Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Winnipeg Thrashers Have Been Eliminated

The Thrashers are eliminated from the NHL's post season in their first season in Winnipeg and 10th in franchise history.

It is not at all surprising. The Thrashers have come up short so many times in the past at the last second. Despite having a great home-ice record of 23-12-4 (as of March 28), the road was brutal. The team managed just a 12-21-4 tally. They did have a decent run at times, but slumped at the worst time: end of the season.

The Thrashers did manage to close the gap this year on the goals for versus goals against, trailing by just -18. Not too shabby.

Oh, did I say Thrashers? I meant the Winnipeg Jets. Sorry. The poor ice performance and all.

Guess it proves that you can take a team out of country, put them in front of 15,004 enthusiastic and supportive fans every single night, and that doesn't win hockey games. It wasn't the fan support that caused the team to struggle (though the struggling team did not help the fan support).

City of Vancouver Ready for Playoffs

The Canucks have already clinched their division and can finish no worst than second in the Western Conference. It looks like the team could go deep into the playoffs again.

And we remember how well that went for public safety last time.

The city cannot afford another bungled job, so they have already announced plans for how to handle the crowds: Community centers.

The last time, Vancouver police were operating off the same mentality they used during the Olympic Winter Games. Fun, friendly, buddy-buddy. That didn't work out so well with 150,000 drunk, disappointed, angry and jam-packed fans. So they rioted because there was no police. Okay, there were police, but not the "we'll arrest you police" but the "I'm here to party too!" police.

This time, Mayor Gregor Robertson said there is a plan which will be rolled out if the hometown Canucks advance to the third and fourth rounds of the playoffs. The city's goal would be to hold small, family-oriented events in neighbourhoods outside the downtown core, at community centres and block parties. No large screens will be set up by the city.

This is different from the position the mayor took in September when he said he was not willing to cancel large outdoor events.

A cooler head prevailed. Wonder if it's an election season or if the bill had been totalled for the damages to city and its reputation.

This does not mean that the city of Vancouver will be forcefully void of fans, says Police Chief Chu. People who venture downtown would have to find room at private indoor venues, such as bars and restaurants. "Our focus is to make it safe for you to enjoy our city. You are not welcome in Vancouver if you intend to engage in public drinking, hooliganism and criminal behaviour."

He said this to clarify an earlier statement at a Vancouver police board meeting, where he said the philosophy for the playoffs this year is "don't come downtown."

"At all times and during the hockey playoffs, the Vancouver police are encouraging people to come downtown to enjoy our bars, restaurants, arenas, theatres, shopping and street ambience," Chu said.

The NHL Playoffs start April 11.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Hockey Player Steals Cab

The ECHL's top scorer, South Carolina's Trenton Campbell, was arrested on Friday of last week after stealing a taxi cab. He was near Estero, Florida while the Stingrays were visiting the Florida Everblades.

Campbell was released on $2,500 bond. His arraignment is scheduled for April 16. He has been indefinately suspended by the team.

Apparently, Campbell approached a cab outside a local bar and asked for a ride. The cab driver told Campbell he had to pick up a previously scheduled fare. When the driver left the vehicle to search for the other passenger, two witnesses say that Campbell entered teh unattended car and drove off.

The cab company, Checker Cab, was alerted and used a tracking device in the vehicle to direct police to its location. The car was found abandoned and Campbell walking behind some commercial buildings a short ways away. The driver identified him as the person who took his car.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Chicago's Duncan Keith Suspended

If nothing else, this shows that the NHL is willing to suspend players for quite a number of games, even when they have a decently long history of no suspensions. Five games is fairly high, but still fair. Keith obviously targeted the head. Five games seems about right to me.

Next blog entry will be after my trip to Nashville as the Preds take on the Jets.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Jets Will Finish 10th in Conference

The Winnipeg Jets are predicted to finish 10th in the NHL's Eastern Conference, according to Craig Button. According to the NHL:

In its simplest terms, Button's formula uses a team's current winning percentage, factoring in games remaining, to arrive at the number of wins -- and points -- each team will finish the season with. From that exercise, the formula can extrapolate the magic number for qualification and which teams currently in the race will reach that number. This equation will also determine tiebreakers should they become necessary.

The Jets finishing 10th is just a prediction in today's terms. Assuming they, and everyone else does the exact same thing (in terms of winning percentage) for the remainder of the season. Things can and will change. They are not statistically eliminated by any means.

Winnipeg needs 7 wins, as of today, to secure a playoff spot according to the Button formula. They have 9 games remaining. Compare that to Washington and Buffalo, each with 9 games left play. They would need 5 wins.

It is a very complicated formula. I don't know how accurate it is, but it sure seems about right. Winnipeg is only technically 4 points behind 8th place Washington, so three wins secures a eighth place finish. But that assumes that Washington and Buffalo and everyone else around that area loses everything. That's not realistic and that's why the Button Formula puts the needed wins for the Jets at 7, not 3.

I like the Button Formula because if puts things in real perspective in the long run, not the "oh, they are only 4 points back, that's no so bad" way many people look at it. We all too often forget, though we won't admit it, that other teams will be playing and winning too.

I am gearing up for my trip to Nashville this weekend as the Jets take on the Preds Saturday night.

MLB's Chipper Jones to Retire

Today is a day for non-hockey news. At least to start.

Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones announced today that he has made the decision to retire at the end of the upcoming 2012 Major League Baseball season. The Braves and Jones have expressed interest in rejoining the organization in a yet-to-be-determined capacity after 2012.

