Saturday, May 31, 2008

Barry's Back

Rumor has it as soon Hollywood producer Oren Koules and friends complete their purchase of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Barry Melrose will be named head coach, replacing the ornery John Tortella.
Because of his ESPN platform, Melrose may be one of the most recognizable faces in hockey south of the 49th parallel, even if he hasn't coached in more than a decade and the game has changed in so many dramatic ways since he last worked behind an NHL bench.

- Eric Duhatschek, Globe On Hockey

I like Barry as a broadcaster and pundit. I listen to his podcast. I don't necessarily agree with everything he says, but I respect his opinion. And while Melrose has made no bones about his desire to return to coaching, I gotta agree with Duhatschek (and just about everyone else). The new ownership group isn't putting their best foot forward with their choice of head coach. Vincent Lecavalier has one year left on his contract, and will certainly be looking to jump ship if things don't turn around in Tampa.

No rumblings on the fate of GM Jay Feaster. Too bad Neil Smith, who has also been waiting patiently for another NHL gig, isn't friends with Koules like Melrose.

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Friday, May 30, 2008

How do you spell marketing?

This year's playoffs promos have had some hits and some misses. But the NHL has never been known as a marketing juggernaut. Remember that samurai guy?

American Hockey Fan has managed to think up an ESPN-worthy campaign which uses tonight's Scripps National Spelling Bee to sell the game:

STERN JUDGE (Voiceover): Afinogenov.

KID: Definition please?

JUDGE: The last name of Maxim Afinogenov, an All Star Right Wing for the National Hockey League's Buffalo Sabres.

KID: Language of Origin please?

JUDGE: Russian

KID: Part of Speech please?

JUDGE: Noun, proper name.

KID: Afinogenov?

JUDGE: Afinogenov.

KID: Afinogenov?

JUDGE: Afinogenov.

KID: Can you use it in a sentence please?

JUDGE: After picking off a pass in the neutral zone, Afinogenov electrified the crowd by beating two defenders and scoring.

KID: Afinogenov. A-F-I-N-A-G-E-N-O-V. Afinogenov.




VOICEOVER: The players of the National Hockey League: Hard to Spell, Easy to watch.


Then rinse and repeat with a different kid, doing Giguere, Kostitsyn, Datsyuk, you name it. You get a funny little sketch, and a great hockey highlight.
Give the man a job on Sixth Avenue.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Wheeler turns down Yotes

The Phoenix Coyotes announced first rounder Blake Wheeler has turned down an entry level contract for free agency. Wheeler was a high school student in Minnesota when he was chosen with the 5th overall pick in the 2004 draft. He played three seasons with the University of Minnesota before deciding to forgo his last year of eligibility and turn pro...somewhere besides Phoenix.
"The last thing we want in our organization are people that don't want to be here, and the last thing we're going to do here is beg people to play for us," Maloney said.

"We are very happy with the compensatory pick we will receive for Blake not signing, which will be the fifth pick in the second round (of this year's draft). This is a very deep draft, and we now have five picks in the first two rounds, which is very exciting."

- Arizona Republic

Wheeler has pretty much been a bust considering his draft position. The Coyotes essentially get another shot at turning dust to gold with the compensatory pick.

The compensatory pick, however, caught my eye. WTF? Who's that pick coming from?

The league it turns out. They have up to 30 picks available for compensation in addition to the seven rounds of the draft. Per section 8.3(b) of the CBA:
In the event a Club loses its draft rights to an Unsigned Draft Choice drafted in the first round of the Entry Draft (except as a result of failing to tender a required Bona Fide Offer, who is again eligible for the Entry Draft or becomes an Unrestricted Free Agent, a Compensatory Draft Selection shall automatically be granted to that Club, which Compensatory Draft Selection shall be the same numerical choice in the second round in the Entry Draft immediately following the date the Club loses such rights. By way of example, if a Club cannot sign the third pick in the first round, it will receive the third pick in the second round as compensation.
So there's your CBA lesson for today. Compensation picks aren't just things Kevin Lowe gives ex-friend Brian Burke.

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Spokane Chiefs win MasterCard Memorial Cup

Jared Cowen game-worn jersey:

Roundtrip airfare to Kitchener, Ontario:

Ticket strip:

Watching team captain Chris Bruton break the Memorial Cup in half:

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Wings beat Pens in game 1

It's the beginning of the end of the hockey season: the Stanley Cup Finals. Enjoy it while it lasts, because we all go golfing at the end of the series, waiting for our next kick at the Cup.

The Red Wings opened the Finals with a decisive 4-0 victory over the Penguins. This is the first loss in these playoffs for Pittsburgh where they didn't beat themselves. They simply don't yet have an answer for Detroit at even strength. They also couldn't solve Chris Osgood, "the worst goalie to win the Cup", who stopped the few dangerous chances the Penguins mustered.

The key to this series for the Wings will be to stay out of the box. They were lucky the Pens didn't strike first on any of their four first period power plays.
The key for Pittsburgh will be to draw penalties and get their goals on the power play. Sid the Kid has to know it after being shut down repeatedly, not just by Detroit's stingy defense but also by the Wings' scoring line of Datsuyk-Zetterberg-Holmstrom. Will we see Crosby return to his embellishing ways to get his team the man advantage?

Coming into this series the Penguins were the hottest team in the league. The questions remain: Are they better than the middling Eastern Conference teams they had to dispatch to reach the Stanley Cup Finals but no match for the West? Or are they the 1983 Oilers redux? (Not a bad thing to be truthfully.) Or is this a young team on a date with destiny, that merely tripped out of the gate much like Marc-Andre Fleury's entry onto the ice last night?

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Thursday, May 01, 2008

Cancel those tee times...

...the Rangers are still in it.

Finally, Henrik Lundqvist looked like the golden goalie capable of stealing one for his team. You had the feeling halfway through the game that he wasn't going to let one slip by him. It also helped that the Penguins played a conservative road game, until finally loading up Crosby and Malkin on the same line for the third period.

The series now goes back to Pittsburgh, where the Pens will be a bit more serious about trying to finish the Rangers off. The Blueshirts will need King Henrik to step up again...and again...and again to pull off the miracle New York needs to advance to the conference finals.

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