Saturday, February 26, 2011
What's the same: You'll still find all the same content you do here, but with a little more focus on the NHL.
What's different: The name (Above the Glass) and the location.
The local angle: The new title refers to my big picture take on the sport, and it's also named for my Portland Winterhawks season ticket seat.
Speaking of which: Fear not, Winterhawks family and fans. I'll still be featuring the Winterhawks on the new blog, and I'll be boosting my coverage on oregonlive as we head into the playoffs, NHL Combine and the draft. Be assured there will still be plenty of information and news about the Hawks in both places.
The indirect link: If you go to the general Kukla's web site, hover over the "Blogs" toolbar to click on it, or scroll down to the right side for the list of blogs. I'm second. I encourage you to go the general web site first, as Paul and his bloggers have a lot to offer. My personal favorites are The Confluence (Pittsburgh Penguins), The Malik Report (all things Red Wings), Beasts of the Southeast (Tampa Bay Lightning) and Canucks and Beyond.
The direct link: http://www.kuklaskorner.com/index.php/atg.
For followers: You can continue following me on my new home. There is an RSS feed link on my blog. Or, even better, here is the direct URL: http://feeds.feedburner.com/AboveTheGlass.
Parting shots: Thank you to all who have followed, visited or read this blog since its inception in 2009. I appreciate each and every little kibble, visit and follower. I hope you will continue to share in my adventures on the new home. And Portland fans can keep tuning in on www.oregonlive.com/hawks. That will continue as is, and thanks to my press pass, look for photos in the coming months. And the archives of 87in107 will continue to live here, so you can peruse favorite past entries anytime. It has been my pleasure to provide you with information and entertainment here, and I look forward to continuing to do so.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Why I chose them: Honkin' tall French Captain is back in fine form, the score is Tampa 8, Phoenix 3 with seven minutes to go in the third period. And there's Guy Boucher, mais oui. Matt Duchene is back. That means one current and three potential Calder nominees (Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Magnus Paajarvi) in one game. Good enough for me. So is this: Honkin' tall French Captain there racked up five points (one goal, four assists).
The other game: Portland Winterhawks plays tonight in the second of two games against Prince George Cougars.
You don't see this everyday: In last night's game between Portland and Prince George, both teams got coincidental penalties for too many men on the ice. If the WHL rulebook is similar to the NHL, yes this is possible. Here are the key highlights:
Rule 74, Too Many Men on the Ice:
-- Players may be changed at any time during the play from the players' bench provided that the player or players leaving the ice shall be within five feet of his players' bench and out of the play before the change is made.
-- If in the course of making a substitution, either the player entering the game or the player retiring from the ice surface plays the puck with his stick, skates or hands or who checks or makes any physical contact with an opposing player while either the player entering the game or retiring is actually on the ice, then the infraction of "too many men on the ice" will be called.
-- A player coming onto the ice as a substitute player is considered on the ice once both of his skates are on the ice. If he plays the puck or interferes with an opponent while still on the players' bench, he shall be penalized under Rule 56 - Interference.
Early bird special: He's not even on our roster yet, but keep an eye on the Portland Winterhawks' first round pick in the 2010 Bantam Draft, Nic Petan. He just played in the Canada Winter Games, which features young hockey players 15 and under. He was on Team BC, which won the tournament. More importantly, he racked up the game winning goal and four assists in the final gold medal game and the stick he used to do so will henceforth be living in its new home in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. Oh yeah, he's all of 16 (as of March 22), he's all of 5'6" and among his teammates on Team BC: Steen Cooper, running a very close second to Steele Boomer for best hockey name, ever.
In the meantime, we must make this happen: Ryan Johansen continued his blitz with two goals last night. He nearly had a hat trick about two weeks ago, save for a late video review that handed it to Brad Ross. So Portland readers, to refresh, we must all take a pre-game moment to repeat the following: Hat trick. Ryan Johansen. Hat trick. Ryan Johansen. I know we can make this happen.
