Wednesday, December 31, 2003


There it is again: third quarter.

Here's the Bats-Jacks Statesman story.

Shawn Legault got friendly with Mark Cairns tonight, barreling into the Odessa goaltender when he strayed halfway to the blue line to head off a potential breakaway.

Now, I agree 100% with Don McKee's assertion that Legault had time to avoid contact, but don't agree with his claim that it should have been intent-to-injure (though his point -- that the key word is "intent," not "injure" -- is well-taken).

Charging was called, but I'm with Jeff Greenlaw on this one. The Ice Bats coach said if it were up to him there would not have been a penalty at all:

Sure he could have [avoided him]. But you know what, I'm a believer that if the goalie comes out of the net he should be fair game. It's not the rule, but I wish it was. When I played, I would have loved to run over goalies. Shawn was frustrated tonight, things weren't going well, he's an emotional guy. He had a chance to take a shot at the goalie and he took it. It was clean, it wasn't dirty, he just bumped into him... it kind of picked us up a little bit.

One caveat -- it wasn't totally "clean" in the sense that Cairns is out there assuming he won't be run, so he's not thinking about protecting himself. But I've never liked the rule, and while no one wants to see it happen to their goalie, those of you who like the Stars no doubt recall the Skrudland-Hasek hit with fondness. (Keith Jones smacking Dom two games in a row the next year was also good.)

Moving on... sometimes I don't know how Steve Newlin finds this stuff: Forbes McPherson is related to Sidney Crosby.

ITC's Tom Schettino says to give the Colorado stuff a rest, but expect rule changes at the ASG. We shall see.

How to open up the NHL, part 738: no stickwork. At all. Checking, yes. Fighting, sure. But no quasi-legal hooks or slashes.

It will never happen, and even if it did you'd get two years of hell adjusting to enforcement. But give Mike Ulmer credit for a crazy-brilliant idea.

And, catching up from Christmas, give Don Parsons credit -- ax in hand, he didn't duck the truth, and tried to let Wiley leave with dignity:

'Jim was a great guy and he had his own style. Nothing against him, but we had a hard time adjusting since we knew what we did in the past won championships. I have a lot of respect for Jim and wish him the best.

Parsons also said: I feel responsible. I haven't played up to my potential.

What's scary is, that's true. But the guy still has 21 goals, and the Kings are 3-0 with Richards.

And btw, when I made that original comment about Wiley going to Tulsa I was having a little fun -- but I promise you, it almost happened.

Happy New Year everyone. I am bound for Indy -- signing Zamboni Rodeo at Friday's Rayz-Ice contest. Maybe Brad Wingfield can join me if he isn't doing anything.

Tuesday, December 30, 2003


And you thought Brett Hull gave Hitch some guff: check out Wingfield on Al Sims:

I think Al brought whatever happened upon himself. I wasn't with the team last year, but Al made his bed and had to lay in it.

The Southern starters are announced (wasn't online yesterday when they announced the North).

Monday, December 29, 2003


I don't think he's great with the human element of coaching, the ever-blunt Brett Hull says of Ken Hitchcock, who returns to Dallas for the first time tonight.

Stars are warming up, Flyers have been cold -- but of course I'll be wearing black and orange.

Sunday, December 28, 2003


Can't say "sucks" in the Corpus Christi Caller-Times?

No even-strength scoring last night in Odessa or today in Amarillo, though the shorthanded empty-netter gave six Saints a hard-luck -1.

There's Blazers-Bats coverage in the American-Statesman, but since my "with quotes" story didn't make the web site, check out an expanded version here.

Reconsidering Scott Reid... there's no question he has caught up with DeGagne, and outplayed him yesterday. Wonder if they'll both go in the rematch?

The main difference is, Reid was equally great in November and December, whereas DeGagne was the best goalie in the league by far in November and merely good in December.

So I do think there's a good chance Reid will join DeGagne at the All-Star Game, as the league usually tries to send the top two vote-getters at that position (Brent Hughes just happened to have one of them each of the last three seasons).

But again, Guerrera trumps both Southwestern goalies if he plays a little more. (Kind of a tough deal, sending Guerrera to SA just so rusty Rampage back-up Simon Lajeunesse could play in the ECHL. But he's back now.)

My Southern all-star ballot:

Brent Cullaton, Jeff Bes
Some voters won't take two off the same line. There's also the temptation to think, "ah, they'll both get to go with Rosco even if they don't get picked to start." But they deserve to start. I've seen them kill the Bats, and as with Pankewicz and Tobler, the numbers are too good -- first and third in the league as of tonight.

Derek Hahn
Most goals in the conference on the second-best team in the conference. And have you seen that shooting percentage? With Pankewicz's SOGs (or ice time) he'd have 30 goals already.

