Monday, July 30, 2007

A Great Cause

A charity auction for a great cause was brought to my attention today, and I'd like to pass the information along to everyone in hopes of raising awareness of the fundraiser.

The Bernard "Pat" Maloy Scholarship was established to award a scholarship to an incoming Kinesiology student whose life has been touched by cancer (either themselves or a family member). It honors Pat Maloy, a beloved professor in Sports Management, who lost his battle with cancer in 2001. While I never had the pleasure of taking a class with Professor Maloy during my time in Sports Management, I remember how saddened the entire department was when he passed away. The reaction of the school made me truly feel like I missed out by not having a class with him.

In an effort to help fund this endowment, they are having an auction of Michigan sports memorabilia (along with Red Wings items, and items from many other athletes). The auction is going to start in the middle of October, but 2/3rds of the items have already been listed so that people can take a look around. There has been some really great stuff donated, including items signed by multiple players (Desmond Howard/Elvis Grbac, Braylon Edwards/Anthony Carter, Ortmeyer/Berenson, etc.).

Additionally, if you register for the site (free) and log-in before September 1, you will be entered in a drawing for some autographed Michigan items from people like Red Berenson, Tyrone Wheatley, and Jamie Morris.

I've added a link to the sidebar as well, and no-doubt will be mentioning this auction again as the start approaches.

They also have a section of the site for people who would like to donate an item (or cash) to the auction.

As I said, this is a great cause and there's a lot of very cool stuff up for bid. Please check the site out if you have a moment and consider bidding in the fall if there's anything that you're interested in. Thanks!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Michigan/ND to Play Hockey at The Palace

Notre Dame's hockey schedule was released today, and there's something fairly interesting in there. Their home game against Michigan in January will actually be played at The Palace of Auburn Hills.

I can see some pluses and minuses for Notre Dame with this move. As one of my friends pointed out, it's likely a way to get some more exposure in the southeast Michigan market. There aren't a lot of hockey players that come out of Indiana, so the more they can be seen by kids in the hockey hotbed of Metro Detroit, the better for them. There are too many good players for Michigan and MSU to take all of them, and Jeff Jackson has been doing a great job nabbing kids that either school would've probably wanted anyway. If it's legal--and since Michigan frequently has the whole Honeybaked team in attendance, I don't see why it wouldn't be--Notre Dame should be trying to get every AAA team they can find to come to that game. Give tickets to Honeybaked, Little Caesars, Belle Tire, Compuware...all of em.

On the negative side, they're giving up a home game--which would've been a sellout--against a good hockey team in Michigan, in favor of playing what will essentially amount to another road game in the series. If I was a Notre Dame fan, I wouldn't be very happy about the school voluntarily giving up their only home date against Michigan in favor of playing the game an hour from the Michigan campus. (One other plus is that the fans who might not have been willing to make the drive to Ann Arbor for one game might now be willing, knowing that there will be two games to see, even if one of them is another hour away.) It might help in recruiting, but when you've only got one good conference home game (MSU--they also have a home series vs. Denver which should be fun) it'd be frustrating as a fan to see the other marquee team on the home slate bumped off to a neutral site.

For Michigan, this is a huge positive. Rather than having to make the trip into Notre Dame's building, they get to stay in their own beds and have an hour bus-ride instead of closer to four. Then they get the benefit of playing in front of a pro-Michigan crowd against a quality opponent in a game that they otherwise would've been on the road for. Plus their fans don't have to subject themselves to the shithole of a city that is South Bend.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Hey ABC, **** You

Every now and then, I have to get up on my soapbox about something other than sports. I try not to do it all that often because, let's face it, the 150 or so people who visit this site on any given day are here to read about sports, specifically Michigan Hockey. But this is one of those times that I need to speak out on something.

I'm a pretty big fan of the show Traveler. I thought the concept was great, the pilot was wonderful, it was well-written, well-acted, I absolutely love William Sadler. The series finale aired on Wednesday. I just got around to watching it today, and I about flipped my lid. All along, we had been promised that the show would get its run and that our questions would be answered. Then, once again ABC flipped the bird to all their viewers, cutting the order of shows from 13 down to 8. Which would have been fine except for the fact that they informed the Traveler producers/writers of this as they were wrapping up Episode 7.

