Claude Giroux Scores Amazing Goal

I saw this highlight on Sportscenter, and I had to repost it here. Check out this fantastic goal by dangler Claude Giroux:

I’ve got no clue why Johan Hedberg was so far out of the crease on this play – he got way too aggressive with his angles and Giroux made him pay for it. Overall, the Flyers have been a pretty big disappointment so far this year. They’re just barely in the playoff hunt, and at the beginning of the season, tons of people had them pegged as the 2010 Cup favorite. Lucky for them, the East isn’t incredibly tough right now, and they have time to work towards a higher playoff seed.

Islander’s Defenceman Witt Hit by Car; Will Still Play Tonight

Okay, okay, we get it. Hockey players are tough. I think we are beyond questioning this simple fact, but just in case there is someone out there that is unclear on this, read on. NHL Defenceman for the NY Islander’s, Brendan Witt, was hit by a car this morning. If that wasn’t a sensational enough story for you, he has decided to play in the Islander’s game tonight.

I’ve read a few summaries of the car incident this morning, but there was one inparticular on today that made me laugh out loud. TSN reports that one witness of the accident calls Witt the Clint Eastwood of Hockey. Go ahead punk, make my day. But in this case, the punk is a car:

New York Islanders defenceman Brendan Witt was hit by a car in Philadelphia on Tuesday, according to Newsday. But Witt reportedly picked himself up off the road and, after a few profanities, assured everyone he was all right before continuing on his way, prompting one witness to say, “it was like seeing Clint Eastwood, but in hockey.”

Witt was crossing Arch Street to get a cup of coffee when a gold Yukon truck made an illegal turn and hit the 34-year-old. Newsday says Witt tried to jump on the hood of the vehicle before being thrown to the ground as he was struck.

“I’m okay,” Witt told the crowd as he dusted himself off, according to Newsday. “I’ve got to go play some hockey. I’m a hockey player. I’m okay. No big deal.”

“Boy that guy is tough,” added the same witness, one of many who saw the event occur.

So the moral of the story here is ‘Don’t Mess with the Hockey Players’. I’m not sure ‘The Zohan’ would even step to Witt after reading this. Go Islanders, the least you can do is win one for the man who stood up to a car.

Top 10 Most Unusual Items Thrown On An Ice Surface

Ice. This is the cold, rigid, slippery surface used by hockey players around the world. They skate, shoot a small cylindrical black rubber object from end to end of this aforementioned surface attempting to score goals. The crowd throw their ball caps on it when players reach the lofty sum of 3 goals in a single game and, at times, has other foreign objects thrown onto it for good measure.

What kind of objects you ask? Well, we found this little clip after seeing a great video the other day, and we thought we should share this with you…

NHL officials botch two goal-calls

This week, the NHL had its referees miss two goals in two separate games. In both of these games, the puck was clearly in the net, but both goals were waived off because of the now infamous ‘intent to blow whistle rule’. The first blown call was during the Stars – Red Wings game. (Skip to the 2:22 mark to see several replays of the goal in question)

After Brad May takes the shot, you can see the puck skip off the pad of Alex Auld, and stick in the low corner of the net. The worst thing about this call is that it was reviewed by the ‘war room’ in Toronto – where each game is monitored for the sake of reviewed plays like this – and the no-goal call was still upheld.

Mike Murphy, the VP of Hockey Operations for NHL, tried to explain the non-sense review process.

“Blow the horn and get the referee over here. We see a puck in the net that hasn’t been ruled a goal,’ ” Murphy said. “At that point the referee comes over and we have a discussion. They came to us and said, ‘My intent to blow the whistle was there, I have this play dead before the puck crosses the goal line,’ No more needs to be said. Once we hear that, video review is out of the process.”

So instead of the review process actually overturning obvious botched calls, it remains useless in cases like these, where the initial ruling on the ice can’t be questioned. What a joke. Why even have a review process if you’re not going to utilize instant-replay when it can cost teams wins?

Shortly after this debacle, the Maple Leafs endured a similar missed call against Carolina.

Hagman carries the puck into the offensive zone, crashes the net, and gets checked into Manny Legace, right as Mitchell fires the puck into the goal. The puck actually sits in the net two or three seconds before the whistle actually blows. Again, the goal was waived off for the exact same reason – intent to blow.

