Archive for the ‘NHL’ Category

The 2011 NHL All-Star Weekend is upon us and it is and event that is very near and dear to my heart. Through my Uncle’s connection,s I attended many sporting events but my favorites were always the NHL All-Star Games. I went to four between 1998-2001 (during the peak of my hockey career) and I have to say that during their hay-day the NHL really knew how throw a party.

This year’s festivities kick off today at 5pm with the first ever All-Star Fantasy draft. I have alluded to different marketing strategies the NHL has undertaken in the past like the Winter Classic, different rules, and they have made their latest move with the selection of the All-Star Teams. Instead of leaving it up to the fans to select the teams and having the Yao Mings of the world start just because they are the fan favorite, when he has played 7 games in the last 4 years, the NHL has taken a completely new strategy.

With the growing popularity in fantasy sports, the NHL was smart enough to recognize an opporunity that is really exciting. They picked two Captains and are letting them pick their own teams “playground style,” much like a fantasy draft. This year’s captains are Nicklaus Lidstrom of the Detroit Red Wings and Eric Staal of the host, Carolina Hurricanes. Lidstrom is one of the best defenseman of all time and it was smart in choosing Staal for the hometown team bringing as many fans from Carolina as possible.

The NHL has dabbled with many broken strategies in the past varying from opposing conferences, World vs. North America, among others and I really am excited to see how this version of selection pans out. There is the possibility that teammates can actually play against each other, although they probably won’t, the fact that it could happen definitely adds some more tension to the fantasy draft. Not only that but they are given the free rein to trade players much like MTV Rock n’ Jock did back in the day with Las Vegas Local and Palms Hotel regular,  “The Big Hurt” Frank Thomas.

The actual All-Star Game isn’t until Sunday afternoon at 1pm but there are plenty of other exciting events throughout All-Star Weekend. The Superskills Challenge which, I feel is extremely underrated, is tomorrow at 4pm. This year’s events are Fastest Skater, Breakaway Challenge, Accuracy Shooting, Skills Challenge Relay, Hardest Shot, and Elimination Shoot Out.

I miss the days of Mark Messier when he’d nail ever corner of styrofoam in Accuracy Shooting, when Sergei Fedorov would break his own records at Fastest Skater year after year, and when Al MacInnis would shoot the puck 250 mph in Hardest shot but hopefully this year’s contestants can live up to their predecessors.

However, it may be hard for them to accomplish the tasks at hand with two of the league’s biggest names and linemates, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, not participating in All-Star Weekend festivities. Malkin is suffering from a sinus infection (which can be one of the most painful things in the world, if you’ve never had one) and Sid “The Kid” is still out of commission resting his domepiece from the concussion he incurred a few weeks ago.

With two of the league’s biggest stars not in attendance, the NHL had to find someone with some star power to make up for the deficiency, and who better than Clay Aiken? Yes, Raleigh native and American Idol runner-up will be honoring our country by singing the National Anthem on Sunday before they drop the puck. I understand he is from Raleigh, but I don’t think too many Carolina hockey fans are rushing to buy the their tickets because a broadway star will be singing the “Star Spangled Banner.”

I usually agree with a lot of the NHL’s decisions to spice up the game a little by adding new and exciting elements but Clay Aiken doesn’t exactly speak to me or the rest of the causal hockey fans in America. I would have preferred it if they would have brought in North Carolina superstar, Petey Pablo, to come in and perform during the 1st and 2nd intermissions. If a fight breaks out, it would only be fitting if they played this song, in hopes that one of the fighters can take the other dude’s shirt off while he upper cuts him.

Aside from Clay Aiken’s performance, I am genuinely excited for this weekend’s festivities for the first time in a few years. It is just sucks that they will be aired on”Versus.” It is sad that the one of NHL’s crown jewels has succumbed to being aired on a cable network that most people probably couldn’t tell you what channel number it was if they had to. Thanks God there is such thing as DVR though as I will busy during the game Sunday testing out our caterers food 🙂

*P.S. Thank you everyone for the feedback yesterday. Today’s blog is representative of all of your suggestions being: more pictures, less videos, length, and sports-related. If this type of blogagge peaks your interest, I always appreciate the feedback even if you are not crazy about hockey. Thanks!


