Saturday, July 31, 2010

Happy Birthday, Ryan Johansen!

Proof that I will make up ANY excuse to think about, write about or watch hockey: Check it out: Today is Ryan Johansen's 18th birthday. On the other side of the world, it's also Evgeni Malkin's 24th birthday. So, as of today, I'm 24 years older than Ryan and 18 years older than Geno Malkin.

But sadly, that means that at last I am old enough -- more than old enough - to be the mother of 18 and 24 year olds. But under no circumstances will you ever hear me use either of the following expressions: "When I was your age" or "You kids today."

And if I do: I will have to move to a cave until I can embrace middle age gracefully and understand that there is one unmitigated super-cool thing about turning 40 or more. Well, ok 2 unmitigated super-cool things. One: At 40, there's really nothing you can't handle and all fear of life kinda goes just go "bring it on life, what else ya' got for me?" Two: Your ass falls off and takes on the consistency of Playdoh, so at last, you can live life and eat the cupcake, drink the extra glass of wine, eat the cheeseburger and leave the botox and butt crunches to the 20-somethings.

And for those not in the know: Ryan is a center for the Portland Winterhawks and he was the number 4 overall pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, going to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The rule: Section 5, Penalties. Other Penalties. Rule 572, Captain and Alternate Captain Complaint. Rule 573, Too Many Players on the Ice.

572: If the Captain or an Alternate Captain comes to complain about a penalty, whether he was on the ice or he comes from the player's bench, he shall be assessed a misconduct penalty.

573.a: If, at any time during play a team has more than the number of players on the ice to which they are entitled, the team shall be assessed a bench minor penalty.

Don't even think about this: 573.b: If, in the last two minutes of the game and at any time in overtime a deliberate illegal substitution (too many players on the ice) is made, the Referee shall award to the non-offending team a penalty shot.

Morals of the story:

The game: This gives new meaning to "we gotta keep it simple." When it comes to numbers, hockey is a simple game. Six players go out at the start; a few sit on the penalty bench for a few minutes here and there; one guy comes off the ice, another from the bench goes on. Simple. Why then, would you make a deliberate substitution? Because you think the referees can't count to seven? Were I a coach, I wouldn't make such assumptions in the WHL, where referees -- like say my favorite cutie pie Matt Kirk -- have law degrees and can, in fact, count way higher than 7.

Life: Holy crap! It's the hockey version of cutting in front of someone in line at a Starbucks, cutting someone off in traffic so you can get to the stop sign first and cheating on your taxes by leaving out a zero and in its place is a salary of $40,000 instead of $400,000. Why don't we have this rule? For the above offenses, a minor or bench minor penalty shall be assessed as follows:

-- For cutting ahead in line by taking advantage of just a little too much personal space ahead of you....the clerks, recognizing that said crime has transpired, will use decaf, full-fat and whip in your venti no-whip fat free latte.

-- For said traffic offense, all cars will be built with a special button that allows other drivers to change all the subsequent lights so not only do you sit at one red light ahead of them, you sit at all red lights, thereby making you so crazy you abandon all hope of getting anywhere and pull over, get out of your car and walk.

-- For tax offenses, automatic garnishing of all future salaries equal to the difference between your actual salary and what you claimed on the tax form.

Next up on 8/1: Section 5, Penalties. Other Penalties. Rule 575, Infringement of Change of Players Procedure. Rule 576, Diving.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Elephants, Rock Stars, and Multimillion Dollar Hockey Player Salaries, Oh My!

The distraction: Great Big Sea at the Oregon Zoo. Elephants, Celtic rock music from Canada and overcooked hot dogs. Oh, and sizzlin' hot bassist Murray Foster. What's not to like?

It's not the regular season, but I can see it from here: The 2011 Winter Classic venue has been unveiled, cutie pie Danish forward Peter Regin has reached a contractual agreement with the Ottawa Senators, and the Portland Winterhawks' pre-season is a little less than 2 months away. Funny how so many of those arbitration thingies are ending in multi-million dollar deals. Also, tall, blonde cutie pies on the loose in Ottawa + Winter Classic in the Stanley Cup Champions' hometown = note to self: request winter vacation at work NOW.

OOOhhhhhh and there's this: The Portland Winterhawks just announced that Sept. 28 marks the first regular season home game against the Vancouver Giants. Originally we were going to have to wait until Oct. 2nd for a home game. What a difference 4 days makes.

But just in case you'd rather wait four days: Oct. 2 is still bobblehead night. And you still can't pet my Nino bobblehead. It's mine, all mine. Get your own.

Now, where was I? Oh yes: Section 5, Penalties. Other Penalties. Rule 571, Prevention of Infections by Blood.

EEEEEWWWWW: Doesn't this rule belong in a medical textbook? 571.a: A player bleeding or covered by the blood of any player shall be considered as an injured player and shall leave the ice for treatment and/or cleaning. If he does not comply with this regulation he shall be assessed a minor penalty. Such player shall be permitted to return to the ice provided that 1) The cut is completely closed and sealed with appropriate bandages. 2) Any blood is removed from the player and his equipment and uniform replaced or properly cleaned. If the ice surface or any objects are stained with blood, the Referee shalle ensure that the bloodstains are removed by rink personnel after the first stoppage of play.

Morals of the story:

The game: I would not want to be the "rink personnel" charged with cleaning up the after-effects of a bench-clearing, covering another player with your blood, game misconduct line brawl. Now, I love a good fight and I personally believe that it's not really a game until somebody bleeds or leaves on a stretcher, but I would not want to be in charge of cleaning duties. It's kind of like throwing out garbage: we want to get rid of it but we don't want to smell it, see it or sanction a landfill full of it anywhere near our neighborhood.

Life: How come we don't have to leave the workplace when we become injured or ill? "Presenteeism" is a huge problem in corporate America, whereby either because they don't want to burn through precious vacation time being sick or some boss insists they show up whilst bleeding out their eyeballs, employees show up for work even if they're carrying the viral plague. But what if we had this rule for work? And you couldn't come back until you went home and purged the cooties, injury, personal issue, whatever? Think of all that swine flu panic that could have been prevented. Or all the millions of dollars companies could save if they just respected that human beings are after all human, and they forced people to stay home while unhealthy. It blows the mind, really.

