Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Return of the Big Red Machine

The science people say things at rest like to stay at rest, and the things in motion like to stay in motion.  Before the Cincinnati Reds of the 1970s became the Big Red Machine of Major League Baseball there was another Big Red Machine from a place that most Americans feared in the 1960s, mother Russia.  If I was to write this article say 50 years ago, I would probably be arrest and tried for treason.  This Big Red Machine, ruled the world of hockey from the 1950s to the early 1990s, the question is, are they retooled and headed back to unstoppable?

If you are not familiar with the success, no success is not the word, domination of what was the C.C.C.P. men's hockey team, you are not familiar with world hockey at all.  This article might better explain to you why the American's upset at Lake Placid in 1980 was the biggest hockey, no the biggest upset of all time, in any sport.  While, Russia did not invent hockey, they took hockey to a level that had not been seen before in world competition.

The reign of the Big Red Machine began with their first goal medal in the Olympic Games of 1954.  They had won the World Championships of 1952 but there is nothing like getting the first goal medal for your country.  They would take bronze in 1960 but that would be the lowest medal they would receive for the next 34 years, with the failure at Lillehammer in 1994.  Outside of the silver at Lake Placid in 1980, the Russians won gold every Winter Olympics up until 1994 (In 1992, they become the Unified Team after the fall of communism).

The Big Red Machine was not only an Olympic Dynasty, they own 22 World Championships from 1954 to 1990.  They only lost 6 times in the Olympics from 1954 to 1992.  Their record overall was 738-110-65, which is rather unbelievable.  Like all great things, things had to come to an end at some point, the end of the Big Red Machine can be tied to the end of communism, and the freeing of Russian states such as the Ukraine.

Like I said earlier, the team now referred to as Russia in 1994 did not medal at the Olympics, they also did not medal at the World Championships.  The frustration for Russia would continue as they did not medal in the World Championship again until 2002.  This included an embarrassing 11th place showing when the World Championships were held in St. Petersburg, Russia.  The Olympic team also failed to capture the gold, settling for a silver in 1998, and a bronze in 2002.  They have failed to medal in the last two Winter Games in 2006, and 2010.

Things are starting to look up though for the Russian team.  In 2008, and 2009, they won the World Championships.  Just within the last week they won the 2012 World Championship, going 10-0 and just destroying the Slovakian in the final.  They had so much offense that the Slovakian were holding on for dear life.  This returned their IIHF international ranking back to number one.  Probably returning the ranking to #1 for the first time since the early 1990s.  They are starting to play like the Big Red Machine of the C.C.C.P.

The Russians have a wealth of young talent, much of it plays in the KHL (Russian Professional Hockey) but the big names are in the NHL.  They have Malkin from the Pen-goons which we have talked about in great length, in the blog entitled Mr. Malkin's Penguins.  They also have Alexander the Great, #8, one of the greatest offensive players in the NHL.  They also have Pavel Datsyuk from the Red Wongs.  As much as it pains my very bones to say it, he is a great player.

So, they have the leading points getter in the NHL in Malkin, they have one of the greatest set of hands in hockey, Datsyuk, and they have one of the most electric players in Alexander the Great; how can you compete with this?  If they are on their game, there is no beating the Russians.  Watch because the next Winter Olympics are in Sochi, that's mother Russia if you did not know.  This could be the beginning to getting the Big Red Machine rolling again.  Watch out Canada! hahaha.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Hockeytown, U.S.A.

And what playoff are the Sacramento Kings in?
It's somewhat funny to me how these non-traditional hockey markets react when there team is in the playoffs.  The stadiums are finally full for the first time all season, and people in said area act like they have been a fan all along.  Now granted every team has its hardcore following, and I definitely do not want to take anything away from them, but some one needs to tell the local media in certain cities to wake up.

