Saturday, May 30, 2009

SCF - Penguins

So Tempocrew has been saying lately that I should have spent more time during these playoffs to talk about the team that I have been cheering for (since the Canucks have been knocked out), which was the Penguins.

That was the original plan, but then things like work, other hockey games, and the sun making its delightful appearance for the summer in Vancouver, got in the way. The Pensblog and Puck Huffers have been both doing an epic job already covering their team.

But as we are 5 hours away from puck drop, I'm getting excited for the SCF rematch...I'm glad that Bettman moved up the start date to today, otherwise I'd be sitting here writing about how lame it is to have no hockey for a week. I'm sick of Wings fans complaining that they got jobbed by the NHL starting the SCF so quickly not giving their players time to rest/heal from injury, whatever, get over it. I don't know why I have this dislike for the Wings and their fans....I just do. Their complaints do not make them more likeable.

As for Hossa...he made the right choice in signing with the Wings. From a completely unbaised view, you would have to say that he signed with a team that would give him the best chance at winning at the time, which was the Wings. The Penguins also may not have made it to the finals if they signed him and tied up all their money. If the Pens win, I can't wait to read about what tPB and the PH will write about him. And more importantly, where will he sign next year? Does he still chase after a cup, or go for the money?

I think the Penguins have a great shot at winning this year. On paper, they looked better last year. But watching them play this year, with both Crosby and Malkin clicking along...they just give me that feeling that this could be the year. Either way this should be a good series...providing the teams finish Sunday night at 1-1 a piece...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Mike Smith is still not skating...

Cristodero from the St. Petersburg Times today wrote that Mike Smith is still not skating. He's been out with post-concussion syndrome over the last few months.


Somewhere in my memory I remember reading back in March, Mike Smith saying he wanting to still play the last few games of the season. It's also where we got the great quote from Lawton where he said: "The mandate is, if you're ready to go, then you're going,". So Lawton, I guess that means he wasn't ready to go then huh?

Lawton also said this week about the prospects at the 2009 combine, which is coming from a 'great' draft pick himself:
"I have this baseline that they're all good enough to do it,"

"What are those components they need to get them over the hump? What's going to separate them? To me, past history is a big part of it. ... You look for patterns in life. It's the best indicator of future success. You look for the kids who exude confidence, who have shining examples of attributes like character that will help them be successful."

Tampa Bay Lightning Girls

So before I start writing about the NHL draft combine, where 103 of the best draft eligible players go through physical, mental and psych tests which is currently underway...I thought I'd say a few words about having Ice Girls at hockey games. I keep seeing the 'Prep Classes' for the Lightning girls on the Lightning website, where they seem to have picked one of the ugliest in that really really fake sort of way as their promo girl and can't help but wonder what's the point?

The Lightning are offering 10 prep classes, once a week on Wednesdays so that local girls can try out to be an Ice Girl. Here's their promo video for their 'workouts'.

But what is the point of Ice Girls? Do they really add something to the game?

Cassie at One Timers and Deflections doesn't think so. Neither does the Amanda Kosier, wife of the sports blogger, Kyle Kosier, who originally wrote a rebuttal about hockey cheerleaders on Illegal Curve.

Maybe it's a southern US thing, that I just don't seem to understand the point of. Truthfully, I can't say that I've ever seen Ice Girls, since the rink I go to doesn't have them. Sure they have people that clean the ice, but not designated ice girls who don't look like they know what icing is.

Video from

As Cassie points out, there's really no place in the arena for Ice Girls to perform unless they go on the ice during the intermission. Do they stand in the aisles blocking people's view during the game? Personally, even if they were on during the intermission, don't you spend that time getting more beer anyways? I know I do, unless there are the little kids playing follow the leader hockey that I might stick around to watch.

I still don't get it and don't really feel that it adds the on ice product. But if having Ice Girls improves the product to the ticket holder, so be it. On the other hand, I don't need ice girls, I have 38 men playing hockey in front of me....

Radek Smolenak jumps ship to KHL

It is reported by Czech website via Lightning Strikes that Radek Smolenak has signed with Niznekamsk of the KHL.