The official announcement will come from the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex's Champion Stadium in the Walt Disney World Resort at 11:30.

Anyone from Atlanta knows of Chipper. He is a rarity in sports in that he will begin and end his career with the same team, never leaving.

Some NHL greats have spent their entire career with just one franchise. Below is a list of those that have 1000+ points with that one team. Some are still active.

Blackhawks - Stan Mikita
Canadiens - Jean Beliveau
Canadiens - Henri Richard
Flyers - Bobby Clarke
Islanders - Mike Bossy
Islanders - Denis Potvin
Kings - Dave Taylor
Nordiques/Avalanche - Joe Sakic
Penguins - Mario Lemieux
Rangers - Rod Gilbert
Red Wings - Alex Delvecchio
Red Wings - Nick Lidstrom
Red Wings - Steve Yzerman
Sabres - Gilbert Perreault
Stars - Mike Modano

Kudos to Chipper and the Braves for their loyality to each other.

NFL's Saints Bounty System

This is a very popular story of late concerning football's New Orleans Saints. Not exactly hockey related, but the punishment is unprecidented.

The Saints had a bounty system in place. A crush-for-cash scheme. Essentially, players on defense were offered cash rewards for injuring oppossing players causing them to leave the game. "Knockouts" were worth $1,500 and "cart-offs" $1,000, with payments doubled or tripled for the playoffs, possibly more.

For example, during the 2010 NFC Championship Game, any player that caused then Minnesota Vikings quarterback Bret Farve to leave the game due to injury would be paid $10,000. The Saints were penalized twice for roughing Farve and the League admitted later that at least another penalty should have been called.

Any payout for performance is against NFL rules. So even something like causing fumbles or catching an interception is off-limits to reward financially.

The League is reviewing with its Player's Association what to do about players who were involved, but NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has already issued some punishments.

Head Coach Sean Payton has been suspended for all of next season and General Manager Mickey Loomis has been suspended for half of it. Assistant Coach Joe Vitt has been suspended six games. Former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams (now with the Saint Louis Rams) has been suspended indefinately. The Saints must forfeit two second-round draft picks and pay a $500,000 fine.

Payton is the first head coach in the League's history to be suspended while Loomis is believed to be the first GM suspended.

"We are all accountable and responsible for player health and safety and the integrity of the game. We will not tolerate conduct or a culture that undermines those priorities," said Goodell.

I am not aware of any NHL coaches having been suspended, there have been a number of other leagues suspending coaches, including a KHL Coach that attacked a fan with a stick and one just 10 days ago in Manitoba by a junior league coach for his actions during the playoffs, including physical harrassment of officials. Fines are not uncommon (Tort's $30,000 one after this year's Winter Classic comes to mind).

It will be interesting to see if the NFL bounty system will have an effect on other sports leagues, including the NFL.

Doan Suspended 3 Games

Link to video

I feel kinda stupid that I only guessed two games for this play. I completely forgot he was fined 5 days before for boarding. I probably would have raised the guess up to at least 3 instead of the 2 I actually guessed. But hindsight is always 20/20 and how easy is it for me to say that I would have done something.

The NHL was completely right to suspend for this. It was a reckless, dumb move where injury or illegal head contact was almost expected.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I Was Right About The Hollywood Mask

Boom baby.

Refer to my post earlier today. It was talking about the flack that Bernier was getting from the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce for use of the Hollywood sign icon on his goalie mask.

I said in part:

Look, I'm all for copyright laws. I'm all for legal protection. However, is this really an advertisement on the side of a mask? The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce owns "certain trademark rights for usage of the Sign or its likeness for commercial purposes." Is this one of them? Some bloggers say yes. I say no. I do understand that it was a commissioned work and is seen by millions in person and on television. But the sign is not used to attract people to him or the Kings. I don't think they sell images of his mask specifically. I don't know. Copyright law is not my specialty, but the Hollywood people just don't seem to have a good case here. I hate that the locals are so up in arms about it. And by locals, I mean the Chamber of Commerce.

So, yeah. I said that this doesn't seem like a case and this doesn't fall in the realm of "usage of the Sign for commercial purposes."

And I was right.

Christine Sovich of Global Icons, who clear the requests and handle the inquiries for the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce concerning usage of the sign, said the following this afternoon:

“The Chamber has no objection to the use of it in that nature (referring to Bernier’s use on his mask). Therefore, a letter has already gone out letting them know…that we appoligze [sic] for the inconvenience of the original letter. The Chamber has no objection to the use. He can continue to use it that way.”

So there you go. Hollywood is back. If he wants to be.

It appears to have been a misunderstanding. Hey, it happens. I appreciate the Chamber (or at least their legal counsel) addressing the issue quickly. It's not the end of the world, but one less thing to worry about.

Now, if Sovich can help with a much more pressing issue...

Heads, Elbows, Fingers, and Aliens

Well, thank you Los Angeles. Specifically, Hollywood. Sarcasm.

Let me start with the stupid trademark issue haunting Jonathan Bernier.

A Kings' blog says the following:

Apparently the folks who own the Hollywood sign have been in touch with the NHL regarding Jonathan Bernier's mask. According to sources, Bernier either needs to remove the sign from his current mask or he must pay royalties for using it.

After his pre-game skate this morning, Bernier appeared frustrated by the entire issue, saying 'I don't understand. Guys here have been using the Hollywood sign on their masks going all the way back to Kelly Hrudey."

That's right. That Hollywood mark on the Kings' netminder may have to go.