First of all, I would like to apologize for my Top Tensday Wednesday last week. I knew trying to rate bands and music that I rarely listened to was a shot in the dark and would like to apologize to anyone who felt discouraged by my attempt to broaden my horizons of music culture and writing abilities. However, I did appreciate the criticism (both constructive and not) and have put together a more versed and accurate list for this week.

I miss hockey. I wish I liked it as much as I used to when I was a kid. I remember a time around 4th/5th grade where I liked hockey more than football, basketball, and baseball combined. And during this era soccer wasn’t even on my radar outside of my gifted 1994 World Cup t-shirt. As most American hockey fans have, we have become less interested in hockey and more interested in football, basketball, and soccer.

However, within the last year the “working man’s” league has started a slow yet steady resurgence. Renewed rivalries, young superstars, and well-calculated marketing has brought hockey back almost to the point for ESPN to take “NHL Tonight” with John Buccigross and Barry Melrose off the shelves and put back on the air. And just in case they do I will be ready for their comeback with my correspondence and top ten hockey players of all time.

10. Sergei Fedorov: Sergei may not have made the list for being the 10th best hockey player of all time. But he has made the list for his contributions to the game and his era. He made the game fun and interesting to a younger generation of viewers in mid 90s. He played on the one of Hockeytown’s best teams with Stevey Y, Igor Larionov, Nicklaus Lidstrom, and Dominik Hasek (who I sat next to at the All-Star Game in Toronto). He claims he was married to Anna Kournikova (although her reps denied it, which I don’t know how you can allegedly be married but whatever). He was extremely fast, Russian, and brought a new style of finesse play that hockey was missing at the time.

9. Martin Brodeur: I feel Marty is the best goalie to ever wear an airbrushed helmet. You could easily make arguments for Patrick Roy, Dominick Hasek, or even for Ryan Miller to eventually top the list. But Marty has been doing it, and doing it, and doing it well in the league for 20 years and he’s still playing. He’s been a consistent wall for Canada in the Olympics both playing and as a mentor. He has spent his entire career in Jersey which if it weren’t for hockey would suck because come on it’s Jersey. He’s got 4 Vezinas, 2 Gold Medals, and has kissed Lord Stanley 3 times.

8. Jaromir Jagr: What do you think of when you see a Jofa helmet? Jaromir right? His game was in Czech! Get it? He’s from Czechoslovakia. Anyways, not only was one of the best players ever but also the right hand and right wing to Mario Lemieux. He had possibly the dirtiest mullet ever known to man, however he is a handsome man with his hair short and corporate-like. #68 has 2 cups, tons of records, Arts, Harts, and his only fault may have been his affinity for the adrenaline rush of gambling.

7. Mark Messier: Mess was my favorite player of all time. When the Rangers won the cup in 1994 and he held it up I cried and that is saying something because 7 year-olds don’t really cry happy tears. Him, Richter, and Leetchy brought home a long-awaited Cup for one of the greatest series ever. He came up with Wayne in Edmonton, branched off, and did the damn thing elsewhere. I was at his birthday dinner All-Star Weekend in Vancouver in 01 and it was a grand time. He’s a nice guy, old school, and no one rocked a bald head amidst a Cooper helmet better.

6. Ray Bourque: Hockey players are tough and they play forever if they want and Ray Borque was one of the toughest. He’s the not the only Boston defenseman on the list. He wasn’t the biggest guy or an enforcer but he was a great leader. #77 will forever be known as a Bruin but it took him going to Colorad(a) to win a cup and when he did there weren’t a whole lot of people who weren’t happy for him and it was one of the better moments in hockey. Put a sweater on because you are about to get chills.

5. Bobby Hull: Takin it back to the old school, cause he’s and old fool, who’s so cool. And if you wanna get down he’s gonna show you the way. Lefties were always a little qwerky, not Jared Loughner qwerky, just a little off and Bobby was the best at being a little nuts. Bobby and his Blackhawks were some of the toughest guys around. Not to mention he had good genes producing son, Brett (hockey legend), Bart (Boise State RB), and Blake/Bobby Jr. who played Juniors. He won a shitload of trophy’s but won the most expensive award in all of sports in only once in his 26 year career in 1961.

