Saturday, June 26, 2010

The NHL Draft Hits Keep Coming...From Portland.

The big day, Rounds 2 - 7: The NHL 2010 Entry Draft.

Maybe I should think about that second career as a psychic: Even though it meant they wouldn't go to the actual team I wanted, I had pegged Ryan Johansen for 4 or 5, and Nino to follow, maybe 6 or 7. Am I good or what? Of course no one will believe me now that it's after the fact. But I promise, it's a true story.

And the hits keep coming: Portland Winterhawk penalty minute leader Brad Ross just got snagged at 43rd by the Toronto Maple Leafs. There is, at last, hope for the Leafs.

But I guess they're not hooked on phonics: Or interested in getting the news right. When KOIN mentioned Nino and Ryan last night, they pronounced Nino's name as NiederrITer. Dudes, Google. Wikipedia. The proper pronunciation is out there.

Trivial pursuit: Ryan and Nino going 4 and 5 is the first time in franchise history the Portland Winterhawks have two picks in the top 5 of the same draft. Oh, and don't forget Nino was the highest drafted Swiss player ever.

So I lost a bet: Taylor Aronson didn't get picked in the 35 to 50 range. But Brad did, so at least I had the team right. I still have hope...just wait...Taylor's moment is coming.

And indeed it just did: He went 78th to the Nashville Predators. Nicely done. Two down, two to go: Still pending are Troy Rutkowski and Mac Carruth.

And don't forget: Already drafted or signed are Spencer Bennett (Calgary), Brett Ponich (St. Louis), and Stefan Schneider (Vancouver). May I suggest you non-Portlanders schedule a trip out here while you can. Because come this season, it's off the NHL with most of our lineup.

Ok, so he didn't get drafted as high as predicted, but still: It's not where you're drafted, it's what you do afterwards that counts. And I have no doubt that defenseman Troy Rutkowski, who was taken 137th by Colorado, will make it count. Speaking of Colorado, my prediction for a sleeper hit is now a reality...

Proof that the path of most resistance is the best way to reach your desired destination: Two spots behind Troy, Portland Winterhawk Luke Walker was taken 139th by the same team. That's right, there are, as of today, two Winterhawks drafted by the same team. Plus, Luke's story is Cinderella with a capital C. He was never taken in the Bantam Draft, but found his way to the Winterhawks. He scrapped his way onto the US World Junior team in the wake of a devastating face injury and barely saw ice time but still won a gold medal with the team. He was never drafted by the NHL when he became eligible two years ago. But he re-entered the draft and here he is. It's like the NHL Stanley Cup ad campaign: there are no words. In this case, Luke's story tells itself.

Lucky number 7: Mac Carruth, whose star came out to shine during Portland's first playoff run in four years, just got picked 191st by Chicago. That's right, not only did we snag four and five in the first round, our goalie just got picked by the current Stanley Cup champions. So what's his middle name?: Mac's full given name is Macmillian. Love it. That wins hands down for best and most distinguished sounding name in the WHL.

Talk about 11th hour: Portland Winterhawk Riley Boychuk was just drafted 208th by Buffalo. There were 210 draft picks selected this year, in seven rounds. Riley had been eligible in 2009, but had not played much that season due to surgery and so had been overlooked. He rebounded and re-entered this year's draft. Good things come to those who wait.

I hope the Winterhawks chose well in this year's Bantam Draft: Because between this draft and the signing of Stefan, Brett and Spencer's drafting by Calgary, the NHL has officially eviscerated our lineup.

Moral of the story: At the beginning of the 2009 -2010 season, Portland had finished somewhere near dead last in the prior WHL season, had not seen the playoffs since the last ice age and were on the verge of being sold out of Portland. Enter new owner Bill Gallacher, coaches Mike Johnston and Travis Green, and a little thing called the Euro draft, with a not-so-little player named Nino. And so began the dawn of our own Cinderella season, which ended with the NHL drafting of eight Winterhawks over the course of two days.

There's no official word on this as yet, so don't quote me, but I'm guessing that the eight Portland Winterhawks drafted this weekend have set some new franchise record for most players taken in a single draft.

This draft puts the cherry and extra sprinkles on top of the sundae, and we couldn't be more excited or proud of our team and our town. But it also means that this team, the storybook team, will not be seen on our ice again. I was proud to say I was there, and that I met a few of them along the way. For those of you who weren't, you missed out. Two words: season tickets. If you buy them now, you get a Nino bobblehead. No, you can't have mine. I'm keeping it under lock and key.

Like I said, the path of most resistance is the best and most rewarding way to reach your destination. For this year's draft picks, that future started when they forsaked their homes, scholarships to big colleges, friends, family, and everything else to come to Portland and be spotted by NHL scouts. For those who chose to come here they took an even bigger risk than most. Imagine Ryan, who gave up a scholarship to Northeastern, and ditto for Mac who had a sweet deal with Minnesota. Or Nino, who crossed an ocean and two continents to come here. All to play for a team that until this season was pretty much a laughing stock. They gambled on us, and now the NHL has gambled on them. We already know what the NHL will soon learn. I believe the business world calls it return on investment. My prediction? The Winterhawks drafted today are what I call a blue-chip stock with a guaranteed return on investment. Trust me. I know what I'm talking about.

Next up: This blog will go on a short hiatus while I enjoy high tea, spa treatments and wine tasting in the very lovely city of Victoria, BC. In the meantime, may I suggest you Google the above players and get to know them. Because their frequency is about to get very loud.

Friday, June 25, 2010

I Think It's Safe to Say the Portland Winterhawks' Turnaround is Complete.

The distraction: The 2010 NHL Entry Draft.

YOU. GO. BOYS: I don't know diddly about numbers, but I can count to five. The fourth overall pick was Portland Winterhawk Ryan Johansen, who will go to the Columbus Blue Jackets. The fifth was Hawks winger Nino Niederreiter, who is bound for the New York Islanders. It also makes Nino, as expected, the highest drafted Swiss player in the history of the NHL. It also means the the Blue Jackets now have two Winterhawks in their system: 2010 Winterhawk MVP Chris Francis just signed a contract with the Springfield Falcons, the Blue Jackets' AHL Affiliate.

Flame on: The blog noted that Ryan's selection sent many a mock draft crashing in flames. That's what you get for picking the obvious choices, little experts. Live and learn.

