty close to a deal. Now they've basically locked themselves into the negotiating room to get a deal done and what do you know...they've made progress! Go figure. Meanwhile, Manny Legace ripped into Bob Goodenow again. He's one outspoken backup goalie! I love that he says what he thinks and doesn't just speak the NHLPA line. I'm waiting for him to rip Goodenow for letting his kid go to State. MLive became the latest publication to send me into convulsions by suggesting that the Wings may turn to old goalie Chris Osgood once the lockout is over. My uncle once said that if Ozzie played for Michigan, the fans would have to change the chant to "sieve, sieve, sieve, sieve, sieve" during Temptation. Even though Ozzie gave up the ability to play for U of M a long time ago, Al Montoya tried his best to get that chant started last season. Don't do it Kenny Holland. Resist the urge to ever have to make me see this again:

Decent enough race in Nascar today, minus the 900 tire failures. Michelin would've been proud. Dale Jr. deserves some kudos for having his head out of his butt for 2 races in a row now. Hopefully that is a trend that will continue. I can't imagine the last 10 races if none of my drivers (Jr, Harvick, and J. Gordon) make the Chase for the Championship. Right now I think they're 13-14-15. Harvick and Gordon would be sitting a lot prettier if people would stop taking them out. They've both had dismal summers. All 3 of them are around 100 points out of the Chase with 8 races to go before the "playoffs". I think Gordon is too good of a driver to not make the Chase. Junior and Harvick both need some luck to go their way. Junior looks like he's breaking out of his slump and Harvick has had good cars, but things haven't gone right for him at all (flat tire today, someone wrecked him last week). I feel like one of those two will get in, but too much needs to go right for both of them to get in. And Tony Stewart is a grade A asshat. Everytime they show the guy I have an overwhelming urge (that I frequently don't control) to flip the TV the bird.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Babcock to the Wings!!!

TSN now says that Mike Babcock has turned down the Ducks 1 year offer and is headed to Detroit as their new head coach. Holland will tell Lewis tomorrow that his head coach contract isn't going to be renewed and they'll hire Babcock on a multi-year deal. YESSSSSSSSS!
Just look at this guy. He's a badass!

"Whitney! Stop sucking!"

Red Wings: Reminding everyone right off the bat that coach's salaries don't count against the cap

A new article by TSN this afternoon says that the Wings are prepared to let Lewis go. In the article, they also say that they've learned Lewis's agent is talking to other teams around the league searching for openings for his client. I can't believe this might actually happen. Tomorrow is Babcock's deadline to sign the offered 1 year deal with Anaheim. The fact that they only offered him a 1 year deal says to me that if Detroit wants him, he's ours. I can't see any coach signing on to be a lame duck when there's a better offer on the table.

Holland said that he met with Lewis and will let him know his fate in the next 24-48 hours (after Babcock's deadline?). Tomorrow could be the best hockey day since the Wings traded for Hasek and I knew that Osgood was finally gone. That was a beautiful day. My dad and I had this thing where we'd always announce trades to each other as dramatically as possible. I heard at like 1 am that the Wings were pulling off that deal and so I ran into the other room and I was like "So the Wings trade Slava Kozlov and a first round pick to Buffalo for............................" and my dad's just kind of nodding along like "Yeah, who'd we get?"......."Dominik Hasek" "WHAT???????!!!!" And the rest of the league was like "WHAT??? @#%*#@%&!!!!"

In other news, according to Western College Hockey, Minnesota uber 2006 recruit Peter Mueller is going to bypass college and go to the WHL for next season. Tear. Lewis maybe gone, Minnesota loses a big recruit, the only thing that could make this day better is if I logged on to ESPN and saw that Drew Rosenhaus got hit by lightning.

Bye Bye Lewis?

According to an article this morning on TSN citing a Toronto paper, the Red Wings are interested in bringing in Anaheim coach Mike Babcock to replace Dave Lewis. The Blog That Yost Built broke into a huge grin as soon as I saw the headline of the article. I don't care who they bring in as head coach--It could be Wayne Fontes for all I care--just get Lewis the frig out.