4. Bobby Orr: I probably know the least about Orr of anyone on this list so I had to bust out the archives for him. 8 NHL All-Star Games, 3 OHA First Teams, 8 NHL First Teams, Calder( ROY), 2 Ross Trophies, 8 Norris Trophies, 3 Hart Trophies, 2 Conn Smythes, Voted 2nd Best of All Time, Best Defenseman, Best Boston Athlete of All Time, and probably best known for this goal…

3. Gordie Howe: What is there to say about Mr. Hockey? He pretty much did it all. Cups, awards, and records. Most of which were broken by these next two guys but it doesn’t take back the fact that he did it and that he did it in a caveman’s era. He didn’t wear a helmet and did it from both sides of the rink. He was a right winger but presented issues for defensemen as he was ambidextrous. He played in Canada and in Hartford but it is only fitting that Mr. Hockey played and retired in Hockeytown. He is an ambassador to the game, a toothless gentleman, and a scholar. He makes Brett Favre’s career look like Terrell Davis’. His last season was Wayne’s first as it was extremely symbolic of his passing of the torch.

2. Mario Lemieux: Much like the preceding few players, Super Mario has countless records and awards that mean nothing when it comes to what he did for the city of Pittsburgh. He did his impression of Michael Jordan by retiring and “comin’ back like Jordan wearin’ the six six.” However, he has done what Jordan could not do, become successful in the front office, post-playing career. He has put together a cast of players to win a cup and as long as Sidney Crosby doesn’t get subsequent concussions there should be more for him to hold up as an executive. He is probably the best stick-handler ever and produced some of the best goals ever scored.

1. Wayne Gretzky: The Great One. He holds almost every offensive record. He is synonymous with the game. For people who don’t know or like hockey they know who Wayne is. He’s been in movies, commercials, and is the best to ever to play the game. It is even fair to say that Michael Jordan is the Wayne Gretzky of basketball because Wayne did that much for the sport. He took hockey mainstream with his boyish good looks and flashy play. He won with my Rangers, in Edmonton, and short stint in St. Louis but his glory days were with the Kings. No other hockey player could have had N.W.A. wearing an LA Kings hat. I mean you don’t see to man gangbangers rockin Columbus Blue Jacket jerseys. He like MJ isn’t the best in the office but whatever. His older son got lost in the shadow like Jeremy Jordan but his younger son is one of the better football prospects in the country playing with Will Smith and Joe Montana’s kids. The Great One.

HBO is a leader is the sports documentary world with big hits in “Hard Knocks,” “24/7 Pacquioa/Whoever,” and now a newfound rivalry between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals. The main characters in the drama are NHL stars Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin.

This mini-series showcases the road to the 2011 NHL Winter Classic of the these two Eastern Conference rivals playing outdoors at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. HBO is allowed unlimited access to both benches and locker rooms giving us uncensored insight into the inner workings of the rivalry.

The Pens are one of the league’s best teams with the league’s best player. Sid “The Kid” gets a lot of flack for being kind of a “pretty boy” for whining and not wanting to mix it up in years past. However, on multiple occasions this season Sid has dropped the gloves to prove the he is not a pansy and that not only can he score on you but he can pull a sweater of your head and punch you a couple of times too.

The Pens are led by young Head Coach, Dan Bylsma who won the Stanley Cup with the Pens only 4 months after being called up from their minor league system. He is the NHL’s version of Josh McDaniels except he actually wins games and he isn’t a doucher. He brings a fun and intense atmosphere to the team in by having a monthly shootout contest in which the last player to score has to grow out his mustache until the next month’s practice.

Hockey players are different than other new-age athletes. They have a stereotype of being tougher than other players. They are allowed and encouraged to fight and fight well. The grow out funny mustaches and beard combinations. They add the letter “Y” to the end of someones name to better identify themselves through nick of name. These hockey player traits are also brought forth by the struggling Washington Capitals.

Russian phenom Alexander “The Great” Ovechkin wears the “C” for the Caps. He isn’t as corporate as his young counterpart. He has the signature missing teeth, scratchy beard, of which he recently shaved due to his new deal with Gillette. AO is known for his flashy play and playboy nature off the ice. He is known well by the ladies in competing cities as well as the bartenders who keep fine Russian vodkas in the well for him.

