Thursday, May 29, 2003
It's done: say hello to new Lubbock Cotton Kings coach Kirk Tomlinson.
Wednesday, May 28, 2003
So long, Patrick. Geez, you wouldn't even know they'd played a Stanley Cup final game last night.
Oh, and an Indy reader checked in re: Colorado's new mascot, pointing out that the Ice already have a Slapshot too. So I suggest the Eagles change the name of theirs to "Wrister" (hey, at least more goals are scored that way).
Tuesday, May 27, 2003
Brian Leetch was at the Yankees-Red Sox game tonight. Doesn't he know it's still hockey season?
Bravo, Dan Bylsma. Grade A Prime bulletin board stuff he dealt out last week:
"I would really like to see Ottawa win because it would be great for their market. But playing New Jersey would be great, too, because I'd really like to shake Scott Stevens' hand when he's congratulating me on winning the Stanley Cup."
And speaking of Mark Adams, it's time once again to play Nekkid Amazon Hockey's Escape from CHL Island. Post your nominations here.
There's a Stanley Cup Prediction Contest on the Oklahoma City board, join in. I say Ducks in 6. Jiggy. 14 goals.
Monday, May 26, 2003
Of course, if my hunch is right, that kills the Brent Hughes to the Rampage possibility that EP posted here just before Torchetti left.
Don't you just hate it when your Mom tells your girlfriend a really embarassing childhood story? Or breaks out the naked baby pictures while your friends are hanging out? Or goes on the Internet and talks about your career where anyone can read about it?
Oh wait, that last thing only happens to Luch Nasato. Like I've said before, great player. But if, as his mother recently claimed on the RiverKings message boards, the only reason he isn't in the IHL is 'cause the league doesn't exist, how come it managed to play the '99-'00 and '00-'01 seasons without him?
Think hockey could learn a few things from the NFL when it comes to making rule changes?
Ah, the good old days of the Tucson Scorch. Thanks to Tim Harvey for the link.
Now, you can call this blogrolling, but in discussing Doug Shedden's prospects with the Penguins at his Rinkblog, Harv suggests that he deserves consideration for the Penguins' NHL job, not just the Wilkes-Barre AHL gig.
And in fact, he may well get it. Consideration that is, not the job. But you never know. And I'm sure it doesn't hurt that someone who's expensive by CHL standards would be a bargain for the cash-strapped Pens.
It just goes to show you the power of the NHL fraternity. Seems like if you leave it to do something useful in the low minors, as Shedden and Hughes did, they try to change the secret handshake on ya. Whereas staying around as nothing more than a broadcaster gets you head coach consideration.
Sunday, May 25, 2003
My head is spinning re: Taylor Hall's new WHA2 team in Birmingham, Alabama. ACHL boss Bill Coffey must be laughing his ass off, considering the WHA2 has repeatedly questioned his credibility.
This week the Colorado Eagles will unveil their mascot, Slapshot. Does this mean there's gonna be an affiliation with the Washington Capitals, or just a lawsuit? I mean, it's one thing to have a completely derivative name (the Reading Royals also use it, also picked by children), but having both the same name and (presumably) the same animal may be a bit too close for comfort.
How great is it that Pat Burns deliberately arranged for a minor league-caliber bus to take the Devils to Kanata?... And big props to Al Strachan for saying Ducks in five, though I suspect he only wrote that column as a direct counterpoint to "Eastern" cohort Mike Ulmer. Anyway, that's fine if everyone believes the Devils are a heavy favorite, most people felt the same about the West the last time Jersey won.
So have you checked out the charity auction for "Slap Shot" actress Louise Arters? Lots of CHL goodies to choose from, including a bounty of Bats and Matt Barnes collectibles donated by our own dunlopyoustink.
Here's a complete list:
An Odessa Jackalopes t-shirt.
An Ice Bats signed team photo.
A signed photo of Garry Unger from his St. Louis playing days.
A Matt Barnes game-worn jersey picture card.
A Matt Barnes signed "3".
A Showdown at the State Capitol picture card, featuring Barnes and Mike Gorman.
Ice Bats autographed photo puck stickers.
A Laredo Bucks jersey.
A Matt Barnes bobblehead.
More Barnes stuff.
A Lake Charles Ice Pirates shirt.
A Wichita Thunder jersey.
A San Angelo Saints autographed jersey.
A Memphis RiverKings autographed jersey .
You can also get a signed copy of my book, or my personal favorite, a signed picture of Jerry Houser (aka Dave "Killer" Carlson) as a Brady Bride.
Bidding ends May 27.
