Monday, December 31, 2007

Canada Wins Spengler Cup

Backed by great goaltending from Curtis Joseph, Canada has won its 11th Spengler Cup in Davos, Switzerland. Joseph accepted the invitation to showcase himself in an effort to return to the NHL this winter. Based on his performance, there may be some teams that are interested. In fact, there are teams that should be interested based on the goaltending they are currently getting. Joseph would come cheap.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Kyle Turris is Today's Hero

Kyle Turris scored a pair of power-play goals and Steve Mason turned aside every shot he faced as Canada blanked Slovkia 2-0 at the world junior hockey championships today. Your not going to lose too many games if they can't score on you.

The win extended Canada's streak at the tournament to 20 games since they last lost.

Kyle Turris was picked 3rd in the NHL Amateur Draft in June by Phoenix. He plays for the University of Wisconsin Badgers where he is a freshman and the team's leading scorer.


Is Bryan McCabe Missed by the Leafs?

Readers of this blog are not convinced that he is. 46% responded to a poll indicating the Leafs are less likely to make the playoffs without him. However over half thought either their chances improved (38%) or that his injury would have no impact (15%). When you think about it, that remarkable since he is the highest paid player on the team.

He has only missed 4 games so far and their record is 1-1-2-0 during that period. The games have all been close and three games were won in overtime. Except for last night's game in which the Leafs returned to wide-open, sloppy hockey, the games have been defensive battles. McCabe's ice time has largely been eaten up by Anton Stralman (8 minutes), Pavel Kubina (6 minutes more ice time) and the rest of the time has eaten up by the other defensemen. The defense has faired rather well and so has the goaltending.

The problem has been scoring. The checking line of Steen, Stajan and Devereaux has been doing most of the scoring. Sundin's line has hit their first slump of the season and the most overpaid line in hockey - Tucker, Blake and Wellwood has not only failed to score but has been weak defensively. What's a coach to do?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Canada's Spengler Cup team has strong Maple Leaf contingent

The Canada's Spengler Cup team is traditionally made up of Canadian players in Europe with a sprinkling of NHL propects. There is normally few names that are well known in Canada although some former NHLers join the team.

This year Toronto Maple Leaf fans will recognize a few names including Curtis Joseph and Doug Gilmour. Joseph is a recent addition after the goalies original picked to play came down with injuries. Gilmour is not playing but is an Assistant Coach.

Other former Leafs are Travis Green, Yannick Tremblay, and Ric Jackman.

The Spengler Cup, held annually since 1923, is the oldest professional international hockey tournament in the world.

Tavares Takes Centre Stage

John Tavares proved that Team Canada will need his offense as he scored two goals to lead the Junior national team to a 3-0 win over the Czech Republic. Goaltender Jonathan Bernier was brilliant in earning the shutout. He stopped about 40 shots as the Canadians gave the Czechs 8 powerplay opportunities. The win was Canada's 19th straight in the tournament.

Sunday, December 23, 2007


Here is the poll results for NHL MVP for the first half of the season.

Vincent Lecavalier 26%
Daniel Alfredsson 2%
Sidney Crosby 29%
Mats Sundin 26%
Henrik Zetterberg 5%
Pascal Leclaire 5%
Ilya Kovalchuk 11%
Henrik Lundqvist 0%

No one player has stood out above the crowd so its a tough choice. Though I think the poll reflects a large number of Leafs fans based on the number of votes going to Sundin. Although Sundin is having a terrific year, he clearly is not the best player this season.

Also I have certain biases when it comes to MVP. I give less weight to players on non-playoff contenders. So Lacavalier, Kovalchuk and Sundin could make a stronger case if they were carrying their respective teams into a playoff spot. Sill Lecavalier is leading the league in points and on pace to score 120 points. Kovalchuk leads in goals scored and on pace to score 66.

Crosby would be leading the league in points but he is playing with two mediocre players. Ryan Malone has only 14 points so far this season and Colby Armstrong has 13. I've never seen a superstar play with such weak linemates. Otherwise Crosby would easily have 60 points my now.

For me the strongest cases for MVP are Alfredsson and Zetterberg. Both Detroit and Ottawa lead their conferences and Alfredsson and Zetterberg are big reasons for their teams success. As good as Sundin has been for Toronto, Alfredsson has played that much better for Ottawa. He is having a career year and without him I'm not so sure how well Ottawa would be doing.

Storm Close Out 2007 With a Loss

The Storm dropped their 2007 finale to Aurora by a 5-0 score on Saturday night. Aurora clearly was the better team on the evening with an edge in all areas including speed, shooting, play-making and goaltending. The Storm did generate some good scoring chances in the 2nd and 3rd periods but the Aurora goalie made some great saves to preserve a well deserved shutout.

After the break the Storm will have 6 very busy weeks of hockey with 13 remaining regular season games and two tournaments to be played.

Happy holiday to all!!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

How have the Leafs done in the first 3 months

So how do the Leafs compare to back in November? Blue is where they are today and red is how they stood in November 1st. It is obvious they have tightened up defensively because they are giving up for fewer shots and their penalty killing is much better. Goaltending has also improved based on their team goals against average. But they have not made any significant move in the standings.

Standing in East: tied for 8th; 6th (November)

Standing in East (based on winning %): tied for 11th; 11th

Goals For: 2nd; 4th

Goals Against: 30th; 25th

Shots For: 3rd; 7th

Shots Against: 30th; 19th

Powerplay: 26th; 29th

Penalty Killing: 24th; 15th

Penalty Minutes: 27th; 11th

Goals Against Average: 3.84 (29th); 3.03 (26th)

Save Percentage: .885 (25th); .897 (21st)

Light it up Like the Lindsays

In every neighbourhood there is someone who loves to go overboard with the Christmas lights. You have to wonder when Clark Griswold is your role model. And then there is the Lindsay family.

Every year since 2000, the Thornhill family has dressed up their home with a bigger and better light show. The lawn lights are buried under snow right now because of last week's storm, but in total there are 80,000 lights (mostly LEDs) blinking away. If you drive up to their house and tune your radio to 104.9 FM, you can hear the music to which the elaborate light show is synchronized.

