Monday, June 13, 2011

So long to the Eh Factor, I guess

You might still be clicking on the Eh Factor. Might even be in your bookmarks, but, alas, with little time to update the Eh Factor, it might be time to shut its doors. I'm spending a lot of time with other projects. The purpose of the Eh Factor was sort of to get my foot in the door to the sports blogosphere, and while I really ended up only really talking about hockey, it worked.

I'm now writing for The Hockey Writers, the CIS Blog, SB Nation's Nucks Misconduct and I start today over at the Nation Network (best known for Oilers and Flames Nation, as well as which is where you all hopefully get your salary cap numbers) I also get a weekly column with Russian website which you'll be able to read if you can read Russian. I can't, and a big thanks to my friend Andrey, who not only hired me but also agreed to translate my thoughts into coherent sentences in Russian.

A lot has happened, recently I found myself covering the Memorial Cup in Mississauga and I met some fantastic people in Toronto and I hope to have the chance to work alongside them again as I continue my career.

There's a lot to be proud of with this little Blogspot I had, and a lot that I wish I hadn't posted, moreso, a lot of storylines that I had to ignore especially as school, work and other projects sort of caught up on me. I really wish I could have posted more about baseball, or been able to follow the CFL season closer than I was able to this fall. I'm still going to be looking for a place to write about football, baseball or even mixed-martial arts, so if you enjoyed any of that coverage, stay tuned. I'm also very dedicated to my Twitter feed, so if you don't mind mid-game snark, give me a follow. If you liked my hockey commentary, you hopefully can add those websites to your bookmarks.

There's no real point to a long, drawn-out farewell since I'm still going to remain quite active online, but since this is the end of personal blogging for at least another year before I go bankrupt, get a PR job, and start this up again as a hobby, I again want to thank Uncle John for all the support, Dad for sending me to school and Toronto, and all the writers who have given me inspiration. Sean for his kindness and fashion tips, Rob for the math lessons, Laura of TAS for all the support, Jeff for keeping me motivated, and, of course, everybody who's letting me write for their own websites: Bruce, Yankee, Kent. Friends of the Factor Andrew and Josh, Julian for really being the first to push my work, and Puck Daddy for getting the Matt Cooke post to go viral. Also, to Thomas Drance of Canucks Army (now a co-worker too, I guess) for keeping me occupied during the year with all the stats talk.

Many others, really. A year ago I wasn't sure whether I wanted to even write about sports for the fans after a few bad experiences, but this past year made it fun again. I've always loved watching sports, no matter what the game, and everything that's happened over the past year has done a lot to convince me that I can scratch and claw my way to making a living out of this and still have all the fun I had as a kid watching the game.

So, goodbye, I guess. I had a lot of fun with the Factor, but it has run its course and served its purpose.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sunday, May 22, 2011

An excellent standard for headshots

The Canadian Hockey League called a head hit by Brayden McNabb on Joey Hishon "was a reckless action by the player but not a deliberate attempt to injure” and suspended him one game. Awesome.

Here's a video of the hit, if you have not seen it already:

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Thoughts on Canada's Team, the Winnipeg Jets

The 'Eh' Factor turned a year old this week, the same day I took a flight to Toronto to cover the Memorial Cup. I'll be linking to some prospect profiles throughout.

I wanted to get a quick comment in about Canada's Team. I recall cheering for Montreal, Calgary and Edmonton during their Cup runs but against Ottawa. When a team is the underdog, regardless of geographic location, they're the team to cheer for. It just so happened we've had a few Canadian Cinderella stories recently.

Truly, Canada's team is now the Winnipeg Jets.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Rogers Sportsnet: Now with fewer sports!

Canadians like hockey, and Canadians love Game 7s. Canadians love the occasional junior hockey matchup, gain casual interest in the Memorial Cup, turn out to sports bars in droves to watch World Junior games, but Rogers Sportsnet doesn't give a shit.

