A Carolina Hurricanes blog with occasional news about the rest of the NHL.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

RBH is moving

Here's the "major change" that I've been hinting at lately.

I've been asked by the great Paul Kukla to join the Kukla Empire.

From now on, I'll be publishing stuff over there at the following address:


Go ahead and make the necessary changes to your browser and feed reader.

We all know how awesome Kuklas Korner was from the get-go. It got even better when it expanded to include Canucks and Beyond and Abel to Yzerman a couple of years ago.

Now I have been asked, along with a small group of elite bloggers, to join the empire. I'm excited about the change, and I hope you will all check out the new digs over there.

For now, this page will remain on-line. I don't know if or when my archives can be migrated to the new KK site.

Anyway, to reiterate, I'm honored and excited to make the transition.

Williams injured

On Wednesday, the Hurricanes got some horrible news. Justin Williams has torn his right Achilles tendon and will miss four to six months. According to the News and Observer, Williams suffered the injury in an off-ice workout and should miss the majority of the season.

Williams, the first line right winger, missed the final 45 games of last season. 43 of those were due to a blown ACL. Since joining the Hurricanes, Williams has been nearly a point-a-night producer and will be sorely missed, just as he was down the stretch in 2007-08.

This is indeed horrible news. RBH had Williams projected at 73 (36/37) points this season, second most on the team.

Jim Rutherford stressed the fact that although this is terrible, the entire season won’t be lost:
“It’s certainly a setback for us. We were looking forward to Justin having a big year. This doesn’t mean he won’t be a part of it. He can come back for the most important part of it.”

He also stressed that the Hurricanes have some depth and will be able to fill the void. Just not as well.

Patrick Eaves will be handed an excellent chance to earn his mettle. Suddenly, the injury-prone youngster who arrived in a blockbuster trade last February, will be on the team’s top line. RBH had Eaves projected at 32 (16/16) points as a second line right wing. The other good that comes out of this is that Ryan Bayda, who has worked his tail off, will be guaranteed a spot on the big team.

The other thing that arises from this situation is that it almost guarantees Jeff O’Neill a job. After a disastrous year on and off the ice just before the lockout, plus the tragic death of his brother, O’Neill was traded to Toronto, and few people were sad to see him go. Although he didn’t return to his 40-goal form, he started to show promise with the Leafs. He spent last season out of hockey entirely, but continued to skate and work out. This summer, the Hurricanes all-time leading goal scorer (176 goals) was offered a tryout contract. All indicators are that he’s been looking good.

I’ve been hyper-critical of O’Neill in the past. He looked terrible in his final year here, and the DUI (two of them) didn’t help. But I’ve also been able to look at Jeff O’Neill vis-a-vis the summer of 2008 in a completely objective manner. He’s been working hard, and he means business. He’s gotten married and has a kid on the way. That makes a man change quite a bit. This isn’t the old Jeff O’Neill. Before I knew about Williams’ injury, I commented to a friend just today that I would be the first guy to tip my hat to O’Neill if he makes the team. That looks like an inevitability now.

The lines will have to be shuffled, and O’Neill is huge because he can play any forward position. Camp hasn’t even opened yet, but here’s how I imagine opening night:

Ray Whitney / Eric Staal / Patrick Eaves
Sergei Samsonov / Rod Brind’Amour / Scott Walker
Tuomo Ruutu / Matt Cullen / Jeff O’Neill
Chad LaRose / Brandon Sutter / Ryan Bayda

So, Caniacs who still have those dusty old 92 sweaters might want to pull them out of the closet.

Thanks, TWC

Thanks to a mysterious Time Warner Cable outage, I was completely out of commission all day yesterday. No internets, no cable. Nothing. It felt like 1979 all over again.

Anyway, I was unable to watch the end of that wacky MNF game between the Eagles and Cowboys. I was unable to check how much of a dent Michael Westbrook put into my big deficit. Most importantly, I was unable to comment about two three major things yesterday.

Since I'm on my way out the door for work, I have to boil them down to two sentences each.

Rod Brind'Amour underwent surgery to "clean up" the surgery that he had back in February. He isn't expected to miss any time.

The NHL voided Eric Staal's new contract because of the wording of the no trade clause. That situation was resolved and everything is a-okay.

Most importantly..... my season tickets arrived yesterday. I wasn't able to hug the fedex guy like I usually do because I wasn't there.

There's going to be a major change to this blog coming today. More details in a few hours.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Fantasy Hockey league looking for players

Last week, I opened a fantasy hockey league, and it filled immediately. Due to a couple of requests, I opened another. That second league still has a few openings.

Click here to join, or you can do it the old fashioned way by going to the Yahoo fantasy hockey page and using the following info to join:

league ID#: 25035
password: zamboni

This league will use an on-line draft which is scheduled for Tuesday September 23 at 7:30pm eastern time. Please join and invite anybody you want.

Also, there's going to be a major change around here within the next few days. I'll keep everyone posted.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Braylon Edwards and Ryan Getzlaf

While I was preparing my lineups for my two fantasy football teams, I came across the news that Cleveland Browns wide receiver Braylon Edwards was recently pulled over by an Ohio police officer for driving 120mph in a 65mph zone. The responding officer, who was described as "star struck" recognized the star player and let him go without a citation. After the incident was brought to the attention of a ranking officer, Edwards was indeed served with a citation. By Ohio law, even if a person is "let go", a citation can still be issued up to six months later.

According to many reports, including this one, Edwards was cooperative and was not under the influence of anything. He had a passenger who was physically ill and "vomited all over the dashboard" of Edwards' Bentley.

Still, even with the sick passenger and the possibility that there was a medical emergency, Edwards' comments strike me as odd:
It doesn't matter what was happening in the car. It's my personal business. The officer let me go. I'm not the first person to go over the speed limit, I'm sure I'm not the first person to get let go. It is what it is. The situation's been taken care of. It's not a distraction to the team. It's over with.

The boldfaced part sounds almost as if Edwards is pleading the fifth on bribing the officer. Free tickets? A billion dollars?

Back in May, Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf was involved in a similar but very different incident. He was issued a citation for going 85mph in a 65mph zone. This report in the Orange County Register tells us that a California Highway Patrol commander tampered with the citation, making it disappear from court records.

In each case, the citation was ultimately issued. In the Edwards case, it was the subordinate officer who screwed up. In the Getzlaf case, it was the ranking official who screwed up. The CHP commander was placed on administrative leave. The Avon Ohio cop was given a stern lecture.

So the point is that these star players were, in some way, given preferential treatment by the law enforcement officers. However, the officers were the ones who ended up being in trouble.

I kinda wish we'd go to the same system that they have in Finland. Traffic citation penalties are based upon the severity of the offense and also on the driver's income. Teemu Selanne was once given a citation for $40,200 when he was involved in a crash. A Nokia executive was once given a $103,000 citation for going 46mph in a 30mph zone. This fine was later reduced to $5,200. It's an interesting concept, and I assume that there is a minimum fine for the not so wealthy folks.

So, if Braylon Edwards knew that he would be fined $200k or so for speeding like that, he wouldn't do it.

