Friday, April 30, 2004


Well, if the CHL's a joke because of Thursday, at least it's in good company.

ECHL: Series under protest.

WCHL: Referee suspended.

NHL: no goal, and no goal again (poor Buffalo).

NCAA football: a national championship by Colorado on "fifth down" and Nebraska on "the kick" both against Missouri. One for Ohio State on a late pass interference call.

Super Bowl XXXVI: Can you say "forward throwing motion"?.

Never mind that whole Game 7 thing, how 'bout a quick game of "future considerations spin?"

Jeff Greenlaw on Brownlee and Carper:

Both players are now veterans, and both have indicated they're retiring.

On the other hand, Al Sims:

These two players are both proven, capable, veteran defenseman in this league. They would both make welcome additions to our roster. One of my number one priorities this off season is to improve our defensive corps, and the acquisition of these two players gives us a good chance to do just that.

My two cents on that one: McCallum alone would have been a fair trade for Belecki, simply because there wasn't any market for him at the time. If Sims can change the mind of one or both of the defensemen, it would be a bonus.

More intriguing: Amarillo's acquisition of Brent Hughes and Darryl McArthur, completing the Carper-for-Joey Bastien deal.

Greenlaw: Brent told me he was looking to play in another league next year, and Darryl plans to play in Germany. Given that, it made no sense to protect their rights and risk losing two other players who are interested in returning.

Now here's Hughes himself, in the Amarillo paper:

John [Dean] and I played on a couple of championship teams in Thornhill (Ontario Provincial Junior A) and we have kept in touch since. It's a nice fit. Obviously, when you are traded, you want to go somewhere the team is winning and this is a great opportunity. Amarillo wanted me and they had a great year going to the semifinals. Now I want to help them go to the finals.

I don't think losing "Little Hughesy" is the worst thing in the world, but it would seem that something isn't right with that one.

A statement from the league:

Steve Cherwonak
Central Hockey League

Dear Fans,

Please accept the following as a response to your e-mail. We currently have the task of responding to a controversial issue after such an outstanding game and series. Due to the number of letters to which we needed to respond, we ask that you please understand that this common e-mail is being sent to all inquiries.

As has been the case on all disputed goal situations where the Referee is not 100% certain whether or not the puck crossed the goal line, the Referee is required to follow a procedure to determine whether or not a goal shall be awarded. There were some questions about the Bossier-Shreveport overtime scoring opportunity. When the Referee lost sight of the puck he is to whistle the play dead. As written under Rule 35(a): As there is a human factor involved in blowing the whistle to stop play, the Referee may deem the play stopped slightly prior to the whistle actually being blown. The fact that the puck may come loose or cross the goal line prior to the sound of the whistle has no bearing if the Referee has ruled that the play had been stopped prior to this happening.

Later in the overtime, a shot was taken that quickly came back through the goaltender’s pads. As the goal light illuminated and items littered the ice, the Referee stopped play to address the situation. He discussed with his Linesmen and then the Goal Judge as to whether or not the puck crossed the goal line. If any one of these four individuals is 100% positive that it did cross the line, a goal is awarded, which was the case in this situation. It has been reported that a League official immediately following the game indicated that this was no goal, but we can assure you that a comment of this nature was never made by any League personnel. We have obtained videotape of several angles of this play upon our arrival in the office late Thursday, none of which conclusively show the puck in the net, nor conclusively show the puck hit the post or stay out of the net in any other manner. They only show the puck coming through the goaltender’s pads from behind him. We are satisfied that the situation was handled appropriately on the ice, using the same protocol and tools available that were in place for every CHL game this season. The result of this game was considered final after all discussions were complete and the goal was awarded. We will again this off-season look at ways to improve on many aspects of our game. The CHL does not use the Video Goal Judge system as seen in the NHL and Olympic hockey, we must rely upon human judgment and expertise of the assigned game Officials.

We realize that 50% of the people involved in the game are disappointed with the outcome, and the others will have the opposite reaction. We understand the frustration of the Mudbugs’ players, organization and fans that this type of close play is the deciding goal of a championship series. The speed and intensity of hockey is what draws us to this game, and those factors result in split-second plays and great emotion. Any League in any sport wishes for a goal that everyone is able to clearly witness, whether it be the first pre-season goal of the year, or the final goal of the season.

Thank you very much for your time in reading this, and we appreciate your support of each of your teams and the CHL.


Central Hockey League

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Just as soon as I locate the weapons of mass destruction and find out who killed JFK, I'll weigh in on Game 7.