Mark DeSantis
Scoring like he always does, with a much better +/- than last season. Wears the "C" for a division leader, and while it hardly matters in the context of an ASG, gets credit for the Peet thing too.

Derek Booth
The Saints are doing it with defense (especially compared to last year). Since I can't take Chris Minard or Scott Reid off the third-best Southern team, I'll take their top defenseman.

Scott Hillman (28 points, minus-9, on a sub-.500 team) will be there but shouldn't start. Ditto Mike Tilson (21 points, plus-5, on a sub-.500 team). And I guess in this case I am going with the "Rosco will take Dube or David anyway" approach, but hey, you can't vote for everybody, plus I didn't want all six guys off the same two teams, since my goalie is...

Shawn DeGagne
If Guerrera had played more games this would be a tough one, but you just can't say that he's the most important player on the Bucks. DeGagne is for Amarillo (ditto hard-luck omissions Reid and Levy for their clubs).

Other Southern players I expect to see in ABQ: Hillman, Tilson, Dube, Minard, Dave MacIntyre, Gerald Tallaire (though just because he isn't on the ballot doesn't mean Brent Hughes couldn't make the squad), Patrik Nilson and/or Chris Grenville and Matic Kralj.

The North? Sooooooooo much harder to choose, unless of course you just vote for Pankewicz and Tobler, and assume that Parsons, Sauter and John's names are pre-printed on the ballots.

Ken Carroll's gotta be the goalie, but can Scott Muscutt take anyone else from his own squad besides Spurr? Throw in Mathieu, Kolesar, Dumba, Bermingham, Oliveira and one Blazer and you're done -- leaving a lot of good players on the shelf -- and we haven't even picked a Brahma (Woollard? Upton?). Maybe Muscutt can take Minard on D, along with Landmesser and Doyon, though neither are slam-dunks. Then you could choose between someone from the Eagles (Williamson or Swanson), someone from the host (Adams or Kupaks), or even Adam Davis if you don't take a Brahmas forward.

I'm thinking Nathan Grobins over Branch (wonder if tonight's game swung any votes?).

And Muscutt and the Bossier fans should be pleased as punch to not send that many guys. All-Star Games are about individual success, and that is not "the Mudbugs Way."

Saturday, December 27, 2003


Peet got three. Next up, Chad Spurr?

Someone who likes football or basketball more than hockey clearly wrote up the Gorman transaction

Better him than me: Greg Rajan is on the Corpus Christi road trip, with daily articles like this one about Dan Shermerhorn, as well as a journal by Jay Woodcroft. Should be a great series. He's calling it "Son of Zamboni Rodeo, but that sleeper bus sounds a whole lot better than sharing a row with Mark Martello (good thing he slept on the floor).

I do wish I could catch the outdoor scrimmage in Los Alamos

And here I thought Santa was a Flyers fan.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003


Remi Royer leaves the Ice. And couldn't some CHL team find a spot for David Brosseau?.

Thanks to everyone in Lubbock. As far as I'm concerned, Austin doesn't actually need a new arena, we just need to transplant Lubbock or San Angelo's. Love those old bowls.

Ya know, normally I don't like to get too caught up in ref-bashing because it doesn't matter if a guy is good or makes the correct call, there's always someone out there raggin' on him just as hard as when he's bad or makes the wrong one. But no one liked Phil Gilmour. I don't know whether to applaud the league for being realistic and responsive, or wonder exactly just how out-of-their-head-angry various CHL owners had to get for this to finally happen. A little of both, I guess.

Monday, December 22, 2003


Peet update: because a goal had been scored and the penalty was over, his actions fall under 72(a) rather than (b) or (c), which means neither the game misconduct nor the discipline is automatic. The league will look at it tomorrow. He played yesterday because it's not a sure thing he'll be suspended -- "indefinite suspensions" where a guy sits out until the league review are (ideally) for match penalties or more serious offenses.

I take my duties as a Southern Conference all-star voter very seriously, so tomorrow night I'm checking out the Lubbock-Amarillo game, to see if Hahn and the two "De"s are worthy of a starting nod.

Ok, not exactly. Truth is, the Kingdom is the only surviving WPHL arena I have not been to. Just never happened for some reason -- most notably, I was out of the country during the infamous "Brent Hughes cell phone game." So I'm glad to finally get there. You'll find me at the Booster Club table with copies of Zamboni Rodeo.

Which, come to think of it, I haven't flogged nearly enough this fall. My own blog, and I didn't even self-promote for Christmas! Anyway, if you didn't know, a paperback is out -- the first US release of the book ever -- with a new chapter about Ryan Anderson and Tim Findlay and an updated "Where Are They Now." You can buy one from Amazon, or you can still get signed hardcovers (at the bargain price of $17.95!) from me.

