Friday, March 29, 2013

A Flames Farewell as Iginla heads east


“He’s played a lot of years here and played as hard as he could,” Flames forward Mike Cammalleri said. “I’ll tell you one thing about Jarome. Every day he tried his best to win hockey games with his teammates.” -- Mike Cammalleri, astute obsverver of Flames hockey, providing the concise and fitting  epitaph for the Jarome Iginla's years as a Flame.

The Flames Mike Cammalleri perhaps offered up the most telling review of the news that the long time Captain of the Calgary Flames had been dispatched to the Boston Bruins, er make that the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night/Thursday morning.  

His spot on observation that Iginla at all times tried his best, is the thing of a hockey gospel. The only problem being, for most of that time in Calgary, the Flames didn't provide him with the assembled talent to fully utilize his talents.

And now, with the long rumoured Iggy is gone headline finally delivered, the consensus is that the stumbling Flames, were a day late and a dollar short in value for their prized asset.

Though no one will find fault with Iginla's new hockey destination, heading to the Penguin's a most active squad in the run up to the Trade Deadline of the 4th of April and already it would seem loaded for war in the Stanley Cup playoffs to come.

The move to Pittsburgh for Iginla is a good fit, he'll find much to celebrate in a culture of success that the Penguins have built, in what seems to the complete opposite of the situation he leaves behind. Pittsburgh, with a line up that most GM's can now only dream of  seems to be the odds on favourite to work their way to the Stanley Cup, a fitting destination for the hard working Iginla, who had but one chance of that ticket in his Calgary days.

The nature of the trade which brings draft picks and unsigned college players, (prospects who perhaps have more on their minds at the moment with the NCAA Frozen Four), highlights the nature of the deprecation of the trade market when you dither in putting together your plan, or facing the cold hard reality of your situation.

Part of that may have been Iginla's oft stated desire to see things through in Calgary, still in a year full of failed expectations and the perception of a team in a free fall to the bottom, even Iginla it seems saw the rebuilding plan to come and submitted his list of teams for consideration.

How he ended up in Pittsburgh over Boston (especially with all that media speculation of Wednesday night) will be the thing of media chortling for the week to come, the preamble to the wall to wall manic obsession with the trade deadline shows.

All of which should be doing like Santa for Wednesday, making their lists and checking them twice.

One name they can scratch off those lists though is one Jarome Iginla and most likely the Penguins too, who surely have the pieces in place now for their Stanley Cup run.

Jarome Iginla will finally get a chance it seems to pursue Lord Stanley's chalice, it should have been as a Flame, a team which in a perfect hockey world (or at least a better managed one) he would have retired with. 

No doubt one day he will return to see that number 12 jersey lifted to the rafters and forever placed as part of the fabric of the Flames franchise.

Still, who can begrudge the guy who gave it all to Calgary for perhaps his last real shot at that which all players seek. Come playoff time, with the Flames most likely long forgotten from the playoff schedule, Albertans can settle in and cheer the Pens on. t

The thought of, "win one for Jarome" perhaps the theme of the playoffs for them.

The reviews (from all three locations)of the Wednesday night trade can be found below:


National Post-- Jarome Iginla traded to Penguins, not Bruins, after strange night for TSN
Calgary Herald-- Iginla says goodbye as he moves on to Pittsburgh
Calgary Herald-- Jarome Iginla trade inglorious end to a glorious era
Calgary Herald-- Iginla embracing fresh opportunity in Pittsburgh
Calgary Herald-- King Flames embark on a 'new chapter' after Iginla trade
Calgary Herald-- Flames deal greatest legend in franchise history to Penguins
Calgary Herald-- Jarome Iginla represented Flames with 'dignity, class and pride' says Feaster
Calgary Herald-- Conroy reflects on trade of good friend and old linemate Iginla
Calgary Sun-- 'A difficult day': Jarome Iginla bids farewell to Calgary
Calgary Sun-- Close but no Iggy
Calgary Sun-- Gretzky relates to Iggy's situation
Calgary Sun-- Iginla traded: Flames joined at the hip
Calgary Sun-- Meet the new kids
Calgary Sun-- Ben who? Ken who? for Flames
Calgary Sun-- Chase is on for Stanley Cup
Calgary Sun-- Flames never found No. 1 centre
Calgary Sun-- Iginla trade the best thing for everybody
Calgary Sun-- End of an era in Calgary with Jarome Iginla's departure


