Archive for the ‘AHL’ category

The Cup Resides in Chicago – Some Thoughts in The Afterglow

June 12, 2010

 

It finally happened…. 

In my lifetime… 

The Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup! 

Ahhh, the celebration amidst friends and family was sweet indeed.  I was hoping to have pics by now of us celebrating, and me wearing my Bobby Hull autographed sweatshirt, but will post those when I receive them via email. 

There was a time, right after the Hawks bumped off the Sharks, that I thought the Cup was going to be theirs.  I wasn’t going to make predictions though, or write about their shortcomings, or about how Patrick Kane still rubs me the wrong way a little bit.  I just thought that the worst competition was eliminated and that Philadelphia wouldn’t be that tough – but then I hadn’t really seen much of any of the Flyers’ games.  

I really want to take my hat off to Philly.  I mean, they ground, and crashed, and limped and fought the Hawks all the way.  While all eyes were looking at Anti Niemi to be the weak spot, nobody looked to Michael Leighton.  Sure he was great earlier in the playoffs but he’s still Michael Leighton and against a high firepower team like the Hawks, I wasn’t sure he could handle it.  

In the end, Niemi wasn’t a weak spot, even though he wasn’t great either. 

Michael Leighton was a weak spot.  

Goalies.  This series showed how important they can be in a game.  If either goalie got relatively hot in this series- I don’t mean scalding Patrick Roy hot,  just a notch above Anti Niemi- the series would’ve definitely gone to that team.   

Philly needs to look at their goaltending situation in the off season.  That last goal just shouldn’t happen. Period. 

Speaking of which, that has to be the most bizarre finish to a tournament competition in the history of sports.    We sat there watching, not sure to jump and scream or wait for the next face off or what.  Kane saw it go in , and Leighton knew it was in as well (I just think Leighton was trying to sell it to the ref that he had it in his pads and was hoping for a whistle.)  Everyone else just looked and thought, “What happened?”  (I love how Anti Niemi acted when Kane jumped him.  He acted like someone in an airport getting hugged by a person who mistook him for someone else.) 

Then there’s this song from YouTube that pokes fun at how many people jumped on the Blackhawks Bandwagon.  To be truthful, it got frustrating in how getting tickets for the Blackhawks was like getting tickets for the Chicago Cubs.  I mean, sure you could get tickets, but the tickets from the 300 level and above were the first ones to sell out.  It just cost too darn much and was too hard to get a group of folks together for a game at a reasonable price.   I mean, there can’t be that many people who know hockey in this city, right? 

But, as with the Cubs, when everybody loves a team (incidentally, I’m a Sox fan) everyone left doesn’t want to be left out. (Witness 2 million people at the rally today!)  One thing is for sure: John McDonough and crew know how to market.  

Still, here my brothers and I had a Blackhawk head painted on the floor of our basement when we were kids in the early 70’s!  (It’s still there when we sold the house this May, as this picture will attest.) 

The Hawks Emblem on the Basement Floor from My Childhood - Look Closely, it's There.

 

So yeah, it felt at times that it was (more…)

Is Parity Sustainable in a 30 Team NHL? and The NHL NEEDS to Fix the Point System

April 19, 2010

The NHL playoffs are underway and there have been multiple ‘upsets’ and some tight and exciting games in this year’s opening round.   I think it shows just how much parity there is in the league.  Yes, the Eastern Conference had a 33 point spread between the first and last placed playoff teams (an 18 point spread in the West) but the playoffs are showing that when the Cup is on the line, a 33 point spread might not mean all that much.   

In some ways, we should expect this.  With salary caps and a league that holds 30 teams, it makes sense that concentrated talent on a team, like that which was on the Edmonton Oilers of old,  is something that will be hard to build.  Add to that the AHL, from which NHL quality players (NHL quality for a 30 team league) are shuffled back and forth at will and the talent pool that the NHL utilizes is deep and broad.

This means that teams, even if they are injury riddled, can stay competitive and pickup points, until playoff time.  Then if they can stay healthy through the playoffs, expect them to make some noise, even if they don’t have the horses to make it to the Cup finals.

Is this good or bad?  In some ways it’s great for hockey but it also means that the NHL/AHL network, broad as it is, probably isn’t as Elite as we’d like to think it is.  Sure, great athletes are in the mix, but in general, it’s the teamwork that makes the teams, and teamwork doesn’t sign contracts for millions of dollars -dollars that have to be made somewhere, usually in rising ticket prices.

So, in a weird twist, even with salary caps, this huge league network may have the seeds of  becoming unsustainable because the distinguishing element of the league is not tied directly to team income.

Bizarre, isn’t it?

Speaking of bizarre (more…)

Thoughts on the Blackhawks and the Devil’s Trapezoid

March 14, 2010

We’re coming into the home stretch of the season and some things are beginning to bug me.

