Thursday, July 20, 2006

And the Winner......

And the winner of the biggest head-scratcher of a personnel move is.....The New York Islanders! So let me get this straight...they hire Neil Smith along with Ted Nolan to revamp the team, and undo the damage that Mike Milbury did in the better part of a decade he was running the team. They sign some free agents, and are actually having a pretty good offseason.

Then they fire Smith, their new GM, after 41 days on the job. Fair enough, people make hiring mistakes and it's better to correct them immediately rather than let the team go in a direction you don't want it to go.

But then, his replacement as General Manager: Their backup freaking goalie, Garth Snow. Who has no personnel experience. What, is he going to acquire forwards based on how many times they've scored on him? If the Detroit Red Wings have been silently grooming Steve Yzerman for a front office job for ten years and he's still going to get his feet wet before being given a ton of responsibility, how do they expect Garth Snow to step in and rebuild a team? How do they expect a guy to go from rooming with Rick DiPietro to negotiating a new contract for him?

On another note, how did that conversation go?

Charles Wang: "Hey Garth, it's the Wanger. You know, I've been thinking, this backup goalie thing isn't really working out so well for you."

Snow: "I wouldn't go that far."

Wang: "I would. You were like 4 and 15 last year."

Snow: "They took away my gigantic shoulder pads."

Wang: "Anyway, we were thinking. Rather than being our backup goalie, how would you like to be our GM?"

I mean seriously. I hope Ted Nolan was nice to him for the first month of his tenure because Snow just went from being his backup goalie to his boss. Additionally, his goalie's salary will still count against the cap for the next two years apparently.

And as EJ Hradek points out in the article I linked above, Snow will need a mentor. His idea of whom that could be should strike fear in the hearts of all Islanders fans:

In learning the job, Snow will have to lean on someone. That someone likely will
be Milbury, who's the only guy in the building with any GM experience.


Sunday, July 16, 2006

OMG Shirtless!!!!!

The OMG Shirtless!! ranks have a new member. And he is Casey Mears.

Someone reached my humble blog with this search: casey mears&toggle=1&ei=UTF-8&pstart=1&fr=FP-tab-web-t400&b=11

So congrats Casey, you're now in select company. I'm sure this is a bigger honor than landing a ride with Hendrick Motorsports.

Now if we could only get some "shirtless danica patrick" pictures....

Edit: Add Jeff Gordon and AJ Hawk to this list as well

Story Time #2

A couple quick hitters, then a story since I don't have much else to talk about this weekend. God this time of the year is dull.

-I like the Flip Murray signing. Even though I believe I called him "the worst player in the NBA" several times during the playoffs (obviously exaggerating), he's a slasher, he can put the ball in the basket (though he didn't really show that against Detroit), and his contract is VERY reasonable. Now, if he had accepted the offer of the entire midlevel which we supposedly offered him, you would've seen a VERY angry Yost Built post. But for $1.8 million per? I love it. Flip, ya might wanna dump that agent.

-I also like the Krys Kolanos signing for the Wings. Low risk, potentially high reward. You're probably not going to get anything great out of the guy but it doesn't hurt to take a look. He's probably another Boyd Devereaux, but if he can put the concussions behind him we could have a pretty decent player. I don't get not making an effort to sign Donald MacLean though. He was the AHL MVP and was effective in his stint up with the Wings. If they're going to need cheap player to fill out the roster, why not keep your most effective minor leaguer?

-Mike Spath reported that a "very good source" is telling him that Pat Kane will be playing college hockey next year and it will be between Michigan and BU. He'll be enrolling in January after finishing up his high school course work and playing in the USHL. That'll be just a huge pickup for one of those teams, and God do I hope it's us. I've said before that the USA players that have wowed me the first time I saw them the way he did were: TJ Hensick, Jack Johnson, Robbie Earl, Phil Kessel, and Peter Mueller. Not a bad group. That wouldn't be the worst way to recover from the loss of Trevor Lewis. Here's hoping Red and Co. can get it done.

Now time for a story about the famous Michigan/MSU triple OT game:

I wasn't supposed to be there, when Braylon Edwards started snatching those passes out of the air. I work on the stat crew for Michigan volleyball, and they had a game originally slated for 7:00. They came on over the PA and announced the game had been bumped back to 7:30 and I figured I was fine. But as the game started to drag on, I realized that there was going to be trouble. Michigan was down by 17, and my time at the stadium was drawing to a close. Braylon caught the pass that sparked the comeback when I had about 5 minutes remaining.

Everyone started swinging their hats in the air for the ensuing kickoff, myself included. What I forgot was that as the sun went down, I took off my sunglasses and put them on my hat. So when I started swinging my hat in the air, I flung my sunglasses about 50 feet down the row. And of course they were Oakleys, not some $5 pair that I bought at Walmart.