Pittsburgh Post Gazette-- Visa troubles keeping Iginla from joining Penguins
Pittsburgh Post Gazette-- Penguins' pursuit of Iginla was months in the making
Pittsburgh Post Gazette-- Penguins expectations even higher
Pittsburgh Post Gazette-- Iginla is ready for any new role with Penguins
Pittsburgh Post Gazette-- Pens acquire Iginla from Calgary
Pittsburgh Trib-Review-- Cup appeal drew Iginla to Pens
Pittsburgh Trib-Review-- Pressure on Penguins? Please
Pittsburgh Trib-Review-- Trading frenzy started with Staal


Boston Herald -- Mis-deal, try again, Bruins
Boston Herald-- Jarome Iginla deal falls apart
Boston Herald-- We believed we had a deal for Jarome Iginla
NESN--  Peter Chiarelli Admits He Must Get "Creative" As Bruins Need to Improve Becomes more pressing
NESN-- Flames Told Bruins They Had "Won the Jarome Iginla Sweepstakes,' But Winger chose Penguins over B's
NESN-- Jarome Iginla Trade to Bruins Rumour proves to be False, as Aaron Ward Places Blame on "Multiple Sources"

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Number Fawr, Bobby Orr, turns sixty five!

One of the NHL's true legends marks a milestone today, as Robert Gordon Orr celebrates his 65th birthday.

An amazing thing for those of us who grew up marvelling at his on ice skill and all secretly wished that we could fly through the air like number four.

Injuries limited his playing time, but while he was on the NHL stage it was a sight to behold, a player who changed the nature of the game and the way it was played.

He was the template for many a defenceman to come up in the years to come.

Enjoy, the tributes, they reflect our collective recollections of a glimpse of greatness...
. .




Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Ducks open the vaults to reward top players

They may be playing their hockey on the west coast these days in the shadow of the Stanley Cup Kings, but the Anaheim Ducks aren't letting any moss grow between their webbed feet in the quest for their second Stanley Cup and bragging rights in Southern California.

Towards that end, the Ducks have been busy getting players signed on the dotted line, first with Ryan Getzlaf and now Corey Perry. Knocking the heck out of the free agency sweepstakes and by securing contracts with no move clauses, moving the Ducks out of the trading day deadline dramatics for the most part we would imagine.

OC Register-- Ducks' Perry signs eight-year, $69 million contract extension
OC Register-- How does Perry's new megadeal affect the Ducks?
OC Register-- Ducks sign Getzlaf to eight year extension
LA Times-- Ducks extend Corey Perry for eight years, $69 million
LA Times-- Ducks centre Ryan Getzlaf signs eight year, $66 million contract
LA Daily News-- Anaheim wins on night it signs Corey Perry to eight year, $69M extension
LA Daily News-- Anaheim Ducks' Ryan Getzlaf signs eight year, $66 million contract extension
National Post-- Ducks sign Corey Perry to eight-year contract extension
National Post-- Ducks lock up Ryan Getzlaf for eight more years
CBC-- Trading Corey Perry was not an option for Ducks
CBC-- Corey Perry: Ryan Getzlaf biggest reason for staying
CBC-- Ducks reward Ryan Getzlaf with 8 year contract extension
The Hockey News-- Will Ducks contend throughout Corey Perry's eight year extension?

The moves solidify the Ducks roster heading into the final portion of this shortened season and the playoff ramble to come.

While most have cast their gaze on the Chicago Blackhawks and their remarkable start, perhaps one of the most solid of performances this season comes from Anaheim, who have been taking to Bruce Boudreau's urgings quite nicely.

