March 25, 2007

A Split II - Buffalo 5 - 4 Toronto/Toronto 4 - 1 Buffalo

It could have been worse, we could have come away with absolutely nowt, but I would have much preferred us simply to have conceded five times in the first frame then scored our four. A loss like that - "the ultimate come-from-behind victory" as I heard a Sabre fan opine - was a poor one, and I can't lay all the blame at Raycroft's door again because there are only really two or three goalies who can keep facing multiple-man rushes and come away clean (and only one of them is still playing). But enough about that, as the OTHER game was a hell of a lot better. Buffalo did get away with some stuff, but at the same time so did we so that's not a variable I want to spend time crying over. Darcy Tucker scored twice, I'm happy, Cola scored, and best of all we forced Ryan Miller out of the game - RYAN MILLER. There really is nothing sweeter than making a quality goaltender go to the bench with his tail between his legs.

Of course, it semi-backfired for two reasons. First, he was being replaced by Ty Conklin, who...well, it's Ty Conklin, I shouldn't really have to explain this. And second, somehow Brian Campbell got his brains scrambled enough to check his own goaltender, a marvellous occurance. Maybe it was karmic retribution for some sin Conklin had done in the past, I really don't care too much past he got hit by his own defenseman. It was a beautiful sight. That said, I am getting on the Buffalo bandwagon for the President's Trophy for no other reason than I don't want to see Detroit take it. Nashville, I have no problem with, hell it'd be a good thing for a smaller market team to make it, but Detroit have had altogether too much success of late and need to be taken down some pegs. Being beaten by the Oilers last year (and MAN have they fallen hard) was a good step, but it's not enough.

P.S. How sweet was it to see Cam Janssen get pummelled by WMB?

March 13, 2007

An Inconsistency To Make Alexandre Daigle Proud

Like most people who follow the sport, I heard about the Chris Simon incident. If you've just returned from a relaxing vacation at the Rock Hilton, the gist is this - after being checked into the boards by Ryan Hollweg, Simon had a rush of blood to the head and hit Hollweg in the face with his stick. It was not an accidental hit, everything from Simon's posture to his grip on the stick screams that it was an assault, and only the most die-hard Islander could dare to claim otherwise. Simon later said that he was suffering from a concussion after the original check that was discovered later on, and claims that his memory of the unpleasant incident is fuzzy; the implication here is that Simon was not himself when he swung and it was a result of him just losing his temper and doing something reckless. I can relate, and so can many of you as we've all done things we later regretted when we lost our temper. Anyway, the upshot of this is that Simon will be banned for at least 25 Islander games - the exact terms are a bit cloudy, but my understanding is that he will banned for the 14 games remaining in the regular season, and then the entire postseason should the Islanders make it. If they do not, or if they don't play 11 games in the playoffs, the remaining suspension will spill over into next year's regular season. Some are claiming that this punishment is unfair, as it harms the Islanders' bid for the postseason, and I can see where they're coming from, but that's just a regrettable consequence of one player's rash action. It also means New York can give someone else a chance they might otherwise not have got. But anyway, the summary of this is that Chris Simon is banned for at least 25 games.

Somewhere, Ray Emery is sitting back and laughing with gusto.

Before you have fits of rage, let me make one thing clear. I have seen both hits, and I recognise that Emery's was nowhere near as bad as Simon's. Emery's was out of frustration and it was with the side of the blade, Simon's was a clear decision and it was with the edge of the blade. The two were different and should be treated differently. But Emery still hit a player in the face with his stick, that is the end result of his action. To give Simon a minimum 25 game suspension but to let Emery back into the net after just three games on the bench is ridiculous, nothing more, nothing less. I'm definitely not saying Simon's penalty should be reduced, I'm saying Emery's should have been longer, I'd say a ten-game minimum. Frustration isn't an acceptable excuse for hitting someone in the face with an object that could easily do some serious damage, and that's why I'm glad Simon got hit hard for his crime. Just think - if he'd swung a couple of inches higher, Ryan Hollweg could have been blind by now; if he'd swung a couple of inches lower, he could have fucked up Hollweg's windpipe and even killed him.

