DKM Hockey Podcast

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Crap, I was wrong about Murray

As it turns out, an oversight in my ability to discern the SJHL and the SMHL have minimized the CBJ's options with Ryan Murray this year.

I had read where Ryan Murray played his 2008-2009 season with the Moose Jaw Warriors presumably of the SJHL, which is a tier I junior hockey league in Canada.  Ryan Murray did play with the Moose Jaw Warriors in 2008-09, however the Moose Jaw Warriors are a Midget AAA team that play in the SMHL.  So, what's the difference between playing a year of Midget AAA or Tier I junior as a 15 year old?  It's actually quite tremendous when you're a 19 year old drafted by the worst team in the league.

See, the CHL and the NHL have sort of a 'transfer agreement' in place.  In case you didn't know, the CHL is a Major Junior hockey league across Canada and (last I checked) four states in the USA. The CHL is the largest development pool for the NHL.   The CHL is one body consisting of three leagues:  The WHL, OHL, and cake eating QMJHL.  Players are drafted into those leagues in various ways.  Like the NCAA in the exploitation of teenage athletes, the CHL doesn't lie and focuses on making millions through the development of U20 players whose goal is professional athletics.  The NCAA hipocracy doesn't like competition and almost all forms of participation in so much as being listed on a CHL team ruins your NCAA eligibility.  There is one way you can play for a Major Junior team and maintain your NCAA eligiblity, but it is next to impossible for that to happen.  Anyways...

Using Host Families to Exploit Teenage Boys since 1975

What the NHL and CHL have in place is an agreement that any player selected from the CHL in the NHL Entry draft cannot be sent to a minor league affiliate unless one of the following two criteria has been met:

1. The player has played or used four years of eligibility in Juniors
  • Playing 25 games whether it be regular season or playoffs consumes a year of junior eligibility
2. The player will turn age 20 by Dec 31st of the season they are participating in.
  • If Ryan Murray turned 20 by Dec 31st 2012, the CBJ could sign him and then send him to the AHL instead of returning him to his junior team if the CBJ do not feel he's ready for the NHL.
This prevents the NHL from taking mature and capable 19 year olds from the sweat shops of CHL arenas.  Before you start trolling this post, these rules only exist between the CHL and NHL for players drafted while on a CHL team.  While uncommon, you can be drafted by the NHL before playing for a CHL team.  And, you don't have to play in the CHL to be selected in the NHL Entry Draft.

Now, Murray did play parts of four seasons in junior hockey.  However, his first year 2008-09 he only played 5 games.  I mistook Murray's 40-odd games with the Moose Jaw Warriors as a full season in Jrs, satisfying the agreement with the CHL.  It was not a season in Jrs and does not count.  Unless there is a change in the agreement between the CHL and the NHL as a result of collective bargaining, Ryan Murray will only be able to play in WHL or NHL next season.  At this time, the AHL is not an option.

What I said in my "Welcome to the AHL" post does not change.  You will not help Ryan Murray develop by having him play as a 3rd pair defenceman on the worst team in the league.  Nor is it fair to ask the boy to be a 2nd pair contributor no matter how willing he may be to do so.  He needs 22-25 minutes a game playing against men to develop.

I still feel the AHL would be a perfect place for Murray to spend this season.  I still believe that Murray has outgrown the WHL but the Blow Jackets aren't where this kid should spend 2012-2013. 

Maybe Ryan Murray can be the poster child for 19 year olds who have outgrown playing against 17 year olds in the CHL.  Perhaps a new agreement can be reached where the minimum age for AHL eligibility is moved to 19, or maybe a 135 game minimum can be instituted instead of a 4 season minimum.  Regardless, Ryan Murray will get little benefit from another season in Juniors or the Jackets would be throwing away cap space to sit this kid on the bench 45 minutes a game.  But hey, this is Columbus, why not?

Don't feel bad Murray, I've played 5 seasons in the CHL.  I may be on board for a 6th!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Welcome to the AHL Ryan Murray

Welcome to the AHL Ryan Murray.  Well, if I were the GM anyways that's where I'd put him.  Why? Because I don't think he's NHL ready?  No.  It's because I don't think he's ready to be the 5th or 6th defenceman on what's sure to be a repeat performance of the NHL's worst team.