Edwards, who was a top receiver in the NFL last season, had a terrible game in week one. He had only 14 yards receiving in a loss to the Steelers. The Aycock Army is hoping that he can return to 2007 form and put the speeding ticket behind him.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Staal locked in for seven years

On Thursday, the Hurricanes announce what we all knew was coming. Eric Staal signed a contract extension for seven years totaling $57.75M.

When the Hurricanes announced this morning that they would make a "major player announcement" at 2 pm, everybody with a pulse and a clue knew what this meant.

Thanks to a tip from a reader, I know that our illustrious new beat writer -- he of the encyclopedic college basketball knowledge, missed the clue. Yes, Chip Alexander jumped to the conclusion that this "major player announcement" would be that Frantisek Kaberle had been traded. I wasn't around to see it, but the word on the street is that Alexander posted the following on LSB:
The Hurricanes have called a news conference today at 2 p.m. to make a "major player announcement."

Could it involve moving a defenseman? Someone like Frantisek Kaberle, for example? No one is saying, but keep checking back for updates.

I know Mr. Alexander is busy studying the NC State media guide and defending the honour of a convicted felon (who just happens to be the son of NCSU's basketball coach), but I find it impossible to believe that our professional beat writer missed the hint on that. Just when I was starting to back off of my anti-Alexander stance. I'll put it the same way my reader put it. "Out of touch much?".

Before any real damage was done (read: before anyone could call him out), Alexander changed his post to allude to the Eric Staal contract extension.
Of course Mr Alexander has been a professional journalist for 30 years. We bloggers are amateurs, and therefore inferior. We are expected to make mistakes because we are beer guzzling, nacho eating morons.

Anyway, back to business...

Staal has been signed to a seven year deal, averaging $8.25M per season. The new contract starts next season, when he will make $6M and will culminate in 2016, when he will make $9.5M.

This contract is pretty reasonable. Although Staal isn't among the elite of the elite, he's certainly one of the top players in the league. He's certainly the face of the franchise. From a team standpoint, it's perfect. Anything beyond seven years is a major gamble on the part of the team due to insurance reasons. If a player is signed to a deal longer than seven years, only the first seven years are covered from an insurance standpoint, so injuries become a constant source of concern.

This will certainly be a load off the fans. This will certainly be a load off the front office. It will certainly be a load off Staal. Now he can just play the game. The fans won't have to ever hold their collective breath during the summer the way we used to do with Erik Cole and his impossible contract negotiations. It's done. I haven't seen all the particular bits of the contract, but I would assume that there's a NTC in there.

This has been a good week for Hurricanes fans. Camp starts next weekend, so we'll be even happier.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Tim Gleason and the black sweater

During Wednesday's press conference, the media asked a few questions of the players as they debuted the new alternate black sweater. Tim Gleason stood there and, when it was his time to talk, he said only this:
I'm standing here. You make the move. You make the move. It's your move.... Don't try it, you %@#!.... You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me? Then who the hell else are you talking to? I'm the only one here. Who the %@#! do you think you're talking to?

He was next seen shaving his head in the locker room, leaving a thin mohawk.

Canes officially reveal third sweater

The Hurricanes revealed their third sweaters today, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

Black may be a played out color for alternate jerseys in all of sports, and of course my opinion is biased, but I think these look great. Hopefully, the Canesvision folks will resist the temptation to use AC/DC's "Back in Black" as the team takes the ice while wearing the alternates.

As expected, the sweater is primarily black. As expected, the secondary "storm warning" logo is the crest. As expected, the "sightless eye" moves to the shoulders.

There were a couple of things that were slightly unexpected. The storm warning flags along the hem line have remained, but now they're a black background with a silver square in the middle as opposed to the traditional (and nautically correct) black on a field of red. The "sightless eye" is grayscale, almost blending in entirely with the sweater. The player numbers and the C or A will be in red with white outline. The white outline is a really fantastic touch, which will make the numbers jump off the sweater. Almost a "glow in the dark" feel. The player name will be in white.

Here's the gravy... Everything about the third sweater outfit will be black. The pants, the socks, the gloves, even the helmet will be black. As my pal Stephen Patrick Morrissey says, "I wear black on the outside because black is how I feel on the inside, and if I seem a little strange, that's because I am." Check out the specs in this PDF file.

The dates for which the third sweaters were announced today, and are as follows:
October 13 v Detroit
November 2 v Toronto
November 16 v Tampa
November 26 v Philadelphia
December 7 v Washington
December 27 v Boston
January 2 v St. Louis
January 15 v Toronto
February 14 v Columbus
February 22 v Colorado
February 26 v Boston
March 9 v NY Rangers
March 21 v Washington
April 4 v Pittsburgh
April 7 v NY Islanders

According to the official team page, the sweaters will be available for sale at the Caniac Carnival on Sunday September 21. The release indicates that the pricing will be in line with the pricing of the normal sweaters: $300 for authentic and $115 for "premier". Customizing makes it more. I'm definitely getting one. Even with my STH discount, the authentic is a little rich for my blood. I'd rather by a "premier" (replica) AND a new digital camera.

I highly recommend a visit to the photo gallery of the event.

More on this in a bit

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Staal contract extension in the works

Today, our new beat writer with the N&O Chip Alexander tells us that Eric Staal could sign a contract extension sometime in the next week or so. According to his story, Staal might get a Crosby-type contract.
(Hurricanes GM Jim) Rutherford would not disclose the financial figures being discussed, but it is believed Staal could receive a seven- or eight-year contract that will pay him between $7 million and $10 million a year.

This is not something that Jim Rutherford does. Players don't get contract extensions until a few weeks before they become free agents. Players certainly don't negotiate contract extensions during the course of a season. Since Eric Staal is so important to this team, it will be imperative to go ahead and get this done now, before his "contract year" even begins.

As super-bionic as Rod Brind'Amour is, he won't be around forever. Including the upcoming season, Brindy has three years remaining on his contract. By the end of it, he'll be 41. Eric Staal will still only be 26, and certainly ready to assume the captaincy.

I've been on record as being against long-term contracts. I've always thought that a five-year deal is a very long commitment. These DiPietro and Lecavalier deals are a bit beyond comprehension, even for a supernova like Vinny. However, what I really like is that these deals (and a potential eight-year deal for Staal) puts a player in a sweater for life. I think that's what fans want. They don't want to have to worry if their team will be able to (afford to) re-sign their star. They really don't want to see their star go be a star somewhere else. Of course these long contracts come with standard NTCs.

Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I think that people like it that Joe Sakic has always been a Nordique/Av. People like that Saku Koivu is the eternal Hab. Nobody likes to see a superstar change sweaters. Certainly, nobody liked to see Joe Montana wearing a Kansas City Chiefs uniform, jumping around like a ..... Nobody liked seeing Ty Cobb playing for the Philadelphia As. It's not right.

Alexander Ovechkin is and will always be a Capital. That's the way it should be. Sidney Crosby is and will always be a Penguin. That's the way it should be.
Rick DiPietro? To be honest, nobody cares.
Jarome Iginla should be a Flame for life.

You see what I'm saying. Now, I don't mean to suggest that Staal is as good as Crosby or Ovechkin or Iggy or Ty Cobb or Joe Montana. There's no doubt that he's very good, though, and that he's the player that the Hurricanes and the Caniacs need to see in the red and black for the duration of his career. If it means he has to sign longer contracts, so be it.