March 12, 2007

A Split - Ottawa 5 - 1 Toronto/Toronto 4 - 3 Ottawa

The first game went...well, pretty much as predicted, it was a big loss. Ottawa just peppered Raycroft; 40 shots they had in total, and that's not really acceptable. We've seen that Raycroft had trouble coping under pressure, and a 23-shot first period is too much for our defensive corps to let through. However, I do have to give some credit to them, they are doing a fairly good job this year restricting opposing offences (an average of just over 28.5 shots per game, says David Johnson at Hockey Analysis, a figure almost identical to that of New Jersey's blueliners) - I still don't like the acquisitions of Kubina or Gill because of the cap room the two are eating up, but nonetheless defense isn't our biggest concern at the moment. I like Raycroft, but the criticisms are beginning to build up; anyone else think it might be worth giving Justin Pogge a couple of games at the end of the season? (at least, if the playoff situation has already been resolved. If we're still in with a shot of making it, putting Pogge in would be a dangerous move)

The second game, on the other hand, was an inspiring performance from everyone bar Raycroft. Ottawa had just 22 shots, Darcy Tucker went some way to justifying his new contract with a goal in regulation and the overtime winner and we got two points we badly needed, what with NYR and Carolina tied on 76 points (and especially since Carolina are a game ahead of us at the moment) and Montreal are stuck on 74 points (and have likewise played a game more than we have). Considering Ottawa are solidly ensconced in the postseason places, it actually gives me some potentially ill-placed hope of experiencing some success. It irked me that Perreault didn't play, and also that Raycroft gave up three goals on 17 shots, but there was plenty of good to outweigh these problems. On the subject of injuries, it seems that our walking wounded have been given a liberal injection of gung-ho mentality - Kaberle has said he wants to return this year, Kubina is coming back at a disturbingly rapid pace, Wellwood of course played the second game and Peca is now the only major casualty still missing. Is it optimistic to hope to have him back for the playoffs? Probably, but I'll still hope it happens nonetheless.

Incidentally, is Wade Belak a defenseman or a forward? I can't work out which position he's supposed to be playing, it changes from source to source.

March 07, 2007

A Shutout?! - Toronto 3 - 0 Washington

This game has to be the anti-Buffalo - Raycroft played well, we killed the Washington powerplays, Perreault scored his first goal as a Leaf and things just went our way for a change. Fred Cassivi suffered as a result, but then he's been the Hershey goaltender and is hardly an NHL-calibre goaltender; it's more surprising that the AO Experience didn't have more scoring threats, particularly since Kaberle was out. I'm not sure whether to take it as a surprise or as a good sign for the playoffs. We go into a eighth-place tie with Carolina, and we do have a game on the Canes and Montreal, but with two games against the Sensators coming up then one against Tampa Bay, this little stretch will probably determine whether or not we get into the postseason.

March 05, 2007

A List

Hockey-Related Things To Do At Some Point

1) See a game
2) See a Toronto game
3) See a Toronto win
4) Watch a Toronto game at the Air Canada Centre
5) Touch the Stanley Cup
6) Visit the Hockey Hall of Fame
7) Learn to skate
8) Play in a hockey game (regardless of what level)
9) Score a goal (ditto)
10) Convert a non-fan into a fan.

More to be added when I think of them.

March 04, 2007

A Bitter Taste - Toronto 1 - 3 Buffalo

It might have been nice if we could have taken the momentum gained from bitch-slapping New Jersey into this game with the Buffaslugs, but much like in our earlier waxing, Ryan Miller was all but impenetratable (I believe he was the game's first star, saving 26 of the 27 shots we had). It would also have been nice if Darcy Tucker's return could have been a little more successful, but that ties in with Miller being outstanding for the Slugs. Then again, the chances are that with missing part of our top defensive pairing and a number of other players coupled with the 6-1 defeat on Tuesday, few would have expected us to come out of the game with any points. to start with.

Unfortunately, all this was clouded by the continuation of the Janssen situation. I opined that we might not see him suspended at all for his hit, and that Colim Campbell mishandling the case would lead to repercussions throughout the game, but I was proven wrong when the league handed down a three-game suspension on Janssen. While the length is satisfactory, there's another problem that takes precedent - sure, Janssen's out for the next three games, but as Tucker pointed out Janssen rarely plays any significant time for the Devils. His estimate of "two minutes a game" is probably a bit conservative, but I'd be surprised if his average TOI is more than five minutes. Anyway, Janssen is part of the Devils' fourth line, which means that through his three-game suspension they will be without a fourth-line winger.