I applaud the Blue Jackets for selecting Ryan Murray.  A few posts ago "My 2012 Draft Recommendation.." touched on how the Blue Jackets needed to pick a kid beyond his years in poise and mental toughness.  I also suggested he score 30 goals, but the point of the post was that the Jackets pick a player that was an out of the box professional, 'wise in his years', and would give us honest but positive interviews.  That kid was Ryan Murray when it came time for the Blow Jackets to draft.

If you truly are a jackets superfan and you're learning hockey along the way, ask yourself this:  who does Ryan Murray play with in 2012-2013?  Your top four defenceman are Wisniewski, Johnson, Tutyin, and Nikitin.  Do you put Murray with Methot or Martinek?  Surely you don't give Nikitin a qualifying offer if you're going to make him a 5th defenseman...  And this brings us to the oft mistaken phrase, "It takes longer for a denfenseman to develop."

You think he'd have a bigger smile. Columbus, OH - Hooray....

This statement is both true and untrue.  It takes longer for a defenseman to physically develop.  You can't be a 6'2" 178 pound defenceman in the NHL.  Wayne Primeau would eat you up.  So yes, you want your defenceman to have their man strength when you have them start skating against men.  This physical maturity typically comes about naturally by age 22 or 23.  Some dude physically transform earlier.

But more to Ryan Murray's case is two points:  1) Defenceman have to make decisions on the ice in an instant.  That is the number one difference between a forward and defencemen.  It is this decision making that takes time to learn.  The first pass makes or break your breakout.  It's the decision by the defenceman that directly influences the start of the breakout, or whether you're lining up at center ice after an opposing team's goal.  I think with 2nd pair ice time, Murray will take less than two years to properly develop that skill set.  I say only two years because he's wise beyond his years.

Secondly Or 2), his development is going to be dependent on his ability to get 18-22 minutes of ice time per game. He doesn't get that being a 5th or 6th (beit a 3rd pair) defenceman skating for the Blue Jackets.  If he's a 3rd pair guy, he'll see 12-16 minutes a game, mostly in the 1st and 2nd period.  If I were GM of the Columbus Blue Jackets, he'd get an entry level NHL contract and spend his first year in the AHL playing with men and getting 20-25 minutes a game as a 1st or 2nd pair defenseman.  Murray is a smart kid, he needs to see the plays breakdown and develop in order to learn.  He's bright, so he won't need three or four years to learn this, but he will need at least one.

It's also worth nothing that I can't think of a worse thing to do to a teenage stud than make him a third pair defenceman and watch his team suck for 82 games.  I also don't think its good for his confidence to expect him to be a 2nd pair kid on the NHL squad his first year and expect him to contribute 22 minutes a night.  Send the Murray to Springfield for 2012-2013.  Call him up for a couple 4 or 5 game homestands with the intention he's only there for 4 or 5 games to see how he's doing.  He'll be ready to rock in 2013-2014 with 22-25 minutes per game where he can thrive.

Who remembers the highly drafted defenceman the CBJ tried to rush into the NHL??

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Hockey Haiku Tuesday - CBJ Style

This is a recap of the Breaking Stories in #CBJ land this week.  Lots of speculation mixed with, lots of catchy things to get .0072% of the population to buy 42 tickets to the Blue Jackets this season.  That's right, in a city of 2.2 million people, less than .0072% are inteterest in season tickets for a last place NHL franchise.  Carry the Flag.  March On.  Ignite the Night. 

Will Nash Be Traded?
Where's our hero Davidson?
#JTB - Warcraft?

Battle Dudes living in their mom's basement?
Battle some political party?
Join the RAF for the Battle of Britian?

Friday, June 15, 2012

NHL Draft advice for CBJ fans.

It seems like only yesterday we were talking about how mythical beast John Davidson would convince Rick Nash to stay in Columbus.  Where was Rick Nash going?  That's right, nowhere as long as he was in Columbus.  But today we are talking about swirling rumors around his pending trade and the 'talent rich' upcoming NHL Entry Draft.

