Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What wine goes with viewing of scorching hot French Canadian coaches?

The game: Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Tampa Bay Lightning.

Why I chose it: Because not watching while smokin' hot French Canadian coaches on a comeback tear are on live television for all to see is just wrong. How Guy Boucher walks around looking that hot and not bursting into flames truly boggles the mind.

Hooked on phonics, Portland style: I'm too tired to blog a whole rule, so I'll preview my new features for the oregonlive blog. Those would be 1) the "inappropriate things were said" to oregonlive appropriate dictionary and 2) the Hooked on Phonics guide to pronouncing the Portland Winterhawks' names. The latter was inspired by the team's recent road trips to Canada, where several of our players' last names were butchered by public address announcers.

The dictionary: Inspired by a brawling game between the Portland Winterhawks and the Kamloops Blazers in which the Blazers' goalie decided some smack talk with pretty much our entire lineup would be a good idea before he sulked off to the dressing room. It was unsuccessful, as our goalie Mac Carruth (drafted 191st by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2010 Entry Draft) dropped theirs right to the ice. When I asked defenseman Joe Morrow (a top prospect for the 2011 draft) what was said during that altercation, he wouldn't tell me, other than "some inappropriate things were said." So here's the obvious one for starters:

The f-word: perfectly appropriate alternatives: flip, frack, frick and my personal favorite -- which I heard in the stands the other day -- fiddly. I dare one of the Winterhawks who's taller than a Christmas tree to get on up in an opponent's face and tell him to fiddly off.

Or if you want the Euro flavor, I always fall back on the Brits' best bits..."bugger off" or "go get shagged."

How do you pronounce Scooby Doo?: All the bungled pronunciations listed below actually happened. More than once.

Sven Bartschi. Correct: Bear-chee. With Sven's very proper and pretty Swiss German pronunciation, it's got just a little more roll to the r and sounds a little more like the "derci" in arrivaderci. Incorrect: Barch, Barsh or Sven's personal fave, Bartski.

Brendan Leipsic. Lipe-sick. Not Lip-sick.

Derrick Pouliot.POO-LEE-AHT. Incorrect: Poo-low. Poo-yow.

Ty Rattie. Tie Rat-tea. Not sure how you screw this one up, but apparently someone did. I'll have to check in with Andy Kemper on this one, since he's the one who reported on it. But why do I have the feeling someone pronounced his first name as Tea?

Next up: Post-game from Portland Winterhawks vs. Kootenay Ice. And onward with Article 13, Waivers and Loans of Players to Minor League Clubs.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

To shack up in a hotel or get your own place? That is the question.

The games: Pittsburgh vs. Calgary, Portland Winterhawks vs. Tri-City Americans (WHL).

The math: Pittsburgh 4, Calgary 1. Tri-City 3, Portland 2 (SO).

And what did you do today?: Yesterday, Sidney Crosby racked up a hat trick and his 200th career goal. In one game. I try not to think too hard about the fact that even if I got a move on today, I would never even come close to achieving what he's done. And I've been hanging out on this planet 19 years longer than he has. Sure, I've done a few pretty cool things here and there, but nothing like that.

I really must make note to keep cool and refreshing beverages handy when watching Tampa Bay Lightning games: Because Guy Buoucher gets hotter everytime I watch him. And the other night when he went off on the refs....well, let's just say I had the windows wide open.

Now, as for Portland: Not all is lost. We picked up a point for the Tri-Cities game. But note to the WHL schedulers: do not make our boys go on a two-week road trip, come home, play one home game, go on the road again and come back for another one on Sunday. Now mind, I love that my holiday weekend was bookended by hockey, but come on now, give the boys a break already. I'll find out more tonight when I chat with them, but until then you can read all about it here: www.oregonlive.com/hawks.

It is time to emerge from the weekend hockey bubble, but before I do: Article 13, Waivers and Loans of Players to Minor League Clubs. 13.12, Transfers To/From Minors: The Club responsible for the move shall provide to the Player for a period of up to 28 days a reasonable single hotel room or at the Player's option, a daily payment -- applicable to NHL per diem for Player Recalled from Minors: $45 for Player Loaned to minors. If Section 13.2(d) applies, the Club shall provide the aforementioned daily payment or the applicable accommodations under Section 13.2(d) for a period of up to 56 days. ....where the Club has provided the Player with accommodation, the Club shall provide an additional five days accommodation and one-half per diem for each of the same five days after he has been advised to get a place or at the conclusion of the 28th day.