What the fuck kind of a punishment is that?

Janssen's fined about $7,000 , which would be a stiff fine for a person in a normal line of work, but I'm guessing hockey players don't feel the sting quite as much because of the size of their contracts, and also misses three games. The Devils lose someone who barely plays for them anyway for three games. Toronto, on the other hand, lose Kaberle, a star player, for an undefined length of time at a point in the season when it is absolutely critical to have your team firing on all cylinders. Look at that state of affairs and tell me that's not messed up. The Devils get to sit back and laugh; our burden just grows. If you want to see the incident in glorious Youtubeavision, Ninja of Raking Leafs ( was nice enough to provide three seperate videos of it.


March 03, 2007

A Dangerous Precedent - Devils 3 - 4 Leafs (OT, SO)

A player sees the puck far away at the other end of the rink, and moves to rejoin the play. Another player, for some unknown slight, takes it upon himself to check our original player from behind with the result that the checkee's head slams into the boards. Now, take away those last four words. The more Leaf-astute of you may already have deduced what I'm referring to, but for those of you who are not, I believe that, last night, we were lucky Tomas Kaberle did not join Ace Bailey in having his career brutally cut short as the result of an unpenalised hit. Bailey was hit by Eddie Shore as retaliation for a hit Shore himself had received earlier, a reason reprehensible enough as it is, but we may never know the real reason Cam Janssen's mind goaded him into attacking Kaberle.

Janssen claims that he was just finishing his check, and that "I've got to take the body and I did"; in another situation, that would be explanation enough. We accept it's the job of defensemen and tough guys to agitate and enforce around the ice, and if they can intimidate a dangerous opponent it gives the whole team a boost as a result. But it is no-one's job to see a player who's noticably behind the run of the play and decide to nail them solely because they're one of the opponent's best players - Andrew Raycroft got it spot on when he said that the hit itself wasn't the problem, it was the fact it was ten seconds late that triggered such outrage. Janssen might not think he did anything wrong with the hit, but few players can truly be this dense, and it's this that earns him the second "F" grade. He joins Andrew Peters as the perpetrator of tremendous faggotry.

Ironically, Janssen's assault seemed to have the opposite effect to what it was intended. While it took Kaberle out of the game, it ended up giving the Leafs the supercharge he no doubt wanted the Devils to take on. Matt Stajan, Carlo Colaiacovo and Nik Antropov all scored to put Toronto ahead 3-2 and, even though Sergei Brylin tied it with a powerplay goal, Yanic Perreault went some way to justifying his cost with a goal in the ensuing shootout and Jeff O'Neill put in the winner. So what do you attribute this to? Was it karma biting the Devils in the ass for Janssen's hit going unpenalised - I doubt it, but I'd like to think so. There are some other observations I made, some of them disturbing in nature.

1) The referees continue to operate above a glass ceiling that we common folk can't break. Neither of the two referees saw fit to call Janssen for his late hit - I don't quite know what a late hit constitutes, but my guess is probably interference - nor penalise him for causing the injury; however, they then refused to be interviewed by the press after the game, knowing full well they'd be torn to pieces for missing something that severe, and the likelihood is that they'll never be brought to task for it. Worse yet, there's a very distinct possibility that Janssen won't even receive a suspension for his actions from someone like Colin Campbell, meaning while we have Kaberle out for an undefined amount of time, the Devils walk away from the incident scot-free.

2) The boys done good. Stajan and Cola scored, Woz and White had assists.

3) The dangerous precedent of the title is too close for comfort. While I can't say anything without it being speculation now, if Janssen goes either unpunished or gets off lightly, we have problems. If he goes unpunished, then all future occurances of something like this have to bear Janssen's mishandled case withBertuzzi's mishandled case as well. If he gets off lightly, it sets a benchmark that will make the league's enforcers not be too concerned with official retributions if they go out and injure a team's stars.