This year there are two routines, one synced to music from Pirates of the Caribbean and the other to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

The Linday Lights website even has all the tech information laid out in the unlikely event you have the time and skill to do your own production. The show runs from 5 to 9 p.m. (11 p.m. on weekends) until January 5. Be warned 416-lovers: You will have to cross Steeles into the 905 to see the house, so have your papers in order and make sure to declare any goods at the border.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Sidney Crosby's First NHL Fight

My dog ate my World Series ball

Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon recently told a newspaper in Mississippi that the ball he used to record the final out of the 2007 World Series was torn apart by his dog, Boss, a fresh twist on the dog-ate-my-homework routine practiced by legions of schoolkids, and possibly just as credible. Now Papelbon has a reputation as a prankster.

The fate of the last ball became an issue in 2004 when the Red Sox swept St. Louis in the World Series to end an 86-year championship drought. Doug Mientkiewicz, who caught a toss from pitcher Keith Foulke for the final out, kept the ball. The team wanted it back. Mientkiewicz eventually agreed to lend the ball to the Red Sox for a year and then donated it to the Hall of Fame.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

It's SO not what you think

This is funny

The NHL's Double Standard

The NHL's policy regarding violence reminds be of baseballs approach to drugs. Pull your head out of the sand every so often to wrap a few knuckles and then continue to ignore the issue. Chris Simon is a prime example of the NHL approach.

Simon has been banished for 30 games which is the longest suspension in NHL history. A very clever move because the NHL must be serious about violence based on this suspension. But how many times do you need to discipline a guy before you tell him that he has lost the privilege to play in the league. Obviously 7 times isn't the number.

His return will be so close to the end of the season that it will be difficult for Simon to rehabilitate his image. So obviously the league is hoping he will just go away. They have no desire to take away a player's livelihood.

But Chris Simon is a marginal player so they have no problem making an example of him and other goons. But there are some very good players who are just as dirty as Simon. Chris Pronger immediately comes to mind. His suspensions are only a game or two for things far worse. He would have to kill someone to get a 30 game suspension. Todd Bertuzzi ended a player's career and didn't get 30 games. The NHL wants to maintain an image that it is opposed to violence but it really isn't.

Because violence helps fill seats. It's just like drugs in baseball. It seems no trainer, coach, or manager has ever noticed a dramatic change in a player's physique. No one ever bothered to ask Bonds or Clemens how they got so big. Because homerun and strikeout champions fill seats in stadiums and that's what matters.

Dogs in Vancouver Must be able to Read

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I Don't Miss Bryan McCabe

It was just 3 or 4 weeks ago that Toronto Maple Leaf fans and the media were ready to run Bryan McCabe out of town if it were not for the huge contract with its no trade clause. Suddenly after a half dozen decent games he's suddenly become irreplaceable. Either he is an overpaid bust or a stud defenseman? Which is it?

In my mind nothing about Bryan has changed since he broke into the NHL with the Islanders in 1995. A lot of good hockey skills but he still makes mistakes that a coach would never tolerate from a rookie. Bryan has benefited from great timing. He had a very good year offensively (not defensively though) in 2005 as he was about to jump into the free agent market, which he was able to work into a huge contract. No one forced the Leafs to sign him and in fact some executives there thought it was a great move.

Since that time, his offense has returned to traditional levels as teams adjusted to his one weapon, a big shot. But his defensive skills have never improved. The one thing that McCabe does provide the Leafs is the ability to eat up minutes. He plays about 26 minutes per game which is in the top 5 in the NHL. The reason he plays that much is that the Leafs lack depth at that position and not because he is a star player. So his injury exposes how thin they are at defense because the coach must now give more ice time to players he was reluctant to play in the first place.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Some NHL team really pile up air mile points

A commenter compiled the travel distances for all 30 NHL teams so far this season over at Kukla's Korner (in miles). Now this reflects the trip to London, England by Anaheim and Los Angeles to start the season. Also some teams have played more home games. However, it seems like the New York based teams rarely ever leave their area codes let alone their time zone.

1. Anaheim 26152
2. Los Angeles 24966
3. Edmonton 21926
4. Vancouver 20626
5. San Jose 19938
6. Colorado 19922
7. Columbus 16985
8. Phoenix 16915
9. Florida 16910
10. Calgary 16576
11. Atlanta 16303
12. Dallas 15610
13. Tampa Bay 15486
14. Philadelphia 14573
15. Minnesota 14542
16. Boston 13574
17. Nashville 13573
18. Detroit 13570
19. St Louis 13106
20. Pittsburgh 12294
21. Buffalo 12176
22. Chicago 11818
23. Toronto 11252
24. Washington 10990
25. Carolina 10855
26. Ottawa 10377
27. NY Rangers 9426
28. New Jersey 9214
29. Montreal 8071
30. NY Islanders 5667

I love football played in snow storms

Monday, December 17, 2007

Canucks will never win the Stanley Cup

From the Vancouver Province,

Just compare the New Jersey Devils’ traveling since Dec. 1 to the kilometres racked up by the Canucks. Tht will explain why western based teams will never win the Cup. The travel schedules are brutal. They went with an unbalanced schedule to cut back on travel but everyone complaned about it;
  • Canucks: Vancouver, St. Paul, Chicago, Nashville, Vancouver, Los Angeles/Anaheim, San Jose, Edmonton, Vancouver—13,705 kilometres;
  • Devils: Newark, Manhattan, Washington, Boston, Newark—1,440 kilometres.

Storm vs. Clearview Ice Cats

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Blizzard of 1999

If you remember that blizzard that hit January 2-4, 1999. We had about 40 cm (16 inches) and Mayor Mel Lastman called in the army. The rest of the country has been laughing at Toronto ever since.

Here is the CBC report.

Happy Festivus (for those who celebrate)

I noticed that Kramer worked in H&H Bagels. A very good bagel bakery in New York.

Storm Christmakkah Party

Despite blowing snow and bad driving conditions players, staff and parents got together for a lovely buffet lunch. Many thanks to Sandy and Jane for organizing the get-together and to everyone who brought the wonderful goodies.

Best wishes to everyone for the holidays. Have a happy, healthy and safe New Years.

From the BlogMaster.

more pictures: Storm Flickr site

Parents: Does this look familiar?