And timing is key: 13.12 (j) A player may be loaned to a club of any league affiliated with the League at any time up to 3:00 p.m. New York Time of the 40th day immediately preceding the final day of the Regular Season (the "Trade Deadline").

Morals of the story:

The game: "after he has been advised to get a place or on.." I love it. It gives a whole new meaning to "get a room."

Life: Sometimes I think the 9 - 5 grind is just prison without handcuffs. But compared to how regimented this rule is, I have a lot of freedom. Nobody tells me when or where I have to be in my private life, they don't tell me to "get a place" and I don't have to negotiate how to pay for it. The grass always looks greener until it's time to mow the lawn. Nobody's life is easy. Nobody's life is totally free. But if you're lucky and you play the hand you're dealt the right way, it can be your own version of a hat trick/200th goal scoring night.

Up next: 13.13, Waiver Notification, 13.14, Transfer Form, 13.15, Holiday Roster Freeze.

Friday, November 26, 2010

It's picnic time for hockey fans

The games: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Ottawa Senators, Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Washington Capitals, Chicago vs. Anaheim, Toronto vs. Buffalo, San Jose vs. Vancouver.

Why I chose them: Cutie pie Swiss goalies (Jonas Hiller, Anaheim), cutie pie Danish forwards (Peter Regin, Ottawa Senators), flaming hot coaches in Tampa and his evil comeback plan and two teams that one day will have Portland Winterhawks in their lineup (Buffalo, Toronto). Football fans have the Super Bowl. Hockey fans have the day after Thanksgiving. Games on.

One down, four to go: Pittsburgh 2, Ottawa 1. If it hadn't been for the buzzer, the score would be 3 - 1 on an empty netter.

Oooohhh did I say that out loud?: It has occurred to me that the New York Islanders in their current sad state of affairs do not currently deserve their #5 overall draft pick Nino Niederreiter, who was returned to the Portland Winterhawks for the season. Thank you, New York. You can wait for him and like it.

There's hockey back home, too: The Portland Winterhawks defeated the Everett Silvertips 4 - 2, courtesy of a selfless play from Oliver Gabriel to once and future Columbus Blue Jackets teammate Ryan Johansen (both have signed with the team, Ryan went 4th overall to the team in the 2010 Entry Draft). Oliver just missed the hat trick, instead racking up 2 goals and one assist for the night. They are on the road to Chilliwack and TriCities tonight and Saturday, and we will bookend the holiday weekend with a home game on Sunday.

The rule: NHLPA Colective Bargaining Agreement. Article 13, Waivers and Loans of Players to Minor League Clubs.

In case you ever wondered how and why an NHL player ends up in the minors for conditioning, here's part of it: 13.8 Conditioning Loan. Unless a player consents, he shall not be loaned on a Conditioning Loan to a minor league Club. Such conditioning loan shall not extend for more than fourteen (14) days. The Commissioner may take whatever steps he deems necessary to investigate the circumstances under which a Player is loaned on a Conditioning Loan. If the Comissioner has reason to believe or determines that the Club has used the Conditioning Loan to evade the Re-Entry Waivers, or otherwise Circumvent any provision of this Agreement, he may take such disciplinary action against the Club, as he deems appropriate. And of course: the player continues to make his NHL salary while he's on a conditioning loan.

Morals of the story:

The game: Like waivers, conditioning loans aren't necessarily a bad thing. But it's not exactly feeding the ego of NHL players to be sent down to the farm for a little retooling, now is it?

Life: Conditioning loans wouldn't exactly be easy on the ego in Corporate America, either. But I wouldn't mind getting off the treadmill every once and a while for a little conditioning that would consist of eight hours' sleep a night, going to the gym more regularly and eating from the proper food groups. In fact, I think all companies should have a conditioning loan rule like this. And every year or so, when overworked employees have had enough, you just ship 'em out to a little quasi-spa for a few power naps and nutritious meals and what not et voila...it's like hiring a brand new employee, only without the hassle.

