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

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Brandon Sutter v. Alexei Cherepanov

I found this clip on the youtubes and thought everyone should see it.

It occurred during game two of the Canada-Russia SummitSuper Series.

Watch how Alexei Cherepanov slew-foots Brandon Sutter early in the clip, then Sutter decimates him at the end.

Sutter was called for charging.

Make no mistake. This was a dirty play. I have often been outspoken about the filthiness of hits like that. You could say that this is a very heated series and that emotions are running really high. You could say that Cherepanov "started it" by slew-footing Sutter. You can say that Cherepanov should have had his head up. You can say that he should have been ready for a retaliatory hit for his slew-foot. None of that excuses a head-high hit like that. Cherepanov got up immediately, but he suffered a concussion and will miss the rest of the tournament. So far, there is no word on any disciplinary action against Sutter.

Sutter also had an assist in the game, his second of the tournament.

I watched the highlights from that game, and is it me, or is it foggy as hell in that arena? From what I've read it's a brand spanking new building.

Canada leads 2-0, and game three will take place on Friday morning. There may be fireworks.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Vancouver takes a step in the wrong direction

Today, the Canucks officially unveiled their "new" logo and sweater. I'm not digging it.
As expected, the giant C in the Orca logo has changed a bit. Now it's white on the bottom half. At least on the home sweaters. That part wasn't any surprise. I think most people would have preferred to have left it blue, but at least it wasn't a surprise.

The surprise, however, was in the form of the word VANCOUVER arched above the logo. This is bad. Bad. Bad. Bad. I have never been a fan of a sports team logo where the name of the team/city is spelled out in addition to some stylized logo. This is why I have always disliked the Lightning logo.
If there is no logo, it's fine to spell out the name. Like the Rangers sweaters with the block letters.

In some cases, I'm willing to bend a bit if the name of the city/team is incorporated into the logo (i.e. Oilers), but when it stands apart from the logo, it's unattractive to me.

I just watched the sweater launch, and I can't wait to hear the commentary from people who are actual Canucks fans. I'm just a closet Canucks fan. My voice doesn't count.

I just got an e-mail with a heads-up on a great piece about the sweater unveiling that just appeared in the National Post. In the pictures, note how ridiculously close Naslund's "C" is to the VANCOUVER wordmark. Looks like something a kid would throw together using Microsoft Paint. This quote, from the story, sums it up pretty well:
Bleached-out Orca logo? Numbers on the sleeves? Hastily ironed-on and painfully unnecessary city name crammed in for good measure? We think Canucks Captain Markus Naslund grimly apologetic half-smile in the first photo says it all: Yep. Kind of lame.

I can imagine that sales of the new sweater have been less than "brisk".

Now, to be fair, there are some good things about the new sweater.

  • The inclusion of the color green. From what I understand, this is one of the "official" colors of British Coloumbia.
  • The old "Stick and rink" secondary logo on the shoulders. Why wasn't this there before?
  • Tasteful horizontal stripes rather than hobo patches. The Islanders sure screwed the pooch on that one.
  • Secondary logo on the pants.

    Then again.... the Orca theme and the "new" color scheme and the addition of the stripes are kinda reminding me of this.
  • Monday, August 27, 2007

    Kaberle under the knife, Sutter helps team Canada, and more

    Here's a couple of quick hits for this lovely Monday evening.

  • For the second summer in a row, Frantisek Kaberle will have to undergo surgery just before the start of camp. This is not good news. Kaberle, who scored the Cup-winning goal in the 2006 Stanley Cup playoffs, missed the first half of the 2007 season after having shoulder surgery two days before the start of camp. This summer, he underwent surgery on Saturday to replace torn cartilage in his right knee. He is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. Although camp officially opens on the 14th, most players have been participating in the voluntary "Camp Brind'Amour". Kaberle has skated a little bit while the trainers hoped that his knee problems would "just go away". They thought the same thing about his shoulder last summer. Six weeks would put him one week into the regular season, but still six weeks behind in terms of training.
    The so-called "depth" that the Canes have at the blueline is now under serious scrutiny. Kaberle probably won't play until late October. Bret Hedican's status is still very much in question. Now is the time for the Canes to make a decision. in my opinion, Hedican will be able to give (at best) 45 games this season. Carolina will have consider asking Hedican to retire. The will have to consider re-signing David "Snuggles" Tanabe on the cheap, or sign one of the available free agent defensemen such as Brent Sopel. They will also have to take a long look at youngsters from within "the system" such as Noah Babin and Brett Carson. Babin has already made a lot of fans.
    The perpetually on point Scott Cason doesn't want to see the Canes' management sit on its hands like they did last year when the defense was hurting. I'm with him.

  • Canes draftee Brandon Sutter helped the Team Canada Junior squad defeat the USSR Russian team 4-2 in game one of the "Super Series". He had one assist and had a good shorthanded scoring chance. Game two will be Wednesday. The first four of the eight game series will be in Russia, while the final four will be in Canada. Check the schedule for more details.