Rick Nash traded.  Oh how I don't envy the CBJ front office this time of the year.  They look to trade Rick Nash, the CBJ's powerhouse of offence to another team who could use him as a solid 2nd or 3rd scorer.  No other team besides the Blue Jackets have envisioned building an offense around him.  Well, maybe the Islanders would have.  Nash is the missing piece to most other teams, and the only piece in Columbus.  Now that same organization tries to dump Rick Nash, a solid number two scorer as envisioned by 28 NHL general managers, for top scorer compensation.  Did I mention Nash's contract is player friendly and not anti-lockout friendly?  Rebuilding.  Laughable.  It's a term Howson uses openly so he can rationalize the minimalist return the franchise will get for Nash - aka Salary Dump.

The Blue Jackets have claimed that they are entering into a rebuilding phase, but I'm having a hard time finding more than parts of one season when they were ever 'built.'  Super-fans are placated by the possible loss of Nash by the manufactured fact that this year's draft is deep.  Deep.  It's more like Knee-deep.  Think I'm wrong?  Why does a story about Edmonton shopping the first pick get buried behind Rick Nash trade rumors?  It's a ho-hum draft year and everyone but the fans know it.  Admittedly, I've only spoken with two front offices this week.

Each GM has their formula for winning, and the successful GM can draft players to fit their team.  Some take time, some take luck.  A smart GM spends 5 minutes looking over stats, and months looking at everything else the player does.  What kind of person are they?  Are they coachable?  Does he alienate teammates?  Does he work hard?  Is his mom hot?  Is he ready?  All things being equal (which they seldom are) there are two solid fundamental ideals to go by in the NHL draft if you're a GM with an otherwise coin toss for a pick. 1) Take the best player available. 2) DON'T DRAFT THE RUSSIAN.

I am not being funny with ideal number two, if you're drafting on potential in the top 10, DON'T DRAFT THE RUSSIAN.  And really, if you're a CBJ fan, 'Don't draft the Russian' should be right next to your 'Carry the Flag' tattoo.  Think I'm just some blow-hard with a blog who knows a guy that knows a guy?Let's take some random draft years and look at our top 10 Russian picks.

2001: 1st - Ilya Kovalchuk; 3rd -  Alexandre Svitov; 5th - Stansilav Chistov
2002:  No Russians in Top 10
2003: 4th - Nikolai Zherdev
2004: 1st - Alexander Ovechkin; 2nd Evgeni Malkin
2005: No Russians in 1st Round
2006: No Russians in Top 10
2007: No Russians in Top 10
2008: 6th - Nikita Filatov
2009: No Russians in the Top 10
2010: 8th Aleksandr Burmistrov
2011: No Russians in the Top 10

The NHL is comprised of only like 4% Russians.  So naturally there would be fewer in the draft.  But still, at the U20 level, Russia has talent.  There are three Russians on this list that were legitimate "can't miss" players. There was media frenzy around them, you knew who they were when they were 15 years old - Kovalchuk, Ovechkin, and Malkin were studs from Day one.  Filatov and Zherdev were drafted on pure potential, which when faced with drafting a russian in the top 10 purely on potential, DON'T DRAFT THE RUSSIAN.  Of the Russians taken in the top ten the past decade, four are still in the NHL.  Three of the four that are not spent some time in Columbus.

Nail Yakupov is this year's top North American prospect (not already drafted).  There is no 'potential' on Yakupov, he should settle into a nice legitimate second line scorer somewhere.  He puts up legit numbers in the OHL.  However, his numbers aren't typically number 1 overall pick numbers, but they are in this year's draft.  They say 'North American prospect' because he plays major junior in the OHL - a most non-traditional route for a Russian considering how xenophobically protectorate Canada (I mean CHL) is of hockey for Canadians.  Yakupov's numbers are noteworthy, even though they are in the OHL.  How does he do if he played the WHL?  He did win CHL rookie of the year in 2011, but we know how well Rookies of the Year fair in Columbus.  His personal background is certainly unique, making for what is sure to be awkward interviews during post-game, if not making him more awkward than Steve Mason in the bars after a game. Oh wait, bars serve alcohol...

Anyways, to my point, Nail Yakupov will likely be available at pick number two if Edmonton doesn't trade it's number one pick.  Considering how badly Edmonton needs defensemen and how stacked they are with legit young forwards, it may be possible they look to trade the number one pick.  And really, if Wisniewski hadn't gotten a Nash-like contract (Nash-like in it's NTC, over paying-ness, and consistent Cap hit), he'd be on his way to Edmonton with he Kings acquired draft pick giving Columbus a number one pick in this year's draft.  Ok - I spoke with three front offices this week.