Wednesday, May 21, 2003
Of course, my more ambitious fantasy scenario for Trent Eigner is to see him lead a team out on the ice in October (or October 2004, if necessary) at a sold-out El Paso County Coliseum. Renaissance and resurrection all around!
And who knew? What I somewhat flippantly suggested some time ago turned out to be true: the difference between Eigner and Craig Coxe is only one of them pled guilty.
Funny to see this blurb on the Orlando Seals web site. A not-so-subtle way of saying, "this is why the world needs the WHA."
I'm afraid Martin Brodeur has earned the aggravation, but isn't Melanie's campaign to distract him counterproductive to her own interests, i.e. a third Stanley Cup for Marty equals more child support and alimony?
I realize there are PR implications that maybe can't be overcome in old-fashioned West Texas, but it seems to me the Lubbock Cotton Kings and Trent Eigner are a perfect match. The team gets a cheap, proven winner, and a good coach gets a second chance.
I don't even like the NBA (I prefer my hoops played by so-called amateurs, if at all) but their playoffs are kicking the NHL's butt so bad it isn't even funny. As much as I love Hossa, Stevens, Brodeur and Havlat, do they really provide a good bang for 80 bucks (the cheapest seat at the Meadowlands for Game 6) compared to spending $40 or 55 at the SBC for Duncan, Nash, Parker and Nowitkzi? Oh well, at least the Pistons and Nets are more like a couple of superstar-free trap teams (Jason Kidd=Paul Kariya).
Go Sens. Do it for Roger. But you know the Devils know this is the one they have to have.
Monday, May 19, 2003
And so, from here on out, the East Coast Hockey League will be known as... the ECHL.
Y'know, like KFC.
Sure, it's a bit anti-climactic, but it does make sense. A drastic name change would have been a pain. Covering the Ice Bats post-merger, I was constantly saying things like "the current CHL," "the old CHL," "in the combined history of the CHL and WPHL" or "the former WPHL." That kind of thing is still gonna happen with the ex-WCHL teams on board, but at least there won't have to be sentences like 36 players from the So-and-So Hockey League (formerly the East Coast Hockey League) were on rosters in the 2003 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Turns out it's all about a friggin' monkey for the Mighty Ducks as well. I'm surpised Jack the chimp isn't in the mix.
ESPN's E.J. Hradek comes out and says what the Ottawa writers can't quite bring themselves to: The Devils are going to win this series, even if they lose Game 5, which is doubtful.
Good piece on Odessa's Scott Hillman, and another reason why I love the minors: even though NHL players come from all kinds of different backgrounds, most of them are NHL players first and foremost. They will have a "life after hockey," but they don't have to have one at the same time.
So... if and when Express Sports gets to Topeka, you can't tell me that won't be something of a personal vindication for Mr. Lund. Though that's still no reason to rush into the market for this season.
So what if the NBA is way more popular than the NHL. Has there ever been a playground baller or NCAA kid who dreamed of hoisting The Larry O'Brien Trophy?
Sunday, May 18, 2003
So it's finally time to give the Ducks some credit. I can't believe they'll still be considered the finals underdog. Who else do they have to beat? How much more do they have to do? Nobody thought New Jersey or Ottawa was way better than Dallas or Detroit a month ago, so why should either team present a bigger obstacle?
Not that I'd make Anaheim a heavy favorite either, but it's funny that the perception of them as unlikely Cinderellas just won't go away. Since January 1 they won one fewer (regular season) game than the Stars or Red Wings, and made it to the finals with two sweeps and just 14 games of playoff wear and tear. The Devils can still get there in 15, while the Sens now have to get to 18.
Of course, there's also the possiblity that the Devils or Sens (ok, the Devils) could raise the Stanley Cup while Giguere follows in Ron Hextall, Reggie Leach and Ron Crozier's Conn Smythe footsteps.
By the way, how did Ottawa acquire Roman Cechmanek right in the middle of the playoffs?
Yet another way in which Joe Thornton's career is going better than the guy he always got compared to, Eric Lindros -- getting in trouble at a place called "Burty Bob's Two" is slightly less ridiculous than getting in trouble at a place called "Koo Koo Bananas."
New Mexico has re-signed all-time scoring leader Peter Ambroziak as well as a rookie who had 523 penalty minutes last year.
It's absolutely true that the NHL lacks star power. And we can always blame the trap. But here's another truth that rarely gets acknowledged: some people simply don't like hockey.
Friday, May 16, 2003
By the way, Colorado has the first pick in the expansion draft, which means either they go first and Rio Grande goes second and third, or vice-versa.