I still hope to get to Indy -- hopefully on January 2 -- and Wichita before the season's out. And if you are one of the many kind people who already bought a book and/or sent me e-mails, I'd sure be grateful if you were moved to post a review on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Here's two notes I received recently that I got a great big kick out of, for obvious reasons.

That was great! It helped me realize, the five years I spent chasing the dream was worth it. I was laughing out loud on my trip back to Boston when I read how soft Harry was. (my roommate when we won that championship in OKC, that was a special year) To read how the players define a team, the money problems, the crazy fans, the refs, coach's, office people, the waffle house. That was the first book I read since the Firm during my first year pro in Nashville. We didn't have rock star buses we had country star buses. - Tim Sullivan.

I really enjoyed your book, I'm glad that you had the opportunity to write it. Your depiction of minor professional hockey was right on. A players life is not all "glamour and hype" that much of the media and general public make it out to be. You did an excellent job of portraying the "real life" issues that all players face, and in some instances the "dark side" of professional sports. We players have ALL seen it firsthand. - Anthony Donskov.

Donskov, btw, is back in Ohio recuperating from surgery, and while the 2002-2003 CHL Man of the Year is considering a "real-world" job, he also has the itch to play next season.

On another book-related topic, you might consider spending some of that Christmas money on They Don't Play Hockey In Heaven, Ken Baker's story of his season as the Bakersfield Condors' third-string goalie. The Hockey News said it was "part George Plimpton, part Zamboni Rodeo, part Rudy."

I also like Goon (wrote about it last year) and am looking forward to reading Blades of Glory.

Sunday, December 21, 2003


George Wyatt's photos reveal the reason Peet got bloodied -- DeSantis had the the power of Santa on his side.

Looks like Shaun Peet won't play today.

Looking at the boxscore, it's true that Peet's penalty was over with the goal, but you can't just come out of the box and start --or join -- a fight during a stoppage. From the looks of Rule 72, Peet's only option was to go straight from the sin bin to the bench -- you get six games for leaving either, and even if the league decides to treat his action as a "legal line change," there'd be discipline.
Good resource to follow Shedden and St. John's -- they give the Kings attention too.
The Thunder got the win, but the point gets Scott Muscutt the Northern coaching nod. Somebody buy the man a new blue blazer and khakis to wear in Albuquerque!

I don't know what was sadder for the Bats tonight, that five goals is one of the team's three best offensive performances and they lost, or that Joey Bastien struck the final blow against them.

Since Al Sims seems to be working out well for the Brahmas, I say every struggling team should try recycling. How 'bout a little game of musical coaches?

Tomlinson to Wichita, 'cause gloves will drop.

Laxdal to Odessa, where they'll treat him like a human being.

Inglis to Lubbock, 'cause he's the closest thing they'll get to Bill McDonald.

McKee to Austin, 'cause no one will mistake him for one of the boys.

Wiley to Tulsa, as I've already said.

Greenlaw to Memphis, as allegedly was planned.

And of course, Hughes to Corpus would complete the circle.

Macker can stay put, though he probably wouldn't mind if his team was back in the Southwest.

Saturday, December 20, 2003


How Brandon Carper felt returning to Amarillo.

Great point by GR's Thunderstruck: last year under Shedden at this time, Memphis was only one game better than they are now. Can't say the same thing about the Bats, who were a whopping 23-5 by New Year's Day, but the situations are still similar: with new players, key losses due to the vet rule and unexpected line-up changes, this stuff could just as easily be happening under the departed coaches. Of course, the fans have no reason to cut Jim Wiley or Jeff Greenlaw the same slack they would have Shedden or Brent Hughes.
"Hopefully a lot of people will come out Saturday and get to see a good hockey team in Colorado," Bruce Garber apparently said last night. Top-notch motivational trash talk -- if not for the fact that the Oilers don't have to listen to a word he says after tonight.
The Dallas Stars: they can't score goals despite great talent and have 15 losses after 17 last season. Sound like anybody else we know? So if the Bats had dropped below .500 before Lance Armstrong Foundation Night, would they have had to skip the yellow jersey? And hey, any chance Brandon Carper gave his new coach Dorian Anneck's number?

Best of luck to Rick Dames. Guess he figured it was safe to move that much farther away from Madison Square Garden -- nothing to see there, right?
I'd like to express my early condolences to Scott Reid and Jeff Levy for not making the All-Star Game. It ought to be close, but I see DeGagne starting, and with the Bucks goalies ahead of all other candidates in both GAA and save percentage, Rosco's gotta be allowed to take one.

Scott Muscutt, of course, will not face that dilemma.

Friday, December 19, 2003


Oops -- make that seven Laredo goals. Something tells me there will soon be Corpus penalties. But maybe Max Birbraer will get himself a Chanukah Chat Trick.

