yankee hockey

WHOLE LOTTA SHAKIN’ GOING ON

Let’s see, what’s happened since the last post I wrote. Ok, we got five jerseys unveiled, two numbers retired, two devastating injuries, and a partridge in a pear tree. God, where to begin? Frankly, I don’t want to start anywhere because all of these occurrences just make me mad. The jerseys are horrible, one of the retired numbers doesn’t make any sense, and the injuries could cause their teams all kinds of troubles this season (for Dallas losing Morrow it could mean the deepest part of the sewer, for Vancouver and Luongo it may mean missing the post season). But, I am a hockey writer, and as a hockey writer I must remove my own misgivings to properly cover the news of the game, so let’s get on with it. Because of the length of today’s entry there will be no questions at the end.

IF INGESTED, USE THIRD JERSEY TO INDUCE VOMITTING:

In the weekend of weekends for third jersey fans five new jerseys were introduced. The Sharks started things off with their new horrorshow of a sweater. It even has a name: BlackArmor. That loud banging sound you hear combined with a throbbing pain in your forehead is you hitting your head against your desk. Don’t be alarmed, it’s a reflex like sneezing, yawning, or laughing at people who buy this jersey. I’ve never thought San Jose had a particularly good jersey scheme, but it has seemed to work if their continued use of teal is any indication. But this is so very lame. Not Dallas Stars lame, but pretty sad for a such a great hockey market. I mean, is black a theme or something? And giving it a name? Ugh. The logo itself looks too much like an AHL or ECHL logo for my tastes. Well San Jose, you didn’t do any worse then anyone else this year.

After the Sharks it was the Ottawa Senators’ turn to show how not to spend money. Also, is it just me or does Dany Heatley trying to look intimidating just look silly. The guy is a great hockey player, but he still looks like he’s eighteen. Wow, it’s black, and it says “SENS”… incredible. It must have taken a six year old four minutes with a crayon to work that one out. And what’s in this “Back in Black” campaign? I realize that the Senators have had black in their jerseys forever, but I thought the main color was always red. Am I wrong about this? Did they have a period of time when they wore primarily black? Whatever the case, I hates it.

Then the Coyotes came out and said “We want to do something different.” And something different they did. I’d like to take a moment to thank the Coyotes for doing something that’s been sorely missing from this alternate jersey season: create something entirely new. Oh, it’s plenty ugly, but it has a new main logo, new shoulder logo, and “Coyotes” script mark on the pants. I don’t know what’s up with all the black, I actually really like the Coyotes’ red. I lived in Phoenix for a time and I could say with confidence that the earthen red they wear suits the city. Overall the jersey is totally unremarkable though. The main logo is way to small, the little red sleeve forearms look pathetic, and seriously what’s with the black?

Then it was time for the Kings to do something completely different. They said “We want to stand out from the crowd, be unique.” And so they went with black… Ok, maybe they did what everyone else did but they must have had a unique slogan…. right? Seriously… did all these teams hire the same damn people? I mean, is black the new black or something? Are they planning on rescuing some hockey players captured by the Vietcong in a daring midnight raid? The new logo is decent I guess, it’s more of a mish-mash of previous logos then something totally unique but it looks fine. I just swear, if I see one more black jersey I’m gonna punch Gary Bettman.

So then, on Sunday Tampa Bay ended the parade (well, not really, since the Bruins will be unveiling theirs later today). And all I can say about it is I LOVE IT! Sure, there’s a little black on the sleeves but look at all that blue! And if I’m not mistaken there’s a little bit of silver in there too. And white. Who cares if it’s the most boring piece of crap I’ve seen since Manos: The Hands of Fate, the colors make me feel so alive.

Alright, I’m done with that charade, it sucks, they all sucked, looking at them just makes me mad. So let’s move on to something more positive.

