Tuesday, October 28, 2003
Needless to say, I won't be blogging from a game again. There's just no way to do three things -- the blog, a game story, actual enjoyment of the hockey -- at once. Sorry to take up all that space.
The natives are restless down in Corpus, and the owner has a sense of humor. You'll have to register to see the post, but it reads in part:
In an unprecedented move, a number of fans of teams in the Central Hockey League have called for an early end to the 2003-2004 season. "Laredo is undefeated, and I think that we played a hopelessly bad game against them, so it's time to call it quits", said one fan with an undistinguishable screen name. "If 4 or 5 games doesn't tell you enough about the team, then you're not much of a hockey analyst", said another South Texan message board wiz.... The games, in spite of the hopelessness felt by several unnamed parties in Corpus, must go on. [W.D.] Frank was real careful about putting pressure on his team. "These guys are real sensitive, and I don't really care whether we play well anyway. What's more important than our coach's emotional well being? I just like the cool music and the zamboni drivers anyway."
With Tim Harvey retired I have to point out this excellent piece on the instigator rule.
Also of note, Al Strachan and Bruce Garrioch slinging Guerin (and/or Matvichuk) to Toronto rumors, which Larry Brooks dismisses.
Think Brent Scott still has 20 in him? Imagine the fun he'll have -- one night he could check Paul Vincent, another shoot the puck at Rooney, another mess around with Cheeseman and another drop the gloves with Ryan Anderson.
For the record, Derek LaxDAL was never an assistant coach in Lubbock.
An Ice Bats fan of my acquaintance wants Kris Waltze to line up with Seguin and Tally, making them the "SWaT Team." Another retorts that said acronym would stand for Seguin Waste of a vet spot And Tallaire.
I don't happen to share that opinion, but I still laughed. Personally I'm waiting for Josh St. Louis to join them as the ST2 line.
Neither Bats nor Jacks fans will admit that they saw this one coming: Dan McIntyre may become the co-No. 1 between the pipes for Flint.
Some sentences that have never been written before:
1. [Dan] Price is just as good a playmaker as he is a goal scorer... the Komets also hope Price is a defensive upgrade.
2. Rick Nichol.... will be the backbone of the team's defense
3. Dan Kletke started the scoring.
All right folks, I'm off on a weeklong trip, with dial-up costing me a dime a minute, so you can guess what that means. If I can check in now and then from an Internet cafe I will; if not, see you on November 5th or 6th.
Saturday, October 25, 2003
Ok, I'm done here, gotta write a Statesman story. Bats just scored to make it 4-1 with 4:55 left.
Smart out of the corner, feeds Lardner who puts a sweet backhanded turnaround past Ballard. He is now officially "flashy forward Tab Lardner." 3-0 Bats, 4:21 of the third.
A Manning face-off win produces the first Blazers' shot on goal, followed by more pressure, but nothing comes of it. At the other end Ballard covers up a bouncer. 4:28 gone.
And oh yeah, don't forget it's "Faith and Family Night." Does that mean no fighting?
And can we assume Todd Marcellus scored his two goals with an illegal stick? Question is, why the heck was he using it in the last minute of a game the Oilers led?
Ok, I'm typing this from the press box at the Travis County Expo Center -- will try to do a little "live blogging" as the Bats and Blazers battle.
Friday, October 24, 2003
Thursday, October 23, 2003
Everyone already knows this, but Dougie is indeed on board on Alabama. Meanwhile, rumor has it that Brent Scott is one of the names on that 28 man roster.
Apparently, Andrew Katzberg fared so poorly in his two bouts with Kris Waltze that his body was actually taken over by the Ice Bats forward. (Since corrected -- y'know, I've fixed things without a trace myself occasionally, but there's something to be said for the Slate approach.)
Speaking of errata, according to The Hockey News, Eric Schneider and Michel Periard are two of the nine best players in the CHL. I can understand including Periard, who was maybe gonna find his way back down, but Schneider's departure was pretty ancient news.
Anyway, Amarillo-based writer David Henry has Memphis, Austin, Indy, Oklahoma City, San Angelo, New Mexico, Colorado and Corpus Christi as his top eight teams, which would also put Odessa (#10, with Bossier in at ninth) in the playoffs at the Eagles' expense. 'Rillas fans accustomed to bashing John Kaltefleiter (who just wrote a sharp story on visors, btw) might want to save some bile for Henry, who picked the home team third-to-last (above the Killer Bees and Brahmas) despite pegging DeGagne as the second-best goalie in the CHL (after Bach and ahead of Carroll).
