Sunday, August 31, 2008

Taking the Alaskan Highway to the promised land

Anchorage, Alaska is the birthplace of two NY Rangers: Scotty Gomez and Brandon Dubinsky, who both play center. So to succeed and reach the promised land of the playoffs this year, the NY Rangers will have to take the Alaskan highway. Gomez and Dubinsky will need to be our ice road truckers and haul a very big load.

Senator John McCain has also decided to drive the Alaskan highway, and is similarly asking Governor Sarah Palin to haul a big load.

The Alaskan highway is a rough road. It's about 1,500 miles from Dawson Creek to Fairbanks. My brother has driven that road several times, and he says it's tricky and dangerous. You have to watch for moose, deer, and stones the size of your fist getting hurled at your windshield from logging trucks. Plus, it beats the hell out of the suspension on your truck.

Gomez, Dubinsky, and Governor Palin will all have to change their shocks and dodge some big rocks and wildlife before the season is over.

ICINGS:

Bonus points if you knew the name of the minor league hockey team that plays in Anchorage. Scott Gomez played for them during the lockout year.

Gov. Sarah Palin: Midnight runs and caribou dinners

Gov. Sarah Palin: Midnight runs and caribou dinners

Friday, August 29, 2008

Sarah Palin, Alaska's Hockey Mom — Next Veep?

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Sarah Palin, Alaska's Hockey Mom — Next Veep?I would never have guessed that Alaska and hockey would come back so quickly to the top of the news after the flight of fancy from yesterday.

Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin, John McCain's just announced running mate, calls herself a "hockey mom."

She also has a hockey-like nickname, "Sarah Barracuda," which she earned as a point guard on her Alaska high school champion basketball team. Her hobbies are moose hunting, ice fishing, and snowmobiling. She is a lifetime member of the NRA, and her favorite meal is moose stew.

Beldar blog:
Review: Kaylene Johnson's "Sarah: How a Hockey Mom Turned Alaska's Political Establishment Upside Down" --
On June 8th, after finishing several hours of internet research, I posted a long essay (with many photographs) entitled Would Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin be a grand slam as McCain's Veep? I'm not claiming any causal relationship, mind you, but consider the following events since then (in addition to my own short follow-up post on June 18th) ...

Sarah Palin: hunterPalin caribou hunting

Palin probably has a harder slap shot than Bush or even Joe Biden.

update:

The RangerPundit now has Sarah Palin's #2 hockey jersey for the NY Rangers ready to go. Lace'em up lady.

RangerPundit: Sarah Palin, #2 hockery jersey for NY Rangers----

What You Didn't See at the Olympics



Getting excited over women's, or is it now prepubescent little girls, gymnastics once every four years seems about right.

ICINGS:

Now let's enjoy a real man's sport. NHL bloopers:



shootouts
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etc.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Butterfly Effect: Joe Sakic Edition

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The Butterfly Effect: Joe Sakic Edition
Scotty Hockey has an interesting science fiction type story about "what if" Joe Sakic had become a NY Ranger back in 1997. The Rangers had him signed for $21 million over 3 years, but the Avalanche matched the offer sheet, and as Scotty noted: " New York was doomed to seven years without the playoffs." Ouch!

Scotty's take on what would have happened if Joe Sakic had become a Ranger reminded me of the 2004 movie, The Butterfly Effect, which was shown on cable this week. This brutal and depressing movie, starring Ashton Kutcher, shows through flash-backs and flash-forwards, several alternate realities that a young boy experiences based on different actions he did and did not take during his childhood. Sadly, all but one of the many future outcomes turned out really bad. So it was not a big jump to mentally link this movie to the Rangers.

The movie's title is based on the idea of how a "butterfly's wings might create tiny changes in the atmosphere that may ultimately alter the path of a tornado or delay, accelerate or even prevent the occurrence of a tornado." It has something to do with "chaos theory," which I think is also the code name for the annual MSG management retreat.

The Rangers are a "chaos theory" petri dish. Every personnel decision, draft pick, trade, and contract has the potential to significantly impact the team's future. Thinking about "what if" the Rangers had obtained Joe Sakic makes you wish the butterfly had landed on that 1997 offer sheet and made it just a tiny bit too heavy for the Avalanche to lift.

That alternate reality could not have been any worse than the real reality. Could it? And what past decision kept you from being GM of the Rangers?

ICINGS:

Danger, literary note.

"Alternate history --- with worlds where the South won the Civil War, or aliens invaded during the Second World War -- is a popular kind of science fiction." One recent book entitled The Yiddish Policemen's Union is based on an interesting alternate history, where the Jewish homeland, Israel, ended up getting moved to the sparsely populated, Alaskan town of Sitka on the large Baranof Island.

This idea of relocating the displaced European Jews to Alaska briefly floated around before World War 2; check out the Slattery Report. Think about how that would have changed world history - a very big butterfly. If that had come to pass, what a hockey team they would they have had in Sitka, Alaska. And think of how many more Hockey Rabbis we'd have today.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

No Go for Go Go Gomez?