The Caps are stuck in a bit of a rut right now that Head Coach Bruce Boudreau (who reminds me of an angry roly poly) cannot seem to pull his players out of. Losing streaks, spreading flu viruses, and poor defense have kept the Caps a foot the bottom of the Eastern Conference this year, which adds to the building competitive antimosity towards New Years day when they enter into the Winter Classic.

The Caps got kids in the nurse’s office and the Pens are trying to fend off others till they can get back to full strength with the return of league leading point getter Evgeni Malkin. The both have their work cut out for them as they are taped taping their sticks on their skate to playing on the pond outside in the Burgh.

It is outdoor played games like this that I feel brings the NHL back to where it should be as a top 4 sport in America that has been taken over by UFC, NASCAR, soccer, and golf. The NHL has also implemented a playground system of selecting their 2011 All Star Team. The team’s capitans will select their remaining players in hopes of hosting a more competitive game with a playoff atmosphere rather than that of an exhibition.

Obviously hockey isn’t as popular as football in America, but this is a great show if you like hockey or can at least tolerate it. It is on Wednesdays at 7pm on HBO and I highly suggest you DVR it. Most people who watched Hard Knocks weren’t avid Jets/football fans they were just people who liked getting an insider’s view into a cool reality show.

If you haven’t heard, I’m following in Aaron Simms’ footsteps out of Douglas County, who is the youngest person ever to run for county commissioner at 18 years old. I’ve got 5 years on the aspiring politician and 1 speaking point that will set me apart from my fellow candidates. I will successfully bring a professional stadium to the city of Las Vegas!

The pros of bringing a pro stadium to Las Vegas completely outweigh the cons. It would give a little jolt to our economy by creating jobs from design to construction to ushers to front office staff. The more we diversify our economy away from the hospitality industry, the faster our recession will concede and the more stable we will be for the future. Building a stadium isn’t the cure-all but it is a start and we all would love to see it happen.

Mayor Oscar Goodman has been lobbying for a professional team for years and the one thing that always holds us back is our lack of facilities. Cashman Field isn’t exactly in the best neighborhood, confining the 51s fans to people who live in North Las Vegas or people who will drive for dollar beers. The Thomas and Mack is still holding up well. There is a lot of history in the T&M and it would be dumb to wipe away all the tradition and renovations that are in place to improving their facilities. Sam Boyd Stadium is antiquated and far from any central point in Las Vegas and this is actually a live shot from the UNLV football game last night vs. Air Force.

The question now becomes what sport to bring here? Well, we had an audition for the NBA in 2007 but that didn’t exactly go well for the city. Las Vegas has never been so dirty and crime ridden for such a short amount of time and it looks like we better just stick to hosting NBA Summer League and Team USA. The NHL isn’t exactly in an expansion mode right now and the teams in the Southwest don’t do as well financially as the traditional Canadian and East Coast Teams.

We are now left with the NFL and MLB. The NFL would obviously be the most attractive option for Las Vegas but with a melting pot of fans throughout our city it would be hard to attract an NFL team with shifty fan loyalty. Not to mention, the NFL has bigger fish to fry with collective bargaining coming up and the possibility of bringing a team back to Los Angeles way ahead of Las Vegas.

I think the best case scenario for Las Vegas would be to bring a MLB team to the city that never sleeps. The Southwest has been great breeding grounds for baseball with many successful players coming out of Vegas. They also are the league that is most willing to continue with talks as Las Vegas as one of their top cities with Portland, San Antonio, Austin and Mexico City despite the complication we present with gaming.

The next item on the to-do-list becomes where. Where do we build the stadium? I have two potential options with the first being off of Tropicana Ave. and Paradise Rd. A stadium here would be both walking distance from the Strip, McCarran Airport, UNLV, with easy access to the highways just as long as it’s height stays out of fligh patterns. A stadium here would a allow for a minor tourist attraction as long as we don’t count on tourism to be a part of the fan base. It would be a breeding ground for new and young fans within close proximity to the university. And with the I-215 and I-15 both less than a mile away it allows the easy access for locals to go to go to games with ease.

