Wednesday, January 31, 2007

If I were a real hockey player with actual mad skills

Me with a fresh Dick Van Patten comb over along with pal Andre Dawson at "No, We Really Do Love Our Americans Night" in the Bell Centre

Jes started this new chain letter wave. Looks like a fun one. Here's my take:

If I Were a Hockey Player...

Team: Montreal Canadians (history, heritage and my all-time favorite sweater).

Uniform Number: 8 (Cam Neely, Claude Larose and Robbie Ftorek of my beloved WHA Cincinnati Stingers, and of course that basic male need for symmetry).

Position: #2 Center

Nickname: Bunty (my Navy call sign) or some dopey variation on my last name ending in the eee sound like Casey...or maybe Moesha.

Linemates: Ryan Smyth and Brian Gionta - Guys with soft hands who will park it in front of the net and pay any price so goalies get screened from my weak wristers.

Rounding out the PP: The Danny Boys- Markov and Boyle.

Job: Going to the net with or without the puck on every rush.

Signature Move: A knuckleballing wrister that just finds a way to get deflected.

Strengths: Target fixation, the melon of a Rockem Sockem Robot and boyish good looks.

Weaknesses: Acid reflux disease and high cholesterol.

Equipment: That old Butch Goring Jofa helmet and my trusty Montreal composite stick.

Nemeses: Brendan Witt, Jarkko Ruutu, and Stinger that green bug mascot from Columbus. I hate bugs. Bugs out here have nasty poison barbs and bad attitudes. I'd go over the glass to squish that bug.

Scandal Involvement: Had to work for six months as a ho to the stars in Canada after going undrafted. Got caught by paparazzi late one night in a compromising situation with John Candy and Shania Twain.

Who I'd face in the Stanley Cup Finals: Detroit. They'd have a bunch of heartless floating Euros and melt away at the sight of our mighty North American onslaught.

What I'd do with the Stanley Cup after our victory: Use it to open doors at Hollywood parties, to get me a run on the talk show circuit, and to suck up every possible freebee and boondoggle.

Would the media love me or hate me? I would be invisible to most major sports media because I would be a hockey player. I'd also be invisible cause I'd be an American in Paris, errrr Quebec. But with close personal friends like Robert Goulet, Celine Dion, and those Barenaked Ladies guys, I'd get enough glow in Francophonia.

I tag Japers' Rink, SISU, End of the Bench and One Fan's Perspective

There's a Donnybrook Raging Over at the AJC Online

Damn, How'd Rosie Get in There Again?

Fellow SeSo blogger, Jen, posted an intro to this discussion about hockey blogging, access and the definition of legitimacy on the Atlanta Journal Constitution's Thrashers Blog. Kudos to AJC blogger, Craig Custance, for dumping napalm on this grease fire.

It's one of the best hockey blogging discussion strands I've ever read. If you really want to get inside hockey blogging, check out the virtual steel cage match between Eklund, his Uruk-Hai and just about everybody else. If you prefer to just focus on actual hockey commentary, I don't blame you.

Oooh, That was nice

Trying to maintain an even strain today. Just saying no to rampant negativism. Sticking with the vows and accentuating the positive. Here we go.

Welcome to today's Oooh, That Was Nice List.
1. Dennis Seidenberg to a breaking Ray Whitney for the Canes only goal.
2. David Tanabe standing up for the Warchief after the knee-to-knee shot from Alexei Ponikarovsky. Yeah, he pretty much got pummeled by a Euro, but at least he tried real hard.
3. The Hurricanes still hold a two point margin in the race for eighth.
4. Doesn't the area in front of Cam Ward look all light blue and pretty when there are no garish red sweaters clogging it up? The views of juicy rebounds are also much better without all those Hurricanes in the way.
5. The Caps and Panthers were losers last night. Ha, ha you suck too.

Monday, January 29, 2007

My Vows

Mayday, Mayday,
Going...
Down...
Again

The same old song and dance continues for your Carolina Hurricanes. Smash the Craps on Friday - get smashed on Saturday. I therefore vow to try an keep it real from this point on. No more bipolar swings. I'll leave that to the boys in the sightless eye. From this point on hereby vow to...

...continue to believe that the look Cam Ward gets in his eye after a goal allowed is one of composure, not one of a deer caught in the headlights.

...leave the room on every powerplay and channel my frustration into situps or pushups. Right now I have the physique of Norm from Cheers. By April, I should look like Dolph Lundgren...sans the bleached flat-top.

...fast-forward the DVR thru all shifts of the Hurricanes 3rd and 4th lines. What's to miss? Craig Adams taking a bad penalty? Eric Belanger getting leveled? Chad LaRose misfires from the slot?

