Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Yeah, I know... the 'paying final respects' thing failed miserably. I'm trying something new: Insults.
  • Mike Cammalleri is short. Like dwarf-short.
  • Brian Gionta is even shorter. And I know short.
  • Scott Gomez was paid $666k per goal, and $135k per point this season. Great value!! HONK!
  • Montreal's jerseys look HORRIBLY dated. That 1920's look just doesn't work anymore.
  • The last time someone took 54 shots, it was Tony Montana. It didn't end up well for him.
  • Sergei Kostitsyn. Not even the best Kostitsyn.
  • Hal Gill's REAL name is Harold Priestley Gill.
  • Ryan O'Byrne steals purses. Actually, that's not an insult. It's a fact.
  • Strange but true: Roman Hamrlik is NOT Roman. Nor does he lick hammers. Talk about false advertising!
  • Only 5 of the 21 Canadiens that have played in the playoffs are positive or even in +/-, as opposed to 13 of 20 Caps. Because, you know, +/- is THE important stat...
  • Our goalie has more 'V's in his name than yours. Pbbbt!
I have a ton more, but it's Montreal... they're not worth my effort to type up.

Oh, lastly, a joke I once heard:
In court the other day there was a case regarding the custody of a small child.
The judge asked the boy, "do you want to live with your mother?"
He replied, "No I don't want to live with her because she beats me!".
The judge then asked, "Do you want to live with your father?"
The boy stated, "No he beats me too."
Finally the judge asked, "where do you want to live"
The child responded, "I want to live with the Montreal Canadiens!".
The judge asked, "Why do you want to live with the Montreal Canadiens?"
The boy exclaimed, "Because the Montreal Canadiens don't beat anybody!"

Monday, April 26, 2010

Paying Final Respects

At the end of someone’s life, it’s often customary to remember that person for all their good, ignoring their misdeeds and personality flaws. You don’t necessarily have to like a person to respect them, and paying those final respects is often the appropriate thing to do.

That being said, I think the same goes for elimination games in the playoffs. It takes a lot to win a best of 7 series in any sport and it takes a certain amount of respect for one’s opponent to do so. For that reason, I’m starting a new tradition: for every elimination game the Caps play from here-forth, I will be wearing a piece of clothing related to the other team under my jersey. As of right now, I the only team left in the Eastern Conference for which I am gear-less is Buffalo (if I have to buy a Sabres shirt, I will).

So, tonight, I will be wearing my ‘Rocket’ Richard, #9 shirt from the Maurice ‘Rocket’ Richard exhibit at the Canadian Museum of Civilization (yes, an entire exhibit dedicated to a hockey player!) to honor the 2009-2010 Montreal Canadians.

Let’s see if this works…

Friday, April 23, 2010

Hockey and the Media

With the 24-hour sports news cycle leaning heavily on the NFL draft, NBA playoffs and the topsy-turvy start to the baseball season, it’s interesting that almost everyone I talk to about sports wants to talk about hockey. Since its creation, sports have been dissected, replayed and talked about constantly on ESPN. Think about the growth of the NFL and NBA since ESPN’s sports coverage began. The NFL draft has become a 2-night, prime-time event. And now, for the first time in 30 years, a sport doesn’t need a constant presence on ESPN to educate, inform and grow its fan base.

I think it’s fair to say the NHL has seen more growth in the years since the lockout than at any time in its history. In the Washington, DC area the last few years, hockey has found a fan base unlike any this town has seen before. It has grown by word of mouth, local news and newspaper coverage but mostly, it has grown due to the explosion of the internet as the main way the NHL is reported to the world. There is there no other major professional sport whose image, status and appeal have been more greatly aided by the rise of social networking, blogging and internet-based video than hockey.

The NHL has everything: the world’s fastest players (whose remarkable feats are practically designed to be watched over and over again on YouTube), crushing hits and fights (again, destined to make the rounds on blogs, Tweets and Facebook), and a new-found sense of celebrity among the truly great players (and Mike Comrie). NHL players are just as controversial, quotable and dedicate as other athletes and it’s fun to watch and read about their thoughts.

Millions of new hockey fans sat slack-jawed at their computers a few years ago, watching Alex Ovechkin score ‘The Goal’ over and over and over again on YouTube. They watch montages of every goal Ilya Kovalchuk has ever scored, the hit that sent Marc Savard into a daze and the coach that threw every stick in Canada over the boards over a disputed call.

Still more, like me, have begun to think of ourselves as amateur journalists, writing about our observations of our favorite teams in the many NHL blogs out there. Mainstream bloggers, like Yahoo! ‘s Puckdaddy, have become a place mainstream media envies: a blog that scoops the traditional news outlets on big stories and does so in a highly respectable, highly journalistic way (hiring a Russian-speaking journalist to get the highly-illusive Russian Superstar Interviews: brilliant!).

Now you have professional hockey writers opening up in blogs, offering their opinions and little tidbits that were missing from their printed pieces. NHL.com has streaming video of game highlights, and team sites have interviews, pre-game shows and other insightful material up for everyone to read, free of charge.

