Thursday, March 29, 2012

Show the Kids a Little Respect.

It was about a year ago when the Atlanta Thrashers were rumored to be leaving the Atlanta area and I joined a group called  I joined the group not because I was a fan of the Thrashers, hell the only thing I knew about the Thrashers was Marian Hossa had played for them at one point.  At this point we know what happened, the team was sold and they are currently playing in Winnipeg this season.  A rather tragic story of sports when the ownership group just does not care about the fans.  Funny, its not the first time this type of story has played out in the NHL.

The story of the Thrashers closely mirrors what happened to the Hartford Whalers.  The Whalers were in the smallest NHL market playing in the NHL's smallest stadium.  After the original ownership sold the team, the new management lied about keeping the team in Hartford for at least 4 years.  Citing low attendence, the team moved in 1997.  The fans of Hartford led an epic "Save the Whale" campaign in which over 8,500 season tickets were sold in a 45 day period.  In the end, this did not save the Whale or Pucky from moving down to Carolina.

Another thing that mirrors the two franchises is the fact that both teams had an a wealth of awesome players at one point or another.  The Thrashers had great players like Hossa, Heatley, and Kovalchuk just to name a few.  The Hartford Whalers had players like Ron Francis that would lead the Penguins to titles after being traded.  The Hartford Whalers drafted Chris Pronger but ownership deemed him not to be worth it, what a failure that turned out to be.  They also had Brendan Shanahan for a brief time, though he really never wanted to play in Hartford.  Last but not least they had one of the best people to play in the NHL, Kevin Dineen.

It was through You Tube, and the internet, that I came to learn the story of the Hartford Whalers.  I came to learn what the Brass Bonanza was all about.  How the captain of your hockey team is supposed to act, like a true champion, Kevin Dineen.  I believe this is what led me to lend my support to; so that more people would not have their team taken away by ownership that did not really care about the team.  In both cases, it seemed like no one besides the fans, did anything to attempt to save the team.  This included city leaders and corporate partners failed to step up to save what the common people enjoyed.

City leaders in Hartford specifically CT governor John G. Rowland said he would not spend taxpayer dollars to build the Whalers a new stadium though they had the smallest capacity in the league.  Rowland was more interested in trying to lure the New England Patriots to the area.  He failed in both respects, the Patriots are still in Foxboro, and the Whalers well they are in Raleigh.  In Atlanta, from what I have read and what I saw, city leaders could have cared less about losing an NHL team for a second time.  If they cared they could have lobbied for support from local corporations to keep the team but that did not happen.

Let's talk about local corporations that have their headquarters in the Atlanta area.  Let's start with Coca-Cola, they had a net revenue, net profit whatever you wish to call it of 10.5 billion dollars in the 1st quarter of 2011.  The Thrashers were sold for 170 million dollars, if Coke had come in and bought the Thrashers, they would have still managed over 10 billion dollars in net revenue for the first quarter of 2011.  UPS, another Atlanta based company had net profit of 1.11 billion in the first quarter of last year, again more then enough to save the team and keep them in Atlanta.  Clearly, Corporate America did not show the Thrashers the money or respect.

Let's not let Gary Bettman off the hook when it comes to talking about respect, or treating people right.  He said that the NHL would fight to keep teams in their current cities, clearly Atlanta was not part of the plan.  Getting a team back to Hartford seems like it is not part of the plan either  This may be the reason why he is booed in every city that he goes to besides Winnipeg.  He is the only commissioner in the four major sports that is booed when he presented the Stanley Cup to the champion of the league at the end of the playoffs.

Clearly, Atlanta is a bit better off then the city of Hartford.  Atlanta supports one of the busiest and largest airports, though it seems there is no room for the NHL.  They have hosted the Olympics, and I would say the city is doing pretty well.  I have been to an Atlanta Braves' game, and Turner Field is one of the best places to see a baseball game.  It is a state of the art stadium, very nice and it looks like it was just built.  You cannot tell me that Ted Turner or the rest of CNN does not have $200 million dollars sitting around, being wasted, that could have been used to save the Thrashers.

