Friday, June 30, 2006

EDSBS Roundtable

I'm going to participate in this one because yes, I do like talking about myself. And I'm getting paid to do it. Gotta love blogging at work!

1. Education. List the region of the country you were born in, what universities you attended and at least one other you would have attended if your alma mater didn’t exist.

I was born in Henderson, KY. Let’s just call it Louisville. My degree is from the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, to clarify to any Sparties who immediately reply “Dearborn doesn’t count!” to anyone who says they went to U of M. And either way you didn’t get in...) If I didn't get into Michigan, I probably would have gone to Oakland or something for a year and tried to transfer. I'm not really sure. Michigan is the only place I applied.

2. Sports Affiliations. List your top 10 favorite teams in all of sports in decending order. For instance, your alma mater’s football team may be number 1, but perhaps there is a professional team that squeezes in before you get to your alma mater’s lacrosse team.

1. Michigan Hockey
2. Green Bay Packers (though this is more like a 1A)
3. Bryan Herta
4. Michigan Football
5. Detroit Red Wings
6. Detroit Pistons (4-5-6 are all on the same plateau as well)
7. We’ll lump the rest of the racers I like in here… Tony Kanaan, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick and Jeff Gordon
8. Michigan Basketball
9. Michigan Non-Revenue sports
10. Louisville Cardinals Football and Basketball
and like Spinal Tap, this one goes to 11...
11. Texas Longhorns Football (thanks to the Rose Bowl story which I’ve told many a time)

3. Movies. List the movie you’ve watched the most, your favorite sports related movie, the movie you secretly love but don’t like to admit it (possibly a chick flick or b film), and the movie you were (or still are) most looking forward to from this summer’s season.

Most watched: It’d pretty much have to be either Swingers, Rounders, Frequency or Eurotrip
Fave sports movie: Miracle, Mystery Alaska, Rounders, The Mighty Ducks, Days of Thunder all could potentially make the cut depending on my mood. Driven did not.

Shame flick: Bring It On...Kirsten Dunst AND Eliza Dushku? Yes please.

I’m adding a category here…

Movie you hated that everyone else loved: Napoleon Dynamite. Absolutely the biggest waste of two hours and eight dollars ever. I laughed twice. Seriously.
Wedding Crashers is right up there as well. It was ok, but not nearly as funny as everyone seems to think...

4. Music. List your favorite band from middle school, high school, college and today. Also, as with the movies, include the song you secretly love but don’t like to admit. If Nickleback is involved in any of these responses, please give a detailed explanation as to why, god, why.

Middle school: The Rembrandts, Yeah Friends theme!!!

High school: Crowded House (yes the “Hey now, Hey now, Don’t Dream it’s Over” band) Still love em. There aren’t any singer/songwriters finer than Neil Finn.

College: Kasey Chambers

Shamelove song: “4ever” by The Veronicas. Actually, I own that cd and it’s one of my favorite albums I’ve bought this year. I can’t stop listening to it. Every song is just so damn catchy!

5. Books. Favorite book you’ve finished, worst book you’ve finished and the book you really should read but haven’t gotten around to it.

Favorite: The Bone Collector by Jeffery Deaver—Millions and millions of times better than the movie. Everything by Deaver is just gold. “Kill Me” by Stephen White, “Blue Ice” by John Bacon, and the entire Prey series by John Sandford are right there.

Worst: “The Obscene Diaries of a Michigan Fan”—too many leaps in logic, WAY too much hearsay. I pretty much thought I was buying mgoblog in book form. It just wasn’t what I expected.

Book we should read but haven’t: Probably that book about broadcasting that my girlfriend bought me. She’s gonna snap if I don’t read it soon. Too many good books all came out at the same time though! I have to get through those first!!

6. Travel. Favorite city you’ve ever been to and the one place you still must visit before you shuffle off this mortal coil.

Fave city: Toronto. I love everything about that place. And yet strangely, it’s Green Bay, Wisconsin that has me missing it.

City we need to go to: Sydney, Australia. I have to get down under at some point in my life. Preferably while Shane Nicholson, Kasey Chambers, the Finns, Mark Seymour, Dave Dobbyn, The Veronicas, Mick Thomas, Paul Kelly, The Whitlams, and The John Butler Trio are all touring...