And I certainly don't need to count to 14: When he was interviewed by the Oregonian on the eve of the draft, Nino declared that if he went higher than 14th, he'd be the happiest guy on earth. I think the only question now is what color Fiat does he want?

When in doubt, take the chance: In Feburary, on a whim, I went to the Booster Club pizza thingy, figuring I'd sit quietly in the back and maybe meet a few of the players casually. Ryan was one of them. Now, I also never win contests, prizes, raffles, etc. Ever. Not even the scratch-it lottery cards. Zip. But on this night, I almost picked one set of tickets, and in an instant said "no. This one looks better." No clue why I suddenly changed my mind, but I did. The winning number belonged to Ryan. He was so eager to meet a fan, he said "ask me anything." And he gushed the same as the rest of us about Nino. So I asked him anything: Why do hockey players love golf? It's outdoors and it's a way to get away and not think about hockey. Why would you ice the puck? Scoring opportunity. Does Troy drive Nino around in a Town Car, since Nino can't drive yet? No. Nino's getting his license tomorrow. I think I might have horrified him, though, when I regaled him with my tale of being at a Rangers game where it got heated between two guys and one of them pulled a knife. It all ended with New York's finest hauling them outta there, but note to self: don't tell teenage boys from little towns in Canada about your big city adventures. And I forgot my camera, so I really have no proof except Ryan's autograph. But still, from a split second came the chance of a lifetime.

And it's even more exciting when you think about this: A year ago, Ryan risked everything by giving up a lucrative college scholarship to Northeastern to come to our city with only a promise from Mike Johnston and no proof that it would pay off. And Nino took an even bigger chance: when he came here last fall, he didn't speak English, he couldn't drive and he hadn't finished high school.

Like I said: The biggest risk is not taking one at all. Sometimes the hardest choice you'll make in life turns out to be the right one. And the choice you make in an instant can change your life. Or at least score the autograph of the fourth round draft pick in the NHL 2010 Entry Draft.

And it's a little sad: As elated as Portland is, Ryan and Nino's high draft picks mean they go right into the NHL this fall. So, the shooting star that is the Ross-Johansen-Niederreiter line may indeed have been fleeting. But it was beautiful while it lasted. And as happy as I am for them, I do hope the NHL doesn't need them right away. Because these past 8 months weren't nearly long enough to enjoy it. We're not quite done enjoying the pleasure of their company, if you don't mind.

Go ahead, laugh: I will treasure my Nino bobblehead. You can laugh all you want to. It's value just tripled. Get your own, 'cause mine's not for sale. Not ever.
But wait, there's more: On tap tomorrow, four more Winterhawks are in the running for rounds 2 - 7. Possibly more, since word is scouts are also interested in Riley Boychuk and Taylor Peters. Get ready Portland, there's more to come.

Special shout out to the Aronsons: I am proud to say that among the readers of this blog are Portland Winterhawk Taylor Aronson's family. It is my pleasure and my honor to keep all y'all entertained. I have already laid down money with friends that Taylor will go higher than expected. I'm personally in for somewhere between 35 to 50. If I lose, I don't care. And if I win, the beer's on me the next time you blow through town.

Next up: Results of the NHL Draft, rounds 2 - 7.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

But The Winners May Be...Closer Than You Think.

The distraction: The 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Los Angeles, CA.

Why: Six Portland Winterhawks are in the running, and at least two (Ryan Johansen and Nino Niederreiter) are expected to be taken high in the first round. Four more will easily hear their names called in the second or third rounds, if predictions are right. And according to an article in today's Oregonian, two more may join them.

How excited is Portland?: So excited that loyal fans who can escape from work tomorrow will convene downtown for a party to watch the future of the NHL unfold live on Versus.

But I might be even more excited about this: Among the free goodies that season ticket holders receive this year is a Nino bobblehead. Yes, I love bobbleheads. No, I don't have any shame about it. And since it's Nino, it will be worth more one day than that Fiat he has his eye on. So there. Laugh all you want to. I don't care. I'll be too busy watching the UPS truck for my special delivery.

Weather report: The temperature's rising all around. Here in Portland, at long last, we are celebrating the start of summer with 80 degree weather and cool breezes. The barbecues are fired up and the beer is chilling. And tonight I'll go to sleep, and wake up pretty much the same person with the same job. But somewhere in Los Angeles, a gaggle of teenage boys will go to sleep as junior hockey players from a small city and wake up as NHL athletes. No matter where they land, or where they are 24 hours their whole world, and their whole future, will be different.

So to those about to rock, we salute you. And look for updates this weekend with the final Portland Winterhawk-related draft results.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

And the Winners Are...Never Who You Think They Will Be.

The distraction: The NHL Awards.

Best upset of the night: Henrik Sedin beating the media's favorite archrivals Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin to win the Hart Trophy.

I was in for Duchene, but this was my second choice: Tyler Myers won the Calder. A 6'8" defenseman from the heart of BC wine country takes it. Way to go. I was all in for Matt Duchene, because I like the way he just quietly went about the business of getting it done for Colorado, including my favorite move of the season...a shootout goal that put them in the playoffs. But Myers is doing the same for Buffalo, so I'm good to go with this one. Mini-bummer alert for him, though: He's not yet 21, so no partying for him in Vegas. Well, none that we'll hear about, anyway.

Dude, how did Jordan Staal not win this one?: Pavel Datsyuk took home the Selke. Refresh me, but didn't Staal go back onto the ice about 11 minutes after having foot surgery during the playoffs? Shouldn't that count for something?

But these are my favorites: And they were awarded as they should have been. Turnaround genius Dave Tippett of the Phoenix Coyotes for the coaches award, Sidney Crosby for the Messier Leadership Award and tied for the Richard, and Martin St. Louis for the Lady Byng.

Ok, I was partly right about NHL Prospect Nino Niederreiter being pulled over by the Oregon State Highway Patrol for speeding in a zippy little sports car: has a "five questions" feature with the top prospects, and he said his dream car is "A Fiat Punto Evo -- The little one. I love this car." Note to self: If you see a very large teenager driving around Portland in a very small car, distract the nearest police officer so said teenager can get away without a ticket. Of course that would ruin the fun of watching Nino explain himself to the officer ("I step on gas. Car go very fast."). And mind, Nino only learned to drive this past February. But still, I must do my bit for youth hockey in Portland.

