Thursday, November 30, 2006

Calling out some underachievers

Read in the News & Observer this morning that Coach Lavvy had a series of one-on-ones with players after practice. Here are a few who may have had a rough time in the principal's office:

  • Kevyn Adams: -10, least amount of TOI/G among the regulars, 15 penalty minutes.
  • Eric Staal: -2, 28 penalty minutes, and still crappy in the faceoff circle (43%).
  • Tim Gleason: -7, 4th on the team in TOI/G, but only has 3 points. When paired with Eric Belanger's 9 points and -2, it looks like the Canes are still waiting to realize the upside of the Jack Johnson deal. Wouldn't it be a pisser if JJ were to leave Michigan after the Wolverine's season and out-stat these two combined by the end of the NHL season?
  • Cam Ward: Well below the .900 mark in save percentage- the lowest save percentage among goalies who have faced 500 or more shots, and the most goals allowed in the league. The only good news is that Kari Lehtonen is right down there with him.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Coyotes GM Barnett Makes Bold Sideways Move

After weeks of rumors about impending bold moves, even one involving Jovocop for Nabokov, Coyotes GM, Mike Barnett, took a step sideways in today's deal of Mikael Tellqvist for Tyson Nash and a fourth round pick in 2007.

The Coyotes shed a little used grinder with consistent injury issues and a draft pick for yet another mediocre goalie. The Maple Leafs lose a goaltender they have lost faith in and gain yet another aged player to fill the Tie Domi role - just sans any scoring touch.

Yes, the loss of a draft pick here and there can be recovered in subsequent dealing, but the loss of a pick to a team on the verge of blowing things up and going young might not be such a good decision. Here is a list of late draft picks-4th round and beyond, who have gone on to become superior NHLers:

  • Nic Wallin (90th pick)
  • Pavel Datsyuk (171st pick)
  • Danny Markov (223rd pick)
  • Pavol Demitra (227th pick)
  • Martin St. Louis (undrafted)

I know I'm probably missing others, but you get the point. Pissing away picks when you are a franchise on the verge of re-inventing yourself could imperil to your next "decade in the desert."

In Other News:

TSN is reporting that Marty Gerber will get the start tonight in Raleigh vs. the Canes. Should make for some drama. If that doesn't motivate the former Cane, nothing will.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Great Kevyn Adams Disappearo

Kevyn Adams was began Friday afternoon's game against the Bruins centering the third line with Andrew Ladd and Craig Adams. Early in the first period however, Adams took a bad hooking penalty, and then didn't see much ice time for the remainder of the game.

At one point, I recall seeing Kevyn at the beginning of a shift chase a puck into the corner and lose his stick. By the time the play flowed back into the Carolina defensive zone, Ladd and Craig Adams were backchecking without their center. Did Lavvy yank Kevyn after one rush and a lost stick?

For the game, Ladd registered over eight minutes of ice time, and CAdams logged over seven. Kevyn played just under four minutes.

Over the last three games, Kevyn's ice time has dropped from thirteen minutes to eight minutes to less than four. For the season, he's only averaging more TOI per game than Ryan Bayda (5 games), Keith Aucoin (1 game) and David Gove (1 game).

Folks who read this blog know I'm a huge Kevyn Adams fan. He's a character guy, a guy who plays with broken limbs, and he's a fellow Miami Redskin errrrr Redhawk. For those who are blessed with the opportunity to be closer to the team, please tell me what's going on here? We've all heard the rumor about Kevyn being in Lavvy's doghouse, but is that going to be a season-long sentence to hockey purgatory?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

...I thought turkeys could fly

Happy Thanksgiving all. For those of you too young to remember, WKRP in Cincinnati is a cult TV classic of the late '70's early 80's. Here's a YouTube cut of the turkey bombing episode for your holiday enjoyment.



The classic line is at the very end: "As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly."

