overcoming the denial of yet another finished season to the anticipation of the
next one, there is a never ending struggle to find a balance between tending to
our everyday summer duties and keeping our mind off the fact there are no games
to watch on television. Yes, summer is great in its own way, but for us hockey
fans, myself included, there is a sort of emptiness which can’t be explained by
conventional means, a hunger which can’t be overcome by food or water.
Especially now as the nights get cooler, no matter how hard we try (at least for
me anyway), there just seems to be no filling this void until the puck drops on
a brand new season.
previously written about some of the ways I attempt to overcome this struggle
which we refer to as hockey withdrawal. I’ve decided to revisit this topic
because the last time around I got a ton of response from people just like
myself who go through the same struggle and wish to help satiate their appetite
for some hard hitting, tight checking ice action. Perhaps even you fans of
other sports out there have experienced this as well. The closer the new season
gets, the more we hunger in anticipation of another fun filled season. Over the
past year I’ve found a few new ways to help me get through the days and nights
until October arrives.
you’ve gone shopping at your local Wal-Mart or even your friendly neighborhood
grocery store recently, you may have already met McFarlane. The folks over at
McFarlane Toys have released a whole line of action figures for virtually every
professional sport in North America, and they’ve taken the world by storm. For
hockey, they’ve managed to create five series of molded players in their
favorite on ice poses. Simply finding them has become somewhat of a collector’s
nightmare. I bought my first one last winter when Series 4 came out, Ryan Smyth
complete with a stick, puck, and a platform to hold him up. These toys are so
well detailed with actual tape around the stick and perfectly painted jersey and
socks. A few selected goalies even come complete with a net, goalie stick and a
water bottle! It’s almost a shame to open up the plastic packaging these models
come in. Thanks to a Wal-Mart five dollar rollback special, one model quickly
became the entire fourth series. Players like Jeremy Roenick, Brendan Shanahan,
Jocelyn Thibault, Ron Francis, Jarome Iginla, and one of my favorites, Ilya
Kovalchuk positioned coming over a fake board, all now sit on a shelf I put up
for this very purpose. Recently, a fifth series of players was released, but
not just any series, a special Canadian version which sees the likes of Patrick
Roy in his old Montreal Canadiens uniform, Joe Sakic donning the former Quebec
Nordiques attire, and Mark Messier with the old style Edmonton Oilers jersey all
come mixed with the likes of Tie Domi, Saku Koivu, Marian Hossa and Dan Cloutier
dressed in their current teams’ clothes. The only problem is, try finding them
all. By sheer fluke, I was fortunate enough to snag myself an impossible to
find Patrick Roy, which has been seen on Ebay selling for no less than $100 US.
the things die hard collectors of these models really go for are a series of
variants which are essentially the same players in a given series, but with a
different look to them. For instance, the Mark Messier I mentioned comes in the
old Oilers blue road jersey, but the variant has the home white. I somehow was
lucky enough yet again to find a couple of these variants, and I kid you not
they all disappeared from the store less than twelve hours after I purchased
them, not just the one store I found them at, but all the stores I’ve checked
since. A lesson is to be learned here, when you see them, buy them. The
variants I managed to find have stayed sealed in their package for safe
keeping. McFarlane seems to have started something here which is reminiscent of
the Cabbage Patch doll craze from way back when. In any event, there will be
two more series released before the end of the year, so keep your eyes peeled
and keep away from my shopping cart!
those of you who like to read it, the new official NHL yearbook has recently hit
your favorite news stand. This book has everything, all the stats, all the
players, a look back at the playoffs, the awards, the draft picks, a season
preview of all the NHL teams, along with the full 2003-04 NHL schedule. Often
imitated, never duplicated, pick it up now.
games continue to be an integral part of my summer nights. I’m playing through
my umptillionth season of NHL 2003 in anticipation of EA Sports’ biggest and
best hockey game yet, NHL 2004. While it promises to be the ultimate in sports
gaming, it will have some healthy competition this time around, at least for
those who aren’t using a PC. Sega has teamed up with ESPN for ESPN NHL Hockey
2004, which will replace the NHL2K series. Midway is coming back with their
latest adrenaline style hockey game, NHL Hitz Pro. And Microsoft is getting on
the ice this year as well with NHL Rivals 2004. EA should still end up with the
upper hand here as they will still have the only title to cross all platforms.