Friday, April 23, 2004


EDDIE! EDDIE!. 'Did they get you off your game?,' Belfour was asked afterward. 'No,' he answered, lying.

And I'd be proud to wear a Branko Radivojevic sweater.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004


You've seen it referenced in the blog.... You've read about it in the paper.... Now see former CHL officiating boss Leon Stickle blow that offsides call in the 1980 Stanley Cup Final firsthand!

NHL playoffs injury update

Doogie Howser, hit man.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004


Jason Basile gives the Bugs their split.

I'm man enough to admit it: I was about to say that while I ordinarily wouldn't count out Laredo down two goals until the final seconds of a game, with no Bes a comeback was less likely. Oops.

Now remember, Hulshof's not known for swallowing the whistle.
Don McKee returns, and three Jacks players are re-signing (not resigning).

The story also mentions that CHL teams will no longer have the option to employ a full-time, on-the-bench assistant coach -- though that doesn't mean you can't have someone in the front office who also helps out with practice, and as a set of eyes up high. Certainly makes it easier for Lubbock to negotiate with any potential new hire!

The Coloradoan also confirms various other changes that have been rumored for some time: four vets instead of five, 17 players on ice with an 18th in the stands, and the switch from three "rookies" with fewer than 25 games to five players with fewer than 128.

If Cotton King Paul Fioroni takes any penalties this summer, it will be for unauthorized watering. Hack 'N' Whack Lawn Care, ya gotta love it.

Here's the latest from Galveston, the Caller story on McRae and Larry Linde and word of a SEHL/WHA2 merger.

And finally, while I've already said the same as Legault Jr. as far as the Southeast coaches, and am loathe to take him seriously enough to even argue about something (a mistake everybody on GR makes, much to his delight), it is amazing to realize that, in fact, not one single Southern team has ever won a championship (R.I.P., El Paso). Up north, seven cities out of nine have done it, if you still count the Ice and include the Fire. The Northern Conference also has four CHL/WPHL champion coaches - Stewart, Sauter, Muscutt and McDonald -- to zero for the south.

But I've got no problem with people pulling for a divisional opponent -- you bet your ass it reflects better on Austin and Rio Grande if Laredo lifts the Cup. Sure, the North was top-to-bottom tougher, but Wichita and Indy's record would have looked a lot more like the Bees' if they'd played the Bucks a dozen times, while Austin (for the first time in franchise history) wouldn't have minded more games against the Bugs.
Well, I was pulling for the Bruins and the Canucks, so I guess that means the Sens are gonna win tonight. But what the heck -- the Flyers already beat the Devils, and there's no sign of '01-'02's horrible power play or '02-'03's goaltender, so bring 'em on!
Is there anything sadder than the phrase, we had our chances?

But how 'bout that Matt Cooke!? Tim Findlay and Ryan Pawluk's former teammate keeps my hope of seeing a Red Wings-Avs Game 3 alive.

Boy, you read this piece about the St. Louis Blues and you start to think the Cubs and Red Sox don't have it so bad.


Iginla vs. Auld on a breakaway? Yeah, that's a good match-up for the Flames.

Monday, April 19, 2004

So the Bugs blink first (told ya there's a lot more to the Bucks' attack than Bes, Cullaton and Grenville).

Of course Bossier was only looking for a split, but now the pressure's on. Especially since the Game 1 winner has taken 15 of 16 Cups, including each of the last six (four CHL, two WPHL).

Now let's see if the other Nilson can get one for the Flames -- though my money's on Mike Keane to be the hero for Vancouver.
What are the odds? Montreal scores on its first shot of the third period, the Bugs score on their fourth shot of the game. But unlike the Bruins (who I'd hoped Philly would take on next), Laredo answers quickly.

Getting outshot 18-5 won't get it done for Bossier the whole series, but those figures (and Laredo scoring on the power play) certainly highlight each team's respective strengths.
One more pick:
Bob Hersom, Daily Oklahoman
Laredo in six

Laredo has the edge in scoring, defense and goaltending and is just an all-around better team than Bossier-Shreveport. Bossier might be tougher, and have more depth.
No pressure on Joe Thornton tonight, huh?
A few items from the grapevine: Amarillo assistant Brian Pellerin is also a candidate in Lubbock.

And Marco Emond will be on the Laredo bench tonight (as an emergency goaltender, Lance Leslie was never gonna play anyway, unless the worst had happened).


Current total: 10 for Bossier, 6 for Laredo. I'm with the former group, and could even see it going down in five, just as it did for Memphis the last two years. If not, the Bucks win Game 6 but Carroll is the difference in the clincher.