I used to watch ESPN all the time. John Buccigross and Barry Melrose offered up great insight on the game and Buccigross’ weekly column on ESPN.com was one of my must-reads. Now, I find myself watching Sports Center for everything but hockey coverage, as I’ve already gotten my hockey info elsewhere, and in a more complete form than anything ESPN has ever dedicated to hockey. It doesn’t matter that the NHL’s network, VS. , isn’t hugely popular, as fans go elsewhere for highlights and interviews.

It’s a great time to be a hockey fan.

Friday, April 16, 2010


In my 15 years of coaching, I’ve had the opportunity to help run a wide range of programs including a women’s team, a developmental ‘clinic’, a high school team and a couple AAA, elite-level teams. I’ve started to notice a trend among the checking-level teams that has stated to concern me: the way kids these days hit with the intent of causing injury. It’s frustrating and it seems to be a product of a generation.

My first experience coaching checking-level boys was at the high school level. It seemed like every hit was intended to knock the opposing player unconscious. Checks were almost always charging or boarding and were usually led with elbows or fists held high. Kids would go out of their way to attempt the big hit, usually resulting in missed contact and a scoring change against. I also noticed that when opposing teams played the same way, our kids took it as a personal slight; some form of disrespect that must be avenged. That vengeance ALWAYS ended with our kid in the penalty box.

The AAA teams weren’t much better. Certain kids showed exceptional confidence and ability and the purpose of the body check in hockey: to gain position or the puck, to stop an opposing player and to tire them out with a constant physical presence. Checking was more of a strategy than an intimidating tactic. Still, several kids thought it was all about YouTube, highlight-reel big hits. And it always elicited “Why?”s in my mind.

This season in the NHL, the number of head hits and clear attempts to injure the opposition seems to have increased exponentially. Grown men playing a dangerous game in a dangerous manner concerns me. I’m not sure if it’s the product of a generation raised on violence, the constant media exposure of the ‘wow’ play or something else. I’m also not sure if it has to do with the area (the kids from other parts of the country played the physical game differently).

I hope something changes. I keep hearing of concussions and other injuries that are unfortunate and unnecessary, what with the advances in the protective equipment kids wear. I just know that in physical sports such as hockey, football and lacrosse, hitting is now done in such a way that it’s become disrespectful of the game. Kids these days have lost sight of the reasons these are physical games.

Monday, April 5, 2010

A Caps Memory

My buddy Scott recently posted a list of his favorite Caps games, which got me thinking about my personal favorite Caps games.

I rememeber my first game, against Winnepeg, somewhere in the 1984 or 1985 timeframe, probably December 17, 1984, because I remember the score being huge (7-5 Jets win).

I remember a November 8, 1991 game against Detroit that I won tickes to (Bob Probert scored 2 goals and fought someone, if memory serves me).

I remember a pre-season game on September 21, 2005 in which I remember thinking "that Bourque kid sure looks better than Ovechkin" in Ovie's first game at MCI Verizon Center...wrong. Because I remember the next pre-season game where he scored a hat trick against Pittsburgh.

I, of course, remember Joe Juneau's goal against Buffalo and, later, Esa Tikkanen's HUGE miss in the Cup Finals that, I insist, lost us The Cup.

But of all my Caps memories, one stands out: April 25, 1990.

The Caps were playing the New York Rangers in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs after beating the New Jersey Devils in Round 1. My mom managed to get tickets to Game 4 of both the Devils' and Rangers' series', which were the first playoff games I ever attended. The Rangers had won Game 1, but the Caps had managed to win game 2 in NYC and game 3 at the Capital Centre. Game 4 was a close game and eventually went into OT. Then (from the Washington Post, 4/26/90):

Rod Langway, the heart, soul, brains and muscle of the Washington Capitals for the past seven years-precisely the length of The Cap Curse-took the game and perhaps the season on his stick and headed for the goal in overtime.
The great defenseman hadn't scored a goal in more than a year. At Capital Centre, he does everything else. But he doesn't score. Not once this season.
This time, just 34 seconds into overtime, he did, to give the battered, undermanned and underdog Capitals a 4-3 victory and a three-games-to-one lead over the New York Rangers...

It was the last playoff goal Rod Langway would ever score and he would go on to score only once more in a Caps uniform. When the puck went in the net and everyone jumped up, cheering, the guy behind me managed to throw his full, large beer into the air. It landed on 12 year old me, in a cascade of Bud Lite-iness. My mom looked appalled. The guy behind me looked terrified. Seriously, it was as if I pulled a knife on him. My personal reaction was slightly different.


I high-fived the guy. He was stunned... he shook his head and started laughing. First time my mom heard me swear, if I'm not mistaken. And I didn't get in trouble for it either. I did have to take a shower that night though, as going to school the next day smelling like a frat party didn't seem like an option.

That year, the Caps would beat the Rangers in 5 and go on to play in their first Conference Finals, losing to the Boston Bruins in 4 games. I went to game 4 of that series as well, a loss. But Rod Langway and a beer shower still made it a post season to remember.