Friday, May 28, 2010

Who's Still in the Playoffs Again?

It's been said a million times but here's a million and one; this long layoff is absurd.

The NHL has been a league on the rise since the lockout came to an end and Gary Bettman speaks frequently of 'momentum' in the growth of the game. It is precisely that principle, momentum, that they've chosen to ignore in scheduling the finals.

I understand the arguments - weekend games on NBC and whatnot but c'mon. The regional ratings show that for the most part, American fans tune out once their hometeam has been eliminated. In so far as this is the case, why is the league bending over backwards to broadcast to outliers? American fans that are 'hardcore' enough to continue watching once their rooting interest has been eliminated are going to watch whether it's a Thursday night game or a Sunday afternoon game. And do you think that you're more likely to catch fringe fans for a Friday night game 7 than you would be for a Thursday night game? I have my doubts.

Then there's the cost. Chicago and Philadelphia sports fans have been forced to wait a relatively newsless (sorry Stevie Y) week while the NBA has actually seen two playoff series that looked initially like duds, turn into hotly contested matchups. Hell, I even watched my first basketball game of the year last night from sports withdrawl. This down time might have pushed the casual sports fan from hockey to basketball.

This might be the most obvious statement I've ever made but in the U.S. the NHL is not the NFL. Football fans will wait for the Superbowl. The buildup, the interviews, media scrums, it's all part of the hype-engine and an extra long layoff can often build anticipation. The NHL has it all wrong. The interesting part of the Stanley Cup Finals happens in post-game interviews when coaches jockey for calls, players criticize the refs or their opponents' dirty play - that's the intrigue. It's a series, not a single game, and what happens between those games is the where the build up and hype originate.

Maybe I'm just a Leafs fan that wants something to think about other than where Kaberle will go and what we can get back for him but I suspect that I'm not the only hockey fan that's sick of waiting. Kinda makes me wish that Avery was a Blackhawk so I could at least chuckle about whatever he'd have said about Carcillo's mother and/or girlfriend.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

What does Steve Yzerman as GM mean for Tampa?

Tampa Bay is an interesting case study. They're a team with talent but no identity. They appear to be on the verge of turning the corner and becoming a competitive team in the Eastern Conference but need some tweaking to make that happen. Essentially, Tampa's vacant GM position was an aspiring Manager's dream and for Steve Yzerman it's a dream-come-true.

Yahoo Sports is reporting that Stevie Y has been named as Tampa's next General Manager and this will likely lead to some meaningful changes for the Lightning. The team has as much high-end talent as any non-playoff team but these players can be divided into new-guard and old-guard. Players like Martin St.Louis and Vincent Lecavalier are in their primes and have already won a cup with the team. Others, like Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman will hope to achieve similar success as they develop in the years to come. The question for Yzerman is what road to travel.

Lecavalier has a 'life-time' deal at close to $8 M per and St.Louis is in the final year of a deal that will net him $5.25 M. While the Lightning have the feel of a team that isn't far off, I'm advocating a fire-sale and here's why;

- St.Louis is going to get a raise - He's played well and he's worth more than he's getting paid in the current landscape. That said, if you're Tampa and you've got studs like Stamkos and Hedman in the system, do you really want to tie up more cash in St.Louis and risk not being able to pay one of them?

- Lecavalier and Stamkos are both centers - This can go one of two ways. You could either have a great one-two running down the middle of the ice OR you could end up like the Penguins, unable to put anything better than an 80 year-old Bill Guerin on Crosby's wing. Some will say that the Penguins won a cup with this model and I'll respond by saying that Lecavalier-Stamkos is not Crosby-Malkin but the cost will probably be pretty close. Don't argue with me, I'm right.

- The Chicago Blackhawks, pre-Marian Hossa - In my opinion, if there was a team in the NHL that looked poised to be a dynasty, it was the Hawks. They were rife with young talent, much of it affordable, and they had depth everywhere. Then they signed Marian Hossa to a big money deal all but assuring that guys like Patrick Sharp and Kris Versteeg will be getting their money elsewhere. Having said that, if we look at the Hawks' situation pre-Hossa, the Lightning could put themselves in a similar position. Stamkos should be a top-10 NHL talent and Hedman projects to be a very good defenseman. If Tampa chose to ship St.Louis and Lecavalier for prospects and picks then they could find themselves with a core that would look eerily similar to what the Hawks have now.

