Friday, December 17, 2010

And if my Mom phones, tell her I'm not at the rink today...

Poor Bruce Boudreau, beyond the troubles with his under performing and highly paid hockey club today he has a much larger problem on the horizon this Christmas, he has to face his Mama after his television debut on HBO this week.

Boudreau and his Capitals are part of a number of HBO programs tracking both the Caps and the Pittsburgh Penguins, as they work their way through December of the NHL season on their way to a rendezvous on New Years Day at the Winter Classic at Pittsburgh's Heinz Field.

Styled as a behind the scenes all access pass kind of program, hockey fans are learning a fair amount (perhaps a little too much) about some of their favourite hockey players, their coaches and any other fellow traveller that pops into the camera viewfinder in the next few weeks.

The program titled 24/7 Penguins Capitals road to the NHL Winter Classic is clearly not the thing of a Peter Puck greatest hits collection, unfiltered and clearly uncensored, the good, the bad and the profane is all there for display.  A fascinating glimpse inside the dressing room, team bus, airport waits and any other location that Pens and Caps may gather with the camera almost a constant companion.

Boudreau's debut on the television documentary screen has made for much conversation after episode one, his liberal use of F bombs in his missives to his Capital troops a warning to coaches everywhere from high school to the pros, that emotions caught on tape can certainly provide for talking points not to shortly after public review.

For those who missed the debut on Wednesday, but want to total up the F bombs themselves, (providing that Mom and any little children for that matter aren't around) the more colourful of Boudreau's cinematic rant can be found on You Tube.

No one is keeping tabs on the profanities exhaled by Boudreau (perhaps because they are too plentiful and too fast to count) , who may find sympathy from many hockey fans for his exasperation at the sluggish work efforts of his players in the last few months, but one person in particular is hoping that Bruce keeps offering up the words that could be bleeped anywhere else but on HBO.

New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan, currently under more than a bit of pressure of his own with his NFL team stumbling in the late going is no doubt hoping that the the chatty Boudreau keeps the F words flowing.

Up until the first episode of the Pens and Caps home movies, Ryan was most famously known for his own expletive deleted missives to his players on a similar style program on the Jets aired by HBO called Hard Knocks..

With the Capitals coach ramping up the cursing to a grander scale, Ryan suddenly is off the hook with his own Mom, passing the torch for coaches with a lot of splaining to do his new best friend Bruce.

The HBO series continues to air (with words as blue as a cold winter's sky) every Wednesday through December, you can check the schedule here for  other air times on HBO Canada,

If you're watching at home be sure to keep the volume down, lest your Mom have to make a call to Mr. Boudreau's mom about the nature of his public speaking!

Some of the reviews of the HBO show can be found below:

Newsday -- Caps coach is curse king
Washington Post -- HBO's 24/7 series documents Washington Capitals, warts and all
Washington Post-- A bit too close up
National Post-- HBO’s most stunning NHL revelations
National Post-- HBO's 2/7 Penguins/Capitals proves mastery of the salty language arts
Ottawa Citizen-- Capital's coach gets earful from mom over HBO curses
ESPN -- Boudreau won't soften - not even for mom
ESPN-- Winter Classic chow is honest, entertaining
Globe and Mail-- HBO turns its candid cameras on NHL
MSNBC-- Snap review: 24/7 Penguins/Capitals an instant classic
Huffington Post -- Bruce Boudreau F-Bomb speech
Yahoo Sports-- HBO 24/7 Penguins-Capitals Ep. 1: Bruce Boudreau gets dirty
New York Times--  NHL excited about HBO Documentary

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Lots of talk, few results in the months since the Flames/Leafs trade

Providing he makes the flight connections from a cross country journey, Dion Phaneuf will make a much anticipated return to Calgary tonight, as his Toronto Maple Leafs make a rare visit to the western reaches of the NHL.

Phaneuf, who spent most of this week making arrangements to attend the funeral of his grandmother in Prince Edward Island, has been the topic of much of hockey media in both Toronto and Calgary this week, featured in the spotlight over the debate over the trade of last year that brought him to Toronto from Alberta.

