look forward to it every year. The anticipation of a new season, the drop
of the puck – 30 teams doing it all over again.
like the Green Day smash hit, I would like very much if I could just fast
forward through September and get the new hockey season underway already.
Summer, as the song says “has come to pass”, training camps are getting ready to
open, kids are going back to school, and the weather is getting a little
cooler. It can only mean one thing – it’s time to drop the puck already!
folks, I am back after a very eventful summer which saw me purchase my first
home (no more rent!), learn new skills at work, and of course, I became yet
another year older (and hopefully wiser). There have been times when I haven’t
even had time to think, hence the lack of updates on the Blog and in this spot.
But I’m back now, the season is about to start, and hockey is the subject du
jour. I’ve been working out on one of those Tony Little Gazelle machines and
recently I started incorporating one of his abdominal workouts into the mix and
I must say, I’m becoming a lean, mean hockey machine (no I’m not about to tryout
for the Ottawa 67s or any team for that matter). If for nothing else, I
definitely have more energy for walking up those arena steps!
had the great fortune (or misfortune depending on your perspective) of
witnessing my favorite team make it to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Even
though they lost, the ride was beyond my wildest dreams, and all I can say is
thanks Edmonton for the memories. I recently went through some highlights of
the playoff run from the NHL Network and was almost brought to tears. I can’t
bring myself to watch the Stanley Cup celebration even to this day. My
computer’s wallpaper is a picture of Jason Smith and Ryan Smyth wearing their
“2006 Western Conference Champions” hats on the ice in Anaheim, and for all
intents and purposes, it’s staying put for the time being.
I’m still searching for
one of these hats, or a T-shirt, but apparently the Oilers haven’t thought much
of their fans east of Alberta, and if they have, I’d like to know short of Ebay
where something like this might exist. Speaking of Anaheim,
have I mentioned how much I dislike Chris Pronger nowadays?
enough. It’s time to move on. Better luck this season.
of you loyal readers out there have responded quite well to my methods of
getting through the days until hockey is back – I feel as though my words are
makeshift therapy. Many of you have told me you didn’t even realize some of
these options existed. Well, here I am again with some more ways to pass the
time before our favorite pastime starts up again. There isn’t too much new
here, but I figure, why mess with a good thing, and quite frankly, like it or
not, I find it to be the perfect bridge into the new season.
soon, the new EA Sports NHL 07 video game will be out in stores, but so far
I have mixed thoughts on this as they are planning something real big for the
new Xbox 360 and from what the forums are saying the rest of us may be just as
happy searching for roster updates for NHL 06. As always, I will have my annual
in depth take no prisoners review on the year’s most anticipated game (as far as
I’m concerned anyway). For you PC gamers, a demo is expected any day now,
although for some reason, Xbox 360 users win again as a demo has been out now
since Labor Day. If you’re exclusively a console gamer, NHL 2K7 from 2K sports
should be out any day now as well, however, I don’t care what they say, the
digitized pictures of Joe Thornton look nothing like him. For my money, NHL 06
with an update to facilitate the actual salary cap will do it for me. Hopefully
EA doesn’t disappoint me by trying too much of a facelift, because there is no
way I’m going to even consider buying a 360 just for one game. And please, EA,
bring back the zamboni!
couple of more movies for you check out. Recently released on DVD is the 4th
installment of Les Boys aptly titled “Les Boys IV” – most of the usual
characters are back, and this one includes cameos from Guy Lafleur and Martin
Brodeur, just to name a couple. If you don’t understand French, if you don’t
mind subtitles, this is a great series. Think about it as a French version of
Slap Shot with three sequels instead of one (if you can even call Slap Shot 2 a
sequel). On September 19th, just in time for exhibition play, “The
Rocket” will be available to rent, and on an unrelated note, so too will be
Season One of “My Name Is Earl”. I’ve spoken before about how karma relates to
hockey, and even though there’s no reference to the sport, it’s one of those
feel good sitcoms the airwaves have been missing. I often wonder if Randy was
ever checked into the boards when he was younger, and if so, how many times?
fall comes a lot of new television shows, movies, video games, and most
importantly, music CDs! Our great friend Michael Cretu, otherwise known as
Enigma, is back with a sixth installment of his special brand of new age mixed
with techno pop, and even the odd Gregorian chant mixed in for good measure.
Although long gone are the days of Sadeness, the new CD “A Posteriori” includes
a track entitled “Hello And Welcome”, which was originally recorded for a Boxing
match – but if you listen to it carefully it could easily pass as a hockey
anthem, and I hope all of the arenas take notice. I know I have and cannot wait
for September 26th or an Internet leak – whichever comes first! (And
don’t worry Michael, I have all of the CDs, I will be buying it regardless – you
da man!). Another CD on my want list right now is Meat Loaf’s third installment
of “Bat Out Of Hell”, set for release on Hallowe’en October 31st. The third and
final Bat is appropriately titled “The Monster Is Loose”. By the time the CD is
in stores the monster which is the NHL will already be 166 games into the
regular season (out of 2460).
let’s talk some hockey, shall we? Needless to say I am chomping at the bit
for the new season to get underway, have I mentioned that yet?
Making the news more than Paris Hilton these days is the increasing number
of NHL players in trouble with the law. Most recently, Mark Bell of the San
Jose Sharks pulled his own Hilton stunt as he was arrested on suspicion of drunk
driving and an alleged hit and run. It puts the icing on the cake of a summer
full of troubles for more than a few players, namely Rangers’ Jaromir Jagr (IRS
troubles) and Minnesota’s Derek Boogaard (bar fight resulted in an assault
charge). Mike Danton’s former agent David Frost was recently arrested for
sexual exploitation and assault, while Danton himself continues to serve time
for his own bizarre plot against Frost. Paris Hilton even managed to get
Colorado’s Jose Theodore in trouble with his wife as someone in the media
suggested the two were having an affair. A defamation lawsuit is pending and
the writer of the article has since printed a retraction. Not too long after
this, Hilton announced her celibacy. Coincidence? It’s been one crazy summer.