So we got our season finale alright. Except that final 6 episodes had to be crammed into 40 minutes of TV. And while there were a few answers, many more crucial questions were raised, never to be answered. Such as, is the FBI going to kill Kim? What happened to the Porter who didn't show up after about episode 5--and who was he anyway? What will happen to Agent Marlowe now that she knows Chambers was in on it? Did Carleton Fog die? What about Jay and Tyler--they're still on the run? Can Marlowe clear their names? Did Fried die in that carbomb or did he set it up? Did Will, Tyler, and Jay leave the evidence in the limo or did they keep it with them? How did Will get recruited? Why was the painting so important? What was the bigger plan that was referenced? Is it still a go? What the hell is the 4th Branch? What got Carleton Fog involved?

There was so much to wrap up, and when the limo exploded my girlfriend asked me, "How long is left in this show anyway?" I pulled up the info on the DVR and was like, "Oh. That's it."

So thank you ABC, once again, for a big case of TV Blue Balls. And what are they going to show in lieu of the 5 Travelers that they pulled the order for? The Nine. Yes, The Nine. As in, the show about the bank robbery that was FUCKING AMAZING but was canceled after seven episodes because it couldn't hold Lost's lead-in. They didn't try it in another time slot even though it's been proven that nothing can follow Lost. They just pulled it from the schedule one day, and now they're going to burn off the remaining 6 episodes.

Which is great except for the fact that 1) It's been like seven months since the show was canceled and 2) The producers of that show weren't expecting to get the heave-ho after 13 episodes, and no additional episodes were filmed after the decision, so basically we're not going to get any closure at the end. I'll watch, because I absolutely loved that show, but the ratings are going to be extremely small (they aren't running a recap of what has happened thusfar, so there's no way they're getting any new viewers) and quite honestly I'd be surprised if it makes it through this six week run of burn offs. And I'm going to be pissed off at the end because I want to know what happened in the damn bank.

Pretty much every serialized show that aired this season was pulled. My theory is that people aren't watching because they know the show likely won't make it and they don't want to get attached, only to be left hanging. There have been other shows (Daybreak and Drive to name two) that I thought looked interesting, but didn't watch for that very reason.

So what do you do about it? My thought is this: Shows like The Nine, Traveler, Daybreak, Drive....they're not shows that need to run for 4, 5, 6 seasons.

There's only so much that happened in the bank on The Nine. I read that the original plan was to have that arc completed by the end of the season and then deal with the effects of the situation in later seasons. It's unnecessary. The scenes in the bank were the best part. Tell that story in one year, maybe two, and be done with it.

In Traveler, you can only have Jay and Tyler on the run for so long. Once their names are cleared and the situation resolved, the show should end.

Why not design these shows--and market them--as miniseries more than actual shows that they're intending to keep around for awhile? Say "This is our show. We've got 15 episodes (or whatever) to tell a story. We think it's a great one. We think you'll really enjoy it, and ABC has committed to letting us film every episode, so even if the ratings aren't good, you'll get to see it in its entirety even if it's online. So all the questions the show raises will be answered in the end."

I guarantee more people would watch because they'd be sure to get the closure they're looking for and to find out what happens in the story. After all, that's the whole point of watching the show in the first place, right? The writers could concentrate on making one great season of the show rather than trying to leave things open for subsequent years (only to have those issues remain open when the show is canceled). They wouldn't have to worry about filler episodes. And viewers would know going in that it's basically going to be like a long movie. It'll entertain the hell out of you while it's on, but it's not something that you're going to see for years and years.

And even if the show was really enjoyable, and I was disappointed that there wouldn't be more, that would still be better than having a season/series finale that had to cram 5-6 episodes worth of information in...or having a show I love get canceled, brought back seven months later, only to leave me even more disappointed since nothing is going to get resolved. A great story told over 15 episodes is still something I'd watch and enjoy. And still something that I would buy the DVD of when it came out.

At least Standoff and Justice (two other very entertaining shows that didn't make it) were for the most part stand-alone shows, so I wasn't left hanging when they got the axe.

I'm honestly at the point where I'm seriously considering just DVRing every show that I'm interested in next season, then watching the ones that end up making it. Everyone is raving about Pushing Daisies, but why watch if it meets the same fate of the critics' darling of last year (The Nine)? I think New Amsterdam and Big Shots sound good, but if they'll be canceled six episodes into the season, why waste my time?