Look, there’s no point in having a video-review process if the league isn’t going to use it. Much like the ‘foot in the crease’ rule of the last few decades, it’s a marginal procedure that should be done away with before it costs a team a playoff series, or worse. Even when a play is reviewed, the officials don’t actually see the play on video, they simply slap on a set of headphones and let the Toronto war-room tell them how to make the call. Why doesn’t the league follow the same mold as the NFL and place a monitor in the penalty boxes, so that the officials can actually watch questionable calls for themselves?

NHL GM’s meet about checks to the head

We debated a while ago about the hit on David Booth, but after several other questionable hits (and suspensions), the NHL is discussing hits to the head, and whether they should be legal. All thirty of the league’s GM’s met, and discussed what could be done to stop checks to the head.

While there was other business on the docket – long term salaries being one of the issues – the issue of hits to the head was a central theme of discussion.

“(It was) very low key,” said Atlanta Thrashers GM Don Waddell. “It didn’t go on as long as you guys would like to think it went on for. Everybody’s concerned about it, but everybody also doesn’t want to lose hitting in the game.”

After some of these marginal hits, some have called for the NHL to adopt a ‘head-checking’ penalty – similar to a high-sticking call; an automatic minor penalty for any contact to the head. While this seems like a natural solution, there are some problems to this idea. First, imagine how hard this penalty would be to call when there’s a height differential between two checking players. It may be impossible to completely avoid contact to the head of shorter players. Secondly, a dedicated penalty for checks to the head would be susceptible to diving; all a player would need to do to get a call late in a game is to drop his head into check.

Overall, hits to the head rarely happen when the player is expecting the check – and instead of instituting a new penalty, the NHL’s leadership was leaning more towards eliminating these kinds of unexpected hits, much like the one Richards laid on David Booth.

“A player should have an ability to anticipate a hit, prepare for a hit or avoid a hit,” said Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke. “If he doesn’t have those, then I think the onus has to shift to the hitter. He’s got to deliver a safe hit.”

No one wants to see hitting eliminated from the game, just career-ending injuries and concussions. It’s not unreasonable to curb this kinds of checks; we should encourage the league to protect its talent. That being said, do you want the NHL to introduce a head-checking penalty?

Hey Jason Chimera, Faceplant Much?

Sometimes there is nothing like a good still frame shot to really capture those ‘precious’ moments. This one in particular looks extremely painful for Jason Chimera, left winger of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Maybe Chimera is changing his mind about his choice to not wear a shield? Even the half visor may have helped on this faceplant.

Will the NHL Boycott the 2014 Olympics in Sochi?

Adam Steevens is a student, author and blogger who has semi-coherent thoughts about the NHL

The 2010 Winter Olympics are approaching, and NHL teams and players alike are preparing for the games – although most hockey fans are eying the next tournament in 2014. In fact, the Winter games in Sochi are already causing a stir among the NHL community. Long story short, the league hasn’t confirmed that it will allow its players to attend, and it’s entirely possible that the league could prevent its players from competing altogether.

The issues surrounding NHL participation are multi-faceted – the league would have to successfully negotiate the 2014 Olympics into a new collective bargaining agreement (the current CBA expires in 2011). Secondly, the NHL would have to incorporate a 17-day break into their schedule. It’s not impossible, but it’s an administrative pain, and it kills the natural momentum of the season. Couple these problems with injury issues, and a time-zone discrepancy that makes it severely inconvenient for the North American audience to watch the games live, and it’s not hard to see why the NHL is reluctant to sign on for 2014.
In spite of all this, the NHL should allow its players to compete for the gold in Sochi – simply because they would encounter much worse problems if they boycotted the games.

Remember the contract disputes between the NHL and KHL over defecting players, like Hudler and Radulov? The KHL has put itself in position to give the league even more headaches; if the NHL decides to actually punish players who attend in spite of a league-wide ruling, the KHL will happily snap up any players who are suspended or barred from NHL contracts. Not only would the NHL risk losing some world-class talent to a competitor – it could lose some of its most recognizable players.

