DKM Hockey Podcast

Sunday, April 29, 2012

And so it begins, Distinct Kicking Motion...

I really liked my original Blog title of Simply Hockey because really, hockey is a very simple game.  I think it's the early influences that helped me to understand how simple hockey is to play and how easy it is to over complicate.  Then I thought about all I've learned from hockey. Hockey can be like a self help book unto itself.  But in the end, hockey is about the friends I've made, the friends I've kept, and the friends I haven't made yet.

I maintain that hockey is like no other sport.  There are many reason, but for me it's the friendships made in the game.  I have friends and family that play(ed), coached, managed, and broadcasted at all levels of amatuer and professional hockey.  I also have dear friends from hockey that can barely skate, who think Wayne Gretzky played for three years at Ohio University, and friends put $1200 goalie pads on the wrong legs. 

I have a group of dear friends that I met as an adult.  We came from different parts of hockey.  One grew up in the light contact, cake eating hockey surburbia of Farmington Hill, MI.  One is a Wisconsin boy who didn't consider playing until we took infield practice during a lunch break one day.  Another is a three-balled OSU addict who has come to love hockey even though it probably doesn't love him back. 

Did this guy just find out his boyhood hero was gay? Ohhh, the CBJ lost another draft lottery.

It is with these core group of guys where weekends on frozen private lakes create childhood memories for a bunch of 30-somethings during annual boys only hockey weekends.  It was during these weekends where phrases like "Some people would consider it rude..." and "PEEEEEEENNNALTYYYYY!"  and "They Use the Metic System" are born.  You don't play games of Horse, but rather, "Gina" "Sarah" or "Rachel."  It's weekends like this were we cram around a smart phone in remote parts of God's country to oogle at a buddy's sister in her bikini on facebook.  It's weekends like these where you wonder why 8500 square foot houses only have four bedrooms.  It's weekends like these where "Distinct Kicking Motion" will live forever. 

I have witnessed three of the greatest hockey stories never told.  They are truely, 'you had to be there moments' that if witnessed by the media would be Pulitzer prize winning material.  I image the headlines of these stories would read like this 1. "Why is Mikael Renberg shaving his balls?"  2. "Ohio State suspends two after brawl with NSYNC."  and 3. "Pond Hockey gaffe sets all-time internet 'hits' record."  It's this pond hockey gaffe, simply known as 'distinct kicking motion' to the four of us that has inspired the title of my feeble hockey blog.  I'm not going to get too much into the 'who what when how and why' of this story, but rest assured, if the camera had been rolling, @osujoe would be world famous. World Famous. It was one of those moments where I was laughing so hard, I seriously almost passed out.

Sure, "Distinct Kicking Motion" is a catchy name for a hockey blog.  It sounds gritty and sarcastic.  But truly, it's one of the funniest and most memorable moments of my life that would never have happened without hockey, without the good friends I've made from hockey.  This is why I chose it as the permanent name to this blog.

And while "Distinct Humping Motion" still makes us giggle, "Distinct Kicking Motion" still makes me laugh for about 45 seconds every time I think about it.  Then I think of the goal falling over, and I pee my pants.  Again.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

CBJ Break-Up Mixed Tape

So, I had the iPod out at work on Friday and hit shuffle on the playlist.  Whether it was fate, whether it was hormones, whether it was really nothing at all, the songs that played were like I was listening to a tape that the Blue Jackets had made for me after a breakup.  To be clear, I'm not breaking up with the Blue Jackets.  However, like any good emotionally torn break up mixed tape, some of these songs reminded me of specific players and instances in CBJ history.  Here is a list of songs I don't recommend you listen to if you're a CBJ fan stuck in an emotional void with your hockey team.

Last Day of Summer - the Cure - Robert Smith wrote this song for hockey players who are now on teams that never make the playoffs.  "It used to be so easy, I never even tried..."

This is how the Columbus Blue Jackets celebrate April.

Fake Plastics Trees - Radiohead - In college this was Spanish Fly for a post-second date make-out marathon.  Now it makes me think of John P McConnell.  The self-loathing majority owner of the Blue Jackets.  "And it wears me out.  It wears me out..."

He died for your Wins.

Mother - Pink Floyd - Oh, Rick Nash.  You want to be the Captain that commands the dressing room, but you're not.  It's not a failure on your part, it's just not the way your wired.  "Mother do you think they'll try to break my balls?"

Nothing about this face ever said, "I"m going to kick your ass if you don't skate hard!"

Mid script PS - the writing and creative process are completely foreign to my wife, who is constantly interrupting me during an 'in the moment' emotional hockey blog to chat about a jewelery party she was at.  I'm blaring songs by the Cure, staring and the computer monitor longingly, and she's wonders why I'm disinterested when she sticks her head in the office every 45 seconds to talke about bedazzlers.  sigh...

Teenager - Deftones - Deftones B-sides are some of the best there are.  Slow and Morose.  This song is very specific to this year's Blue Jackets team.  "The more I scream, the more it seems, Now I'm through with the new you."