It was the signature trade thus far for Maple Leaf's President and General Manager Brian Burke, who brought the intense nature of Phaneuf's hockey make up into the boiler room that is Toronto, which like Montreal is where hockey players are placed under a microscope like few other locations in the NHL.

When he arrived in Toronto eleven months ago, it was considered perhaps another one of Brian Burke's greatest thefts, bringing a key member of the Flames into the Maple Leaf dressing room to serve as one of the major building blocks in Burke's blue print to return the Leafs to greater glory.

However, like any construction project it would seem that there have been setbacks along the way, the Leafs this year don't seem much better than they did last, Phaneuf has struggled at times with the leadership role thrust upon him with Toronto and along with injuries hasn't quite provided for the dividends that Maple Leaf fans are anxious for.

Still, for Burke it was a trade he would make again in a minute, taking time this week to recount the reasons why he set out to acquire the defenceman and how he still believes that the plan in progress will eventually come to a successful conclusion.

Over in the Calgary dressing room, the return of their former team mate once again has Flame players speaking out that any perceived animosities between themselves and the former Flame have been greatly overblown.

Flame captain Jarome Iginla would seem to be getting a little exasperated with all the attention to what may or may not have happened in years gone by within the Flames dressing room, outlining how players in Canadian cities seem to have to deal with far more attention to personality issues and personal inquiries than other locations.

The fact that the return of Dion and his struggling Leafs to visit the Flames who are very much in the same situation as Toronto, has attracted such attention, seems to prove out Iginla's thoughts.

As the two teams prepare to meet in Calgary tonight, the focus it seems is on personalities rather than what's been happening on the ice, indicative of the troubles of two teams that seem stuck in a rut. leaving their fans to watch in frustration as expectations of progress seem rather distant to say the least.

For the followers of the Leafs it's the frustration that the arrival of Phaneuf hasn't translated into a major move upwards in the NHL standings, while Flames fans can commiserate with the realization that the blockbuster announcement of last year hasn't resulted in a change of direction for the Flames.

In fact, for Calgary, this season so far is worse than last, which if one is scoring at home would suggest that if you're looking for winners and losers in the trade of last year, the Leafs may be ahead of the Flames, though not by a very wide margin.

Both teams continue to make headlines from their trade of almost a year ago, however, the bottom line thus far is  that  neither can claim a massive shift in results that came from it.

A digest of the accounts of the return of the prodigal Flame can be found below:

Globe and Mail-- You think Toronto is a mess?
Globe and Mail-- Burke would do Phaneuf deal all over again
TSN-- Your call: Would you rather be the Leafs or Flames right now?  
Yahoo-- Diminishing Return: Dion Phaneuf comes back to Calgary as a Leaf
CBC-- Leaf's Phaneuf makes return visit to Calgary
Calgary Herald-- Will the real Dion please stand up
National Post-- Leafs won Phaneuf trade by default 
National Post-- Wilson boos Phaneuf at Leafs practice
Vancouver Sun-- Captain Phaneuf's circus sideshow lands in Calgary
Toronto Sun-- Darryl would do Dion deal again
Sportsnet-- Dion of a new era
Toronto Star-- Less hype, more hockey: Phaneuf set to return to Calgary
Toronto Star-- Leafs have emerged as clear winners of the Phaneuf trade
Toronto Sun-- Phaneuf helping Leafs find identity
Calgary Sun-- GM Sutter fails to clarify 'issues' in dressing room, defers to players to answer
Calgary Herald-- No masking anticipation of Phaneuf's return
Calgary Herald-- Iginla downplays match vs Phaneuf
Calgary Herald-- Polarizing presence returns to the Dome

Monday, December 06, 2010

A great hockey writer, but an even better hockey fan!

The hockey world certainly won't mind putting the month of November in our rear view mirrors, it was a most sad month when it came to saying good bye to popular personalities.

