Archive for the ‘NHL’ Tag

Pre-emptive outraged post

Tomas Plekanec – Montreal – 48,749 votes, 12th among forwards

PK Subban – Montreal – 41,268 votes, 9th among defencemen

Carey Price – Montreal – 71,199 votes, first among goalies

So I thought I’d post this right now, before everyone in the hockey blogosphere does:

Waaaaaaaaaaah, Price, Plekanec and Subban don’t deserve to get spots for the All Star game! Especially Subban, he’s lacking respeeeeeeect! Waaaaaaaaaaaaah habs fans are stuffing the ballot again! Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah, this is so stupid, oh my god habs fans are making a disgrace out of this…. Booooo! Hiss!


Posted November 24, 2010 by Grrrreg in Uncategorized

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What the hell?

What the hell, Hiller?

Does this mean Kari Lehtonen isn’t the only goalie with a weird Chuck Norris fetish?

Posted October 12, 2010 by Grrrreg in Uncategorized

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Savoring the day before the puck drops

Today is the last day of the preseason. And that’s a beautiful day. Everyone starts with a blank slate. Everything is still possible. On the stats and standings page, the Caps and the Leafs still have the same number of goals scored. Gorges has exactly as many points as Kovalchuk. Chris Osgood has the same save % as Luongo. Edmonton and San Jose are exactly tied in the playoffs race.

I love this day, because no matter what team you root for, and no matter what that team’s objectives are, they still are reachable. Even better, there is still the possibility that your team could do better than you expect. And there is still a chance that this other team you hate with every fiber of your being might just completely choke this season.

I like this day because today you can still hope crazy stuff will magically happen in 2010-2011. Maybe Semin learned to fight this summer and turned into a fantastic enforcer; maybe Kostitsyn (the old one) realized it’s a contract year and will start playing like his (precious) hair is on fire and scoring at will; maybe Benoit Brunet learned to speak French; maybe Pronger went through a spiritual encounter this summer and decided to turn away from Evil and do Good; maybe Lucic learned to read… who knows?? It’s STILL possible!

I also like this day, because as of today, there is still a spot to be taken in my heart as my 2010-2011 secondary team. Well that’s not entirely true, I already have an official secondary team with the Blues this season. But there is room for another team that I will start to randomly like. That could be you, Florida. Or you, Nashville. Uh, no, not you Boston, forget it.

Anyway, the season starts tomorrow, and it will soon bring a dose of hard cold facts in the way of our dreams and fantasies. Until then, enjoy the last moments where everything is still possible for 2010-2011!

Posted October 6, 2010 by Grrrreg in Uncategorized

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Serious arena talk

I’m a little late on this, but I wanted to write something about the new arena discussion in Quebec. Obviously, I’m not directly concerned by this: I’m not a Nordiques fan, and most importantly I don’t live and pay taxes in Quebec or Canada. But I’m familiar with hockey and, believe it or not, with Canadian politics. So I’m pretty interested in what’s going on here.

Let me say first that as a hockey fan, there’s no question I’d be thrilled to see the NHL back to Quebec. I wasn’t following hockey when the Nordiques (and the Jets, Whalers and North Stars) moved in the 1990s, so I only know about the fierce Habs/Nords rivalry through what I read about it, and the youtube videos of the Good Friday brawl and Alain Côté’s goal. So the prospect of a renewed rivalry seems really promising.

But I don’t like where this whole ‘let’s build a new arena to get a team there’  thing is going.

Firstly, I think it’s really risky to build an arena without a team. Kansas City did it a few years ago. It definitely put them on the list of potential cities where a troubled franchise could be relocated, but as of today, their arena still has no major league tenant. Without such a main tenant, it’s obviously much harder to make an arena like that profitable. The arena is 3 years old now. One of the associated risks is to see their “new” arena slowly age, without a team. Arenas and stadiums now have a much shorter life expectancy than they used to. The Montreal forum lasted from the 1920’s to the 1990’s. I really don’t believe the Bell Centre will live 70 years. Examples in basketball in Seattle (the Key Arena) and Charlotte (the Charlotte Coliseum) showed that in some cases, barely 15 years after an arena is built or renovated, the owners will ask for a new stadium. In both cases, the teams (Supersonics and Hornets) moved when the public refused to pay for a new arena. It’s a big risk to build an arena and then hope you’ll get a team to play there before it ages and gets obsolete.