Next up: Section 5, Penalties. Other Penalties. Rule 572, Captain and Alternate Captain Complaint. Rule 573, Too Many Players on the Ice.

Monday, July 26, 2010

How to Earn a Degree in Stupid: Throw a Stick on a Breakaway.

The distraction: Replay of Vancouver vs. LA Kings, Game 1, Stanley Cup quarterfinal.

Yes, it's a repeat, and I know how it It's hockey in the off-season. Be glad the NHL Network has the balls to keep programming on the air 365 days a year. Besides, what am I supposed to do, watch baseball? On the other hand, I do need help falling asleep at night, so perhaps I should cut on over to the MLB Channel.

The Rule: Section 5, Penalties. Other Penalties. Rule 570, Throwing a Stick or Any Object on a Breakaway Situation.

570.a: When a player in control of the puck outside his own defending zone, and having no opponent to pass other than the other goalkeeper, and any member of the opposing team, including team officials, throws or shoots a stick, any part of it, or any object or who directs (with any part of the body) a stick or any part of it, or any object in the direction of the puck or puck carrier, the Referee shall award to the non-offending team a penalty.

Morals of the story:

The game: If it were possible to major in stupid in higher academia, this would be a required course. Trying to interfere with a player on a breakaway is so obvious it's like trying to rob a bank without a ski mask and stopping first to pose for the surveillance cameras.

Life: Oh please. How many times have we been on breakaways in life and someone or something gets in the way? Do we get a penalty shot or a goal? No, but we should. For example:

-- For would-be spouses who leave the fiance at the altar, punishment will be as follows, no exception: Government agents will come to your house in the middle of the night and kidnap the other man or woman and place them in a homewrecker witness protection program never to be seen again, while you try unsuccessfully to crawl back to the fiance who by now has gone on your honeymoon with friends and who has cleaned out that joint checking account you started thinking you'd use it to buy that cute little starter house.

-- For scam artists like Madoff or others who steal the life savings of people and non-profit organizations, right when they were needing it the most to retire or pursue other endeavors: Forget jail and lawsuits and all that crap. Just take the little sociopaths to the Nevada desert, and leave them there with a double wide, one bottle of water, an application for the minimum wage job pumping gas down the highway about three miles, no car and a month's worth of food stamps. No need to spend upwards of $30,000 a year of our tax money feeding and housing the little buggers.

Next up: Section 5, Penalties. Other Penalties. Rule 571, Prevention of Infections by Blood.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Don't Throw the Stick, Don't Look at the Stick, Don't Feed the Stick Snacks.

The distraction: Getting excited to see the Canadian band Great Big Sea at the Oregon Zoo on Wednesday.

Why: Because they are the best band to see on a warm summer night in a park. And, to refresh, I'll find links to hockey in every part of my life. Don't believe me? Check this out: Bassist Murray Foster is a Toronto Maple Leafs fan and he accurately predicted the outcome of the Canada vs. US Olympic Gold Medal Game. Oh, and he's also totally hot.

The rule: Section 5, Penalties. Other Penalties. Rule 569, Throwing a Stick or Any Object Within the Playing Area.

569.a: Any player or goalkeeper on the ice or bench or team official, who shoots or throws a stick or any part of it, or any object, or who directs (with any part of the body) a stick, any part of it, or any object in the direction of the puck or puck carrier in the Attacking Zone of his team, or in the Neutral Zone shall be assessed a minor penalty. Now, if that wasn't confusing enough, here's more:
Note: the position of the puck or puck carrier at the moment when a stick or any part of it, or any object is thrown, shot or directed (with any part of the body) by an opposing player in the direction of the puck or puck carrier is the determining factor whether to assess a Minor penalty or award a Penalty Shot.

Morals of the story:

The game: When assessing penalties for throwing objects within the playing area, it's good to have options. Also, this may be the only rule I've seen so far that is not accompanied by "at the discretion of the Referee" or "in the judgment of the Referee." If only players would man up and not do immature things like throw objects within or out of the playing area, then we wouldn't even need this rule. But alas, as in life, babies will be babies.

Life: My father once literally threw a math book at me and told me I was an idiot. He was so pissed off, he went outside and tried to water a cactus. Mind, my father majored in engineering at Stanford, while I myself had loftier ambitions like writing best selling novels and starving in a third floor walkup. Plus, my mother told him "Samantha will never be good at math" and then called a tutor. I got the life version of a minor penalty and had to spend precious free time under the tutelage of a math tutor the rest of high school and part of college. But like the rules, it didn't necessarily change my ways. I still can't balance my checkbook without the help of an Excel spreadsheet. And so, just like taking a penalty in hockey, sometimes we take the punishment and we go right back to our lives.

Next up: Section 5, Penalties. Other Penalties. Rule 570, Throwing a Stick or Any Object on a Breakaway Situation.

Friday, July 23, 2010

So, No Throwing a Puck at Irate Hockey Fans, Then?

The distraction: Watching the off-season remodeling project that is the Tampa Bay Lightning. Now mind, with the honkin' tall French captain at the helm, I'll watch them even when they suck. But still, with Steven Stamkos' meteoric rise and the new addition of Simon Gagne, one must take this opportunity to silently salute Steve Yzerman. Or loudly. Your choice, really.

The other distractions: Sci-Fi geek shows like "Eureka" and "Haven." Don't think there's a hockey connection? Think again. Haven is filmed in Nova Scotia, home province of Sidney Crosby and Eureka is filmed in and around Vancouver and BC, home to the Canucks and an assortment of AHL, WHL and whatever-HL teams. To refresh, going three months without live hockey is simply not healthy for some people.

The rules: Section 5, Penalties. Other Penalties. Rule 567, Refusing to Start Play - Team Not on the Ice. Rule 568, Throwing a Stick or Any Object Out of the Playing Area.

As if one guy pouting and refusing to come out of his dressing room stall was bad enough, thank god there's this rule: 567.a. If a team, which is not on the ice, fails to go on the ice to start playing when ordered by the Referee through the Captain, Manager or Coach, the Referee shall allow to the refusing team two minutes to resume the game. 567.b. If you are good boys and resume playing, the Referee only awards the offending team a bench minor. But if you insist on sitting on the bench or in the dressing room until you turn blue in the face, you forfeit the game.