- The Los Angeles Kings - Lecavalier had been rumored to be moving to one of Montreal or Los Angeles a year ago. Montreal decided to spend money like a Sather last offseason so taking on Vinny's contract is probably out of the question but the Kings look like a very eligible trade partner. They love stars in LA and Vinny is that. They also have some very good prospects on defense that might be moveable with the emergence of Jack Johnson and Drew Doughty. Guys like Colten Teubert and Thomas Hickey come to mind. Add Brandon Kozun, Oscar Moller and Brayden Schenn to the mix and you can see that the Kings have a prospect-rich system that could afford to move some promising talent out if the return was a guy like Lecavalier.

Those are my thoughts - what are yours? Is Tampa closer than I'm giving them credit for? What does Yzerman have to do?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Habs Lose, Montreal Burns

Following tonight's defeat at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers, Canadiens fans took to the streets of Montreal in a fit of rage.

"I just can't believe it," said one fan, "I really thought Gomez would be the difference this year."

The scene in the city could only be described as apocalyptic as buildings were burned, cars overturned and puppies kicked. Store owners flocked to the street in an effort to salvage their property. "Back in my day it was all looting and vandalism," uttered one vendor, "this I can understand. Lighting things on fire? That's taking things too far."

The mob claimed that they never meant to burn anything and insisted that the fires were started as Carey Price discarded the thirty-five cigarettes he was smoking at the time. Investigations are ongoing.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Why Dion Phaneuf is the Next Captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs

Two years with no leader. A ship with no rudder, an army with no general, Montreal police without tear gas -- not a good position to be in.

Now that Brian Burke has had a full season to build the team in his image, you can bet they'll have a Captain named in time for the 2010-11 season and you can bet that it will be Dion Phaneuf.

There are several reasons why Dion will be the next to wear the 'C' in Toronto, here are a few;

- He's not going anywhere. He's signed through 2014 at a pretty big number. Part of the reason the Leafs didn't name a Captain this season or last was that they had no idea who would still be around (as it turns out, almost nobody). Phaneuf is going to be a mainstay in the Leafs lineup for at least the next few seasons.

- He's the one Leaf that might be able to out smoke Carey Price.

- Our Fearless Leader loves defensemen. Bringing in Pronger and Niedermayer were his main contributions to the Ducks' Stanely Cup winning squad and I'm sure he hopes that Phaneuf is a step in that direction.

- Truculence -- he's got it.

- Phaneuf is intense. This could work for a team or against it but in the case of the Leafs, a little bit of fire might be just what the doctor ordered.

- "Dion SMASH!!"

- Who the hell else? I hate to say it but there isn't really anyone. Phil Kessel is talented but he's got all the personality of a kidney bean. Komisarek might not be a bad choice but after this season you would have to consider him a health risk. Everyone else is below legal drinking age. That pretty much leaves Dion.

- He's a fan favorite. I mean let's face it, he made both 'Man Crush' posts on BCP. Need I say more? Ok, yeah, I probably do... The guys (and gals) at Pension Plan Puppets think he's pretty good too!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Worst. Collapse. Ever?

The comparisons to the 1942 Red Wings were inevitable as Boston managed to complete their ESPN poll-winning collapse, losing to the Flyers in seven games. As a result, the B's will now have to suffer the indignity of being the only NHL team to cough up not only a 3-0 lead in the series, but also a 3-0 lead in the deciding game.

But how bad was the Bruins collapse? On the face of it - horrible. They will have to keep the windows of the TD Banknorth Garden open until at least mid-September in order to air out the stench of the Bruins' failure. But taken as the sum of its parts, there's been worse in the wide world of sports. In fact, there has been worse in the same decade. I present for your consideration two incidents that should be able to provide some solace to the B's and their fans:

Blowing a 3-0 Series Lead - 2004 American League Championship Series

Boston Red Sox fans were preparing for an 86th consecutive year of playoff disappointment heading into Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS. The night before, Sox fans had watched in horror as the New York Yankees, their hated rival, thumped the hapless BoSox 19-8 to take a seemingly insurmountable 3-0 series lead - a deficit no team in MLB history had ever been able to overcome. The Yankees were up 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth inning, just three outs away from yet another trip to the World Series. Improbably, the best closer in baseball, Mariano Rivera, gave up a run to tie the score and send the game into extra innings. Finally, in the 12th inning, Boston DH David Ortiz hit his famous walk-off home run, giving Boston a faint hope. Ortiz repeated his heroics in Game 5, batting in another walk-off run in extra innings to win a close-fought game. With the series heading back to New York for Game 6, The Yanks' vaunted offense fizzled with Sox starter Curt Schilling, pitching on a sutured ankle, allowing only one run in seven innings on the way to helping the Sox knot the series at 3-3. Finally, in Game 7, an inspired Red Sox team leapt out to a huge lead early on, eventually winning the game 10-3, thus completing the most storied comeback in MLB history and crowning the Yankees with the humiliating distinction of being the only team in MLB history to ever lose a series after building a 3-0 lead - to the Red Sox no less. To this day, mention of the '04 ALCS inspires near-transcendental level of joy in the hearts Sox fans and elicits vitriolic defensiveness from Yankees fans in order to hide their soul-crushing shame...if anyone associated with the Yankees had a soul. Which of course they do not.

Blowing a 3-0 Lead in a Deciding Game - 2005 UEFA Champions League Final

In the '05 Champions League final, a favoured Italian AC Milan squad, fuelled by spectacular performances from star players Hernan Crespo and Andriy Shevchenko, was leading English club Liverpool FC by a score of 3-0 at halftime. Like the Bruins, AC Milan managed to squander their three goal lead, only in more spectacular fashion - Liverpool scored three times in only six minutes, tying the game only fifteen minutes into the second half, ultimately winning the game in penalty kicks when three of AC Milan's five shooters failed to score. To fully appreciate the staggering magnitude of AC Milan's choke, you need to remember that this is soccer we're talking about ('football' if you're a visor-wearing European). A three goal lead in soccer is like a six goal lead in hockey - the Canadian Olympic curling team could plausibly defend a three goal lead for the last half of a soccer game. Finally, unlike in hockey, over 80% of penalty shots taken in professional soccer result in a goal. AC Milan missed THREE TIMES in five attempts to complete their epic collapse. The math speaks for itself (OK Flyers fans I'll do it for you - that's only a 40% conversion rate).

So there there Bruins fans. It could have been worse: you could have blown a 3-0 series lead to Habs instead of the Flyers. Or you could have blown a six-goal lead instead of a three-goal lead in Game 7. But if you still feel sad, do yourselves a favour and go watch Ortiz's Game 4 walk-off homer a few times on YouTube. Feel better now?

Go Flyers!!1....?

The puck hits the crease and a group of players join it. Swinging sticks, flailing limbs and when the dust settled on the maelstrom the puck had crossed the goal line, forced in by Braydon Coburn. "Yes!!!" What?

Did I just fist pump on a goal scored by the Philadelphia Flyers?

After brushing my teeth to get the taste of bile out of my mouth, I found myself presented with an existential crisis; cognitive dissonance of the highest order.

Proposition 1: The Flyers are evil
Proposition 2: I never cheer for an evil team
Event: I just cheered for the Philadelphia Flyers

One of my propositions was wrong and my life as a hockey fan was thrown into a state of flux.

Could it be that I don't hate the Flyers anymore? I do love Mike Richards and despite his being among the dirtiest players in the league, I've never had anything against Chris Pronger. Then I thought; Daniel Carcillo. Nope, I still hate the Flyers.

So I started examining some of my other propositions;
- I never watch a movie with Jennifer Lopez in it.
- I never read books about vampires and werewolves fighting over an adolescent girl
- I always cheer against the Canadiens. There it is.

The Habs are my Security Council. They have the power to veto any other belief or value I hold. The Flyers might be evil, but the Canadiens are worse still.

I'm happy to say that my life is now back in order. Dissonance resolved. For the next ten days you'll find me with the throngs of brainless zombies making nonsensical proclamations and yelling "Go Flyers!!1"

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Man Crush II

So Darren put together a list of guys he loves. Trust me, the list was not exhaustive (just wait until you hear him talk about Anze Kopitar). I have to admit, I have an affinity for lists that borders on obsession so when one of my colleagues puts together a list I like and don't totally agree with, I'm going to copy his idea. Call me unoriginal.