7. What do you love most about college football in 20 words or less?
The years come and go, but Sparty’s still our bitch. Oh, and the renewed hope each summer.

You Want to Tell Him or Should I???

First off, prayers going out this afternoon to Northwestern Football Coach Randy Walker's family and friends, and the entire Northwestern community. He passed away waaay too soon.

Next...I didn't realize that if I wanted to boost the number of hits on this site, all I had to do was make fun of a dorky little kid that happened to be wearing a PSU jersey and get Brian to link it. The three biggest days of hits this site has ever had all in a row, and frankly it's not close. Poor kid.

This is old news by now, but I can't resist commenting on U of M's new basketball recruit that Tommy Amaker offered a scholarship to without having ever seen him play. After committing, the kid had this to say:

“Oh man, it’s crazy; this is something I’ve dreamed about ever since I picked up
a basketball,” he said. “To play in a packed house in front of 20,000 fans
screaming with every game on ESPN, it’s going to be incredible.”

Ummm....errr......well if he wants to play in front of 6,000-8,000 fans on Comcast Local, I guess we're the school for him. Does he think he committed to the Pistons?

I hate this time of year.....

Sunday, June 25, 2006

The Wings' Draft

It's hard for me to be overly critical when I haven't seen a single player that we took. But from reading different reviews of the draft, having seen the draft rankings, and looking at organizational needs, I have to bitch about a few things here.

First off, if there's one area where the Red Wings are lacking in prospects, it's on defense. Factor in that Lidstrom and Schneider are getting up there in years, Chelios is way beyond getting up there in years, and Fischer is completely done in all likelihood and it's evident there's going to be a huge need for defense in the coming years. So what do we do last night? Pass on Chris Summers, Nigel Williams, Jamie McBain, and Brian Strait. Because USA doesn't have a history of putting out defensemen or anything (I think they have something absurd like 14 of them in the NHL currently). And we pick one defenseman in the entire draft, with our last pick. And he's small. It does my heart good to know that in 3 years, our defense corps is going to consist of Brett Lebda, Derek Meech, Nik Kronwall, Kyle Quincey, and me. Way to plan ahead guys...because if there's one thing we're going to need more of, it's undersized centers! Because they've worked out so well for us in the playoffs.

They drafted a forward in the second round that was unranked by a lot of scouting services (but he's Swedish so he rules and I want to see him OMG Shirtless!!!), and was something like the 172nd ranked European skater by the report I read. And they took him in the second round? Even if you think the kid is potentially a player, isn't there something to be said for making value picks? Or have I just watched too much of the NFL draft?

Then they follow it up with a goalie in the third round that was also not among the 18 European goalies ranked by the NHL Scouting Services. Who did they pass up to get him? Joe Palmer. Because USA doesn't put out good goalies either. But again, he's Swedish so he's awesome.

I understand they've had a pretty good track record of pulling players out of Europe, but holy crap! Chances are, if the guy isn't ranked by the ISS, you don't need to go grabbing him in the 2nd or 3rd round.

I'm becoming very very scared of this upcoming season. From the looks of things, it seems that all this "Expect some big chances" talk was just that. Talk. Now we're hearing things like "If Shanny comes back, we're looking for a fourth line forward. And we need a defenseman but he's going to be more of a role player. And we need a goalie." But it appears they're dead set on bringing Osgood back for another year (could happen as early as tomorrow). Holland has also said that he wants both youngsters (Howard and Liv) in the AHL.

So it appears that we're looking at a Biron/Osgood combo that just might not be any better than what we had last year, with no major changes to the roster itself. How does that saying go? Those who fail to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it? I'm not hitting the panic button just yet, but this weekend--between losing out on Luongo who we apparently never made an offer for, and having a disappointing draft--doesn't bode well for the future of this team. These are not encouraging signs I'm seeing....

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

We Are! Penn State!

I hope this kid is home schooled, because he's just done for....

The uhh....Star Wars kid is on line 2.

