I was fortunate enough to be at the 2012 Winter Classic with Derek Snider and Rob Pizzo doing some work for theScore, and also doing some work on my liver. We shot our videos during the days, and had our nights free to drink some pints and get to know each other. It was there that I was introduced to the concept of “beerability.”
Snider did some hiring for on-air talent, and what they looked for in candidates was that very concept – would you like to sit at a pub and bury beers with this guy or gal? Would you feel comfortable just sitting there telling stories, swilling and laughing? The definition in that post:
Beerability (BEER-ah-bill-ih-tee): 1) a measurement that quantifies how much fun it would be to sit at a pub with a person and drink a bunch of beer. They should seem likable. Subjective.
2) What Bill Guerin has in spades.
I’d also like to add that, personally, I’ll take “smart guy” over “guy who seems like he could drink a lot.” Also, older players over younger players, for stories-sake.
I loved the concept so much I made it into a recurring post on Fridays. I ranked the top 10 NHLers, the top 10 coaches, the 7 players with the least beerability, I examined Rick Nash, Carter and Richards and more.
I looked back at those lists, and it’s like I didn’t even watch hockey at the time. Phil Kessel doesn’t have beerability, really Bourne? Nor does Andy Sutton? And Jarome Iginla does? Wrong, wrong, wrong. Kessel’s a hidden gem, Sutton says whatever the hell he wants (which is great), and Iginla is human beige.
So, it’s time to re-do the list.
Below, you’ll find who I believe to be the Top 10 NHLers with beerability. Add your thoughts below.
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Chemistry is one thing, “handedness” is another
There were two moments in last night’s NHL Revealed that reminded me of one “chemistry” difficulty – knowing what hand your linemates are. I know that sounds like a super easy thing, but it’s funny how you fall into a mental groove when you know, say, both your linemates are left shots. You’re occasionally passing it to a jersey without knowing which linemate it is, and it’s nice to have that default so you know which side of their body you should pass to.
At one point there’s just a terribly botched pass and Getzlaf says to Crosby (jokingly), “Wait, you’re not right-handed? You’re not Perry?” He really did pass it to the wrong side of Sid’s body.
It’s not just knowing which hand guys are either – some guys like passes on their forehand even when it’s on their backhand side (meaning you pass it behind their back foot), some guys, as we saw Dustin Brown in the show, make it clear they want it “Backhand, backhand” whenever possible.
So that’s the one little glitch that comes with line shuffling – it gives the players one extra, annoying thing to think about.
Willingness to be corny for the cameras = great guy, gets you killed in the room
There was a scene where a player was on the ice but talking to a camera, and he was talking about “what a special event this is” and “he hopes the kids watching were having fun” and so on, and his teammate in front of him is a step away from eye-rolling. Read the rest of this entry »
When Martin St. Louis wasn’t initially selected by his own NHL team’s GM for Team Canada, he felt he had been done so wrong that he asked for a trade from the franchise he’s been a part of for 14 years, more or less out of spite.
That comes off as a pretty strong Prima donna move. It comes of as conceited and borderline petty. How unbelievably opaque is that viewpoint from a 38-year-old guy whose one dimension is creating offense when he’s trying to crack a team that doesn’t lack that and might be able to find more from other players in other facets of the game?
Before any fans of St. Louis or the Lightning get too upset with me, some totally sincere qualifiers: I think Martin St. Louis is a stud of a hockey player. I think he’s been a good guy throughout his career, an ambassador for the game, and a player with one of the more admirable work ethics in hockey. But I think this move was the pits.
It’s as blindfolded as those diehard fans who believe everything their favorite team does is great. There are Islanders and Oilers fans who can’t honestly assess that their teams have been trash for years – bottom of the barrel, garbage water bad. They still think they keep getting wronged by the ref or some other third party.
For St. Louis to not be able to look at Team Canada’s roster and assess how amazingly, incredibly deep it was and say “Damn, that is one amazing team, I must have been close though” instead of throwing a Denny Lemieux “Trade me right f***ing now” tantrum isn’t a great reflection on how he views both himself and his relationship with the brass.
Was Steve Yzerman supposed to throw him a bone if he truly didn’t believe he was the best fit for the group? Should Yzerman have taken the advice of the multitude of other great hockey minds and gone against them to keep his own player happy? Read the rest of this entry »
Yesterday my Twitter feed flared up after the release of a column about Phil Kessel and how he looked “sluggish” in his return to practice for the Toronto Maple Leafs post-Olympics. I’m not a huge fan of promoting stuff I think isn’t very good (for what should be obvious reasons), but I can’t deny the concept was pretty silly. The guy was probably right, by the way, but it was oh-come-on-able for other reasons.