Microsoft’s game will be produced exclusively for the Xbox, and the Midway and
Sega titles will only be available for Playstation 2 and Xbox. This means if
you have a Nintendo Gamecube or a PC then you’re out of luck, NHL 2004 it is!
This is a good thing, as EA appears to have taken their game to a whole new
level (and it’s about time). I don’t want to give away too much about the new
game because as always, I will have a full review for you in September after
I’ve spent many sleepless nights playing it. Hockey promises to be the game of
choice for many gamers this fall, both online and off. Are you game?
week I sat down with some representatives of NHL Centre Ice to get some
information on one of the hottest pay per view sports packages available (what
can I say, when you work for your local cable company, you get the inside scoop). This
year we’ll see more games than ever before, as up to 40 out of market games per
week are on the slate. The only thing to remember here is your local team will
always be broadcast locally due to blackout restrictions, but thanks to this
package you won’t miss too many of the other games that you wouldn’t otherwise
see. Call your local cable or satellite provider for more details and reserve
the best seat in your house for the upcoming season. I also want to thank ESPN
Classics and the NHL Network for getting me through with more than a few classic
games. If you don’t currently subscribe to these channels, what are you waiting
movie buffs, I have a few more for you to rent, buy or watch on cable TV. In
“Sudden Death”, Jean-Claude Van Damme plays a Pittsburgh fire marshall who ends
up saving the President from a group of assassins, while his kids enjoy Game 7
of the Stanley Cup final between Pittsburgh and Chicago. I won’t give up the
ending of the movie if you’ve never seen it, but one thing that’s always
disappointed me about this movie is you never find out who wins, but I’d be
willing to bet Van Damme would make a better Pittsburgh goalie than their
current one. In “Mystery, Alaska”, Russell Crowe heads up a small town which
attempts to stage an exhibition game against the New York Rangers. And in “Net
Worth” we go back in time and learn about how the NHLPA was born. This one
features Kevin Conway, Carl Marotte and Al Waxman in a story centered around the
1956 Detroit Red Wings captained by Ted Lindsay.
forget Val Kilmer in “At First Sight”, the story of a blind man who gets to see
his first live hockey game where previously he could only listen on the radio.
Previously I mentioned the classic “Slap Shot”, a must if you’ve never seen it.
Well this has been released on DVD along with “Slap Shot 2”.
references have even been found in movies such as “Wayne’s World”, where Mike
Myers and Dana Carvey put on Chicago Blackhawks jerseys and play street hockey,
or even in “Lethal Weapon 3”, when Mel Gibson chases a crook across the ice of
the former Los Angeles forum. If you look closely in the Lethal Weapon example,
you can notice a bit of a blooper, as at first you see the Los Angeles Kings and
Toronto Maple Leafs actual uniforms, then as they do a close up on the ice
you’ll notice the team logos change to a spade for Toronto and simply “L.A.”
with a different shape for the Kings. Do I seem as though I have too much time
on my hands or is it just me?
are some new real life videos available which chronicle the 1972 Summit Series
in its entirety and take us back through the 2003 NHL playoffs from a New Jersey
Devils perspective. Let’s also not forget about the Don Cherry Rock ‘Em Sock
‘Em videos and DVDs, which I’ve noticed are harder to find over the past year.
Many of you have asked me where to find them all to which I’ve responded either
check the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto or get in touch with Molstar
Communications. I’ll throw some more possibilities your way. Don’t forget
about Ebay, or even a garage sale, not to mention a discount store. I found a
cheap video of hockey highlights from 1993, as well as a CD from a dollar
discount store filled with audio highlights from Wayne Gretzky’s career, nicely
narrated by veteran hockey color commentator John Davidson. All have
done their part to help the summer along.
is practically over again, so sit tight and get ready for what proves to be yet
another outstanding season. No matter how you decide to pass the time, remember
not to be seen wearing white after Labor Day unless it happens to be a hockey
part one about this topic, click