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Showing posts from August, 2008

Your Labor Day Weekend Quickies

Before you settle in for the first Saturday of college football (gotta get my Michigan flag out), here are a few quickies for you: I'm interested in loading up my MP3 player with hockey podcasts... so do you have any good recommendations to share? Feel free to drop a comment and let me know which ones I should subscribe to... Head over to the Legends of Hockey Network , where Joe Pelletier is posting a series of the greatest photographs in hockey history. Yesterday's installment detailed a gruesome injury that nearly ended the career of Gordie Howe before it even got rolling. In my book , Mr. Hockey is the greatest of all-time because not only was he a consistently great scorer, but he was also a dominating physical presence night-in, night-out. He epitomized the game. Anyone in the adult C-leagues (upper or lower) down at Centennial Sportsplex need a player? I'd like to head back downtown after spending last year at Southern Ice, but I've been told the teams

Patric Hornqvist, the 2008-9 Forechecker's Forecast

This series of Forechecker's Forecasts heads into truly uncharted waters today as we consider the prospects for Patric Hornqvist, the Swedish winger who appears to be the organization's next-best option for goal-scoring depth after the departure of Alexander Radulov. Since he's labored over in the Swedish Elite League for the last few years, North American fans have precious little evidence to evaluate; the single most-noteworthy fact known about him is that he tied Peter Forsberg's record for goal-scoring by a junior player (with 23) for Djurgarden in 2006-7. He has also represented Sweden well during the World Championships both in 2007 and 2008, and his 6 goals this year led the team. Nashville fans are hoping for plenty of this... The big unknown, here, however, is how does Hornqvist's production in the SEL translate into what we can expect of him in the NHL? Besides the obvious difference in talent level and the international-size ice surface, there's

NHLPA head Paul Kelly is all business

Adam Proteau over at the Hockey News has excerpts from an interesting interview with NHLPA head Paul Kelly posted today, and it's well worth harkening to the man who's lent credibility to an organization that was faltering in the wake of the Great Lockout. While Kelly's professionalism is welcome, his ideas still need to be vetted: "...under the collective bargaining agreement, the players have no voice and no role, in a technical manner, as it pertains to relocation or expansion. And we don’t derive any financial benefit from that, which I think is a mistake." That's a pretty odd misstatement on Kelly's part. If the NHL expands, the NHLPA instantly grows by ~25 members for each team. No, they don't get a cut of the expansion fee, but the NHLPA definitely benefits. In the event of relocation, there's no windfall either, but if a team moves to a more attractive market, hockey-related revenues will increase, of which the majority goes to the pl

J.P. Dumont, the 2008-9 Forechecker's Forecast

When the Buffalo Sabres walked away from an arbitration award in the summer of 2006, making J.P. Dumont an unrestricted free agent, many approved of David Poile's subsequent signing of him as a savvy addition that would bring secondary scoring behind the likes of Paul Kariya and Steve Sullivan, who then led a deep Nashville attack. Two years on, Dumont is now wearing the "A", leading the charge up front along with Jason Arnott, and entering the first year of a new four-season contract paying him $4 million annually. Each of his two seasons with the Predators have seen progress in offensive production, so the main question with #71 is, has he reached his peak? J.P. Dumont, 5 Year Overview Season Age Team GP G A Pts Pts/Gm +/- Shots TOI/Gm 2003 24 BUF 76 14 21 35 0.46 -14 135 15:04 2004 25 BUF 77 22 31 53 0.69 -9 156 17:00 2006 27 BUF 54 20 20 40 0.74 -1 116 16:00 2007 28 NSH 82 21 45 66 0.80 14 143 16:12 2008 29 NSH 80 29 43 72 0.90 5 192 18:30 data from Hockey-Referenc

NHL teams come in S, M, L

One of the age-old debates around any hockey team is whether your favorite squad is big enough and tough enough not just to cope with the long struggle of the NHL season, but whether they can intimidate an opponent into defeat. Back in the 1990's, Philadelphia fans drooled over the gargantuan Legion of Doom, while the Ottawa Senators, to cite one example, were accused of being too small and soft as they flopped in the playoffs a few years ago. When we get right down to it, though, which are the biggest and smallest teams in the league today? To answer that question, I took the current player listing from and linked it up to the player bio information , in order to get height and weight by team. For clarification, no goalies are included here, nor are players who didn't dress for at least one game in the 2007-8 NHL Regular Season. That said, we're left with a clear enough picture to follow the trends, so here are our contestants, sorted by average player weight:

A Wednesday Morning Quickie

For a fascinating glimpse into hockey history, Eyes on the Prize reprints an old Sports Illustrated interview with Rocket Richard, during the final days of his legendary career. Here's a sample: "It's changed. I'm the oldest; the rest are kids," Richard said one night in a Detroit bar which advertised a stereophonic juke box. ("I'd go where the boys go," he had said, "but it's not a nice place. This is a quiet little bar on the corner.") "I know I'm not playing good hockey now. I'm weak now. My legs are tired. After a minute and a half, I'm tired. I'm so tired. I will try to diet. I weigh 194 pounds. I've been playing at that weight for the last five years, but I'm so heavy I'm floating on air. I got to take off five or six pounds before the playoffs. Only one beer. That's all I'll drink. I'll drink gin. That isn't fattening." Hmm... I wonder if Blues fans are going to start stocki

Vern Fiddler, the 2008-9 Forechecker's Forecast

Have we ever seen a more fortuitously named athlete for his adopted city than Vern Fiddler of the Nashville Predators? Perhaps Terry Crisp when he coached in Calgary (Flames, Crispy, you get it), but not too many others come to mind. Sorry, I just couldn't resist... In 2007-8, Fiddler enjoyed another season of unheralded contributions as Barry Trotz's utility man; he played everywhere from the top line alongside Jason Arnott down to 4th-line checking duty, with his characteristic hustle bringing him a career-high 79 games played. Especially in a salary-cap era, Fiddler is the type of guy who provides quality depth and reliability. One metric that Lowetide likes to cite often is Even Strength Points per 60 minutes. Check out Fiddler's 2007-8 performance compared to his teammates: Even Strength TOI and Pts per 60 Minutes, 2007-8 NAME POS GP TOI/60 PTS/60 JEAN-PIERRE DUMONT RW 80 13.81 2.88 ALEXANDER RADULOV RW 81 12.94 2.86 JASON ARNOTT C 79 13.78 2.65 MARTIN ERAT RW 76

Don't close the curtain on the Del Biaggio drama

As the bankruptcy proceedings for Boots Del Biaggio continue, apparently some of his creditors want to keep the case closed from public access and scrutiny. The Tennessean today announced that they've launched a legal action to maintain visibility into the case, filing a brief in federal court. For hockey fans, this is important, as we've seen some pretty grizzly details come out already thanks to the reporting of Brad Shrade over the last several weeks. Naturally, the parties directly involved in this case would prefer not to have their dirty laundry held up for view, but as the Tennessean argued, "the strong public interest here in access to the information about a case involving millions of taxpayer dollars outweighs the desire of the Committee and/or debtor to evade public scrutiny." In other words, given the Sommet Center lease renegotiation, which was in part dependent upon personal financial guarantees by the Predators ownership group, the people of Na

Kevin Klein: The 2008-9 Forechecker's Forecast

After previewing some grizzled veterans in the first two installments of these Forechecker's Forecasts, it's time take a look at a hockey player with only a handful of NHL games on his resume, Kevin Klein. After years of preparation as a hot defensive prospect, Klein is set to join the Nashville lineup full-time this fall, based on his new two-year contract that will pay him an average of $650,000 per season. Is Klein ready to shine? Photo courtesy of mark6mauno Last year must have been frustrating for Klein, as he failed to make the big team coming out of training camp, and his early work in Milwaukee drew sharp criticism from Barry Trotz. Later on there was some experimentation with having him play wing in practice, in order to back up some banged-up Predators forwards, but that never panned out and Klein ended up dressing for only 13 games for Nashville, as Ville Koistinen jumped ahead of him on the depth chart. The time is definitely now for the 23 year-old, who, wh