Rule 568: Any player or goalkeeper who throws a stick, any part of it, or any other object out of the playing area shall be assessed a game misconduct penalty.

Morals of the story:

The game: This rule doesn't specify what qualifies as "any other object." But considering that most of the non-playing area is protected by glass and netting, it's a limited selection: stick, puck, water bottle, maybe a Ref's whistle or possibly a jersey. But I guess they need to cover their bases in case someone gets crafty and decides to dislodge the goal from the frame AND throw it out of the playing area. In the end, these are really just the rules that tell players they can't pout like little boys by refusing to start play or throwing objects into oblivion just because a play didn't go their way.

Life: So, what if all the employees in a company decided not to come in to work, instead of just one? Or all the students paying that six-figure tuition decided not to come to class today? What if everyone who takes the slightest inch of crap from a boss, bagged it and went fishing? In reality we'd get the equivalent of forfeiture...of our jobs, of our education, of our future.

Life has a way of stopping us when we try to break free of its rules. Like this rule, the punishment for standing your ground is too severe, so most of us don't do it. Now mind, sitting on the bench and refusing to start play while millions of dollars, fan favor and the Refs' patience runs out should be punished. But in life, standing your ground isn't always a bad thing. The trick is knowing when it's ok to lose your nice safe life and when it isn't. For example: if you are or are about to turn into one of those people in your office who already looks exhausted on Monday, doesn't care about whether they look or act professional, is just there for the job security and the paycheck, and gets on the elevator every day and says the same thing... "I'll just be glad when this day is over"....that's probably the time when it's ok to break out of the life you're living and damn the rules.

Next up: Section 5, Penalties. Other Penalties. Rule 569, Throwing a Stick or Any Object Within the Playing Area.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Game Misconduct for Refusing to Start Play Until the NHL Gives You $100 Million.

The distraction: A sudden interest in the NHLPA's collective bargaining argreement.

Why: Because the League has rejected the Kovalchuk deal on the grounds it circumvented the collective bargaining agreement. Duh. How else do you sign somebody to a $100 million-plus deal over 17 years, the last 4 of which he will likely be retired? One word: Lockout. It happened once. It can happen again, if deals like this are allowed to transpire.

Now, as home to the number 4 and 5 NHL draft picks from 2010, I love Portland, I really do. But: We really shouldn't try to pretend that we are fashionable. Practical, sturdy and hard-working honest people we are, but fashion forward we are not. We try. We do. But maybe we shouldn't. For example:

-- It is never ok to combine cargo pants, a sweatshirt with a gingham teddy bear on the front and 5-inch stilettos. I don't care what you saw in Vogue. It's just wrong.

-- Women in their 40s should not prance about in jeans that sit just below the hips with studded belts, and tattoos sticking out of their Rainbow Brite t-shirts. And especially not if the Rainbow Brite t-shirt is, after 100 plus rounds in the dryer, a belly shirt that exposes the muffin top sitting neatly atop the studded belt. Put it down, walk away. No exceptions.

It's kind of like these rules: Section 5, Penalties. Other Penalties. Rule 565, Officials Leaving the Player's Bench. Rule 566, Refusing to Start Play - Team on the Ice.

Rule 565: Any team official who goes on the ice during any period without the permission of the Referee shall be assessed a game misconduct penalty.

And I still don't understand how teams think this will end well:

Rule 566: a. If, when both teams are on the ice and one team refuses to start play for any reason when ordered to do so by the Referee, the Referee shall warn the Captain and allow the team so refusing 3o seconds to the begin the game or resume play. c. If there be a recurrence of the same incident, the Referee shall declare the game forfeited to the non-offending team and the case shall be reporter to the proper authorities.

Morals of the story:

The game: So, what if the Captain's the one who instigates his teammates into not starting play? Does an alternate Captain get warned because the big C is in the corner crying until he turns blue in the face? And dudes, the only other place in which the phrase "proper authorities" is used is the law. The law isn't messing around and neither is an international sports organization that suffered the consequences of sanctioning their PR guy to rip Sidney Crosby a new one in an unmitigated and unsporstmanlike online tirade. Just get back in the game and deal with your crap later.

Life: If you do the equivalent of refusing to start play at your job, you get fired. If you refuse to pull into the main street out of a parking lot, even though the main street is wide open, while other drivers sit helplessly behind you, they will get out of their car, reach through your partially open window and rip your head off so they can decorate their dashboard with it. And if you refuse to turn off a cell phone while on a date or any other personal interaction with me, I will glare at you so hard you will spontaneously burst into flames, therefore guaranteeing that I'll never have to talk to you again. So, perhaps, on occasion, there is justice in hockey and in life.

Next up on 7/22: Section 5, Penalties. Other Penalties. Rule 567, Refusing to Start Play - Team on the Ice. Rule 568, Throwing a Stick or Any Object Out of the Playing Area.

Monday, July 19, 2010

So, Sometimes Sitting on the Bench Can Be a Good Thing.

The distraction: Keeping track of the Portland Winterhawks' whereabouts in the NHL, AHL, ECHL and whatever else-HL. I'm pleased to report that all three of the overage players who had to leave us at the end of this past season are present and accounted for somewhere in the hockey world. Stefan Schneider signed with the Vancouver Canucks in the mother of all underdog stories, Chris Francis signed with the Springfield Falcons (AHL affiliate of the Columbus Blue Jackets) and defenseman Eric Doyle just signed with the Ontario Reign in the ECHL. All Winterhawks eligible in one way or another have either been drafted or on their way to playing more hockey one way or another. At last, I can sleep at night.

Oohh, did I say that out loud?: Ilya Kovalchuk is re-upping with the Devils, after the almost deal with the LA Kings didn't quite meet his salary demands. Refresh me, exactly how many Stanley Cups has he won? And how deep into the playoffs did Jersey get this year? Oh and not very far. Definitely worth $100 million.

The rules: Section 5, Penalties. Other Penalties. Rule 563, Players Leaving the Penalty Bench. Rule 564, Players Leaving the Benches During an Altercation.

So, basically, don't leave the bench unless it's for a good reason:

563.a: Except at the end of a period, a penalized player who leaves the penalty bench before his penalty time has expired shall be assessed a minor penalty.

