Fusspot rants, embarrassing photos of yourself and general correspondence go here: universalnicks@gmail.com

The house that Wade built

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Interesting to see this little bit of news finally surface:

As he builds a new house in Kelowna, B.C., this summer, Wade Redden is suddenly thinking about where he's going to winter.

Sources tell TUC that Wade's 6,500 sq. foot beast of a house will be completed next year -- right around the time when unrestricted free agency begins.

P.S. In an interview, you should always look for a tell. Because it's the weekend, we'll point it out for you:

The "it's a great team" reason on the list for wanting to stay is in danger of meeting with an eraser.

"There are a lot of issues going on in Ottawa," said Redden.

In honour of The Simpsons Movie opening today, I thought I'd try and find at least some clips from my favourite episode, "Lisa's Rival" -- an episode that's been quoted in this house for years. "Cat! Deer! Old man!"

Marge: Homer, I really appreciate you making dinner, but this food
tastes a little strange.
Lisa: It hurts my teeth.
Homer: That's because I've loaded it with sugar!
[holds up bag containing "Farmer Homer's Sweet Sweet Sugar"]
Marge, our ship has come in! I found five hundred pounds of
sugar [to Bart, sly] in the forest [to Marge] that I'm going to
sell directly to the consumer! All for a low, low price of one
dollar per pound.
Marge: But the grocery store sells sugar for thirty-five cents a pound.
Lisa: And it doesn't have nails and broken glass in it.
Homer: Those are prizes! [eats a mouthful] Ooh, a blasting cap.

Staalapalooza takes it on the road

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

For the masses of cynics who felt the need to forward us this story...

From TSN.ca:

LUTSEN, Minn. (CP-AP) - Brothers Eric Staal of the Carolina Hurricanes and Jordan Staal of the Pittsburgh Penguins were among 14 people arrested and charged with disorderly conduct after a weekend party.

The incident early Saturday morning occurred at the Lutsen Resort and Sea Villas, about 90 minutes south of the Thunder Bay, Ont., hometown of the Staal brothers. They were gathered there for 22-year-old Eric Staal's bachelor party. Jordan is 18.

''I'm sure that everyone involved is embarrassed about the incident - as they should be,'' Rick Curran, the agent for both players, told The Canadian Press on Wednesday. ''Not to take anything away from the seriousness of it, it's what can happen when you get any group of 15 to 20 people together and there's loud noise.''


According to a release from the Cook County Sheriff's Office sent out Wednesday, police began receiving complaints at 12:30 a.m. of ''approximately 20 people screaming, yelling, and playing loud music.'' The group was warned by police around 12:50 a.m. to quiet down ''or they may be removed from the property, issued citations/arrested, and/or deported from the country.''

Curran said both players were among those who obeyed the first police warnings.

''Unfortunately, those that did get up and go to bed when first warned about the noise, including Eric and Jordan, are still among those that were woken up and asked to leave the hotel,'' said Curran.

Around 3 a.m., according to the Sheriff's new release, the group was ordered to leave the resort with the help of ''Cook County Sheriff deputies, a Minnesota state patrol trooper, and a United States border patrol agent.''

''After leaving the property, the group gathered on Highway 61 and began harassing passing motorists,'' the Sheriff's release said. ''At approximately 4 a.m. the suspects were placed under arrest for disorderly conduct and obstructing the legal process. Some of the suspects fled in to the nearby woods.''

The Staal brothers were among the 14 men arrested. Eric Staal was among the 10 who spent the night in jail. Jordan Staal was released after booking but not before being charged with consumption of alcohol while under 21 years of age, in addition to disorderly conduct and obstructing the legal process.

Eric Staal is to be married in August.

Just some background -- Lutsen is a year-round ski resort that's frequented by many young Thunder Bayans who are looking for a place to party during the weekends. You go, a bunch of your friends rent a condo -- in the winter, you get loaded and ski, and in the summer, you get loaded and ride the alpine slide. Good times all around.

We really are perplexed by the harrassment of motorists on Highway 61 -- it's a two-lane highway with sparse traffic and if you're not careful, you're liable to take an 40 ft. plunge into Lake Superior -- especially at night. But speaking from *cough* experience...the Cook County cops are not to be trifled with, and it really doesn't surprise us that they were thrown in jail for their actions. Ray Shero may be irked now -- he should just thank his lucky stars Eric didn't stop and bring Jordan into the Grand Portage Casino first.

