Sunday, April 30, 2006 

Bring Out The Brooms

Elias Watch: To The Max

It's late, and I wasn't going to post today, but then my boy Elias brought his legend to a-whole-nother level. He finished off the Rangers this afternoon with a 2 goal, 3 point performance, bringing his playoff totals to 5 goals and a staggering 11 points in just 4 games. That's nearly 3 times the points as the Rangers had goals in the entire series. And people questioned my calling him the playoff MVP this year, I think those questions are gone at this point.

Jagr attempted to come back today, but left just 53 seconds into this match, bringing an end to the closest he's ever come to trying for an entire season. In one, brainless, selfish moment he put a decided end to the entire Rangers season, and for that he should be driven out of New York. But he won't. I'm sure it'll be the coach, if anyone. Between the questionable use of a rookie goalie just off injury, the bonehead play by Jagr to knock himself out of play, and the legendary play of Patrick Elias, this matchup never even gave the illusion of being a series. Let the brooms reign, the Devils are the first team through the first round!

As it turns out, the Senators also managed to squeak through to the second round today, finishing off the defending champions in 5 games. The champs who, much like Jagr, had someone in Tortorelli who helped to sabotage their cause. Realistically, however, without Khabibulin in net I wouldn't have picked the Lightning to win last season, and accordingly couldn't see them having a chance against Ottawa this season. Some might point to the season he had with Chicago this year and claim that his best days are behind him, but Khabs has always been someone who plays up, or down to his surroundings. If he had Tampas team around him, instead of the semi-AHL squad in Chicago, things would have been very different. But he made that bed himself, so I don't feel too bad for him. Anyway, I had the camera out to celebrate the Devils sweep, and looking around my place I saw a Senators flag and my Khabibulin jersey, so I thought I would throw them on for Ottawa as well, to try to keep things even.

Since I was already taking pictures around my house, I guess I took it a bit further and shot off some other pictures of random things I saw lying around that were sports related. Among them are some steal blades, vintage Leafs schwag, a goalies view, Olympic gloves a Brew, and a bobblehead that you'd expect me to have an enema before getting. There's no reason to put those there, but by the same token there's no reason to be up at 3am taking them. So, enjoy!

Saturday, April 29, 2006 

Tying Up Loose Ends

On a night where the Avalanche failed to tie up a sweep in their series against Dallas, I decided to tie up a few loose ends of my own that have come up in my past posts. If memory serves me, I need to finish off one poll, start another poll, and move a series to the next round. That's the goal, so lets get to it without further delay.

2006 NHL Rucchin of the Year

The people have spoken. With nearly 100 votes received now, the sample size is significant enough now to declare a winner. With 14% of the vote, the second runner up, with no offensive talent and yet 65 points to his name, was Mike Knuble. With 26% percent of the vote, and benefiting more than anyone has from twins since the days of Full House, the first runner up was Anson Carter. That means that not unexpectedly, the 2006 NHL Rucchin of the Year Award winner is:

plus equals

Jonathan Cheechoo.

Mister Cheechoo ran away with the voting, finishing with 48% of the vote in the five man race. Really, though, before the voting got under way there was little doubt who the winner would be. It is not every year that a player manages to Rucchin 50 goals. That's something special, and certainly deserving of the award. This legendary season will now be immortalized forever, and I'll be sure to let you know how his receipt of the award goes. Ladies and Gentlemen, your 2006 Rucchin of the Year, Jonathan Cheechoo.

Miss Sports Blogger 2006

Since the Rucchin voting has now closed, my sidebar would be naked with a lack of polls. For that reason, my search for a new question led me back to my post from April 12. As a fan of the Zany Sports Lady's blog, I was excited to learn that she was nominated by Dr. Blogstein for Miss Blogger 2006. I quickly learned, however, that his award had less to do with her writing, and more to do with the half naked hockey picture of her and her friend that graces her pages. Stuff like that isn't right, because in the sports world it's hard enough for women to be respected for their opinions or accomplishments. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate beauty contests as much as the next guy, but I also appreciate more than that. For that reason, I am going to have my own contest - Miss Sports Blogger 2006.

The main difference is, there will be no pictures or physical beauty involved. I will list the nominees and based on the writing in their blogs, and that alone, you all get to decide who wins the honour of Miss Sports Blogger 2006. Here, now, are your nominees:

Anne Ursu aka Batgirl. If you're into baseball, especially the Twins, then hers is the site for you. Her feminine twist on normal baseball events can be more than refreshing.

Acid Queen over at Sweet Tea, Barbeque and Bodychecks. I must admit, I have a special place in my heart for Carolina Barbeque. If I could only have one food for the rest of my life it would be a pulled pork sandwich off the BBQ. Unfortunately, she openly likes cats, a practice I certainly don't endorse. She's vulgar and opinionated, though, so I'll never let her know that.

Alanah, who is one half of the Vancouver Canucks Oped. One of the funniest sports blogs out there, their pro-canucks point of view is out-weighed in my mind by their anti-Oilers stance. With my feelings on Pronger, that means Alanah is #1 in my books.

Christy at Behind the Jersey. Speaking of anti-Oilers, this blogger is a Red Wings fan through and through. Her claim to fame in my books is her Behind the Blog posts where she interviews other hockey bloggers, A classy move from a class act.

Stephanie the Zany Sports Lady. The Sports Lady knows her stuff, and it shows. She's a Stars fan, though, so she may need a bit of a pick up after their unexpected early exit coming up in the next few days. A vote for her might just be what she needs to keep going right now.

So there you have it, your 5 nominees for Miss Sports Blogger 2006. You know how to vote, so get to it. I'm not sure what the winner will get, but I'm sure it won't be much.

Rawk the Bawl Round 2

The first round of Rawk the Bawl is over, and it wasn't even close. Mike Jones and Young Buck each received one vote, and were the only losers that weren't shut out. This result wasn't unexpected given the first round matchups. It was supposed to reflect the basketball matchups, and the thing about basketball is that the first round is usually that predictable. Round two could prove to be a much closer battle, though, so get your picks in today. The next round looks as follows:

(1) Detroit D12 - - These guys are solid right through, except for that white guy that's finally gone (Darco) and that fat guy who doesn't get much playing time (Cato). You still see how it relates.

(5) Washington DMX - - I know he's from Maryland, but that's close enough to DC for me. This matchup should prove a lot tougher than the first round cake walk against Lil Bow Wow. Ha, that guy.

(3) New Jersey Redman - - How High can he go? Only Method Man knows the answer to that one.

(7) Chicago Kanye West - - I have a feeling this match up isn't going to go the way that I want it to. I just can't stand the Kanye.

(4) Dallas Chamillionaire - - Sorry Dallas, but I had to borrow from Houstons hot Rap scene for a lack of any real Dallas presence that I could think of. Chamillionaire may have the all time stupidest Rap name, but he does lay down some mad lyrics.

(8)Sacremento Ron Artest - - Make a wish, son, if you want to beat Cham.

(6)LA Clippers Hed (PE) - - Look them up if you don't know them, they're something. They really are my personal favourites on this list. Bartender was the best song of 2001, and who among us can't relate to Amerikan Beauty?

(7) LA Lakers Run DMC - - I said this last time, but sadly I'm going to have to say it again since I received emails telling me DMC isn't from LA, and so on. Yes, I know that they aren't from LA, but since the Lakers were unable to buy up aging talent to help Kobe this year, I thought I would do it for them in this medium. Lakers fans need some sort of consolation this year. Now, we have an agreement. No one needs to tell me they're not from LA. Done and done.

Friday, April 28, 2006 

Notes of Note - First Round Edition

There is too much hockey and basketball on TV right now, so before I realize anything, it has gotten late and I have gotten tired as I sit here watching the Sharks give their best effort towards throwing this easy win away. As always, that can only mean one thing. It's time again for the great Nation of Hungary's favourite new feature: Notes of Note.


I might be getting overly excited a little prematurely, but imagine a Devils Sharks final. Just imagine it. Thornton and Elias, Brodeur and Toskala, battling for the Stanley Cup. I'm getting all choked up at the possibility, it's almost orgasmic. And with how well those teams have been playing, combined with the poor play of the Wings, it's quite possible. Oh heaven.

Pronger Frustration

There was a poll on today, asking "Who's been the Oilers' MVP through the first three games of their series vs. Detroit?" The results when I checked were: Chris Pronger
Dwayne Roloson
Ryan Smyth
Jarett Stoll
Shawn Horcoff
Michael Peca

I just don't get it. Pronger cost them their only loss, and Oiler fans are still calling him their MVP so far. It's remarkable the way people think "big names" are good until they're told not to. I just can't stand it. WATCH THE GAMES PEOPLE! PRONGER IS HORRIBLE ON DEFENSE! Did anyone see Detroit's 4th goal in game 4? Pronger's guy should never have gotten in alone, but he's so slow and lazy on defense that was the end result, which also finished off that game as well for the Oilers. Even a slight extra effort would have prevented it. Just dreadful on defense.

