From Chris Stevenson's blog:
From colleague Bruce Garrioch: The Philadelphia Flyers have placed centre Petr Nedved on re-entry waivers and they're hoping the Senators will bite and pick him up. The Senators could be desperate enough to make the move because GM John Muckler has been trying to make a deal, but the club suffered another blow after losing Peter Schaefer and Antoine Vermette to lower body injuries Saturday. The Senators have until noon tomorrow to make a claim.
Thoughts? More later.
Update: It looks like the Sens are going through with it.
Update #2: My favourite reaction thus far: "If the (team) picks up Nedved, I'm watching cricket."
Update #3: Serge Payer and Jeff Heerema have been called up from Binghamton on an emergency basis. They will be playing in this afternoon's game vs. Atlanta.
From Chris Stevenson's blog:
For a bit, anyways. I know I've been scarce the past few days, but it's hard to post, let alone make it up to the press box when you've got holiday baking to do.
Here's some holiday reading to keep you entertained, but first, a word from Bill Simmons:
Someone In The Know once told me, "Bet against Chuck Bresnahan (Cincy's defensive coordinator) against any good coach. He stinks. Smart coaches and smart QBs always have a field day against him." Of course, last week I ignored the advice and picked them over the Colts. No way I'm taking them against Shanahan. By the way, here's a direct quote from a buddy of mine who loves the Broncos: "I'm not ready for 15 straight years of Jay 'Veal' Cutler references. I'm really not."
Honestly, I had never thought of this before, but it should be noted that Denver already has a complete (if not utterly bizarre) meal of players, comprised of DT Demetrin Veal, TE Chad Mustard and T Erik Pears (and yes, I know how they pronounce it, don't ruin it for me). Obviously they don't need another helping of unexercised calf (in more ways than one).
And now, your reading...
- The Flames got stuck in Denver during a major snowstorm...everyone passed the time by swapping cowboy hats -- Calgary Herald
- Cam Neely version 2.0, where art thou? -- NBC Sports
- All the puck bunnies are in Des Moines, Iowa -- Des Moines Register
- The reason why the Flyers lost to the Sens yesterday: They were distracted by an arena full of ugliness -- Philadephia Flyers official website
- The "Vote For Rory" wet blanket campaign multiplied last night -- Ottawa Sun
- Anze Kopitar: So Cal graffiti artist muse -- Edmonton Sun
So that's it -- we're off to the land of Staalapalooza on Boxing Day, and if there's room for our laptop in the carry-on, maybe we'll do a "live from location". Otherwise, it's best to assume that we've been rendered incapacitated by mimosas and eggnog...at least until mid-week.
Merry Christmas and happy holidays, everyone! Be safe, behave yourselves and we'll see you on the other side.
...because...well, just because. You've been around here long enough. Don't show your ignorance.
· One of the biggest stories from late last week/over the weekend involved Jim Balsillie's decision to pull his bid to buy the Pittsburgh Penguins off the table. Here's the most interesting part:
Representatives for both Balsillie and the NHL refused to comment on Balsillie's withdrawal, but sources tell TSN the deal started to fall apart a week ago today, when the $175 million transaction was supposed to officially close.
Sources say the NHL introduced a lengthy list of terms and conditions on the closing day that Balsillie would have to agree to if he were going to be approved as the new owner of the team. The sources added that those conditions included keeping the franchise in Pittsburgh under any circumstances and also provided for a scenario where the league could take control the franchise if it deemed it necessary.
Now, was it just me, or did it seem as if Balsillie had his eye on moving the Penguins franchise right from the get-go? Whether any city in question would be feasible or appropriate is not the issue. How can Gary Bettman not have seen, let alone sensed this? I realize there was only one legitimate bid on the table, but why not wait until gaming licenses are awarded this week before taking any offers seriously? (If there was a reason for this timetable that someone is aware of, please fill us in.)
Can you really blame Balsillie for wanting to move the franchise? During the week of the NHL meetings in early December, the Penguins drew an embarrassing 12,511 for a home game vs. Florida. And on the night where Crosby scored his eye-popping six points against the Flyers, only 14,150 fans bothered to appear.
Keep in mind these numbers are coming from the NHL, so they're liable to be on the generous side.
That's some showing for the so-called best player in the league.
The Penguins possess the building blocks to ice an entertaining and highly capable franchise, and if they continue to draft effectively, it's only a matter of time before they are able to legitimately compete in the playoffs. However, time seems to be running out on the idea of keeping the team in Pittsburgh. Would a new arena permanently solve the attendance issues, when the usual refrain from a dying franchise mainly revolves around a poor team, and not a poor building?
Some so-called members of the Pittsburgh media have reacted to Balsillie's decision with tasteless and juvenile remarks. But unless Bettman is blind, he should have been able to see that Balsillie wasn't interested in losing money in an indifferent city. If Isle of Capri is not awarded a gaming license, then it's time to seriously consider the idea of moving the team elsewhere.
Does relocation look good to those who choose to criticize the NHL? Of course not -- it's fodder for the cynical masses who are waiting for the NHL to falter. But right now, doesn't it look worse to have a plethora of empty seats in a building that houses one of the faces of the NHL?
But fear not, Penguins fans -- Frank D'Angelo will save you. Hopefully they'll enjoy becoming a cheap marketing ploy while viewing commercials featuring Ben Johnson, ad nauseam. It's exactly what the league needs right now.
Update: Mario Lemieux offers his two cents regarding the Balsillie pullout, via violin solo.
Meanwhile, thank goodness for the simulcast of Prime Time Sports on Rogers Sportsnet. Today's show blatantly displayed Bob McCown shaking his head in disbelief as potential Penguins buyer Frank D'Angelo attempted to justify his capability as an NHL owner.
· And finally, here's your blind item of the week: The Coyotes have their eye on a goaltender who's been achieving success as of late, and comes highly recommended by Phoenix goaltending coach, Grant Fuhr. But the Eastern Conference team whom possesses said backstopper, doesn't hold a lot of stock in some of their other 'tenders who are prone to injury. They're not giving him up, in spite of growing interest -- they might need him to bail them out down the stretch.
I don't know if it's because I've switched to Blogger Beta, but a bunch of you left comments today, however, only one ended up being posted. I can't repost them, but I will tell you that I received a very clear opinion regarding the blog's current status. Thanks for your input.
UPDATE: Comment feature still not functioning properly. Please hold off until I can be assured that it's working again.
Seeing as that a lot of people have been attempting to seek me out over the past 48 hours, I thought I would inform you that I am currently out of the country. ACK!
On a serious note -- I am legitimately considering activating a registration process in order to gain access to the blog. I know this probably doesn't sit well with the majority of you, but it's a personal decision.
Leave me your thoughts below, or fire off an email (see profile). I'll talk to you when I return to Ottawa.
Check out this nice piece from Lynn Zinser of the New York Times -- it discusses some goalies' baffling mental behaviour of yore, and how those idiosyncrasies seem to be waning in the current NHL.
The Driver informed me that a caller mentioned this week's column on The Team's Over The Edge (Kulka and Versage), but also had some high praise for yours truly. I have no idea who the caller was -- but the compliments, once relayed, were pleasing to hear.
I know some readers of the column (and TUC) have emailed my editor, pressing the notion that I should have additional work appear in the Sun. For the record, my editor jokingly suggested during our last meeting that these praise-filled missives are coming from my mother -- which would be an amazing feat, since as she's been deceased for over a decade. I had to chuckle about that afterward.
Anyway, thanks as always to those who enjoy what is being done here and in the column -- your insistence to reference what you deem to be quality work to anyone who will listen (and even those who won't) is always awesome. Golf claps and metal horns for all of you.
Now bring on the cult following (and the rapid increase of quality punk rock being played at games)!
The utterly ridiculous lead-in on a Sportsnet.ca story:
Pity the poor Tampa Bay Lightning. They have to play the Maple Leafs on Tuesday night, and Toronto is so hungry for a win after going winless in seven that the Bolts could get battered.
One of the reasons why I wrote this week's column, which basically told the Sens to take their five pay-per-view games and chew them, was because Rogers informed me that they weren't in HD.
Now, I couldn't get into this in the column, because I'd have to discuss Rogers and Bell, and the fact that Centre Ice only shows a number of games in HD -- so I decided to hit on other valid points instead.