4) I find it funny that Darcy Tucker - scratched for the game due to injury - took it upon himself to talk to Janssen. A fellow Leaf opined that he was making threats of pain to come to the Devil, whereas a Senator claimed Tucker was asking him out to lunch and a Duck swore he was asking for tips. Me? I like the threats angle myself, it gives the impression that there's real team spirit (or it could be that they've taken to contracting their hits out to other teams. If that's ever proven right I want full credit for calling it).

5) Martin Brodeur still has a losing record against us. I only picked that titbit of information myself up yesterday, apparently he has a record above .500 against every team bar Toronto and Vancouver. Who knew?

March 01, 2007

A Game Of Kings (And Ducks)

At first, I thought I was seeing things. I rubbed my eyes, nothing had changed. I refreshed the page, nothing had changed. I checked the calendar, and unless Canadians operate a month ahead of everyone else, it was legitimate. Finally, finally I was going to be in a position where the National Hockey League was sending teams over to do battle in the bigger one of the London brothers and I could witness it. Finally, I was going to get the opportunity to watch and appreciate fully the intricacies of a hockey game, to dissect the great plays that made the goals happen, to wince at the bruising checks, to egg on the pugilists as they dropped the gloves to do the two-fisted tango. Come hell or high water, I will be at the O2 arena on September 29th when the Los Angeles Kings and the Anaheim Ducks come into my house.

There's more than half a year to go and I'm already retardedly excited. Just imagine how hyped-up I'll be when the month rolls around. Now, I'm off to pray that the Kings and the Ducks actually bring their proper rosters.

A Dream Crushed (By The Unlikeliest Of People)

Since kindling my enjoyment of the game of kings, I found myself harbouring vague pipe dreams of somehow reaching stardom as a player; asking Santa to bring me some talent for Christmas, making a deal with the Devil to the same end (and upon death I would replace Cerberus as the guardian of the gates of Hell), writing to Mark Messier to ask if I could borrow his ability for a while (and then conveniently forgetting to give it back), all were methods I considered putting into practice. But see, this all lead to a more specific purpose than just general stardom. About a year ago, I was talking with a friend of mine who falls into a similarly small minority as I in that he plays American football, and enjoys it. He mentioned that his aim was to become the first British player ever to be drafted into the National Football League - he plays at the position of outside linebacker; his name is Matt Floyd, and that piece of information is so if he ever hits is big, I can point back and say "I knew him, I knew him when he was terrible" - and I found this interesting.

To my knowledge, there has yet to be a Brit drafted into the NFL, and this brought rise to a new facet of my own dreams - I dreamt of becoming the first Brit ever to be drafted into the NHL.

You may think that was absurd. Owen Nolan was the first Brit ever to be drafted into the NHL, everyone knows that, you might cry, a claim that is actually false; he apparently holds dual nationalities, evidence by his representation of Team Canada, and so in my twisted logic, doesn't count as British. But none of that really matters, for today my dream was crushed and worse yet, it was crushed by someone I barely even knew anything about.

Byron Dafoe.

He may not even be the first Brit drafted - I feel no real desire to check further, since there is no way short of me travelling back in time and switching him with the baby of a French couple in the maternity ward of the hospital in which he came into the world for me to make it not so - but for one reason or another, I happened upon his Wikipedia entry. I could almost hear the child inside me wearing the skates and pads scream with anguish as he realised he would never become a record-breaker, or even a record-setter, and would have to make it on talent alone. So damn you Byron Dafoe, you and your barely over .500 record!

Still, it doesn't really matter. After all, I can't skate.

February 28, 2007

A Wipeout - Toronto 1 - 6 Buffalo

Urgh. I made the mistake of staying up last night to listen to the radio broadcast of the game and I wish I'd had an early night in hindsight. Ryan Miller was fucking ridiculous in the Buffalo whereas Raycroft and Aubin were ridiculous themselves (but the bad kind of ridicule, this time). I figured when it was 1-0 at the end of the first, we at least had a chance of coming back but the way Miller was playing when they scored again it was pretty much game over. I like Andrew Raycroft, I'll defend him when other people are claiming he shouldn't have the starter's job, but this game was a poor performance all-round. In fact, it wasn't just bad from him, there was little to celebrate at all period.