Nope. If you're an average Canadian Joe Sports Fan, you probably have a digital cable package with Sportsnet One and all the Sportsnet regional networks. On my dial, I'll have Sportsnets Pacific, West, Ontario, East, HD, One, and Vancouver Hockey HD. That is seven channels.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Sean Bergenheim vs. Fernando Pisani

One of my friends used to play hockey growing up. According to him, this makes him far superior to me in understanding how hockey works, because he played in games and tournaments and coaches right up until his 17th birthday.

A "debate" we routinely get into is the effects of momentum on the game. Naturally, I agree with Kent Wilson on the issue and a number of things struck me as odd in the first season that I started watching hockey with a more analytical eye--certain things have more of an effect on the game than others. I posted on his Facebook wall after the Sharks shook off their three-game losing streak and closed out Detroit:
Momentum: [n] 1: force or speed of movement; impetus, as of a physical object or course of events. 2: a bullshit sports premise.
A good shift usually results in a goal, a powerplay or an offensive zone faceoff, so success directly after the good shift can be attributed to "momentum" even though the immediately preceding period before a goal set the team up to have a direct positive benefit. I can point to a long possession by the Canucks in the offensive zone in Game 7 of the Chicago series, however, the faceoff ended up in the Vancouver zone at the end of it, so any positive effect was wiped, despite a cheering crowd.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Weekend reset: Mark Hominick has a big lump on his face

Go vote† today and really show those terrorists who's boss.

The picture over at Deadspin pretty much captures it all. Mark Hominick, the Thamesford, Ontario native, fought against Jose Aldo for the UFC featherweight championship at Rogers Centre on Saturday, and came out a little worse for wear.

That said, Hominick certainly won some people over. He was decimated in the first four rounds, but had Aldo, regarded among the top three pound-for-pound fighters in the world, on his back and taking abuse in the fifth round. Unfortunately, Hominick wasn't able to close the deal and lost via unanimous decision 48-45, 48-46, 48-47. For a fighter in a division that hasn't gotten much exposure in the past, he certainly turned some heads. Hominick spent the weeks leading up to the fight throwing out the first pitch for the Blue Jays and signing an endorsement deal with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. He really integrated himself into the Southern Ontario sports community as if to become a fixture for years to come, and, at 28 years old, there's still plenty of room to move up. The fight with Aldo also earned him "Fight of the Night" honours which comes with a $129,000 paycheque.

In the night's main event, Georges St.-Pierre, the Montreal native, held onto his UFC welterweight belt with an effective victory over challenger Jake Shields, who won two rounds over GSP, the first time St.-Pierre has dropped a round since August of 2007. St.-Pierre won 50-45, 48-47, 48-47 which is a score that doesn't really reflect the fight. It was close, but St.-Pierre controlled the pace despite not going for early or mid-round takedowns, opting instead to stand with Shields rather than grapple on the mat with the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt. St.-Pierre also took a jap to his left eye in the second round which restricted his vision, and he was overheard on the microphones between rounds saying he couldn't see out of it. He pressed through, as, this is a man who fought through a groin tear in a fight against Thiago Alves two summers ago.

What's next for GSP is a bit of a mystery, as there has been speculation for years that he'd move up to middleweight to face Anderson Silva in a superfight between the two most high-profile UFC champions, but UFC President Dana White suggested that the fight could be against Strikeforce champion Nick Diaz. The Diaz fight is more likely, as the UFC would not want to lose the lustre of one of its biggest stars by guaranteeing a loss for either St.-Pierre or Silva, although the fight would indubitably be the biggest in the history of MMA and would be this generation's Ali/Foreman.

On that comparison note, Stephen Brunt published a lengthy, well-written essay in The Globe on Saturday on the decline of boxing. It's far more than a look by an old-guard journalist at how 'the game ain't played like it used to be' but this paragraph in particular caught my attention:
Someone like Georges St. Pierre is indeed iconic, but in a single dimension, contained entirely within the sport and its marketing machinery. No one in this sport – or in any other sport for that matter – will ever carry the political and social heft of an Muhammad Ali, or a Joe Louis, or a Jack Johnson. We consume sports, and sports heroes, in an environment of cynical brand awareness. Celebrity athletes tiptoe around any issue that is remotely politically or socially controversial, committed only to their own commercial enhancement. And none of them, however successful in their own games, can be what was the Heavyweight Champion of the World, because no title equals that – not even what is now the heavyweight champion of the world.
That's if you live in a fantasy land where athletes who are socially conscious are supposed to be an exception, and not the rule. Most boxers in those days, as hockey players and baseball players, were drinkers and smokers and fornicators, just as they are today.