And if you think all the kooky superstitious, pre-game rituals you hear about Sidney Crosby are funny: Well, ok, I think they're funny. In a good, charming sort of you're a genius-so-it's-ok-if-you're-a-little-nutty way. Anyway...check this out. Prospect Danny Biega claims to always tape his sticks at the exact same time on game day. In his defense, he also says he's not quite sure why he does this. Neither am I, but it makes a good story.

Now, on with the rule: Section 5, Penalties. Other Penalties. Rule 554.a. Keeping the Puck in Motion.

554.a: The puck shall be in motion at all times. A team in possession of the puck in its own defending zone shall advance the puck towards the opposing goal except:
1) To carry the puck behind the goal once.
2) If it is prevented from doing so by players of the opposing team.
3) If the team is short-handed.

If you do pass the puck backward, and you are not short-handed, the Ref gives a warning to the Captain the first time, and it's a minor penalty the second time.

Morals of the story:

The game: So, if you score into your own net, not only are you an asshole, you get a minor penalty? Plus, your own Captain has to come kick your ass? Discuss.

And P.S. No dawdling, little hockey players. Time's a wastin'.

Life: We should be penalized in life for not keeping the puck in motion. How may of us go forth at 18, 22, whatever and declare we are going to save the world, live our dreams, not sell out, not give in, give up or give out. And ten years later, the dreams have lost their grandeur coming true, if they happened at all, we sold out and the "just until" day job is our job. Somewhere along the way we stop keeping the puck in motion and we go backwards into the defending zone, where it's easy and it's safe. But what if somebody or something followed us, and the minute we strayed off course, we were penalized for giving up, giving out or giving in? Would we stay on course? Would we give up so easily?

Not keeping the puck in motion is easier than you think when you're 18 and you think you know everything. And little compromises don't seem that bad until they add up to one big one. Here's the deal: The next time you find yourself delaying the game of life, put the puck back in motion. The biggest risk is not taking one at all. I took one. I started this blog. I don't make any money from it, and I have to keep my day job to keep doing this, but I did it. And if you read this entry or any part of this blog after finding me on Google or elsewhere -- and you liked it -- then the chance I took was worth it. If I can, anyone can. And I hope you keep reading, no matter where you are.

Next up: Section 5, Penalties. Other Penalties. Rule 554.b. Displacing the Goal Frame.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The World Cup Goes Diving for Ratings and I Go Channel Surfing.

I said it once, I'll say it again: I'm watching the World Cup with everyone else in the free market economy and I have this to say. Again. Soccer players are a bunch of little diving, embellishing weenies who need to suck it up. Emphasis on little and weenies. And suck it up.

It's only hours now: The NHL Awards are tomorrow night. And then it's only days until the draft. I have now gone exactly 11 days without live hockey or something like it. And that will be quite enough of that.

It's hard to believe that in less than a week, six Portland Winterhawks will be in the NHL: Not counting those already drafted, including Spencer Bennett and Captain Brett Ponich. I haven't been this excited about the draft since, well, ever. And, yes I'm going to the Portland Winterhawks' draft party on June 25 to watch Ryan Johansen and Nino and whomever else get nabbed in the first round. There's beer, other fans, chicken wings and maybe a free bobblehead. What's not to like?

But you really want to know how cool the Winterhawks are?: Check out the feature on of Nino Niederreiter's one-handed breakaway goal at the CHL prospects game.

But I still don't understand this: The Halak trade to St. Louis. On the other hand, I'm happy because Portland Winterhawk Brett Ponich was drafted by the Blues last year, and may soon be in the defending zone alongside Halak. So I'm cool with it in the end. But still, if anyone figures out what Montreal was thinking, do let me know.

Since I am forced to watch tiny little weenie-head soccer players running amok on ESPN, I skipped ahead to the diving rule in the IIHF for some hockey perspective on this illicit activity. And here's what it says:

The rule: Section 5, Penalties. Other Penalties. Rule 576, Diving. Any player who, at the discretion of the Referee, flagrantly imitates a fall, a reaction, or feigns an injury in an attempt to draw a penalty by his action, shall be assessed a minor penalty. So, basically being a pussy in Europe is ok too. But if you are thinking this particular turd will float in the NHL, you can try it and it's still a minor, but big brother is watching. If you are found guilty of diving upon video review, you get a warning letter and then a suspension pending a phone conversation with the Director of Hockey Operations.

Morals of the story:

The game: FIFA should get its crap together with a diving rule, which if I was in charge would include a video review that the entire stadium and everyone on ESPN can watch, and then FIFA should allow fans to vote whether it was indeed a total fake out with some sort of text message thingy. Guaranteed if the players have to watch themselves 100 feet high in front of the world, and fans are going to call them on their crap, it's a good bet you'll see a whole lot less diving in soccer.

Life: I'm not sure why people dive and embellish in life. It's hard enough. There's no need to make it more dramatic and serious than it is by turning into a bridezilla or being a hypochondriac and such. I wonder, if we had a diving penalty in life, would life's little drama queens carry on like they do? Diving, really, is about attention and what somebody didn't get when they were younger. The biggest punishment of all for life's divers and embellishers?... Ignore them. But if that doesn't work, we can always try this:

-- The action: You call in sick to work because your head is just splitting, when it fact it's just been 16 hours since you had a decent caffeinated beverage. The penalty: two vacation days get taken off your paid time off bank for every one that you fake an illness or injury.

-- The action: Causing a scene in a restaurant because the chef didn't cook your steak just exactly the way you like, medium rare on the inside, well done on the outside. The penalty: Two days' duty at the food bank, handing out food to people who are lucky someone didn't want their year-old baked beans from last year's Fourth of July cookout.

Next up on 6/23: The outcome of the NHL Awards, and Rule 554.a. Keeping the Puck in Motion.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

To Market the NHL Goes to Find Its Future.

This is why I want to be a guy again in the next life: Sephora stopped carrying my favorite hair care product, and the company that makes it has discontinuted it anyway. I think there's a beauty product Big Brother out there somewhere that waits until I really like a product and I've bought it at least three times, and then they discontinue it just to piss me off. Ditto for the guy in New Seasons who was in line ahead of me, and took the last of the yummy potato salad that I like.

That's it, I give up: I'm not coming out until it's time for the NHL Draft on Friday.