But here's the deal: I (heart) HD. I know, most people do. But truthfully, it's changed my actual preference of the way I view games. I used to love seeing games live -- and I still do, for the most part. But, there are a few downsides:
1) It's getting colder. And yes, I only live ten minutes away from the SBP, but throwing my hands under that bitterly frigid water in the restrooms is enough to chase me away, especially post-Christmas;
2) Crowd behaviour isn't what it used to be -- the indifference is contagious, and I've witnessed at least three arrests in my last handful of visits;
3) The last game I attended, the guy sitting beside me got lit on two beers while a) declaring his man-love for Christoph Schubert (which was acceptable from a progressive viewpoint, except I didn't understand why he needed to repeat it at least 80 times) and b) insisting that Sportsnet's Ian Mendes do something lascivious to said fan's genitalia that I won't repeat here. Fans love the media! At least he wasn't talking about me, but it made me wish I was back in Butterknife Row;
4) Butterknife Row (and the fact that the whipped cream and marshmellows have been removed as hot chocolate garnishments) -- The Driver insists they did this because Patricia Boal is on maternity leave, and they were there solely for Boal's and Gord Wilson's prurient tastes.
There's more, but it's late and I can't recall everything. Anyway, on those rare occasions when the game is shown in HD, I'd much rather be at home, on my own couch, furiously text-messaging away with warm hands, and in comfortable attire that I don't have to worry about being business-casual.
I love HD so much that I would pony up serious cash if it meant that I could view all Sens games in high definition, and was no longer subjected to the subpar coverage of the A-Channel, which errily resembles something produced by one of my hometown networks.
And that's why when the Sens decided to make everyone pay an extra $10.95 for these five games, I expected for them to be in high definition. I really don't care if it's realistic or not -- they've already explained that anyone looking for the games is going to need a dish or a digital box -- how realistic is that?
But when I called Rogers, they told me they didn't anticipate for the games to be in high definition. (And honestly, why would they if the Sens are producing them?) The cost is simply too great.
However, here's the kicker: If you're to watch these games outside of the PPV zone, two out of the five games will be shown in HD -- Pittsburgh and Detroit. And for the record, all five will have feeds from the opposing team that could be shown on Centre Ice. It's not like the PPV will be the only feed (and hence the only choice) for everyone.
I absolutely hate this.
The thing is, I could live if the PPV retailers were the only ones pulling this stunt. What about the CBC's afternoon game on Saturday vs. the Rangers? It was broadcast on the HD channel, but shown in a regular format. What the bloody hell is that all about? I was forced to employ the 1080i stretch, which gave Gary Galley an enormous head, and Cassie Campbell the ass of a Barrhaven soccer mom.
Of course I was being sarcastic when I said I wouldn't buy the PPV games -- I'll at least purchase the first one on Tuesday, if only to gain enough material to mock it mercilessly afterwards. If you've seen the PPV feeds from Vancouver on Centre Ice, you know that your expectations shouldn't be very high in respect to quality.
It's enough to make me want to solely watch football. For the record, we're not talking about that Broncos game. We will, however, discuss the Saints-Cowboys tilt ad nauseam. Bugger off, Romo! And is it just me, or does Bill Parcells resemble a pony keg with man-boobs?
Regarding tonight's 6-2 loss...
- It's plainly obvious that Emery is bothered by his nagging wrist injury. On several occasions tonight, he wasn't fully extending (he may have contracted Gerber's alligator arm ailment by sharing his glove), and appeared to be protecting said arm during any pushes to the net.
- Can we also talk about Ray going down to his stomach too early? This was blatantly evident during the second goal. If he wants to go down, he needs to activate his legs (Hasek would do this, sometimes flinging them back and up in a last-ditch attempt). When Ray drops, he remains sedentary. It might be time for a yoga class or two.
- Chris Phillips isn't doing much to sell people on the idea that he's a big player who can remain consistently effective in the new, fast-paced NHL. His penalties mainly consist of ones that impede progress of the opposition, which would suggest that he can't keep up. The irony is that Chris Phillips is surprisingly quick for a player of his stature -- making his infractions all the more frustrating.
- Glenn Healy pointed out that Alexander Ovechkin had all of his broken sticks immediately returned to him by officiating staff, because if a member of the Senators were to get ahold of them, they would plainly witness AO's illegal curve, and have him penalized. Healy's wording, likely unintentional, made it sound like the referees were anything but objective towards Ovechkin's equipment.
- And finally, the one thing you didn't want to see in HD tonight: The NHL employees working the penalty box at the Verizon Center. There were far too many closeups of septuagenarian heads that have definitely seen better days.
P.S. We can't believe we almost forgot to give a mention to Lakehead boy Danny Bois for not backing down to Donald Brashear.
I don't know how many of you caught TSN's "revolutionary" broadcast on Friday, where Glenn Healy and Chris Cuthbert called the Rangers-Sabres game from ice level, between the benches.
First of all, it would have been a worthy event had they shot the game from ice level (although I doubt anyone, including myself would approve). But the last time I checked, the commentators were not the sole reason for tuning into the game -- and yet, that's what TSN attempted to have the viewers do. In fact, there were moments during the game when the broadcast went to a picture-in-picture format, and showed Cuthbert and Healy speaking live.
Who needs to see this?
The game is the show, not the commentators -- I can't think of any that deserve so much attention. Furthermore, what does it say about the product being iced if TSN feels the need to "enhance the experience" with irrelevant bells and whistles?
(Ed. Note: I'm adding on to a post that originally appeared in May -- points 8 and 9. Enjoy. And hey look, it's Mr. Chi Pig! Do yourself a favour and download Cancer Sticks and Hockey Sticks by SNFU. It'll make your Monday.)
If you've been reading this blog for awhile (or even if you haven't), you probably are aware that I receive mail from readers of the column.
I never expect people to agree with what I have to say each week -- in fact, I'm surprised that some of them do -- but often I will write something that will get under a reader's skin. So much so, that they feel the need to take some time out of their Sunday (or Monday...or Tuesday) to fire me off an email.
I make a legitimate effort to answer every piece of mail I receive. Sometimes it turns into quite the task. I do this for several reasons: 1) They took the time to write and I feel I at least owe them some type of a response; 2) They're usually surprised to death to discover that I actually respond (their surprise is directly proportionate to the amount of insults they hurl) and 3) I'm a woman. I like to get the last word in.
Anyway, I thought I would offer up some tips to those who get pissed and fire off a snarky email, only to discover that they're in a battle of wits without a weapon. Here you go.
1) Use quotes. I hate to cut and paste, but it's the only way to be sure of what the other person is saying. So often I receive emails, and they've paraphrased what they think I've said. Quote, and then make your point.
2) Be succinct. For God's sakes, this is so important. I don't have the patience to sort through blathering missives beginning with an argument about the Argos that somehow morphs into insulting the Senators. (Not kidding -- I received one like this yesterday.) Which leads us to No. 3...
3) Stay on topic. If your beef with John Muckler is really eating at you, or if you hate the city in general, save it until I write about it. If I write about the Lynx, may I suggest that you bite your tongue for the meantime.
4) Don't read between the lines. I always write what I feel. Don't go looking for something that isn't there.
5) Check for grammatical and spelling errors before you send. My opinion of a reader drops about ten stories as soon as I see a blatant misspelling. Seriously, it's just asking to be mocked.
6) Don't insult a writer, even if you want to. Firstly, they'll likely make a fool out of you and you may not even realize it. In short, you'll end up looking like a dumbass.
7) Relax. What sportswriters produce is extremely insignificant in the grand scheme of things. It really doesn't need to be taken so seriously.
8) Check the byline before venting. My name isn't Don Brennan, Bruce Garrioch or similar. I don't expect for them to be held accountable for my work, and I can't comprehend being made responsible for theirs.
9) Understand the irony of slagging Sun Media, only to quote various pieces chapter and verse (sometimes from months ago) in an email. Some message board posters are guilty of this as well. To proclaim all Sun writers to be ignorant, low-brow and incompetent, only to have the reader prove that they ingest every last bit of the Sun's publication is highly amusing to me. If I hated Desperate Housewives (and I do), would I sit down to watch it every week? What kind of masochist does this?
Hopefully this helps. And for the record, and although they don't realize it, I'm always complimented when readers assume I'm a guy. (Although hopefully, not due to the column photo. Ack. I hate that bloody thing.)
Regarding today's mention of the blog in The Globe and Mail (if you missed it, here's the clip):
We reported two weeks ago on the perceived obsequious behaviour of Team 1200 toward the Ottawa Senators, who were struggling at the time. The station, which is the club's rights-holder, confirmed it had cut back on postgame phone-ins, but denied there had been pressure from the Senators to get rid of the angry fan rants.
