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

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Canes sweater numbers

For now, some of the drama surrounding the sweater numbers has been solved.

According to the Carolina Hurricanes training camp roster, the following sweater number questions have been answered:
  • newcomer Scott Walker, who was acquired via trade with Nashville, will be wearing the 24 sweater that he has always worn
  • Andrew Hutchinson, who wore 24 for Carolina last year, and who played alongside Walker in Nashville, gave up the 24 to the more veteran player, and will be wearing 28
  • Trever "the Dude" Letowski, who has always worn 10 in his career, will be donning 19
  • John Grahame will, as expected, be wearing the 47 sweater
  • Brad Isbister will be wearing 15, which is his tradition
  • David Tanabe will wear the 45 that he used to wear
  • Shane Willis will wear the 25 that he used to wear
  • Ryan Bayda, who once wore 16, will be wearing 18

At some point, I'll go back and update my spreadsheet. Maybe after camp is over.

What about Brad?

With a flurry of recent signings by the Carolina Hurricanes, the Albany River Rats are looking to be a good team. Carolina has signed a number of players with NHL experience to two way contracts, including Brad Isbister, who signed on Wednesday afternoon. When I heard that Carolina was going after him, I didn't understand. When I read that they had signed him, I was confused and slightly upset that the Canes didn't aim a little higher (read: Anson Carter) in free agency. As soon as I got to the part about the financials, it all made sense. His deal is for $600k if he plays at the NHL level, and $95k at the AHL level.

Jim Rutherford, after singing Isbister's praises, said:
Brad adds size and depth to our corps of forwards. His NHL experience will be an asset to our organization this season.(source)

We've got quite a few guys signed, probably to the point right now where maybe (there are) a couple more than we thought, especially when we look at the whole organization with how many slots we have in Albany.(source)

Those two quotes, and the two-way nature of his contract sort of suggest that Isbister would be headed to Albany to beef up the roster. However, I can't be so sure. Rutherford also said:
It's been a little bit of a puzzle, because this guy has the size and the strength and the skating ability and all the tools to be a really good player. He's never reached the level of his potential that people would have expected. You'd like to think at his age, and coming into a team like ours, that he can get back to where he was when he scored 22 goals.(source)

Peter Laviolette coached Isbister for two seasons with the New York Islanders during which Isbister tallied 61 points (27/34) in 132 total games. Lavi said:
I know he can score goals. We've got to put him in a position where he can succeed. He can skate, he can shoot, he's got experience. The fact that we picked him up, it gives him an opportunity to get back. He had a tough year last year, so it gives him an opportunity to get back to those numbers.(source)

At the end of the day, I just don't know what any of this means. I have no idea what to expect.

Meanwhile, Anson Carter is still on vacation.

Also, on Thursday morning, Carolina re-signed tough guy Stephen Peat to a one-year deal. There is absolutely no question in that matter. He'll play in Albany.

There are, by the way, some new developments regarding sweater numbers. More on that later.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Tanabe signs with Canes

It turns out that the innocuous lunch meeting the other day turned out not to be innocuous. David Tanabe has signed a one year, $900k contract with the Canes.

I haven't paid a visit yet, but the folks over at the Canes boards must be going nuts. The overall sentiment during the "rumor" part of this was that they'd rather become Sabres fans than see Dave Tanabe in a Canes sweater again. I kept saying that it might not be a bad idea, that he might hit that magical turning point that defensemen seem to hit when they turn 26 years old (he just turned 26). I kept saying that we need to get some depth in case the injuries to Frantisek Kaberle and Bret Hedican turn out to be big. Tanabe might not be the best defenseman in the world, but he's decent. More importantly, he is quick, passes the puck well, and likes to join the rush. These are qualities that make him fit right into the new Canes system. In the old system, players with speed (Sami Kapanen) didn't really fit in, and especially if they were defensemen. Now, it's a requisite quality.

Tanabe has lots of NHL experience, and has earned the loathe of fans for his less than spectacular play and his occasional defensive lapses. Some go as far as to call him a "defensive liability". I won't go that far. And I'm sure that he'll be better than Canes fans remember him being, and better than Bruins fans will say he is.

At any rate, he signed for just $900k. If things don't work out, it's not that big of a deal.

According to the same article, the Canes are very close to signing Brad Isbister. Honestly, this is the first I've heard of this. Honestly, I don't know that much about Isbister, and I've only seen him play a few times. Based entirely on reading his scouting profile, he sounds a LOT like Josef Vasicek. We don't need a replacement Vasicek, but Isbister has better consistent numbers. My initial reaction is "eh", but we'll see. I'd still rather see us grab Anson Carter, but right now nothing is set.

In other NHL cities, some "real" news that I begged for yesterday. JP Dumont is signing with the Preds. Apparently, he has signed a two-year deal valued at a total of $4.5M. Sounds like a good deal to me.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Canes historical sweater numbers

Because I'm bored....