Morals of the story:
The game: Like life, the devil is in the details. Or not. Notice that this rule does not define putting an extra player on the ice without pulling the goalie qualifies as a penalty. So math would not be one of the details you need to worry about, then? Discuss.
Life: There should be a rule like this for commuter gridlock. Once there are too many men on the highway, anyone who attempts to hit the freeway after that should be "penalized" by being made to return home, indulge in the extra cup of coffee, tea, whatever and try again at 9 am, when the rest of the rat race is safely esconced in cubeville in Corporate America.
Next up: The ongoing futile but noble attempt to understand the cap room rule.
Monday, February 21, 2011
Why I chose it: The rivalry continues, with two new players in tow following today's blockbuster trade with the Dallas Stars that sent Alex Goligoski to the Stars.
Oh the irony: The two Dallas players who will call Pittsburgh home for the rest of the season are James Neal and Matt Niskanen, the latter of which is best known for being the other half of a rare Sidney Crosby fight.
Ok, now I'm nervous: Anaheim Ducks' GM Bob Murray has stated in an inteview that he is concerned about Jonas Hiller's health. According to the latest reports he has a balance problem. Ok, I still don't freel any better. Goalies with balance problems, especially ones who are the reason I watch the Ducks, is generally not good. Equally scary is the fact that we've reached the point in the season that the injured reserve list of NHL teams on any given day is bigger news than trades, points or final scores.
The rule: Article 50, Team Payroll Range System; Lower Limit and Upper Limit; Payroll Room; Lower Limit and Upper Limit Accounting.
I'm reading slowly and carefully through this section, lest I should miss an important detail: The second half of (b) (i) "The Upper and Lower Limits of the Team Payroll Range shall be determined in accordance with the following formula" reads as follows: If a significant one-time increase or decrease in League-wide revenues (e.g. by reason of the addition or loss of a national television contract or the scheduled opening of one or more new arenas which is expected to result in a significant increase in League-wide revenues) is anticipated the next League Year, the parties will endeavor to estimate the expected increase or decrease and incorporate that estimate into the above-stated formula for calculating the adjusted midpoint. After adjustment for the revenue growth factor, the Payroll Range shall be constructed by adding $8 million to the Adjusted Midpoint to establish the Upper Limit, and subtracting $8 million from the Adjusted Midpoint to establish the Lower Limit.
Morals of the story:
The game: At last, a math equation I understand. Add a number to get the upper limit. Subtract a number to get the lower limit. On occasion, the NHL keeps it simple. Just like it should be.
Life: With the current economy still not showing official signs of improving, we need a rule like this, whereby if some poor soul should happen to experience a sudden downturn in salary due to a layoff, then his or her severance package range should be reconfigured to account for the sudden loss of guaranteed income to cover more money over a longer time, thereby protecting him or her from foreclosure and repossession of car and/or large household electronics.
Next up: Backtracking to what defines hockey related revenues. A word of caution, though: It's 24 pages long. I'll be doing the Cliff's Notes version.
Sunday, February 20, 2011
It was hockey night in Portland: The Winterhawks kicked off the local festivities with Pink the Rink night, in which the ice was indeed pink, the team sailed to a 6-3 win over the Chilliwack Bruins that also clinched them a playoff berth and New York Islanders prospect Nino Niederreiter scored his first hat trick of the season: www.oregonlive.com/hawks.
The rule: Article 50.5, Team Payroll Range System; Lower Limit and Upper Limit; Payroll Room; Lower Limit and Upper Limit Accounting.