And if you're planning to leave the bench to commit yet another offense:

563.b: If the violation occurs during a stoppage of play during an altercation, the offending player shall be assessed a minor penalty and game misconduct penalty, to be served at the expiration of his previous penalty. Ditto if you get up from the penalty bench to challenge an official's ruling. Like he's going to take you seriously if you do? Please. The penalty bench is the grown up hockey equivalent of a time out. Or, in my generation when you weren't busted for such things, a swat on the behind. So coming off the bench to announce your presence with authority isn't really going to hold a lot of weight with someone whose job description includes "at the disrection of" or "in the judgment of."

So, if that didn't convince you, maybe this will:

564.a: No player shall leave the player's or penalty bench at any time during an altercation. The first player to lead the way gets a double minor and a game misconduct penalty. Anyone who follows him gets a 10 minute misconduct penalty.

Morals of the story:

The game: Like life, there are times to sit on the bench and times to leave. Want to survive in the big time? Learn the difference. If enough players do this, at the wrong time in a playoff game, the whole team and their chance are toast.

Life: We tell our children "do as I say, not as I do." We tell them "if your friends jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?" Why? Because following the lead of others isn't always the right thing to do. History has shown this to be true. I grew up in the seventies and eighties, when the aftermath of the Charles Manson murders and the Jonestown massacre were making headlines. Perhaps if life punished us with the equivalent of a minor penalty and game misconduct we wouldn't be so eager to follow the leader. For example:

-- Automatic banishment to a deserted island with no cable TV, no cell phone and no high-speed internet for a period of one month for each day that you follow the lead of other people who talk too loudly on their cell phone in a bus, train, book store or other inappropriate location.

-- For fashion designers of the eighties who followed the lead of some dimwit who decided that embedding women's clothing with shoulder pads was a good idea, eternal house arrest consisting of confinement to a closet with all of their worst fashion designs, including but not limited to those plastic gel shoes in fabulous understated classic colors like fuschia and yellow (which apparently, are making a comeback), the Flashdance legwarmer/torn sweatshirt combo and stirrup pants.

Next up on 7/21: Section 5, Penalties. Other Penalties. Rule 565, Team Officials Leaving the Player's Bench. Rule 566, Refusing to Start Play - Team on the Ice.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Automatic Game Misconduct for Oggling Large, Pretty Hockey Players.

The distraction: Re-reading a back issue of The Fourth Period with the LA Kings on the cover. Among their predictions: that big things were en route from rookies Tyler Myers, Matt Duchene and the Anaheim Ducks' Bobby Ryan. Note to self: subscribe to The Fourth Period. Oh, and the cover photo that included Anze Kopitar and Jarret Stoll: Hot. End of distraction.

The rule: Section 5, Penalties. Other Penalties. Rule 561, Interference with Spectators. Rule 562, Players Leaving the Penalty or Player's Bench.

561: A player who physically interferes with a spectator shall be assessed, at the discretion of the Referee, a match penalty.

562.a: If a player leaves the penalty or player's bench and incurs a minor, major or misconduct penalty shall be assessed an automatic game misconduct penalty.

562.b: If a player illegally enters the game and interferes with a player of the opposing team in possession of the puck, who has no opponent between him and the goalkeeper, the Referee shall award to the non-offending team a penalty shot. If this happens and the opposing goalkeeper has been removed from the ice, the Referee shall award to the non-offending team a goal.

Morals of the story:

The game: Ok, but what about that time Ryan Getzlaf squirted Gatorade at the glass in the penalty box at a fan who was taunting him? Maybe just a minor penalty for non-physical interference, perhaps?

Life: Could we vote for a new law that would assess an automatic game misconduct be assessed every time other people enter a work situation illegally, that being one that was working just fine and they screw it up out of the need to show how they are "taking charge?" Or perhaps for drivers who pull out of a side street and interfere with your ability to keep driving and not slam on the brakes just in time to miss hitting them? I could go on, but it's getting late. I'm just saying that modern life needs way more game misconducts that we have at present. And if we did, safe driving, efficient working class girls like myself would get more done in a day.

Next up on 7/19: Section 5, Penalties. Other Penalties. Rule 563, Players Leaving the Player's Bench. Rule 564, Players Leaving the Benches During an Altercation.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Ok, But What's the Penalty for Handling Cute Hockey Players if You See Them Wandering Around Portland?

The distraction: Re-watching the Pittsburgh Penguins 2009 Stanley Cup DVD and wondering what's left of the defensive core that was on that team.

The answer: Ummmm....oh, wait....never Zilch. Gone. Poof. Off to LA and Montreal and New York and Ottawa.

On the local front: Look out Portland, a new all-Winterhawks blog is coming this fall. More on that later this week.

Other distractions: Guitarist Carter Gravatt from the band Carbon Leaf, who were just in town this past week. And looking forward to Great Big Sea and my fave non-hockey crush Murray Foster in another week at the Oregon Zoo. Check them both out in the off season and check them out if they come to your town. Especially Murray Foster....very pretty no matter what the season. Plus, he predicted the outcome of the final Canada vs. USA score in the Olympic gold medal game, give or take a goal or two.

The rule: Section 5, Penalties. Other Penalties. Rule 559, Handling the Puck with the Hands by a Player. Rule 560, Handling the Puck with the Hands by a Goalkeeper.

Don't try this one either: 560.a: Any player, except the goalkeeper, who closes his hand on the puck shall be assessed a minor penalty. It's the same if you pick it up from the ice.

And forget about doing this in the goal crease: If a defending player picks up the puck in his goal crease, it's a penalty shot to the non-offending team. And if the goalkeeper wasn't on the ice, the non-offending team is awarded a goal.

But at least the goalkeepers get a break, sort of: 561.a. Unless he is being pressured a goalkeeper who holds the puck more than three seconds shall be assessed a minor penalty. It's also a minor if the goalkeeper throws the puck forward and it's first played by a teammate, or if he deliberately drops into his pads to force a stoppage of play.

Morals of the story:

The game: Ok, but what if it goes flying into your pads by accident? Hey, it happened in Chicago and Jonathan Toews found it when he jostled Niemi's jersey to jar it loose. Stranger things have happened, especially in hockey. And what if the goaltender is being pressured? Is it like that scene in "Empire Strikes Back" where Yoda hits R2-D2 when the droid tries to take the lamp and yells "Mine! Mine! Mine!" I must keep an eye out next season, because that would be more entertaining than the Brett Ponich/Andy Blanke fight last December at a Winterhawks game.