Look, I'm all for copyright laws. I'm all for legal protection. However, is this really an advertisement on the side of a mask? The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce owns "certain trademark rights for usage of the Sign or its likeness for commercial purposes." Is this one of them? Some bloggers say yes. I say no. I do understand that it was a commissioned work and is seen by millions in person and on television. But the sign is not used to attract people to him or the Kings. I don't think they sell images of his mask specifically. I don't know. Copyright law is not my specialty, but the Hollywood people just don't seem to have a good case here. I hate that the locals are so up in arms about it. And by locals, I mean the Chamber of Commerce.

At least he didn't throw an elbow. Like Shane Doan did against the Stars.

Will he see some discipline for this hit in the form of a suspension? I would think so. A two game sit down is my best bet. He will have a hearing today.

Speaking of potential supplimental discipline: Martin Havlat.

Link to video.

Did he just flip the bird?

He says no. But that does appear to be a one-fingered salute. And he could be looking at a fine. Hey, Bruin Andrew Ference got one for his salute to the crowd in the playoffs. A $2,500 one at that. I don't know if Havlat will get the same punishment. The Bruin birdy was under the Campbell system and we are living in the Shanahan era. Plus, the Ference incident occurred during a playoff game while Havlat's flip did not. I'd still expect to see a fine for this.

But you know who should get fined or flipped off?

Michael Bay.

Reportedly, he is making (remaking, really) a live action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. And the turtles will not be mutants, but rather aliens. Bay said “kids are going to believe one day these turtles actually do exist when we are done with this movie” and that they come “from an alien race, and they are going to be tough, edgy, funny and completely lovable.”

I'm outraged. Like many others.

Bay responded to me and others by saying this:

“Fans need to take a breath and chill. They have not read the script. Our team is working closely with one of the original creators of ‘Ninja Turtles’ to help expand and give a more complex back story. Relax, we are including everything that made you become fans in the first place. We are just building a richer world.”

Robbie Rist, who voiced the character Michelangelo in the original 1990 live-action film adaptation, said Monday in a Facebook message that Bay is “sodomizing” the original movies and causing “the rape of our childhood memories.”

I'm with Rist. Bay has destroyed so many other memories for people with the Transformers. I liked the Rock. I'll give him that. But that's about it. Pearl Harbor didn't do it for me. Amityville Horror. Friday the 13th. Nightmare on Elm Street. Nope nope nope.

Please don't do this. I beg you. Leave the turtles alone.

I don't want these two things mixed:

Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, you need to stop Michael Bay. If you can keep him from making a TMNT movie, I will gladly join in your quest to remove the Hollywood sign image from Kings goalie Bernier's helmet.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Hockey Love

You may have seen this proposal. It is storming around the internet. It is of a Sens' fan and a Leaf's fan.

Link to video

You know, in a small way, this proves that hockey is not all about vulgarity. Not all about being a guy's sport even. And it shows that hockey and the NHL is not anti-gay like some argued earlier this season after the Wayne Simmonds supposed slur towards Sean Avery earlier this season.

Speaking of Avery, no word on if Sean Avery's Bravo TV retirement was legit or not.

All the best to Toronto Maple Leafs fan Alicia and Ottawa Senators fan Christina.

Two Teams Clinch Playoff Spots in NHL

With a win over the Devils last night, the Rangers have stamped their ticket to the post season.

They join the Blues, who are the best team in the NHL and the first to reach 100 points. They did so after firing their coach and bringing on Ken Hitchcock in November.

Who else is on the Blues coaching staff? None other than Mr. Rat Trick and former Thrashers captain Scott Mellanby.

Oh, and how intense was the game in Madison Square Garden last night?

This is the opening face off.

Link to video

At three seconds of the first period, Cam Janssen, Eric Boulton and Ryan Carter of the Devils were given five for fighting while Bryce Salvador was given a 10-minute misconduct. Rangers Mike Rupp, Stu Bickel and Brandon Prust were given five for fighting.

I have this vision of the ice crew thinking "Come on guys! We just cleaned this and you have to go and get it all bloody? Where's the scrappers?". Said like this, of course:

Link to video

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Today's Playoff Picture

Time to look at the playoff picture again. Things have changed a bit from the first prediction, but nothing drastic. As the season winds down, teams will shuffle towards the top spot.

Here's how I see teams right now.

The Nopes: They sit at the bottom of their conferences and don't have a chance to make the playoffs.

Things are only getting worse as a general rule for teams down at the bottom.

The Long Shots: Not eliminated, but they are sitting on the outside looking in. They will need help from other teams to have a chance and aren't in control of their destiny as much.

Carolina has been putting on a point-a-ba-looza recently. Still probably won't be enough to clinch a spot, but exciting nottheless.

Let's continue.

The Bubbles: These teams are right there on the edge. Depending on what day you look; they are in the playoffs or out. Assuming they keep playing the way they are playing, it will simply depend on who has the best week to end the year really.

Things still look the same overall. Florida is looking a lot more likely to win the Southeast, so they moved up. Calgary is really hot as of late, so they do are looking really likely to play on. Still trying to sort out the Pacific division. Dallas is the most likely right now, so they moved up too.

Okay, let's move on with those teams.

The Probables. These guys are likely to make the playoffs if they keep winning. I know that sounds redundant, but you know what I mean. They are much more in control of their own destiny. They will still be fighting for position, but aren't in great danger of missing the playoffs altogether.

Chicago looks like it should have been here all along. It was questionable at first, but now its more solid.