Oh, and just so you know, they don't use a smart poll on like I do for the Rucchin vote, so I sat there and voted for Dwayner until he passed Pronger in the poll. It was about 30 votes I'd say. I'm not going to check in again to see if he won. I wouldn't be able to handle it if he did. And yes, I know that I need a hobby.

Fool Me Thrice, Shame On Bettman

Gauthier. A spear now. Honestly. The very game after he should have been suspended for a hit from behind. Something has to be done about this Flyers team. Anything. The Flyers need to be beat down. Why is there no punishment?

Sabres. Win. Beat them down. NOW!

It's funny, I approached the playoffs without the intention of cheering for any teams, but I've had no choice. I find myself gunning hard for New Jersey, Ottawa, Buffalo, Detroit, Anaheim and San Jose in their series, for various reasons. I feel so strongly about them that I'll even admit it now at the risk of alienating some of my readers. Too much has happened to stay neutral. At least Montreal/Carolina and Dallas/Colorado have been fairly unnoticeable. But if enough can happen to result in an Ontarian cheering for Detroit, Buffalo and Ottawa, then you know it hasn't been good. I never thought I'd see this day, but I have no choice. I'm just so disgusted by their opponents (except Nashville).


Well, i guess some things are worse that the Flyers belligerence: Baseball Indicent. There is no place for disrespecting referees in sports. not to that degree. The occasional puff of dust kicked at a cuff is one thing, but to throw a bat at an official in unforgivable, no matter how talented you are.

the dee oh double gee

This article reminded me that I didn't include Snoop Dogg in my Rawk the Bawl bracket. That was a grave oversight. Not only that, though, but the article also got me thinking, and here is my question - How is he only 34? Are you kidding me? He's been around forever, and certainly never looked 25 at any point. But as it turns out, he's young enough to still be playing football, not just running a league like he is. Actually, if he's interested in playing, there may be some openings in Montgomery. Oh sports team owners and management, what am I going to do with you? Actually, I'm considering sending in my name for a safety or receiver position. Sounds like they might have some room there for me even.

Throwing the Goalies to the Wolves

Coaches are really rubbing me wrong lately, and are quickly filling up my notice list. John Tortorella, you are on notice. He joins Ken Hitchcock, Jaromir Jagr, Denis Gauthier, Kelly Hrudy and John Feguson Jr on my list of people who are on notice. In his post-game interview, Johnny went on an extended tirade about John Grahame's play. In the course of his speach he mentioned that Grahame let in "3 goals on 4 shots" in one part of the game 19 times, and said they needed a few stops in net on those plays. Any of you who saw the game, or even just saw highlights of those goals, understand exactly why Tortorella is on notice now. One goal was scored on a cross crease pass where the defenseman who was by the first man didn't cover the guy or the pass, and no one was on the other man who put it in the empty net. Another of the goals was scored on a pass out from behind the net to a guy who received the puck, and got a shot off, despite 4 Lightning standing in front and contributing nothing to the defensive effort. If you are going to do such a poor job coaching the defensive end of your game, you cannot use the goalie as a scapegoat when great scoring chances lead to goals. And if you are going to make up a scapegoat like that, you cannot do it in a 10 minute tirade to the press. All he has done is guaranteed that the Lightning season is over. Senators fans rejoice, there is no coming back now, Torterelli has Jagred the series for you.

The sad thing is, once this happens to a goalie, you can also pretty much assume that's it for his career. It's the goalie scapegoat syndrome - once their name is dragged down like that, justified or not, no one ever has confidence in them again and that just leads to a mess that can't be recovered from. Look at Tommy Salo. He was one of the top 3 goalies in the league. Then there was the one bad goal on him that was all over the papers, and that was the beginning of the end. There is no escaping it for goalies, and now no escaping it for Grahame. For that reason, Tortorella is on notice, and he's lucky that is isn't joining Bobby Clarke, Richard Peddie, Pierre McGuire and Isiah Thomas on the list of people who are dead to me. If he keeps it up, he'll be there soon enough.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006 

Rawk the Bawl

Rock the Brackets, BBall Style

Chris Young from the Toronto Star had a great idea to set up brackets for the NHL playoffs based on songs that reference each team, right from Ride the Lightning, down to Neneh Cherry's Buffalo Stance. He then asked his readers to submit their picks for the playoffs based on their musical tastes.

In the comments section, Chris called me out saying "I almost was going to do this for the NBA, then decided to spare people the pain. actually I got a bit busy, and I just don't know hip-hop well enough, outside of the usual suspects. It'd be something -- hey, maybe the Basketball Jones will jump on it. Or Kent". Since my own readers have also called me out for not having enough basketball coverage lately, and it is fundamentally impossible to ignore 2 call outs, I've decide to put my hip hop shoes on and take a stab at it. For my game, though, I have selected Rap/Hip Hop artists who share a home town (or state as needed) with the teams in question. I also don't have deep newspaper pockets, so unlike Chris' NHL brackets, there are no prizes in my game. Submit your picks anyway, though, because if you don't I will make Mike Jones the Rap champion of the world. I have that kind of power.

Eastern Conference

(1) Detroit D12 - - These guys are solid right through, except for that white guy that's finally gone (Darco) and that fat guy who doesn't get much playing time (Cato). You see how it relates.
(8) Milwaukee Black House Gang - - One of their guys is call Ebonix. Really. No, really. I figured that gave them about as much chance against D12 as the Bucks actually have.

(2) Miami MA$E - - This is the man I single-handily blame for ruining the good name of rap. It was his teaming with puff daddy that brought about singing about having too much, videos just about boobs, and mo' money mo' problems, and brought an end for almost a decade of any kind of hard core rap lyrics in main stream rap, outside of maybe Hed (PE).
(7) Chicago Kanye West - - This guy gets enough attention in the media as it is, so I'm not feeding more into it. MA$E against Kanye, it's just like my nightmares.

(3) New Jersey Redman - - Redman is a classic who needs no intro from me
(6) Indiana Johnny Socko - - I apologize, but that's about as "hard-core" as Indiana gets since Ron Artest left town.

(4) Cleveland Lil Bow Wow - - Hahaha, that guy. And he's up against DMX. Hahaha.
(5) Washington DMX - - I know he's from Maryland, but that's close enough to DC for me. This guy has more years spent in jail than Bow Wow's had in the world. If he doesn't walk away with this one I'm going to be very disappointed in all of you.

Western Conference

(1)San Antonio Mike Jones - - the worst disgrace of a rapper of all time, for the worst disgrace of a basketball player of all time (ie. Manu). Seems fitting.
(8)Sacremento Ron Artest - - The Kings traded for the Tru Worrier this season, and managed to only slightly improve their ranking in the Rap world. I guess it's because he was spending too much time trying to teach math classes in elementary schools throughout the country, and not enough on his mad lyrics.

(2) Phoenix NastyBoy Klick - - Read the article in that link, it explains everything.
(7) LA Lakers Run DMC - - I know that they aren't from LA, but since the Lakers were unable to buy up aging talent to help Kobe this year, I thought I would do it for them in this medium. Lakers fans need some sort of consolation this year.)

(3)Denver Faz Brayke - - How could I not pick Faz Brayke for a basketball piece? It just couldn't be done.
(6)LA Clippers Hed (PE) - - My personal favourites on this list, depending on the day they can lay out radio hits like Bartender, or slap you with stuff that couldn't dream of mainstream play like Crazy Legs or Amerikan beauty. Sounds fitting for the Clippers to me.

(4) Dallas Chamillionaire - - Sorry Dallas, but I had to borrow from Houstons hot Rap scene for a lack of any real Dallas presence that I could think of. Chamillionaire may have the all time stupidest Rap name, but he does lay down some mad lyrics, yo.
(5) Memphis Young Buck - - Always middle of the pack. Not likely to be going anywhere big, but you also know that they're not going away any time soon either. Now it's your turn to guess - was I describing the Grizzlies, or Young Buck? Heck, I'm not even sure.

Brotherly Love?

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Here is where a real disparity in sports exists. Ron Artest rode his name to a suspension by brushing Ginobli's ugly face with an elbow, an incident that wasn't even a flagrant foul or anything. Denis Gauthier, on the other hand, took Thomas Vanek hard from behind into the boards, in a game that was already decided and out of hand. He got got 5 minutes and a game misconduct on the disgusting play. Was he suspended? Not a chance. What makes it worse is that this was his second such hit in the last month. He was suspended two games last time for his hit from behind on Toronto's Kyle Wellwood, and apparently didn't learn his lesson. From the front office, to the coaching staff, right through to the goons in the lineup, the Philadelphia Flyers have been a classless organization for years, and if they don't start punishing them for their actions it won't ever stop. The league does not need incidents like this in games that are out of control.