Life: The justice system needs this rule. For example, what if they had this rule for similar life crimes, like grabbing and holding someone's purse in a mugging? Minimum minor penalty of a year in jail no exceptions, no time off for good behavior. Or what about those skanky guys who lurk on crowded trains and try to "close their hand" on your ass? Definitely a minor penalty of somebody -- anybody with really big shoes, for example -- kicking them in the nuts continuously for at least five minutes. Guaranteed the next time they try it, their brain will remember and they'll stop. Yes, both of these things happened to me, and sadly there was no justice in either case. But like I've said, sometimes I have thoughts and sometimes they're better than reality.

But it's a good thing they don't have this rule for fans handling players. Anze Kopitar's brother Gasper plays here in Portland, and the older bro was seen and heard around the Memorial Coliseum last February. Really good thing he was with his girlfriend and my hands were occupied or you would have heard an announcement on the PA system: "Clean up in section''am... put the LA Kings superstar down and walk away."

Next up on 7/18: Section 5, Penalties. Other Penalties. Rule 561, Interference with Spectators. Rule 562, Players Leaving the Penalty or Player's Bench.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Step 1, Deliberately Fall on the Puck. Step 2, Be Labeled a Lamo for Taking a Bad Penalty.

The distraction: Trying to figure out why playoff heroes like Jaroslav Halak and Antti Niemi are either getting traded or in salary arbitration. Yes, little armchair experts, I KNOW why, but that doesn't mean I like it.

And this is how I know I REALLY need the regular hockey season to start like, right now: I've been occupying my free time playing Six Degrees of Separation to see how hockey players' lives are related to mine. So far, I've only come up with two: I have the same birthday as Wayne Gretzky and Sidney Crosby's dog is named Samantha. And Sidney Crosby has long been touted as the "next Wayne Gretzky." Let me just say this... if you happen to play on a beer league in Portland that's by chance playing this summer, do let me know. Because clearly going without live hockey for longer than 30 days just isn't good for some people.

What goes best with watching Nino play for the Islanders?: A cupcake of course. reports that Nassau Coliseum has officially inked a deal that will add cupcakes to their menu. Beer + cupcakes + hockey + Nino = heaven.

Distraction, Part 2: Twitter. To Tweet or not to Tweet, that is the question. Mind, I had to consult the handbook to figure out how to use the space bar on my cell phone for text messages, and I don't even know how to use the camera feature except for the one time I accidentally pushed the wrong button, so don't look for me on Twitville anytime soon. Back to topic...

The rules: Section 5, Penalties. Other Penalties. Rule 557, Falling on the Puck by a Player. Rule 558, Falling on the Puck by a Goalkeeper.

557.a: If a player, other than the goalkeeper, deliberately falls on, holds or gathers the puck into his body, he shall be assessed a minor penalty. And forget it if you're trying to defend the zone. If a defensive player does this when the puck is in the goal crease of his team, the non-offending team gets a penalty shot. If the opposing goalie has been removed and a player does this in the goal crease of his team, the Referee awards a goal to the non-offending team.

Ok, now I'm officially confused: These come with color-coded specifications about where the goalkeeper can be on the ice when he is (or isn't) allowed to purposefully fall on the puck. Either let him hold the puck or don't. It's not complicated. How are hockey players supposed to mean it when they bust out the "we just gotta keep it simple" cliche when rules like this are running amok?

1) Goalkeeper is allowed to hold the puck only when the goalkeeper's body remains at least partially in the goal crease. This looks to be the equivalent of the trapezoid behind the goal in NHL rinks, which of course don't exist on international ice.

2) Goalkeeper is allowed to hold the puck only when he is pressured. This area is between the goal line and just past the hash marks in the face off circle.

3) Goalkeeper is not allowed to hold the puck. Everywhere else not listed above.

Morals of the story:

The game: This is the puck-protecting version of diving. Don't do it, don't try it, don't think about doing it or trying it. Period. End of rule. There is a better way than this, and surely a less obvious one.

Life: Let's face it. Falling on the puck in life is equally lame. We all know what the right thing is, but nobody ever said the right way was the easy way. We've all done it, but that doesn't make it ok. Good thing life doesn't penalize us for the life equivalent of falling on the puck, but maybe it should. For example,

-- Dinging a car in the parking lot but not enough so the owner would think it was anything more than a door ding, so you don't leave a note and figure no harm no foul. The penalty: All new cars built after 2010 come with small video cameras built into the windshield. If someon tailgates you, dings you, bumps you from behind, sideswipes you, whatever, you can record it and turn it into the proper authorities for immediate compensatory action.

-- Stealing other people's breakfast sandwiches in Starbucks without checking to see if hey, it might actually be for someone who was in line ahead of you and has been waiting longer, and walking away like you didn't do anything wrong. Yes, this happened to me. No I wasn't the one who stole it. In this case the penalty was assessed in the form of the dingdong opening his sandwich and finding he had overpaid for a sandwich he didn't order. And I still got mine all the same. Ok, sometimes life does punish us for falling on the puck. But still, don't steal the sandwich, stupid.

-- Cheating on your taxes because you came out behind the financial 8-ball this year, an offense for which we all pay, because, guess what, the states and the Feds come up short on many occasions too. Only in their case, they just charge all of us more. Penalty: Full scale audit by the IRS and your state of every dollar you've ever earned since you got a social security number, including babysitting money, tips from waiting tables in college and the "consulting fees" you charge to clients for telling them how to cheat on their own taxes, complete with late fees, assessments and interest that will equal about 10 times what you "saved" by cheating.

Next up on 7/16: Section 5, Penalties. Other Penalties. Rule 559, Handling the Puck with Hands by a Player. Rule 560, Handling the Puck with Hands by a Goalkeeper.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

For the Record: Please Don't Pet My Nino Bobblehead.

The distraction: Keeping track of all the Portland Winterhawks who have been drafted or signed by the NHL. And counting the days until the home opener on October 2nd. Which is officially 80, if you must know. And, it's Nino bobblehead night for season ticket holders.