Still, the Senators media have a reputation for being soft. Occasionally a player or even the coach will get rapped. But the front office, which is to say president Roy Mlakar and general manager John Muckler, is out of bounds.
The sensitivity to upper management was illustrated during owner Eugene Melnyk's media conference call of Nov. 16 during which he affirmed his support for Muckler and coach Bryan Murray. In a whiny tone, he complained about media rumour and speculation on the status of Muckler and Murray. Club owners in big-league cities wouldn't have bothered.
In an e-mail, an Ottawa fan wrote, "[Sens] have a reputation around town of being a nice, fan-friendly organization, but behind the scenes Roy Mlakar has been known for some heavy-handed tactics."
Writer Erin Nicks freelances to the sports section of the Ottawa Sun. On her blog, she wrote a while ago, "There are two incidents that stand out in my mind. The first occurred when I did some guest hosting for [Team 1200] several years ago. The program director at the time made it very clear to me that I was not to speak negatively about the Senators, in any way, shape or form. . . .
"The second incident occurred not long after I secured the [Sun] column. I criticized [Sens forward] Mike Fisher — honest to God, I can't remember what I said exactly. . . . Anyway, the next day I received a terse email from a well-known member of the Sens' front office who took issue with what I wrote. Being the neophyte that I was, I apologized for offending him [and possibly Fisher]."
I've noticed that a synopsis regarding this subject has turned up in a multitude of places, including Senators message boards. The perception by most seems to be that I have been "silenced" by various factions of the Senators and the outlets that they use (i.e. The Team).
Let me assure everyone that my radio guest hosting experience happened several years ago -- the current program director that is in place was not the one I dealt with. I don't know if I would have been given the same instructions today. Futhermore, I had little concern regarding what I had been told, because I was able to speak freely via The Jim Rome Show, and at the time, was doing so on a regular basis. Rome's show, although broadcast from Los Angeles, possessed a much larger audience, and therefore my opinions on his program could have been perceived as far more detrimental to the Senators.
If The Team's program director had a problem with what I had said previously, I doubt he would have let me guest host.
It should also be noted that at the time, I was working in an entirely different field from the one I am currently employed in. At no time did anyone from the Senators approach me, or my former employer, with a demand to cease my complaints.
As for the email I received -- I doubt I am the first writer to receive a missive like that, and I'm sure I won't be the last. I was never told to retract my comments, nor was I reprimanded by Sun Media for the column. The front office person in question didn't like what I wrote. A lot of people don't, and I regularly hear about it. It doesn't faze me.
To summarize: There has been one person that asked me to refrain from speaking negatively about the Senators -- a former program director for The Team. It happened several years ago, long before I was writing the column. The Senators, at the time, were not in a state of turmoil (i.e. trade demands and request for front office changes), so I went along with it -- if I wanted to complain, I would do so on Rome's show, and no one ever attempted to stop me. In addition, no one has ever threatened to terminate me, or have my column ceased, based on something that I have written thus far.
Anyone who attempts to claim, or twist my statements to suggest that something else has occurred involving myself, is telling a falsehood.
End of story.
...because TUC - doubtful (Kleenex and pseudoephedrine dependency).
No, I'm not trying out for the NHL -- I have a miserable cold. Hence the lack of posts as of late. I basically have had enough energy to text message, watch '70's British comedies, and fawn over Prison Break. By the way -- Dr. Tancredi cutting her hair off with a razor blade? Come on now. I considered letting The Driver take over the joint, but he would have filled the place with a bunch of Chargers propaganda. Lately he's been proclaiming LT (or LDT for the purists) to be the best football player ever. Not RB -- football. On the plus side, he hasn't mentioned the Buzzsaw or Matt Leinart in a few weeks. Lover's quarrel, I'm assuming.
Alright, enough nonsense. Let's get to it.
· For those looking for the last week of Dress Up Jake: Take a hint. It's not happening. There wasn't much left for me to do, short of tracking down a miniature pink casket to lay him in. I think I've humiliated us both -- it's over. Bring on Cutler! Now, I remember Jaws talking about Cutler at the draft, claiming that he was the best QB available (in a year that obviously also had Vince Young and Matt Leinart up for grabs). Now I'm hearing the Brett Favre and John Elway comparisons. Fantastic buildup, boys! Why not just put a Ryan Leaf mask on the kid and spare me the trouble?
And just for old time's sake...
· Everyone keeps talking about someone since I've been away...Ger...ber? Whaa?
Alright, look -- I called the media line a couple of days ago to find out who was starting the Carolina game, and had just enough strength to throw my cell phone across the bed, in a manner that is expected of my gender. After seeing him play tonight, I had one reaction: Meh.
Did he get the win? You can oversimplify and look at the scoreboard. But how impressed can I be when Carolina didn't bother to show up, and John Grahame appeared to be borderline-feeble?
In short, the Senators' offense garnered the victory -- Gerber did not. But the win should help to buoy his confidence and begin to repair his fragile psyche.
I think some people assume that I don't like Gerber. That's not the case. Martin's not a bad guy. He's pleasant enough, and is a good teammate. The worst Stanley Cup-winning goaltender Ottawa has seen thus far was an oenophile who cursed at Scott Oake on live television. That's not Gerber.
The problem with No. 29 doesn't reside completely with him. It's the result of the enormous salary that John Muckler chose to pay him, and the astronomical expectations that have come along with it. We've all expected him to earn his keep. He hasn't yet. Not even close. Would fans be more lenient if he were making 1.5 million, for example? Doubtful -- this is Ottawa, after all. But no one can deny that the rage directed towards Gerber during his slow start was largely sparked by that 3.7 million dollar kindling. You just don't pay that kind of money to someone who, as another blogger pointed out, possessed a worse GAA and save percentage than Curtis Sanford last year.
Some critics were placated by Gerber's play last night, saying that he didn't appear as small in the net as he usually does. I did notice that he wasn't situated as far back as he had been previously. But there are still aspects of his game that I find troubling. He still goes down too fast, and his lateral movement from his knees is painfully slow. He also has issues when the puck goes behind the net, sometimes feeling the need to follow the Ottawa defender with his head and body completely around the cage's side (he did this last night with Meszaros). The communication with his own defenders is still not at the level it needs to be, to assure a higher level of comfort and confidence.
The smart pundits will see this win for what it was: A start, but not a convincing victory for No. 29. The rest may be swayed by false hope. Right now, it's too early to call. Gerber hasn't swayed me yet.
· One more thing on the game (and past few games): Corvo and Redden chew it as a defensive combo. The skating towards each other during an opposition's rush, the pylon-esque nature, the complete lack of physicality...
In other news: The sky is blue.
Okay...this is getting long...stay with me...
· Sportsnet's Jason Portuondo late Tuesday night: "Ottawa is looking to catch Buffalo in their division!" I don't know...maybe they should concentrate on catching Montreal first? Is there any wonder why hockey fans despise the media?
· Did you know AHL players can multitask? It's true. The Chicago Wolves' Fred Brathwaite was recently spotted doing the weather on one of the city's local networks.
· Speaking of the AHL: Go check out Patrick Williams' stellar (and brand new) AHL blog on the SLAM website.
You'll be happy to know that this cold has not suppressed my sarcastic nature:
The Driver: "Get some sleep." (Proceeds to turn on my alarm clock/sound machine, and programs it to play "Summer Nights" -- white noise largely composed of cricket chirping.)
TUC: "Sounds like the Sens' pre-game show to me."
(Here's where the young kids say, "Oh, snap!")
Later cynics. I'm off to guzzle Neo Citran and lead the Tony Romo backlash.
Current results from the Sun's latest sports poll:
Who is your favourite NHL play-by-play TV voice?
Jim Hughson 28%
Gord Miller 31%
Bob Cole 22%
Chris Cuthbert 20%
P.S. Before you say anything, this is less about who has the most votes, and more about who has the least votes.
...is buried in the archives. We'd rather not have the photo on Page 1, even for a split second.
Happy (easy) hunting. Trust us. If you need a hint, we suggest you that begin at the beginning.
I had a ticket, but I visited Butterknife Row several times tonight. Scouts from the following teams were present: St. Louis, Columbus, Colorado and New Jersey.
For those waiting for DUJ: Sorry, it's been a hectic 24 hours. He's coming...and I fear we may be sinking to a new low.
I've just been informed that due to Grey Cup coverage in the Sun tomorrow, the column will be appearing in an abbreviated form, and not in its regular spot (usually page 5). It will be at the back, where Steve Simmons' piece usually resides.
