Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Now, Back to our Regularly Scheduled Hockey Lesson

The distraction: The NHLPA's collective bargaining agreement.

Why I chose it: Because I want to know exactly how someone like Lou Lamoriello thought he could route around it. And for that matter, why all the other long-term deals out there were allowed to go down virtually undetected by the NHL's radar.

Perhaps I'll just read the CliffsNotes: This one might take a while: It's 475 pages and 50 sections long.

So let's start at the beginning. A very good place to start: Yes, I love "The Sound of Music." Get over it. Now, to the agreement: Article 1, Definitions.

If the "League Year" Starts in July, why can't hockey just keep going after June?: The "League Year" means the period of July 1 of one calendar year and including June 30 of the following calendar year or such other one year period to which the NHL and NHLPA may agree.

For all those players living in sin with models, actresses and country singers: "Living Companion" the criteria for Living Companion status is as follows: a) the persons are not related by blood, b) neither person is married, c) the persons share a primary residence, d) the persons have been living together for at least six months, and e) the persons are at least 18 years of age.

A little kibble for all of us living in junior hockey towns: "Major Juniors" or "Juniors" means the Canadian Hockey League, including the Western Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League, and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Go and be free. Sort of:

"Free agent" means a Restricted Free Agent and/or an Unrestricted Free Agent.

"Restricted free agent" means a player whose standard player contract (SPC) has expired, but who is still subject to a Right of First Refusal and/or Draft Choice Compensation in favor of his prior club as described in Article 10 of this Agreement.

"Unrestricted Free Agent" means a player who a) has either never signed an SPC or whose SPC has expired, or has been terminated or bought out by a Club; and b) who otherwise is not subject to any exclusive negotiating rights, Right of First Refusal, or Draft Choice Compensation in favor of any Club (including, without limitation, Players who referred to in Section 10.1 or 10.2(a)(iv) of this Agreement or a Player who becomes an Unrestricted Free Agent as a result of the Club exercising its walkaway rights under Article 12 of this agreement.)

Morals of the story:

The game: I think I see now why players need an entourage just to get to the rink. No wonder the "League Year" goes all year instead of just the regular and playoff season. The well-oiled machine that is the collective bargaining agreement never sleeps and I'm guessing, neither do its enforcers.

Life: In corporate America, unrestricted free agents are pretty much CEOs who just get to run a company into the ground until it spills oil into the world's oceans for the next 5 decades or leaves miners in a small hole for six months at a time. And the rest of us restricted free agents sort of have freedom in terms of when we go to lunch, and getting vacation now and again. But like this agreement, none of us are really free, are we?

I want to be an unrestricted free agent, and not be subject to negotiating rights over my salary, the size of my office or termination if I don't follow company rules. And under my leadership, we'd all leave at 3 every day to make it home in time to watch the East Coast games that start at 4 Pacific on Center Ice, and have offices big enough to accomodate our fatheads and bobblehead collections and a small mini-bar to keep the beer chilled. Anyone who decides they want to work until 5 and sit in gridlock for two hours will be subject to penalties as outlined in the company manual, including but not limited to termination for being a hockey non-appreciator and suspension without pay so you can go home and get properly acquainted with the sport before returning to paid, active duty.

Next up on 9/1: Article 2, Recognition. Article 3, Duration of Agreement.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Even if You're Not From Portland, You Might Want to Check Us Out

The distractions: Covering the Neely Cup from Portland Winterhawks' training camp this weekend. The results can be found here if you're looking for some kibbles to tide you over until this blog returns to its regularly scheduled programming: www.oregonlive.com/hawks.

And this: On Monday, I'll be posting an introductory sampling on my new home at Kukla's Korner. That takes place in about another 2 - 3 weeks, so there will be more details on that later.

And, of course, they're connected: It is me after all. I'll find a way to put two separate things about hockey together. To qualify as part of Paul Kukla's umbrella of bloggers, he asked all of us to post on his members' blog. For mine, I chose as my subject a little mini-draftee watch and a tribute to Ryan and Nino and all our Portland Winterhawks' draftees. You can check it out here:

And if you found this blog through oregonlive: Put Portland Winterhawks into the search bar for plenty of archival Hawks material to tide you over until I post something new here on Tuesday.

Next up: Back to our regularly scheduled programming on Tuesday with the collective bargaining agreement.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What's the Signal for We're Finished?

All good things must end: Like the IIHF Rulebook, which I conclude tonight with Referee's and Linesman's signals.

Ok, so now what?: A new home for this blog on Kukla's Korner this fall. And of course, my new all-Winterhawks, all the time blog on oregonlive.com/hawks. Plenty to keep me out of trouble.

But for now: It's on to the NHL's collective bargaining agreement. After we tackle this:

The rule: Annex 4, Duties of the Officials. Referee's Signals. Linesman's Signals.