After the game, Lindy Ruff said the Flyers were acting like idiots, and I'm not sure there is anyway to argue with that, in their drawing 17 penalties in the course of the game. What did Big Fat ken Hitchcock have to say after the game? He had to have agreed that his group played like idiots, right? He certainly went on the normal coaches tirade about his team taking stupid penalties, and not focusing, and how letting a team beat them 8-1 is unacceptable, etc etc, right? Not the BFK! Instead he thought his team acted suitably, and even commented about Lindy calling them idiots by saying "That's Lindy's opinion," Hitchcock said. "I've seen his teams do the same thing. So he ought not to talk about that."

Maybe I missed something. Can someone share with me when the Sabres have done something like that? It's unbelievable the way the Flyers handle themselves, especially the office staff. They have some great talent on their team, but every year they blow it in the playoffs. The blame usually falls on the goalies, and the main reason for that is that the organization knows nothing about goaltending. When was the last time they had a #1 goalie who was number 1 all year and allowed to build the confidence needed in that position? The reality is that it is NOT the 70's anymore, and you can't go out there in the playoffs like the Broad Street Bullies and expect to be successful. Until someone gets that message into Booby Clarke's head, as talented as the Flyers are they are NEVER going anywhere. If I were a Flyers fan I would be beyond pissed off at this point. They have gone way beyond the realm of anything resembling acceptable

Tuesday, April 25, 2006 

Dealing With Your Crap

Today I’m going to handle a couple of the questions that people have been sending my way. Today's installment is something that Internet people typically call "the mailbag". As I've said before that’s dumb. I didn't receive anything physically in the mail, and certainly not a bag. But I have received a lot of crap in my inbox, so now it's time to get through some of it.

Was Jagrs Move the Stupidest Move Ever?

I'm going to have to go with no on this one, but only because I can still remember the pain of the Half-a Man Araujo draft like it was yesterday. It certainly is up there, though, because Jagr had the puck at the time, so what could he have possibly been thinking in taking his hand off his stick to throw a straight-arm at the little devil? The whole basis was without warrant, but then he goes on to not only miss the attempted attack, but also injure himself and put an end to the New York Rangers entire season. It's like that quiet kid in class who gets picked on all the time and finally loses it and decides to go after his bullies with one of those sissy punches that comprise the extent of his arsenal, only to inevitably be put in the nurses office as a result. Actually, now that I look at what I just wrote, I change my mind. In one selfish move that he couldn't manage to pull off, he single-handily ended a teams entire season. It was, in fact, the stupidest move ever. He has unseated Rob Babcock. Now that is impressive.

You think the leafs didn't make the playoffs because mccabe got injured?

Surprisingly yes, I think a team that finished 2 points out of the playoffs missed the playoffs because of an 8 game losing streak. I see how that could come as a shock to you, but they just needed to be 1-6-1 in that run in order to be in, and yes I think their most offensive defenseman could have made up that difference.

Did You Get Enough Money To Go To Mark Messier's Leadership Camp Yet?

No, sadly my donation total has come up slightly short thus far. There is still hope, though, so please continue donating money to my cause: The Send Kent to Messier Leadership Camp Fund. Paypal your donations to We thank you in advance for your kindness. With your help, one day this dream will come true.

Who Was Your Vote For Rucchin of the Year?

I have to go with the people on this one. Cheechoo is the first 50 goal Rucchin since the good old days. You can't argue with that kind of borrowed success.

When Do We Get To Vote On the 7 Sutherbies?

I must say, I don't understand what this would even mean, but I have already thrown my support towards the King Sutherby. It's Willsie for mayor as far as I'm concerned. Nonetheless, whoever left that comment please elaborate on what you meant. If there is a way we can incorporate the Sutherby's into a vote somehow, I'm all for it!

we love you sports guy! kiss!

OK, I know that wasn't a question, but it's always nice to feel loved. Keep the love coming SGroupiesN!

Why Haven't You Done Anything About the NBA Playoffs Yet?

This is a fair question, I suppose. My coverage is usually spread somewhat evenly between the sports of interest in North America (outside of NASCAR, of course). Lately I have been almost exclusively covering hockey, and some of you are understandably wondering why that is. But it's simple, there is nothing going on in the NBA right now. Once the playoffs actually start next week, then I'll get to paying attention to yes.

The thing about the NBA is that there are always at most 4 teams in each conference with a real shot. Year after year after year the first round is meaningless. I "could" have done predictions for the first round, but the reality of it is that it would have looked like this:

Eastern Conference
Detroit over Milwaukee in 5
Miami over Chicago in 5
Indiana over New Jersey in 5
Cleveland over Washington in 5

Western Conference
Clippers over Denver in 5
Phoenix over Lakers in 5
Dallas over Memphis in 5
San Antonio over Sac Daddy in 5

See, boring stuff all around. I would have probably said something about Artest having to play against the original soccer hero, Ginobli, making it the only first round draw that would have been impossible for Sacremento to overcome. The reason being is that I couldn't get through 3 games against Ginobli without having to elbow him in the face, so I can't imagine Artest making it through 5. As it turns out, he couldn't even make it through one.

To be fair, what went down should have been anything but a suspension. Only the most lethal combination of circumstances could have lead to it. Take one person who the league is always going to be looking for any reason to punish, add to it a soccer player diving through the air and rolling around like he got shot, only to miraculously have no ill effects 2 minutes later, and you have yourselves the recipe for an unwarranted suspension, not to mention the end of the Kings hot run. The only thing that could have made the first round interesting is pretty much over, so back over to hockey I go.

The Sharks? Are You Nuts?

I really don't see why people still can't see that the Sharks are for real. What more would they have to do? They had one of the best records in the league after a terrible start, the had the league scoring leader, the league goal scoring leader, a goalie with a 23-7 record (and the only playoff shutout so far, by the way) and Nashville as a first round opponent. If you aren't seeing San Jose as a favourite, then that sounds like a problem with you, and no reason to question me about this anymore.

Can You Explain the NHL Playoff Seeding?

Well, OK. Here is a basic NHL playoff seeding explanation:

it is not a true bracket, that is to say that you don't know what series your next round opponent will be coming from. To start, the winners of the three divisions in the conference are seeded 1, 2 and 3 based on their points. After that, the 5 other teams with the most points get the 4 through 8 seed, no matter what division they are from. This means the 4th and even 5th seeded teams could have more points than the 3rd seed.

Anyway, as normal the 1 plays the 8, 2 plays 7 and so on. Once every series is finished, whichever team has the highest rank plays the team remaining with the lowest rank. That is to say, if the 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 8th seeded teams each won, then 2 would play 8 and 3 would play 5. That is how the NHL seeds teams in the second round. I hope this helps.

Who Are You Calling A Tramp, You Hoar? I'll Bitch You Down!

I don't think that comment was intended for me, but I can't run the risk of inadvertently being bitched down some day. I am not the kind of person who can handle a bitching in the downward style. So I'm going to apologize to whomever wrote that, and I will try to do whatever i can in the future to stay on your good side. Just please, keep your down bitches to yourself.

Do You Have A Man-Crush On Insert Name Here

Whoever keeps asking this question, please stop already. I don't have a man-crush on anyone. I don't even know what a man crush is, but I'm fairly certain that whatever it is, I don't have it. I do, however, appreciate the rookie season that Alex Ovechkin had, and I think it will go down as one of the top 5 rookie seasons of all time. I also feel that Elias is the reason the Devils are the team they are right now. Neither of these things have anything to do with a crush, so lets just let that go already.

Why Do You Hate Canada?

Another common misconception around these parts seems to be that I hate Canada. People do draw strange conclusions sometimes. I called Vancouver to miss the playoffs in January because the had a borderline team as it was, and then they ran into injury problems. They and the Kings were the 4 and 5 seeds at the time, but it was obvious to me that they were done. It had nothing to do with what country they play in. I mean, you don't see my American readers asking me why I hate America since I said the Kings would miss the playoffs. It's just not a normal conclusion.

As for my playoff picks, saying that San Jose, Detroit and New Jersey had the best odds of winning the Cup instead of Ottawa, Calgary and Edmonton, I apologize. I forgot about the National pastime of blindly cheering for all Canadian teams once the playoffs come around, even if it's your teams normal arch rival. I've never quite understood where the natural tendency in Canadians to do this comes from, but it seems to be ingrained in the entire population. I guess that's why the CFL's popularity has been growing so much in recent years - every year "your" team is guaranteed to win! God bless Canadians.

You Are Such A Closet Leaf Fan

So I hate all Canadian teams, but I'm a huge Leaf Fan. I understand. But to dispell some of those rumours anyway, here is a Best Buy commercial that I came upon over at Chris Young's blog on

Sorry mom.

Are You the Son of Sports Guy

I don't actually know what this question means, so I'll turn it around to you guys - what does this mean? I get asked about Son of Sports Guy all the time, and I never know whats going on. Nor have I ever cared to ask, but enough is enough and now I want to know. Who is the Son of Sports guy, and why is everyone always looking for him?