But boy, I would at least consider drafting Luch Nasato if I were starting up a new franchise in a non-traditional hockey market. His mom seems to imply that Luch did not know he was going to be left unprotected and his days in Memphis are indeed over. Let's face it, when he's on their team, most fans love his antics, and as Chris Perry points out, he could dye his hair in yellow and black stripes. Imagine seeing him eight to ten times each against the Bats, Corpus Christi and Laredo -- who's not buying tickets to that?
Plus, let's not forget, the guy can play. He and Landmesser anchored an otherwise youthful Memphis defensive corps throughout the playoffs, and his numbers speak for themself.
Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean he's good enough to play in the AHL (though I don't buy that he would have to actually fight at a higher level, tell that to Ken Linseman). It's often said that the difference between an AHL player and a "AA" player is not their skill and make-up, but who you know, how you were scouted/drafted and where you fit in with an organization. If Shedden does indeed get a job at the next level it will be an interesting test case to see if he really can fit in some of "his guys," and more importantly, if they can stick.
When Bill McDonald left Fort Worth for the K-Wings job, he took a couple of players to Michigan. Mel Angelstad had already proved himself in the IHL the year before, but Chris Albert probably has Macker to thank for putting him in the mix.
Thursday, May 15, 2003
Ok, here it is:
The 2003 Central Hockey League Expansion Draft Available Players
Remember, the Colorado Eagles and Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees can draft five players each. No team can lose more than two players, and get to pull one back upon losing one.
Wednesday, May 14, 2003
And here's the answer on El Paso, though the question about the expansion draft -- i.e., are the Buzzards players in it? -- remains. We'll know soon enough.
Next year Heika and Carlton should just start their own blog. Great little wrap-up on the Stars via their Internet-only Q&A column.
Hockeyblog ombudsman Greg Rajan points out that my memory of the 2000 NHL playoffs is not so good: the Stars lost Game 6 to Colorado (and almost blew Game 7). Truth is all I recall about that year is what the Flyers did the night before (to say nothing of their Game 7).
And on the subject of errata: bizarre mangling of some easily available facts in The Monitor's story on Jeff Levy, which makes a whole lot of hay out of the mistaken impression that the new Killer Bees goalie was in net for El Paso this past year (bankruptcy talk, attendance figures, the statement "Levy played twice at Laredo last season"). In fact, he didn't play at all.
Plus, c'mon, it's a cute angle, but Levy only appeared in 12 ECHL games in '99-'00, while Tracy Egeland played just 27 for Lubbock over two seasons. That's why Levy doesn't remember making any saves on his new coach -- they did not face each other in '01-'02 and couldn't have met more than a few times in '00-'01. Not to mention that Egeland, a productive player for many years whose time in Lubbock was unfortunately marred by injuries, tallied just six goals in his WPHL/CHL career, which means Levy was not the only one he didn't score on.
But anyway, it's a great signing -- similar to the Bucks starting out with Lance Leslie, but I think Levy has more in the tank, and doesn't take a vet spot. Come to think of it, he would have been a perfect Ice Bat, though if Peter Brady is indeed gonna be the Austin starter, there's another former Buzzards goalie who might fit the bill as experienced insurance and an uncomplaining back-up: Jamie Ronayne (forget last year's numbers, I figure they'd look a lot different on a great team, especially one that knows how to play defense. And think how grateful he'd be).
Don't forget, expansion draft lists are due into the league today. We're all waiting eagerly to see the names, no matter what Derek Laxdal says. Though of course, it's bound to be a giant anticlimax of tenth forwards, sixth defensemen, unwanted or overpaid veterans and soon-to-be-retired guys.
Though am I wondering, from a purely symbolic perspective, will the Blazers expose Joe Burton? And more intriguingly, would Egeland or Colorado Eagles coach Chris Stewart dare to draft him, just in case? You could ask the same about Matt Barnes. Just don't expect someone to do a Jeff Triano on Greg Gatto, assuming the Jacks even risk it -- he's tight with both those coaches. Even though Gatto, Scott Green and Mark DeSantis are spoken for and I imagine Ken Richardson isn't leaving Corpus, I do wonder if Colorado will make some deals to reconvene a former Iggie core.
Also, if I'm a coach on the fence about exposing a somewhat established goaltender, am I more willing to do so knowing that only one of the two teams is likely in the market?
And what's up with El Paso?
Monday, May 12, 2003
So long, Roman.
Great first signing for the Killer Bees in former El Paso goaltender Jeff Levy.
I turned on CBS Sunday and got nothing but the spillover from golf. But the segment on the Bucks is still scheduled to air sometime before the NHL playoffs end.
Sunday, May 11, 2003
A reminder (and thanks to Robbie for reminding me): the CBS News piece on the Laredo Bucks airs today (check your local listings, it's on at 5:30 in Laredo but could be on at 5 in some cities).