Big buzzing in the blogosphere about Scotty Gomez possibly being traded so the Rangers can make salary cap room for Mats Sundin.

It seems like a 'pink is the new hockey' rumor monger named Eklund over at Hockey Buzz set off this latest round of speculation. You can tell everyone is getting itchy to get this season started, because everyone is ready to pounce on any morsel of hockey meat.

Greg Wyshynski over at Yahoo Sports nicely summarized the feeding frenzy: How the Rangers trading Gomez went from 'imminent' to idiotic --

A hockey rumor "blogger," whose hit-to-miss ratio rivals that of a visually impaired Imperial stormtrooper, reported that the New York Rangers are going to trade center Scott Gomez in order to open up cap space to sign free agent Mats Sundin. The Vancouver Canucks were named as the likely destination.

This naturally sent places like the HF Boards into a speculative tizzy, because really why else would they exist? (Well, besides potentially being the original source for the Gomez-to-Vancouver rumor, that is.) Around the same time, Greg Caggiano, a writer for the open-source sports blogging community The Bleacher Report, penned a post with this breathless headline: "Scott Gomez Deal Imminent: Los Angeles, Vancouver, Minnesota Destinations."

This created a cottage industry of Gomez speculation on that blogging network, from debating Sundin's contributions to the Rangers with Gomez's to potential deals involving Gomez around the NHL. (Our favorite: Scott Gomez and Michal Roszival to Minnesota for Marian Gaborik and Kurtis Foster. Because, you know, Gomez really, really, really loved playing in the Devils' defensive system. Uh-huh.) The Bleacher Report coverage soon spread to sites like The Dark Ranger for further rumor dispersal...

Eric over at 5-Hole also dissects the rumor mill.
Gomez trade in the works? --
Spector's Hockey: THE RANGERS AREN’T MOVING GOMEZ!!!!!
Greg Caggiano at Bleacher Report had this defense of getting caught up in the craziness: Following Scott Gomez Trade Possibility, Remember, Rumors Are Rumors -- and conceded...
It seems that there is in fact no Scott Gomez deal on the table... Will Scott Gomez be traded? The answer is no...
This is all water off a duck over here for Mike, The Ranger Pundit, whose cottage industry right now is grilling and chilling as summer comes to an end. No need to get worked into a tizz over ifs and buts until 'Tomato Face' shows us his hole cards for the coming season.

But, Mr. Tomato will be quickly thrown on the grill if he swaps his Ace for a Jack.

Anyone for a game of volleyball?

ICINGS:

Before summer is gone let's focus on the important.

Please remind us again why the Rangers don't have Ice Girls? The Knicks have the Knicks City Dancers. So why are the Rangers discriminating against having women on the ice? It seems very unfair and un-American. They are depriving some young women of an opportunity to showcase their talents. It's all show business these days so don't mumble something about tradition.

Speaking of showcasing some talent. Here's a suggestion: if you're looking for a summer sport to fill in your hockey downtime, check out women's beach volleyball.

How would the women's beach volleyball TV ratings have stacked up against the NHL's ratings? We probably don't want to know. In China more people may have watched the women's beach volleyball finals, U.S. vs. China, than live in this country - big numbers. Do you think the KHL wants a team in Beijing?

Even President Bush wanted to bump some volleyballs with the ladies. Has Mr. Bush ever taken a slap shot?

It's a sad state of affairs when the Chinese put on a better show during downtime at a sporting event than the Rangers.

George Bush bumps the volleyball with Misty May at the Beijing Olympics
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photos of cheerleaders at beach volleyball in Beijingcheerleaders at beach volleyball in Beijing
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Brazil's Larissa França signals during a women's beach volleyball gameBrazil's Larissa França signals during a women's beach volleyball game
against Russia at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Adam, Andy, and Harry will warm the Garden in February

A belated nod to the three Rangers' greats, who they will honor in February: Adam Graves Night on Feb. 3; Andy Bathgate and Harry Howell Night on Feb. 22.

Andy BathgateBathgate, played 12 seasons with the New York Rangers from 1952-53 to 1963-64 and served as Captain from 1961 to 1964, established himself as one of the most prolific scorers to don the Rangers sweater...

Graves, was the two-time Rangers’ MVP (1993 and 1994) who retired from professional hockey following the 2002-03 season after a memorable 17-year career, now serves in the Rangers Hockey and Business Operations departments...

Howell, played 17 seasons with the New York Rangers from 1952-53 to 1968-69 and served as Captain from 1955 to 1957, established the benchmark for consistency and durability in the Rangers organization...

The Rangers management must have been listening to Mike, the Ranger Pundit, who back on October 31st said:

... when an Adam Graves number 9 goes up I would like to see an Andy Bathgate number 9 go up. . .

[and] what about [honoring] guys like Bill and Bun Cook, Frankie Boucher, Chuck Rayner, Lynn Patrick, Harry Howell . . .
You see Mike, sometimes they listen. Maybe we'll get the Bun hoisted someday.