50.5 (i) The Upper and Lower Limits of the Team Payroll Range shall be determined in accordance with the following formula:
Preliminary Hockey-Related Revenue (HRR) for the prior League Year multiplied by [x] the Applicable Percentage (as defined in Section 50.4(b) of this Agreement, minus [-] Preliminary Benefits, divided [/] by the number of Clubs then playing in the NHL, shall equal [=] the Midpoint of the Payroll Range, which shall be adjusted upward by a factor of five (5) percent in each League Year (yielding the Adjusted Midpoint) until League-wide Actual HRR equals or exceeds $2.1 billion, at which point the five (5) percent growth factor shall continue unless or until either party to this Agreement proposes a different growth factor based on actual revenue experience and/or projections, in which case the parties shall discuss and agree upon a new factor.
Morals of the story:
The game: So presumably, this is before taxes, then? And yes, the plus, minus, multiplied and divided by signs are in the actual rule. Just in case a team tries to get out of this on a technicality...like they couldn't read the actual words.
Life: I've always wondered how companies determine salaries for their employees. They must use a formula like this, only with a few variations: the working middle class employees' salary shall be determined by adding the total potential hours worked and the talent/experience of said individual, divided by what the company actually thinks they are worth even if it's less than their actual value, minus the amount of money that must be reserved for executive salaries and bonuses, multiplied by the minimum wage the employee would be earning if they didn't have the ambition to claw their way to middle management. I didn't major in accounting, but I'm pretty sure it equals less than $100,000.
Next up: Part 2 of the Lower and Upper Limits.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
In case you need to put the name and the talent to the face: Oregonlive has a great feature about top prospect Ty Rattie, complete with photos. Read all about it at www.oregonlive.com/hawks.
The rule: Article 50.5, Payroll Range System; Lower Limit and Upper Limit; Payroll Room; Lower Limit and Upper Limit Accounting.
Part 2 of (a) Overview of Operation of Team Payroll Range: For purposes of calculating any Club's "Payroll Room" at a given point in time, the Upper Limit for such League Year shall be measured against the Club's "Averaged Club Salary" as defined below. Any Club with an Averaged Club Salary that is less than the Upper Limit has available Payroll Room in the amount of the difference between the Averaged Club Salary and the Upper Limit. As set forth below, if a Club has Payroll Room during a League Year, the Club may use such Payroll Room to contract for or otherwise acquire additional Player Salaries and Bonuses. A Club may contract for or otherwise acquire additional Player Salaries and Bonuses only to the extent of its Payroll Room, subject, however, to certain limited exceptions as set forth herein.
Morals of the story:
The game: Of course there's an exception. How else could you get away with the Kovalchuk deal?
Life: Think of all those gazillionaires on Wall Street who never would have made all that money if there was an Upper Limit on unscrupulous stock trader salaries. And if they did, they would have been traded away to a lesser brokerage firm for a lower salary. And all those working class citizens who socked away their money in stocks, bonds, mutual funds and whatever else wouldn't be putting off retirement or coming out of it altogether to make milkshakes at McDonald's.
Next up: Article 50.5, (b) "Lower Limit" and "Upper Limit."
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
The game: Edmonton Oilers 4, Dallas Stars 1. There is hope.
Mini bummer alert: The Flyers beat the Tampa Bay Lightning in a shootout 4 - 3. I'm about to watch the replay, but I'm guessing it also involved Guy Boucher flipping his lid and yelling at refs. When you can't have victory, you can have hot French coaches bugging out en Francais. Game on.
As that festive time of year known as the trade deadline approaches, you may hear tell now and again that a team doesn't have salary cap room and therefore must dispatch a player, or that they have a lot of room and can afford to acquire bigger, better talent. What does it all mean, you may wonder? I think it has something to do with this:
Article 50, Team Payroll Range System: 50.5, Team Payroll Range System; Lower Limit and Upper Limit; Payroll Room; Lower Limit and Upper Limit Accounting.