The Winston-Salem Mooseheads are now a team without a name. Multiple-choice follow-up:
1. Let me guess, their official colors are black, white and masking tape.
2. Good thing the SEHL isn't perceived as bush-league.
3. On the plus side, it's really hard to chant, "WHO OWN DA '-----?'"
I'm also torn on a new nickname for everybody's favorite agitator. Should we go with Dan Wildfang or Evander Wildfong? Yeah yeah, I know the second one is backwards, but it has such a nice ring to it.
On a more serious note of mutilation, check out what happened to former Mudbug Kevin St. Pierre. Glad he made it through ok.
Not everyone was moved by Jeff Greenlaw's post-game lovefest. There's no word on whether Greenlaw also turned to the cameras and said he's going to Disney World, writes Greg Rajan.
Who, by the way, says (in picks that weren't available online) Corpus over Amarillo and Memphis over New Mexico in the conference finals, with Memphis winning it again. Rayz broadcaster Rick Dames say the RiverKings as well, over Odessa, with Austin and Colorado losing in the conference finals.
Funny thing -- whether you call it the Miron Cup or the Miron President's Cup, I believe the actual piece of hardware is the former WPHL trophy, which means that no team has ever won it just one time. If Memphis does do it again, that would be two three-peats in a row. At least we know it hasn't been damaged much in transit.
Wednesday, October 22, 2003
Just call 'em the Alabama Oiler Rays. Any minute now, the WHA-2 Slammers will announce a major signing that I'm pretty sure is Dougie Lawrence (and if not, it could be Jorin Welsh). Hall and Unger have also signed up Ronayne, Prentice, Cheesman, Quinnell and Renard. Sly Naud, it's your move.
Sunday, October 19, 2003
Don't forget those CHL-UNDERGROUND Game Reports!
Saturday, October 18, 2003
As Bats fan bk first pointed out to me, the home team's 0-5, outshooting your opponent doesn't seem to count for much and Bossier almost had more penalties than shots. Congratulations especially to Tulsa and San Angelo. Hope the Saints pack 'em in tonight.
Hockeyblog.com goes "legit". And man, I barely recognize some of those RiverKings without their playoff hair. It's only one game, but if he keeps skating with Parsons, Brian Tucker has a chance to be that much more despised, for points as well as PiMs.
I'm defending Mike Minard, but contrast his reaction last year to Arturs Irbe this year.
From Ice Bats practice goalie to ECHL back-up: congratulations to Martin Kresac.
Friday, October 17, 2003
Previews, previews, we've got previews. Will player-turned-coach Greenlaw be a success like Scott Muscutt or a flop like Dale Henry?. That's from Greg Rajan in Corpus Christi. Sadly, his predictions (with an assist from Rick Dames and myself) didn't make the web, but you can still read this, and this, both about the Rayz.
CHLfans.com likes Austin, Laredo, Odessa and Amarillo just like everybody else, but Jon Larson's write-up predicts just a single Northwest playoff entry (Colorado), along with Bossier, Memphis and the Ice.
And speaking of Indy, CHL-Underground contributor Mike Wallin handicaps the Northern Conference for OSC. He says just one team from the east, along with the Eagles, Blazers and the Thunder.
Switching to The Show...
Hook 'em Stars. Hate the red, too. Meanwhile, the sell-out streak is over.
Best Rangers game of the season so far. Not so the Flyers. But wouldn't this be the logical conclusion to the NHL's 10-year scoring trend?
And hey, if you thought Mike Minard had it tough, get a load of Archie Irbe. It's a long, lonely downhill road from Ron Francis to Dominic Forget.
Thursday, October 16, 2003
Utterly meaningless statistic: Eric Schneider is the Utah Grizzlies' scoring leader.
I'm busy with a Statesman preview, but since the puck drops tonight I'd better get on record with my picks.
I basically agree with the official CHL-Underground version, except I'm putting my chips down on New Mexico instead of Wichita, and Bossier instead of the defending champs. The Thunder have more talent than the Scorps, but ('01-'02 aside) it isn't the post-season without Macker. And the Mudbugs, they're just gonna be too hungry.
Truth is, I'm surprised people are picking Memphis for the three-peat. Not that they'll be bad. But the Kings have lost a fair amount of players, and St. John's does not appear to be replenishing the roster (except between the pipes of course). Plus there's no telling what a new coach with a new style means, or how the MVP will take to it. It's easy to forget that last year's club-- with Richards, Stastny, Cote and Nasato, not to mention that Doug Shedden fellow -- only made the playoffs by two games. The line is fine
And oh yeah, Amarillo will lose to Indy again -- this time in the President's Cup final.