If you have this answer, or if you have any questions for Sports Guy North, email him at

Sunday, April 23, 2006 

Patrick Elias - No, It's Not A Man-Crush

Elias Watch

Some days everything comes together. You wake up in the morning a minute before your alarm goes off, only to find that your gorgeous girlfriend has french toast and bacon waiting for you, wearing nothing but a smile and the syrup for your toast. After a while, she goes off to her 6-figure job, leaving you to watch sports and cartoons all day in your underwear. I'd describe where it goes from there, but I think you all get the gist of it. Some day’s life just seems to revolve around you.

That is the kind of day Patrick Elias had.

I may be letting my Devil's fan roots be shining through here, but when you have a day like that, you deserve to have a whole post to yourself.

The scene was set for Elias’ return from injury at the start of January. Patrick missed the first 3 months of the season while recovering from Hepatitis. Most people assumed that his game would have lost a step due to the illness, but he made an immediate impact in the Devils lineup. Scoring 16 points in 10 games and leading the Devils to an immediate 8 straight wins and into a playoff position. As the season went on, he finished with 45 points in 38 games, and the Devils came from just outside of the playoffs up to the number 3 seed in the East. I’ve said many times before that Elias is one of the most under rated impact players in the league, and one of only a handful of guys whose presence in the lineup can turn games around on a regular basis

Going into the playoff, some people still had their doubts about Patrick and the Devils. Even the JF himself asked me if he was the only person who thought the Rangers would take out the Devils. My reply to him was simple – he should be. I went on to explain that:

“Lundqvist isn’t 100% and looked awful in his one game he came back in. They went 7-15 to finish off the year, while the Devils won 11 straight and against top teams - Ott, Buf, Phi, Pit, Pit, Mtl, NYR, Car, Phi, Phi, Mtl. Plus they have Brodeur and Elias. Jagr can get a couple games, maybe, but they don’t have a shot. Not even slightly.

As far as Lundqvist goes, rookie goalies tend to not handle coming back from time off well. I’m not sure why, but they can’t. The series wont go well for NYR at all.”

With that, the stage was set for Elias to start his run at the Conn Smyth Trophy. He did anything but disappoint in his first game. Patrick scored 2 of the Devils record setting 5 power play goals, and assisted on 4 others as the Devil’s won their 12th straight game 6-1.

How a coach could let his team play such an undisciplined game in the playoffs is beyond me. At one point Malik even took at shot at someone’s face right in front of the referees gaze. It was one of the most selfish games I’ve seen players on a team play, and the Devil’s certainly made them pay for their mistakes going 5 for 13 with the man advantage. What’s worse is one of their selfish plays cost them their top player. On the final goal of the game, Jagr took a swipe at Scott Gomez, and managed to injure himself in the process. This is horrible news for a team that has a lot of trouble finding the net lately, even with Jagr in the lineup.

On a positive note for the Rangers, Steve Rucchin was back in the lineup for this game after missing seven matches with a broken foot. The confusing part of his return is that he only played 40 seconds on the penalty kill, while Blair Betts centered nearly 11 minutes of the time. It’s a wonder that 5 power play goals were scored with that kind of thinking going on. I’m hoping it’s just because he’s not at 100% yet, and once the game got out of hand they didn’t see the use in risking having him out there. If you’re not going to have him killing penalties, why exactly are they paying Rucchin to be on the team?

In other games on Saturday, it was Colorado 5 Dallas 2, Montreal 6 Carolina 1, and in the only exciting game of the day, Buffalo took Philadelphia 3-2 in double overtime. Robert Esche stopped 55 of 58 in the losing effort, showing that he did indeed deserve the nod for the playoffs. It is Philadelphia, though, and they have a tendency to turn on their goalies at the drop of a hat. Look up Vanbiesbrook, Cechmanek and any other goalie you can think of’s stats in the series that got them blown out of town. You can almost count on something similar happening this year; it’s almost an annual tradition in Philadelphia at this point.

Saturday, April 22, 2006 

Notes of Note

Another weeks over, and I am exhausted. That can only mean one thing – it’s time again for the great nation of Hungary’s favourite new feature, Notes of Note.

Mets News – Kaz’s Home Run Derby

Kaz Matsui was reactivated off the 15 day DL to make his first start of the season the other day, and had what has become his typical start to the season – a home run in his first at bat. He has done this in his first three seasons in the league to set the record to start a career, and is the first person to lead off 3 straight seasons this way since Ken Griffey Jr. from 1997-1999. There are a couple of points that make this a little bit more spectacular. Firstly, this year’s lead off home run was an inside the park job off of Padres ace Jake Peavy, the first inside the park home run of his career. On top of that, in his career Matsui only has 11 home runs, despite being on pace for 162 each season after the first game. A 5 home run a season guy getting one in his first at bat 3 straight seasons is about as improbably as you can get in baseball.

More Mets News – God’s Chosen Julio

Speaking of which, this game also brought another improbability to note: Julio Franco is still playing baseball. Honestly, he is. He broke into the league a few decades back, long before my fiancé was born, and now at the age of 47 he has become the oldest player to ever hit a home run. He was already the oldest player to hit a grand slam, a pinch-hit homerun, and to have a multi-homerun game. Adding this new accolade gives him the all-time gerontological grand slam. And he’s not finished yet. Franco was signed to a two-year contract, despite the fact that he turns 48 in August, and is hoping to be the first player to ever hit a home run in his 50’s.

"God gave me the great gift to play the game of baseball, and I want to play until I'm 50. If He gives me two more years, don't you think He's going to give me another one?"

God works in mysterious ways, and apparently he’s a huge Julio fan. If he’s available still in your fantasy league, jump on this future star now. How can you argue with his biggest fan?

Hockey Playoffs Day One

As the playoffs get underway, a trivia question was brought to my attention (somewhat painfully). Who was the last player to score a hat trick on the opening night of the playoffs? That’s right, it was Alex Mogilny. I can’t wait to see how he does tomorrow when the Devils series gets underway. Because he is playing, right? Right?

Calgary 2 Anaheim 1 (OT) – Groin Watch Edition

There’s a picture on the right of a jock, and that can only mean one thing this season – another groin bites the dust. J-S Giguere is the newest victim of this year’s injury fad. I called Anaheim to take this series, but then due to this injury, an inexperienced Ilya Bryzgalov found himself in net today. Clearly Julio’s number one fan, as he shall now be known, is conspiring against me, and my desire to not have to watch many Flames games.

Anyway, the Ducks but up a great fight, but eventually let it slip away in overtime as Darren McCarty scored 9:45 into the first extra period. You have to wonder just how much money he had on that result. I’m sure it would have paid off at least 500 to 1 for him.

Ottawa 4 Tampa Bay 1

What? Ottawa blew away the Lightning? How could anyone have seen that coming? Certainly not Scott Burnside (it’s still not fair). Alas, the Lightning were out-classed, and out-matched. For most of the game it almost felt like the Sens were just toying with them. I’m pretty certain, actually, that they were.

Nashville 4 San Jose 3

I’m sure everyone will be quick to point out that my Stanley Cup pick dropped their first match of the post season. Well, the thing is that sometimes Paul Kariya has games like that. Sometimes he can still conjure up memories from his days on Steve Rucchin and that other guy’s line, and he can have a 4-point night. Sometimes, however, isn’t 4 times out of 7. Toskala and the boys will still finish this one off in 6.

Detroit 3 Edmonton 2 (Double OT)

Watching this game I was reminded of a couple of points that have been plaguing me for years. First off, I was reminded of why I have been calling for Dwayne Rolloson to be a number one goalie for years now. Dwayner stopped 54 of 57 shots, and stood on his head as the only reason that Edmonton was even in this game. Through 4 and a little bit periods Edmonton only managed 25 shots on net, and couldn’t keep up with the speed of the Red Wings game. Don’t get me wrong, it was a fun fast game all around, but the ice certainly was tipped to one end.

Secondly, I was reminded of the Chris Pronger effect. Pronger, not surprisingly, was out for all three Detroit goals. The Wings come out of the corner and into the zone with speed. There is nothing that Chris can do to counteract that. Of note out of many samples, early in overtime, Lang was coming out of the corner. For some reason, Pronger threw his whole body onto the ice, which might not be a bad idea since if he were standing there would be no way he’d stop Lang and not take a penalty. Lang, however, still found his way through the sprawling mass, and had the best scoring chance of the first overtime. In that instance, Chris was bailed out by Rollosson, as he was most of the night until the second overtime. Pronger followed a puck around the boards that he couldn’t reach, instead of going to his guy, a play that you would bench an 11-year-old over. The puck, then, found its way to his man, and long before he could get there in a very slow attempt, the puck was thrown on net, found a bad bounce and went in. The other 2 goals involved Pronger standing there as his guy put the puck in the net.

This is Chris Pronger’s game. Come out of the corner on him, and do whatever you want. And this guy won an MVP award at one point. Have I mentioned before how wrong something like that is?

Shout Outs for Shout Outs

This past week me and/or my blog found it’s way to be mentioned all over the interweb. I thought I’d finish off this week’s edition of Note of Note by returning the favour, and linking up some links to the places that linked me for linking purposes. Link.