  • Join me and Carolina on Ice in trying to jam the ballot box over at NHL Tournament of Logos. The Canes logo is battling the Devils logo, and frankly, we're getting our butts kicked. So far as I can tell, it doesn't reject multiple votes from the same ISP, so plug away. Vote early, vote often.
    That main site has been doing some really cool stuff with looking at the new logos/sweaters. It's a very good way to spend a few minutes or an hour, or whatever. Anyway, go vote for the Canes logo, then spend a while exploring around.

    Carolina "officially" unveils its new sweater on September 16, during the first preseason game.
  • Wednesday, August 22, 2007

    Eastern Conference hot seats (part two)

    This is part two of this series.
    A few days ago, The Score presented its list of players who will be in "the hot seat" for their respective team. Not necessarily that their job is on the line, but the suggestion is that the success or failure of the team would be predicated upon the success or failure of a single player. Unfortunately, their list puts too much pressure on the goaltender to be the guy. I don't really buy that. Too often, goalies become the fall guy he's not getting any goal support. I like to look elsewhere.

    The rest of the crew over at SESO have been kicking this around for a few days, everyone putting their own two cents in. I thought it would be fun to take it team-by-team and give my own unqualified opinion. I'm in no way qualified to comment on Western Conference teams, and in many cases, I have no business commenting on Eastern, but I'll take a shot at all 15 teams in the East. Here are the last seven.

    Tampa Bay Lightning Again, The Score picked on the goalie, putting Marc Denis in the "hot seat". I just don't think it's fair. I'd rather put a position player with the weight on his shoulders. In this case, I think it should be Vincent "The Horseman" Lecavalier. Vinny was the #1 overall pick in the 1998 draft. Unlike the #8 pick (Mark Bell) and the #11 pick (Jeff Heerema) from that year's draft, he has avoided a jail sentence this summer. All joking aside, he had his "breakout" season last year, scoring 108 (52/56) points, which shattered his previous personal best by 30 points. It will be on him to repeat that kind of performance and lead his team to a fifth straight playoff appearance. Martin St. Louis also had an explosion last season and will have to do the same this year. Honestly, because they're division foes, I hope they don't help their team, but they sure are fun to watch.

    Toronto Maple Leafs The Score once again took the wimpy way out and put the heat on newly acquired goaltender Vesa Toskala. This is utter crap. He'll be duking it out for the #2 spot with former perennial Brodeur backup Scott Clemmensen. In all honesty, he'll probably land with the Marlies or he'll be picked up off the waiver wire. Hot seat? I think not. My pick isn't as wimpy. I'll call out 24-year old Kyle Wellwood. I could have taken the easy way out and picked on the Captain, but Sundin has been probably the most consistent player in all of hockey. You know he's going to give you exactly a point a night. And he's the damn Captain. I say Wellwood because he has shown that he can produce huge numbers at every level, and it's time to do it at the NHL level. Last season, defensemen Tomas Kaberle and Bryan McCabe were #2 and #3 on the the Leafs in terms of points production with 58 and 57 respectively. The forwards have to step up, and I think Wellwood is gonna have to be the guy. It certainly won't be Bates Battaglia. They won't be a Cup contender either way, but if this guy can break out, they'll at least make the playoffs.

    Florida Panthers. Again with the goaltender. The Score put Tomas Vokoun in there. I don't see why. He was run out of Nashville on a rail and brought in to Florida to replace Eddie "The Eagle" Belfour, who had become the Adam "Pacman" Jones of hockey with his off-ice antics. In 2006, it was certainly true that the Preds' success was predicated upon the health and performance of Vokoun. When he went down with his pelvic thrombophlebitis late in the '06 seson, the Preds took a nosedive and were quickly eliminated in the first round of those playoffs.
    It's true that their goaltending depends upon him. The backup, Craig Anderson, is not a good goalie. I'll pick on Nathan Horton. He was taken 3rd in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft (just behind Eric Staal), and of that class, he's one of a few who hasn't had at least one explosive season. Don't misunderstand me. His 62 (31/31) points last year were good, but I think there's more in the tank.
    If Olli Jokinen has a horrible season, this team is done, but that won't happen, so there's no point in discussing that. I think Horton can have more of a hand in making them better. They'll still miss the playoffs, but I think Horton will have his year, and it will benefit the Cats greatly.

