Sunday, October 31, 2010

Just Sell Me My WHL Playoff Tickets Now

The game: Portland Winterhawks 6, Kelowna Rockets 1 = Toast. With extra crunchy peanut butter.

What better way to celebrate Halloween: Than to lay siege to the visiting team, and to watch while junior-player-to-watch in the next NHL draft Ty Rattie continues his flaming hot point-scoring streak. You can read all about it on my posts over at

Oooohhh, as a loyal Pittsburgh Penguins fan, did I say that out loud?: Until they shutout Carolina the other night, the Pens were starting to irritate me. And I'm a loyal fan. I don't usually get irritated with them or their players, coaches, whatever. But they'd get on a roll and win a few really nice ones, and then down it would all come with a St. Louis overtime loss. Win or don't dudes. I don't need to grow any more gray hair waiting for you to play a consistent game.

Draft watch: Two of last night's goals were scored entirely by NHL Draftees (details can be found on oregonlive). Among them, Nino Niederreiter...just in case you were wondering how long it would take for him to get back in the groove. And he notched an assist last night. So I think we can forget about that whole "he will need time to adjust back to junior hockey" thing.

A sign that the times have definitely changed for the Winterhawks: When I was chatting with some of their parents last night, one of them just told me "we'll see you next time, or definitely at the playoffs." Just like the playoffs, like it's a done deal already. I have no doubt it is. But only a year ago, it was if, not when. With Nino's return, we have sealed the deal. But we also lost something of value this week, and I felt compelled to take up equally valuable blog space to ensure that it was not lost in the Nino shuffle.

Gone but very much remembered: On a more somber note this week, the Winterhawks also parted with overage goaltender Ian Curtis, who had only been with the team for one season after a fairly tumultuous junior career. It was not so different last year, but then it was Ian who was chosen to replace beloved long-time Winterhawk goaltender Kurtis Mucha, who was traded to Kamloops. I never had the pleasure of meeting Ian personally, but I loved his story because it reminded me of my own, and because at least for a season here in Portland, it had a happy ending. He was the first goalie drafted in the 2005 Bantam Draft, going number 23, only four spots after Tyler Myers. Chosen a bit later in that same draft were Kyle Beach and Jordan Eberle.

We all know how their fates turned out, but Ian's went down a different and more unexpected road. Traded away from Swift Current to Prince George before he really got a chance to shine, he then ran into injury and what are said to be personal issues with that team. Eventually he was sent to the BCHL, a move thought by many to be the end of his hockey career. For a short time, he went back home to Abbotsford, BC and was handing out resumes at local businesses. Enter Mike Johnston and the Portland Winterhawks, who found Ian when he played on a summer league with Johnston's son. In the short time he was here, he earned CHL goaltender of the week honors twice, shut out Seattle in our annual New Year's Eve game, and helped us end a too-long losing streak against Vancouver. Ian when he shines is a truly talented goalie. But fate and injury and circumstances beyond his control may have kept his star from ever shining as brightly as it should have.

If you are his parents or family and you found this blog, thanks and do leave a comment with his hockey whereabouts. I will be sure to add him to my ever-growing Excel spreadsheet of former Winterhawks to keep an eye on. And if something else is in his future plans, very best wishes to him wherever he lands. I hear he used to sing a Kings of Leon song to Gasper Kopitar in the car on the way to the rink, so my personal vote is for rock star. I shall keep an eye out either way.

Morals of the story:

Life: Like I said, Ian's story is a smaller, shorter hockey version of my own. Going back to when my parents up and moved us to Oregon in my senior year in high school, through college (where I was not what one would call the best student), to the ten years I spent putting a square peg in a round hole in New York, my own path to success was anything but easy. Those ten years in the Big Apple included personal loss, being in the wrong place at the wrong time on September 11, getting caught right in the middle of the power outage that shut down the whole city in August, getting mugged on my own doorstep in broad daylight and serving on a jury in an ax murder trial. But in the end, I finally figured out that my future might be in a place I never planned.

So to Ian and anyone else to whom this might be relevant, here's the deal: sometimes the future you never saw coming can turn out to be better than the one you planned. 20 is not old and there are many other ways to be part of hockey that don't involve 60 pounds of goalie gear. But to find the future, you have to let go of what you thought it would be. It was our pleasure to welcome you to Portland, and I don't think I'm alone in wishing you the very best wherever you land.

Next up: With the help of a law dictionary and a few Advils, I shall return to attempting to understand the NHLPA's collective bargaining agreement.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Do the Kelowna Rockets Like Butter On Their Toast?

The game: Portland Winterhawks vs. Kelowna Rockets (WHL).

The score: Portland 4, Kelowna 2.

The news: Nino Niederreiter is back. His line with Brad Ross and Ryan Johansen is therefore back. Note to self: Book plane tickets for the Memorial Cup final.

Want to know why this line is so special?: Personally, I recommend meeting them. If that's not possible, visit YouTube and for bites and bits on the number 4, 5 and 43 draft picks from 2010. Here's the choice tidbits I've rounded up since meeting them and their parents:

Brad: I spoke to his father last night about the best or most important advice he gave Brad growing up. If you've seen him play, you know there's a reason Brian Burke was willing to trade something else away to draft Ross at #43. He's agressive, fearless and loyal to his teammates on the ice. But meeting him will tell you something you might not expect: according to his father he's "a total teddy bear." And I couldn't agree more. His father taught him well: know the difference between when it's ok and necessary to be aggressive to make things happen on the ice, and when to leave it behind off the ice. Be on lookout Toronto fans, something very special is coming your way.

Ryan: Growing up, the number 4 overall pick in the 2010 draft was all hockey, all the time. Yet, even when it came time for draft day, his mom told me what one might expect, that it was surreal and unbelievable. Ah yes, but that's what makes it so great. Ryan not only sent all the mock drafts out there crashing in flames, he also altered the course of the rest of the draft.

Nino: Thank you New York Islanders. We know you have big plans for him, but so do we. For now, it's the all-Nino, all Kelowna-is-toast weekend. But what's coming...that is the best part of all. There was no tournament or game Nino didn't play in last year, except for maybe the Olympics. The most exciting part of all is that the best is yet to come. And here in Portland, all we have to do is buy a ticket to watch it.

Trivial pursuit, Wall Street style: I participated in a press scrum that also included our local ABC affiliate, whose reporter noted that by playing 9 games in the NHL, Nino had already earned $100,000. He just turned 18 last month. When I asked him about his experience in New York, he said "I went a lot into the city." Among his favorite things: shopping on 5th Avenue, where he purchased some nice coats and suits. It boggles the mind. 18, on the loose in Manhattan with six figures. But no one is more deserving or appreciative than Nino. He fully understands his good fortune, he takes none of it for granted, and his main goal this season is: "this is a great team. I just hope we can make something really special here."