Yep, I want to sob like like a little girl with a skinned knee and crush a gallon of Ben an Jerry's when I see this picture.

Lost Cause - Beck - Sea Changes is the best dude breakup album of all time.  Marc Denis, Steve Mason, Mathieu Garon, Frederick Norenna, Pascal LeClaire, Alan York, etc....  "There's too many people you used to know, they see you coming, they see you go..."

This is how other teams prepare for Blue Jackets Goaltending - 15 holes.

Annasthesia - The Cinematic Underground - I look at all the Blue Jackets draft picks and want to cry.  There's nothing this franchise can do for you.  Nothing it can do to help develop you.  Nothing it can do to help you reach your dreams, except trade you.  "Escape.  Disengage."
Going to Boston College on a full ride, but knowing the CBJ own your rights...
If you Leave - Nada Surf - I love this cover of OMD's classic.  But, was this song playing  the moment you learned Rick Nash was willing to waive his no trade clause?  "You always said, 'we still be friends someday.'"

Add caption

Twilight Garden - the Cure - It's like Robert Smith purposely writes songs about fans liking horrible hockey teams.   This is a great Cure B-side.  "No one will ever take your place, I'm so lost in you."

Yet, these are 75 dollar seats.

And Finally, the coup de gras of my #CBJ Break Up mixed tape:

The Benny Hill theme song - The Edwin Davids Jazz Band.  Thank you Blue Jackets.  Seriously.  We've been dating for 11 years and this is the last song you put on the break up tape.  Way to rub it in.  Way to remind me of this front office.  Classy. Thanks.

I mean really, am I all that worse than McLean?

There are a few thing I can think of to cheer me up.  The Blue Jackets are such a small part of what I've learned from hockey, the friends I've made through hockey, and the memories I've made from hockey.  But, first hand exposure to pro hockey in Columbus is the Blue Jackets, and so I must suffer them.

Since this is a mixed tape and not an MP3, these songs were omitted:

Gone, Gone, Gone - Miles Davis (this song is awkward, as are the CBJ)
Road to the West - Yoko Kanno (your left alone with your thoughts about playing in the West)
Out of this World - the Cure (I already had too many Cure songs)
Time to Pretent - MGMT - Man, 2001-2005 were electric in this city.  Thanks Lockout.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

O Captain, No Captain

Luckily for me, I'm a hockey fan.  So when my surrogate hockey team misses the playoffs 91% of the time, it doesn't phase me much.  However, I do feel bad for people who live and die by the Blue Jackets.  I would imagine the next 60+ days until the draft will be very depressing, especially since hockey gets almost zero air play locally.  I really don't know what to expect from the CBJ this off season.  I will skip my tired diatribe about the Blue Jackets financial situation, but I am curious what the ownership group will do with managment.  I don't envy him, however stunned he is about this past season.  Oh, JP MAC, if you'd only listened to me last August.  Of course, no one did.  And I was laughed at.  Does that mean I should be GM? Who knows, at this time my dream NHL job would be Director of Player Development.  Anyways... 

Yes honey, we double fist 'em at most CBJ games too.

However, while most Blue Jackets fan are relegated to poo-pooing the second pick in the draft (send me some film of Yakupov working hard in the corner, what you can't find any?) they are also lamenting their current captain.  I have always thought Columbus the place where NHL'ers come to play out their last few years.  Zero expectation, 2nd or 3rd page sports coverage 5 days a week, and nice country clubs and great schools.  It will certainly be hard to find a veteran who will want to come here and take control of the dressing room.  Having said that, lots of troglodites here in Columbus want to make Vinny Prospal the captain.

Sigh.  Vinny Prospal is here to retire.  He's here to get a job when he hangs them up.  He's here because there is no other city in the world where a pro athlete can make an easy couple million dollars.  Don't get me wrong.  I like him as a player and a person.  He has been a nice breath of fresh air on the team this year.  But you do not make a guy who's interviews go pretty much like this your captain:

1) We gotta play 'em one day at a time.

2) I'm just happy to be here. Hope I can help the ballclub (oops, Hockey Team).

3) I just want to give it my best shot, and the good Lord willing, things will work out.

You don't need a Quadriphonic BlauPlunkt!  What you need is a power play.