Wednesday, October 15, 2003
Love this Sauter quote about Shawn Weiman:
He has decided to stay in the San Antonio organization. He went to Augusta (of the East Coast Hockey League) instead of coming here. They promised that he'd be back in San Antonio in two weeks. I said, 'I can promise you that, too. I don't know if that'll happen or not, but I can promise you that.'
Mudbugs correspondent Teddy Turman also makes his debut.
And here's my story in today's Austin paper about Doug Johnson.
The official league preview is up.
Turns out Russell Hogue's in Austria.
And as we know, Justin Ossachuk now plays for Flint. Brendan Savage writes him up.
Good to see Jim Kelly -- the Buffalo writer who was once punched by Dominik Hasek and used to be at Foxsports.com -- doing stuff for ESPN, starting with this piece on Mike Modano.
Another find by the Farm Report: a lengthy Washington Post feature on Bill McDonald protege Mel Angelstad.
And finally, did you know the Southwest is going to be the league's most competitive division?
Tuesday, October 14, 2003
Cheesy but brilliant: RiverKings Championship rings for fans. On a related note, I hear Glass Rattler poster Legault Jr. has commissioned his own specially designed Governor's Cup ring.
Got a question about the CHL? Don't just e-mail me, ask the expert: in this case Caller-Times writer Greg Rajan. Here's my question: "who was the best beat writer in the WPHL?"
The best beat writer in the CHL on Sunday was Barry Lewis, first out of the box with a preview in the Tulsa World, and a lot more willing to handicap the dregs than I am at the moment. Though I will say this: some teams look good on paper -- Bill McDonald's teams look good on the ice.
Anyway, if you don't like where Lewis picked your local squad, take solace in the fact that he had New Mexico over Tulsa for the President's Cup last season. I'm allowed to bring that up 'cause I'm the idiot who had San Angelo in the playoffs and Laredo in last place.
I'm thinking Robbie Nichols is not on Kirk Tomlinson's Christmas card list... In other Lubbock news, nice piece on C-Kings voice Matt "Red" Marshall, courtesy the SMU paper (and brought to my attention by The Farm Report, natch). Hmmmh, now that I think about it, where's that Daily Northwestern review of Zamboni Rodeo?
And finally, you'd think that realtor I pointed out the other day might have set up shop in this Newfoundland town.
Monday, October 13, 2003
Among the highlights: Jason Bone and Jeremy Cornish were beat out by the rookies in Laredo, Colorado is not so overcrowded that they couldn't pick up Russell Hogue (who shined for Stew in San Antone), and the Jacks did indeed acquire Currie.
Sunday, October 12, 2003
Two goals in two games for Michel Periard -- at the moment he certainly isn't planning another trip down 35.
Saturday, October 11, 2003
Oh, and if you haven't noticed, this here site now has a spot for game reports. It will be unveiled with a splash next week, but Patrick Hancock's already on the case in Lubbock.
Even though one reader sent me an e-mail saying no one cares about Tupelo while babbling on about the unmanliness of "Rich" and "L'faint," I shall continue on. As the pro-T-Rex coverage continues, the CHL has offered up a statement:
Recent media reports and a press release issued by the Tupelo T-Rex have indicated that the Central Hockey League / Western Professional Hockey League are responsible for the demise of Tupelo’s intended South East Hockey League team.
To clarify, the Central Hockey League has not forced the Tupelo organization out of operations for the coming season. Rather, the SEHL apparently has chosen not to do business with organizations that fail to fulfill their obligations. WPHL Inc. has been more than patient in waiting for the T-Rex organization to meet significant obligations to us dating back nearly three years. What the team does not mention in their press release is their own failure to meet those obligations despite numerous attempts for many months on our part to settle the issue amicably. We even permitted them to participate as an amateur team despite their continuing obligations.
We have also attempted to create a dialogue with both the Tupelo organization and ACHL / SEHL management for approximately eight months in an attempt to have these issues rectified. While the ACHL/SEHL management have been responsive, the T-Rex representatives did not even bother to contact us until this week. Had their organization met their legal obligations to us, they certainly would have been in a position to play hockey this season. Their refusal to meet these obligations left us with no choice but to protect our interests and the rights of our franchises that are in good standing.
Any issues, therefore, with Tupelo not playing hockey in the SEHL this season, are far better directed to the Tupelo organization and their failure to comply with the legal necessities required for them to participate in the SEHL.