Missing from the week, just because he wasn't on the Olympic team, doesn't mean Vincent Lecavalier doesn't like beating Russians, the Toronto Blue Jays are trying to steal too many bases, and, though it falls outside the realm of hoserism, we at the Eh! Factor urge you to tune in to the start of the Philadelphia/Boston game tonight, where you may hear the greatest rendition of God Bless America ever.

† But don't tweet any results. That could net you five years in prison

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Was Brad Marchand's goal against the Habs illegal?

Not to say that the rule being applied correctly would have made an impact on this game, but here is a case for the coach's challenge idea which has floated around the Interwebs for a year or so. As soon as I saw a quality angle of the first Boston Bruins goal in Game 5, I thought something was fishy.

First, a rule regarding broken sticks:

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Drive-by analysis: Those TSN playoff ads

You may have noticed these commercials that run on TSN as part of their lead-up to the network's playoff coverage. The ads feature short clips of the team followed by a short commentary by a TSN personality and the tagline: "Every team has a story".

Here are a few excerpts::

"If Price is focused and sharp, Habs are the dark horse." - Steve Kouleas

Friday, April 8, 2011

Presented without comment: Ottawa extends GM Bryan Murray

Per TSN, Ottawa has re-signed General Manager Bryan Murray to a three-year extension. Murray inherited an Eastern Conference Champion when he moved upstairs in 2007. After four years, the Sens have won a single playoff series and are 32-39-11 this season.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

One Toronto Maple Leafs fan would like to tell you how he really feels

After the jump is a video of full-time Leafs fan and part-time crazy guy Jeff Morris (Sens_Suck on Twitter) letting the world know that Toronto will be out of the playoffs for the sixth straight season.

This is quite unbelievable, actually. Video description: 'NOOOOOO...... THE STANLEY CUP WAS SUPPOSED TO BE OURS THIS YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!'.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sportsnet personality speaks out on journalistic independence

With regards to the title, he's also a Toronto Star writer.

Not surprisingly, the good guys over at the Puppets have already taken Damien Cox to task for a blog post he put on the Star's website Tuesday morning, before the Star took down a paragraph and he yanked the whole thing. Being the Internet, the thing exists in perpetuity along with every naked picture you've ever taken of yourself in a mirror.

A line PPP didn't get to, though, is this one:
The teams and the league love to daydream of a day when the independent media has been drowned out by their propaganda and fans don't see the difference.
For how much the blogosphere rips apart Cox, and for how badly Cox chose his words, he is right.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Weekend reset: Jarome Iginla scores his 1000th point, and more

This will be as regular of a feature as I can possibly make it, since Sunday night is a great time to cool down with a glass of scotch and recap everything we got to see over the course of the weekend.

Jarome Iginla scores 1000th point, used to play for a lousy General Manager

When I was about six or seven years old, one of the books that ended up in mine and my brother's bookcase was a light read chronicling all National Hockey Players with 1000 points in their careers. Early on I gained an understanding and an appreciation for the players who held on long enough to still be effective late in their careers.

The first player I remember consciously seeing score his 1000th point was Doug Gilmour. I don't remember the play (but thank Youtube I can revisit it) but I do remember his Toronto Maple Leaf teammates stormed off the bench and mobbed him, only to have the goal disallowed for whatever reason. It was a dress rehearsal, and the real thing happened later in the game.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

"Rules is Rules" in Alberta College Hockey

Mount Royal University's starting goaltender Justin Cote was injured in Game 4 of the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) championship hockey series Saturday night, and was thus replaced by backup Brett Bothwell for the deciding Game 5. An emergency backup was placed on the bench.