Now, unfortunately, there is no easy choice for captain.  Certainly, if the dressing room or coach didn't think Nash deserved the "C" after the trade deadline, he wouldn't have kept it.  Between 2 hours shows on Buckeye Basketball and Buckeye Football I didn't hear any sound bites where any teammates objected.  I heard two seperate Todd Richards interviews where he made it a point to mention how consistent Nash had been in his typical leadership and game preparation.  Off the record I know Richards feels the same way
Who should be captain for the 2012-2013 season?  Here are my thoughts in no particular order.
1.  Rick Nash.  Wanna know why I think so?  Every single player on the CBJ should be embarrassed that Rick Nash was willing to waive his NTC when they know how EASY life is in Columbus.  That in itself should be a wake up call.  He has the ear of a couple guys in the dressing room and he should take advantage of that.
If Nash is gone:
2.  RJ Umberger.  He fought through a miserable first half.  After a couple of slump busters he managed to return to the Umberger everyone knew.  Not going to the "Best of What's Left" tournament know as the World Championships tells me there's trouble at home or he's nursing a boo-boo. That, and he's a former OSU Hockey player.  Oh, but I forget how back seat hockey is around this town.
3.  This is actually my recommendation.  NO CAPTAIN.  Want to be captain, earn it.  Set a date two months into the season to decide on a captain. Then publicize that's what you're doing.  Sounds embarrassing?  Well, the CBJ have been an embarrassment for some time now.  I can't think of any better way to create a competitive dressing room than doing this.  Whoever next years rent-a-coach had better do this.  It seems childish, and something you do with squirts, but it's been my experience this works when your dressing room is full of good guys who lacks drive.

Earn this.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Reflections of Blue Jackets Society in Literature Part II - The Secret Life of Football City

I've often been refered to as "Miller Time." It has nothing to do with my name, my beer preference, or any corellation with Ryan Miller. It is due to my typically obscure, however well-educated, outside references related to sports - usually in the form of music, literature, and government (not to be confused with Politics, which I detest). A la Dennis Miller. Typos aside, I typically fight the urge to incorporate obscurities into my ramblings, and supress the desire to do so with rich sarcasm. But every once in a while I allow the realm of obscurity to transform me into a hopeless laureate for a sport seldom linked to poetry outside of Stompin' Tom Connors. I am going to allow this post, this essay, to be filled with the obscure references to the Blue Jackets that I have long suppressed. Don’t worry, I am not going to woo with high minded verse of hockey. Rather, I think of two of the most delusional characters depicted in literature, sprinkle in some 19th century French Imperialism, borrow the repetitive use of an offensive term vis-à-vis Mark Twain, and I ultimately can't help but draw parallels to the fans of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

I have decided to turn this essay into a three part post. It is far too long to hold people’s attention, especially given the obscure references. So I give you Part Two.

The Secret Life of Football City

I really don't understand what he's trying to say in this blog.

With the trade rumors swirling around about Nash, fans were looking for an escape form the obvious – the Jacket had sucked for a long time and there was no sign that they would stop sucking anytime soon. Jackets fans attend games late in March that have little bearing on the rest of the world.  The puck would drop and soon the sounds of the game, so unique to hockey, cause the fans to imagine what it would be like when the team no longer sucks. Much like in the Secret Life of Walter Mitty, a familiar set of sounds begins a wild daydream.  Ta-pocketa-pocketa-pocketa was the sound that would cause him to drift off into a day dream.  Ta-pocketa-pocketa-pocketa...

The jackets were tied at two late in the third against St Louis. The Jackets were intrenched in a month's long battle to secure a fifth seed in the Western Conference to avoid playing a divisional opponent in the first round. It was one of those games when you spend most of the time standing because you were always on the edge of your seat.  Then, with just minutes to go (insert non-sucking draft pick here) scores a highlight reel, blue collar. old time hockey goal. The cannon booms, the Pepsi Girls grind on eachother, and AC/DC blares confirmation the liklihood of a playoff appearnace. Columbus’s Jack Adam’s candidate coach takes the podium in post game to speak about how the veteran leadership as served as role models for the core of young talent acquired in the draft. Consistent goaltending gives the players confidence that scoring 3 goals a game will lead to victory. The emmy nominated broadcast crew starts talking about a deep run into the playoffs and asks how mad football fans will be now that the Spring Scrimmage start time was changed to accommodate an NHL playoff game. Just a few more games until the playoff are here.  Ta-pocketa-pocketa-pocketa…

BOOM! The canon explodes and AC/DC snaps the fans from their daydream. Columbus finally scored, the score is 4-1 with the Jackets on the losing end. As a player, there’s not much to celebrate down 3 goals and being 11 points out of 29th place, but some kid from Saskatchewan making the league minimum just scored his 12th NHL point, so they find something to hug about. They boo Rick Nash because he doen't cheer like it's the OT game winner for the Coup de Stanley.  Wishing for somthing good after 11 years, The fans at home buy into one of the two color commentators with no pro hockey playing experience spouting that despite the score, there's hope. There’s hope, because if we can play like this every game next year, there will be a good chance that there is a 60% chance of there being NHL playoffs in Columbus next spring. Ta-pocketa-pocketa-pocketa...

This is not how a 30th place team should celebrate their only goal in a 4-1 loss.

90 seconds later, after a player in an away jersey lazily skates in behind two Blue Jackets defensemen and scoops up a huge rebound to make it 5-1, Blue Jackets fans are faced brought back to cold hard reality. Their team sucks from top to bottom. $70 a ticket for a 26% chance that you'll see the Blue Jackets win.  It was not so much that Walter Mitty was always daydreaming, it was that he never completed the acts of fantasy he dreamt about. What a lot of people miss about the stories of Walter Mitty was often the it was bitter reality that interrupted his daydreams.  No matter where his thoughts took him, Walter Mitty's fanciful daydreams where always ended by starkness of reality. Ta-pocketa-pocketa-pocketa.