Sadly, though our story does not end with the tragedies of Atlanta and Hartford, there is another city that is headed down a similar path, Columbus, Ohio.  Just like the Thrashers, Columbus' NHL team the Blue Jackets are just over 10 years into the league, and the only time they were in the playoffs, they were swept right out.  The Jackets have been marred by bad leadership after the original owner was out of the picture just like Hartford and Atlanta.  I fear for the Blue Jackets future in Columbus.

The people of Columbus have supported this team like no other for how bad they have been the past couple of years since they were swept out of the playoffs.  Ownership has done little to put serious pieces around Rick Nash, another classy guy like Kevin Dineen (at least from what I know).  Nash has basically had to put this franchise on his back because of the lack of attention from ownership and the general management.  I know in other blogs I have dived into Columbus' problems, which is highlighted by the fact that they might be in the hardest division in the NHL.  Things will definitely not get any easier in Columbus.

So, I hope that Columbus ownership could learn something from what happened in Atlanta and Hartford.  I hope that they could "show the kids a little respect," meaning show the fans that they are important and they have a say in what they are paying thousands of dollars for each year.  I hope that the Blue Jackets do not leave Columbus but right now I feel they are headed down a similar road, that has been traveled before and teams have not come back from.   I know there would be many more sad people if Columbus lost their team.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Men's Frozen Four 2012 - Tampa Bay - 2nd Round Update

I told yall this was coming, and this is Seasons in the Sun's 2nd round update for the Men's Frozen Four 2012.  As you remember or if you did not read the first round update, Seasons in the Sun's bracket had a pretty rough start to the tournament.  On the second day, it was much better, picking 4 of 4 games correct in the top section of the bracket.  We had much hope that the second round would go better for us, and it really has.

Since the first day, Seasons in the Sun has not missed a game in which we had an available team to win the game.  We picked Boston College over Minnesota Duluth, the Eagles pulled off the victory 4-0.  Have to bring up the cliche that if you want to be the champ, you have to beat the champs.  Minnesota Duluth was last year's champ and the Eagles just took them out, pretty easily.   I was a little surprised about the score but it was played in Worcester, MA.  That was one of the reasons that I picked Boston College in the first place.

The team that Boston College will play in the Frozen Four semifinal is the Minnesota Golden Gophers.  The Gophers beat North Dakota 5-2 in the first game on Sunday.  North Dakota had a tall order, playing their biggest rival in St. Paul, Minnesota, in the second round of the tourney.  Minnesota provided to be too much for the Fighting Sioux.  This was another pick that Seasons in the Sun got right, the second on the day.  Should be a really good match-up between Boston College and Minnesota in the national semifinal in Tampa Bay.

The third team that made it into the Frozen Four, in a game that was played yesterday, was Union (NY).  A newcomer to Division 1, Union (NY) beat Mass. - Lowell to advance.  This was the third and final correct pick for Seasons in the Sun.

The final team that made it to Tampa was Ferris State, they defeated Cornell on Saturday as well.  Ferris State was the lone team from the CCHA to win in the tournament.  Their match-up against Union (NY) has be somewhat of a surprise because much of the old guard in college hockey probably had Michigan getting to the Final Four.  Well, the old guard can still have their Boston College vs. Minnesota in the top section of the bracket.

If you do not remember from earlier posts Seasons in the Sun picked Boston College over Minnesota, and Union (NY) over Denver or this is case it will have to be Ferris State.  In the championship game, Seasons in the Sun has Boston College over Union (NY).  If I remember correctly, I think we called it a 4-2 victory for the Boston College Eagles.  The National Semifinals will be on April 5 at 4:30 pm and 8 pm.  The Championship Game will be on April 7.  All the Frozen Four games will be on ESPN2, because ESPN is too cool (no pun intended) to put hockey on ESPN the main network.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Men's Frozen Four 2012 - Tampa Bay - 1st Round Update

This is just a quick update on the Frozen Four Men's Ice Hockey Tournament.  I had a pretty rough day on Friday with my picks, Miami (OH), Denver, and Michigan going down.  It especially hurt that I had Denver winning two games.  Denver was beaten by Ferris State in the first round a moderate upset, but Cornell knocking off Michigan in OT 3-2 in my mind has to be a major upset; Michigan was the #2 overall seed in the tournament.  The first round was not kind to the CCHA whom went 1-3 on the day, the previously mentioned Ferris State was the only winner.  CCHA losers were Michigan State (to Union ((NY)), and Miami (OH), and as stated Michigan.