...look at the overall playoff standings and not the division standings. I will ignore the continuing excellence of the Thrash and the resurgence of the Lightning and focus totally on that glittering #8 spot. This means not getting too high when the Canes look like the Stanley Cup Champs of old, or too low when they look like the '02-'03 loveable losers. It's not about how the Canes are playing. It's about how the Leafs, Caps, Rangers and Islanders are playing.

...not pay nearly as much attention to the trade rumors. The Canes problems this year aren't because they don't have enough talent. There is no Sean Avery in this clubhouse. It's that lack of fraternal mental toughness night in-night out that plagues this club. No February infusion of Keith Tkachuk or Jassen Cullimore is going to fix what ails the Canes.

In Other News
I'll break rule #5 right out of the gate. The trade winds are whirling right now and David Tanabe and Andrew Hutchinson are probably jumping out of their skins every time the cell phone rings. Got to hand it to both. They've seized their opportunities. That's why I've got to question why JR would want to move them with Frankie Kaberle and Bret Hedican still seemingly a long way from returning. According to Luke DeCock, big-wigs from the Blackhawks were in town scouting the Canes. They may be looking to deal, but I can't see any forward on that roster I'd want other than Martin Havlat, and I even wouldn't want him for $6 mil per year.

I think if the Canes make a move, it won't be blockbuster. My gut says the Canes cut a deal for Jason Blake or swoop in to get Geoff Sanderson on the cheap. Blake because he's a Lavvy guy and Sanderson because he's got wheels, hands and he might fit in nicely for a cup run as a bookend with Ray Whitney.

Just saw Craig Conroy to Calgary. Ooooh. That's one that got away from the Thrash.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

This Desert Life

Just a sidebar as we await the re-start of the NHL season. This is a shot taken Sunday from the back 40 (feet) here at Chateau CasonBlog. I hear the term "global warming" is being replaced by "global climate change." That term seems to work better here in the Sonoran Desert.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

That Missing "it" Rant

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The last repeat champs in the NHL were the '97 and '98 Detroit Red Wings. That team came back in defense of their '97 Cup loaded with talent and united in the desire to win the next championship for Vladimir Konstantinov. That team had Steve Yzerman, Brendan Shanahan, a motivated Sergei Federov and Igor Larionov - all in their prime.

The season after the Carolina Hurricanes '02 Cup finals appearance was an absolute disaster. Dead last in the East - worst record in the NHL. Good news is that the Canes remain on track to a playoff birth this season. The bad news is that they don't look much like the team that won the whole thing last season. This team is routinely comes out flat or deflates at some point in the contest. This team shows little of the fire and supreme confidence that made last year's club dangerous even when seemingly well behind in third period.

Some"it" is missing right now. Confusion seems to reign as to just what it is. It might be the personalities missing from last year's club. Aaron Ward, Matt Cullen and Marty Gerber are hardly tearing up the league right now and in the case of Ward and Cullen, their team is also missing even more it. In the case of Gerber, he's a virtual non entity on the resurgent Sens. Or it might be the seasoned professionalism of Doug Weight and Mark Recchi. But these guys were late-adds to a team already leading the chase without them, and in the case of Weight, he spent a good portion of his spring with the Hurricanes on the shelf with a lower body injury.

For weeks I've been harping on the need for personnel changes. I've railed on David Tanabe, Eric Staal, and the most recent targets of my ire have been Trevor Hollowman Letowski and newbie Dennis Seidenberg. In retrospect, I've been way too snarky about individuals and their performances. This is a pervasive group dynamic issue. I now believe that recapturing that it won't involve shuffling warm bodies in and out of Raleigh.

Who out there has the gravitas to come into the Hurricanes clubhouse and change the attitude and re-instill the swagger? Who out there is Cup-hungry with the physical tools and interpersonal skills to change the dynamic without stepping on toes? The answer is nobody. If King Theoden 'Amour is gonna wake up from his slumber and inspire his boys to that last great charge, he's gonna do it on his time and in his way.

The road to the Stanley Cup is by far the most gruelling in sports. The season extends from September into June for the most victorious. Repeating as champs in a salary cap world is gonna be way harder than repeating used to be when you were the Wings and you could just throw cash at mercenaries like Brett Hull and Dominic Hasek.

Maybe I/we should be cool with the Canes just making the playoffs this year. It has already been a fine run. As I switched off the Canes/Lightning game the other night, I found myself kind of resigned to such an ending being part of the Hurricanes M.O. this season. I also found a bit of serenity creeping into my fiercely loyalist psyche.

Why? Because I believe that from Lavvy to Ladd, the Carolina Hurricanes are mentally fragged. The skill-guys are there everywhere but on the blueline, and I think as a unit they are doing the best they can. Thus, I don't expect any move JR might make in the coming month to profoundly effect the nightly performance of this club. I think the Canes will battle malaise for the remainder of this season because they have lost the mental edge of a champion. Everybody is beat-down at this point in the season, but I think the Canes are more mentally elsewhere than those who missed their own big June party.

