Archive for the ‘Hypothesizing’ Category

New York Rangers v Boston Bruins - Game Five

As human beings, we admire when others have exceptional work ethics, and so we should. Sloth is the enemy, and those who put their heart and soul into what they do should be celebrated. That group of people includes the great Jaromir Jagr, one of the most hard-working supremely gifted humans in hockey. There’s a reason he’s still an effective hockey player at age 41.

Yesterday Elliotte Friedman of CBC wrote about Jagr and his aforementioned admirable work ethic, which shared some of the details about his regimen, which includes extra on-ice workouts with a weight vest…after actual games have finished. He uses a heavy puck, and occasionally weights his skates to make his muscles work harder. His place in Pittsburgh was rumoured to good for two things: sleeping and working out. Petr Prucha, who stayed with him for awhile, said “While the NHL is sleeping, he is working.”

Kudos, kudos, kudos. It’s obviously worked and been effective for him. He’s had a tremendous hockey career.

But permit me the question, or at the very least hear me out: is it too much? Is he overdoing it right now? (Keep in mind, I’m speculating. Hypothesizing. Blogging, if you will.) Read the rest of this entry »

This guy is mad.

This guy is doing that “I’m really mad” smile and it’s scary.

One thing that is often going unmentioned in all these talks about exactly where Jarome Iginla, or any other free agent of even the vaguest name value and declining hockey skill, will end up is that a team which is so often considered a rather enthusiastic buyer in the market has been largely silent.

It’s been tough to dig up any information about who the New York Rangers might be interested in pursuing at the deadline, if anyone, and that strikes me as being more than a little weird. On the one hand, John Tortorella’s boys are vastly underperforming expectations, and as of this writing sit eighth in the Eastern Conference, a place pretty much no one expected them to be after they won the conference by a point last season and went to the Eastern Conference Final against the Devils. They returned just about everyone, added Rick Nash, had some exciting rookies in the offing, all that stuff. But one has to wonder exactly how much this unforeseen down year changes expectations. Apart from the usual distant rumblings about an appetite for moving Marian Gaborik, which have been shaking the ground underneath Madison Square Garden ever so slightly more or less since he was acquired for reasons I’m not sure I understand, it seems unlikely that the Rangers would ever actually go to the trouble of selling off veteran pieces unless they tank very, very hard in the next few days and maybe Henrik Lundqvist retires.

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I don't have any good pictures of my own rec hockey, so here's one of hockey in Taipei.

Hockey bloggers have different attitudes towards comment threads. Some never read them at all, some track them obsessively. Some think of them as opportunities to get in touch with their audience, others see them as troll-ridden sewers. However, it would probably be fair to say that most people who write about hockey on the internet are not especially influenced by the comments they get. Which is a shame, because sometimes the comments are asking exactly the right question.

On my previous post, where I lamented the lack of prestige and resources available for women’s hockey, the commenters challenged me in the best possible way. Why, many of them asked, does the status, or lack of status, at the highest levels matter so much? Most of us will never get to that point; most of us never expect to get there. We don’t play for fame and fortune, we play for the love of the game. So why should it matter that girls don’t have the same wild fantasies to dream on that the boys do? You shouldn’t be playing for wild fantasies anyway. You should play for the more prosaic charms of the rec league: fun, fellowship, community. The rest is dust and air.

It’s a great point. There is no necessary correlation between what can be achieved at the elite level and the whys and hows of play at the ordinary level. Beer league hockey doesn’t exist for the same reasons pro hockey does, and therefore there is no reason that  beer league players should care about the weird customs and biases of the NHL game. The inherent sexism of peak hockey- like other non-inherent but still controversial practices like finishing checks, fighting, or playing through pain- shouldn’t mean sweet fuck all for the hockey most of us make.  The NHL should be irrelevant

And yet, somehow, it isn’t. Rightly or no, the NHL echoes down the tiers of the sport. On this continent, it exerts a powerful influence over the definition of hockey that no other group or institution can match- not any other league, not even any national association.