This may or may not be a distraction for the next "eight to ten days". We'll know soon enough. For now, we're looking forward to tomorrow's presser. I won't be there, and I can't be anywhere near an internet connection, but I'll eagerly be checking my cell phone for pix messages. Hint, hint.

Second fantasy hockey league opened!

Due to the first 2008 league filling up extremely quickly, I was thinking about opening a second league. I've had more than one request for a second league, so I've set it up. The other option was to re-open registration for the first one, but frankly, nobody wants a fantasy league with more than 12 teams.

You can link directly to the league sign-up page, which is again on yahoo and free of charge. If that link doesn't work, you can manually go to the yahoo fantasy hockey section and use the following info to enter this private league:

league ID#: 25035
password: zamboni

Also, feel free to enter the Pro Football pickem pool I've set up. Although the NFL season has begun, this league hasn't. It's set to start with week two's games. All you have to do is pick the winner for each game. Go to the sign-in page and enter the following:

league ID# 67093
password pickem

In each case, please feel free to enter and invite whomever you want to join us.

This fantasy hockey league is tentatively scheduled to have a live on-line draft on Tuesday September 23 at 7:30 pm eastern time. Please join in!

Monday, September 08, 2008

Canes center ice logo changed!

As the season rapidly approaches, the ice crew at the RBC Center is busy building the ice. They are currently in the process of painting the logos and lines and whatnot. The guys at Icethetics already wrote about this, so I'll give them a glove tap, but for the second season in a row, Carolina will have a different center ice logo than their standard "sightless eye".

Here's the view from the RBC Center webcam:

Clearly, this is the "secondary" logo, the storm warning flag tied to a hockey stick. It is the same logo which will be the crest on the alternate sweaters. Those sweaters will be officially shown to the public at 12:30 pm on Wednesday. By now, we all have a pretty good idea of what they're going to be. Unfortunately, I won't be attending the press conference.

Last year, the Canes used their special "10th anniversary" logo, a stylized roman numeral ten. This season, they'll use the "storm warning" logo. The following year will be the 10th anniversary of the RBC Center, so there may be yet another special center ice logo.

In other news, one of my Scrabble™-geek acquaintances will be on JEOPARDY tonight. Of course these shows are taped well in advance of the air-date, but he won't say how he did. He's kind of a jackass, so I'm secretly hoping that he comes in third. When I was in college, a friend's mother was on JEOPARDY, and after the taping, she didn't even tell her kids how she did. They had to watch the show to find out that she came in third. Anyway, I'll be looking for Kurt to do just that tonight.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Week one: Panthers stun Bolts

I don't usually write much about football on these pages, but it's something to keep us occupied until the beginning of October.

Yes, I'm aware that my headline looks like a hockey game synopsis. Naturally, I did that on purpose. However, the game I'm talking about was between the NFL's Carolina Panthers and the San Diego Chargers. After leading 19-10 in the fourth quarter, Carolina fell behind 24-19 late in the game, only to win the game in dramatic fashion.

Week one of the NFL is when I'm pretty excited about football. Oh sure, like football, but by week eight, I've lost my interest. The beginning of football season signals the beginning of cooler nights and shorter days. More importantly, it means that hockey season is just around the corner.

Being a native North Carolinian, It's natural that the Carolina Panthers are my team. With a bionically rebuilt quarterback, a tandem running back situation, and a wide receiving corps made up of little-used depth guys and the ageless Muhsin Muhammad while Steve Smith rides the pine, the Panthers were hoping to run the ball a lot, chew up the clock, and depend on the defense to keep them in the game.

As it turned out, the defense did more than keep them in the game. Carolina's defense held Ladianian Tomlinson to less than 100 yards on the ground. They scored a defensive touchdown. They held the fort at some critical times.

Carolina's offense looked good early, but they were all Maxim Afinogenov-like. All Russian, no Finnish. They moved the ball down the field, but were stopped inside the one once, and settled for three first-half field goals.

Carolina added another field goal in the second half, plus a defensive touchdown, and found themselves in the driver's seat with about seven minutes to go. However, the defense gave up a touchdown, then the offense turned the ball over, leading to another touchdown just before the two minute warning.

Jake Delhomme, fresh off a Tommy John surgery, and playing without his favorite target, had to march down the field and get a touchdown. That's exactly what he did. Muhammad made some key catches. Dwayne Jarret made some key catches. The biggest of them all, though, was tight end Dante Rosario, who led all Panthers with 97 receiving yards on seven grabs.

The play straight out of a storybook. Carolina called its last timeout with 0:02 remaining and the ball on the Chargers' 14 yard-line. There are no running plays for this scenario. From the shotgun, Jake bobbled the snap, bought some time, then made a pump fake so convincing that the camera guys bought it. He sent a pass through two defenders to Rosario in the back of the endzone for the dramatic 25-24 win. The San Diego crowd fell deadly silent.

This is not how this was supposed to happen. I don't think anyone in their right mind would have predicted a Carolina win.

That game-winning drive was vintage Jake. If there were any doubts about his rebuilt shoulder, let them be cast aside. He's back. The way he led the team down the field and capped it off with a walk-off touchdown reminded me of 2003, when he stole the starting job from Rodney Peete and halftime of week one. That game ended the same way.

Rookie runningback Jonathan Stewart had a great game, as did the other half of the two-headed monster, DeAngelo Williams.

Smitty will be out for one more week, then it'll be just like 2003. Delhomme, Muhammad, Smith.

Once hockey season starts, you won't hear me go on about football anymore. Until then, I'll be doing this every Sunday.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Pro football pick'em now open

Just for fun, I've just opened up a NFL football pick'em league. Please feel free to sign up and invite whomever you want. Like the fantasy hockey, this is over on Yahoo, and is completely free.

Go to this site, then click on "join a group". At the prompts, enter:
group id#: 67093
password: pickem

All you have to do is simply predict the winners of each game. No point spreads. No over/under. Simply pick who will win, then predict a couple of scoring scenarios for tiebreaking purposes.

Since there was a game on Thursday, week one is already in progress, and we are locked out. Our group's competition will start in week 2. Hurry on in. Tell your friends and family. Up to 50 people can join the group!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Sneak peek at Carolina's third?

I received an official e-mail from the Hurricanes today, confirming what had already been confirmed a day earlier: the Hurricanes will unveil their alternate sweaters in a press conference on Wednesday September the 10th. The e-mail included this "tease" of a photo:

Is this really a sneak peak? I don't think so.

One thing I am pretty sure of is that this is some modified version of what will be the shoulder patch. After examining the photo at some length, including the stitching, it seems like there's no way that this is the chest crest.

It also seems pretty clear that the colors have been altered. This isn't the real thing. There's a part of me that thinks that this charcoal gray look would be really awesome, but I just don't think that it's really it. As much as everyone else in the world says it's overused, the sweater will almost certainly be black, and the "sighless eye" logo will maintain its red and black scheme.

I've pretty much decided that I'm signed up for a new third sweater, and I only need to decide whose name and number I'll wear. Sorry, but I just don't like blank sweaters.

Again, we'll know exactly what it looks like at 12:30 on Wednesday. I won't be attending, so I'd appreciate a photo text message from anyone who does attend.

Training camp rosters announced

Training camp officially opens in two weeks, but the Hurricanes announced the roster of 59 players who will be attending.