Late in the second we've got Six Laredo goals, five Laredo penalties and none of either for the Rayz.
Sorry to pick on you Denis, but "Tabby" Lardner? And if being half-Francophone means you're gonna call these guys "Fo-REH" and "Tie-YAIR," shouldn't you pronounce your own name Deh-KNEE?

Very nice CHLTV picture from Amarillo. Interesting point by Puska, that the Stars and Grizzlies had DeGagne in camp, but made the call to Levy.
Denis Puska has invented a third pronunciation of the Ice Bats goalie's name: Jonathan Fo-REH. The Amarillo broadcaster promises an insightful interview with Greenlaw at the break.
Ron Tugnutt's injury trickles all the way down to Rio Grande Valley. Let's hope Jeff Levy sees some action for his hometown team.

Thursday, December 18, 2003


Looking at the all-star ballot reallly drove this home: of the Top 25 scorers in the league, Chris Minard and Derek Hahn are the only Southern Conference players who aren't on the Bucks first line.

Goals only gets you Dave MacIntyre and the departed Ed McGrane, while assists puts Scott Hillman and two Ice Bats in the mix.

Mike Gorman update, straight from Don McKee: when the Jacks goaltender has practiced, he's needed two days off, and thus he's not quite there.

"I was optimistic I'd see him this weekend, but the doctors told me today that my Christmas present would be that he'll be back most likely on the 26th," McKee said.

KINGS STRIKE IN SECOND QUARTER -- that happened to me once.
(Remember, each team decides who goes on the ballot)

Southern Conference

Bes, Jeff (LAR)
Blaznek, Joe (LUB)
Cressman, Matt (ODE)
Cullaton, Brent (LAR)
Dean, John (AMA)
Finnerty, Ryan (SNG)
Fioroni, Paul (LUB)
Grenville, Chris (LAR)
Hahn, Derek (AMA)
Kralj, Matic (RGV)
Legault, Shawn (AUS)
Levesque, Patrick (CRP)
Linna, Troy (RGV)
MacIntyre, Dave (LUB)
Minard, Chris (SNG)
Newson, Bill (RGV)
Rutter, Mike (ODE)
Smart, Kelly (AUS)
St. Louis, Jonathan (CRP)
Tallaire, Gerald (AUS)
Thinel, Sebastien (ODE)
Weisgerber, Trevor (SNG)
Woodcroft, Jay (CRP)
Wray, Scott (AMA)

Binns, Craig (LUB)
Booth, Derek (SNG)
David, J.F. (LAR)
DeSantis, Mark (AMA)
Dube, Serge (LAR)
Frick, Matt (SNG)
Hillman, Scott (ODE)
Holland, Derek (LUB)
Rees, Mike (RGV)
Shannon, Ryan (AMA)
Starling, Chad (CRP)
Stone, Derek (AUS)
Tessier, Jason (RGV)
Tetrault, Daniel (AUS)
Tilson, Mike (CRP)
Yoder, Jami (ODE)

Belecki, Brent (CRP)
Cairns, Mark (ODE)
Degagne, Shawn (AMA)
Forest, Jonathan (AUS)
Guerrera, David (LAR)
Levy, Jeff (RGV)
Reid, Scott (SNG)
Symington, Jeremy (LUB)

Northern Conference

Baird, Jason (IND)
Barker, Brian (NMX)
Bermingham, Jason (TUL)
Calder, Adam (WIC)
Campbell, Ryan (OKC)
Davis, Aaron (FTW)
Dumba, Jared (IND)
Forslund, Bryan (OKC)
Gagnon, Jonathan (MEM)
Gilmore, Dave (IND)
Gravelle, Dan (TUL)
Kolesar, Mark (WIC)
Manitowich, Ryan (BOS)
Marcellus, Todd (TUL)
Mathieu, Alexandre (MEM)
Nelson, Riley (COL)
Oliveira, Mike (NMX)
Pankewicz, Greg (COL)
Parsons, Don (MEM)
Richards, Chris (NMX)
Scharf, Jeff (FTW)
Sheppard, Doug (OKC)
Spurr, Chad (BOS)
Strome, Anders (WIC)
Tobler, Ryan (COL)
Wildfong, Dan (BOS)
Woollard, Chad (FTW)

Adams, Erik (NMX)
Basile, Jason (BOS)
D’Arpino, Anthony (TUL)
Davis, Adam (FTW)
Doyon, Mario (IND)
Fleck, Tyler (OKC)
Green, Darryl (WIC)
Harper, Regan (TUL)
Hartinger, Vladimir (NMX)
John, Bernie (IND)
Landmesser, Derek (MEM)
Minard, Craig (BOS)
Runkel, Peter (WIC)
Sauter, Hardy (OKC)
Thompson, Brent (COL)
Trumbley, Peter (FTW)
Turon, David (MEM)
Williamson, Brad (COL)

Bach, Ryan (COL)
Branch, Rod (TUL)
Carroll, Ken (BOS)
Connors, Sean (OKC)
Grobins, Nathan (WIC)
Lorenz, Danny (NMX)
Minard, Mike (MEM)
Saltarelli, Erasmo (FTW)
Sanger, Jeff (IND)

Wednesday, December 17, 2003


You know who the next Tulsa Oilers coach should be? Jim Wiley.