But of course, there isn’t much of a choice. Bettman made it very clear that to be considered for an expansion team or a relocation, Quebec needed to have an arena first. And that’s where the problem is. Major league sports are pressuring cities to pay for new stadiums in the hope they will keep or get a team. As many cities are interested in pro teams for various reasons (the willingness to be seen as a big city, the hope to get a team back, or the desire to keep a beloved team), there’s a competition taking place. And in most cases, the leagues and the owners are pressuring the cities to assume a substantial portion of the cost of those new stadiums. The trick is that once the new arena is there, it’s almost impossible for the city to get its money back, because the tenant will do everything it can to get the best possible lease,  threatening to move if it’s not satisfied. So there you have it: the public is asked to pay for the stadium and to assume the risks, and the owners and the league reap most of the profits, until the cycle starts again.

And it keeps going on and on, because for each city that refuses to pay (and they are not numerous), there’s a Kansas City (or maybe Quebec soon) that has a brand new shiny arena and no team. Kansas city has been used as a threat in 3 NHL cities already: Nashville, Pittsburgh and Long Island. And it’s easy to see why political leaders can be enticed to accept the deal. Sport is tied to identity, and being the mayor/provincial Premier/whatever who manages to save a  local team or to attract a new one is definitely going to get some sympathy from electors. Spending money in big stadiums is much more visible than spending it in roads, hospitals and civil servants wages.

Then you have the particular situation of Quebec. I don’t want to turn this into a political blog, but there’s definitely a particular political situation in Quebec and Canada that is allowing this process or at least this discussion to take place. At the provincial level, it is pretty obvious that the liberals would benefit from potentially enable the Nordiques to come back to Quebec, especially if they manage to get the federal government to share the burden of an arena. At the federal level, it’s no secret that Quebec is a key province for the conservatives (although it would be a bit risky for them to grant so much money to this project, as it probably wouldn’t be very popular in other provinces, especially in the West, and it would definitely set a precedent that the federal government might regret). At the same time, you have a growing feeling in the media and the Canadian public that the NHL should get at least one more franchise in Canada (be it through relocation, which is more likely, or expansion, which seems like a long shot). Over the past few seasons, the discussion has definitely focused on a few possible locations: Winnipeg, Hamilton, Toronto and Quebec. With a few NHL franchises in trouble (the names vary with the years, but you’ll always find one that looks close to move), and the relative strength of the Canadian dollar and a salary cap, it looks like there’s a window of opportunity for Quebec. Of course, the League is happy with that situation. I’s perfect for the league and the owners to have a few options where you can relocate a team that’s really in trouble, or pressure other cities with.

So as much as I’d love to see a team in Quebec, I’m concerned by the pledges of the provincial and potentially of the federal government to pay for the arena. The fact that you can already hear Peladeau (the other PK) announcing that he’s not going to spend a dollar on the arena is worrying. It exactly fits the dysfunctional (in my opinion) model we’ve seen elsewhere: public risks and private benefits.

To finish, I recommend you to read a few stuff I’ve seen in La Presse yesterday (yeah I know!):  Marc Antoine Godin’s piece: “Des maisons construites avec l’argent des autres“, and an editorial by François Cardinal, “Risques publics, profits privés

But if you have a little more time (like 2 hours), I also recommend an excellent documentary about how and why the Supersonics left Seattle: Sonicsgate (you can watch it entirely on youtube). It’s obviously from a Seattle point of view, so the people of Oklahoma are not really portrayed very kindly, but it’s very interesting because I think a lot of the issues about pro sports leagues pressuring cities and states/provinces to fund arenas are very well illustrated, and there’s definitely a comparable element between hockey and basketball there.

Voilà! It’s been a while I wanted to talk about this, because franchises relocation is something I’m interested in (I think it’s one of the more baffling aspects of North American sports from a European point of view), and this discussion about Quebec was the perfect occasion. Tell me what you think now!

Posted September 11, 2010 by Grrrreg in Uncategorized

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Why I’ll never operate large mechanical devices

I’m annoyed by the condescending tone used by Greg Wyshynski when he talks about the shootout. I know he hates it, and that’s fine, but he doesn’t need to keep painting the fans who actually enjoy it (like me) as complete morons who don’t know anything about hockey. Here is how he started his latest rant on the topic:

“Let’s get one thing straight: There are a great many NHL fans that enjoy the shootout in the same way one enjoys, say, a pie fight to end an old Hollywood comedy.

But if these same people believe the shootout is a satisfactory way to determine the victor after 65 minutes of a team competition, there’s a very good chance they also enjoyed a screening of “Vampires Suck” this weekend, too … and probably shouldn’t be allowed to operate large mechanical devices.”

Oh thanks for enlightening us with your great wisdom M. Wyshynski. Now, excuse me while I go back to eating crayons.