Answers to the Dad Weekend photo album pre-test from yesterday:
1. Bret Hedican
2. Papa Brind 'Amour
3. Papa Commodore
4. Papa Walker
5. Papa Lavvy

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Mike Sundheim's Dad Weekend Photo Album

This is great stuff, especially for all us fathers of sons out there. Mike Sundheim has posted pictures of the Hurricanes' dad weekend on his "The Guy Behind the Guy" site.

Here's your 10 second photo album pre-test:
1. Which son has a Richard Nixon widow's peak that matches his dad's? (remember, Recchi now is back with the Pens)
2. Which dad looks like he just spilled that 9th vodka tonic down the front of his shirt?
3. Which dad looks like the guy on the TV commercial who wants you to learn how to use your computer by using his free CD?
4. Which dad looks like that older Borat-like Russianish guy on those discount travel TV commercials they play during every Center Ice TV timeout?
5. Which dad has a Donald Trump comb-over working real nice?

Answers tomorrow

The Chuck Kaiton Euro Pronunciation Guide

Yesterday's trade between the Canes and Rangers involved young Czech, Jakub Petruzalek. It got me thinking about the strange way Chuck Kaiton pronounces the names of many Eastern Euros. Radim Vrbata is Zad-im Vuh-bata, Marek Malik is Mal-ek Mal-eek, Alexi Kovalev is Alexi Kov-all-yev. Maybe Kaiton is sticking to the slavo-euro-phonetically correct method of pronunciation, but his way is definitely not standard across hockey media.

Now I didn't catch Chuck's radio call of the game last night, and if he mentioned the trade, I don't know how he presented the name, but I'll hazard a few guesses in this forum. Readers are encouraged to either let me know how he did it or offer their own takes. Here are mine:

  • Yey-koob Pah-true-za-leck
  • Jay-cub Pet-ro-zahlek
  • Nic-0h-lie Chow-shesh-que
  • Bore-at Sagg-die-yev

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Darryl Reaugh Uncut

Real Men Embrace their Feminine Side, Right Razor?

The best Center Ice experience has to be a Dallas Stars broadcast. Yeah, there are more high-profile hockey broadcasters out there, but nothing compares the night at the Improv that is Reaugh/Strangis. Maybe hockey broadcasting could be Kramer's next gig, he seems to handle unscripted moments pretty well, eh? Anyway, for some reason on Stars broadcasts, they rarely show actual commercials during the TV timeouts, chosing instead to leave the cameras running (including 2 minutes of Rod Brind 'Amour circling near the Canes bench like the Rainman), looping replays and hot mics. At one point during a penalty-rich first period of play, Ralph Strangis set up a TV timeout, and almost immediately after they were "out," you could hear Reaugh clearly say, "Man, the officials in this league are just awful." Throughout the night, it was fun to hear the off the air banter amongst the broadcast team and between the team and those in the truck.

During the second period intermission, Reaugh had John Forslund in the booth for a little ad lib session on the strangest event they ever called. Forslund described MC'ing Mike Commodore's haircut for charity, and Razor riffed about some event I can't describe or recall with any detail. That's probably because he made no sense at all. I think Forslund was equally confused, and the whole thing just fell apart at the end. After they went to break, you could hear the two busting out in laughter.

Look for yet another troubling reunion of the former Whale broadcast team tomorrow night when they pair for a Versus broadcast. Now those outtakes outta be YouTube worthy.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Three Minutes of Dominance

Through the miracle of teenage decision making, I only saw the last 3:21 of the Canes/Caps game last night. The good news is we have a nice high school romance movie starring Freddy Prinze Jr. saved for posterity in its place. Like we needed another one. For every hockey game there are 20 Pokemon and 20 teen angst movies on the hard drive.

JP nailed it in his game keys over on SESO when he said the Caps needed to contain Roddy's line.

Sick Stats

  • AO registered only 3 shots the whole game - all three in the third period.
  • Eric Staal logged only 1 minute more ice time than Andrew Ladd. Is somebody being sent a message?