To reiterate, the bro-mance we're talking about here isn't about being the 'best' or even necessarily about being my favorite player. It's about that certain je ne sais quoi that draws you to certain guys. With that in mind, here are my top five;

5) Shea Weber - I've always liked defensemen. Add that to my normative bias. I played the position as a kid and I've always had a thing for the more under-appreciated elements of the game. And who are more under-appreciated than the Nashville Predators? Shea Weber makes the list for being a bruising defenseman that put a slapshot through the freaking net. Not even Laperriere is putting his face in front of that!

4) Mike Richards - Bias alert #2 - Mike Richards is on my fantasy keeper team. But seriously, I feel like he'd be on here anyway. He kills penalties, scores goals, fights, blocks shots. The guy does it all. He's shutdown Alex Ovechkin in the World Juniors, the Playoffs and most recently the Olympics. Not to mention, he seems to do alright with the ladies. He can be my wingman (he plays center) any day.

3) Henrik Lundqvist - Also, on my keeper team. The guy is so consistent though, and very likeable. If he plays poorly then he says that he played poorly and I like guys that take that kind of ownership. He's a snazzy dresser and he's dating a babe (more on this later).

2) Dion Phaneuf - Soon-to-be Captain of the greatest franchise in professional sports, Dion Phaneuf oozes bro-mance. From his gorgeous long time girlfriend, to his thunderous hits and his devastating slapshot the guy has all the tools. He fights, he won a World Junior gold medal and some day in the not-too-distant future he will be responsible for the death of Sean Avery. What's not to like?

1) Drew Doughty - Yeah, I know, I know, another defenseman. Guess what? He's on my fantasy team too. But how can you object? He's a smooth skater and an Olympic gold medalist with a track record of raising his game when his country calls on him. And since his country is also my country, that's a good thing. I've always had a bit of a thing for young and exciting teams and the Kings certainly fit that bill (Dustin Brown almost made the list). Just how Canadian is this guy? His nickname used to be Dough-nuts. Sure, it's because he was overweight but heck, it's good to see a former fat guy make it in the big world.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Your 2011/12 Toronto Maple Leafs!

Brian Burke is a genius and anyone who says otherwise is a communist or a Habs fan or both. His moves at the trade deadline improved the team's asset base exponentially and perhaps more importantly set the team's salary structure in a way that will permit us to be competitive in a reasonable amount of time. Much attention has been paid to the Phaneuf deal but I feel that the deal for Giguere was the one that will truly launch us forward.

Toronto acquired Giguere ($6 million cap hit / expires offseason 2011) in exchange for Vesa Toskala (boooo!) and Jason Blake ($4 million cap hit / expires offseason 2012). What this means is we swallow $2 million in extra salary this year, when there's a weak free agent crop but get to free up Blake's $4 million dollars one offseason early.

What's out there?

Unrestricted: Joe Thornton (age 32), Alex Semin (age 28), Patrice Bergeron (age 26), Mikko Koivu (age 29), David Backes (age 28), Brooks Laich (age 29), Brad Richards (age 32), Simon Gagne (age 32).

Notable RFAs: Jeff Carter (age 27), Shea Weber (age 26), Steven Stamkos (age 22), Brent Seabrook (age 27), Zach Parise (age 27) and Drew Doughty (age 22).

In other words - a hell of a lot more than what's available this offseason.

According to 'Cap Geek' we're set to have around $22 million in cap space that offseason (a number that is clearly deceiving given how few players we have on the roster at that point). With Gustavsson and Rynnas in net, our roster will look something like this:

Kessel - Kadri - X
X - X - X
Orr - Grabovski - Paradis
X - X - X

Phaneuf - Komisarek
Beauchemin - X
Finger - X

Let's fill in some blanks.

