DKM Hockey Podcast

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Remembering our Heroes: Who does number two work for?

 It's funny how we remember our hockey heroes.  The light in which we hold our sacred cows shines the way we want it.  The pending retirement of Nicklas Lidstrom and the constant mentioning of Wayne Gretzky and the 1993 LA Kings got me thinking a bit.  This piece is going to challenge the way you think about the great players of all time, not diminish their accomplishments or challenge their place in history.

He played a handful of games in two seasons with the Hawks before retiring at 30.

Why do we consider Lidstrom the 2nd best defensemen of all time?  I'm assuming we're considering Bobby Orr the greatest Defensemen of All Time.  But why?  Undoubtedly he had the single best single season of all-time in 1969-70.  He's the only defensemen to lead the NHL in scoring in a single season.  Bobby Orr could play it any way you wanted it, except straight up defensively.  So why is Orr considered the greatest defensemen of all time?

Norris Trophies

Awarded to "defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position."

Orr won the Norris trophy 8 times, scoring 20 or more goals 7 of those seasons.  Lidstrom won it 7 times, never scoring more than 18 goals in any of those seasons.  Orr led defensemen (or the league) in scoring in all but one year he won the Norris.  Lidstrom led defensemen in scoring 3 of his 7 trophy years. Orr won all his Norris Trophies by age 27.  Lindstrom won his first at 31.  Was Orr a better all-round defensemen than Larry Robinson in 74, 75, and 76?

Stanley Cups

Bobby Orr won two Stanely Cups.  Nicklas Lidstrom won four.  Bobby Orr played in three Cup Finals.  Lidstrom played in six Cup Finals.  Orr won 2 Conn Smythe Trophies, leading in some sort of offensive category each year.  Lidstrom won a single Conn Smythe finishing 9th in playoff scoring that year.

Career Stats

This is where I tell fans, and most hockey writers, to be cautious.  Career Stats can be very misleading.  Lidstrom has 1142 career points, Orr has 915.  Why do career stats mislead us?  Is it because Nicklas Lidstrom played in 2.5 times more games than Orr?  Are Orr's stats that much more impressive because he did them in less time?  Well, yes and no.  If you diminish Lidstroms stats because he played for 21 seasons, then you obviously must diminish Gretzky's 894 goals in 20 seasons in light of  Mike Bossy's 573 goals in 10 seasons.  "You can't compare Bossy's 579 goals to Gretzky's 894"  Then Orr's 915 points are just 915 points, 5 spots behind Lidstrom in the all-time list.  Have I got you pulling the Obama-Cowherd "That's Not what I meant" retraction Act yet?  Career stats are career stats.  Orr is behind Lidstrom.  Stop with Plus minus - Orr is marginally better than Lidstrom.  Larry Robinson crushes them both.  If you're going to say Orr's stats are better than Lidstrom's because he did them in less time, then put Gretzky on the shelf and celebrate Bossy as the game's best all-time goal scorer.

Back to how we remember our heroes...

Just how we all remember Babe Ruth - as a member of the Boston Braves.

Do we remember Orr for his prolific scoring?  Does he win eight Norris Trophies for his all round ability?  How was his Dzone coverage?  Does is pure speed cover for his otherwise Scott LaChance-ian style of defensive play?  Orr's legacy starts with when he gets the puck on the rush. Orr revolutionized the position of defensemen to include offense, there's no doubt about it. But Lidstrom?

How do we remember Lidstrom.  Nicklas Lidstrom defines the position of defenseman.  Nicklas Lidstrom is on the ice when you need to shut down Eric Lindros, Sidney Crosby, Peter Bondra, and the entire 2001-2002 Carolina Hurricanes.  Then he torches you from the point on the Power Play.  Opponents game plan around Lidstrom.

And I leave you with this:  Orr's three consecutive Hart Trophies or Lidstrom making the playoff every year of his career.  Tough choice...

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

2013 NHL All Star Game Excitement Builds!!!

Oh my, I just can't wait for the 2013 NHL All Star game here in Columbus.  It's going to be such an epic time!  Ottawa was such a drag.  I mean, all the player parties and media parties were like 30 minutes from the arena.  So you'd go to a pre-game party, then have to drive to the Arena to watch the game, then drive 30 minutes back from Scotia Bank to the post-game parties.  It was not a centrally located event. The game was cool, but all the other stuff that went with it was located in a different city.  Bad news if you're a dog who snuck out of the house for a weekend.  I had to bum rides all over, I even ended up in Gatineau by mistake once.

It's going to be SOOOOO MUCH FUN here in Columbus.  Columbus is the best venue for hockey in all the NHL.  I don't care what the Canadiens Bichon Frise tells you, rue Crescent ain't got nothing on the Arena District.  I just heard that ALL the partying will be right next to the arena if you're lucky enough to get an invite.   Media, Event Staff, League officials, and players will be staying within walking distance of the arena.  It will be such a good time!!!  I can't wait.  In the mean time, to pass the dog days of summer, I'm trying on my grandpa's 2002 All Star Sweater to get ready for the event.  I look forward to seeing the boys in Union Blue pulling on a 2013 All-Star Jersey.  I can't wait!!  GO JACKETS!!