The Dominates. These are the teams that are laying waste to the opponents. A trail of destruction in their wake. Basically, they are in the playoffs barring an epic meltdown.

Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and New Jersey have all joined the group as they march into the playoffs. This is becoming the division to watch in the East and will likely produce the Finals representative. Meanwhile, the West remains the same as St. Louis, Vancouver, Detroit and Nashville all continue doing what they do best: winning.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Brittanie Cecil, 10 Years Later

She was a 13 year old attending a Columbus Blue Jackets game against the Calgary Flames when a shot puck was deflected into the stands in the end zone area. That's where Brittanie Cecil was sitting. Espen Knutsen of Columbus fired the puck while Flames' defenceman Derek Morris deflected it. It hit her in the head and snapped it back. She was injured, but she still seemed relatively okay. Still, she was taken to a nearby children's hospital for observations. They decided to keep the girl who was clutching the puck that hit her while joking with friends and family. But she herself was concerned...

She was concerned with her upcoming 14th birthday. The hockey tickets themselves were a birthday gift from her father. In her room, she smiled, laughed, all from her hospital bed where she was taken after the incident. She was excited about her souviner puck from the game. "Papaw, look," she said to her grandfather, "I got a souvenir." She was sitting up and was just "daddy's little girl".

She had cake and ice cream the next night. A few last minute gifts purchased at the hospital gift shop were given along with others. She was happy and waved goodbye as people departed the party, clinching her new souviner puck.

Later that night, the second night after the game, Brittanie complained of a headache to her mom, Jody Naudascher, and her stepmom, who took turns monitoring her through the early-morning hours.

By dawn, her mother would talk to her daughter, who could only hum a response.

"I knew she was still in there," Jody said.

Brittanie eventually faded into a coma from which she would never emerge.

She died that afternoon of internal bleeding on the brain.

It was the first death of an NHL fan of this kind in the league's history. And it would change the lives of the Cecil family, and the player who shot the puck, Espen Knutsen. He was told of the girl's death by a teammate.

"I thought he was joking. He had to be joking," Knutsen said. "I didn't believe it until I saw his face. I remember just kind of going blank and numb."

"He was beyond consoling, and that was for weeks and weeks," Columbus Coach Dave King said. "That incident ended his career. Espen was a wonderful person, and he had talent. But he was never the same player after that."

Knutsen played the night he learned of the death, thinking it would help. He would cringe every time a puck sailed into the stands. He was in obvious grief and despite being a very aggressive, checking player before, he did not deliver nor recieve many hits of any kind that night as the opponents noticed his fragile situation.

Later, Knutsen would travel to Europe to play. He was never the same and has not returned to the United States since 2004. The incident happened on March 16, 2002.

Knutsen has thought about contacting Brittanie's family over the years but feared he might upset them or, worse, that they might be angry at him.

Jody Naudascher, Brittanie's mother, has thought of Knutsen hundreds of times and came close to writing him a letter. She never did.

"We don't blame Espen; we don't blame anyone," Jody said. "I want to look him in the eye someday and tell him that. An accident is an accident."

The NHL has since put up safety netting round the back of the endzones. Brittanie remains the only fan to have died by being hit by a puck from the ice.

The Columbus Dispatch did an amazing story on this two years ago. Much of my information and the quotes came from that story.

Puck Daddy did a very good story on this topic. I suggest you read his story over on Yahoo! Sports.

That story focused more on the safety netting. At first, the nets were protested. They would interfere with the viewing experience. They would be taking away from the experience of attending a game in person by limiting the ability to get pucks (like foul balls in baseball). But Greg Wyshynski, the Puck Daddy writer, put it this way:

"...The netting has become such an assumed part of the fan experience that the backlash 10 years ago seems Neanderthalic — and fairly cold-hearted — today. The league argued this change was essential for safety. The purists bristled at the end of a tradition. Debates raged … and then a decade later, yesterday's hot-button debate is today's societal norm."

Well said.

Brittanie Cecil forever changed the view on safety in the NHL as it pertains to its fans.

She is a hero to so many that will never meet her. Never knew her name. Never even knew the possible danger they avoided because of present day safety measures that are just a routine part of the arena setup for a hockey game. Anytime a puck sails into the protective netting and the fans have a collective "woah" reaction then joke with each other about the guy in the group that raised his hands to catch it or shield themeselves from it, thank Brittanie.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Cole's High-Five Celebration

Watch Montreal's Erik Cole score a goal against Ottawa, then celebrate with those close to him. Close to him in proximity, not necessarily his teammates or family or fans.

Link to video

He high-fived a referee. On the one hand, a little disrespectful. On the other, kinda funny. It's really not spelled out in the rules. In fact, goal celebrations aren't talked about at all in the rules. It would all fall under unsportmanlike conduct if things went too far.

I like the two looks of both Cole and Referee Greg Kimmerly. Cole's kinda sheepish, "he-he-he" back look and the Ref's look of "What are you doing? / Don't do that again." He could have probably been whistled for that, but I like the no call. Dare I say if was probably a reflex reaction. Skating along, just scored an awesome five-hole goal and there's a hand out. You slap it. Kimmerly may have been just too shocked to assess a penalty. One of those, "did that really just happen?" moments. From Cole's point of view, I'm just thinking it was one of those actions that you know better, but can't help yourself in the moment.

"He was the only one there, so I had to celebrate with someone," Cole said. "I told him I was sorry afterwards."

Montreal won the game in a shootout.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

More Rule Change Proposals

Another idea is being thrown around with regards to the NHL and its rules.