This Doesn't Surprise Me ESPN. a phone service that no one is buying. The Wall Street Journal reported today that fewer than 10,000 people have signed up for Mobile ESPN through the month of May (it launched in February). I'm pretty sure that works out to one person signed up per every three showings of the commercial. While ESPN may be surprised at the low numbers, I for one am not. As an obviously huge sports fan, I checked out the website to see how much this little flip-phone from heaven would cost me when my Cingular contract expires in a year or so. Right then, it became evident that no one in their right mind would sign up for this service.

Why you may ask? Because the cheapest plan they had was for something like $39.99 a month. For 200 anytime minutes--and by anytime minutes they mean night, weekend, everything. Because nights and weekends weren't free. The next level up was for 400 anytime minutes, which included free night and weekends. But it was $70 a month! Yeah I'm gonna go ahead and stick with the family plan....

In light of the fact that more people attend your average New Jersey Devils Stanley Cup parade than have signed up for Mobile ESPN, it looks like ESPN has lowered their prices on it. Now it's a much more reasonable $39.99 a month for 400 anytime minutes plus unlimited night and weekend.

Now, I'm not gonna lie. I'm back to thinking, "Hmmmmmm...."

In other news, it's a sad, sad day at the University of Michigan. The White M-Cards are officially no more.

Per an email I got today: "This e-mail is a reminder to faculty, staff, and students that if they are still carrying a "white" Mcard that these cards are no longer valid. The cardholder must go to an ID Issuing Station (locations can be found at and have their card replaced with a "yellow" Mcard."

RIP White M-Card.

And Sidney? When you come to visit Michigan's campus in a couple weeks, no trying to talk Jack into going pro if the Hurricanes decide to trade him for Pittsburgh's #2 pick. Seriously, that's not cool. You've got Malkin now, just wait another year or three.

And prospective 2007 hockey recruit Jeff Petry has decided that he likes cows better than National Championships and has committed to Michigan State.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

A Commit Confirmed, More on Our New Goalies

More good stuff from Bob Miller on The Yost Post today, courtesy of Paul Shaheen's Research on Ice.

In Paul's article, he mentions that future goalie Bryan Hogan may defer his enrollment until 2008, which alarms me slightly. He seems to very much want to play for the Wolverines, his goaltending coach is Michigan's goalie coach Stan Matwijiw. But at the same time, Bryan Lerg also said he was thrilled to be a Wolverine and he's wearing Green and White after deferring for a year. If Hogan blows up in the USHL this year, which isn't all that unlikely, I'm still not calling him a lock for Michigan if either of our goalies take a strangle-hold on the starting job this year. I've seen this happen too many times.

Some happy comments about Hogan from the article though:
"He really developed into one of our league's elite goaltenders by the end of the year," says Lincoln head coach/GM Steve Johnson, who helped introduce us to Hogan back in March (Hogan's Hero, ROI March 23, 2006). "As the year went on, he understood the pace better, he got stronger, more confident, and we relied on him very heavily. He did an outstanding job."

And about Chad Langlais, whose commitment is now official:
"He's highly skilled, but can play it tough as well," says Johnson of the left shooting Langlais. "He anticipates very well, and know how to jump into the play."

But apparently he makes defense his top priority still. Love seeing those guys described as "highly skilled".

I also didn't realize this, but Jeff Petry is from Orchard Lake St. Mary's originally. That's gotta be in our favor, unless he decides that "it's more of a business down there" or something.

I've been having way too much fun on the board tonight. People want to start Osgood next year for some reason. I'm doing my best to fight the good fight and quash that idiocy.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

One Commit, One Maybe Commit, One Maybe De-Commit

So as Bob Miller reported on the Yost Post today, goaltending Brian Hogan of the USHL's Lincoln Stars has verbally committed to the Wolverines for the fall of 2007. He came to the Stars from Detroit Catholic Central (think Brandon Kaleniecki and David Moss ripping my high school's team to shreds in the state's final four--seriously, look at that box score!) and posted a very solid 22-12-4 mark this year with a 2.50 GAA and a .916 save percentage.

The funny thing about his commit to Michigan is that he was the goaltender that played incoming freshman goalie Steve Jakiel right out of Lincoln earlier this year (Jakiel had a 3.38/.887 with the Stars this year). Jakiel was traded and performed much better, while Hogan had a very solid season indeed.