Everybody wins. The Oilers get a good coach who happens to be a former Tulsa hockey great, Wiley removes himself from a team where he's only the third most powerful hockey guy (behind Kevin Ryan and Don Parsons) and the Kings can go back to playing Shedden's way. Make Richards boss -- then the players have only themselves to blame if things don't turn around.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003


Bucks over Rayz this morning means Terry Ruskowski will coach the Southern All-Stars in New Mexico.

Now the very picture of contrition, Kirk Tomlinson gets off with time served, plus a hit to the old wallet.

What I was wondering is, have any fans asked for a 10-15% refund on their tickets?

Monday, December 15, 2003


Kirk Tomlinson -- motivational genius, or easily replaced?

Sunday, December 14, 2003


More good publicity for the CHL. Geez, they didn't even insult the right tribe.

Is Wichita coming around, or is the RiverKings' tormented room starting to catch up with them?

Rayz and Eagles fans: get your Shermerhorn or Swanson game-worn Steelheads jerseys! Me, I'm holding out for Hartnell.

Nice of Rick Kozuback to just tell everyone what the Wild and the Aeros won't yet admit.

Great press for the Eagles last week from ESPN contributor and author Terry Frei.

Have you read The Farm Report lately?

Saturday, December 13, 2003


So in the end, the Cotton Kings get a point against the Scorps and and the front page of the paper. Funny thing, Tomlinson saying "there were two willing combatants in every fight." The Jacks may have been willing. Were the guys in blue and gold?

To say that this is part of hockey misses the point. Fights are great. There should be three or four per game. Maybe a line brawl once a month. This was something else.

The instigator rule? It sucks, in the course of normal play. But stuff like this means it will never go away.

Offering your tough guy cash to drop the gloves? Illegal, but a charming bit of old-school hockey motivation. Paying the whole team to go, or fining those who won't? Not cool.

Nothing wrong with "It's supposed to hurt" as an ad slogan though.

And right about now David Holt should be calling up Mark Adams and suggesting they trade coaches.

Friday, December 12, 2003


I know L'Ecuyer deserves a lot of heat here, but you can't tell me this is not a valid perspective too.

I think my favorite part is "game length: 4:56," even though that isn't really true.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

What the #$%@#$%&!@$#@!!!?????!!!????.
Look for a Brent Hughes update from Greg Rajan in the Caller-Times this morning.

ECHL news that affects the CHL: Jamie Hodson goes to Greensboro, so no change to the Memphis goalie situation. Tyler Deis is player of the week, so on the whole, he'd rather not be in Wichita. And Kris Waltze lands safely in Toledo.

Maybe Memphis should have tried this with Kahlil Thomas.

Look at that: In the Crease is back (sort of -- the columns are not completely up to date). Meanwhile, the new Just Hockey has a piece by Bill Inglis that's a little hard to swallow now:

Over the course of the offseason and the early part of the regular season, the Brahmas have taken steps to get this club back to its expected winning ways... We've got a great organization behind us... a solid commitment from our ownership and the city... Don't be surprised if you see the Brahmas in the CHL playoffs this spring.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003


Affiliations can really suck sometimes.

Help me out here -- are we supposed to praise Al Sims for landing Upton and Bastien, or are we supposed to wonder why the heck the 'Rillas would part ways with their second leading scorer (besides Roed being a decent little center). Maybe Ferras already knows what he's doing with that extra visa?

Ok, you can't fault Bruce Garber for his family concerns (he's not exactly Ken Griffey Jr.), and I definitely respect the reality of, "I don't want to be riding buses five years from now." Not everybody wants to be Doug Sauter or Bill MacDonald (and not everybody gets to be Doug Shedden).

Thing is, I don't know if those guys make more money than the vice president of a memorabilia company, but you can be sure they make more money than the head coach of the Tulsa Oilers. That's kind of what I meant by my original comment. It's just a weird situation, as if Garber took the Tulsa job for lack of anything better to do, and the Oilers were willing to hire someone who didn't even want to bring his wife and kids to town.

As far as a new coach, if you want an ex-Oiler with baggage, Tony M. is a better choice than Craig Coxe. And Chris Dashney makes a lot of sense.