    Pittsburgh Penguins. The Score put old man Gary Roberts in the "hot seat". I won't do that. I can't quite pick between two sophomores, so I'll make them sit in each other's lap in the hot seat. Jordan Staal had a remarkable rookie season. Most folks figured he'd play in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, but he exploded right out of the gate to earn his spot on the big club. His 42 (29/13) points were way better than the 31 (11/20) that his brother scored during his rookie campaign. His seven shorties were tops in the entire league. If he can do like his brother and have an explosive second year, the Pens will be very happy. Also, second year player Evgeni Malkin has a different challenge. His is to prove that his eye-popping 85 (33/52) points wasn't a fluke. He's a big, big dude, and he's fun to watch. If Malkin can maintain or increase his production, and Staal can increase his, the Pens will be a serious force to be reckoned with.

    New York Rangers. The Score says Chris Drury is the guy. I think I agree. He was one of two ultra-expensive free agent acquisitions made by the Rags. He'll not only have to prove that he's worth the $7.1M he'll earn this season. He also has to fill the void left by Michael Nylander. Then again, Scott Gomez will be making $10M. He's never even had a 90 point season in the NHL and he's making stupid money. More money than Jagr. "The Golden Bitch" will probably not like this. Rags fans and Chris Drury himself should hope that there are no hostilities, or Drury will be shown the door. Maybe that is the "hot seat". The relationship between Jagr and Gomez. Yes. I'm sure of it. That's it.

    Ottawa Senators. The Score says defenseman Wade Redden. At $6.5M, he's the Sens' highest paid player. I dunno. Daniel Alfredsson had a monstrous 103-point season in '06 , then had a bit of a letdown last season, but he still managed 87 (29/58) points. He was great in the playoffs. At one point in the regular season, though, he went through a drought, and his attitude came into question. I don't know all the details. He and Jason Spezza are both big pieces of the puzzle and they must put up 90 or more points. They must also stay healthy, which is a challenge for Spezza. If one of these guys slacks this year, the other will pick up. I can't decide on anybody. I'm tempted to go against my own rule and pick Ray Emery. He emerged as a star last season, and if he should falter or fall back to Earth (read: Cam Ward), that might make a big difference.

    Atlanta Thrashers The Score picked Ilya Kovalchuk. He did drop off his point production by 22 points last season. Sure. Why not? If he drops off again, the Thrash will have no hope of qualifying for the playoffs.

    Okay, so that's the Eastern Conference. I doubt that I'll bother with the Western Conference, but we'll see.

    Tuesday, August 21, 2007

    Eastern Conference hot seats (part one)

    A few days ago, The Score presented its list of players who will be in "the hot seat" for their respective team. Not necessarily that their job is on the line, but the suggestion is that the success or failure of the team would be predicated upon the success or failure of a single player. Unfortunately, their list puts too much pressure on the goaltender to be the guy. I don't really buy that. Too often, goalies become the fall guy he's not getting any goal support. I like to look elsewhere.

    The rest of the crew over at SESO have been kicking this around for a few days, everyone putting their own two cents in. I thought it would be fun to take it team-by-team and give my own unqualified opinion. I'm in no way qualified to comment on Western Conference teams, and in many cases, I have no business commenting on Eastern, but I'll take a shot at all 15 teams in the East. Here, at least is part one of this project. Please excuse the length.

    Boston Bruins. The Score says Manny Fernandez is in the hot seat. They traded to get him, and the idea is that he's going to right the goaltending ship. I'm not looking that way at all. Tim Thomas is by no means Ken Dryden, but I just don't think that the Bruins main problem was between the pipes. Their goaltending was suspect, but even more suspect was their offensive production. The Bs scored just 210 goals last season, putting them in 25th place league-wide. This is clearly an area that needs improvement. I'll pick on the youngster Phil Kessel. He's gonna have to step it up in this, his sophomore season. The Teddy Bears have been all about Marc Savard and Patrice Bergeron, but that's going to have to change. He is going to have to show everyone why the Bs took him with the #5 overall pick in 2006 and why they sent him straight to the big club. Take a quick look at his rookie numbers. 29 (11/18) points in 70 games. Look at Eric Staal's rookie season, when he was also sent directly to the big club. 31 (11/20) points in 81 games. If Kessel can have a Staal-esque sophomore season, I think the natives in Boston will be quite happy with how the rest of the squad responds. It's unfair to pin it on the kid, but I really think that if they want to be any good, it's going to take a breakout season by Kessel.

    Montréal Canadiens. The Score picks on Alexei Kovalev. He's grossly overpaid, and he needs to prove his worth, but that 95-point season was a freak combination of playing over one's head and playing alongside Jagr and Lemieux. It was a perfect storm, and it'll never happen again. I'll pick on Michael Ryder. He's been good, but there's probably more in the tank. He needs to find it. With Sheldon Souray gone, someone will have to pick up the slack in point production. Koivu can't do it all, and I don't see the need to demand more of Kovalev in that department. Ryder was the Habs' leading goal-scorer last season, but he needs to pick it up even more. If he should have a letdown of a season, they're done.