The goalie trapezoid.

It may go away. It doesn't have a ton of steam right now apparently, but there is talk about adding a third defenseman on the ice by unshackling the goaltender from his slant-sided prison.

Shanahan addressed the issue and said that basically, it won't matter if the trapezoid was on the ice or not. During some play during the preseason in development camp, things are tweeked to see how they would work in the real world.

"We took out the trapezoid rule and yet the goalies still had no time to come out and play the puck," Shanahan said Wednesday afternoon. "I think the idea of goaltenders coming out and having all day to set the puck up, tee it up are gone simply because of the lack of the defenseman's ability to hold up the forecheckers now and clutch and grab through the neutral zone. So even though we said to the goalies go play the puck, they had no time."

Based on that, I say get rid of it. I've never liked the idea anyway. But if it doesn't matter, why have it? If you get rid of it, then you aren't stopping a goalie who has the rare opportunity to actually tee it up.

Is it a safety issue? I don't think so. Some argue that is puts goalies in a more vulnerable position, but I would say the very definition of a goaltender reduces that dramatically. If the puck is down the ice and there's a footrace going on between two players, then the goalie will stay in the goal 9 times out of 10. Let the defense sort it out. In that one time they come out, the goalie is really confident they can at least poke the puck away and retreat back to their crease.

Again, it doesn't happen that often that the goalie will want to come out and play the puck along the boards in the current "no-play" zone. I don't see the need for the rule. I have been paying close attention to this ever since it was put into place because I thought it was stupid at the time. And while I don't have numbers to back me up, I just don't see that many (almost nill) scoring opportunities created because the tender couldn't skate out and reach the puck. It's just so rare that the lazy puck sits there and an attacking player reaches it first, which was the original idea in the rule. More often than not, it's icing or reached by the defense. No point. It actually slows the game because the goalie can't come out and tee it up.

Please NHL GM's. Please get rid of the trapezoid.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Do The Hockey Gods Love or Hate Me?

I've been very VERY busy between working two jobs in pro-sports (fulltime MLB and parttime ECHL). My apologies.

Jets are out of the playoffs as it stands right now. But that's not what I'm referring to in the title. I'm talking about the new rule talks and a possible player retirement.

The good news first.

Sean Avery told Bravo TV that he has thrown his skates into the Hudson River and he is retiring from hockey.

You can read the full story, but essentially he told Nicole Richie that's he's done. While some speculate its just a joke, Avery is remaining firm in his statement. Avery is currently signed with the Rangers, but sent down to the AHL Connecticut Whale where he was left off the clear list meaning he cannot play the rest of the season. He didn't play a lot anyway, being a healthy scratch even when he was eligiable.

Even if he was joking about actually retiring when his contract expires at the end of this season, he has certainly made himself less appealing with this stunt meaning that he may be forced to retire, even if he is joking at this time.

Now, onto the talk of the rules.

The NHL is debating two things (well, many things but two big ones). Something bad and something horrible horrible from the past. Both are efforts to stop concussions.

The GM’s are considering bringing in an invisible line for icing, or hybrid icing. It is not the same as minor league or international rules (which is a no-touch icing system). Rather, it would be an invisible line drawn as to intersect the two face-off dots in a defensive zone.

Currently, if a puck is shot from a team’s defensive zone past the opposite goal line, a defensive player must skate down the ice and touch it before the opposing team does. You know that. No touch icing stops the play the moment the puck reaches the goal line. No touch by the defense is required.

The hybrid rule would mean a defensive player must reach the “line” at the circles before the opposition. Then, play is whistled dead. Icing.

That’s a good-ish idea in that it goes in the right direction, but really bad in its implimentation. It would not stop players from racing to the puck and possibly ramming into each other on the far boards and it opens up more subjectivity. With the current system, it is arguably easier to see who touches the puck first. With no-touch, there’s no debate whatsoever. It is one of the things I really love in ECHL hockey as compared to the NHL, the no-touch. It keeps the game going.

GM’s are afraid a no-touch icing robs teams of a scoring chance. My argument is that teams wouldn’t invent plays that used such a “dump & race” stradegy. If you know it’s icing, you can’t really call it a scoring chance.

The other interesting tweek is that Linesmen will have discression at calling icing in the hybrid fashion OR being able to "let things play out" and allow play to continue and only whistle icing under today's rules. That still leaves the mad race down the ice in place whilst adding a layer of opinion to the Linesmen and thusly adding more possibilities for controversal calls.

The other idea is one of the worst things the NHL could bring back: the center red line.

Under the old system (and proposed new rules), the red line is back in play. A puck could not be passed from the defensive zone to the far blue line. The puck can’t cross two lines in a pass. Remember the two-line pass? That’s such a bad idea. GM’s want to slow the game down. Really? Slow it down?

I understand the high speeds may lead to more injuries. But it’s breakaways that are the problem, not the two-line pass. Don’t misunderstand me: I love breakaways. But that’s where players get going at the highest speeds making them more likely to be injured.

If the GM’s were serious about slowing down the game, they should have an offsides rule like soccer (football). An offensive player cannot be past the last defender until there is a pass. (At least, I think that’s how the rule works. I’m not a huge soccer fan, so forgive my ignorance).

That center redline, two-line pass mess needs to stay in the past.

Other rules that are on the agenda: hand-passes in the defensive zone (currently legal), curbing fighting, and some tweeking to changing on the fly.