But speaking of baggage, I nominate Trent Eigner. What's past is past (all charges were dropped). The guy knows how to win, can do it on a budget and deserves a second chance.

Brent Hughes? It's still not clear if the deposed Ice Bats coach is willing to come back, but if he does it will be to work for Doug Frank.

And by the way, if Mark Scott and/or Oilers management think that playing for the London Racers will forestall his vet status, they are in for a surprise -- the British league games count.

Everybody loves Phil Gilmour.

So where's this Odessa three-team trade? Any chance it involves Corpus and New Mexico, since those teams aren't allowed to do deals with each other?

It's so long Kris Waltze, hello Dody Wood in Memphis.

Monday, December 08, 2003


Here's a shocker -- Bruce Garber resigns. Are we really supposed to believe the new job was too good to pass up? I mean, it might be, but that still doesn't reflect well on the position he decided to give up.

Sunday, December 07, 2003

Thought it would be interesting to talk to Central Hockey League Supervisor of Officials Wayne Bonney as well as referee Steve Cruickshank, both of whom were taking in the Ice Bats-Thunder game.

So I did:

What do you think the average fan's biggest misconception is about officials?

Bonney: I guess the biggest thing is, maybe they don't think the officials take their job seriously. This is their livelihood. Their job is to do the best job they can, they don't want to make any mistakes, and they really feel bad when they do make mistakes. They want to do a good job.

Steve, where have you been for the last three days, to give people an idea of what a referee's schedule is like?

Cruickshank: My last three games were, last Tuesday I was in Tulsa, Oklahoma, this past Friday was Corpus Christi and Saturday night I was over in Laredo. Tonight I'm just watching and learning from my superior. There's many tools that they use to teach us, and you can learn a lot not only while you're on the ice, but also just sitting beside him watching a game. Consistency throughout all the officials is what he's trying to gun for, and if I may say so he's doing a great job of it.

When you evaluate yourself, are you more likely to say, 'man, I wish I'd been in better position to make that call' or 'ooh, I made a wrong call.'

Cruickshank: It's very ironic you say that, because we just talked about positioning. If you're in the right spot at the right time it makes our job 100% easier. All we want to do is put ourselves in a position to be able to best see every call that we want to make. One of the big ones is not being on the goal line for a goal, or a scramble. We've got to get there, and that's preached to us. Also, coming up around behind the play rather than being lazy and hanging up. It's exactly like you say -- many times we can sit there and go, 'God, I wish I had been here, or there.' We've been told where to be, that's why we've got to get there and learn from that. There's always the human factor, but they provide us with the tools that put us in the right spot.

Bonney: One thing I've learned as a supervisor is, you can defend everything an official calls when he's in the right position. If it's on the replay and the coach says, 'look at this,' I say, well, he's in the right position, he's doing everything right, that's his judgement. He made that decision. Now if he's not in the right position and he makes a mistake it's kind of hard for me to defend an official. These guys try so hard, and if you're in the right position, I can defend it.

What I think people forget sometimes is that in the NHL, whether it's Kerry Frasier or Don Koharski or yourself, you've all heard it just as bad as the guys at this level have

Bonney: Yes, we have. There isn't anything they say down here that we haven't heard up there. You hear it, you listen to them, a coach or a general manager phones, asks you a question, they give their opinion, but sometimes they get so excited they'll give their opinion, and then when I look at the tape the opinion that they gave is not the exact same thing that happened on the tape. So much emotion goes into it.

We've seen CHL refs work in the AHL, and enter the NHL training program, so you can be just as smart or just as stupid at the higher level, huh?

Cruickshank: Exactly. Our league's been blessed lately with the two supervisors we've had. How does a coach argue with these guys who have such a great resume, all the hockey they've seen, and not only that but what they can provide the younger guys coming through our program. We're very fortunate, and I tip my hat to the CHL for providing these opportunities.

Now, do we have a 'Rule 41' problem, or is it just being enforced more?

Bonney: I don't know if you had a problem with it last year, it just seems more situations are happening. A lot of rules come under that one rule.

Cruickshank: I think it comes from parity, the league has grown, all the teams are evenly matched, any given night it's a battle. Emotion's always been a big part of the game, and it always will be. What you might be seeing is some coaches are new to the coaching ranks, coming right off being a player, and sometimes a little bit too much of the player instincts are in there. I like to think a lot of them are spur of the moment and afterwards [it's forgotten] but as Wayne said, he's gonna back us up. The coaches should be thinking twice about venting in that situation. We're out there doing the best we can and as long as we are, we're gonna get backed up and they'll be held accountable.

Anything that really made you laugh or got your goat that a coach has said to you?

Cruickshank: I guess it was Brent Hughes, last year in Memphis, they had a guy who could juggle 14 frisbees and balance a ball at the end of his nose, and between periods he says to me "you ever wonder what you look like on the ice?" All in good humor.