Go here. We think it looks a little AHL-ish, but the fin isn't bad.

P.S. If you use Firefox, you may not be able to view the slideshow. Switch over to IE and hopefully you won't have a problem.

Who said Ray Emery wasn't a 4-million dollar goaltender? We did.

Funny that.

That being said, we're hoping for a sign-and-trade. If you're wondering why we desire such a situation, you must not have figured out the now-infamous photo essay.

Heatley's 7-year itch

Monday, July 23, 2007

Multiple sources close to Dany Heatley have informed TUC that the winger (and his agent J.P. Barry) are seeking a seven-year deal from the Senators, in the range of 49-54 million (all terms US) -- Heatley will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2007-08 season. While we find the length of the contract a bit much, the amount seems ironically bearable given the current free market insanity we've witnessed thus far. As a fellow media member put it to us this aft, "Wince, grit the teeth and then do the deal."

Thoughts? For the record, we've expressed our feelings on any recent Sens' cap space made available in this week's column.

Foreshadowing: A Pictorial Essay

Friday, July 13, 2007

Sometimes -- actually, more often than not these days -- we come across information so jaw dropping that we'd love to share it with you... except we'd hear it from someone. We still try and give you hints, through posts like the Blind Items and such.

Anyway, the latest news is far too multi-layered for just a Blind Item, so we thought we'd try something a bit different.

Here's how it'll work: There are a bunch of pictures posted below. Each serves a symbol that can be connected to one or several Senators-related things (either people in the organization, or specific events), and will call on your knowledge of the team, pop culture and this blog. Here's an easy example:

"65 "

I've written the number "65" and posted a picture of roses. "65 Roses" is the name of the charity Wade Redden is associated with -- so the answer would be "Wade Redden".

(Keep in mind I said that was an easy one. If you deem that to be too difficult to solve, the following isn't for you, Mensa. Go play in traffic.)

There are blatant clues located in the blog archives, and Googling might help. These symbols can give you the tools to figure out what's going on, and more importantly, why.


That's it. We were never promised that this would be the way things would shake out -- we do know it would be the preference for some very important people. Remember, the pictures have more than one clue (one photo has three), and a couple will require you to make several connections before you arrive at a clue that's Sens-related. Yes, I know it isn't easy. It's not supposed to be. But come on -- it's summer and the weather's crap. What else have you got to do?


Your 2007-08 Senators schedule

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Toronto series will be half over by November 17th (thank God), and the Stanley Cup "rematch" will occur on March 3rd.