This new backup rode the pine for 60 minutes and had the best seats in the house as his school won a 1-0 game against the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT). Mount Royal snapped SAIT's two-season long championship streak by winning the best-of-five series.

Problem was, the ACAC has ruled the backup goalie ineligible, and Game 5 will be replayed later tonight. They also apparently weren't led into an investigation by SAIT and acted all on their own.

At least we can be assured that silly decisions about collegiate sport in this country are not reserved to the CIS alone...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Mark Recchi has something to say about concussions

Check out the audio from this Boston sports radio show with Mark Recchi being brought in to comment about the Habs/Bruins game Wednesday Thursday night as well as the welcome news that Max Pacioretty may be able to return for the start of the playoffs.

Actually, fast forward to about four minutes in, when it starts to get real good. This is concussion doctor Mark Recchi:

"Well he obviously does have a fractured vertebrae, but the concussion was obviously really a non-factor."

Monday, March 21, 2011

Weekend Reset: Jon Jones, MLS, and defensemen score beauties

This will be as regular of a feature as I can possibly make it, since Sunday night is a great time to cool down with a glass of scotch and recap everything we got to see over the course of the weekend.

Jon Jones, GSP, and the pound-for-pound debate

In the last few years in the world of mixed martial arts, there have usually been three fighters who are viewed as the top 'pound-for-pound' fighters in the world. Russia's Fedor Emelianenko, Brazil's Anderson Silva, and, of course, Montreal's own Georges St.-Pierre.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

And while we're debating intent...

In this messed up, topsy-turvy, screwy world of NHL suspensions and supplemental discipline, too much focus is placed on the intent of a hit rather than the result.

Polarizing opinions: It's time to ban head hits in hockey

Much buzz is being made about Sidney Crosby's return to the ice in full gear Monday, as well as the NHL's 5-step plan to finally address the concussion issue.

The NHL's plan ranges from softening the equipment to more padding around the rink, and creating a committee to do research. It's entirely a sham. Changing the equipment just means that players are going to find more ways to hurt people, and eventually the size and speed of the game is going to catch up to the changes that are made. You're just delaying the inevitable, until, one day, your five-point plan finally consists of what it should have been Monday:

Step 1: Ban all contact to the head.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Bob McCown is a horny old man

Not wanting to have anything to do with hockey for a while because we don't want to lose our Air Canada sponsorship, why don't we have fun with the FAN 950's Bob McCown? The inside sunglasses-wearing radio host isn't just an avid sports nut with the ability to take the contrarian position, it appears he is also a fan of the finer bits of women's sport:
"The sole motivation for any man to watch women’s sport is: are they half naked? Are they good looking? Other than that, it don’t matter."

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Zdeno Chara nearly decapitates Max Pacioretty


Zdeno Chara was assessed a five-minute major and a game misconduct for this hit on Max Pacioretty, but does that punishment fit the crime? Short answer, no. Let's look at the evidence from this season.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Taylor Hall fights, and the Oilers are doomed to fail

Last night, Taylor Hall proved how tough he was by fighting Derek Dorsett, a primitive thug with 11 career goals in 160 games and, while he stands as a 5'11" welterweight, he had 40 NHL fights to Hall's zero, never mind the dozens of scraps Dorsett had in junior.

Hall's fight showed grit, moxie, determination, character, and every single other useless attribute that should be discounted.

Sportsnet's Dan Murphy and his relationship with the Vancouver Canucks

This past Sunday at Rogers Arena, the Vancouver Canucks held their annual Superskills competition, an in-rink event that benefits the Canucks For Kids Fund and allows for fans who can't normally afford tickets to see their heroes up close.

It was a Canuck event, hosted by the Canucks, attended by Canuck fans only, with proceeds going to a Canucks charity and it was streamed online on the Canucks official website. But none of this stopped Dan Murphy, a reporter with Sportsnet Pacific, from hosting the event with in-rink announcer duties.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

What does "grit" mean in hockey?