    Washington Capitals. The Score put Ovechkin in the hot seat. Not me. I put Michael Nylander there. He was an uber-expensive free agent acquisition, and it is up to him to bolster that one man show up there. Okay, so with Alexander Semin there, it's a two man show. But anyway, it's all on him to make it a three-man show. He has to stay healthy and motivated. He has to have the kinds of numbers that he had the last two seasons (83 points, 79 points). Elsewise, the Caps will have wasted their money and they will finish out of the playoffs again. I think they'll finish out of the playoffs either way, but Nylander can help them to be competitive.

    New Jersey Devils. The Score chose Dainius Zubrus. That pick is too obvious. The Devils need a Scott Gomez replacement. Zubrus ain't it. He put up good numbers in 2005-06 when he played on a very very crappy Capitals team, but whenever he's surrounded by talent, those numbers won't be as high. After he was acquired by Buffalo at the trade deadline last season, he did virtually nothing for them in the regular or post season. at $3.4M, he's way overpaid, and he needs to have a 70+ point season to justify the big contract. He won't, but the Devs will be just fine. Unless.... My hot seat selection for them is Zach Parise. The youngster had a semi-breakout season last year with 62(31/31) points. He'll need to have another career best season this year This season, he won't have the beautiful playmaking of Scott Gomez to help him out, and who knows whether Hepatitis Boy will stay healthy all season. In any case, Parise should step up his game, and my opinion is that as he goes, so too will go the Devils.

    Philadelphia Flyers. The Score said Marty Biron was the guy. The Bullies went all apey in the free agent market, and really you could pick any of those new guys with the huge price tags. I'll take the easy way out and pick the former Sabres captain Danny Briere. He's making $10M this year, and if he doesn't score over 150 goals and add 150 assists while leading the Flyers to their third Stanley Cup, it will have been a waste. Who wants to bet that it won't happen?
    Unfair to pin it all on Briere? I don't think so. This dude's salary has been skyrocketing at a rate non-commensurate with his production. In 2003-04, Briere made $1.6M while putting up 65 (28/37) points. Before the lockout, an arbitrator "awarded" him a $2.55M contract for the season that never happened. In 2005-06, he made $2M and put up 58 (25/33) points in just 48 games (1.21 ppg). Last seson, he was awarded a "huge" $5M contract via arbitration and he scored 95 (32/63) points (1.17 ppg). This season, his pay will literally double. Even when you average out the "cap hit" to $6.5M, this is a hefty raise. I don't think he deserves it, and unless he accomplishes the aforementioned impossible tasks, it won't have been worth it. Can Briere handle the pressure of living up to this huge contract? With all these "sexy" acquisitions, the Flyers should be competitive, but I think it all depends on the little Quebeccer.

    Speaking of the Buffalo Sabres, The Score puts Derek Roy and Thomas Vanek sitting in each other's laps in the "hot seat". Those two were among the Sabres' top five scorers, and they'll certainly need to put up the same kinds of numbers if the Sabres want to be good. They'll be good, but if Maxim Afinogenov can crank it up a couple of notches, they'll be great. He's been a frustrating player for Sabres fans. With such flashes of brilliance interspersed with sloppiness and a trademark inability to finish scoring chances, I think there's a phenom trapped in the body of a near-phenom. If he busts out, the Sabres will be (to borrow from Rick Jeanneret) "Scary Good" despite losing their two co-captains to ridiculous free agent poaching. In the 2004 season, Afinogenov scored one of the most incredible goals I've ever seen. Enjoy the YouTube clip and Jeaneret's call.

    As a special treat for Sabres fans, that's Carolina's current #2 goaltender "Johnny Crackers" getting abused by Maxi in the clip.

    The Score puts Cam Ward in Carolina's "hot seat". This is purely based on the way Cam came down to earth last season after playing way over his head on the way to winning the Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe trophy in 2006. Will Cam have to be good? Sure. However, I pick Matt Cullen. When Carolina struggled last season, everyone had a million excuses for why they weren't the same as the Cup-winning team. Almost everyone agreed that the absence of Cully was a huge factor. A lot of people rated it as the #1 factor. Carolina spent a lot of money to re-acquire Cullen via trade with the Rangers. Now that Carolina has replaced Cullen with Cullen himself, they should be able to return to 2006 form. Cullen will have to put up at 50 or more points and push the Canes back into a deep playoff run to justify going over the self-imposed budget. If he can't produce, the Canes will be on the links in April. He's the "hot seat" guy.

    New York Islanders. In keeping with their "pick on the new guy or the goalie" theme, The Score put Billy Guerin in the Isles' "hot seat". The Isles are going to stink this year. They've made some acquisitions, but they're all old guys, except Mike Comrie, and they overpaid like hell for him. Charles Wang is running a clown factory over there, and the Isles' new sweaters are going to make a lot of eyes sore. Defenseman Emma Bergeron had a great season last year, and he'll probably be the Isles leading point-getter this season. Just for giggles, I'll put Jeff Tambellini in the "hot seat". In what was a pretty strong draft class in 2003, Tambellini was taken with the 27th overall pick. He put up point-a-night numbers in two AHL seasons, but has yet to make an impact on the NHL level. The Isles will have a bunch of 10-goal scorers, and a small handful of old dudes scoring 20. I don't see anyone scoring 30, unless this guy has a breakout season. If he does, the Isles might be competitive. I don't think old man Billy Guerin will be able to carry the weight of the team. One of the young guys will have to step to the front. I nominate Tambellini.