Alex Ovechkin has already said through the press that nothing will stop him from competing in 2014, and Evgeni Malkin followed suit shortly thereafter. These are two of the biggest drawing names in the game; why would the league suspend them? If the NHL drew a hardline against participation, they’d be destroying the appeal of the NHL from the inside out. Let’s suppose they ban participation, but don’t enforce it with serious penalties – most NHLers would represent their countries anyway and take the mandatory fine or suspension. What would be the point of non-participation then? It’s a lose-lose situation for the league – and the NHL needs to avoid this mess.

It’s funny, the NHL claims that the southern expansion under Bettman was ‘for the good of the game’ – but Olympic competition is a headache that isn’t worth their time? So teams in Atlanta, Phoenix and Tampa Bay are better for the sport than watching the very best players in the world compete for their countries? What a joke. The argument against professional participation really just amounts to administrative laziness and misplaced 1980’s-Lake Placid nostalgia – the players deserve better, and the game deserves better.

The Toronto Maple Leafs – Forever Losers?

Jeff Gesner is the owner/operator of a small sports apparel/memorabilia business
called “The Stadium”. He spent some time in the scriptwriting business for film. The transition has been satisfying for Jeff being a sports fanatic.

Forever losers?

I’ll assume this title has garnered the attention of Leaf fans. The Toronto Maple Leafs are the face of the NHL, they are Canada’s team, and always will be. In Canada we pride ourselves on the beautiful scenery and outdoor activities that are offered, we have sparkling lakes to rugged mountains, the Calgary Stampede, Niagara Falls, and diverse cultures. Canada has something for everyone, it’s a beautiful country, but above all the great cities and landmarks, we have hockey, and above hockey, we have the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Maple Leaf fans can be found from coast to coast, cheering on a team that hasn’t won in 42 years. I’ve lived in both British Columbia and Ontario, and the one thing I found constant in the citizens that call themselves Leaf Nation, is the lack of knowledge and total disregard for the actual game of hockey itself. Leaf Nation enters each season with the belief of “this is the year”. I’m supportive of loyal fans, even the ignorant ones, which in my opinion is most Maple Leaf fans, but here’s the problem I have with supporting Toronto’s quest for the cup – – They don’t ever have to win, and the reason why, is because of the fans themselves. Huh? No matter what the Maple Leaf franchise does, it will never be wrong in the eyes of Leaf Nation, they can suit up gorillas, triple ticket prices, and lose all 82 games in the schedule, and somehow Leaf Nation will still buy the merchandise and still support the club. I stated that I support loyal fans, in fact I admire passionate sports fans, but I do not admire stupidity.

The next time you’re watching a game that is being played in the Air Canada Center, take a look at the people sitting in the first half dozen rows, they are generally well dressed business people, generally on business dates. A Maple Leaf game is trendy, it’s a great place to take a client, these people are the other portion of Maple Leaf fans, they are the “bigwigs” that can afford front row seats on a regular basis. They aren’t what you would call “hardcore” hockey fans, but they do know big name players, and being able to look onto the ice in between their conference, and know the names on the back of the Leaf jerseys is important to them. Here are a few examples of players that Leaf management has signed representing my theory. Eric Lindros, Ron Francis, Ed Belfour, Jason Blake, Joe Nieuwendyk, Michael Renberg, and Owen Nolan, these are just the ones off the top of my head. These weren’t poor hockey players, but they were players that the Leafs acquired long after their prime, players that were “Big Names”. You may think I’m contradicting myself because I stated above that Toronto fans would buy tickets if gorillas wore the jersey, yes, I stand by that assessment, but with being the richest NHL franchise, they are forced to spend money, and by signing expensive stars from the past, you then make your wealthier fans happy too.

The Maple Leafs has the highest ticket prices in the league, and still they increase their profit each year with a losing record. They are the most valuable NHL team, and they never win, does this make sense? Other teams in the NHL are forced to win rapidly or they might not have a team playing in the same city the following year.

Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd are certainly winning off the ice, not so much on the ice after four straight seasons out of the playoffs. Maple Leaf fans cheer for a potential eighth place seed from mid-season on. Is that really worth cheering about? How unfortunate that your ambition and hopes are to be an eighth place team.

I’m very comfortable voicing my opinion on the Leafs franchise, I’m not a Leafs fan, but I am a hockey fan, and I sit by watching Leaf Nation cheer louder each season in hopes of finally succeeding, it’s become sad. The Leafs will never win, and it’s their own fans fault, you feed into their marketing system, and in return you get nothing. I’m confident it will be yet another season out of the playoffs for Toronto, at the same time, I’m certain that the ACC will sell out every game this year, and that is the problem.