The fighting thing doesn't have a lot of steam. While there are concussions as results of a fight, fights are voluntary. It's not a blind hit. So most GM's don't appear to be going for that.

I'm not terribly familiar with the talks about the line changes. I can't imagine it being a huge change, like completely eliminating it. I'll keep you posted.

The last thing on the table for discussion is the hand pass in the defensive zone. I'm all for getting rid of it for the reason the GM's are thinking: opening up more scoring opportunities. I know it's legal right now, but it still feels like a cheap move.

Given the idea that GM's are considering adding more scoring opportunities by getting rid of the hand pass, it is amazing that the two-line pass is even up for debate. I'm not yet sold on the idea that a pass up the ice creates a situation more prone to concussion-inducing hits any more than a series of passes through the neutral zone, moving at a high speed. The defense is still retreating and building speed.

I could be proven wrong, but not just yet.

More to come.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Jets On NBC Sports Network Tonight

The Jets will be on American television! NBC Sports Network (formerly Versus).

Here's the scoop from, copied and unaltered.

SABRES (30-27-8) at JETS (31-27-8)


Last 10: Buffalo 6-2-2; Winnipeg 5-3-2.

Season Series: This is the fourth and final meeting of the season, with Winnipeg holding a slight 2-1 edge thus far this season. The Jets scored a 4-1 win in the most recent meeting, also at MTS Centre, on Jan. 19.

Big Story: The Sabres enter Winnipeg playing their best hockey in months and will look to unsettle the Jets from their tenuous hold on the Eastern's eighth and final playoff spot. With wins in six of seven and goalie Ryan Miller surging, Buffalo is two points off Winnipeg's pace as crunch time nears. The Jets are finishing an eight-game homestand.

Team Scope:

Sabres: Written off as late as mid-February, the Sabres have clawed their way back up the Eastern standings with a 6-0-1 mark over their past seven games. While the team has shown improvement over that span (see also the Sabres killing 17 of 19 power plays over that stretch), Miller deserves the lion’s share of the credit. The 2009-10 Vezina Trophy winner has posted a 1.40 goals-against average while starting every game over the surge, including two straight shutouts heading into Saturday's game against Vancouver. Miller conceded three to the Canucks, but two of those came in the third period with Buffalo already up 4-1. Ville Leino scored twice within the first four minutes, and the Sabres never looked back in a 5-3 win. It was just Vancouver's second loss in regulation in 19 games.

"It was an important win for us," Miller said. "We keep having to battle our way back to get close to a chance of making the playoffs and we had a challenge with the Canucks, a powerhouse all year, and I thought we did a great job."

Jets: If there's an offensive antidote to Miller anywhere in the NHL, it could come in the form of Winnipeg's Evander Kane. The 20-year-old is on an impressive scoring streak, with seven goals and seven assists over his last eight games. That includes a 2-goal, 2-assist night in Winnipeg's last game, a 7-0 dismantling of the Southeast-leading Florida Panthers on Thursday. That win ended a two-game skid, and gave Winnipeg a valuable win over a division rival.

"They're a team that we're behind and it can very well be the difference of us being in the playoffs or not being in the playoffs so it was a big game for us," Kane said. "It was great to be able to prove to everybody that we're here to play and we have a playoff mindset going into the next 16 games here."

Who's Hot: Tyler Ennis had an empty-netter against Vancouver, and had an assist in four straight games prior to that.

Injury Report: For Buffalo, defenseman Robyn Regehr is doubtful for the game with a hip injury, while Cody McCormick (upper body) and Jochen Hecht (concussion) are out indefinitely. … Zach Bogosian is the lone Jet on the injury list. Bogosian is doubtful with a wrist injury sustained since the Florida game.

Stat Pack: While Buffalo has been killing all penalties in its path, Winnipeg has converted 10 of 19 chances over its past six games and ranks seventh League-wide with a conversion rate of 19.8 percent.

Puck Drop: Leino – a prized free-agent acquisition over the summer who has struggled to just 20 points so far this season – snapped a 14-game scoring drought with his two on Saturday.

"It's been a tough season," Leino said. "It hasn't gone my way and it hasn't gone the team's way. But there's still a chance to make the playoffs and have fun here at the end. These are the games you want to play, when things count. And obviously every game counts now."

Upcoming Hockey Games (March 5-11)

All times are EST.

Winnipeg Jets:

Monday versus Sabres 8:00

Thursday at Vancouver 10:00

Friday at Calgary 9:00

Other games Jets fans should pay attention to:


Ottawa @ Tampa Bay 7:30
Carolina @ Washington 7:00
Boston @ Toronto 7:00


Toronto @ Pittsburgh 7:00


Florida @ Philadelphia 7:00
Tampa Bay @ Washington 7:00
Buffalo @ Boston 7:00
New York Islanders @ New Jersey Devils 7:00


Florida @ Pittsburgh 7:00


Carolina @ Tampa Bay 7:00
Washington @ Boston 1:00
Buffalo @ Ottawa 7:00
Philadelphia @ Toronto 7:00
New Jersey Devils @ New York Islanders 7:00


Carolina @ Florida 1:00
Toronto @ Washington 5:00
New York Islanders @ New York Rangers 7:00


Gwinnett Gladiators:

Tuesday at Greenville 7:35

Saturday versus Cyclones 7:05

Sunday versus Road Warriors 4:05

Other games Gladiator fans should pay attention to:


Greenville @ South Carolina 7:05
Elmira @ Trenton 7:00


Greenville @ South Carolina 7:05
Toledo @ Elmira 7:35

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Philly Downs Washington, Florida Beats Ottawa

Real quick. Philadelphia shut out Washington in a 1-0 decision, preserving Winnipeg's spot as the 8th seed in the East, one point above Washington. The Caps have a game in had over Winnipeg.

