Archive for May, 2009

NHL Finals – It’s Like Deja Vu All Over Again

Saturday is get-away day for me. Vacation officially ends as I pack up the family into the suburban assault vehicle and make our way back home from Orlando. We first will make a stop in Jacksonville to visit the mother of the Divine Mrs. R…spending the night as so I can be able to catch game-one of the Stanley Cup Finals.

And speaking of the finals…looks like we all spent the last twelve months going through the draft, free-agent signing season, training camp, pre-season, a regular season in which 30 teams played 82 games apiece, then into the playoffs where 16 teams went to 8 teams which then whittled down to 4 teams and now to only a pair…the same two teams that squared off against each other last June.

How quaint.

Here is a quick run-down on their playoff stats that they have compiled in the past seven week.

Record: Detroit = 12-4… Pittsburgh = 12-5

Goal Per Game: Detroit 3.69… Pittsburgh 3.82

Goals Against Per Game: Detroit 2.12… Pittsburgh 2.76

Power Play: Detroit 25.7%… …

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Florida Orange (NOT) Juice & Roy’s Rejection

While we watch to see whether the Detroit Red Wings or Chicago Blackhawks will provide opposition for the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup Finals…here are a coupe of items that have caught my attention today.

We’ll start off with this story that broke in Lakeland, Florida…just down I-4 from where I am this week.

“Orange” Isn’t The Only Kinda “Juice” Comin’ Outa Florida It Seems

It’s not been a good couple of weeks for the Washington Capitals, has it? First they get dumped in the second round by the Penguins…being thumped in a game seven at home. Then they find out that two of their players are taking their pucks and going home to mother Russia…now we find out that the U.S. Attorney’s Office is looking into the possibility that two alleged steroid dealers were funnelling the product from their home in Lakeland, Florida to players belonging to the Washington Capitals and Washington Nationals.

Richard “Andy” Thomas and his wife Sara were arrested by Polk County sheriffs …

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Quick Shots By The Pool

Hi all…greetings again from poolside in Orlando. Can’t say it’s been sunny the whole time here, but there’s been enough sun to get in some pool time fun.

Sunday afternoon I watched game-four of the Western Conference Finals from the poolside bar and grill. There was a gentleman and his father-in-law there from Michigan enjoying what they saw. I, along with my older tax-exemption, chatted with them as the game played out in front of us. At one point Matt asked the two if they would take Don Waddell back.

That drew a few chuckles from the pair…the older one simply told him that Don must not have taken very good notes while he was with the Wings.

The son-in-law commented that before the trade that sent Hossa to Pittsburgh, the knock on him was that he tended to disappear come the playoffs. ..and that was his only real concern when the Red Wings signed him last summer.

The numbers back up his thoughts…in Ottawa, Hossa had amassed a grand total of 13 goals and 21 assists in 51 …

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Memorial Day Weekend Reading Assignments

Greetings gang from bee-U-TEE-ful sunny and warm Florida. The Divine Mrs. R and I as well as the tax-exemptions will be down here for a week enjoying a bit of vacation-time fun. However, I’ll still be chimmin’ in from time to time…in between swimming in the pool, relaxing with cool drink in hand, soaking up some rays, taking part in some of the resort’s activities and generally enjoying the sights.

In the mean time, I’ll leave you with some reading assignments for this holiday weekend.

But first…let me please take this time to remind everyone of the reason we celebrate Memorial Day. We have countless blessing that are bestowed upon us simply because of the great country we live in. We enjoy such wonderful freedoms that come simply by being an American. These blessings and freedoms have been bought and protected throughout the past two and a third centuries via the sacrifice of our brave men and women who have paid the ultimate price. We not only remember and honor these …

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Considering Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson

Since the draft order was set a month or so ago, one of the questions frequently asked of me has been, “So…would you want Matt Duchene or Evander Kane as the selection”? Well, unless I’m speaking on behalf of the Colorado Avalanche, having to chose between the two will not be an issue…as I believe the Avs will pick one or the other, more than likely Duchene.

Therefore, I think that the real question that will face Don Waddell on June 26 is, “Do you want Kane, Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson”?

If the Thrashers look to concentrate on the center position, making the choice either Kane or Schenn, then I think logical choice is to go with Kane. If defense is the focus, Cowen is considered by many to be the best blueline selection after Victor Hedman. And, after all, you simply cannot have enough defensive talent in the organ-I-zation.

