Olympic Hockey Orientation Invitations

Let's do it again, boys!

Let’s do it again, boys!

So the Hockey Canada has sent out it’s invites to who they consider the best of the best of Canada’s NHL talent. The list has some hits and some fairly major misses in my opinion. Let me break it down for you.

Goalie Invites
Roberto Luongo, Carey Price, Mike Smith, Brayden Holtby and Corey Crawford.
Hits:  I am not Bobby Lu’s biggest fan but he bailed out Brodeur, and our Country’s ass, in the 2010 Olympics and kept us in medal contention so you can’t not pick him. Price didn’t have the best year last year but he’s been solid in the past. Holtby is young but when he’s hot he is sweltering.
Misses: Crawford won the Stanley Cup so I can understand the invite, but… I’m not sure he’s ready for the pressure of a Nation. And as for Smith. He is much too much of a diva and a baby to be of any value to Team Canada. His flopping and tantrums will go over like a lead balloon in an international setting. Also, I feel like Cam Ward should have gotten an invite. Yes, he was injured last year but he is still a stronger choice than Smith.

Forward Invites
Patrice Bergeron, Jeff Carter, Logan Couture, Sidney Crosby, Matt Duchene, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Getzlaf, Claude Giroux, Taylor Hall, Chris Kunitz, Andrew Ladd, Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, Rick Nash, James Neal, Corey Perry, Mike Richards, Patrick Sharp, Eric Staal, Jordan Staal, Martin St. Louis, Steven Stamkos, John Tavares, Joe Thornton, Jonathan Toews.
Hits: Anyone on the 2010 Gold Medal winning team deserves a callback (Toews, Nash, Getzlaf, Bergeron, E Staal, Perry, Thornton). I can’t deny they’ve gotten us there before… even though I am not a fan of Perry, Gretzlaf or Thornton. New additions that I am ecstatic about: Jeff Carter. I have really and truly fallen in love with the way he plays. He’s got grace, percision and size. Kunitz is another great choice. He is a sniper and paired with Crosby, especially, he is a goal-scoring-titan. James Neal. He’s brilliant, the end. JORDAN STAAL. Why is he in all caps? Because he is JORDAN STAAL. His transition year in Carolina was less than stellar but I have faith that shorty-scoring beast from the Penguins is still in there and ready to re-emerge. Plus he’s won with his brother before, on a Junior level. I’d love to see it again. Stamkos and Giroux are also strong and obvious choices… on paper. (More on that in the misses…)
Misses: Brad Marchand. He is not that good. And more importantly, he is the exact opposite of everything that is suitable to Olympic-style hockey. His cheap shots, ignorant attitude and genuinely violent style is not something I want associated with our Country on this stage. I honestly don’t think I can cheer for a team with him on it. Not even kidding. Other choices that leave me lacking: Milan Lucic (for very similar reasons as Marchand) and Couture, who I think is yet to actually prove himself in a pressure situation. Also, I adore Claude Giroux and his skills are unquestionably excellent, however, he and Crosby hate each other. I might be thinking like a “chick” here but are these two actually going to be able to play together? If not, I pick Mr. Golden Goal. Also leaving off Jarome Iginla after he set up the game winning golden goal, from his effing knees no less, is a travesty. Nothing short of a travesty.

Defense Invites
Karl Alzer, Jay Bouwmeester, Dan Boyle, Drew Doughty, Mike Green, Dan Hamhuis,Travis Hamonic, Duncan Keith, Kris Letang, Marc Methot, Dion Phaneuf, Alex Pietrangelo, Brent Seabrook, Marc Staal, P.K. Subban, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Shea Weber
Hits: Pretty much the whole list. Even though I can’t stand playing against Keith, Seabrook, Subban and Weber I know they’ll be assets to my Country’s team. And I know, unlike Marchand and probably Lucic, they won’t embarrass us. I’m particularly happy about Letang and Hamhuis as I think Letang’s offensive defense and Hamhuis’ solid, clean defense is exactly what we’ll need. And yeah, the fact that Marc Staal’s inclusion means 3 out of 4 Staals could be on the Olympic Team makes me giddier than a Belieber at a Justin concert. I am a Staal groupie and proud of it.
Misses: I would have liked to see Kevin Bieksa, but maybe that’s just the Canucks fan in me. I think he was worth a chance.