Now, how does one earn $100,000 in one month at 17 or 18, you might ask. Well, funny you should mention it:

I don't have a law degree and I'm not certified in accounting, but I'm pretty sure somewhere in here, the truth lies: Article 9, Entry Level Compensation. 9.1, d (i) I the event an 18 or 19 year old player signs an SPC with a Club but does not play at least ten (10) NHL games in the first season under that SPC, the term of his SPC and his number of years in the Entry Level Season shall be extended for a period of one (1) year, except that this automatic extension will not apply to a Player who is 19 according to section 9.2 by virtue of turning 20 between September 16 and December 31 in the year in which he first signs an SPC. Unless a Player and Club expressly agree to the contrary, in the event a Player's SPC is extended an additional year in accordance with this subsection, all terms of the SPC, with the exception of Signing Bonuses, but including Paragraph 1 Salary, games played bonuses and Exhibit 5 bonuses, shall be extended; provided, however, that the Player's Paragraph 1 salary be extended in all circumstances.

Morals of the story:

The game: I'm not entirely sure on this one, except that even the lowliest of minor league players -- which the Ross-Johansen-Niederreiter line will never be -- gets paid more than I'll ever make in a given year.

Life: oregonlive fans will forgive me for repeating something I posted over there this morning, but Ryan really did say it best. When he was returned to Portland by the Columbus Blue Jackets, he sent Nino a text that said simply "I'm on my way back to Portland. Feel free to join me." And thanks to the New York Islanders, Nino did.

One thing I hear consistently from all of the Portland Winterhawks is how great the team is, and that simple note is proof. My own youth was anything but special, but being the late bloomer that I am, the best years of my life came later. Much later. So perhaps that's why I harbor just a tad bit of jealousy when I see how much youth is not wasted on the young with this team. The most envy-inducing part is that they know how lucky they are, they appreciate it and I have every confidence they will never forget where they started. Everyone moves through life at their own personal velocity, and mine just took a while to pick up speed. My hope for this weekend's double header with Kelowna and for all the Winterhawks is that theirs continues picking up speed and never slows down. Something tells me I have nothing to worry about.

Next up: I'm off to pursue a dangerous, intriguing and what I'm sure will be most entertaining pursuit, courtesy of a recommendation from Spencer Bennett's father. I'm going to learn to play hockey once and for all, and you'll be reading about it here and over on Now mind, you may see gaps in this blog as I may be laid up in an emergency room with all manner of injuries. But I shall take my cue from Ryan, who according to his mom, when he would lose, just became more determined and worked harder. Stay tuned.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Nino's Back. Kelowna's Toast.

The news: After maxing out the nine games he needed to play before his entry-level contract kicked in, Nino Niederreiter is returning to the Portland Winterhawks for the season. And may I commend the New York Islanders for their wise choice. Dudes, we're not done worshipping him. You can have him next year. Besides, if he plays the same season as Jordan Eberle, they can't both win the Calder (see previous entry). Gotta think strategically, my little experts.

It's Halloween, it's Nino's return, we're back to back against the Kelowna Rockets: They're toast. The end.

On the other hand: Goalie Ian Curtis, who came to Portland a little over a year ago after a tumultuous junior career, has cleared waivers. I was a fan, and I truly do wish him the best. Plus, when he was on 94.7 last year, his perfect playlist included Eve 6 and Kings of Leon. I am now a CD-carrying fan of both bands. Also, he was just all around cool for someone so young and who has been through so much. Very best wishes for all the best, wherever he lands.

More to come this weekend, but you can check out for all the news that's fit to print on what has been a wild 'n wooly week out here in the Pacific Northwest.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What a Difference a Year Makes.

The game: Vancouver vs. Colorado. Anaheim vs. Dallas. Calgary vs. Edmonton.

Why I chose them: Cutie pie Swiss goalie is in net for the Ducks. Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall, the rookie versions of Malkin and Crosby, are on it for the Oilers and I want to see another Canucks/fan altercation. Oh, and there goes Eberle with another purdy one. No clue how it just went in, but it did. It's his first even-strength goal. And it's only Tuesday. And he's only 20.

Fun factoid: When Eberle was on Hockey Night in Canada the other night, he noted that he had just taught Taylor Hall how to do his laundry. Oh, and apparently he knows how to cook too. Excuse me, where were these boys when I was 20? Oh right...I'm pretty close to his parents' Ok. Moving on:

The quirk: Vancouver's jerseys tonight don't bear their last names. Dudes, that means I have to do the math to keep up. Most distressing.

The milestone: It has been exactly one year since I started this blog. In that time, I have branched out to an all-Portland Winterhawks blog on oregonlive and eventually you'll find this blog over on Kukla's Korner. On this most momentous of occasions, I have compiled a top 12 list of really cool hockey moments, one for each month I've been blogging. The first two happened before this blog, but they inspired it so they count.

12) The no-look backhanded hat trick that Evgeni Malkin parked in the Carolina Hurricanes' net during the 2009 playoffs. Why: I realized I didn't even know what a hat trick was. And thus ended my days of merely watching hockey as a humble observer. Because there is simply no excuse for that. It took five months before I shared with everyone else, but still....I count this among the top hockey moments/epiphanies in my life.

11) Watching the Pittsburgh Penguins win the 2009 Stanley Cup from a small bar in a restaurant located within an RV park, on the eve of graduation from grad school. The directions from the hotel merely told us to turn right at milemarker 35. And there in the woods, by the edge of a river in Southern Oregon, on the eve of my own personal version of a Stanley Cup hoisting, I watched from 2000 miles away while the Pens decamped to Detroit to reclaim the most prized of all hockey possessions.

10) Jordan Eberle's first NHL goal. YouTube it. Enough said.

9) Nino Niederreiter's first NHL goal. It was like lightning. Fast, beautiful and kind of scary....that is, when you think about this time last year, he was still figuring out how to get to Valley Ice Arena. What a difference a year makes, indeed.

8) Sidney Crosby's mad scramble in the Islanders game where it was clear he was totally going for the goals that earned him a tie with Steven Stamkos for the Richard trophy. He's never been arrogant in talking about it with reporters. But it wasn't exactly a secret that he wanted it either.

7) Watching the Olympics while Jonas Hiller, Luca Sbisa and company showed why the world should be afraid -- very afraid -- of Switzerland.

6) Like, say Nino and his teammates taking out Russia for the first time in the World Juniors. And Nino picking up his own personal fan club along the way.

5) The Portland Winterhawks' Dash for Cash, 2009. The coach got a second or so put back on the clock, and Calgary Flames' draftee Spencer Bennett tipped a face-off to Chris Francis, who pulled off the mother of all Hail Mary passes to tie up the game. It was a hat trick for Chris and he went on to score the game winning goal in a shootout. Were it not for those extra two seconds and those two players, it would have been just another losing night for the Hawks. It is still legendary around these parts, and I suspect it always will be.

4) Sidney Crosby's game winner in the 2010 Olympics. Enough said.

3) The Portland Winterhawks (WHL) beating the Tri-City Americans to get into the playoffs for the first time in four years.