Vice President of Communications
Central Hockey League
Friday, October 10, 2003
Greg Rajan points out this quote from Killer Bee Darcy Smith, who was also recruited by the Rayz:
I found out that they like penalty minutes and majors and stuff like that, and that’s not my cup of tea.”
Of course, before he started drinking tea, the 6'4, 232 lb. defenseman had 207 PiMs his first pro season, and 175 (in just 42 games) his second.
Oh right, actual hockey games... how 'bout that Jeff Hackett? No, seriously, here's Rajan's story from Thursday's Bucks-Scorps game, and fan reports on the Blazers-Thunder match-up. What, no shootout? Was Bud Selig there?
Seriously... that makes no sense to me. If you want to play it safe injury-wise and not bother with the extra five minutes, that's understandable, but I thought the whole point of an exhibition was to simulate real game conditions in a way that practice can't provide. You don't have to send Clayton or Manning out there, but surely other players (to say nothing of the goalies) could have used the work -- plus the fans get resolution.
Oldest blog link ever: this Statesman article on the Texas League, which should be of interest to Jacks fans at the very least.
Speaking of Odessa, coming soon, Cow Pattys indoor football? And speaking of the Odessa American, good luck to John Erfort in El Paso.
Thursday, October 09, 2003
More on the CHL's dispute with the Tupelo T-Rex.
What I get out of this story is that the WPHL didn't "loan" the T-Rex money, they just allowed them to operate without paying their franchise fees. It's also surprising that Global wasn't more aggressive about enforcing the T-Rex trademark, even if junior hockey didn't fall under the umbrella of the non-compete (or they simply didn't care when it was junior hockey).
Still, it's a legitimate debt and Fletcher signed the deal... if he had just figured out a way to go out of business and re-incorporate with a new company and a new team name, maybe none of this would have been an issue (you can be sure there are other teams that didn't pay their WPHL franchise fees and never had to, either because they went out of business or a new owner took over and stayed in the league with those debts forgiven).
Let's face it, it's not like the Tupelo organization gave anything a lot of thought when they rushed into the AWHL that first year. If they have the money to operate they should have the money to pay their debts. And I'm certainly not gonna feel sorry for an owner whose "struggling" hockey team couldn't pay its franchise fees but could afford to carry Jason Firth.
It's also hard to imagine Jim Riggs was blindsided by this, considering he was in Memphis (then owned by Chen) at the time of the WPHL/CHL merger, when Tupelo remained in play.
It may seem petty, but business is business. What if, a year from now, the SEHL merges (or re-merges) with the WHA-2 while the higher-level WHA sniffs around Memphis and OKC? Everyone is competition. The folks who started up the WPHL have always seen that, treating minor pro hockey as a single business. That approach has caused its share of questionable or unpopular decisions, but you can't say it hasn't been right-on.
Hmmh, I sure hope Tom Wheatley is a predicting genius -- though I'd have to root against the Stars.
Okay, okay... I enjoy goofin' on Nasato as much as the next guy, but for those of you who really think the guy is worthless, your approach should be A) not talking about him or B) expressing joy he's gone.
Let's not forget, his baggage includes three championship rings -- and of course the team that signed him knows what he's about. Bottom line, when he isn't acting like an idiot, the guy can play, and when he is acting like an idiot it's good for business -- otherwise we wouldn't yap about him.
And speaking of the bottom line, he's not running away from anybody, but rather, towards a bigger paycheck. Which may keep him from adding a fourth ring, but who can really say right now -- and it's not like he was guaranteed to get one with the Bees (or the RiverKings for that matter).
More on the Flyers game coached by writers, as well as Hitch's perspective.
Brad Wingfield remains in Houston -- if I caused any confusion the other day that's because the "Corpus Five" were actually six with Levesque (making Starling #7).
Anyway, it will be interesting to see if the Winger/Legs rivalry lives up to the hype, since the two are former teammates and good friends. Legault's comment:
We decided we're just gonna see what happens as the season goes on. It's part of the game, and it's our jobs to do what we have to do, I know there's times, when you have friends in the league, their coach is gonna send them after me and vice versa. We're grown men, and we know that. We're also two guys who have tempers that flare up in the heat of the moment -- and that's all I'm gonna say about that.
Of course, if they do steer clear, that just means lots of Wingfield/Waltze and Richardson/Legault.
Tim Harvey does my job again (good thing this isn't his beat): Craig Coxe, soon to be coaching (you can't make this part up) an SEHL farm team.
Wednesday, October 08, 2003
Tuesday, October 07, 2003
No really, where is the guy? The UHL? The WHA-2? Tupelo?