Yay for him, boo for us: The irony of bobblehead night is that Nino may still be with the Islanders when the Winterhawks' season opens. Good for him, major bummer alert for us. On the other hand, how cool will it be to see he and Ryan on NHL ice for the first time, geared up for their first major league games?

Speaking of which: I really must start a spreadsheet. Here's where we are so far:

2010 NHL Draft:

4 - Ryan Johansen to Columbus Blue Jackets
5 - Nino Niederreiter to New York Islanders
43 - Brad Ross to Toronto Maple Leafs
78 - Taylor Aronson to Nashville Predators
137 - Troy Rutkowski to Colorado Avalanche
139 - Luke Walker to Colorado Avalanche
191 - Mac Carruth to Chicago Blackhawks
208 - Riley Boychuk to Buffalo Sabres

2009 NHL Draft:
Brett Ponich to St. Louis Blues - signed this past spring
Spencer Bennett to Calgary Flames

Other Signings of note:
Stefan Schneider signed with Vancouver Canucks this spring
Chris Francis signed with AHL's Springfield Falcons, the affiliate of the Columbus Blue Jackets

En route to training camps:
Tayler Jordan to Vancouver Canucks. Tayler, by the way, played most of last season on a line with Stefan and Riley.
Oliver Gabriel to Columbus Blue Jackets. Yes, that's three Hawks in the Blue Jackets' system.
Taylor Peters to Pittsburgh Penguins.

There goes the salary cap neighborhood: The Kovalchuk talks with LA. Question: How much salary cap will the Kings have to unload to afford him? Not even Sidney Crosby does the "Give me $100 million or else" crap. Because he was obviously raised properly, first of all. And of course he makes more money from Reebok than he probably does from the Penguins. But still, nobody is worth that much salary, especially if they get injured. Which brings me to my second point...nobody is invincible. One hit to the head, one knee-on-knee collision and today's superstar can become tomorrow's deadweight. And finally, if they agree to the deal, it sets a dangerous precedent for future salary demands. There. End of rant. Now I feel better. Back to topic...

The rule: Section 5, Penalties. Other Penalties. Rule 556, Broken Stick.

To refresh on something I forgot last time: Rule 555, Illegal or Dangeous Equipment. 555.b. The Referee can request that a player or goalkeeper remove any personal accessories shall, at the discretion of the Referee, the personal accessories worn during the game be regarded as dangerous for the player and other participants.

If the accessories are difficult to remove, then the player has to tape them or put them under the jersey so as to render them no longer dangerous. So, no wearing your Stanley Cup ring for the purpose of throwing a way meaner and more injurious punch, even with tape? Can you see a player doing this and trying to convince the Ref he can't get it off because it's just too big and shiny? Well, now that I think about it, a player like Kovalchuk just might do this.

Ok, now on with the rule: 556, Broken Stick. Ever wonder why players just leave a stick on the ice and play continues? This rule explains it. A "broken stick" is one which, in the opinion of the Referee, is unfit for normal play. A player without a stick may participate in the game. 556.a: If a player whose stick is broken does not immediately drop the broken portions and continues to play, he shall be assessed a minor penalty.

Morals of the story:

The game: Ok, I get the rule itself. Simple enough. But why would you continue to play with a broken stick anyway? And why not allow a player to proceed to the bench for a new one instead of dropping it and putting other players at risk for injury? Perhaps because it means they could swap out a legal stick for an illegal one, after breaking it on purpose? Inquiring hockey minds want to know. Sure I could Google it, but where's the fun in that?

Life: How cool would it be if we could just drop the broken portions of our lives and continue playing the game of life without penalty? For example:

-- For driving offenses, instead of getting ticketed or appearing in court, you could just pull your car over, get out, put a few quarters in a machine and that night, just like the street sweepers, a truck comes along and tows your car off to be recycled and you get to buy a new one, complete with an unblemished record and a new driver's license.

-- Instead of a lifetime of guilt about letting the one who got away get away, we could get one chance to do it over. And either you get it right or you find out you realize you were right to leave.

-- All those national reforms for banks could require that they build a special tool into online banking accounts that lets you delete the debit that put you into overdraft mode, and record a deposit now that you won't make until Friday to restore your account balance.

Next up: Section 5, Penalties. Other Penalties. Rule 557, Falling on the Puck by a Player. Rule 558, Falling on the Puck by a Goalkeeper.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Minor Penalty If You Don't Know What Underwear Means.

The distraction: Replay of the San Jose vs. Anaheim playoff series on NHL Network.

Why I chose it: Because it's better than no hockey at all. Because I never saw it the first time. Because it was the game where Jonas Hiller became something like the 10th goalie in NHL history to get a shutout on his first playoff game.

Cliche of the week: Mike Fisher married Carrie Underwood on Saturday. A hockey player marries an actress/model/singer. Is it news? Not if you're a diehard hockey fan and you follow the headlines. I'm convinced somwhere there is a secret NHL Rulebook and it states that all players must marry blonde women with no body fat who have graced the cover of Vogue at least once.

The rule: Section 5, Penalties. Other Penalties. Rule 555, Illegal or Dangerous Equipment.

555: Any player who wears his equipment or visor in any way that may cause injury to an opponent, or wears any non-approved equipment, shall be ruled off the ice and a warning shall be issued to his team. If a player or goalkeeper does not wear his equipment, except gloves, health protection and goalkeepers leg guards, entirely under his uniform, he shall be assessed a minor penalty. It's also a minor for cutting the palm out of the glove to expose the bare hand, wearing dangerous or illegal skates or equipment and destroying or refusing to surrender for measurement any suspected illegal equipment.

Morals of the story:

The game: I want to see the player who tries to get away with the visor violation. I mean, it's not like you can't see it if the player's got it popped up or poking out in some way so as to stab other players in the head. And boys, how hard it is to keep the equipment under your jersey and pants? I tried a regulation size jersey on in a sports store in Canada, and it came down very nearly around my ankles. Of course, I'm 5'9", but still, that's plenty of room to keep it all under your equipment.

Life: I also want to see this in the professional world. It's the equivalent of telling business professionals not to wear their underwear on the outside of their business suits. Just once I want to see somebody do it. Not just anybody either. I want to see what the resident office prudes have on underneath it all. Because it never matches the outside. Because I want to see the look on everyone else's face. Because let's face it, even if it was just plain old white jockey briefs, corporate America needs a good underwear incident now and again, just to keep everyone from falling asleep at meetings.