Storm vs. Etobicoke Dolphins

Something about snow.

Cheap Gas in Orillia!

I bought regular gas at $0.95.9 on Highway 12 in Orillia but the Storm couldn't buy a goal yesterday afternoon. It was nice to squeeze a game into a wintry weekend. It would have been nice to get our offense going. The Storm fell to the Orillia Hawks 3-0. There were just too few scoring chances manufactured in the game although certainly there were excellent scoring chances. In particular, both Mari and Maryssa could finish off some good opportunities.

Again, the Storm gave up a goal while on the powerplay. The next time the Storm get a powerplay opportunity, the coaching staff is considering sitting one person out and playing 4 on 4. At least we may not get scored on. However, as was the case in all previous games, it was a close battle but 9 goals in 10 games isn't going to get you too many wins.

Well back to shovelling snow!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

One of my favourite Christmas movies.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Hockey's Monster Contracts

Mike Richard's huge deal, 12 years, $69 million, from the Philadelphia Flyers surpasses the 15 year, $67.5 million deal the Islanders gave Rick DiPietro. At the time everyone laughed at the Islanders. It used to be that you lock up your good talent before they become unrestricted free agents. But after the Edmonton Oilers' attempted steal of Thomas Vanek and the successful swipe of Dustin Penner, everyone wants to lock up young talent before the can become a restricted free agent. So what's going to become of all this?

Well obviously teams will need to be very selective with who they back huge commitments. It will have to be players that they see being core to their teams for years to come. There isn't much risk for players, they get paid more early on but risk being underpaid later in the contract. The risk is mostly with the teams. Many blue chip studs become spent forces before reaching age 30. Eric Lindros, Owen Nolan, Sergei Samsonov and Todd Bertuzzi come to mind as a result of injuries or/and diminished intensity. Jose Theodore at one time looked like the next Patrick Roy and Andrew Raycroft won the Calder and both can't stop a beach ball today. If you locked any of these guys for 10 years you would be stuck because the collective agreement does not allow you to buy them out. It's all guaranteed money.

For suffering Toronto Maple Leaf fans, the prospects are so good. The Leafs trade away draft picks and prospects with great frequency. In the past Ferguson has mused about grabbing a big name free agent which the team can build around after Sundin is gone. Well it looks like there aren't going to be those types of players available. The free agent lists will be populated with mostly underachievers, injury prone players and senior citizens.

I'm developing a real hate for the salary cap. I can't see how it has helped the NHL. It has only created some practices that may further damage the league and the viability of weaker franchises.

Alex Rodriguez's New Contract

It's now official that A-Rod signed a new 10-year contract with the Yankees worth $275 million so he now holds a new record - the biggest baseball contract. And for A-Rod, that's what it's about - personal glory. And itsn't it so nice to see a happy A-Rod.

So how much better did A-Rod do? Remember Hank Steinbrenner at point said that he wanted A-Rod to pay for the $21.3 million subsidy from Texas that the Yankees lost when Rodriguez opted out of the last 3 years of the previous contract. That contract was worth $252 million and Rodriguez had earned $185.45 million. That means he would have earned $66.55 million in the last 3 years.

According to reports under the new contract he will earn $27 million next year and $32 million in 2009 and 2010. He will also get $4 million of his signing bonus in the first 3 years. If he hits 142 home-runs in the next 3 years (which is quite possible), he will earn a $6 million bonus for equaling Willie Mays' home-run level. That would earn him $101 million over the next 3 years. A raise of about $35 million.

Yeah those Steinbrenners are really tough negotiators. Like there were so many other teams in the running for his services.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

NHL Secretly Testing Thermablades

The Canadian Press reports that the NHL is testing the "revolutionary" Thermablades on four anonymous players. The four teams they play for asked that their names be kept secret so the Thermablades on their feet didn't draw media attention and their use become a distraction.

Thermablades use a rechargeable battery and microprocessor to maintain a blade temperature of 5 C. The slight heat is enough to increase the thickness of the water layer between the blade and the ice surface, and the company says its tests have shown this reduces gliding friction and starting resistance for skaters. The batteries last for about two games. And the blades retail for about $400.

The secret testing is atypical for the NHL Normally new rules and equipment are tested in the AHL. If you are showcasing the NHL as an elite league then you don't want to be using it as a testing lab. Also new technologies that give players an advantage is unfair if access is limited to only a select few.

Just another example how the NHL damages the integrity of their game - like the new jersey fiasco, 3 points awarded games that end in ties, shootouts during regular season but not playoffs. But don't get me started.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

This is incredibly creepy

I found this illusion at this website

and it always knows what number I select

even if I intentionally do not follow the instructions.

Can anyone explain how it works?

Sunday, December 09, 2007

This could have been a serious injury

North Simcoe steals a tie with an assist to the Zamboni driver

The Storm almost skated away with a win today against North Simcoe. However, the clock and Zamboni driver conspired against us and the team had to settle with another 1-1 tie. The Zamboni driver was slow to clean the ice and with the game curfewed at 1:45, the game ended with 5:07 remaining on the clock and Storm players buzzing around the North Simcoe net.

Strong skating continues to characterize this year's Storm team as another top tier team had to hang as the buzzer went. The North Simcoe head coach was overhead commenting that the early buzzer helped them salvage a point.

The lone Storm goal was scored by Amanda but the game could easily have been won by either Marley or Maryssa who both had excellent scoring chances. Rushed shots continue to plague this team and the girls are better shooters than they exhibit in games. We expect the team to break out sooner or later.

Next game is December 15 in Orillia.

Don't Insult Mom's Cooking

Judges in Spain have ruled that a 36-year-old man who insulted his mother's cooking and physically pushed her must move out of her home and find his own place to live.

José Luis Ortiz's 71-year-old mother grew so desperate about her abusive son's presence in her home, in the northern region of Cantabria, that she filed a suit against him.

Mr Ortiz admitted to regularly insulting his mother, Carmen, pulling her by the arm and threatening to beat her. He also conceded that he repeatedly called his mother's cooking “s***”. In his defence, Mr Ortiz said that his comments were a mere statement of fact; “an observation on the culinary ability” of his mother.

