The fight is over and a childhood hero is enshrined for eternity. Bias accepted here, there’s never been a doubt as to Oates’ career being Hall-worthy.
I am as happy as a hockey fan can be. The complaining, the indignant stat-prattling, the case-making, the whining about it all… It’s over. I don’t have to crow about an open-and-shut case anymore.
There’s no need to talk about the injustice of it all and continue alternating between banging my head against the wall and shouting from the mountain tops. Adam Oates: Hall of Famer.
Back in late September during the preseason, I wanted to interview Oates about being snubbed by the Hall. With him being the Devils assistant coach and it also being the team’s first preseason game of the year, the Hall was the last thing on his mind. All business, all the time. That’s part of what got the Washington Capitals to hire Oates as their head coach today on top of it all.
It feels a bit silly to feel as happy for what someone else accomplished, but that’s part of being a fan, right? Embracing those that helped bring the love of the game to you. Oates is the key figure on my personal “Mount Rushmore” of hockey. Oates, Wayne Gretzky, Steve Yzerman, and Teemu Selanne. There are plenty other players I have a great appreciation for, but those four? They turned hockey from something I watched and enjoyed into something I obsess over and love dearly, maybe a bit too much if you ask some of my friends.
But Oates? He was the guy who sparked it all for me. Seeing a guy like that play live in person when you’re a kid leaves an impression on you. Seeing him win your favorite local team a championship hammers it home even more. Watching him excel as a professional for nearly 20 years is icing on the cake.
Adam Oates is a Hockey Hall of Famer. What a great day.
In just a matter of days Colin Campbell’s idiotic Wheel of Justice has gotten enough of a workout to make even the most veteran spinner of the wheel tired and it seems that there’s a definitive line in the sand being drawn over who or what will get you actually punished by the NHL.
First there was all the stuff we talked about here before about Mike Richards and Tuomo Ruutu, then in the last couple of days Dallas Stars sandpaper-like forward decided it was high time he got back into the act of being a huge creep and managed to do so twice in the same game against St. Louis. First with a highly dubious low-bridge hip check on Carlo Colaiacovo then later on with a hide-your-eyes ugly knee-on-knee hit with B.J. Crombeen.
Dallas Stars fans and St. Louis Blues fans alike have come to verbal blows over at St. Louis Game Time while the guys at Defending Big D take the opposing stand and, frankly, I can’t blame Blues fans for being pissed because Steve Ott is your run of the mill talented forward that gets his jollies being an asshole. Now take what you saw in Ott’s hit on Colaiacovo and now soak in what you see from Los Angeles Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi with his hit on Columbus’ Jason Chimera.
Again, really nasty business and an unneeded low blow of a hip check and this goes for Steve Ott as well. There’s no need to get that low on a player you’re looking to stop. None at all and the only reason you’re doing it is because you’re being a dick. Ott’s a dick and Scuderi, this one time, is also a dick.
That is, not completely… At least in the eyes of Colin Campbell. Rob Scuderi has already been let off for previous good behavior and received a fine for his hit. Meanwhile, Steve Ott will have a telephone hearing with Colin and the Wheel of Justice to determine how long he’ll be suspended for as the league is looking into his hit on Colaiacovo and not the hit on Crombeen.
Far be it from me to try and figure out where, exactly, any of that makes sense because it doesn’t, but I’d like to think that Campbell will at least mention in passing the Crombeen hit because that’s about as dirty as it gets. He leaves his leg out there while Crombeen skates by and there’s absolutely ZERO doubt in my mind that Ott was looking to injure him.
With all of that said…
What in the blue hell is it going to take for there to be any modicum of consistency out of Colin Campbell’s game show studio of an office when it comes to dangerous hits in the game? Mike Richards gets no suspension for his hit on David Booth. Tuomo Ruutu gets a three game suspension for his dirty play on noted scumbag Darcy Tucker. Rob Scuderi gets a fine for his low bridge action on Jason Chimera even in spite of Scuderi having a relatively clean record and now Steve Ott is going to see some sort of action taken against him. I’d like to assume it’s going to be a suspension but you just don’t know what the Wheel of Justice will turn out.