Columbus, if you find yourself in a position to draft Yakupov, only draft him if you plan on keeping him in Jrs one more year.  He had a multi-injury shortened season in Jrs this year, only his second in Major Jr, and he needs to play another year there.  While it may be foreign to people in three-balled Columbus to leave your number 2 pick (and possibly your number 1 pick) in Jrs, you are rebuilding and there is no hurry to force him into the NHL.  Having him play a frustrating season on the worst team in the league is not what this young man needs.  Leave him in Jrs one more year.  Come to think of it, it may be foreign to the NHL to put a non-goalie No. 1 or 2 pick back in Jrs.

Don't give me this Hall/Nugent-Hopkins crap.  Hall was an NHL ready pick ready after three full seasons in Major Junior.  He put up Nash like numbers his first two years in the NHL playing 75% of each season.  Nugent-Hopkins played parts of three seasons in Jrs, got to play on a team with a talented and same-aged Hall, and went balls-so-hard in the NHL.  Good luck finding film of Yakupov doing that.  There are lots of great videos of Yakupov dangling 17 year olds on the internet - not a lot of film of him banging in the corners.  Yakupov will have a good career in the NHL splitting time on the second line and top powerplay units.  He may make an All-Star team year.  Don't expect him to turn around a team or be the face of the franchise should he be drafted by Columbus playing in the Central Division.  Doing so would just be plain ignorant.

Inside the Dressing Room: NHL Issued Jerseys

Chances are you love your favorite hockey team.  You've bought your favorite team's jersey and you wear it "mit stoltz" or "with pride."  You where it to a game.  You wear it watching a game.  You wear it to the office on dress down Friday's to profess your love.  The NHL does one tiny piece of good marketing, it allows the fans the ability to buy "authentic" jerseys (or sweaters) made to the same specs as the jersey's issued to the players.  By 'authentic' the manufacturer means they are constructed with the same features as pro issued jerseys, but they are not exactly what your favorite player wears on the ice.

We at Distinct Kicking Motion do have an affinity for things obscure.  We happen to have an actual 'team issued' jersey hanging around in our collective closets.  This is an Atlanta Thrashers team issued jersey, straight outta what once was the Thrashers's dressing room.  Let's take a look at what make team issued jersey's unique.

Atlanta, GA - supplying Western Canada with NHL teams since 1981.

Each Player is issued two home and two away jerseys at the beginning of the regular season.  This makes 'game worn' jersey's highly valuable since they are issued to players in such limited quantities. For special auctions, playoffs, and 'shirt off our back nights' the players are issued sweaters just for those events.  Teams keep extra "blank" jersey's in the equipment room in the event a player is called up from the minors or a player is acquired in a trade. 

Team issued jerseys feature such things as "Embroidery" "Gussets" "Reinforced Elbow Pads" and "Fight Straps."  These features are found in the 'authentic' jerseys that you can buy for hundreds of dollars at fans shops or on eBay.
One, two, three, four, five, six.  Six colors in the Thrashers logo, AH-AH-AH.

All logos and numbers for issued jerseys are heat pressed then embroidered onto the jersey.  The numbers and logos themselves are stitched and embroidered.  This makes the logos/numbers very durable and easier to photograph.

A tidy fight strap or "Tie Down" fills out this Reebok Edge 2.0 sweater nicely.

The most identifiable piece of an 'authentic' and team issued jersey is the fight strap.  This is a snap and velcro reinforced strap that is sewn to the inside of the back of the jersey.  The strap is then fastened to a loop on the hockey pants to keep the jersey from being removed.  The fight strap is not designed to keep the jersey from being pulled over a players head in a fight.  It's meant to keep the jersey ON during a fight.  Thugs of yester-year would wear jersey's three sizes too big, and during the course of the fight, the jersey would come off, leaving the player bare-chested.  This creates a distinct advantage in a fight when you have no jersey on, giving your opponent no leverage with no jersey to grab onto.  #TheMoreYouKnow.  The equipment staff will often mark the fight straps to signify any importance of the jersey.

