You know how
I’m always saying “don’t blink because you might miss something”? Well, I
should really start practicing what I preach.
For the first
time since the World Cup, I had a chance to sit down and watch a hockey game.
Yes, you read right. While the NHL seems more concerned over where the next
All-Star game won’t be played, it’s business as usual in all of the other hockey
leagues, and the Canadian Hockey League (CHL), comprised of the Western Hockey
League (WHL), Ontario Hockey League (OHL), and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
(QMJHL) is no exception. The league showcases the best of the up and comers, so
There’s a young
man by the name of Sidney Crosby who you may have heard a lot about. He’s been
touted as the next one (by the Great One himself), the one who will carry the
pro hockey circuit into the next era, whenever that may be, whatever they may
call it. At the tender age of 16 he walked away with most, if not all of the
CHL’s yearly accolades, everything from scoring champion to rookie of the year,
and followed it up with an equally impressive campaign last season, capped off with a silver medal for Canada in last year’s World Junior
Championship Tournament. This season, he’s again leading the pack in the ‘Q
League, even after having missed a handful of games with a minor knee injury.
When the kid plays you can be sure he’ll be good for at least a point or two per
As you might
imagine, then, it was with great pleasure I sat down to watch hockey for the first
Saturday night in eons, as Rogers Sportsnet featured Crosby’s QMJHL team the
Rimouski Oceanic going head to head with the Gatineau Olympiques, again a force
to be reckoned with this year from what I understand.
the blinking comes in. Before I even had a chance to pay the pizza delivery guy
and sit down in front of the tube with the definitive Saturday night main course
in hand, before the game was even five minutes old, the kid had connected on
three scoring plays, and by the end of the first period had tallied four
assists. At this point I’m thankful instant replay exists. Crosby, partnered
with “the other guy” Rimouski drafted in the first round in 2003, Francis
Charette, helped their Oceanic team pound the ‘Piques by a final score of 7-3.
Patrick Roy’s protégé Jean-Michel Filiatrault was equally as impressive, turning
away 28 shots in the victory. It wasn’t one of the usual Saturday Night tilts
we’re used to watching, but nonetheless it was something other than one of
Spielberg’s finest for a change, and was enough to make one long for the good
old days when the NHL was still this innocent thriving new exciting league.
So as the young
Crosby continues to woo the fans and make opposing goaltenders and coaches alike
wonder “how’d he do that”, a bigger question begs an answer. What next? You
don’t even have to look at the scouting reports to know whenever they hold the
next draft in the NHL, this kid will go first overall. But what if there isn’t
a draft? What if this whole lockout mess actually lasts as long as some have
predicted and the NHL declares an impasse? The word on the street is agents who
represent Sidney Crosby will challenge the league at the highest court level
necessary and push for unrestricted free agency, before he even has a chance to
attend his first NHL training camp. It will be kind of a “what have you done
for me lately” situation, where essentially you weren’t there for me when I
needed you, why should I be there for you? Open the floodgates and may the
highest bidder win. Seem too good to be true? We’ll see. Whatever happens,
whatever you do, get out and see this kid play if you can, before it costs an
arm and a leg to do so (and before you’re reduced to buying “standing room only”
tickets!). Believe all the hype, as he really is something special to watch.
I FOUGHT THE LAW, & THE LAW
usual distractions of the NHL regular season, we’re starting to see some
progress on a few major court cases involving some well known players.
whole Mike Danton situation ended abruptly with Danton pleading guilty to the
charge he hired a hit man in an attempt to murder his agent David Frost. The
U.S. Justice System came down real hard with a sentence of 7 1/2 years, and will
not stand in the way of Danton’s request to transfer to a Canadian institution.
Wherever he serves his sentence, his career in hockey is essentially over. U.S.
District Judge William Stiehl had this to say about the whole ordeal: “I
do not believe in over 18 years on the bench I have been faced with a case as
bizarre as this one.”
In what we
thought could be a potential final word on whether or not he will go to trial on
a vehicular homicide charge and five misdemeanor charges, lawyers involved in
the Dany Heatley case reported they are nowhere close to coming to a plea
agreement, which would indicate Heatley will be left to face the music. Adding
injury to insult, he recently took a puck in the eye playing overseas for SC
Bern of Switzerland. When it rains it pours. Heatley faces a potential of 5-20
years if convicted on any of the six charges against him. Hasn’t this guy
suffered enough, really? I’d like to think he’s at the very least learned his
lesson with respect to driving over the speed limit, having lost his fellow team
mate and friend Dan Snyder, and having lost half of last season due to injuries
sustained in the crash which claimed Snyder’s life and almost his own. Now some
spunky lawyer is trying to stir the pot with an alleged history of traffic
violations, most notably a speeding ticket in Kentucky. Give me a break.