Josh Bogorad, Corpus Christi Rayz
Bossier-Shreveport in 6

I got to see both teams quite frequently this season, and am looking forward to what should be a great championship. I believe Laredo has the more talent of the two squads; however Bossier-Shreveport plays perfect team games, and systematically breaks down their opponents. Both teams play so well with the lead that the early goals may end up deciding the championship. Bossier-Shreveport was pushed to five games in the first round by a good Indianapolis team, however I think it was a learning experience for them, as they were up 2-0 and may have let off a bit. I do not foresee them doing that against Laredo should the same occur. Both teams are very deserving of the President's Cup, and it should be a great match-up, from the players to the goaltenders to the coaches. The Mudbugs were 2-1 against Laredo this season, including wins in the two most recent games and a win at the LEC, proving they can steal games there. In the end, I think that Bossier-Shreveport will use their systems and complete team effort to win the championship.

Matt Marshall, Lubbock Cotton Kings
Mudbugs in 6

The Mudbugs were voted the hardest working team in the CHL by the players, coaches and PR guys. If their goaltending stays healthy, I can't see them losing. Remember, Ken Carroll has won before and that should be the difference-maker! In the Northern Conference Final, the Bugs had 63 more shots against (186-123) but scored seven more goals (17GF,10GA). Timely scoring with a defense-first system and Carroll's heathy groin should all but engrave their team on the cup. Laredo is a team with tons of talent, and after broadcasting several games for them in the conference finals, I know they have some heart too. They have knocked off teams with all-star caliber goaltending, starting in the first round with Jeff Levy and then in the Southern Conference Finals with Shawn Degagne. To win, they will need to play like Terry Ruskowski coaches - with intensity and desperation.

Josh Evans, Oklahoma City Blazers
Bossier-Shreveport in 6

I'm at a bit of a disadvantage because I haven't seen Laredo play. I like Shreveport in six for three reasons. First, the Bugs are older and know how to win. Second, the Bugs work really hard. Lastly, I think Ken Carroll will outplay the Laredo goaltenders. If any of those don't fall into place, Laredo will come out on top. I think the two best teams are playing for the title.

Jeff Bowerman, Fort Worth Brahmas
Mudbugs in 7

Experience, goaltending, tenacity will pay off for the 'Bugs. Bossier knows how to win, and will do so in a hard fought seven game series. Bugs are also better defensively and have better depth at forward. Ken Carroll will be the series MVP.

Ken Richardson, Corpus Christi Rayz
Bugs in 5

Laredo doesn't know how to lose, but the Bugs have depth and experience in playoffs. Composure is the key. Are the legs in the Bugs room too old for a long series?

Barry Lewis, Tulsa World
Mudbugs in 5

Carroll will be playoff MVP

Darrell Blair, Daily Coloradoan
Bossier-Shreveport in 6

No offense to the Southern Conference, but life was rougher this season in the North and the Mudbugs have weathered
the storm.

Adam Davis, Fort Worth Brahmas
Bucks in 6

Too much offense, too many scorers -- the Bucks have too much talent for Bossier to shut them down.

Paul Harris, San Angelo Standard-Times
Laredo in 7

I've not had the privilege of seeing Shreveport play, but I've seen Laredo several times and they were the real deal. Both of these teams were just awesome at home, but I expect one road win by each team in the series. I would probably pick Laredo convincingly over anyone else, but this is going to be one closely-fought, entertaining series. I'm going with Laredo in a deciding seventh game. Laredo was just too dominant all season and I can't see them letting up now.

Patrick Hancock, CHL-Underground
Bossier in 6

I think that the Mudbugs are a more gritty team. I think that the Bucks had it easy throughout most of the season. Bossier and Muscutt will have the Bucks number.

Mitch Cooper, CHL-Underground
Bucks in 6

Talk about a tough series. Everybody thought Laredo would run away with everything based on their regular season record, but they showed they weren't Supermen during the Amarillo series. Shreveport might just be the Kryptonite that weakens the Bucks and steals the Cup and no one should be surprised if they do. If the Bugs can stay out of the penalty box, they have a good shot. If not, Laredo will power-play goal them to death.

Todd Vinyard, Memphis Commercial-Appeal
Bucks in 6

This should be a great series that goes six games. Bossier-Shreveport really appeared to be a team on a mission this season. But Laredo was the best team I saw in the Central Hockey League this year, so I'll say the Bucks will win the Cup.