IF YOU DIDN’T REVEAL A THIRD JERSEY, RAISE YOUR BANNER:

On Sunday the Maple Leafs raised the number of former captain and home town favorite Wendell Clark. Cap’n Crunch’s number 17 went up into the rafters in Toronto to take it’s place amongst some of the games greats. He got the name Cap’n Crunch because of his brutal hits, as well as his awesome ‘stache. He was a scrapper, a body checker, and a bruiser. He could score some goals too, over 40 in ’93, but his role was the adrenalin gland of the Leafs. This number retirement is exactly what the whole concept was meant to represent. Clark is no hall of famer, he wasn’t the best player in his era. Hell, he wasn’t even the best player on his team. It wasn’t his point totals that retired his number, it was the love from his city, and his love back. This leaves Maple Leaf nation with a good feeling, they love Clark there, and have even after he left for other teams. That his number joins Ace Bailey’s is an honor well deserved.

In a more questionable retired Saturday, Montreal retired Patrick Roy’s number 33. We all should know enough about Patrick Roy to understand why they might do this, but for those new to the sport, let me give a brief history. Roy came into Montreal as a rookie and won the Stanley Cup right off. He won a bunch more games for them including another Stanley Cup (the last they have won). And then it all fell apart in one game. After letting in 9 goals in a period and a half Roy was finally pulled from the game. Feeling like his coach left him in just to humiliate him (they didn’t have a good relationship) Roy demanded and trade and never went in goal for the Canadiens again. He was traded to the Avalanche where he won two more Stanley Cups, became the winningest goaltender in NHL history, and uttered one of the best sports quotes of all time.

I can understand why anyone would want to retire Roy’s number. Colorado already has. The thing is… they hated Roy in Montreal for demanding that trade. After that trade the Canadiens had no success in the post season at all, if they even got there. It’s great that they are able to forgive, but you shouldn’t forget. A guy should go from arch-nemesis to in the rafters just cause his numbers are huge. Granted, he did a lot for that team while he was there, but he spit in their faces and stormed out. There’s no going back from that, or at least, there shouldn’t be. But, I guess love is blind and Patrick Roy is a French-Canadian hero. Just look at all the goaltender’s he’s inspired; Jean-Sebastian Giguere, Roberto Luongo, Jose Theodore. Ok, I’ll let this pass this one time, but don’t be doing anything like it again Montreal!

ALWAYS STRETCH BEFORE EXERCISING:

Ok, I’ll be brief. Brendan Morrow and Roberto Luongo both left games on Saturday with injuries. Morrow’s requires surgery and he is done for the year. Luongo’s is still undetermined, he will be having an MRI on Monday, but walked unaided to a press conference after the game so it doesn’t look too bad. Of the two Morrow’s is by far the most damaging to his team, and not just because it’s for the entire year. Dallas needs leadership and scoring, and Morrow brings them both. Without him they will be completely disheveled, like the Lost Boys without Peter Pan. The Canucks will miss Luongo, he’s one of the best goaltender’s in the league. But in his place Curtis Sanford won his second game in a row, and the Canucks have an amazing prospect by the name of Cory Schneider who not only rocked the pre-season, but is making complete fools out of AHL shooters posting a record of 10-1 with a .945 SAV% and a 1.37 GAA. Frankly, I’d really like to see what the kid can do in the big show, and I think Canucks’ fans will too as soon as they stop hyperventilating.

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3’S COMPANY plus VANCOUVER GOES BACK IN TIME

Posted in Chicago, Players, Retired Jerseys, Surprise of the Week, third jersey, Vancouver, Veterans by yankhockey on November 14, 2008

On Thursday the Chicago Blackhawks lifted number 3 into the rafters. They did this to honor two of the great defensemen in their history, Pierre Pilote and Keith Magnuson. Pilote played 13 seasons with the Blackhawks, and Magnuson 11. In total they scored just 637 points in the NHL, but that only proves that statistics tell only part of the story.