With the help of the Internet Hockey Database, which makes up for its lack of flashiness with its wealth of information, I've made yet another list. This one shows every Carolina Hurricane who has worn each sweater number. Only during the "Carolina Hurricanes" portion of the franchise history. No Whalers are listed, nor are any WhalerCanes listed by the number they wore in Hartford. For example, Glen Wesley wore #20 in Hartford, but I'm only talking about Raleigh here.

The Whalers had retired the numbers
  • 2 -- Rick Ley
  • 9 -- Gordie Howe
  • 19 -- John McKenzie

When the franchise moved, the Canes put #2 and #19 back into circulation, but continued to honor the #9 of "Mr. Hockey", who, as a 52-year old man, notched 41 points (15/26) for the Whale in 1979-80.

Some players have worn two or more different sweater numbers for the Canes. Most numbers have been worn by different players in the 9 year history.

Since moving to Raleigh, the Canes have retired retired the following sweater numbers:
  • 3 -- Steve Chiasson (unofficial; no sweater hangs in rafters)
  • 10 -- Ron Francis
  • 99 -- Wayne Gretzky (league-wide)

In addition to #9 and #99, the following numbers have never been worn by a Hurricane:
40, 41, 43, 49, 50, 54, 57, 58, 60, 64-69, 72-76, 78, 79, 81-91, 93-96, 98.

The mascot, Stormy, wears #97 because the franchise relocated to North Carolina in 1997. I assume that the number 97 is off-limits as well.

So... here's the list. A name in bold face means the player is active and still wears that number. A name in all caps means the number has been retired in that player's honor.

For the 2006-07 season, we still don't know which # any of the newcomers will wear. I went ahead and assumed that John Grahame will wear his familiar #47. Scott Walker, who has traditionally worn #24 will have to buy that number from Andrew Hutchinson or choose something else. Trevor "The Dude" Letowski has always worn #10, but that obviously won't be happening.

I may have missed some names and numbers, as the database has some incomplete information. I may have also copied my data wrong. Feel free to let me know if I've missed something.

Oh, dear hockey gods, please let something newsworthy happen soon.

Friday, August 25, 2006

a potential development

While I'm still hoping for some sort of development involving Anson Carter, or some rumbling about a trade involving Oleg Tverdovsky, there was a different kind of development involving the Canes today. It seems there might be a chance that defenseman David Tanabe is in talks with the Canes. According to an article in the Triangle Business Journal, he was spotted having lunch with Jim Rutherford and Peter Laviolette in Raleigh today.

I can't say that I'm surprised by this. I can't say that I'm excited. I can't say that I'm disgusted either. Certain members of the Caniac nation are scared by this, but I'm not. I'm actually pretty indifferent. Tanabe isn't the best defenseman in the world, but he's serviceable, and he's quite good on the power play.

Tanabe was originally drafted by the Canes in the first round of the 1999 entry draft, and spent four seasons with the team. He was traded to Phoenix for Daniil Markov, who was later traded traded to Philly for Justin Viva Williams.

With the departure of Aaron Ward, and the questionable health status of both Frantisek Kaberle and Bret Hedican, it makes some sense to acquire an NHL-ready defenseman. Earlier this month, the Bruins exercised their "walk away" option on a $1.275M arbitration award to Tanabe. If he can be had for around $1M, I don't see how it can hurt anything. Given our

Fire away, Acid Queen!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Pressure? You haven't seen pressure..... Yet.

I've been staying away from the Malkin saga, but this latest development is too good.

By now we all know about Malkin's disappearance from his Russian team, his apparent "resignation letter" and his defection to the United States. One of the later developments was the loophole in Russian labor law which allows a person to free themselves from any employment contract provided that they give a written two-week notice.

Russia, as we all know, refuses to sign a player transfer agreement with the NHL in part because they think the transfer fee of $200k is unfair. They argue that they should be compensated $2M or more for the training and development of players. Since there is no transfer agreement, the players have to end their contracts with Russian teams before heading to the NHL. When the players leave, this makes the Russian Federation very angry. The NHL is "poaching" its best players, they say, without proper compensation.

Malkin claims that he signed the contract with Metallurg under duress, and faxed a letter of resignation. Metallurg bosses claim that the fax was a hoax, that it was a forgery, that it was invalid.

One interesting point that isn't really getting talked about is that Malkin didn't exactly work out the two week notice. He just faxed it in after he had already fled the team and his country. Sure, this is a technicality, but it's exactly the type of thing that makes the Russian bosses even more irate. Their claim is that even if the fax is real, he didn't give them the requisite two weeks.

Another interesting point is this vaguely threatening statement by Gennady Velichkin (general manager of Metallurg Magnitogorsk), from a Reuters article:

"He talks about pressure. What pressure? You can ask militia (Russian police) about pressure. Pressure is when they bang your head against a wall radiator."
(see kitten in photo -- grabbed from google image search)

It seems like he went out of his way to mention physical violence. What does this mean?

