Thursday, January 29, 2004

Busy day in Ottawa 

Maybe it was just me, but today just felt like a day that Ottawa was buzzing with sports news. Early in the day, the focus was on last night's" Debacle in Dallas". Entering the third with a 3-1 lead, the Senators collapsed, surrendering 4 goals en route to a 5-3 loss.

There's been so much hot air expelled on the subject of Patrick Lalime that I'm surprised there's any snow left on the ground. Therefore, I'm not going to add much more, but I'll say that while he's always been a favourite of mine, lately I'm starting to cringe whenever there's a shot. Last month, I wrote that Lalime would emerge from his slump. I hope that's still the case, but even I'm starting to wonder. His confidence seems to be shot. After the Zubov shot/Guerin goal, he still looked shaken (and stirred) on the 2 on 1 that resulted in the Scott Young goal.

Meanwhile, nearly lost in the Lalime uproar, was a beautiful shorthanded goal by Peter Shaeffer, who won a race to the puck, chipped it over Marty Turco and then tipped it into the net. Highlight of the night material.


The other big news of the day came this afternoon when Vancouver was awarded the 2006 World Junior Hockey Championship. With over 18,000 deposits sold, many thought that Ottawa was a good bet for the tournament, but alas the lure of the (Olympic) rings was too strong. Jeff Hunt has done a commendable job in preparing and promoting the Ottawa bid. BlackRedGold astutely points out the B.C. connections of the decision making comittee. Coincidence? Perhaps. Would I bet against politics being involved? Probably not.

Regardless, I don't doubt for a second that Vancouver will put on an excellent tournament that will sell out. It should have gone to Ottawa though.


Uh-oh Havlat's groin is acting up again. The good news is that Josh Langfeld, who was excellent in replacing Vermette while he was out, has been recalled to fill in.


Looks like Lawrence Tynes is almost officially gone. On the bright side, the Gades' secondary just got better with the news that Serge Sejour looks to be coming back.

Monday, January 26, 2004

Hey now, you're an All-Star/YoungStar 

Over the weekend, the NHL handed out its equivalent to the participation ribbons they used to give out in gym class. As you probably know by now, Jason Spezza (15G, 21A for 36 pts.) was passed over for the YoungStars game in favour of filling out the team with players whose teams didn't have any representation in the main game. The following forwards were named to the team ahead of Spezza (player, G,A,P):

Michael Ryder (14,22,36)
Trent Hunter (16,16,32)
Patrice Bergeron (14,15,29)
Ryan Malone (11,12,23)
Eric Staal (9,14,23)
Derek Roy (2,4,6)

A few things worked against Spezza. First, the fact that the Senators are well represented (though 6'9" short (no oxymoron intended) of the full representation they deserve) undoubtedly was a factor. This was the only chance to get Pittsburgh, Carolina and Buffalo into the All-Star weekend. However, the Bruins representation (Thornton and Boynton) on the main all-star team didn't prevent their deserving young stars in Bergeron and Andrew Raycroft from getting named to the game. Pittsburgh's representative could have been Marc-Andre Fleury (over Raycroft), thereby leaving Malone's spot for Spezza.

Secondly, while any player in their first contract is eligible, the team's composition favours pure rookies over those with some experience.

Finally, it doesn't help that the Eastern Conference has a stronger bunch of young forwards than the Western Conference. Spezza has less competition in the West.

BlackRedGold is furious about the matter, while Tom at Canucks Corner reminds us, "who cares?" After all, it's only the YoungStars game which is only an irrelevant subset of a game that's pretty irrelevant to start with.

On a related note, the selections in the main game also, as always, included some questionable calls ranging from the wistfully nostalgic (Messier) to the confounding (Boynton and Primeau). The NHL has its criteria and current performance has always been one of the minor ones. The YoungStars game is no different. In the end it's still enjoyable to watch (most of) the world's best hockey players play shinny for an afternoon.

Sunday, January 25, 2004


Wow. Wish I could have seen it, but I was away in Habs territory for the weekend and SRC, unlike CBC doesn't provide updates on other games. As Ben at Occasionally Wright points out, I wouldn't have seen it anyway. The eye-popping effect of seeing the score on the ticker after the game was well worth the wait though.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Somewhere, Don Cherry's head has just exploded 

Tie Domi is thinking of putting on a visor

While it's amusing in many senses to see Cherry's favorurite tough guy putting on a visor because his wife badgered him into it, in all seriousness, I think its a great thing. One of the major resons that a lot of players resist putting on a visor is because they think that they'll be ridiculed by fellow players, and their toughness will be questioned. When one of the toughest guys in the game essentially says "Keeping my eyes is more important than looking tough", that makes a huge statement. I get the sense that a lot of players would gladly wear a visor if they thought it was "credible". Maybe if more players, especially enforcers, came out like this the attitude toward visors will start to change.