It shouldn’t be like pulling teeth to get some kind of ground rules set for punishment in this run-by-ninnies league. Every other league seemingly has their act together and manages to avoid having the smokey room discussions about what to do when their players run afoul of the rules but not the NHL. One man’s knee-on-knee hit is another man’s sloppy seconds.
There’s zero consistency from the officials on the ice and there’s absolutely zero consistency or accountability from the officials in their offices in Manhattan. The league is gutless for not trying to set any sort of measuring stick for even the most basic of offenses and apparently doles out suspensions based on some hazy measurement of what a player has done in the past. It’s time to keep track of these things and keep the fans in the know where everyone stands. After all, if we all know who the scumbags are and what the dirty hits look like, what the hell is the purpose of paying Colin Campbell too much money to be really terrible at his job when any of us common-folk could do just as good if not better than he can from our couch.
Bend over everyone, it’s time to take the temperature of the playoffs.
The Playoff Doctor will see you now.
I see the Canadiens, Blues and Sharks are already in position. How nice of you to be so helpful to myself and your opponents.
I know that Bruins fans want to think that they’re exorcising playoff demons here, but considering how schizophrenic the Habs were all season long, how awful they played leading up to the playoffs and how beat up they were… Is this really a surprise at all?
Yeah, yeah I know – rivalries, history, magic, aura… All that crap gets brought up and its stupid. None of that has anything to do with how horribly overmatched the Canadiens were going into this series and now that they’re on the brink of being shown the broom there’s nothing incredible nor overwhelming about it.
The Bruins weren’t the underdogs in this battle and they’re certainly not a rag-tag bunch of kids going up against Guy Lafleur, Larry Robinson and Ken Dryden Canadiens either.
If the Bruins struggled at all in this series I would’ve been at a loss for words and then if you twisted my arm I might buy into that nonsense about never getting by the Canadiens ever.
Things change and this year things got a lot better for the Bruins and a lot worse for the Canadiens and its more than evident in this series.
The Bruins will get their first actual test in the next round…unless they face Carolina (trailing New Jersey 2 games to 1) or Philadelphia (trailing Pittsburgh 2-1), then forget it it’s a walk to the Eastern Conference Finals in that case.
If they get either the Rangers or the Penguins in the second round, things get shaky for the B’s since the Rangers (leading Washington 2-1) would have a goalie that can carry them far and steal games and the Penguins have offense to burn and give Tim Thomas fits.
In the Western Conference, I want to say that there’s rhyme or reason for why the Sharks are failing so hard, but I can’t even begin to imagine what the hell their problem is.
Presidents Trophy jinx? Get lost and stop reading my website.
Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau aren’t clutch enough in the playoffs? If you believe that kind of nonsense I’m going to find you and fire you into the sun.
Demotivated team whose boredom carried over into the opening round? Ehh…
That would make sense if they weren’t playing a team they hate in the first round, and let’s face it, San Jose hates Anaheim and there’s no way around that.
You want the truth of the matter? Here it comes:
San Jose went sputtering into the playoffs and then got the worst possible opponent they could draw in Anaheim – a team that was on fire since the trade deadline, a team that didn’t have a favorable schedule to close out the year when it came to making the playoffs.
Yet, here they are and they’re on fire and they’ve got that savvy veteran leadership that the playoffs was meant for.
Oh yeah, and they’ve got a team that plays sick defense. Remember the 2007 team that won the Cup much to everyone’s chagrin? Yeah, they’re just like that team was only this time they’ve got a lot of younger guys up front, a lot of whom came up in the Ducks system and they know it backwards and forwards.
The Niedermayer brothers are still there. Teemu Selanne is still there. Physics egalitarian Chris Pronger is still there. Hell, even Jean-Sebastian Giguere is still there and he looks dashing in a baseball cap while Swiss freak Jonas Hiller backstops the Water Fowl.