The Stars are in Raleigh tonight after rubbing out the Thrash last night. See Kari Lehtonen get yanked last night? The wheels on the Thrash bus might be going wobbly. Don't look now, but the Canes are now only two points behind the Cinderellas of the season's first month.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Speaking of Anton Babchuk

At the risk of jinxing our budding star, I just wanted to post this follow up to my thoughts on Anton. He was traded last year for Danny Richmond and a swap of 4th round picks. Here's one look at who got the better of that deal (from tsn.com's player profile):

Danny Richmond
Transactions / Injuries / Suspensions
03-Nov-06: Assigned to Norfolk (AHL)
21-Oct-06: Recalled from Norfolk (AHL)
01-Oct-06: Assigned to Norfolk (AHL)
14-Apr-06: Recalled from Lowell (AHL)
13-Feb-06: Assigned to Norfolk (AHL)
26-Jan-06: Recalled from Norfolk (AHL)
20-Jan-06: Re-assigned to Norfolk (AHL)
20-Jan-06: Acquired from the Carolina Hurricanes

Anton Babchuk
Transactions / Injuries / Suspensions
12-Mar-06: Recalled from Lowell (AHL)
03-Mar-06: Assigned to Lowell (AHL)
20-Jan-06: Recalled from Norfolk (AHL)
20-Jan-06: Acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks

Danny's accumulated enough frequent flyer miles from a trip to Mars and back.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Irony, Clanging Pipes and Carolina Blueline

About Last Night
Irony was in the house last night. The Hurricanes clanged a slew of shots off the iron, and then scored the game winner off the crossbar. Ironic that the defensive stalwart we are all missing right now, Aaron Ward, Oleged the puck along the end boards to Justin Williams who then fed Roddy for the game winner - all while Matt Cullen stood like a matador and watched.

I also found it interesting that during Tripp's pre-game interview with AWard, who do we see stretching in the background? None other than Kevin Weekes. The 2002 run to the Cup finals might never have happened without Weekes 40 save game and point blank stop of John Madden in OT of game five. Weekes still can't get any love. Bubba says in his blog today that the crowd booed Weekes last night. That's too bad. Weekes is a class guy.

OBTW, could you just tell from his repeated Freudian slips that AWard kinda regrets leaving? Think he likes being in a clubhouse with Jagr and Shanny? No ongoing clash of egos there, I'm sure. Maybe Aaaron's confessed nervousness got the better of him and led to that sucker punch on Kevyn Adams in the first. Like Kevyn needed that after seeing his name in the trade rumors sections of nearly every news outlet and blog. However, he does get some props from nhl.com's Shawn P. Roarke.

Two guys on the rise and one stuck in neutral
We all heard what a scoring stud Chad LaRose was during his rise from obscurity. Well he's still a role player on the 4th line, but you've seen flashes of the scorer inside that is dying to get out over the last couple of games. His one-timer off the Trevor Letowski pass Saturday vs. the Pens was slick. I don't recall ever seeing Chad get a shot from such an open position. He's usually playing with his back to the opposition net.

Moving on to Anton Babchuk. Buy this stock now. His ice time is on the rise, he's killing penalties and logging PP time. And he's not just playing it safe. He's joining rushes, banging slappers, making crisp outlet passes and playing responsibly around the net. You can see the confidence welling in this kid, and it looks like he's earning the confidence of Lavvy. His flick over the glass in the second was called by Chuck Kaiton a panicky move, but when I watched it on the DVR, it looked more like a simple physical error.

David Tanabe reminds me more every day of Kenny from South Park. You just know he's gonna get killed every night. Glen Wesley and Bret Hedican have that instinctual sense of when to sidestep and avoid the full force of a blow. Tanabe just gets plowed every time. And I find myself waiting for the rats to run out and swarm his melon after each one.