A Brawl Worthy Of Happy Gilmore Himself

In the movie bearing his name, Happy Gilmore, an amazingly violent youngster with pipe dreams (copyright me; the phrase here is used in the same context as a basketball player would use "hoop dreams"), brags that he once took off his skate during a hockey game and tried to stab someone with it, adding he's the only player to ever do it. After watching some of the Ottawa/Buffalo Royal Rumble, I have made some observations.

1) None of the players attempted to use their skates as weapons, which makes me sad.

2) Andrew Peters is a fucking pussy. He pussies out of fighting whoever he was fighting originally to rumble with Ray Emery, who's already been through one fight, and still can't put him down. I'm filing this under "F" for "Faggotry".

3) Ray Emery could be the hardest man in the league. He beats the fuck out of Martin "Am I Supposed To Win" Biron, then fights Andrew Peters - WITH A FUCKING SMILE ON HIS FACE. He is batshit insane, and will now be known as Ray "Kid Dynamite" Emery until such time someone surpasses him.

4) I really, really wanted to see one of the coaches throw a punch at the other.

5) Chris Drury is going to seriously tear shit up when he comes back, until he faces Ottawa again, when he will have a Vietnam flashback and go into the foetal position on the ice.

February 27, 2007

A Seller's Market (Part Two)

The deadline has passed, the dust is beginning to settle and the Leafs have proven me wrong by finagling a move after all (and it's a biggie compared to past years). Did my earlier point hold up? Let's take a look and see, because I'm going to provide some probably-worthless analysis. Enjoy.


Toronto gets: Yanic Perreault, 5th-round pick in 2008
Phoenix gets: Brendan Bell, 2nd-round pick in 2007

This is excellent news, especially when you look at our injury situation. Perreault is a good faceoff man and a checking forward who can easily fill the boots left vacant by Mike Peca until he comes back, and the cost was surprisingly little. The pick was obviously the main selling point here, as Brendan Bell is a marginal prospect who isn't going to get much better; of the many prospective defensemen - Carlo Colaiacovo, Ian White and so on - Bell is probably the least of them, so this is actually a real steal for us. CBS Sportsline claims Bell is a developing defensemen who'll see more icetime in Phoenix - one part of that sentence is true, guess which.


Florida gets: Noah Welch
Pittsburgh gets: Gary Roberts

Really, this is a win-win deal right here. Roberts has the potential to be a great leader for the Penguins, and he might even be the offensive force they need to secure a spot in the postseason - seriously, picture a line of Roberts/Crosby/Malkin and tell me that doesn't disturb you. Welch, unlike Bell, actually IS a good young defenseman with potential, and he can probably learn from Jay Bouwmeester among others - that said, the defensive corps are going to need to shape up pronto because of the bigger trade involving the Panthers...


Florida gets: Conditional pick in 2007, conditional 2nd-round pick in 2008 OR Shawn Matthias
Detroit gets: Todd Bertuzzi

From what I'm hearing, the further the Wings go in the playoffs and the better Bertuzzi's performance is, the higher the 2007 pick they give up, which means there really isn't a way this can go wrong for Detroit. Bertuzzi's in the last year of his contract to start with, so if his back proves a problem they can opt not to re-sign him, but if he plays well, the Wings can go further into the playoffs and everybody's happy. There are conflicting reports about what Florida actually got, as TSN say it's a conditional pick and Matthias whereas CBS say it's both picks.


Buffalo gets: Dainius Zubrus, Timo Helbling
Washington gets: Jiri Novotny, 1st-round pick in 2007

Overpaying? Novotny was a fourth-line centre in Buffalo and the pick is...well, the pick, and so I really question the wisdom of shipping Zubrus off this easily. The Sabres' pick is going to be a low one anyway and putting Helbling in just unbalances it further. Bad move, Capitals.


Ottawa gets: Oleg Saprykin, 7th-round pick in 2007
Phoenix gets: 2nd-round pick in 2007

And the firesale goes on. Phoenix had better hope Peter Mueller develops quickly because at this rate, they're going to be in real trouble next season if they don't make some serious moves in the free agency period. Saprykin had a lot of pressure put on him to perform when Calgary drafted him and nothing really changed when he went to Phoenix, so who knows, maybe he'll flourish when Ottawa don't need him as much.