Florida, also with a game in hand, overcame a 2 goal deficit to defeat the Ottawa Senators. This gives the Cats four more points than the Jets.

Tampa Bay could not continue their winning streak because the Lightning were off.

However, with a new vigor, the Buffalo Sabres are marching up the ranks. They sit just below Tampa Bay, though they are tied in points. That's just two points below Winnipeg. The Jets host the Sabres tomorrow in a crucial contest.

Winnipeg sits in 8th with 70 points. In 12th with 67 is Toronto followed by the Islanders with 65. It is crunch time. The playoff push has definately come!

Gladiators First in Conference, Top Titans 5-4

The Gladiators overcame a 3 goal deficit to defeat the Trenton Titans in regulation Sunday afternoon. It was the first time in team history Gwinnett has overcome that large of a point difference to win in regulation.

It certainly did not come easy, though the action certainly got underway fast. Gwinnett opened the scoring with a goal 36 seconds into the game. But a mere 33 seconds later, the Titans tied things up with a quick goal of their own. The starting netminder for the Gladiators was Joe Palmer, but he was replaced by Ryan Zapolski after the score became 2-1 Titans at the 10:33 mark.

A powerplay goal near the end of the first and a goal at 3:30 in the second gave the Titans an impressive 4-1 lead. But the Gladiators did not give up. And they were able to even the game relatively quickly. By the time the teams headed into the locker room, Gwinnett had knotted up the score at 4-4.

And 4-4 it would remain until less than 5 minutes to go in regulation. Defenseman Corey Fienhage posted the game-winner for the Gladiators at 15:40 into the final period on a shot that deflected off a Trenton defender.

With division and conference leading Greenville Road Warriors off on Sunday, the Gladiators passed them in the standings to gain the top spot by one point. The two teams meet Tuesday in Greenville. Gwinnett has yet to defeat the Road Warriors at their BI-LO Center in Greenville, so this will be a crucial test for the Glads. Greenville has a game in hand over Gwinnett at this time.

Victory song!

Roughing With Your Hip

The Tampa Bay Lightning benefitted from what looks like a terrible call during the overtime period.

Brandon Sutter of the Hurricanes was called for roughing.

Roughing: Rule 51.

"51.1- Roughing is a punching motion with the hand or fist, with or without the glove on the hand, normally directed at the head or face of an opponent. Roughing is a minor altercation that is not worthy of a major penalty to either participant. (An altercation is a situation involving two players with at least one to be penalized).

51.2- A minor penalty shall be imposed on a player who strikes an opponent with his hand or fist."

Wow. Roughing on Sutter. His glove barely, BARELY scrapes Garon's blocking glove before the two make the most contact between Sutter's hip and Garon's head. That is a horrible call to give Tampa Bay a powerplay.

That looks more like interference by Stamkos. Or a hold by Stamkos. Or a hook by Stamkos. Or tripping by Stamkos. Really, any of the Section 7 - Restraining Fouls are better calls than a roughing call against Sutter. If Sutter committed a penalty, it was in no way roughing. He would be guilty of a charge if anything.

By the way, the commentator is wrong about the rules regarding interference. The goalkeeper being inside or outside the crease is not the test that must be met to have goalkeeper interference.

Rule 69.2:

"In all cases in which an attacking player initiates intentional or deliberate contact with a goalkeeper, whether or not the goalkeeper is inside or outside the goal crease, and whether or not a goal is scored, the attacking player will receive a penalty (minor or major, as the Referee deems appropriate)...."

Oh wait. It gets more specific about the goal crease. In fact, Rule 69.4 is titled "Contact Outside the Goal Crease". It partially reads:

"A goalkeeper is not "fair game" just because he is outside the goal crease. The appropriate penalty should be assessed in every case where an attacking player makes unnecessary contact with the goalkeeper."

But is there something in Rule 69 that addresses what Stamkos did to Sutter? Why yes. Yes it does. In the fourth paragraph of 69.1:

"If an attacking player has been pushed, shoved, or fouled by a defending player so as to cause him to come into contact with the goalkepper, such contact will not be deemed contact initiated by the attacking player for purposes of this rule, provide the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such contact."

So you can ignore the commentator who said that the goal crease is what prevented this from being goalkeeper interference. By the way, I just talked about goaltender interference a lot not because I think Sutter was guilty of it, but to show the commentator was wrong. Don't believe him. Stamkos was guilty of interference. Sutter was not guilty of anything. And no, not charging. I thought of that, but I contest that Sutter was pushed which is what caused him to go into Garon. Either way, the push eliminates the possibly of a charge or goalkeeper interference.

Stamkos got a hand on Sutter around the hash marks on the faceoff circle and kept them there until the contact with Garon.

Does this look familiar? Player leaps into goalie?

Link to video

Are we going to see Sutter suspended? Not likely.

There is one major difference between those two hits. Tootoo makes no effort to stop. If you look carefully at the video of Sutter, he turns his skates to either brake or turn. But after the push, he goes airborn. Check the video of Sutter at 44 or 51 seconds. Tootoo? No change of skate direction. Was Tootoo still treated a little too harshly? Yeah, probably. But he is not a precident for this incident in Carolina.