Velichkin went on to say that while he had been asking for $2M for Malkin, he now wants "more... A lot more"

The good folks who do copy editing at Reuters announced that "Russia declares war on NHL". It'll be interesting to see how this "war" manifests itself. I would imagine that if such a "war" takes place, we'll see some cold war-style kidnappings, ransom demands, some low-budget spy tactics and sloppy infiltration by the Russians, and some high-tech counterespionage by the NHL. Probably some fist fighting, and maybe some really awesome car chases. Where's Tom Clancy when we need him?

Seriously, if I were Evgeni Malkin, I would get my parents, siblings, grandparents, dogs, cats and all other family members on planes to Los Angeles immediately. I'd get them somewhere away from the cops who might go apply some "pressure" to them.

Although Malkin is in Los Angeles, skating at a Kings practice facility with his agent at his side, he is unable to begin any negotiations with the Penguins. They say that once the two week period is up, they will be able to proceed. However, there might be a snag if the resignation isn't handled in accordance with Russian law.

This will be really fun to watch this one pan out.

Seriously. Where's Tom Clancy? We need him to write the part where Jack Ryan saves the day.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Stillman to miss half the season

I was all set to write some silly post that has nothing to do with hockey just so I could post something here. I came home today to the news that Cory Stillman has undergone shoulder surgery and may be lost for half the season. This, obviously, is of concern.

After a sensational regular season in 2004 with the Stanley Cup winning Tampa Bay lightning and another great regular season with Carolina in 2006, Stillman was widely regarded as the free agent steal of the year. He had won an arbitration hearing which would have given him $3.9M for 2004-05. Tampa Bay exercised their "walk away" option, then the lockout happened anyway. Early in the free agent market last summer, Stillman was pursued by Carolina and nobody else. He ended up signing a three year deal with Carolina worth $1.75M per season. Even then, many fans considered it to be a very savvy move. His 76 point season (21/55) and his 26 point playoffs (9/17) proved those fans to be right and Jim Rutherford to be a great GM.

Carolina has acquired some depth at forward this summer, but most of it has been at the center or right wing positions, and some of this "depth" is not quite up to NHL standards. In any case, it's not possible to "replace" a guy like Stillman. And it isn't just the points. Sure, he's our first line left winger and was second on the team in points, but he's also a leader on the ice and in the room. Aside from his HUGE blunder in game 5 of the SCF which caused the turnover which led to the game winning shorthanded goal by Edmonton, he rarely makes mistakes. He's a great passer and a brilliant playmaker, well beyond the things for which the league keeps stats.

Obviously, Andrew Ladd and Ray Whitney will see some increased playing time and bigger roles with the team. I really can't see Whitney on the first line, so I have to guess that Ladd goes to the first line, Whitney stays on the second, and perhaps we'll see some players playing out of their natural position. One thing I DO NOT want to see is Jesse Boulerice. He may be a natural left wing, but I would worry about his skill set, even if he was given limited ice time.

Although I don't like the idea of breaking up the Adams/Adams/LaRose line, I can't really see somebody new as the third line left winger. Ryan Bayda, who scored 38 points (13/25) in 59 games with the Manitoba Moose of the AHL last season, might be the answer, though. Bayda spent two partial seasons with the Canes, tallying 20 points (7/13) in 69 total games during the really lean years. He left the Canes organization and was signed as a free agent by the Moose in January. This month, the Canes brought him back to the organization, offering him a two-way one year contract.

I'm looking at the potential forward lines and having a whale of a time trying to figure things out. Here's how one scenario on opening night could pan out:

It's also possible that Keith Aucoin or Dave Gove start the season in Raleigh as a third (or fourth)line left wing. I see that as slightly less feasible. More likely than that would be Shane Willis, serving his second tour of duty with the Canes. He might fit in to the third line. Still, though, I wouldn't count on that.

Keeping in mind that Cory Stillman's salary won't be counting against the cap while he's on the IR, maybe the Canes should look on the free agent market for a quality player.

Anson Carter is still out there, and could possibly be had for right at $2M. Of course he's not a left wing, but I'm sure he would fit in nicely with a little tweaking. Erik Cole can play either wing, so if he gets moved to left wing, Viva plays right wing on the first line, Andrew Ladd gets moved down to third line left wing, there would be room for Carter to play right wing on the second line with Whitney and Brind'Amour. This might be nice:

I wouldn't count on the Canes going after someone like JP Dumont. If they go get a free agent, it would have to be somebody who comes much cheaper than that. There's a lot of Jaro Svaboda-type players out there who could be had for the league minimum, but Carolina will need to do better than that.

I might have been critical of Carter in the past, but I think it would be a very nice pick-up.

When Stillman returns... I guess we'll worry about the toll charge when we get to that gate.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Broken Social Scene Loves Mike Commodore

So far as I can tell, nobody else has written about this.