They’re not your normal eighth seed – these guys are good and they’re happy staying under the radar. They’re also still douchebags – so they got that going for them.
Should the Ducks move on, and with the way San Jose is playing it seems foolish to think that it won’t, a potential match-up with Detroit (who is busy schooling Columbus on the finer points of how to play hockey) in the second round will go down as the best series in the entire playoffs.
Bank on it.
Then you’ve got the St. Louis Blues…
Let’s face it, I got Andy Murray’s team all sorts of wrong here back in October when I said that they didn’t need to even show up this year because they weren’t going to make the playoffs.
What I didn’t get wrong though was about Andy Murray himself. Let me cite noted hockey blogger Hockey Joe, author of Gross Misconduct about what he had to say about Andy Murray:
The best part of this team, however, is the head coach Andy Murray. Murray is a smart enough guy and is always able to get the best out of his teams. He did very solid work with the L.A. Kings until things turned horribly southward there and it’s that experience Murray will have to draw on for handling this Blues team.
Such grace in those words – someone should give that guy a pat on the back. Of course, the next phrase after that was:
The Blues will have a spurt or two in them where they’re able to man-up and pull a few surprises out and goaltender Manny Legace, or presumptive backup from Nashville Chris Mason, are more than capable of stealing a couple games throughout the season, but don’t buy what they’re selling. This team is bad.
Damn it all.
I should’ve been wiser to Manny Legace having a meltdown at some point this season and I should’ve stuck to my guns about Murray as a coach. I also should have been smarter about the youth on the Blues roster and respecting what they could bring to the table right away in a situation that would demand they do it sooner than later.
Some how, some way the Blues managed to end up sixth in the Western Conference and their reward for that was Roberto Luongo and the Freaky Swedes with their Bore You Into Submission brand of hockey.
Any other time in my hockey life I’d be openly rooting against Vancouver because they’re like ether on ice.
Not this time.
I’m vengeful with my words and my middle fingers.
The Blues screwed me out of going five for five on my pre-season prediction and now they’re paying for it.
Hey St. Louis! I got two words for ya!
As for Vancouver, a tune up agains the Blues in what basically boils down to a rough scrimmage is just what they needed. Hell, the Canucks are even getting over on trashing the Blues verbally too:
Embarrassing – glad to have the Canucks on my side in this one.
The Canucks are getting hot and they’re destined for a second round match-up with either Chicago or Calgary (Chicago leads the series 2-1) and that works out just fine since those two teams are going to beat each others brains in for a while, or at least be cheap-shotting pricks:
I know that a lot of folks want to make their judgments on how the playoffs will go after one game, which is really fucking stupid.
I know I don’t usually swear around you guys but the fucking hockey media is fucking making me do it.
Denis Leary approved that rant and theft of his act because I write about hockey, assholes.
Sure, I could come out now and say that I think that there’s ZERO point in having any more games of the Penguins-Flyers series because the Flyers looked beyond putrid and that all they’re going to do over the next three games (yeah, I feel that confident) is take cheap shots and try to purposefully injure people.
Yet, Cammalleri will not be suspended by the NHL because, apparently the only difference between these two cheap and brutal shots to the head (Hey, remember that whole initiative Gary? How about you Colin?) is when they occurred during the game.
Actually the NHL’s actual reason is even more worthless than timing: It’s because it’s Cammalleri’s first offense.
Other snap judgments I could make after Game 1 are:
How the playoffs could be the undoing of Mike Green’s campaign for Norris given how he allowed Sean Avery to play him like a chump. Save the complaints, I know the awards are based on regular season play. I’m sure the voters are really on top of these things. Right…
How the Blue Jackets look terrified of being in the playoffs and should’ve faced off with the San Jose Sharks just to see if an NHL series could end with neither team moving on.
How the Anaheim Ducks are reaching back into the 2007 Stanley Cup Playoffs playbook for how to get away with murder on the sneak.