If the episodes aren't going to stand alone, then at least do your viewers the courtesy of getting their questions answered. Because otherwise, I just wasted a bunch of hours of my life. As much as I enjoyed Traveler, part of me wishes that I hadn't watched it simply because the main points of the show--Who is Will Traveler? and Do Tyler and Jay clear their names?--weren't answered.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Fix Is In

Obviously the big story today is the revelation that ex-NBA official Tim Donaghy may have bet on NBA games, including some that he officiated. I'm having a hard time putting into context how big of a story this is. I'm sure I'm forgetting some biggies, but part of me feels that this might actually be the biggest sports scandal of my lifetime.

If these allegations are proven true, it's going to change the way we watch basketball--and possibly sports in general. We've all made the jokes about officials taking money or betting on the games, but no one (apart from possibly PSU fans) actually believed it. Now? We've moved into a world where an official has quite possibly fixed games that he was officiating.

The NBA would like you to believe that this is one man, acting alone. But is it? How do they know? If they didn't know about this guy, how do they know that there aren't others out there? How many names were bandied about when the allegations came down, before the man was identified? Joe Crawford was doubtlessly the first name on everyone's mind, what with his strange ejection of Tim Duncan and extremely severe suspension that followed. I'd be lying if I said it didn't cross my mind that maybe David Stern got wind of him gambling, and that suspension for Crawford was for other reasons than the incident with Duncan (kind of similar to the story that Stern suspended Jordan for gambling, during his "retirement").

The first thing that crossed my mind was, "God help this league if he officiated during the 2006 NBA Finals". Thankfully, he did not. If he had been officiating during that debacle, it would've taken this to Black Sox level. And Mark Cuban would never have let down. My next thought was "Hmm....I wonder if I wasn't just being a shameless homer about some of the calls in the Cleveland and Miami series the last couple of seasons". Again, thankfully he didn't do any of those games. Though, Hit By A Pitch points out that Bill Simmons railed the crew who did Game 3 of the Spurs/Suns series, and Donaghy was a part of it.

Another game he officiated was the St. Patrick's Day Pistons/Knicks game. I kind of remember Detroit fans being pissed about this one, myself included, and Detroit Bad Boys recalls why.

Chauncey Billups, who scored 24 points, said afterward that he wishes the league held the officials publically accountable for their calls.

“My thing is, after the game, I have to talk about what happened down the stretch, why we did this or that,” Billups said. “I wish the refs had to do that.”

“My thing is, if you’re going to let them play, let them play,” Pistons coach Flip Saunders said after the game. “There was a little bit of inconsistency, so it was hard to adapt to that.”

The officials called 36 fouls in the second half, including seven technicals. And while the Pistons were careful to take some of the blame in a game they led at one point by 16, they wouldn’t shoulder all of it.

“I think (the officials were) more of a factor tonight than any game we’ve played this year,” said Tayshaun Prince, who scored 15 points. “Even though some other games were the same, I thought it was more important in this than any other one.”

And therein lies the real reason that the effects of this scandal will be so far-reaching. Back then, we chalked it up to general incompetence. Now? There's a very real possibility that the fix was in. Keep in mind there's no evidence (yet) that Donaghy fixed that game or even tried to manipulate who covered. But it's in your head now, isn't it? And it will be in my head for a long time, whenever the officiating seems too one-sided. Or those "phantom fouls" occur.

What was once thought to be horrible officiating could now conceivably be viewed as fixing the outcome. And the NBA has a long way to go to win back the trust of the fans in that regard.

Donaghy also officiated the Palace Brawl game, which I actually attended. I don't remember that one as being poorly officiated as much as I remember the Pistons sucking big-time. That one is a black mark on his record more for the way the crew handled the events after Artest's flagrant foul than anything else. No amount of point-shaving could've saved Detroit in that game, though.

Additionally, Donaghy was the official who had a run-in with Rasheed Wallace after a game in Portland, which cost Sheed seven games.

What's truly scary for the NBA is that when these allegations came out is that people weren't necessarily shocked by it. I kind of had a "Hmm...that ain't good. But I'm not surprised" reaction to the news.

What's scary is that there were so many names thrown out there, and a case could be made for all of them, whether it be Crawford's suspension or Jess Kersey's wild swing in games against the spread from 05-06 to 06-07.

What's scary is that it would be easy for an NBA ref to do what Donaghy is accused of. There are so many fouls called in a typical game, so many points scored, so many possessions, that even if you call touch fouls on a few that you would normally let go, you can drastically alter the outcome of the game (or the outcome vs. the point spread). Quite frankly, you wouldn't have to do anything overly obvious. It's not like you'd have to be Robert De Niro in The Fan when he was umpiring Bobby Rayburn's last at bat. A whistle here, a whistle there. Suddenly a 5 point game is a 10 point game. A 2 point lead for Team A is a 4 point lead for Team B. And you've got some pissed off fans, but nobody pays too much attention.