I went to search for them, but in all the excitement after the touchdown, I didn't have a prayer. But I made my decision right then. I was staying. I wasn't going to leave a $150 pair of sunglasses under the bleachers to go get paid $15 for working a volleyball game.

You know the rest of the story in the game. Michigan came from behind in one of the most unbelievable football games of this era. As the fans finally filed to the exits, I started walking up and down the rows. Lo-and-behold, my sunglasses were still there. And as luck would have it, when I flung them, they slid underneath a bleacher so that no one stepped on them.

I sprinted from Michigan Stadium over to Cliff Keen Arena, and arrived an hour late for the game. I told my boss "I know you're going to think this is the biggest bullshit excuse in the world, but...." and explained the story. Luckily he didn't care. I'm still not convinced he believed it. I wouldn't have. But I was all set to leave the greatest game ever played. And even though it didn't seem lucky at the time--I think my exact words were, "Great, we're going to lose to State, and I lost my Oakley sunglasses"--flinging my sunglasses kept me from missing everything.

Friday, July 14, 2006

1,2,3! We want mooooooooooooore.....


Trevor Lewis to the Kings. Damn.

I think I have a new least favorite NHL team. Stop taking our players!!!!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

I Love When Athletes Speak....

One of the great things about the internet are that we are frequently treated to pearls of wisdom that come out of the mouths of people in sport that we might not otherwise hear. Today's gem came from Ed Carpenter, a backmarker in the Indy Racing League. He was asked about Danica Patrick's potential move to Nascar. He actually said the following:

"I think Danica's pretty aggressive in our cars," Carpenter said Wednesday on
WGFX-FM in Nashville. "I mean, you know especially if you catch her at the right
time of the month, she might be trading plenty of paint out there," he said.

That's just priceless. To Patrick's credit, she brushed it off, saying basically "That's pretty funny to me. Ed's a nice guy, I'm glad he's showing some personality". She better be ready for a lot more of that if she heads to Nascar, though. A lot more rednecks, both in the crowd and in the field.

In honor of Carpenter, here's my off-the-top-of-my-head list of my favorite things that have been uttered by people in sports. Keep in mind that I don't condone what several of these people have said, I just found it freaking hilarious that these things could actually come out of someone's mouth. Feel free to add your own in the comments section:

Jacques Lazier has a Freudian slip during a post-race interview when asked about his pink car: "Well it's breast awareness month.........breast cancer awareness month."

Al Groh, after 9/11, when asked if he was worried about hijackings: "I'm not planning on having Arabs in the traveling party. So therefore I think probably that the threat of our being hijacked is pretty remote.'' The apology was just as good: ''I am sorry if my remarks were insensitive. I certainly did not mean to insinuate that millions of sensitive, God-fearing people of Arabic descent are terrorists.'' Uhh, sure ya didn't.

Donald Brashear on the state of the NHL with the new rules: "This game is gay now."

Texas A&M Recruit Terrence McCoy about the recruiting practices down south: "They take care of you down there. I know from my brother they keep your pockets full, give you plenty of money, keep feeding you meals. Besides that all the help they give you with football. They keep you on your grades with private tutoring. Just good all-around."

The entire 7th Floor Crew song, particularly "She thought 5-2 was just my number then she realized, you multiply that b**** up dawg, ya get my d*** size." Athletes should not only be encouraged to rap, it should be required.

That's all for now.

Monday, July 10, 2006

God Bless Stevie Y

In the span of about a week, the City of Detroit lost 3 of my favorite all time athletes in Ben Wallace, Brendan Shanahan, and Steve Yzerman. While Shanahan, and to a lesser extent Wallace (still the heart and soul of the team, even if he was only there for 7 years or so), can be replaced, hockey in Detroit will never be the same without #19 out there.

My first memory of Steve Yzerman that I hold to this day was of him crashing into the goalpost against Buffalo back in 1987. I was 5 at the time, and I remember it to this day. I may not have understood how great Stevie Y was at that point, but based on my dad's reaction, I knew he was someone important.

In the following 18 or 19 years, that man has provided me with some of the happiest moments of my life and has been the type of leader that we'll be lucky if we ever see again in Detroit. And through it all, there hasn't been a more humble sports figure. We have been extremely lucky to have Stevie Y for as long as he's been here. And frankly, if it were possible, I wish the Red Wings would just retire the "C", because no one else is worthy of wearing it in his absence.

In terms of writing about Yzerman, I can't come close to the piece that Chris from Western College Hockey and The Sports Writer's Journal wrote awhile back, so here's a link to it.