Blue Jacket Bulldog showing his love for the ASG, coming to Columbus in 2013.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Inside the Dressing Room: Hockey Pants

The "Inside the Dressing Room" is a series dedicated to the players equipment used in the NHL.  We offer some interesting perspective most folks in Columbus, OH might never get.  Superfans in Canada, and probably the .00000001 percenters in Columbus might know this stuff, but common fan, here you are.

The NHL has some silly rules and regulations about the equipment players wear and how they wear it.  The NHL is trying to do two things with it's silly rules:  Protect the players and protect the integrity of the game.

NASCAR race gear has less sponsorship and adverstising than Yakof Smirnoff  and his 'hurt your eyes' yellow sweater.

One of the little known equipment rules in the NHL is the use of trademark logos on the equipment.  Helmets, Pants, and Jerseys are only allowed to bear one visible trademark logo per piece of equipment.  Hockey gloves are allowed to display two. This sort of protects the integrity of the NHL. The NHL bans all sponsorship logos from equipment, save one item: The practice jersey.  The NHL is toying with the idea of allowing one sponsorship logo on the game jerseys.  I am against this personally, as "Bob's Discount Tire" has no place on an NHL jersey, no matter how big a sponsor they are.  The NHL needs to be careful, too.  Toyota doesn't want it's sales hurt the next time James Wisniewski gets suspened for targeting a head, or worse yet, performs an encore of his 'Slurp, Slurp' taunt to Sean Avery.

The sponsorship logo would have been right next to Hossa's face in this shot.  Concussion, brought to you by Sid's Carpet Barn.

Logos, trademarks, and slurping noises aside - NHL equipment is something special to it's own. 
Each piece of equipment is subject to NHL rules and regulations, most aren't in the NHL rulebook.  The equipment is even constructed in a manner that is unique to the NHL.  Let's take a look at a pair of hockey pants from the Columbus Blue Jacket's dressing room

These pants are to NHL Specs: One visible trademark logo.  Notice, the 'RBK' logo is embroidered into the pant leg in Blue Jackets Silver to match the uniform colors.  A nice touch by the team to spruce up the uniforms a bit.  The right leg of the Blue Jackets pants used to feature Stinger.  While once novel, it is now thankfully gone.

An embroidered NHL shield is required on pants and jerseys issued in the NHL.

Most pants in the NHL are of 2-piece construction. Not all, but most. The lower part is essentially a pair of shorts, or a shell, with interior pockets containing thick thigh pads.  The second piece is like a giant belt that has the kidney, hip, and tailbone pads connected.  This second piece buttons into the lower shell to complete the hockey pant.  Most hockey pants you can buy at the store are are one piece pants without this versatility.  Not all players wear this type of pant, but it is the most common.
This lower shell has several button holes to accommodate different types of hip pads.
The NHL requires that all players wear a jersey that is 'tied down' at all times.  What is that and how do you do that?  Well, all jerseys are required to have a fight strap, and that fight strap is 99.99% of the time tied down (really, snapped and velcroed) to the hockey pants.  All pro issued pants will have a sewn-on band or loop where the fight strap can be affixed.

CCM/Reebok provide a more traditional loop for the fight strap.  Bauer/Nike integrate it horizontally into the belt system.
And here is a picture of a fight strap from an inside-out practice jersey attached to the "tie down.'

One of the more unique features has appeared on retail hockey pants for a while now:  Leg Zippers.  The leg zippers allows the pant legs to be opened wider to accommodate putting on your pants while wearing skates.  A player can put on jocks, skates, shinguards and socks all before putting on their pants.  Lacing up skates and taping up shinguards is encumbering while wearing hockey pants.  More so if you have a beer gut.

Add caption
Hopefully this gives you a little insight into a piece of equipment worn by the pros.  Oh, and one other thing.  Professionally issued equipment in the NHL is made in Canada.  Remember, if someone says it's "Straight from the lookerroom" it had better say "Made in Canada" on it.  Unless it's a pair of Jofa shin guards or elbow pads, then it should say "Made in Sweden."  Pants, jerseys, socks, gloves = made in Canada.

Fabrique au Canada

Friday, May 18, 2012

To Be Your Son's Hero

Being a dad is pretty cool.  I enjoy being a father and a leading figure in my child's (soon to be children) life.  It takes the best parts of me to be a role model and a parent who prepares my son for life as an adult.  I also enjoy coaching my son in recreational and competitive athletics.  But there comes that dynamic that exists with every father-son coaching scenario.  There are times when my son just tunes me out at practice for no other reason than because I am his dad.

I wonder if Blake ever said, "Grandpa, you don't know..."

It's funny.  I grew up around pro sports and pro athletes.  My son has had this exposure as well, but to him, Venzina plaques are just cool looking bronze awards to identify the goal line in basement knee hockey.  He listens very well when I explain D-Zone coverage, the breakout, or any team aspect of the game.  When it comes to individual skill improvement, its the age-old "Dad, you don't know" attitude that kicks in.  The path of least resistance is foreign in my gene pool so he comes by it honest.  But, there was one day last September when I became a hero to my son. 