Smolenak only played 6 games with the Lightning last season and 71 in the AHL with Norfolk. He was a 3rd round draft pick from 2005 and was at the end of his 3 year rookie contract.

He is a winger, so it's not like we don't have a few of those to spare, but it sucks to see an RFA jump ship to the KHL. It is considered to be free agent season in the KHL right now, and they seem to be throwing more money at players than their NHL clubs will, so can you really blame him? But on the flip side, I hope that the NHL/KHL and IIHF come to an agreement of poaching players under contract from the NHL, this is starting to get pretty ridiculous. The signing has clearly not been confirmed by the Lightning yet.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Lecavalier in Rimouski

Some famous alumni of the Rimouski Oceanic was at the Memorial Cup today. Vincent Lecavalier, Brad Richards (Dallas Stars) and Michel Ouellet (Vancouver Canucks) were on hand today at the news conference to salute the Oceanic's success. An empty seat was there for Sidney Crosby who clearly was a little busy today watching Malkin school Cam Ward.

Even with the alumni support, the Oceanic lost to Drummondville in overtime 3-2.
-picture from the Memorial Cup website

Lightning and Lemaire

The Lightning is apparently still interested in bringing in Lemaire as a senior consultant, but the team has yet to offer a contract or even discuss the parameters of the position. So really in other words, this is gonna take as long as Tocchet's removal of "interim".

I still don't understand why the Lightning would want to bring Lemaire in. He is known for the trap hockey that the Wild has played since he has been coaching there. Yes he has been able to get the Wild to the post season, but never far a long with the trap style. Rick Tocchet wants to play an up-tempo style next season, so what how will Lemaire help with his consultation? Maybe he can offer points about how NOT to play hockey. The only reason I think the Wild fans put up with that style for so long is that they were afraid that if they stopped buying tickets, *poof* and their team would disappear again.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Andrej "The Butcher" Meszaros

So I was reading an article about Andrej Meszaros on the Lightning website the other day that reminded me about my family. So for those of you who don't want to click on the link to read the story yourself, the summation is:

On January 3 of this year, when the Lightning played the Hurricanes at home, with 22.7 seconds left in the second period, Meszaros takes Babchuk's slapshot to the face. He skated off to the locker room and got 64 stitches. What a man. But there's more:

He was diagnosed with a displaced fracture of the maxilla extending from just above his upper teeth to his nose. An oral surgeon on call that night realigned the fracture by hand. Shit. He then sat through an hour of getting the stitches. He wanted to go back to the game, but the doc took too long stitching.

The team then flew to Atlanta for the next night's game. He only slurped shakes through a straw. He face swelled twice its natural size. They pureed his food. Coaching staff expected for him not to play.

He insisted that he take the warm-up and then played one of the best games of his year. He logged 15:31 of ice time with two shots, two hits and a blocked shot. "I wanted to help the team," Meszaros, 23, said. "I knew we had a couple of guys banged up. I said I wanted to play every game if it's possible. It's not like it's a broken arm or leg. You have to suck it up and go."-St. Petersburg Times

What a beast.

So why does this remind me of my family? Well last summer, my cousin married her fiance Zoltan in Hungary, she became Mrs. Meszaros (no not related in any way to Andrej). Now I don't speak a lick of Hungarian or Slovakian (Andrej is a Slovak), but my cousin had told me that her new last name meant "the butcher". There is even a Meszaros (Butcher) street. So it doesn't surprise me that our defenceman named the "the butcher" is such a beast. Just don't every drink with a Meszaros. They will drink you under the table.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Vinny to...."insert team here"...sweepstakes

Daren Dreger of TSN is reporting that the two teams mentioned most when it comes to Lecavalier is the Montreal Canadiens or the Los Angeles Kings. If we are talking Kings, the name Jack Johnson, who will be an RFA this summer was mentioned in a possible deal.

Who knows if Vinny will be traded in the next 43 days, at the very least it will be interesting leading up to the draft.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Penguins to take on Hurricanes

The unbelievable happened tonight. The Hurricanes bean the Bruins in OT. NBC is crying about this.

Penguins vs. Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Final=

Staal vs. Staal drinking game.