San Jose gets: Bill Guerin
St. Louis gets: Ville Nieminen, New Jersey's 1st-round pick in 2007, Jay Barriball

Remember what I said about the Roberts/Crosby/Malkin line? If that didn't scare you, imagine facing a line made from Guerin, Joe Thornton and Jonathan Cheechoo. Or throw Pat Marleau in there somewhere for kicks. Yeah. I have to say, I'm surprised at the cost - I don't know anything about Barriball, but St. Louis got less from this than they did the Tkachuk trade, whereas I expected Guerin to be more valuable, particularly since Nieminen's a free agent at the end of this season as well.


Buffalo gets: Ty Conklin
Columbus gets: 5th-round pick in 2007

Philadelphia gets: Martin Biron
Buffalo gets: 2nd-round pick in 2007

These two are grouped together because one directly caused another. Apparently, Biron wanted a move to somewhere where he would get more icetime, and so went to the Flyers; the Sabres obviously needed a new backup goaltender as a result, and traded for Ty Conklin. Let me clarify that - they effectively traded Biron...for Conklin. That faint sound you can hear is the sound of Oilers fans pointing and laughing at Buffalo, and the other sound is the sound of Sabres fans weeping.


Phoenix gets: Daniel Carcillo, 3rd-round pick in 2007
Pittsburgh gets: Georges Laraque

Is that Sidney Crosby? Yes, Mr. Crosby, we've found you a bodyguard. I don't know anything about Carcillo, but since the Penguins were only really interested in getting an enforcer, I wouldn't expect him to be anything special. Laraque might provide some extra offense, but they hardly need it and his function is...well, to be a bodyguard and protect the team's young stars. As for Phoenix, the firesale goes on; I can't decide whether it looks more like an auction or a garage sale at this point.


Boston gets: Aaron Ward
New York gets: Paul Mara

The Rangers somehow managed to offload Ward and replace him with a younger, more talented version of himself, which makes me wonder exactly why Boston took this deal - I'd hazard a guess at financial reasons, but I don't know what Boston's cap-room situation is so it's all moot.


New York gets: Ryan Smyth
Edmonton gets: Robert Nilsson, Ryan O'Marra, 1st-round pick in 2007

Since I didn't know anything real about O'Marra or Nilsson, my first thought when I saw this trade was an indignant "WHAT IS THIS FAGGOTRY?", as now the Islanders have Smyth and look surprisingly dangerous (two words you'd rarely associate with NYI). However, CBS inform me that they are apparently the Islanders' two best prospects, which actually makes Edmonton seem smarter - if they couldn't keep Smyth around, it makes good sense to pillage another team, and now it becomes Garth Snow's job to negotiate so that Smyth stays in Long Island next year.


So, did my earlier point hold up? Is it still a seller's market? My first inclination is to say yes, looking at the Smyth and, to a lesser extent, Guerin trades, but there are just as many arguments against it - the farce that saw Zubrus leave Washington, for instance - and some trades that seem to be neutral, like the Roberts and the Perreault ones. If anyone's reading, drop me a comment and abuse me for my views, I'd like to know if you agree or disagree.


A Fantasy Player

In my defense, I like doing these things, it's fun. If I were a hockey player...

Team: Initially, I thought the Leafs, but I realised I'd be taking time from Kaberlabe so I couldn't do that. Then I thought Detroit, but then I'd just make Chris Chelios look bad. Then I thought Minnesota because of the funky jerseys. So Minnesota it is.

Number: 21, mainly because it's my birthday (the 21st). If not 21, then 23 to give the 23 conspiracy theorists something else to rave about.

Position: Defenseman, left-sided.

Nickname: Be. Long story.

Playing in Front of Me: Marian Gaborik, for obvious reasons. Pavol Demitra, ditto. Derek Boogaard, because the Boogeyman is a ridiculously good fighter. Branko Radovojevic, as the more Slovakians the better. And Niklas Backstrom, for coming into the league as an old rookie and actually kicking ass.

Job: Being the yin to the Boogeyman's yin. Every time our pairing gets on the ice, the Wild plays Dogs of War. I requested "SexyBack", because I do bring the sexy back, but apparently Rick Nash claimed that. What a pansy.

Signature Move: A showy shootout move, better known as "OH MALIK WENT BETWEEN HIS LEGS" to the more dirty-minded.