So now with 3 goalies out of the USHL scheduled to be on the roster in the Fall of 2007, one has to wonder if the loser of the battle between Sauer and Jakiel this year won't end up transferring. I seem to remember there being some pretty decent teams after Hogan, so I doubt he's walking on, but I don't know that we'll carry 3 scholarship goalies either. Could make for an interesting competition this fall and next.

Western College Hockey heard from a reader that Lincoln defenseman Chad Langlais was listed as a Michigan commit during the Lincoln camp as well. That has not been confirmed, but head to MGoBlog for a fun shot of him plastering an opponent. Brian draws a comparison to Eric Werner based on his size, but in the linked (surprisingly good) article written by Pat Caputo, Langlais says that he "enjoys being the last line of defense" there goes the Werner comparison!

As for the potential de-commit, I heard a rumor tonight (from someone with a pretty darn good track record) that one of our recruits is OHL bound. I did not receive a name with this, but my own personal belief is that it is AJ Jenks that we should be worried about. This would, however, mean that he made a 180 from a couple weeks ago, so it's very possible I've got it wrong. We may find out on this one tomorrow. No one on the OHL boards I looked at has made a mention of this, so hopefully the smoke is just Charles Rogers toking up, and not actual fire.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Who Will the New Goalie Be?

Interesting stuff going on with the Wings the last few days. First the news came down that the Wings have told Manny Legace that they will not be offering him a new contract, meaning there will be a new starting goalie brought in. The alarming part of that article was this: "In all likelihood the Wings will sign Chris Osgood to be the backup; he made $900,000 last season and doesn't have a case for much of a raise."

I'll get to that in a minute.

So Legace is gone. No biggie. I could've lived with giving him one more shot, but he basically talked his way out of Hockeytown with his "I want to be a starter, I don't want to be on the bench again" and "I know that if I lose [this series] I won't be back in Detroit" comments that he made. The question then become, who do you bring in? Martin Biron is available, one of the Anaheim goalies (more likely Giguere) will be out there, Roberto Luongo might be available via trade, Nabokov and Raycroft could very well be available. Martin Gerber might be available. So there are some options out there.

But then there's this from TSN:
In other news, free agency doesn't start until July 1 but one of the goaltenders the Detroit Red Wings may be interested in kicking the tires on is former Toronto Maple Leafs netminder Ed Belfour, depending on his health situation. Wouldn't that be interesting with Belfour possibly following in the footsteps of Curtis Joseph.

The alarm factor goes up a notch on that one, simply because it's Bob McKenzie kicking that out there. I would just laugh if it was Al Strachan bringing it up. I don't have much interest in a 41 year old goalie that had a 3.29, .892 this year. I think I'd rather have the combo of Sauer/Ruden again than have Belfour and Osgood. Shoot me now.

But then there's a rumor from Eklund. Granted his method of reporting is to throw a bunch of shit at the wall and see what sticks. He says that this rumor has come from two different people that are not connected to each other.

On to today`s rumor....two solid sources are telling me that a trade is in the works that would send Luongo to Detroit for Datsyuk. One source had the trade being much larger, which makes more sense...Luongo and Olesz for Datsyuk, Holland, and Jakub Kindl. I will be making calls throughout the day on this one...

Since I highly doubt the Wings GM is trading himself to Florida as part of the deal (though I can dream), the question is who did he mean instead of Holland? Hudler or Howard? Howard would make more sense for Florida. Datsyuk and Hudler are basically the same player, and since they'd be giving up a goalie it'd make sense that they would want a top prospect back. I would make that deal contingent upon Luongo signing a long-term deal (and I'm sure they'd want Datsyuk to do the same). It doesn't make sense to do that trade if Luongo could potentially be a one-and-done since we'd be giving up the best goalie prospect we've had since...umm....Sawchuk?

As for what was reported above about Osgood coming back as the backup, I just have to ask: WHY? What sense does that make? Obviously if you're getting a guy like Luongo, it doesn't make sense to have Jim Howard as backup (provided that he's not part of the trade) since he'd only be playing like 10-15 games, but if you're going to bring in a Raycroft, Biron, Nabokov or someone like that, where Howard could get 30-40 starts, then why not do that? Dare I mention that both Cam Ward and Bryzgalov both started roughly 30 games for their teams this season? If it's getting to the home stretch and you're not comfortable with the guys you've got, you can always swing a deal at the deadline to bring in a vet (a la Roloson). What's the point in spending a million bucks on a backup that's going to suck for 80% of the season and then comment after each 4 goal-in-a-period game that he'd be playing better if he had more playing time?