The new video for Fire Eye'd Boy by Broken Social Scene looks a lot like they're big fans of Mike Commodore. I haven't read anything to this effect, but take a look for yourself. Here's a couple of screenshots from the video:

The video has three essential parts. In one part, the band is going through some sort of "band boot camp" not unlike when Yo La Tengo went to Rock Academy in their video for Sugarcube.

In another part, it's straight up performance video.

In the other key part, there's a spoof of Canadian Idol, in which the band members play contestants on the show and Geddy Lee plays one of the judges.

Throughout most of the video, the guys are all wearing bathrobes. For much of it, including these two screen shots (which you can click to enlarge), they're wearing white bathrobes with BSS logos on the chest. Check out the framed hockey photos on the wall behind the band in those screenshots.

Do you think it's a coincidence that it reeks of
Mike Commodore? (photo from Hurricanes.com)
Commy had this look going for several months starting in about February. "The Robe" gained some notoriety, as I wrote many times in these pages, including one night during the Western Conference Finals when Don Cherry had to wear the robe and wig during his "Coaches Corner" segment on CBC.
The best I can tell, this video debuted in late July, meaning Commy didn't get his look from them, but rather vice versa.

View the whole video by clicking on the above link or on the embedded player here:

Saturday, August 12, 2006

sometimes a shirt is ... just a shirt

Since there isn't anything else going on around these parts.

I work at a popular bar and grill. I managed the place for 6 years, then went to work at a different place owned by the same guys, then got fired. I briefly worked for a different locally owned independent restaurant. The place where I worked for so long was sold to a long-time employee, and I returned "home". Next door to us is a very popular hot dog/ice cream stand. They've been a local hotspot for 101 years, slinging hot dogs, housemade ice cream and milkshakes, and Cheerwine. If you don't live in North Carolina, you probably don't know what Cheerwine is, but you really must get some. It's a locally brewed cherry-flavored soda. Not anything like Fanta Cherry. Not anything like Cherry Coke. Since 1917, it has been its own thing. Its distribution area is widening, but until just a few years ago, you could only purchase it in North Carolina.

Blah blah blah.

This does have a point. The other day, I strolled over there to get a delicious milkshake. If you must know, it was coffee/chocolate blend. Very nice. Many of the people who work there have been there for several years. I don't know if they're all in the family that has owned the place since day one, but they all stay there forever. They must get paid really well because one of the hot dog slingers drives a brand new Corvette. That isn't the point.

I went over there to get my milkshake, and one of the guys behind the counter is wearing a t-shirt that says "Welcome to Blueland" and had the Thrashers logo on it. I asked him if he was a Thrashers fan, and he had a blank look on his face. I referenced the shirt, and asked him again if he was a Thrashers fan. All he said was "Uhhhhh. I like this shirt".

My suspicion is that he (a) found the shirt in a dark alley (2) stole the shirt from one of his stoner roommates, or most likely (III) bought the shirt at a thrift store because he thought it was funny. I honestly think that he had no idea that it was a shirt for a hockey team.

That, my friends, is the closest thing I can come to a hockey post.

I know.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Sabres "walk away" from Dumont

The clouds never expect it when it rains
But the sea changes colours
But the sea does not change

On Tuesday afternoon, the Buffalo Sabres exercised their right to walk away from JP Dumont, rendering him an unrestricted free agent. On Sunday, an arbitrator awarded Dumont with a one year $2.9M contract. The 28-year old right wing notched 40 points (20/20) in 54 games during the 05-06 season, and 14 points (7/7) in 18 postseason games for the Crossed Swords.

I'm .... what's the word? Surprised. I figured that the worst case scenario there would be a sign-n-trade. Now the Sabres have nothing. They needed to clear some cap space for the signings of Ryan Miller and Dmitri Kalinin, plus a depth defenseman and a depth forward. I half expected him or one of the other guys to be traded away. This, I did not expect.

Kevin BFLOBLOG thinks they wouldn't have found a trading partner. Not with a $2.9M contract in pocket. I'm not entirely sure that I agree with that. I'll compare him to Matt Cullen, formerly of the Canes. Cully is 29, and scored 49 points (25/24) in 78 games in 05-06 and 18 points (4/14) in 25 playoff games. Both last season, and in his career prior to that, Cullen's numbers have been good, but not quite as good as Dumont's. At least not on a ppg level. Cully got a big contract with the Rangers for over $3M. I'm just saying that the market will pay that kind of money for that kind of player.

The Sabres could have gotten a draft pick and a backup goalie in trade. They could have gotten a two depth-type guys.

Dumont is a good player, and the Sabres will miss him. They needed to do something to avoid going over cap, though, and their options were pretty limited. He'll end up somehere very soon, and I concur with Kevin that he'll probably end up getting just over $2M. I can't imagine he'll be on the market very long. Keep your eyes peeled.

Cool points for getting the reference in the quotation.

Get to know me.... a little more

As you've probably realized by now, there are two distinctly different "Know yer blogger" games going on right now, and I've been tagged in both. Now, I must answer the questionnaire of doom.