Kessel - Kadri - Kulemin ($3)
X - Bozak ($3) - X
Orr - Grabovski - Paradis
Caputi($.85) - DiDomenico($.7) - Stalberg ($.85)

Phaneuf - Komisarek
Beauchemin - Gunnarsson ($1.5)
Schenn ($3.5) - Aulie ($0.7)

Using the magic of the internet, I have made Jeff Finger and his contract disappear! I assume Brian Burke will, by some means, do the same. What we're left with are two top 6 forward spaces that need filling and $11 million in cap space to do it (assuming the cap remains relatively constant).

Backes seems like a no-brainer. He's the kind of player Burke loves and his connection to the US national team is not to be overlooked. Also, depending on the year he has next season, he may be a very reasonable cap hit. Unfortunately, signing him will also likely mean we can say goodbye to any of the RFAs (who, other than Carter and Seabrook, weren't likely going anywhere anyway - but hey, it's fun to dream).

What would remain at that point as far as high-end talent goes are mostly centers but a guy like Simon Gagne might fit nicely under the cap and into the lineup. He's a bit older, but let's face it, with a roster as young as the one that's projected above, we could probably use a veteran presence. Laich is also probably in our price range but he's a natural center so somebody would have to play out of position.

Is that the way to do it? Use the $11ish million bucks on two solid top 6 guys? Or do we go high-end talent and break the bank on a guy like Semin or Thornton?

Either way, we're starting to see the makings of a playoff roster and depending on the development of our younger guys, maybe more.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Man Crush

We’ve all had it before. You’ve stared at your TV during a game as the camera moves in for a close up of your favourite player’s rugged playoff beard. You have feelings for this man – you may even love him. Not in the same way you love your wife, your girlfriend, or your 1976 Farah Fawcett poster (you know the one, and if you don’t – look it up – you’re welcome).

No sir, the “man crush” is very different from the regular “crush” we have on women. The man crush is something very special, shared between you and your favourite hockey player. It’s that feeling you got when you watched Iggy and Vinny drop the gloves back in 2004. That feeling you get watching Pavel Datsyuk do the “Datsyuk” on opposing goalies. That feeling you get when watching Owen Nolan streak down the wing, only to take the time to point out the top shelf for the Dominator at the 1997 all-star game.

Below I have listed my top 5 “Man Crushes” in the game of hockey. You can disagree with my selections if you want. But if you tell me you’ve never looked lovingly at a big Jarome Iginla smile and thought – yeah, I’d hit that – then you sir, are a liar.

5. Dion Phaneuf – He has the shot – he hits like a Mac truck – dates Elisha Cuthbert – and has a mean strut. Enough said.

4. David Booth – Known as a skilled offensive player, he showed his stuff by challenging Mike Richards to a fight upon his return from a concussion. You have to respect a guy like that. Now if only he could learn to keep his head up.

3. Henrik Lundqvist – Maybe it’s the long flowing Swedish hair, maybe it’s his winning smile. Either way he is one of the most dominant goalies in hockey and the only reason NYR has a chance at the playoffs year in and year out.

2. Sidney Crosby – He does everything and more on the ice for his team and his country. He has legs like tree trunks (according to Curt S after a men’s washroom run in with Sid). He also sports the best nickname in all of hockey. Am I the only one who can’t wait for him to be 35, and still be going as “the kid”?

1. Jarome Iginla - When we think of man crushes there is one name that comes to mind first, and that’s Iggy. He is a leader, a fighter, and a scorer. Rumour has it Gerard Butler watched hours of Iginla game tape in preparation for his role in the movie 300. I love ya Iggy.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Brian Burke's Offseason Wish List

Alright guys, it wasn't pretty. We finished in last place in the East on a team that our GM thought would compete for a playoff spot. Granted, a lot went wrong to get us to that point: Komisarek's injury, Kessel's late start to the season, Vesa Toskala's goaltending. That said, a lot will have to go right next year (starting with this offseason) to get us back into the playoffs. Here's a list of things that I expect our wise and benevolent GM will be wishing for or hoping to achieve this offseason.

- A first line center - Don't get me wrong, I like Tyler Bozak, and Kadri's development in the CHL this season has been impressive. My preference would be to see Bozak centering the second line and Kadri heading up the third line with reduced responsibility and pressure.

- A first round draft pick - I'm not about to go into the whole Kessel deal at length but we all know that the move has left us without a first rounder this season. Despite this, Burkie has chosen to go with youth and it's a strategy that I whole-heartedly endorse. You've got to think that he'd love to pick up a first rounder.

