KK Members Blog
The prognostication game is a very difficult business. There is a reason why it’s reserved only for the best and brightest of pundits—because it requires an almost preternatural ability to understand the game of hockey in a way most regular fans simply cannot. The casual fan may think he or she has what it takes but—make no mistake—their hockey acumen is no match for someone with a Communications degree and a close relative and/or fraternity brother in the business.
Members of the mainstream North American hockey media spend countless hours watching games, considering strengths and weaknesses of respective teams, breaking down statistics…and then go on to pick the Rangers to win the Stanley Cup for no other reason than they’re from New York.
It’s this unbiased, diligent consideration of the facts that separates professionals from those who are simply fans. If Linda Cohn thinks the Rangers can beat everyone in the Eastern Conference (plus the Red Wings), rest assured it’s because of their stunning regular and post-season success over the past four years and not because the cover of her autobiography is a picture of her wearing a Mark Messier jersey. This willingness to think outside the box is what differentiates someone like her from an amateur who would take the easy route and make evidence-based predictions.
Her colleague, respected hockey journalist and fellow Communications scholar John Buccigross, is just as assiduous in his sizing up of the season to come. By rigorously uncovering clues and hidden symbols in various song lyrics from whatever adult-contemporary-posing-as-rock-bands happened to be shuffling through his iPod at the time, Bucci very astutely predicts Montreal as your 2008-2009 Stanley Cup champion. Based on sheer blood instinct—and the positive vibes of the Little River Band’s wimp-rock stylings—Bucci likes the Habs because, hey, it’s their 100th anniversary and they are “balanced, well-managed and have a positive energy.”
It was a cold, cloudy morning on January 1st, 2009. The old man and I were driving through the wind-swept streets of Chicago, trying to find the nice, young lady who had offered up her garage as a place to park. We called her on her cell-phone and she graciously came down to the street to meet us and show us where to go. We jumped out of the car and started throwing on our Red Wings gear over long underwear, sweatpants, etc. I put on my Zetterberg jersey that I’ve had since his rookie season. The old man had a bright red Winter Classic Red Wing hooded-sweatshirt.
A few more cars pulled into the small in the adjacent alley as we got out our small grill and opened up a few pre-packed beverages. Not surprisingly, the cars parking nearby were filled with Blackhawks fans. One of them wandered over towards us and initiated some fairly friendly small talk. We exchanged forced compliments of each other’s teams and discussed the current weather and our long drive from Michigan in the early hours of the morning.
It was at this time that the gentleman’s friend came over with his small child. The little boy was wearing nothing hockey-related…just a blue winter coat and a non-denominational wool hat. “What team do you root for?” I asked in a friendly tone…the boy said nothing. With a stone-cold look on his face, the boy’s father replied with “The Blackhawks…we don’t come from a trailer park.” There was no jest in his voice; this was not meant to be taken lightly.
I was ready for the loss. I was ready to even come up with a phrase that the Chief might find useful for the next few years describing our defeat: “The Bullshit.” It made sense at the time; a team that played really, really hard. That arguably bent the rules as far as a team can in order to win. A team that backed that up with equally solid play. A team that played that strong forecheck and aggressive play that makes us chip and chase, which is so foreign to our system, along with the strong goalie; the formula that beats the wings every damn year that we lose a series.
However it is not so, for our man who bleeds Wings Red came through along with the rest of the team when it counted.
Props to Anaheim. Damn, you played so well I wouldn’t have felt THAT bad that we lost to you. Well played. Handshakes all around. I believe neither side would have had a pimply faced preteen crying in their pillows on YouTube.
Now comes the challenge, Chicago. Wrigley field ain’t got nothing on this.
Sat Oct 25, 2008 6 - 5 SO Win Wings
Sat Dec 6, 2008 4 - 5 SO Win Wings
Tue Dec 30, 2008 0 - 4 Win Wings
Thu Jan 1, 2009 6 - 4 Win Wings
Sat Apr 11, 2009 4 - 2 Loss to the Blackhawks
Sun Apr 12, 2009 0 - 3 Loss to the Blackhawks
This record may look like a winning one. But we eeked out those first two games. Rack the middle to up to hangover. The latter two were downright scary. I watched all those games, but the last two rattled me.
All season I knew, in my gut, or maybe lower, than it would come to this. And let me tell you, if I were a betting man (which I am outside of hockey, insomuch as my heart gets in the way), I’d put money on the Hawks. I hate to say it. But they’re going to work us over harder than Anaheim. Can we do it? I hope so. Can they do it? I hope not. The truth is, we both can. And that scares the sh*t out of me. These scrappy little youngsters care more about winning than we do right now, and we have to wake up and smell the…. well.. whatever the hell Chicago smells like.