2) Ty Rattie's game winning goal against the Spokane Chiefs that put us into the second round with the Vancouver Giants. With a nice setup by Nashville Predators' draftee Taylor Aronson, thank you very much. The YouTube video of the team piling up on top of one another in the victory celebration is what I do for fun, and to remind myself there is beauty when all else is going wrong in my life. And if the Portland Winterhawks ever take it down, they will need to fear for their safety.

1) 2010 NHL Entry Draft. The date: June 25, First Round. The location: Wild Wings Sports Bar, downtown Portland. The purpose: watching to see which Portland Winterhawks would be taken in the first round. Attendance: Oh, about 75- 100 sports fans crammed into the restaurant and bar. The noise when Portland Winterhawk Ryan Johansen became the number four overall pick, going to the Blue Jackets: violated the city's noise ordinances. The noise when his teammate Nino Niederreiter was chosen fifth overall moments later by the New York Islanders: yeah, we definitely broke some noise laws. The next day six more Winterhawks were chosen, including two who went to the same team (Luke Walker and Troy Rutkowski) and Brad Ross, who was wanted so badly by Toronto they traded someone else away to get him.

Next up: Back to the collective bargaining agreement, and the Portland Winterhawks' two-game homestand against Kelowna this weekend.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Secret Weapon of Rising NHL Rookie Superstars? Chocolate, Of Course.

The game: Nashville Predators vs. Tampa Bay Lightning.

Why I chose it: Because it's a rainy Sunday at 3 pm. What else is there to do? Oh, and in a year or two current Portland Winterhawk and Predators draftee Taylor Aronson will be playing for Nashville so I must be in training now for the day I will be pro-Predators all the time. Plus, since they did take out Pittsburgh in the 11th hour last night, clearly I must see what they're going to do to the honkin' tall French Captain and his posse.

I'm still all in: For Jordan Eberle for the Calder. He was on Hockey Night in Canada After Hours, and I must say, he was most impressive. Now, of course if Nino Niederreiter stays with the New York Islanders, then I will be all in for him. And, I just watched a video on The Hockey News in which his Islanders teammates point out that he is never without chocolate from his home country of Switzerland. Hilarious...along with his considerable talent, his secret weapon is chocolate. Love it.

Now, to the rule: As one might expect, the minimum salary for NHL players is still more than most people make in a year. 11.12. Minimum Paragraph 1 Salary. Except with respect to Amateur Try Out Agreements Pursuant to Exhibit 17, no SPC entered into after the date of execution of this Agreement shall provide:
2010 -11: U.S. $500,000
2011-12: U.S. $525,000

Amateur Try Out Agreements, by the way, are worth nothing. They pay no salary, no bonus and no compensation. Among the items on the contract are the player's name, the Club name, the player's height, weight, position, shoots (L/R), date of birth and birthplace.

Morals of the story:

The game: Considering that I've never made that kind of money in my own life, it's hard to fathom even making six figures. But what's funny in the NHL is that a nice half-million dollar salary is the bare minimum. No wonder so many players end up in debt and bad business deals and what not. They earn so much money they don't even know what to do with it or how to spend it.

Life: I don't think I'd know what to do with it either. I can barely keep a budget with my middle working class salary. I'm terrible with numbers. Yes, I'm a hockey fan and no I don't care about PIMs and TOI and all that. I care about things that aren't on a scoresheet, like whether Portland Winterhawk/Calgary draftee Spencer Bennett -- who was born on Halloween -- has any special superstitions as a result, and what his favorite costume from childhood was. I wonder whether when his teammate/Buffalo Sabres draftee Riley Boychuk gets in a few choice words with a Seattle opponent, were they discussing where to go for milk and cookies after? The burning questions any hockey fan wants to know, of course. So, alas I may never be able to balance my checkbook and maybe I'll never save as much as I should. But I can guarantee whether you read it here or on oregonlive, you'll read something way more fun than numbers.

Next up: 11.15, Default.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Greetings From Portland, Home of the NHL's Future

The game: Portland Winterhawks vs. Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL).

Score: Portland 2, Seattle 1 in a shootout. Both shootout goals and even the one that didn't quite make it were all the handiwork of players who will be coming to an NHL draft near you: Ty Rattie, Sven Bartschi and Brendan Leipsic.

And if that wasn't enough: We have a total of 9 NHL draftees on our active roster, including the number 4 and 5 overall picks this year (Ryan Johansen, Nino Niederreiter). Luke Walker, who was never chosen in the WHL Bantam Draft or any of the previous two NHL drafts for which he was eligible, was drafted 139th by Colorado. He scored for Colorado in the pre-season and is currently playing for their AHL team, the Lake Erie Monsters. Speaking of which:

Portland Winterhawk AHL/ECHL, whatever-HL watch: Winterhawks who "aged out" of junior last year are all over the minor leagues:

-- Stefan Schneider, also not taken in the Bantam or NHL drafts, was signed by Vancouver last spring. He is currently assigned to the Manitoba Moose and has already scored his first career AHL goal.

-- Chris Francis is one of three Winterhawks in the Columbus Blue Jackets' system. He was signed to their AHL team, the Springfield Falcons, over the summer. Last night, he scored his first career AHL goal against the Portland Pirates.

-- Eric Doyle joined the Winterhawks mid-season, spent part of it on the bench with a concussion and rallied back to help us get into the second round of the playoffs, is playing with the ECHL's Ontario Reign. He has racked up two points and has a +3 rating.

But meanwhile, back on home turf: The Hawks pulled off yet another Dash for Cash dazzler, as Ty Rattie continued his streak with the game tying goal, and one of the shootout goals. And Brendan brought the crowd to its feet with the game winning stunner when he went backhand-top shelf to outsmart Calvin Pickard.

Oh right, back to the rules: Article 11, Rules and Procedures Governing a Standard Player's Contract.

11.9. General: If I'm reading this right, this rule basically says that there's nothing preventing a Club from not paying a player, paying a player bonuses or individually negotiating with a player, as long as they follow the rules when doing so.

Morals of the story:

The game: I'm confused. They spend the previous 10 rules saying do this, don't do that, you can't do that, heretofore, notwithstanding, blah, blah, blah. And then they basically tell you, oh yeah, you can, as long as it's within the rules? It hurts the head.

Life: This article is exactly why I hate rules: they make things more complicated than they need to be.

Things to know about Sam: I don't like cats, I hate cliches, I despise shopping, and I could care less about talking on cell phones and texting on a Crackberry to show important I think I am. But above all things, I hate rules. Not the kind that keep us safe, mind, like laws that keep crazies off the roads and out of our homes. I'm talking about the rules of life, such as:

1) If you are a woman in your 40s, you should be married, have at least one kid, a dog, a minivan, and wear sweatshirts with gingham teddy bears ironed onto them. I'd rather die.

2) If you must remain single, you should walk around at all times on a cell phone or texting on a Crackberry to ensure that other people don't think you're a loser. I have friends, but I like doing a lot of things alone and unimpeded by "I don't know, what do you want to do?" Life is short; not a second of it should be wasted pretending to be something other than who and what you are.