I will post the column in its entirety as it was originally written -- and the way it should be read -- around midnight.
Update: I've just been told that the edit is 50-75 words, but I don't which ones (or graphs) it affects.
It's early, right -- or so Mlakar claims? I just thought I'd throw this out there:
Ottawa is currently at the 18-game mark, with a record of 7-10-1 -- 14th in the Eastern conference. Here are the teams with a sub .500 mark at the 18-game point last year. Their final position at the end of the regular season (within conference respectively) is included in parentheses.
Atlanta: 7-10-1 (10th)
Chicago: 7-11-0 (14th)
Columbus: 5-13-0 (13th)
Florida: 6-9-3 (11th)
Pittsburgh: 5-8-5 (15th)
St. Louis: 3-12-3 (15th)
Tampa Bay: 7-9-2 (8th)
Washington: 7-11-0 (14th)
You'll notice that out of those eight teams, only one barely made the post-season: Tampa Bay.
Is it fair to be comparing Ottawa to some of these perennial bottom-feeders? Probably not. But the fact remains that they have taken up residence beside them this year, and only a long, healthy streak of wins will help to dig them out of the hole they've created.
Don't get me wrong -- I was positively gleeful to get the win, and for the record...The Driver called the victory...several days ago. But after hearing Roy Mlakar pound home (once again) that John Muckler and Bryan Murray should be judged solely by their previous achievements -- a multi-Stanley Cup ring owner and 5th winningest coach in the NHL respectively -- was enough to make me wretch.
The speech Mlakar gave to Michael Landsberg this evening was nearly identical to the interview on the The Team last week. After the Washington game, he claimed that we were only "13 games in". Tonight it was 16. Funny how that number keeps going up, yet the concern remains minimal -- at least from Mlakar's standpoint.
What I couldn't understand was Mlakar's constant referencing of Muckler's and Murray's past successes. So what? Are Stanley Cup-winning GMs that are bound for the Hall of Fame infallible? Are we expected to be idolators to this septuagenarian, simply because he wears a chunk of precious metal on his finger? Are you telling me that neither Muckler nor Murray has made a wrong move since they arrived in Ottawa? The last time I checked, both were human -- capable of erring on a regular basis.
Mlakar's behaviour as of late has me absolutely perplexed. His steadfast support for his GM and coach is one thing -- but to shrug off legitimate concerns, such as repeated early losses, when two points in November mean just as much as they do in March...that's just lunacy. I think he's a step away from dropping a "stay the course" bomb on us.
Ask Toronto and Vancouver about last year. Ask them how much they'd liked to have had those early wins, when the playoffs were bearing down on them, with little hope of earning a berth.
The Citizen's Allen Panzeri had an interesting piece about this very subject on Monday. Here's the breakdown he provided:
Here's a refresher course on how difficult it is to make the playoffs:
In the past seven seasons, Eastern Conference teams needed from a high of 92 points (Tampa Bay Lightning in 2005-2006) to a low of 83 (New York Islanders in 2002-2003) to make the NHL playoffs.
The average has been 88.
The Senators, who have 13 points, have 66 games left for a total possibility of 132 points.
For the Senators to hit the average total for a playoff berth, they need 75 more points. That means they must play almost five games over .500 for the rest of the season.
The mountain is even higher -- seven games over .500 -- if 92 points is their goal, and that will probably be closer to the magic number.
Hockey historians will remember that those 92 points barely gave the Lightning a berth last year. Tampa Bay fought to the last day of the schedule to get past the Atlanta Thrashers and Toronto Maple Leafs, both with 90 points.
Yes, they won tonight. But what do you think are the chances that the team can operate at seven games above .500, based on what you've seen thus far?
I don't know how much longer the fans are going to be stuck in Groundhog's Day mode, waiting for a front office shakeup. If the Senators had lost tonight, I'm sure nothing would have occurred on Thursday. But you have to agree that tonight's win will help to delay the inevitable.
One more thing: I don't like the idea of Eugene Melnyk sending his lawyer up to "observe", regardless of how much he trusts him. Lawyers protect your investments -- Melnyk should be concerned about protecting his passion, which we've been told, is this team. Don't get me wrong: I understand that the Sens are intended to be a money-making venture for him, as well as a tool to help him enjoy the sport that he loves -- but a lawyer? What is he going to tell him that Melnyk didn't already know? This is one instance where I'd like to see the owner get a little more hands-on. He should have been in Buffalo tonight.
I hope he's ready for the unprecedented storm he's about to enter.
The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that Emery's comeback has the potential to be more nerve-wracking than the playoffs last year. Think about it: In '05-06, Ray had a chance to get his feet wet with the team, right from the Olympic break -- 14 of his 23 wins came during that period. And in spite his playoff performance, expectations were low because he was a rookie (not named Cam Ward).
This time, everyone's expecting him to be the saviour, because they know what he's capable of. Even now, he's still third in GAA (1.86) and first in save percentages (.939). We've gone from pleasant surprises to set expectations. And every time Gerber gives up the ghost, the pressure will mount on the injured sophomore to dig the team out of its hole.
Hockey Legend Mark Messier Unveils Leadership Award
NEW YORK – November 13, 2006 – COLD-fX™, the official immune enhancer of the National Hockey League and the NHL Players’ Association, in conjunction with the NHL, will announce the first monthly winner of the Mark Messier Leadership Award on Tuesday, November 14th at Madison Square Garden. The six-time Stanley Cup® champion and 16-time NHL All-Star is widely viewed as one of the greatest leaders in all sports.
Messier, with input from the NHL, will select a player in each month who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice.
At the conclusion of the regular season, the player who has demonstrated outstanding leadership skills on the most consistent basis will be selected as the recipient of the Mark Messier Leader of the Year Award.
And an interesting side bit:
At the end of the regular season, one overall Leader of the Year for the 2006/07 NHL season will be named recipient of the Mark Messier Leadership Award presented by COLD-fX. The Leader of the Year will have their name permanently engraved on the Mark Messier Leadership Award. The design of the award will be showcased later this year. COLD-fX will donate $25,000 to the overall winner’s favorite charity along with a COLD-fX Luxury Healthy Lifestyle Gift Basket including a one-year supply of COLD-fX.
Martin Gerber was spotted having breakfast at the North Kanata Cora's this morning. If he wins tonight, I'll try and find out what he ate. I hope it was the Strawberry Sensation -- that thing is stellar.
I thought I would just add my experiences to what's being discussed over in this Battle of Ontario post. There was a link to a Sens message board containing a post that discussed the team's issues with the media. I'll let you decide if it validates what has been said.
There are two incidents that stand out in my mind. The first occurred when I did some guest hosting for The Team, several years ago. The program director at the time made it very clear to me that I was not to speak negatively about the Senators, in any way, shape or form. I found this to be highly ironic, seeing as that I was "known" for slagging the Senators on a regular basis, using Jim Rome as a vehicle to do so.
I don't know why I was told this. Maybe they thought I couldn't operate on a sliding scale, and was incapable of making points using contructive criticism, as opposed to blatant barbs that were used solely for the purpose of humour.
The second incident occurred not long after I secured the column. I criticized Mike Fisher -- honest to God, I can't remember what I said exactly. I'd pull the quote, but those early columns are on my old (and now-defunct) PC. Anyway, the next day I received a terse email from a well-known member of the Sens' front office who took issue with what I wrote. Being the neophyte that I was, I apologized for offending him (and possibly Fisher)...he said it was fine, and now we're (seemingly) all good.
As for some of the other thoughts pertaining to the media not being hard enough on the team -- I think that's a double-edged sword: There are fans that want us to show no mercy to the players, except they forget that we have contacts to maintain, most notably with the Senators. I don't care what team you're dealing with -- a writer that acts like a perpetual a-hole is going to be put through the ringer by the team's PR. It's like the old saying goes: You catch more flies with honey than you would with vinegar. Of course, you can take this too far, and use blackstrap molasses -- like Gord Wilson tends to. And you'd be surprised at the amount of emails I get after a particularly critical piece that read, "Why do you have to be so negative? Why can't you write something positive?" People don't want to read beatdown pieces all the time.
That being said, I've always maintained that if the team deserves the criticism, I'll give it. But there's a difference between being critical, and being a bombastic jackass. I hope that's not what the Sens' front office thinks of the media -- if they do, that's a major disconnect. But if that's what the readers want, they should probably check out what the Toronto media has to offer.
Week 10 Plummer stats: 20 for 31, 210 yards. 2 TD, 3 INT, QB rating of 66.0.