Some of these make sense: Like elbowing (tapping either elbow with the opposite hand), holding (grasping either wrist with the other hand in front of the chest) and kneeing (tapping either knee with the palm of the hand, while keeping both skates on the ice).

But I want to know how much wine the proper authorities were drinking when they came up with this one: Match Penalty - Rule 507. Patting the palm of the hand on top of the head. Do they have to to rub their stomach at the same time?

And of course, since we all know how much I love and hate the icing rule, there's this: Icing the Puck - Rule 460. The back Linesman (or Referee in the Two Official System) signals a possible icing, by fully extending either arm over his head. The arm shall remain raised until the front Linesman or Referee, either blows the whistle to indicate an icing, or until the icing is washed out. Once the icing has been completed, the back Linesman or Referee shall first cross his arms in front of the chest and then shall point to the appropriate face-off spot and skate to it.

Morals of the story:

The game: Like the job itself, the Linesman's signals are way more complicated, and dependent on one of the other officials. Somebody give these guys a break. Either the player iced the puck or he didn't. Why wait for someone else to tell you they did?

Life: Linesmen are like the vice presidents of companies. They get a lot of power, but it means working way harder than the prez and they are beholden to the big cheese to make the final decisions on things. There should be signals for VPs that they could use in meetings or other events where they've had enough of playing second banana to the bigger monkeys. Such as:

-- Hold left palm down towards ground and push fingertips of other hand upwards into palm repeatedly to indicate "you are an ass and nobody is listening to what you are saying."

-- Hold index finger to head in motion that mimics a gun being held up to your head to indicate that the death by powerpoint is really killing people and must be stopped to avoid any further harm to employees.

-- Run hand across neck repeatedly to indicate that the idea the president is about to present is a bad one that will cost the company millions of dollars, result in a PR nightmare and prompt the board to vote him off the corporate island.

Next up: The NHL's collective bargaining agreement.

Monday, August 23, 2010

All Parents Shall Automatically Qualify for a Job as a Penalty Bench Attendant.

The distraction: Off to the Portland Winterhawks' press conference we go to meet the team's 2010 NHL Draftees, coach Mike Johnston and mingle with fans. On tap: where Nino came up with "I just want to be drafted higher than 14," what Nino and Luke Walker think of the talk that they will go into the NHL early this season and a chat with defenseman Taylor Aronson. Check out www.oregonlive.com/hawks on Wednesday morning for the results.

And at last, let there be light: This weekend as part of training camp, the Portland Winterhawks will be participating in the Neely Cup. Yes, my friends, for four days straight there will be some form of hockey played in Portland by future NHL stars. And it's free. Hallelujah, praise whatever and let the games begin.

But first, the rule: Annex 5, Duties of the Officials. Rule A4.25, Announcer's Duties. Rule A4.26, Penalty Bench Attendant's Duties.

A4.25: The announcer shall announce by means of a public address system the: awarding of goals and assists, penalties, end of penalties, when one minute remains in the first and second periods, when two minutes remain in the third period.

A4.26: The Penalty Bench Attendant is responsible for
1) Providing a penalized player, upon request, with the correct information as to the unexpired time of the penalty.
2) Allowing the penalized player to return to the ice at the appropriate time upon the completion of the penalty.
3) Notifying the Scorekeeper if a player leaves the penalty bench before the end of the penalty.

Morals of the story:

The game: Why only minute in the first and second, and two in the third? A last ditch effort to say, hey, if you didn't get it together by now, these two minutes are your last chance? Discuss. Also, notify the Scorekeeper? What's he going to do about it, other than record it on the official score sheet that a penalty wasn't served in its entirety? That's like the police in England, who back in the day didn't carry weapons and Robin Williams made fun of it, saying "what are they going to do...stop! Or I'll say stop again!

Life: If you are a parent, you qualify for the job of Penalty Bench Attendant. If your little whippersnapper asks if they can come out of their time out, you simply tell them no, 5 more minutes, junior. And when they do, it's at your mercy that they can return to their regularly scheduled misbehaving and ignoring everything you tell them. And finally, you can also notify the other "Scorekeeper" if one of the little buggers tries to escape the time out, so he or she can corral them and return them to their little corner. If you are a parent and looking to make a career change, then this is the job for you.

Next up on 8/25: Annex 5, Illustration of Goal Frame. And Referee's Signals. And with that boys and girls, we will be officially done with the IIHF Rulebook.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Hybrid Icing = Don't Even Think About Chasing The Puck.

The distraction: The new hybrid icing rule under debate at the NHL's research and development camp.

Why I'm distracted by it: I think I might finally understand icing. And why this rule is so important. Normally, icing is called when a team shoots the puck from beyond the red line into the attacking zone and it crosses the goal line untouched. But this also triggers a an injury-inducing, frenetic scramble to get to the puck first. Hybrid icing is a mix of touch and no-touch icing.