2008 draftees Zach Boychuk and Michal Jordan will be in attendance, but neither has any hope of making the big team. Sadly, Jordan will not be wearing the number 23. Boychuk will.

Worth watching will be a bevy of defensemen: Brett Carson, Bryan Rodney, Noah Babin, Mark Flood, Brett Bellemore. Also, a couple of defensemen who have already had a cup of coffee: Casey Borer and Tim Conboy. The once and future Hurricane Anton Babchuk is expected to earn a roster spot out of camp.

By far and away, the forward to watch will be 2007 first round selection Brandon Sutter, who has already been slotted into the starting lineup. In ink.

There are a handful of forward prospects who will also be worth watching: Mike Angeledis, Jakub Petruzalek, Drayson Bowman, Jerome Samson.

2008 second round draftee Zach Dalpe will not be present, as he is enrolled at Ohio State.

Jeff O'Neill will give it his best, but the odds are against him.

Canes to unveil third sweater on September 10

On Thursday, the Hurricanes announced that they will be holding a press conference at 12:30 on Wednesday September 10 to unveil their new third sweater. This is 11 days earlier than originally planned, and they will now be the first team to introduce the new sweater.

The press conference will be open to the public, but RBH will be unable to attend. Y'know. That whole "job" thing.

According to an official team announcement, Eric Staal, Cam Ward and Tim Gleason will model the new sweaters and pose for photos. Presumably, they will also announce the 15 games in which the new black sweaters will be worn.

The sweaters will be available for sale on September 21.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Fantasy hockey league open!

I've had a lot of questions about the fantasy hockey league, and I'm happy to say that I've got the league set up.

Go here to sign up. If, for some reason, that link doesn't work, go to the Yahoo Fantasy Hockey page, then sign up that way. Once again (and so it will keep an archive of stats), the league is called "The boys of winter". The information you will need is

league id#: 1335
password: stanley

This league is open to any and all comers. For now, it's limited to 12 spots, so move quickly. If the response is good enough, I'll set up a second league.

For those who played last season and remember how ridiculously big I set the roster sizes, that's been changed to a much more manageable size.

None of the settings are set in stone, but I've also changed some of the scoring categories from last season. Unless there's a great enough demand for a daily roster change, we'll use a weekly system with weeks starting on Monday.

Sign up, and invite whomever you want. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to email me at redblackhockey@earthlink.net.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Changes coming

Although season tickets won't be mailed out for another two weeks, I've checked the status of mine, and there's going to be a change this season.

Since the second half of the 2002-03 season, I've had mini-season ticket plans with a seat somewhere in section 112. I love it there. I've moved around four times within that section, but I haven't strayed. I've gone to a random game here and there where I sat somewhere else, but section 112 of the RBC Center has been my home away from home. I know a lot of the regulars, and I love the view from there. This year, it's going to be a little different.

At my request for "closer to the ice rather than on the aisle", my ticket rep was certainly able to do that. I'm in the fifth row. However, in order to get that, I had to move all the way over to section 113. It's not very far. Just a few feet, really. Actually, this will put me right behind a guy who lived across the street from me 30 years ago. That makes me feel old to say that.

As usual, the Canes are offering some trade-in dates. Season Ticket Holders can turn in an unused ticket for a ticket to a different game. This year, they're also giving each STHer vouchers for free tickets. With the package that I have, I get two vouchers. There are a couple of games that are blacked out, but for the most part, the only restriction is that they must be redeemed at least two days before the game. This is a nice gesture by the team to mitigate the price hikes.

So I'll have to get used to some new neighbors and a slightly different vantage. I'm up for it. Since I will once again be extremely close to the ice, I may start taking game photos again. I'd like to buy a new camera, but that's a whole nother pot of stew that I don't need to start cooking just yet.

Speaking of change, there will be some changes here at RBH in the coming weeks. You'll know when we get there.

It looks like Tim Gleason will also be undergoing a change. He'll be wearing Bret Hedican's old number. I'll no longer have to hold my breath when I see #6 climbing over the boards. This will be Timmy's third different number in as many seasons with Carolina. I wouldn't plunk down any cash for a Gleason 6 sweater, as he's liable to change again next season.

Another change will certainly come in the way of who wears the As. Eric Staal and Ray Whitney will be wearing them. For the past couple of seasons, Carolina has used three Alternates in rotating fashion. The NHL regulates that a team can have one Captain and up to two Alternates in the lineup, or, if the Captain is out of the lineup they may have three Alternates. Anyway, Glen Wesley has been one of the Alternates forever, and Carolina may name a defenseman to be the third Alternate. Tim Gleason is the only guy who could fit into that role. The other guys are either too new, or too quiet (Wallin) or can't speak English to save his life (Kaberle). Since one of the functions of the Alternate is to speak with the referees, speaking English is pretty crucial.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Lindros : "Take your ceremony and shove it"

Over at TSN, I saw this innocuous looking article about the Flyers paying tribute to the old Spectrum with a special ceremony on September 27th.

Two things jumped out at me. First, Eric Lindros is still pretty upset about the way things ended in Philly. The Flyers are throwing a party and a pre-season game against the Hurricanes in the Spectrum. They have invited all 15 former Captains to the ceremony. It sounds like most are going to be there, while Lindros has said that he has a "previous commitment".

One other thing about this article is that it's very poorly typed, and not edited at all. In addition to a couple of typographical and punctuation errors, the writer referred to Keith Primeau as "Kevin". I cut and pasted this quote as is:
While Clarke, Lou Angotti, Mel Bridgman, Dave Poulin, Ed Van Impe, Bill Barber, Ron Sutter and Kevin Primeau have confirmed their attendance, Lindros has declined because of a previous commitment according to senior vice president of business operations Shawn Tilger.
That's good for at least one laugh.

While I'm on the topic of Lindros, I beg you to revisit an article about him from The Onion in November of 2007.

In case you've forgotten just how monstrous the 1992 Lindros-to-Philly trade was, I'll rehash it. Quebec sent Eric Lindros to the Flyers in what has to be one of the most ridiculous trades ever. In return, the Nordiques got:
  • the rights to Foppa, who was still in Swedish Junior Hockey
  • Steve Duchesne, who put up 82 (20/62) points in 1992-93
  • defenseman Kerry Huffman
  • Mike Ricci, who put up 78 (27/51) points in 92-93
  • Ron Hextall, who won 29 games in nets in 92-93
  • Chris Simon
  • a first round pick which became Jocelyn Thibault
  • a first round pick which became Nolan Baumgartner
    and here's the kicker....
  • $15M in cash.

    There is no doubt that Lindros had a brilliant career with the Flyers. There is also no doubt that the Nordiques/Avs got the better end.

    That monstrous trade came just after an arbitrator had invalidated a huge trade with the Rangers that would have been:
  • Doug Weight
  • Tony Amonte
  • Alexei Kovalev
  • John Vanbiesbrouck
  • 1993 first round pick (Niklas Sundstrom)
  • 1994 first round pick (Dan Cloutier)
  • 1995 first round pick
  • $12M cash

    When Lindros was finally traded away from Philly after he missed the entire 2000-01 season due to concussions, the return wasn't quite so fantastic. Two bums who would later become Hurricanes (Jan Hlavac, Pavel Brendl) plus Kim Johnsson and a third round pick (Stefan Ruzcika).