Next up: Article 13.12, Transfers to and From Minors.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Winterhawks Are Down, the Penguins Are Back, and Tampa's Evil Plan Is Working

The games: Spokane Chiefs 3, Portland Winterhawks 1 (WHL). Pittsburgh Penguins 3, Florida Panthers 2.

This is just mean: We are awaiting the first major winter storm front here in Oregon any day now, which promises to snarl commuter and air traffic this week. And what do I see on my television when I turn on Center Ice? A shot of the harbor in Florida, with people out on sailing trips, fishing and tanning and what not. May I suggest that the Florida Panthers come to some sort of cable arrangement where there's a blackout of such footage in markets where the climate is hovering around the freezing mark? Because that's just not fair.

Meanwhile in other toasty warm parts of Florida where people are still wearing golf shorts and sunscreen: Guy Boucher's evil plan is taking shape. The Bolts are sitting in second place in the Southeast Division with 24 points. Their opponent tonight, the Boston Bruins, are also in second place in the Northeast Division with 24 points. The Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Bruins 3 to 1. Not sure what that means, except that the evil comeback plan is working.

The very best reason to get excited about the holidays: At long last, I can take out my Toronto Maple Leafs Christmas stocking, which I bought in honor of Portland Winterhawk Brad Ross being drafted by the Leafs. Note to self: go onto NHL.com and purchase some other holiday decor to honor the other 9 draftees on the Winterhawks' roster.

Now, what to say about Portland's Sunday game against the Spokane Chiefs: Can't say a whole lot, since I was ill and therefore covering it from my couch with a little help from Winterhawks' broadcaster Andy Kemper. But I will say this: a two-week road trip, one very brawling Saturday night game and a few players who were under the weather themselves equals Spokane outplaying us. And that they did. Onward and get well soon to the players who were not feeling their best.

If you are a Pittsburgh Penguin and your name ends in y, you are therefore on fire: Sidney Crosby is racking up pretty much every point, goal, assist, face off percentage and whatever else with each passing game, and Marc-Andre Fleury's slump is pretty much a vapor trail at this point.

The rule: Article 13, Waivers and Loans of Players to Minor League Clubs.

13.4, Exempt Players: As readers of my oregonlive blog know, I leave the numbers to trained professionals like Andy Kemper (After the Whistle), the Vroomans and my fellow oregonlive blogger Dylan Bumbarger. Here's a snippet of why: For purposes of Regular Waivers and Re-Entry Waivers, the five (5) year exemption for an 18-year-old skater and the four (4) year exemption for a 19 year old skater shall be reduced to three (3) commencing the first season that the 18 or 19 year old skater plays in eleven (11) games or more. The next two (2) seasons, regardless of whether the skater plays any NHL Games in either season, shall count as the second and third years toward satisfying the exemption.

Morals of the story:

The game: That's it. I give up. I'm going back to the humble days when I didn't know what a hat trick was and I could have cared less why the face-off happens where it does.

Life: In the current economy, wouldn't it be awesome if we had exemptions from being laid off and fired and downsized, etc.? If you have worked at a company for longer than 5 years, have been promoted and complimented regularly and have never abused the company's generous vacation or expense report policy, you are exempt from being fired for at least one year while you rethink and realize you didn't want that job anyway and use it to instead write the best selling novel and escape with your ass one day after the exemption runs out. Brilliant.

Next up: Article 13, Waivers and Loans of Players to Minor League Clubs. 13.6, Injured Player Loan to Minor Leagues. 13.8, Conditioning Loan.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Line Brawls and High Scoring Games and El Nino, Oh My!

The game: Portland Winterhawks vs. Kamloops Blazers (WHL).

The numbers:

Portland 6, Kamloops 4.

Number of line brawls, instigated by Kamloops goalie Jeff Bosch: 1.

Number of players ejected from said brawl: 5. Plus Tyler Wotherspoon earlier in the game for a different scrap.

Penalty minutes: Kamloops 101. Portland 65.

Goaltenders ejected: Both starting goalies were ejected, seeing as how Mac Carruth (drafted 191st by Chicago in the 2010 Entry Draft) wasn't taking any of Bosch's crap. Both left with leaving the crease, a major for fighting and a game misconduct, which I believe is automatic in such cases.