It's kind of like probable cause in the law books: The linesman could blow his whistle if he believes a defending player will reach the puck first. If he thinks the attacking player will get there first, he holds the whistle and lets the play continue. The linesman will always side with the defending player if he thinks there will be a tie when both players get there.

In other words: Safety first for the defensemen, who become a target when trying to chase down the puck.

Personally, I like it: But then again, I'm still trying to understand it.

Speaking of rules: Annex 4, Duties of the Officials. A4.24, Timekeeper's Duties.

A4.24.a: The Timekeeper shall record:
1. Game countdown before the game.
2. Time of starting and finishing of each period and game.
3. 15 minute intermission between each period.
4. All actual playing time during the game.
5. Time of the start and finish of all penalties.
6. Start and finish of time-outs.

And of course: Let's say it all together now...In the event of any dispute regarding time, the Referee's decision shall be final.

Morals of the story:

The game: Timekeepers are like the accountants of hockey. They track every last minute of every last play, penalty and break. We all know that companies live and die by their bottom line and just the way number crunchers keep corporate America running, timekeepers keep a game running. Unless, of course, the Referee decides otherwise.

Life: We all know life is far too short and every minute is too valuable to waste it, but we do. But what if every minute of everything we did in life was recorded and provided to the proper authorities on an official Game Sheet? Would we spend whole days sitting on the couch watching reality reruns? Would we say "Maybe someday" or "I'll do that tomorrow?" I'm guessing not. If someone kept track of my every minute, for example, I guarantee I'd spend a lot more time in the gym, a lot less time making paper clip forts during boring conference calls and a lot less time driving through the Sonic burger window at midnight.

Next up: Annex 4, Duties of the Officials. A4.25, Announcer's Duties. A4.26, Penalty Bench Attendant's Duties.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Rulebook End Is Nigh...Now What?

The distraction/shameless self-promotion: My new all-Portland Winterhawks blog at oregonlive.com. You can check it out here: http://www.oregonlive.com/hawks.

All good things must come to an end: Like the IIHF Rulebook. I should be done with it this weekend. Have no fear, it's on to the NHL's Collective Bargaining Agreement. And this fall, a new home for this blog on Kukla's Korner. More on that in coming weeks.

The rule: Annex 5, Duties of the Officials. Rule A4.21, Scorekeeper's Duties Before the Game. A 4.22, Scorekeeper's Duties During the Game. A4.23, Scorekeeper's Duties After the Game.

A4.21: The scorekeeper must obtain from the Manager or Coach of both teams a list of all eligible players, including their name, position and number, as well as all data concerning the game.

A4.22: The scorekeeper records on the official game sheet the following: goals, number of scorers and players to whom assists are awarded, players on the ice when a goal is scored, penalties, penalty shot, name of player who took the penalty shot and result of the penalty shot and time of entry into the game of a substitute goalkeeper. He is also responsible for correct posting of goals and penalties on the scoreboard, ensuring that time served for penalties is correct, advising the Referee when the same player has received his second misconduct penalty in the same game, and notifying the Referee if a player not on the Official Game Sheet is participating in the game.

A4.23: The scorekeeper prepares the Official Game Sheet for signature by the Referee and forward it to the Proper Authorities.

Morals of the story:

The game: Is there anything the scorekeeper doesn't do? Maybe if you pay him a bonus he'll make coffee and hot chocolate for everybody before the game too.

Life: Scorekeepers in hockey are a lot like accountants and project managers and administrative assistants in Corporate America. They keep track of everything and run the company, while the boss gets his name on the scoreboard. And the reward is the same too: zero, except for maybe a thanks from the boss for keeping everybody in line. There should be a reward-based rule for life's scorekeepers, in which they get a small treat in the form of their favorite snack or beverage every time they properly record and report life's details, followed by a large meal (with wine, of course) when they turn in the scoresheet to the proper authorities. Of course, I've never advanced past middle management either, so perhaps my theories shouldn't be trusted. But still, if I were queen, the work day would be 6 hours long, we'd all eat chocolate around 3 everyday and all employees who live to work and never enjoy a treat would be immediately fired.

Next up: Annex 5, Duties of the Officials. A4.25, Timekeeper's Duties.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Referee Shall Report and Impose Penalties, Unless I Have a Crush on Him.

The distraction: Watching reruns of "Haven" on SyFy and wondering what it would be like to live in the idyllic Nova Scotia town where it's filmed. And Sidney Crosby is from there, so perhaps I will uproot my life and move to the other side of the world....you get the idea. This is why the hockey off-season should end, like, right now.