Speaking of which: Beginning this Friday, the NHL will spend two days wheeling and dealing to choose the next wave of their future. Riding it will be six Portland Winterhawks: Ryan Johansen, Nino Niderreiter, Brad Ross, Troy Rutkowski, Taylor Aronson and Mac Carruth. And don't be surprised if you see Luke Walker in there too. I don't know diddly about numbers and rankings and what not, so I'm going with my heart on this one. Here are my predictions, which because they are based on no factual information whatsoever, will never happen. But just in case:

Ryan: Vancouver Canucks. Backup: LA Kings. Genius playmaker running amok in the closest major city to his hometown. Works for me.
Nino: Chicago Blackhawks. They already have one Winterhawk, why not two?
Brad: Easy. Philadelphia Flyers. Again, they have one Winterhawk, I say go for two. Plus, Brad leads the Hawks in penalty minutes.
Troy: Pittsburgh Penguins. He's used to chaffeuring Portland's own superstar Nino around town, so I think he can handle the team that houses Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby.
Taylor: Anaheim Ducks. Dude, he grew up practically down the street from the Honda Center. How awesome would it be to return to his hometown as the conquering hero?
Mac: Dallas Stars. Again, two Winterhawks on one team works for me: Captain Brenden Morrow played for Portland.

And it's only four more days until the NHL Awards: I'm all in for Matt Duchene on the Calder and Sidney Crosby for whatever he's nominated for. Which is like, what...everything?

The Rule: Section 5, Penalties. Other Penalties. Rule 551, Abuse of Officials and Unsportsmanlike Conduct by Team Officials.

This is basically the same as it is for players, with a few finer points: 551.d. If a team official 1) Holds or strikes an official. 2) Makes a travesty of or is detrimental to the conducting of the game. 3) Makes an obscene gesture to any official or any person. 4) Spits at a game official. He shall be assessed a match penalty.

Might want to make yourself scarce for this one: 551.e. If an identified team official throws a stick or any other object on the ice, it's a game misconduct for him and a bench minor for the team. But if the team official is unidentified, there is only a bench minor for the team.

Morals of the story:

The game: So, if you're a team official and you don't fess up to the crime, your team goes down with a penalty and you don't. Yeah, I'm sure it sits well with 20-something players with a game on the line that their aging, balding coach or assistant throws something down and then lets the Ref think it was "unidentified." It's one thing if you're a player and you don't own up, but if you're the boss...please. You do this, and your team will never respect you again. Ever.

Life: Perhaps if corporate America had a punishment for Unsportsmanlike Conduct by Company Officials, Wall Street wouldn't have melted down, BP wouldn't have flooded the ocean for the next three decades and Toyota's gas pedals wouldn't stick. Too much of life inside sky-high corner offices is allowed to go unpunished, and when it is, it just opens the gate for the competition to steal the market share. But what if we applied a game misconduct directly to the person or people responsible the minute we knew it was happening, instead of saying "oh it's just a bench minor since we couldn't figure out who did it?" And to be truly effective, the punishment would have to be rendered for all to see so no one did it again. Such as:

-- For Toyota's debacle, game misconduct for the CEOs and whoever helped them cover it up in the form of being blacklisted from ever buying another car again, and a free one-month bus pass to get them used to the concept of traveling in something other than a vehicle of their own.

-- For pharma companies or others who back bogus research like the vaccine-autism faux research pas...being forced to participate as a guinea pig in one of their fake trials, which should scare them enough to come clean that it's crap inside of about two weeks, tops.

Next up on 6/22: Section 5, Penalties. Other Penalties. Rule 554.a. Keeping the Puck in Motion. 554.b. Displacing the Goal Frame.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Reason #101 to Love Hockey: The Players Are Men and Not Wussies.

So I'm watching the FIFA World Cup to fill the void until the next hockey news tidbit surfaces, and here's what I think: Man up, wussies. Soccer players are a bunch of little divers! Now mind, they are totally hot, but's the deal:

I've never been to Slovenia, but I am automatically rooting for them because Anze and Gasper Kopitar come from there, and that's enough reason for me. But their national soccer team needs to get it together. One of the players went down because a US player dinged him in the eye. Now, the eye wasn't bleeding, it didn't fall out or swell shut. He just got hit. And he started writhing around like it was a major deal, in apparent agony. Dude, there's an NHL player who lost one of his testicles because he got clocked by a puck going nearly 100 miles an hour. Hockey players get cut in the eye all the time and they get stitched up, get jacked on painkillers, and go right back to scoring in the next period. And the Slovenian player's like "ow, my eye." Please. Unless these little soccer players man up in a hurry, I'll have to find another off-season hobby.

WOOHOO! Alert/NHL here we come: I thought I was excited about the NHL Draft, but this, I must say, is even more thrilling. Portland Winterhawk Chris Francis has signed an AHL contract with the Springfield Falcons, the affiliate of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Note to self: Add to monthly cable bill by signing up for online video access to the AHL. Soooooooo totally excited about this one. For those of you in Columbus, I sincerely hope Chris gets called up for NHL duty. You're in for a real treat. Personally, I'm all in for Chris making it to the NHL. It might be a winding and perhaps longer road, but he'll get there. He stayed in Portland through some nasty years, and he ended on high note by winning the Winterhawks' MVP award this year, and finally making it to the playoffs. I have every confidence this story will have a happy ending. Plus, to refresh, he also grew up in a desert where there was exactly one hockey rink to be found. I have to like's a moral imperative. There is no one more deserving of success as a professional hockey player than Chris. You go, boy.

Well, you won't see this in the NHL Rulebook: Section 5, Penalties. Fouls Against Players. Rule 541, Women Body-Checking.

Rule 541: In women's ice hockey, if a player makes a direct body-check, she shall be assessed, at the discretion of the Referee, a minor penalty or major + automatic game misconduct penalty. The rule is a lot like a girlfight - straight up, no bullshit.

But you will definitely see this: Rule 550, Abuse of Official and Unsportsmanlike Conduct by Players.

And this you'll see for sure: 550.c. If a player on the ice who uses obscene, profane or abusive language on the ice or anywhere in the rink before, during or after the game except in the vicinity of the bench shall be assessed a misconduct penalty. And why, may you ask, is the "vicinity of the bench" excepted? Ah, yes. Because if it happens on the bench it's only a bench minor. I love "anywhere in the rink." Who cares if you swear at yourself on the way off the ice when you're team's down by 2 at the start of the second period? The IIHF does, apparently.