In Los Angeles and Miami, two very non-traditional hockey towns have had a little problem with their graphics during news telecasts.  First, in Miami, the Florida Panthers logo was replaced in one story by the logo for Florida International University.  Now luckily for the news station, Florida International's mascot is also a Panther so it did not look so far out of place.  Now on the other hand, a news station in Los Angeles showing a graphic for all their teams in the respective playoffs put a Sacramento Kings logo in place of the LA Kings logo.  Nice going graphics teams.
FIU beats New Jersey in NHL Playoffs haha

I guess I should be happy that the media is at least covering hockey in the two respective cities.  Given the fact that both teams in Miami and LA, have and are still having terrific years.  Let's be honest LA has not been this hyped about the LA Kings since "The Great One" showed up.  The Kings have been playing terrific hockey, and the addition of Jeff Carter has really helped them on the scoring side.  In Miami, they hired our beloved Kevin Dineen and he took them to the playoffs for the first time since the 1990s.  They also got their first playoff wins since the 1990s.

Wins in the playoffs have also been hard to come by for the LA Kings.  Though this year with the emergence of Jonathan Quick, a goalie playing out of his mind, the Kings have to be feeling extremely well about their chances to win the cup.  Quick has had a career year, basically coming out of no-where like his opponent Mike Smith in the Western Conference Finals.  They say that hot goal-tending is a key to the playoffs, and that has not been truer then in the Western Conference this year.

Over in the Eastern Conference, a team given little hope to win their conference, the Florida Panthers, like Quick just seemed to come out of nowhere.  The Panthers won the Southeastern Conference ahead of the heavily favored Washington Capitals.   The team is not full of star players but instead of NHL journeymen that have won Stanley Cups before.  John Madden, Brian Campbell, Kris Versteeg and Tomas Kopecky were all on the Chicago Blackhawks 2010 Stanley Cup team.  After the fire sale in Chicago, it appears the Panthers made out quite well.
The Miracle on Ice, USA defeats the Russians

I believe there are two really good stories going on in Miami and LA, especially for hockey.  I also believe that sometimes it is hard for Americans to get behind hockey.  We are a proud people and we do not like to finish second or third or fourth.  Globally, we have never really dominated hockey like say basketball, or American Football.  I truely believe that if somehow, the US hockey team started to dominate the world, that there might be an increased surge in hockey.

I know this time of year is hard for people in traditional hockey cities, like Quebec City or Hartford because they know if they had their team back, it would be absolute bedlam.  I think they can take solace in the fact that yeah, we do not have a team but at least we are still relevant to the hockey conservation.  Hartford has to be excited that their man, Kevin Dineen, took the Panthers franchise over and took them back to hockey's promise land.

So, in the effort of fairness, I leave you tonight with NBC 4's apology to the LA Kings for leaving them out of the picture.

P.S. Notice when he says, "over my shoulder," he points over the wrong shoulder with his sharpie.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Seasons in the Sun's Favorite Sports Movies

We thought it would be fun to discuss some of our favorite sports movies, since both my teams (Blackhawks and Bulls) playoff runs have not gone as planned this year.  We will go sport by sport, giving you some insight to our favorite.  We will also list some honorable mentions for each sport, so if we forget your favorite movie or did not think it was the best, don't take it personally.  If you do not agree with us on something make a ridiculous comment after you read this amazing piece of American Literature.


Field of Dreams - There is really no stopping this movie, an epic tail about one man's journey to find himself.  Some people might describe it as a mid-life crisis because he did plow into his major crop to build a baseball diamond in the middle of Iowa.  There are so many great quotes from the movie, I could really go on and on about them.  I really think that people get too busy with things in their lives, and some times forget their dreams but Ray, really did something unthinkable, and got unbelievable support from his wife.  It is a great story, that reminds us of what was once good and could be again.

Honorable Mentions: Rookie of the Year, The Sandlot, The Natural, and Eight Men Out.


Rudy - Even though we cannot stand Notre Dame, Rudy has to be one of the best if not best football movies ever made.  It follows the real life story about a man that did not have the grades to make it to Notre Dame, but through hard, bitter work he realizes his dream, and his fathers dream of going to Notre Dame.  He kills himself every day in practice for the Notre Dame football team, trying to make it to dress just one time for his father.  He goes through absolute hell, and finally gets to play in the last game of his senior year.  He was the only player in Notre Dame history to be carried off the field.  Another really good story, about believing in your dream, and going for it against all odds.