Not Hidalgo -- Tracey Egeland told me last week that they never had a second conversation.
Who knows, maybe the Bees traded him to Memphis in the meantime (the blog pauses for a shout-out to John Hiatt). One way or another Stormy's gonna need an address, right?
Speaking of contests, one last congrats to San Angelo fan Hockeycrazy, who won the Hockey Blog President's Cup Finals Prediction contest.
And speaking of Egeland, good little profile here.
Look, another former NHLer wandering around Loveland! In this case, one who got there from the "Wiffle." Add Ryan Tobler to the Eagles roster -- what, no two-way? -- in addition to the long-promised Igor Bondarev.
Meanwhile, Eric Schneider to Vegas. You can read the rest of the ECHL transactions on your own.
New players for Laredo: rookie Patrik Nilson and -- Scott Allen strikes again -- former ECHLer Jason Spence. Hmmmh, do they get J-F David and Mike Vellinga too?
We can certainly expect a different Bucks team: "my philosophy is defense first", says Terry Ruskowski, who sure fooled me with that Glen Sather impersonation last year. IMO, that club was deliberately designed that way -- winning over fans with goals and fights came first, winning games came second. As it turned out, the Bucks were underrated defensively and finished with more points than every team but Austin. This year they'll do it in a different way.
Sprott, Bergin, Oliver, Buchanan... which one would you cut from your team?
Monday, October 06, 2003
Now granted, hockey scribes are not geographers, but what's up with this Scorps article, which says the team's training camp locale in Corpus Christi puts them "near the noted Spring Break hangout of South Padre Island." That's like saying, Albuquerque's "near the ski resort of Taos." Shoot, the CHL's newest Texas team actually *is* near South Padre -- and still not near enough!
Hey, if Wilkes-Barre Scranton sent a dozen players -- that's 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12 players -- to Wheeling of the ECHL (owned by two guys who also hold an interest in the Penguins) where do you suppose the Colorado guys fit into the call-up pecking order?
Speaking of affiliations, thanks to Wolfie in Laredo for noticing this display of arrogance/ignorance on the part of Norfolk Admirals fan Christopher Smith, who says the Indy Ice affiliation with the Blackhawks, "gives the [ECHL] Florence Pride a place to call up players for the Pride."
A belated must-read: Brian Ross' MLN Sportszone piece on Taylor Hall, the Rays and the WHA-2 in Pelham.
Still plenty of slots left for the Central Hockey League junior reporter program. Get those sons/daughers/nieces/nephews/neighbors in the mix! So long as they don't have to meet that guy in the picture it should be a great experience.
As usual, Tim Harvey's Rinkblog is the place to go for an NHL labor round-up from the Sunday papers, among many other subjects.
Here come the the big, bad, Wichita Thunder.
And finally, R.I.P. Dan Snyder. Awful story, with awful consequences -- not to mention morbid, pitch-black irony.
Sunday, October 05, 2003
Just to follow up, the Panthers goalie hijinks were not expected to affect the Rampage. Now that's a sure thing, as Steve Shields is headed down to Sunrise.
Nice little informational piece on developmental hockey leagues from the Dallas Morning News.
And here's the cure for hockey's lack of scoring: let the writers coach. Here's Wayne Fish's bench-side report from Friday's Phantoms-Flyers tilt.
Saturday, October 04, 2003
Weird turn of events with the Florida Panthers goalie situation, though in the end, it doesn't look like it changes things in San Antone.
Gotta keep reading those ECHL transactions. Among the names today: Peter Bournazakis, Justin Cardwell, Tom Kotsopolous, Julius Halfkenny, Bobby Brown, Robert Fail, Shawn Skiehar and Dominics Forget and Periard.
Friday, October 03, 2003
Clever move by the fledgling Texas Wildcatters -- they have signed Danielle Dube, which should at least compensate, PR-wise, for losing Kevin Hodson.
Dave Gove is ready for October 10th. I say he'll be there.
Nice to see Stephane Desjardins still kicking around. Not only was Steph the first Ice Bat I ever really interviewed, but his picture appears in Zamboni Rodeo, unidentified (an oversight the paperback corrects).
Wednesday, October 01, 2003
Official word on the ECHL, Part II. I'd say the union won -- the cap stays high, the floor is something they proposed and the vet rule's games-played number is the highest in the country (if only for two seasons).
Plus, all but eight guys on every team get total free agency each off-season -- that should impact CHL (and UHL) recruiting.
Just awful, the car crash in Atlanta. You can't help but think of Vlady Konstantinov and Pelle Lindbergh.