Greg Rajan, Corpus Christi Caller-Times
Bossier-Shreveport in 6

The Bugs have showed they can win in Laredo and have better depth than the Bucks. It will be interesting to see Laredo face an offense like Shreveport's after feasting on the pop-gun attacks of Austin, Corpus and RGV. Give the nod to the Bugs because of their championship experience and Carroll in goal. A fitting possible farewell for the likes of Buchanan and Sprott.

Adam Zuvanich, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal
Laredo in 6

Every game will be decided by two goals or less, with two overtime contests somewhere in the mix. The Bucks and Bugs might set a CHL record for penalty minutes in a playoff series. Bes will take the MVP award, but Fonger and Carroll will keep it close.

Glen Norman, Austin Ice Bats
Bucks in 6

This is the one that (unfortunately) will have Laredo fans crowing for years to come, and resurrect all those CHL "officiating conspiracy theories" among Bossier fans. In addition to accurately predicting Colorado's ouster in the opening round, I've said all season that Laredo is an AHL team hiding in CHL colors. I've seen little to dissuade me from that. Even though the Bugs will shut them down at times, the Bucks have too many weapons... and oh, by the way, play pretty good defense too.

Paul Fioroni, Lubbock Cotton Kings
Shreveport in 6

Played against them in the [2000-2001 WPHL] finals, so I know that Muscutt builds his teams for championships. I think the Mudbugs have a lot more character all around, and obviously more championship experience. Dont get me wrong, Laredo will give them a run. But I believe they will run out of steam playing the hard-working, well-disciplined Mudbugs. I know first hand how hard it is to break open a hot Kenny Carroll. He killed us in the finals, and I think we had a similar team to what Laredo has: offense, defense and toughness. I just think Shreveport brings it to another level. Hope it goes seven, but have to stick with Mudbugs in six.

More Stars fallout: how funny are the words, leading playoff scorer Chris Therien?

And sure enough, ownership is promising a new approach. Never thought I'd see the day where Hicks said (essentially), "let's be like the Rangers."

Good Dallas Morning News column on "jerks" that makes me think of Wildfong, natch (he's in good company). Notice how Heika doesn't even talk about the fact that Tippett is perceived to be a nice-guy boss, then throws in that "whether it be in the front office or the coaching staff..." line?

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Guess Jamie Thompson wasn't washed up after all. In UHL playoff action, the former Wiffle MVP, AHL journeyman and San Angelo Saints bust is attempting to lead Todd Brost's Elmira Jackals over the Richmond Riverdogs.
Richter's gone, Boucher's mediocre, Dunham's stock has dropped. Thus Robert Esche is now the leading candidate to backstop Team USA at the upcoming World Cup.

And speaking of goalies, it's true, Turco is no Ed Belfour.

But chin up Marty -- the Eagle himself "couldn't win the big one" or was "not a playoff goalie" for a decade.
Job opening in Lubbock. Chris Dashney has already interviewed, and Greg Gatto is a candidate.

Oh and nice touch, that "if the Lubbock Cotton Kings return."
Delusional? Gay? It's hard to put much trust in Danton's agent, but it certainly seems possible that when all is said and done, this will be a mental health issue more than a legal issue. If he's truly manic depressive or schizoprenic, I can't help but think of Daniel Johnston.

Hey look, the U.S. women beat Canada at the Curling World Championship.
Best of luck to Pat Burns in his fight with cancer. Larry Brooks got ahead of himself this time (though I do believe that if Lamoriello has to do the same thing Bobby Clarke did, he surely will).

"Danton agrees to extradition" is a bad headline, 'cause it made me think he's going back to Canada. Here's today's Post-Dispatch story. And here's an old piece on the guy's agent (Danton being Mike Jefferson back then. Thanks to Jo and friends in Canada for the link).

Ken McRae is headed to the beach.

And finally, on the eve of Game 1, it's a veritable lovefest. "You guys are great." "No, you are." That'll change -- unless of course the two teams are united by their distaste for referees. "It'll be a great series," someone cracked to me. "One team will win in spite of the officiating, the other one will lose because of it."
The complete Mike Danton criminal complaint (link courtesy Greg Rajan, who also pegged Brendan Morrison for the winning goal literally 40 seconds before it happened).
Now it feels like the NHL playoffs... thanks to the Canucks and Flames. My heart says Calgary, but my head says, "wait a minute, I'm in Denver, and a Vancouver win means the Avs would play the Red Wings next."

In any case, methinks the Flames would have been better off losing that game 4-0, or even 4-3. Coming up on the wrong end of triple-OT, especially at home, can be a back-breaker.