Columbus was alive with the buzz of playoff promise.  The Blue Jackets had signed party girl Jeff Carter and deadline bait James Wiesnewski and those two players alone meant NHL playoff berth.  Was I the only one able to see through this?  Two new players does not a playoff appearnce make.  I was baffled that folks could think this was the answer?   One day sitting in rush hour traffic with my son, I was listening to My Guys, Common Man and the Torg, on 97.1 the fan.  Torg was gushing about how good the CBJ were going to be.  I couldn't stand it.  Sitting in traffic, I dialed up the call-in number.  I was a little nervous because I hadn't been on the air since the 80's and hadn't had much time to rehearse.  What if by the time I was on air, they were talking about three balled elephants?  I was on hold for about 30 minutes before the screener picked up the phone and hustled me to make sure my response was good for radio.  I got on air, told Torg that Carter and Wiesniewski were not the answer and I didn't see them fixing the fundamental issues the CBJ have had since day 1.

Torg was great, he politely disagreed, and said (in my best Common Man impersonating the Torg voice) "You can't tell me this team is not better by adding Carter and Wiesnieski."  Torg, you're my guy, but sorry.  They are not.  For reference, see 2011-2012 Columbus Blue Jackets.  I still listen every day and I love the show. 

As I got off the phone, my son was staring a me like I just did some super sweet Army Ranger ninja special forces move on 16 GRU operatives.  He couldn't believe I was on the air talking to Common Man and the Torg.  Of all the cool things a father can do for his son, this one 60 second phone call propelled me into stardom in my son's eyes.  He talked about it at school for weeks.  He told everyone he bumped into that his dad was on Common Man and the Torg.   I don't know that elementary schools are the target audience for Sport Talk radio, but my son was pimping the Show for like a month.  He is still so proud of me for getting on the air.  Nothing else I've done has impressed him nearly as much as getting on the air.  He still talks about it and asks me to call in whenever they discuss hockey on the show.

Do you think that my new found celebrity has influenced my son to listen to me in order to improve his individual skill on the ice?  Of course not.  So Common Man or Torg if you're reading this, please call my son and tell him to listen to his coaches, please?  Because If I see him try to stickhandle for 60 minutes using only one hand at camp again, I'm going to throw him off a cliff.  It's painful to watch, help him live.  Save the children, please.

This comes up on page 16 when you google "Common Man Torg Images"

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Greatest Single-Season team you've never heard of....

There was span of about 15 years in the post expansion NHL era when only a handful of teams won the Stanley Cup.  Between 1976 and 1993, only 5 different teams won the Stanley Cup.

Montreal Canadiens (6)
Edmonton Oilers (5)
New York Islanders (4)
Pittsburgh Penguins (2)
Calgary Flames (1)

WTF, the Calgary Flames?  They've won a Stanely Cup?  And in a era when the Stanley Cup was otherwise dominated by four teams?  As you look at the Rosters of the late 70's Canadiens, the Dynasty Islanders, the Dynasty Oilers, and the back-to-back Penguins, you see a roster full of Hall of Famers.  So how did the Flames do it?  Well, their roster in 88-89 was just as impressive as those other teams.

Lanny McDonald - 500 career goals (HOF)
Theo Fleury - 455 career goals
Joe Nieuwendyk - 564 career goals (HOF)
Joe Mullen - 502 career goals (HOF)
Al MacInnis - 1274 career points as defencemen (HOF)
Gary Roberts - 438 career goals
Haaken Loob - John Buccigross loves him for some reason. He scored 50 goals in a season once.
Doug Gilmour - 450 career goals (HOF)
Jiri Hrdina - 45 career goals
Mike Vernon - Won two Stanely Cups as Goalie
Gary Suter - defencemen played in 1145 NHL games
Jamie McCoun - defencemen played in 1128 NHL games
Rob Ramage - defencemen played in 1044 NHL games

If you've just become a fan of hockey in the last 10 years, you won't know any of these names.  If you were a fan of hockey in the 90's, you know ALL of these names (except Hrdina and Loob).  This list of names could stand up to any team in the 300+ goals a season era of the NHL, and it did.

How did they win the Stanley Cup?  Was it a fluke, did they back into the Cup?  NO.  They won the Presidents Trophy for a second season in a rown in 88-89 going 54-17-9.  They scored the 2nd highest goals in the league and allowed the 2nd fewest goals against, 226.  Given the Era the Flames played in, only allowing 226 goals against in a season was inpressive.  Mike Vernon posted an unheard of 2.65 GAA that season.  The most games they lost in a single month was 4, and this was an 80 game schedule.  Did I mention they played in the same division as the Edmonton Oilers (cup winners the season before and after the Flames) and Gretzkly-led Los Angeles Kings that year?  Oh, and it was a playoff format when the first two rounds were against your divisional opponents.  A format that was just vetoed by the NHLPA.  I wonder why?

That's it weird looking stripper girl, spank those Oilers.

Anyways, I hope this gives you a little insight into a team that modern fans seldom hear about.  This team sported 5 Hall of Famers and many guys that won cups with other teams later in their careers.  Lanny McDonald rode of into the sunset after winning his only Stanley Cup with the 89 Flames.