But not to fear: Next week commences the opening of the Portland Winterhawks' training camp and my own little "30 in 30" counting down to our opening night on Sept. 27. What 30 in 30 will be about, no clue. But I'll figure it out. And I'm pretty sure it will involve player profiles, playoff predictions and whether or not Nino will be present and accounted for on his bobblehead night.

The rule: Annex 4, Duties of the Officials.

The quirk: The book lists as a title A4.20, Off-Ice Officials, but there's nothing underneath it. Like say, a list of who qualifies as an off-ice official.

But really, here's the most important rule of any game: A4.10, Two Official System - Referees' Duties During the Game. Among their tasks:

The Referees shall impose and report to the Scorekeeper such penalties as described by the playing rules for infractions thereof.
They shall stop play for any other infractions to the rules.
They shall allow the goals scored.
They shall cause to be announced over the public address system the reason for not allowing a goal.
They shall face-off the puck at any stoppage of play.

Morals of the story:

The game: So basically, the Ref does everything except play, announce things and keep score of the game. We sit there in our stadium seats with our beer and our food that isn't in that little food pyramid you learn about in school and we judge whether a Ref has done his job. Me personally, the next time I see a bad call I'm letting it go. The Refs have a lot of power, but they also have a lot of responsibility and if they're wrong, nobody lets them forget it. Of course, if the Ref making the bad call is cutie pie WHL Ref/corporate lawyer Matt Kirk, then I might have to re-think a few things. Because there's no excuse for cute Canadian boys with law degrees making bad calls.

Life: Being a Ref or a linesman is a lot like being a parent. Not that I'd know, because I don't have any. But still, I see the family units out and about and I have come to the conclusion that parenting and Reffing are basically the same thing. You have to render discipline when maybe you don't want to because that dude on the other team deserved that hit after all, but it's not ok to let it go and sanction violence. You have to punish repeat offenders like Daniel Carcillo and it still doesn't do any good because they still don't listen to you. You have to make sure everybody's in their places at opening face-off and all equipment is within regulation standards, not unlike dressing little whippersnappers and making sure they are in their appointed car safety seat for transport to the school. And really, parents don't get any more reward than Refs, except for a handmade card on some fabricated Hallmark holiday, and an occasional thanks if you're lucky.

I'm not a parent, but if I were in charge, I'd make recognition and understanding of the sacrifices parents make for us mandatory for all children by age 10 and if they haven't figured it out by then, then parents should feel no guilt about leaving the little buggers to fend for themselves until they do. Nothing extreme mind you, like leaving them on the street and what not. Just something minor, like no texting friends on the Hello Kitty phone and no Netflix and no computer time. In today's day and age, guaranteed they'll cave and learn to appreciate in about...oh.....three minutes.

Next up on 8/17: Annex 4, Duties of the Officials. Scorekeeper's duties.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

An Incapacitated Referee Shall Not Impede a Scoring Opportunity.

The distraction: Watching 35 Years of Raising the Cup on NHL Network and wondering why there was no Stanley Cup Champion in 2005 and then realizing...oh, right. Yeah, it's way past time for hockey season to get underway.

But I won't have to wait too much longer, because: Portland Winterhawks' training camp starts next week, and yours truly is kicking off my new oregonlive.com blog with a report from camp. Stay tuned.

What a difference a day makes: Even more exciting than training camp is the news that the opening of the Winterhawks' regular season is now September 27, a day earlier than previously reported. Hey, if you're a real hockey fan, you'll understand what a difference a day makes. Of course, it's not as exciting as Nino bobblehead night, but then again, what is?

The rule: Annex 4, Duties of the Officials.

Clearly I will be covering this rule over several entries, because: There are 26 sections spread over three pages, including signals for the Refs and Linesmen.

Let's start with the easy stuff: Right off the bat, they start with what happens in the event a Referee is incapacitated. Makes sense, when you realize that all the rest of the rules in this section are based on the Referee or his substitute showing up in the first place.

A4.1, Incapacitated Referee or Linesman, Before the Game: If, for any reason, the appointed Referees or Linesmen are prevented from appearing, the team leaders shall agree on a replacement Referee/Linesman. If they are unable to agree, then the Proper Authorities shall appoint the officials.

But if this happens during a game, don't even think about interfering with a perfectly good scoring opportunity: A4.2, Incapacitated Referee or Linesman, During the Game. A4.2 a) If a Referee leaves the ice or is injured, the Linesman or other Referee shall stop the game, unless one team has a scoring opportunity.

In Europe, the Linesmen are a tad busier than they are here in the NHL: A47. a) The Linesmen shall determine and stop the play by blowing the whistle for any infraction of the rules concerning:
1. Offside.
2. Icing.
3. Puck out of bounds, unplayable or interfered by an ineligible person.
4. Goal displaced from its normal position.
5. Encroachments occurring during a face-off.
6. Premature substitution of the goalkeeper.
7. Interference by spectators.
8. Injured players.
9. Pass with the hand from a player to a teammate.
10. High sticking the puck.