Of course, he may never wear one in a game, but just the fact that he came out with the statement is a step forward.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Running Ranek remains Renegade 

The Renegades have re-signed Josh Ranek. Ranek was outstanding last year, gaining 6.4 yds/carry. Almost as importantly, he seems to have conquered his fumbling problems for the first year. It was key to the Renegades success that he be re-signed. Now it'll be interesting to see if they can sign any free agents. Pat Woodcock is the name commonly and temptingly thrown around in most rumours.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Don't look back, something might be gaining.... 

That Satchel Paige was a smart guy. While the Sens are right on the Leafs' tail - still 1 point back after both clubs won tonight - they also can't slip and lose sight of the Bruins and Canadiens who are themselves in pursuit. Both teams won tonight, with the Bruins staying 2 points behind the Sens, with the Habs following 2 points behind them. It should be a great race to the finish with little margin for error.


Off-wing Opinion points to a series of articles on ESPN.com debating the pros and cons of fighting in hockey. The series is well balanced and contains some interesting quotes from players (including cameo Sen Rob Ray).


It's hockey season, and I love hockey, but I'm really a baseball freak at heart. To that end, it's 78 days, 18 hours and 10 minutes until the Lynx kick off their season. Slightly more encouraging is the fact that pitchers and catchers report to camp in 22 days, 1 hour, 5 minutes and 5 seconds (as of this writing).

Monday, January 19, 2004


Leaf Nation. Red Sox Nation. Patriots Nation. The word's over use is quickly becoming an abomination.

Rise and shine  

Thanks to the Martin Luther King holiday in the US, the Senators have an early noontime start to their game with the Islanders today. That has got to be tough on the system for the players who by all accounts are creatures of habit. If there's a positive, it's that both teams are facing the same problem.

For my part, I'll have to keep an eye on tsn.ca, and the Fanhome board for scores as I don't have a radio and have firewall issues with streaming audio here at work.

"We're going to get it" 

...says Jeff Hunt who sounds confident about Ottawa's chances at the 2006 World Junior tournament. Ticket deposits currently sit at 16,700 and it's quite possible that the tournament could sell out before it's even awarded. Very impressive. The decision could take as few as 8 days, but we'll know by the end of January at the latest.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

"There's a problem with your" TPS (and other sticks) reports 

Hugh Adami has written an in-depth and interesting piece about the shatter-prone composite sticks in the Citizen today, including an impression of Dean Brown and Gord Wilson that's a mere "Oh Franco" short of being bang on. Unfortunately the Citizen has locked it up in their Alcatraz-esque website (that's a rant for another day). However you can find the article here. The composite sticks have provided their share of horror and comedy this year (those links may be reversed depending on your rooting preferences).

Composite sticks have a couple of benefits. According to Martin Brodeur, they can increase a shot's velocity by up to 12 km/h (the guy's so good he's got is own internal radar). They also retain their flexibility:

"It's like a good golf club," says Mr. Alfredsson, who uses the top-selling Easton Synergy composites. "If you have a good one, it stays true all through the game. With a wooden stick, the flex goes away by the end of the game."

They're also feather light, weighing between 440 and 460 grams. TPS plans to release a 395 gram model, with a stronger shaft next year. Maybe that explains why players are having trouble controlling their sticks.

On the flipside, as we all know, the composite sticks, for all their virtues, are becoming notorious for snapping like toothpicks. The day before 'the incident', Alfredsson broke 3 sticks during practice. And unlike wood sticks, there are no warning signs that the stick has been structurally compromised. This can lead to more situations where sticks snap in crucial situations. Players can also contribute to the problems when they shave down their blades or make other modifications to their sticks.
Finally, the sticks are also expensive enough to have teams grumbling about the increase to their budgets. The Senators' stick budget has gone up 250 percent since the sticks were introduced.

I was surprised to learn just how popular the sticks are. While I realized that they were very popular, I hadn't realized the extent to which they had taken over. Only two Senators use wood sticks: Jason Spezza and Shaun Van Allen (talk about opposite ends of the spectrum). Two others, Zdeno Chara and Bryan Smolinski, use two piece composites, while Todd White and Peter Schaeffer use composites with wood blades. Everyone else uses one-piece composites.

It's interesting to learn more about the sticks that we see shattering so frequently. Adami, and some of the quoted make an interesting point about the worry of a stick breaking in a crucial situation. Conversely though, in that situation I'd rather the player have a stick that allows him to shoot harder and more accurately. Since it's obvious that the players are not going back to wood sticks. We can only hope that future composite stick designs will be a heartier and more reliable breed.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

How many times can I trade thee? Let me count the ways. 