Bobby Orr

Hard to say who the greatest NHL player of all time. The game has evolved so much that comparisons don't work. But I never saw a player dominate in the way that Bobby Orr did in his era. When he played he was the fastest skater, the best stickhandler, and the most accurate shot. He was so good he made stars on other teams look ordinary. He was the only defenseman to win a scoring championship.

For those who never go to see him play, look at this highlight reel of Bobby Orr rushing the puck.

Darryl Sittler's 10-point game

Every Leaf-Bruin match up reminds me of the greatest hickey game I ever watched. That had to be the game Darryl Sittler scored 6 goals and recorded 4 assists for incredible 10 points.

In the excitement of that game what was lost was how bad the Bruin goalie was. It was Dave Reece's last game in the NHL.

As the Toronto Maple Leafs faced the Boston Bruins on Feb. 7, 1976, the Leafs had only won once in the previous seven games. The Bruins, coached by Don Cherry, were hot. They had won their last seven games and lost only once in their last 17 games.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Ham for Hanukkah

You have to laugh at this faux pas. Gourmet grocery store, Balducci's, in Greenwich Village in New York has become the butt of the Jewish holiday by advertising its boneless hams as "Delicious for Chanukkah".

A customer spotted it in the store and took a picture for her blog. No one form the store will comment but there is a notice on their website:

"We apologize for this unfortunate error and oversight. It was never our intention to offend anyone, especially during this holiday. We will be reviewing our employee training policy."

Heat is off Ferguson and Maurice for now

A modest 4 game winning streak is quite effective in calming the media wolves and over-engaged fans that follow the Toronto Maple Leafs. This means that both John Ferguson and Paul Maurice will still be employed over Christmas. So why are the Leafs winning? And will they continue to win and contend for a playoff spot?

Three things are contributing to the current win streak. They are finally getting good goaltending. No one wins in the NHL without it. When Lundquist, Luongo and Brodeur play poorly, their respective team lose.

The Leafs are playing better in their own end. Defensive coverage is better but not great but combined with better goaltending means they have a chance to win every game. It also means they can hold a lead. There have no 3rd period collapses lately. Keeping the number of shots down on their own goalies has certainly paid off. And playing better defense does not necessarily hurt your offense. There was too much focus on Tucker and Blake not scoring although the team was near the top of the league in scoring.

Finally, JFJ's excuse about injuries have some validity. It's not that Tucker, Wellwood and Bell have played well or can carry the team. Rather, it's the players they have pushed out of the lineup that makes the difference. The minor leaguers or marginal players who fill in have not played very well. So by taking Battaglia, Newbury, Stahlman, and Gamache out of the lineup and reducing the ice time of Wozniewski, Pohl and Kilger, you improve your team. At one point, Chad Kilger was the number two centre.

The Leafs' success will last as long as they continue to get good goaltending, play team defense and avoid injuries. The Leaf defense is still porous and error-prone Bryan McCabe plays almost half the game. They will have to battle to the final weekend for a playoff spot because they will need a minimum of 92 to 94 points to make the playoffs which means a winning percentage of 59-60% for the rest of the season.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Storm Battles to a Draw

For the second time this season, the Storm battled the undefeated Barrie Sharks to a 1-1 tie. The Storm continue to feature a strong attack and are likely one of the best skating team in the division. Aggressive forechecking is beginning create turnovers and some scoring chances. Where they are currently lacking is a scoring touch in front of the net. The lone goal was scored by Kailee although Mari and Jackie both had a number of excellent scoring chances. Kendra made some excellent saves to preserve the tie.

The Storm again finished the game without a penalty and continues to be the least penalized team in Midget B tier. In fact, they are one of the least penalized in the entire league. The lack of penalties is not a reflection of a lack of aggressive or physical play but the speed of the team. Most fouls occur when players can't keep up with their opponents but this team doesn't have that problem.

So the next game is Sunday against another top team, North Simcoe who have only lost one game this season.

Happy Hanukkah from the NBA

Monday, December 03, 2007

How often do you get to see a Zamboni on fire?

Rebuilt Philadelphia Flyers Represent New NHL - VIOLENCE

For the 5th time this season, a Flyer player was suspended for a shot to the head. Riley Cote got a three-game suspension for a vicious elbow on Matt Niskanen of the Dallas Stars late in a 4-1 loss Saturday night. Cote got a match penalty on the play.

This guy is a goon, nothing more. He has played in 18 games averaging less than 4 minutes per game. So in 70 minutes of ice time, he has managed 61 penalty minutes. Oh yes, I forgot. He also has 1 assist.

Still Flyers coach John Stevens keeps playing these guys. I'm just not impressed. The Flyers have receiving a suspension for every 5 games played. At this rate they will have accumulated 16 suspensions by the end of the season.

For all this mayhem the five suspensions only add up to 52 games. Hardly a deterrence. The NHL keeps saying they want to eliminate head shots but do they really?

The Flyers' other suspensions:
– Hartnell got two games for checking Bruins defenceman Andrew Alberts in the head in a game last Monday.
– Jones was given a two-game suspension after he sent Boston's Patrice Bergeron face-first into the boards on Oct. 27. Bergeron hasn't returned to action since he broke his nose and sustained a concussion as a result of the hit.
– Boulerice was handed a 25-game suspension for his cross-check to the face of Vancouver's Ryan Kesler in an Oct. 10 game.
– Downie got 20 games after flying down the ice, jumping through the air and delivering a hit to the head of Ottawa's Dean McAmmond during a pre-season game.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and league disciplinarian Colin Campbell held a conference call with Flyers GM Paul Holmgren on Monday. They read him the riot act. I bet he is shaking in his boots.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Biggest Sandwich Ever - Carnegie Deli, NYC

It's the holiday season when people tend to over eat. That made me think about the generous portions you can get in some restaurants. Several years ago while in New York we had lunch a Carnegie Deli, the city's most famous deli.

The sandwiches are huge and that's just the regular ones. They have a list of oversized sandwiches. The heartiest sandwich is definitely Number 13—or "Jeff's Tatalah." This thing has three pounds of turkey, corned beef and Swiss and served on pumpernickel with cole slaw and Russian dressing. You can't get it in your mouth. Of course it comes with a big price too - $21.95.