Top 10 Biggest NHL Goalie Bloopers

Everyone loves to laugh at the guy with cake all over his face, right? There is nothing more embarrassing for an NHL goalie than letting a puck by you that has no business getting by you. The ‘mental mistakes’ as they call them, can cost your team dearly. Now that these are in the past, maybe its time we all have a good laugh at them. Check out the Top 10 Biggest NHL Goalie Bloopers:

The Montreal Canadiens Will Fail

The Montreal Canadiens have punched their ticket to failure. How is that possible, you’re asking? I’ll give you a few reasons why.

Bob Gainey signed every available known player he could, so how does that result in failure? Why don’t you ask Glen Sather and the New York Rangers organization? Sather’s 2002-03 roster consisted of players, Mark Messier, Alexei Kovalev, Brian Leetch, Eric Lindros, Petr Nedved, and Jaromir Jagr to name a few. This team couldn’t even finish in eighth place to make the playoffs. It wasn’t just the 2002-03 season that had an incredibly overpaid, stacked Rangers squad, it was like this for near 10 seasons, all of which were unsuccessful. I watched more Rangers games during those years than any other team, I found it mind-boggling that an all-star team like this couldn’t beat anyone; I would joke about how AHL teams could potentially give them a tough time on the ice.

So now, Bob Gainey has signed Scott Gomez, Brian Gionta, Mike Cammalleri, Jaroslav Spacek, and Hal Gill. “WHOOPEE!”

In the process of acquiring these apparent superstars, they lose Alexei Kovalev, Chris Higgins, Mike Komisarek, and team captain Saku Koivu. I’m sure more players such as Alex Tanguay and Robert Lang are on their way out too. So what are all the Habs fans getting so excited over? I guess Scott Gomez’s 16 goals are worth the $8,000,000 salary he has? Hal Gill did win a cup with Pittsburgh last season, but it was only two years ago playing with the Toronto Maple Leafs when people around the league were saying his career was over. Gill is a below average defenceman that played within a great system at Pittsburgh. Francois Beauchemin was available for the blue line, but apparently home town boys aren’t part of the plan for 2009-10 in the city of Montreal, Bob Gainey has decided team USA would look good wearing the Habs logo.

Teams like the Detroit Red Wings win every year because they don’t dump half their roster; they stick with their team, making only a couple minor changes, the NY Rangers technique clearly doesn’t work.

Montreal seemed to be headed in the right direction just a few seasons ago; they had former players Gainey and Guy Carbonneau directing the team, a young star goaltender in Carey Price, as well as a good mix of veterans and prospects. Gainey has since managed to lose Sheldon Souray, Mark Streit, and now Komisarek in the past few years, if that isn’t a top three manning the blue line with cup winning potential, then I don’t know what is. He also fired head coach Guy Carbonneau after less than two seasons behind the bench.

Mike Cammalleri won’t be scoring 39 goals without Jarome Iginla’s assistance, especially under Jacques Martin’s dreadful defensive system. Jacques Martin is the complete opposite of a players coach, he has a system and you better follow it, player communication is not a known trait of Martin’s. What was wrong with Bob Hartley being hired as head coach? He’s exactly what this team could have used, he communicates well with his players, has a Stanley Cup on his resume, demands respect, and speaks French. I bet the Kostitsyn brother’s would think twice about going on all night benders in downtown Montreal with Hartley keeping tabs on them, Martin won’t even be aware of the party scene that’s all around his team, he’ll be too busy drawing up plays for his robots…I mean players.

Does any of this look familiar? You may remember the Serge Savard era of being GM for the Canadiens? He made one bad decision after another. What’s with former Habs superstars mucking everything up in the front office?

I suppose if Gainey’s signings don’t work out, he could move one of his goaltenders up to forward or defense, he has four of them.

It will be interesting to watch the Montreal Canadiens 2009-10 season unfold, or shall I say collapse. The fans in Montreal expect a lot from their beloved Canadiens, if Gomez, Gionta and the other new acquisitions aren’t near flawless, they will certainly be made aware of it sooner rather than later, especially being American born. Bob Gainey may want to look into one way flights back to Dallas.