    Seven years after the trade, Lindros is still sore about the way team doctors treated him in Philly. He's still sore about Bobby Clarke calling him "soft" in the papers. He's still sore about not getting a trade to Toronto. He's still sore about getting stripped of his captaincy.

    What Eric Lindros needs to understand is that this isn't about Bobby Clarke. This isn't about some team doctor. This is about the city of Philadelphia, the fans, the building. This is ...

    What would Kate Smith do?
  • Caniac Carnival September 21

    On Sunday September 21, the Hurricanes will be hosting the ninth annual "Caniac Carnival" to kick off the season. Full details are here. In addition to the normal stuff -- live music, autograph sessions, interactive games, kiddie inflatable games, Stormy, the Storm Squad, and a red-white scrimmage, the Hurricanes will officially unveil their third sweater, which will make its on-ice debut on October 13 against the Red Wings. This event starts at 10:00am and will last until 2:30, followed by the scrimmage at 3:00. Parking, the Carnival, and the scrimmage are all free.

    Earlier in the summer, I read that the sweater would be unveiled at the Carnival, but not available for sale until a few days later. However, I have heard that it will be available for sale on the 21st. I've saved up enough dough to pay for one. The question is simply whose name and number. I have a Williams home sweater and a defunct Vasicek home sweater. I'm not really interested in getting a Brind'Amour or a Staal. Those are too common. However, there's no safer bet than a Staal. He's not getting traded, and he's not going to have a crummy season. Also, it's a sure thing that those will be fully stocked. Still, I'm considering LaRose and Samsonov. I'm even considering Corvo.

    Anyway, I was reading Behind the Jersey today, which was the impetus for this post. It seems the Red Wings are throwing a two-day Fan Fun Fest similar to the Caniac Carnival. The first day is open to season ticket holders only, and the second day is open to the public at a cost of $5 a head.

    Christy alluded to a three-day "convention" put on by the Blackhawks (and sponsored by the Ferrara Pan family of candies) this summer. They sold out the event at -- get this -- $50 a head. Free is awesome. I'd happily pay $5, but $50 is a little much. For that, I'd expect Stan Mikita to take me out for pizza and beer afterwards.

    As an aside, I'm completely befuddled by the "Chewy Atomic Fireball". What? Chewy? That's just wrong. Fireballs aren't chewy. You're supposed to break a tooth if you attempt to chew a Fireball. I'm no candy head (I am, after all, a grown man), but I love Atomic Fireballs. I'm as disgusted by this as I am by Chocolate Skittles. And Gus Van Sant's disgraceful redux of Psycho. Those are all wrong. Just wrong.

    Okay... I'm off my soapbox now.

    I don't know who else is going, but the 21st is a Sunday, and I plan on being at the Carnival. Whoever wants to meet up, just give me a holler.

    Sunday, August 31, 2008

    My favorite Canes by sweater number

    This summer, one of the things that some bloggers have been doing is to list an all-time Hurricanes team. I didn't do that, but when I was messing around looking at the historical sweater numbers, I thought I'd list my favorite Hurricanes not by position, but by sweater number. Some of them are no-brainers because there's only one candidate. Others are no-brainers because the competition isn't much to speak of.

    To be honest, there's quite a few players who I either can't remember, or I never heard of to begin with. Anyway, here's the list.

  • 1 Arturs Irbe wins this one easy. "The Little Latvian" was never a world-beater, and he cried like a little girl when he lost the full-time job to Kevin Weekes, but he had some fantastic games in the 2002 cup run, and he's been a great guy in his post-Hurricane days.
  • 2 Glen Wesley is the only candidate, but would win hands down anyway. No Hurricanes player will ever wear that number again.
  • 3 The late Steve Chiasson was and will be the only Hurricane to wear the number.
  • 4 Aaron Ward gets it.
  • 5 Despite scoring the Cup-winning goal in 2006, Frantisek Kaberle loses this one to another Czech defenseman, Marek Malik.
  • 6 Bret Hedican gets this. As much as I complained about him, when he was on, he was a marvel to watch.
  • 7 Nic Wallin. How many other guys have three playoff overtime goals? None.
  • 8 Matt Cullen wins a tight race with Sandis Ozolinsh.
  • 9 vacant --- Gordie Howe
  • 10 some guy named Ron Francis. Poor Gary Roberts would easily make this list if he had worn any other number.
  • 11 Kevin Dineen and Jeff Daniels put up some very tough fights, but Justin Williams wins this one.
  • 12 Eric Staal, easily
  • 13 It wasn't easy to give Bates Battaglia any consideration on this, and it goes to Ray Whitney in a landslide.
  • 14 This is a really tough one. I really like Sergei Samsonov, but it just wouldn't be fair to take it away from Kevyn Adams. K-Ads gets it.
  • 15 Tuomo Ruutu edges out Marty Murray
  • 16 Andrew Ladd wins this one, even though he was nothing more than a source of constant frustration.
  • 17 Rod Brind'Amour will certainly be the last player to don that number for the Canes. He wins this easily.
  • 18 Even though he was just a rental player, I gotta go with Mark Recchi.
  • 19 Although there are six candidates, Radim Vrbata wins it easily.
  • 20 Jan Hlavac beat out two other guys. He only played for the Canes for less than a full season, but he recorded a hat trick against Detroit in November of 2002 and became a legend.
  • 21 Ron Francis gets this one too. He had to wear 21 for a season because Gary Roberts was being unreasonable and refused to give up the #10.
  • 22 Sean Hill edges out Mike Commodore.
  • 23 Martin Gelinas.
  • 24 Sami Kapanen beats out Scott Walker.
  • 25 This will be Joni Pitkänen's number.
  • 26 Erik Cole takes it, but Ray Sheppard put up a serious fight. Sheppard was a beast in the 1999 playoffs.
  • 27 Although I don't remember it this way, Rod Brind'Amour wore #27 in 2000 because Jeff Daniels was wearing #17. However, I have to give #27 to Craig "Hands of Feet" Adams.
  • 28 This is a really boring one, and Andrew Hutchinson gets it for being the least boring.
  • 29 Martin Gerber. Easily.
  • 30 Cam Ward. Easily.
  • 31 Craig MacDonald. I have only a very vague recollection of him, and the only other candidate was Tyler Moss, who I've never heard of.
  • 33 Anton Babchuk is scheduled to wear this number this coming season. I'll give it to him instead of Dave Karpa.
  • 34 Dave Gove didn't get many chances to play, but he earned his paycheck.
  • 35 Tom Barrasso.
  • 36 I like Brandon Nolan here.
  • 37 Keith Aucoin really busted his tail and made the best of his limited chances.
  • 38 Tim Conboy made a big name for himself with his work ethic, and he'll have a bigger role this coming season.
  • 39 Brad DeFauw scored his first NHL goal in his debut game in 2002-03. He only played a few NHL games, but for that nifty feat, he beat out the Stanley Cup rental Doug Weight.
  • 42 Timmmmmaay Gleason easily beats out Jeff "cousin of the Staal brothers" Heerema.
  • 44 Patrick Eaves
  • 45 It pains me to say it, but David Tanabe is the best player to ever have worn the #45 for the Hurricanes.
  • 46 I don't recall him wearing this number, but Mike Zigomanis gets this one.H
  • 47 Brad Fast scored his one and only NHL goal in his one and only NHL game. He easily beats out Johnny Crackers.
  • 48 Anton Babchuk
  • 49 Michael Leighton (uncontested)
  • 51 Andrei Kovalenko
  • 52 Damian Surma (uncontested)
  • 53 Casey Borer
  • 55 Keith Primeau was the captain, but he doesn't win this one. Daniil Markov does, simply because he was the player who was traded for Justin Williams. Of course Primeau was traded for Brind'Amour, but Primeau also disgraced the team. Markov gets it.
  • 56 Brett Lysak (uncontested)
  • 59 Chad LaRose (uncontested)
  • 61 Cory Stillman (uncontested)
  • 62 Jaro Svoboda (uncontested)
  • 63 Josef Vasicek (uncontested)
  • 70 Oleg Tverdovsky (uncontested)
  • 71 Tomas Malec (uncontested)
  • 77 It's really hard not to give this to HOFer Paul Coffey, but I gotta go with Joe Corvo on this one.
  • 80 Kevin Weekes (uncontested)
  • 92 Jeff O'Neill (uncontested)