Let's start with this: (a): Overview of Operation of Team Payroll Range. The Team Payroll Range created by this agreement consists of a Lower Limit and an Upper Limit during each League Year for permissible spending by each Club based on its Averaged Club Salary. Team Payroll provisions do not permit clubs to have Averaged Club Salary below the Lower Limit. Nor does the Team Payroll Range permit the team to have Averaged Club Salary above the Upper Limit, except for 2 limited exceptions provided in this Agreement, with respect to bona fide, long-term Player inuries or illnesses, as set forth in Section 50.1(d) and with respect to the "Performance Bonus Cushion" as set forth in Section 50.5(h).
Morals of the story:
The game: What's missing here is the third "as set forth in" provision that allows once great teams like the New Jersey Devils to acquire over-hyped, underperforming talent that demands $100 million plus over the next decade. Key to this provision is the requirement that the player is not required to pull their weight or produce key returns on investment like goals, assists or all around team leadership.
Life: We have lower and upper limits for salaries in Corporate America, but nothing says a certain salary is too high or too low. Hence most companies are "run" by executives who make too much and the actual work that keeps said companies really running is done by people who make too little. Companies should try the food service system, where everybody makes a flat fee as required by law and the real money is earned through tips for exceptional service. If you work on the top floor of a building and make more money than God while spending most of your day in your fantasy whatever league, making paper clip forts and waiting for someone else to tell you how to take charge, then you make your little flat fee and go home. On the other hand, if you work on the middle or lower floors, but you have gone above and beyond your job description each and every time you take on a task, then you get that automatic 20 percent gratuity they tack onto room service, plus whatever else satisfied customers add on top of it. You save diligently, buy a bar in Mexico and eventually end up serving little drinks with umbrellas in them to the CEO and his buddies who have all lost their hair, their jobs and their wives. Justice sometimes takes a while, but it's always worth it.
Next up: The second half of the overview, which defines "payroll room."
Sunday, February 13, 2011
-- Winterhawks 8, Thunderbirds 2.
-- Portland went 6 for 7 on the power play, a season high.
-- Rookie defenseman Josh Hanson netted his first WHL career assist. Stay tuned. He graduated from high school at 16...imagine what he'll do once he starts getting more ice time.
-- Seth Swenson scored his second goal of the season, one week after scoring the first (which by the way, was the first time he'd scored in a year). The player to watch in the playoffs.
-- Columbus Blue Jackets' top prospect Ryan Johansen scored two goals in two minutes in the second period, and was thought to have scored a third for the hat trick. A video review led to the final ruling that the goal was in fact scored by his linemate Brad Ross on a deflection.
-- Oh, and the almost hat trick goal? Brad scored that 39 seconds after Riley Boychuk dove to put one into the Seattle net. And, it was on a power play.
-- Later, in the third period, defensemen Taylor Aronson and Joe Morrow scored three minutes apart. Are you with me so far?
You can read all about it here: www.oregonlive.com/hawks
Like I said, when Brad and Riley stay out of the box, they know how to dazzle: Brad did not rack up one single penalty minute. Riley only got a four minute minor early in the game, and then he got on with the business of scoring.
Taylor and Joe never give me but a few words in interviews, but who cares?: Defensemen who score like that can stand there and pick their noses while I'm talking, I'd still be impressed. Well, ok, maybe that's a bit extreme. Hold the boogers and give me a quote whenever possible. And by all means, do carry right on with the scoring.
So Portland's getting on with the business of scoring, but meanwhile back in Pittsburgh: That goonfest against the New York Islanders was just the start of the Twilight Zone that is the Penguins:
First, Mario Lemieux isn't pulling any punches either. He issued this statement about the events of the other night: http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=552605.
Second, when your bus collides with a car and you are in full gear and need to get to an outdoor practice in Central Park: Hail a cab, of course. It is New York City, after all (http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=552545).
About that almost hat trick and the player who scored it: I first took notice of Ryan Johansen during an early season game in 2009, when he gave a good shove to an opponent and laid down a play that led to the Winterhawks scoring. I don't remember who the opponent was, or what period it was or what the score ended up being. But I remember looking down to take note of the player: Johansen, number 19. Little did I know that about five months later, I would meet him.