Gussets are a diamond shaped piece of fabric in the armpit of the jersey.  This serves two (and sometimes three) functions.  1) it makes the sweater fit better over shoulder pads and adds flexibility to the jersey. 2) the gusset today is usually a lightweight breathable material to minimize odor.  3) Phil Esposito came up with the idea of making the gussets of striped fabric for the Tampa Bay Lightning jerseys.  You could only see stripes when a player raised his hands in the air after scoring a goal.  It was a nice touch.  The Lightning discontinued doing this with their latest "all blue and white" jerseys.

Gussets, fashion and function.

Reinforced Elbows.  There are two 'high wear' zones on hockey jerseys.  One of them is the elbows.  Jersey manufacturers have long added an extra piece of fabric in the form of an oval patch to the interior of the jersey sleeve.  This looked a little ghetto as the stitching from a giant oval patch would detract a little from the appearance of the jersey.  Now, with the newer jerseys, the extra layer of fabric is built into the sleeves as part of the jersey.

It's hard to illustrate, but the white band of the jersey here is two layers of fabric.
The other high wear zone is the shoulders.  Store bought 'authentic' jerseys do not typically have the second layer of fabric added underneath the jersey material.  The 'inner' layer of fabric would rub against the shoulder pads while the outer layer of fabric rubs individually against the glass, boards, or some guys head.

Here you can see the pie shaped second layer of the reinforced shoulders.  Also, you can see the embroidery of the sholder patch.
Almost unceremoniously, the team issued jerseys bear little if any indication of it's own importance.  There are no giant tags to signify it's uberness to the super fan.  They are shipped with three tags, two permanently affixed to the jersey and a tiny one on the the sleeve that is removed once issued to a player.  There is one tag sewn inside the left hem of the jersey that lists the manufacturer and product code.  The second tag is sewn just inside the collar to identify the size.

Size 58 - And made in Canada.
All issued helmets, sweaters, and jerseys are required to bear the NHL shield.  The logo is embroidered on the pants and jerseys.  For a long time the NHL shield was embroidered on the lower back hem of the jersey.  It was always a nice subtle touch.  When the NHL switched to the Reebok Edge style jerseys after the lockout, the location of the NHL crest/shield moved to the front of the collar, a more conspicuous area of the jersey.  It looks nice on 'busy' jerseys like the Trashers sweater, but having the shield on the collar detracts a little from the more traditional jerseys like Toronto or Detroit.

The tiny, barely postage stamped sized tag on the left sleeve of the jersey.

The construction of the jersey has changed considerably over the last ten years.  Our next "Inside the dressing room" series will feature a photo rich pictorial of how jerseys have changed over the past decade to get to where they are today.

Friday, June 8, 2012

My 2012 Draft Recommendation for the Blue Jackets

The 2012 NHL Entry Draft.   A lot of people are calling this a draft year with good depth because the first 6-7 picks are close to equal.  On a scale of 0-100, there are no guys rated in the 90's, but the first 6-7 guys are all solid 83s.  With that, what do the Columbus Blue Jackets do this year?  What should management do with it's number 2 Overall pick?  While the CBJ fans sit around and salivate over the thought of John Davidson doing something with the team, while not being able to name one thing he did with the Blues, who should team draft?  To be honest, I haven't paid too much attention to the talent level or skill level of the players in this years draft as far as the CBJ are concerned.  Why?  Because I don't think the CBJ need the most 'skilled' player available when they draft.

What?  I'm crazy?  Maybe, but let me tell you what I think.  I could be wrong, but I don't see guys in this year's draft that have 8-time all-star written all over him.  Sure, Yakupov looks good between the circles against other 17 year olds, but why do I have such a hard time finding film of him working hard in the corners?

What would I do with the Columbus Blue Jackets second overall pick?  First, I would find some sucker and trade down to maybe 6th or 7th.  I don't think there's a franchise player in this years draft.  I'd pick up another top 10 pick with it for next year.  Ok, I've done that.  Now, what would I do with the Blue Jacket's 6th or 7th pick this year?  I would then scour this year's top 10 prospects - goalie, forward, or Dman it don't matter - and pick which ever was considered the most "wise beyond their years" as far as maturity and intellect.  Why?  This team needs a culture change.  It's needs a level of consistent professionalism.  It needs a young spark that fans immediately can relate to. The Blue Jackets need a guy who is immediately likeable, humble, and just happy to be playing pro hockey.  Dare I say, the Blue Jackets need this generation's Steve Yzerman. 