Posted August 23, 2010 by Grrrreg in Uncategorized

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A shocking revelation

There are no habs games for a few days. Everyone is busy fighting over the goalies situation. I’ve decided this was the right moment  to disclose you something important, dear readers. Sit down, I don’t want any of you to  faint because of the shock.

I like the shootout.

There, I said it.

Maybe it’s because I’ve watched soccer my whole life. In soccer, as you may know, when a game needs a winner, there’s a 30 minutes OT, then a shootout. I’m really used to that system, so maybe that’s why I consider it as a valid and legitimate way to end a game when no team prevailed.

When it comes to hockey, the critics of the shootout often say that it’s only a sideshow, that it’s not real hockey, and that it shouldn’t be used to decide a game. They say that hockey is a team sport, and that it goes against this to have the game decided only by a player and a goalie.

I disagree with that. In the shootout, you have a skater with a stick going down the ice and trying to put the puck in the net, behind a goalie with his full equipment. To score or to make a save on a shootout attempt requires skills. Hockey skills. For both the skater and the goalie, it takes the same qualities than when a breakaway happens, which is a common game situation. To me, the shootout is part of the game. Penalty shots are not very common in hockey, but they do exist. So honestly, I even think it’s less of a alteration of the game than removing a guy from each team to play OT.

“Please, no more of this, that’s not real hockey!”

Another argument against it is that it’s basically artificially manufacturing cheap highlights reels. Personally, I don’t really have a problem with that. Yes, it’s designed to put the skaters and the goalies (but mostly the skaters, this is true) in the optimal position to “make something special”. But why is that a problem exactly? Hockey is a professional sport, but it’s also an entertainment.

Then the critics of the shootout will often ask: “But if you like it so much, would you accept it to decide a playoffs game?” Of course, the answer is almost always no. Then the shootout critics will point at the apparent hypocrisy, saying “See? Even you don’t consider this legitimate enough to decide a game that really matters!”

I think it’s a flawed argument. Personally, of course I wouldn’t want to see shootouts in the playoffs. Shootouts are dramatic (I’ll come back on that later), but a game going to triple OT is something really unique about hockey playoffs. It’s one of the most exciting traditions of this sport, and there’s absolutely no reason to change it. It just “works”. The question is not “should the shootout be brought into the playoffs?”, but rather “could the playoffs style OT be brought into the regular season?” Obviously the answer is no. Then, if you want to have every game end with a winner and a loser, I think the SO is the best option. (Of course, it could be argued that we should still have ties. Personally, I had no problem with them. But that’s another issue)

But what makes me actually like the shootout, and not just tolerate it?

To begin with, I do find it exciting. To the point that I often find myself hoping for a tied game to end in the SO rather than in the 5 minutes OT. I like seeing skilled players attempt to beat a goalie without being hooked, tripped or hold by a defenseman. I like the tension and the pressure felt by one skater or a goalie who knows he has to score or make a save to give his teammates a last chance.

I like to see whether a player will choose to be audacious, bold, or to play it safe. I like to see if that boldness will be rewarded [“Oy oy oy oy oy!” is apparently the Swedish equivalent for Benoit Brunet’s “Aye aye aye!”] or bite him in the ass.

I love when the shootout goes after the initial rounds, and we get to see the defensemen and the fourth liners with a chance to be the unlikely hero, or not.

But I also like the dramatic scenery that it provides. One on one. The good old duel, just like in western movies. It makes me want to play some Ennio Morricone.

Ovie really sucks at this, so I’d definitely bet on Marty here…

This kind of drama is actually the topic of a short novel written by Peter Handke, “Die Angst des Tormanns beim Elfmeter”, translated in English as “The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick”.  Wim Wenders and Handke made a movie out of this in 1972, if anyone is interested (I read the book, but never saw the film).  The book is about a soccer goalie, but the tension is virtually the same in hockey. (Wooo! I’m so proud I managed to mention Peter Handke on a hockey blog… I’m such a snob!)

Of course, the drama is limited when the object of the shootout is an extra point in a meaningless November game. But as the season goes on and every point becomes more important, the tension definitely raises

I know the shootout is not very popular around the hockey blogosphere. But personally, I like it, and I even think this was a pretty smart move from Bettman and co. It already produced some pretty memorable moments, and a few highlights reel goals and saves. It’s not what I like the most about hockey, but it’s definitely something I appreciate. I don’t think this opinion makes me a lesser fan, and I hope the “holier-than-thou” attitude of some of the shootout critics will wane, because frankly, I’m a little fed up with it.

Posted January 12, 2010 by Grrrreg in Uncategorized

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Detroit beats Pittsburgh

pitt-detroit 3 – 1

And yet, Pittsburgh gets the cup.

Congrats to the Penguins. They are the new rulers of the league.


All hail the Penguin!