    This is taking way longer than I anticipated. Look for part two by Friday evening. Lemme know what you think.

    Monday, August 20, 2007

    RBH hits another milestone

    In the absence of any earth shattering hockey news, forgive me for taking a moment to toot my own horn.

    At some point today, some unfortunate soul became the 100,000th visitor to this blog. Of course some of the big dogs get this kind of traffic in a single day, and it took me just over two years to reach that plateau. Still, it's about 99,997 more visitors than I ever imagined I'd get. I'm amazed and honored.

    I've said before, and I'll say again that I was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time during the 2005-06 season when my Hurricanes led the pack all season long en route to winning the Stanley Cup. For some reason, many readers have kept coming around.

    Even this past month or so when I've barely managed to eke out one post a week, the people keep coming around. I suppose I must be doing something right. Or at least partially right.

    Truth told, I once referenced a photograph of Candace Cameron Bure, which has generated a lot of traffic here. If you want, you can click on it for a bigger image. I don't see what the big deal is.

    This blog has been great for me, and I hope it's been worth it for those of you who continue to stop by. I've had more than my fair share of highs, and I've had some lows.

    Because of this place, I got to participate in a four-member roundtable panel for CBC.ca during the 2006 playoffs. I was interviewed for a piece in the Christian Science Monitor about rookie goaltenders in the 2006 playoffs. During the 2006 Eastern Conference Finals, I, my ridiculous beard, and my poster proclaiing "my beard believes" were seen on OLN and TSN and broadcast throughout the world. Readers of this blog recognized me on teevee and I received lots of notes and e-mails from people I've never met in places like Stockholm Sweden and Edmonton and lots of other far-off places. That bit was especially cool.

    On a personal level, I'm certain that this blog has played a large part in the demise of one of the best friendships I've ever had. As cool as the other stuff is, this bit sucks. Tenfold. Good friends are hard to come by. Great friends come along just a few times in a lifetime. I've gone and alienated one. At the risk of sounding like a preview for We Network original movie, I'd give all that other stuff back if I could have my friend back.

    As the dog days of summer wind down, and the beginning of hockey season is in sight, there should be more stuff to write about, and I should be able to be more productive around these parts. In the meantime, I want to thank everyone who's stopped by, especially those who come back on purpose. Thanks of course go to everyone in the blogroll. Every one of those has been an inspiration to me in one way or another.

    Wednesday, August 15, 2007

    Former Canes on the move

    On Wednesday, the Islanders signed Josef (aka "Big Joe", aka "the Czech Condor", aka "Joe, Lord of Evil") Vasicek to a one year deal valued at $750,000.

    After leading the Hurricanes in 2004 with 19 goals (sad, isn't it?), Joe was never the same. He didn't play during the lockout, which messed up his ability to become an UFA, and he evidently sat around eating Cheetos and drinking Yoohoo. >>EDIT<< -- He played well in the Czech Republic during lockout, but hurt his UFA eligibility by not re-signing with Carolina >>END EDIT<< At any rate, he wasn't exactly in "playing form" when the 2006 season commenced. He spent the better part of that season injured, and was scratched for most of the Stanley Cup playoffs, and he ended up with just nine (4/5) points in 23 regular season games. If I remember correctly, four of those points came in one night.

    After getting his name etched on the Cup, JoVa was traded to Kansas City Hamilton Nashville straight up for Scott Walker. It was an amazing coup for Carolina, and it left the Nashville natives scratching their collective head. When Vasicek failed to click into place in the Music City, he was traded back to Carolina for Eric Belanger. Belanger was then shifted to Atlanta 24 hours later for defenseman Vitaly Vishnevski.

    Again, Vasicek failed to accomplish anything, scoring nine points (2/7) in 25 games with Carolina. All told, Vasicek scored 22 points (6/16) in 63 games split between the Preds and Canes.

    This summer, he was never given a qualifying sheet by the Canes and was reportedly close to signing with a Russian Superleague team.

    Although I have picked on Vasicek for being too big, slow and dumb for his own good, I like him and I hope he does well. It might be good for him to be in the presence of some fellow Czechs. He and Isles' defenseman Radek Martinek are actually from the same tiny Czech town. Oh the fun they'll have!
    The two of them will, of course, be holding Miro Satan's (Slovak) jock, but the lot of them will be speaking in Czech, and that will make Big Joe happy.