And to all who like to gripe about the low-scoring, overly obstructed, trap-happy NHL -- could be worse, how 'bout a 72-71 NBA playoff game?

Saturday, April 17, 2004


Yeah baby! Long overdue. Meanwhile, can we expect them to start speculating about Dave Tippett's job on Monday?

A reader points out that I didn't make enough of the fact that the UHL has a "player unable to perform" list (re: Dallas Anderson). Don't they make a pill for that these days?

By the way, not only did the Flint Generals get swept in the first round, they somehow managed to dress another ineligible goalie along the way. Flint has not won a playoff series since Shedden's year there (a streak that also includes Kirk Tomlinson's tenure with the Gens).
Ouch! Tim Cowlishaw on the Stars:

This is what saves Mike Modano from being the worst captain ever for a Tom Hicks team. The Rangers named Alex Rodriguez captain last winter.

Friday, April 16, 2004


The NHL 2Nite dude who isn't Buccigross just said Ruslan Fedotenko is a Russian. Easy mistake to make I guess.

Pardon our boilerplate appearance - temporary technical difficulties due to some boneheadedness on my part.
When it comes to judging character, Lou Lamoriello is almost always right. I'm not sure this is anything he gets convicted of, but obviously Mike Danton is a troubled kid.
Eight of the 12 prognosticators I've heard from so far think the final will end up something like this:

(Image originally posted by Closet Zebra at the Mudbugs Swamp.)
The UHL never passes up a chance to piss on its competitor, as per Fort Wayne's Michael Franke:

If they do bring the United States Hockey League to Indianapolis, in my opinion that will be a disaster. From what I understand, when the Indianapolis fans come up here, their biggest disappointment with the Central Hockey League was the level of play. This will be worse.

(Thanks to the Farm Report for that one, and welcome back.)

Dallas Anderson/Justin Ossachuk update.

Man, that Leon Stickle is almost as famous as Bill Buckner.

Big off-season news for Memphis, which gets back Riley Cote and has already signed Mathieu and Parsons.

Meanwhile, the Killer Bees lock up their coach. With Egeland back, the Bats likely to do better, Laredo able to rebuild with ease and Monday's Corpus press conference, I expect next year's Southeast division (as currently constituted) to be as tough as the Northwest was this year.

Joe Ferras played the "they don't respect us" card several times during the conference finals. Thing is, once Laredo gave the 'Rillas their respect, they won three games in a row.

Of course, the loss of DeSantis -- with whom the 'Rillas were 4-1 against the Bucks, as opposed to 0-3 without him -- was just huge. Hmmmh, maybe the 'Rillas should have gotten a big close-up color shot of DeSantis' injury into the newspaper for rallying cry purposes. As the Ribeiro incident reminded us (before it got overshadowed by the Kovalev incident) you're just not supposed to call attention to those things, whether it's a bruise, a busted nose or a career-threatening fracture.

And finally, for a little comedy, check out the Laurienzo Peewee Hockey League Disclaimer (thanks Patty!).

Miron President's Cup Final predictions will consume the blog from here on out.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004


Didn't take long for someone to suggest McRae to Corpus, probably because that's not a far-fetched scenario. Manute Bol and Tonya Harding could also be included in the deal (so to speak).

But Cameron to a higher level? Maybe as an assistant. More likely he'll be a UHL head coach again. Certainly his tenure with the Rayz shouldn't count against him, but it seems to me the guy has never been the top candidate for his own job.

Whither Brent Hughes?

So who's gonna hire Ken McRae (or is he moving to Topeka)?

Yes, the demise of the Ice is now reality -- a sad thing for Indy hockey fans who had been subject to Horn Chen's whims these last few years, since, let's face it, the team originally joined the CHL for the wrong reasons, and it became part of the post-merger CHL for the wrong reasons.

Despite all that, they enjoyed something (a championship) that eight of the nine surviving WPHL teams still don't have, plus success the last two years.

With business interests to protect in Wichita, Indy, Topeka and (apparently) Danville -- I can understand why this was cloak and dagger -- it's not like they were gonna make the announcement before the playoffs, then call Game 4 a going away party. Fans naturally feel hurt and cheated by this process, as if ownership doesn't care about their passion. That's because they don't. And so it goes every time a team moves, folds or goes into bankruptcy. Just hope they've paid their bills, especially any money owed to current season ticket holders.

With the current Ice board tied to the team's official site, fans have formed a new one.

Saturday, April 10, 2004


Wow, the 'Rillas haven't even lost the series and one fan is already making excuses.

Seriously though, no DeSantis really changes things. Or maybe Laredo took away home ice advantage when broadcaster Joe Dominey ate the city of Amarillo.