How the St. Louis Blues and Vancouver Canucks series will make wish to meet up with Dr. Kevorkian if I watch any more of that crap.
I don’t care if Vancouver is playing dirty or if St. Louis is too busy crying about getting abused like a teenage girlfriend from her ‘roided up football player boyfriend.
I don’t care, it’s boring and the Sedin Twins freak me the fuck out. They remind me of something I saw in a movie once…
Just jump ahead to the 0:25 second mark of that bad boy and you’ll laugh your ass off for a week. Or vomit. Either way, it’s a winner.
I won’t make those snap judgments though because they’re classically stupid. Expect better analysis than that after the weekend because even I’m a bit spooked by Chris Osgood’s outstanding goaltending against the Blue Jackets. Does that mean we just throw away everything that happened in the regular season now?
I spent too much time in D.C. drinking and carousing with friends and treating it like the end of the year party it’s meant to be and now I’m paying for it in the form of illness.
Whether it comes from spending a day and evening in Baltimore and breathing the air or from getting too close to some of the hippies from Vermont, is up for debate but there is going to be a cure for this maniacal head cold soon and with it will come:
A photo recap of a trip to Baltimore to sample Chap’s Pit Beef and the amazing scenery entailed with that.
The NHL Playoffs are coming up? Why do I not feel at all excited by this? I suppose I will analyze something about them at least. There’s only a few series that I find honestly intriguing this year and I’ll zero in on those.
I’ve picked on the Eastern Conference a bit and, believe me, there’s plenty of material to work with there, but it’s time to dig into the West. The Western Conference is a funny place this year because there’s only a couple of teams who I can say, right now, are done.
For the St. Louis Blues, they can take some solace in the fact that their season was done before their young, stud defenseman Erik Johnson was mysteriously injured on the golf course. How Johnson was hurt is a matter under speculation. Johnson says his foot got tangled up between the accelerator and the brake pedal and he denies vehemently that he got hurt playing this:
Now I’ll do the right thing and say I believe Johnson when he says he got hurt the way he got hurt, that’s fine. But if you want me to believe that a multi-talented NHL defenseman is that much of a klutz…that’s a harder sell. It’s a much harder sell than telling me that a 20 year-old was goofing around on the golf course with his buddies and managed to screw up big time and get injured in said goofing around.
That said, this injury only helps set the tone for the Blues this year. Sure, they’re playing in a division that generally is pretty weak aside from the overlords on the top from Detroit. This year is different. Chicago is the media darling for improvement, and rightfully so. Nashville has somehow miraculously made the playoffs the last four years, much due to most everyone else in the Central feeding them wins and consistency at the top with head coach Barry Trotz. Heck, even Columbus should be better this year provided Rick Nash stays healthy, Pascal Leclaire is as good as he showed last year, and everyone is fully bought into coach Ken Hitchcock’s brutally boring system.
St. Louis really is swimming upstream this season and they just don’t have much of anything to sustain themselves. Outside of Erik Johnson, along the blue line they’ve got Eric Brewer and Barret Jackman as their top defensemen and Jay McKee as their classy old veteran player (at 32 he’s the most veteran defenseman) who gets to show the rest of the guys in the locker room how it’s done, which surprisingly, will come in handy.
Jeremy Rutherford at the Morning Skate blog from STLToday.com outlined what the “grueling” pre-season has managed to do to the Blues defensive depth with the recent injury to Jeff Woywitka (no, that’s not the name of the guy Shia Lebeouf played in Transformers):
Pre-training camp lineup: 1. Eric Brewer 2. Barret Jackman 3. Jay McKee 4. Erik Johnson 5. Steve Wagner 6. Jeff Woywitka 7. Roman Polak 8. Jonas Junland 9. Alex Pietrangelo 10. Mike Weaver
Now, Pientrangelo or Weaver could be the sixth d-man on the roster on opening night, Oct. 10.
Now, I know what you’re saying looking at those lists:
Who? What? Is this a joke? This team doesn’t play professional hockey.