...says the resilient Bruce Garrioch. Now, I rarely read the Sun, but even I'm all too aware of Garrioch's quest to speculate Bonk right out of town. Listening to the pre-game show on the Team 1200 on Tuesday, I thought Dean Brown did a good job of bringing some balance to the matter. Despite Bonk's tendency to occasionally disappear like he's Frodo wearing the One Ring, he does bring a set of skills that would be difficult to replace. He's a big centre that can shut down other teams' best players. He's decent, if streaky, offensively. Also, he's stepped it up a notch in the playoffs each of the past two years. While he has his shortcomings, I don't know who would replace him without sacrificing either defence or offence.

(Heh.Heh the spellchcker offers "garish" as a replacement for Garrioch)

Sportsnet just had a nice bit on frequent traveller, and former Senator Wade Brookbank. He's one of those great stories of a guy who scrapped his way up through all the bus leagues to get his shot in the NHL. Nice to see that he's finally getting his shot in Vancouver.

Bye bye mon cowboy: Pierre Mitsou and Corey Locke are going to the OHL All-Star game in Peterbrough, Jan 27th. Congrats to both.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

The Trade

It takes a big story to push a Sens victory over the Devils from the headlines. The Ottawa Renegades made a splash yesterday in sending 2002 all-star and team MVP John Grace, talented backup QB Romaro Miller, tackle Seth Dittman, and DE Fred Perry to Calgary in exchange for DB Anthony Malbrough, DE Kai Ellis, the rights to K Sandro Sciortino, DT Jerry Johnson, and the second overall pick in the upcoming 2004 draft.

I heard about this trade during the Senators game last night. As Gord Wilson announced who the Renegades were getting, my first reaction was:


Now, I'm pretty new to the CFL scene. I moved to Ottawa in '97 just after the Riders left, and I was a pretty casual fan until the Renegades came to town. Since then though, I've gotten to know the league much better. Not well enough apparently.

In any case, this trade makes sense on a number of fronts. First, the Gades get a solid DB in Malbrough. The secondary has always been a weakness and the situation had gotten worse this winter with the recent loss of Crance Clemons and Serge Sejour to the NFL. Malbrough should help stem the bleeding in that area. From what I hear from a buddy in Calgary, he's good enough that we won't often be forced to make bad puns about the Malbrough Man getting smoked deep.

The acquisition of Sciortino is also an important safety net for the likelihood that Lawrence Tynes will be in the NFL next year too. It's been a treat watching Tynes, but it's always been a matter of when, not if, they'd lose him to the NFL. While Sciortino's a step down in both accuracy and range from Tynes - only 11 of 18 last year with nothing over 40 yards, he is from Markham so that clears a spot for another import.

I don't have much to say about Ellis aside from he can play middle linebacker, and Grace never seemed to get comfortable with the move from outside to middle linebacker.

Overall though, the Renegades have been positioning this as a stepping stone to enable other moves. First, it clears the salary room to resign Josh Ranek, and covers the raise given to Kerry Joseph. Secondly, it allows them to pursue other free agents. Kanata-native (I'm required by municipal bylaw to specify that any time that I mention either him or Todd White) Pat Woodcock is the most commonly rumoured possiblity here. Joseph to Woodcock. I could get used to hearing that. Flows much better than "through Montana's hands and incomplete".

While there are no guarantees that the Renegades will be able to execute on their wish to sign a few free agents, I have confidence that Eric Tillman will continue to improve this team. I've been impressed with his talent evaluation to date, and although it hurts to lose the talented Grace and Miller in the short term (and hurts the Gades' slim chances of a home appearance in the Grey Cup), I expect that this trade will improve the team in the long run. For now I'm reserving final judgment until I see where the extra money goes. If there's a few bucks left over feel free to use it to bring in a decent beer to sell at the games.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

It's been a while. What'cha gonna do? A lot has happened over the last near month. Off the top of my head.

The Sens got hot.

The bid for the '06 WJHC has reached 13,000 seats. The odds are promising.

Martin Havlat 'kicked' off the New Year with a suspension. (odd that Lecavalier got only 1 game for a kick that looked worse to me).

Daniel Alfredsson sent Leaf Nation into hysterics with a joke, making it easier to ignore Kidd's horrific goaltending in a 7-1 drubbing.

Enough ink (and server space) has been spilled over Alfie's move. I won't waste any more here. I thought it was funny, but had the roles, and the score, been reversed, I might have been pissed (though not to the extent of some).

'till the next (much sooner) time.