Every major sport in North America has stubborn traditionalists in its media ranks. ESPN’s Joe Morgan seems to honestly believe that the Golden Age of Baseball ended the day he retired, and much of what has come since is an insult to the game or “not the way the game is supposed to be played.” In both his MLB and NFL coverage, Joe Buck often engages in embarrassing, maudlin displays of orthodoxy, most famously his ridiculous overreaction to the Randy Moss touchdown celebration against the Green Bay Packers in the 2005 playoffs.
While these traditionalists can be infuriating, you never get the sense that they are indicting a specific group of people, but rather the natural (or, in their eyes, unnatural) progression of the sport. In other words, Joe Morgan doesn’t think baseball has become tarnished due to, say, the influx of Latin and Asian players; he’s just an egotistical jerk who thinks his generation was the greatest and will not accept otherwise. Joe Buck’s issue with the Randy Moss touchdown dance wasn’t that Moss represents the black, urban “gansterization” of football; he’s just an easily offended prude who probably gets uncomfortable around nude sculptures in art museums.
But much of the traditionalism, if you can call it that, emanating from the Canadian hockey media lately carries with it a not-so-subtle implication—that Europeans are not only what’s wrong with the sport, but they are, by nature of their place of birth, inferior to Canadians.
What’s truly shocking is not so much that this undercurrent of xenophobia exists in the Canadian media—because it has for a long time now—but that so many people seem to think it’s a legitimate, defensible position or, at the very least, chalk it up to simply being a lovable quirk of Canadian culture or a byproduct of their passion for the game.
I suppose it would be even more troubling if it wasn’t so pathetically transparent. One need only look at the top five scoring leaders or the three Hart finalists this year to understand the root of this growing anti-European sentiment. Since gaining a foothold in the league, there’s a reason the treatment of European players in Canada has gone from leery non-acceptance to near outright hostility. And it doesn’t have anything to do with “heart” or “toughness” or whatever easily leveled, stereotypical charge you can throw at them. Anyone who understands the psychology of fear can see those charges for the red herrings they are.
The real reason behind this growing hostility, of course, is that Canadians can see their death grip on worldwide hockey dominance slipping away. In truth, it might be already gone. If you look at the probable rosters for Vancouver in 2010…well…let’s just say Canada likely won’t be the favorite on paper.
So remember how good the Wings’ hockey DJ used to be with player name tunes? Shanahan’s Jig. Wooley’s Wooley Bully tune; Now all I know is Cleary’s ‘I can see clearly now,’ Sunshiny Day tune, nice try but having lost a few players we need more.
Sure we have the “Hold Me” song for holding, “Get over it” when we’re trying to get over a bad goal, but I’m talking player-specific tunes.
I’m calling out the Kuklas Korner readership, soliciting clever ideas for future theme songs our trusty Wings DJ (Paul: Got his name?) should play for whenever a certain active player on our roster is worth noting for a goal, fight, over otherwise.
I’ll open the bidding:
Why aren’t they playing the Hossa Hossa Hossa Hossa! song?
Chris Chelios: “Old Man” by Neal Young : http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/neilyoung/oldman.html
Enver Lisin, a 2nd round pick of the Coyotes back in 2004, is supposed to be a part of the team’s future. He’s got a lot of speed, that’s for sure.
The problem? he’s been hurting his team in the present, a LOT.
Over the course of his short career, Lisin has played a season’s worth of games and has an atrocious +/- stat.
I know +/- can be a flawed stat for many reasons, but when it’s a rather large number in any direction, it generally says something about the player. In this case, it is obvious that Lisin is on the ice for many goals scored against, and it isn’t a one-season fluke.
One has to wonder just how much better off the Coyotes would have been if they had not played Lisin at all. He doesn’t put up a lot of points, and has obviously cost the Coyotes quite a few goals against with his inattention to his own end. It’s not like Lisin is going up against top lines like Samuel Pahlsson.
Checking out Behind the Net’s advanced stats, Lisin is right down near the bottom, with only Rod “The Bod” Brind’Amour and his awful season below him.
I’d have to say, without digging too deep, that Lisin is the worst defensive forward in the league, and would be better off in the AHL until he isn’t such a negative nelly.
There has been a lot of talk over the past few months about removing fighting from hockey. Let’s be honest, there are a few in the media who continuously bring this up at every opportunity that they can get. Unfortunately this season there have been two incidents in particular (the tragic death of Don Sanderson the result of a fight in the OHA and shortly thereafter a fight in the AHL that resulted in Garrett Klotz being taken off of the ice on a stretcher). This was fodder for the anti-fighting proponents in the media and in the NHL. Ever since it seems like you can’t go to TSN.ca without having to read an article that is anti-fighting or listening to a Versus/NBC telecast where one commentator completely rips a part the idea of fighting in hockey.