Still Looking for Offense

The Storm continue to struggle to score goals although much of the division has a similar problem. Last night the team put in another strong effort but still lost 2-0 to the second place Aurora Panthers. The Storm has only scored 7 goals in 7 league games. In fact, Aurora has only scored 13 goals in 13 games but has only given up 8 goals.

Best scoring chance in the game was by Genevieve who floated a shot on net during a powerplay that the Aurora goalie had some problems handling. The close call led to a turnover and a short handed goal which pretty much turned the game around. The Panthers later added another goal and held on for the shutout win.

Next game is December 4 against Barrie.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Friday, November 30, 2007

Break up the Maple Leafs!

After last night's annihilation of the Thrashers, the NHL should seriously consider breaking up the Leafs.

Seriously, with all the fuss about the Leafs, has anyone outside of Ottawa noticed how bad the Senators are playing right now. They had started the season on fire with I think 11 straight wins but now have lost 5 straight.

Although the Senators are first overall in the East and 10 points ahead of the Leafs, compare their records over the last 10 games. Of course no one is hitting the panic button since they are still in first place.

Maple Leafs

I Remember This Sign in my High School

Storm Makes it on the Cover of SI

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Leaf fans are getting restless

Harold Ballard's spirit has inhabited Richard Peddie's brain

It seems Harold Ballard may be dead but his spirit lives on...within Maple Leaf president Richard Peddie's brain. What else could explain his continual humiliation of Toronto Maple Leaf GM John Ferguson. He has promised Ferguson contract extensions and then withdrawn the promise. He spent the summer looking for a mentor for a GM who was in the job for 4 years. On the Fan 590 yesterday Scotty Bowman, one of the candidates said he was interviewed twice by Peddie who seemed to show no interest in Bowman. Is he nuts?

More recently, he is running around telling the media Ferguson was unqualified for the job and it was a mistake to hire him. This is coming from a Ferguson supporter. Yeah who needs friends like this. Harold Ballard also enjoyed humiliating his employees and one that bother me the most was his treatment of Roger Neilson, one of the best coaches in the last 30 years.

In 1978 a reporter approach Ballard following a loss regarding his thoughts on the coach, Neilson. Ballard just blurted out that he was fired. Which is how Neilson found out, through the media. This was Thursday evening and the Leafs had a game on the Saturday. The Leafs had no assistant coach so there was no one who could even step in on an interim basis. GM Jim Gregory approached a few people but was turned down, including his assistant GM and previous Leaf coach Johny McLellan. McLellan had stepped down as coach in 1973 because of health reasons and wouldn't step back behind the bench.

Meanwhile, Neilson was still running practices. The coach was extremely popular with the players and Leaf captain Darryl Sittler approached Ballard about reconsidering. He agreed on the one condition that Neilson start the game on the Saturday with a paper bag over his head. Neilson refused and went to speak to Ballard. They reached a compromise and Neilson didn't step behind the bench until after the national anthem was sung. He received an extended standing ovation and Ballard go to play out his little drama.

Back to the present. Richard Peddie is likely the biggest liability right now within the MLSE organization. Replacing the GM and coach is pointless unless responsibility for the hockey team is taken away from Peddie.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

World Class Santa

If you're good at climbing chimmneys then you might want to consider the Santa Games. Prospective Santas battled it out in five sports: chimney climbing, reindeer racing, kick sled racing, porridge eating and Santa's Christmas Eve.

The winner Dave Downey spent three years in training to be a Santa. So is Dave now over qualified to be a mall Santa?

It's Raining Teddy Bears

Portland Winter Hawks ice hockey fans threw what was reportedly a world record 20,372 stuffed animals on the ice after what they thought was their team scored first goal of the season. Only thing is the goal was disallowed. The event was planned and the bears donated to charity.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Is Justin Pogge Ready?

I've heard a number of people question whether Justin Pogge should be brought up to the NHL to shake up the Leafs. I believe the answer is no. Although the Marlies have a winning record, his stats do not reveal that he is someone who can help the Leafs right now. He would face a lot more shots in playing on the Leafs.

Wins: 5
Losses: 1
OT/SO losses: 2
goals against: 2.68
saves percentage: 0.899

Whats Happening with the Maple Leafs

Got back to town last night and there was no talk about the Grey Cup game - only that the Maple Leafs had lost another 2 games. There is speculation and rumours regarding a new president, general manager and/or coach. The Toronto Sun suggests that JFJ tried to fire Paul Maurice last week but was not allowed to. But within the organization it appears calm.

So whats really going on? Here are some questions and answers that I've put together that reflects my uninformed perspective.

Is it true that MLSE doesn't care about winning a Stanley Cup and only cares about the bottom line?

I don't think so. Sports leagues have many owners who want to win but have no clue how to build a winner. They are also all owned by business people who like to make money. And some have no clue how to make money owning a franchise. That isn't a problem here. The Leaf owners were one of the top spenders before the salary cap which conveniently papered over years of weak ownership and management. The Chicago Cubs haven't won the World Series since 1908 but not from lack of trying.

Are the Leafs really that bad?

Definitely. They are near the bottom of the league in most statistical areas. No matter who is in their lineup, they play the same sloppy hockey that every team in the league hungry to play the Leafs. Don't be fooled by the occasional strong game. As they say, "even a blind squirrel finds the occasional nut."

Why are the Leafs so bad?

Hard to know but like everyone else I have my theory. Five or six years ago they Leafs were tough team to play against with Gary Roberts, Tie Domi, Shane Corson, Travis Green, Wade Belak, Darcy Tucker and Bryan McCabe. They were dirty, mouthy and irritating. Pat Quinn was an offensive minded coach who hated the trap. So he directed an offense oriented team that had lots of irritating players and great goaltending (Joseph and then Belfour) to cover up all their defensive mistakes. Today they are a soft team that plays the same likes to play wide open with just ordinary goaltending. Even the defensemen are offense oriented. It's a formula for disaster.

Who is to blame for this mess, Ferguson, Maurice or the players?