Pilote was an incredible defensemen, one of the best of his day. He won the Norris trophy three years in a row, and in an era of low scoring defensemen put up decent point totals his entire career. In 1961 he helped his team win the Stanely Cup. The next year he was appointed captain, an honor he would have for the next eight years. He was considered, even during his time, one of the more epic defensemen the game had seen. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1969.

Magnuson was less of an offensive threat, he was really just a threat. In a period of play where big bruisers dominated the game, he was one of the most feared. He had only 14 goals in 11 seasons, but a whopping 1400 penalty minutes. His gutsy play, and leadership on and off the ice led him to be named captain in 1976, a title he would hold for three years. Though he never won a Norris trophy, nor a Stanely Cup, he helped the ‘Hawks reach the finals twice, and defined an era of Blackhawks’ hockey.

Pilote was there for the honor, unfortunately Magnuson was killed three years ago in a car crash. Both of these men were loved in Chicago, heroes in their own right. It is not for me to say anything bad about these two, or to imply that this honor was not well deserved. However I feel that the tradition of retiring numbers has become less and less exclusive these days. If you look at the history of retired numbers, until the 90s you didn’t get too many a year, if at all. Suddenly we’re having them by the truckload. This season we are having seven numbers retired. SEVEN. How can anyone feel like this is a truly exclusive, rare honor, with so many numbers going up into the rafters. Certainly these men do deserve to be honored, and Magnuson’s memory especially, but the last time either man played for this team was 1980, 28 years ago. You’d have to think if Blackhawk nation really felt that 3 should go up to the rafters that they would have put it up there already. Well, it’s made many Chicagoans happy so there’s just not much to criticize.

THIRD JERSEYS KEEP-A-ROLLIN’ OUT:

Vancouver released their third jerseys last night, and I wish there was a lot to say about them, but we’ve seen it all before. I feel for Vancouver, I really do. In the entire history of this franchise they haven’t found one decent logo. They love the stick-in-rink logo because it’s the closest thing they’ve had to a worthwhile insignia. The colors are great. I really think the blue and green says Vancouver, as well as being acceptable colors for hockey anyway. The logos they’ve trotted out over the years? Not so much. How great would they look with just a V? And I don’t mean that horrible black orange and yellow garbage they put out in the early 80s. I mean like the old Vancouver Millionaires that won the cup way back in the teens. Not only that, but burgundy and white are cool hockey colors too. There is actually one really awesome thing that came with these jerseys: Luongo’s new helmet (scroll through at take a look). Holy shit that looks awesome! He needs to wear that all the bloody time.

WHAT THE HELL ESPN:

Remember that article I wrote about goal scoring being up? Well it appeared on the ESPN hockey homepage yesterday with Pierre LeBrun as the author. Check it out. Not only is it the same subject, he even notes the exact same reasons I did for why hockey scoring has been up this year. He has one advantage, he gets to actually interview hockey players so he can quote them saying what I said. Like I said ESPN, if you want to use my writing on your site, just hire me. I’m sure I come cheaper then Mr. LeBrun.

THIS WEEKS SURPRISE:

I’d love to say Brian Burke stepping down as GM of the Ducks is a surprise, but anyone who follows hockey has seen that coming since summer. Roberto Luongo setting the franchise mark for shut-out minutes? No, that’s not a surprise, he broke his own record he set last year. How about the fact that so far, since they began testing, five players in the KHL have been found to have heart defects? That’s a helluva lot of players. I wonder if the NHL does similar testing. You can’t assume this is a local phenomenon in Russia, certainly some players here must have some possible problems as well. Of course, the danger is, can you allow someone with a heart defect to continue to play hockey? Certainly there have had to be many players, many good players too, who have played entire careers with heart defects. It’s very hard to say exactly what kinds of problems a heart defect can cause. There are different levels of heart defects, many of them somewhat benign. There are a lot of us sitting at our computers reading (or typing) this right now who were born with minor defects we aren’t even aware of. This will become on issue of rights of privacy because insurance companies will be wary of insuring hockey players with defects, even if those defects would never cause a life threatening condition. But at the same time, are we obligated to protect our players? We can only hope we won’t see any more deaths or the end of any careers, because if we do there may be sweeping changes that began to infringe on the rights of our hockey players.