Well they will now.

Marc Stein is right. It's amazing to think that something could happen that trumps the baseball steroids scandal along with the Michael Vick/Ron Mexico/Ookie dogfighting ring, but it happened. And don't think for a second that David Stern wouldn't trade for either one of those issues over what is facing his league tonight.

Needless to say, Stern has to be pissed. The league has just received an influx of young stars (LeBron, Wade, Melo, Oden, Durant, Amir Johnson (heh) amongst others) and now they receive a black eye that's going to be around for a long, long time.

And if the situation as a whole isn't bad enough, these allegations came out on the very day that NBA officials were set to meet with a developer about a possible arena in Las Vegas, according to ESPN's J.A. Adande in his excellent article about the situation. The Las Vegas mayor says that if anything, this strengthens their bid for a team. Personally, I think that's spin that Baghdad Bob would be proud of. I can't see the NBA being in a real hurry to put a team in Las Vegas now. Stern was concerned about putting one there due to the gambling in the city before these allegations came out. To me, this likely sets their bid back years...if it doesn't crush it entirely.

For the sake of basketball, I hope this is an isolated incident. That Tim Donaghy really is just a man with a gambling problem who got in too deep with the wrong people. Because if it runs any deeper than that, then the NBA is faced with a very real problem of not only incompetent refs, but refs that are on the take as well.

Referees are like rookie defensemen. When you notice them, it's usually not a good thing. And today, we noticed the NBA officials in the worst way possible. It's hard to think of a worse scenario for a sports league than to have an official fixing games. And it's going to be really interesting to see what David Stern's response is.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Alumni Updates

The Yost Post was full of good news about some of our old players.

Kevin13--the local Heavealunch fan--informed us that the Assholelanche have signed Jeff Jillson to a contract. I look forward to lots of short-handed breakaways for the Wings.

It's also sounding like Hensick made an impression on the Avs in their prospect camp. His chances of making the roster went up, but as Kevin pointed out, the top two line center slots are filled by Sakic and Stastny, and he's not really a checking line player. Or at least that's not what his strength is.

My thought is that if he's really ready for the NHL, you have to find a slot for him. The Avs aren't so deep up front that they can send a talented playmaker down to the minors just because you've got two good centers already. Even if you have to make him play wing or something, you find room for him. It's nice that he's doing well, even if he deserves better than to play for the Divealanche. I still can't believe he lasted that long in the draft.

Bob Miller posted a link to the Pittsburgh Penguins site, which states that they've hired Jason Botterill as Director of Hockey Administration. JBo just got his MBA from Michigan. He will essentially be the team's capologist, and will dabble in scouting as well. Also on the site is an article which contains some quotes from Botterill. It sounds like a pretty cool job, and one that he seems very well qualified for. Nice to see the education side of college hockey paying off for a player down the road.

Additionally, The Wolverine announced their Top 25 Athletes of the Year and TJ Hensick was awarded the top spot. It's a nice accomplishment considering the championships that some of our non-rev athletes had this year, along with the season the football team put together (last two games not withstanding). Following the absurdity of Hensick not even being in the Hobey Hat Trick--let alone winning the award, like he should have--it's nice that he got some recognition locally, at least.

JMFJ was listed as #15, and future captain Kevin Porter came in at #25.

Shockingly, Billy Sauer was omitted from a similar list, the Top 25 Athletes on the Hockey Team.

Ok, I made that last part up.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Story Time: I Hate Tape Delay Edition

Alright, time to take you all back in time to the 2002 CCHA Championship between Michigan and Michigan State. The Spartans were #4 in the country and had gone 1-0-2 against the Wolverines in the 3 previous meetings that season.

For whatever reason, we neglected to make the trip down to Joe Louis for the game, and instead I invited about a dozen friends to come over and watch the game in my dorm room in West Quad (Rumsey, what?!) on my 13" TV/VCR combo (score!).

Fox Sports decided to show the game on tape delay. So I tried my darnedest to avoid finding out the final score of the game. I turned off AIM for the first time in months/years, I didn't go online. About 15 minutes before faceoff, the phone rang. I pick it up, and--without even saying hello--the voice on the other end says, "I CAN'T BELIEVE WE BEAT RYAN MILLER!!!"