Oct. 3 at Toronto, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 4 Toronto, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 6 N.Y. Rangers, 7:00 p.m.
Oct. 8 New Jersey, 3:00 p.m.
Oct. 10 at Atlanta, 7:00 p.m.
Oct. 11 Carolina, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 13 at N.Y. Rangers, 7:00 p.m.
Oct. 18 Montreal, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 20 Florida, 7:00 p.m.
Oct. 27 at New Jersey, 7:00 p.m.
Nov. 1 Atlanta, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 3 Boston, 7:00 p.m.
Nov. 4 at Boston, 7:00 p.m.
Nov. 6 Toronto, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 8 Washington, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 10 Montreal, 3:00 p.m.
Nov. 15 Buffalo, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 17 at Toronto, 7:00 p.m.
Nov. 19 at Montreal, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 21 at Buffalo, 7:00 p.m.
Nov. 22 Pittsburgh, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 24 Philadelphia, 7:00 p.m.
Nov. 28 at N.Y. Islanders, 7:00 p.m.
Nov. 29 Nashville, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 1 N.Y. Rangers, 3:00 p.m.
Dec. 4 at Tampa Bay, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 5 at Florida, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 7 at Dallas, 8:30 p.m.
Dec. 12 at Carolina, 7:00 p.m.
Dec. 13 at Pittsburgh, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 15 Atlanta, 7:00 p.m.
Dec. 18 at Boston, 7:00 p.m.
Dec. 20 at Atlanta, 7:00 p.m.
Dec. 22 Chicago, 7:00 p.m.
Dec. 23 at N.Y. Rangers, 7:00 p.m.
Dec. 26 at Buffalo, 7:00 p.m.
Dec. 27 N.Y. Islanders, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 29 Washington, 7:00 p.m.
Jan. 1 at Washington, 4:00 p.m.
Jan. 4 at Buffalo, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 5 Tampa Bay, 7:00 p.m.
Jan. 10 Buffalo, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 12 Detroit, 7:00 p.m.
Jan. 13 N.Y. Islanders, 7:00 p.m.
Jan. 15 at Washington, 7:00 p.m.
Jan. 17 Carolina, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 19 Tampa Bay, 7:00 p.m.
Jan. 20 at Philadelphia, 7:00 p.m.
Jan. 22 at Florida, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 24 at Tampa Bay, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 29 at N.Y. Islanders, 7:00 p.m.
Jan. 31 Boston, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 2 at Toronto, 7:00 p.m.
Feb. 5 at Montreal, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 7 Florida, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 9 Montreal, 7:00 p.m.
Feb. 12 Buffalo, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 13 at New Jersey, 7:00 p.m.
Feb. 16 New Jersey, 7:00 p.m.
Feb. 19 Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 21 Columbus, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 23 at Pittsburgh, 2:00 p.m.
Feb. 25 Toronto, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 26 at Boston, 7:00 p.m.
Feb. 28 at Philadelphia, 7:00 p.m.
Mar. 1 Pittsburgh, 3:00 p.m.
Mar. 3 at Anaheim, 10:00 p.m.
Mar. 5 at San Jose, 10:30 p.m.
Mar. 6 at Los Angeles, 10:30 p.m.
Mar. 8 at Phoenix, 9:00 p.m.
Mar. 11 Boston, 7:30 p.m.
Mar. 13 at Montreal, 7:30 p.m.
Mar. 16 at Carolina, 3:00 p.m.
Mar. 20 St. Louis, 7:30 p.m.
Mar. 22 Toronto, 7:00 p.m.
Mar. 24 at Montreal, 7:30 p.m.
Mar. 25 at Buffalo, 7:00 p.m.
Mar. 27 Buffalo, 7:30 p.m.
Mar. 29 at Boston, 1:00 p.m.
Apr. 1 Montreal, 7:30 p.m.
Apr. 3 at Toronto, 7:30 p.m.
Apr. 4 Boston, 7:30 p.m.

"Is this what a stroke feels like?"

Monday, July 09, 2007

I always know my blood pressure is destined for new heights when The Driver text-messages me with the following ominous request:

"Turn on Team 1200 NOW."

I received this message most recently on Sunday night, just after 9 pm. I was perplexed, because I didn't think any local programming aired at that time. Naturally I assumed something outrageous was taking place on Fox Sports Radio.

But I was wrong. It was local. And I wasn't prepared for the brutality that my ears would soon be subjected to.

The show is called FourPlay. It's a quartet (naturally) of women -- aged 36 to 44 -- talking about sex and relationships for two seizure-inducing hours. Here's the show's description from the Team 1200's website:

Host: Roxy, Ginger, Charlie and NJ

Get Ready Ottawa….for your Sunday night oral stimulation! FourPlay on The Team 1200 is launching Sunday July 8th from 9-11pm.

Meet Roxy, Ginger, Charlie and NJ… Think, “Sex in the City” meets “The View”. We have exciting stories and topics that will curl your toes and raise (more) than a few eyebrows! FourPlay is not suitable for all ages, puts your kids to bed and tune in to the show on the Team 1200 AM!!!

Ooh, naughty...triple exclamation point. (Actually, I was referring to the grammar. Sheesh.)

First of all, I'll tell you that I saw this after I listened to the show, and had correctly guessed half of the description. I personally pegged it as The View crossed with National Public Radio.

Here's an example: The topic of the night was fantasies. One of them piped up that she had a fantasy to share. The other three apparently are all ears. What was the secret wish?

To not have her basement flood every spring.

Ten to one says all four own some breed of malicious yapping dog under the 6 lb. mark, and several Christmas sweaters apiece.

(That's hot! And likely itchy!)

I wish I could properly explain this buggered up experiment, but I'm completely baffled. There was no sports talk whatsoever -- just four women talking about sex and relationships. Worse still, none of them claimed to have any professional experience in the field (i.e. sex therapy, relationship therapy or psychology) -- it was just four hens, a bottle of red wine, and a bunch of clips from a March '96 Cosmopolitan. The "kinkiest" discussion involved the mention of handcuffs and a blindfold (how original), and all were confused by a man's confession that he wanted to uh...orally pleasure a woman's stiletto heel. It's called a foot fetish, Mensas. Does no one watch Dr. Sue anymore? (By the way, how killer is that photo of her with her hand in the bag?)