Now, I'm not talking about the 155 points a year Yzerman.  I'm talking about the consistent, ever present, white collar leader that the blue collar guy respects.  A guy who is young, and while may not prefer the spotlight, understands that he's in it and what that takes to be the face of the franchise (even though this year's pick is really not the face of the franchise).  This team doesn't need Steven Stamkos right now, it needs someone solid that it can count on.  It needs omeone the fans are proud to see that can actually add to the offense.  Someone young that every night that the fans can see holding their own against the NHL's best and flourish doing it.  To do that on a team like the Blue Jackets in a city like Buckeyeville, OH - you've got to be "wise beyond your years" in swagger, mental toughness, and most of all humility.  Speaking English is a big plus.

Blue Jackets fan, don't despair if you don't get the best boy amongst boys.  Make sure you're GM brings your team the right player.  And right now, that player needs to have confidence, humility, and the ability to score 30 goals a year in this league - in that order.  And really, the Blue Jackets front office hasn't exactly done a bang up job with the draft thus far.  So if my plan doesn't work out, it's just the status quo, right?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

In the immortal words of Nancy Kerrigan: WHY....

I got my first job in high school by virture of a neighbor who lived two houses down.  He was a retired journalist who owned a local Play it Again Sports franchise.  I was the only hockey player within 20 miles of his store, and hockey was starting to get popular in the area.  I was always stopping in to look for hockey equipment and next door was the “video game exchange.”  One day he sent a letter to the house asking me if I was interested in a job.  I accepted, and my first check two weeks later was for $28.  My mom still has a picture of it.

He was a good first boss to have.  I learned good things, I learned bad things, and I learned that italians listen to country music.  What I would come to learn was that my neighbor and boss was at one time the SID (Sports Information Director) at Marquette University and following that, a sports writer for the Milwaukee Sentinel.  He was a writer first - an English major with a masters in journalism.  He was never more than a participant in youth athletics, but was able to capture and articulate a unique, if not wry, perspective on sports.  He would tell some funny stories about the teams and sports he would cover, but he also gave some great insight into journalism itself.

However, he was always looking for a story, even if one wasn't there. He would try to turn, “Joe Montana bought a big mac” into “Joe Montana prospects at the chance to create a McDonalds empire.” He had little understanding of the professional or competitive athlete, and he often rubbed people the wrong way.  He was a gifted writer that didn't quite get athletes.  I honestly think he would have been a great political writer on the DC beat.
Today. Twitter is a buzz with John Davidson interviewing for an “Executive Position” with the Columbus Blue Jackets on May 29th.  He met with majority owner and team president to interview for something.  The pieces I’ve read paid no attention to what he interviewed for or why he interviewed for it.  Because really, ‘what’ and ‘why’ are as important today as teaching lawyers constitutional law. Oh, wait, no major law school requires constitutional law.  Anyways, any idiot with the internet and a camera phone can cover the ‘who’ and ‘where.’  If you have a friend somewhere in middle management you can sometimes find a link to the ‘how.’

But ‘who’ and ‘when’ is what grabs your attention while ‘what’ and ‘why’ are left in the wake of sports talk and blogging. Until I get what and why, any news is just fodder for junkies and bloggers (I realize I just made fun of myself).  Nothing gets #CBJ people excited like speculating what John Davidson will do with Rick Nash.  Of course, if we don’t know ‘what’ Davidson interviewed for or why people would assume he’d do anything with Nash?  Bloggers speculate what “bounty” the Jackets will get in return for one of the league’s highest cap hits belonging to the league’s perennial mid-30’s placed scorer.  We expect San Jose to sign free agents in the same manner the Blue Jackets operate their amateur draft – ignorantly.  There are suitors for Nash, certainly other teams looking to dump their ‘stuck in the mud’ contracts.  I feel it a little irresponsible to speculate what John Davidson would do with Rick Nash until we learn what he interviewed for and why.  Be then again, I don’t need to sell advertising space to feed the family.