Short days after we bid farewell to Pat Burns, the hockey world stopped to acknowledge the life and career of Jim Kelley, the Buffalo based writer and broadcaster who never wavered from his opinions but  provided for a wealth of memories over a lengthy career covering the sport he showed such passion for.

Mr. Kelley passed away last week after a battle with pancreatic cancer, dedicated professional that he was he worked almost until his very last hours it seems, filing a story for Sportsnet mere hours before his admission to hospital and his passing.

His career began as a writer for the Buffalo News, taking on the hockey beat and making it his home, bringing his sharp eye and attention to prose together to provide some of the finest in hockey reporting on either side of the border.

From the printed word of Buffalo's traditional media, Kelley moved on to the world of the Internet, a pioneer of sorts ahead of his time when it came to delivering the news of the hockey world to an eager audience always looking for more.

Over the last few years he became even better known to Canadians with frequent appearances as co-host on Prime Time Sports on the Fan 590 and Sportsnet, his week long stints a signal to hockey fans to pull up a chair and gain insight into the game that few have the knack to pull off.

The Prime Time Sports program with Bob McCown features a number of participants who ebb and flow through the programming schedule, however along with Stephen Brunt, the appearances made by Kelley always proved to be among the most entertaining of hours that the program provides, his give and take with the host the kind of chemistry that is hard to fake, the debates, the sidebar commentaries all part of what he brought to the table and shared with the audience.

Whether it was from his written word or his radio and television work, every session provided the kind of atmosphere for the reader or listener and viewer of being in their favourite watering hole just spinning yarns about a favourite sport.  A good friend and some good conversation all making for a pretty great combination.

It's a testimony to his talent and the reverence that those who worked with him over the years had that the last week has provided for a large number of tribute pieces about his work and his life.

Some of them can be found below.

Globe and Mail-- Remembering Jim Kelley
Globe and Mail-- Jim Kelley: Great pro, great man
USA Today-- Hockey loses important voice with death of Jim Kelley
Bufalo News-- For Kelley the beat went on and on
Buffalo News-- Time spent with Kelly was a master class
Buffalo News-- Hockey world pays tribute to Hall of Fame columnist
WGR 550-- Schopp: Kelley was a great friend
WGR 550-- Simon: Remembering Jim Kelley
Montreal Gazette-- Cancer claims longtime hockey columnist Kelley
Toronto Sun-- You will be missed, Jim Kelley Kelley loses battle with cancer

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Hockey Nation Headlines, December 2010

Our archive of headline stories for December 2010.

December 26-- Canada opens with win against Russia at World Juniors
December 25-- Crosby leads MVP race at Christmas break
December 24-- No Stanley Cup guarantees at the Christmas break
December 23-- Devils fire John MacLean
December 22-- Hawks, Thrashers owners settle long legal fight
December 21-- Leafs not amused by Eggo Bomber’s antics
December 20-- Gritty Canadians make statement with rout
December 19-- Capitals snap losing skid against Ottawa
December 18-- Fehr officially takes over NHLPA
December 17-- Flyers lose Pronger to broken foot
December 16-- Boudreau’s mother chastises his potty mouth
December 15-- Breaking down the Canadian junior team
December 14-- Burke would do Phaneuf deal all over again
December 13-- Snow woes for Canadian junior hopefuls
December 12-- Nordiques Nation takes sea of blue to New York
December 11-- Naslund becomes third Canuck to have jersey retired
December 10-- Leafs Nation fed up with Phaneuf
December 9-- Tod Leiweke helped shape the Canucks
December 8-- Is Crosby already better than Gretzky?
December 7-- Thrashers’ woes in NHL’s unofficial spotlight
December 6-- Darryl Sutter needs to answer for Flames' woes
December 5-- Likely Coyotes owner meets NHL Board of Governors
December 4-- Habs' gamble on Price paying off
December 3-- Markov faces season-ending knee surgery
December 2-- Leafs booed off the ice after loss to Oilers
December 1-- Teachers’ tell NHL they have no plans to sell MLSE stake