3) I should love to shop until I drop, watch movies on Lifetime when I'm home alone on a Friday, and own a cat or two just to have something warm and fuzzy to keep me company in my sad little singleton apartment. Not gonna happen:

a) I hate shopping. I'm 5'9" with huge shoulders and tiny ankles and wide feet and big hips. Nothing fits me, and when it does I just buy 10 copies of it in different colors.

b) I'm allergic to cats and if I buy one, I'll buy 12 and there goes the neighborhood.

c) If ever a day comes when I announce that I will be changing the station from NHL Network or Center Ice to watch a cheesy "disease of the week" TV movie from the 80s, you are hereby permitted to clock me upside the head with a large blunt instrument with no fear of punishment from the law.

Next up: Skipping ahead to 11.12, Minimum Paragraph 1 Salary.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

When Plotting Your Future in the NHL, Just Say No Trade, No Move

The game: Portland Winterhawks vs. Everett Silvertips. Provided of course I can get there. The Prez is in town at the convention center, which is across from the rink.

Now this is what I call a hockey game: Rick Rypien has been suspended pending a hearing for getting into an altercation with a fan. The fans were kicked out of the rink, he went to the dressing room and then the box.

Now I hope the same thing doesn't happen here at home, but it is the Everett Silvertips, so: There might be a kerfuffle or two. Of course, thanks to the above situation, most of us may never see them. Also, in one of the Winterhawks' most painful losses during the 09-10 season, we lost to the tips 10 - 4. No that's not a typo. The game this evening also commences a six-game homestand, which is a blessing and curse 'cause we're better on the road. Well, so far. Stay tuned.

Move of the week: Evgeni Malkin scoring on Ottawa while airborne. And I thought the backhanded, no-look hat trick against Carolina in the playoffs took the cake. Hey, when you are your own hard act to follow, what else is there to do but score a goal while flying through the air with the greatest of ease?

The rule: Article 11, Rules and Procedures Governing Standard Player's Contract. 11.8, Individually Negotiated Limitations on Player Movement.

11.8: Aha. This explains those infamous "no trade" clauses. The SPC of a any Player who is a Group 3 Unrestricted Free Agent may contain a no-trade or no-move clause. Provided that it doesn't kick in until said player becomes a Group 3 free agent. If the player is traded or put on waivers before the clause takes effect, then they are SOL when it comes to no-trade, no-move. But it doesn't stop the team from asking: this just gives the player the right to say no.

Morals of the story:

The game: So even if you really like your team and your town and your nice life, if the team wants you gone, go ahead and say no and watch while your coaches, your team and the fans make your life a living hell for refusing to leave when it's your time to move on? Discuss.

Life: Most jobs I've ever held, I would never have wanted this kind of clause in there. I spent 3 years on 5th avenue and a few on Wall Street in jobs that really, I had no business even applying for. But alas, I somehow fooled everyone, including myself and my employers, for far too long. In my case there should have been a "get out and don't come back clause" to save me from myself and a lot of wasted years doing something that I liked and I was sort of good at, but that I didn't love. But if that hadn't happened, this blog wouldn't have happened. So in the end all roads did lead to the right place. But still, like hockey it's always better to know when it's time to move on than to stay in a place that doesn't want you anymore.

Next up: Gotta keep it simple, for once: 11.9. General. And if you want to see how the Winterhawks game turned out:

Monday, October 18, 2010

On the Other Hand, If You Challenge an SPC the 2nd Time, You Just Might Get $100 Million.

The games: Ottawa vs. Pittsburgh, Islanders vs. Toronto, Tampa vs. Dallas.

Why I chose them: Sergei Gonchar returns to his old stomping ground, Honkin' Tall French Captain and his boys try to erase the Florida shutout from memory (how are they supposed to be my personal choice for team most likely to rebound when they get blanked by the Panthers? Most distressing) and Nino Niederreiter and his posse take it to the Leafs. The latter of which, by the way, in a few years will boast two Portland Winterhawks on either side of the center line. Nino's Portland linemate Brad Ross was drafted 43rd by Toronto in this year's entry draft.

Good news all around: The Pens continue their mini-comeback, Tavares nailed it for the Isles in overtime and Tampa narrowly escapes with a 5-4 victory over the Stars.

Sort of: Nino didn't get on the boards. He didn't even rack up a small penalty for serving yet another too many men on the ice for his team. Of course, here in Portland that just means more fodder for "when is he coming back?" But as much as we want that for ourselves, we also want him to be successful in the big time. And when the time is right, whether it's now or later, he will be.

And if you live in Portland: Make note...the Winterhawks commence a six-game homestand starting this Wednesday against Everett. Plenty of time to join us if you can.

First he goes late in the draft, now this?: Cam Fowler broke his nose when he took a hit from Shane Doan, who was later suspended for three games for an even nastier blindside hit on Dan Sexton. Welcome to the NHL. But a blindside hit by the Captain is not cool, dude. And I like Shane Doan. But that Anaheim game was (despite its staggering goaltending and Corey Perry scoring beauty) some ugly business that's deserving of punishment.

And long before you go around hitting people upside the head, first you need to get paid to do so: Article 11, Rules and Procedures Governing Standard Player's Contract. 11.6(b) Subsequent Challenge or De-Registration of SPCs.

11.6(b)/aha! I think this explains the Kovalchuk three-ring circus. Sort of.:

Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this Section 11.6, an approved and registered SPC may be subject to subsequent challenge and/or de-registration by the League (i) in the case of a circumvention relating to either the Club Upper Limit or the Maximum Player Salary, within 60 days from the date upon which the facts of the Circumvention became known or reasonably should have been known to the NHL, or (ii) in the case of a challenge pursuant to (i) or (ii) below, within fourteen days from the date upon which the SPC was approved by the NHL, in each case as follows:

(i) If an SPC is challenged solely because it resulted in the Club's Average Club Salary exceeding the Upper Limit, then the Player shall be entitled to continue play under such an SPC, and shall be entitled to all of the rights and benefits provided for under such an SPC.

Morals of the story:

The game: So let me get this straight...if you are a player who asks for $100-plus million over two decades, and it gets rejected because it's discovered that the Club is sneaking around outside NHL rules, you basically don't get punished in the meantime while they duke it out on your behalf? Now I get why players don't even think for a second about the consequences of their actions. According to this rule, there aren't any.

Life: One word: bailout. Only in our case it was like, what, $700 billion over the next three generations' lifetimes? And in our cases, our mortgages for houses we shouldn't have been allowed to buy because we really couldn't afford them put us into foreclosure, and our taxes go up to pay for said debacle, but the bank gets to carry right on with all the usual rights and privileges thereof whilst we go into debt, onto welfare and back to the food stamp line. True, the law tries to provide some consequences for said actions, but that doesn't stop people and companies most of the time either, now does it?

Next up: 11.8, Individually Negotiated Limitations on Player Movement.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Note to Players Who Challenge a Rejected SPC: Good Luck With That.