Oh, and Jiri Hrdina?  I mention him for this reason.  He played in 5 NHL seasons as he joined the NHL as a 30 year old rookie.  In those 5 years, he won 3 Stanley Cups as an every day contributor.  Geez.  If it were always that easy. 

All your Stanley Cup are belong to me.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Hockey Haiku Tuesday

We return with the popular Hockey Haiku segment. We leave you with a juxtaposed haiku knowing this season's ride is almost over, but we absolutely can't wait for next season.  Gotta love the three month off season.

Fewer games tonight
Playoff season winding down
Can't wait for next year

Monday, May 14, 2012

Too Hot for the Ice

Edited for relevance on 7.15.2014

Here at Distinct Kicking Motion, we hear all kinds of stories from inside the dressing rooms around the NHL.  We hear about gags that happen between roommates on the road.  We hear about guys that are sooo nuts that their nicknames reflect the world they live in, all by themselves.  You hear stories about guys who are so full of themselves (read: Steve Mason) that they couldn't get laid in a french brothel with a fist full of fifties.  But one of the most compelling "The Rest of the Story" stories I've heard is the Chicago Blackhawks Ice Crew.

Now, most of your self respecting NHL franchises would never replay a fight on the Jumbo-tron during a game.  After all, this is a family game.  That, and replaying a fight is rumored to get you a nifty $10,000 fine from the league.  So does replaying any sort of gruesome injury.  However, if you want to make sure your ice crew is decked out in all the latest hooch gear, go right ahead.  The league has no issue with that.  In 2010, we had two sources confirm that the Blackhawks Ice Crew received several letters of dissatisfaction from notable fans over the 'tastefulness' of the ice crew's outfits in 2009-2010.

The NHL is full of smart, tough, and handsome young gentlemen.  Most are very loyal and devout spouses once they are in a serious relationship and/or married.  Yet, many still relish the opportunity to harmlessly swap clever one-liners with the occasional cute girl at her expense.  Well, the notable fanbase that was objecting to the ice crew's uniforms was the players wives.  At first the players wives thought the young ladies in the ice crew were just very attentive to the ice in front of the players bench.  Then one wife noticed the girls seemed to be taking direction from players during TV time outs.  I mean really, if a girl was skating bent over in front of me dressed like that, I'd tell her there was a rough spot in front of the door that needed attention too.  My wife would reluctantly understand.

So while the league had no issue with the production crew dressing up someone's daughter in 52% of a hockey jersey to bend over and shovel ice in what some could consider a compromising fashion during TV timeouts, the wives had some issue with it.  So the wives, still appreciating that even cute little tarts need to make a buck too young women should still be able to respectfully show off their bodies, made a few suggestions on how the outfits could still be revealing, while not being a distraction.  Seriously, hockey wives are the best.

Same beave, less cleave.
I'm still looking at this and not the jumbo-tron.
 The ice crew was still free to willingly wear an outfit that showcased the genetic attributes of women in a manner in which they felt comfortable.  The people who affected the change were directly impacted by the presence of the original outfit on the ice.  This intervention seemed appropriate and not overreaching.  The dissenting voices offered a fair and equitable solution to which all agreed.  While one could contest the choice to wear a more revealing outfit was taken away from the ice crew (GASP!) a middle ground was reached.  The NHL remains a family affair and the Chicago Blackhawks have done their part to keep it that why.

I'm Happy and Angry

I don't often channel the Simpsons, but I have for this post.  I'm Happy AND Angry.  Today's announcement that Todd Richards had the "interim" portion removed from his title made me happy.  As I read what little I could find, the way the news broke made me angry.

As you guessed, I'm going to start with the angry.  The Blue Jackets did not interview for the position.  They received inquiries from 8 to 10 different folks, but no interviews were conducted.  I'm not mad Todd Richards is the head coach.  I'm not angry that the Blue Jackets didn't interview.  I'm angry that the Blue Jackets COULDN'T interview potential candidates for the head coach position.

Think about it folks, who would they have interviewed?  No active coach in the league is going to leave their head coaching or assistant coaching job to coach the CBJ.  That should show the fans that there's more to this organization being inept than just "Rick Nash."  Notice the air quotes around Nash's name.  There isn't a long time assistant that's looking at the CBJ roster going, "you know what, I can do something with that roster."  Granted, there is a shift in the coaching philosophies across hockey, but I wouldn't expect FANS to look at that too much.

So, if no current NHL head coaches or assistants are going to take the job, what else do you look at?  AHL or CHL coaches with no experience looking to crack into the NHL.  The Blue Jackets have tried that twice, both times coaches who were with successful AHL teams, and both ended badly for Columbus.  Why bring in another guy into his first NHL job when that hasn't worked out for the Jackets thus far?  There are no compelling reasons to conduct interviews when your candidates will mirror what has failed in the past.  Do you hear that CBJ fans, you're team can’t attract top talent, either on the bench or behind it.