Or... Don't trade for Chris Neil

Grit, moxie, truculence, character, "The Will of the Warrior", these are all words and terms that are thrown around at this time of year when the NHL trading deadline picks up steam. Otherwise unassuming players like David Clarkson, Marty Reasoner or, duh, Chris Neil get thrown around in potential trades on message boards, blog posts and radio stations.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

NBA back to Vancouver?

Despite what you may read in the Globe and Mail today, as cool as it would be to have an NBA team back in Vancouver, it probably won't happen.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Mario Lemieux speaks the truth

Preface: Don't worry, I'm not trying to go all Damien Cox or Adam Proteau here. Finding a reasonable column in print media on fighting is about as tough as finding Dire Straits on FM radio in Canada, but I'll give it a shot in online form.

Frequently, when a fight breaks out in another sport, I feel a tinge of pride that a baseball player, basketball player or elephant polo player doesn't fight like a hockey player. But that doesn't mean every clean hit needs to result in fisticuffs or that every accidental running-of-the-goalie needs to result in a scrum around the net. There's a little too much testosterone in the game, and last week we saw the epitome of it.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I have a confession regarding Matt Cooke

Everybody has that one shunned jersey in the back of their jersey closet, which collects dust as Phil Kessel collects his press clippings this season. You might have a jersey that was an ill-advised throwback to a favourite player who had no chance of lasting with the team. You might have a jersey with a name and number combination that has found its way onto Puck Daddy's Jersey Fouls page.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

If you watch one coach blowup today, make it this one

Full grades given out to Melville Millionnaire coach James Fiesel for this performance in an Saskatchewan Junior A game. This came on Friday night against the Yorkton Terriers.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

People should stop asking Brian Burke for his opinion on things, cause you know what it will be

Can you guess which outspoken National Hockey League GM is up in arms over the results of the NHLPA player's poll that CBC rolled out this weekend at the All-Star Game?

If you guessed "Brian Burke", congratulations. You have a firm grasp on the obvious. Turns out Burkie took exception to a couple of the answers that the players ended up with.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Other than the Wells trade, what we learned this weekend

This weekend, we learned through Roy MacGregor of the Globe that the Ottawa Senators are finally going to go through a rebuilding process. Ottawa finish off their pre-All Star schedule at home to Buffalo on Tuesday, and in their recent stretch where they've lost 11 of 12 games, they have been outscored 49-20. That is, well, horrible, and the team hasn't been able to score this year, or put shots on net, or generate chances. They are 29th in goals, 24th in shots and 29th in 5-on-5 scoring.

The team aren't in a too bad of a position for a rebuild since they'll see a lot of expiring contracts over the next couple of years and aren't going to be signing any big names for a while (if they do it right).

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Jays trade Vernon Wells

There was a time when Vernon Wells was a fan favourite in Toronto Blue Jay colours, and he managed to parlay that reputation into one of the most bloated, unforgivable contracts in Major League Baseball history, a back-loaded 7-year, $126 million deal.

Baseball is a funny thing, and, particularly in the AL East, when so much time is spent competing against the payrolls of the Red Sox and Yankees and not necessarily the teams themselves. Former Blue Jay General Manager JP Ricciardi knew this and handicapped the team by playing with his cheque book rather than his mathematic smarts. If we learned anything from Moneyball, wherein Ricciardi plays a prominent role, it's that All-Star production is more easily replaceable than All-Star talent. By signing Wells, and by extension, Alex Rios, to large deals, Ricciardi ignored all that had a chance to make him successful.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Damien Cox to join... Sportsnet

Earlier this week there were Internet reports that surfaced that suggested that Toronto-area sportswriter, the renowned steroid sports media expert and totally impartial observer Damien Cox was going to join TSN full-time.

But now that doesn't look like it's going to happen. Instead, Sportsnet "wrestled" Cox away from TSN meaning that Cox will join the lineup and become the lone voice of reason in the chaotic, chaotic mess that is Sportsnet.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Jacques Martin should be banned from hockey

The Montreal Canadiens saw another lead get erased Tuesday night, and it's become a recurrent theme in Montreal these past few weeks.