While, I prefer the Tropicana location there are plenty of viable options throughout the city with the land available for a project of this size. Another potential location would be on Las Vegas Blvd. South just South of Warm Springs Rd. The acreage here is massive, it is near local hot-spots Town Square and the Las Vegas Outlet Center and again both freeways within walking distance.

The two teams on the chopping block are the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland A’s (my personal preference). If we get the Oakland A’s we could keep the colors and change the name to the Las Vegas Aces. The name  “Aces” plays both of our gaming roots and baseball specifics with pitching Aces. We could bring on Las Vegan residents Greg Maddux and Pete Rose to run the front office and it would be like we never missed a step.

The next issue becomes financing as always. If an Mark Cuban’s investor group doesn’t pony up some cashola then we have some “majuh majuh” problems. The city isnn’t exactly in a position to make it rain a stadium in the desert and it would not be ideal to make the stadium for MLB and UNLV football. While it would add value to our university, MLB doesn’t like to share facilities especially with a collegiate program. However, if we did draw from the High-Ed budget we could be playing baseball in Las Vegas by April 1, 2014.

The NHL Antidote

Posted: October 7, 2010 in NHL

Today is an exciting day for the few hockey fans there still are with the NHL 2010-2011 season opening tonight. When economies were good and the NHL was at it’s peak it seemed as though the NFL was the scratch golfer of the four-some and the NBA, MLB, and NHL were all about the same. But we live in a different era with changing times and unfortunately for the NHL, they are losing a lot of their fans to other forms of entertainment.

In doing research for this blog from my MackBerry, the NHL isn’t even found on’s mobile homepage. I had to search “all sports” to find it and then it was listed 8th, on the eve of it”s home opener. It’s kind of sad for someone like myself, and for many people who still have a special place in the lower 90 of my hockey heart.

Soccer has really become popular in North America over the last 4 years, giving us a new sense of international flava that we used to go to the NHL for. UFC and other second rate mixed martial arts associations have blown up giving us a reason to watch guys beat the hell out of each other “with sanctioning,” that we used to go to the NHL for. And as with the NBA becomes more athletic, the courts have really opened up for a more fast pace and fluid game (the antithesis of the 96 Utah Jazz) a void the NHL used to fill.

But with stubbornness from league officials in not wanting to widen the rink, require smaller goalie pads, or more lenient passing rules the game has stayed the same with times that have not, which doesn’t account for a formula for success. The NHL has more young talent than ever, great story lines, and plenty of room for improvement. They just have to want to be helped.

I think that by playing more outdoor games, creating more exciting fan atmospheres, and playing to the strength’s of the league’s superstars, the NHL can easily be right back up there with the other big 3 sports instead of its current residence in the same apartment complex as the WNBA, MLS, and Michael Phelps.

What are the league’s strengths? AO vs. Sid “The Kid.” Which HBO will be highlighting in a new series “24/7 Capitals vs. Penguins” which I will be highlighting in an upcoming blog. The veterans in Hockeytown, young international players who go willy nilly all over the ice, and incorporating these league’s historic tradition with a modernist approach to a dying breed of fans. By playing off of these strengths that fans yearn for, the NHL could climb back up Mt. McKinley to it’s summit.

I don’t want to get into actual predictions of how the season will play out because frankly I don’t know much about this upcoming season. And I think it’s fair to say that most avid sports fans loss interest after the finals and haven’t kept up with off-season transactions are also semi-surprised about the start of the season being “already.” On that note I would like to leave you with a blog by the 2nd funniest man on ESPN today, 3rd funniest of all time, John Buccigross’s a good read and if you want to know who’s funnier, look no further than a 97 Jewish Pulitzer Prize finalist and a former UNLV back-up quarterback. 3 peas in a pod I know.