Providing for a season for the coach that takes away the sting of the last team that Boudreau was charged with, as the work ethic in Anaheim it seems is just a little more intense than that of DC.

Add on the help that Boudreau is getting from GM Bob Murray, who secured the top tier of Ducks in  the Pond for a few more years, and Boudreau is surely finding all is well in the shadow of the Mouse and the Duck.

The Hawks of course remain their biggest obstacle, a juggernaut of a team that seems to have the rest of the West looking on in awe.

However, with a few solid pins secured in place, Anaheim is serving notice that Chicago will have to battle their way to the Stanley Cup.

Below some exclusive footage from the Ducks comptrollers office, explaining how carefully the Ducks are calculating their budget concerns.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Buddies til the end, or the trading deadline, whichever comes first...

For those that haven't seen it yet, TSN's version of the Buddy Film has made for much in viral rotation over the last few days.

The daily rapport between Roberto Luongo and Corey Schneider, made for a very funny video vignette from last Wednesday's TSN coverage of the Canucks and Predators.

Like Hope and Crosby, Crockett and Tubbs and hell, even Abbott and Costello, both of the Canucks' goaltenders are making the best of a rather drawn out goaltending situation and handling it all in not only good humour, but as we say with some fine acting...


A well done feature and one that showcases the spirit of co-peration that the two have in Vancouver, attached at the hip until April it seems and maybe beyond...

Sequels anyone?

Someone needs a line change refresher course

Perhaps one of the most bizarre moments of the year so far in the NHL, as the enigmatic Sergei Kostitsyn picked one of the most unusual moments of last night's Oilers/Predators game to make a line change.

Kostitsyn has been in coach Barry Trotz's doghouse once or twice before during his time with Nashville, and famously observed last October as the lockout moved into it's lengthy session, that it might be best that the NHL not play this year.

Suffice to say that Sergei probably didn't earn any bonus points on effort with the coach on Sunday.

Kostitsyn beaten to the puck in the neutral zone, decided rather than chase down Sam Gagner into the Predators end, he would rather uh, hey, let someone else worry about it...  heading for the bench for a line change, one that didn't end so well for the Preds...

Needless to say, the line change was the subject of much discussion this Monday morning.

We suspect that his may be a name to watch for when the NHL Trade deadline arrives in April.

The Tennessean-- Nashville Predators suffer third straight defeat
The Tennessean-- Post gane quotes: Sergei Kostitsyn
Edmonton Sun-- Oilers Sam Gagner, Lennart Petrell connect as Predators' Sergei Kostitsyn bails on play
Edmonton Journal-- Edmonton Oilers pounce on Nashville Predators

National Post-- Watch Sergei Kostitsyn totally give up, hand Oilers the game
NESN-- Predators' Sergei Kostitsyn Quits on Play, Leads Directly to Oilers Shorthanded goal Sergei Kostitsyn 'quits on play, leading to Oilers goal; admits "I made a mistake"

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Vigneault's vultures go for a glide

A couple of wins for Vancouver's Canucks and all that talk of the need to have Alain Vigneault take the fall for his non performing hockey club seems to have settled down, for the moment.

Earlier this week, as the Canucks were stumbling out of their perch in the Northwest, the drums of dismissal were starting to sound on the west coast, with some of Vancouver's media having come to the decision that it was the coach that was the root cause of the Canucks' travails.

Vancouver Province-- Vigneault running out of excuses as Canucks continue to struggle
Vancouver Province-- Vigneault's future with Canucks back in question
Vancouver Province-- Removing Vigneault will do one thing - show the real problem
Vancouver Province-- Gallagher vs Willes on Canucks: Coach vs GM gotta go grudge match
Vancouver Sun-- Pros and Cons of Alain Vigneault
Vancouver Sun-- Canucks' Weekly Wayback - Alain Vigneault Almost Gets Fired Again

It's not the first time that the coach has gotta go theme has popped up, heck back on January 21st the Vancouver Observer had floated the idea that coaching change can come quickly, not bad considering that the ink probably wasn't even dry on the truncated 2013 schedule at that point.