Tuesday vs. Buffalo - Up 1-0 in 1st period. Lose 2-1 in Overtime.
Monday vs. Calgary - Up 4-0 in 2nd period. Win 5-4 in Overtime.
Saturday vs. NY Rangers - Up 3-1 in 1st period. Hang on for 3-2 win.
January 12th vs. Pittsburgh - Up 2-1 in 2nd period. Lose 5-2.

The three games before that were comeback wins for the Canadiens, who may be, under Jacques Martin's system, a team that plays better in desperation when they're allowed to skate. Their goal differential by period throughout each of their games has been +8, +3 and -7, which means that something is happening throughout the game that causes this breakdown. Unfortunately, no website splits goaltending statistics by period, but with an overall .921 save percentage, I neglect to think that the problem for the breakdowns has been Carey Price.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Rangers and Capitals fans chant 'U-S-A! U-S-A!' at NHL game

Many American hockey fans recognize the developing hockey rivalry between Canada and the United States. What American hockey fans in Manhattan and the District of Columbia may not realize, however, is where the Vancouver Canucks' best player this season comes from.

On two consecutive nights on a five-game road trip, the Canucks were serenaded with the obnoxious "U-S-A! U-S-A!" chant that was popularized during the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid, for reasons that are probably completely clear to the bozos in the stands and nobody else.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Arena review series: The Bell Centre, Montreal

I once saw the Yankees play at the old Cathedral in the Bronx, but I haven't been able to see any of the old hockey buildings yet. The Bell Centre, a flashy, spacious and amenity-filled rink right around old downtown Montreal, would no way compare to the rink where Rocket Richard and Guy Lafleur once wowed audiences. This was rather the house of Joe Juneau, Andreas Dackell, Jose Theodore and Jan Bulis. Hockey grows, and with it, Montreal fans lost the right to cheer exclusively for future legendary french players who defined the culture of an entire province and a nation* of Canadians only to have their heroes replaced by sterile foreigners, some of whom get pronounced over the public address system as if they grew up in Rosemaire. This is, I assume, the appeal of Andrei Kostitsyn.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Heartbreak at HSBC

Well this is a combination kick in the shins and a punch to the teeth. Taking a 3-0 lead into the third period of the gold medal game, writers in the press box at HSBC Arena were already typing up their ledes for the next day's papers about how Canada found success as a lunchbucket team, a gritty group of 22 individuals who put the crest on the front of the jersey ahead of the nameplate on the back.

But they will all have been incredibly, absolutely wrong. Five Russian goals came against Mark Visentin, the weakest of the two goalies the Canadians employed, and his status as a cult hero on the level of Justin Pogge vanished in less than a 20-minute span.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Some updates from the sports media landscape

First, James Mirtle picks apart Ron Wilson after the Maple Leafs coach puts on his tinfoil hat. Let's hope he doesn't get the junior hockey treatment...

...after the Kamloops Blazers ban The Kamloops Daily News sports editor from their building after the team asked him to write "more favourably" about the team.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Matt Carkner's bar fight, and musings of a former journalism hopeful on sports blogs

Over at Pension Plan Puppets Saturday night, Julian [Redacted] promoted a FanPost, which is user comment in Sports Blog Nation speak, that told the funny story of Ottawa defenseman Matt Carkner. The story goes that part-time goon and part-time competent defenseman Carkner went to Moxie's after his Senators lost to the Leafs 5-1 and got in a bar fight.

There are no pictures of the incident, no video, no statement from the owner of the bar confirming that a fight broke out that involved a local celebrity, so the story is, in all possibility, total bullshit. That doesn't make it a bad thing. This is the epitome of the Internet and its possibilities. Friend of the Factor Ryan Classic pointed out with the first comment on the PPP story that the user tweeted "Matt Carkner likes to look at boys dicks..." just prior to announcing to the world that Carkner also picks petty battles with petty fans in bars.