There were the normal call outs from my friends at Vancouver Canucks Op Ed, whose normally classy blog has recently turned into Anti-Oilers central. Since Mister Pronger finds himself playing for the Oil these days, this means that they are quickly becoming even better friends of mine. Really, though, if their blog hasn’t been on your normal read list, you are missing out. They give sports bloggers everywhere a great name. On the other hand, the boys over at Forward Progress took yet another shot at Red Heads, so of course my name was rolled through the mud over there again. It was also the Rucchin time of year again (remember to get your votes in soon, try to slow Cheechoo’s domination if you can) so that was mentioned and debated in different message boards, and drew attention elsewhere like on the Toronto Stars page. If you aren’t familiar with Chris Young’s Jabs, then you are really missing out. He is one of the very very few people in the mainstream media who actually takes the time to read other blogs and actually be involved in the Blogging community, whatever that might be. His ideas are creative, and his posts happen with extreme regularity. What he is doing for the Star is the mould that all other media outlets should be striving for in their blogs. A top-notch job from a top-notch guy.

But the strangest one of all was on what appears to be a cities blog. It’s apparently a sight dedicated to the city where that racist soccer player I mentioned plays. They seem to just throw links on to any mention of their city that exists on the interweb. What I wrote about wasn’t exactly positive, so it would seem to me that they don’t really screen what they print. Knowing me, I can’t resist the urge to test that theory. For that reason, I’m going to Caxias do sul as soon as I can. I hear that it stinks so much in Caxias do sul, everyone has to wear nose plugs and capes all the time. I want to go make sure it’s true, and take pictures of the favourite pass time of Caxias do sul – midget tossing. Most importantly, Caxias do sul is the birthplace of both Spam and Chubb, so how can I resist? I’ll be sure to let you all know how my experiment goes.

Friday, April 21, 2006 

What Do Pat Quinn's Career and the Regular Season Have In Common?

2006 NHL Playoff Bracket

With the playoffs set to get underway, and my awards ceremony behind us, it's time now to focus on the upcoming NHL Playoff Matchups. The first round has a couple of interesting match ups, primarily between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Buffalo Sabres, and between the Calgary Flames and the Anaheim Mighty Ducks. To me, at least, the other series seem quite predictable, although I'm sure like every other year there will be some surprises in store. That's the great thing about sports - they aren't played on paper. That's why leagues that are worth watching have playoffs, not just final standings.

Eastern Conference

(1) Ottawa vs (8) Tampa Bay
Heatley, Spezza, Alfredson, Havlat, Chara, Redden, Phillips, Meszaros, Emery/Hasek. And Scott Burnside over at ESPN actually picked the Senators to lose to a Grahame/Burke mess in net. That's a spectacular mistake. How can someone like him have a sports writing job, but here I sit writing this thing on my own time? It's not fair. It's like when I watch Berg and Belak "play defense", or see John Ferguson Jr "GMing" without being given the chance to do either myself. It's just not fair. Senators in 6.

(2) Carolina vs (7) Montreal
A couple weeks ago when I was looking forward at the playoff picture I had this to say about Montreal: "Montreal - Best Case Ottawa, Worst Case Carolina. The Habs do not want the Caines. Trust me. It would be over fast". Well, you gotta dance with the one who brung ya, so I gotta stay true. Hurricaines in 5.

(3) New Jersey vs (6) New York Rangers
The Devils set the NHL record for longest win streak to end a season, by finishing with 11 straight wins. The way Brodeur and Elias are playing right now, it's hard to imagine that streak not continuing for a couple more games. Rookie of the year candidate Lundqvist made the Rangers season, as was evidenced by their slide to the 6th spot at the end of the year. Without him at 100% the Rangers are sunk. Jagr can pull a couple games out of his pocket, though. Devils in 6.

(4) Buffalo vs (5) Philadelphia
A Buffalo Philly playoff series yet again. How many times are we going to have to pretend to care about a Buffalo Philly series? At least, for once, I didn't buy tickets to a game in the series (which means my mom got an Easter present for once that wasn't playoff tickets). It could go either way, so I'll say Philadelphia will take this one since everyone else is taking the Sabres and I like being different. Besides, we've all seen what Forsberg is capable of doing in the playoffs. Flyers in 7.

Western Conference

(1) Detroit vs (8) Edmonton
Let the destruction begin, although the Wings leading scoring, Datsyuk, is going to miss at least the first game of this one. That will help a bit, but with a mismatch like in this series, it's not going to matter. Pronger, remember, plays in Edmonton, and the playoffs are where his defensive deficiencies shine. Unless the IR grows to include Legace, Lidstrom and Zetterberg, this one will be over before it starts. Red Wings in 5.

(2) Dallas vs (7) Colorado
This will be a good and, and in the end the series will go to the better goalie. If Aebischer was still in Colorado, I might be more inclined to swing their way, but there are way too many questions right now about both goalies left in the mountains. Add to that Jason Arnott, Brenden Morrow and Sergei Zubov's amazing years and Dallas should have no trouble in this series. Stars in 6.

(3) Calgary vs (6) Anaheim
Calgary Calgary Calgary. Phaneuf is this. Kiprusoff that. Stanley Cup run this. Quack quack quack, Mister Duckswerth. Ducks in 7.

(4) Nashville vs (5) San Jose
After Joe's arrival, the Sharks have been arguably the best team in the league. The Preds rode Vokoun to a great record, and then lost him. You're tired by now of hearing this same stuff over and over so I'll make it simple. Sharks in 6.

RIP Paddy Q

Some other notes from today to take care of before calling it a night - the firings. The Leafs got it wrong in firing their coach and not their GM, and the Kings got it wrong by firing their GM and not just giving it another year to build. They don't have a bad team in LA, just one that wasn't ready yet. And they need to get rid of the distraction himself in Avery. Once Labarbera has another year of experience and gets his head in the right gear, he will be one of the best, and the Kings will be competitive. I liked their rebuilding in LA, but lack of results for one year means a job lost, as Pat Quinn knows very well. If McCabe hadn't got injured the team would be in the playoffs right now, and Quinns job would be secure until the next "emergency" in Toronto. The problems with the Leafs are by no means his fault. The front office staff, and particularly the GM in Toronto have no idea what's going on. Not really rebuilding, not really going for it now, not allowing young guys to develop unless there are injuries, and a trading deadline that saw a real defenseman (Klee) leave down for a Luke (Richardson). It was like bringing Keith Carney into Vancouver and pretending that was a good pickup to solidify the defense. It doesn't make sense, and at least to me that was transparent from a 3000 miles away. The GM's in these cities need to be destroyed. Not just replaced, but literally destroyed. They shouldn't be allowed to mess with NHL teams ever again. The fans just deserve better.

So, what did we learn from all of this? If you're a GM and you decide to rebuild, your team will improve and show hope for the future (ie. LA Kings, Toronto Raptors), but you will lose your job in the process (ie. LA Kings, Toronto Raptors). If you don't rebuild, and stick with the guys in place who had some success in the past but clearly can't cut it anymore, your job will be spared because you can blame the coach (ie. Toronto Maple Leafs). "These guys were fine before, he must have just lost his touch behind the bench". It's disgusting, and I really just don't understand how front office staffs, especially MLSE, can be so blind to reality over and over again. I need to move out of Toronto. It's the only way to relieve my frustration. I hear East Rutherford is a nice town.

Thursday, April 20, 2006 

2006 NHL Award Winners

We find ourselves in the small amount of downtime between the NHL's regular season and the big show, and I noticed that there wasn't nearly enough hockey talk out there to fill the dead air. For that reason, I've decided to dedicate my post today to the NHL by making my choices for all of the NHL awards for the regular season. So, here now are Sports Guy North's 2006 NHL Award Winners.

Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy
League Leader in Goals
Pre-Season Pick: Dany Heatley
Mid-Season Winner: Ilya Kovalchuk
2006 Award Winner: Joe Thornton

I know what you're thinking: "What the H-E-double hockey sticks is he talking about? It was Jonathan Cheechoo who lead the league in goals. Is Sports Guy North on drugs?" Well no, I am not on drugs. Nor have I ever been on drugs. Heck, I don't even drink so that's not it either. The thing is that you're wrong if you think Cheechoo lead the league in goals. 17 goals does not lead the league by a long shot. Thornton had his 29 goals, plus the 36 he banked in off of Cheechoo for a total of 65 goals, coming well ahead of Jagr in second place with 54. Ovechkin and Kovalchuk tied for third with 52.
Dany Heatley was my pick before the season started, because in combination with 2 of Ottawa's top guys helping to feed him the puck, he was a guaranteed 50 goal scorer, and another 50 assists as well, as I will mention below. How people thought Atlanta got the best of that deal will forever confuse me. He is, and will be for many years to come, a valid MVP candidate. At mid season I predicted that Ilya and Ovechkin would battle for the lead, and while their battle did end in a tie, I did not account for Thornton's huge surge towards the playoffs and his first MVP award.