If I was picking the final roster
The 2014 Socchi Olympic Team Canada Men’s Hockey Roster would be… drumroll….
Three Goaltenders: Roberto Luongo, Starter. Carey Price, Backup. Corey Crawford, 3rd.
14 Forwards: Jonathan Toews, Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz, Jeff Carter, Patrice Bergeron, Mike Richards, Jordan Staal, Eric Staal, James Neal, Claude Giroux, Steven Stamkos, Rick Nash, John Tavares, Martin St. Louis.
Eight Defensemen: Kris Letang Dan Hamhuis, Drew Doughty, Alex Pietrangelo, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Dan Boyle and Marc Staal for the STAAL TRIFECTA!

So what are your thoughts? Who do you think got missed? Who do you think, from these invites, should make the team?

Duncan ‘Crocodile Tears’ Keith

Duncan Keith and Jeff Carter were shoving and slashing each other in front of the net during a hockey play. As the puck moved down the ice, the two players kept shoving each other. Then Carter takes a tap at Keith’s glove which had come off. Then Keith takes his stick and whips it at Carter’s face, cutting open his chin.

In typical Duncan Keith fashion, Keith tells the media after the game that yes, he meant to hit Carter, but not in his face. “I’m sorry” and “I feel bad”. Sure he didn’t cry but Keith’s constant “remorse” for his constant malicious acts are as close to crocodile tears (def: a false or insincere display of emotion) as you can get without the water works.

His apology is as fake as his excuse.

Jeff Carter is 6’4 and he wasn’t crouching or bending in at all. Keith is 6’1, and if he was aiming for Carter’s chest his stick would have been around his own chest level. Instead, Keith’s stick went up, WAY UP, well past Carter’s chest. He knew exactly where he would clip Carter.

Furthermore, for me, Keith has cried wolf one too many times. After maliciously slamming his elbow into Daniel Sedin’s face he claimed he’s an “honest guy” who  is “not trying to hurt anybody.” Keith told Shanahan he was just trying to stop Sedin from playing the puck. Just doing his job…. with his elbow…. and no puck in play anywhere near him. Yeah, I didn’t buy it then and I’m not buying it now.

And let’s take it off the ice for a minute. Keith made a sexist comment to a female reporter and when there was public outrage he claimed he was a good guy who “respects everyone”. Keith expected us to pretend we didn’t hear him be disrespectful because he tells us he’s respectful? Yeah, it doesn’t work that way.

And that takes us back to the Carter incident. Even if we can suspend disbelief for a second and believe Keith really was going for the chest, it’s still suspendable play. Because it was swinging a stick at a player out of anger with the intent to hit him. His excuse is basically ‘yes I was doing something illegal, but I didn’t mean for it to be THAT illegal.’ Fact is, Keith didn’t want to draw blood only because he knew it would come with at least a penalty and possibly a suspension, not because he thought it was wrong to bust open the face of a top Kings player. (And one of the prettiest faces in the NHL).

And frankly, the refs got it wrong. With no play happening and no puck involved in the incident, Keith shouldn’t have gotten a high-sticking penalty. He should have gotten a game misconduct. And I have no doubt the only reason Keith apologized to Carter repeatedly is because the cameras were rolling and he knew Shanahan would see it.

Here’s hoping Shanny is smart enough to know crocodile tears when he sees them.

Dear Vancouver Canucks, I don’t believe.


Dear Vancouver Canucks,

I now know how my parents felt when I got bad grades in school and they knew I was smart. They knew I wasn’t trying. That I didn’t seem to care. They watched me physically and mentally CHOSE to fail and they could not do a single thing about it. I’m sure my parents will thank you for that life lesson. Me? I’m too angry to thank you.

You are simply and truly not living up to your potential. You haven’t all season, except for that one game against Chicago. Just like the year before, except that one game again Boston. The core of this team have achieved greatness a great many times and made it seem like it wasn’t an achievement, it was simply normal. Kesler, Bieksa, Henrik, Daniel, Burrows, Edler.  Lapierre, Higgins, Raymond, Luongo, Schneider – YOU ALL made a Stanley Cup final possible 2 years ago. TOGETHER. So how is it possible that this year (and last) you look like a bunch of guys who have never played together let alone made it to a GAME SEVEN FINAL together?

You clearly don’t believe in yourselves anymore and even more evidently, you do not believe in each other.  I refuse to believe you are all too old, past your prime, missed your chance. But it’s not ME who has to refuse to believe it – IT’S YOU.

Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins lost in G6 in 2008 but they didn’t let the world tell them they’d missed their only shot. They wouldn’t get a shot again for years, people said. They came back the very next year and believed they could still win it and they did win it. Detroit has won back-to-back Stanley Cups. There is no reason at all, on paper, that you can’t make it all the way to the end this year and win it.

