Posted on: June 13, 2009 9:07 pm
Edited on: June 13, 2009 9:12 pm

It's All About Karma, Marian Hossa

After coming oh so close to winning a Stanley Cup, Marian Hossa's agent made it clear that he was interested in returning. So Ray Shero (unwise to say the least) would have to juggle salaries and perhaps let go hard-hitting anchor Brooks Orpik or mutli-talented Jordan Staal. Luckily. Yes luckily, Marian Hossa was an Indian Giver. He scorned them in favor of Swedish average player-rich Detroit. Meanwhile, perenial 20-goal scorer Ryan Malone (who was invisible in the Finals, missing Crosby passes left and right) took Tampa Bay's ludicrious 7 million a year offer. Though playing with twin Supestars, he could only manage about 60 points. That's it? You're kidding right? Steve Larmer averaged 38 goals/84 points playing with Spin-O-Rama Superstar Denis Savard. Since Malone is physcial. Shouldn't we expect Keith Tkachuk-type numbers? He was a perenial 45 goal scorer when he played with Superstar Teemu Selanne and underrated Alexei Zhamnov. But Tkachuk is a superstar and a future Hall Of Famer. Malone isn't fit to carry his jock strap. Hope you enjoy playing golf in the Sunshine State, Ryan.

While stalwart Brooks Orpik rejected more money from the pathetic NY Rangers and signed with the Penguins with a Hometown Discount. While attending the Awards with GM Ray Shero, Evgeni Malkin responded to potential trade rumors by making it quite clear he was happy here and wanted to be part of something special...the New Generation Pittsburgh Penguin Dynasty. He also signed an extention for less than what Big Spenders like the Flyers and Rangers would probably offer.

Fast forward several months, and the virteous get their right rewards. The Meek become the Victors. While the sloth and shortsighted get what's entitled to them. Some people call it Luck or Chance. I call it Karma.

And somewhere in Slovakia, Marian Hossa is lacking it...in spades.

Posted on: April 18, 2009 10:49 am
Edited on: April 18, 2009 10:56 am

NHL's Future Lies In Canada

So many NHL teams in so many obscure regions of the country. And oh so many empty seats. Ladies and gentleman, I'm afraid The Great Experiment has failed. Bettman rolled the dice and went broke. His dream of creating this humongous U.S. market never materalized. Perhaps it is time to revisit the idea of relocation. Yes relocation. To Canada. The San Jose Sharks who routinely sell out HP Pavilion are immune. The Anaheim Ducks also appear to be safe & sound. However, the same can not be said for the Atlanta Thrashers, Nashville Predators, Phoenix Coyotes, Florida Panthers, Carolina Hurricanes & Columbus Blue Jackets. Face it. These locations were as strategic as an igloo in downtown Las Vegas. The fan base, or interest for that matter, simply isn't there. Nor will it ever be. Despite playoff berths and Stanley Cup championships, the attendance and television ratings are nonexistent. Despite the negative financial returns, player salaries continue to escalate. Owners continue to lose a fortune yet appear rooted to the spot & unable to seek greener pastures. Oh there are greener pastures my friend. They can be found in the Great White North. With the rise of the Canadian dollar and the subsequent slide of it's U.S. counterpart, the funds are more even now. With the new salary cap and revenue sharing, Canadian cities could experience a new NHL Renaissance. Winnipeg, Quebec City, Kitchener-Waterloo, Haliflax & Victoria. Unlike the U.S., the avid hockey fan base is already there. Canadian teams routinely sell out every night. The NHL can work with local municipalities on arena funding & construction. It can work. The Phoenix Coyotes could leave the Glendale Arena, where the meger attendance can be measured in how loud you can hear your own echo, and don the classic Winnipeg Jets jersey. The Nashville Predators could leave the Country Music Capital and give the hockey-starved residents of Quebec their famed Nordiques back. The Florida Panthers could put down the suntan lotion & make the residents of Kitchener-Waterloo happy. The Columbus Blue Jackets could bolt & make the people of Victoria smile from ear to ear. The Rebirth of The Victoria Cougars. Similar to The Rebirth of the Ottawa Senators in the 90's. A dream? Perhaps. A fantasy? No. More possible than you could ever imagine. It requires but a single nudge to start a boulder rolling down the hill. Revision: Upon further anaysis and contemplation, I was premature in my assessment of Columbus. It's location in The Midwest & proximity to the Mid-Atlantic states are infact strategic. Their long, cold winters do make it ideal for hockey. I deeply apologize if I offended in any way the fine residents of this great state.
Category: NHL
Posted on: April 18, 2009 10:46 am
Edited on: September 19, 2009 3:19 pm

Arise Hartford Whalers, Arise!