And finally: As in the NHL, if the Linesman may present his version of a penalty or other incidents that may have occurred during the game to the Referee, but the Ref still has final say over what happened.

Morals of the story:

The game: So, no rigging the game by choosing a replacement referee who will show favoritism to your team, eh? Of course, on the other hand, you could get lucky if the Proper Authorities appoint the right guy. But my favorite is that they don't replace the Ref during a game if a scoring opportunity is imminent. Hey, if the players have to suck it up and play with broken bones and knee injuries and stitched up eyes, why not the Referees too?

Life: Vice presidents, deputy mayors and others are the life equivalent of linesmen: they have a longer to-do list that involves running the company while the boss plays golf and does lunch, and even when they suggest to the boss there might be a better way to do things they are usually are overridden. As is the case here in Portland, where our esteemed Mayor has cast off the city leaders' opinion of what to do with Memorial Coliseum in place of his own ideas. The Coliseum, by the way, is the Portland Winterhawks' home. Nobody can do anything about it, either, so we're stuck with whatever he decides. Therefore, I propose an annex to Oregon state law whereby if the Ref (in this case our Mayor) is incapacitated for any reason, including his own arrogance, stupidity and need for power, he shall be removed by the Proper Authorities and forced to watch on the evening news while Portland goes back to the drawing board and rebuilds it the right way and with the Portland Winterhawks and their fans' best interests in mind.

Next up: Annex 4, Duties of the Officials, A4.8 Two-Man System - A4.22, Scorekeeper's Duties During the Game.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Official Announcements Required for Outrageous Multi-Year NHL Salary Deals.

Hey sometimes the anti-experts are right, after all: As most hockey geeks know by now, the ruling that Kovaluchuk's gazillion dollar, multi-century deal with the Devils was a violation of the collective bargaining agreement has been upheld. Just like I thought it would be. Back to the free market he goes, where apparently LA was rumored to have been willing to pay him somewhere in the neighborhood of $85 million. Why? No clue. Nobody is worth that much, especially in a sport where one injury can turn today's superstar into tomorrow's liability.

The rule: Annex 3, Official Announcements.

A3.1 Compulsory Announcements: The following announcements are compulsory for the information to the players, Coaches, Referees and spectators.

1. Goals and Assists.
2. Penalties.
3. End of Penalties.
4. Play Reviewed by the Video Goal Judge.
5. Time-out.
6. Time Remaining in Games/Period.

A3.2 Public Information.

1. Offside.
2. Icing.

But this is the best part: They provide a script for each item, which the announcer must follow, such as:

Goals and Assists:
"GOAL FOR TEAM...(Name of the team), SCORED BY NUMBER..., (Name), ASSISTED BY NUMBER...,(Name) and NUMBER...(Name). TIME..."



1. The penalty of the visiting team shall be announced first.
2. In a case where the penalized player cannot go to the penalty bench, or in case of goalkeeper penalty:


Morals of the story:

The game: So, what happens if the announcer doesn't follow the script? How like hockey would that be to hear the announcer go off on a tirade not unlike that of angry fans snapping at a bad call. "REFEREE (NAME)...is an idiot who should go on back to small-town Canada where he came from and leave the calls to the experts. Kiss my ass...that wasn't holding....it was a little shove, not checking from behind..."

Life: What if every time we committed a penalty in life, we had to listen to our mistakes, bad decisions, regrets and overall stupidity announced on the news or somwhere else where it would be broadcast for all to hear? Would we look before we leap? Would we think before we said any stupid thing that came out of our heads? Imagine if we had our own announcer who reminded us oh, about every three or four minutes, that we just did something we weren't supposed to. We'd save so much money on therapy, life coaches, personal trainers, and all that other crap we do to try and save us from ourselves.

It wouldn't take much for me. The minute I heard "Two minute penalty for the 40-something woman in Corporate America deviating from her fat-free diet with a latte and cookie. That's two minutes for going off diet with carbohydrate, sugar-laden late afternoon snack" I'd move to a cave and live on carrot sticks and vitamin water. Forget about it. I'm too easily humiliated by public displays of stupidity.

Next up: A short vacation and then on 8/13: Annex 4, Duties of the Officials.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

3-2-1, Face Off!

The distraction: Awaiting the outcome of the ruling about Kovalchuk's 17-year deal with New Jersey. Personally, I'm all in for ruling against it, but that's just me. I actually remember the lockout and what led to it.

The rule: Annex 2, Game Countdown and Warm-Up Procedures.

In every other way they're totally casual and less wordy, but: When it comes to countdowns, Europeans don't mess around. This rule lists, by the minute, what's supposed to happen leading up to the opening face-off. For example:

-- 60:00. 20-minute count down to the pre-game warm-up begins on the Game Clock. Teams submit their completed Team Composition Forms to the Scorekeeper. Media centre receives a copy of the preliminary team line-up. game officials warm-up.