Legends of Hockey:
Bathgate could play the physical game and was known as a fierce fighter when the occasion warranted it, perhaps an attribute from his youth in a tough Winnipeg neighborhood known for its boxers. . .
Stan Fischler, 'The Maven,' over at MSG.com also had a nice tribute to all three. Bathgate the Consummate Performer --
Class and artistry intertwined in a pirouette..

Considered by some who saw him play as the best Rangers right wing of all time, Andy Bathgate reeked of class and artistry. He played the game cleanly, but was also an excellent fighter when the occasion demanded the rough stuff. . .
The Maven:
Graves the Ultimate Fan Favorite --

If a popularity contest was held that included every Ranger whoever donned the Blueshirt, Adam Graves would be at or near the top.

It was hard not to like Adam; a player who extended himself to the public, whether the object of his interest was the mayor or a garbage collector. The peripatetic forward was also a splendid player and goal scorer, par excellence. . .
The Maven:
Howell Coming Home to Rafters --
Harry Howell ranks among the most underrated defensemen of all time; except for one area: He ranks in the Hall of Fame. Howell spent 22 years in the NHL. Seventeen of those years were spent with the Rangers, for whom Howell played 1,160 games, a team record. For his 1,000th game, the Rangers honored him with a memorable Harry Howell Night at Madison Square Garden.

If Harry had a problem, it was that he lacked the fire and brimstone style of his defensive teammate Lou (Louie the Leaper) Fontinato. Harry played a methodical, clever, and tough game when he had to . . .
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ICINGS:

Amanda Beard posed nude for Playboy in 2007A gratuitous Olympic wrap-up.

Wasn't everyone naked in the original Greek version of the games? So there was no problem when U.S. swimmer Amanda Beard posed nude for Playboy in 2007.

Beard won a gold and two silvers at Athens in 2004.

Beard, along with Dara Torres and Natalie Coughlin, was elected a co-captain of the 2008 US Olympic women’s swimming team. However, in Beijing at her fourth Olympics, Beard failed to reach the semifinals in the 200 meter breaststroke, placing 18th in the preliminaries.

The French Olympic swimmer, Laure Manaudou, also posed nude. But it was for her ex-boyfriend, Italian swimmer Luca Marin, who was accused of posting the pictures on the internet. These days how does that hurt someone's career prospects?

Even if most of the athletes kept their clothes on, and you watched any of the Beijing games, would you agree that they were the best Olympics ever?

By the way, why did they ever retire old Peking?

Espn :: Olympics Best & Worst list:
American Olympians. Three Yanks who ennobled the Games by their actions:

  • Gold: David Neville (22). His headfirst dive to the finish line for bronze in the 400-meter track final was the living symbol of how badly someone can want a medal. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy, and it completed an American sweep of the event -- a rare triumphant moment for the U.S. at the track venue.

  • Silver: Brendan Hansen (23). America's best breaststroker had a brutal summer -- he failed to make the Olympic team in the 200 breast and failed to win a medal in the 100, an event in which he held the world record. After finishing fourth and watching bitter rival Kosuke Kitajima of Japan win the gold and take his world record, Hansen could have quickly exited the pool and left the painful scene. Instead, he crossed two lanes to congratulate Kitajima. That's class.

  • Bronze: Jessica Mendoza (24). The softball left fielder was crushed when the U.S. was stunned by Japan in the gold-medal game, but she overcame it for the greater cause of Olympic softball. She quickly organized the Japanese and bronze medalist Australia to place softballs in the shape of the numbers "2016" in the infield, then had the teams pose behind them. The point: to bring back softball, which is being booted from the Olympics in part because of -- oops -- American dominance.

You can be pretty sure you will not see a country spending $40+ billion to host the games again. The Prime Minister of the UK, Gordon Brown, and the Mayor of London, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, must have come away knowing they will have a tough act to follow. But the Brits kept a stiff upper lip, Boris Johnson said:
"We have been dazzled, we have been impressed, we have been blown away by these games but we have not been intimidated. . . I am absolutely convinced that we can do the same without blowing the £9.3bn ($17bn) budget."
And how the heck does a guy named Boris, who was born in New York City, end up being the Mayor of London?

Cheap seats in London.

So some corners will need to be cut. For example, there will be no $543 million Bird's Nest built in London. Instead they will erect a temporary circle of bleachers that will then be dismantled after the games. That's basically what London Olympic Stadium sounds like:
The stadium's design will be revolutionary as it will largely be a temporary structure, which will be reduced from 80,000 to 25,000 seats after the games, leaving what organisers hope will be a sustainable living community stadium...
They can call it "Cheap Seat Park" after the games. Maybe the NHL will want to pick up those discarded 55,000 seats at a bargain price and use them every year for their now annual outdoor "Winter Classic." They could then hold it on just about any frozen pond, they'd save big on the stadium rental.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Rangers Ready to Embrace Sunny? And Jettison Rosey?