The time was probably right for Yzerman to go. And despite that, I wish he would've announced he was coming back for one last season. All year, I knew it could be the last season we'd have him, but I wouldn't let myself believe it and as such, I probably didn't savor every second of him being out there the way I should have. I had the same problem with Brett Favre this year. It only occurred to me in the last couple minutes of the season finale that it really could be it. And even though I had been half rooting against the Packers that game, in a futile effort to have them land Reggie Bush, for the last couple minutes, I just wanted to see one last bit of Favre magic. And as he walked off the field, I was tearing up. Partially because I thought that might be it, but partially because I was so worried about getting Reggie Bush, that I wasn't enjoying every great play he made.

A complete list of great Yzerman moments would be impossible to make, but here are the ones that stand out in my mind, with a video montage at the end that does a great job.

--As Chris mentioned in that article, the absolute defining moment of what Yzerman meant to this city came when he was rumored to be traded to Ottawa. The 4-5 minute long standing ovation Yzerman received when he came out for player intros was a thing to behold. And the fact that it obviously embarassed Yzerman spoke to how great of a human being he is. My guess is after that night, they never discussed trading #19 again.

--The double OT game winner against St. Louis: Not so much the goal itself, because let's face it, it was a terrible goal to give up, but more for the reaction afterward. That was a guy that hadn't won a Cup yet, he didn't know how many more chances he was going to get, and that shot kept the dream alive.

--After the first Probert/Domi fight, Domi skated off the ice making a motion like he was putting on a championship belt. After the second Probert/Domi fight, where Probert kicked his ass, there was Yzerman in the background, mocking Domi by making the same motion with his hands.

--The goal against Vancouver in the playoffs in 2002, where he put it in and then could barely stand up afterward. Hell, the whole playoff run in 2002. The guy was incredible.

--The goal against Chicago (the 2nd video clip in the montage at the end of this post has the tail end of it...just add on the fact that he skated around the entire perimeter twice before he cut up the middle) that had to been seen to be believed.

--The strength with which he dealt with the Vladimir Konstantinov situation.

--Hoisting the Cup for the first time, after all those years.

There are so, so many more. This video does a great job of capturing a lot of them. Enjoy. And hopefully your house is less dusty than mine....

Thank you for everything Stevie Yzerman. Watching the Red Wings is honestly never going to be the same.....

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Thoughts on the World Cup Final

When I started a thread on The Wolverine board a few months back about how soccer is stupid, a bunch of people freaked out and basically said I'm just ignorant and I don't know anything about soccer, blah blah blah. So I figured, alright, the two best teams in the world are playing today, let me watch and see what all the fuss is about.

Still not a fan, still think a lot of aspects of it are stupid.

Don't get me wrong, I respect the hell out of the athletes. You obviously have to be in great shape and be very athletic to play at a high level in that sport. There were some great plays in that game: Henry's spinning run through traffic, Zidane's header that nearly won the thing, Italy's first goal off the corner, the shot off the direct kick that went perfectly over the wall and juuuuust missed the post. But over the course of a 120 minute game, IMO there needs to be more than just a handful of legitimately great plays.

So here are some thoughts on the game, and if you want to call me an ignorant American, go for it. But also understand that there probably aren't a lot of people that have watched more college soccer over the past 2 years than me. No it's not at the same level (or even close) but don't think for a second that I'm just some uninformed yahoo. I know enough about the game at this point to comment on it.

1) Under no circumstance should a game of that magnitude end in penalty kicks. You play what? 63 matches in the World Cup to decide who gets to the championship. You play 120 minutes in the championship. Then you decide the title based on a glorified guessing game? The goalie has no chance in those situations unless he either guesses correctly or the other guy screws up. Italy wins the World Championship because their guys put 5 shots into a huge goal and their goalie didn't even have to make a single save. It seems silly to me. If you insist on a shootout, perhaps backing the players up a few yards would equalize things a little bit? As it is now, they might as well have a shooter-tutor in front of the net and have each of the five players try to hit a different hole on it. Or as John Bacon put it on WTKA today, "It would be like having an extra point contest to decide the Super Bowl."

2) Sticking with my complaining about the OT format, I've always been a big fan of "Golden Goal". Is a thirty-minute overtime, played out even if someone scores, completely necessary? In OT, if someone scores, the game should be over right then. Hell, it essentially is anyway.

3) The diving is embarassing. This is the highest level the game can possibly be played at, and it seems that acting is just as important as dribbling. This, above everything else, is a reason that I will never be a soccer fan. Diving irks me (anyone who has seen my comments about Robbie Earl and Andrew Cogliano knows that) and a sport that heavily rewards it is a sport that I'm probably not watching. Was the France guy even touched on the foul that led to France's first goal? I thought he was, but after seeing the back camera's replay, I'm not so sure. Need a 2 minute rest? Just grab your shin.

I don't doubt that some of those guys were actually in pain--it's a surprisingly rough sport--but I think I counted at least 4 different times the stretcher was brought out onto the field during the game. Unnecessary. Especially since I don't think it was used once.