First, though, I want to amend my "five weird things about me". I realized that the road trip thing isn't really all that weird. Lots of people do that. Some people make a career out of it. Anyway, I thought of something weirder.

I like to shower in the dark. During my college days, one of my buddies thought it would be a riot to shut the lights off on me while I was in the shower. Residence hall-type atmosphere. No windows in the bathroom. It was pitch dark. I kinda liked it, and showered that way for the remainder of my college days. To this day, I still prefer to shower in the dark. It's exhilarating. There's something bizarrely stranger-esque about it. Maybe too much information there.

Anyway.... here's the questionnaire.

  1. Have you ever been in a fantasy league?. I've been playing in the same fantasy football league for about 6 years now. No playoffs. I usually finish third, but last season, I was awful and avoided the cellar only by reeling off three straight Ws to close the season.
    I hate baseball, but some buddies from work tricked me into joining their fantasy baseball league three years ago. My team is a perennial laughing stock. It's fun, though. Way more good natured trash talking in that league with people I (for the most part) have never met than in the football league with people I've been friends with for 15 years.
    I was in a fantasy hockey league for the first time ever last season. Nobody took it seriously, though.
    I always play in several "March Madness" pools, including the on-line one at ESPN. Two years ago, I won my group (42 entries) and finished in the top 50 nationwide.

  2. What was the first sports jersey you ever owned. When I was in high school (late 1980's, Charlotte North Carolina) I became obsessed with the Charlotte Hornets. I owned a bunch of t-shirts, and probably at one point had a Kendall Gill jersey (or at least a t-shirt that looked like one). Fast forward a decade and a half. When the Hurricanes were in the 2002 playoffs, I ordered a cheap-o replica "road" sweater from some bargain basement website. Its inauthenticity wasn't really discernible, but let's just say that the manufacturer's branding wasn't correct. At the tail end of the 2003-04 season, the Canes out of the playoffs, the team store offered deep discounts on top of the STH discount on merchandise. I got a "home" VASICEK 63 sweater, which I wore all throughout the 05-06 season and playoffs. During the ECF, I bought a WILLIAMS 11 "home" sweater, which I had been looking for all season. I haven't worn it yet, and it will make its debut on Williams' 25th birthday, which coincides with opening night, and the banner raising, and (as fate would have it) the day following my own 35th birthday.
  3. Top 5 sports books I don't read "sports books". I've only ever read two "sports books". In retrospect, one of them (The Iowa Baseball Confederacy by W.P. Kinsella) was kind of lame. The other, Seabiscuit, by Laura Hillenbrand, is incredible. Although the movie was good, the book is a thing of beauty, and vastly superior to its film adaptation. Underworld by Don DeLillo isn't a "sports book", but baseball is featured somewhat prominently. Specifically the homerun (ball) that won the 1951 National League pennant for the Brooklyn Dodgers. At a later date, I will list my favorite sports movies, but this is already getting long-winded.

  4. 10 favorite athletes. I could easily name 10 guys from the 2005-06 Canes roster, but I won't. I intentionally named all inactive players. In no particular order, and without including the obvious Wayne Gretzky:
    • Mike Eruzione
    • Ron Francis (sorry. I know it's cliche)
    • Doug Flutie
    • John McEnroe
    • Larry Bird
    • Willie Mays
    • Sugar Ray Leonard
    • Steve Largent
    • Barry Sanders
    • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

  5. Three Athletes I secretly admire but am ashamed to admit it for fear of ridicule. I don't much care for this question. Instead, I'll name two athletes I secretly dislike but am ashamed to admit it for fear of ridicule
    • Michael Jordan --- I was born in Chapel Hill. My dad went to UNC, and I disappointed him by not going there myself. I love the Tar Heels and he's the golden god and all that, but I just don't care about him. Michael Jordan, I mean.
    • Tiger Woods --- It isn't just because he's so much better than everyone that it's unfair. Maybe that's part of it. There's just something about him that I don't like. I don't know.

  6. Three people (outside family) you would pay to have coffee with What the hell kind of question is that? If I were a Miss America contestant, my answer would be (a) Jesus (2) Martin Luther King, Jr and (III) Helen Keller. Is that what I'm supposed to say? Is this that kind of question? Ahhhh...
    • Parker Posey
    • Cameron Crowe
    • Conan O'Brien

    Of course there are thousands of celebrities I would pay to have coffee with hand tens of thousands of regular folks. These are just three names that instantly popped into my head.

  7. One Thing You Could Change if you Could. It seems like I'm not supposed to give an answer like "I wouldn't have killed that hooker in Phoenix back in '87" I'm supposed to give a sports-related answer. Mine is Superbowl XXXVIII. 1:08 to go in the fourth quarter. The Carolina Panthers have just tied the game. John Kasay, usually steady as a rock, kicks the ensuing kickoff out of bounds, giving the Patriots the ball on their own 40-yard line. They ultimately kicked the winning field goal with :04 remaining. Any decent kickoff by Kasay would have wound time off the clock, would have pinned the Patriots deeper, and would likely have meant the game would go to overtime. I would change that. I would make him kick the ball in-bounds.