Does the way a coach expresses himself count?

Cruickshank: There's an old expression, you can catch more flies with sugar than you can with vinegar. If you want to scream and yell, you're not going anywhere. If you want to talk to me, calmly, quietly, I think that's the best way to come across. A lot of us don't have any room for coaches screaming and yelling because it's a no-win situation.

Another perception fans have is that certain players who have had penalties or suspensions in the past, the league is on the lookout for him. Is that not the case?

Bonney No, that's not the case. I don't know who is a tough guy or who isn't a tough guy. Actually, I haven't got a clue who is in first place or who is in last. When I rule on a decision I look at the play and watch the replay and say this is the decision. I don't know if the guy is a goalscorer or a tough guy. I try to keep it fair like that and I find that it's working.

Even for supplemental discipline, Duane Lewis isn't gonna say, "well, we suspended so-and-so for such-and-such last year?"

Bonney: Duane might say that once or twice, but I say, you know what, that's last year. Every decision that I've made this year, I look at the replay, Duane looks at the replay, and so does Brad [Treliving], and then we all get in a room and all of us make the decision, say "this is the number we're gonna get," and I get the final decision. They give their opinion, and I have to respect their opinion, they've been here longer than I have, Brad might say 1 game and I might say five games. Then I have to sit down and once they give their opinion, I make the final decision and I go back and tell them and they say ok, that's it.

One of the things I'd like to say to the fans is that I will defend all the officials on just about every call they do, but they do make mistakes, they are human, and when they are wrong I do say to the coach, yeah, he made a mistake, and we're gonna show the tape and try to make him better. Our guys try their best and they are gonna make mistakes and hopefully they learn from their mistakes. We don't think our officials are perfect.

You can always tell the players and coaches, "you guys make mistakes too," right?

Bonney: Unfortunately as an official, when you make a mistake sometimes the outcome is a goal, and a team loses. You hate to do that. They feel really bad about it. They try not to make any mistakes -- just like a player, they give their hardest. Sometimes, if you work 70 games, unfortunately you have a bad game once in awhile. But you try your best.
The GlassRattler crowd will just love this one: That team, to me, was ready to get beat, Jeff Greenlaw said of the Thunder squad across the ice from him, while encouraging his own club to slam the door in the third period.

Saturday, December 06, 2003


Until Mitch Cooper's game report: some choice words from Jeff Greenlaw on tonight's Laredo-Austin game..

I'm not happy at all... I'm sick and tired of it. If we played 60 full minutes like we played the third period, we beat that team. It's embarassing... I don't know if it's my fault for not getting them ready, but I shouldn't have to. They should want to play these games. These are the kind of games that professional hockey players should automatically get yourself up for, playing arguably the best team in the league.

There's some players on my team right now that have really disappointed me. I may need to make more changes. There are guys that I kept here from last year that have to score goals. They haven't been doing it. There will be moves made, I guarantee you that, if they don't start scoring goals.

Friday, December 05, 2003

Before I forget, it's Zamboni Rodeo night at the Bat Cave. I'll be over on the concourse signing books (just hardcovers; hope to have my own stock of the paperback soon) before the game and between the first and second period. Whether I'm there between the second and the third depends on how the game is going, since I'll also be covering it for the paper.

Here's today's article about Carper and Conschafter. And here's some more quotes:

Greenlaw on Carper: He's not a flashy player. You look at his stats and you might think he is, but he just makes a smart first pass and jumps in the holes when it's not a high risk play.

Carper on himself: I take a lot of pride, first of all, in my plus minus, and I think too that a winning team starts with goaltending and defense, so I try to play good defense and if my points come they come.

Greenlaw on Waltze (i.e. Greenlaw responding to the Underground): It's kind of upsetting that I've got to move a guy like Kris, but that's the game sometimes. A lot of it is because the guys that are supposed to score goals, our big guns, both defense and forwards, aren't playing well. I did sacrifice talent to bring in a [character] vet because I thought the guys that I did have would score. He was doing his job, he was sticking up for his players, he was good in the dressing room and in the community. Sometimes you have to move the guys that care more about the team than anybody.

Hey, Brad Wingfield: if you're gonna bitch about your suspension, how 'bout telling us exactly what you said to Fred L'Ecuyer? Then we can judge for ourselves.

Anyway, with multiple violations of Rule 41, it appears this punishment is like missing a payment on your credit card -- do it once and the bank may let you slide. Do it twice and they hit you with the retroactive finance charge.

And hey, so long as the Rayz fans are dredging up the Legault-Colborne incident, I'm sure they'll love what the Bats bad boy had to say about it before the current season started:

Retaliating was something I felt I had to do, or there would have been a lot of respect lost for me around the league. If he would have been penalized for what he did to me (a slash that broke Legault's foot) I'm sure nothing would have happened.