Angry part number 2.  I don't know about you, but I wasn't surprised when the flagship station for the Columbus Blue Jackets didn't preempt the "Buckeye Show" to broadcast the Todd Richards presser.  You'd think you'd get a little help from your broadcast partners to get the fan base excited about this exciting announcement but, there's always hope this makes the sports page tomorrow.  Thanks 97.1 the Fan for letting me listen to Dimitrious Stanley talk about his week-long vacation on the west coast instead of hearing exciting Columbus Blue Jackets news.  This should make you livid as a fan.  I'm relegated to streaming low quality video feeds of a press conference the same way I stream free porn.  Way to bolster the CBJ in the market place, media.  Great Job.  I guess I know how the Toronto Raptors fans feel when they don't interrupt "The Leafs Show" at 1pm on a Monday to make a major announcement.

Umm, like, don't the Blue Jackets play in the ACC?

Now, onto my happy part.  The Blue Jackets found a coach with some prior NHL experience.  That's right boys and girls, Todd Richards was an NHL head coach for two seasons in Minnesota furnishing a very Blue Jackets-esqe record of 77-71-and-some-change coaching the Wild for two seasons.  They call him a "players" coach, which is funny because all of the other "Player Coaches" they've had are now scouts somewhere.  But Richards has the right attitude for coaching a kind of young team.  And "player's coach" is really secret code for, "He interviews well."  Ironic, I know.

Richards believes in a certain style of play, not necessarily a steadfast system.  This is a certain style of coaching that is becoming popular as hockey players today are phenomenal athletes.  No longer does a coach have to preach or dictate a system in order to get the most from his players top to bottom in the line-up.  Every body skates well, everybody shoots hard, everybody can contribute - if put in the right situation.  Richards understands the game very well, now he has to teach men, most of which had their educations stop somewhere around the age of 15, to see the game the way he does.  He does it by being a teacher and enricher.  I honestly believe as a coach, when things are at their worst, you have to be a teacher first.  Not coddle, but teach the game, boost confidence, and get the players to "buy in" as a team.  Not a tyrant, and not someone who cracks skulls.  When things are good and you're winning, that's when you demand excellence.

You must unlearn what you have learned.

But Todd Richards finds himself in a very difficult situation.  You need the right kind of hockey player to flourish under him.  The front office is going to have to give Richards the kind of players he needs to function in a creative team offense.  That brings me to my next point.  While the CBJ may have found the right coach to get them out of their decades' long funk, do they have the right front office to help the coach?  How long can the Blue Jackets afford to keep Scott Howson as GM.  I think it's a little unfair to ask any head coach to turn the corner with a perennial loser without goaltending and possibly its all-time leading scorer.  Now I'm angry again.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

What do you do with an Elephant who has three balls?

Yep, the age old question.  If you ask that in Columbus, Ohio most folks would rightly answer with, “Walk him and pitch to the Rhino.”  Ohio is a three-balled state, no doubt about it.

I usually refer to Ohio as a three balled Elephant.  Three balls:  Football, Baseball, and Basketball.  The elephant is Football.  But really central Ohio is a One Balled elephant - OSU Football.  The NBA won’t move here.  I’m pretty certain of it.  If the Blue Jackets have taught us anything, it’s that Columbus is a college sports town and anything that competes with the football Buckeyes is doomed.  Oh, and don’t you dare throw the $2.9 million dollar payroll Columbus Crew at me.  Don’t you dare.  The Crew doesn’t directly compete with the football Buckeyes for fans, broadcasting, or media coverage. While it is Major League in moniker, it is certainly minor league in its sports universe and that is how it’s operated.  Hmmm.  Successful minor league sports franchises in Columbus.  Where have I heard that before?  The thought is, CHILLing?

Now, if the Blue Jackets were a good team that made money, I’d be slightly concerned about an NBA coming to the county owned Nationwide Arena.  But the Jackets are not.  They are not good and they don’t make money.  Don’t give me this “winning” crap about making money.  1) The Jackets still have pretty good attendance while their season ticket numbers dwindle.  Winning may slightly increase revenue on luxury suites, but until then the player’s wives will continue to buy them for nurseries during home games and Wiggle concerts.  2) No matter how well the Blue Jackets do, they or any other winter/fall sports franchise, have to sell advertising spaces against the OSU Football machine, and then bowl season.  No Stanley Cup ring will devalue the far reaching power of advertisements connected with OSU football. 

This first, second, and third obstacle is that OSU Football rules the roost August until July from media coverage to the casual fan.  Then, after that, the NBA would have to contend with an already established and loyal basketball fanbase in central and southern Ohio.  I can't see them putting a team in Columbus, OH.  It would kind of be like putting an NBA team in the same market as Duke, UNC, Wake Forest, and NC State.  Oh, wait a second...

You have the OSU competition in Columbus, both Football and Basketball, maybe with a little spill over from Dayton basketball.  Then you have the Kentucky, Louisville, Xavier, EKU, and Cincinnati basketball teams to contend with in southern Ohio.  I can’t name 5 college basketball players, but I could rattle off 5 D1 college basketball teams in the SE Ohio broadcast area in three seconds.  I think I proved my own point.  You also have broadcast rights issues The Blue Jackets have taught us about already too.  10% of the counties in Ohio can’t broadcast non-Penguins hockey gams..   What does a Columbus NBA team get for a broadcast area?  No Cleveland, and very little southern Ohio.  Pretty weak TV market to generate revenue and sell t-shirts.