Another televised heads-up: Aeros/Griffins, Game 1 of the Calder Cup semi-finals, Monday on Fox Sports Southwest.
The time for Dallas Stars' post-mortems is already past. But here's GM Doug Armstrong's take, as well as a great piece on video replay inspired by Game 5. Personally, I think Mike Heika nailed it. The whole thing was shocking because this was a great team that seemed to be picking up straight from the 2000 finals, but there's only eight players on the current squad who were around back then, and only six from '99. Different team, different coach, different goalie, with the Mighty Ducks in the role of Edmonton 1997.
You look at Roger Neilson and it's almost impossible not to root for Ottawa. 1000 games behind the bench, already in the Hall of Fame... no one deserves it more.
The Jackalopes have re-signed Scott Hillman...And the Brahmas have re-signed Chad Woollard (also, congratulations to Vice President Bowerman).
And so the WHA2 and the ACHL are close to a merger agreement. No wait, they're not going to merge. Definitely not (thanks to the VP of the WHAC for that link).
The Bats' season-ending awards went like I expected... Matt Barnes wrote the final player journal, bittersweet reading, to be sure.
Friday, May 09, 2003
Found this a bit late, but for posterity: Lubbock's take on Ray Edwards.
Monday, May 05, 2003
Ah well. It was a proud and gritty Flyers squad. The seeds of this defeat were sown a long time ago -- no power play, goaltending issues, failure to take charge of the division (sure would have been nice to play the Bruins and the Lightning). It was fertilized by the failure to dispatch the Leafs in fewer games (if only 'cause of injuries).
Now what the heck are they gonna do about the goalie? He's got a year left on his contract and there aren't any blue chip starters available. They could ask Phoenix about Burke (or get back Boucher, ha!). Or maybe Mike Richter will get healthy and wear the hometown colors that he should have all along. It'd be worth the one year risk.
Now it's time my customary change of focus. Go Stars!
And despite what I said before about liking the Devils, I can certainly get behind the Sens -- quality team, plus they're Canadian and have that whole Cinderella bankruptcy thing going for 'em. Also, who wouldn't like to see Roger Neilson's name on the Cup?
I didn't get to see much of Game 5 for obvious reasons, but I was pleased to see the depth forwards step it up. Niko Kapanen has been just great to watch and I thought DiMaio was one of the Stars' best forwards in Game 1.
And yeah, damn you Claude Lemieux, I was thinking about the 2000 Devils-Flyers series too (but to comment on something else in that article, I don't think "Grumpy Old Men" was used to describe anything other than the trio of Muller, Keane and John MacLean in 2001).
Funny to see Philly-based Al Morganti refer to Gainey and Hitchcock's exit as a murder/suicide. I don't recall seeing that in print before, but that's exactly how Hitch (quoting Gainey) described it at the 2002 CHL All-Star Game.
Meanwhile, the Canadian media is already tweaking the Stars' payroll by sending away Matvichuk, and perhaps Sydor. Certainly, they're gonna have to dig deep to re-sign Hatcher, and if they don't get out of this round it will cost the club who knows how many millions.
But hey, at least they're gonna get an All-Star Game.
Here's one vote for starting Robert Esche. And one against. And my favorite suggestion, from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail: "The solution, for the Flyers, is obvious: Play Cechmanek in the sixth game, get their obligatory win, and then switch to Esche for the decisive seventh game in Ottawa."
Sometimes I don't know where Steve Newlin finds this stuff, but I'm sure fans in San Angelo will have a little chuckle at the fact that Skeeter Moore's new job involves raising $700,000 for UM-Duluth sports. Can't he just call Brett Hull and spend the next two years fishing? Meanwhile it's definitely interesting that Ray Edwards did indeed choose the Saints over Lubbock. Higher salary or better situation?
Gotta love Kahlil Thomas. Great story, and a well-deserved award... Also, it's pretty amazing that the Kings have three serviceable d-men who'd still qualify as rookies.
Finally, I'd like to welcome Tim Harvey back to the blogging world. His Rinkblog is highly recommended, great commentary and a more complete survey of hockey at all levels than I provide. Among other things, he called my attention to this piece on Mike Minard (remember him? He's come a long way from Memphis training camp, though not always smoothly).
Sunday, May 04, 2003
The only good thing about Game 5: another wry, sparkling column on "the bipolar goaler" from Phil Sheridan. You just can't beat East Coast sportswriting. I hope for everyone's sake (the Flyers more so than Phil, but maybe him too) nobody translates it into Czech. Truthfully, I figure more than one Flyer will laugh out loud reading it this morning, and that ain't good.