I think mental edge is the it that is missing from these Carolina Hurricanes. You can see more mental edge in the play of the Devils, Slugs and Canadians this season - all teams that thought they should have beaten the Canes in the playoffs. You can add the Thrash to this list of bitter teams with something to prove this season as well.

In the coming weeks, I hope JR brings in a players who will become essential parts of the Carolina Hurricanes version-next. I hope that if he can't make such a deal, he moves defensive depth for upper-round draft picks. I don't think rent-a-mercenaries for a Cup run that may well flame out in the first round is the right approach. Mercenaries won't change the mental dynamic of this club or contribute to sustained excellence. Sustained excellence builds faith, the fan base and stifles the haters up north and east.

WED. UPDATE: According to Luke DeCock, JR might be looking at Keith Tkachuk or Bill Guerin. Let the hunt for the ideal mercenary begin.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Who Needs a Change of Scenery?

Add Trevor Letowski to the 6-Degrees of Kevin Bacon

Last night's loss at home to the Caps marks yet another in a string of nights when the Champs just didn't show up. Looks like Lavvy's head is now exploding on a nightly basis.

One look at the standings right now will tell you that the Flyers are about the only door mat in the Eastern Conference. The Canes lost 5-2 to that door mat on December 31st. The only other bad club in the east is the Florida Panthers, and it's only by the grace of God and some timely Kitty meltdowns that they too haven't embarrassed the Canes in recent weeks.

There are seven clubs within 8 pts or less of the Canes today. Nearly all believe they have as much chance to go deep as anybody else. Here a short list of Hurricanes who GM Cason would be ready to offer a change of scenery to right now:


  • Trevor Letowski - Hollowman has 5 friggin points and still one more year on his contract arrrgh!!!

  • Bret Hedican - Hip, hand, finger and getting too old and brittle issues. He's the team's #2 Hanger Queen after Frankie Kaberle, and Bret too is under contract thru next season. Maybe he can land a cushy front office job before then. How does senior associate director of player development sound Mr. Heddy?

  • Dennis Seidenberg - He's been nothing short of Bad Luck Schleprockberg since the deal. I'm having nightly Oleg Tverdovsky flashbacks. His butt sliding, puck deflecting off the armpit and into the goal while knocking the net off it's mooring trick was an instant classic.

  • Eric Belanger - The 80-something-ith ranked centerman behind such NHL luminaries as Glen Metropolit and Randy Robitaille. Funny thing is, Matt Cullen is right there with him.

  • John Grahame - I'd almost work a deal to bring back Marty Gerber to give Crackers a change of scenery...but not for $3.7 mil per.

Guys who are close to dead to me right now:

  • Andrew Ladd - How long till this former #4 overall pick starts doing something other than crashing into walls and going on the IR?

  • Tim Gleason - Hanger Queen #3. I'm withholding the last ounce of venom-rich final judgement only because he's young like Ladd.

I'll tell one guy who shouldn't be on any shit list - David Tanabe. I'm riding shotgun on the "Snuggles" bandwagon right about now.


Time for JR to work some pre-deadline, get out their first, deal magic. He probably can't get much for some guys stuck on knucklehead or underachieve, so I think it's gonna have to be a prospect/pick/cash deal like last season. Owen Nolan, Mike Knuble, Marco Sturm (maybe), Brad Stuart and our old pal, Aaron Ward, are guys I'd look at cutting a deal for. Ranger-Fan is way down on AWard. As an added bonus, I'd even stuff a free Trevor Letowski into the stick bag of any Hurricane involved in a deal.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Coyotes, Sharks and Phoeb's Sjostrom

Shark-Fan is in da house

Saturday was a bad night for hockey in Phoenix and Raleigh, but a good night spent with fellow blogger, PB and the gracious Mrs.PB. PB has a detailed summary of the game over at One Fan's Perspective. The Coyotes played a solid second period, but with Cujo in a giving mood, bad penalties (including two from Shane Doan) and poor overall defensive discipline, the dogs got behind and never recovered.

On the way home, I listened to the Coyotes Wrap-Up radio show, and the host talked about how the Coyotes have to "play their game" in order to win consistently. I'm so tired of that line. Who doesn't need to play their game to win? What does that mean? The glaring reality that struck me on Saturday night was that the Coyotes don't have answers for superstars like Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau.

I was most impressed with Marleau. While Thornton kind of glides around like a condor, Marleau can undress a defenseman or power right thru a stacked blueline with a blast of speed. He also pummelled my boy (and PB's boy), Keith Ballard during their brief first period bout.

Kevyn Adams played a pretty solid game, but Mike Zigomanis centered the line with Kevyn and Freddie Sjostrom and seemed to be the best two-way player on that line. The spent most of the night skating against Thornton's line.