    All numbers not listed have never been worn.
  • Saturday, August 30, 2008

    Sweater numbers

    The other day, James Mirtle wrote a post about the best players by sweater number last season. He pointed out that there were seven numbers between 1 and 98 that no player donned last season.
  • 62
  • 66. Nobody's really gonna try to wear that number ever again
  • 69. Only one player has ever worn that number. For good reason.
  • 86. Only a player with a great sense of humor would wear that.
  • 90
  • 95
  • 98

    Using the sweater number archive at Hockey-Reference as a guide,we can see that since the 1998-99 season, no player has ever worn the number 98. That's the only number not to have been worn.

    We can also see that only two non-goalies have worn the number 30. Andrei Zyuzin, who wore #30 as a defenseman in Tampa for three seasons (1999/2000-01/02) and Jean-Francois Jomphe who in 1999 played six games at center in Montréal with the 30 sweater.

    Their sweater number archives don't go further back than the 1998-99 season, but it can be a fun way to waste some time.

    I have some amateur plumbing to take care of in my bathroom today. I'm 100% confident that I'll mess it up. At some point later today, I'll go through the all-time Hurricanes sweater numbers and pick my favorites.
  • Thursday, August 28, 2008

    Jeff O'Neill at Camp Brind'Amour

    By now, everybody in the hockey-watching world has heard that Jeff "public urination" O'Neill is back in Raleigh fighting for a chance at a job in the NHL. He left Carolina after the lockout ended, spent two seasons in Toronto and one out of hockey completely.

    I've heard numerous reports about how O'Neill is working hard at the unofficial practices with Rod Brind'Amour, Chad LaRose and a motley crew of others, including Bates Battaglia. One thing that I find slightly amusing is this quote from Brind'Amour, which I've seen in a number of places, but I'll attribute to Chip Alexander's article:
    "When you're a smart player, and he's always been a smart player, you're always going have that. He's always going to have that ability to see the game, and his skating looks fine. He looks like he did when he left."

    And Cam Ward with a similar quote:
    Nothing has changed. He still looks like the same old self.

    This is meant to be praise for O'Neill, who spent last season skating and working out, but not playing. However, those of us who remember what O'Neill looked like when he left might get a chuckle out of that. O'Neill was overweight, lazy and a bit of a bad banana when he left. Even before the second DUI and the comedic arrest for public urination, he had fallen out of favor with the Hurricanes faithful. By the end of the 2003-04 season, I was booing him with regularity, and I wasn't the only one doing so.

    Since the DUI, Jeff has changed a lot. His brother was killed in a car crash, which prompted him to request a trade to Toronto. He got some of his game back, but nothing like the 67 (41/26) he scored in 2000-01. He followed that season with a 31-goal season, and a 30-goal season, but in that terrible year when he got fat and drunk, he scored just 14. In Toronto, he had a 19-goal and a 20-goal season before "retiring" prior to last season. So he was back on track a little.

    In addition, O'Neill is older and calmer. He is married now, and his wife is expecting. That'll get just about anybody to straighten up and fly right.

    Still, despite these votes of confidence, O'Neill isn't banking on anything and he's not looking for any special treatment. Paul Branecky had an article on the Hurricanes main page today, portraying O'Neill as a cautiously optimistic guy on a tryout. The article is a good read, but here's the money quote, from Jeff himself:
    This is not really that big a deal. This is just a tryout where we’ll see what happens. If I play well and it looks like I can play, maybe something will happen. If not, it’s not going to happen... Jim Rutherford and Ronnie Francis, I consider them friends of mine and I think they’re going to be straight-up honest with me. If it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen, they’re just going to tell me it’s not going to happen. It’s as simple as that.

    When O'Neill was given the invitation, the prevailing thought was that they were bringing him in strictly as a potential River Rat. Now, the rumor is starting to spin around and it seems like some of the talk is about him being on the big team. It's extremely unlikely, mostly because of the contract status of all the guys. If anyone's going to Albany, it's gonna have to be O'Neill.

    My guess is that he'll either be picked up by someone else out of training camp, or he'll be signed to a two-way contract and immediately shipped to Albany.

    One of these days before official camp opens, I'm gonna try to get out to "Camp Brind'Amour" to see for myself.

    Tuesday, August 26, 2008

    RIP Julia Rowe

    On Tuesday, some sad news rocked the Hurricanes players, coaches and fans. Young Julia Rowe, who was an inspiration for the team in their 2006 Stanley Cup victory, lost her life-long battle with Leukemia. Julia was just eight years old.

    The Rowe family are neighbors with coach Peter Laviolette, and in 2006 he became very close with them. He was moved by Julia's strength as she fought off a very aggressive form of Leukemia. He started a crusade with the red "relentless" wristbands, which were sold at Hurricanes home games, raising more than $60,000. In addition, trainer Pete Friesen has raised over $42,000 for LLS through his annual 5K road race.

    Luke Decock wrote a very nice article today about Julia's passing.

    It was a bottle of wine donated to the team by Rowe's father and autographed by Julia that Sabres coach Lindy Ruff referred to as "champaign on ice" during games 6 and 7 of the 2006 ECF.

    You can purchase a red "relentless" wristband here , or if you think that whole wristband thing is played out, you can still make a donation to the LLS of Eastern North Carolina by visiting this page.

    Friesen's third annual "fun run" will take place on Sunday September 14, and information about it (including a registration form) can be found here.

    Just a month ago, the Penguins community lost a young friend and inspiriation for their Cup run when 18-year old John Challis passed away after a life-long battle with cancer. Post-Gazetter has the story here.

    Two seasons ago, the Senators had a heartbreaking loss during their own Cup run when three-year old Elgin-Alexander Fraser died from a form of childhood cancer called neuroblastoma. Here's how I relayed that story.

    Hurricanes winger Justin Williams became friends with Julia's family, and he has been pretty shaken up. He was quoted by Chip Alexander:
    It's really heart-breaking for someone so young to go so early... In her own way, she was a part of the team. She really touched our lives. It's an extremely huge loss for everyone.

    My heart goes out to the Rowe family for their loss.