Just because there is contact between a defender and an attacker doesn't mean it automatically negates an interference or charging call. Look at Tootoo's hit. The defender makes contact on Tootoo's right side. If you look at Tootoo's skates, there is no significant change. If the push had been enough to change course, there would have been greater change in feet position and he would have been driven more left.

As mentioned, Sutter did change skate position to a more stopping motion, but the Stamkos hit caused him to topple.

But that was just one of the bad calls on the night.

Ducks' Coach Bruce Boudreau called the officiating during Saturday's match against the Kings some of the worst calls he's seen in a "friggin' long time".

Nice use of the word friggin' Coach. But you still might see a fine coming your way.

By the way, who was officiating that game in LA? Our friend Ian Walsh. Does the name sound familiar? He was the official in the Winter Classic than called that empty-net breakaway attempt by New York's Callahan a hold. So you have to kinda believe Boudreau. Still, don't say it. Just ask Rangers' Coach John Tortorella. Tort was fined $30,000 for bad mouthing the officials, specifically Walsh.

Don't expect to see a penalty nearly that high. That was after the biggest game in hockey for the season (at that point) on a national stage.

Stingrays Fall to Gwinnett

For the seventh time this season, the Gwinnett Gladiators defeated the South Carolina Stingrays. The victory was seen by a crowd of 7,732 during the middle of the Pink in the Rink weekend and Girls Gone Gladitors.

Gwinnett scored 6:39 into the first with Pat Galivan, the Gladiators' top scorer, picking up a bad clear attempt by the South Carolina netminder, Phillip Grubauer. Galivan's tough angle shot would be the only goal until 1:40 into the final period. Defenseman Cody Brookwell slid the puck under Grubauer’s leg pad for the goal. The shot trickled in for the game winner.

Stingray Pierre-Luc O’Brien would net a goal later in the game, but South Carolina could not overcome the two goal deficit and the Gladiators were victorious once again.

Unfortunately, so was division & conference leading Greenville as they notched another victory. The Gladiators remain fourth in the division with 74 points versus the Road Warriors' 75 points. The Gladiators are fourth in the American Conference because division winners take the 1-3 spots, though the Glads have more points than the #2 and #3 teams.

Glads win.

New Contender for Jets' Playoff Spot

The Jets have a legit new problem to worry about. And it's coming from down below.

The Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Carolina Hurricanes in OT Saturday night, giving them 68 points in 65 games compared to Winnipeg's 70 points in 66 games. Tampa currently has more regulation plus overtime wins than the Jets. In the event of a tie in points at the end of the season (when all teams have played 82 games), this stat is what is first looked at. Shootout wins aren't counted in this stat. They do still give points, but they don't count in the event of a points tie. The Jets have 27 ROW's, the Lightning have 29.

The Lightning hosted the Rangers on Friday, then had mechanical problems with their plane meaning they didn't arrive in North Carolina until 2:30am. But it didn't seem to matter. The Bolts still won their fourth straight. And after coming from behind yet again.

Tampa grabbed an early goal, only to see it cut down to a two goal deficit by the third period thanks to 3 unanswered goals in the second. Steve Stamkos played a role in all of the key moments, including a full two-minute powerplay in the third. The game winner by Stamkos came during a controversal powerplay. Here's what what said.

Hurricanes center Brandon Sutter was called for roughing after running into goaltender Mathieu Garon. Stamkos was on Sutter's back when Sutter toppled the goaltender.

"I was trying to take his stick and I got my hand on his back," said Stamkos. "Sutter was going so fast. Whether I touched him or not, I think he was running into the goalie obviously. He didn't mean to do it. He was going hard to the net and had a good chance to score. They try to protect the goalies in this league. We were on the right end of the call and we capitalized on it."

Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller took exception to the roughing call on Sutter.

"Sutter did what hockey players are supposed to do: they are supposed to drive to the net and go for plays, go for rebounds," Muller said. "That's hockey. It is hard at this pace to really go there and know if the goalie is in the crease or not. It's quick."

Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher took a different approach in evaluating the critical call.

"It's the same call we were called on all year," he said. "The standard was the same."

Regardless of the circumstances of the game ending goal, the Lightning are a team to pay closer attention too. Two unanswered points and the Lightning and Jets are tied. With the advantage going to the Bolts.

Well, at least there is some good news for Jets fans. Nashville defeated division leading Florida 3-1. Actually, it might be more fair to say that Pekka Rinne defeated division leading Florida. Rinne's performance helped the Predators improve to 5-1-1 in their last seven games despite being outshot 40-23.

Yeah. Rinne made 39 saves on 40 shots for a 0.975 save percentage. And many people would agree with his being awarded the first star of the game.

"I don't say this in a sarcastic or negative way at all, but goaltending was the difference tonight," Florida coach Kevin Dineen said. "And it had nothing to do with what went on at our end. Pekka Rinne earns his keep every time he goes out. He had a heck of a game. You get a quick look at some of the chances that we had and he had to come up extremely big for them, which he seems to do every single game. We put a lot of pressure on him and unfortunately we weren't able to get any by him.”

The Panthers lost for the sixth time in their last nine outings (3-5-1). Sunday, things may not improve as the Panthers face an Ottawa team that has beaten them nine times in a row. It was the fourth time in the last five games the Panthers fell behind 2-0. They were able to win the first two of those games (3-2 at Carolina and 4-2 against Montreal) before suffering a 7-0 shutout at Winnipeg on Thursday.

The lone Florida goal was scored by Wojtek Wolski who did manage to put 5 shots on goal. But luckily for Jets fans, only one found its way to the back of the net.