Next up: Section 5, Penalties. Other Penalties. Rule 556, Broken Stick.

Friday, July 9, 2010

I'm So Hoppy for the Portland Winterhawks I Could Cry.

The distraction: The "gone camping" feature on with Portland's own "El Nino" mic'd up.

Why I chose it: Because I was waiting for another "I shoot the puck, the puck go in" vintage soundbite. Alas, the best was "I'm so happy here. The ice is really soft." Although with his very lovely Swiss accent, it sounded like "I'm so hoppy here." Love it. One of the many reasons we love Nino and wish him all the best.

I thought Brett playing golf on draft day was insane: Portland Winterhawk Luke Walker found out he'd been drafted by Colorado via text message in an airport. Welcome to the 21st Century.

The rule: Section 5, Penalties. Other Penalties. Rule 554h, Late Line Up.

554h: If a team, after the end of an intermission, does not line up on the ice surface the required number of players to start a period (overtime) the team shall be assessed a bench minor penalty.

First: I need a late line up rule for my life. If I lay in bed until I'm too far past my allotted extra snooze alarm minutes to get ready in time for the bus and therefore end up driving in gridlock, being late for work and spending extra money on parking...a bench minor in the form of decaf coffee, being in line behind the person who buys the last chocolate croissant in Kobos and getting a day old croissant instead shall be applied.

And more importantly:

A word (or two) on the free agent frenzy: If you took all the money, ego, Stanley Cups, the trade deadline, free agency day, no-trade clauses, etc. away, NHL wheeling and dealing really comes down to one thing: what is a player worth? Ten million and three years? 8 million and two years? Three players from another team? $100 million? Two conditional draft picks and $25 million?

We all sit here on our high horses deciding who we think should be traded where, and what they should be paid. But what if the shoe was on the other foot? What if, every two to three years your employer, instead of giving you a small raise and a pat on the back, they put you out to bid to other employers, who would then decide, what, if anything, you were worth? Are you too old to be worth anything at all? Are you too young and inexperienced to consider taking seriously? Do you really have what they want or just what they need? Are you worth the asking price? That's what happens to players when contracts are up, trade deadlines loom and general managers are hunkered down in backrooms of four-star hotels in Toronto.

Before we go judging NHL players at this critical time of year, perhaps we should stop and think, what if the rest of the world decided what we're worth? What would they think? Would it be the same as what we think of ourselves? The painful truth for most of us is no. Either it would be way better than we give ourselves credit for or far worse than we can even imagine. Next time you find yourself growling at the latest trade deal, think about what it must do to a player just past his prime who's already been traded two or three times. Fear can do dangerous things to people, even the NHL's best.

Next up: Section 5, Penalties. Other Penalties. Rule 555, Illegal or Dangerous Equipment.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Summer's Here and the Free Trading's Fine. Unless You're a Chicago Blackhawk.

The distraction: NHL Free agent feeding frenzy.

Best trade: Colby Armstrong to Toronto. He got a raw deal when he was a victim of the Hossa trade that sent him away from Pittsburgh and playing on a line with Sidney Crosby. Plus, Portland's own Brad Ross may be playing alongside Armstrong in a few years. Most excellent all around.

Worst: The unloading of newly crowned Stanley Cup winners Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd and Chris Versteeg mere weeks after their victory. Yes, little experts, I know it had to be done, but could you at least let them enjoy the moment first?

Good and bad news: has a feature about Nino Niederreiter visiting the New York Islanders, which indicates he may join them right away next year. Soooo happy for him if he does, but bummed for Portland Winterhawks fans because it would mean his time here was far too short to really be appreciated.

Yes, it's all about the money: The Kovalchuk "we're in, no we're out" wheeling and dealing. Maybe it's just me because I work for a living, but asking for more than $100 million in salary is always about the money. Get over it.

Holy crap! When did this happen?: San Jose signed Antero Niittymaki to a two-year deal. I really must keep up on current affairs while on vacay.

The rule: Section 5, Penalties. Other Penalties. Rule 554e. Injured Player Refusing to Leave the Ice, 554f. More Than One Change After Goal Scored, 554g. Violation of Face-Off Procedures.

Oh, the irony: In a tough guy sports where you are expected to keep playing while bleeding out of your eyeballs, I find it ironic that for refusing to leave the ice while injured it's a minor penalty.

554f: It's a bench minor if the team that scored has more than one change of players on the ice after scoring the goal.

554g: These are also bench minor: a) when a player has been removed from the ice by an official and another player of the same team delays taking his proper position after a "Warning" his team shall be assessed a bench minor. b) when a player not taking the face-off enters the face-off circle before the puck is dropped, the player of his team taking the face-off shall be removed and replaced. For the second violation during the same face-off, the offending team shall be assessed a bench minor.

Morals of the story:

The game: On the other hand, now that I think about it...refusing the leave when ordered is also a way to delay the game and defy the Referee, so perhaps it's not so ironic after all. And I think I finally get another thing that distinguishes bench minors from minors. Bench minors appear to be for penalties that are not physical, like profanity, spitting or defying an order to leave to fix an injury. My life is complete. Sort of. Because I doubt I'll ever memorize all the face-off rules. So I'll just say this. I would not want to be the first class, Grade A twit who moves into the face-off circle before the puck is dropped when Sidney Crosby's taking it and it's tied in the third with 5 seconds to go. Now, mind, he's very lovely in interviews and all, but if you watch him when he's playing, forget about it. Good luck to you. Because all that polite small town boy from the Maritimes nice guy crap goes out the window. Poof, bye-bye, in the wind. As well it should. This is hockey, after all.

Life: I want the face-off rule for those twits in a super-sized SUV, who, when you are at a side street in your little Mini waiting to turn right onto the main street, pull up alongside you for the purpose of turning left, but they pull up just far enough past you that you can no longer see to turn right because their hood is in their way. But I wouldn't give a warning. I'd just require that all cars be built with a special Transformers-like device in which they could turn into a giant vehicle that would pick up said SUV and plunk it down in the bushes, where it will take three large men who might happen to drive by, if you're lucky, to push it out of there.