The main problem at the moment for the coach under the glare of the spotlight, is that at times this season, his team is giving off the vibe that they may soon fit the profile of the coach killer team.

There was a bit of evidence that perhaps his team was tuning out his message of late, never a good thing for a coach, not to mention some mixed messaging from upper management with GM Mike Gillis throwing his thoughts into the mix on how the Canucks were not performing up to expectations.

However, Mr. Gillis perhaps could look in the mirror before venturing too far down the path of dividing up the blame, his mash up of the Luongo/Schneider duality in the nets has provided for some of the soap opera nature of the Vancouver media of late.

Not to mention, that some secondary scoring and help on the blue line might have been on the scene if he had been able to figure out where he wants to go with his goaltending situation.

Having declared Schneider as the number one at the end of the last season, the Canucks have pretty well abandoned that theme, with either goaltender likely to appear on the ice come game time.

There may be cause to rethink the coaching and management decision making at the end of the season, with the Canucks seemingly having peaked a few years back, the plan for long term success in the Western Conference seems a little bit confusing to most, no doubt to the players on the bench.

But at the moment, with the Canucks still third overall in the West the concept of panic and dismissal seems a tad foolish.

Vancouver's sports media, like that of Montreal, Toronto and well, any other Canadian burg with an NHL team, seems to live for the thrill of the story, even if they have to create the buzz for it themselves.

It may help sell some of the newspapers and make for lively discuss on Vancouver's sports radio programming, but to throw a coach over the side heading towards the playoffs seems somewhat foolish.

Granted the West has a low margin of error between third place and 15th (eight points by the standings last night) the Canucks would seem to have more upside than some of those below.

Before the coach is told to pack his office up and join our list of departed coaches, perhaps the GM could get a little active on the trading floor, there are holes in the Canucks line up, some owing to injury some owing to disappointing play, some of that from players that the GM has brought into the fold.

Fixing those deficiencies should be the first task for Mr. Gillis, a coach normally is only as successful as the line up he has to work with and for much of this season, that line up has been a vague resemblance of the years that have just passed the Canucks by.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Get my Bags to the rink on time!

Deadspin offers up a tale of going that extra mile, lights a flashing, sirens a wailin' to get the baggage of five Florida Panther call ups to the rink in time for puck drop.

It would seem that not everyone in the Greater Miami area may be Panther fans (surprise, surprise, surprise we know), as some of the fall out from the cross county trek from airport to arena has left a few of Florida's taxpayers a tad unimpressed.

The question of ethics and consequences was brought up with a New York Law Professor, which probably works in the favour of the Panthers in the Public Relations battles of Florida.

The Panthers are reimbursing the police force for gas and such for the off the books escort, though judging by the picture atop the Deadspin article, it would appear that even if offered, the lure of free tickets probably doesn't guarantee that the Police officers actually stick around the rink once the bags come out of the trunk...

Regardless, the expedited delivery of the Sunrise Police Force hasn't translated into much momentum in the Eastern Conference Standings, the Panthers currently are firmly in place in last place with but 20 points at the midway point of the season.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

The soundtrack to our game takes a moment of silence

Hello out there, we're on the air, it's 'Hockey Night' tonight. 
Tension grows, the whistle blows, and the puck goes down the ice. 
The goalie jumps, and the players bump, and the fans all go insane. 
Someone roars, "Bobby Scores!" at the good old Hockey Game.

Oh, the good old hockey game, is the best game you can name. 
And the best game you can name, is the good old hockey game.

Second period

Where players dash, with skates aflash, the home team trails behind. 
But they grab the puck, and go bursting up, and they're down across the line. 
They storm the crease, like bumble bees, they travel like a burning flame. 
We see them slide, the puck inside, it's a 1-1 hockey game. 