The games: Islanders vs. Penguins. Atlanta vs. Anaheim. Portland Winterhawks vs. Kamloops Blazers (WHL).

Why I chose them: It's my boy Nino hitting the ice against the two-headed monster, Anaheim's cutie pie swiss goalie in fine form and the Hawks rock on the road.

The quirk: Except for the Anaheim vs. Atlanta, all the NHL matchups tonight feature teams that either invited to training camp, drafted or signed a Portland Winterhawk in the off-season.

The rule: NHLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement, Article 11, Rules and Procedures Governing Standard Player's Contract. 11.6, Rejection of SPCs and/or Offer Sheets; Subsequent Challenge and/or De-Registration of SPCs and/or Offer Sheets.

Now mind this uses a very cryptic alien language masquerading as English, but I'm pretty sure this is how it works: If said documents are rejected because they exceed the Club's upper salary limit, they do not comply with maximum player salary or it involves circumvention of the upper salary limit, and the NHLPA does not dispute it in a timely manner, the SPC or Offer Sheet will be rejected and the player reverts to his agreement before the thing was rejected. And if they do go to a timely dispute, then the player is entitled to the terms outlined in the SPC but not the Offer Sheet. From there if the League rejects the SPC/Offer Sheet it's null and void and the player reverts to his previous SPC/Offer Sheet.

Morals of the story:

The game: Timing is key. But either way, you're not going to get what you want. Sure, you can ask for more, but don't count on it.

Life: Makes you wish we could go back to the days when we did deals on a handshake and business was based on a gentleman's agreement. If we did the things that are outlined in rules and laws and regulations like the bloody things tell us too, we wouldn't need laws. We'd mind our p's and q's and do what we're supposed to without laws. Thanks to a few choice individuals who don't, we have rules like this. I don't like complication, so my rules would be way simpler. For example: Employees who think they are worth more than the minimum amount of work they do each day in between two hour lunches and delegating their tasks to others will immediately have their grossly bloated salary request rejected, and they will not be permitted to refile or appeal until their workload equals their salary request.

Next up: Article 11, Rules and Procedures Governing Standard Player's Contract. 11.6 (b) Subsequent Challenge and/or De-Registration of SPCs.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Last Night, It Was All About Sven and Nino. Sort Of.

The games: Islanders vs. Washington. Portland Winterhawks vs. Calgary Hitmen (WHL).

Why I chose them: I'm a season ticket holder for Portland, and obviously I must keep track as Nino's official NHL debut unfolds.

On the home front: We went down hard 5 -1 to the reigning 2010 WHL champions. But on a lighter note, Nino scored his first very pretty NHL goal.

And guess who scored the one Portland goal?: Sven Bartschi. With a little help from Ty Rattie and Ryan Johansen. But of course. Unfortunately it was a little too late in the third period, but it beats a shutout. You can read all about it here:

As for Nino: What else is there to say? You. Go. Boy.

I shall return later tonight with more highlights and the next installment of the CBA.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

All NHL Players Must Register and Get Approval for Their Dreams

The game: LA Kings vs. Atlanta Thrashers.

Why I chose it: Because it's their season opener, in all it's opening night hype-o-rama glory. Because Anze Kopitar somehow managed to get prettier with a mile-long scar above his lip. Because the national anthem is being played instead of Guns n' Roses guitarist Slash. Only in L.A. Game on.

Meanwhile back in Anaheim: The d-men left my favorite Swiss goalie out to dry. Ditto for his backup. Why am I not shocked?

Which is why...oohhh did I say that out loud?: Every d-man on Anaheim's team (excluding Cam Fowler, who's just following bad orders) is currently on my pooh list. And they're not coming off until they swear allegiance to cutie pie Swiss goalies and promise never to do it again.

The quirk: The broadcaster mixed up last night's game with this one and just called the opposing team the Atlanta Flames.

The rule: Article 11, Rules and Procedures Governing Standard Player's Contract. 11.5. Filing and Approval Process.

If you thought being a superstar in the NHL means no shuffling paper and red tape and all that, think again: An SPC will be demmed to be filed with Central Registry only when it is actually received by Central Registry. Said document must be filed electronically or by fax. The Registry then must record the date and time they receive the SPC. A Club must file the SPC by no later than 5 pm on day following the one in which they have received the SPC or Offer Sheet from the player. If it's received after 5 pm, it will be deemed to have been received the next day. Finally, if no action is taken by the League after this, the SPC will be deemed to be approved and registered. Central Registry shall provide to electronically to the Club and the NHLPA a daily bulletin of all SPCs that have been approved and registered.

Morals of the story:

The game: Come on now, your secret dream is to be the guy or gal who prepares the daily bulletin of the SPCs that have been approved and registered. I know when I was in kindegarten and the teacher said what do you want to be when you grow up? I certainly didn't raise my hand and say I want to write a mind-numbing newsletter about how many pieces of paper my boss approved today. Which got me to thinking. And we know what happens when I do that.

Life: How do we get lost between wanting to be a famous hockey player, a writer, a dancer and artist and selling insurance or filling out spreadsheets or making widgets in a windowless basement office? Where, when and how do we give up on who and what we wanted to be? It's too easy to make little compromises and sacrifices that don't seem like a big deal, until one day you turn around and you've sold your whole dream to the highest bidder, instead of just the part of it you needed to sell just long enough to achieve it. Perhaps some of us have reached the point where winning an Olympic gold medal is out of reach, or maybe fitting into that size 4 prom dress again is not gonna' happen. But if you are still breathing and getting up everyday and going forth into the world, chances are there's still a chance for other dreams. Want my advice? Take it. No exceptions. No excuses.

Next up: Article 11, Rules and Procedures Governing Standard Player's Contract. 11.6, Rejection of SPCs and/or Offer Sheets.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

And Back In Portland, It's All About Sven

The games: Portland Winterhawks vs. Spokane Chiefs (WHL) and Pittsburgh vs. Montreal.

Why I chose them: Because I have nothing better to do on a Saturday night than watch hockey, chat with fellow fans over at oregonlive and reheat leftovers. And if that's not sad enough:

The math: Pittsburgh went down to Montreal in the waning seconds of the game 3-2. Ummmm....I thought the new season and new venue meant new luck?

Meanwhile back here in the Pacific Northwest: The Winterhawks' newest Euro draft pick is tearing it up. Sven Bartschi was chosen in this year's draft, after a trade that earlier this year brought fellow countryman Luca Sbisa to town to boost our playoff run. Sven is 18, grew up in a small town in Switzerland and likes burritos. And oh yeah, he scored two goals in last night's game and was very nearly headed for the hat trick. During the pre-season he scored 4 goals in a 6-2 win over Kootenay. When I met him around that same time, he said his only goal for the season was "I hope I get to play a lot this season." Really. Get ready NHL fans, this name will be at the top of your mock draft lists in the not-so-distant future.