Everyone has to share in the blame. The manager doesn't have the right mix of players to win but thinks he does. No physical players, no strong defensive players. After the lock out he stated that he would hanging onto draft picks because young players were critical to building a winner. He has failed to keep that commitment. But even worse, the assets he has received in exchange for younger players and picks have not helped the team. The coach seems to have lost the players despite their vocal support. If he has a defensive system he isn't evident. Every expansion team coach goes with trap to survive until the franchise develops some good players. It's easy to execute with marginal players and keeps the scores down. Finally, the Leaf players seem to be unable to respond to their coach. I can't explain it. You need to be in the dressing room itself to understand.

But if you want to know where to start, its moving Richard Peddie out of the president's position. It was his idea to bring in an inexperienced GM and he continues to stand by him. The same thing happened to the Raptors when Peddie hired Babcock until they both pushed aside with the hiring of Bryan Colangelo.

Why hasn't Ferguson and/or Maurice been fired and players traded?

I can understand why there has been no firings yet. The most qualified candidates already have jobs. You can get permission to approach them in the off season but not during the season. Still the papers have bounced around all kinds of names and something may still happen. The worse the team does the more likely the organization will have to do something, even if it means bringing in some people on an interim basis. Also, the ownership doesn't need to act quickly because every ticket for the remainder of the season is sold. So that isn't a factor to consider. Which also feeds the perception among fans that the ownership is not interested in winning the Cup.

What would fix this team?

I think only blowing it up will work. The chemistry is all wrong here. Trade away players with big salaries for draft picks and use the money to buy some good free agents next summer. But this is a difficult thing to do in the Toronto market because their is a perception that you need to always ice a competitive team when you are charging the highest ticket prices in the league. However, once the team sinks to the bottom of the standings, the option of tinkering to maintain a competitive team is taken away from you. Also, trading players in this market is a real challenge. High priced players are virtually untradeable until the trade deadline. And the Leafs have at least 4 players with no trade contracts. The next guy has his work cut out for him.

So who would you keep?

Well no one is that good on this team to make them untouchable. The theory for rebuilding under a salary cap is keep underpaid players which provides more money to work with in the future. Not too many players on the Leafs fall into that category.

In Other Hockey Tournament New


Six hockey players and two coaches were suspended following a brawl between two teams of eight-year-olds in Guelph Friday.

Three players each from the Duffield Devils and Niagara Falls Thunder Novice AAA teams, and their respective coaches, were ejected from the Guelph Power Play Tournament after a brawl during a game at Exhibition Arena. Guelph Police are reviewing videotape of the incident and criminal charges may be laid.

A small fight had broken out between players on the ice, he said, and both coaches sent more players from the bench to join in the fracas. A member of the Niagara Falls coaching staff approached the Duffield bench and allegedly spit in the face of a Duffield coach. Police seized video footage from parents who were recording the game and will review it.

Lots Of Similarities Between Leafs and Cowboys

I checked out Maple Leaf GM John Ferguson's blog to read the latest exercise in denial. Here is the latest entry from Dallas.

Lots Of Similarities Between Leafs and Cowboys

John Ferguson GM Toronto Maple Leaf Hockey Club
Nov 23, 2007, 3:20 PM EST

Thursday was the American Thanksgiving. Our team spent the afternoon at Texas Stadium, watching the Dallas Cowboys beat the New York Jets. It was a great time. Many of our players had never seen an NFL game before, let alone one at Texas Stadium. But it was also a great point of comparison. The building was sold out and there is talk the new Cowboys stadium will cost over $1 billion. Everywhere there were signs of the tradition and excellence the franchise has enjoyed. It was a great chance for our group to see that type of fan excitement from within. The excitement, the passion, the anticipation, the spotlight and even the media coverage is very similar to what our players experience in Toronto. Playing in Toronto isn’t like playing anywhere else in the NHL. We think it’s the best place in the league; you’re on the big stage every night, playing in front of a sold-out crowd. We work very hard on making sure that the player’s entire family experiences everything the city can offer, from first class medical coverage to access to the best fit in schools. All that said, we know that playing in Toronto isn’t for everyone. The level of fan interest and the expectation of performance are intense. We are very open in our discussions with players and agents. You need to be excited about the possibility of playing here. When we signed Jason Blake as a free agent this summer, we talked a lot about our commitment to the players and their families and how we support them away from the rink. Jason was attracted by the challenge of playing here and by how we as an organization welcomed and helped families. Those things, as well as the excitement in the market are what make Toronto unique in the NHL. It was fun, for a day, to compare the life of a Cowboy with that of a Maple Leaf.

Note: The only similarity between the Cowboys and Leafs are the cost of tickets. Any others are a product of JFJ's creative mind.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Congratulations to Sheri - We are 'Crazy4U' too

Kanata Results

The Midget B Finals have not been posted yet and I doubt its because they are still in overtime. I'm sure the tired people in Kanata will get around to it. Here is the link.

The final game was between Ottawa Ice and Perth Wings. Ottawa had defeated Burlington Barracudas (undefeated in regular season play) 1-0. Perth defeated Nepean Wildcats also by a score of 1-0.

For the Storm is it was a great learning experience...and lots of good times.

Storm Nation Alumni Come to Kanata

Storm Rebound But Come Up Short

The Storm finished the Kanata tournament with their most inspired game of the season but failed to capitalize and numerous scoring opportunities. The result was a 2-1 loss. The game was played with considerable intensity by both teams and showcased some excellent end-to-end action. Both goalies made sharp saves to keep their respective teams in the game. Kendra made some incredible stops but unfortunately, a rising shot beat her over her shoulder in the third period and turned out to be the game winner.

The Storm got strong performances from quite a number of players including Kendra, Maryssa, Marley, Rebecca, Petra, Jessica B and Genevieve. What is most noticeable is the steady improvement in every player on the team. And playing two great games in a tournament at this stage of the season is a great accomplishment despite what the scores were. Let's hope the momentum can be carried over to the game next Saturday evening in Aurora.

Almost as important, the weekend provided a wonderful opportunity for people to get to know each other better. Special thanks to Sandy to not only does a great job managing the team but acting as a social coordinator.

As well, it was so nice to have so many ex-players come out to support the team. Lesley, Stephanie, Vanessa, Heather, Rebecca and Paige, it was great to see you!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Some ugly sites in Ottawa you should avoid

Try locating David Green from high school

Bryan McCabe Highlight Reel

Watch it after you've had a bad game. Guaranteed to make you feel better.