I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge the upper deck presence of Shark-Fan. The silver and teal face paint didn't quite disguise the telltale jet-black died scraggly hair or spiky mohawk of the committed professional touring anarchist. Every last one of them, both the men and those that were kind of womanish, were Robert Smith clones. Needless to say they were elated and loud as they departed the arena for their refrigerator box, errrrr hostel.

Best line of the night came from Mrs. PB, who said that their nickname for Freddie Sjostrom was "Phoeb's." The name was assigned to recognize Freddie's rather unique skating style - one that involves widely bowed legs, knees that appear capable of helicopter-like rotation and flailing arms. I didn't get it until I saw this on YouTube:


Friday, January 12, 2007

Canes gear and a little eye of the tiger last night

Get Yer "Snuggles" Jersey While Supplies Last!
Got this in a Google Alert from the Triangle Business Journal. Here's a tease from the into:

The National Hockey League said Thursday that merchandise sales on NHL.com more than doubled during the 2006 holiday season for the Stanley Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes. Sales of Canes gear was up 117 percent in December
2006, compared to sales in the same month a year earlier.

Eye of the Tiger
Some excellent visuals from the third period of last night's magnificent comeback from 3-0 down in the third. One was a shot of Cam Ward on the bench. Dude looked absolutely stoic and unaffected after being bombarded and yanked after two periods in goal. The ability to compartmentalize is said to be a Wardo strength. He didn't even look like he needed a shower.

Another was Rod Brind 'Amour on the bench after Cole's breakaway and goal that narrowed the Kitties third period lead to one goal. Sargent Major Warchief had the glower and knitted brow ramped up as he hollered up and down the bench for the boys to keep up the pressure.

A third was the bench dialog captured on camera between Eric Staal and Erik Cole after the latter's goal. Looked like Staal asked him, "Where'd you go?" You could see Cole reply, "Five hole, Five hole."

Blueline Auditions Continue
Andrew Hutchinson and David Tanabe are playing some very strong hockey right now. With the number of clubs looking to land a puck carrying blueliner at the deadline, I think the stock for both these fellas is now on the rise. Tanabe got some glow the other day from Lorenzo Perez in the N&O, but I think Hutchinson's play has been more poised and heady. I also thought Dennis Seidenberg showed some physicality last night, but he also made some dopey soft passes that could have been disastrous. I wouldn't be surprised if it's Hutch who garners the most interest as the deadline approaches.

Am I the only one who'd love to see Scott Walker play a couple of shifts on the blueline?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Wings and Coyotes Tonight

Just one last Rosie re-set for the benefit of Ms. Mer


I'm torn tonight. Old allegiances draw me to the Canes/Kitties tonight, but I can't help feeling pulled in the direction of that Yotes game. A big test tonight for the suddenly resurgent Coyotes. The ice and the house should be full of Red Wings sweaters. Big, fat, sweaty ones throughout the 100 level.
If the Coyotes can body-slam the Schneiderless Wings, there may be hope for Phoenix's playoff prospects. This may well be the Coyotes first "statement game" opportunity of the season.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

This Year's JR at the Deadline Deal?

About Last Night
Glen Healy kicked of last night's Molson Leaf's Hockey pregame show by saying Dennis Seidenberg "...is soft and has no skills." He went on to say, "If he's (Seidenberg) the answer, then what is the question?"

Seidenberg went on to play a nice first game as a Cane, and the Leafs broadcast crew continued to mis-identify Hurricane players, lament the lack of penalties called on the Hurricanes and make excuses for the Leafs sorry performance after the first period. Same as it ever was.

Is that your final answer, JR?
This in yesterday's Luke DeCock article:

When the four injured defensemen do return, they will give the Canes 10. At that
point Rutherford said he expects to use that surplus to bolster Carolina's
offense before the Feb. 27 trading deadline.
"It puts us in a position to consider other options that we've talked about, possibly adding another forward," Rutherford said. "There's a lot of factors involved but certainly the injuries right now are a big factor."

So who might the Hurricanes add and what might it cost the club? Should be fun in the coming weeks.

Let's say at around the Feb 15 mark, the Hurricanes have 10 relatively healthy defensemen and are indeed looking to add a scoring punch. If you think they don't want to move an existing forward (to me that means they'd stick with Andrew Ladd), that leaves prospects and defenseman in the trade bait pool.

First the prospects. Carolina has solid goalie prospects in Kevin Nastiuk and Justin Peters. Howevuh, neither are tearing up the minors right now. A quick look at the stats shows Craig Kowalski having the best season with the Everblades. Beyond these goalie prospects, the Canes seem strongest in the area of defensemen with Casey Borer and Brett Carson ranked near the top on the Hockey's Future site. Hurricanes collegiate defensive prospects, Kyle Lawson and Jamie McBain were also part of a Team USA squad that brought home bronze medals from the WJC in Sweden.