Coming back from a 3-0 series deficit seems impossible, but you must have believed that getting past round 1 was impossible or we wouldn’t be in this situation. I have been going to a lot of Los Angeles Kings games now that I live here. Last night they went down 2-0 pretty early to the Blues. They stayed behind or tied throughout 2 periods, but you know what they didn’t do? They didn’t give up They didn’t meltdown. They treated every time they had a puck on their stick like it was a chance – BECAUSE IT’S ALWAYS A CHANCE. They took shots – some had little hope of going in but they took them anyway. It kept them in the game, it kept their mentality on winning and when the real opportunities came up – and they could take the shots that count – they could make them goals. Because they were ready. They never stopped trying so they never had to “start” trying.

A few other teams have this kind of work ethic. Detroit owns this kind of game play, as Anaheim is finding out. YOU, Vancouver Canucks,  used to have this kind of game mentality. Now you’re just a bunch of frustrated, pissy emotional babies. Seriously.

STFU and stop making excuses, apologies or complaints to the media. Stop talking to them at all. Nobody wants to hear your crap. Don’t let the media in pre-game. Talk to each other instead. Figure out where you lost your way. Why the Sedins aren’t scoring. Why Burrows isn’t. Where Higgins and Raymond have gone. Why Bieksa and Edler can no longer cover the opposition effectively. TALK IT OUT and find your way again.

Ask yourself why? Why do you find it so impossible to do what you’ve already done? You KNOW you can get out fo the first round, you know you can beat San Jose, because YOU HAVE.

I will always love you but right now you’re giving me no reason to believe in you. Give me a reason to believe in you again. Please. I’m begging you.


5 Ways to Keep Busy in the Lockout

It’s official. The NHL is in full lockout mode. The whole season may or may not be lost, only time will tell, but chances are the season won’t start as scheduled. Here’s some ways to keep hockey alive in your heart, or just keep busy, while we wait for the NHL to give us what we want and deserve – a season.

Make a Gary Bettman Voodoo Doll
Crafts are a great way to pass the time. They keep your hands busy and keep you away from mindless TV and boring sports like football or the World Series. Why not make your own homemade voodoo doll. Better yet, a Gary Bettman voodoo doll! Make sure you have LOTS of pins!

Go No-Pro
Let’s face it, just because the big boys can’t figure it out doesn’t mean hockey is completely dead. There’s always the minors. These guys will one day be the big boys so support them now and see them while the seats are affordable. There’s the Chicago Wolves, with the loveable Eddie Lack (the future Robin to Schneider’s Batman) to cheer for or the Abbottsford Heat. Heck you can even just hang around 8 Rinks and watch beer league. Whatever it takes, people. Whatever it takes…

Re-Watch the 2010 Olympic Hockey
Let’s face it. This was amazing hockey, especially if you’re Canadian. And even if you aren’t, chance are there were members of your favorite team on Team Canada’s 2010 Olympic team. Hawks fans have Toews to cheer, Vancouver fans had Luongo, NJD fans – Brodeur, Pens – Sid and Fleury, Canes fans – Eric Staal. Leafs fans….. sorry no Leafs players on this winning team but you’re used to watching other teams win anyway. You can buy the whole series and watch the entire Olympic run – both mens and womens. It’ll keep hockey alive in your heart.

Youtube it!
When all else fails and you need a hockey fix, head to youtube. There are some really
great clips of just about every team. Interviews, recaps, montage videos are all there. You can watch Claude Giroux’s get a Gordie Howe hattrickfollow a Canuck for a day or even watch Blackhawks face-off against Blackhawks in a popsicle eating contest. No seriously…

Donate $ to Charity
What does this have to do with hockey, you say? Well, every team has a few organizations and causes they support, right? For the Canucks it’s Mind Check, Autism Network and Canucks Place. A lot of money comes into these organizations because hockey is being played – through 50/50 draws and other events associated with the actual game being played. If there’s not games, these charities aren’t getting the same donations. So take the money you would have spent on tickets to that Bruins-Canucks match-up you were dying to see in person and donate it to one of the Canucks’ charities instead. It’ll make you feel good… maybe not as good as watching Hamhuis hipcheck Marchand but it’s a  close second.

Bonus Option:  Live in Denial
If none of these options appeal to you and you just can’t wrap your head around losing the best sport out there, then simply pretend it’s not happening. Denial doesn’t just have to be a river in Egypt people. Wear your jerseys on the days that we’re supposed to be Game days, talk to the Barista at Starbucks about how well your doing in your hockey pool, ask your boss if he saw that sick hat trick by Ballard last night (hey, if you’re going to seem crazy, may as well seem REALLY crazy)! It may not bring hockey back but it might get you time off work and a psychiatrist to help you through the lockout.