Lester B. Pearson Award
MVP As Voted By the Players Association
Pre-Season Pick: Dany Heatley
Mid-Season Winner: Bryan McCabe
2006 Award Winner: Joe Thornton

Apparently before the season started I was on a huge Dany Heatley kick. His name will come up more than a few times in this process. At the half way point of the season, Bryan McCabe was the leafs team. No one was more valuable to their team. At the time I said "Imagine that team (the Capitals) without him (Ovechkin). The same can be said for Palffy and McCabe, however, two scenarios which we are going to find out about now. These are two teams that are in a lot of trouble without their stars, which is the big reason they are in the MVP running for the first half." The Leafs more than proved me right by going on an 8 game losing streak without McCabe, completely taking them out of the playoff picture. That injury did change the course of the season, however, and McCabe fell off the face of the MVP race.

The other main contenders for this award were Jaromir Jagr, whose Rangers slipped at the end of the season all the way to the #6 seed, and Alex Ovechkin. The Russian President was so important to his team that he fell just short of the ultimate dream of having more goals (52) and assists (54) than anyone else on his team had points (Zubrus finished with 57). I predicted at mid season that Staal and Thornton would likely fight for MVP rights by the end of the year. Eric Staal, probably undeservedly, fell out of the spotlight as Joe Thornton took the Sharks from well out of the playoffs to one of the top 2 (arguably 3) teams in the west going into the playoffs. You'd be hard pressed to find anyone not taking the Sharks in the first round. This is a team that everyone gave up on before Joe's arrival. For this reason, among many others, he is the one and only MVP this year. Hands down.

Frank J. Selke Trophy
Best Defensive Forward
Pre-Season Pick: Mike Knuble
Mid-Season Winner: Brenden Morrow
2006 Award Winner: Brenden Morrow

The race in this one will be tight, and could go any way in the real voting. For me, Mike Knuble has been the strongest defensive forward in the league for 3 seasons now, so I don't feel I need to justify that pick. Brenden Morrow, on the other hand, is probably way off everyone's radar for this award still. Most people would argue Modano for this award if you're looking at a Dallas player, but given the choice of battling Mike or Brenden for a puck, or trying to go around or through one, which would you pick? Morrow is a lot more willing to stand his ground at any cost, and had been doing an excellent job of it this year. He'll always come back, and knows what he's doing when he does. You can't argue with that kind of performance, it's more that Chris Pronger can say for himself defensively, and he's supposed to be a defenseman. Runner ups are Martin Gelinas, Mike Knuble and Mike Fisher.

Jack Adams Award
Coach of the Year
Pre-Season Pick: Randy Carlyle
Mid-Season Winner: Lindy Ruff
2006 Award Winner: Lindy Ruff

Lindy Ruff has done way too much with way too little. There is no other explanation than him for the Sabres success, and it's really no surprise. He has been coaching Buffalo since 1997, and in that time has had a better than .500 record with a complete lack of talent outside of the crease. He gets a strong effort out of every player every night. When the team was in trouble near the end of the season, he did what he had to, grabbed onto the Tucker incident and used it to propel the team again. You may or may not agree with what he said, but you can't argue with the results. Hands down winner, with special mention also to Tom Renney for doing something other coaches have failed to do: get Jaromir Jagr to seem interested in playing day-in and day-out. He managed to do it all year, even, but the slide to 6th will be enough to keep him from the award. Ruff hangs on to as predicted at mid-season.

King Clancy Memorial Trophy
On and Off Ice Leadership
Pre-Season Pick: Mark Messier
Mid-Season Winner: Mark Messier
2006 Award Winner: Mark Messier

Leadership of his godly levels survives retirement. He will be the true, and only leader forever. I only hope to one day bask in such leadership. Feel free to continue donating money to my cause: The Send Kent to Messier Leadership Camp Fund. Paypal your donations to We thank you in advance for your kindness. With your help, one day this dream will come true.

Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy
Perseverance and Dedication to Hockey
Pre-Season Pick: Patrick Elias
Mid-Season Winner: Patrick Elias
2006 Award Winner: Patrick Elias

This award always goes to someone coming off of an injury of some sort. If there is a disease involved then it is a mortal lock. Elias was bound to both come back, and to dominate at some point during the year. When he did come back, he turned around a team battling for the last playoff spot to the #3 seed. He elevated everyones play, and scored as he is known to do. Had he played all year, he too would be in the MVP consideration. The award was, and is, obviously his.

William M. Jennings Trophy
Goalies on Team with Fewest Goals Against
Pre-Season Pick: Dominik Hasek
Mid-Season Winner: Domink Hasek/Ray Emery
2006 Award Winner: Miikka Kiprusoff

Kiprusoff rode Haseks injury, and some solid play down the stretch, to steal this award from the Hasek/Emery tandem. The Patrick Roy trophy appeared to be on its way back to Hasek this year, but the boring play of the Calgary Flames helped solidify this result. Hopefully there won't be 4 rounds of watching them play this year, though, and the Ducks are a great first attempt at taking the boys down.

Vezina Trophy
Outstanding Goalkeeper
Pre-Season Pick: Dominik Hasek
Mid-Season Winner: Dominik Hasek
2006 Award Winner: Miikka Kiprusoff

As is true about the Dominik Hasek award. From the moment he signed with Ottawa on, this one was a lock in my books. There was no denying Hasek his 7th career Vazina trophy, to tie him with Jacques Plantes for the all time record. Nothing but an injury, that is. Don't worry, though, I won't use this as a place to yet again bring up my thoughts on having international competitions in the middle of an NHL season, and especially in the playoff drive. When the Sens bow out early, everyone in Ottawa will be on my side.

With Hasek out of the running, I looked for absolutely anyone else to give this award to. Brodeur had a lot of wins, but his numbers weren't up to par this year. Manny Fernandez had a spectacular first half, but his play really dropped off after his little buddy was traded to Edmonton. Huet didnt start soon enough, Gerber's stats weren't as strong as they should have been. By default, Miika is the vezina winner this year. There's no way around it.

Conn Smythe Trophy
Playoffs MVP
Pre-Season Pick: Dominik Hasek
Mid-Season Prediction: Daniel Alfredson
2006 Award Winner: Joe Thonrton

Hasek looked to be primed to carry the Sens to the Cup this year, but injuries have taken away any real chance of that. All things equal, Alfy then deserves the award. He has been this teams leader right from the start, and suffered through all the adversity placed upon him because of it. If the Sens do end up going all the way, this will finaly be his year. Datsyuk, Lidstom and Legace will duke it out if the Red Wings win the Cup as expected. But I'm going out on a limb here, and I'm calling the Sharks this years Stanley Cup Champions, and Joe Thornton the easy playoff MVP if that happens.

Calder Memorial Trophy
Rookie of the Year
Pre-Season Pick: Sidney Crosby
Mid-Season Winner: Alex Ovechkin
2006 Award Winner: Alex Ovechkin

Crosby was probably everybody's pre-season front-runner, but Vechky quickly took control. The race was somewhat close for a while, but in the middle of the season Alex looked to already be in a class above Crosby. Have you heard anyone mention Crosby's name in MVP talks? Not likely. This is the clear difference between their rookie campaigns. Ovechkin is the rookie of the year, but Crosby's run to nearly catch Alex in scoring will make the vote a close one again. The race for runner up is an interesting one this year. Lundqvist, Meszaros (a defenseman at +34 in a rookie season is ridiculous), Svatos and Crosby would easily be winners in any other season. Thats not to mention Michalek, Phaneuf, Steen, Tyutin, Seabrook, Vanek, Prucha, Boyes, Wellwood, Vorobiev, Whitney, Ouellet, et Al. I have never seen a rookie crop like this years. It is the stuff that dreams are made of, and should give us all an over-abundance of hope for the future of the league. It has been an exciting year, and many of the names listed will be hoping for the same success as their first playoff run gets underway.

Lady Byng Memorial Trophy
Biggest Pussy
Pre-Season Pick: Pavel Datsyuk
Mid-Season Winner: Brad Richards
2006 Award Winner: Steve Rucchin
Who cares?

James Norris Memorial Trophy
Best Defenseman
Pre-Season Pick: Wade Redden
Mid-Season Winner: Bryan McCabe
2006 Award Winner: Niklas Lidstrom

Wade Redden is strong defensively, and offensively, and being on a team that was such a clear front-runner for the Cup made him the early favourite. Injuries late in the year took him out of the running for what should have been his award after Bryan McCabe's injury set in. Lubomir Visnovsky's played slowed down in the second half as well, with all of this coming together to open the door for Lidstrom to walk away with this award. Zubov may give him a run in the voting, but Lidstorm averaged over 28 minutes of ice time this season, and had over 100 more shots on net than Zubov. Zubov may steal it, but it should be Lidstrom's award to lose at this point.

Hart Memorial Trophy
Pre-Season Pick: Dany Heatley
Mid-Season Winner: Bryan McCabe
2006 Award Winner: Joe Thornton

This is pretty much the same as the Lester B Pearson award because I'm speaking in both cases. When it's not player votes, however, Jagr may have a better chance at coming out on top. Could also see a lot more Staal votes this way, but not likely.