The CBJ and the NHL Draft Lottery, an April Tradition like no other.

I don't imagine that my #CBJ tweets are followed much anymore. The #CBJ tweet boards are mostly superfans blinded by savage optimisim.  They can't see it, from the top down just how bad this team is financially and competitively.  The marketing department deserves a Nobel Prize fro being able to attract more than 500 people to a game in March.  But the #CBJ superfans can't admit hockey is not the right sport for this town.  Certainly not in it's current state financially and competitively.  This is how I imagine #CBJ tweeters  as hockey parents:  I would imagine they would watch their 11 year old, who has to skate with 6 year olds because he sucks at skating, and tweet every time he shot the puck, convinced that next year is the year he'll make the Pee Wee major AAA team.  I doubt many in Columbus would understand that last sentence, much less appreciate it's sarcastic charm.  Game Point.

Clearly, this is Steve Mason's fault.

And when I finish reading Walter Mitty, I am left with one conclusion as a fan - Walter Mitty was the only thing making Walter Mitty daydream.  Want something good to root for as a fan?  Tired of sucking?  Demand something good to root for as a fan.  I'm not talking about lame 250 people protests standing outside the arena with cardboard signs wearing team sweaters and manifesting suppressed memories in the form of fan embarrassement.  I'm talking about changing the landscape of the team that sucks.  Example:  As long as the Blue Jackets have the sucky deal with Nationwide Arena, they are always going to need a CBJ President who has to focus on finding creative ways to make money rather than focusing on how to position the Blue Jackets competitively as an NHL franchise.  In turn, they'll need entry level "yes Men" as GMs, Coaches, Scouts, etc etc. 

Can't find the CBJ game on the radio?

The county owns Nationwide Arena now.  Dig up those old "Forward Together" cause-heads and petition the county to restructure the team's agreement with the arena.  Sure, it means convincing the only blue county in a red state to alter the 10-12 million dollar a year revenue gold mine it will soon enjoy from the welfare recipient Blue Jackets.  (read that last sentance again, maybe twice.  Let it sink in.  Wow, that sucks).  Sadly, don't count on the arena to restructure the deal with the CBJ.  If the county can't make it's money back in 5-6 years, even without casino revenue, it doesn't buy the arena in the first place.  Don't expect the county to want to restructure the deal without talks about the Blue Jackets relocating Hamilton, ON.  Then the county loses out on Arena revenue and income tax revenue from the arena district - certainly a motivating factor.  Then again, if BlackBerry doesn't stay relevant, there may be no where for the Blue Jackets to move to.  Oh, man, that really sucks.  But let's just imagine how awesome it will be if the Blue Jackets do manage to string two winnig seasons in a row together.  FOR THOSE ABOUT TO ROCK!  Ta-pocketa-pocketa-pocketa...

AC/DC: For when you absolutely positively have to clear the dance floor.  Accept no substitutes.

Coming Soon:  Reflections of Blue Jackets Society in Literature: Part III - from Longwood With Love.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Scott Howson's 2012 Playoff Roster

Scott Howson has spent the last 5 seasons putting together a great post-season roster.  Too bad these players are no longer on the Blue Jackets

Jason Chimera
Manny Maholtra
Rusty Klesla
Kris Russell
Jody Shelley
Gilbert Brule
Raffi Torres
Jason Williams
Antoine Vermette
Jacob Voracek
Sammy Pahlsson
Mike Commodore - he really doesn't count
Tom Sestito
Jeff Carter - he really doesn't count either.

There's probably a couple other guys I'm missing, but as I went through the rosters in my head, theses are the guys who I though of.

Excuse me Mr. Howson, how exactly am I the asshole here?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Reflections of Blue Jackets Society in Literature: Part One - Fans of La Mancha

I've often been refered to as "Miller Time." It has nothing to do with my name, my beer preference, or any corellation with Ryan Miller. It is due to my typically obscure, however well-educated, outside references related to sports - usually in the form of music, literature, and government (not to be confused with Politics, which I detest). A la Dennis Miller. Typos aside, I typically fight the urge to incorporate obscurities into my ramblings, and supress the desire to do so with rich sarcasm. But every once in a while I allow the realm of obscurity to transform me into a hopeless laureate for a sport seldom linked to poetry outside of Stompin' Tom Connors. I am going to allow this post, this essay, to be filled with the obscure references to the Blue Jackets that I have long suppressed. Don’t worry, I am not going to woo with high minded verse of hockey. Rather, I think of two of the most delusional characters depicted in literature, sprinkle in some 19th century French Imperialism, borrow the repetitive use of an offensive term vis-à-via Mark Twain, and I ultimately can't help but draw parallels to the fans of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

I have decided to turn this essay into a three part post. It is far too long to hold people’s attention, especially given the obscure references. So I give you Part One.