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warm embrace for teammateOkay, I was just looking for an excuse to post some gratuitous Olympic coverage. Who'd want to bet that Misty May and Kerry Walsh couldn't out jump every Ranger on the roster. Different muscles for different sports, you know. So what is the hockey equivalent of a 42" vertical jump?

I know that's not May and Walsh above, but this one ties into the embrace theme.

Speaking of super women jocks, the American woman who won the discus Monday, Stephanie Brown Trafton, would have given super decathlon stud Bob Mathias a run for his money at his specialty, the discus.

Bob Mathias, 6'3" 203 pounds, threw the men's discus (2kg) a distance of 144' 4" at the 1952 Olympics held in London. Trafton, who is 6'4" and 225 pounds threw the (1kg) women's discus 212' 5" in Beijing. Would she beat Mathias if she threw the heavier disk? Who has better form?

Anyway, back to hockey, so Brooksie is reporting that Matt Sundin is "itchin' to lace 'em up on Broadway." And that means "the Blueshirts would almost certainly have to move defenseman Michal Rozsival, who re-signed on July 1 for $5M per for four years."

Sunny for Rosey, who's going to argue against that move? But, that leaves the Rangers with only five defensemen. Hey, can we get Leetch back on the ice? Some guy named Chelios is still apparently playing at the god awful age of 46. If Leetch did come back would they have to take his number down?

And I bet 'Tomato Face' still has Malik's number if they need a warm half-dead body to play defense. Hank will just have to suck it up again. So we get Sunny and the imposing 6'6" embalmed Marek Malik back for Rosey. Happy days are here again.

I think Walsh & May could both out jump, out hit, and out-quick Merek, but I'm pretty sure he can still out skate them, but I'm not betting on that.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Best US Defenseman: Leetch or Chelios?

Since Brian Leetch's selection for the USA Hockey Hall of Fame the question has been raised whether he should be considered the best American defenseman of all time?

Some have suggested that Chris Chelios might have that distinction. And they would be wrong.

The career statistics show that Leetch, 247-G,781-A, 1028-pts in 19 seasons, was much better than Chelios, 185-G, 763-A, 948-pts in 27 seasons.

Also diminishing the reputation of Chris Chelios is the cheap shot he put on Brian Propp during the 1989 playoffs. Chelios was playing for Montreal at the time.

In Game 1 of the 1989 Stanley Cup playoff series between the Canadians and the Philadelphia Flyers, which the Flyers lost in six games, Propp sustained a concussion from an unpenalized hit by Chris Chelios, where Chelios blind sided him with an elbow. Propp fell to the ice hard, hitting his head against the ice. Chelios quickly became the most hated man in Philly.

Here's the replay of that hit:


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The aftermath:


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via HockeyBuzz

Avery Zoolander

Sean Avery working as GAP Zoolander model----
How to Do the "Blue Steel" Pose from Zoolander
  1. Pose your lower body, this is mainly up to you (popping of the collar is highly suggested).
  2. Tilt one of your shoulders towards the camera.
  3. Make sure your face is looking directly at the camera.
  4. Pucker your lips; and suck in your cheeks some.
  5. Squint your eyes just a bit, as if there is a strong wind or sand blowing at you.
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Sean Avery GAP advertisementAOL Fanhouse:
Sean Avery Falls Into the Gap -- Sean Avery's adventures in the world of fashion took another turn yesterday when The Gap announced that the brand new Dallas Stars winger is going to be one of the celebrities featured in the company's Fall marketing campaign...

Andrew's Dallas Stars:
Searching for Sean Avery -- Anyway, here's the latest one that I found interesting. It came in the way of a Gap press release...
Gap has tapped a diverse group of actors and style makers to launch its fall collection, the first full collection designed by Gap head designer Patrick Robinson. The campaign, launching this week, features Liv Tyler, Ginnifer Goodwin, Hugh Dancy, Edgar Ramirez, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Melvil Poupaud, Clemence Poesy, Nate Parker, Joe Anderson, Georgina Chapman, Julia Restoin Roitfeld, Scott Schuman, Leigh Lezark, Sean Avery, David Benioff, Max Lugavere & Jason Silva, Cecilia Dean and Ryan McGinley.

Comprised of black and white images shot by acclaimed fashion photographer Mikael Jansson, the campaign features iconic pieces from Gap’s fall collection worn in unique ways by each individual. Liv Tyler relaxes in the boyfriend cardigan, Scott Schuman (photographer and blogger for The Sartorialist) accessorizes the oxford shirt, and actor Clemence Poesy tops off the new low rise bell jean with a tailored wool blazer.
As for Avery, he will be featured in a photograph wearing The Classic V-Neck, which sells for $49.50.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Leetch & Richter going into USA Hockey Hall of Fame

The secret of greatness is simple: do better work than any other man in your field - and keep on doing it.
— Wilfred A. Peterson
Mike Richter and Brian Leetch Enter U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Together
Leetch and Richter did "better work" for years for the New York Rangers. They richly deserve this honor. Here are some thoughts from others.