-- 10:00. Teams receive a photocopy of the Official Game Sheet. Referee and Linesmen receive a photocopy of the Official Game Sheet. Doping Control receive a copy of the Official Game Sheet. Announcer announces the entire roster for both teams.

-- 7:00. Referee and Linesmen are notified that one minute remains until they need to proceed to the ice surface.

-- 6:00. Teams are advised they have one minute remaining until they need to proceed to the ice surface. Referee and Linesmen leave their dressing room and go immediately to the ice surface.

-- 4:00. Teams enter the ice surface.

-- 2:30. Both teams line-up on their respective blue lines.

-- 2:00. Team Captains greet the Referee and Linesmen in the Referee's Crease.

-- 1:00. Teams leave the ice to the players' benches. Starting players remain on the ice.

00:15. Referee calls the teams to center ice for the opening face-off.

00:00. Opening face-off.

Morals of the story:

The game: Funny how there's so much fuss off the ice, at the game, before the game, after the game, on blogs, on Twitter, all about who's going to win, who should start, what line-up a team is going to start with, what went wrong, stars of the night, blah, blah, blah. And yet, the game itself leaves no time for fuss. 60 minutes, and it's all accounted for. Think of what we could accomplish if we treated life like a clock and we made use of every minute instead of dilly dallying or procrastinating or making a fuss about things that aren't important. It boggles the mind, really.

Life: I am the absolutely worst morning person in the world, hands down. Nobody could top me when it comes to not getting up and not caring what in the flip I look like once I get it together and get out the door. So, clearly, I need this rule for my life, and there should be corresponding buzzers and penalties and what not if I don't follow it:

-- 60:00. Turn off alarm with snooze alarm.

-- 55:00. Turn off alarm with snooze alarm.

-- 50:00. Turn off alarm, period, and get ass out of bed.

-- 49:00. Put kettle on to boil water for french press. Turn on shower.

-- 39:00. Attempt to pour cereal into bowl and eat before the Apple Jacks color the milk pink.

-- 30:00. Try to tame unruly mane into a presentable pile of blow dried, properly gelled hair that won't go poof when I go outside.

-- 15:00. Make edible lunch out of bread, tuna, pickles and mayonnaise. Yes, I put pickles in the tuna and on the sandwich. Get over it.

05:00. Leave house to get to bus stop on time.

Is this how my morning schedule normally goes? No. The tuna sandwich rarely happens, I don't dry and gel the do, I hit the snooze alarm for 20 minutes and if I'm lucky, I make it to the bus without running for it. But it's the thought that counts.

Next up: Annex 3, Official Announcements.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

It Is Recommended That All Players Wear Their Complete Advertisement.

The distraction: The NHL Network's replay of the Pittsburgh vs. Ottawa playoff series.

Which is perfect, because: It's Sidney Crosby's birthday. The NHL's boy wonder is all of 23 today. True, this year he's not literally parading around Nova Scotia with the Cup, but how many 23-year-olds have? And how many of us at that age had, within the same year, carried the Olympic torch and scored the goal that won our country a gold medal? I'm guessing...oh, let's see now....plus one, carry the three....add a zero....zip. Zilch. Nada. I cannot even believe there are people out there who write entire blogs about hating Crosby. Get a hobby. Join a knitting club. Learn to bowl. Do something with yourself that involves improving yourself, others or the world. And for the record, it's the Captain's job to talk with Referees about calls. So, he's not whining, he's working. There. I said it. Now I feel better. End of rant. End of birthday greetings to someone who's way more mature at 23 than I ever have been. And I'm nearly 20 years older. Back to topic...

The rule: Annexes. Annex 1, Advertising Regulations.

But first, betcha didn't know this: During the warm up:

a. Each team shall confine their activities to their own half of the rink, so as to leave clear an area nine metres wide across the center of the Neutral Zone.

b. It is recommended that all players wear their complete equipment.

Annex 1: Advertising and venue identification may be placed on the ice, the boards, the protective glass, nets, goals, or any other surface in and around the players' benches, penalty benches, goal judge areas and off-ice official's area, on the players' uniforms and/or equipment and the referees' and linesmans' uniforms and/or equipment, provided the specifications are provided to and written permission is given by:

1. The International Ice Hockey Federation.

2. The National Associations with regards to all games, both national and international, played within their territory.

Morals of the story:

The game: So basically, there's nowhere you can't advertise in an international hockey rink. And of course you have to wear your full equipment, seeing as how it does have ads on it and all. And I thought the United States was bad. At least in the NHL, the glass, uniforms, equipment and goal are off limits. But whatever you do, stay away from the other team at all costs when not playing. Love it.