In Other News
I'm adding Carolina Blueline to the Daily Reads. Can never have too many solid Cane blogs. Trying to figure out why he has a picture of a strangely still alive looking Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys on the site today...

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Old Homey's Week

Welcome Back AWard and Matt Cullen

The line at the top of his unofficial fanzine Website reads, "Whatever he hits, he destroys." Uhh, right. Come on, we all know yer a big softie there AWard. And I've got the picture to prove it.

I've had this pic since September of last year. At the time AWard was the Oleg Tverdovsky of that Carolina Hurricanes era. Not that he was soft, puck spitting and prone to un-diagnosable mellon ailments, it was just that he was the Hurricane most often mentioned in trade rumors.

Then Aaron showed up post lockout in Dolph Lundgren shape and proceeded to have an outstanding season in '05-'06. Aaron blocked shots, took the body and scored timely goals (see SCF, game 7). He had such a good season, JR couldn't afford him (Blogger's note: BS, yes he could have afforded to keep him).
Tomorrow night the Hurricanes welcome AWard and Matt Cullen back to the RBC. The Rangers have had an up-and-down season thus, but it ain't because of AWard and Cullen. Nope, much of that blame is going to Jaromir Jagr's shoulder, Marek Malik and an inconsistent Henny Lundqvist.
So who does AWard seek to destroy first? I say Justin Williams.

Rumor Milling

Say it ain't so JR!?!
There are some really sexy SE Division players out there being bandied about as trade bait. Marty St. Louis and Vinny Lecavalier are all pricy and potentially available. The Hurricanes up-and-down season to date seems to be feeding the trade rumor mill as well, but the names aren't nearly as sexy.

Paul Kukla links to a column by Bucky Gleason in the Buffalo News on the topic of Kevyn Adams future with the Hurricanes. Wasn't "Bucky Gleason" Captain America's sidekick? But I digress. Gleason points to Kevyn's lack of ice time, buzz about Adams being firmly ensconced in Lavvy's doghouse and that way overblown scrum Kevyn had with Bret Hedican at an early season practice.

After the Cup finale, we all expected old, battered and bruised Bret Hedican and Glen Wesley to retire. After all is said and done, maybe Kevyn Adams is the one who the game is leaving behind. Moving Kevyn would be a shame. He's a class act and a gutsy team-first guy.Another name out there as trade bait appears to be little used backup John Grahame. Spector discounts Grahame's value by pointing to his "craptacular stats." This one bothers me much less. With solid prospects Kevin Nastiuk, Justin Peters and Craig Kowolski in the system, letting Grahame go for prospects or picks would be just fine.

So where are the deals? Jim Rutherford can work in stealth mode with the best of them. Granted, the Jack Johnson fisaco would be a big exception. But one obvious trade partner might be the Phoenix Coyotes. The Yotes need goaltending help and can't seem to swing a deal with Buffalo or San Jose. So, is John Grahame an answer to Coach Gretzky's dilemma? Probably not, but he is a goalie with playoff and Stanley Cup experience. So what about tossing Kevyn Adams into the mix? Think the Coyotes would benefit from a solid clubhouse guy who lives, eats and breathes work ethic and team first?

So here's the deal from GM Me: John Grahame, Kevyn Adams and David Tanabe (I'm just tossing him in gratis -hoping they won't notice) for Matt Jones and Freddie Sjostrom. The Yotes get a NHL caliber backup for Cujo with experience, even if it is less than stellar. They would also get a character guy in their clubhouse who just happens to be a free agent at the end of the season. And if JR can get them to take Tanabe...well at least they already know what he's about. The Canes would get a defensive prospect/project from a team with three solid prosects already vying for ice time (Ballard, Michalek and Yandle), and a young and speedy grinder to join Craig Adams and Chad LaRose on the 4th line. This deal works for me, but I think Gretz and Barnett probably want to try and move big ticket guys like Morris, Doan, Boynton and/or Comrie once they commence operation let's blow the whole thing up and start over.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Veterans Day

Read about Medal of Honor Recipient, Cpl Jason Dunham

All the American fighting man/woman really want is a clear mission, a defined enemy and the backing of a national will to see things thru to victory. The World War II generation had it right. War is hell, so wage it violently with every weapon in the arsenal and get it done. Find 'em, fix 'em, finish 'em.