Now if you take a look at current corps of Canes blueliners, you have to think Frankie Kaberle won't be moved after JR made him a cornerstone of the post-Cup resigning effort. You also have to think Dennis Seidenberg and Tim Gleason will be given a chance after the effort put forth to acquire them. I also think the team feels they have a real gem in the making in Anton Babchuk, so don't look for him to be moved.

Blueliners who seem fairly unattractive as trade bait might include Glen Wesley and Bret Hedican, both of whom's age, contract status and dedication to the franchise will most likely be rewarded by JR during one last Cup run. Next I would think Nic Wallin (on a four-year deal) and both David Tanabe and Andrew Hutchinson would be fairly unattractive to other teams. The latter two might on their way to changing their fortunes after some solid recent play - especially "Snuggles." That being said, they aren't enough of a draw to attract the kind of forward the Canes would target (remembering Weight and Recchi).

That leaves Mike Commodore. He's got one more year left on his two-year deal. He's affordable at $1.3 mil next year, and he has been one of the Canes best blueliners since the start of last season's Cup run.

The Canes and Flyers have a long history of working deals. Commodore and a goalie prospect for Mike Knuble and a conditional pick. Rumors are rampant that the Flyers are looking to deal Joni Pitkanen. If so, Commodore might make sense as a replacement. Plus, the Flyers have a history of planting trees on the blueline, and Commodore is a Larch. The Flyers also have one of the worst system talent pools in the league - all their top prospects are basically with the club now. Their rebuilding process can begin in goal.

Monday, January 08, 2007

The "Tag" Game is Back

Join the Navy and Meet Nurses Who Look Like Hot Celebs!
We did this a few months ago and it was fun. It's the old "Five Things" game of tag. You list five things folks don't know about you, or that you vow to neither confirm nor deny if pressed. The Chief has tagged me and I tag my SESO pards, Jen and TLW to be next in the chain. Chief says he likes my saltier side, so here are my best five deniable sea stories from 9 1/2 years of naval service in a previous life:

1. I may have buzzed and terrorized innocent Filipino citizens late at night in their grass fishing shacks during my brief stay at the Cubi Point Naval Air Station. I may also have dive bombed their cattle and had the aircrewman toss "D" batteries out the cargo door at the unfortunate beasts.

2. Me and the boys in my helicopter detachment may have crashed a University of Washington fraternity party in the late 80's and used the ruse that we were Blue Angels to secure the affections of select sorority girls in attendance.

3. I may have provided cover for my squadron mate, the legendary "Uncle Hootie," while he took a dump in the cockpit of an F-14 fighter on the USS Enterprise. Hootie always hated fighter pukes.

4. I may hovered close alongside a Soviet destroyer in the Persian Gulf while my aircrewman (aircrewman would do anything on a dare) mooned the ship's captain and the political commissar as they stood on the bridge wing.

5. I may have met my wife on a night when a group of squadron mates and I crashed a birthday party for the wife of my buddy's old commanding officer. We may have only been at the party because our original plan to meet up with some Navy nurses in a bar went bad after they turned out to be Rosie O'Donnell fat.

God's Waiting Room-West Welcomes Kevyn Adams

Dear Coyotes Fans,
I think this picture says it all about Kevyn Adams. Stanley Cup Championship, manly playoff beard, game seven busted up hand and cute kid in tow.

For some reason, I expected a nicer send-off from Jim Rutherford than this:

"We thank Kevyn for his good service during his years in Carolina.”
This deal has been coming for awhile. I like the move for both guys and both clubs. In Dennis Seidenberg, the Hurricanes get a youngish (25) puck carrying defenseman who tsn probably rates a little stronger than his play thus far would warrant. Seidenberg has been the odd-man this season, and Gretzky Co. did a nice job of dumping Seidenberg's two-year, $750K salary for a guy they only have to pay thru the end of this season. The Yotes are fat on the blueline, so the bottom line is more prime time for the youngsters and Nick Boynton when the latter returns.

In Kevyn Adams, the Coyotes rent a character-guy for the remainder of this season on the cheap who knows how to leverage the power of over-achievement. KAds with a new lease on life and something to prove will help the Coyotes at a critical point in what looks like their return to respectability.

Losers?
So are there potential losers in this deal? I say yes for a number of players on both squads. Current Coyotes who probably dig this deal least would include ex-Hurricane Mike Zigomanis, who might see his PK time diminished, and Dave Scatchard and his $2.1 mil per for three and one half more seasons. Scatchard's name is one frequently mentioned in trade rumors, and now that the Yotes have a guy who can play the grinder role for much less $$$$, you can look for the Yotes to try and move Scatchard near the deadline.