“Drink to me, drink to my health, you know I can’t drink any more.”

Fans of La Mancha

You might be thinking "What the f**k do Don Quixote, Walter Mitty, and Napoleon Bonaparte have to do with the Columbus Blue Jackets?" Ah, oh so much. This is of course assuming you know who they are. If you do know who they are, and happen to be an attractive female brunnette who's into obscure referencing washed up hockey players, I will tell my lovely wife that I've at last found my 'Plan B.' I'm a planner, if not mad, she can at least appreciate that.

This all really got started in my head (the poetic thing, not my wife’s back-up) with Scott Howson and his accounting department-eqse, gossip-around-the-water-cooler drama by the public acknowledgement of Rick Nash's request for a highly conditional trade. Once word of this spread through the blogosphere, the hatred for Rick Nash became needlessly widespread and unjustified. Cries of lost honor, demands for more emotion, and delusions of gradiuer from a chivalrous time long ago were soon spewed in everyone's emotional response. The Fans bemoaned their captain, seemingly now devoid of dignity, honor, and romantically intoxicating honor. They demanded more. They demanded a new captain. They demanded someone who would ride in on horse and restore honor and dignity to a hockey team who’s never had it. In case you haven't read El ingenioso hildago don Quijote de la Mancha I just described to you the convictions of Don Quixote.

Oh you Blue Jackets fans, only seldom critical of Rick Nash as captain before Howson flapped the yapper and took things outside the dressing room. Now, the captain of the suckiest hockey team for over a decade, is finally faced with the foolishly misplaced sense of expectation by a fan base frustrated by sucking. In their minds, their captain wasn’t supposed to be tired of a decade of suck. Fans were supposed to live vicariously through him. They took Rick Nash for granted. Betrayed, they now wished Nash would punch somebody in the face whenever a teammate was bumped. They wish Nash would throw down when one of the 7 CBJ goalies got ran. The expected him to single-handed carry this sucky team on his back while forgetting at the same time he’s pretty much done so since he was a teenager. Nash was the only non-pugilist hockey player in Columbus that could be positively identified by more than 4000 people.

Sadly, I often think of Rick Nash as hockey’s version of Santiago from Old Man and the Sea, but I’ll save that depressing piece of prose for when Nash is retired or wins a cup with someone else. That’s a tale about overcoming suckitude. But the betrayal felt by the fans brought out a yearning for Nash to be something he is not. And incidentally suddenly, the CBJ fans had expectations. Sadly, those expectations were 5-6 years too late. Now seeing Rick Nash as an imposing windmill, the twoopers of #cbj land set out destroy their captain-turned-windmill. But poor Quixotic Columbus, had Nash been the smash-mouth leader we suddenly wished he was, with a visible desire to win at all costs, he would had left this suck-fest of a team a couple seasons ago.

The “desire to win” expectation of a captain does not stop with their teammates or their conduct on the ice. It continues into how the organization positions itself to be competitive in the market place. Rick Nash is tired of the world of suck. It started with relieving Ken Hitchcock from coaching duties 50 something games after making the playoffs. There was hope with Claude Noel - a coach with the same measure of expectation across the entire CBJ organization as a dream captain would. “Just because you’re a volunteer doesn’t mean you can suck” Noel would say to youth hockey coaches; I admired that. Once Noel was not retained, and Boucher said no to the suck, I’m sure Nash thought to himself, “How much longer can I tolerate the suck?” After the releasing of Hitchcock, his subsequent success, it was likely the poorly timed firing of Arniel which was the last straw for Nash. It was then the suckitude of the franchise was epitomized and Howson’s shortcomings were undeniable. Trying to get too off topic -The only reason to fire Arniel when Howson did was to serve as a poor Homer Simpson moment of, “Wooo-hooo, look at me. I’m working!”

Folks, the organization sucks beyond hockey operations. The team has the suckiest arrangement with its home venue - Nationwide Arena – in the league. I haven’t done any research to see if the county ownership of Nationwide Arena will change that, but last I checked the CBJ get no parking revenue from Nationwide, no naming rights revenue, have to pay 5 million a year to use the arena, and are required to cover operational loses for non-hockey events usually round 4 million a year. Think winning helps, the CBJ received $14,000,000 from the NHL in 2009 to cover costs.

If your hockey team was a car company, which would it be??

Maybe deep down inside places they don’t want to talk about, Jackets fans pity Rick Nash. He’s been dealt a raw hand. I summed it up to a guy in my office whose kid plays on travel hockey team. “Look Mike, one day your kid comes home and says, ‘dad, I’ve worked hard every year for 8 seasons just like you wanted me to. This team is poorly ran, we take kids no one else wants, there’s a new coach every other year, none of the wives like each other, we got swept out of the only tournament we qualified for. It’s not fun anymore and all my friends play for other teams. This team is irrelevant. I don’t think I want to play here next year.” My co-worker had nothing else to say, that pretty much sums up how I believe Rick Nash feels. Long term sucking is no fun, even if you make skin-flicks for a living.