1.  The Blackhawks.  There is something about the way they are playing that is making me feel uncomfortable.  I can’t put my finger on it though.  The last two losses to the Caps and Flyers didn’t help that feeling.  It’s not about goaltending, even though it’s been less than solid.  It’s a team dynamic thing.  It’s about giving up goals in bunches.  It’s about perhaps being too cocky or confident.  It’s about not being able to always put teams away.  It was summed up when Captain Jonathan Toews said today, “We’ve got the most skill in the league, on any team.  There’s no reason, up 3-0, we can’t go out and finish the team off.” 

He’s right that the Hawks should be able to finish of a team when they’re up 3-0, but I don’t buy that the Hawks are the most skilled team in the league – and most teams in the NHL don’t think that either.  So now, when teams are looking for that extra something to make the playoffs, they’ll have Toew’s  little tidbit posted on their locker room walls.  It’s bad enough that teams are gunning for you because you’re a top team but to say you’re the most skilled team will just tick some teams off and make the Blackhawk’s road to the Cup that much more difficult.

I do value that as Captain he’s trying to fire the boys up, and hopefully he knows his team best and they will respond.    But, only time will tell…

2. Please, please PLEEEEEASE get rid of the stupid trapezoid behind the net (It was such a relief and pleasure to watch Olympic hockey without it).  Last night I watched a game where the puck was trickling to the goal line and a player from the other team was bearing down on the goalie but still was a few strides away (a teammate was coming down the opposite boards).  The goalie accidentally touched the puck almost in the corner and was given a delay of game penalty.  I was stunned.  I know that’s what’s given for the infraction but here the goalie clearly kept play moving and prevented a lull where the puck would’ve died just past the goal line and we would’ve waited for someone to catch up to the puck.  A Delay of Game?  Why not call it a ‘Bettman’?  

New Jersey Penalty, Number thirty, Martin Brodeur, 2 minutes for a Bettman at 14:36, Brodeur 2 minutes for a Bettman at 14:36.  Penalty being served by….”

That has a ring to it!

New Hockey Point Proposal and AHL Goal Video Review

December 1, 2009

Let me first say, I actually like shootouts.  Yeah, I know, it’s not the best way to end the game, but it’s exciting and I like it- though I actually like the AHL’s version better with 5 shooters vs. 3.

Having said that, I don’t like the fact that losing teams come away with a point in shootout games.  Why?

Because it actually rewards a team’s lack of finishing ability. 

Let me explain.  What do you usually hear when games end regulation in a tie?

“Each team earned a point.”

Fine.  They then play 5 more minutes and each team still comes away with a point.  Therein lies the problem.

The purpose of overtime is for the team with the most guts and gumption to put away the other team.  If a team can’t do it, they don’t deserve to be rewarded with a point, especially if they lose in the pseudo-chaotic arena of the shootout (which, as I said before, I actually like).

So this is my solution: If you make it out of regulation with a tie, fine, you get a point.  But if you don’t win in OT,  both teams lose the point.  The MOST a team can then get for the game is one point.  So the breakdown is as follows:

Win in Regulation- 2 points

Tie at end of regulation – 1 point each team

Win in OT – two points total for winner, one for loser.

Tied at end of OT – Teams lose the one point they earned during regulation. Zero points for either team

Winner of Shootout – One total point for winner, none for loser.

So what do you think?  Would it make OT more exciting and make teams want to win?  Heck, teams might pull goalies in OT to get two points instead of one.

Oh, and the AHL still not video reviewing goals? A college game on tv had video review and the AHL can’t do it?  What gives?

Time to Kick it in to Gear-Don Granato Gone as Coach of the Wolves

October 19, 2009

I’m here in Cincinnati checking my email and there is the press release I’d been hoping for.

Don Granato and Jason Christie have finally been let go.

I know they tried but something never quite clicked under them.  I appreciate the effort but this team has seemed like it’s been going through the motions for too long.  The change was needed.

Now it’s on the players and it’s time to kick it in to gear and start playing like they can.

Go Wolves!

Don Granato Has Got to Go…

October 16, 2009

sinking-ship Jason Krog has never received a misconduct in his professional career…until tonight when he slammed his stick against the glass and shattered it (the glass not his stick!) during the Wolves’ 4-1 loss to the Rockford IceHogs.

This team looks as bad this year as it did at the end of last year.  At this rate the Wolves will be out of the playoffs before the season gets underway.  Although Coach says he hates to lose, apparently there’s a disconnect because with the exception of Jason Krog, losing has become the norm with this club.

Wendell, I know that letting someone go is never easy, and it’s a drag that as the new GM you’re going to have to be the heavy to a guy you coached with, but it needs to be done. 

Like now…

Cheli Coming to the Wolves?

October 8, 2009

My 8 year old called me a little over an hour ago.

“Hey, Uncle Mikey, did you hear the Chris Chelios is going to play with the Wolves?”

I was stunned, “Oh yeah?”

“Yeah.  This should help them and maybe help them go all the way this year!”

Still stunned and clutching the phone to my head I got on the internet and found this article.

I can’t say it’s a bad move.  Having Cheli around will give some stabilization and toughness to the defense and supply some defensive leadership. 

I know, I know, he’s 47 years old.  But if he’s been staying in shape, and if he wants a crack at the NHL then why not?

The more I think about it – the more I like it.  But, don’t just take my opinion – ask my nephew…