The NHL’s hottest player in 2014 goes to the Olympics and looks electric while leading the tournament in scoring, then flies home from Russia for his first practice back (which he wasn’t yet obligated to attend), and gets a column written about how he didn’t look up to par.
So fine, silly.
But even if Phil hadn’t just done all those things I rattled off above, he would have to practice in a beer helmet filled with umbrella drinks to get singled out for his work ethic. Not only is he the team’s best player, he’s one of the league’s best, and he works his tail off in games. There’s a reason Allen Iverson was all shocked in his infamous PRACTICE? interview. He was a rare talent who consistently brought it in games. And you wanna ask him about PRACTICE?
Unfortunately for the rest of us mere mortals, we don’t all get the No no no, you take it easy, as long as YOU’RE happy treatment. Kessel is a rare case, one of maybe 20 guys in the league who basically have immunity from their coach’s occasional lack of diplomacy. On the other side of the coin, some guys have the privilege of becoming the coach’s whipping boy, and whooo doggy is it a long season when you earn that title by (I see you, Drill Wreckers).
So without further ado, introducing EPE, or Expected Practice Effort. Let’s look at what coaches generally expect for effort in practice out of each type of generalized player, and how one becomes a coach’s target. …Generally.
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Playing defense involves doing a bunch of stuff forwards hate, which basically all boil down to stops and starts. We’re really good at loops and curls, not so much at making adjustments based off reading opponents. We prefer to read the puck (we shouldn’t).
But that’s the reality of playing defense – you often aren’t doing what you want so much as you’re trying to read and react to what opponents are doing. You’re the ego to forwards’ id. In the corners you have to play the mirror game, in the neutral zone you best be reading your opponent’s speed.
Gap control through the neutral zone is important at all levels because if you you’re backing in too fast you allow forwards to go east-west inside the blueline and create, and if you’re too tight you risk getting your doors blown off wide. It ain’t easy matching someone’s speed in a backwards-versus-forwards race.
In the NHL it’s even more important, because it isn’t too many strides inside the blueline before players are in a dangerous shooting area. And by “not too many strides” I mean like, seven feet of gliding, especially since they intend to use you as a screen. Most of these guys have bombs, which makes that area of the ice a little dangerous.
Carolina’s goal to tie up Buffalo with four minutes left in the third was the product of bad gap control – I’ll get to why it was so bad in the body. And yes, I feel sort of bad about highlighting a Canes goal in a game the Sabres actually won in regulation. Sort of. Read the rest of this entry »
Lane MacDermid, left, shown a few different jerseys ago.
Playing hockey for money is pretty awesome. You see, what happens is, you play hockey, and then they give you money. So that’s pretty much why I think it’s cool.
But it does change things – for one, how you play starts to matter. And not “matter” in the youth hockey sense, where playing better might mean you get more ice time, and that’s good because playing hockey is great. It starts to matter matter, where not playing well costs you real dollars and the chance to earn your way up the ladder where even more money awaits.
It’s mentally draining when you find yourself in a bad situation – your coach won’t play you, or you’re organizationally buried, or you keep getting traded. The sand is running through the hourglass on every young player’s career, so you become acutely aware of every day good things don’t happen, and even more aware of the bad things.
I don’t know the man personally, but I do know that Lane MacDermid of the Calgary Flames handed in his retirement papers this week at 24-years-old after 21 NHL games and hundreds of AHL contests, which is something you almost never see at or near the top level. Read the rest of this entry »
I’m still pretty floored by the idea that Nick Backstrom was told he couldn’t participate in the gold medal game of the Olympics because he apparently took Zyrtec-D.
The effect Sudafed (which contains the ingredient pseudoephedrine, hence the name) has on a hockey player’s body likely varies, but in my own experience it made me feel zero percent better, faster, or more awake. I still occasionally took them before games because when you’re competing in athletic competition breathing as clear as possible has to help, logically (particularly with recovery), so I figured why not. They weren’t illegal (or maybe they were, who knows, I was never tested in the AHL, ECHL or NCAA), and a lot of guys took them, so sure, toss me a couple of those, will ya doc? If everybody’s popping them pre-game, they must do something?
A quick web search explains how pseudoephedrine operates:
Pseudoephedrine works by acting on alpha receptors that are found in the walls of blood vessels in the linings of the nasal passages and sinuses. It causes these blood vessels to contract and narrow, thereby decreasing blood flow into the linings of the nose and sinuses. This reduces the feeling of congestion and also reduces the production of mucus.
So sure. Maybe they help performance a bit, maybe they don’t, mind as well take the at-worst-placebo and “be at your best.” Read the rest of this entry »