Third Period

Last game of the playoff too. Oh take me where, the hockey players, face off down the rink
And the Stanley Cup, is all filled up, for the champs who win the drink. 
Now the final flick, of a hockey stick, and the one gigantic scream. 
"The puck is in! The home team wins!", the good old hockey game. 


The passing of Stompin' Tom Connors, who will be laid to rest with a Memorial Service on Wednesday, has been commemorated far and wide this week.

The finale from the hockey family if you will, tonight's opening for Hockey Night in Canada, as perfect a conclusion to the national days of mourning, Saturday Night Hockey's Holy Night and Hockey Night Canada our collective chapel.

And the CBC did it up right on Saturday Night.
The troubadour, born in St. John, New Brunswick, but claimed by communities from St. John's Newfoundland to Tofino BC and every hamlet in between, was one of the true Canadian icons and the measure of his resonance across the land could be found in the stories that were exchanged through this week.

Globe and Mail-- Stompin' Tom Connors, Canada's troubadour sang of everyday lives
Globe and Mail-- Stompin' Tom: The closest we may get to a Woody Guthrie of our own
Globe and Mail-- Editorial: Thank You, Stompin' Tom Connors. We needed you
National Post-- The Legend of Stompin' Tom: Dave Bidini bids farewell to a Canadian icon
Toronto Star-- Stompin' Tom Connors dies at 77: A look back at a Canadian country icon
Toronto Star-- Stompin' Tom Connors: His Songs About Canada
Toronto Star-- Stompin' Tom Connors: Mitch Potter's 1990 interview with the legend
Toronto Sun-- Stompin' Tom Connors a true Canadian rebel
Torontoist-- Across this City with Stompin' Tom
Huffington Post-- The Hockey Song, By Stompin' Tom Connors, was Pure Canadianna
Yahoo-- Stomp On: Canada remembers Stompin' Tom Connors
Georgia Straight-- "The Hockey Song" legend Stompin' Tom Connors dead at 77
Maclean's-- Stompin Tom Connors: Our National Poet
CBC-- Stompin' Tom Connors dies at 77
CBC-- Stompin' Tom remembered by fans, friends
CBC-- Canadian Musicians pay tribute to Stompin' Tom Connors
CTV-- Stompin' Tom Connors dead at 77

Known for the wide catalogue of folk songs that triumphed the Canadian spirit and embraced everything Canadian, the tales of Bud the Spud, a Saturday Night in Sudbury or the soundtrack to a game played on ice but lived in homes across the land, his The Hockey Song possibly one of the most recognizable tunes of Canadian music.

And while Canadians will reflect on his passing with a measure of wonder over the simple genius of his songs and the reflection they found in them, his anthem of the sport we claim as ours will remain part of the scene for no doubt years to come.

Played to an appreciative audience nightly wherever it seems in this world that an arena can be found, it's a song which perhaps we will join in on the chorus with just a little more passion, now that we're left to carry the tune on our own.

And to give us a measure of the man he was, upon his passing, a note was released on his website, Thanking us for listening and sharing with him, passing the torch on to Canadians to sing the praises of the Country he was devoted to.

In the days since the announcement, there has been much talk of an appropriate salute for Stompin' Tom, talk of a state funeral, renaming roads and buildings,  or holding some form of public celebration.

One obvious option would be the Canadian Juno Awards, which celebrate Canadian Music, though the Awards and Connors had a falling out a few years back. However, if Juno Organizers want some free advice, including a segment on the singer's vast works probably is a no-brainer, past history or not. (Juno people, You have been warned!)

However, the best we've heard so far, an honour that would surely symbolize what he meant to the game (and it to he) and one that would probably bring a smile to his face as he watches hockey from the great beer parlour in the sky, the prospect of enshrinement in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

As good an idea as there could be, so let's launch the campaign! Write the letters! Bombard the sports talk shows with the idea!

Open the doors and lets get the party started...

Hello out there, we're on the air, it's Hockey Night tonight...