Puck Huffers made some rules to the game earlier this year. I'm sure there will be more and they will be epic.

In other news, the Red Wings beat Anaheim and move on to face the Blackhawks.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Malone to Toronto for Schenn and Kaberle?

As reported by the Toronto Sports Media, via Pension Plan Puppets, Elliotte Friedman was on the Fan 590 this morning with this to say:

Everyone in hockey is talking about this deal and thinks it will happen, Toronto’s pick, which I guess is number seven overall for Tampa’s pick which is number two overall, with Toronto taking back Ryan Malone and his lengthy hefty contract and perhaps another contract as well.

This of course is with regard to speculation of how Burke will attempt to land Tavares on Draft Day.

The Lightning sources told Darren Dreger of TSN that the only way that trace would happen is if the Leafs also throw in Luke Schenn and Tomas Kaberle into the deal.

"Tampa Bay vehemently denies this is a possibility and insists Malone is a mainstay and will patrol the wing next season with linemates Steven Stamkos and Martin St Louis." -TSN

TSN also reports that "Tampa Bay did, however, table a trade offer before the trade deadline that included Luke Schenn to the Lightning for their first round draft pick."

We'll have to see what Burke attempts to do to get his hands on Tavares and if he does, his press conference, and you can bet he'll call one, will be awesome. Can you imagine, Burkie with Toronto media surrounding him as he starts laughing and then tells the world that the world no long revolves around the sun but rather him? Or maybe it's the universe that revolves around him?

Tocchet is now HC Tocchet...What were the odds?

I'm a little late with the news I know, but I've had a rough day yesterday with the Canucks' playoff dreams being crushed. But I'm back to life now...

So Tocchet is now named Head Coach Tocchet. The contract is said to be a 2 year deal worth $550 000. He took over as interim HC after Barry Melrose was fired and since then has the led the club to a record of 19-33-14.

"Now I'm on the clock," Tocchet said. "I'm ready to go. We have some great pieces on this team. I think we have a lot of players here that can do the job. I'm excited." -TSN

The Lightning waited this long after the season ended to announce this because they wanted this to highlight their Lightning Open House last night.

So is this a bad gamble? Well no not really. The deal is only a 2 year deal, not the 3 years that is normally offered to coaches. The salary is on the low end of the scale of average coaches salaries, but then again, he's never been a head coach before (only an assistant in Colorado and Phoenix) and his record is 19-33-14. He was the only interim coach this year that didn't improve the record of the team Dan Bylsma and the Penguins, or Quenneville of the Blackhawks, or Clouston of the Senators....should I go on? Actually if you want the numbers check out this post by Mirtle over at From the Rink. In addition, the Lightning still have 2 more coaches on their payroll since they had to pay 1.3 million to Tortorella for his TSN panel services and the Mullet Melrose cost the team about 2.25 million over 3 years (or did they withold the mullet's money?)

Tocchet still has a lot to prove, and this year will be his year. Unlike last year where there was no real training camp, just an 80's mullet camp of scrimmages and some play fightning. This year Tocchet has said he wants players to come to camp in top shape, he wants them to be ready. So with a team that will be in shape, and another high draft pick, we'll see how Tocchet's first year as HC will bring.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sun-Belt Teams vs. Canada

*I originally wrote this for my Vancity Canuck blog, but in the end found it really relevant for the Lightning since they are referred to as one of the Sun-Belt teams, feel free to disagree*

During a conversation while I was at the game last night, the topic of the sale of the Phoenix Coyotes, which has been making more headlines than the playoffs itself, came up. I find this one to be interesting, but in the end,
the court battle of Balsillie, Moyes and the Phoenix Coyotes will have to play itself out, and ultimately it will be up to a judge to decide if Moyes has the authority to declare bankruptcy and attempt to sell the team.

The other recent headlines that have been making the rounds is that a Vancouver based hockey group and has an interest in purchasing the Atlanta Thrashers and moving them. The Vancouver based group, thought to be led by Tom Gaglardi attempted to purchase the Canucks 5 years ago, and has since been in court with the Aquilini Group about the sale of the Canucks that ultimately went to the Aquilini Group. The Thrashers' ownership group has been also locked in a court battle between themselves over the right to buy out certain investors in their group. Since the Gaglardi group lost their last appeal in court, it seems natural that they would look to another franchise that would possibly for sale. The Thrashers are tied to the basketball team there though, so I don't know if this one is any more than 'interest' by the group.