Saturday, May 03, 2003
Cool, Don Cherry just gave Doug Shedden a big shout-out on HNIC (never mind that Ron McLean said the Kings' won the "Western Hockey League President's Cup").
I think the Flyers can regroup for Game 6, but it may not matter. Playoff contenders don't give up three unanswered goals (Game 1 and now five in Game 5) or get completely trounced in specials teams play. Only Game 3 was an acceptable loss and even there they blew leads and lost the PP/PK battle.
I don't see Esche starting Monday, but I've really grown to dislike the way Cechmanek reacts to goals-against. If he's allowed to rake the puck out of the net in disgust when his teammates fail to clear out a screen or get to a loose puck, does that mean they get to when he gives up a softie?
Whether it's the goalie or the team the Flyers' whole playoffs have been about bounce-back, but the math doesn't work in their favor this time. They have to play two great games in a row, and that will be a lot harder to do against the NHL's top regular season team, with the last one on the road, than it was against the creaky Leafs, with the last one in Philly.
And I still don't see them beating New Jersey, but that's another story.
Oh no, a Sunday without hockey! I knew there was a reason I wanted Tampa Bay to win Game 5. Forget what I said about going to see the Canucks in person Monday -- I can't miss the Flyers/Stars TV doubleheader.
Y'know, I usually buy the Ice Bats' warm-up or third jersey every year, and would be proud to own Pat Brownlee's (one of two still available last time I checked). But this year, I couldn't bring myself to do it. Too hideous.
Re: the New Jersey Devils, I just hope rested=untested (assuming the Flyers get past Ottawa of course. If they don't, go Devs!).
That was about as as boring a multiple-OT game as you'll ever see, except for the third (actually, I thought Stars-Ducks Game 1 was the same way, the real action didn't come until the third and fourth OTs. Lame crowd at the Meadowlands too, looked like way too many of 'em were on the Turnpike after one extra frame).
Great game by John Grahame though (see, those of us who wondered if the Bats would switch to Peter Brady weren't completely nuts, sometimes that kind of move gets made). Actually, watching Tortorella tonight I thought Brent Hughes had dyed his hair and turned Italian. What a contrast from Dave Tippett. It was a penalty," he said after Game 4. "It was called. You just can't put yourself in that position."
It was also cool to see Jamie Langenbrunner and Grant Marshall grinning at the win: two old Dallas teammates only recently reunited. Funny about Jamie, on a team that's starved for offense he's been able to step up and provide it. There just wasn't room for him in Dallas anymore, though I bet they'd trade him even-up for Turgeon at the moment.
I'm not counting the Stars out, but to come back from 3-1 requires a certain amount of complacency from the other team (or, in the case of St. Louis, the flu). Anaheim just doesn't seem likely to let up. I am unamused that the Stars and Flyers are playing at the same time today, though because I am currently in British Columbia, at least I can click between them, none of that split-regional broadcasting up here. It's amazing to me that ABC gets to schedule both of today's games, and Hockey Night in Canada just has to play along (in other words, no hockey at night in Canada today).
Now I just gotta scare up a Canucks ticket for Monday. Don't like that Brent Sopel though. A poor man's Mike Ricci with the hair, and he doesn't dig South Park (which presumably means most of his teammates do).
I think the media got a little carried away with the whole no sex for the Flyers thing. I mean, let me get this straight, moving a bunch of hockey players to a hotel for a road trip-like environment means they'll get less action? By the way, Inky columnist Phil Sheridan's new nickname for Cechmanek (the bipolar goaler) is just genius.
Thursday, May 01, 2003
By the way, Colorado has the first pick in the expansion draft, which means either they go first and Rio Grande goes second and third, or vice-versa.
But boy, I would at least consider drafting Luch Nasato if I were starting up a new franchise in a non-traditional hockey market. When he's on your team, the fans just love those antics, and as Chris Perry points out, he could dye his hair in yellow and black stripes. Plus, let's not forget, the guy can play. He and Landmesser anchored an otherwise youthful Memphis defensive corps throughout the playoffs, and his playoff numbers speak for themselves.
Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean he's good enough to play in the AHL. It's often said that the difference between an AHL player and a "AA" player is not their skill and make-up, but who you know, how you were scouted/drafted and where you fit in with an organization. If Shedden does indeed get a job at the next level it will be an interseting test case to see if he really can fit in some of "his guys," and more importantly, if they can stick. Bill McDonald brought a couple of players to Michigan. Mel Angelstad had already proved himself in the IHL the year before, but Chris Albert probably has Macker to thank for putting him in the mix.