I just read where John Davidson, long time broadcaster, would be the most important hire in Blue Jackets history. Why?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Meet the crew - Director of Content at DKM Hockey

Today's #CBJ community spotlight is @johntkemp.  Whether too embarrassed to admit it, or he's just too embarrassed to admit it, he is also the Director of Content here at Distinct Kicking Motion.  John is the Estragon to my Vladomir; the Kurri to my Gretzky; the Greenberg to my Golic.  Whether DKM gets 1 viewer or 1 million viewers, it's Kempy's guidance that makes sure our words reach people in an informative manner without alienating the reader.

This was moments before the Edmonton Oilers "won" the first pick in the 2012 NHL Draft Lottery.

There are several stories I could tell about John, but I will tell a hockey related personal story...

Despite Kempy's diminished overall hockey ability, he has some good speed, and as always, great heart.  Kemp is an athletic fellow and has been since his youth.  This story takes place a while ago, and I'm not sure Kemp had been playing ice hockey very long. I know it was a while ago because I was still pretty thin and in shape.  Kemp had a habit of getting open for a break-a-way or two a game, but they usually ended with him crashing head first into the end boards after missing the net with a shot.  He's come a long way since, but Kemp is still good for one or two of those a season these days.

I can be a little insensitive at times, but I always tried to nurture Kemp.  He was and is altheltically gifted, and I respected that.  One day away from the rink I tried to give him a little guidance.  We were at lunch talking about breakaways and I said to Kemp, "You know, someone once said to me 'When you hit the blueline on a breakway, you've got to have your mind made up whether you're going to deke or be a shooter.'" I went on to explain,  "I always try to use angles to beat a goalie with a good shot.  I have my mind made up to be a shooter, unless the goalie shows me something else."  John sat there for a second, thought about it for a while with an intent look on this face.  After a moment or two He replied, "Usually when I hit the blue line with the puck (on a break-a-way) I'm thinking to myself, "Don't Fall Down, Don't Fall down, Don't Fall down."

We still chuckle about that to this day. His ying, my yang.

NHL 2013 - Create a Fan

It's a long time running gag we have here at Distinct Kicking Motion - "Madden Points."  You know, in any EA Sports game you have the opportunity to create a player.  You are allotted a fixed amount of 'points' to distribute amongst dozens of attributes for your player.  Each attribute could be assigned up to 99 points, but you only had enough points to 'max out' a couple of attributes.  How well the player performs is determined by how you distributed the points. It was fun.   It's in all EA Sports games, but most folks know what you're talking about when you call them "Madden Points."

This a registered trademark.  Please don't sue us and stuff.

One day about 10 years ago, we were sitting around talking about a good looking girl in the office, and I believe it was Morgan_Ward_140 who said, "God may have given her a 95 in looks and a 99 in body, but he only gave her 36 points in offensive awareness."  This young lady was such a sweetheart, drop dead gorgeous, and hadn't caught on that guys only talked to her because they wanted to be on her.  So sparked the "Madden Points" joke we've shared for a decade.

In the EA Sports NHL hockey games, your categories were stuff like: Shot accuracy, shot power, skating, checking, aggression, speed, offensive awareness, defensive awareness, etc...  The combination of theses different categories gave you an overall rating as a player.  Now a days you can customize your skates, sticks, and gloves.  What made it even more fun was that you could look at NHL rosters and see how they ranked real NHL players in those stats.

We got to talking the other day about our different level of fandom and wondered if there was a "Create a Fan" option in NHL 13 how the categories would look.   Here's the breakdown of the categories for being a fan:

Blind Loyalism: there's nothing you like better than feeling part of a team by rooting for them 0=You'd rather wax your mother in laws armpits.  99=Your team runs a drug cartel and they are still the best guys in the world
Homerism: 0=They still suck  99= at 9-56-12 you list 5 positive from each loss.
Uberness:  0=who are these guys?  99=you talk about the team or players like the were in your wedding because they autographed a napkin for you once.
Hockey Knowledge:  0=what's tag up icing?  99=You could legitimately be considered for a pro coaching/mgmt job.
Hockey Ability:  You're playing ability at it's peak. this is like an 8 point grade scale with NHL starting at 92.  64 is an F. Capped at 45 if you've never tried out for a team.
Impact on Real Life: 0=duh 99=you purposely bash people for having a different opinion than you, don't go to kids events to watch games, wish you had played the sport as a child.
Team History: 0=Who's Rick Nash?  99=you know the times and full scoring of all of Espen Knutsen's All Stars goal on instant recall
Paying Customer: the team's performance dictates how much you spend money on fandom. 0=no interest, even if you're given owner's suite tickets for game 7.  99=you spend $500 for on the glass seats behind the penalty box vs the Islanders instead of paying rent
You Might have a problem: 99=you go out of your way to find out where players live, shop, park and intentionally seek them out.