Canadiens legend Serge Savard recently pleaded not guilty to not one, but two
drunk driving charges, after allegedly being involved in two separate minor
crashes. Now I know Savard was only part of eight Stanley Cup winning teams in
Montreal, and two more as a general manager, but I have a question. Was a
breathalyzer test not an option here? In any event, Savard is to appear in
court on March 7, 2005.
And from a
financial perspective, if this doesn’t prove the NHL’s case of the league losing
money, nothing will. Creditors of former Ottawa Senators owner Rod Bryden have
accepted a proposal which would require Bryden to pay back only $600,000 out of
the nearly $100 million he owes creditors and investors of the NHL team and
arena, which is more than they would have received had Bryden declared
bankruptcy. The “performance of the business was actually substantially better
than we had forecast,” Bryden said. “But players' salaries and the Canadian
dollar just blew that all away. It turned out to be just a dreadful period for a
Canadian company that relied on Canadian revenues and had to pay export (U.S.)
dollars.” Take that, put it in your pipe and smoke it, Mr. Goodenow.
no shortage of hockey memorabilia, and people to buy it, some lucky fan paid the
sum of $575.96 US for Bobby Hull’s false teeth when they were auctioned on eBay
in October. Note to self: my false teeth are worth more and they have one less
EA Sports have
simulated the season we’re missing in their online feature “What Might Have
Been”. Check it out now, the results may surprise you (but don’t forget they’re
based for the most part on last year’s rosters):
which, I will finally get around to reviewing the game if and when I can break
myself away from Grand Theft Auto San Andreas, or if and when we actually have a
season, whichever comes first.
Is there really
no way we can convince Bob Goodenow and Gary Bettman to get together for some
words, to break the ice, have a cup of coffee, and maybe start getting
something, anything, worked out? Maybe we could stage a lock-in: lure them to
the main concourse of any one of the 30 NHL arenas, hide the beer, lock the
doors and throw away the keys until they come up with something of any
substance. It really must be said even though it’s probably already graced a
sports headline somewhere, if these two can’t get it together, they both must
go, period, I don’t care how serious the issues are. There’s no negotiation
Try as I might,
I just don’t see how the players receiving lockout pay of $5,000-$10,000 per
month is such a bad thing. Maybe now they can learn to live on a level closer
to you and I, even though it’s still more money than I take home bi-monthly.
What I do have a problem with is this money is tax free, unless the player sits
on the seven member executive committee. So basically, Trevor Linden’s check is
taxed, but virtually every other player who resides in Canada is home free
provided they meet certain criteria. If I hear of any player complaints, just
remember this: I will welcome any tax free donations.
I wonder how
many more players will migrate overseas before the lockout ends? Any bets?
It seems Chris
Chelios is determined to be at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, one way
or another. Whether it will be as a hockey player or as part of the U.S.
Olympic Bobsledding team remains to be seen, but just a word of advice: you
won’t get on the podium if you can’t keep your crew from crashing the sleigh.
A wise man once
said “I went to go see a fight and a hockey game broke out”. I wonder, then,
what the late great Rodney Dangerfield would have to say about the whole lockout
situation, God bless his soul. This is just one of the many things I think
about when there aren’t any games to watch.
And finally, in
an attempt to let all of the hockey starved fans know they still exist, Molson
launched a very clever television ad which shows fans sadly singing the song “Do
You Really Want To Hurt Me” with a fade to black caption “Hockey please come
back”. Almost brings a tear to my eye every time I see it. Marketing is
everything, isn’t it? I for one question their choice of song, but you have to
believe this lockout hurts them in the pocketbook just a tad. They needn’t
worry, if the lineups at the Beer Store are any indication. If anything it just
means we can afford to drink more. Just remember to hide the car keys folks,
please and thank you, at least until the following morning.
On a sad note,
I’d be remiss if I didn’t pay homage to the late Sergei Zholtok, arguably the
best Latvian hockey player ever to lace up the skates. Known as “Zholi” by many
of his teammates, past and present, Zholtok was playing in a game between Riga
2000 and Dinamo Minsk when upon leaving the game early due to fatigue, he
collapsed in the locker room. He had been diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat
in January 2003, and an autopsy later proved he died of heart failure.
Zholtok, who had a career-best 26 goals for the
Montreal Canadiens in 1999-2000, was a member of the Latvian team that won
silver at the 1994 world championships. Throughout his illustrious yet short
NHL career, he scored 111 goals, assisted on 147 and drew 166 penalty minutes in
588 NHL games with Boston, Ottawa, Montreal, Edmonton, Minnesota and Nashville,
where he finished last season after a trade from Minnesota in March. He will be
I’ll talk to
you all again soon. Happy Holidays!!!