Many of the reasons the CBJ flounder here in Columbus will plague whatever NBA team theoretically moves here, except for a deal with the arena.  I can’t imagine any other ownership group in the world agreeing to an arena deal as bad as the Blue Jackets willingly signed up for.  The NBA would be remiss to relocate an NBA team to no matter how misguided or out of touch it’s mayor is.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Meet Mike Gartner

Who?  Is this another obscure player the Dweebs at Distinct Kicking Motion want to gush over.  Well, sort of.  If you consider a 700 goal scorer in the NHL an obscure player than sure.  Mike Gartner is the best the hockey player you've probably never heard of.

Like we said, 700 goal scorer.  Mike Gartner is likely the reason you've never been able to name all six members of the NHL's 700 club.  Although, if you're able to rattle off Marcel Dionne's name, you should know Mike Gartner. (Gretzky, Howe, Hull, Dionne, Esposito, Gartner)

The 700 goals in itself is impressive.  I really don't see this club being added to soon.  Jagr and Selanne are within 40 goals, but are both 40 years old.  Messier, Yzerman, and Lemieux are all within 10 goals of the elite club, and the three of them should have probably "Lebronned Up" for one season to reach that mark.  These names alone should put into perspective the category of player Mike Gartner is.

Of course to reach this milestone you have to have played a considersiderable number of seasons and consistently produce.  This, of many things, is where Gartner's mark is certainly made.  Gartner played in 19 seasons and retired at 38.  The biggest loser of the 94-95 lockout was Mike Gartner.  Mike Gartner holds the record of most consectutive 30 goal season of 15, and the record of the most 30 goal seasons with 17.  Guess what year his streak ended?  94-95 where he amassed 12 goals in thirty games for the TML.

Winn Well, for when your folks couldn't afford Cooper.

Gartner was like the Hank Aaron of Hockey, so to speak.  Not once did he lead the league in goals or points.  Only once did he score 50 goals.  Only twice did he score less than 30 goals in a season, the lockout shortened season, and his final season only skating in 60 games.  He played on five different teams and was traded at the deadline three times.  Those things tend to affect your ability to consistently score, but not Mike Gartner.  We've spent a lot of time talking about his goals, but that was only one dimension of his game.

Speed.  Mike Gartner was FAST.  Mike Gartner was old and fast. Noted for his speed his entire career, he held onto his speed long into his career.  In 1996, at the tender age of 36, he set the fastest skater record at the NHL All-Star Skills competition with a single lap time of 13.386 seconds.  A record that was finally broken by a tenth of a second a couple months ago.  Gartner did this in an era when skates still weighed 5 pounds a piece and only flashy rookies like Eric Lindros and Paul Kariya wore those new fangled carbon fiber outsoles.  Mike Gartner is the poster child for "You can't have full extention without full recovery."  That's a power skating thing in case your confused.

But, most notable was his stache.  Now, Lanny McDonald has the best mustache of all time.  Chuck Norris has his beard because Lanny McDonald's mustache said he could have it.  However, more fashionably was Mike Gartners's clever little lip fuzz.  It was a staple during his career with the Capitals and Rangers.  It was the gentleman-cowboy hockey players stache.  It evoked images of rugged, swift, and sexy.  Upon arrival in Toronto, when ESPN2 started broadcasting NHL games, Gartner's stache was gone.  Few new fans would know him for his stache.  His number "11" is retired with the Capitals and the banner that hangs from the rafters bears his number and likeness while rocking the stache.

Part of the NHL's elite "Glorious Mustache Club."

Mike Gartner's greatness is not without it's obsure facts.  His first season as a professional was the the WHA's Cincinnati Sting as a teenage rookie.  Yep, despite Ohio's best efforts, a superstar began their career here.  Mike Gartner also shared a dressing room in Cincinnati with another teenage rookie, Mark Messier. 

Um, uh.  Wow. Children, Loin Cloths, jock straps, beer, grab ass. Thanks Messier.  Wait, is that Gary Coleman??

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

My Blue Jacket Hall of Fame

So, I was laying in my crate the other day sad and lonely that there was no Blue Jackets hockey to watch. But, as I look at the walls in my crate, my little nub of a tail starts wagging as I look at posters hanging from the walls of my crate.  They are of some of my favorite Blue Jackets Players of years past:

Lasse Pirejeta

The name says it all!  I'm a homer, I know.

Steve Heinze

Heinze 57!  He brought you out of your seat every time he stepped in the zone with the puck.  HE SCORES!!!

Jean Luc Grand Pierre

Defence, Forward, Fighter, Real Estate Mogul.  He still lives in Cbus!  What's not to love!!

Sean Pronger

Derek Dorsett before there was Derek Dorsett.  And yes, they are brothers.  He also played 4 yrs at BGSU!!

Geoff Sanderson

Oh, one of my all time favorites!!  Apparently, he never has to wait for a table in a Canadian restuarant.  34 goals in Columbus must be pretty impressive.

Andrew Cassels

After his playing days, he settled in Columbus and coaches a minor league team in Cincinnati!!!

Jody Shelley

Mr Awesome himself!!  OMG OMG OMG, Shelley drops the mitts!

Robert Kron


Ah, a little stroll down memory lane will tide me over until the 2012-2013 season starts.  I CAN'T WAIT!!!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Blue Jacket Bulldog - no Bull, just love.