Like him or not, you have to acknowledge the fact of how Rick Nash has handled himself through all this, this, sucking mess. As tall of a windmill as he stands today to frustrated fans, he hasn’t whined to the media about the undeniable irrelevance of his employer in the competitive marketplace. He’s made the easiest $7.8 million a year a hockey player can make, and I admire him for wanting more. He’s been dignified the last few weeks in the midst of another disappointing season. He hasn’t said a peep about fan protests or how awfully suckful his team is. Nash has been a consummate professional with the 12-13 minutes of media coverage the team gets each day in it's home market. His coaches and teammates have commented on how he is working just has hard and preparing just as well as he always has. He may not be the captain this team needs, or the captain the fans now seemed convinced they want, but imagine how badly this all could have gone if it were a city where hockey mattered?

No, this is not the HC Davos press corps.

"Part Two: Ta-pocketa-pocketa-pocketa" coming soon...

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

10 NHL players of the past you should know

Lots of bloggers take shots at pro athletes.  I am neither a blogger or a pro athlete.  I am a washed up never-was hockey player who could smell the big time from the next room.  What I like to do as a former player is make fun of fans and bloggers from my office in Columbus, OH.  It is also in my best interest to educate the fans of Columbus about hockey so that my obscure references are not confused with my references to Alexander Mogilny.

With that, I give you 10 players that not everybody knows, but probably should.  This is not based on skill or dominance, rather than their notability as hockey players.

10.  Alexander Mogilny - Russians are common in the NHL now a days, but when Mogilny hit the scene in the early 90's there weren't many around and he could score.  Also, back then they were called Soviets.  Any Soviets that were here were typically NHL rookies in their early 30's after the Red Army spit them out.  Oh, and Mogilny's defection and subsequent extortion by the Russian organized crime was scary and made for an HBO hockey special.

The Russian Mob - not sexy.

9.  Adam Oates - this guy centered some dude named Hull.  This guy centered some dude named Neely.  This guy centered some dude named Bondra.  He was the "also ran" center to some monster wingers. I don't say also ran, sports writers do. John Stockton was the Adam Oates of Basketball.  Oates is 6th all time in assists.  The only HOF eligible player in the top 25 of all-time assist leaders not in the Hall of Fame.  WHY?  Dunno, but at least he was voted sexiest hockey player a number of times.

**Update 6/27 - Congrats to Adam Oates on his 2012 HOF Selection**

Soy tan sexy que mi amor.

8.  Mike Bossy - no one in hockey has a better shot.  No one had a worse back which caused him to retire from hockey shortly after his 30th birthday.  He scored less than 50 goals only once in his 10 year career.  9 straight 50 goal seasons is his NHL record alone.  He's tied with some guy named Gretzky on a couple other records playing in half the number of seasons.

Marla Hooch, what a hitter.

7.  Al Iafrate - He wore a bandana, smoked cigarettes during intermissions, and birthed the phrase "Howizter from the point."  Before the All-Star game was turned into snob-fest by Gary Bettman, Iafrate was one of the biggest draws to the skills competition.  The All-Star game was for the players voted by the fans, the skills competition was for those most skilled in the events, whether voted by the fans or not.  Once the skills comp was for all-stars only, this colorful character was lost to obscurity.  105.2 with a wooden stick.

Mullets and Marlboros, not sexy.  105.2 MPH, Tu es un garçon sexy

6.  Dino Ciccerelli.  600 goals, 1400 PIMS and it took him 11 years to get in the Hockey Hall of fame.  Apparently, if you do the things Mike Milbury does, but have a great career, they snub you in the Hall of Fame.  If you're Mike Milbury, MSNBC puts you on TV.   Ciccarelli would out work you at every turn and punish you any chance he got.  Did I mention he entered the league undrafted after spending a couple seasons in the minors after juniors?  600 career goals.

He's a bad-ass, high scoring Italian hockey player, I don't need to say it do I?
5.  Pavel Bure - Candice Cameron's brother-in-law is my favorite non-friend/family hockey player.  I had my own number, but if someone onthe team wanted it, I wore number 10.  This guy was fast and it seemed most of his goals were highlight reels.  He was like Ovechkin, but handsome.  He was able to score 50 goals in three different seasons after the New Jersey Devils ruined hockey with the Trap.  Bad Knees ended his carreer at the tender age of 32.

My favorite player, and the most handsome hockey player Russia has ever produced
3 & 4 - Radek Bonk and Alexander Daigle.  Nothing personal guys, but the Ottawa Senators were Blue Jacket-esqe with their draft picks in the early years.  Bonk wasn't a total bust, especially since the 1994 draft was very, very lean.  I look at Alexandre Daigle and see Nail Yakupov.