And dudes, don't be high sticking my favorite LA player: Anze Kopitar took a nasty gash to the upper lip in last night's game against Vancouver. In the pre-game clip on CBC today, he was right back at it and looked like he was ready to go for tonight's game. Mini bummer alert, though. His brother was with the Winterhawks all of last season and our pre-season and earlier this week was reassigned back to the Des Moines Buccaneers of the USHL. We all wish Gasper the best in the end, and I truly do hope it means more ice time and more notice for him. He never got quality ice time here for whatever reason, so in the end it was for the best. But dudes, how am I supposed to have another quality Anze Kopitar sighting at the Memorial Coliseum now that you've sent his bro away? Mini bummer, indeed.

The rule: Article 11, Rules and Procedures Governing Standard Player's Contract.

So, don't even try to get yourself a better deal, then?: 11.1 Standard Player's Contract. The standard form SPC annexed hereto as Exhibit 1 will be the sole form of employment contract used for all Player signings after the execution of this Agreement. The standard form SPC may not be amended or modified in any manner whatsoever. Filed form 1995 SPCs will be considered valid and effective until their expiration, as deemed modified by this Agreement and the Compliance Rules attached as Exhibit 16 hereto, provided, however, that notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained herein, any previously, and still outstanding, rejected SPC shall not be deemed to be registered or approved pursuant to this provision or otherwise, and such rejected SPC shall be grieved in accordance with Article 17 of this agreement.

And I guess they don't pay players by meeting in a deserted parking lot with a briefcase full of cash: 11.16, Sale of SPCs. There shall be no cash transactions in connection with the Assignment of Players. Nor shall any Club be permitted to retain an obligation to pay or to reimburse another Club for a portion of any Player's Player Salary or Bonuses in connection with the Assignment of such Player, other than as set forth in Section 50.8 (b)(ii) of this Agreement.

Morals of the story:

The game: bribery, no changing the deal, no nothing. Well, at least the business of hockey is clean, 'cause darn sure the sport isn't. Nor would we want it to be. But still, it makes you wonder how teams like New Jersey get away with the things they do. This agreement has so many rules, caveats, arbitrations and grievance procedures, it's a wonder any business gets done at all.

Life: This made me wonder, can we do anything in life that doesn't come with a rule, contract, penalty or fee if you break said rules and contracts? Think about it, you need a contract for your cell phone, a mortgage and insurance for your house, a lease or loan for your car, a contract with the cable company to watch Center Ice and have high-speed Internet, a license to own your dog and go hunting on the weekend. And that's just a few. So here's a little food for thought: name a few things in your life that are rule, contract and/or law-free. It's a pretty small list, isn't it? Add our own gas to the fire in the form all the things we say we can't do, and it's toxic.

Here's the deal: This rule is proof that not even NHL superstars are truly free. It may come with restrictions and rules, but they don't allow that to stop them from living their dreams. Nor should we. One of my favorite inspirational stories comes from right here in Oregon, home of Rachel Scdoris, the first legally blind woman to complete the Iditarod race. If she can, there is no excuse for the rest of us. Enough said.

Next up: Collective Bargaining Agreement, Article 11, 11.5. Filing and Approval Process.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Today, It's All About Nino

The game: Today at 4 pm Pacific time, Portland Winterhawk Nino Niederreiter will make his official NHL debut with the New York Islanders. He has signed an entry level contract, which won't kick in until he plays 9 games. He has not yet been assured a permanent place on their roster, but he did well enough in camp to earn an opening night spot.

Why I chose it: DUH. Nino was drafted 5th in the 2010 Entry Draft, right after team and linemate Ryan Johansen, who went 4th to Columbus. Nino is the only of our 10 draftees who is still with his NHL team. By being chosen in that prime spot, he became the highest drafted Swiss player in the League's history. And even though this is about all him, let's not forget that by being picked 4th, Ryan (according to sent every mock draft out there crashing in flames. I met Ryan about five months before the draft, and I still don't think he any idea back then how loud his frequency was about to get. While the draft clearly instilled confidence in all of Portland's draftees, we are proud to say none of them have allowed it to go to their heads.

And if you are out there in New York preparing for game day, just a note for y'all. oregonlive readers have seen me do this before, in the form of a mock letter to the Islanders asking for Nino's return to us. But since the Islanders have decided to keep him for now....New York fans, this one's for you. And Portland fans, yes on occasion I do warm and fuzzy. For Nino, I'm sure you'll agree the exception is worth it.

Dear New York Islanders Fans,

I hope you will enjoy tonight's game, notably because you will have the pleasure of watching Nino Niederreiter make his professional NHL debut. Even if he only plays for one period or a few minutes, you'll see what I mean. There is nothing like our Nino and we expect that you will welcome him just the same as Portland did this time last year.

For a whole, magical season, Portland had the privilege of watching while Nino's star got brighter with every game. The only thing louder than the Staples Center on draft day was a bar in downtown Portland where we watched while the NHL had the good sense to snatch up two of our best players. Tonight, you will be treated to what I know will be a stunning debut by one of them. I hope that you will show Nino the same love, respect and care that we have, tonight and always.

While we still hold out hope that you will return him to us, if you must keep him, do take great care with our gift to you. He is only 18 after all, and his primary experience in the United States was a big-but-not-too-big city in the Pacific Northwest. He doesn't know yet what a New York minute is, or that when they say "the city that never sleeps" they mean it. I hope you will show him the very best of your city and the very best of yourselves.

The very best and most exciting thing about Nino and all of Portland's draftees is that the best is yet to come. You have the privilege of being the home of his future. Take great care with our prize, New York. There is only one Nino and his NHL debut only comes once. Self-respecting hockey fans in Portland will be watching from afar on couches, in bars, or online. But New York, the honor of making Nino's debut everything he dreamed about falls to you. I ask only that you show him what it's like to dream while he's awake.

Yours truly,


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Refresh Me, Why Would People NOT Want to Watch Hockey?

The games: Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia, Toronto vs. Montreal, Chicago vs. Colorado, Edmonton vs. Calgary.

Why I chose them: Duh. Hockey is back. Why would anyone be doing anything else on this most momentous of evenings?

The local angle: Former Portland Winterhawk Braydon Coburn just got into it with Sidney Crosby at the end of the second period. Trivia tidbit: Coburn kept his Oregon phone number on the cell phone he carries around to this day.

Maybe they should prepare for the next game by looking up comeback in the dictionary: The Pens are trailing by 1 with 3:31 to go. Max Talbot needs to start punching somebody like, right now, and save what's left of this game.

Never mind: And down they go, 3 -2 Philadelphia. Well, at least they opened in Consol the way they closed in Mellon.

And win or lose: When I go out to Google News and put Sidney Crosby in the search bar, there will be soundbites a plenty. No replays. No photo opps with Roger Federer. Real live cliches from the real grownup wonder boy. Game and RSS Feeds on.

I love the Habs, but: I must start training now for the day I will be pro-Toronto all the time. And that will be the day when Portland Winterhawk Brad Ross makes the roster and puts on a jersey for real. Brad was drafted 43rd by the leafs in this year's draft. He's back in Portland, and has already been named WHL player of the week and has scored six goals in five games thus far. Most notably, he put us over the winning edge in last night's game against Everett.