Strengths: Godlike checking and hitting and fighting skills, a decent slapshot and surprising speed.

Weaknesses: No finesse whatsoever. Repetoire consists of hitting and little else (but what else is even needed, mirite?)

Injury Problems? None, I am to make Karlis Skrastins cry his little Latvian eyes out when I shatter his game-streak-record, and possibly his kneecaps as well.

Equipment: If the league didn't make me wear a helmet, I wouldn't. If the league didn't make me wear pads, I wouldn't. Hell, I would be happy wearing pants and a pair of skates, I would be the studliest player going as I broke bones and hearts in equal measure (usually both at once).

Nemesis: Rick Nash, the very epitome of a crease faggot (term copyright R. Perry 2006)

Scandal Involvement:...just read on.

Who I’d Face in the Stanley Cup Finals: Toronto, naturally. I would then "accidentally" smack Backstrom in the face with my stick with the score at 3-3 before tearing off the Wild jersey to reveal a Leafs one underneath and scoring on him. I'm such a heel.

What I’d Do With the Stanley Cup After Our Victory: Tour Columbus with it, mocking them because it's the closest they'll get to one. I'm still such a heel.

Would the Media Love Me or Hate Me? Everyone would hate me, I would make it my mission.

(Thanks for this go to E of A Theory of Ice. Don't worry, the entire quiz was decontaminated and unhabbed first to get rid of the French-Canadian influence -


A Seller's Market

For the moment, I'm choosing to ignore everything else that's going on around the trade deadline to focus in on one case, a case so extremely stupid that at least one of the parties involved should be charged with something, be it larceny, corruption, first-degree murder, war crimes; I'm not really bothered, just as long as someone gets shot for it.

Tampa Bay gets: Shane O'Brien, 3rd-round pick in 2008.
Anaheim gets: Gerald Coleman, 1st-round pick in 2007.

Gerald Coleman is sitting behind at least Giguere and Bryzgalov on the Ducks depth chart, and the 3rd-rounder is probably worth about as much as him in this context, so we can strip those away. What we're left with is Shane O'Brien for a 1st-round pick this year. Tampa Bay currently sit third in the Eastern Conference standings and would be sixth overall if the season ended now, putting this pick at #25. This trade implies that Shane O'Brien is worth the same as Zach Hamill, for instance, Colton Gillies, maybe Tyson Sexsmith, and this is the clearest sign yet that the trade market has gone crazy.

You might think that's crazy. You might think the Nagy trade fits the bill better, or possibly the Forsberg trade, and those are fair viewpoints. But look closer at those trades - the Coyotes could probably have strung Dallas out for more, possibly another pick this year or a better quality player than Mathias Tjarnqvist; the Predators already have a stable of great young players, and it's likely neither Upshall nor Parent would have got any significant playing time for a number of years, if at all with Nashville. But while these have contributed to the problems, the O'Brien trade has set the bar at a disturbing level. Jay Feaster had admitted he'd be willing to overpay for a player who'd be a perfect fit with the Bolts, and while O'Brien is far from a perfect fit, it's obvious he has overpaid here. But this seems to have become a theme this year, and it's not one I'm confident about.

The day after the O'Brien trade went through, two trades took place. One saw Craig Rivet go to San Jose, the other saw Atlanta claim Keith Tkachuk. The Rivet trade went like this:

San Jose gets: Craig Rivet, 5th-round pick in 2008.
Montreal gets: Josh Gorges, 1st-round pick in 2007.

Rivet, for all his many faults I have with him, is a good defensemen, definitely a top-4 player; Gorges, on the other hand, is a mediocre prospect who doesn't look like he'll make any real difference to the Montreal defensive corps. While you can't exactly equate Gorges to the 5th-round pick this time, the upshot of the deal is that Montreal have given up a good blueliner for a 1st-round pick that will almost certainly be later than their own. It's not strictly overpaying, because I get the vibe that San Jose went looking for Rivet rather than the other way around, but the deal is disturbing because it is unbalanced.

The other trade mentioned above went as follows:

Atlanta gets: Keith Tkachuk.
St. Louis gets: Glen Metropolit, 1st-round pick in 2007, 3rd-round pick in 2007, 2nd-round pick in 2008 and a conditional 1st-round pick in 2008.