Speaking of crazy summers, who could have predicted Jacques Martin would
start the new season as both general manager and coach of the Florida Panthers?
Mike Keenan stepped down from the manager’s role, but conventional wisdom will
tell you there’s more to this story than meets the eye. This is vehemently
denied by all involved, as Martin continues to maintain a good relationship with
Keenan, or so he says. His story (and he’s sticking with it) is he was
approached by ownership about the possibility of maintaining the dual role. The
question I have which nobody can answer with anything but sheer speculation is
why did Keenan just all of a sudden resign when he hasn’t ever quit anything in
his life? There’s a reason they call him “Iron” Mike – it’s because if you
wanted to get rid of him, you had to fire him – end of story. Unless their
friendship is so great that Mike wanted to give Jacques every opportunity to
pursue a dual role, I can’t even imagine what took place here, and so far Keenan
isn’t talking. I have to wonder how much money was involved here, it’s the only
logical explanation I can think of. Should Martin get too overloaded
undertaking the dual role, he could always decide to assume the general
manager’s job exclusively and hire his own coach. Maybe I’m reading too much
into this, but how strange would it be if he decided to hire former provincial
rival & Team Canada colleague Pat Quinn for a little reunion? I can hear them
on the Team 1200 Senators pre-game show now, and I can just imagine the Ottawa
Sun headlines. Hey Jacques, just a question, how do you like your goaltending
situation for next season? Just curious.
happy note, it seems Owen Nolan was able to resolve his differences with the
Toronto Maple Leafs and is looking forward to revamping his career in Phoenix.
While he alone won’t do much for the desert dogs, I like some of the moves
they’ve made and I expect the Coyotes to be in contention for at least a playoff
the way, can somebody please tell me just how Brendan Shanahan will benefit
the New York Rangers?
tell you what, if I have to read one more article about the Russian transfer
agreement, or lack thereof, I will personally write a plea to the powers that be
to come to some sort of agreement, one way or the other. It’s pretty sad when a
player, let alone a first round draft pick from two years ago has to sneak out
of his own country just to be able to sign a contract with the Pittsburgh
Penguins of all teams. And don’t think the Evgeni Malkin situation is over just
yet. Even though he’s inked his entry level contract, expect legal action
stemming from the way Malkin made his way over to North America. I don’t care
what laws are in place to protect Malkin or any Russian player, if you sign a
contract, you honor it. End of story. On the flipside, I can already see the
media drooling over Malkin and Crosby and training camp hasn’t even started
yet. How about getting an actual goaltender in Pittsburgh? Just a thought.
teams finish rounding out their rosters, one thing is becoming very apparent
– the Stanley Cup is up for grabs, more than ever before. The dynasty days are
over – with all due respect to the Carolina Hurricanes, too many other teams
have improved through free agency and the draft to make even the most remote
chance they may repeat all that much tougher. While we know only 16 out of the
30 teams will get a legitimate shot at it, I predict at least 23 or 24 teams
will be fighting for it right down to the final week. Well, you may say, so
what, the playoff races are always interesting right down to game 82 anyway?
Right, but think about having five or six teams per conference with a legitimate
shot for eighth spot? Before this new CBA, you’d be lucky if two or three teams
were in contention by the last day of the season. Given what happened last
year, anything is possible. Parity is a beautiful thing. I’ll delve more into
this as the season gets going, the teams I think will make some noise, the teams
which will be most improved and why. Stay tuned, the roller coaster is loading
up fast, so reserve your seat at the front and get ready for one hell of a ride!
Finally, a big Puckin’ Around salute is in order for Cassie Campbell, the
only Canadian hockey player, male or female, to captain two Gold Medal winning
teams at the Olympics. Campbell, 32, has retired after an illustrious career in
which Women’s Hockey was effectively put on the map. Often labeled “the poster
girl of women’s hockey”, the speedy 5’7” defenseman wants to have children and
put the finishing touches on not one, but two books. She is also considering a
career in broadcasting. Thanks for the memories, Cassie, you will be missed on
the ice, I can assure you.
even bigger salute goes out to Steve Yzerman, a man who needs no
introduction. As captain of three Stanley Cup winning teams in Detroit, and
countless trips to the finals, his grit and scoring prowess will be severely
missed, not just in Detroit but throughout the Western Conference. My lasting
memory of Steve will be watching him hoist what was his second Stanley Cup in
1999, and immediately handing it to Vladimir Konstantinov as he sat at centre
ice in a wheelchair. Yzerman is the all-time leader in Red Wings playoff
scoring, and ranks second only to Gordie Howe in overall franchise points. His
#19 will be retired in a pre-game ceremony January 2, 2007, just before the Red
Wings take on the Ducks. Way to go Stevie – it’s no wonder they named the
Nepean Sportsplex after you, as fitting a tribute as one can get.
the countdown is on for the new season, you can be sure I’ll be there to
highlight what should be another stellar season of hockey. You can count on
it. Opening night features yet another incarnation of the Battle of Ontario (on
back to back nights no less), and the Oilers will raise their Conference Banner,
as well as Mark Messier’s #11. Carolina will also have a banner of their own to
raise – their first Stanley Cup. Oct 4th will be a special night and
on the 7th, all 30 teams will be in action. Just promise me somebody
out there won’t forget to wake me when September ends.