Craig Custance / Sporting News:
A stellar class for U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame
I admit I'm not up to speed on the selection process for the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, but its Class of 2008 is absolutely stacked. It's amazing these four are going in the Hall in the same year. Brett Hull, Mike Richter, Brian Leetch and Cammi Granato will all be inducted on Oct. 10 in Denver.

Granato will be the first woman inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, which is quite an accomplishment. It's hard to forget that gold medal in the 1998 Olympics in Nagano.

In January, I had the honor of covering Brian Leetch Night at Madison Square Garden where the Rangers raised his No. 2 to the rafters. It was one of the most touching and well-done ceremonies I've ever witnessed. You couldn't help but get caught up in the moment, and usually sportswriters hate pre-game ceremonies because it messes with our deadlines later that night. But that night was something special. I didn't mind rushing through my game story at 11 p.m...
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Pucks on Broadway:
Deservedly So: Richter and Leetch Headed to U.S. Hall
Any casual reader of this blog knows how I feel about these two individuals... On the ice, both showed the same poise and outstanding character. Their numbers hang in the MSG rafters for a reason ...

So without going too on too much about this: congratulations to Brian Leetch and Mike Richter...
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NY Rangers:
Richter, Leetch Enter U.S. Hall Together
Rangers' Dynamic Duo Were Mainstays on Team USA, Too ...

Both players have already had their numbers retired by the Rangers organization, which will also retire their former teammate and close friend Adam Graves' No. 9 during the 2008-09 season.

It is only fitting that Richter and Leetch should enter the U.S. Hall together. The two first met in the USA Hockey junior program, and were teammates in international play from the mid-1980s, when they represented their country in numerous junior tournaments, including the 1986 and 1987 World Junior Championships...
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NY Post / The Blue Seats blog comments:
Leetch, Richter Inducted USA HOF
NO matter what else happens, or has happened, there will always be a somewhat nasty recollection in the minds of Rangers fans that Leetch was allowed to be pushed off the team in his final years, and shunted to Toronto and Boston. He should have retired as a Ranger. ( And if he had been with this Ranger team for the past couple of years of his playing career, you can bet that he would have done a lot more good for the kids coming up than Jagr could ever have thought of doing. I personally would love to see him sitting in that GM's chair - immediately... - Fran
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I agree that Leetch should have retired in a Rangers uniform. The way Sather treated him, and showed no respect towards the Ranger fans and tradition was a disgrace. I know that reality is that its a buisness first, but there are exceptions to this rule, and Leetch was one of those exceptions. And it also wasn't like he had no value left as a player when Sather traded him. IMO, he would have been an asset to the D-men on this team in helping them with their game. I still feel that even today - Greg
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Newsday /Blue Notes blog:
Leetch, Richter headed to U.S. Hall of Fame — comments...
I think I'd rather have Leetch than Redden @ $6.5 million a year for 6 years. - Mike Hock
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Leetch is definitely in my top ten all time Rangers. He also richly deserves to be in the US Hall of Fame with Mike Richter. Here's my top ten all time Rangers since 1946. - lennynyr

1. Bathgate
2. Ratelle
3. Messier
4. Leetch
5. Giacomin
6. Park
7. Graves
8. Gilbert
9. Worsley
10. Hadfield

Honorable mention to Ron Greschner, Harry Howell, Mike Richter, Jagr, Doug Harvey, Walt Tkaczuk.
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ICINGS

Don't be surprised, the rich get richer...

James Mirtle:
The NHL's salary structure: The Rise of the middle class
With player payrolls maxed at $50 million per season, salary cap hockey is slowly squeezing out the NHL's hardworking middle class. It's a system that encourages general managers to throw big bucks at their stars, then try to fill the third scoring line with cheap spare parts or kids from the farm.
Mark Kiszla, The Denver Post
The notion of a disappearing middle-tier of salaries for players comes right out of the NBA and NFL, where high-end players have, to a certain extent, received big dollars and left scraps for a lot of their teammates. Basketball, in particular, which had a few players getting the lion's share of the compensation, counteracted the trend by introducing a 'Middle Class Exemption' to its salary cap.

But the NHL's a different beast — and in more ways than one.

What we've really seen over the past few years, as salaries have risen along with the cap, is that more and more players are falling into that $2.5- to $5-million range. The giant cluster of players within the $1.5-million-and-under group, meanwhile, has shrunk...
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James Mirtle:
What is the average NHL salary? -- this is the average based on players' hits against the cap for players with 10 or more games played ... the league's average's salary in 2003-04 was about $1.85-million

Average NHL Salary----

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The NHL's 50-20 Rule: Do the Rangers Underperform?

Dr. Mark J. Perry, a professor of of economics and finance, has the blog Carpe Diem. He points out that the top 20% of NBA players score 80% of the points. This is an application of the Pareto principle (also termed the 80-20 rule). It is a statistical principle that frequently applies to human activities.

Does this 80-20 rule apply to the NHL? Are 80% of the points scored by 20% of the players? Probably not, because of the way ice time is allocated in the more physically demanding NHL game. NHL scoring leaders don't get as much playing time per game as do NBA stars.