Because it might get him to actually write something, I tag my friend Bill Purdy, who used to write The Bitter Buffalo, and who also provided me with lots of excellent tailgating memories from our Cup triumph. I also tag Pat Angelo, who is an Avs fan, a friend of Bill's, and was on the CBC.ca hockey blogger roundtable with me.

I think every other person who's in the hockey blogosphere has been tagged at least once.

NC Lottery to feature Canes scratch-off game. Also, I'm "it" again.

On Friday, the North Carolina Lottery Commission made an interesting announcement. They have given the green light to a scratch-off lottery game featuring the Carolina Hurricanes. N&O story here

Unlike ordinary scratch-off games, which pay out in cold, hard cash, this game would offer Canes merchandise as prizes.

They hope to have the game cards ready to go before the NHL season begins.

I have been "tagged" in the other "Meet your blogger" game. I'm working on answering the questionnaire. It isn't quite as easy as I imagined.

In a bizarre twist, I was playing one game, and I tagged Chris! from CiO. Simultaneously, he tagged me while playing the other game.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Sabres done with arbitration, Mair "wins"

On Sunday, the Sabres announced that Adam Mair has been awarded a one year deal worth $675k. This, frankly, came as a surprise to me. Mair tallied 7 points (2/5) in 40 games during the 05-06 season while earning the league minimum $450k. I figured his raise would be miniscule at best. This was the last of their arbitration hearings, and their clock is running. They will have until sometime Tuesday afternoon to decide whether to pay JP Dumont $2.9M or walk away.

Apparently, they don't have the option of walking away from Mair. According to this TSN article, the Sabres are obligated to honor the contract. It suggests a provision in the CBA that forces a club to accept an arbitration result if the contract is for less than $1.4M.

I don't understand this. The Bruins were allowed to walk away from David Tanabe and his $1.275M arbitration ruling. UPDATE!!!! Thanks to some astute work after wondering the same thing, Kevin from BFLOBLOG cleared it up. That $1.4M number was incorrectly reported in more than one place. The error probably originated with the Associated Press. The actual number should be $1,042,173. In case you're wondering... no.
$1,042,173 USD ≠ $1,400,000 CAD.
Nice work digging through the CBA, Kevin!

Incidentally, for about half a second, I thought the Canes were going to pick Tanabe up. These days, they're picking up all sorts of former Canes. Tanabe, in a six degrees type of way, was really important to the success of the 2005-06 Canes. He was drafted by the Canes in 1999. In 2003, he was traded to Phoenix for Daniil Markov in a deal that included spare parts from both sides. The next season, Markov was traded to the Flyers straight up for Justin Williams. Viva, as frequent readers of this page know, was a key member of the Canes and had a great playoff season, including the empty net security goal in Game 7 of the Final.

According to the now famous NHL Team Salaries pages, the Slugs Sabres are already spending just under $42M, and still need to sign Ryan Miller and Dmitri Kalinin. Additionally, they will need to trade Martin Biron, acquire a backup goalie, and acquire some defensive depth. Selling Marty Biron will be the key ingredient there.

In Canes news, Ryan Bayda, who is a former Cane, has rejoined the franchise. He'll likely be spending a lot of time in Albany, which is just fine with everyone. I'm still looking for them to trade Oleg Tverdovsky and pick up another NHL calibre forward. Even if that doesn't happen, the Canes should be looking good.

Opening night less than two months away, and my season seat will be sweeter than ever. Third row! No more netting in my photos! I can't wait to post my opening night/banner raising pictures. Stay tuned.

Friday, August 04, 2006

five things

So I got "tagged" by Dr Frank Lives.
I'm supposed to list five "weird" things about myself, then "tag" five people who have to do the same. And if I don't, I'll die. Okay, so I was kidding about dying, but isn't that how these chain mail things work?

Off we go:

  1. Parking my car This is one of my odd habits. When parking spaces run parallel with the building I am going to enter, I have to park with the driver's side closest to the building. If the parking spaces are perpendicular with the building, I point the car away from the building. I'll pass up a perfectly good parking space if it isn't possible to park my car in the preferred way. In cases of emergency, I'll break my rule, but I'll be nervous the entire time I'm in the building.

  2. Scrabble. I play competitive Scrabble. Read Stephan Fatsis' Word Freak, or watch the great documentary Word Wars for an idea of what competitive Scrabble is like at the top level. I'm not anywhere near that good, but I'm good. My friend Kevin and I always go out on Thursday nights and play three games at a bar. We play tournament style, with fancy equipment and a timer and all that. Guys think we're losers, but women find it fascinating. One of the things competitive Scrabble players do is to memorize anamonic devices and word lists. For instance, you memorize the list of acceptable q- without -u words. Prior to this year, that was a very short list -- 21 words. This year, the word source has been updated, and there are (I think) five more. There are 101 acceptable 2-letter words. One time, because we didn't realize how dorky we were being and we thought it would impress a girl, Kevin and I raced each other to see who could write the complete list of 2-letter words quickest. Kevin won the race, but the girl would eventually become my best friend -- the famous "Amanda", who has the misfortune of being a lifelong Sabres fan. I kid!