And if that doesn't do it for 'ya: Tonight marks Taylor Hall's professional, regular season debut with Edmonton. Ditto for my personal fave Jordan Eberle. Kicking it off with the battle of Alberta. Interstate rivalry in Pennsylvania to christen Consol Energy Center. Three cheers for the scheduling geniuses at the NHL.

Background music: Carmina Burana is playing in the background at the Edmonton vs. Calgary game.

Oh alright, I guess I'll cover another rule I don't understand: Article 10, Free Agency. 10.4 Draft Choice Compensation for Restricted Free Agents. Group 2 Compensation Chart. It goes like this:

Any club that is entitled to but does not exercise its Right of First Refusal pursuant to Section 10.3 shall be entitled to obtain Draft Choice Compensation from the New Club. The number and quality of draft choices due to the Prior Club shall be based on the average annual value of the compensation contained in the Principal Terms of the New Club's offer sheet (determined by dividing such compensation by the lesser of the number of years of the Offer Sheet by five), based on the following scale:

Offer Sheet Compensation

$660,000 or below None

Over $660,000 to $1 million 3rd Round

Over $1 million to $2 million 2nd Round

Over $2 million to $3 million 1st Round and 3rd Round

Over $3 million to $4 million 1st Round, 2nd Round and 3rd Round

Over $4 million to $5 million Two First Rounds, 2nd Round and 3rd Round

Over $5 million Four 1st Rounds

Morals of the story:

The game: Well at least they tell you how to do the math in this one. And now I understand all that wheeling and dealing that goes on at the draft, the off season and the trade deadline. And you superstar players, I hate to tell you this, but this rule is proof you are a commodity. If you're lucky, you're changing the game and all that. But never forget that you are also a line item on a spreadsheet. Speaking of which:

Life: How like hockey life is. We're all line items on a spreadsheet. We can all be traded, put on waivers and downsized at any time. Only in life, we don't get choice draft picks or millions of dollars in trade. But we should. Anyone whose company decides to downsize, realign or re-whatever should be entitled to compensation equal to ten times what they were paid while putting forth their blood, sweat and tears for said employer without so much as a thank you before being shown the door or downgraded to a smaller cube, salary and job title.

Next up: Article 11, Rules and Procedures Governing Standard Player's Contract.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Hockey Is Back. Period. End of Off Season.

The game: Portland Winterhawks vs. Everett Silvertips (WHL). Everett is up 3 - 2 as the begin the third period. It's "how many penalties can the Winterhawks pull in one night" night here in the Pacific Northwest. On the other hand, Spencer Bennett just scored his fourth goal of the season, and Ryan Johansen scored the game tying goal and set up Spencer for his go-ahead goal (just after coming out of the box).

In case you're wondering what they eat for breakfast: No clue, but I do know what Spencer eats for lunch. He's turned our new Swiss import Sven Bartschi on to burritos. I must make note to ask Spencer which "Mexican Grill" Sven was referring to the other night when I talked to him. There's about half a dozen with that name attached to them.

Major bummer alert: Thanks to lengthy technical difficulties, we just missed Brad Ross' game winning goal that sealed the deal to beat Everett 5-3. It's his 6th goal in five games. Ryan Johansen walks away with a goal and two assists, a mere 72 hours after arriving back in Portland.

But that is a mere warm up for this: Tomorrow night is NHL Face-Off in Toronto. In less than 24 hours, hockey returns. And mark your calendars for the Islanders vs. Stars game on Saturday. It marks the official NHL debut of the highest drafted Swiss player in the League's history, Nino Niederreiter, who has earned a spot on the Islanders opening night roster.

And this: Article 10, Free Agency. (b) Group 4 Free Agents. Definition of a "defected player." For purposes of this Agreement, a "Defected Player" means any Player not unconditionally released:

(A) who, having had an SPC with a Club, the provisions of which, including the option clauses in a 1995 SPC, have not been completely fulfilled, contracts for a period including any part of the unfulfilled portion of his SPC, with a club in a league not affiliated with the NHL or with any such league (both of which are hereinafter referred to as an "unaffiliated club") or with any other professional hockey club to the exclusion of the said Club or its assignee or:

(B) who, never having been under contract to any Club, but as to who the NHL negotiation rights now or at any time hereafter shall reside in any Club, has contracted or shall contract with such an unaffiliated club.

(C) A Player who plays out his final season, or option season pursuant to a 1995 SPC, as the case may be, and enters into a contract for a period including the following season with an unaffiliated club or with any other professional hockey club shall not be deemed to be a "Defected Player"; provided, however that nothing contained in this Section shall be construed to affect the rights of said Club to compensation, if applicable, pursuant to this Article 10 in the event that said Player should subsequently enter into an SPC for his services as a professional hockey player with another Club of the NHL.

Morals of the story:

The game: "Gotta keep it simple" is my new peeve/cliche. There's nothing simple about this game. Unless you went to Harvard law school. Then I'm sure it's a piece of cake.

Life: Ok, I got the not unconditionally released part, but you lost me after that. Like this rule, we complicate life entirely too much. We get tangled up, caught up and we give up. Sliding downhill in life is far too easy to start and too hard to stop. The trick to climbing life's peaks is to stop at the plateau every now and again to survey the landscape. Look around, appreciate where you are, adjust for previous mistakes and move forward. And whatever you do, don't let the other climbers drag you down. Yes, I just used mountain climbing and hockey as metaphors for life. What can I say? It's late on a Wednesday and my other options were way cheesier.

Next up: Article 10, Free Agency. Group 2 Compensation Chart.

Monday, October 4, 2010

And That's What You Get for Slashing the Winterhawk Who's Still Out There.

The news: Mike Cammalleri has been suspended one game for slashing Nino Niederreiter in a game against the Islanders. That means he'll be missing the Canadiens' season opener. Here in Portland broadcaster Andy Kemper is known for saying "you don't mess with the Johan" whenever Nino's linemate and fellow top NHL draft pick Ryan Johansen makes a sick move out there. And you don't mess with the Nino either.

A fitting opportunity to skip ahead to this rule: 18.3, Procedures for Standard On-Ice Discipline. Notwithstanding anything stated in Article 17 (Grievances) hereof, all disputes involving a suspension imposed upon a Player by the commissioner (or his designee) for conduct on the ice will be processed exclusively as follows unless the procedures of Article 18.4 are applicable.

(b) For the purpose of calculating salary lost due to suspension, the following formula will apply:

(i) For first offenders (first incident requiring supplementary discipline in the form of game suspension) Player to forfeit one day's Paragraph 1 Salary and Bonuses, but not including Performance Bonuses, for each Regular Season lost (1/total number of days in the Regular Season measured from the date of the League's first Regular Season Game to the last, irrespective of the Player's team schedule).