If Tkachuk resigns with the Thrashers in the offseason, St. Louis will have taken two 1st-round picks, a 2nd-round pick and a 3rd-round pick as well as a roster player for one man. Tkachuk may bring something to the table for Atlanta in the postseason, but considering they're still fighting for a place, things look very tenuous for them, and if this gamble doesn't come off for them, they've given up some potentially very valuable pieces of their puzzle by overpaying for Tkachuk's services. Bill Guerin is reportedly on his way to join Rivet in San Jose, and I will looking at what the Sharks give up to secure him with interest.

So what is my point here? Initially, I was planning on simply complaining that Toronto didn't look like making any deadline moves not out of preference, or out of financial problems but because we were handcuffed in terms of what we could offer, and this situation has illustrated that problem nicely. It's a seller's market, and we don't have enough to sell; too much is invested in the young guard, Stajan, Wellwood, Steen and so on, for them to be a factor in any big deals, but at the same time past the "superstars" - Sundin, McCabe and Kaberle - we have very little else that could tip a set of scales. Jeff O'Neill's play hasn't returned the level he reached with Carolina, Hal Gill has been unimpressive and Pavel Kubina definitely wouldn't be an appealing part of a deal, with his five million dollar price-tag (incidentally, he's made a million for every goal he's scored this year. I expect more from an offensive defenseman, personally).

Who knows, maybe next year will see the stars moving for farmhands and low draft picks, I can't say. But for now, and for the forseeable future, things look tough for the teams without sellable assets.


A Warning

At the tender age of just nine years old, I was treated to two weeks in sunny Florida during the summer with my family, and I was understandably excited, not least because I'd finally have the chance to experience a warm climate for once. During our stay, we did the traditional touristy things - we visited the theme parks, we found out it was only possible to avoid the queues at waterparks by staying in a hotel right across from said park, we had some teething problems with traffic lights and aggressive drivers who seem to care little for the lives of the innocent pedestrians - but I also remember my dad taking me and my brother to a couple of games. The first was a Tampa Bay Devil Rays game, and my brother still has the ball I caught somewhere in his possession (I believe he promised to trade me a video game for it and never paid up; the lesson learnt was obviously don't trust your siblings. Ever), and the second was a Florida Panthers hockey game.

Who the Panthers were playing, I don't remember. What the score was, I equally don't remember. For that matter, I barely remember anything about the game, as it didn't seem to make a big impression on me. Nonetheless, I returned home having experienced what it was like to be in the crowd at a hockey game; I later discovered it wasn't dissimilar to being in the crowd for a football game, when my prize for passing the 11+ exam with a ridiculously high score was a pair of season tickets waiting on my bedside table the following weekend.

Fast forward to two years ago. Having recently acquired a broadband connection and being a certified internet geek with not enough to do, I stumbled upon a particular message board that I've remained a part of to that day. Despite being based in England, it had a sizable contingent of American and Canadian members, a number of who were hockey fans, such that they had a thread of their very own. I wandered in once, but had the misfortune to be in the middle of a sizable argument regarding the Battle of Ontario and was effectively scared away. I think it may have been this sort of gung-ho "our team > your team forever and ever and a year after that" mentality that first endeared me to the sport, and so I found myself leaving GAME the next day with a copy of NHL 2004. I'd wager I'm one of the small minority of people who became a hockey fan as a result of Microsoft, and this is a very small minority.

But what does all this have to do with warnings? Or ponds and the wrong sides of them? It's simple - I'm an English hockey fan, and that puts me at a disadvantage from a hockey perspective, as I sadly don't have much depth knowledge on the subject. Most of my viewpoints and opinions will probably be torn apart by fans much older and/or wiser than I, and here is your warning, this is not likely to be a place for quality discussion and thought-inspiring topics. All this is going to be is a place for me to vent my spleen about whatever topic gets on my nerves within the sport; as a Maple Leafs fan, the early indications show this might happen a lot. However, I welcome any and all comments - if I've got something by the wrong end of the goaltender's paddle, tell me so. Preferably without too much profanity, but if I've committed some form of heresy feel free to just let rip.

Anything else to say? No, I don't think so. OK then, kick ass.