So, like any successful non-blog hockey blog, I need co-contributors to round out a balanced diet.  Meet the one of the newest contributors:

Blue Jacket Bulldog

He is the ultimate CBJ superfan.  It's the offseason for the Blue Jackets, so he will be pretty quiet until the season starts.  Maybe a blog here or there.  He abolutely LOVES LOVES LOVES the Columbus Blue Jackets hockey team and it's players.  I think he has a crush on a couple of the Pepsi Girls too.  He knows the power of his cuteness.  There is little else in this world that will make him as happy as seeing his beloved Columbus Blue Jackets win and play hard.  He can be followed on twitter at @CBJ_BULLDOG

Stoic.  Loyal.  And he goes absolutely berserk over the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Oh, and here is a candid shot of him when there are no Blue Jackets to be watched. 

When getting back in shape gets emotional.

So, it has been a stressful week with the 2001 birth year tryouts being this week.  My son had stong sessions at the first two tryouts, then pretty much mailed it in during call-backs.  Alas, he is on the squad he should be on and yours truly gets another year behind the bench as head coach.

This year's tryouts are not without their fair share of drama.  My cell phone has rang non-stop since the teams were posted online.  Frustrated parents, heart broken kids, WTF rosters, new players, and league administrators that put their head in the sand until mid-August all mark the end of tryouts.  So with the stress of hockey tryouts, I thought going to a Sunday Night Drop-in session would be a good stress reliever.  And it's high time that I start skating again.

Why didn't Billy make your team this year?  Is it because he dosn't give a shit or because he bullies his teammates?

I haven't skated much the past couple years.  I'm at the rink at least 4 days a week coaching, so I haven't had much desire to play.  I played competitively as a child, teenager, as an overager.  I had my chance to be a stud and that's all out of my system.  I've made a great friends here in Columbus that always try to get me a roster spot in a repectable league when I'm available to play.  So I've found my way on a team for the upcoming beer league session.  So I felt it appropriate to try and knock the rust off and try a little drop in hockey tonight at Chiller North to get ready for next sessionn.

Hockey cliques at drop in hockey crack me up.  They are typically made up of dudes who learned he game as an adult and are obsessed with having what ever the latest and greatest gear.  It was ironic because the Jofa Shinguards I've had for 17 years finally cracked over the winter.  I was amazed to find that Reebok bought Jofa and doesn't make anything under the Jofa name any more, or of the old Jofa quality.  So, I had to call in about 17 years of favors to order a pair off of a pro-form.  I was actually going to order a pair of Jofa elbow pads too, but was told the Reeboks were better as i didn't need to wear slash guards to keep them in place.  So, imagine the drop-in lockerroom where everyone  knows each other when "a new guy" shows up with shiny new shin guards and elbow pads.  I was getting look at the same way folks look at arabian men boarding 757s.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.  Funeral services will be announced for my old pair of shinguards.  They were like family.

Don't get me wrong, the more people in Columbus that know a little bit about hockey the better.  But man, the super-lifers with no athleticism that pick up the game in their 30's must be the same as those racquet ball guys in the 80's.  I'm not going to lie, it was a little awkward getting eye-banged in the dressing room putting on my gear.  I can usually tell the guys who can't skate because they're checking out other dudes equipment in the dressing room as they get dressed.  I scream at them in my head: "Get your butt down and bend those fucking knees!  Full extention comes at the end of the stride, not at the begining!"

Anyways, as I learned about all the drama in the Sunday night D-League while putting on my gear, I looked forward to stepping on the ice.  Once the Zam Bone Me left the rink and the doors closed, I stepped onto the ice for the all too familiar routine: Groin and Hip Flexor stretch on the ice in front of the bench, halfway between the redline and blue line.  Then the shoulder and back stretch done while skating the length of the blue line twice.  I noticed a couple guys in Ohio AAA sweaters who were half my age and weight going through their stretching routines.  I made the mistake of jokingly suggesting they take it easy on the D-leaguers in the dressing room.  I think they thought I asked them to take it easy on me.

Then it was time to warm up the goalies.  The guys eye-banging me in the dressing room were warming up the goalies with annoying break-aways in ankle bender skates.  So, me and the AAA kids lined up inside the blue line to crank off some slapshots to warm up the goalie.  The two young guns cranked out two nice slappers on the goalie and I was up.  The puck was a stride in front of me, I stepped up, hands in, puck off the back foot, and BAM, I put a missle in the top right corner.  Goalie never had a chance and both AAA kids look over at me.  I was staring at my stick.  I had a pretty good slapshot playing.  Back in the day, it was a Branches Carbon 9900 Square Corner shaft, Mid Flex, with an Easton Graphite blade in a custom curve.  I would cut the shafts down an inch from the bottom to move the kick point lower.  I could really crank 'em out.  Once I started paying for sticks, I bought whatever was on sale.  I figured over the years my skills had diminished through the late 20's and early 30's.  But tonight it was back, and I figured out why.  I had new sticks. 