Combine this with the inclusion of a Russian psychic (Miss Babushka) and callers named "Manolo" (a ringer moniker if we've ever heard one), and you can understand why The Driver texted the following:

"Is this what a stroke feels like?"

What was the point of this blatant stupidity? The last time I checked, the station referred to itself as "Sports Radio: The Team 1200". I would have a better comprehension of these events if the participants were 20-something girls with a twinge of sports knowledge, who dabbled in innuendo and pointed out which athletes they found attractive. We've made our stance on such behaviour quite clear, but at least there would be a sliver of a sports tie-in -- we would vehemently rally against it, but we'd get it. There's nothing of the sort in this show.

The Team's morning show has regressed over the years to a three-hour slog of so-called humour and sex cracks that my own 16-year-old nephew deems highly pedestrian. But there must be a definitive market for it, otherwise how else are we to explain a female-hosted sex program on a sports radio station? You can never go broke appealing to the lowest common denominator -- it's a mantra that the Team 1200 seems to be subscribing to on a regular basis these days.

And in case you missed it

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Here was our interview with Sens' prospect Ben Blood.

From today's Sun:

The Senators will announce today the signing of D Brian Lee, their No. 1 pick (ninth overall) in the 2005 draft, along with 2004 fifth-round pick RW Jim McKenzie. Lee went to North Dakota last season, while McKenzie attended Michigan State.

What do you think -- a callup in the next 18 months or a perpetual Bingo boy? I'm guessing the latter.

First impressions

Sunday, July 01, 2007

(Ed. Note: After 11+ years, we're still learning things about The Driver. Recently he told us he was in a high school cover band named "First Impressions". We howled for a good five minutes over the sheer lameness of that title. He swears he told us -- we would've remembered.)

Some initial thoughts from the first day of the Sens' developmental camp on Thursday (which included practice drills and a couple of brief 3-on-3 scrimmages):

Ilja Zubov: I've seen some posters on the HFBoards claiming to be pleased with him -- I wasn't. In fact, I saw shades of Kaigorodov. There's talent to be had; he handles the puck nicely (decent passer and better with the puck than without) and can make plays, but he's slow as all hell. The skating just isn't there. The other thing that bothered me was his work ethic. He cheated during drills -- one in particular I noticed was an exercise where players would skate backwards around the faceoff circle. Zubov would cut off the top of the circle. He's also prone to skating with his head down, and he was the only one I saw take a knee during drills.

Nick Foligno: It's obvious the kid tries hard, particularly with his skating, but he still needs a lot of work. His backwards skating was laboured, but better than some of the forwards I saw (see Zubov). Granted, that still isn't saying much. Foligno has initial bursts of speed which are impressive (10-15 seconds), but has difficulty maintaining stamina. He does carry himself with a great deal of confidence. What he's able to accomplish in Binghamton (when the time comes) will matter a great deal -- it'll mean the difference between him turning into a second-line contributor, or a third-line filler. Right now, I see the latter.

Louie Caporusso: Itty-bitty, but one of the better skaters I saw. Good speed, and smooth strides. Unfortunately, I didn't see him put one puck into the net during the two-hour practice. Hands of stone (at least on this day).

Ben Blood: His stride reminded me a bit of Phillips, but his skating definitely needs work. His size was obviously apparent during the practice (one of the bigger players) but he carries himself fairly well. That being said, the kid's got a nose for the net. Very nice hands, and a good wrist shot (I saw him put the puck top-right more than once with little effort). You'll note in the interview he practiced his shooting for three hours a day, but admitted his feet needed some work. If he's willing to put that kind of dedication into his skating, he could develop nicely. Oh, and take this for what it's worth -- he's a Sean Avery fan.

I'm going to try and head back for one of the 3-on-3s to gather more thoughts, but just an overall assessment: I didn't see anyone that blew me away, or anything resembling a raw balanced player -- they all need work in various areas. If you've attended, give me your thoughts via e-mail and I'll post them.

P.S. I don't know what was up with this, but the practice was broken up into halves, separated by a Zamboni re-icing. Most left after the first half hour or so, because I'm assuming they thought it was over (when I spoke to PR rep Brian Morris, he told me the practice would run until 3:30). There was only a handful of people who stayed for the whole thing, or were at least planning to. At around 3 pm, some dandy with a clipboard started walking around questioning people about why they're present, and if they knew anyone on the ice -- then they were told to leave, because it was a closed practice. Uh, that's not what the website says.