Fantasy Hockey guides hit the shelves

For early birds, the time is coming to start preparing for Fantasy Hockey season, and studying the various guides that hit the magazine shelves and websites during August and September. Prompted by the post yesterday at Waiting for Stanley which examined the Hockey News' Fantasy Pool Guide from a Canucks perspective, I thought I'd try doing the same vis-a-vis the Nashville Predators. The bottom line? If you plan on only buying one Fantasy Hockey Guide for the upcoming season, don't go with the one from the Hockey News. Now don't get me wrong; it's a well-crafted, very slick publication, but by getting on the newstands nearly a month before hockey training camps open, it's not up to date on the summer happenings which are having a major effect on various players and teams. There are also some strange omissions which I can't explain. For instance, Alexander Radulov still shows up on the Nashville roster as a main producer, but Jordin Tootoo (who receiv

Hitch a ride over to the Hockey News

For today, head on over to Hockey News , where my latest piece deals with Ken Hitchcock's recent interview with one of the Columbus Blue Jackets bloggers , in which he fires a few verbal barbs towards Nashville, including this doozy: "when talking with various folks in the know that they told him when we played Nashville that even though we outworked them they weren't worried b/c they knew only 1 or 2 guys could score." That's pretty good stuff considering Columbus scored the fewest goals in the NHL last year, with 193! UPDATE: Kudos to the commenter below who pointed out that I probably took this the wrong way, and that Hitch was commenting on the Blue Jackets own lack of scoring depth. Anyways, there was certainly this in there as well: When asked if we will finally be able to beat Nashville his reply - "yes we will kick their ass". Even I couldn't misinterpret that one...

The 2008-9 Forechecker's Forecast: Radek Bonk

Today's installment of the Forechecker's Forecast brings us to Radek Bonk , the veteran center who was acquired last summer to be " a big, experienced center that can play the shut-down defensive role and also fill in in more offensive situations," as GM David Poile said at the time. Since Bonk did a solid job in that role with the Montreal Canadiens for the first two years following the Great Lockout, there was reason for optimism that 1994's #3 overall draft pick would be the perfect fit to round out a center position that already boasted Jason Arnott, David Legwand, and Scott Nichol. Bonk began the season anchoring a line with Jed Ortmeyer on the left side and Jerred Smithson on the right, but the ice seemed to tilt uphill for them, and that line's impact on the team's Plus/Minus in 5-on-5 action was nothing short of disastrous . The "Rating" value from Behind the Net describes the difference between a team's Goals For and Against numbe

Jason Arnott, the 2008-9 Forechecker's Forecast

In order to tide us all over until hockey training camp opens next month, I thought I'd take a cue from Lowetide and some others by taking an early peek ahead to the 2008-9 season for individual members of the Nashville Predators. Hey, it's the middle of August, and there's nothing else to write about, right? So what I've done is taken the current roster (minus the AWOL Radulov), added in a few others who are expected to make some contribution this year (Rich Peverley, Patric Hornqvist, Ryan Jones, Antti Pihlstrom) and tossed them into a virtual hat (OK, I used the Random function in Excel). This top-secret, classified ordering will dictate the sequence in which these previews will appear... So first up on the hit parade? None other than your captain, #19, Jason Arnott ... Photo Courtesy of Paul Nicholson In 2007-8 Arnott stepped into the role of team captain amidst a summer of franchise turmoil that has been documented ad nauseum. In the end, he delivered one of

KHL Promises to Behave... Not!

The following press release just hit my inbox from the KHL Press Service , in which Russia's Continental Hockey League takes their arrogance and bombast to a whole new level: ------------------------- KHL Extending Moratorium on Transfer of Players from NHL Until First Violation by NHL The Continental Hockey League (KHL) has decided to unilaterally extend the moratorium on inviting players from the clubs of the National Hockey League (NHL), which was introduced on July 15, 2008, which does not affect free agents who do not have contracts. "We will adhere to the moratorium until the first manifestation of disrespect to the hockey contracts of our league and the contract rights of its clubs," said Alexander Medvedev, the league's president. ------------------------- I don't know, maybe Alexander Medvedev got hit on the head and now thinks he's Russian President Dmitry Medvedev , and is preparing to roll his figurative tanks into the NHL's backyard just

Bigfoot Found???