If you want a mix of emotion, that's a pretty good one. Elation that we knocked off Sparty for the CCHA crown. Incredulousness that my idiot friend actually thought that I wouldn't be watching the game on FSN. Anger that I had what was no doubt sure to be an exciting game stripped away from me.

Five minutes or so later, another friend called to see if I had heard. I was kind of speechless.

Then people started showing up. I had to pretend I didn't already know what happened, in an effort to not spoil the game for anyone else. That meant cheering on goals like we had won the Stanley Cup. Cursing penalties and opposing goals. And I'm not especially a good actor.

So there we all sat. Cheering the Wolverines on as Jed Ortmeyer scored early in the third period to put us ahead for good. Biting our nails as MSU made their final run late in regulation. Erupting as the final horn sounded.

After we were done hugging and high-fiving, my friend Chris spoke, "Yeah, so I already knew what happened. I just didn't want to spoil it." I replied, "Yeah, I did too." From the back corner of the room, "Yeah, we did too." Other hands started going up.

It turned out that my friend Matt was the only person in the room that had no idea about the outcome. The other 10-11 of us had heard in some way, shape, or in my case, multiple forms.

And that, my friends, is yet another example of why I hate tape delay.

Sidenote about my friend Matt. Back during the Ryan Miller era, he was once heard talking in his sleep, simply muttering, "Fuck State, all they got is a goalie." So, so true.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Potential College Hockey Rule Changes

USCHO has an article up about the potential rules changes that have been discussed at their annual meeting. There are a few very interesting--some radical--changes that have been discussed.

Two Referee, One Lineseman: I'm against this, simply because I feel that there aren't enough good officials in college hockey to have a ONE referee system, let alone two. I posted a few weeks ago about the sorry state of CCHA officiating now that Steve Piotrowski has hung up the whistle. And now we want to double the number of refs? Let's concentrate on finding two or three that don't suck before we double the ranks.

One thing that I wonder about--and it doesn't get addressed in the article--is if one/both of the referees will be allowed to call offsides? There has to be a linesman on each side of the blueline. And it would make things horribly tough for that single linesman in transition if the refs don't help out.

A Crackdown on Delaying The Game: Like it. Especially for the positional players. It drives me bonkers when a player just reaches out, pulls the puck underneath him, and there's no Delay of Game call.

Embellishment: Everyone should know by now that I hate players who dive. Anything that works to get it out of the game is fine by me. Hopefully the NBA is next.

Overtime: I also typically hate ties. And they've discussed a variety of methods to eliminating them. One being the standard 4 on 4 OT. One being 4 on 4 and then a shootout. Those are my two favorite options. I could take or leave the shootout. They're fun to watch, but I also get that it's vastly different from the game as a whole, and I don't like that part of it (similar to how I hate soccer penalty kicks).

One option that was discussed, which is clever but far too radical in my opinion, would be to implement a "college football" type overtime. Teams would alternate 2 minute powerplays until someone was ahead at the end of a rotation. Again, I think that's too different from the game as a whole. It's definitely creative though.

Hand Passes: I don't see a need to change this rule. Don't let em close their glove on the puck, but it's ok to hand pass in the defensive zone. I don't think it'd be a positive for the game to allow it in the offensive zone. If they want to get rid of it altogether, I'd be ok with that.

Changes to the Icing Rule: I'd be fine with them adopting the "no line changes if you ice the puck" rule that the NHL put into place. But under no circumstance should they eliminate the ability of the short handed team to ice the puck, even if they did allow line changes after that. It would make killing a penalty way too difficult. Especially with the no-touch icing in place.

Moving Faceoffs to Center Ice After an Offsides: What dude? I see no logic to doing that. Implement the NHL's new system of requiring faceoffs to be on one of the nine faceoff dots, but there's no reason that you need to go to center after an offside call.

Other stuff:

Amir Johnson is signed, sealed, and delivered for three years. Now umm...Flip? Do us all a favor and play the guy. Maxiell too.

But Did We Sign Molly? The Red Wings have signed Mark Hartigan to a two-way contract. Michigan fans will remember him from his days at St. Cloud State. I will say this about his college career. Since I started consistently watching college hockey seven years ago, there has been no player that put the fear of God in me as much as Mark Hartigan. In that Regional game at Yost, I was convinced that he was going to score every time the puck was on his stick. He's got an absolute bomb for a shot. I'm still kind of surprised that we made it out of that game.