    In other former Canes news, Kevyn Adams and Radim Vrbata were traded for each other. Last season, Adams scored 12(3/9) for the Canes/Coyotes while Vrbata scored 41 (14/27) points for the Blackhawks. Adams brings some veteran leadership qualities to the table, but I think the 'Hawks gave up too much. Meanwhile, the 'Yotes are getting younger and younger. By getting rid of Adams, they now have only two players over the age of 30, and their average age is 27.9.

    Good luck to all of these former Canes in their new surroundings!

    Monday, August 13, 2007

    Hurricanes contributions to LLS

    On Sunday September 9, the Hurricanes will host the Second Annual "Pete Friesen's 5K Run With the Canes", which will benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Eastern North Carolina. Last year, the event raised more than $21,000. Several members of the Hurricanes team and staff will be taking part in the event, which is spearheaded by Strength and Conditioning coach Peter Friesen.

    Since the Spring of 2006, the Hurricanes have taken LLS as their favorite charity when coach Peter Laviolette's next door neighbor Julia Rowe (then 6 years old) was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia for the second time in her young life. She became the inspiration for the "Relentless" campaign, which raised more than $60,000 for LLS and she was a rallying point for the team on the way to winning their first Stanley Cup.

    This Spring, young Julia Rowe was named the "girl of the year" by the LLS of Eastern North Carolina. Bob Jackson, who is an executive with McDonalds, was named "Man of the year" by LLS of Eastern North Carolina by bettering five other local men in a competition to raise money in Julia's name.

    Leslie Rutherford, the trophy wife of Hurricanes owner Jim Rutherford, was named "Woman of the year" by LLS of Eastern North Carolina when she beat three other women in a similar contest to raise money in the name of "boy of the year" Ryan Carasiti, who is just four years old and also has ALL.

    Congratulations to Mrs. Rutherford for her hard work raising money for LLS. Best wishes to Julia Rowe and her family as she continues to battle Leukemia.

    Congratulations also to Peter Friesen and to Peter Laviolette for their continued efforts to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

    On a personal note, my maternal grandmother passed away this May after a 16 month battle with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML).

    Here is a PDF file for the brochure to sign up for the 5k run.

    There are a number of other ways to contribute to LLS, which is a fantastic organization.

    Visit this page for details on how to purchase the red "Relentless" wristbands, individually or in packets of 10.

    Visit this page for details on how to make a simple donation.

    If you are Canadian, go here to donate to the LLS of Canada.

    Additionally, you can contact your Senator or Congressperson and urge them to support increased federal funding for medical research not necessarily limited to human stem cell research.

    Tuesday, August 07, 2007

    Another sports gambling scandal.

    Remember "Wagergate"? Of course you do. Rick Tocchet, Wayne Gretzky, Janet Jones were implicated in a a gambling ring that involved interstate commerce and some other complications. So far, just a state trooper has been found guilty. He turned himself in, admitted to being a part of a gambling ring, and has been sentenced to five years behind bars. Although Gretzky and Tocchet were implicated, neither were active players, and none of the gambling was on hockey anyway. This "ring" was all about football. Mostly college football, and the SuperBowl. Oh sorry. I don't want to get issued a cease and desist. I should say "SUPERBOWL® brand National Football League Championship game". Anyway, these men were betting on football.

    Last week, the news emerged about the NBA referee who was gambling on games that he was officiating. This is a HUGE deal. If, as the speculation goes, there are other refs and coaches and players involved in a gambling/point shaving ring, it could be a devastating blow to that sport. Personally, I don't care. I haven't cared about the NBA in almost 20 years. In the past few years, it hasn't done much to enhance its image, and this latest thing could be bigger than any black eye that baseball or football or hockey has ever had.

    Now there's a supposed gambling issue in professional tennis. #4 ranked Nikolay Davydenko of Russia was playing #87 ranked Martin Vassallo Arguello of Argentina at the Prokom Open in Poland. A small, unimportant tournament with a very small purse. A gambling house in London detected an abnormal amount of wagers coming in for that match. Ten times the projected amount. Not just that, but the overwhelming majority of the wagers were against Davydenko. The #4 player in the world. Even after Davydenko won the first set 6-2, the bets kept rolling in. Bets saying that Arguello would win.
    Davydenko lost the second set (the SI article tells it wrong), and retired from the third set with a "toe injury". The $7M that had been wagered on Arguello was voided when the gambling house noticed the irregularities.

    Now the ATP has launched a full-on investigation into the Davydenko camp. The suggestion is that he, or someone in his camp influenced the wagering patterns and behaviours. According to ATP rules:
    players and their "support personnel" can't bet on any amateur or professional tennis matches. They also are not allowed to, "directly or indirectly, solicit, induce, entice, persuade, encourage or facilitate any other person to wager on the outcome or any other aspect of any event."