Monday, March 04, 2013

Gary Bettman's Scrapbook - Nashville edition

The quest for the NHL footprint in previously non-hockey markets has been a work in progress for years, dating back to the first expansion as a matter of fact and the westward march to California.

Along the way there have been hits and misses, some of the flags planted have tattered and eventually had to be taken down (Hello Kansas City, Hello Cleveland, Hello Atlanta x2).

Others were removed and never should have been, Bonjour Quebec, welcome back Winnipeg.

In others however, the jury is still deliberating as rows of empty seats on TV can testify towards (though we find it interesting that some markets report crowds of 15,000 plus while the video would suggest otherwise).

The current flash points for Mr. Bettman and the Accountants would seem to be Columbus, Long Island (though they are Brooklyn bound) and of course everyone's favourite wards of the state, the Phoenix Coyotes.

Those three lead our listings of the ink of red, leading the league in lack of attendance.

Rumblings continue as to other areas of concern, such as in Florida, where it seems many feel the next crisis point for the NHL may soon come home to roost.

Still, for the moment, the footings of the Bettman era of franchise security remain, with Nashville perhaps the one spot that the Commissioner can point towards as a team that keeps chugging along.

It wasn't all that long ago that many might have thought that the Predators were getting ready to back up the moving vans and migrating north, the destination of the day seemingly was to be Hamilton, with one time Blackberry king, Jim Balsillie ready to bring the much coveted second southern Ontario franchise home.

The Commish stepped in, making sure that there were enough hoops to jump through on that plan, that eventually it was abandoned, Mr. Balsillie left to tend to the fate of his daytime job.

As for Nashville, they just kept playing hockey, improving each year, securing a sojourn into the playoffs, making the Bridgestone arena a most happening place and continuing to build the Predator brand.

Grantland the most entertaining of online portals to come along in a while now, has a fascinating essay on the subject of the Predators, hockey, history and Nashville.

More than just a story about a hockey team seeking to find it's place, the article from David Hill takes us into the community rinks, onto the factory floor and explores how a game previously unknown to the region has grown much in the way of roots, most of them transplanted from the North.

It barely mentions the Predators or the NHL, instead it speaks of high school hockey, family and how the game is evolving in one particular outpost of the league.

We're pretty sure that the Commissioner is email links to one and all, it provides at least some proof that if given time, the game can grow in non traditional markets.

The Predators may or may not be a long term fixture for Nashville, the scale of economy both in hockey and in Tennessee, could one day lay waste to even the best of franchise planning. Ownership as we've seen over the years, is a fickle thing, one day steadfast and forward thinking, another desperately looking to get out.

But, for the moment, the imprint of hockey on Tennessee would seem to have been a success.

In fact, of the troubled franchises of recent times, Nashville seems to have done a pretty good job of balancing its financials and building up some loyalty in the community.

A story that offers a sunny break, in the midst of some dark looking clouds in other locales.

You can review the Grantland article here, a celebration of much more than just a sport, it's an item that is well worth the read.

NHL Rookie of the Month -- February

The latest of the first years to catch the attention of the NHL is the Florida Panthers Jonathan Huberdeau.

The Panther's centre a 19 year old from St. Jerome, Quebec, had a most impressive February, leading all rookies with six goals and collecting a total of 9 points over the thirteen games of the month.

Huberdeau was the Panthers 1st pick in the 2011 Entry draft, the 3rd pick overall that year.

You can review the month that was for Huberdeau from the archive.

The full list of rookies of the Month for 2012 can be found here.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

NHL's Stars of the Month for February

The second edition of the NHL's three stars selections for the 2013 season have been announced as Steven Stamkos, Sidney Crosby and Ray Emery collect the accolades for February,  the second month of the regular season.

Steven Stamkos -- Center-- Tampa Bay Lightning

Sidney Crosby -- Center -- Pittsburgh Penguins

Ray Emery -- Goaltender-- Chicago Blackhawks