So About That Top-Six Forward: According to Jimmy Devellano (and if you've ever heard him talk, you understand why I italicized the last syllable of his name), the Red Wings have "zero" interest in signing Alexei Yashin. He says that they still want a top-six forward, but there's "nobody" out there, so they're going to carry the money into the season.

This means one of a few things:

They're dumb.

They know that the Central is going to be a cakewalk this year, so they're going to try and make a splash at the deadline and use the money then.

Or what I think is the most likely scenario: They have their eyes on Peter Forsberg. There's obviously interest on Detroit's part. If November or December rolls around and Forsberg is healthy, they would then use this money on him. And as much as it would pain me to see Forsberg in a Wings jersey (I would throw up in my mouth seeing it), it would be great for a couple of reasons: 1) It would drive the Avs fans crazy--provided there are any left after they missed the playoffs. 2) He could really help us if he was in the lineup.

Forsberg seems the most logical, because there's no way that they're going to burn $6 or 7 million at the trade deadline. That'd be enough to trade for two, if not three, marquee players. It's just not going to happen. And if they're looking to acquire that top-six forward at the deadline, they better be prepared to pay a premium, unless they've got a line on someone that could be had cheap, like Bertuzzi, due to one reason or another. Look at what even guys like Bill Guerin fetched last year. I just don't see Holland acquiring multiple players at that price.

Personally, I think it's stupid to not have any interest in Yashin. He had 50 points in 58 games last season. Yes, he has a reputation as a lazy player, but he matched Robert Lang's stats despite playing 20-25 less games. Additionally, he was a +6 on the year, which wasn't bad at all if you look at the Islanders team as a whole. I believe that playing for a team with a shot to win the Cup for the first time in a long time could be just what the doctor ordered for him. He'd also be in a veteran-laden locker room. They could get him to buy into the team game. Think about the guys that he's played with in his career. You think that playing with Datsyuk wouldn't invigorate him? I do. And if the internet report that it might only take $2 million--or slightly above--to sign him is accurate, they are 100% loony to not go for it.

And signing him would still likely leave enough room to take a run at someone at the deadline. If they're going to sign Forsberg, this makes sense. If not, then I think it's extremely dumb to bank that much cap room.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Thank God for Gary Bettman and His Stupid Ass Scheduling

The Red Wings released their 2007-08 schedule today and forgive me if I'm not jumping up and down about it. It's hard to believe that the NHL could be this stupid when making a schedule.

First off, the fact that you don't see every team in any given year is just stupid. I mean, why would you want to get Sidney Crosby and what might be the most exciting team in the league into every arena when they could just play the Islanders eight times?

Another "benefit" to the unbalanced schedule is that this year, Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa don't play the three other Canadian teams (Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton).

Then you get the Wings. We don't get to play a single one of the original six at home this year, apart from the Blackhawks (and we don't play the Rangers period).

But who cares about tradition when you can close the season by playing: Predators, BJs, BJs, Predators, BJs, Blues, Blues, Predators, Blackhawks, BJs, Blackhawks. Shoot me. That might be ok if the Predators were going to be decent, but since I don't see any real competition for the Central this year, that last month is just going to be tedious. That nine game divisional stretch in November is going to be wonderfully entertaining as well. I'm sure glad we're trying to build a rivalry with the Blue Jackets instead of letting me see Sidney Fucking Crosby or the Toronto Maple Leafs once in awhile.

And that 5 game road trip right through the middle of Christmas is going to be great for those of us who were hoping to catch a game while we were in town. Thanks Gary.

The other thing that's just super is that it looks like the NHL is going to have another outdoor game, with Detroit or Buffalo rumored to be hosting. The Penguins are supposedly going to be the road team, which eliminates Detroit since we don't play them. Wings/Leafs would've been a huge draw but, oops! Detroit doesn't get Toronto at home this year, so that's out. But at least they decided to schedule it January 1st when there are no other sporting events going on. When you're a niche sport, and you're going to have an outdoor game with two of the smallest markets in the league, is it really the best idea to try to compete with the friggin Rose Bowl? Why not just schedule it opposite the Super Bowl? I'm sure the audience would be HUGE.

There is really no reason that every team should not play everyone else in the league home and away at least once. When you've got guys like Crosby, Ovechkin, Kessel, Jack Johnson, Erik Johnson, Patrick Kane, etc. you have to get them out there. Why would you only want to let Crosby and Ovechkin play in the Western Conference cities once every three years? It doesn't make any sense.