    It's a very minor tournament. Why were so many people wagering so much money on the extreme underdog? Did Davydenko know that he would have to retire? Did he encourage people to wager against him?

    Two other times in recent history, the ATP has investigated possible gambling scandals under similar circumstances, but no wrongdoing was ever found.

    If this turns out to be a case of wrongdoing, will it ruin tennis? No.

    However, it's good to know that this summer when baseball players are all 'roided up, when a star football player is engaged in dogfighting, when an NBA referee was gambling on games that he worked, the NHL's biggest issue is Eric Staal's buddies getting a little rowdy at his bachelor party.

    Speaking of which, Staalsy's wedding was this past Saturday. We don't know yet whether or not John Law had to bust up the reception.

    Congratulations to Eric. Also, congratulations to CrAdams on his new baby. And to newcomer Jeffrey Hamilton on his new baby.

    Bolts sold, Oil not for sale.

    On Tuesday, two teams were at the center of different surprising news stories involving a sale and a no-sale.

    In a (pardon the bad pun) shocking story, the Lightning were sold to Absolute Hockey Enterprises, a group headed up by former Blue Jackets GM Doug MacLean. Apparently, this move came out of nowhere. Like any sale, this is subject to approval by the NHL's board of governors.
    MacLean has some ties to the Florida area. He coached the Panthers to the Stanley Cup Final in 1996, but got swept by the Avs, and got fired just 23 games into the 1997 campaign.
    Jay Feaster will remain GM of the Bolts, and Dennis Miller John Tortorella will remain the head coach.

    It doesn't appear that MacLean has any intention of moving the team to his native PEI. Not that there is a city big enough to support an NHL team on Prince Edward Island, but people always start talking about relocation when a team is sold.

    The other news was about the Oilers who were not sold. Pharmaceutical king Darryl Katz made another (his third) pitch to purchase the Oil. Katz had pledged to build (and finance) a new downtown arena and to increase payroll. The 33-member ownership group overwhelmingly voted to reject Katz' $185M (Canadian) bid, declaring that they are the best ownership group EVAH. The franchise is indeed profitable, but most Oil fans are ready for some new blood, and they're a little upset about this turn of events.

    After the no-sale, the ownership group loudly stomped out into the front yard and took down the "FOR SALE" sign. Then they vehemently denied the existence of any such sign.

    Many Edmontonians think this is a bad turn of events. If for no other reason, then for the simple one that EIG has no concrete plan to build a new arena.

    Sometimes I forget how lucky we are here. We have an owner who is pretty much public enemy #1 in the state of Connecticut, but he's well liked around here. He's financially very well off, even if and when the Hurricanes lose money. We have a fantastic arena with a great lease, and we have a growing support base in the local corporate world. Oh yeah. And we have that STANLEY CUP CHAMPIONS banner hanging in the rafters. Of course those two teams also have that, but their ownership is (or was) in some state of turmoil.

    Saturday, August 04, 2007

    The latest game of "tag", plus two new additions

    So I got tagged by the Acid Queen a while ago. I'm supposed to name my five favorite songs and tag some other folks.
    I thought I would take a few days to ponder my list, but really I came to the quick realization that there's no effing way I can pick just five songs to call my "favorite". 50 or 100, maybe, but I always have such a hard time with this.
    The last thing in the world I want is to make a list and then have to deal with the inundation of phone calls and text messages and im conversations from the likes of Why Can't I Be You by The Cure saying things like "What the eff dude?!?! We've been friends for 20 years and you can't even put me in your top five!?" I don't need any of that MySpace-esque drama.
    I thought it would be easier and a better idea if I narrowed the parameters a bit. Like "favorite songs from the year 1998" or "favorite songs about broken hearts" or "favorite songs by Glaswegian bands" or .... you get the point.

    I recently downloaded some applications that I would like to encourage everyone to also download. Mostly the one from Simplify Media, which allows users to browse and listen to each other's iTunes catalogs. My iTunes catalog only represents about 8-10% of my actual music library, and I'm taking strides to get all of my cds uploaded, but it's a massive undertaking. If you already have the application, or if you download it, please feel free to invite me to join your network. My name with them is dlee71. I'm rather enjoying being able to see my friends' catalogs.

    Also, if you use Google's instant messenger, you can see what your buddy is currently listening to. It only works with the standalone application rather than the one that operates withing gmail. Also feel free to invite me (dleechump@gmail.com) to your contact list there.