JERSEYS EVERYWHERE!

Posted in Buffalo, Carolina, Edmonton, St. Louis, third jersey, Toronto, What Going Right by yankhockey on November 12, 2008

So I was browsing the internet recently when I suddenly realized I had made a horrible oversight on Yankee Hockey. In my haste to cover every third jersey release this season I didn’t recall that a number of teams had already released their third jerseys either in the off-season or early in the season before I had started writing. In the interest of full coverage today’s entry will finally give those jerseys their due, albeit more brief then I’m sure fans of those teams would like. So let’s get started with the:

Buffalo Sabres: If you read my report on the new Penguins sweater then you know I love shield logos on hockey jerseys. This jersey is so awesome it’s near perfect. The buffalo over two sabres is so very much better then the buffaslug they’ve been wearing for the last little while. It’s the exact kind of logo you’d expect from a team that wants to be taken seriously, for a team with smart hockey fans, for the Buffalo Sabres. The colors are great too, dark blue mixed with a deep yellow. None of this bright color garbage that so many teams have these days. Ok, so the Sharks and Canucks look pretty good in non-traditional colors, but that’s the West Coast, in the East you gotta look more dabber then that. Good for Buffalo for taking a step in the right direction.

Carolina Hurricanes: It might surprise you to learn that I actually like this jersey. It might just be because the normal Hurricanes jersey is so damn stupid that nearly anything would look better. They share their colors with just about every other team in the East (Devils, Panthers, etc…), and the logo certainly doesn’t scream hockey. The new logo, a tattered flag fluttering in the wind, is actually kind of interesting. And the colors, though still shared, are in better proportions then they were before. A nearly completely black jersey isn’t so interesting, but it is something the NHL doesn’t currently have which makes it much more entertaining to look at.

Edmonton Oilers: The Oilers are getting back to what works. I’ll admit I actually like the oil drop in the cog logo, but there’s something about a classic look that trumps anything new you could create… hence the term classic I guess. The orange and blue are the colors that Edmonton came into the league with, they’re the colors that Gretzky played under, and they’re the colors that they won many many cups under. Like a lot of Northwest teams the jersey colors are based on the local scenes, blue and orange are working colors, Edmonton is a working class town.

St Louis Blues: Cool Cool Cool Cool Cool! These jerseys are so cool they absolutely belong in Music City. The shield is great, with the classic Blues logo in front of the Gateway Arch. The colors are great but we better hope they don’t play a game, alternate versus alternate, against the Sabres or we may have no idea which team has the puck. The best part about this jersey is how ugly St. Louis jerseys could have been, but instead they got these beauties. St Louis is taking a cue from the teams with history, shield logos are hockey perfection.

Toronto Maple Leafs: No surprise here, we’ve already seen this jersey from the Leafs. None-the-less it’s a nice jersey to see. It brings me back to an earlier time, a time when helmets were for the army, sweaters were sweaters, and six teams were all you needed. I’ve read a lot of reviews, both previously and in this newest incarnation, that complained about the wordmark in the Leaf. I actually like wordmarks on jerseys. It’s not just for baseball people. There’s something nice about seeing the team name and city on a hockey sweater, and it’s hardly a new phenomenon, rather it was common all the way up to the Original Six era. I think it makes a lot of sense both stylistically and historically.

And there you have it, a quick synopsis of all the new jerseys I have missed. And allow me to apologize for making the mistake of ignoring these jerseys for so long. Now that I’m caught up I can finally relax.