The second day and the top section of the bracket went much better then the first, I picked all 4 winners.  The winners were Boston College over Air Force, Minnesota - Duluth over Maine, Minnesota over Boston U. and finally North Dakota over Western Michigan.  Western Michigan another fallen victim of the CCHA.  On this side of the bracket it sets up some really awesome match-ups for the second.  Minnesota - Duluth, last year's champions will be taking on the powerhouse Boston College and one of the best rivalries in college hockey North Dakota vs. Minnesota.  It should be an unbelievable atmosphere in St. Paul for the Minnesota vs North Dakota match-up.

If you do not remember my picks for the second round and the teams I will have representing in the Frozen Four live from Tampa Bay, Boston College, Minnesota, Union (NY), and I had Denver but Denver is already out.  There should be some really good college hockey on tomorrow, both the games will be on ESPNU, at 5:30 pm EST and 8 pm EST.  If you have never seen a Minnesota vs North Dakota game, and you like hockey, it will be a real treat to watch.  Both teams are very skilled and have a long tradition of excellence in NCAA Division 1 Hockey.  Have a great night, cheers.

Duncan Keith and the Return of the Red Wong Conspiracy

On March 21st, another chapter was written in the Red Wong Conspiracy, this time it had to do with Black Hawk's all star defenseman Duncan Keith.  Daniel Sedin, early in the game clearly hits Duncan Keith in the face with an elbow.  As seen here:

Sedin, was not penalized for this hit, even though hits to the head are illegal in the NHL.  Clearly, this is what we have come to see from the Vancouver Canucks over the past couple of years, classless and thuggery on the ice.  I would go as far to say that this classlessness prevented them from beating the Boston Bruins last year in the Stanley Cup finals.  So, what you have here is the prequel to this hit from Keith on Sedin.

Clearly, Keith hits him in a similar fashion to the way that he was hit earlier in the period.  The league, and its suspender Brendan Shanahan (a former Detroit Red Wong) deemed that Keith should be suspended for 5 games.  Child Please! Sedin did the same thing!  He deserves a concussion, period, end of statement, if you are not going to suspend him.  How can there be no consistency in the rules of the NHL suspender Brendan Shanahan?  Simple, he is a Red Wong and is playing politics.

Shanahan on the Duncan Keith's hit:

   "Regardless of Keith's assertion that the intent on this play was to impede Sedin's progress, as opposed to a retaliation for an earlier hit, Keith's hit was still dangerous, reckless and caused injury."

And Mr. Shanahan, you do not think that Sedin's hit on Keith was not dangerous?  Of course not, because Sedin does not play for the Black Hawks.  I really do not understand how you can let one hit go, and not realize that during the course of the rest of the game that there will be a retaliation.  I am pretty sure that most people in America would subscribe to the idea that if some punches you, you are going to punch them back.

This has always been my growing pet peeve in sports that one player is getting suspend for a play and then another player is getting off the hook for the same play.  For example, let's bring up the Tom Brady rule when it applies to touching a QB, pretty much, below the waist; in 2005 Carson Palmer was hit by a Steeler's player, his ACL was blown out, and nothing happened, no flag, no penalty, and no suspension.  Fast forward to the very next year, when Tom Brady gets hit in the same manner, there were flags all over the field and the NFL made a new rule to protect quarterbacks.  It's just not fair.

So getting back to Mr. Shanahan aka Mr. Red Wong, and his unjustly punishment of Duncan Keith mainly because Duncan Keith has Chief Black Hawk on his sweater and not a tire and a feather.  I would bet my life if this happened to a Red Wongs and a Pengoon player, the scenario would have played out much differently.  Oh well, now Duncan Keith will get a little extra rest before the playoffs.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Men's Frozen Four 2012 - Tampa Bay

Yeah I told you mugs (haha) I would have the bracket out for this years frozen four, Hockey's version of the Final Four which starts Friday March 23.  If you are wondering its much smaller then the field of 64 for basketball only 16 teams make it so here are my picks.

