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.