Obsure Bonk photo that has nothing to do with sexy or hockey.

2.  Brian Leetch - aside from being (I think) the only member of the 1993-1994 New York Rangers not to have previously won a cup with the Edmonton Oilers. Not the fastest, not the strongest, but brilliant with the puck.  He is the last defenceman to record 100 points in a single season.  Leetch made it look like the Rangers were on the powerplay whenever he had the puck.

Smooth. Clean. Classy. Delicious. Soft core porn for hockey fans.

1.  Doug Gilmour.  Killer.  Fierce.  Don Cherry never gave Gilmour a hard time for wearing a Vanity Number.  450 goals in the NHL while only scoring 40 or more in a season once, usually playing injured.  1400 points in 1500 games and won only a single Stanely Cup with the greatest team no one remembers, the 89 Flames.  He was the captain of three of the seven teams he played for.  The October 12th 1998 issue of Sports Illustrated has a great article on Gilmour, which I consider the Webster's definition of a Hockey Player.

The last of a dying breed.  The HOF selection committee thinks he's sexier than Oates.  Maybe They're right.

And there you have it.  10 players from the 80's and 90's that hockey fans should know.  Not necessarily my favorites, or ten best, or ten of anything,  Just 8 solid hockey players and 2, oh yeah, those guys.  And I found the following picture too good to leave out. 

Since my folks are likely to read this, I'll leave out the 'smell test' joke.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

What is Rick Nash worth?

My father is an economist by education, but has accomplished much in life. My father taught me the greatest lesson learned about “Market Value” by happen stance that came about in a pack of baseball cards. It was 1991 and the Zenith of the baseball card craze. I was in my early teens and nearing the end of the acceptable age to be collecting sports cards. It was a random trip to Fishers Foods grocery store where I brought along ten dollars to buy a couple packs of Upper Deck baseball cards. I ended up with a valuable autographed Legends of Baseball Gaylord Perry baseball card. This was years before Al Gore had invented the internet, so there were few ways to find out what this card was worth: Go to a baseball card show or go to a baseball card store.

Ah, Stereotypes.

I was old enough to recognize that deep inside these places made me uncomfortable, but young enough not to understand why. Conflicted, I convinced father to take me to either place that weekend. He had enough of seeing me swap Walter Payton rookies for Mike Greenwell rookies. George Brett rookies for Sam Horn rated rookies (true stories). Discussing this rare card, he asked me what I thought the card was worth. Before I could answer, he said “whatever someone is willing to pay.” Smart man. Trying to minimize his exposure to the world of nerd-dom I would soon understand, we went to the card show in town  that weekend instead of the local card store. As it turns out, my father also happened to be ex-CIA as well, so I learned how to case a public place, profile merchants, gather intel, establish intellectual superiority, and negotiate from a position of strength. God I miss the Cold War. After a recon sweep of the card show (more of a army term, but it works), we found two vendors that had these autographed cards. Thanks to my father, it was discovered one of these vendors were missing only the Gaylord Perry to complete the entire set. As luck would have it, the vendor happened to be the guy who had the card store right in town. Phase one complete. The next step was to make sure I didn’t swap this valuable card for the 1986 Cleveland Indians team set.

By the age of 13 my father taught me how to throw a curve ball, take a slapshot, proper sports broadcasting, and how to code-in under duress.

We approached the baseball card guy from the local store - fat, balding, rude, and wearing gravy-stained apparel (obviously a Penguins fan) and he offered me $50 for the card. Had my father not been there, I would have taken the $50 and ran to the nearest arcade as fast as I could. My father mentioned the $400-$600 price tag on each of the other 4 or 5 cards in the series and asked why Gaylord Perry was only worth $50. My father is republican and doesn’t begrudge someone for trying to make a profit, he just likes it done fairly. He calmly commented to the baseball card guy on how he thought a 50% margin on retail goods was fair, cited the work and labor I saved the clichéd card store owner by already having the card in hand. The deal sealer was how the guy didn’t have to tear through another couple cases of cards to find this Gaylord Perry. My father told the vendor he thought $200 was a fair purchase price for the card considering the trouble I saved him and the immediate opportunity it presented. The vendor didn’t take long to see it my father’s way. He agreed to buy the card for $200 provided we didn’t tell the other vendors. Compartmentalized classified information was another of my father’s core competencies, oh the secrets my father will die with… but I digress. Upon shaking hands and handing over 10 twenty dollar bills, the baseball card guy stated he had a “guy in Akron” lined up to buy the whole set for a couple grand. Everyone walked away happy. I was 14 years old. The $200 I got was like ten grand to me. The lesson learned was long lasting. I learned how to evaluate a situation that was emotionally driven in nature, but was essentially a business transaction serving two people’s best interests. The lesson learned would serve me greater later on in life: buying homes, starting investments, retirement, and especially evaluating lame duck prohibitive contracts in the NHL.