     The Hartford Whalers were much more than simply an NHL franchise. They were an icon and a treasure. Their classic green uniforms. The logo. The Brass Bonanza. Priceless. They deserved to be saved. Or in this case, resurrected. The vile and contemptible Peter Karmanos Jr.'s classless act of stripping Hartford of their beloved team should've been stopped. Gary Bettman is indeed The Clown Prince Of Incompetence for hardly making an effort of stepping in and circumventing the Whalers' demise. The late great John A. Ziegler Jr. wouldn't have allowed it. Unlike his successor, he understood and respected hockey tradition. He knew far well that New England is synonymous with hockey. He was aware of the region's passion for the sport. Technically, it consists of the following states: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut & Rhode Island. But you might as well throw in the Mid-Atlantic states (Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Delaware & Maryland) and form a Hockey Megalopolis.

     According to the Nielsen Media 2007-2008 Local Market Estimates, the Hartford - New Haven, CT area ranks 29th. Higher than Nashville, Kansas City, New Orleans, Las Vegas or Buffalo. So why no Whalers? If you are simply going by city population, then you are missing The Big Picture. Hartford's proximity to New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New Hampshire & Massachusetts. The residents of the neighboring states would make a short commute and attend NHL games. Similar to Philadelphia's TV market which serves the entire Delaware Valley, The Hartford Whalers could be beamed across the adjacent states of NY, NJ, MA, NH, MA & RI. The television market has vast growth potential. It can work. With a little hard work and planning, we can once again have The Kelly Green, Blue & White. But before all that can happen or even be attempted, there is one belated action which must be performed. It is an eagerly anticipated event for longsuffering NHL fans. That labor of love, off course, is the immediate and unconditional impeachment of Gary Bettman.

Posted on: April 18, 2009 10:41 am

From Russia, With Love

After signing a lucrative contract with Avangard Omsk, it appears that Jaromir Jagr's days in the NHL are indeed over. It's a melancholy emptiness. Almost surreal. Little fanfare, as Jaromir quietly leaves out the back door. Somehow I expected a more appropriate end for one of the NHL's most explosive and decorated talents. I never envisioned the final chapter in his hockey history would be titled From Russia, With Love. The New York Rangers essentially made the decision for him. Disgrading all sane reasoning and logic, they went in favor of underachieving Markus Naslund. A vastly inferior talent who's production pales in comparison (Jagr owns a sparkling 1.25 career point average. But I'm afraid you'll need an electron microscope to detect Naslund's 0.79). True, Jagr is slightly older. But he makes up for it, with desire and will. Naslund and great work ethic have never been used together in the same sentence. After a dreadful start, Jagr sizzled in the second half, finishing with 71 points. Naslund had yet another uneventful and uninspiring season, recording a paltry 55 points. But it was in the playoffs where Jagr reaffirmed his legend status. While Chris Drury and Scott Gomez performed skillful disappearing acts, Jagr carried the Blue Shirts with 15 points in 10 games. He was dangerious scoring threat on every shift. Though bowing in five games, Jagr gave the Pittsburgh Penguins all they could handle. Despite playing primarily in an era dominated by Michelin Man goalie equipment and rampant obstruction, Jaromir Jagr dominated like few could. You could be assured of at least one highlight reel play a game. On many nights, it looked like a man against boys. The Stars from the Cup-winning team were long gone, replaced by bargain basement players that the cash-strapped franchise could actually afford. Yet, not a word of discontent. Instead he simply got the optimum output from a makeshift cast. Amassing a treasure trove of hardware while establishing himself as the era's definitive superstar. Arguably the greatest European born and trained player ever to lace a pair of skates, he was not without his fair share of critics. His stint with the Washington Capitals was lackluster and forgettable. Time forever lost. A unsightly blemish in an otherwise illustrious career. Sure he was moody. And slightly aloof. But win or lose, he always treated the media with respect. I don't recall any Ryan Leaf episodes. Do you? After all he's accomplished in North America, it's ironic that the only franchise willing to offer two years is European. Well, whenever Jaromir Jagr does decide to hang up his skates, he will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the game's true superstars. In the same honorable breath as Dionne, Hawerchuk, Mikita, Savard & Stastny. Do svidaniya Jaromir! You will be missed.
Posted on: April 18, 2009 10:25 am
Edited on: April 20, 2009 5:02 pm