The Wings have played 3 playoff series under him and all 3 were against teams that were less-skilled, liked to trap, and liked to play defensive hockey. The Wings lost 2 of the three and only beat Nashville thanks to Robert Lang putting the team on his back. What was alarming to me in watching those series, though, was that Detroit didn't seem to adjust once to what the opposing team was doing. Then the adjustment that they did make was Yzerman's idea, not Lewis's. In fact, it came from Yzerman telling him "Stop screwing with the power play units."

I realize that both teams that Detroit lost to (Anaheim and Calgary) ended up ultimately going to the Stanley Cup Finals, and both came close to winning the Cup, but #1, there's absolutely no excuse to get swept by ANYONE with the team Detroit had in 2003 (especially when the goaltending was solid, which is was no matter what anyone says about CuJo). The problem was that in 4 games, they couldn't figure out how to put the puck in the damn net. Fine, you have a bad year...Scotty Bowman lost to San Jose. Move on. The next year, the same darn thing almost happens against Nashville. Thankfully Robert Lang was on board and saved Detroit's season. They get to the next round though, and once again they can't figure out a trapping team. Yes the players have to execute, but when the same type of team gives you problems 3 series in a row without any semblance of an adjustment from the coaching staff, that's a red flag to me.

The man may be a great guy, he may have been an excellent assistant coach...but like Ray Rhodes in the NFL, sometimes being a great assistant doesn't mean that you can be a head coach. Hopefully Mike Illitch and Ken Holland realize what Ron Wolf did back in 1999 in Green Bay. Fold the hand as soon as you realize you can't win.

I don't know enough about Mike Babcock to say if I think he's a great choice, but I know he outcoached the hell out of our current guy 2 seasons ago, so it would be an upgrade. They sucked last year, but those start-up teams coming off the high of making the Finals usually do (Anaheim, Carolina, Washington). I just hope this report is true. It might give me hope that Holland actually knows what's going on. The Wings should be familiar with his as I believe he coached the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks (who the Wings had a small affiliation with) before he took the Anaheim job.

In another TSN article today, Sean Avery blasted the NHLPA saying that Goodenow "brainwashed" a lot of the players and that they gave up an entire season for basicly nothing. He is the latest to make comments to that effect after Manny Legace did that last week. In another article whose link I have no hope of finding, the writer stated that a high-profile player told him that roughly 80% of the players are pissed off at Goodenow. There's no way that guy survives this mess. If they don't axe him right after the deal is done, my guess is that it won't be long. Him and Bettman should be ashamed of themselves about the way they've gone about these negotitations.

(BTW, thanks for the idea about the post formatting Brian)

Random Musings

Nothing real noteworthy happened today to comment on so here's a bunch of random crap floating through my head that's not worth having a whole post about:
--I'm reading Blue Ice right now for the 357th time. If anyone hasn't read John Bacon's book about the story of Michigan hockey, you need to do it. Now. Such a great book, and it's so much more than a story just about Michigan hockey. I pick up new stuff everytime I read it. Today I was reading the section about Yost and the atmosphere in the arena, and Bacon does such a good job describing it, it actually got my heart racing. I can't wait to get back there.
--I don't think Wisconsin's hockey team is going to be nearly as good this season as everyone seems to think that they are. They didn't impress me at all in the Regional, they didn't impress me a whole lot when I got to see them on Fox College Sports, and they return pretty much that whole team, except for their goalie who was pretty darn good. I know their backup put up good numbers in limited action and Connelly is supposed to be a good one...and I love Jack Skille (I'd love to see him end up in a Wings uniform come draft day if we can't get Jack Johnson somehow). But I really don't see how that makes Wiscy a consensus preseason top 5 pick.
--Phil Kessel wins the Hobey next year. It's unfair to expect the kid to win it, but I honestly don't think it's out of the range of possibility. He averaged 2 PPGs against mostly college teams, and every time I've seen him play he's been without a doubt the best player on the ice. I'd be very surprised if he's not a finalist next year at worst. And I wouldn't be shocked if the kid won it.
--If the Wings resign Chris Osgood when the lockout is finally over, I'm not watching. Same thing I said about the Packers potentially drafting Navarre.
--It's definitely not letting me put pictures in my entries. Not sure why. Tried both "from computer" and "from web" pictures. Didn't show up in entry. I suck at blogging.
--There are over 360,000 NCAA student-athletes. And just about all of them are going pro in something other than sports.
--Michigan's new away football jerseys? I think they're decent. The screen printed ones though? Fugly. The collar is blue in the back of the jersey and white in the front of the jersey and the Nike logo is below the collar in blue...not on the collar is yellow (which I think is the sharpest looking part of the real ones).
--Danica Patrick: Yes she's really really hot. Yes she's a much better driver than Sarah Fisher. But all this talk about how well she did at Indy? No one mentions that she WRECKED FIVE CARS!!!! It was straight out of the old IndyCar 2 racing game that I used to play on computer...if the other cars are faster than you, wreck em under the caution! That said, she's a good driver. Don't know that she wins one this year, but she's definitely not out of place racing with the boys...and she's probably a better driver than half of em. I'm already sick of the lovefest though. After the Richmond race (where she just stayed out of everyone's way and dodged the wrecks) where she finished 10th, about 5 laps down, the announcer called it a "very impressive performance". Yeah. If you're Roger Yasakawa. Her and Ron Mexico should get together have uber-children.
--Can't wait for the Pistons summer league games to be shown on NBA TV. I'm excited to see Darko and Delfino actually get some run. And to see Rodney Billups get to be the Mr. Big Shot of the NBA Summer League. Only having baseball on is hell for me.
--And lastly, just because everyone should know this....Crowded House is the best band of all time.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Experimental Rule Change at Michigan