Meanwhile, it's funny how people can be so shocked by Shepherd's hit on Wildfong (hey, remember that?), and so quick to accuse the refs of not caring about player safety when it's one of their guys, yet they'll bring up the fact that the Thunder player was out for the next faceoff after getting speared.

Might he have embellished? Sure. Does it matter? No. Believing that it does is either morally suspect (i.e., "if he didn't get hurt badly, it shouldn't be such a harsh penalty") or a misunderstanding of the rules. See, a slash, cross-check or high-stick can be a minor, double-minor or a major, depending on the circumstances, and there's no such thing as an "attempted elbow." But spearing is an automatic major/game misconduct, and attempted spearing is always a double-minor.

Expect the Bugs to take another tight one on home ice tonight (and then go on to win the Cup). Gotta figure Amarillo's chances depend on the health of their defensemen.

Friday, April 09, 2004


Cory Cyrenne update.

Todd Brost doesn't hesitate to armchair coach the Generals:

If [Hovan]'s going to be their go-to guy because of injuries and that conference call today that made Forest ineligible, I question that decision of leaving him in to hurt it further. The stress on a goaltenders' legs and knees and groins in a shootout -- when you're backing up and a guy's coming at you five times in a row -- is phenomenal.

Translation: "I think the Flint coach is dumb, and doesn't care about his player's health."

Now, as it happens, the Gens hope to scare up another goalie, but since their playoff seeding was locked in, why not play the emergency back-up college kid?
In WHA2 action, CHL never-was Randy Hevey gets the better of Al Rooney.
Guess the conventional wisdom took it on the chin last night (and suddenly those Bucks fans crying about the 2-3-2 don't look so stupid either). That performance by Shawn DeGagne and the 'Rillas penalty kill must have been as good as the one I saw by Jimmy Howard and his Maine teammates.

Surprising?. Of course. But remember, Amarillo was 2-0 against the Bucks in the regular season.

That didn't stop people (including me) from predicting a Laredo cakewalk, but what we're seeing now is the 'Rillas of October through January, when Shawn DeGagne was the best goalie in the league and they were a dominant division leader.

As opposed to the 'Rillas of February and March: 8-13-1, 3.52 team GAA, coughed up the Southwest title.

But most of all, it's about the special teams: keep their PP in check and the Bucks go from four or five goals-per-game to two or three but quick.

Of course, they could also break out for a half-dozen anytime. Most likely it will end up at 2-2 tonight, and even if the 'Rillas take it back to the border up a game, Laredo's perfectly capable of winning both at home. Either way, we've got ourselves a series.

Regarding the Thunder's status for next season: didn't anyone realize that my April Fool's post was only one-thirds a joke?

And finally, who needs the Master's? Killer Bee Kevin Mackie already has his green jacket.

Thursday, April 08, 2004


"I approved it not knowing he had finished the Central League season," said Richard Brosal, explaining why the UHL won't make Flint forfeit the games Jonathan Forest played. So Robbie Nichols had no idea either? He was just doing the Manchester Monarchs' bidding?

Anyway, poor Jan Chovan was the victim of Nichols' goalie karma, as he was the only pro netminder the Gens had last night. He played part of the third period and the shootout with an injured groin.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004


Jeff Blair gets burned for three goals in four minutes, but finishes the game.

Now, I'm sure poor defense and bad bounces were as much to blame, and maybe Muscutt figures he'd rather keep Carroll focused on Game 4.

But given what we know about playoff hockey, isn't there just a teensy-weensy possibility, amidst all the talk about three great goalies and "the Bugs don't have a back-up," that Carroll is not 100%? Could he actually have needed six days off?

"We decided today I was feeling a little better", Blair said after the three-OT game.

In any case, the Mudbugs don't get flustered easily -- things should go back to a defensive war on Friday.


Some Bats fans were wondering whether Jonathan Forest still had a future with the Austin Ice Bats now that Matt Barnes is coming back.

Forest wasn't.

Coincidentally, he went to Flint as a replacement for former Austin back-up and all-around good guy Dan McIntyre, who will hopefully recover by the playoffs.

However, I understand Forest's Generals career ended today, with the UHL general managers spending a good part of the afternoon on a conference call discussing the specifics.

Why? Well, the ECHL, UHL, CHL and WHA2 all have working agreements to honor everybody else's paperwork. You can't just join another league in the middle of the season without clearing waivers, and you can't just join another league because your team didn't make it to the playoffs.