It was all a single moment of chance. I picked the winning ticket at the Portland Winterhawks Booster Club pizza night, where I bought him a pizza and he got to sit at my table. In the course of about an hour, I learned the following:
-- Why hockey players love golf: it's outside and non-hockey related. But contrary to my belief, it has nothing to do with being allowed to wear ugly pants in public.
-- That Nino Niederreiter does not in fact ride around in a town car with Troy Rutkowski at the wheel, chirping orders at him ("turn left up here, it's faster....turn up the heat, it's cold in here...can we stop for a snack?")
-- That Ryan had no idea he would go fourth in the 2010 Entry Draft, one spot ahead of Nino. In fact, he was more interested in talking about how cool Nino is than he was in talking about himself.
Moral of the story: Get ready, Columbus. Something very special is coming your way.
As for the rest of the NHL's future: If you've not already done so, I'd suggest you tune into the frequency of the following Winterhawks prospects and rookies:
-- Ty Rattie. It took me three tries before he realized I was talking about him and not the team when I asked him "what's it like to be awesome?" I don't remember the last time he went without an assist or a goal in a game.
-- Sven Bartschi. Switzerland's newest gift to Portland puts Swiss cheese on his Subway sandwiches, gives the very best soundbites, scores one-handed breakaway goals (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kKWTAHAldJA), and has already played in the World Juniors and the Top Prospects game. Easily a top ten draft pick this year. Ditto for Ty.
-- Joe Morrow. First, let me be clear. Joe is one of the most quiet, shy, polite and totally upstanding players on this team, who would never pick his nose during an interview. Never. Period. Exclamation point. He likes to score breakaway goals whilst diving (http://www.nhl.com/ice/search.htm?q=JoeMorrow&tab=videos). When he's not doing that, he likes to score slapshots from the point. And he knows how to drop the mitts. In the latest midterm draft rankings, he was ranked 16th overall. Defensemen tend to go later in the draft, but Joe is my dark horse candidate for a surprise first round pick.
-- Tyler Wotherspoon. He's racking up the points of late, including a perfect beauty (or two) in a recent 8 - 2 routing of the Tri-City Americans (http://blog.oregonlive.com/winterhawks/2011/02/post_19.html.
-- Seth Swenson. As he picks up more ice time, he's picking up more goals. I spoke to him recently, and the coaches have been pushing him to work on all aspects of his game, especially finishing his scoring chances. Mission accomplished. Look for a big finish this season and a stronger 2011 - 2012 season. He shared the Portland Winterhawks' academic achievement award last year with Vancouver Canucks' prospect Stefan Schneider (currently playing for the AHL's Manitoba Moose).
-- Josh Hanson. Graduated from high school at 16, just in time to come to Portland and play hockey. I've only met him once, during which interview I goofed and asked him where he was going to high school. In case you want to know just how dinged out I was: the article about his graduating early was located on oregonlive.com, where I also blog. Way to go, Scrappy Doo. Not one of my finer moments, to be sure.
-- Jason Trott. Still working his way up to some serious ice time, but he has already notched up his first WHL goal and he must be taking fighting lessons from Riley, because he's pretty good with dropping the mitts too.
-- Brendan Leipsic. I believe he's officially the smallest player on the Winterhawks' roster. Not that you'd notice, because he gets back up when you knock him down, he likes to chirp and he doesn't take anyone's crap. Oh, and if you need someone to score on penalty shots and shootouts and what not, he's your boy. And, he wins hands down for best goal celebrations. When he notched his first WHL career goal, he went totally airborne when he slammed into the glass. I don't mean like he just jumped off his feet a little bit. I'm talking totally, completely airborne. Genius. Along with teammate Derrick Pouliot, he was recently chosen to wear one of the As for Team West at the Under-17 World Challenge. Keep him on the radar for the following in 2012: World Juniors, Top Prospects Game and the NHL Entry Draft.