This league is completely out of touch with the world. I don't see how anyone could make some of the decisions they've made. I'm honestly flabbergasted right now.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Odds and Enz

It's time for one of my famous "I haven't written in a few days so it's time to catch up on everything, even if some of it is out of date" posts:

-The Red Wings signed Dallas Drake to a one-year deal. A lot of people aren't thrilled with the move, citing his age, his cheap shot on Lebda last year, and the fact that we've got roughly 13 players to play on our 3rd and 4th lines. That said, I like the idea of him coming back. As I mentioned in my Steve Yzerman tribute, my brother and I were in Toronto, wearing our Wings jerseys when Detroit was in town, and Drake came up to say hello to us, before we had a chance to approach him. He was really nice to us, and I don't forget stuff like that. It'll be interesting to see where he fits in. I wonder if this signing isn't a vote of confidence for Daniel Cleary--or at least a sign that they think he'll have to be in the "top 6" next year by default.

-My next move would be to sign Yashin. He's getting $2.2 million or something from the Islanders to not play for them, so he might come cheap. He's always put up pretty decent numbers, even if he is lazy. But who has he ever played with? Tell me he wouldn't look really nice riding shotgun with Datsyuk. That'd be the top 6 forward that we need.

Edit: This link has a quote from Yashin, which indicates that there may actually be something to my "Yashin to Detroit" idea.

"Some think my move to Detroit is a settled thing but I can say only that they want to see me in the squad as well as a number of other clubs, yet I can's say anything more definite."
Interesting. Then again, who knows what that actually said before the translation, purple monkey dishwasher.

-The Detroit News has indicated that the Pistons are close to signing Amir Johnson. The rumored contract is 3 years for around $10 million, which I think is going to be an absolute bargain. He'll play some more minutes this year, and then by next year, look out. This kid's a stud. I've been saying it from day 1, and I can't wait to watch him in action this year.

-It also sounds like the three Pistons draftees have been very good in summer league play. In the above link, McCosky had some kind words about Arron Afflalo and Stuckey. It sounds like Maxiell has been a beast as well, losing some 30 pounds as well to give him some more explosiveness. I wonder if that means they're thinking of him as a 3 and Johnson as a 4?

-As the anonymous commenter below confirmed, Dwight Helminen has indeed signed with JYP Jyvaskyla in Finland, the same team that his brother Lars signed with. According to this link, however, the contract allows him to still sign with an NHL club this month if he'd like. So this would be more of a fallback contract. I still could see Dwight making the league as a third or fourth liner. He's small, but he's fast, he's great on faceoffs, and he's a very good penalty killer. He had a really good year point-wise two years ago in the AHL as well.

-A music tidbit. My favorite band, Crowded House, just released their first cd in 14 years today. You all should buy it. They rule.

-Michigan has switched to adidas jerseys. I guess that would be a reasonable explanation for why our hockey jerseys were on sale at MDen cheap. Since it's been like 2 whole years, and we signed on with a new apparel company, I have to believe that we'll be changing the jersey styles again this year.

-Lastly, not that I'm worried about Sam McGuffie visiting Texas A&M, but it gives me an excuse to post the following clip. Sam, do you really want to go there and have them pull out one of dem ill beatz on you?

Friday, July 06, 2007


Just a reminder to the Nascar world, as the series gets set to race at Daytona once again, that Kevin Harvick really did win the Daytona 500. If the race ended at the start/finish line, he won. If the race should've "ended" when the cars behind he and Martin started wrecking, he would've won anyway.

All that talk about how Martin was ahead, and if they would've thrown the yellow flag, he would've been the winner is bunk. Harvick was ahead when the cars started wrecking and he was ahead at the finish line. The only argument in Martin's favor is that Nascar should've thrown the yellow flag in the middle of the wreck, which is a BS way to win a race if I've ever heard one.

Note that in this still shot, Martin is drawing closer to the nose of Harvick's car as Kyle Busch (#5) starts to wreck. Even if the caution had flown a second or two later--as Martin started to pass him--the field would've reverted back to the previous scoring loop and Harvick probably would've been the winner anyway. At least this way, they raced back to the line and we know Harvick beat him.

I like Martin, and it would've been nice to see him get that win, but Harvick deserved it--and thankfully they got it right.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Free Agency Thoughts

We're a few days into the NHL's free agent period, and there have been a lot of interesting happenings around the league. Christy over at Behind the Jersey did a pretty excellent job of breaking down the winners and losers so far.