I have always held that Rick Nash has one of the most prohibitive contracts in the NHL. This is largely due to the fact that the only shred of identity the Blue Jackets have is from Rick Nash (this is of course once Jody Shelly left). In my opinion, Nash is paid a premium in his salary because he is the face of hockey in Columbus, love it or leave it. It’s that premium that has no value anywhere else in hockey. Nash earned it here in Columbus, and understandably so. Whenever I tweet or post that Rick Nash’s salary is almost impossible to move, I get the “You’re nuts, you suck, suck it, you’re dumb” responses. Any team would love Rick Nash for sure. If his cap hit were neighborhood of 6 million (like Zetterberg or a Sedin) I would be typing about how cool Rick Nash looks in a Sharks sweater.

After 11 years, there are no "championship" banners of any kind hanging in Nationwide Arena.

Let me break it down another way. Rick Nash has the 5th highest cap hit in the league at 7.8MM. He has the 20th highest Salary in the league. He is 61st in scoring as of today. Last I checked, he’s made the top 40 in scoring one time and that’s including three monster seasons by Nash standards (his injury shortened 05-06 season was his best IMHO). What does Rick Nash have? He’s a good NHL’er for sure, but don’t say it. TOP LINE CENTER. Stop it with the “first line center” BS already. He’s been in the league 8 years, eight years! We’ve never seen his production in the NHL with a top line center, so how do we know it will improve? Don’t give me Switzerland or the Winter Olympics crap either… Sure, I could score at least 8 goals a season taking twelve shifts a game with Sidney Crosby or Joe Thornton. 12 goals if I could always skate against Scott LaChance. But which team has a top line center who is missing a wing? Queue cricket noise. Or my cover of "Mrs Robinson" And here’s to you Mr Adam Oates, Brett Hull turns his lonely eyes to you… ooo-oo-oooo.  Ok, maybe a bit too obscure.

Back to Trading Nash. Skipping the part where any trade is really up to Rick Nash, do you really think the league’s 61st place scorer with the fifth highest cap hit in the league is worth a first round pick? Listen Columbus, you’re not getting a high first round pick for a good player with a superstar cap hit. If Columbus is lucky, they could get something like a Hossa for Heatly or kind of trade (minus the tragedy). Swap a couple of players stuck in the mud and hope something happens. However, giving Columbus another first round pick is like giving Art Schleichter $250k and a weekend stay at the Bellaggio. If you’re going to trade away a first rounder and be pretty sure it won’t come back to haunt you, send it to Columbus.

I like Rick Nash. I want him to stay. But when I’m the GM of one of the 10 teams Nash is reported to have on his list, I’m not looking at the name. I’m looking at the salary and the production. Sure Nash is healthy, but he’s never had to play more than 86 games wire-to-wire. His shot total is still among the league leaders, but his goal production is slipping. Re-read that last sentence twice. Ouch. I’m not saying GMs don’t want Rick Nash. I’m saying most GM’s on Nash’s list can’t take Rick Nash. Too put it in perspective, Nash’s numbers aren’t too far off Geoff Sanderson’s career, minus those three years in Buffalo. 7.8MM cap hit and a guy who has played in 4 NHL playoff games? I’m sure there some teams who are willing to take Nash ‘as is’ for the asking price. But they are likely losers not on Nash’s list. Sorry Charlie. Look at it Rick Nash’s way, If I’m going to be on an “also ran” team, there’s no better place that Columbus. If they get their act together and hired some talent, Columbus is an exciting place to be in.

So, there are owners and fans walking through the hockey card show with 2nd line salary cap casualties and first round picks in their pockets looking for scoring. They look at the mint Rick Nash in the case and think to themselves, GOALS. I would imagine standing behind them is a smart, fatherly GM. One who looks at the risk vs the reward. One who sees that the cap hit never declines over the life of the contract. One who sees shots taken rise and goal production slip. One who looks past Vancouver, Switzerland, and those two 40 goal seasons long ago. He sees a 7.8 million a year cap hit for a guy who finds himself at the bottom of second page in the “NHL Scoring Leaders” each year. They see a guy hungry for playoffs, but who’s only seen four games and only scored in one. Columbus, you’re not going to get a first round pick and 2nd line stud for the league’s 42nd (career average) leading scorer with the 5th highest cap hit, I’m sorry.

The best you can hope for is a front office fire sale to bring in hockey players, or a team on Nash’s list willing to trade another top money guy stuck in the mud. Columbus, you have to understand that the only reason you even know about the trade request is because Scott Howson said something to the media so it didn’t look like he was sitting on his hands at the deadline again.  Shows you how much Nash is worth to Howson.  Bush league in my opinion.  It's a pro sports team, I get it.  Before we think of moving Nash, we should move the front office. But keep the marketing guys, they’re cool.

Oh, In case you’re wondering, that Gaylord Perry card is worth about $15 today, at least the one’s sitting unsold on eBay are.

Wondering where that $200 went?  I spent it on a Turbo Grafx-16.  Never heard of it, well, it is kind like the Blue Jackets in that regard.