Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Darryl Sutter: Retrospective

Darryl Sutter came to Calgary midway through the 2002/2003 season, and stepped down before 2010 came to a close. His tenure represented a defining moment in the Flames' franchise; it saw the prime of Jarome Iginla, the end of the playoff drought, a Stanley Cup appearance, and a number of baffling moves that sunk the franchise for years and years.

Make no mistake, you won't find very many Calgary Flames fans who will say that the team is any better off now than it was when Sutter left. Save for the one Western Conference Champions banner, Sutter came to the team after Greg Gilbert pulled them out of the cellar and left just as they came back in.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

Scott Russell wants you to shoot pucks at your dryer, too

I like Sidney Crosby. He's not a bad hockey player, and he provided my generation with its Henderson moment. That said, I dislike some of the attention and coverage he attracts. I can understand that the NHL markets this guy really hard, and why not, but when you have people sloppily talking about their obsession with Crosby beyond the hockey sphere, we have a problem. This is over-saturation.

Sidney, meet Scott Russell.

Few greater treasures exist for a hockey-loving nation than a player who has come to symbolize the sport most of us obsess over.

This is his opening line, and you already know where the article is headed.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A return look at player volatility: Grabovski edition

This was initially conceived as an all-encompassing Canadian sports blog, and I was really hoping to have something to add on the Hamilton stadium mess today, but I have a real desire to bring my readers content that they wouldn't find anywhere else. Without actually being in the room and talking to City Councillors, this post would be as useful as a TSN comment in the long run.

Before moving onto arbitrary hockey numbers, I will just add that the CFL is a historic league. Had Canadian Football not existed ten years ago, it would be impossible for seven guys in a boardroom to stand up and say "I have this GREAT idea! It will be football, but just three downs!" and be taken seriously. Canadian Football is gridiron's closest living relative to rugby football, from which the game was originally derived, and must be treated as such. I'm a sucker for all things historic in sports, and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats is one of them. From one CFL blogger to the Hamilton City Council, figure this one out.


Since the last time I posted anything about player volatility, I picked up a few readers, so I guess I should provide a primer.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Canadian Juniors with 8-0 pre-tournament win over Switzerland

If you're like me and live in a town with a really lousy junior hockey team, Monday night was probably your first chance to see the latest Canadian World Junior players in action.

This doesn't mean short clips and highlight videos that you'll typically see in some of the game promos or when TSN is introducing the team, but watching the players play with each other in a game situation, analyzing their mistakes, and where you choose the player you'll pick on all tournament. Last year's was Patrice Cormier.

From the get-go, with talent like Jeff Skinner, Taylor Hall, Tyler Seguin and Cam Fowler in the National Hockey League, we sort of knew that this team wasn't going to be as talented in years past, but that doesn't necessarily have to be a bad thing. One comment that struck me early on was somebody noting that this team doesn't have any "Taylor Halls or Jordan Eberles on it," but I disagree. I think that this team is full of Jordan Eberles, but that's because I don't necessarily see Jordan Eberle as a skill player.

Friday, December 17, 2010

What numbers can tell us about a tie game

The Toronto Maple Leafs and Calgary Flames played, with respect to both their fanbases, an absolutely meaningless game Thursday night to a 5-2 home-side victory at the Saddledome. Regardless of it being a mid-season game between two teams that won't make the playoffs, it doesn't mean we can't digest some of the numbers.

I didn't watch this game, but NHL.com has set itself up in such a way that I hardly needed to. All you truly need is the play-by-play feed and a handy spreadsheet, and you can plot the game on a graph complete with momentum changes and scoring chances.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Your morning 'Eh' Factor headlines

Because we haven't done headlines in a while, why not?

Chris Pronger left the game in Philadelphia's 5-3 over Montreal last night. It is being called a 'lower-body injury' for now, because Pronger ran off with the medical reports.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Meet your Edmonton Oilers cheerleading squad

Tuesday, the Edmonton Oilers officially introduced the members of 'Oilers Octane', a collection of wonderfully backlit beautiful and exotic girls who will keep fans entertained throughout the game.

Despite the dissenting call for reason in this crazy, crazy world by Lisi Monro of Edmonton who said that "a cheer team would ruin the longtime traditional experience at Rexall, and the sight of scantily clad cheerleaders on the ice is not part of the hockey culture in Canada."

Oh, whatever.

Is Alex Edler the best defenseman in Canada?

What makes a good defenseman? Not allowing goals against? Ice-time? Plus/minus? I think it has a little more to do with how good shooters are when they're out against you.