There is a lot of opinion out there that it is Canadians who have something against the franchises in warm climates or the fans of these franchises. I think that the situation is a little misunderstood.

1. If you were a fan of the Winnipeg Jets when they were relocated to Phoenix, a move made by Gary Bettman, it would anger you when you see the effort that Bettman is making to try to have the team be a success in Phoenix. Jets fans have said that Bettman did not go to the lengths to try have the Jets be successful in Winnipeg, like he is doing for the Phoenix Coyotes. There was also no revenue sharing and no salary cap back in Winnipeg.

2. Canadian fans feel that there is a market demand for another hockey team, especially in southern Ontario. This is an issue that won't go away anytime soon until it is addressed.

Damien Cox from the Toronto Star has written a good piece on this here.

The season ticket holder wait list for Leafs' tickets is 10-15 years long. There are families with children that play hockey, or grow up loving the Leafs' that will never be able to watch their team at the ACC because there are no tickets available..

Now this is not a sob story about Toronto kids not being able to watch hockey, because other than the Leafs there are also great junior hockey in the OHL or AHL teams that can be watched. If all the current teams were successful franchises, fans in Ontario would still be pushing for another team in Ontario due to the demand. It is from the reports of huge financial loss that has been published about Phoenix is why the suggestion of moving the team from Phoenix to a city like Hamilton would make fiscal sense.

The idea of putting a team in Phoenix may have been with merit. Compared to Winnipeg, the city population to draw from is larger and with a league with increasing player salaries, no salary cap, no revenue sharing and a poorly designed building capacity, Winnipeg was ultimately not able to support the team. With lots of Canadian transplants into Phoenix, a new building and a quickly growing population, Phoenix may very well have been a good idea. Especially as the NHL tries to "grow" the sport. But from the monetary loss that has been reported about the Coyotes, so far it hasn't worked in Phoenix.

In order for all of this "insert poorly performing sunbelt team" to Hamilton talk to end, what Bettman needs to do is one of two things. He needs to either look into the option of southern Ontario and decides that it is a place that he would like to move a team to, or address the Canadian fans in Southern Ontario why putting a team in their city is not a good idea.

Rising salary caps I find will only feed the disparity between teams and their success economically. With such a high cap set right now it costs and incredible amount just for the teams to break even. Some teams are relying on their post season success to pay off their payroll because of how close to the cap they have spent.

Certain owners have bought teams on loans from lenders, ie. the Lightning, so that even if you were to begin to be profitable, so much of the money is being paid to your interest on your debt load.

In addition, fans don't want to support a team that isn't winning. Now if you are the Thrashers and look like you keep taking steps back in your progress of building a better product, or the Coyotes, who failed to show an improvement towards making the post season, fans don't want to pay to see your on ice product. Very few teams can be successful if their on ice product is terrible.

I hate to read people saying that the fans in Phoenix, or Atlanta or Tampa aren't "fan enough" and they don't deserve a team. The NHL has been able to have fans support the teams and the sport in those cities that in some years have put forth terrible product to watch. I have spoken to many knowledgeable people in cities that are non traditional markets and they know their hockey. Moving a team is not about the fans. The NHL is a business, and if a relocation is required, it will because the city wasn't profitable.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Fantasy Hockey Camp...You Can Pay to Feel like a Player

The Lightning are having a Fantasy Hockey Training Camp from Wed July 8 - Sun July 12. You can have a once in a lifetime chance to learn from the coaching staff and former Lightning players. The camp is being led by Dave Andreychuk, Chris Dingman and Stan Neckar.

The cost for this once in a lifetime chance? $2500

All camp attendees will also get a 18 holes of golf included in their package which will pretty much make you feel like a Lightning player, meaning you get to play golf in April instead of playing hockey in the playoffs.