The only question here is would either of them be able to make an immediate impact on the Thrashers squad this fall? I don’t see Cowen making the team right …

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Conference Finals Set

Round two of the Stanley Cup Finals came to quite a dramatic conclusion Thursday night, did it not? With the Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins looking on with the rest of us to see which team they’ll face off against in the Conference Finals, the Bruins, Canes, Wings and Ducks treated us to a pair of down-to-the-wire game sevens.

The Penguins, of course, made short work of Washington Wednesday night in their game seven and earlier in the week the Blackhawks had beaten the Canucks with their Kane in game six of that pairing.

Now, before we move forward to discuss who you might like in these matchups, I can’t let this moment go without commending the Anaheim Ducks in their efforts this post-season. In the opening round, they dispatched the Presidents Cup winning San Jose Sharks in six games…remember, the Sharks had lost only five times at home in the regular season and the Ducks came away winners in games one and two in the Shark tank. San Jose’s only home win being a …

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Passion For Atlanta’s Hockey History Is Still Aflame – Pt. II

In part one of my discussion with former Atlanta Flame Tim Ecclestone, he and I discussed his disappointment about the lack of connection between the team that was here in the 70s and the present-day one. I asked him if those involved with Thrashers organization at that time ever considered including members of the old club when constructing the Thrashers organization. Tim told me that the team did in fact interview Atlanta/Calgary Flames general manager, Cliff Fletcher, for the same position with the new club.

“Cliff was here, knows the area…a Hall of Famer…done pretty good. And he was called in by Harvey Schiller to be interviewed”, Tim said.

He and Fletcher had dinner the evening he was in town for the interview and they discussed the situation.

“He was the best man for the job”, said Ecclestone. “He had been through an expansion draft…he knows the city. I asked him how he’d make up the team, if he was hired, and Cliff said to me, ‘one thing hasn’t changed over the …

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Passion For Atlanta’s Hockey History Is Still Aflame – Pt. I

As you all know, I’ve coordinated a number of events at TJ’s on Holcomb Bridge Road. It’s become my personal Thrashers Viewing Party establishment of choice and we’ll be coordinating several such gatherings there during the course of the upcoming season. Lately, we’ve gathered there to enjoy playoff games…and shall do so again this coming Sunday afternoon to take in some Conference Finals action.

I met up with TJ’s owner Tim Ecclestone last week to discuss some the history of hockey in Atlanta as well as the perceived lack of interaction between the current NHL franchise and those who are affiliated with the old Atlanta Flames.

Ecclestone was drafted by the Rangers in 1967, he was then traded to St. Louis during the ’68 expansion. He played in three Stanley Cup Finals with the Blues before spending time in Detroit and Toronto. Then he came to Atlanta in 1974 where he played for the Flames and also became an assistant coach. When the franchise moved to Calgary in 1980, Tim was …

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So, Spirit Boys…What Do YOU Make Of The TSN Story?

By now I’m sure you’ve already read this TSN story about a Vancouver developer named Tom Gaglardi pushing the charge to buy the Atlanta Thrashers and relocate them to Hamilton, Ontario. Of course, that’s the same place that Research In Motion CEO Jim Balsilli reportedly wants to move the Phoenix Coyotes to.

In the TSN write-up it is stated that…according to The Hamilton Spectator… Hamilton mayor Fred Eisenberger will meet with a Vancouver-based group on Monday to discuss a proposed lease for Copps Coliseum. The story ends with the line, “Gaglardi is reportedly interested in having the Thrashers in Hamilton in time for the 2010 season”.

So, what’s to make of all this?

Well, obviously it’s created quite an uproar in the blogosphere…especially among those who believe in the foolish, asinine notion that the NHL should limit it’s market only to Canada and maybe, possibly U.S. states that border the Great Lakes. I guess if you view this from the vantage point of those north of the …

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Is This Waddell’s Last Stand?

First off, let me be very clear on this point…this is not intended to be a “Bash Waddell” piece. However, given just where the organ-I-zation is at this time, I feel it is prudent to at least pose this question:

Is this summer indeed Don Waddell’s last chance to finally ice a competitive, solid, playoff-contending team…not just for this coming fall’s campaign but for the foreseeable future?

And if he doesn’t…is will time be up for him as the Thrasher’s general manager?

First let’s examine the history of the Thrashers during the Decade of Don. The overall record is 273 wins, 367 losses, 53 overtime losses and 45 ties, (accumulated during the five season’s prior to the post-lockout rules change). That amounts to a .436 points winning percentage and an average of 71.5 points earned in the standings each year. There has been exactly one playoff appearance during the nine seasons played…resulting in a four-game sweep to the Rangers in 2007.

Those, my friends are very un-good …

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