Bryan Berard, What Might Have Been

     During his brief stay with the Penguins, Marian Hossa meshed well his superstar Sidney Crosby. Burying crisp passes as Pittsburgh came within two games of Hockey's Holy Grail. The outcome was heartbreaking. But when Hossa chose not to resign with the Penguins, it was only a partial disappointment. Good riddance to anyone who doesn't truly want to play here. And, on a slightly more distant note, the subconscious relief of not seeing the player whose accidental stick, all but ruined one of my personal favorites, Bryan Berard.
    Born in the New England town of Woonsocket,Rhode Island, Berard dazzled scouts with his skills. From an early age, you could tell he was something special. Whose limits would only be determined by his will. Desire. And fate. He was the lone sparking gem in an underachieving '96 U.S. World Junior Team. Whose futility was summarized by a fifth place finish. A medal of any type was not to be.

     The Ottawa Senators wisely took him first overall. But Bryan Berard refused to play. The lone action of his which I disagreed with. When the news broke, I rolled my eyes in disgust. I knew it was a mistake. He would regret it down the road. Needless to say, Mike Milbury featured him as the centerpiece in an Islander Renaissance. A Calder Trophy followed. Stabilty did not. Berard's stay on Long Island was slightly longer than that horrendous Fisherman Logo. Milbury shipped him off to Toronto for fading Felix Potvin. He seemed somewhat lost as a Maple Leaf. While his defensive play improved, the explosive offensive threat vanished. Where's the Bryan Berard who engineered 48 & 46 points respectively? The star I emulated while skating on frozen Abington ponds? Where did he go? Shortly after the horrible eye injury insued. An accidental stick follow-through by Ottawa's Marian Hossa. My heart sank. The loud shattering of my dropped glass summed up the occasion perfectly. 

    Berard went through many frustrating moments. Numerous painstaking eye surguries. Yet. He still found the time to answer my fan letter, by sending me an autographed photo. Perhaps that's what they mean about hockey players being a different breed. In an age characterized by Scrooge-like greed and selfishness, Berard showed character by returning his insurance settlement in favor of an unlikely, comeback attempt. He's had limited success. His best season was with the Chicago Blackhawks, when he was awarded the Bill Masterson Trophy. But aside from Columbus' two-year contract, clubs have been relucant to offer any kind of contract security. A pattern which will likely continue.

     Strange how destiny works. Had Berard committed himself to the Ottawa Senators, his future would've probably been brighter. Though the pressure to succeed would be higher, the opportunity was perhaps richer. The pieces were there: Alexander Daigle, Daniel Alfredsson, Alexei Yashin, Shawn McEachern, Steve Duchesne & the late Sergei Zholtok. One can only imagine the endless possibilties. With so many tools at his disposal, Bryan Berard would have undoubtedly surpassed the 48 points he recorded as a Islander. Savvy veteran Duchesne would've served as an excellent mentor.

     As Wade Redden's tenure with Ottawa finally came to a close, one can't help but wonder. What different path Bryan Berard's career would have taken?What would he have accomplished in eleven years? His mouthwatering skills and dedication would have meshed beautifully, with the host of Stars that have came to wear a Senator's jersey. Certainly a perennial All-Star selection. And perhaps even on track to the Hall Of Fame. One can only, sadly wonder.


The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com