But this is the best: 550.f. Any player who makes a travesty of or interferes with or is detrimental to the conducting of the game shall be assessed a match penalty. I want to see and hear the Ref who cites said player and out loud, in full earshot of fans, says to the player "that's it, you've made a travesty of us all. Off with you I say!"

Morals of the story:

The game: Refresh me, why exactly would I want to watch a game where there's no swearing, spitting or the players don't incite another into an altercation? And there must be, at a minimum, one travesty per game or I'm simply changing the station. To something like say, "The Hangover," which is on cable yet again. Yes, I was a guy in another life. Why doesn't anyone believe me?

Life: Oh please. If I was penalized for every foul thing that comes out of my mouth, I'd never make it into work in the morning. And if I was further dinged for sticking my foot in my mouth at every possible opportunity, you'd never see another entry in this blog because I'd be on life's penalty bench about oh... let's see now.....every three seconds.

Next up: Section 5, Penalties. Fouls Against Players. Rule 551, Abuse of Official and Unsportsmanlike Conduct by Team Officials.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

And It's Less Than 100 Days Until the Penguins' Pre-Season Opener.

The game: Replays and specials on the NHL Network. Hey, it's better than nothing.

But not to worry, soon there will be this: June 23 is the NHL Awards, June 25 is the start of the NHL Draft and July 1 is the opening of the free agent trading frenzy. Later this month the WHL will also get to choose from Europe's best teenage talent in the Euro draft. For Portland, the last time we snagged Nino Niederreiter, and fans are already buzzing about who we will get this time. Our trade with Lethbridge that brought Luca Sbisa to town also meant that we moved up in this draft. I shall report back.

Yes, I did this. Get over it: I registered online for the Brandon Sun newspaper for the sole purpose of reading an article about cutie pie WHL referee/corporate lawyer Matt Kirk. He is from Brandon and officiated the Memorial Cup final in that city. To refresh, I do not have a single shred of shame about crushing on cuite pie refs at any and all opportunities, especially close up in high def on the NHL Network.

I'm counting the days: September 22 is the first pre-season game for the Pittsburgh Penguins, who will be rematched with the Detroit Red Wings in their first game in the Consol Energy Center. That means as of this coming Tuesday, it's exactly 90 days until the start of the Pens' pre-season. I think I can, I think I without live hockey if it's less than 100 days.

And on the local scene: The Portland Winterhawks have just announced that Ryan Johansen, captain Brett Ponich and Brad Ross have been invited to Canada's National Junior Team development camp this August. Ty Rattie has been invited to attend Canada's National Men's Summer Under-18 Team Selection camp.

The best part/fan geek moment: The National Junior Team camp is in St. John's, Newfoundland, the home of my favorite band, Great Big Sea. They are just as cool as hockey. Rumor has it that they performed at a private party at Sidney Crosby's house last year on his Stanley Cup day. And, I have a huge crush on their bass player Murray Foster. Not only is he hot, he does a mean rendition of "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" with one of the other bands he's in. Cute, musician, loves the Toronto Maple Leafs, sings Dr. Seuss. What's not to like?

Speaking of honors, is there anything Nino Niederreiter hasn't accomplished this season?: Let's see now...Euro draft catch....learned English, got a driver's license, helped the Swiss World Junior team achieve victory over Russia, helped Winterhawks to the playoffs first time in 4 years...Swiss World Championship team..WHL 2nd All-Star Team...could be highest drafted Swiss player in NHL draft.. number 12 on the NHL Scouting's see now, carry the two, plus three...oh He's done it all...and he won't even be 18 until September. It boggles the mind.

I so don't want to deal with the rules tonight: I had what can loosely be described as "one of those weeks" and I'm just waiting for Friday at this point. Here's the moral of my story:

Life: My mother told me that I shouldn't watch hockey replays because "that's violent, you shouldn't do that. You should take a bubble bath and drink some wine and listen to relaxing music. Hockey is too much stress." She's my mother. I'd like to think she above all people knows me. But friends, let's refresh: I was in fact, a guy in another life. I don't do bubbles, waterfall sound effects music and wine. Well, ok, I do the wine, but if it doesn't come accompanied by tall, smelly men who can't be wired for sound by NBC Game of the Week because they swear too much, it's just not working for me. Give me one night of the Winter Classic on my Sidney Crosby DVD and an extra glass of Abacela Dolcetto, and all will be right with my world. And it also means that:

I will get back to the rules and offer my predictions for the Winterhawks who are in the NHL Draft next weekend.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

It's Only 113 Shopping Days Until the Opening of the NHL Regular Season

The game: Germany vs. Australia, FIFA World Cup.

Why I chose it: A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. I have to watch something that closely resembles hockey or I will in fact, explode. Though I must say, soccer players don't meet the minimum height requirement. But they are cutie pies, and they do have beautifully chiseled thigh muscles, so two out of three ain't bad.

Not to worry, though: It's only 10 days until the NHL Awards and 12 until the draft. And then July 1 opens the free agent trading frenzy. And by the end of this month, I will be a Portland Winterhawks season ticket holder. So, really, counting the exhibition season, it's only a few months until hockey is back in action. But still, 90 days or more without spitting, swearing, hat tricks and fighting is still 90 days or more too long in my book.

So, I will carry on with the rules: Section 5, Penalties. Fouls Against Players. Rule 539, Tripping. Rule 540, Checking to the Head and Neck Area.

Rule 539.a: A player who shall place his stick, leg, foot, arm, hand or elbow in such a manner that it shall cause his opponent to trip or fall shall be assessed, at the discretion of the Referee, minor, major + automatic game misconduct or match penalty. Injury is a major or match penalty.

Rule 539.c: In a "Breakaway" situation, when a player in "Control of the Puck" outside his own defending zone with no opponent to pass other than the goalkeeper, is tripped from behind, thus preventing a reasonable scoring opportunity, the Referee shall award to the non-offending team a penalty shot.

And if you think that's bad, don't even try this: 539.d. If, when the opposing goalkeeper has been removed from the ice, and the player in "control of the puck" outside his own defending zone, with no opponent to pass between him and the opposing goal is tripped from behind, the Referee shall award to the non-offending team a goal.