Art Ross Trophy
League Leader in Points
Pre-Season Pick: Dany Heatley
Mid-Season Winner: Jaromir Jagr
2006 Award Winner: Joe Thonton

The guaranteed 50 and 50 was enough for me to think Heatley would lead the league in both goals and points. Heatley did exactly as I expected, but 3 others managed to do even more. Thornton found the perfect Rucchin, and soared to the top of the standings with 125 points, followed closlely by Jagr at 123. Ovechkin lead the rookies, finishing third with 106 points, and linemates Alfredson and Heatley tied for 4th with 103.

Prince of Wales Trophy
Eastern Conference Champion
Pre-Season Pick: Ottawa Senators
Mid-Season Prediction: Ottawa Senators
2006 Award Winner: Ottawa Senators

Nothing unexpected here, although Hasek's injury allowed the Hurricaine's to keep it close.

Clarence S. Campbell Bowl
Western Conference Champion
Pre-Season Pick: Detroit Red Wings
Mid-Season Prediction: Detroit Red Wings
2006 Award Winner: Detroit Red Wings

Most people did not pick the Wings at the start of the year. They'll all deny it now, but talk about Legace not cutting it was everywhere, and I just never understood it. Most picked Colorado to miss the playoffs and Phoenix to be in. None of it made sense to me, and it's nice to see in the end that I'm not crazy. It's everyone else that's nuts.

Presidents' Trophy
Best Regular Season Record
Pre-Season Pick: Ottawa Senators
Mid-Season Winner: Ottawa Senators
2006 Award Winner: Detroit Red Wings

Could have gone either way. And it did.

Stanley Cup
League Champs
Pre-Season Pick: Ottawa Senators
Mid-Season Prediction: Ottawa Senators
2006 Award Winner: San Jose Sharks

No matter what I write here, you're all going to question it. So I'm not goign to bother. My ranks for odds to win are 1. San Jose 2. Detroit 3. New Jersey 4. Anaheim 5. Ottawa. Sorry Carolina, Calgary and Dallas fans, it just isn't in the cards this year.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006 

2006 Rucchin of the Year Voting

Rucchin of the Year

It’s the time of year again that Sports Guy North fans look forward to the most. The leaves are blooming, the Leafs are not, the Easter Bunny has come and gone, and the Andrew Peters of the league have been set aside to save their legs for the all important and pivotal 8th game of the first round. That can only mean one thing: It’s time to vote again for this year's Rucchin of the Year. If you’re not familiar with this award, you can find a description here: Rucchin of the Year Nominations. Basically, the award goes to the player who had the best season that had more to do with his linemates, and less to do with his own talents. If you’re still confused, think of the days when Steve Rucchin was playing on a line with Kariya and Selanne at the top of their games, a situation where even my mom could have gotten 50 points. Remember also the goal he scored off of his lid, leading to a concussion and a lot of missed time over his career. Now you’ve got the right idea in your head, so you’re ready now to see the nominations for the 2006 NHL Award for Rucchin of the Year. Remember to pick your candidate wisely this year, as we will be “presenting” the “award” to the “winner”. Think carefully, and then use the poll in the right margin to vote for your Rucchin of the Year.

Martin Straka

A perennial favourite, Straka found himself on a line with one of the leagues best again this year, and really made the most of it. Playing in LA and Pittsburgh last season without a real linemate, Marty put up only 26 points in 54 games. This season, basking in Jagr's glory again, he has 75 points in 81 games. He has also improved from a –43 over the last two seasons, to an impressive +18 this year.

Most people would argue that Straka has had a solid career up to this point which should be sufficient to prove his not a Rucchin. Well, this isn’t the case if you dissect hi actual results themselves. The difference between the 6.5 years where he was able to Rucchin, and the 6.5 years where he wasn't is enourmous. And since they are spread throughout his career, they are not influenced by age or injury. Weighted over an average 82 game season, his statistics are as follows:

Rucchin Years 28 Goals 48 Assists 76 Points
Non-Ruc Years 13 Goals 28 Assists 41 Points

The numbers are staggering, and it's about time that such a dominantly Rucchin-like career is recognized. Somehow he has managed to avoid this honor in the past. What better time than when he is in the lineup with Steve Rucchin himself? Vote for Marty Straka, and give him this long-awaited and fitting culmination to his illustrious career.

Slava Kozlov

Another career Rucchin, Slava's numbers soared to new heights on his arrival in Atlanta. In his three seasons before arriving in Atlanta, he had 36, 38 and 32-point campaigns. His first season in Atlanta, playing with Kovalchuk and Heatley saw him put up 70 points. His second season saw his numbers tail off a bit to 52 points, as Heatley missed 50 games and he was only able to Rucchin off of Kovalchuk’s talent. Throwing Hossa into the mix this year has taken his abilities to new heights, and he finished the season with 70 points in 80 games.

The argument could be made that Slava is just a very inconsistent player, and not really a Rucchin. If you look at his worst slump of the year, however, from March 2 to March 14 where he didn’t register a single point, it was also a time where he found himself not taking a regular shift with either Hossa or Kovalchuk. Coincidence? That’s up to your votes to decide. He was Atlanta’s representative over Marc Savard in the end, because Savard has had an all around decent career. He has been at a point a game pace since arriving in Atlanta, consistent no matter who was on the team at the time. He also had some decent seasons in Calgary before that up until his injury problems.

All in all, Slava seems the more logical Rucchin choice in Atlanta. You tell us now if he has what it takes to go all the way.

Jonathan Cheechoo

Jonathan was the first half’s runaway winner in the Rucchin voting. He had 16 points in 25 games before Thornton's arrival, 77 points in 56 games afterwards. Going further back, even, he had only 63 points in 145 games prior to this season.

Some people argue that Cheechoo has a great shot, but is that really the case? Many people have hard, nice shots, but if someone doesn’t feed them the puck perfectly, it’s not going in the net (Freddy Modin in Toronto comes to mind). writer John Kreisler said it best:

“No one has been helped more by Thornton's arrival than Jonathan Cheechoo, whose 53 goals are a career high. Cheechoo had just seven goals when Thornton arrived from Boston; since then, he's had 46, the most in the NHL during that time. Thornton has assisted on 36 of them, including two in Thursday night's 5-3 victory over Vancouver. Cheechoo's shooting percentage before the trade was 8.3; since the deal, it's 20.5.”

I predicted sometime around the midway point of the season that Jonathan would be the favourite for this award come the end of the season. Only your votes will have the final say in proving me right or slightly less right.

Anson Carter

This underdog just might have enough bite to steal the award. Lost in the hype of the Canucks top line of Naslund, Bertuzzi and Morrison (the teams normal Rucchin candidate) was a soaring, underrated second line. The Sedin twins finaly officially came into their own this year, with Daniel getting 71 points and brother Henrik netting 75 points. Luckily for Anson, he was carried on their backs for their trip to stardom. Here is how Anson himself described his first goal of the year:

``It was a great play by the twins (Henrik Sedin took a pass from his twin brother, Daniel),'' Carter said. ``For me, pretty easy. Just put it in the net. ... A nice little saucer pass right on my stick.''

That pretty much sums up the rest of his year as well. Carter had 33 goals that came tied to 53 Sedin assists. In fact, he only had one unassisted goal on the entire year. Every single other goal had at least one Sedin assist on it. 100% of them. In fact, only 8 of the 61 assists on his goals came from anyone else on the team. Clearly Anson’s stats have at least 90% to do with the play of the Sedins. Statistically, if you deem the Sedin’s play of high enough caliber that someone might be able to Rucchin off of them, then Carter has to be your Rucchin of the Year. There is no way around it. The question becomes, then, are the Sedin’s that good yet?

Mike Knuble

For parts of 2003 and 2004 Knuble played on Boston’s top line and had decent success. Outside of that, however, his career was an offensive mess. He had 40 points in his other 150 games in Boston, and 63 in his other 200 games in the NHL. How is life different playing with Peter Forsberg, you ask? How does 65 points in 81 games sound? After his first 5 seasons in the league he had 69 points, and has come just short of that mark this year alone.

The strangest thing about Mikey’s success is that I can’t think of a single positive thing to say about his offensive play. He’s horrible. He has an iffy shot that he uses far too often, he isn’t fast, he doesn’t have good puck control, he’s questionable in the corners and really doesn’t contribute much. Defensively, I like his game, but that is not what this award is about. If all of the sudden defensive or penalty kill stars like Jim Dowd or Garry Valk were playing on Forsbergs line they’d get 60 points too. And that is what this award is about.

So, those are your nominees. Other candidates of note include Morrison in Vancouver (didn’t quite Rucchin well enough this year, and lagged behind his line. When someone’s lost the ability to Rucchin, and is in a contract year, it’s hard to imagine a reason to bring him back), Tucker in Toronto (I couldn’t include him because I can’t have him win an award. That would justify his position in the league, and as Lindy Ruff said we just can’t have that), and of course Scott Walker who scored a beautiful goal of his head early in the year very reminiscent of the very origin of this award. When all was said and done, however, your 5 Rucchin of the Year nominees stood out above the rest. Vote now and let your voice be heard. The award is primed and ready to go to your choice.