That's true even if an AHL team is involved. In theory, Forest was signed by the Manchester Monarchs and reassigned to Flint, but there's no evidence of that transaction (unlike Beaudry and Zelenewich), and regardless, the Monarchs aren't allowed to do that (ditto Utah and Manitoba with New Mexico and Indy's goalies). Such a move can only happen if the guy is on an AHL contract in the first place, a la former Houston/Corpus Christi player Ed McGrane.

Now, generally speaking, I think players at this level should have greater freedom of movement (thanks to the new labor agreement, the ECHL can only tie up eight players in the summer, down from 20). But this is the system that's in place right now, and if it wasn't, you'd have a free-for-all. It would also screw up the whole process of completing futures deals, as well as possible expansion drafts (I don't think the CHL is gonna need an expansion draft this year, but that's another story).

The sad thing is, this is the second time Forest has done something self-interested that was actually against his own best interests, simply because -- I assume -- he doesn't understand the rules, and thus can't work them in his favor. If he'd bothered to show up for Mudbugs training camp at the beginning of the season and didn't make the team, the Bugs would have been forced to trade him or release him, and he would have been playing for the Bats (or possibly the Ice) right from the start.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004


Tough break -- oops, sorry, unspecified leg injury -- for Wichita.


Man, was Jeff Blair a classic case of "when bad teams happen to good goalies" or what? Obviously Don McKee wasn't wrong for discounting the guy's Fresno and Baton Rouge statistics.

Two ironies here: that Odessa, whose team and system has always made its netminders look good, had such a lousy year, and that one reason Jonathan Forest did not rejoin the Mudbugs was the guy playing behind Ken Carroll was not supposed to get much time between the pipes.

I'm sure Jacks fans will enjoy this paragraph:

Blair will never forget how Muscutt saved him from hockey obscurity. Four short months ago, the 25-year-old went from Odessa, a forgotten franchise with the third-worst attendance in the league, to a community that truly relishes its hockey club.

Sunday, April 04, 2004


Ok, so Mudbugs, Thunder, Bucks and 'Rillas fans won't care, but for the rest of us, here's the NHL playoff schedule.

Hey, did I have my finger on the pulse with that comment about Duhon's shot or what? It helped that I'm in the middle of Chad Millman's excellent book on Vegas wiseguys.

Stars-Avs, that's a pretty sexy first-round match-up. Tickets for Games 3 and 4 are probably available.

Guess it was Old Man Sprott's night, in the end. Looking for all the world like -- I dunno, Brian Leetch? Tony Bergin? -- the Mudbugs captain motors through two zones and past a trio of blue jerseys to pop home the breakaway.

You hate to see a long OT game decided on a power play, and I was not so glued to CHL TV that I can say whether or not Hulshof let go similar infractions, but when it's a point-blank scoring chance where the attacking player clearly has possession and the defenseman is draped over his back, yeah, I might put up my arm for that one.

And Blair not only bounces back from his performance seven days ago, but racks up an assist.

Congrats to Mel Angelstad, who presumably has fellow former WPHLer Darcy Verot to thank for leaving a hole on the Caps roster.

Heading into the sixth period in Bossier.

Saturday, April 03, 2004

So the night belong to Grobins and DeGagne (though the former goalie's evening isn't over).

In addition to allowing four goals in one game after allowing just three goals in four games, that was the first power-play marker the Bucks have given up all playoffs.

I would have liked to have been in a Vegas sports book for the finish of Duke-UConn -- just as everyone who had the Huskies started celebrating, Duhon beat the spread. Would have been a funny sequence of cheers and groans that had nothing to do with the real score.
The 'Rillas strike first. And second.
Hell of a hoop by Georgia Tech there at the end. Sorry Newlin.
Liking the CHLTV broadcast quality from Bossier, btw. Except for the ill-timed sponsor bumpers.
Jeff Blair starts in Bossier. At this rate, we could end up with four different starting goalies in the final.
Tonight's stat to chew on: in combined CHL/WPHL playoff history, 39 of 48 Game One winners (81.25%) have won the best-of-seven series, including 10 sweeps.
A tragic and sobering dose of, "remember folks, it's just a game." Condolences to Mudbugs owner John Madden and his family.

Friday, April 02, 2004


One last pick before tonight from Darrell Blair of the Coloradoan: Bugs in six, Bucks in four. Great minds, right?

"The stupidity meter is broken." Ah, the ever-quotable JR.

And doesn't Bruce Garrioch's take on the Havlat-Recchi incident and subsequent 419 PiM game sound a bit familar?