In addition to his suspension, Mike Cammalleri will forfeit $32,258.06. Which means that's what he makes in a day. Oh, and also: there is a Rule in the CBA specifically titled "No Circumvention." (Article 26).

Morals of the story:

The game: Dude, don't mess with Portland's prized draft possessions.

Life: It took me several years of hard work straight out of college to make that much money in a year. Where did I go wrong? I think somewhere between honor society in junior high and dropping out during a semester of my junior year in college, the truth lies. 20 years out of college, I am very privileged to be among Portland's small but mighty media that covers the Winterhawks. It may have taken a while, but one way or another I got here. I didn't go wrong, really, the path was just a little more crooked than the one NHL superstars take to the top. But if I had tried to do any of this when I was in my twenties, it would have flopped. So everything does happen for a reason, and at the time it's supposed to happen. I'm sure the young Winterhawks players I interview for my oregonlive blog see me at practice or in the locker room and are no doubt like, "who is that and what is she doing down here?" But the very coolest thing ever happened the other night when a few of the players just walked by me and said "hey Sam" or said hello while I was interviewing our new Nino -- 18-year-old- get-ready-NHL-he's-coming-your-way -- Sven Bartschi, about where to find good burritos in Portland. It's a long way to the top, and sometimes the top is the basement of the Rose Garden on a Sunday night. But I found it, one way or another. And it's easier than you think. I'm a humble hockey fan from Portland. If I can, anyone can.

Next up: Oh right, back to topic with the definition of a "defected player."

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Portland Winterhawks' NHL Draftees: Seven Back, One to Go.

Good for us/maybe not so much for him: The Columbus Blue Jackets have returned Ryan Johansen to Portland. We are awaiting word as to when we'll see him back on our ice. He had made it clear he wanted to stay with them, as any draftee would. And I have no doubt he put 150% effort into doing so. But timing is everything, and Ryan's turn will come. Try telling him that this weekend, though. On the upside, Portland is ecstatic, which hopefully will take the sting out of it for him when we welcome him back.

That just leaves one: Nino Niederreiter is still with the Islanders and by all expert accounts is expected to remain there for at least the nine games it will take for his contract to kick in. Alas, tonight we will have to settle for his wobbly likeness in the form of a Nino bobblehead. It's not the real thing, but we will think of him whilst standing in line waiting for our turn to pick one up. And I for one will think nothing but good things for him wherever he is tonight.

Now that I've decrypted most of it, on with the CBA: Article 10, Free Agency. 10.2, Restricted Free Agents. (ii) Hey look, I finally get this one: In order to receive a Right of First Refusal or Draft Choice Compensation (at the Prior Club's option) with respect to a Restricted Free Agent, the Prior Club of a Restricted Free Agent must tender to the Player, no later than 5:00 p.m. New York time on the later of June 25 or the first Monday after the Entry Draft of the final year of the Player's SPC, a "Qualifying Offer" which shall be an offer of an SPC, for one League Year, which is subject to salary arbitration if such Player is otherwise eligible for salary arbitration in accordance with Section 12.1, on at least the following terms and conditions: to paraphrase, you basically get to make more with you new team, but it is limited. And nowhere does the limit allow $100 million over several decades.

Morals of the story:

The game: So, since it is New York time and there is such a thing as a New York minute, what happens if you tender the deal to the player at 5:01 New York time? No deal? This also makes you wonder how they could even attempt the Kovaluchuk deal. Or any similar long term deal, but they did and it's allowed. But darned if I'm smart enough to figure out why. Somewhere between Ryan and Nino's entry level deals, and the ridiculous long-term deals floating around the NHL, the truth lies. But maybe we can find it here:

Life: What if there was a life version of a "Qualifying Offer" and it required us to only take the very best deal in which we followed our bliss, got paid what we're worth and forbid us under pain of death from giving in, giving up and only taking what we're given instead of asking for what we want? Would it force us not to take the middle of the road? Or would we just give up altogether if things didn't turn out the way we wanted? In sports there is no in between and there shouldn't be in life either. Maybe that's why we get so tweaked at athletes and the game...because we expect them to do what we did not in perfect, be a superstar and never make a mistake. When really, we should be spending all that energy and time being the superstars of our own lives. Let's try it, shall we?

Next up: the CBA's definition of a "Defected Player" and what it means for said players.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Welcome to Portland, Home of Bobblehead Geeks.

The game: Getting psyched for the Portland Winterhawks vs. Seattle Thunderbirds game on Oct. 2nd.

And how might one get psyched up for such a momentous occasion?: By meeting the players, of course. You can find the results here under "I'm all about bobbleheads":

What could be better than Nino bobblehead night?: Nino himself, who is still with the Islanders. But still, I am so excited I've accorded a special spot in my very small handbag for it. Now mind, I have recently downsized my handbag because I was slowly but surely turning into the oversize handbag lady, and I simply refuse to be one of those chicks who goes looking for her car keys and finds a baloney sandwich from 1972 hiding underneath them. Nor am I ever buying a cat. Period. End of story. I'm a single woman in my 40s. I buy one cat, I'll buy 10 and that's enough said about that. Besides:

I was a guy in a former life: The only thing I love talking about more than hockey is my car. My favorite hobby is figuring out how many times they say "what the fuck?" in "The Hangover" and I hate shopping. So when I said that Luke Walker's story warms my heart, it was not easy. Because I certainly don't say things like that, and I rarely think them. But his story is one that is worth reading up on. And he is a player worth paying attention to. As are all the Portland Winterhawks.

Morals of the story: For tonight's juicy bit on life and what not, I will refer back to my oregonlive feature on the three Taylors who are just back from NHL training camp. I have now actually met a handful of the Winterhawks in person. All are under 20 and living in a strange town with strange people like me wandering amok all around them. And in the audience above them on game night are guys like the one next to me who kept calling Brendan Leipsic "Scrappy" and "Scrappy-Do" all night long. Brendan has some growing to do physically, but he's one tough kid and one hell of a goal scorer. But it made me think: who are we as grown ups/fans to judge them, anyway? If we tried to make it through their 90 minute practice, we'd last about 90 seconds. If we had to make a split second decision on the ice instead of while watching it above the glass, I'm sure we'd do more than a few stupid things too. And if we had to straighten up and fly right and talk to bloggers, journalists and other hangers-on in between school, games, practice and long bus rides, I doubt we'd display the same respect, kindness, smarts and courtesy that I saw in the three Taylors.

After all, we were their age once and if I recall my own adolescence, it involved a hair dryer, a shopping mall and a pathological need to own designer jeans which had gone out of style by the time I'd saved enough babysitting money to buy them. So I for one have no intention of judging them. Other than to say this: yes, if they want to get to the NHL, they will need to straigthen up and fly right. But at least for the boys here in Portland, they already have. Game on and carry on, boys.

Next up: Onward with the collective bargaining agreement. Why is it taking so long to get through it, you might ask? Because it takes at least 48 hours to figure out what edition of Webster's dictionary they used in writing it. But I should have the next section decrypted by tomorrow around lunchtime.