Holland swore on the radio (and it was mentioned in the linked Free Press article as well) that he would not trade Pavel Datsyuk. I've been through it before how I think that's about the most short-sighted, idiotic thing I've ever heard. It makes no sense not to at least dangle him out there and see what you can get, since he's obviously going to be tough to resign (and we'll have to overpay him if we do resign him). If they have a chance to pull in a guy like Luongo, who is one of the best goalies in the league and only 25 to boot, they have to do it. They'd be subtracting exactly 0 goals from the roster come playoff time and adding that player that would make a lot of other teams in the West go "Oh shit" like they did when we got Hasek.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

College Hockey Roundtable Response

Since I’m at work and I’ve got absolutely nothing better to do, I thought this might be a good day to finally respond to Bruce Ciskie’s “Improving the Game of College Hockey” blog roundtable.

Let’s get right to it!

Has the college game truly seen in increase in stickwork in recent years?

Absolutely! And in a lot of cases it’s when the haves play the have-nots that it’s a major problem. The best way for a less-talented team to keep up with a more-talented team is to clutch-and-grab or hook-and-hold. Teams have gotten away with it for far too long (in both the NHL and NCAA).

I also think that since the players all have cages/full shields on, they’re more likely to get their sticks up high because they know chances are that no one will get hurt doing it. It’s not a good habit to get into. I think much more high-sticking goes on at this level than in the NHL.

Do officials do a good job of calling "clutch-and-grab" infractions consistently?

No. I can’t even say how many times this year I wrote in my blog that it seemed like a ref was “making things up as he went along”. They need to make up their mind. If they want to call everything, call it both ways, and actually do call everything. And if you’re going to let them play, then be consistent that way too. Don’t just randomly see a guy put his stick on someone’s hip and call it a penalty like it technically should be, when you’ve let that same infraction go five times in the game.

What do you think of the "checking from behind" crackdown?

Hated it! I understand the reason behind the rule, and I understand that the goal is to get the hitting from behind out of college hockey. The reasoning is sound, but there are inherent faults in a “no tolerance, automatic ejection” rule such as this one.

The first fault was obvious from the first drop of the puck this year, when the Varsity Blues had a player ejected almost immediately against U of M for a hit that was borderline if it should have even been a two-minute minor. At the start of the year, officials were so into the “no tolerance” thing that there were frequently players tossed for hits that were minors at absolute worst. In addition to losing a key player, the team would have to kill a five-minute penalty. That’s not a deterrent to hitting from behind, if players were getting tossed for normal checks. That’s just stupid.

The next fault was that players then realized that they may be able to draw an opponent into a major penalty/ejection by turning toward the boards when a hit was coming. And it worked. Repeatedly. That action completely went against what the rule was designed for. Instead of protecting players by getting hitting from behind out of the game, it was actually putting players in jeopardy because of the huge reward for being hit from behind. Whether Tyler Howells turned away from Jack Johnson on purpose or not, that hit illustrated this phenomenon perfectly. Jack had him lined up, Howells turned and got himself injured in the process, and Johnson was suspended for a game for “excessive roughness” on a hit that was as clean as any you’ll see.

The final flaw came when the referees, too, realized that this rule was stupid. Why eject a player and put a team down for 5 minutes for bumping someone lightly around the boards? They started calling boarding, roughing, cross-checking, charging rather than hitting from behind, so that they could still call a minor, rather than ejecting the player. I can’t believe it took them so long to figure it out that they could call other penalties in those situations. That led to a lot of inconsistency with the calls.

Basically I think this rule—while well intentioned—was a complete Navarre from the get-go.

What NHL rules change would you like to see adopted in college hockey, and which one do you want college hockey to stay away from?

Oh Jesus God, don’t put that freakin’ trapezoid in. Although, with Sauer’s puckhandling ability, Michigan might be better off with him discouraged from playing the puck. I also don’t like the no tolerance rule for any player playing the puck over the glass in his defensive end being given a penalty. Refs should be smart enough to see if a player is doing it on purpose.