I'm at my parents' place, so my copy of Moneyball isn't handy, but I recall baseball historian and statistician Bill James being quoted in it as saying that he didn't want statistics to manipulate his thought. James wanted to watch a game, compile data from the game and see what gave the winning team its success.

To determine the qualities that make a good goal scorer great, you have to take the reverse to determine what makes a defenseman good. The data that I've compiled based on 15 games isn't enough to draw up totally what makes a hockey team good, but I've noticed a couple of trends:

Friday, December 10, 2010

Who Ya Got? Georges St.-Pierre vs. Josh Koscheck preview

Since Georges St.-Pierre fought Josh Koscheck to a unanimous 29-28, 29-28, 30-27 decision at UFC 74 on August 25th of 2007, the Montreal native has won six straight fights, all of them with a belt on the line, to become arguably the greatest pound-for-pound fighter in the world.

What's impressive about the scoreline from the first GSP/Koscheck fight is that it is the last time St.-Pierre has lost a round. That's two rounds against Matt Hughes, two rounds against Matt Serra, five against Jon Fitch, four against BJ Penn, and five against Thiago Alves and Dan Hardy.

He's on an impressive winning streak but has drawn criticism for his inability to finish fights. Dan Hardy was very weak competition, and it's been GSP's only fight in 2010, way back in March at UFC 111.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Darren Pang picks sea shells down by the sea shore

Here's a video of Darren Pang getting the words "white" and "right" mixed up, hilarious timing considering he was talking about what PK Subban was doing wrong.

Between Darren Pang and Don Cherry, nothing is going "right" for NHL TV pundits today.

UPDATE: TSN made time for Pang to apologize, which is somewhat of a relief, although I don't think anybody for a minute thought Pang was a racist.

The pinkos are after Don Cherry, again

Fresh off his Saturday night rant against the left-wing pinko media bleeding hearts guys, Don Cherry struck again at Toronto City Hall at new mayor Rob Ford's swearing-in ceremony. At least Canada made it onto Deadspin!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Anatomy of a 3-goal comeback

It pains me to say, but it's fun watching the Toronto Maple Leafs as a neutral observer. I also hate to say that they're winning games as your lunch-pail gang that Don Cherry loves. They can't score goals, they can't get shots on net, and half of their goaltending monster can't make a save this season.

They've had two dramatic comeback shootout wins in consecutive games, once at home to Tyler Seguin and once on the road in Washington, a game they shouldn't even have been in.

Blue Jays trade for Brett Lawrie

Growing up and playing baseball in the Lower Mainland, every single road game was played on a field named after a Major League ballplayer. My summer league team would play at Larry Walker Field in Ridge Meadows, Justin Morneau Park in New Westminister, and we took the ferry to play at Ryan Dempster Field in the remote logging town of Gibsons, BC, at a park where the outfield fence was covered by weeds.

(Best 0-10 season ever, by the way)

One day, Langley, BC may be one of those players. Brett Lawrie was selected 16th overall in the 2008 MLB draft by the Milwaukee Brewers, and whaddya know, he is property of the Toronto Blue Jays; for now.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Coach's Corner transcript: Grapes takes on Karl Marx

Don Cherry is a national treasure. Don Cherry also says a lot of stupid things during the first intermission of Toronto Maple Leafs games. After taking on Leafs fans, PK Subban, Alexander Ovechkin and praising Henrik Karlsson (for the same things Subban and Ovechkin do), Don went after the media. The following is a transcript of what he said. Take it away, Grapes.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Expansion franchise: Hamilton Boo Birds

[Frank Chartrand - AP]

Ontario hockey teams are not very good, are they? Both got shutout last night at home, both were booing their own teams, and neither look like they'll make it to the playoffs anytime soon without some serious housekeeping.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Toronto Star digs the anonymous source

Here is a story written by the Toronto Star which may be true. There may have been talks between Rogers Communications and the Ontario Teacher's Pension Plan to buy Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.

Keep this story in mind the next time Damien Cox rips a blogger for hiding behind anonymity, since many unnamed sources are used to put this story together.

Jim Kelley files online column; passes away

At first glance, this seems to be a long-winded look at Brian Burke's first two years in Toronto as Leafs GM, but consider it was filed just hours before he died.

Canadians are known for some plucky things, playing through pain is one of those. Kelley wrote his column from what could have been his death-bed after having battled pancreatic cancer.

Rest in piece, Jim.