Despite what some might like you to believe—for example TSN continues to have headlines on their main page that would have you thinking that most fans want to get fighting out of the game. For example, a headline a few weeks back that indicated that “Majority Want Fighting Eliminated!”—However, when you read the article you see that the survey was conducted not just of hockey fans but amongst the general population of Canada. In fact the article even specified “68 per cent of NHL fans who follow the NHL closely say the gloves should continue to drop.” How can you run an article on the front of your website with such a misleading title? Why would anyone care what a typical Canadian thinks of fighting in hockey? Wouldn’t it seem obvious that the people who actually watch hockey, pay for season tickets, pay for individual games, pay for NHL apparel would be the one’s whose opinion would count? If 68% of NHL Fans are in favor if fighting—why is this even an issue?
Dear KK Readers,
My name is Jeremy Pellek and am a Senior at Bowling Green State University. In light of the current tough economic times, and lack of state funding, BGSU will experience a $6-10 million budget shortfall for this coming fiscal year. As it stands now, many part-time employees will be let go after the school year ends, but further cuts need to be made to negate this substantial loss of money. Recently, it has surfaced that one possible cut may come in the form of the varsity hockey program. While the hockey program has struggled on the ice the past decade, it remains rich in history and tradition, and provided the school with it’s only NCAA National Championship in 1984.
Bowling Green competes in the CCHA against the likes of Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, etc. It’s arena is considered one of the oldest and run down buildings in all of college hockey. As programs like Miami OH and Notre Dame have built new facilities, Bowling Green has fallen behind in terms of recruiting and winning teams. The university originally allotted money for arena renovations, but unfortunately this money has been taken off the table, while alumni donations for the Stroh Center, a new facility for the basketball programs have been collected.
Bowling Green’s hockey tradition includes current NHLers Rob Blake, Ken Klee, Kevin Bieksa, coaches Jerry York of Boston College, Ron Mason, former AD at Michigan State, and current coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins Dan Bylsma. Other notable alumni include Capitals GM George McPhee, play-by-play announcer Mike “Doc” Emrick, and Ken Morrow and Mark Wells from the Miracle on Ice team.
If you are on Facebook, we urge you to join the group created to save BGSU hockey.
Also, you are welcome to join the discussion on the BGSU fan board.
The loss of a national champion in college hockey will have very negative consequences for the sport. We encourage any and all hockey fans to help us keep college hockey alive at Bowling Green.
It’s been said for quite a while that the success of the Detroit Red Wings in the regular season is due to their beating-up of divisional opponents. While it’s historically been a weaker division, it’s actually become quite a bit stronger in recent seasons. As late as last year’s playoffs, we’d heard many broadcasters bring up the idea that the Wings pad their regular season points totals due to playing a weak division all season long, despite the fact that their record against their own division last season was far worse than their records against other divisions.
When the Wings won the Stanley Cup last year, it seemed to silence most about the subject. Still, a lot of writers’ season previews still had most Central teams missing the playoffs and staying in the bottom of the conference standings. However, what we’ve seen play out this year has been a drastic difference from years past: the Central division is arguably one of the, if not THE, strongest in the NHL. Here’s some data to support my thesis (as of the standings the morning of Saturday, March 7, 2009).
The following is a summary of all games played against divisons, with points earned, points earned per game, and percentage of possible points earned against the divisions. Note: all data includes only the records of OTHER divisions against the named division (e.g. the “Points Earned Against Central” are for the five other divisions, and do not include the Central division itself). To read this chart in plain English, take the column heading, append the division name and total, and prepend “For all other divisions combined”, to get something like this: “For all other divisions combined, their points earned against the Central division is a total of 242”.
Mats Sundin is coming back to town tomorrow. I have appreciated watching him play for the past 13 years here in Toronto, but I’m still booing the guy. As his final gesture to Toronto, he left, when he could have been the gift that kept on giving. Sundin could have brought in a boatload during last year’s trade deadline, but declined his waive his no-trade clause, knowing he was not going to return to TO. Had he waived his NTC, it could have sparked a wave of waving NTC’s from Tomas Kaberle and Bryan McCabe, which would have brought in a number of players, including Jeff Carter. So rather than Sundin leaving on a good note, he left on a sour note, and that is the note that I would be singing to tomorrow night.
About KK Members Blog
If you want to be a hockey writer, be our special guest!
How to Post
We only ask that you avoid profanity, and that you're careful to credit your sources -- news media or other bloggers -- and provide links to those other sites when appropriate.
Need help? Check out our help page.