A bunch of Hurricanes would probably tell you on the waterboard that they don't dig this deal. I would include David Tanabe, Andrew Hutchinson, Nic Wallin and Anton Babchuk who will all now have to wonder who gets the hook (via trade, waiver or demotion) when Frankie Kaberle, Bret Hedican, Glen Wesley and Tim Gleason return. The only way JR moves Hedican or Wesley is if the Canes are totally in the tank by the deadline and he finds a way to give these two old warriors one more shot at a Stanley Cup run.

Dear Kevyn,
Welcome to the Valley of the Sun! I hope you bring the family and treat the next few months like an extended vacation. Have Coach Gretz call in a marker so you can put the crew up in one of Scottsdale's Five Star resorts. Make the whole thing a grand adventure. See you this weekend. PB and I are gonna be at the Yotes/Sharks game on Saturday night.
Warmest Regards,
Scott

Friday, January 05, 2007

Desert dogs to rule them all

A Future So Bright, You Gotta Wear Shades
You have to hit rock bottom before you can fully recover from things like addiction or stupid. As the Carolina Hurricanes continue their descent to what's looking like a transition year, they can look longingly at the Phoenix Coyotes for inspiration.

Clearly there is a renaissance afoot in Glendale, Arizona. It's getting hard to remember when Petr Nedved, Jeremy Roenick, Mike Ricci and Mike Comrie were hailed as the elite players who were destined to push the dogs to the next strata. It's getting hard to remember the Rick Tocchet/Janet Gretzky gambling dirt. That all seems so long ago. Hope has returned at the close of the Coyotes "Decade in the Desert."

Things started to turn in late October when GM Barnett and Gretzky-Co snagged free agent centerman Yanic Perreault from a host of suitors. Suddenly, the Yotes had the league's dominant face off specialist and a selfless playmaker. In late November, the Coyotes brain trust made a second smart, but under the radar move. Tyson Nash, a grinder with vastly diminished skills was plucked from the obscurity of playing in San Antonio and traded to the God of Hockey's waiting room in Toronto for the Leafs #3 system goalie, Mikkel Tellqvist. Tellqvist has gone on to become the yang to #1 goalie Curtis Joseph's ying. In the past few games both have posted shutouts over the league's best...Cujo with the latest over the dyspeptic Stanley Cup Champion Carolina Hurricanes (tears now dripping into beer).

The most exciting thing about being a Phoenix Coyotes fan is what's happening with the younger guys. Former first rounder, Freddie Sjostrom, is turning into a fantastic two-way player. The best thing for his development is to chance to play every night with Shane Doan.

The Coyotes are also blessed with a wealth of young blueline talent. Led by 24 year-olds, Zybnek Michalek and Keith Ballard, Coach Gretzky can also look forward to the pleasant dilemma of finding ice time for 23 year-old Matt Jones and 20 year-old Keith Yandle.

But that's the nearly here and now. The slightly more distant future bodes even better for the Dogs. Led by prospects Peter Mueller (USA) and Martin Hanzal (Cze), future Yotes are tearing up the IIHF World Junior championships and minor league hockey in Canada right now.

Yes, this is a transition year for our Phoenix Coyotes, but it's a good kind of transition. They should be in the driver's seat as we approach the trade deadline. Nick Boynton, Ladislav Nagy and possibly Shane Doan should attract a lot of interest and offers including solid prospects. And next year, a Coyotes roster without dinosaurs and under-achievers like JR, Mike Ricci, and Dave Scatchard will be more moldable into the kind of team Coach Gretzky wants, and much quicker and more deadly.

All hail the Phoenix Coyotes - the team nobody wants to play right now, and the team to fear in the fall of 2007.

Dear PB,
Wager part one complete. How about inner ring, upper bowl? I know we need three seats.
Regards,
Scott

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Canes Unsuccessfully Implementing Pond Hockey Game Plan

Good news was Center Ice carried tonight's Hurricanes/Coyotes game. Bad news is Center Ice carried tonight's Hurricanes/Coyotes game.

True to my word. A glittering post will follow tomorrow extolling the virtues of this rising leviathan in the Western Conference, my Phoenix Coyotes. Won't be hard, they are starting to earn respect around the league, and I'm feeling kinda bandwagon-fan right about now. Was I spot-on about Perreault, Nolan and my boy Ballard, or what?

What a horrible game for the champs tonight. No flow, no sense of organization, no killer instinct. Just a bunch of headless chickens spitting up pucks and running into each other. Nic Wallin got undressesed...repeatedly. What the bleep was he doing on the Yanic Perreault goal? He also coughed up the puck leading to the Jovocop goal. And what the bleep good was Erik Cole? All he did was fumble the puck into the feet of the nearest Coyote every time he touched it. Crikey, I'd have to make David Tanabe a star of tonight's game. Yeah, he fell down just like the rest of the lot, but he at least showed some speed and daring. Scott Walker and Glen Wesley were the only other Canes who looked like they were there to earn a paycheck.