Lightning Open House May 11

The Lightning will host a "Town Hall Meeting" at the St. Pete Times Forum from 6-9pm. It's open to the general public and season ticket holders (who get more benefits)
-Beginning at 6pm there is a used equipment sale for player gear
-Andrej Meszaros will sign autographs from 6-7pm
-Q&A with Oren Koules, Brian Lawton and Rick Tocchet at 7pm
-autographs with Paul Ranger from 8-9pm
-You can take a photo with Thunderbug which must mean that they have hired a "new" Thunderbug

More info can be found on the Lightning website or on Damien Cristodero's blog

Tampa congratulates their Canadian WHC players

Found this on the Lightning website:

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Lightning could hire Jacques Lemaire as consultant

The Lightning have spoken with Lemaire about bringing him on as a consultant.

"It could be Tampa it could be Florida. I'd like to work with an eastern team."-Lightning Strikes

Do you want to invest in the Lightning?

Well if you are, and you don't mind taking risks with your money or like to play arm chair GM, well do I have an offer for you!

In all seriousness, the Lightning ownership is looking to bring in additional investors to bring down their debt load.

Damian Cristodero suggests that adding an additional investor would help alleviate the pressure of Lecavalier's big contract that kicks in July 1st.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Lightning to play Oilers in Winnipeg

Ok, so it's not like Winnipeg is getting a franchise back, but they will be able to see the Lightning play the Oilers in a pre-season game. The teams will play an exhibition game on September 24 at 8:30pm ET at the MTS Centre. Since their loss of the Jets, Winnipeg has hosted 5 exhibition games, this will be their 6th.

WHC Update - Cinco de Mayo

Team Canada:
-Canada won over Norway on Sunday 5-1
-Stamkos scored his 6th goal of the tournament, making him the goal leader

"You know, coming in I was just trying to show everyone I can play at this level, compete at this level, and most importantly, I just want to help this team in any way I can," said Stamkos after the game.
-from CTV

-Canada lost to Finland in a shootout yesterday (4-3) but still finished first in Group F
-Stamkos and St. Louis both scored in the shootout
-Canada's next game is against Latvia on Thursday in the Quarterfinals (game will be broadcast on TSN at 10:15am PT)

-lost to Belarus on Saturday in a shootout 2-1
-as above, Finland won over Canada in the shootout (Rinne was in goal)
-Finland advances to play USA on Wednesday in the Quarterfinals

-was crushed by Russia 6-1
-will play Canada on Thursday in the quarterfinals

Saturday, May 2, 2009

WHC Update

Photo from the Canadian Press. Stamkos celebrating the 2nd goal against the Czech Republic.
Team Canada:

-Canada played Slovakia on Tuesday and won 7-3, advancing in the tournament to the qualification round
-Canada played the Czech Republic on Thursday, winning 5-1. Stamkos had 2 goals and St. Louis had 1.
-Next game for Canada is against Norway on Sunday (will be on TSN if you live in Canada at 10:15)
-They will also have a game against Finland on Monday May 4th to finish up the round before the quarterfinals
-Stamkos has 5 goals so far in the tourney, tying Niko Kapanen for the tournament lead-
-St. Louis leads the tournament in points with 11 (4 goals/7assists)

-Ramo started the game against Denmark where they wont 5-1. They have then played the Czech Republic, winning 4-3 to finish up the preliminaries. In the Qualification, Finald played Slovaki and won 2-1 in OT.
-Finland's next game is against Belarus later today, followed by playing Canada on Monday

-Lost to the USA, 4-2. Won against Sweden 3-2 in a shootout. Won against Austria 2-0.
-In the qualification, they won against Switzerland 2-1 in OT and won against France 7-1
-Next game: Russia on Sunday

Writing around the blogosphere...

Hi guys, I know have been bad with keeping up with this blog in the past few days, but I have good reason. I have been a little busy with my other blog, the Vancity Canuck as the Vancouver Canucks are still in the playoffs (round 2!).

In addition to my Canuck blog, I have also been invited to guest post at James O'Brien's Cycle Like the Sedins' mini-blog for the playoffs at CLS: Canucks vs. Blackhawks. The Canucks/Blackhawks should shape up to be good series.

I have tickets to tonights game 2 in the series, woooo!