All the complaining is coming from one side of the building. Clarke and Hitchcock have never met a microphone they didn't like and they're experts at blowing hot air to fuel a situation. They're playing mind games in hopes of getting a mental edge with their players. The Flyers haven't had a whole lot of success against the Senators and Philly management is trying to get the troops pumped up.
A few excerpts from my morning e-mail (from four different correspondents):

What the heck did you say about Wildfong that elicited that response from his mom?... I've read everything you've blogged and I don't remember anything controversial.

Ya really stirred up the homers down in Bugsville. hahahah!!!!!!!!!!!!

Looks like you're getting quite a few hits on your page. Someone oughta pay to advertise there. Perhaps a Shreveport casino?

It's just too bad that sarcasm and wit don't seem to translate well from print to certain people's brains. And I have a feeling Dan just smiled that infamous on-ice grin of his when he heard about all of this.

And then there's this comment.

Now, I'd say she's both more eloquent and less hysterical than Buba, but the principle is still the same: when you're someone's mommy, the kid can do no wrong, and that pretty much describes the way many fans in Bossier-Shreveport feel about anyone who's ever worn the Mudbugs sweater. And the way RiverKings fans felt about Luch Nasato, and Bats fans about Shawn Legault, and Corpus fans about Brad Wingfield, and so on and so on.

Now, I would never say Dan Wildfong "had it coming," and I don't believe my original comments had anything to do with him as a player or a person either (Mom and Pop Muscutt, did you even bother passing on the other post where I said he was "one of my very favorite players?"). This was never about him, but rather the surrounding atmosphere of hysteria and spin.

Dan Wildfong's heart? Never in question. The pain he's been in 'cause of injuries? i wouldn't even want to type with 'em, let alone play hockey.

But we do have to remember that A) Fonger has done his share of dirty deeds (I'm guessing his mother didn't raise Danny to bite people) and B) his JOB is to do nasty things to other players so that they might do nasty things to him, to get them off their game and/or in the box.

Scott Muscutt knows that as well as anybody (these comments are from the link above):

Yes, I want Danny Wildfong on the edge. Is he going to be able to get away with things? No. He is a marked man by the Central League. At the same time I have to be very careful as a coach as to how hard I pull on those reigns. There is a certain amount of Wildfong mentality that he has to have in order to be his best. Danny has got to be able to recognize himself that the Central Hockey League is trying very, very hard to clamp down on all injuries. Hockey is a rough sport, injuries are going to happen on their own. They don't want players crossing that line."

But when you live on the line, sometimes it gets crossed. Wildfong did it in October. Jim Shepherd did it this past Sunday.

Oops, forgot to include my semi-regular "thanks to The Farm Report."

So what am I supposed to do now, argue with Dan Wildfong's mother?

Anyway, that thread and other responses means I'll write about this topic one more time, but not tonight.

Y'know, I bet Jim Shepherd has a mother too. Think some helpful fan made sure his family saw the "Wanted" poster, and the comments certain Bugs fans made about him?

On to more mundane affairs: A $5400 suspension for Darcy Verot (that would have been two months salary back in his Lake Charles days).

Should the Memphis RiverKings take after the New York Giants, or the New England Patriots?

Good businessy post-mortem on the Eagles' season.

Shouldn't the Butch Kaebel picture have a style credit? Y'know, "shirt and tie by Ken Hitchcock, leather jacket by Ken Wahl?"

Also, regarding that trip to Boston, is this more of a shoot the breeze, talk to AHL scouts and other college coaches networking sort of deal, like going to the NHL draft? Or could we actually see someone from Maine, BC, Minny-Duluth or Denver playing for the Oilers?

And finally, wouldn't want to go into the off-season without one last Killer Bees link.

And the Bees added two inaugural season firsts when RGV and the Bucks shook hands before leaving the ice.

The way that's written almost makes it seem like, "hey, 33 games at Dodge Arena and the two teams never bothered to shake hands before!" But was it true that the two coaches didn't shake? And what was the second inaugural season first?

Thursday, April 01, 2004


Well, it's a done deal. Wichita is staying for at least another year, Indy is moving to Topeka, and because Horn Chen owns both teams, the league is allowing him to transfer one Ice player to the Thunder roster.

So please welcome, at center for head coach Derek Laxdal's squad... Jim Shepherd.

Of course, he's not available 'til Game 3.

Yeah yeah, April Fool's. It was either that or, "Tony Martino named Rayz head coach." Could the space between the lines in that story be any bigger? If the owner wanted the current head coach 100% and the coach wanted his current job 100%, we wouldn't be talking about this, right?

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