Northeast Region (Winners in bold)

First Round: (1)Boston College vs (4)Air Force; (2)Minnesota Duluth vs (3)Maine.
Second Round: (1)Boston College vs (2)Minnesota Duluth.

West Region

First Round: (2)Minnesota vs (3)Boston University; (1)North Dakota vs (4)Western Michigan.
Second Round: (2)Minnesota vs (1)North Dakota.

East Region

First Round: (1)Union (NY) vs (4)Michigan State; (2)Miami (OH) vs (3)Mass.-Lowell.
Second Round: (1)Union (NY) vs (2)Miami (OH).

Midwest Region

First Round: (1)Michigan vs (4)Cornell; (2)Ferris State vs (3)Denver.
Second Round: (1)Michigan vs (3)Denver.


(1) Boston College vs (2) Minnesota
(1) Union (NY) vs (3) Denver


(1) Boston College vs (1) Union (NY) - Final Score 4-2

Should be a great tournament once it starts, I have been to two frozen four's one in Cincinnati and one in Columbus.  Michigan won the tourney in Cinny in the mid 1990's and Denver won in the Frozen Four in Columbus.  Funny that they are having the Frozen Four in Tampa Bay when the furthest south college program in Division 1 is actually in Alabama.  Oh, well gotta spread the wealth that is hockey, the greatest sport on ice!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Is Sidney Crosby Finally Going to Return to Hockey?

I know many readers out there are just living and dying to know when our favorite son, Sidney Crosby will play again.  All of Canada holds their breath that they might see Crosby in a Penguins uniform some time this season.  In fact, my friends, Crosby has been cleared by doctors to return to the ice for full contact hockey.  Isn't this great, well maybe not for Malkin's chances to win the MVP.  The Penguins seem to have been playing fine without the second great one, but he must come back.

How will Crosby play?  That has to be up for debate, I think that he will be a little timid at first because he knows one brutal hit and he gets to sit in the box again to see the games.  That would not be half bad, free drinks and free booze in the box, how could you not want to leave that part of heaven?  I hope that he returns and plays well because apparently all of NHL network can calm down about it.  NHL network apparently has been buzzing since the news of the return of Crosby hit the airwaves.

I think one problem that might surface is that many of the Penguins players have been questioning Crosby's toughness.  I think the real question, and I do not mean to be a jerk, but when was he ever tough?  This is the same man that was crying to the officials about fans throwing too many hats on the ice, after Alexander the Great's hat trick.  Plus, many other players have come back much sooner from concussions than Crosby.  For example, Brent Seabrook has sustained multiple concussions and come back and played even when he probably should have been on the bench.

Another question or problem that might arise is that can Crosby and Malkin play together?  I am surprised this has not received more attention because ESPN made it into one of the biggest questions when they questioned if Melo could play with Lin after his injury.  Malkin, many or maybe just me, would argue that he is having his best season in the NHL.  If Crosby is out there, trying to be awesome or more awesome then Malkin, this might kill his MVP chances.  But if you remember when the Penguins won the cup, it was Malkin that was the MVP so maybe we should not be so worried.

I think what the Penguins really need to be worried about is what if Crosby gets laid out in the first game.  What if he takes a really hard check into the boards or in the open ice?  Is he at a point where one more hit could really force him into retirement or serious brain damage?  One has to think that is why the Penguins have been very cautious with Sidney and his return.  Luckily for the Penguins is that they have kept winning and there has been no rush to get him back into the lineup.

Personally, I am glad he has not been in the line-up because everyone always gets over-hyped on a superstar player.  I think it has given many players, not just Malkin, a chance to show what they can do.  I think it has given the Penguins a great ability to scout other players on the team, and in the system on the AHL level.  I am sure once he comes back all the news will be about how he is feeling or player or what not, and NBC especially Pierre McGuire might be able to be happy again.

So, all you Penguins fans out there are happy, I tried my best to right an objective blog about your man, your hero, your world, Sidney Crosby.  I must point out that in this entire blog, I did not refer to him as Cindy or a Crybaby, a real sign of maturity here.  So, in the future, I hope to be more objective and refrain from name calling...ok that was total b.s.  So, let's give Cindy Crybaby Crosby a big "Welcome Back to the NHL."