So what is the scoring distribution for the top 20% of the players on an NHL team. Just taking a look at two teams: the NY Rangers and the Pittsburg Penquins might lead you to believe that something like the "50-20 Rule" applies in the NHL. Meaning that 50% of your total points are scored by the top 20% of your players.

For example, the NY Rangers top 5 players (20% of the 26 who registered stats) had 48% of the total points scored (286 of 596) last season. The top 5 Rangers scorers were: Jagr, Gomez, Drury, Shanahan, and Straka. Three of whom are now gone by the way.

For the Pittsburg Penguins, their top 6 players (20% of the 31 who registered stats) had 59% of the total points scored (423 of 715). Their six top scorers were: Malkin, Crosby, Hossa, Gonchar, Sykora, and Malone. Going five-on-five, shows that their top five scored 52% of the points. Four percentage points better than their Ranger counterparts.

It's just a guess, but the NHL team average might fall somewhere between the numbers for these two teams, which would therefore be around 50% of the points for the top 20% scorers.

If this 50-20 Rule is true for the NHL then a case could be made that the Rangers big money stars underperformed last season. Which, if you are a Rangers fan rings true. We know that Jagr was coasting most of the season. It also raises the question of whether Tom Renney defensive style hockey goes against the normal pattern for NHL winners.

Obviously, some more number crunching needs to be done. But, it's an interesting idea to explore.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Slicing the vig, "In dispute" and Dangerous Dallas

NY Post: Foul Play, NBA Ref blows the whistle, games riggedThe impact of the crooked NBA ref, Tim Donaghy, and headlines like the one the NY Post ran back in June have been felt in Vegas. Why should professional sports books, which are run by large public companies like MGM, Winn, Boyd, etc take risks on a game that might not be on the up and up? This FBI investigation could take years. So the NBA's "integrity of the game" will be in limbo until then.

But, Vegas will still collect its vig - win, lose, or fix.

Chris Reed / SLAM:
Is The NBA Gambling On Its Reputation? -- Las Vegas bookies are considering taking the NBA off the boards.

When it comes to the NBA, more and more professional sports handicappers are finding it a risky bet.

It’s been a year since the hoops world found out that Tim Donaghy was nothing more than a wannabe bookie in a gray shirt — gambling on games he officiated and making calls based on spread in the books...

It’s still not much more than a murmur, but sports bookies are openly taking about the possibility of taking the NBA off the boards. Go into a sports book these days and you’ll hear the talk. “Are you still going to bet on hoops?” “Is it fixed?” “Can we trust the NBA?” ...

As far as Commissioner David Stern and the rest of the NBA higher-ups are concerned, they want this to go away into a locked cell along with Donaghy. But just when the NBA seemed to isolate this to Donaghy and make him the fall-guy, Donaghy’s rat-like squealing implicated fellow official Scott Foster in the scandal. On top of that, other officials are being investigated by the Feds. Dick Bavetta may have had an easier time beating Charles Barkley in a footrace than he will beating the FBI...

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NHL and KHL In Dispute

Have you noticed all the back and forth player moves between the NHL and KHL? And how many of these moves are in dispute? It also looks like the balance of trade favors the East.

Transfers into NHL, June 25-Aug. 1

  • F Nikita Filatov, CSKA Moscow (KHL) to Columbus Blue Jackets in dispute
  • F Fyodor Fedorov, Dinamo Moscow (KHL) to New Jersey Devils in dispute
  • F Viktor Tikhonov, Severstal Cherepovets (KHL) to Phoenix Coyotes in dispute
  • D Tomas Mojzis, Sibir Novosibirsk (KHL) to Minnesota Wild in dispute
  • D Daniel Tjarnqvist, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl (KHL) to Colorado Avalanche
  • F Yanick Lehoux, Atlant Mytishchi (KHL) to Montreal Canadiens
  • F Vladimir Zharkov, CSKA Moscow (KHL) to New Jersey Devils
  • D Anton Babchuk, Avangard Omsk (KHL) to Carolina Hurricanes


Transfers into KHL, June 25-Aug. 1

  • F Alexander Radulov, Nashville Predators (NHL) to Salavat Yulaev Ufa in dispute
  • D Kevin Dallman, Los Angeles Kings (NHL) to Barys Astana
  • F Mark Hartigan, Detroit Red Wings (NHL) to Dinamo Riga
  • D Branislav Mezei, Florida Panthers (NHL) to Barys Astana
  • D Magnus Johansson, Florida Panthers (NHL) to Atlant Mytishchi
  • D Steve McCarthy, Atlanta Thrashers (NHL) to Salavat Yulaev Ufa contract unsigned
  • F Jozef Stumpel, Florida Panthers (NHL) to Barys Astana
  • F Sergei Brylin, New Jersey Devils (NHL) to SKA St. Petersburg
  • G Ray Emery, Ottawa Senators (NHL) to Atlant Mytishchi
  • F Josef Vasicek, Islanders (NHL) to Lokomotiv Yaroslavl
  • F Jaromir Jagr, Rangers (NHL) to Avangard Omsk
  • F Stefan Ruzicka, Philadelphia Flyers (NHL) to Spartak Moscow
  • F Marcel Hossa, Phoenix Coyotes (NHL) to Dinamo Riga
  • G Wade Dubielewicz, Islanders (NHL) to Ak Bars Kazan
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NY Times had this interesting tidbit about the KHL: The KHL announced today that it will disclose the terms of its players’ contracts on Oct. 1.