Veterans of Korea, Vietnam and now veterans of the War on Terror didn't/don't enjoy the support provided by the greatest generation. To me, this makes the service of these American veterans even more special. Thank you for your service and sacrifice. Thank you for enduring the second-guessing from armchair strategists, and thank you for enduring ineptitude from those on high.

New Orleans Trip and Canes Welcome Brooks Orpik

New Orleans still has a long way to go. When the Cafe du Monde is empty at 9 am, you know things aren't back to normal. There are still many broken windows throughout the French Quarter, and the gutter systems on most buildings are gone. It poured rain on Monday afternoon and water that normally would have drained off simply cascaded out of holes in the old gutters and into open windows. Many businesses are still boarded up. Mr. B's Bistro, the first restaurant I ate at in New Orleans 16 years ago, was still boarded up-but promising to return.


Many shops have gone without air conditioning since the storm because they need a crane to lift a new compressor to the third story roof. Cranes are still in very short supply.

Good news is the folks in the hotels and restaurants are more hospitable than I remember. The locals realize they need the tourists and conventioneers to return if they are gonna make a go of things. Driving in from the airport, a few billboards proclaimed the return of big conventions to the city. Next week, the realtors return. Many more billboards announced the reopening of the city's strip clubs. Nothing should stand in the way of bacchanalia's return to the Big Easy.

Pens at Canes
Orpik and Armstrong - Malkin and Crosby. Not sure which is the bigger story tonight. Expect a very physical game.Erik Cole will be in full Kamikaze mode tonight. Look for Mike Commodore to be in Sidney's grill all night. Letowski should also play with a bit more pop in his game. If Cam Ward ca keep it close, the Hurricanes depth and re-discovered full court press should mean a victory for the homies.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Big Easy and Canes Bounce Back

I'm off to New Orleans today for a conference. It should be interesting to see how Canal Street and the Vieux Carre' look. I haven't been there for two years. Any suggestions on where to dine? I've got Monday night to venture out...always liked Mr. B's.

I second JP's call on all to vote on Tuesday. Momentous times are upon us. Remember, all you Democrats, you are required to vote in this off-year election via butterfly ballot. That makes it easier for all those nice election day volunteers from Halliburton to identify and shred your ballots.

On to the Hurricanes
The box score won't show it, but Andrew Ladd was a force last night. He hit everything in black and his passing was artful and crisp. Ladd's ice time was up around four minutes and he even logged over 2 minutes on the PP. His breakout pass from the half-boards to a streaking Eric Staal was particularly sweet.

Erik Cole also had a break-out night with a goal and two assists. His goal from behind the net off Marty Gerber's rib cage was a thing of beauty. Wesley, Hedican, Wallin and Commodore - the core (sans Kaberle) of the Canes no-name Stanley Cup Champion blueline, are starting to gel. Still no Tim Gleason, but Anton Babchuk was solid. I just wish he'd plow somebody...just once. Is there even a place for David Tanabe on this squad? He played less than two minutes and coughed up a puck at the blueline. Looks like the young man might have some Rick Ankiel-ish issues.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Welcome Back Mr. Franchise

And welcome back Marty-Joe Gerber, the world's only Swiss redneck.

I'd rather start with the good news. Legend Ron Francis has re-joined the club as director of player development. This from carolinahurricanes.com:

“Ron’s knowledge of the game of hockey and his experience as a player go without
mention,” said Rutherford. “Having Ron in this role will be a true benefit to
the players and the Hurricanes organization.”