Should have been around 4-0, had it not been for Cam Ward. That's one good thing about tonight. The boys hung him out to dry and you can't blame him for either goal.

The most telling play tonight was during the brief 4-4 at 5 minutes in the first when Eric Staal carried the puck over the blueline and instead of taking it strong to the net and possibly drawing a penalty, he does a dopey pirouette and looses the puck. Eric is over-thinking himself out of every game right about now. Dude, pick a fight with Brendan Witt on Saturday night. Get all that crap outta yer mellon while you go upside his mellon and get back to playing like you still love the game.

I think a shakeup is a comin'. Anton Babchuk suddenly looks lost out there and I think I saw the faces of Trevor Letowski and Eric Belanger on milk cartons today at the quickie mart.

Coyotes Primer for Canes Fans

For one night only...
Zig and Gorgeous Georges to play the RBC
I'm in the process of adopting the Phoenix Coyotes in a process that kind of parallels that of adopting orphan kids from Russia. Some days, I'm really feeling it some days, and on other days it looks like it's not going to happen.

Today, I'm bullish on the Yotes. The are relatively En Fuego as they come to Raleigh. If that lousy team of bipolar robots in the sightless eye shows up again tonight, the Yotes will bitch slap our beloved homeys. The Coyotes made a strong move yesterday to free up cap space and dump a guy with a history of wrecking clubhouse karma when they sent Mike Comrie to the Sens. Another sign that things finally seem to be pointing in the right direction for the Phoenix Coyotes.

Looks like I won't be able to watch tonight's game on Center Ice. It will only be broadcast on something called AZTV. When I Googled that name, Azərbaycan Televiziyası and TV networks in Germany and Italy were the first things to come up. Upon further review, it looks like AZTV Phoenix's version of the public access channel that used to host Wayne and Garth. We in Tucson don't get AZTV. That's a shame. I want my Bewitched and Brady Bunch re-runs!!!

Here's a bit of a Coyotes breakdown
Yanic Perreualt - The best move GM Mike Barnett and Coach Gretz have made over the last two seasons. The face off ace led the Coyotes in scoring for much of the season. He'll steal Staal's lunch money tonight in the circle...and maybe Roddy's too.

Owen Nolan - Returning to the highest playing form possible given his age and injury history. He's showing great creativity with the puck and keeping up nicely with the speed of the game.

Ladislav Nagy - Mr. Streaky is on a bit of a streak. All that trade talk and early season demotion to the 4th line is starting to work on his fragile Euro-psyche.

Mike Zigomanis - The former Cane has established a nice niche with the Coyotes. He's played on the grind line and on the top line. He's even made Georges Laraque look legit.

Zbynek Michalek/Keith Ballard - You won't find two finer rising stars playing on any team's blueline this season. The Yotes brought in Jovocop and Nick Boynton this season, but it's these two who have been there every night. Ballard is far and away my favorite Coyote. He hits, takes hits, and is not afraid to carry the puck. David Tanabe should have his notebook out tonight. Ballard plays the game the way Tanabe should be playing it.

Jeremy Roenick - Registered a hat trick December 30th vs. the Sharks. But then he was back to being Mr. Invisible the other night in Washington (less than 5 minutes TOI). Let's just say I hope they reserve a seat at the bar over at the Carolina Ale House for JR tonight should he be a healthy scratch.

Mikael Tellqvist - Probably the other good move Barnett/Gretz made this season moving disgruntled Tyson Nash to the Leafs where all over-the-hill underachievers eventually go to die. His stats are marginally better than Cujo's, but both pitched shutouts against the best in the west (Anaheim and San Jose) in the last couple of games.

The Counter-Wager
PB in his One Fan's Perspective Coyotes blog has responded to the wager challenge. I agree to PB's suggestion that the loser writes a Red and Black calibre puff piece extolling the virtues of the other club tomorrow. I also countered with the suggestion that loser buys tix to the Coyotes/Pens game later this month. Who doesn't want to see Crosby-Malkin-Staal, et al?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Hurricanes hockey-a commitment to being there


This old Web app was something I first saw on Mike's Confessions of a Hockey Fanatic blog last season. Thought I'd resurrect it as a vehicle to artistically express my frustration.

The bipolar and robotic play of this year's Hurricanes squad is getting old. Bubba has a good rant on the Pens game last night.

Coyotes in Town
The red hot Yotes (sounds wierd, eh?), are in town tomorrow to face the rumblin', bumblin', stumblin' Stanley Cup champs. Check out Keith Ballard. He is a joy to watch on the Coyotes blueline. He's fearless at both ends of the ice and a vicious but clean hitter.

Should be some serious potential pre-trade scouting going on in the RBC tomorrow night now that the Coyotes have started that youth movement.