According to USCHO's article about new rules coming to college hockey for next season, U of M will be experimenting in their exhibition games. From the article:

—Experimental rule. The committee reviewed a request from the University of Michigan to allow the school to use an experimental rule in exhibition games. The proposal would change the attacking zone boundary from the blue line to the center ice red line after the traditional zone is gained legally. So, if the attacking team gains the traditional attacking zone legally under current rules on side, the attacking zone expands to include the space between the blue line and the center ice red line.

The committee approved the proposal and extended the option to any school or conference that would like to try this in exhibitions, not just Michigan.

The Blog That Yost Built thinks that the new rule would be a little bit extreme for use full-time, but I'm very curious to see how the game is with the rule in place. I'm also very much looking forward to seeing how confused everyone in the crowd is for the first exhibition game since I would bet that 99% of the people in attendance don't read USCHO on a regular basis, especially during the offseason. The Blog That Yost Built is also very happy that the NHL finally got their heads out of their butts and will likely be getting rid of 2 line passes and bringing back the tag-up offsides. The college game is fine. I love the rules package that they have, minus Scott Hansen being allowed to fuck up any NCAA tournament game Michigan plays in.
The only question I would have is what effect will this have on the Michigan team. The exhibition games are a good time to get the jitters out of the new guys and to get them adjusted a little bit to the college game before they start playing for real. I don't know how smart it is to radically alter the game when you've only got a limited opportunity to essentially practice against an opposing team. Doesn't it essentially make the exhibition games irrelevant (even moreso than they usually are)?
That said, I'm looking forward to the lack of offsides calls leading to Michigan hanging a couple touchdowns on whatever unfortunate Canadian team they're playing--and insulting by not playing their anthem--this year. I'm also looking forward to Jack Johnson laying one of the unfortunate Canadians out. Has anyone been tossed from one of these exhibition games before? Johnson is already #2 on my list of favorite Wolverines of my time in Ann Arbor, behind Jed Ortmeyer. This kid rules.

Monday, July 04, 2005

My First Post

Since there are so many blogs out there that I enjoy reading (namely mgoblog and Western College Hockey) I finally decided to create one of my own.
I can't promise that I'll update it with the frequency of a lot of the blogs out there, and I doubt it'll be as deep as a lot of the blogs out there, but I hope that you'll enjoy reading it.
It will be mainly sports related, though probably not exclusively. In season, I'm sure I'll talk a great deal about the Michigan hockey team. Apart from that I'm sure I'll post about the Red Wings, Pistons, Packers, auto racing, and of course the rest of the Wolverine teams and all the aforementioned teams' respective leagues.
Anyway, we'll see if this gets off the ground. I hope I enjoy writing it as much as I think I will.