From Bryan's biggest fan.

At least they're sorry

Game 2...not so good

As Coach Willie pointed out before the start of game 2, your legs aren't going to feel as good as they did earlier in the day. The team's success depends on how many people can play as hard as they did against Oshawa. Unfortunately now enough people were able to as the Storm lost to Perth by a score of 5-1.

It was certainly evident that the Storm was less able than Perth to skate hard just 6 hours after previous game. Still there were some positives. The defensemen are gaining confidence and caring the puck more. The team in also getting more shots on net and generating more sc0ring opportunities. Clearly the effort was there even the legs weren't. The only Storm goal was scored by Amanda who picked up the puck in the corner and then skating to the front of the net to slip it past the goalie.

The good news is that Oshawa lost to Napean which elminates Oshawa from tournament. So all we have to do is beat Napean to advance into the semis.

Storm Blows into Kanata

So the Storm blew into Kanata on Friday afternoon and took out Oshawa. The Storm showed the same tenacity that they exhibited earlier in the week against Clearview and kept coming back to squeak out a 4-3 win over he Oshawa Generals. It was clearly the best effort of season and a big step forward for the team. They scored a season high 4 goals and 3 were on the powerplay. The team also registered 37 shots on net.

Scoring for the Storm was Mari with 2 goals while Jackie and Lauren N each had one. Lauren scored the game winner on the power play late in the 2nd period on a hard wrist shot that went just under the crossbar. There was some confusion on the play as one referee called no goal but he was over ruled by the second referee who clearly saw the puck go in the net. The 2nd period was wide open with the two teams scoring 5 goals but both teams failed to score in the final period. The Storm had to kill off a 5 on 3 situation for 1:12 of the final period to preserve the win.

Winning the game certainly provides a great start to the tournament and provides a good opportunity to advance to the semi-finals on Saturday.

Next game is against Perth.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Is Andrew Raycroft the new Tom Kurvers?

Looking at Tuukka Rask beating the Maple Leafs last night in his NHL debut reminded me of the Tom Kurvers trade.

Early in the 1989-90 season, Leaf GM Gerry MacNamara brought Kurvers to Toronto from New Jersey for a future 1st round pick. As you may note, trading draft picks has been standard Leaf practices for decades. Kurvers at the time was a pure offensive defenceman and good on the powerplay. Management of the day thought that they had a pretty good collection of players and that someone like Kurvers would put them over the top. That season he scored 15 goals for the Leafs and 52 points. But in the playoffs he was a bust and the Leafs were knocked out of the first round in 5 games.

Management decided the team was too offensive minded and couldn't get through the grind of the playoffs. So the team was dismantled the next season and Kurvers was shipped off to Vancouver. He retired 2 years later. The bottom fell for the Leafs that season and they finished second last which happened to be the year the Devils had the Leafs' first pick. Quebec drafted Eric Lindros first overall and the Devils followed with Scott Niedermayer. He turned out to be a pretty good player. Last time I checked he was on 4 Stanley Cup teams and had won the Norris Trophy and the Conn Smythe Trophy.

Jump forward to the 2005-06 season. Leaf GM John Ferguson thinks he has a pretty good team but needs more consistent goaltending. He trades a Finnish goaltending prospect, Tuukka Rask to Boston for Andrew Raycroft. The Leafs don't make the playoffs and management concludes that Raycroft doesn't appear to be the answer to their goaltending problems.

This story is beginning to sound familiar.

Kanata Weather

Ottawa North - Kanata - Orléans
11:57 AM EST Wednesday 21 November 2007

Snowfall warning for Ottawa North - Kanata - Orléans issued ..10 to 20 centimetres of snow likely by Thursday night..

An approaching winter storm from Missouri will bring the first winter storm of the season tonight and Thursday. Many regions extending from Lake Huron east to the Dundalk Highlands is currently seeing rain but as the temperature falls to near freezing the rain will quickly change over to wet snow and ice pellets this afternoon and then snow tonight. Near 10 centimetres of snow is expected to fall tonight with an additional 10 centimetres to follow on Thursday. Higher snow amounts are expected to fall over higher terrain.

Regions across eastern Ontario including Ottawa have already received snow from a previous disturbance and will continue to see snow fall tonight and into Thursday. Total snowfall amounts near 15 centimetres by Thursday night are possible as the winter storm slowly moves east across the lower lakes tonight into New England by Thursday night.

Discovered 7 People Shorter Than Bianca

The seven surviving Munchkins from the 1939 movie classic "The Wizard of Oz" received their star on Hollywood Boulevard's Walk of Fame.

Storm Fight Back For Tie

Last night against Clearview. the Storm fought back twice to finish with a 2-2 tie. The game was clearly one of the team's strongest games of the season in contrast to Sunday when the Storm played with little energy following an extended layoff. The Storm out skated Clearview for much of the game and dominated in the final period.

In fact, Lauren N had a terrific opportunity to score the winning goal in the final few minutes during a powerplay. The puck came loose at the top of the right faceoff circle and Lauren swooped in and tried to fire it into the top corner, just missing. Genevieve and Rebecca also had great scoring opportunities late in the game.

There was a huge improvement in the defensive zone coverage resulting in few scoring chances for Clearview. In the first 5 games of the season, opposition defensemen were able to pinch and keep pucks in the Storm end of the rink. Last night the forwards neutralized some very good Clearview defensemen and won a lot of battles along the boards. It was great to see players responding to the coaches.

Goals were scored by Mari on the powerplay and Jackie on a great individual effort.

So off we go to Kanata for the first tournament of the season.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Blue Jays have a new starting pitcher

Bear Market for Goalies

The inability of Anaheim to trade Ilya Bryzgalov indicates that the bottom has fallen out of the goalie market. Anaheim was only looking for a middle round draft pick and since 1/4 of the season has been complete, only $900,000 remains on his contract. So Phoenix picks up a starting goalie for nothing.

So don't expect the Leafs to be trading Andrew Raycroft real soon. His salary is almost double that of Bryzgalov. In fact, Phoenix was one of the teams interested in Raycroft.

The question is why did Ferguson give up so much for Toskala since he and Brizgalov are relatively equal in ability. It's become obvious that he overpaid.