Well, not really new sticks. I've had them for about a year.  I walked into Perani's last spring on what happened to be Warrier Hockey Demo day.  They were having a huge sale on Warrior sticks as it was demo day.  I was with my son so we checked out the sticks.  In talking with one of the reps, he asked what sticks I liked.  Of course I said the Branches 9900 were my all time favorite,blah blah blah.  He handed me two mid flex Warrior Dynasty tapered shafts and the sales rep told me they had a really low kick point.  They were on sale, I needed new sticks, so I bought two.  I've been using them while coaching, but I never took a shot with them.  I coach 2001's, what douche takes hard shots on 11 year-olds?  So tonight was the first time I shot with one of those sticks and the best comparison I can make was it was like going out to lunch with a naughy former girlfriend after bumping into her at the grocery store.  It was pretty cool.  The shot was back and it was fun. Man, I must have looked like a douche out there.  New gear in the dressing room, new sticks on the ice.  I hate me.

The stroll down memory lane ended after my first shift.  V-start, cross-over start, C-cut crossover start.  It didn't matter what starting technique I used my feet felt like bricks.  It was weird.  It was like I pressed the garage door opener and the garage door wasn't going up.  I beat everyone to the puck, what's wrong with my feet?  Even in the 15 years I've been out and in the beer leagues, I was strong to the puck. Now,  I'm getting beat to the puck by these young kids.  I went back to the bench completely gassed after my 73 second shift.  There were about 400 people at drop-in, so it was at least 12 minutes until my next shift.  I figured the next shift I would get my legs and feet back, then I thought I would get them back on the third shift.  It was my fourth shift 45 minutes into the session that my legs felt good, but starts and stops where still exhausting, if not still anemic.  I went to the bench, sucked on some water, and started to think as I had at least 10 minutes until my next shift.  My grandfather retired from professional baseball at 29, he just walked away from it.  My father played ball for a PAC-10 college and walked away from a very promising baseball career for an exciting life in counter-intellegence and broadcasting after returning from a three year tour in Viet Nam (weird combination, but it somehow worked out).  One of my dearest friends dad is a HOF goalie, I think he's skated twice since retiring and has never put on pads to play since.

I can remember asking them all the same question, why did you retire?  They all had left on their terms and they all said the same thing:  "I couldn't play the game the way I wanted to play any more and I don't know how to play it any other way."  And none of them have played in so much an alumni game since.  I'm not going to lie, I got a little depressed sitting their waiting for the 10 guys ahead of me to take their 4 minute shifts.  My father has always commented on how happy he is that I still play hockey.  I apologize to him constantly for the sacrifices he and my mom made for me to play competitively. If you've even taken a whiff of AAA hockey, you know how expensive it its.  I did it for 5 years.  They wasted tens of thoudands of dollars.  Dad could have bought the cabin when aunt gussie passed away.  But no, he paid over 50 grand for his kid to be done with competitive hockey at age 20. Holy shit, this is not what you're supposed to be thinking on the bench during pick up hockey! That was over 15 years ago. Damn you, all 390 mouth breathers that came to pick up hockey tonight and take 4 minutes shifts.  You other 10 dudes with skill are ok by me though.  Slipping into soggy mid-section hockey depression, I looked for some redemtion.

But why was I here?  Was I here to tryout new gear?  Was I here to see if I still had the spunk of a 20 year-old trying to impress scouts/coaches in the stands?  No, I was out here trying to get back in shape because my friends had found me a spot on a team that could use a little firepower.  Soon, I'll be back in the groove of 36 minutes of hockey followed by 120 minutes of drinking beer.  And while those father figures in my life had a shot their shot, while they walked away on their own terms happy, they never had the opportunity to enjoy their sports for recreation. They have their friends form the sport, but all their stories have been told.  I still have plenty of dumb stories yet to author. 

As the rest of drop in went on, I knew I was playing ok because guys of lesser skill were apologizing to me for missing passes I gave them, or missing me with passes.  Teammates of mine will tell you, I pass the puck hard and get pissed when you miss a good pass.  So, with the compliments coming in the form of embarrassment from d-leaguers, I slowly realize things aren't all that bad.  The Sarah McLaughlin music had finally stopped playing in the back ground of my mind.  But the south lost the war, and I'm not playing the game with quickness anymore.  One is worse news in Atlanta than the other.

"You're Skating Sucks, you're getting fat.  They wasted all that moneeeey" were the lyrics on the 'Have a good cry' EP.

I left the ice after about an hour, because really 10 shifts in 70 minutes time is pretty lame, but I broke a good sweat.  Each shift I got my legs and speed back, but my starts and stops were plebian.  I'm playing in a C league so I think I'll be ok.   I'm not going to lie, realizing that your quickness is fading, or has faded, is not all that fun.   The good news is my shot is back and my hands were working good.  Hockey is three parts: Legs, feet, and hands.  All-in-all despite the "inside the actors studio" moment I had after the fifth shift, I still had fun.  I get back to the dressing room and start taking off my gear.  I put my pants back on and check my phone.  I have two texts and seven missed calls.  Ugh, hockey parents - leave me no peace? Seven calls? I check the texts on my phone.  One from a hockey buddy who's golfing badly , and the other text is from my dad.  It simply asks, "How'd it go." It was tough to hold back the tears, but I made to the car without sobbing.