    Monday, August 25, 2008

    RBH predicts player performance

    Yesterday, I picked up The Hockey News special fantasy hockey/pool edition. It breaks down the top 100 players and also predicts the point production of most players. Just for fun, I'll compare what they predict for Hurricanes players to what I predict.

    This is simply meat and potatoes. No analysis for right now. The players are arranged by where I think they'll fit on the depth chart:

  • Ray Whitney. THN sees a 68 (27/41) point campaign. I've got him at 61 (25/36)
  • Eric Staal. THN has 79 (35/44) points for him, while I have 93 (42/51)
  • Justin Williams. THN predicted 63 (30/33), and I went for 73 (36/37)
  • Sergei Samsonov. THN said 51 (22/29), and I think it'll be 55 (25/30)
  • Rod Brind'Amour. THN predicted 74 (24/50) for the Cap, but I predict 68 (27/41)
  • Patrick Eaves. THN picked 30 (15/15), and I said 34 (16/18)
  • Tuomo Ruutu. THN went with 43 (15/28), but I went with 33 (11/22)
  • Matt Cullen. THN forsees 49 (15/34), and I'm going with 46 (21/25)
  • Scott Walker. THN said 45 (20/25), and I say 44 (17/27)
  • Chad LaRose. THN predicts 25 (10/15), and I'm going with 30 (15/15)
  • Brandon Sutter. THN predicts 20 (9/11) for the rookie, and I'll say 29 (12/17)
  • Ryan Bayda. THN doesn't have Bayda on the chart, and I'm predicting 13 (4/9) for him

  • Joe Corvo. THN sees 54 (14/40) in his future, and I see 65 (15/50)
  • Tim Gleason. THN predicts 21 (4/17), and I think he'll have 19 (6/13)
  • Joni Pitkanen. THN has him for 34 (9/25), and I've got him for 35 (8/27)
  • Nic Wallin isn't on THN's radar, but I'm predicting 13 (4/9) for him.
  • Frantisek Kaberle. THN thinks he'll put up 25 (3/22) points. I'm not sure he'll be on Carolina's roster, but I'll pick 12 (1/11) for him.
  • Anton Babchuk. THN picks him for 16 (3/13), and I pick him for just 9 (2/7)
  • Tim Conboy isn't on THN's radar either. I think he'll have 8 (3/5) points.
  • Dennis Seidenberg. THN predicts 20 (3/17) for the German, while I see only 11 (2/9) points for him.

    There will be other players who come up from Albany, but these will be the mainstays.

    Also, the goalies:
  • Cam Ward THN sees a 37-win campaign, while I've got him down for 38.
  • Michael Leighton THN thinks he'll win 10 games, but I think he'll win 7.

    I'm predicting Carolina to have a 45-28-9 season. Sadly, 99 points won't win the division, but it'll be good enough for a #5 spot in the playoffs.

    Any thoughts?
  • Saturday, August 23, 2008

    Tanabe situation gets murkier

    On Friday, Chip Alexander reported that David Tanabe is still suffering from concussion-like or post-concussion symptoms. It has now been seven months since his mysterious injury and two since the Canes attempted to buy out the remaining year on his contract.

    I have openly questioned the validity of his situation, and I have been unimpressed with the "details" that have emerged. This doesn't accord with my outspoken support for taking concussions very seriously, but I'm just not making heads or tails of this situation.

    The occurrence of the injury itself can't be pinpointed, but we know that he was taken out of the December 18 game against the Leafs and never returned during the 2007-08 season. Had he been injured previously and some mild collision put him over the edge? Perhaps. That's the consensus. His refusal to go to team meetings and exit interviews has been well documented. His decision to clean out his own locker has been well documented. What has not been documented has been his medical status. The only details we have been afforded have been shady at best. Usually, injury status updates are more frequent and more detailed, but we went months without hearing a single word. Even now, we get some very unspecific news that Tanabe is "unfit to play".

    Unfortunately, we haven't been given any details. When someone has an issue with their foot, we usually get lots of details, such as with Ryan Whitney:
    Pittsburgh Penguins defenceman Ryan Whitney will be out three to five months following surgery to correct a chronic problem with his left foot... Dr. Robert Anderson operated Friday in Charlotte, N.C. The newspaper described the surgery as an osteotomy, defined as a procedure to shorten, lengthen or realign a bone or bones.
    (via Canadian Press)
    When Matt Cullen was out with a concussion, we were given nearly daily updates with specific details about what kinds of specialists he was seeing and what his specific problems were. Take this one for example, from the N&O on Feb 2:
    In addition to Mike Peters, the team's eye doctor, Cullen is also working with concussion expert Kevin Guskiewicz at the University of North Carolina and Cary neuro-optometrist Susan Durham.

    So why now do we get the vaguest of details? All we know is that Tanabe went to an anonymous doctor at an anonymous clinic in Buffalo who gave the very broad prognosis: "not a clean bill of health".

    Anyway, Jim Rutherford has announced that he expects for Tanabe to report to camp and be monitored by official team doctors. This might help shed some light on things. I know concussions are hard things to work with because of the complexity of symptoms and the fact that they aren't as easy to diagnose and monitor as, say, a broken bone. Still, it's very frustrating to not know anything about the status.

    Summer doldrums continue

    This summer has been magnificently boring. The Olympics broke the monotony a little bit, but the stuff I'm interested in is over, so now I'm just counting down the days to when training camp starts, to when the preseason games start, to when the third sweater will be released, and finally to when the regular season begins.

    There hasn't been very much action at all. Some bloggers have been writing "five things I would change about the NHL" or "100 things about me" posts, just so they could have SOMEthing to write about. I've been thinking about writing a "one thing about me" post, or maybe some posts about music. I'll get to those later. Or not.

    I've been keeping half of one eye on the Kings this summer. They're well below the salary cap floor and there have been a number of rumors about how they're going to remedy that. I'm completely puzzled by the fact that they haven't re-signed the youngster Patrick O'Sullivan, who was one of their best players last year with 53 (22/31) points last year. They've already let Mike Cammalleri go, they're overstocked with inexperienced goalies, dreadfully thin on defense, and as September looms, they're still not doing anything about it.

    The most puzzling of all that is the O'Sullivan situation. I haven't heard a word about contract negotiations, and I've heard his name mentioned in a couple of trade rumors, but I nearly fell out of my seat when I saw "O'Sullivan wins 49'ers QB starting job" on my Yahoo NFL news. I thought "Wow, that's certainly a surprise", but then I quickly realized that they weren't talking about Patrick O'Sullivan. As it turns out, it's J.T. O'Sullivan, who has never started an NFL game in his six year career.

    This is what happens when you're desperate for some hockey news. You misinterpret things. One time, my friend Patrick saw "Shockey", as in Jeremy Shockey, NFL tight end, come across the ESPN crawl. Without pausing to think about it, he said "What the heck is ess hockey?"

    Monday, August 18, 2008

    N&O takes two steps backwards

    Late Saturday night, we Hurricanes fans got a huge shock. Our beat writer with the Raleigh News & Observer is moving along. Luke Decock, who has brilliantly covered the Hurricanes since 2000 has been "promoted" from being a Canes beat writer to a general Sports columnist.