- A home for Jeff Finger - Buyouts suck. We're still paying Darcy Tucker for crap sakes. So how do we get Finger out of here? In all likelihood we don't, but is there any chance we can bury his money in the minors? A guy can dream...

- Tamper with the Vacouver Canucks - It isn't a successful offseason if we don't, at some point, piss off Mike Gillis.

- More toughness in his 'bottom six' - Colton Orr beat the crap out of Matt Carkner with regularity. The only problem is, with him in the box, we didn't have anyone to beat up Chris Neil. Hopefully next year, we will.

- A bidding war on Tomas Kaberle - I'll miss him dearly but let's face it, we have way too much money tied up in our defense. The market for puck moving defensemen seems to be highly variable. Sometimes they're in high demand and you can get some pretty alluring packages. Other times, you'll see a guy move and wonder, "how was THAT all it took!?". Let's hope, for our sake it's the former and not the latter.

Philly Fans Rule!! Go Flyers!!!1

Thursday, May 6, 2010

PIMP Rankings

First off, allow me to explain what I mean by ‘PIMP’. This is not a chronicle of the frat-party escapades of the Philadelphia Flyers or the goings-on in the back of Pat Kane’s limousine. Rather, this is a bit of a joke at the expense of a friend who is a fantasy hockey addict worthy of A&E’s Intervention. When pressed to justify his high opinion of a player that is a statistical underperformer, the friend in question will invariably attempt to settle the issue by proclaiming that the player in question “is a PIMP”.

Being a PIMP appears to depend solely on a player’s reputation and not his actual fantasy value. A PIMP may be talented, but his past performance, popularity with the fans, flashy play or other intangible qualities results in him acquiring a reputation that far exceeds his performance on the scoresheet.

A PIMP’s high reputation-to-actual quality ratio renders them unjustifiably expensive to trade for in keeper leagues and likely to be drafted far too early in one-year leagues. Better let someone else pick them up and deal with the frustration – it’s hard to win with a team of PIMPs.

The top five PIMPs according to the BCP Vice Squad are:

5) Roberto Luongo - Roberto Luongo is a talented goaltender, possibly even the most talented in the game. However, his fantasy performance doesn’t merit the exalted status he enjoys in most fantasy leagues. In the past three seasons Bobby Lu was never ranked higher than 4th among ‘tenders on the Y! rankings and never led the league in wins, GAA or SV%. Luongo is still a great option in net, but he isn’t so much better than the other options available that it justifies the premium he is likely to command.

4) Jarome Iginla - Everyone but Pat Quinn seems to love Iggy. He scores, he fights, he set up Crosby’s gold medal-winning goal and he seems like a friendly guy. That’s the problem. The sad reality is that Iginla has been a fantasy disappointment lately – Yahoo! projected him at 9th at the beginning of the last two seasons, but he finished ranked only 18th in 2008-09 and 41st in 2009-10. Unless Calgary gets Iggy a decent centre to line up beside, his stats are likely to continue to decline along with the Flames’ fortunes next season, but his reputation seems to be bulletproof.

3) Vincent Lecavalier - Vinny has had a rough couple of seasons – his role as the face of the franchise is being usurped by Steven Stamkos and he has been unable to duplicate his incredible play in 2006-07. Lecavalier tallied just 70 points this past season, and his performance in 2008-09 was horrid – he got only 67 points and missed the top 50 in the Y! rankings. Despite this worrying trend, Lecavalier is still regarded by many as a top fantasy player. He may yet return to form, but given the abundance of skilled centremen in the NHL there isn’t much to justify ranking Vinny among the elite fantasy players in the league.

2) Rick Nash - Nash is a big winger, a big talent and a big name in the NHL. Unfortunately for Nash’s fantasy owners, he doesn’t live up to his supersized reputation. Nash has never scored even 80 points, and his fantasy performance has only declined over time – over the last three seasons Nash’s Y! ranking fell steadily from 17th to 25th to 43rd. None of this is likely to stop many fantasy owners from selecting Nash in the earliest rounds of most fantasy drafts before less flashy players like Mikko Koivu, Derek Roy and Paul Stastny, all of whom posted more points than Nash last season. Opt for substance when drafting – the spectacular end-to-end goals won’t be much consolation when Nash goes on one of his trademark pointless streaks.