I think this is about to be banned in the NHL, but just in case, here it is:
540.a. A player who directs a check or blow, with any part of his body, to the head or neck area of an opposing player or "drives" or "forces" the head of an opposing player into the protective glass on boards, shall be assessed, at the discretion of the Referee, a minor + automatic game misconduct, major + automatic game misconduct or match penalty. Injury results in a match penalty.

Morals of the story:

The game: This is like the hockey version of don't shoot a man in the back. Only in this case it's don't trip him from behind. The dude's on a breakaway, let it go. There's no point in trying, because you're gonna give the other team a goal or an opportunity to score a goal. I'm not sure why hits to the head and neck are even allowed in the current rulebooks, but I'm glad they are on their way to being punished more severely. You may ask, but Sam, it's punished already. Yes, but that's different than being banned or not allowed. There is nothing in any rulebook that says "can't." It just defines what a particular foul is and outlines the punishment. And as we all know, players do most of it anyway.

Life: The life versions of tripping from behind and hits to the head should come with the same severe penalties. For example:

-- The offense: Tripping another person in the form of sabotaging their relationship with a boyfriend or girlfriend for the purpose of stealing said better half. The penalty: Banishment to a prison on a deserted island with other social rejects who don't know how to go out and find their own partner the right way, complete with no cell phone, no access to internet (and hence,,, etc.) and public exposure of every dastardly thing you ever did in a relationship, so everyone else knows that you are just as big a schmuck as they are. Now mind, perhaps this could be seen as good thing...let the little tiddlywinks run wild amongst themselves you might argue...but still, at least they would be far away from the rest of us.

-- The offense: Checking to the head or neck in the form of banks who loaned money to homeowners that they knew couldn't afford it and charging 150% interest on high-balance credit cards so said owners get in even further over their heads. The penalty: It's well underway in the form of CEO firings and new rules and all. But still, I say banishment to a double-wide in the farthest reaches of the Nevada desert, accompanied by a minimum wage job and a credit card with a $500 limit and monthly fees if you don't pay the $20 minimum balance, which of course you can't. In short, make the punishment fit the crime. It's old school, but it works.

Next up: Section 5, Penalties. Fouls Against Players. Rule 541, Women-Body Checking. Other Penalties: Rule 550, Abuse of Official and Unsportsmanlike Conduct by Players.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Don't Even Try Slashing Chicago's Chance at the Cup.

The game: Philadelphia vs. Chicago, Game 6.

Sometimes the game chooses us: Chicago could win and take it. Or Philly can tie it and return to the Madhouse. Plus, it could be the end of the season tonight. In several hours, hockey fans could very well have no hockey to watch for the next few months. You have to watch. Period. Exclamation point.

Here in Portland it's a win-win for us: Portland Winterhawks are on both teams, so a former Hawk is going home with the Stanley Cup one way or another. And if it's Marion Hossa, the third time will be a charm and one for the history books. He is the first NHL player to appear in three consecutive finals for three separate teams.

And it's very possible in a few years, the same scenario could transpire: We have three Hawks already drafted and/or signed (Stefan Schneider has signed with Vancouver, Brett Ponich signed with St. Louis, Spencer Bennett was drafted by Calgary). On tap in this year's draft: Nino Niederreiter, Troy Rutkowksi, Brad Ross, Taylor Aronson, Mac Carruth and -- sitting pretty at number 10 on the scouting report, thus making him our top ranked prospect -- Ryan Johansen. My personal favorite to become a Winterhawk sleeper hit, Luke Walker, has been scouted pretty actively by the New York Rangers. Get ready hockey the next two to three years, Portland's finest will be coming to a rink near you. Oh, and don't forget Luca Sbisa, who should be returning to his rightful home with Anaheim this season.

Although this I will never quite understand: On draft day last year, apparently Brett Ponich was golfing with his billets. In Portland. In June. I don't proclaim to know everything about hockey, but I do try. Still, I'll never fully understand why a talented teenager like that was on a golf course on draft day. If I ever get the chance to meet him, I shall report back. I did see something where he said that he didn't think he was going to be drafted that high, which makes it ever cooler that he was, but can you play golf when strangers in a strange town are deciding your future? It boggles the mind.

I want this job: Stanley Cup keeper. How awesome would that be? You get to travel all over the world, you partay with NHL stars and you get to keep watch over the most beautiful prize in the world. On the other hand, if you lose it, damage it or misplace it, you'll be marooned to a deserted island with a pile of sticks to build a hut and a knife to sharpen a spear for hunting and foraging. So think carefully when applying for this one, dreamers.

The Rules: Section 5, Penalties. Fouls Against Players. Rule 537, Slashing. Rule 538, Spearing.

The wording's different, but it's the same as the NHL: Slashing is impeding or seeking to impede an opponent by slashing with his stick. In the NHL Rulebook, the definition includes slashing and the motion of slashing. In the IIHF book, they simply state that it is also a player who swings his stick at another player in the course of any altercation.

Don't even try it: Spearing and attempting to spear are both penalized. Attempt to spear includes all cases when a spearing motion is made, but no contact is made. Spearing is the act of stabbing the opponent with the point of the stick blade, whether or not the stick is being carried with one or both hands.

Morals of the story:

The game/why even try it?: I'm pretty sure that when you stab another person with a pointy object in one hand, it's called fencing. And if you do it as a sport, you get medals for being good at it, not penalties. Plus, you'd look pretty silly attempting to spear, only to have the player skate away from you so you can't actually stab them. It would be like kids playing tag, NHL style. Hence, the rule about not even trying it. Well, that and you have to send the message that if you go further the next time and do it, you're toast.

Life: I would so love to leave my house in the morning and just attempt to spear so many things along the way. Just so they'd get out of my way or stop to let me pass. For example: 1) Drivers who pull into the crosswalk as I'm about to cross and try to cut me off. Here in Oregon, you're supposed to wait until the pedestrian is at least six feet from your car. 2) Pedestrians who weave on the sidewalk because they are trying to get good cell reception. Never mind the attempt. I say plan strategically and poke 'em right as they are passing a gutter, and down goes the pedestrian and into the gutter goes the phone. 3) Bus riders who think the rest of us enjoy listening to their iPod, hearing their phone conversations, or smelling their body odor. If we want to partake of any of the above, we'll let you know.