What’s Going Right:

Goaltending! Finally, after watching goaltenders struggling all year we’re seeing some stellar play from the goaltenders who were supposed to be stellar. Even without Brodeur, and with Turco playing like Swiss cheese, top-tier goaltenders are showing why they are top tier. Roberto Luongo might not let another goal in all year. Henrik Lundqvist is making sure the Rangers are the best team in the east. But what’s really fun to watch is the next generation keeping the crease free from pucks. Ryan Miller is playing like a man possessed, Alex Auld is the only thing Ottawa has the be optimistic about, and moving South, Mike Smith is making  Dallas regret letting him go. Suddenly goal scorers are facing goaltenders on their game, and that’s just as fun to watch.

AH FISH STICKS

Posted in Boston, NY Islanders, third jersey, What Going Right by yankhockey on October 29, 2008
Bill Guerin models the Islanders new third jersey

Bill Guerin models the Islanders' new third jersey

If I was the type of guy to use emoticons, I’d have a a teary-eyed face in the title of this post. Why New York? Why no Gordon’s Fisherman?

Actually, I’m more then alright with what came out of Long Island on Monday when the Islanders unveiled their new third jersey. Despite some talk about this being a “completely new jersey”, it’s basically the blue uniform they wore when they won four Stanley Cups, except with the Reebok Edge rounded hemline. Actually, and I wonder whether the jersey will sit like this, or if this is just how Bill Guerin likes to wear it, this jersey seems to sit tighter across the chest and shoulders like we were told the Edge was supposed to. I happen to like that look, it’s reminiscent of the sweaters of old which always look great. Forgive my aside for a moment, I just think the billowing, Olympic swimming pool sized jerseys that have been around since the late 80s just don’t say hockey to me, they sit more like basketball jerseys. Hell, if I had my way they’d all be wearing knitted wool sweaters again!

As much as I would love to see the Fishsticks jersey again (cause really, I love ugly things), this is a good direction to take for the Islanders. Like many teams in the expansion era of the NHL, the Islanders have had more then their fair share of bad jerseys. Also, like many expansion teams, their first jersey was their best. Those first sweaters were created before sports team logos and colors had to be louder and busier then the next team’s.  I’ve already gone over what I think about new logos versus the classic ones, so I won’t get into it here, except to say that in hockey, a simple logo works much better. Their current jersey design is actually very nice, I like the Cup stripes, I like the shoulders, I like the colors, but going back to a design more reminiscent of their original is a great idea.

I hope marketers from other teams are paying attention because this is how you do a third jersey. No flash, no gimmicks, real hockey. This is a sweater that players will want to wear on the ice, and better yet, fans will want to wear in the seats.

There really isn’t anything to critique here, and in this case that’s a good thing. The only thing I’d like to see is the Cup stripes. I really like that addition they made on the Edge jerseys and I think it would look pretty awesome on this one as well. However, you can’t fault them for wanting to create something more historically accurate. You wouldn’t know it looking at today’s team, but the Islanders were the powerhouse team of  the early eighties, and this is pretty much the jersey the wore. As much as I’d like to see players writing in embarrassment in the fish sticks jersey again… I have absolutely no complaints about this jersey.

WHAT’S GOING RIGHT:

It took a little while to get going. After a shut-out on opening night, there really hasn’t been much in the way of goaltending prowess until the last week or so. It’s nice to see goaltenders start to keep pucks out of the net again, not that I don’t like scoring, but there’s something exciting about not scoring too. But how about Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins going two straight without letting a puck into the net. Not just two, two plus one overtime. Not just two plus one overtime, two plus one overtime in two days facing 59 shots over all. In those two games his team scored a total of two goals. I think it’s safe to say that without Thomas Boston could be considered to be struggling right now. I’m guessing he’s going to be one of the three stars of the week. What’s also nice out of Boston is that apparently Phil Kessel read that I didn’t think I would lead his team in scoring, cause somethings got this kid going right now. I’m glad Boston fans can watch this kid work all year, cause he’s a real hockey treat.