1) Dion Phaneuf - Phaneuf does a lot of things fans love in a D-man – he’s got a great shot and he dishes out kidney-rupturing hits. Phaneuf was a Calder nominee in his rookie year, and he had a decent couple of seasons after that. However, the future captain of the Maple Leafs has never lived up to his lofty reputation in the fantasy game since. Phaneuf has still managed to post respectable goal totals, but he was soundly outperformed by a new guard of elite defensemen like Duncan Keith and Drew Doughty. Nonetheless, being the face of the most prominent franchise in the game has its perks (Elisha Cuthbert comes to mind) and an inflated fantasy value is one of them.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The NHL 'Jerk' Power Rankings

Hockey players are the best. From the Sedins' donations to the Vancouver community to Laich's selflessness last week, the NHL is a league that's rife with individuals that we should all strive to emulate. That said, the Law of Equal Distribution of Assholes dictates that there will be exceptions to the rule. Here are a few.

5. Pat Kane - He beat up a cab driver over 20 cents. I guess entry-level deals aren't what they used to be and the economy is in pretty rough shape but that still makes you a jerk. Also, choosing a mullet over the time honoured playoff beard tradition is weak. I don't care if you can't grow a proper beard - wear your shame!

4. Daniel Alfredsson - I don't suffer liars lightly, so when Daniel Alfredsson 'guaranteed' that the Sens would win a Stanely Cup, he all but assured himself a place on this list until his retirement.

3. Dany Heatley - I don't want to go into the Dan Snyder thing in detail, nor do I want to make light of it in any way but I do blame Heatley and that does make him a jerk. On top of that, the trade demands followed by the, 'oh yeah, I want out... just not to Edmonton. Let me tell you where I'd be willing to go.' Not acceptable. You signed a contract, be a man and live up to it. I really don't understand why he wanted out of Ottawa, his character fits right in with that band of poofcakes.

2. Carey Price - C'mon Carey, you're a role-model. Do you really think that smoking an entire pack in tandem is an appropriate message for the snivelling Habs fans that still think you've got 'potential'? Not to mention he's a sore loser. You'd think he'd be used to it by now, but it seems he's not. An unsportmanlike conduct penalty for firing a puck at the Caps following a goal and then a second unsportsmanlike penalty for taking a swing at someone from the bench. 'Insufferable' is the word.

1. Daniel Carcillo - I don't really feel that I need to justify this selection in any way... but I will. He dives. He's an ass. He picked a fight with Marian Gaborik, of all people. His moustache is even more of an embarassment than Kane's mullet. And perhaps the most telling piece of evidence; he's adored by Flyers fans. If you look up the word 'jerk' in the dictionary - do you know what you'd find? The definition of the word jerk, which Carcillo is.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Brooks Laich: Better than the Habs, Even in Defeat

Last week, following his team’s game 7 defeat at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens, Brooks Laich demonstrated why hockey players are among the most selfless and humble athletes in the world. Well, most of them anyway. Laich stopped and spent just under an hour helping the Wangemann family change a flat tire on their van. Here’s an account of what else happened that evening prior to Laich’s heroics.

1) Brian Gionta drove past the Wangemanns. While he would have been willing to help them out, he realizes that changing a tire on an automobile isn’t the same as changing a tire on his Barbie “Jammin’ Jeep” Power Wheel.

2) The Kostitsyns offer the Wangemanns roadside ‘protection’ for a nominal fee. After they respectfully declined, Andrei broke the window of the van and declared they would be back later.

3) Seeing the family standing near him in a huddled semi-circle, Carey Price got angry and shot a puck at them.

4) Scott Gomez offered the family below average assistance for $8 million a year in perpetuity.

5) Upon seeing an immobile vehicle after a Canadiens game, a collection of Habs fans gathered in a mob and tried to burn it.

6) Finally, Laich was not the first altruistic Washington Capital on the scene. Alexander Semin saw the family in distress and decided to try and help them change the tire. After 44 fruitless attempts he was left to pound the wheel like a bongo in frustration.