Oh, but they do. At least in name they do.
Since I know you’re curious, the Pietrangelo being talked about is not goaltender Frank from the days of NHL yore, it’s his second-nephew Alex, the Blues first-round pick from this year’s draft.
In a perfect world, Blues General Manager would like Pietrangelo to get his feet wet in Peoria of the AHL, but with two of their original top six out for large chunk or the whole chunk of the season – trial by fire seems how it’ll go for Alex Pietrangelo. Mind you, I find nothing wrong at all with letting premiere talent getting started instantly in the pros, I just worry about having that premiere talent A) being defensemen and B) on a bad team.
Starting off your career with a -30 rating doesn’t do much to make one feel great about their own game or their future.
That said, the youth is going to be king in St. Louis and in this case, it’s not going to serve them very well because they don’t have the hugely talented offensive forwards that can jump right out and get things done instantly. Judging by what our friend Jeremy Rutherford has to say about the Blues forward set up… patience will be the thing to have if you’re a Blues Backer:
Paul Kariya – Patrik Berglund – David Perron
Keith Tkachuk – T.J. Oshie – David Backes
Lee Stempniak – Andy McDonald – Brad Boyes
D.J. King – Jay McClement – Yan Stastny/Cam Janssen/Chris Porter
The one “veteran” line you’ll have out there (that meaning a line full of guys that all have major NHL experience) is the line of Stempniak-McDonald-Boyes. Boyes is a 40-goal scorer and an example of why teams should make deals with the Boston Bruins. McDonald is the Stanley Cup winning center for the Anaheim Ducks who found his way to St. Louis when Brian Burke decided he’d rather have Doug Weight and his lower salary. Stempniak is a Dartmouth College player who has been one of their steadiest players the last few seasons yet doesn’t seem to bring in much of any respect.
You look at those first couple of lines and see some classic names in Paul Kariya and Keith Tkachuk. Tkachuk isn’t quite the force he was back about 10-15 years ago (he is 36 years-old after all), but he parked home 27 goals last season once again (he did the same the year before) and if nothing else, he’s consistent and he and Jay McKee can get some words in edgewise to teach these young whipper snappers a thing or two.
Jay McKee and Keith Tkachuk grow tired of the rest of the team not getting off their lawns.
Paul Kariya is another guy who you think of as old (he is 34) and probably on the backside of his career as a goal scorer. What you probably never realized about Paul’s career is that he’s a much better passer than he is a finisher. When he came out of the University of Maine (just ask Gary Thorne, he’ll gush just a little bit) in his one full season in Orono, Kariya netted 75 assists – mind you, it’s rare when college players get even 75 points (even scoring is down in college as it is the pros, for shame) nevermind 75 assists.
If the line Rutherford assembled for the Blues holds true, look for Kariya to be the true playmaker on that line with the 20 year-old Swede Patrik Berglund, playing in his first NHL season and 20 year-old David Perron, playing in his second NHL season. Berglund’s stats from Sweden indicate that he’s got equal touch scoring and passing and Perron looks to be more of a goal scorer in the NHL than anything else.
St. Louis is going to be a three-line team at best and should Oshie struggle alongside Tkachuk or get bumped down the depth chart, this team will struggle even more. Should that occur, you’ll then have a top-loaded first line presuming that Brad Boyes or McDonald would be placed with Kariya and Backes or Perron.
The fourth-line for this team will be out there simply to start shenanigans, especially on nights where D.J. King and Cam Janssen are teamed up together. In fact, I predict this line will get a fair share of work against Detroit and Chicago simply to just start nonsense.
The best part of this team, however, is the head coach Andy Murray. Murray is a smart enough guy and is always able to get the best out of his teams. He did very solid work with the L.A. Kings until things turned horribly southward there and it’s that experience Murray will have to draw on for handling this Blues team. The Blues will have a spurt or two in them where they’re able to man-up and pull a few surprises out and goaltender Manny Legace, or presumptive backup from Nashville Chris Mason, are more than capable of stealing a couple games throughout the season, but don’t buy what they’re selling. This team is bad.