Thursday, December 04, 2003


Guess Scott Muscutt wasn't kidding when he said he had a computer. (Note at 8:27pm: the Mudbugs coach posted at "The Swamp." The thread has since been deleted.)

Ryan Bach the top-ranked goalie in the league? Not to discount the value of winning more games than everybody else, but when it comes to the traditional individual measures of GAA and save percentage, he's not quite making good on my prediction (maybe he'll have to settle for a third straight Cup).

And if the Ice Bats are floundering, what does that make the C-Kings, filet?

Two Blazers gems: 1) a speculative account of the recent team meeting (though what's with the use of "birds?" Are the players British?) and 2) cool pics from outdoor practice.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003


Ha! The Red Wings couldn't sign Sloan until he passed through waivers... Welcome back to Dallas, Blake!

Why Bill Inglis is a winner. Meanwhile, Al Sims is official.

I guess I was too coy earlier... the Fort Worth coaching rumor is, AL SIMS.

If true, I'm sure the Brahmas will play up his experience, maybe even suggest that the chance to get someone of Sims' caliber made it easier for them to make this unfortunate decision.

But let's not sugarcoat it: Sims has been fired from his last two jobs, hasn't topped .500 since 1998 and was desperate enough to work for Taylor Hall and Billy D. in the first place.

I'm not about to compare Mike Barack and Stuart Fraser to those guys in a million years, but at the moment, they don't seem to be topping any lists of dream bosses a coach (or player) would want to work for.

As for Inglis, this is not his fault, but I'm not sure he should have been there in the first place. The guy hadn't coached since 1987! And what he did for the K-Wings since then was in the IHL for all but a few seasons, and with the Stars' assistance for a stretch. The recruiting, and the coaching, can be different at this level.

You can't blame Inglis for falling back in love with hockey, but you can hold Barack accountable for putting him in this position. The Brahmas should have had a nice press conference last April, thanked the grandfatherly bench boss for guiding the team through a troubled time, made him a hockey operations consultant and then gone out and grabbed a guy with more extensive first-hand knowledge of the CHL and "AA" hockey. Instead, they're 2-15-3 and fishing in the shallow mid-season pool of "best available coaches."

But hey, at least we know they aren't going after the same guy as the Rayz. Though all kidding aside, I'm pretty sure the Brahmas already took a shot at Hughes and didn't get him.

Moving on ... ok, so Pat Dunn apologized and the Amarillo parent has clarified and Mike Tilson has been fined for shooting a banana. End of controversy. Speaking for myself, I'm sorry I misinterpreted "skating off the ice" to mean the players had yet to actually exit the rink surface.

Shorthanded though Memphis may be, rusty though Minard may be, that's a big win for New Mexico.

Must-reading over at the Mudbugs Swamp (thanks to Teddy Turman for the heads-up): one fan's dressing-room and bench-eye view of game night.

Brett Hull. Derian Hatcher. And now -- is there no limit to the Red Wings' evil plunder of the Stars? -- Blake Sloan!

Tuesday, December 02, 2003


They keep confusing Matt Carney with Mark Cairns in Midland, much to the chagrin of the Cairns family.

Nothing like getting your mug shot slapped on to the press release where they tell everyone they fired you.

I'm sure the chatter in favor of Bill Inglis will be fast and furious among the Brahmas fans. I'll try to chime in later.

But for now, here's the most important part -- apparently, the second CHL coach to be fired this season is going to be replaced by the first one. Or so I've heard -- guess we'll see for sure tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the other shoe has dropped for Austin, as Kris Waltze goes to Memphis for goaltender Shawn Conschafter, whom the Bats have had their eye on for a month. Conschafter replaces Randy Hevey without consequence (they are both American rookies), while Waltze's vet spot now belongs to Brandon Carper. From what I understand Scott McCallum now moves to forward, and the team can also finally sign Chris Legg if they are so inclined (assuming Legg/Carper equals Bastien/Waltze, cap-wise).

And suddenly, the Rayz' forward unit is in critical condition, as Wingfield and Richardson sit time out with McGrane already in Houston. Hey David Rattray, how many games have you been suspended? Nah-nah-nah-nah-nah.

Seriously, if you missed the Corpus/Amarillo war-of-the-words, make sure you click on the preceding link for Greg Rajan's account. Rattray called the Rayz "a bunch of donkeys," while Wingfield said the 'Rillas "are a bunch of bluffers... All I get is threats and then these guys wait for the referees to come in. They're all talk and no action. I guess that's the way they've got to play when they're not tough. They've got to pretend to be tough."

Sadly, the the two teams don't meet again, but perhaps Legault will do his buddy's bidding on the 19th.

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