Cell phone Cover

Leafs after the First Quarter

Saturday's 3-0 win against the Senators can be read in many different ways. The Leafs have turned the corner. Ottawa was flat. This is what the Leafs can do with a full lineup. Paul Maurice is getting through to the players.

But as Coach Bruce has been quoted "even a blind squirrel will come up with the occasional nut." Bad teams can have great games and great teams can play some awful games. And the NHL season is made up of 82 games.

When looking at the Leafs over the first 21 games, they have been the model of inconsistency much as they have been for the last two seasons. They swing between good and bad games without any predictability. They did everything right on Saturday night but against the Bruins on Thursday, they did everything wrong. Without an extended winning or losing streak, the Leafs will likely repeat the scenario played out in the past two season which is fighting for the last playoff spot right to the last weekend of the season.

Leaf management is reluctant to change the core of this team because on paper it looks good and frequently during the season also looks good on the ice. As well, with the salary cap and structure of teams today, changing your core is not easy. But this team will never succeed because the team chemistry isn't there. Five years ago the Leafs were a tough team to play against. Ask the Senators. Back then they has Roberts, Corson, Domi, Green, Belak and chippier versions of McCabe and Tucker. Today they are playing soft and the only tough guy Belak sits because he can't play a shift without taking a penalty.

During the 1st quarter of the season, some Leafs have had strong starts. Sundin is having his best start in 5 years and has been close to the NHL scoring leader all season. Antropov is having a break out season and has not yet missed a game with an injury. And he is doing it without been on a line with Sundin. Steen and Stajan have begun to develop the makings of a shutdown line that can score on occasion. Wellwood has only played a few games but has shown how important he is to a team that lack much creative play. Kubina has bounced back from a terrible season until he got hurt.

But that's about it. Blake has been unable to find the back of the net. This could be blamed on his health problems but for the fact that he leads the team in shots on net. Toskala has been unable to win the starting job that was his for the taking. McCabe leads the team with a -6 and has made rookie mistakes that get him on the sports news' highlights.

Specialty teams have been awful. Third periods for the most part have been a disaster. They might as well concede games that go into a shootout. If teams carry a designated fighter (who rarely wins games for you) then why don't they carry a designated shootout specialist? Certainly the Leafs need one and a few more shootout wins are all that the Leafs needed the past 2 seasons to get into the playoffs.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

What Global Warming?

Bottled Water a can?

NHL Bargains and Busts

When you look at the number of goals scored by top line players and their salaries you can begin to understand how difficult it is to be a general manager in the NHL. With the salary cap there is little room for error but much to gain by finding a inexpensive gem.

For example, on the Toronto Maple Leafs, Jason Blake has scored only 2 goals in 21 games which works out to $500K per goal. Ouch! Nik Antropov has scored 9 goals but since his salary is one-half of Blake's, it works out to $51K per goal. Any GM could live with that.

The NHL goal scoring leader with 16 goals is Ilya Kovalchuk and he is earning $92K per goal. The biggest busts in the NHL are Sergei Sampsonov and Doug Weight. Both are earning $3.5 million but have yet to score. Other busts are:

Michael Handzus $930K/goal
Chris Drury $569K/goal
Jarmor Jagr $512K/goal
Scott Gomez $445K/goal
Patrick Elias $365K/goal
Sergei Federov $359K/goal
Glen Murray $300K/goal
Marc Savard $263K/goal
Patrick Marleau $262K/goal

And the best bargains in the NHL are:

Cory Perry $14K/goal
Patrick Sharp $18K/goal
Mike Richards $19K/goal
Paul Stastny $22K/goal

Friday, November 16, 2007

Ha Ha Ha, Merry Christmas

This will make you shake your head in disbelief.

Santas in Sidney, Australia have been instructed not to use the traditional "ho ho ho" greeting because it may be offensive to women. It seems "ho ho ho" could frighten children and is too close to "ho", a US slang term for prostitute. Sydney's Santa Clauses have instead been instructed to say "ha ha ha".

What's next dressing Santas in business suits?

Flames Were Hot, Storm Was Not

The Vaughan Flames scored 3 goals in a span of 2:53 in the first period and one of their players scored a natural hat trick (3 straight goals) as the Storm fell 6-1. Although the Storm started the game very strong and dominated the play, errors in their own end lead to their downfall. Obviously, the long lay off between games may have contributed to the inconsistent performance from a number of players. The Storm last played on October 28.

On a positive note, SK returned to the ice after tearing an ACL last January. She took a regular shift on defense and played a strong game. Rebecca moved back to play defense and Lauren F took her place on right wing and both looked good in their new positions. In particular, Lauren was ferocious in the corners and forced quite a few turnovers. Mari scored the only goal and appears to have recovered from the ankle sprain suffered against Orangeville last month.

The Storm's record is now 1-3-1. Next game is November 20 against Clearview at Grandravine arena.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Alex Rodriguez Crawls Back to the Yankees

Just 3 weeks ago, Scott Boras, agent to A-Rod informed the Yankees that his client would not be returning to New York and would pursue free agency. He supposedly had previously informed the Yankees that the starting point for negotiations was $350 million over 10 years.
At the time I thought Boras was just blowing a lot of smoke to get some action going. After all, the Rangers had to eat part of Rodriguez's contract in order to trade him which was an acknowledgement that no one felt he was worth $25 million per year. As far as I'm concerned, nothing has really changed as far as his market value.

The word on the street is that only the Angels were interested in Rodriguez and likely not anywhere close to $35 million per year. So it appears A-Rod contacted the Yankees owners to explore a return to the team and a meeting was set up - without Boras.

Now the Yankees have always been clear they wanted to have the best player in the game continue to be a Yankee but this turn of event gives the team the negotiating edge. So it is reported that Hank Steinbrenner has asked that the new contract be front-loaded to include a $21 million discount for the Yankees. That is the money the team would have gotten from the Rangers if Rodriguez hadn't used the escape clause in the contract.

So at the end of the day everyone will be happy. The Yankees and Rodriguez are made for each other. A-Rod remains the highest paid player in the game. He will likely save face by blaming his agent and calling it a big misunderstanding.

It's enough to make you ill.