Next up/yes there will be content here in the off-season: Section 5, Penalties. Fouls Against Players. Rule 539, Tripping. Rule 540, Checking to the Head and Neck Area.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

In Case I Pass Out From a Lack of Hockey...Kick Me.

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can: Tomorrow night will either be the end of the season or a few more days of putting off reality for hockey fans. I will be happy for Chicago if they win tomorrow, but I'd much rather see it go to Game 7 so they can win in the Madhouse. Of course, either way it means by Saturday morning there will be no more hockey for 2 to 3 months. I think I can survive it, but it could get ugly. Like hide under the bed and don't go to work, email friends or answer my phone ugly. Stay tuned. If I'm still here on Sunday, I will have survived the first few days and I should be in the clear after that.

Super-cool Portland Winterhawk moment: The NHL Network just aired Troy Rutkowski's prospect profile. Soooooo totally cool. But dudes, where's the profiles of Taylor Aronson and Mac Carruth? Maybe they're a little further down the scouting list, but they are on it and therefore deserve their own cheesy NHL profile in high definition, thank you very much.

The rule: Section 5, Penalties. Fouls Against Players. Rule 535, Kicking. Rule 536, Kneeing.

535: A player who kicks or attempts to kick another player, shall be assessed a match penalty. "Attempt to Kick" shall include all cases when a kicking gesture is made but no contact is made.

536: A player who uses his knee to foul an opponent shall be assessed, at the discretion of the Referee, minor, major + automatic game misconduct or matach penalty. For injury, the penalty is major + automatic game misconduct or match penalty.

Morals of the story:

The game: One of the most common injuries in hockey is knee injuries. One well-timed knee foul in the playoffs, in an Olympic year, to an older player whose knees are even older, and you can easily take out a key player. And if you're clever enough and don't injure the guy, you'll only get a minor. What's not to like about a kneeing penalty? Failing that, you can always try to kick him.

Life: This rule gives new meaning to kicking and screaming. Which is how we should go through life. We shouldn't go gently into that good night. We should drink every glass of wine, love every person we can, howl at the moon, dance on the bar and fight every rule in life that tells us who we should be. I'd much rather kick and scream my way through it all than sit quietly and live someone else's idea of life while my real one passes me by.

Next up 6/9: Section 5, Penalties. Fouls Against Players. Rule 537, Slashing. Rule 538, Spearing.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Interference...Grownups, Don't Try This At Home.

The game: Chicago vs. Philadelphia, Game 5 in the Madhouse.

Why I chose it: How could any self-respecting hockey fan not watch this one?

Sad, but true: By this time next weekend, there will be a new Stanley Cup champion and no hockey for 2.5 to 3 months, depending on when the WHL and NHL open their pre-seasons.

What I'll be doing in that time: Learning the rest of the IIHF Rulebook, covering the NHL Draft, and learning the business of hockey when the free trade period opens on July 1. And preparing my new blog solely dedicated to the Portland Winterhawks. Or hiding under my bed with a box of Fudge Cream Oreos and a case of wine until hockey season starts again. Stay tuned.

The rule: Section 5, Penalties. Fouls Against Players. Rule 534, Interference.

The basics are the same: Interference is interfering with or impeding the progress of an opponent not in possession of the puck.

But here's something I didn't know: 534.b. A player on either the player's bench or the penalty bench who, by means of his stick or body, interferes with the movement of the puck or any opponent on the ice during the progress of the play, shall be assessed a minor penalty. 534.d. If, when the goalkeeper has been removed from the ice, any member of his team, including a team official, interferes by means of the stick, any other object, or his body, with the movement of the puck or an opposing player, the Referee shall award to the non-offending team a goal.

Morals of the story:

The game: Exactly how does a player get away with this from the bench? You would have to put your stick over the edge, lean over and grab someone or, if you're on the penalty bench, open the glass door and attempt the above. I'm putting this one in the "dude, don't even try it" file.

Life: The most dangerous form of interference in life is interfering with one's own progress. We all come out of high school, college, whatever and declare that we are going to save the world, not end up like our parents in their unhappy marriages, live our dream of being an artist, become a VP by 30, get married, have the 2.3 kids with the 2.3 car garage and have it made by the time we got to middle age. But we all know the path doesn't always go according to the plan. What happens? Life. And economic recessions. And pretty girls who attract the husband's attention on a business trip. And suburban bliss that turns out not to be quite so blissful. Perhaps if life imposed a minor penalty we'd be less inclined to get in our own way. For example:

-- Our own personal referee to stop us from taking that promotion at a corporate job that will suck up more time and energy, instead of spending our precious free time writing that best-selling novel, painting, traveling, etc.

-- If you get even the slightest hint that your man or woman has a wandering eye, wander away from the relationship with all speed and don't look back.

-- If you are looking at houses in the suburbs, be sure you're doing it because you really do want that big yard for the kids and the dog and not because you're supposed to. There are plenty of other ways to live that don't involve living in a cookie cutter house with a mini-van and a large furry dog that looks good on a Christmas card.

Next up on 6/8: Section 5, Penalties. Fouls Against Players. Rule 535, Kicking. Rule 536, Kneeing.

Friday, June 4, 2010

If Hooking The Opponent Doesn't Work, Try A Bicycle.

The game: Chicago vs. Philadelphia, Game 4.

Excuse me, wasn't Chicago in the lead?: Philly won Game 3 and is well on their way to Game 4. Dudes, I wanted a 4-game sweep. Now I have to spend precious free time watching Pronger taunt everyone for at least another two games.

I've been wrong about the rest of the series, might as well give this one up: Philly just won. It's now tied at 2 games a piece.

This is so bush league: Apparently a gaggle of Flyers fans were planning to cause a ruckus and follow the Chicago bus to the rink. On bicycles. Well, at least Philly fans have gone green in their attempted assault on the opposing team.

Still, here in the Rose City it's a win-win for us: No matter who wins, a former Portland Winterhawk is going home with the prize. It will either be Philly and Braydon Coburn or Chicago and Marion Hossa.

The rule: Section 5, Penalties. fouls Against Players. Rule 533, Hooking.

Hey look, it's almost as complicated as the NHL Rulebook:

533.a. A player who impedes or seeks to impede the progress of an opponent by hooking him with the stick shall be assessed, at the discretion of the Referee, a minor, major + automatic game misconduct or match penalty. If you injure the player, it's major + automatic game misconduct or match penalty.