Analysis: We were going to give Jake credit for the one quarter that he decided to show up by displaying him online, googling for lesbian porn. But the dude shouldn't be giving us a heart attack while playing the lowly Raiders. With that being said, there was not much choice in which way were going this week.
Looks like Jake's prepping for a night out by doing some last minute shopping. Damn, this is really beginning to explain a lot. At least it appears that Plummer won't be requiring Plan B in the morning. And hey, look -- Elway's made another unexpected appearance. We'll be luring Barbaro back to the car dealership with an apple and oats as soon as we're done here.
Next week: San Diego at home. The Chargers are The Drivers' team, which should lead to some decent smack around here during the lead-up. The Bengals buggered with Bum's Son's defense yesterday, so we're expecting SD to be bitter, in spite of the victory.
P.S. Thanks to JB for helping us obtain this week's props.
The Dress Up Jake Archives: Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8 Week 9
Which bottom-feeding team has begun a pro-active search for a new goaltender? Said team's GM was recently accosted by a committee of disgruntled players. One, a former New York Ranger, went so far as to recommend a friend and previous teammate. His new GM must have been impressed by the pitch, because they have since contacted the goaltender's agent, and are interested in making a deal.
1) It's an Eastern conference team;
2) The goaltender in question has only played in the Western conference;
3) It's not Ottawa...although there are numerous Ottawa connections.
In the last two games, both Washington and Altanta pulled their starting goaltender. In both cases, the Senators ended up blowing the lead, and losing the game.
After Martin Gerber's fifth allowed goal...
"Well, it's official: Martin Gerber is struggling. And if you're a Martin Gerber fan, or a member of the Ottawa Senators, you're going to have to get used to it. Martin Gerber is still the man. And there used to be a time when four goals was enough for a win. Well, now...maybe it needs to be five or six."
Did you hear that? It's the sound of my head exploding.
What goaltender in this league -- let alone one that is being paid 3.7 million dollars per year, for the next three years -- needs a SIX GOAL BUFFER to ensure a win?
Let me be clear: I have never been a Gerber fan, but I have grudgingly accepted the signing over time. However, watching some Swiss dude with alligator arms do his best Patrick Lalime impression during a slump, is more than I can bear. Seriously -- does the guy have any elbows? I'd love to see him reach for change in his pockets with those things.
And another thing -- on the pregame show, they were discussing Gerber and his tendency to retreat back into the net (as I did on Monday). The round table suggested that when the team played badly, Gerber was less likely to come out and challenge players. I happen to think it's the other way around. The team has shown that they play with less confidence in front of Gerber for some time. When they see him cowering like that, it will never instill any bravado in an over-sensitive team.
P.S. Remember...don't panic!
The one thing I keep hearing lately is, "What has Muckler done?" Then said complainer will reference the Tyler Arnason trade, and that's about it.
I don't remember seeing this before, so I thought I would try and compile a fairly complete list of Muckler's signings/trades since his arrival in June '02. There are some insignificant movements that I didn't include (mostly irrelevant UFAs), but the important (and not-so-important) ones are here, and I've tried to include the eventual draft picks chosen, but if the information wasn't immediately available, I let it go. Let me know if I've missed anything (relevant), or if there are any errors.
June '02: Traded Shawn McEachern to Atlanta for Brian Pothier and a 4th round pick (2004)
July(?)'02: Did not resign Juha Ylonen
September '02: Traded Sami Salo to Vancouver for Peter Schaefer
October '02: Traded Jani Hurme to Florida for Billy Thompson and Greg Watson
January '03: Traded Joel Kwiatkowski to Washington for a 9th round pick (2003)
February '03: Traded Jakub Klepis to Buffalo for Vaclav Varada and a fifth-round pick (2003 -- Tim Cook)
March '03: Traded Tim Gleason and future considerations to Los Angeles for Bryan Smolinski
March '03: Traded future considerations to Buffalo for Rob Ray
March '03: Traded Simon Lajeunesse to Florida for Joey Tetarenko
July '03: Did not resign Joey Tetarenko (UFA)
July '03: Did not resign Magnus Arvedson
September '03: Traded 9th round pick for Serge Payer
February '04: Traded Brooks Laich and second-round pick to Washington for Peter Bondra (WAS traded pick to Colorado -- Avs selected Chris Durand)
February '04: Traded Petr Schastlivy to Anaheim for Todd Simpson
March '04: Traded Shane Hnidy to Nashville for fourth-round pick (2004)
March '04: Traded Karel Rachunek and Alexandre Giroux to New York Rangers for Greg de Vries
April '04: Fires head coach Jacques Martin, assistant coach Don Jackson and goaltending coach Phil Myre
June '04: Hires head coach Bryan Murray
June '04: Traded Patrick Lalime for fourth-round pick (2005 - Ilya Zubov)
June '04: Traded Radek Bonk to L.A. Kings for third-round pick (2004 - Shawn Weller)
July '04: Did not resign Serge Payer (UFA)
Summer '05: Did not resign Todd Simpson (UFA)
Summer '05: Did not resign Josh Langfeld (UFA)
Summer '05: Did not resign Curtis Leschyshyn (UFA)
Summer '05: Did not resign Martin Prusek (no qualifying offer made)
July '05: Traded Todd White to Minnesota for fourth-round pick previously acquired from Colorado (2005 - Cody Bass)
July '05: Signed Dominik Hasek
August '05: Traded Marian Hossa and Greg de Vries to Atlanta for Dany Heatley
August '05: Signed Tomas Malec
March '06: Traded Brandon Bochenski and a second-round draft pick (2006 - Igor Makarov) to Chicago for Tyler Arnason
March '06: Signed Brad Norton
July '06: Traded Martin Havlat and Bryan Smolinski for Tom Priessing, Josh Hennessy, Michal Barinka and a second-round pick (2008) via Chicago and San Jose.
July '06: Signed Martin Gerber
July '06: Signed Joe Corvo
July '06: Did not resign Zdeno Chara (UFA)
July '06: Did not resign Brian Pothier (UFA)
July '06: Did not resign Vaclav Varada (UFA)
July '06: Did not resign Dominik Hasek (UFA)
July '06: Did not resign Billy Thompson (UFA)
July '06: Did not resign Tyler Arnason (UFA)
July '06: Did not resign Jan Platil (UFA)
July '06: Did not resign Joe Cullen (UFA)
July '06: Did not resign Filip Novak (UFA)
July '06: Did not resign Brennan Evans (UFA)
July '06: Did not resign Greg Watson (UFA)
July '06: Did not resign Steve Martins (UFA)
July '06: Did not resign Glen Metropolit (UFA)
August '06: Signed Serge Payer (UFA)
Ottawa's First Round Draft Picks:
2002: Jakub Klepis
2003: Patrick Eaves
2004: Andrej Meszaros
2005: Brian Lee
2006: Nick Foligno
From Chris Stevenson's blog:
The Senators have lost goaltender Ray Emery, who was supposed to start in Atlanta against the Thrashers tomorrow night.
He suffered an upper body injury in practice today and the team has recalled Kelly Guard from their Binghamton farm club to take Emery’s spot on the roster.
Emery has been playing well, but now Martin Gerber, who saw his record drop to 2-5 last night, will have to continue to carry the load.
Update from TSN:
Ottawa Senators' goalie Ray Emery suffered an injury in practice today - believed to be a wrist injury on his glove side - and sources say he is likely to be sidelined because of it.
Sources say the Senators are awaiting the medical prognosis on how long Emery will be out, but sources told TSN that it is a 'potentially serious' injury and Emery could be 'out awhile.'
Here's an excerpt from some reader mail that I received in response to the November 5 column:
I live in Brockville where the teams are split between Ottawa, Toronto, and Montreal. The Leaf fans I know are religious fans, standing beside there team regardless of how they play, and that is exactly how it is with my wife and I. I have a tattoo of the Sens Logo on my forearm and Daniel Alfreddson's (sic) autograph beneath it (tattooed as well), and my wife has Spartycat (sic) tattooed on her calf, and it has also been signed by the big cat himself (herself), and inked in permanently as well. There are over 250 different Sens articles in our house, and 8 different Jerseys hanging. We are "True Fans" as my wife says to anyone that can hear. My van is covered with window clingers, and my licence is a Senator plate from the ministry.
I'm speechless. At least you know a mascot will never be traded.
Dress Up Jake will be making a cameo appearance on Slate today. We'll get you the link as soon as it's available.
Week 9 Plummer stats: 16 for 27, 227 yards. 3 TD, 1 sack, QB rating of 123.5.