Multi-Sport Athletes

Posted: September 23, 2010 in College Sports, MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL

It makes complete sense that some of today’s best athletes are also amazing at secondary sports. When you have that much God given talent and can physically do things others cannot, it is no surprise that they are still better than 99% of that sports’ participants and it isn’t even the area they excel in the most. Now I originally wanted to make this blog a Top 10 list but I found that is not only much more complicated but less accurate as well. When someone, puts most their efforts in one area and throws the other to the curb, they should not be discounted for why they discarded that sport. They may choose a sport because they are better at that time, tey may have more of a future, for financial reasons, or simply because one is more fun. So, instead of making a Top 10, I am going to list off some athletes off the top of my head and encourage other suggestions. I know some pretty main stream and obvious choices like Bo Jackson and Deon Sanders who probably would top the list. But they are not juicy enough to talk about so we will but will discuss the indie and the more obscure. For instance, take Tom Glavine, future Hall of Fame Pitcher for the Braves. He had a great career and was consistently good throughout but almost had no baseball career at all. He actually played hockey for the University of Maine and it was his preferable sport. Another random hockey player is the fiery Nationals center fielder, Niger Morgan. He too grew up playing hockey in the yay area, bringin his sense of street to the ice. Greg Paulus came from a pedigree that most father’s (including myself) would pay for. His father, uncles, brothers, and sisters all played collegiate sports but he was by far the best. Out of high school he started as Duke’s point guard but probably got wind that Duke Guards don’t do well in the league and went back to football. He was actually Mr. Football his senior year in high school and was offered full rides from several Big 10, Big East, and ACC schools to play quarterback. He eventually went back to play for Syracuse near his home and is doin aight. Which sport was the better? We will have to wait and see… John Elway was old school athletic. He was actually drafted by my Yankees but chose to go with football. Lebron James was an All-State Wide receiver for St. Vincent St. Mary’s. Could you imagine being some 5’10 165 lb sophomore corner lining up against the 6’8 225 (at the time) Lebron James? But he also played both ways switching between D end and linebacker. Jackie Robinson balled out at UCLA, playing football, basketball, baseball, and running track. Carl Crawford could have done the same for UCLA, Nebraska, Oklahoma, whoever, but decided to forego college and entered the MLB draft. The Dream Olajuwon didn’t even play basketball till he was sixteen. Instead he was a 7’1 goalkeeper in Nigeria. Charlie Ward is my least favorite. Instead of winning the Heisman as a QB at Florida St. and going to the NFL, he decided to go to my Knicks and tried to make up for John Starks and was wack. Same thing with MJ, he wanted to play baseball to see how tight he could be at everything and hit for like .198 for the Birmingham Barons. My favorite instance is with Antonio Gates because I played just as many football games in college as he did. 0! He was a power forward for Kent State, and got picked up by San Diego because he was big, had great hands, and better footwork than most other tight ends. And now he is probably the best tight end in the league. The last one that I am particularly fond of is Joe Mauer. He is so young and has already won 3 batting titles. He plays catcher which is by far the hardest position to play, both physically and mentally. In high school, he averaged more than 20 points a game as a point guard for Cretin-Derham Hall. He was also named to the All-State team during his final two years of high school, he was also named National High School Quarterback Of The Year in 2000. Holy shit! If this guy and Marion Jones (who played basketball at UNC in addition to running track and taking roids) had a kid, they would have birthed Hercules.

Sports Nation is by far ESPN’s best show to date. The recipe provides for 2 cups of accurate sports journalism, 2 cups of actual humor, equality to men and women, 2 tablespoons of social media, and 2 teaspoons of viewer participation.

Colin Cowherd is not only satirically genius but he is well respected in the sports world. He is a younger version of Tony Kornheiser and doesn’t hesitate to give his God’s honest opinion on teams and/or players.

Michelle Beadle brings the pop culture flare with a fair working knowledge of “current sports.” She is in a class of her own in an industry dominated by men and is also easy on the eyes. Not Erin Andrews status but she isn’t Linda Cohen either. She seems like a cool chick you would like to have a beer with and wouldn’t be so mad if she were your congresswoman.

Sports Nation is mainly brilliant because it revolves around fan interaction and social media. In a society run by technology and social media, Sports Nation really takes advantage of growing trends.

Not only does it tweet and update its Facebook status daily but it retweets players and shouts-out to fans on the show. And it doesn’t stop there it conducts daily polls on topics in sports, current events, and viral videos which becomes the bread and butter of the show.

I Tivo and watch daily and would love to work on the show or even just sit in their live audience with the other rowdy interns. Keeep it up.