  3. Trunk boy I once locked myself in the trunk of my own car. The doors were locked and I had the keys with me. I was trying to... Well, let's just say that I was trying to settle a bet with the girl I was dating at the time. I hate to imagine how this must have looked to passersby, but we had a conversation (really just me yelling frantically, and she talking to a car) that went something like this:
    Me: Oh, crap. I can't get out. You can let me out now.
    Eleanor: You have the keys.
    Me: What?!?
    Eleanor: You have the keys, dearie
    Me: Well, can you, like, pop the trunk?
    Eleanor: No. You locked the doors, too. Remember?

    After a few panicked moments, I remembered that the release lever inside the trunk did NOT pop the trunk. Instead, it released the mechanism that folded the back seat down. Seven years later, in somewhat embarrassing fashion, I found out that this story had become somewhat of a legend. I was telling the story to a woman I had just met, and she interrupted me saying "Wait.. I've heard this story. Aren't you friends with (so-and-so)?"

  4. Sleep? Who needs sleep? You can sleep when you're dead. I don't sleep. I normally get something like four our sometimes five hours of sleep. I have always been this way. When I was a baby, I had to have some surgery which required putting me to sleep. When they administered the dosage appropriate for a baby, there was no effect. When they doubled it, there was still no effect. When they gave me (the 18-month old me) an "adult" dosage of whatever it was, that did the trick. These days, even when I have the day off, or even if I am on vacation, I can't get to sleep until very late and I wake up no later than 8 am.
    A couple of years ago, when it got to the point where I literally wasn't sleeping, I got a little concerned. I would go three days without getting anything more than an hour of sleep. I went to see my doctor, who actually gave me this brilliant medical advice: have more sex. I told him thanks for the advice, but I was really looking for some medication. He prescribed me with something that knocked me out alright, but it made me wish I was dead. Incidentally, I don't go to that doctor anymore.
  5. Vacation / long drive I don't go on many vacations. Used to be, I had paid vacation time, but didn't use it. Now, I don't have it. Anyway, I would never go to fabulous places like Cancun or Prague or even a cruddy place like Vegas. My idea of vacation is to go on a 3,000 mile road trip. On two occasions, I used vacation time to help different friends move cars 3,000 miles. One summer, I went from Washington DC to Portland Oregon, spending the night in the wonderful cities of Chicago (okay, Chicago is cool); Sioux Falls, SD; Rapid City, SD; Jackson WY (okay, Jackson is very cool, even in the off-season); and Boise, ID. The next summer, I helped a different friend move a car from Boise to Durham, NC. Along the way, we spent the night in the awesome cities of (middle of nowhere) Utah; North Platte, NE; Davenport IA; (somewhere in Hillsdale County, MI), then home. To be honest, I don't remember much about the second trip. That trip was strictly business. Getting the car from point A to point B. Of course the route we took was a little indirect, but that's neither here nor there. The first time, it was a blast, and I intend to do that kind of thing again. And again.
    Seriously, if anyone reading this ever needs a car moved thousands of miles one way, or needs a second driver for such a task, let me know. I'd honestly rather do something like that as a "vacation" than go somewhere fancy.

I hereby tag Scott Cason (Casonblog), Kevin ( BFLOBLOG), Chris! (Covered In Oil), Mac McCaughan (Portastatic) and Reid (Are Seven). Four of the above are serious hockey fans. Be nice to the odd guy out. He's good peeps.

Those who have been "tagged" will receive e-mail from me. If you've already been tagged, and I tag you again, sue me.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


On Wednesday, the Canes did something I wish they hadn't. The re-signed Jesse Boulerice to a one year two-way contract. Boulerice spent a few seasons in Carolina before being shipped off to St. Louis as part of the Doug Weight trade.
In the days of yore, when Carolina was awful, Jesse was a good guy to have around because he likes to mix it up. He never had much offensive upside, and they pretty much used him exclusively as an enforcer.

I was happy to see him go because the "new" NHL has no place for enforcers. That, and I thought that his very limited skills had in fact atrophied. He only played a few games with the Blues before being cut outright. The word on the street is that he couldn't get along with the guys in the room. Some accounts suggest that he physically fought with his new teammates during practice. I'm guessing that it all got started over a disagreement about his favorite movie -- The Garfield Christmas Movie.

I haven't talked to the Acid Queen yet, and she hasn't posted yet, but I'm sure she's livid.

The only good thing is that this is a two-way contract. He'll be playing in Albany. Peter Karmanos had the following overly kind words:
"Jesse has been working hard to prepare himself for the upcoming season. We know what he is capable of, and he understands his role in our organization."