Analysis: WR Javon Walker may be the man, but we think Jake deserves the ladies. And in Week 9, Plummer was kind enough to give us a peek at his potential Hit List. So what's the reason behind our boy's turnaround? Could it be that he had a run-in with notorious athletic supporter, Paris Hilton? Hilton is infamous for helping athletes obtain STDs -- but not necessarily TDs (i.e. Matt Leinart, Brian Urlacher, Jose Theodore et al).
We think No. 16 is pulling our leg with this one. Plummer would either stick his tongue down Paris' throat, or use her as a spitoon -- nothing more. He's too surly to put up with Hilton's antics.
Next Week: At Oakland.
P.S. This isn't TMZ -- we have no knowledge of Plummer being legitmately associated with Paris Hilton -- even for 15 minutes. It's satire. If you're taking this seriously, get help. Yesterday.
The Dress Up Jake Archives: Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8
Just something to chew on...
There was a time when the Senators were capable of taking their foot off the gas after securing a 2-3 goal lead. After said lead was obtained, the team went into a defensive-mode shutdown -- one of the signature moves of Jacques Martin's repertoire. It wasn't exciting, but more often than not, it was effective in the regular season.
Currently, the team seems content to secure a lead, without further planning that will ensure a victory.
Whose handiwork is this? The team's? Bryan Murray's?
And another thing...
I am so sick and tired of Martin Gerber's wounded baby bird act. Who is he going to challenge when he's so far back in the cage? Dude looks small enough as it is, and he goes down on his knees faster than a San Fernando Valley model/waitress/actress. Feel free to come out and face the music, Martin -- everyone else has to.
P.S. Don't assume that this is a veiled request for the return of Jacques Martin, although I do miss his Maison D'Or commercials.
DUJ is having technical difficulties. Hopefully we'll be up and running ASAP.
From Chris Stevenson's Blog:
The presence of four Los Angeles Kings scouts at last night’s Habs-Senators game (when neither of those teams play the Kings this season) has got speculation going of an impending deal between the Senators and the Kings.
Tony Marinaro, who covers the Habs for the Team 990 in Montreal, said on his station this morning he had it “confirmed” the Kings scouts were there to look at Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson.
If that was the case, they might not have liked what they saw given Alfredsson was -4 on the night.
Given the Senators malaise and Alfredsson’s unproductiveness this season, a trade would seem to be the next logical step to try and shake things up, right?
What do you think, Senators fans?
If a deal is out there, should the Senators trade their captain?
Just bear with me here, because this is going to veer off into a couple of directions.
I know it's my job to watch the games -- at home and on the road -- regardless of whether it's in a seat, on Butterknife Row, or in the comfort of my own home. And I like hockey, I do...I wouldn't be in the this business if I didn't care about sports.
But bloody freaking hell...has it been a strain for me to sit through Senators games thus far.
I took in last night's Sens-Habs game at home, and frankly, I wasn't looking forward to it. Why? It's a Montreal game -- one of eight on the schedule this year. And I know this point has been pounded into the ground, but the weighted schedule chews it, especially if you're dealing with the Northeast division. If there's one team with less personality than the Sens, it has to be the Habs. Ooh, the tradition! The rivalry! What rivalry? The closest thing to a rift between these two teams probably occurs between the arena's food services departments, discerning if there's a preference of buns over white bread for hot dogs. And don't even try with the whole Vaclav Prospal/Patrice Brisebois thing. That's so last millennium.
This schedule is burning me out, and we're barely a month in. However, there's a reason why November 20th is circled on my calendar in bright red ink. That's the day the Wild come to town. A Western Conference team! And they don't suck! It's a sweet November oasis in the middle of cyclic, mind-numbing Eastern-heavy mess. I cannot wait.
But there's more to it than just the schedule.
Watching the game last night, I was lagging. I had two episodes of PTI and one of The Colbert Report on PVR that I was dying to watch, and it was a strain not to hit the "list" button on the remote. I figured, as I have during the 19 games before it (10 regular, 9 preseason), that the quality of the match would improve -- not necessarily the Sens' play -- but the game overall.
Yet again, I was wrong. And somewhere between the second and third period, I fell asleep. Essentially, I was biding my time until The Daily Show began.
That's not to say there haven't been some exciting moments during Sens games, but let's be frank -- it's been more bad than good.
However, there's a difference between bad and boring play. When most teams play badly, they will eventually begin to show signs of emotion -- normally frustration. This might come in the form of a snapped stick, increased hitting, or an enforcer calling out a member of the opposition.
But on most nights, like tonight, the Sens do little or nothing at all. They're on autopilot, just like Dean Brown's play-by-play calls. They're awash in a hideous general malaise, and apparently it's contagious.
Nothing changes if nothing changes, and being shown repeated proof that the Sens can trump the Leafs isn't enough to hold my attention. It never was. I've never been accused of having ADHD, but if something doesn't alter soon, I will start changing the channel. On the bright side, it's nice to know that a cure has been found for my chronic insomnia.
(Edit: The Driver just called and said the radio guys were describing Alfie's facial expression as "frustrated", and that said captain also delivered a hit last night. Oh well, this changes everything, doesn't it?)
13 for 21, 174 yards, QB rating of 104.1. 1 TD, 1 sack, 1 fumble.
The following is a true story.
Around this time of year, we're known to carve a pumpkin or two. We were getting ready to carve a Broncos pumpkin, to honor our team of choice. We even selected the handsomest, roundest gourd available. Honest to God: It was a pumpkin of supreme pulchritude.
Imagine our surprise when we cut open our perfect pumpkin on Sunday, and found it to be disgustingly rotten on the inside.
What a perfect analogy for the Denver defense: A thing of beauty, until it's time for you to make true use of it. Only then do you discover the deception.
Are we reaching? Probably. But the Denver D really did throw up all over themselves during a critical game, and listening to Phil Simms verbally hump Peyton Manning for four quarters was more than we could bear.
Sorry Jake, we know it wasn't really your fault, but a loss is a loss. Happy Hallowe'en, Beardo. By the way, we threw Daniel Alfredsson in there for good measure, because lately, he's been just as relevant.
P.S. Those are the guts from our Buzzsaw pumpkin that The Driver requested -- he's got a thing for Matt Leinart (and bandwagons, apparently). More photos below.
Jake and Alfie in the shadow of the Buzzsaw
Cardinals pumpkin lit up. 1-7...scaroi!
Next week: At Pittsburgh.
The Dress Up Jake Archives: Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7
Belfour's Bottle Injures Auld
Florida Panthers' goalie Alex Auld was injured early Friday morning at his team's hotel in Uniondale, NY, after slipping on water when Ed Belfour dropped his bottle of water.
As reported in Sunday's Miami Herald, Auld needed stitches above his right eyebrow after the incident in the lobby and did not play Saturday night against the New York Islanders.
Belfour vehemently denied various eyewitness accounts that he had become belligerent at an adjacent bar, where teammates stepped in and tried to get him out.
"We weren't even drinking," said Belfour, who has had a history of alcohol-related legal problems. "There was no alcohol involved whatsoever. There was no drinking, it was a pure accident. I don't even know why we're talking about this now, especially on a game day. We were just hanging out. We went, had a bite to eat and were watching some of the [World Series] baseball game. That was it. We all left together."
First Letowski gets hammered, now this? By the way, the least Eddie could've done was offer Auld one billion dollars to cover his insurance costs.
I'll be honest: I don't read a lot of hockey blogs or columns on a regular basis. Very few of them can hold my attention -- and unfortunately, a lot of the writing falls into two categories: Dry or delusional. There's currently one exception: Patrick Williams. Williams is a great source for interesting AHL pieces -- needless to say, I would have been shoving his Buffalo column into everyone's face if Rochester hadn't decided to get off to such a great start.
The Hater Nation -- we're curious to see what Adam's going to do now that Steve Bisheff has reportedly taken a buyout from the OC Register. And for the record, we're getting our ass handed to us in his Gridiron Apocalypse pool. Like it matters -- we're too good to venture into downtown Vegas...even to pickup a six-pack of Hamm's.
NFLAdam's AOL Fanhouse blog -- Significantly better than Ian Mende's blog, which also goads fans into melting down.
Sports Journalists Totally addictive -- like, 3 am in the morning, eyes-bugging-out-of-your-head addictive.
Norm Clarke (Las Vegas Review-Journal) -- If an athlete does something stupid in Vegas, he'll be the first to report it. And how can you not be into a columnist sporting an eyepatch?
Yaysports! -- Because hockey writers wish they could be this amusing.