It has also amended its original rule that foreign goaltenders will be limited in the amount of playing time they will receive. At first, they were limited to 50 percent of the playing time in KHL games, but now they can play no more than 65 percent of the time.

If a club violates that rule, it will not be able to have that goaltender on its roster for the following season. The previous punishment, now apparently rescinded, is that the goalie would be ineligible for the KHL playoffs.

In other KHL news, Alexander Radulov spoke after his first preseason tournament game against Spartak Moscow, in which he scored twice (and apparently dove on the ice as part of his celebration). As printed in Sports-Express (and reprinted on Sports.ru), he was pleased the fans in Ufa have taken to him so quickly...
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Bleacher Report:
Dallas with Avery will be a dangerous team:

Dallas: Another team with few changes. The loss of Norstrom to retirement will slightly hurt the Dallas defensive core, but with energetic youth mixed with great experienced players, this team is potentially one of the most dangerous in the NHL.

A full season of Brad Richards and Sean Avery, along with great goaltending by Marty Turco, could easily flip Dallas over San Jose. Dallas will yet again be the team to stand in the way of the Sharks' Cup. Projected Western Conference Champion, in seven games...

I think that Mike would agree with Avery about not being impressed by the new Rangers.

Sporting News:
Avery not impressed with Rangers' signings --
During the presser, he said that by signing with Dallas he was clearly signing with a better team than the one he left. Later, I asked him point-blank why the Rangers didn't want him back. That's when he started to warm up:

"I don't know," he started. "That's an interesting question. I guess it probably came down to money, probably. That's a tough call. It's an interesting situation because then they turnaround and spend it on guys they shouldn't have spent it on. It's going to be an interesting situation, certainly I'll sit back and watch. New York is a tough place to play. Markus Naslund is going to have a tough time, so is Wade Redden. New York fans aren't going to put up with those guys. I don't think that they're going to live up to the expectations."

He concluded with: "I've gone to a better team." ...
It's hard to argue with his conclusion.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Hasta La Rangers

I know it doesn't make any sense but neither does the news that the Rangers are giving Petr Nedved a trial to make the team. I was wondering if Theo Fleurry was far behind but then jb got it all straight with the announcement that Theo is now into baseball. I always thought that the guy was a little batty.

We don't get a big moose on the blue line that can hit and clear the crease. No. We don't get a big moose up front who can charge the nets. No. We don't get a strong checker to take the place of the lost Avery and Hollweg. No. But we get an over the hill aging vet who doesn't go to the net. Doesn't check. Can't clear the crease. Wonderful.

We get an over the hill center who will surely take up ice time that may go to an Anisimov or Prucha or Korpikoski or any young prospect. The Rangers have Gomez, Drury, Dubunsky, Betts and Fritsche as starters for the center positions. Now add Nedved. Oh, if Nedved makes it we can always use Drury at the wing. Where have we seen that before? Last year we played Russian Roulette with Gomez and Drury seeing who would match up with Jagr. The best combo was Jagr-Dubinsky-Avery. Clueless didn't like that because along with the Stealth they were unhappy with Avery getting the spotlight.

So we broke up that wonderful group so that Straka could get on with Jagr. The Czechs are a wierd group. They go around in twos on the ice. But don't worry Prucha is still around. Hey, that may be good news where Prucha finally gets some playing time under clueless. This could happen as the Rangers open the season in the Czech Republic. How would it look if we opened without an established Czech star. Well anyway, we will have Nedved.

But I am heading for a family outing in Mexico to celebrate the wedding ogf number two son. Last year Italy. This year Mexico. Maybe next year we will hit the Czech Republic. Anyway, Hasta La Vista, baby and we will see you all when I return. Adios Amigos!

Monday, August 04, 2008

Sean Avery on the De-Klein? ... Not

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NY Post says: Sean Avery dating Kelly Klein, Calvin's ex
The NY Post keeps tabs on our favorite bad boy, Sean Avery. The Rangers play game number 9 here against Dallas and Avery on Monday, October 20th. It will be fun to see that one.
Kelly Klein, age 51SEAN Avery - the metrosexual former New York Ranger who spent his summer interning for Vogue - is now dating Calvin Klein's ex-wife, Kelly Klein, 51. But Avery, 28, may not get much time to see her now that he's playing for the Dallas Stars. The hockey hunk, en route to Texas, was alone at p.r. guru Paul Wilmot's dinner at the Chateau Marmont Wednesday night and drowned his heartache in Ciroc vodka cocktails while being amused by Mary-Kate Olsen, James Marsden and Kate Bosworth.
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ICINGS:
Before Sean Avery there was Theo Fleury. Now retired from hockey, Fleury, age 40, is starting a new sports career.