Oh yeah, and as always at election time, take a minute or two to check out It has been updated for his move to Nashville and looks fabulous!

Sunday, April 16, 2006 

Losers, Winners and Something Kinda Both

R.I.P. Leaf Land

Normally I would write a humorous obituary for the Leafs season at this point. This being Easter and all, however, I've decided against it for the sake of my mom's sanity. I feel bad that the Leafs had their mini-run to end the season, because it unrealistically got most Leafers hopes up. Pulling off a big win against Ottawa didn't help either, followed by Carolina managing to come back against Tampa, and getting a powerplay in overtime. Every step along the way just made the inevitable reality that much more painful. When Tampa got penalized I said "Power Plays that are 4 on 3 are dangerous. Especially with Tampa. They get breakaways. I think this is it, the Leafs are officially done." I got a hell of a look for saying that, and a worse one when it came to fruition. For that very reason I am not touching the Leafs in this post with a 50 foot poll. It's just too soon. All I'm going to say is that the 8 games in a row that the Leafs lost when McCabe was injured is what cost them. If they won even half of those games they'd still be battling for 6th right now. They also made a goalie change much too late. Belfour obviously wasn't Eddie anymore, but for some reason the move to Telqvist came too late.

His injury then also opened the door for J-S Aubin to steal the show. Up until recently, Aubin's time in the minor leagues has been almost as big a disgust to me as Mogilny's. In 1998 when he came in the league with Pittsburgh he played 17 games and only lost 6. He played some great hockey in Pittsburgh on some very bad teams, and through it all he managed to keep a .902 save percentage for his career. When the Leafs signed him I remember asking the JF if they were going to be smart enough to use J-S as a starter instead of Eddie. Although he knew they should, he also knew there was no way. I was excited about his signing, though, and am less surprised about his recent play than most. He always looked like a top goalie in Pittsburgh, and it's nice to see him getting the chance to show it again. He and Telqvist will make a great duo next year, and I just hope the Leafs brass will be smart enough to realize that instead of needlessly throwing money somewhere else. Let the rebuilding officially begin (a couple months too late, of course).

Playoff Time

With Tie Domi now setting tee times, the playoff picture is coming more into view (at least in the west), and we even know a couple of the pending match ups. Like every year, not everyone's teams will be making an appearance in the playoffs,but there's always something to cheer for. For me, it's that Detroit wins their series, as I have tickets to game 5 of their second round. I hope also to see them either play Anaheim or San Jose, since those are the top 3 teams, as well as the 3 most entertaining teams in the West. For others, it's cheering against Edmonton for different reasons than I have (ie. perhaps some Canucks fans sympathize with this group). In any event, there's one thing that unites all hockey fans in the playoffs, no matter what rink or golf course their allegiances are playing on: Playoff Hockey Pools.

For those of you out there still looking for pools to get in on, there are a few that come to mind. First off is a normal one, for most Canadians at least: Rogers Sportsnets Playoff Fantasy Hockey. The prizes are semi-decent - $500 at Boston Pizza and a $1,400 TV for first, and other prizes for 2nd to 5th as well as for 1st and 2nd in each individual round. If you're looking for a group to join after you sign up, go for group name "A A A a Sports Guy North" and the password is 123.

A couple of new pools that are new and interesting are on - EBays 2006 Playoff Hockey Pool, and on - Future Shops Free Playoff Hockey Pool. The futureshop pool may not allow groups, but it does have great prizes. $25,000 worth to be exact. The EBay pool requires an EBay user ID, and awards $15,000 in prizes. If you're looking for a group there, go with League Name: EBayoffs and League Password: ebay. Each of the three pools is different in its own way, and offers great prizes. Between the three of them, there should enough to keep you until June, but if you know of any other good ones that I missed, feel free to let me know.

Rucchin of the Year Nominees

Thanks to everyone for their suggestions for Rucchin of the year, there were a lot this year. Hopefully tomorrow I'll get the poll up on my site. As of right now, it looks like the nominees are going to be Cheechoo, Straka, Tucker, Carter, Morrison, Knuble and Kozlov. I think 7 nominees is more than enough. I might cut Tucker and Morrison out by tomorrow and get it down to 5. We'll see. If you disagree with the nominees, or if you have a favourite Rucchin not in the list, hurry up and make your opinions known. If no one makes a good case, then these will be your choices come tomorrow. Consider your vote wisely, we're actually going to be sending an award to the winner this year!

Friday, April 14, 2006 

Stupid Somethings

Brazil + Soccer = ...

Our attentions turn back to a soccer country again today, and you know that means - something stupid happened. In this case, a Brazilian soccer player was charged with racism for chanting "monkey" on the sidelines of his game. TV images showed former AC Roma player Antonio Carlos shouting the term from the sidelines during a game on March 5th, after his hard foul on Gremio midfielder Jeovanio.

It's sad the degree to which racism exists in some people. If ever there was a situation where racism should just never come up, this is it. First off, soccer's governing body FIFA just increased their own anti-racism regulations last month, so its obviously something that they will be strongly looking out for in the next little while. Secondly, last time I checked, half of Brazil's 200 million residents are either black or mixed-race (yes, there is a reason why the hottest girls always seem to be from Brazil. I'm not sure what it is about mixed race girls, but it always turns out right!), so if you're going to be a bigot it just may not be the wisest place to pull that crap. Last, but certainly not least, in Brazil Racism is actually a crime that comes with a 1 to 3 year jail term. I struggle to think of any other way that you could have more thrown in your face trying to convince you to keep your idiot ideas to yourself. Nonetheless, stupidity always prevails. Or is it something else?

While a 1 to 3 year jail term for racism sounds like a harsh punishment, there is a catch. He is a soccer player, and soccer players in a soccer country are like the captain of a football team somewhere in Texas. Rules just don't apply. For instance, Brazil has yet to implement FIFA's racism rules, and on top of that if Carlos is a good enough player, he probably won't even hear a single boo at his next home came. Soccer comes first, even before human degradation. Keep in mind, this is a world where people are killed with some consistency over the results of matches, and even during the course of a game. If that wasn't enough, however, here is what local prosecutors had to say about his pending sentencing:

the player can avoid a trial if he agrees to have 10,000 handbills made with the saying, "We are all equal," and "Say no to racism." He would have to help distribute the handbills during sporting events in the city of Caxias do Sul, where Juventude hosts its matches

That sure sounds about equal to 3 years in jail. Maybe someday soccer fans will evolve to join the rest of the world, but I wouldn't count on it happening in our lifetime. We're talking about people who actually look forward to sitting down and watching a few hours of soccer non-stop. That's a lot of evolution they need to go through.

Elias Watch and Slowed Stupidity

The Devils beat Philadelphia today to move into a tie with them for 5th in the Eastern Conference. The win gives Elias and the boys ample space so that they can't be caught from behind, BUT it puts them into dangerous territory. As always seems to be the case, finishing 6th place in the conference is much like winning the lottery. Riding on Elias' back, his 12 points in their last 7 games have helped the Devils to 9 straight wins, and do the unthinkable by moving to within 3 points of the Rangers for first place in the Atlantic. If they catch the Rangers, they will move into 3rd in the Conference and likely face the Flyers in the first round. Should they stay ahead of Philly in 5th place, they would open against the Sabres. Staying in 6th, however, would mean they draw the Rangers in the first round, the weakest of the three teams, and struggling of late. They even managed to lose to the lowly Penguins and Islanders this week, not to mention the Devils themselves. Although they won't admit it (Lemaire isn't as dumb as, say, a Swedish hockey coach), I can't imagine any reason other than stupidity would make the Devil's come out and play hard against the Flyers on Sunday. Maybe Elias will just happen to need a day of rest, that would do it.

Canucks No More

As was obvious to me, and apparently no one else, the Canucks season finaly came to it's inevitable conclusion tonight as they lost for the second time in as many games to the Boston Bruins former GM. As a result, the 16 teams I called a couple of months back the easy to see playoff teams are, in fact, the 16 playoff teams (assuming Atlanta and Toronto don't pull off some kind of miracle. Aubin and Mats sure are trying their best, but it's too late. If only they has started one game sooner, should be the chant of the Leafs faithful as their bandwagon eventually crashes again). San Jose, 8 points out of the playoffs even when I called them the eventually fifth seed, seem to be on the way to fulfilling that prophecy as well. They are the second best team in the West, and I'm confident the playoffs will give even more evidence of that. Detroit, Dallas, San Jose and Anaheim should be the first round winners if they don't have the misfortune of lining up with each other. And much like you and me, the Leafs and Canucks will have a great view of the Sharks run to the finals when it starts in just over a week now. Mind you, the Red Wings will have a lot to say about that statement, and probably no one else. If Thornton isn't the MVP this year, then something went horribly wrong.

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