This team in the super-competitive Western Conference has neither the horses to withstand the season nor the summary talent to get through their bear of a division. In fact, the only thing Blues fans have to be happy about this year is the fact that for 15 games through the season they’re going to look really awesome losing:
In just the few days leading up to the NHL Draft, which is generally Trade-O-Rama time, the rumor mill picked up at an epic pace, much in thanks to actual reporters being allowed on the Internet to blog their feelings and their supposed findings.
I say “supposed” because a few of these folks seem to be taking the nod from the infamous Eklund, who a couple years ago created a ridiculous Internet buzz with his blog talking about trade rumors because he supposedly had insiders deep within that would hook him up with information. Of course, when that information seemed to be right less than 1% of the time, that causes a bit of a credibility problem.
This, of course, would not deter Eklund as he now has a new website which you have to pay him money to read his rumors.
And you think I’m joking. Nevermind the awful precedent this has set, it’s no wonder guys like Buzz Bissinger get upset at us Water Heater Jockeys in the Basement who don’t leave home for anything. Clowns like Eklund make it harder for everyone because they create a stir that isn’t actually there and causes idiotic questions to be served up to coaches and general managers that have zero idea where this stuff came from.
Enter Bruce Garrioch from the Ottawa Sun – a supposed actual reporter working for a tabloid-style rag in Canada’s Capital City.
Garrioch started the firestorm this week by saying he had it on good authority that the Pittsburgh Penguins were shopping Evgeni Malkin to Los Angeles for a package of players and the #2 overall pick this year. Those players involved? Dustin Brown and Alex Frolov. If there were any inkling of truth to this, this would mean that a deal like this would be EPIC.
Of course when Dean Lombardi, the Kings GM, was asked about this it was all news to him, saying only that he’d received only two offers worth considering for the #2 pick and still opted to pass on them. I don’t believe for a second that he would’ve taken that phony Pittsburgh offer either as Dustin Brown is a stud and Alex Frolov is likewise when he stays healthy.
Garrioch was roasted for causing such nonsense by folks all over the Interweb and he’s continued to do nothing but throw crap at the wall to see what sticks or gets him some attention.
Shameful. A guy in his position should actually, you know, take advantage of having access to all these executives and coaches. Instead, he fabricates some rumors to get people talking and in the process ticks everyone off. Let’s face it, nothing intrigues folks more than trade rumors – it’s an instant conversation starter. Is Player A worth Player B and C? It’s great…as long as its founded in some actual truth.
As it is, no one knows what Pittsburgh is actually up to regarding Malkin or Marian Hossa or any of their potential free agents. Hell, it’s been rumored for over a week now that Ryan Malone was going to get traded to Columbus so they could have a week to negotiate directly with him. It hasn’t happened and it won’t happen because Malone already stated that he’s going to be an unrestricted free agent.
At least one guy has some sensibility – who would’ve guessed it would be the player in this case?
As it is, none of the rumors that have come up in the last week have nor will they materialize.
Speaking of the Blues, they dished Jamal Mayers to Toronto for their third round pick. Mayer is not very good nor very worth it and the fact St. Louis got a third rounder for him is stunning.
There’s rumors currently swirling that Montreal and Toronto may be hashing out a deal to give Montreal exclusive negotiating rights with Mats Sundin for the next week. This one has to be an Eklund/Garrioch tag team special because there is no way these two teams would work out a deal that would be mutually beneficial – nevermind that it would be a complete PR nightmare to have the Leafs dish Sundin to a hated rival and watch him succeed there.
There’s also a story popping up from RDS (for you French-Canadiens) that Anaheim may be shopping Chris Pronger around. Again, I don’t buy this for a minute because Anaheim needs him too much and he fits in all too well on that team, like it or not.
All we know for sure now is that Tampa Bay is selecting Steven Stamkos and we’ll be here during or after the draft going over anything overly ridiculous that goes down during tonight’s First Round.