SportsNet.ca:
Fleury set for diamond debut in Calgary -- Former NHL star Theo Fleury is trading his hockey stick for a bat.

On Saturday, Aug. 10, Fleury will suit up for the Calgary Vipers, an independent professional baseball team.

Fleury took batting practice Sunday and also sat in the dugout for the Vipers game against the Edmonton Cracker-Cats. The former NHLer will be activated during the week and continue to take batting practice before making his debut with the Northern League team as it hosts the Yuma Scorpions at Foothills Stadium...

Theo Fleury takes batting practice with Calgary Vipers---

Saturday, August 02, 2008

New Rangers Ice Show: Mamma Mia! or Dark Knight?

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Mamma Mia! the new Rangers?
On October 10th, The Tom Renney Show will be opening for its fifth season on Broadway. So far the show has won no Tonys, Oscars, Grammies, or Stanley's. That almost sounds like a musical group or a penalty kill unit that would play at the Garden: Tony, Oscar, Gram, and Stanley.

But this long running, un-nominated, and non-award winning Renney Show keeps packing them into the Garden with the generic promise that the best is yet to come. Recently this perpetually promising Rangers team has finished third (out of five) in the Atlantic division for the last three seasons, and lost in the Eastern semi-finals the last two. Promising but not fulfilling.

And like any long running Broadway show that's grown stale, this one needed a tune-up. So some veteran and controversial cast members have been jettisoned and some promising new comers brought in. These changes have been orchestrated by that stealthy Canadian impresario of the ice Glen 'Tomato Face' Sather.

Sporting a budget of over $55 million, will this year's 'Tomato Face' production of The Tom Renney Show get Mamma Mia! (the movie) reviews? --

  • It is not merely that Pierce Brosnan cannot sing Wade Redden cannot play; it is that he looks so uncomfortable doing it.

  • The legal definition of torture has been much aired in recent years, and I take Mamma Mia! the NY Rangers to be a useful contribution to that debate.

  • Make that Grandma Mia!

  • Miscast, poorly shot, possibly choreographed by a spastic eight-year-old, Mamma Mia! is the Rangers are a mess, but it's kind of an impressive mess.

  • There might not be anything as utterly dispiriting as watching people pretending to have fun, and that is quite literally the only card the movie has Rangers have to play.

  • Brosnan Redden especially looks physically pained choking out the lyrics hits, as if he's being subjected to a prostate exam just outside of the camera's eye.

  • Yuck!...the very model of the modern musical comedy--there's absolutely nothing original in it...[and] it looks awful.

  • Mamma Mia! This team leaves me sending out an S.O.S., with much of the blame falling to the filmmakers coach. It's more akin to a music video the ice follies than a musical hockey team, and a sloppy one at that.

  • You may find that the movie version of Mamma Mia! 2008-09 Rangers team brings out your inner Simon Cowell.

Or will the Tom Renney show receive Batman, The Dark Knight movie reviews? --

  • An obvious improvement over its immediate predecessor...

  • ..many excellent moments and action set-pieces...

  • You will exit the cinema MSG with an enhanced respect for Nolan's Sather's intelligence, for Wally Pfister's Tom Renney's pin-sharp cinematography coaching ...

  • Everything you've heard is true... brilliant.

  • Heath Ledger's Nikolai Zherdev's performance was a strong contributor, but Christopher Nolan's writing and direction Tom Renney's coaching is the real star.

  • Nolan Renney and company did such an incredible job with this and tied up all the loose ends so well, that it's hard to fathom what they could do and where they could go...

  • Do not worry about going in with unrealistic expectations. Your expectations pale in comparison with what The Dark Knight is the Rangers are prepared to deliver.

If it is the former, and not the latter, which players will get to sing these songs on the soundtrack:

You will laugh, you will cry, you will dance in the aisles. The new Tom Renney show opens on Broadway in 69 days... Mamma Mia!
Mamma mia, here I go again
My my, how can I resist you?
Mamma mia, does it show again?
My my, just how much Ive missed you
Yes, Ive been brokenhearted
Blue since the day we parted
Why, why did I ever let you go?
Mamma mia, now I really know,
My my, I could never let you go. lyrics
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update: Just to be clear, we bare no animosity towards Mr. Sather by calling him "Tomato Face." In fact, Wikipedia and several other websites list that as one of his nicknames. Wikipedia says:
Glen "Slats" Sather (born September 2, 1943 in High River, Alberta) is a retired professional ice hockey left winger ...

Also nicknamed "Tomato Face" due to his perpetually red face during his playing days, Sather was born in High River, Alberta but grew up in Wainwright, Alberta...
This nickname was one we missed when doing our "10 Strangest Old School Hockey Nicknames" article last week. It certainly qualifies and it has been added.

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