I love the NHL rule that doesn’t allow a team to make a line change after an icing call. I think it was absolutely brilliant of them to put that in (though, if you’re going to have that rule, then don’t go to a TV timeout after an icing call).

I would have asked for shootouts, because I think they’re unbelievably exciting, but I agree completely with Bruce’s point about how the college season may be too short to put so much emphasis on a shootout. I wouldn’t be opposed, however, to moving to an overtime-loss-still-gets-a-point format to encourage teams to go for the win in OT. I also love the 4 on 4 in the NHL overtimes.

What do you think of the increased use of replay in college hockey?

Just like in college football, I think it’s great. When it works. I can’t fathom how, with the benefit of instant replay, they can still get things wrong so frequently. When an MSU shot clearly goes through the goal, and the replay clearly shows the puck going through the goal, how does that not count? How do you screw things up after watching a replay?

Also, there’s no point in having it if you’re not going to have overhead cameras at the rinks that have replay. They can’t be that expensive. And again, Bruce is right. If you’ve got a TV camera, use those angles too.

What is one random change you'd like to see made in hockey?

First off, call the dives. Robbie Earl, Andrew Cogliano, etc. You’re embarrassing yourselves out there when you flop around the way you do. It’s my biggest pet peeve about hockey (and soccer for that matter). It annoys me to no end when players dive. Call it, get it out of the game.

Secondly, this isn’t really feasible with all the contract issues involved, but I’d love to see a college hockey alumni all-star game/tournament sometime. It will never happen—we have a better chance of seeing a Big Ten Hockey Conference—but wouldn’t that be cool? Make teams out of the pro hockey players to have come out of each conference/school and have a tournament. It’d be awesome.

The next change involves tar, feathers, and Scott Hansen.

They need a better way of ranking teams whether it’s KRATCH or something else. The Pairwise isn’t cutting it. At one point very late last season, Cornell was something like #10. But had they changed the result of one single game against MSU at the start of the season, they would have vaulted to first overall. That’s an extreme example, but things like that shouldn’t happen. If they had beaten MSU that game, would we have really said that Cornell was the best team in the country, but since they lost there were nine teams better? I highly doubt it.

Lastly—taking a cue from ABC’s Wide World of Sports showing John Elway’s pinwheel against Green Bay in their opening montage and causing me much pain over the years—I suggest that every televised college hockey game for the next ten years open with a shot of Mike Legg’s goal, followed by Holy Cross’s game winner against Minnesota. It’s only fair.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Game 5 Review

Where the hell has that been for the last couple of weeks?

It wasn't perfect, but it was a lot closer to the Pistons team that we saw cruise through the regular season than it was to the pro version of Michigan hoops that we've been treated to since game 3 of the Cleveland series (Wait, we just threw away another entry pass?)

This sets up a Game 6 in name only tonight. It's Game 7 for the Pistons, because if they lose, they're done. It's Game 7 for the Heat, because they simply can't afford to have to come back to Detroit all-square. I feel pretty good about Detroit's chances, just so long as a team slightly resembling the regular season Pistons shows up tonight. They are, afterall, 8-0 in Game 6's since 2003, and 6-0 on the road in Game 6's in that span.

They did an adequate job on Wade in Game 5 (by the way, it says a lot for that kid that he was something like 10 of 17 from the floor and I'm happy about it). They did a much better job getting the ball inside--for a little while. And the open shots were there. Sheed and Hamilton need to knock down their open looks tonight. Sheed's been off this whole series, and Hamilton has been brutal in the second half of several games. Last game we had 3 of our 5 starters playing well on the offensive end--and despite what one of the Detroit papers said, Billups did play well on the offensive end...when you have a 10-1 assist to turnover ratio, I can live with some missed shots. They're going to need at least that tonight, but I'd prefer if Hamilton was among those shooting well tonight.

If the Pistons should come back and win this series, the highlight of Ben's block on Shaq (and he won the subsequent jump ball, too!!) will go down as the biggest defensive play since Tayshaun's block on Reggie Miller.

For at least a night, the old Pistons were back. Now it's up to them to make sure it's not too little, too late.

And for God's sake, please don't let Dick Bavetta or Dan Crawford be doing the game tonight....