533.c. In a "breakaway" situation, when a player in control of the puck outside his own defending zone has no opponent to pass other than the goalkeeper and he is hooked from behind, thus preventing a reasonable opportunity to score, the Referee shall award to the non-offending team a penalty shot. A "Breakaway shall be defined as a situation when a player is in full control of the puck and has no opposing player between himself and the opposing goalkeeper, or goal if the goalkeeper has been removed. "Control of the puck" is the act of propelling the puck with the stick. If the puck is touched by another player or his equipment while it is being propelled or hits the goal or goes free, the player shall no longer be considered to be in control of the puck.

The game: Ok, so how do they prove you sought to impede? Does that mean you gave the player a dirty look and tried to hook him and then went, "no I'm gonna get busted, I'm outta here?" Or is it pretty much a given that if you impeded a player it was because you intended to do so in the first place?

Life: I think I might have hooked myself with my latest life debacle. From behind. On a breakaway. With intent to injure myself. Major stupid for which there should have been a match penalty to stop me. Do you ever just get up and wonder why you go to work at any job? No matter how much you love it or are good at it? I sorta did that, and it went on for far too long. I was never very good at hiding my frustration or any other feelings for that matter. Some people do hide what they really think and they are good at it and more power to them. But I'm not one of them. Humans can only swallow so much shit before there's nowhere else to put it. The problem with me is that my personal reserve for tolerating things I don't like is a small, shallow puddle and not an ocean. Maybe that's why I like hockey so much. You don't like what a guy did, you hit him. You don't like what a ref said or what a journalist asked, you tell it like it is. Of course, the media quotes you ad nauseum and fanatic fans follow you on their Schwinns, but still....

Kinda makes you wonder how corporate America would keep running if we as workers could just fight, board and hook with impunity? For example, if we could do this, would we?:

-- Punch and remove the jersey of others whose lack of planning and total disrespect for the clock and approval timelines becomes your overtime, pride-swallowing late-night emergency.

-- Check from behind anyone who stands in the doorway of the elevator because that's where they get the best cell phone reception, thereby blocking it and preventing you from getting out, until they hop out just as it's closing so you have to go back down to come back up.

-- Cross-check anyone who is busy twiddling on their iPhone, Blackberry, Droid Phone, etc. and not paying attention to your death by PowerPoint presentation that you spent weeks overloading with useless information because someone else told you you had to, even though you wanted to keep it light and only use them as a guide instead of an electronic version of flash cards.

-- Hook anyone who has talked, uninterrupted, for longer than 10 minutes at any meeting without actually suggesting a solution or making an actual point.

-- Elbow cell phone chatters who answer their device in the elevator, bathroom or other inappropriate location, at full volume.

Next up on 6/6: Section 5, Penalties. Fouls Against Players. Rule 534, Interference.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Go Ahead, Hold On. It's Only a Minor Penalty.

The game: Philadelphia vs. Chicago. Not counting the NHL Draft hype-o-rama, this is the only game in town.

And what a game it is: Tied at 3, four minutes into the third. Both teams just scored within a minute.

Speaking of the NHL Draft hype machine: If you want to see what all the Portland Winterhawk fuss is about, check out and search for Nino Niederreiter, Ryan Johansen, Troy Rutkowski and Brad Ross. You'll see what I mean, especially the one where Nino and Ryan interview each other. Classic. Missing are prospects Mac Carruth and Taylor Aronson, but you'll read more about them here as we get closer to the draft. And yes, fellow Portland hockey nerds, I will be at the Winterhawks' draft party. Duh. I'm a newly minted season ticket holder and there is nothing I love more on a Friday afternoon than chicken wings and beer. NHL Draft on.

The rules: Section 5, Penalties. Fouls Against Players. Rule 531, Holding an Opponent. Rule 532, Holding the Stick.

Rule 531: A player who holds his opponent with his hands or stick or in any other way shall be assessed a minor penalty.

Rule 532: A player who holds his opponent's stick with his hands or in any other way shall be assessed a minor penalty.

How they are different from the NHL Rulebook: Holding is also defined as any action that impedes a player, but there's this extra tidbit/exception: A player is permitted to use his arm in a strength move, by blocking his opponent, provided he has body position and is not using his hands in a holding manner, when doing so. A player is permitted to defend himself by defending against an opponent's stick. He must immediately release the stick and allow the player to resume normal play. I can't recall as I've ever seen a player honor this and "immediately release the stick," but I'll keep an eye out in the remaining playoff games, in the event such a momentous occasion should occur.

Morals of the story:

The game: It's easy to see why there is no "attempt to hold" or "holding action" built into this one. Either you held the guy or his stick, or you didn't. I wonder, though, what would be the penalty for "attempting to hold?" Would you just be classified as an idiot and sent back to the bench to think it over, or would there be a minor for the attempt? Discuss amongst yourselves.

Life: In life, there is no more dangerous form of holding than those situations in which we hold ourselves back. Can't is toxic, and won't is worse, but we do it far too often, without even thinking about it. To save us from ourselves, there should be a series of increasingly serious penalties assessed for the following situations in which we hold ourselves back from achievement and happiness:

-- Taking a day job or any job "just until" you do whatever it is you really want and then giving up on the dream and the just until job becomes a career where you burn out on extra hours and office politics for something you don't even love. Match penalty in the form of immediate firing and no similar careers listed on or jobbuilder or wherever, thereby preventing you from falling further down the sellout rabbit hole by simply taking the next bullshit hopportunity.

-- Deciding that you can't or won't do something because you're worried about what other people think. Let's face it, do most of those people have their shit any more together than you do? Things are never what they seem, and anyone who has it made is a has-been/comeback waiting to happen. So, before you stop yourself because of other people's opinions, think about it his way. Most of those people are just as afraid of what you think. And if that doesn't work, try this: saying can't because of someone else is a lot like diving in's the all-too-easy way out of a hard situation. Automatic game misconduct in the form of suspension from social opportunities -- no matter how important and hobnobbing with celebrities they might be, and where you may be overly worried about other people think -- until you genuinely can say with reckless abandon that you don't give a rip.

Up next on 6/4: Section 5, Penalties. Fouls Against Players. Rule 533, Hooking.