Honorable Mentions: The Blindside, We Are Marshall, Necessary Roughness, and The Program.


Finding Forrester - This might be an underdog winner, with people's minds set on Hoosiers or something else but I've always found Finding Forrester to be a great movie.  The story is about a kid in the inter-city, who through playing Basketball earns a scholarship to a New York City prep school.  He befriends an author (Sean Connery) whom has isolated himself from the rest of the world.  Through the help of Sean Connery's character the kid writes a great essay for a teacher that does really like the fact that he is only at the prep school to play basketball.  The kid is on his last chance at the school when Sean Connery's character goes to the prep school and reads the kid's essay to declare it is actually the kid's work.  Its a really great movie about overcoming societies' obstacles, and friendship.

Honorable Mentions: White Men Can't Jump, and The Air Up There.


Slapshot - The story of a failing minor league hockey team that is about to be sold and moved to Florida when they embrace goon-ery to start winning.  This movie is hilarious because they had no chance winning until they got 3 free agents with glasses that just go around the ice fighting their opponents.  Once the team starts winning, the people of the city rally behind them.  The owner of the team is so out of touch with the team that she has never seen them play.  It really reminds us, the real reason we watch hockey, for the fights, duh, hahaha.

Honorable Mentions: The Mighty Ducks, Miracle, and Sudden Death.


Caddyshack - Probably the best movie about golf or about sports in general.  There is nothing like a groundskeeper that is infatuated with killing a gopher.  What makes the movie better is everything that he does to kill the gopher some how backfires into his face, like the coyote and the road-runner.  The story is also follows the caddy named Danny who wins the club tournament for caddys to earn a scholarship.  Danny is then forced to play in a match between Judge Elihu Smails and Al Czervik to save the scholarship.  The match come down to the final hole and Danny is forced to make a putt to win the match.  When the putt looks like it has missed short, a huge explosion caused by the groundskeeper trying to kill the gopher shakes the earth and the ball falls into the hole.  Danny and Al win the match and everyone is happy!

Honorable Mentions: Happy Gilmore and The Legend of Bagger Vance.

Now you might be asking where are movies like Rocky or Hoosiers, to be really honest I never really got into those movies.  I am not a really big boxing fan so the Rocky movies never really interested me.  Hoosiers probably would mean more to me if I was from Indiana.  Again, if you have any movies you think I misses or if you just flat out hate my favorite movies, you can comment on them right below this entry.  If you have never seen any of the movies I have listed here, I would give them a shot.  Have a great night.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

I Think I'm in Love.

Its been a tough couple of weeks since I found out my former crush Amy Wambach, of the US women's soccer team, had a girlfriend.  Honestly, I was crushed, I felt like the song by Weezer, "Pink Triangle."  The song is pretty much about how he is in love with a lesbian, and that pretty much sums up how I felt until today.  Until I saw this Ice Girl for the Nashville Predators bare hand a catfish and skate off the ice.

I was instantly in love, seriously how many women in America can handle a catfish like that?  Plus, not to mention the fact that she was on ice skates.  To add to the degree of difficulty, she does it bare handed.  Now, I know what some of you are thinking, you are a Blackhawks fan and the Predators are in the same division.  That will be ok, they always say that you need to make sacrifices in any relationship.

Via the Nashville Predators Ice Girls page on their website, her name is Jenna and she is from Northern Minnesota.  She is a newcomer to the Predators Ice Girls, this is her first year.  Her real job, in accordance to the website, is in Sales and Marketing. She is tall for a woman, at 5'9, so no complaints there.  It says that she likes ice fishing, she definitely has the skills to get the gills (sorry that was bad).

Here is a video from Game 3 of Jenna owning the catfish:

I just hope she is not married or has one of those jealous bf or gfs, because I cannot take anymore heartbreak this year (hahaha).  It's really too bad that the Ice Girls for the Columbus Blue Jackets are not this cute, then they would have no problems getting people to come to the games with such a terrible team.  Not to mention if the Predators could beat the Coyotes, it would take some of the sting out of the Coyotes win over the Blackhawks.