Last summer, the Bruins hired a old friend of Peter Chiarelli to be their director of player development. Here's a snip from his job description:

"...responsible for tracking the progress of all prospects in the
Bruins system at the AHL, junior hockey and college levels and scouting of
professional leagues."

To me that means long roadies and many nights in Motel 6's from Albany to Fort Myers. If the Hurricanes put Ronnie on the road to work hands-on with prospects and coaches and track the play of other team's prospects, it should be a nice boost for the Canes system. If "tracking the progress" means downloading spreadsheets from a desk in the RBC...we'll at least have our memories.


In Other News

Canes lose bad last night. Two shorthanded goals. Does Lavvy already have no faith in John Grahame? Is he holding him for the next game against the Chicago Blackhawks...sometime in 2010? I heard a discussion on NHL Live this am about concerns folks have in Narnia about the stamina of Ryan Miller over a full season. Is anybody thinking the same things about Cam Ward? And why is Erik Cole still not making a dent in the scoring column?

This kind of up and down play might only keep the Canes competitive this season with the Lightning... or maybe Saturday's opponent, the Ottawa Senators. Scout us some Ottawa blueliners there, Mr. Director of Player Development.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Habs try to end four game losing streak vs. Hurricanes

My little rant about last night is over on SeSo. See if you concur.

vs. Montreal
The Canenvy bitterness cup runeth over again tonight. First round opponents, the Montreal Canadians make the trek back to Raleigh with vengance on their minds. That crap works pretty good for Sabre-fan. Bitterness, the endless quest for retribution and down comforters keep Buffaslug fan alive.

Saku Koivu says he's not bitter about the Justin Williams high stick in game three. Let's see how the Habs man up vs. Justin tonight. I expect John Grahame to be in nets tonight. Cam Ward has earned a night off. Cristobal Huet is slated to play goal for the Habs tonight. Good...I need the fantasy points.

Note to Habs - The Thrash tried the physical intimidation thingy last night. It didn't work.

Final thought: How about Mike Commodore last night? That has to be the best near miss I've ever seen. He grazed "Kovvy" at the blueline and ended up vaulting into the bench. Like the way he stepped up for his pards last night. Ditto Scott Walker.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

NEW a Weekly Coyotes Rant/Rave

I'm going to start doing at least one weekly rant or rave on the Phoenix Coyotes. I'm living out here in AZ, the Yotes are the closest NHL club, and while they are hard to love, it's impossible to hate this group of Bad News Bears. For youse guys back in Raleigh, bear with me. I'm going through some post-Cup separation anxiety.

Today's Episode - Bad Poker

Hardly noticed the other day was the Coyotes loss of Joel Perrault to the St. Louis Blues. Coyotes GM, Mike Barnett, took gamble after he signed free agent centerman, Yanic Perreault, to fill in for the injured Steve Reinprecht. Barnett tried to slip young Perrault thru waivers and back to the San Antonio affiliate. Bad Poker Mr. Barnett . The St. Louis Blues, who scarfed up Vladimir Orszagh, from under the Coyotes noses last year, snapped up the former 5th rounder of the Anaheim Ducks. Is Perrault a game-breaker and star on the edge of greatness? Probably not. Is he a young guy with size, speed and a scoring touch? Yes.

In David Vest's piece today, Coach Gretz' plays down the loss:

"I thought Joel played really well at the beginning," Gretzky said, "but the
last couple games, he wasn't quite the same."
He also goes on to say that if the Blues try and send him back down, the Coyotes might just return the favor. Sounds like a loss they didn't really expect to take, eh?

So the Coyotes system takes yet another hit. In filling a short term need, Barnett may have sacrificed at least a piece of the club's player-movement flexibility this season. In the worst case, he just gave away a bit of the Coyotes post-old guys who we'll have trouble shedding so we can get younger and faster like the Ducks and Sharks, future.

Now for something completely different...
Coast to coast with Freddie Sjostrom

(note that Owen Nolan appears to keep up with the speedster. Must be a YouTube illusion.)