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Hockey's biggest unrestricted free agents in this alternate reality.

THE SCENE: The set of a Canadian national sports station, July 1st, 2013.

Host: Hi, and welcome to our coverage of the free agent madness 2013. This year is an unprecedented season in the way of unrestricted free agency, with so many of the NHL’s biggest stars opting for the option for free agency after the shortened, un-capped season. I’ll send it over to our business insider and he can explain the particulars.

Hockey Business Insider: Thanks, Host. Basically, this is going to be a completely mad summer in the way of free agents. It’s part of the collective bargaining agreement that the NHL and the NHLPA signed in December to preserve a short season, and is modelled after a solution found on a baseball blog online written by somebody under the pseudonym Tom Tango. The major issue with the bargaining of last fall was that the NHL and PA had no way to reconcile the current contracts signed with the league’s new financial structure, which called for a lower percentage of hockey-related revenue to be paid off to players.

Tango’s solution was to drop the split of HRR immediately to 50-50 and roll back all contracts, however the individual players could choose whether to take the modified contract or opt for free agency. As a result, a lot of the game’s stars, who will not only lose millions on a salary rollback of this scope, also feel somewhat betrayed by their ownership and management signing them to long deals that they had no intention of honouring.

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When I started watching hockey, there was a player on the Habs by the name of Garth Murray. You remember Garth Murray? Fourth-liner, kind of pugnacious, weird hair? No? That’s not all that surprising. Unless you were a Habs fan in 2006-2007, chances are you barely even saw Garth Murray. He played 43 games that year, the most he ever got in the NHL in a season. In that year, he scored 2 goals and 1 assist, racked up 32 PIMs and not one playoff game. The next season the Habs dressed him exactly once before trading him to Florida, where he played six games. The following year he showed up in Phoenix for ten. That was 2009. He hasn’t been seen in the NHL since.

Garth Murray’s professional hockey career covered ten years and ten teams, 535 games. Only 116 of those were in the Show.

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Ed Snider on his way to a Board of Governors meeting during the 2004-05 lockout, when half of current NHL owners weren't even around.

Note: I am not an insider. I have no personal knowledge of the inner workings of the NHL nor of what goes on behind closed doors at owners’ meetings. The following is based entirely on public reports (and, okay, tweets) by MSM media and my own speculation, hence the category tag on this post. Take it, then, with as many grains of salt as you feel are appropriate.

Watching this lockout unfold as a fan is like being the child of a particularly acrimonious disintegrating marriage.  When the NHL and the PA come out before us, they’re courteous enough.  They tell us they love us and it isn’t our fault and next year they’ll take us out for ice cream, won’t that be nice?  But when we stand outside the boardroom doors, we can hear the yelling from within, the tones of shrieked curses, low threats and bitter recriminations.  We know the fight is ugly and it hurts us to hear, yet still we stand there, trying to puzzle out the words.  Trying to figure out why.

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If you looked at NHL.com’s list of recent transactions, you’d swear it was July 1st. Free agents are getting inked left and right, including Steve Emminger, Michael Rozsival, Ben Scrivens, Jonathan Blum, Justin Abdelkader, Carlo Coliacovo, and today, Kari Lehtonen added his name to the list, signing a five year, 29.5 million dollar deal (which is an awful lot of money for a goaltender, but we’ll let that go for now).

{UPDATE: Capitals young defenseman John Carlson just signed a six-year, 23.8 million dollar deal. He’ll earn $3.8M next season, and $4M per after that. Seems like a great deal for the Caps.)

This is obviously happening because the old CBA expires tomorrow night at midnight, and the owners and players are trying to ink deals now before the new CBA is drawn up, whenever that may be.

The question so many people have, is why? What’s the rush to get guys signed now, as opposed to waiting to see what the new collective bargaining agreement looks like? Read the rest of this entry »