Coyotes kick off their next decade in the desert with a youth movement

The Phoenix Coyotes kicked off their youth movement today by trading Mike Comrie to the Sens for prospect Alexei Kaigorodov. Kaigorodov ran afoul of Sens GM, John Muckler, when his bugged out and back to Roosha when assigned to the Binghampton Sens. When junior got home, he also made a point of badmouthing the Sens organization to a local reporter. USA Today has a nice track on Kaigorodov's travels this season.


Interesting move by GM Barnett and Coach Gretzky. Didn't they just lose mercurial Russky forward, Enver Lisin, who bailed after being assigned to AHL San Antonio? How bad did the Yotes want to dump Comrie and his salary? Pretty bad I'm thinking. After being burned once, they are apparently willing to take a flyer on another head case who has already run back to Mother Russia. With the pending return of centerman Steven Reinprecht, don't look for Alexi in a Coyotes sweater this season.
This from tsn via Spector:
The Coyotes will maintain Kaigorodov's suspended status, meaning they own
his rights but won't have to pay him until he returns to the NHL, perhaps, next
season. Kaigorodov is currently playing in Russia, as is Coyotes draft pick
Enver Lisin and its hoped both are focusing on the defensive aspects of their game, which could provide Phoenix with a decent 1-2 punch next year.
That leaves Ladislav Nagy, Nick Boynton, Dave Scatchard and possibly captain Shane Doan next in the queue.

What's your take PB? Care to set up a little point/counterpoint in our blogs about tomorrow's tilt in Raleigh? Care to make a wee wager? I'll be in Phoenix on Saturday to collect or pay off.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Trampoline netting rant and the Canes at the mid-point

What would a Christmas in the Cason household be if we didn't have at least one engineering nightmare? For years the missus has bugged me about getting a protective netting system to go around the family trampoline. I grew up in an era when you were lucky to have a pad around the outside of the trampoline. I grew up in an era when you played dodge ball and performed WWF-style flying suplexes on a trampoline. We didn't need no stinking safety netting system. You took yer broken collar bone and ruptured scrotum like a man.

So this Christmas Santa left the kids a slick new trampoline netting system with an add-on basketball hoop for this newly progressive 21st century father to assemble. Weee Haaawww, says I in my best deadpan. And I thought putting together bicycles was a pain.

No, they couldn't anticipate that progressive parents like me might get stuck rigging an after-market safety net. Those trampoline engineering geniuses didn't think that far ahead - couldn't design the beast so that this net abomination might integrate seamlessly into the trampoline architecture. Nope, why do that when you can make dad jerry rig countless bungee cords, clamps and nylon tapes. A bungee to go from top to bottom of each pole. A bungee to secure the other bungee, and bungees to attach the net in 16 places to the springs. Oh yeah, and dozens of nylon tapes to mummify everything.

Bungee cords, clamps and nylon tapes are an easy out for lazy engineers. Bungee cords, clamps and big hunks of soft plastic with nubbins that have to fit together. But that latter one is for a future rant. Yeah I'm talking to you AK Designs. I would have done a lot better on this little project had I been a boatswain's mate in one of my previous lives. And yes, this bungee thing is personal. 2006 Christmas tree number one was lost on an Interstate 10 overpass because of bungee cord failure. "Daddy, I didn't know a Christmas tree could fly..." I came this close to wandering out into three lanes of freeway traffic to retrieve that lousy tree.

Back to Hockey
Canes and Pens tonight. Luke has a piece about Eric Staal's struggles. Kid looks like he's at half-speed on most nights. Strides that used to be long and powerful are looking frighteningly Malik-like. His transitions are also real slow. Reminds me a bit of how Fred Flintstone used to run. Remember how his legs would spin in place for a few seconds before he got going? That's how Eric looks on many shifts.

I was thinking about a mid-point grade card on the Canes, but David and Bubba have some prose in the queue on this subject, so I'll just list my mid-point honor roll and detention lists (in no particular order).

The Honor Roll
1. Rod Brind 'Amour - Name the category and you'll find Roddy among the leaders
2. Justin Williams - Yeah I miss Danny Markov, but JR fleeced Bobby Clarke on this one as well
3. Anton Babchuk - Becoming my favorite Cane. Kid's game is maturing as we watch
4. Mike Commodore - Tons of minutes for the Canes best all-around blueliner right now
5. Scott Walker - Dude flies around the ice and will hit or brawl anybody, any size, any time.
6. Ray Whitney - Mr. Finisher

After-School Detention
1. Eric Staal - The future of the franchise looks flat worn out
2. Kevyn Adams - I hope it's all in the wrist...but I have my doubts
3. Tim Gleason - Some sound decision-making would be nice
4. Cam Ward - I expected more than this below .900 save percentage and bottom third GAA. Cam is letting in too many softies.