I completely agree with her that the Kings have done an excellent job. Could they end up being the new Vancouver Canucks? A scary, scary team to face, but without a quality goaltender that could pull everything together and make them a real contender? With Blake, JMFJ, Stuart, and Preissing, that's a great group they've got back on the blueline. And four guys that can play on the PP to boot.

I have to laugh at the Buffalo Sabres. I know that's not nice, because they're a small market team with extremely loyal fans--and with me being a diehard Packers fan it's almost hypocritical for me to do so--but screw em. I hate Ryan Miller, I hate that fucking arena that was the site of one of the worst days of my life, and I hate those douchebags in the Anchor Bar that told me the Wings just bought their Cups. So there.

One guy I do feel bad for, however, is Jed Ortmeyer, who deserves SO much better than the sinking ship that is the Nashville Predators. And he deserves better than the "Hey, a guy named Jed signed with a team in Tennessee" jokes that are sure to come. At least I'll get to watch him play 8 times a year now! One positive of this asinine unbalanced schedule.

As for the Red Wings, thusfar they've lost Kyle Calder, Todd Bertuzzi, and Mathieu Schneider, and signed Brian Rafalski and Jiri Hudler.

I'm still not sure what to make of the Rafalski signing. I really want to like it. I think he's an upgrade from Mathieu Schneider. Even if he doesn't have Schneider's shot from the point (maybe he can put HIS on goal sometimes), he's a better passer, and a better all-around defenseman. He's good enough that if Lidstrom hangs it up in the near future, we've still got a guy that could be a legit #1 defenseman (even if he's not Nick). He was an all-star last year, has been durable (82 GP the last two seasons) and he averaged 25+ minutes of ice time.

And because of that, $6 million a year isn't an unreasonable salary. Especially if the report is true that he turned down a 6 year/$40 million offer to play for his hometown team (he's from Dearborn).

The only thing that scares me is that if the cap doesn't go up much higher and Lidstrom hangs around for a few more years, we're going to have quite the money crunch when Zetterberg's raise comes due. You're going to have Z making $7.5 or so, Datsyuk making $6.7, Rafalski making $6 million and Lidstrom making $7.5ish. That's almost $29 million on four players (which would leave $21 million for the other 22 guys). That puts an insane amount of pressure on Jim Howard to be for real, because it really wouldn't leave a buffer to go sign a high-end goalie.

And after putting that down on paper, I have to wonder if they don't have a pretty decent idea of how much longer Lidstrom is going to play.

I'm not really upset that Bertuzzi left. Anaheim overpaid for him, and for Detroit to match that and give up another second round pick? No thanks. I'm disappointed that we couldn't land Kozlov though. I was really liking the idea of seeing him in red and white again, flanking Datsyuk.

I wish things had worked out with Kyle Calder. He looked so good when he got to Detroit. I remember writing "I'd be working out a contract extension with him right now" two weeks or so into his tenure. Then something happened. He ended up in Babcock's doghouse, and his play dropped off big-time. I don't know which happened first. Still, he was cheap, and he was the kind of player we need. I would've brought him back.

It's puzzling that Hasek isn't signed yet. Based on the reports in the media, it seems that he's asking for a raise, they're close, but he and the Wings haven't come to terms yet. There have also been rumblings that LA made him and offer of 2 years/$10 million that he turned down. I'm wondering if he hasn't said something along the lines of "I'd like $2.5 million, but if taking less would allow us to get another player, I'm willing to do so--or at least take a lower base salary" but since contracts can't be renegotiated, they have to wait to sign him until we know for sure how much money we're going to have at the end of the free agency period. That's the only thing that makes sense to me.

As for the Pistons, it seems like the free agent market is shaping up nicely for them. Chauncey will get signed. There aren't any other suitors out there. Additionally, there is an unsubstantiated rumor that Amir Johnson will sign a 3 year/$12 million offer sheet with the Houston Rockets. If true, I can't imagine that Detroit doesn't match that offer sheet. You can't let a player with that much talent get away. Sign him, and MAKE Flip play him. I view that offer sheet (if it's true) as a good thing, as it gets the deal done. I can't see Detroit letting him go for $4 million a season. Additionally, I believe it's going to come down to Detroit and Phoenix for Grant Hill, and I think the Pistons have more money to offer (even if they use $4 million on Johnson). I don't know a ton about the NBA cap, but that seems to be the gist of what I read. If they could land all three of those guys, this offseason is a success in my eyes. If they can move Nazr and Flip for a center, all the better.

Edit: Forget what I said about Grant Hill. ESPN is reporting that he'll sign with Phoenix when this dead period is over.