Monday, November 29, 2004

Shawn Legault (who's on pace to score...wait for it... 36 goals!) features in this Canadian Press round-up of minor league fighters.

It's tough looking at him and trying to punch his face in, Legault says of buddy Ryan Shmyr.

But my favorite bit is about ex-Bat and UHLer Eric Labelle:

The native of Gatineau, Que., laughs when told an UHL spokeswoman told The Canadian Press the league would not co-operate in helping track down tough guys because fighting is not a big issue in the league anymore.

"I guess she hasn't been to one of our games yet," he says on the phone from Rockford, Ill.

With 119 penalty minutes in 19 games, the former QMJHL enforcer is wreaking havoc in UHL rinks.

"I don't look very tough so every game someone looks at my stats and wants to fight me," Labelle, 23, says...

...Honourable mention goes to Brad Wingfield of Gibsons, B.C., who has racked up 174 penalty minutes in 19 games with the Danbury Trashers.

"I haven't seen him yet. But I know some guys call him Wingnut," Labelle says. "My coach said he was pretty tough. We play his team in January.

"I'll probably try him and if he beats me, I'll try him again, and if he beats me again, I'll try him again."

Sunday, November 28, 2004

J.F. Racine is back with Memphis, who stole one from the Bugs on Saturday. Does the mean he "Kenny Carrolled it"?

Saturday, November 27, 2004

You pretty much have to buy the new Texas Monthly to read my article about the CHL, the Killer Bees and hockey in the Lone Star State (the web site requires both registration and a password from the mag).
So if the current NHL players in Europe are tantamount to scabs, what were the North American "imports" to begin with? All they do is take away jobs from otherwise deserving (but not quite good enough) Russian, Czech, German, Swedish, Finn, Swiss and even British players. But league rules allow it, and they win their jobs on merit. Just like the current locked-out players; just like the Euros who have been taking NHL jobs from Canadians and Yanks for 20 years.

Friday, November 26, 2004

I'm thinking Mark Jackson went with scissors.
ECHL forward Dan Sullivan invents a new way to get suspended: mooning the crowd while scratched.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

It's the end of an era.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Friday was a busy day for Greg Rajan.

I can't really say that I agree with him or Lahnert about Lukowich. Given that this lockout is something of a freak occurence and the number of actual NHLers in the league is two, the impact on other people's jobs is teeny-tiny.

Besides, if that's really the issue, Greg Pankewicz and Ted Crowley and Lonny Bohonos and Chris Nielsen are (or were) taking other players' spots as well. For the most part, we're talking about veteran players; by putting Jonathan DuBois on ice (or rather, not), did Brendan Morrow kill off the guy's career anymore than the CHL ownership's collective attitude towards vets already had?

I mean, I think it would be great if, every time a team pumps up its NHLer, they include a parenthetical:

(Yes, we're just as interested in spectacle as we are development, and yes, we often use the word "developmental" as a synonym for "cheaper").

But at the end of the day, there's a "wow" factor to having these guys around. They also make their teams better. And yet, at the same time, we're also seeing (and this is true of Scott Gomez in the "E" as well) that it isn't child's play to come down to this level.

But the thing that really bothers me is the notion that Lukowich, or, to steer this towards the more prevalent discussion, NHLers now in Europe, are something like a "scab." That's an emotional, out-of-proportion response, one that fails to draw any distinction between a free market and a union's collective bargaining agreement.

Now, if the NHL players were on strike, it would be morally suspect of them to market their skills elsewhere. It may still be as the victims of a lockout (by which I mean, they have been locked out, not that they are blameless for the labor situation). But it's nothing like being a scab or crossing a picket line. Replacement players are replacement players because they aren't good enough to be in the big leagues otherwise.

Let me put this in highly egocentric terms. Most of the publications I write for pay five, 10, even 20 times better than the Austin American-Statesman. I chose to write for them because it was enjoyable. Theoretically, I did so at the expense of younger, rawer writers who needed the experience (and probably, the meager paycheck) a whole lot more than I did. But -- pardon the immodesty -- I was the best guy for the job. So sure, it sucks that Corey Hirsch and Lonny Bohonos lost their spots to NHLers, but what really stings about that is not a moral issue, or a labor issue -- it's that they aren't good enough to play at the highest level in the world. Again.

Which, btw, is the exact reason Brad Lukowich is playing for Fort Worth -- so that he doesn't end up like Lonny Bohonos (who, it should also be noted, made a choice at some point -- to play in Europe for consistent, better money instead of see-sawing between the NHL and AHL for less).

You just can't blame a team for going after the best talent, and unlike the CHL, I believe the European leagues are thinking long-term. If Bettman gets the cap he wants, some of the richer clubs will actually be able to outbid the NHL for certain players (particularly the Swedish teams for Swedes and Russian teams for Russians, but I think North Americans will factor in as well).
Here's one I meant to blog six weeks ago: Doug Sauter figures heavily in this story about NHL scout Brad Hornung

Saturday, November 20, 2004

National Basketball Association

Signed center Todd Bertuzzi, small forward Tie Domi, power forward Donald Brashear, shooting guard Matthew Barnaby and point guard Theo Fleury.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Shawn Conschafter had to endure the RiverKings' rebellion against Jim Wiley, the mess that was the Ice Bats' locker room and several bounces 'round the "E." So kudos to him for a stellar start.
Best part of Terry Frei's otherwise depressing interview with Gary Bettman:

"TF: But we know that in this sport sometimes, it's held against you if you didn't grow up saying, 'Or-gan-eye-zation' ...

Bettman: So what's your excuse?

TF: I was raised in Oregon."
Good morning, Shreveport! Greg Rajan talks to Steve Cruickshank about Game 7 (with extensive additional comments on Greg's blog)

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Lockout reading from Forbes

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

I'm glad someone wrote this book.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Now stuck on Derek Laxdal's bulletin board.

"Would I switch spots with Wichita (unbeaten at 7-0) right now? Sure I would. Would I switch teams with Wichita? Not a chance," Muscutt said."

Hey, he's earned the right to say that sort of thing.
"Last year, he was named coach at the end of July," Buch said of Greenlaw. "We signed more than half of our guys before he was named coach."

This time around, Buch said, Greenlaw had a full off-season to recruit players and the results show.

"When Jeff played, he was a big guy and people didn't take liberties with him," Buch said. "Last year's team was not a Jeff Greenlaw team. He's a big guy and he'd like a big team. This team absolutely has his personality and make-up.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

The Laredo Bucks are in a book.

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