Life: Advertising is truly evil genius. It's taught us to equate material worth with self-worth. It has convinced us we need things that either a) we want but don't need or b) that we don't need or want. I've long since given up on my dream of a world without advertising, but what if there really was truth in advertising? And companies that sell you have to tell you everything, not just the good stuff:

-- For pharmaceutical manufacturers would have to tell you up front, and in much bigger font sizes, all the side effects before they tell you how great their drug is. Imagine the lives you could save.

-- For car dealerships like Toyota, they'd have to post in their ads a copy of safety inspectors' notes with things like "gas pedal shows signs of sticking on some models. Recommend reworking before releasing for sale."

-- All those beauty products would have to admit that their products do nothing to stop the aging process, slow down wrinkles or vanquish cellulite. In its place would be copy telling you to enjoy your youth while you can and age gracefully, which by the way does not include botox, surgery or expensive eye cream. My father used to call it "25 going on 100." He would say that whenever he saw women his age tying to look young in a miniskirt and fake blonde hair. In other words, the more she tried to look young, the older she looked. It's hard to admit as we age, but in the end our parents were right about everything.

Next up: Annex 2, Game Countdown and Warm-Up Procedures.

Friday, August 6, 2010

I Take That Back. It Is The Goaltender Rules.

The milestone: I'm almost done with all the major rules in the IIHF Rulebook, save for annexes and signals.

Ok, so what's next? The NHL's collective bargaining agreement and the business of hockey. Darned if I know the difference between unconditional waivers and waivers, or why Chicago had to dump their entire Stanley Cup roster to make the salary cap, but I'm about to find out. And, for Portland Winterhawks' fans a new community blog on oregonlive.com. Stay tuned. That will be up and running in late August. Look for a dispatch or two from training camp to kick it off.

The rules: Section 5, Penalties. Other Penalties. Rule 594, Goalkeeper Dropping the Puck on the Goal Netting. Rule 595, Protection of Goalkeepers.

594: If a goalkeeper deliberately drops the puck on the goal netting to cause a stoppage of play he shall be assessed a minor penalty.

595.a: In all cases in which an attacking player initiates any contact with the goalkeeper, other than incidental contact, when the goalkeeper is inside the goal crease and whether or not a goal is scored, the attacking player shall be assessed the appropriate penalty.

595.b: A goalkeeper is not "fair game" just because he is outside of the goal crease. The penalty shall be assessed in every case where an attacking player makes unnecessary contact with the goalkeeper (see Rule 522). Incidental contact shall be permitted when the goalkeeper is in the act of playing the puck outside his goal crease provided the attacking player made a reasonable effort to avoid unnecessary contact.

Morals of the story:

The game: Goalkeepers are damned if they do, damned if they don't when it comes to coming out of the crease. But every once in a while they get a break. Like Protection of Goalkeepers. It's not much, but it's better than nothing.

Life: In life, we try to protect what is ours...our homes, our lives, our cars, our children...but one way or another something or someone always crashes the crease. Twits on crackberries in their cars bump us from the rear when they don't notice the light changed while they were tweeting what they had for lunch; burglars get in and out of your house with a laptop or other gadget before the police answer that fancy alarm you installed; the nanny turns out to have a questionable history the background check didn't find. Whatever, the point is that you can punish crashing the crease in life, but you can't always prevent it. Well, you could, but living life in fear of what might happen isn't life. So get out there and crash the crease, leave the crease, make contact. In other words: Live, learn, repeat.

Next up: Birthday greetings to Sidney Crosby and Annex 1, Advertising Regulations.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Well, It's Either The Rules or Netminders Were Just Born Crazy.

Proof that I will come up with ANY excuse to connect my other hobbies to hockey: "They boasted of injuries and wore their scars with pride, and they reserved their special admiration for mutilation: a boy with a finger missing could be their king." - Ken Follet, The Pillars of the Earth.

Is it just me, or does that describe perfectly hockey players' attitude towards their bumps, bruises and injuries? Yes, I found a hockey link in modern literature. To refresh, going without hockey for long periods of time is just not good for some of us.

Good for him, bad for us: Yardbarker has put out their prediction that it is not a question of whether Nino Niederreiter will play for the New York Islanders this year, the question is how much he will contribute when he does. Most excellent for him, sad for Portland Winterhawks fans who were spoiled by having him all to our little selves for a whole season. Still, I think I can safely send best wishes to one of our favorite players on behalf of my fellow fans. And get ready, Long Island, something special is coming your way. The pleasure of watching Nino was only ours for one year. May it be yours for many more to come.

But not to worry Hawks fans: We've got 10 NHL draftees in total, and most of the others will likely be back next season. Plenty of opportunity to partake of the NHL's future before it leaves us. My personal picks for breakouts this season: Brad Ross, Riley Boychuk and if he stays with us, Luke Walker. The bet is on that Brad's penalty minutes will not exceed his weight (as they did this year), Riley will turn into a scoring machine and Luke will start scoring more goals on the first try instead of the third.