Orange Mane -- A place of solitude for Broncos freaks.
I'll continue to add to this list throughout the year....stay tuned.
We'd like to take this opportunity to remind you that Ray Emery is only signed to a one-year, $925,000 (all terms US) deal. Was he the deciding factor in tonight's 7-2 victory over the Leafs? No. But at any point did he make you nervous, a la the 3.7 million dollar Swiss bank withdrawal? Nope.
Here's the truth, as I see it, and as we stand right now: Ray is the more confident of the two goaltenders, regardless of situation. Hands up those who gasp every time Gerber comes within 10 feet of the puck. And have you noticed how much traffic he lets into his crease? It's Paris Hilton-esque. If Gerber was a chick, he'd have an STD by now.
Enjoy it while it lasts, because the better Ray gets, the more likely John Muckler will be to encounter this situation in the summer of '07:
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Week 7 Plummer stats: 20 for 41, 209 yards. 2 INT, 2 sacks, 1 TD. QB rating of 51.8.
Analysis: Jake remains as relevant as the Sens' power play, and just as likely to bugger up. Therefore, as long as he represents the weak link in the equation of a Broncos' victory, we have to continue with the XX chromosome dress-up experience. This week: Jake tackles the Mensa-level mindbender known as the Cosmo Quiz. By the way -- the purple marabou pen? That's all us. The title of the quiz? A really horrible coincidence.
Jake's Cosmo Quiz results:
Question 1: It's five days after a hot date with no contact from him. You:
a) Leave the ball in his court. If he doesn't call, it's his loss.
b) Mope. He just wasn't that into you.
c) Call and text him...twice.
Jake picks (b)
Question 2: I take ___ to dress predate.
a) Fifteen minutes or less. How long does it take to comb a beard?
b) One to two hours
c) Two hours five outfits and one pep talk from my friend
Jake picks (a)
Question 3: You see a Josh Lucas lookalike at the gym. You:
a) Grab the treadmill next to him -- then trade a few sexy glances.
b) Keep walking. Getting rejected in the sweats = the lowest depth of misery.
c) March up to him midworkout: Is he free after his sweat session?
Jake picks (c)
Question 4: Do you worry a guy you're dating will think you're easy if you sleep with him too soon?
a) Nah, he'll just know you adore him.
b) Sort of. That's why you wait so long.
c) It really depends on the dude.
Jake picks (a)
Question 5: What body language would you use on a dinner date?
a) Subtly stroking your collarbone
b) Reaching across the table and holding his hand or rubbing his thigh
c) Nodding at everything he says
d) Flipping the bird behind your back in a half-assed, nonchalant attempt.
Jake picks (c)
Question 6: How much do you reveal about yourself by date three:
a) Your wild past, your contempt for draft picks from Vanderbilt, family...
b) Enough to keep him warm but still keep him curious about your past
c) You ask him all the questions.
Jake picks (a)
Question 7: Ever broken plans with a friend when a guy called you to go out for drinks last minute?
a) Yep. You worried that if you didn't accept, he'd go permanently MIA.
b) No. You knew he'd call you again.
c) You've been guilty once or twice.
Jake picks (a)
Question 8: When your date checks out another girl on the street, you:
a) Joke, "I think she's hot too..."
b) Wonder if he'd rather be with Jay Cutler.
c) Don't sweat it. He likes you.
Jake picks (b)
Question 9: Your man of two months say you two should go skiing. When you bring it up weeks later, he acts distant. You:
a) Apologize for crowding him...but keep your winter weekends open.
b) Email him the link to a cute ski lodge
c) Say, "I'm just so excited to ski, maybe Rod Smith will plan a trip..."
Jake picks (c)
Question 10: You have been dating a guy for months and are tired of schlepping your stuff to his pad. You:
a) Tell him you'd love to leave your hand towel and mouth guard...cool with him?
b) Unpack your stuff into his dresser
c) Buy a bigger overnight bag.
Jake picks (a)
The thought most likely to course through your brain, days after another poor outing versus a team like the Browns? "Burnt Sienna Shanahan's just not that into me." You're never sure that you're pretty enough, exciting enough or capable of putting up better numbers. Your lack of security holds you back. You assume every week has an implosion date, and if you aren't really careful, everything will just fall apart, and a-holes like Brady and Manning will get all the post-season love instead. Your homework: "Get In Touch with Your Inner Sex Kitten," page 126 of the playbook. You'll learn the short routes a self-assured QB needs to have under his belt. Vince Young, watch out!
Next week: Indy at home.
The Dress Up Jake Archives: Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 5 Week 6
If you haven't seen it yet, here's the Coach's Corner clip (three-quarters of the way in) featuring the now-infamous "Who the hell is Chris Stevenson?" rant. This little name drop has got legs in Ottawa, but the off-the-cuff comment Cherry drops afterward might be the funnier reference. Is it just me, or has Cherry made references to MacLean's sexuality in every CC episode since the beginning of the season?
Consider this an explanation...
I wrote this week's column on the Senators' excess of Wade Redden-type defensemen. It's my belief that Ottawa has a plethora of blueliners who fit into the mould of No. 6, and not enough traditional stay-at-home guys. And it's ironic, considering that the team believed that Redden's attributes are difficult to replicate (one of the biggest reasons why they resigned him).
Anyway, the Redden replicas went on a tear tonight, scoring five of the seven points put up by Sens defensemen.
How bloody infuriating, especially considering that they were seven shades of brutal during the Avs game on Thursday.
Regardless, I stand by my argument because a) I believe the defense's offensive output tonight was an aberration; b) Chris Phillips is consistently one of the best players during the second season (the season that matters) and they could use more of his ilk during that critical period and c) as long as players like Jason Spezza continue to cough up the puck, you need someone who won't get caught up trying to join the rush, because he was in too deep at the other end. Basically, you need someone that's a safe precursor to the heart attack-inducing expense known as Martin Gerber.
In short: I'm not trying to be a downer; I'm not looking for the negative stories when everyone will be concentrating on a badly needed redemption game. I wrote this column on Wednesday. I am forced to write the columns early, because of scheduling. It almost always works out. Tomorrow it won't, and I'll look like an a-hole.
Now you know why.
The Dress Up Jake phenomenon is sweeping North America (uh, kinda). Check us out here, here and of course, with Deadspin. We'd also like to take this opportunity to point out that DUJ is the creation of a Canadian (ack!) woman...not an American man. We have no idea what might have tipped you off -- the readily available Cosmpolitan ingredients, the girlie handwriting, the Victoria's Secret coupon...or that curious pronoun being used in our profile.
Now you know.
(Aside: Don't ask us if we're ever coming out with a CFL version of this. Three-down football and the rouge can chew us.)
Week 6 Plummer stats: 11 for 18, 102 yards. QB rating of 76.6. 0 TD, 2 sacks.
Analysis: With Jake's role becoming less relevant through each passing quarter (in essence, being told not to bugger up), it seemed obvious that our interpretation was going to be a difficult one this week. Jake didn't blow it for the Broncos last night, but he's hardly worthy of us breaking out a cut of meat and a Maxim.
Not male...not female...but then, it came to us...
Feel free to aim the ball in the immediate direction of Mrs. Tim Hasselbeck's mouth on tomorrow's show, Rosie...I mean, Jake.
Next week: At Cleveland.
(P.S. If anyone has footage of LaMont Jordan's towel-biting incident, for God's sakes, email us. The Driver missed it, and my imitation didn't do it justice.)
The Dress Up Jake Archives: Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 5
I spent Friday evening downtown at the Capital Music Hall interviewing Fletcher Dragge (far left in photo) -- guitarist from the Hermosa Beach, CA institution known as Pennywise. Pennywise is another one of those fantastic SoCal punk bands that I grew up listening to -- so imagine my surprise when the Ottawa Senators recently began spinning one of their tracks after a goal is scored.
The song is called "Bro Hymn", and the trend of hearing it played after goals didn't start in Ottawa -- it actually began in Anaheim during the Ducks' playoff run last year. Anaheim would play it religiously, and the fans eventually caught onto the catchy chorus. Here's a clip of the song as it's heard in both the Anaheim and Ottawa arenas:
powered by ODEO
If a song is receiving regular exposure in the venues where a major sport is being played, you'd think the band would be thrilled, right? Not necessarily...because there's a lot more to "Bro Hymn" than just a great hook.