    Anyway, getting back to the point, I randomly decided to pick five of my favorite songs by bands/artists whose name starts with the letter B. Here goes. Although the first song listed is my hands down favorite in this category, these are in no particular order:

    1. God Only Knows by The Beach Boys. From the 1966 album Pet Sounds.
      "I may not always love you, but as long as there are stars above you, I'll make you so sure about it. You'll never need to doubt it."
      Its affiliation with the HBO show Big Love notwithstanding, this is absolutely in my top songs of all-time. Every time I hear this song, no matter how many times, I get a little choked up. It's about limitless unconditional love, and I'm a sucker for that sort of thing. As with most Beach Boys songs, the vocal harmony is the thing. In this case, it isn't until the 2:08 point of the song that we get that trademark of the overlapping layers of harmony. It's freakin' genius. On the Pet Sounds boxed set, there's a vocals only take that's jaw-dropping. Incidentally, this was one of the first songs where Carl was the featured vocalist.
      In my opinion, this is second only to He Stopped Loving Her Today by George Jones as far as heatbreaking love songs go. I also get a little misty every time I hear that one.

    2. Double Dare by Bauhaus from the 1980 album In the Flat Field
      "I dare you to be real; to touch a flickering flame"
      Kevin Haskins wasn't really a technically gifted drummer. He was, after all, in a punk band. Not just any punk band, mind you. Actually "punk" was on its deathbed by the early '80s, and while Joy Division emerged from punk, and pretty much invented a brighter, happier "New Wave" with Love Will Tear Us Apart, Bauhaus emerged from punk and invented somthing much darker than punk -- "Goth". Anyway, Haskins isn't exactly ripping it to shreds here, but my favorite part of this song is the very simple drum line. I guess it's because the production of it puts the drums so far out front, and it sort of makes you "feel" the music. I always listen to this song as loud as possible.
      Make no mistake. Daniel Ash is killing it on guitar on this song, but it's produced such that the guitar plays second (third) fiddle to the drums and bass. Okay, it plays fourth fiddle to drums, vocals and bass. But it kicks ass.

    3. Almost Crimes by Broken Social Scene from the 2004 album You Forgot it in People
      "We've got love and hate. It's the only way"
      I LOVE this band. I LOVE this song. It's got a lot working for it. Leslie Feist is pretty much the #1 thing. There's a silly little saxaphone solo at 1:50, and a ton -o' crash cymbal (which I dig). I also really like the way the vocals don't quite harmonize, but they kinda bounce off each other. Not in a bad way, though. I could probably listen to this song all day long. I don't dance at all. Not even at weddings or other occasions where dancing is pretty much required. However, this song makes me want to shake my ass in a most ridiculous fashion.

    4. I am The Cosmos by Chris Bell from the posthumously released 1992 album I am the Cosmos.
      "Just when I was starting to feel okay, you're on the phone"
      This is about a guy who gets broken up with, and he's convinces himself that he's the cat's pajamas, and he thinks he's okay. However, he's beat up pretty bad, and torn about the idea of reconciliation. I like the bit at the very end. After a bunch of "I really want to see you again/I'd really like to see you again" lines, there's a single line that goes "I never want to see you again". At first listen, it isn't that impressive, but give it a couple of listens, and pay attention to the structure. It's phenomenal. The bass line is amazingly complex, and the time signature gets all goofy. From what I understand, this song is damn near impossible to perform.

    5. Possibly Maybe by Björk from the 1994 album Post
      "As much as I definitely enjoy solitue, I wouldn't mind perhaps spending a little time with you"
      This isn't as musically "busy" as most of her songs, but I love it nonetheless. One of my favorite bits is at 3:32 with the whine of the lap steel and her line "How can you offer me love like that". It repeats the same ordeal at 3:40, but the first time it happens, it always gives me chills. I also absolutely love the way there's a tiny bit of "crackling vinyl" added to the mix. Genius.

    I don't intend to make a habit of naming my "favorite" songs from each letter of the alphabet, and I suppose I'll be getting some angry emails from the likes of Bettie Serveert, and Belle and Sebastian and especially Barcelona for not including them in this little top five. Sorry.

    I don't know who's been tagged and who hasn't. To be honest, I don't even know if this thing is on.

    Just for fun, though, I'll "tag" Sherry from Scarlett Ice, and Dave from Sidearm Delivery.

    Please also note that the Canes blogoshere is becoming quite crowded. I have added Beth. And Hockey, written by Beth Ellison and Paperwhites in Season written by "Magnolia Mer" to my list of Canes blogs. Both have been blogging for a couple of years, and have recently put more and more focus on hockey. Both are women. It's pretty cool that not only do the Canes have one of the most represented teams in the hockey blogosphere, but also that there are more and more women doing it. Although this isn't the most scientific way to prove this, if you look at the listings at hockeyblogs.org, you'll see that only 8 teams have better representation than the Canes among registered bloggers. Five of those eight are "Original 6" teams.

    It's hot as hell. I think I'm going to the movies.

    EDIT ----- After hours of internal debate, I've decided that I will make a top five songs list for every letter of the alphabet. There hasn't been much to write about this summer, so it'll keep me busy for almost a month. Since I started off with B, I'll back up, do a list of bands starting with A, then move on to C and so on. Enjoy, and feel free to comment.


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