And since I can at least see the hockey season from here: These are my predictions for comebacks, players to watch, etc.

-- Team best poised for a comeback: Tampa Bay Lightning. Why? Ummm...'cause Steve Yzerman is as much of a genius off the ice as he was on it.

-- Players most likely to make a comeback, because let's face if, if they don't, they have to answer to Mario Lemieux, Ray Shero and Sidney Crosby: Max Talbot and Evgeni Malkin.

-- Former junior players to watch: Chris Francis, now playing in the AHL for the Springfield Falcons. Stefan Schneider, who has signed with the Vancouver Canucks. Yes, both were Portland Winterhawks. Duh.

It's all about the goalies: Section 5, Penalties. Other Penalties. Rule 590, Penalties for Goalkeepers. Rule 591, Goalkeeper Beyond the Center Red Line. Rule 592, Goalkeeper Going to the Player's Bench During Stoppage of Play. Rule 593, Goalkeeper Leaving the Crease During an Altercation.

In case you're wondering: No, they can't do any of these things without penalty.

Hey look, it's a rule about a rule: Rule 590 is just a list of the penalties for goalkeepers, ranging from Penalty Shot Procedure to Throwing a Stick or Any Object.

591: If a goalkeeper participates in pay in any manner when he is beyond the center red line, he shall be assessed a minor penalty.

It's also a minor penalty for leaving the crease during an altercation or going to the player's bench for an reason other than to be replaced or during a time out.

Morals of the story:

The game: You'd think the penalties for goalkeepers would be a short list, and rarely violated, seeing as how if they leave their little 4 x 6 space they're also in danger of letting a shot in. But there is really very little the goalkeepers are allowed to do without penalty. At least in the IIHF and European hockey worlds, there is no trapezoid behind the goal fencing them in. But that's about it. Otherwise... they leave the crease, they're toast.

Life: In life, we don't need a rule to keep us trapped in a very small world, with very little room for personal freedom and living the way we want. We do it to ourselves. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Too many people live lives of loud fears and silent dreams. Don't be one of them. End of rule.

Up next: The completion of section 5 with Rule 594, Goalkeeper Dropping the Puck on the Goal Netting. Rule 595, Protection of Goalkeepers.

Monday, August 2, 2010

You Know It's Almost Hockey Season When...

1) NHL.com commences their "30 in 30" feature, in which they preview all 30 NHL teams in 30 days.

2) It is exactly 60 days until Nino bobblehead night for the Portland Winterhawks. True, he may still be with the Islanders that night, but I never let NHL stardom stand in the way of a good bobblehead.

3) The Winter Classic location and Consol Energy Center have been unveiled.

4) Four Portland Winterhawks are off to development camps in Canada that will prepare them for opportunities in the world junior championships.

5) The "30 Years of the Stanley Cup" feature is up to 1995 and the New Jersey Devils' victory, complete with a 25-year-old Bill Guerin on the roster. And watching the entire team pile out of the box onto one another and high-fiving and hugging their families and what not never gets old. Ever. Maybe the teams change, but the thrill is the same.

6) I'm done with another rulebook and it's time to learn the business of hockey, what with the Blackhawks walking away from Niemi and Brashear being put on waivers immediately by Atlanta and all.

The rule: Section 5, Penalties. Other Penalties. Rule 575, Infringement of Change of Players Procedure. Rule 576, Diving.

575.a: Where a team attempts to make a player (s) change after its alloted period of time, the Referee shall send the player(s) back to the bench and issue a "warning" to the team. If this happens again, it's a minor penalty.

576: 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.

Morals of the story:

The game: I hate diving. No, correction. I freakin' totally, utterly hate diving. If FIFA wants to let the little suckers run around and do that in soccer, carry on. That's their perogative. But cheating your way to a face-off and a man advantage goes in my personal "not cool, dude" file.

Life: Faking it is how most people get through life. And there's no penalty for said actions. In fact, it's rewarded in most cases with promotions, bigger salaries, bigger houses, gold medals or a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. But what if life punished us for the equivalent of diving? For example:

-- For screwing or starving your way to the top of Hollywood, a minor penalty of being forced to go to an audition every day, in which you are not really in contention but they just want to watch you try and get all excited that you might actually get the part.

-- For stealing others' work so you can get to the top, stay on top and score a bigger salary, a major penalty of demotion to a middle manager's job at the same company, with the accompanying smaller salary and cube, all so you can have the pleasure of answering to your new boss, the hard-working, honest middle manager whose work you were stealing.

Next up: Rule 590, Penalties for Goalkeepers through Rule 594, Goalkeeper Dropping the Puck on the Goal Netting.