The song was written by Pennywise's former bassist, Jason Thirsk. During a leave of absence from the band in 1996 (a decision made to battle growing problems with alcoholism), Thirsk tragically died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Thirsk had originally written the song as a tribute to friends in his life who had passed on, but after their bassist's unexpected death, the band dedicated the song to him, closed every live show they have played since with it, and included Thirsk's name in the lyrics.
So what was Fletcher's take on their sacred song being used at NHL games?
"We're not upset, but it's not cool," Dragge said. "There's a deep meaning behind that song and it's weird for it to be used in such a fashion.
"I mean, we're not that upset, because it's a celebratory thing, and the song celebrates life. Jason loved sports. It all depends what it's being used for, right? I mean, if it were being played in a shampoo commercial, I'd be bummed."
The main issue currently irking the band seems to be the importance of the song getting lost in the shuffle.
"They're only hearing the chorus; they're not hearing any of the lyrics," Dragge pointed out. "They don't know any of the lyrics, but if they did, maybe they could relate better.
"We appreciate the recognition, but the importance of the song is being missed."
Pennywise's best-known song is also significant to its fans; the band regularly hears of it being played at funerals, and Fletcher even referenced a father and mother showing up at the Toronto show on Thursday, who had recently lost their 15-year-old son.
"They played (Bro Hymn) at the funeral, and they wanted to be at the show for their son. The most normal-looking people you'd ever see," Dragge said.
But the more traditional celebratory use of the song doesn't appear to be going away anytime soon. In fact, this isn't the first time it's been used at a sporting event.
"There's a Belgian soccer team that uses it -- you've got 70,000 people all at once singing it -- it's crazy," Dragge said. "We went over there, and no one knew who we were until we played the song. Then they went absolutely nuts."
No word of a mosh pit breaking out. Something tells me Thirsk would have loved to see that happen.
Bro Hymn lyrics
To our friend,
Present, past and beyond
Even though you weren't with us too long
Life is the most precious thing you can lose
While you were here the fun was never ending
Laugh a minute only the beginning
Jason Matthew Thirsk, this one's for you
Wooooaoooah Woooah Woooah Wooah
Ever get the feeling you can't go on
Just remember whose side it is that you're on
You've got friends with you till the end
If you're ever in a tough situation
We'll be there with no hesitation
Brotherhood's our rule we cannot bend
Wooooaoooah Woooah Woooah Wooah
When you're feeling too close to the bottom
You know who it is you can count on
Someone will pick you up again
we can conquer anything together
All of us are bonded forever
If you die I die, that's the way it is
Wooooaoooah Woooah Woooah Wooah
To all my friends,
Present, past and beyond
To all those who weren't with us too long
Life is the most precious thing that you can lose
While you were here the fun was never ending
Laugh a minute was only the beginning
Jason, my brother, this one's for you.
Week 5 Plummer stats:
13 for 24, 106 yards. 1 INT, 1 TD, QB rating of 62.2.
Our boy's performance in the first half vs. Baltimore had us prepping to drip him in our finest lingerie. However, he pulled it together down the stretch, and finally fed Rod Smith a late-game TD. This forced Tony Kornheiser to cease any immediate discussions involving Jay Cutler, but allowed him to continue the John Elway references. Jake must get so sick of this -- we bet he wants to kick Elway right in his two-time Super Bowl-winning horsey chompers. Jake would only talk to the TUC after the game regarding his true feelings for No. 7 -- you can read the quote below (and naturally he kept his helmet on during the interview.)
(Aside: Can Ray Lewis become the captain of the Ottawa Senators? Pretty please? We'll even overlook all of this unpleasantness from the past. Could you imagine Ray asking Anton Volchenkov and Chris Phillips if there are "any dogs in the house" [woof woof woof woof]? What are club seats going for at the SBP right now? I'll pony up double if I can watch this instead.)
Next week: Oakland (at home).
The Dress Up Jake Archives: Week 1 Week 2 Week 3
In spite of the criticism during the preseason and the endless questions surrounding his anointment as Ottawa's No. 1 goalie, Martin Gerber stepped up huge tonight, holding off the Leafs and garnering a 4-1 victory to open the season.
There's no doubt that Gerber kept the Sens in it, particularly during the first when Phillips decided to begin solidifying any UFA arguments for him to leave this summer, along with Anton Volchenkov taking the plunger to any of his future trade value.
And about Gerber: Frankly for me, he's going to take some getting used to. He's very smooth -- as if his joints were all replaced with ball bearings -- but he's not as crisp as Hasek. That being said, he's also a lot more calculated with his movements. My only pet peeve (and this is carrying over from the preseason) involves Gerber's constant searching for the puck. He manages to stave off the goals, but I can never feel confident about a goaltender who is perpetually checking behind him.
Other bits and pieces...
Good to see Andrej Meszaros finally shake off the cobwebs -- he was looking atrocious in training camp.
Dean McAmmond -- the only time I really noticed him was during missed scoring opportunities. I've come to expect a lot from the old boy of late, seeing as Gord Wilson hasn't stopped talking about him since mid-September. Eventually I pondered that McAmmond should be grateful for Wilson's recent vasectomy, because what Gord was doing could potentially be described as verbal humping.
Can we talk about timing, because something's definitely off. A Sens player would skate in on Raycroft (usually whomever was on centre), take the shot, allow the rebound to come out, only to have the RW skate too far and end up behind the net -- leaving him way out of position for any second chances. It was like watching drunken virgins experimenting with the rhythm method. Could we attempt to synch it up a little better than that?
Phrase of the night: "(Leaf player) wins the faceoff..." Fill in the blank with Michael Peca, Mats Sundin or similar. Is anything ever going to be done about this?
And speaking of Sundin (and before I forget):
Minus the hair...oh, and the blood. Of course.
P.S. We make our glorious return to Butterknife Row tomorrow night! Let the high school hijinx begin!
...because I said I would.
All right, you're going to have to cut me a break because I can't find an appropriate video or photo. What I wanted was an image of Stephen Colbert from his show, index finger in the air, balloons dropping on him while he screams, "I called it! I called it!"
I wanted it, because I wanted to show you what my reaction has been to Alexei Kaigorodov's performance in the preseason -- and that's exactly what it looks like.
It wasn't perplexing enough to have every online armchair GM proclaiming Kaigorodov's perpetual greatness, long before he stepped onto terra Canadiana. No, you also had to add the confident claims of the media and the front office loaded behind it, all insisting that Alexei could step into the No. 2 centre position with ease.
Whatever these people were smoking, surely must have been banned by the Conservative government by now.
Even towards the last days before the final roster was announced, some were still attempting to salvage the Russian's performance, by claiming that putting him on a line with Chris Kelly would provide an education in grit. The team even decided to have Kaigorodov room with Kelly on the road, in spite of language concerns.
Kaigorodov has made the final cut, but unlike Denis Hamel, you have to assume that the choice was reached more out of paranoia, as opposed to confidence. If the White Knight ends up in Russia as opposed to Binghamton, the fallout would be substantial. But in spite of joining the big team, Kaigorodov will penciled in as a healthy scratch tonight during the season opener vs. the Leafs. Second line centre, indeed.
Disappointment rating (thus far, out of...I dunno...five?):
Enjoying the cool weather lately? The nights have been appropriate for building a nice fire, no? Of course, you could probably use some kindling. Here's some sufficient fuel from the Saturday Sun:
Alfredsson has had his leadership questioned, mostly by those who point out no European NHL captain has raised the Stanley Cup.
Like the team he captains, Alfredsson's post-season play has rarely been up to the standard he sets during the regular season.
He unflinchingly absorbs the criticism and made no apologies for his leadership style.
"Until you win, the criticism is always going to be there. It's part of pro sports. I know myself and my abilities and the way I judge myself and what I think of my own play carries more weight than what anybody writes or thinks. I think it's fair and until we win ... we've had good chances and haven't been able to do it. Most of (the criticism is) fair.
"I believe I don't have to be a big motivator. I'm more of a quiet leader, not just vocally, but I don't want a lot of attention for it because I don't think it's that big a deal being a captain in the NHL. I think we have a lot leaders in this room and I get a lot of great help. It makes my job fairly easy."
Lovely. Is there anything better than putting someone in a position of leadership, only to have them show a frightening amount of indifference? Could you picture Steve Yzerman or Mark Messier delivering a quote like this?
P.S. A quick note on the Boo Boo avatars: I didn't create them; I don't know who did. But I do enjoy them, and I thought everyone else would as well. Hopefully no one will take them seriously, or in an inflammatory manner. A lot of bizarre things are done with the columnist mugshots -- if you want proof, search the archives for the Sidney Crosby decoupage, created by an enraged reader with my own photo.