I hope that by "he understands his role", Karmanos means "His role will be to protect our investments who are down in the minors. If there is a really bad rash of injuries, and he ends up in Raleigh, his role will be to stay out of everyone's way."

Credit where credit is due, though. On October 24, 2005 the Canes were hosting the undefeated Ottawa Senators. The Sens had jumped out to a very early 2-0 lead, and the Canes looked flat. Boulerice fought Brian McGratton for no reason other than to spark the team and the crowd. It worked. The Canes rallied for a win, and they moved into first place in the SE division that night. They would never look back.

Other than that, Jesse is, frankly, a terrible player by NHL standards.

Here's my favorite Jesse Boulerice moment, from back in 2003, when he got simply destroyed by Aaron Downey of the Dallas Stars.

"Down goes Boulerice". I don't care who you are. That's funny.

Dumont gets $2.9

On Wednesday, the arbiter's ruling on JP Dumont came back. A decisive victory for the player. The arbiter awarded Dumont with a one year, $2.9M contract.
Dumont tallied 40 points (20/20) in 54 games, or 0.74 points per game. My late June guess of $2.5M was a hair low, but the Sabres should be able to afford this. Based on this and the Danny Briere rulings, if Maxim Afinogenov had gone to his arbitration hearing, he might have come back with a much larger payday than what he's getting, and the Sabres would be in a tight spot.

Depending on how the negotiations go with Ryan Miller and Dmitri Kalinin, things could still be a bit tight, but the Sabres have done a good job of avoiding trouble by signing most of the arbitration filers before their hearings. The only one remaining is Adam Mair, who doesn't really have any business headed to arbitration.

Maxim Afinogenov avoids arbitration

On Tuesday, the Sabres came to terms with Maxim Afinogenov, who was scheduled for arbitration on Friday. The two sides agreed to a three-year deal worth $10M. The 26-year old right wing will make $3M in 2007, and $3.5M the following two seasons. This came as very good news to Sabres fans, who were fearing that an arbiter might have awarded the Russian with a Briere-like deal. My late June prediction of $2.75M wasn't far off the mark.

Although he's often been castigated for "failing to finish", Afinogenov had a career best 22 goals, and led the team in points (73) and assists (51).

The Sabres are awaiting word on the JP Dumont case, which was held Monday. They'll know sometime today what the arbiter decided. The only remaining case on the schedule is that of Adam Mair. That kid made the league minimum $450k last season, and won't be in line for much of a raise. I'm not sure what he's thinking. He's scheduled for Friday. After that hearing is done, and an award given, the Sabres will have 48 hours to decide what to do with Danny Briere. At first I guessed that they'd sign-n-trade him, but the more I think about it, the less I actually believe that. Everything has gone well with the arbitration stuff, so they have more cap room to work with.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

handedness in the general population and in hockey

Because I don't have a wife, or even a girlfriend, or anything resembling a social life...

A couple of weeks ago while I was out with a friend, we were approached by a slightly hot but extremely drunk girl who was fascinated with the fact that my friend Kevin is left-handed. She sat with us a while, and we actually discussed left-handedness for a few minutes.

It gets worse.

Kevin pointed out, correctly, that approximately 14% of the overall population is left handed, and that it is much more prevalent in men than in women. The drunk girl was left handed, for the record.

I guessed that while it might be true that only 14% of the general population, the percentage would be much higher for athletes. My guess was that 40% of athletes are left-handed. As soon as I got home, I looked up a few articles on the internets concerning left-handedness. All of them confirmed that roughly 12-15% of the general population is left handed. The article at wikipedia didn't have any mention of significantly higher percentages in sports, but it did mention other demographics where left handedness is much more prevalent. Twins; people with Down's Syndrome, autism or mental retardation; and as one study suggests(pdf file), pedophiliacs. And Osama bin Laden.

I'm just sayin'.

That isn't my point.

I went through all of the current rosters in the NHL. At least the current rosters, as listed by Wikipedia. All of the rosters are current, and although some rosters include a few players who won't be in the NHL, I counted them anyway.
Forwards and defensemen are listed by whether they have a "right" shot or a "left" shot, while goalies are listed by which hand they catch with. For the purposes of my study, I modified that to indicate which hand the goalies hold the stick with.

While it isn't the case that everyone who has a left shot is actually left handed (or right-right for that matter), this is the best indicator to the player's "strong" hand. Eric Staal is a left shot, but he is actually right handed. I don't have any idea how many other players are like that.

Anyway, I went through all the rosters and was surprised to find that while goalies match up statistically with the overall population, defensemen are WAY off the chart as 70.17% of them are left shots. 60.18% of forwards are left shots. Even when you include the righty-friendly goalies, 58.61% of players play left handed.

The real question is how many of them actually are left-handed. Does anyone know? And am I wrong to assume that a goalie who catches with his left is right handed?


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