    This is a shame. Luke is a very good hockey writer who is not only worshiped around here, but respected around the rest of the league. He will continue to contribute, but will no longer be able to devote 100% of his attention to the Hurricanes.

    In his place, the N&O has slotted former NC State Wolfpack beat writer Chip Alexander, who admits that he doesn't know a thing about hockey. This is a huge, huge mistake. There are other writers on the staff (I'm specifically looking at Lorenzo Perez) who are far more capable.

    Alexander made an inauspicious debut by bragging about his college basketball knowledge and bashing Luke for his lack of same. His transition was going to be hard enough, but he made it about 1200% harder with this pathetic introductory post. He hasn't exactly endeared himself to the masses. I hope it gets better before it gets worse. Alexander has had a history of being an infrequent contributor to the Hurricanes coverage in the N&O, and to hear the Acid Queen tell it, he didn't do a very good job.

    If I were a Raleighite and/or a subscriber to the print edition of the N&O, I would angrily cancel my subscription to the paper. As is, I will have to be a little upset about this changing of the guard.

    Alexander has already taken a wrong step with his unintentional slight of his brilliant predecessor. I might be overreacting or making an incorrect reading, but it also seems like he's taking a slightly confrontational approach to hockey

    There's a reason that Luke Decock is a frequent contributor to The Hockey News. There's a reason that he's well respected around the League. He's a great hockey writer. Heck, he's a great writer, period. I'm sad to see him take leave of his post. I'm skeptical about the N&O's choice to fill that void. I'd love to be proven wrong, but I'm going into this with low expectations.

    As an aside, Luke wrote a great piece today about one Canes season ticket holder who took the Cole/Pitkanen trade very hard. It isn't that it's a great hockey article. It's good writing. Although he won't be out of the fold completely, we're going to miss Luke's every day articles. Partly for his in-depth knowledge of the game and the players who play it. Mostly, though, because he's a terrific writer.

    Saturday, August 16, 2008

    ....Also a new league record

    Chad "Sharpie" LaRose just might have earned himself a new nickname: Nuke

    The Hurricanes centerman and fan favorite was invited to the Durham Bulls Athletic Park to throw out a ceremonial first pitch on Thursday for the Bulls' game against the Norfolk Tides. This is the 20th anniversary of the great movie "Bull Durham", and the Bulls have been celebrating this all season long. LaRose's appearance on Thursday had nothing to do with the Bull Durham celebration, but in an unintentional way, it did.

    From the movie, you may remember the professional debut of Ebby Calvin "Nuke" LaLoosh, the fireball pitcher with control problems, played by Tim Robbins. After his debut, the manager "Skip" (played by Trey Wilson) and the assistant Larry Hockett (played by Robert Wuhl) had the following conversation:
    Skip: He walked 18
    Larry: A new league record
    Skip: He struck out 18
    Larry: Another new league record. In addition, he hit the sportswriter, the public address announcer, the Bull mascot. Twice! Also new league records.

    Incidentally, I've always had a serious problem with this opening baseball scene. The visiting team is referred to as the Peninsula White Sox on a few occasions, but they are very clearly the Hagerstown Suns. I'm just sayin'.

    Anyway, Chad LaRose went out to make the ceremonial first pitch, which sailed high and wide, hitting a little girl in the back. She was on the field, about to go play the National Anthem on her flute, or recorder, or tambourine, or whatever. That detail isn't important. Only that he hit her. Apparently, Nuke's pitch was not exactly a fastball, because the little girl was completely uninjured. LaRose told N&O writer Luke Decock that there were no hard feelings on her side and that he was pretty shaken up by the whole ordeal:
    "She came up to the seats and got pictures with me and everything," LaRose said. "I was the one more hurt by it than her, I think. … Everyone's fine except for me. I'm traumatized by the whole situation."

    This is where Nuke misses his buddy Mike Commodore. If Commy were still around, he would have been the one making that pitch, and it would have been much more successful. Commodore, who is a baseball nut, was a regular fixture at Bulls games while he was with the Hurricanes. No footage of Sharpie's fiasco, but here's some archival footage of Commy at DBAP:

    Jeez. I just wrote something about baseball. Is is October yet?

    Monday, August 11, 2008

    The most ridiculous rumor I've heard all summer

    WufPirate, over at Carolina on Ice wrote about this earlier today, and I feel compelled to join the conversation.

    Some rumor monger (no, not that one) is suggesting that the Hurricanes are in talks with the Wild about the insanely overpaid Marian Gaborik.

    With apologies, I'll paste the entire post from Hockey Leaks:
    Gaborik To Carolina?
    8/8/2008 Posted by Cjohnson202
    I spoke with a source today that confirmed for me that Carolina has had very serious discussions with Minnesota about aquiring Marian Gaborik. The Hurricanes feel that Staal and Gaborik could be one of the most lethal combinations in the NHL. The rumour I have heard would send Justin Williams, F. Kaberle, prospect Jamie Mcbain and a 1st round draft pick to Minnesota for Marian Gaborik and something else to be determined. The Wild continue to shop Gaborik around the NHL, as Gaborik has made it clear to management that he intends to move on to a more offense-minding team after his contract runs out following this season. The Wild would prefer to trade him prior to the start of the season.

    Carolina is already over their own budget, and this wouldn't solve matters. Carolina needs to get rid of Kaberle, but this wouldn't solve matters. Gaborik will make $7.5M this season, which is a gross overpayment if you ask me. Minnesota's cap hit on that is "only" $6.33, but I'm pretty sure that if any team takes him, they'd be on the hook for all of the $7.5.

    If you ask me, Gaborik is no more of a superstar than Viva, who is under contract until June of 2011 for an extremely reasonable $3.5M a season. Carolina would already lose even if it were a straight up trade. I'm not going to lose sleep seeing Kaberle go, but giving up the first round pick would be terrible, and I'm not keen on giving up one of our promising defensive prospects either.

    This rumor doesn't even make sense. Carolina can't afford Gaborik from a purely financial standpoint, and there's no way they can afford to give up what that rumor suggests they'd give up.

    Gaborik has already entered talks with Spartak Moscow of the KHL, and there have been rumors that Gaborik is headed to Florida for Jay Bouwmeester; that he is headed to Buffalo for Maxim Afinogenov and either Tim Connolly or Ales Kotalik; that he is headed to Pittsburgh; that he is headed to Ottawa; that he is headed to Washington. I'm sure you can even find rumors circulating that Gaborik is headed to Calgary or Philadelphia, both of whom are already over the cap ceiling.

    None of these make sense. Even the Moscow "Sparticus" are denying that they are seriously talking to Gaborik. Directly from the HC Spartak Moscow website was this tidbit. Through a rough translation of a Q&A:
    Is it true that "Spartacus" was negotiating with the famous Slovak forward Marian Gaborikom from Minnesota?

    - Его агенты интересовались возможностью выступать в нашем клубе. -- His agents were interested in the opportunity to speak in our club. Однако когда дело дошло до обсуждения зарплаты, была названа просто астрономическая сумма. But when it came to discussing salary, was called simply astronomical sum. Некоторые люди наивно полагают, что в России все клубы готовы платить огромные деньги. Some people naively believe that all clubs in Russia are willing to pay huge money.

    That sounds like the approach that everyone is going to take. "Astronomical sum". Sorry, Marian.


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