Then we got Let's look at some of our contributors, max point allocation of 600.
ContributorMorgan Ward 140Blue Jacket BulldogJohn T Kemp
Blind Loyalism3510080
Hockey Knowledge854040
Hockey Ability78535
Impact on real life409035
Team History551540
Paying Customer358570
You Might have a problem104540

From this representation of fandom, you can clearly see Morgan Ward is not wired very well for fandom.  If you've read his posts, you already knew that.  John T Kemp is a very excited, loyal and positive fan who doesn't take it too seriously, but still. CBJ Bulldog, well - he gushes over everything CBJ only knowing they've existed for about 6 weeks.

So how would you rank yourself as a fan?  Are you blindly loyal?  Are you just a hater?  Is rooting for the #CBJ a healthy habit?  Rank yourself and find out...

Hockey Haiku Tuesday

As a hockey fan, are you happy to see a New Jersey Devils vs Los Angeles Kings Stanley Cup final?  California is a state with 37 million people.  Canada has a population of 34 million people.  Los Angeles has a metro population of 12.8 million people. Winnipeg, MB has a population of 668k.  Yet, only 2.8 million people nationwide tuned in to watch game two of the Stanley Cup final on Saturday night.  While we play over/under for Game 3 viewership, we leave you with Hockey Haiku Tuesday:

Suppose they gave a war
And nobody watched it much.
Hockey Parity?

There is not a lot of orignality here, but I think you get the point. 

Thanks Lockout of 2004-2005.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Best Hockey Poem Ever: A Clean Sheet.

Hockey Equipment marketing in the US is about as foreign to most people as Hurling.  But sometime in the late 90's, Bauer was running some crazy ads with quirky goalies for their new fangled Nike hockey skates.


But Bauer was running some quiet and emotionally driven ads for their branded line of equipment.  I'm sure if you googled or youtubed Bauer Hockey Poem you'd come up with the TV spot.  I'm not sure if this is a 'borrowed' version of an existing poem or something that the sensitive boys at Bauer pounded out themselves.  Never the less, this remains my second favorite sports poem of all time - and possibly the best hockey poem ever.

If I give you a clean sheet, what will you write?
Will your words be long and graceful or short and sweet?
Will it be poetry or brute instinct?
If you have something to say, best say it now
For soon, always, too soon.
My sheet will be filled
And this chapter will end.
As sure as the next will begin.
With a clean sheet, new authors,

and a million possibilities...

The words of this poem fit really well with hockey.  Sheet is a sheet of ice.  The immediate comparison to the Zamboni clearing the ice of what just took place (unless of course you have practice right after a U18AAA team, those gouges stay for weeks!!).  Poetry or Brute force.  I could go on and on...  This poem is simply the best one for capturing the emotional attachment of playing hockey in writing.

I liked it so much that I wrote it on my tip trays when I was bartending at TGI Friday's in the summers during college.  Needless to say, it was a great ice breaker for hot 23 year old girls crying into their beer about jerks they meet at the gym.  Hot girls searching for meaning and emotional fulfillment - fish in a barrel.

And you ask what my favorite sports poem?  Well, it's the truncated portion of Thomas Gray's "Elegy written in a Church Courtyard" Lines 55 and 56

"Full many a flower are born to blush unseen
And waste its sweetness upon the desert air"

This poem unto itself has no bearing on sports, until you hear Susan Sarandon reading it aloud as Crash Davis rounds the bases after hitting his minor-league record-setting homerun in the movie Bull Durham.  In that context, and being in a family of career minor leaguers, it has special sports meaning to me...

We're dealing with a lot of shit.
And then before I start tearing up, I remember this scene from the movie.  "Okay, well, uh... candlesticks always make a nice gift, and uh, maybe you could find out where she's registered and maybe a place-setting or maybe a silverware pattern. Okay, let's get two! Go get 'em."

What's Hurling?