Henry was injured 30 seconds into the game. You know what it was? It was a PICK! I can't imagine what would've happened to him if Graham Brown every got ahold of him! He sat on the field for like 2 minutes, missed 30 seconds of time and came back in. Hell, when Headbutt McFrenchy hurt his shoulder they brought the damn stretcher out. GET UP AND WALK! It's your goddamn shoulder!

Overall, it was a good game that was decently entertaining. But being that this was the absolute best the sport had to offer, next time I'll probably just stick to watching my Nascar race. And if you tell me that is boring, I'm just going to call you an ignorant Yankee. So there!

Speaking of racing, allow me to indulge on three topics, before I get on to the Red Wings and Stevie Y.

1) Juan Pablo Montoya is coming back to America to race in Nextel Cup next year. Allow me to say, YES! I love Juan Montoya. IMO he immediately becomes the third best pure racecar driver in the series behind Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon. He adds a Hispanic presence to the series, and Nascar will start the hype machine rolling based on him winning the Indy 500. Great driver, thrilled he's coming back.

2) ESPN reported today that Danica Patrick may be headed for Nascar as well. Big mistake. Big, big mistake. Even though they say those cars are easier to handle than IndyCars, I can't see that tiny little girl, physically fit as she may be, being able to handle 500 miles every week for 38 weeks. Frankly, I'm not even sure she's tall enough to drive one of those cars. Plus, she hasn't exactly torn up open-wheel. If she can't beat Ed Carpenter half the time, how is she going to compete with the likes of Casey Mears, let alone Tony Stewart? Stick to open-wheel, Danica.

Plus I'm not sure how the rednecks would take to having a foreigner (Montoya), a girl (Patrick), and a Japanese automaker (Toyota) all enter the series in the same year.

3) Matt Kenseth: I understand you're pissed at Jeff Gordon for spinning you. But if you think about it for 2 seconds, you should be thanking him. You didn't have the fuel to make it to the end anyway. If he didn't spin you, you would've run out of gas under green and lost at least a lap to the field, if not more. Instead of that 21st place finish, we'd be talking more like 37th. So shut your damn mouth. What goes around, comes around bitch. At least he likes the Packers.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

So Much For Options

Ken Holland is an absolute fool.

While the rest of the NHL was out improving their teams today, he resigned Osgood for 2 years. 2 years. So what happens if we land a starting goalie like he's said we need to, then Jim Howard blows up in the AHL this year like he will because he's awesome. What do you do for 2007-08? Why not sign Osgood to a one year deal if you absolutely have to have him back? We're just going to end up in a position where we either have to trade him or eat the salary again.

Now about that starter thing...Holland said earlier this week that he probably won't trade for a goalie because teams are asking an arm and a leg because "they know we need one". But that still left a few guys. Cue Huet resigning with Montreal, Roloson resigning with Edmonton, Gerber going to Ottawa.

So who does that leave on the UFA list? Legace, Hasek, Belfour, and Mike Dunham. Oh yeah, and David Aebischer. There would be egg all over Holland's face if he had to get Legace to come back. Dunham has had two horrible years in a row and he really can't be considered an option at this point. Aebischer is horrible. We don't need an Avs castoff thank you very much. That leaves two old guys. Of those, Belfour is oft-injured and coming off a horrible year for Toronto. Hasek is oft-injured but was still the best goalie in hockey before he was hurt.

It sounds crazy, I know. But what about tour #3 for Dominik Hasek in Detroit. Think about it. A 2 year deal for Osgood seems to indicate to me that they may only offer a 1 year deal to the guy they want to start. Belfour & Hasek would fit that category. That would then set up either Liv/Osgood or Howard/Osgood for 07-08.

If you're in a position where either Ed Belfour, Mike Dunham, Chris Osgood, Manny Legace or Dominik Hasek is going to be your starting goalie for the 06-07 season, why not take a swing for the fences with Dominik Hasek? Split time with Osgood for the regular season, try to keep him healthy, then let him take a run at it in the playoffs. Injuries shouldn't be a huge concern, because if they're so confident in Ozzie that they want to give him a 2 year deal (????????!!!!!!!!!) then they should be confident enough that he can carry the load should Hasek go down.

I didn't even consider him until today. But with options going by the wayside, it looks like good ole Kenny is backed into a corner once again if he doesn't want to trade for anyone. Hasek, not Belfour is the right choice for this team. If he decides to go the trade route, Biron and Giguere are the most realistic options unless Dallas puts Turco on the market. I believe Nabokov's no trade clause kicked in at midnight this morning. Not a lot of good options out there, so why not take a one year chance on a guy that when healthy can still be the best goalie in the league?

And strong work getting us painted into this corner. But at least we've got Ozzie!!!