The Internet's on fire today with news the Bigfoot may have been found in a remote area of northern Georgia. While folks are obviously curious as to whether this age-old myth might actually become a modern-day reality, I think if we had any sensitivity whatsoever, particularly as hockey fans, this would be a day of mourning. Just take a look at the supposed picture of Bigfoot which has been posted for all the world to see: Then, consider that this creature might not actually be some evolutionary offshoot of our biological family tree, but rather just another retired athlete who had fallen on hard times and was living out a secluded retirement in the mountains: Let's take a moment to remember the late great Jamie Macoun ...

Cold War II

It looks like a new Cold War is getting ready to escalate, based on a couple stories featured this morning over at Kukla's Korner . First, we have Alexander Radulov sounding off in the Russian press against the supposed looting of his country by the insidious forces of the NHL: Insisting he's broken no rules, Radulov has already played three exhibition games with his new club. The rising star painted himself as a patriot returning home, signalling a return to prominence for Russian hockey in a question-and-answer session this week with Russian reporters. "The NHL for 15 years has brought young players from Europe, first and foremost from Russia," according to a translation in "I think that it is time to end this. Simply put: (It's) time to stop robbing us." Hmm... it looks like somebody has really drunk the Kool-Aid when it comes to Russian patriotism. Of course, a new multi-million dollar contract combined with a complete tax e

Thursday morning quickies

Here are a few quick hits to keep you occupied today: 1) James Mirtle takes a look at salary trends in the NHL, and whether or not the "middle class" is getting wiped out by the salary cap. 2) Hockey on a glacier . Cool... 3) Mike Chen takes a look at teams currently above the salary cap. Get this one in front of David Poile. 4) John Glennon blogs over at the Tennessean , agreeing with my recent post at that when the Predators front office said earlier this week that they're comfortable with rookies filling key scoring roles, they just didn't sound very convincing.

Are you a "Hockey Player For Life"?

With the action on the NHL front slow, slower and slowest during this longest of months for hockey fans, it's a good opportunity to consider the literary side of the game. Howard Shapiro has an entertaining book coming out this fall, " Hockey Player For Life ", which chronicles the fictional trials and tribulations of Tom Leonard, a young hotshot defenseman on his local team in Pennsylvania back in the 1980's. When he hears the siren song of opportunity in the form of an invitation to join a team up in Canada, Tom gets caught up in a whirlwind of conflicting pressures from his teammates, coaches, and ultimately, himself. Anyone who played hockey (or really any sport) as a youth will identify with Tom's situation and enjoy the ride. Head on over to the site linked above to find out more. It was quite timely to have Howard send me an advance copy to review, as the Nashville Predators earlier today opened up registration for the latest round of their GOAL program

As Hlavac heads to Sweden, is Hornqvist coming to take his place?

Earlier this week the Tennessean reported that Jan Hlavac , who joined the Predators at the trade deadline and produced an impressive 13 points (3G, 15A) in 18 games, turned down a one-year contract offer from David Poile and headed off to play in the Swedish Elite League instead. The comments from Hlavac's agent, Rich Winter might lead to some concern for Nashville fans: "It was hard for us to understand,'' Winter said. "Jan was prepared to take less money to come back than to sign (in Sweden). But the Predators never really got anywhere close to the kind of offer you'd expect for a player that's accomplished what he has. It's too bad because it really looked like he had good chemistry with the coaches and players there.'' Supposedly Hlavac was looking for something around $1 million, while Nashville offered up Jerred Smithson-type money ($740K). Did Poile really let a potential 2nd-line winger walk over a mere $250,000 in negotiation? Are

A Late Summer Harvest

With the flurry of big-time free agent deals well behind us, an interesting dynamic has developed at this stage of the NHL's offseason that benefits the small-market and spendthrift teams. As of this writing , 5 teams (Philadelphia, Washington, Chicago, Calgary and Anaheim) are above the salary cap, and another six are within $2 million of that mark with hockey training camps still another month away. What this means is that a second wave of players are coming available, either as outright free agents after contract buyouts (like Mark Parrish and Glen Murray) or as possible trade bait by teams looking to clear room (as Mike Knuble has been mentioned in Philly). While big-spending teams can't technically spend more on their roster in a given season than other teams, they are certainly more able to absorb the cost of buying out a player in order to clear room as the GM sees fit. In this case, however, that flexibility that they pay for results in populating a secondary market of