Next up: Section 5, Penalties. Other Penalties. 554h, Late Line Up. 555, Illegal or Dangerous Equipment.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Reason #2 to Love Canada: They Make Really Good Wine and Chocolate.

And wine and chocolate make a perfectly acceptable meal anytime of day: Like say, sunset on a Monday.

So, refresh me: Why don't I live in Canada? They're polite, they're patriotic on national holidays, they gave the world hockey and they make good wine. All good reasons for me to move there, but I have to come up with a good excuse for immigration, like I would contribute meaningfully to Canadian society and pay taxes and such. Do you think if I buy Canucks season tickets in advance to show my sincerity and my loyalty, it would be enough to convince them? Discuss.

The rule: Section 5, Penalties. Other Penalties. Rule 554.c, Shooting or Throwing the Puck Outside the Playing Area. 554.d, Adjustment of Equipment.

554.c: A player or goalkeeper who directly shoots, throws or bats the puck with his hand or stick outside the playing area, shall be assessed a minor penalty.

554.d: It's the same as the NHL. If your gear's outta whack, you leave the ice and fix it. The end. It's the same for players and goalkeepers. a. Play shall not be stopped nor the game delayed by reason of repair or adjustments to player's equipment and uniform, and the player requiring such adjustments shall retire from the ice. Infraction of this rule is punished by a minor penalty.

Morals of the story:

The game: So, the first is another one of those "don't touch the puck, don't look at the puck, don't talk to the puck, don't feed the puck snacks" rules. And if you have been playing hockey since birth and are now in the NHL and you still haven't figured out how to get your uniform and equipment crap together, why are you here?

Life: What if there was a law that required that those of us who try to be fashionable -- we really do -- but who alas, are not, retire from life to fix our attempt at dressing ourselves? It would be a great way to get out of work. Or blind dates. Or perhaps that business mixer where you have to suck up to the boss while he waxes rhapsodic about his last fishing trip. But then again, it also means there would have to be some sort of "three strikes you're out" caveat where you are fired or banned from social interaction if you cannot find it in yourself to put together the simplest of all outfits, a color-coordinated sweater set from Ann Taylor, a black skirt and black patent leather heels. Like the game, the moral is the same. Get it together or get out.

Up next: Section 5, Penalties. Other Penalties. 554.e, Injured Player Refusing to Leave the Ice. 554.f, More Than One Change After Goal Scored. 554.g, Violation of Face-Off Procedures.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Reason #1 to Love Canada: Hockey is Everywhere.

I'm back from my vacay, but where is summer?: I know it's summer somewhere, but here in Portland I am debating which fleece to wear while watching the fireworks. It's just wrong. At this rate, it means summer will show up around these parts about...oh, say...Thanksgiving.

Whilst I was buying tacky hockey souvenirs in Canada: Three more Portland Winterhawks have attracted the attention of NHL teams. Oliver Gabriel (Columbus Blue Jackets), Tayler Jordan (Vancouver Canucks) and Taylor Peters (Pittsburgh Penguins) have all been invited to training camp this fall. And, as for the tacky souvenirs, I'm now the proud owner of a Penguins' coffee mug, a Stanley Cup keychain, a Toronto Maple Leafs holiday stocking and a Vancouver Canucks' t-shirt. But it's all for a good cause. I bought them in support of the Hawks who are en route to the NHL. Well, that, and I just decided that I needed them. I said no to the Montreal Canadiens' piggy bank and winter hat, but only because they took out Pittsburgh and I couldn't purchase said items in good conscience.

Three is the magic number: In his third and final year of draft eligibility, Portland Winterhawk Luke Walker finally hit the NHL Draft jackpot by getting snatched up by the Colorado Avalanche. Third time's a charm for him all around: I counted once and any time Luke goes for two goals and they don't go in, he gets it on the third try. If he does come back for his overage year, check it out. And, with Oliver's training camp stint, that makes three Winterhawks in the Blue Jackets' system: fourth overall pick Ryan Johansen, Oliver and Chris Francis, who just signed with their AHL Affiliate the Springfield Falcons.

Trivial pursuit, part 2: How many Portland Winterhawks were drafted or signed the same year by the same team? Luke Walker (139th) and Troy Rutkowski (137) by the Colorado Avalanche. Stefan Schneider signed with Vancouver in spring 2010 and Tayler Jordan is going to training camp with the Canucks in the fall of 2010.

Mini bummer alert: All of the Winterhawks pre-season games are on the road. We won't have our home opener until Oct. 2. Looks like it's road trips for me, because I'm not sitting around here when there's quality hockey to be had before Labor Day.

On the other hand: The home opener is Nino Niederreiter bobblehead night. Get your own. I'm hiding mine in a closet for safekeeping.

Now, where was I? Oh right: Section 5, Penalties. Other Penalties. Rule 554.b. Displacing the Goal Frame.

a. A player or goalkeeper who deliberately displaces the goal frame from its normal position shall be assessed a minor penalty.

So displacing the goal frame is no Hail Mary pass, then?: b. If it happens in the last two minutes of the game, or at any time during overtime, by a defending player or goalkeeper in his Defending Zone the Referee shall award to the non-offending team a penalty shot.

And if you think the goalkeeper being pulled for an extra attacker makes it ok: Forget it. d. If, when a goalkeeper has been removed from the ice, a player of his team displaces the goal frame from its normal position the Referee shall award to the non-offending team a goal.

Morals of the story:

The game: Easy. Don't displace the goal frame on purpose, ding dongs. Enough said.

Life: This rule should be used to penalize people who cheat in plain sight with stupid shit. Like those guys who switch name plates at a wedding so they can sit next to the hot single chick and get her drunk on free champagne. Or the colleague who presents your death by powerpoint as their own in a meeting where they know you won't or can't speak up. In my world, such penalties will be punished by the following:

If a weak-minded individual who would in another galaxy be an easy target for Jedi mind tricks feels compelled to cheat or take the high road to personal success because they feel too inferior to do it the fair and right way... I shall award to the non-offending individual one week's worth of paid vacation time, a free stay at a four-star hotel to be paid for by the offending player and one complimentary spa treatment to help them forget about said offense.

Next up: Section 5, Penalties. Other Penalties. Rule 554c, Shooting or Throwing the Puck Outside the Playing Area. Rule 554d, Adjustment of Equipment.