The Season of Big, Hard Changes

Now that the 2012 season is over, it’s time to look back and reflect. For me there is one thing that really rings true – making the big, hard changes can change everything. Exhibit A: The Los Angeles Kings. Also now known as the first team in NHL history to enter the playoffs as an 8th seed and win Lord Stanley’s coveted Cup.

They didn’t have a stellar season, hence cinching the last spot in the West. But from the minute the 2010-2011 season ended the Kings started to do what more than a few teams are afraid to – they made big, hard changes. Their first was acquiring Mike Richards from the Flyers last year when they had their “fire sale”. Unfortunately, Mike alone, didn’t solve their problems. Was he a big, hard change that backfired? I would say no. He had a productive season but just wasn’t the motivator that I think the Kings expected. Until LA also acquired his partner in crime, Jeff Carter (more on that in a second).

While struggling early in the season, the Kings fired their coach Terry Murray. Why is this a big, hard change? Because it can lead to chaos in the middle of a season that’s already not going well. Luckily for them it paid off. The introduction of Darryl Sutter seemed to motivate and light a fire under the Kings collective butts. And then came the aforementioned Jeff Carter.

Can we just talk about Carter’s luck for a moment? Traded from continual contenders Philly, to the hopeless Columbus where he struggled, and then suddenly whisked West just in time to make the Playoffs. Talk about a rollercoaster career!

The trade for Carter was another big, hard change for LA. Sure they gave away a defensemen, which isn’t a big deal because the Kings had a plethora of talent in that field, but they also gave a first round draft pick. That is a bigger deal, especially considering they were trading for a guy with a reputation for having a so-so work ethic (Carter in Philly was apparently an underachiever on the ice and an overachiever in the bars) and was having a really disappointing season at the time of the trade. For CBJ Carter was a -11 and only had 15 goals and 10 assists. But LA took the chance that this previous top goal scorer could be that way again with his old center and best bud Richards and a better team. It could have gone horribly awry very easily but as the world now knows, it didn’t.

Other big, hard changes to reflect on now that the 2011-2012 season is in the record books? Philadelphia Flyers trading Carter and Richards in the first place and acquiring Bryzgalov. This is a example, in my humble hockey opinion, of big hard changes that bite you in the butt. Now to be fair it wasn’t so much the trading of Richards that was a mistake. Sure he went on to win a Stanley Cup but that wasn’t because of his hard work alone. In fact before adding Carter and a new coach, Richards was exactly carrying the team on his back. He was just another struggling Kings forward. And Simmonds, who Philly snagged in return, was a pretty good addition to the Flyers. He’s done well and is a strong asset for them. Same goes with Carter. Sure he was the Flyers top goal scorer but Claude Giroux more than picked up that slack, as did Briere during the playoffs.

What really makes this big hard change one that backfired is that the Flyers traded both elite forwards to clear cash goalie for Ilya Brygalov. The tiger loving, Universe philosopher of a goalie was luke warm and cold all season long, never hot or, more importantly, consistent. And in that final game of the Flyers playoff run he essentially scored on his own net. As if his underwhelming performance wasn’t enough to call this a failed gamble, Flyers gave Bryz a rumored 51-million, nine-year deal. Signing any player to a monumental contract like that is sheer insanity in my opinion, especially if it’s a goalie. Which leads me to an example of a team that did the same – The Vancouver Canucks.

Luongo is locked in with a big contract and a no trade clause. And subtly through the 2011-2012 season it seemed like despite the contract Vancouver was making a big hard change – Cory Schneider was becoming their number 1 goalie. That was made crystal clear when, without having to have an 8-goal meltdown, Luongo was benched in the playoffs in favor of Schneider. For Vancouver, who is all about the steady and doesn’t do big hard changes this is a big deal. Why do I say Vancouver doesn’t make big hard changes? Well they just gave both GM Gillis and Head Coach Vigneault contract extensions despite the fact that their biggest hardware is a couple President Trophies. Sure that’s something, but not really. I mean ask yourself this – when kids play road hockey how many of them pretend it’s a President Trophy winning game? Exactly. If it ain’t Stanley, it’s not good enough.

So will this shift in number one goalies be a big hard change the Canucks stick with? Maybe, but maybe not. Luongo has agreed to be traded but who can afford him and who wants him? He’s over 30, past his “prime” and, although he has more epic saves than epic meltdowns, his press is mostly bad. Also Schneider is younger and has what seems to be a better mental grip on the game. So if Gillis gets what he considers a bigger better offer for Schneids will he take it? Maybe. But hopefully Vancouver sticks by the statement they made last season. Because the Canucks need to get comfortable with big hard changes or they’ll never get a Cup. Tried and true doesn’t seem to win Lord Stanley’s Cup anymore.