Number of fights the last time we played Kamloops: Zero.

But that didn't prevent El Nino from blowing past everyone and everything: The New York Islanders first round pick (5th overall) proceeded to score two goals in the midst of the boxing match that was last night's game, earning him the first star of the night.

Read all about it here: www.oregonlive.com/hawks.

I couldn't find the WHL rulebook anywhere, but let's refresh on what the NHL book says about kerfuffles like this: 47.12, Instigator in the Final Five Minutes of Regulation Time (or Anytime in Overtime). A player who is deemed to be the instigator of an altercation in the final five (5) minutes of regulation time or any time in overtime shall be assessed an instigator minor penalty, a major penalty for fighting, and a game misconduct penalty, subject to the conditions outlined in 47.22.

The morals of last night's story: 1) When in doubt, leave the line brawling to the goaltenders. 2) The Portland Winterhawks should go on long road trips more often (this was their first home game after the 2-week East Swing). 3) The real El Nino is outside (it's snowing here in Portland with more on the way), the nicknamed one is inside (Nino Niederreiter) and we host the Spokane Chiefs. I expect some serious play from the Hawks that are left standing. Game on.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

These Are a Few of My Favorite Hockey Things

The games: Portland Winterhawks vs. Kamloops Blazers (WHL, Saturday, 7 pm). Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Carolina Hurricanes (Pittsburgh 5, Carolina 4, in a shootout).

We don't need the Islanders to come to Portland, we can just start our own NHL team (see comments from previous entry): With 9 NHL draftees on the active roster, 3 others who were invited and/or signed by the League, and four already on the rankings for the 2011 draft, I think we can just start our own NHL team. No need for our prized possessions like Ryan Johansen and Nino Niederreiter and Sven Bartschi and Ty Rattie to scatter to parts unknown. If the Phoenix Coyotes can stay afloat, we can start a new team.

Major dilemma: HBO is debuting a preview of the 24/7 Road to the Winter Classic tonight whilst I'm at a Winterhawks game. Note to self: Add DVR to the cable package.

And if you're a regular viewer of the NBC (nothing but Crosby) network, Pittsburgh Magazine has a really cool feature on him.

I'm burned on blogging and CBA's and what not, so today's entry will consist of a shout out to some of my favorite links and resources. True I'm a little biased on a few as you'll see, but these are all worth checking out all the same:

Junior hockey:

Buzzing the Net on Yahoo Sports. Neate Sager has been kind enough to link to my oregonlive posts and even gave a shout out to me by name once. So, biased on my part, absolutely. But he also runs one of the best junior hockey blogs out there. They recently added a live Chatravaganza to the mix. Put it on the list if you want to keep up with what's doing in the junior leagues.

Taking Note with Gregg Drinnan. I find the run-on sentence style a little annoying, but Drinnan's your man if you want the latest and greatest.

NHL and all things hockey:

Kukla's Korner. This is totally biased and a completely shameless plug. I was very honored to be chosen over the summer as part of Paul's new community of bloggers. 87in107 will have a new home there, complete with a new title. But I would recommend this blog any day and twice on Sunday. The variety of perspectives you'll find here are also really good for pseudo beginners like me who are still trying to memorize the face-off rule.

Lighthouse Hockey. An excellent source for New York Islanders news and a good place for Portland fans to keep track of Nino's whereabouts when he goes to the NHL for good. And yes, they've mentioned me once or twice.

And just to be fair, here's a few that have never heard of me:

The Prospect Park. It's all Rangers and Islanders prospects, all the time. And they've spoken highly of the Winterhawks in the past, including Luke Walker (now with the Colorado Avalanche's AHL team) and Ryan Johansen.

Penguin Poop. As a Penguins fan who must live vicariously through the folks who get the privilege of watching the Pens live and meeting them in person in their community...I consider this blog a must. Ditto for The Confluence (you'll find it on Kukla's Korner) and Empty Netters. The latter irked me recently because he falsely led readers to believe the blog was in jeopardy, only to admit later it never was. But, it's still one of the best sources for Pens news and what not.

And with that, I'm off to the Portland Winterhawks' first home game in two weeks. The weather outside is a bit frightful, but it's always warm and toasty when your team is back home and on a winning streak. You can read all about it tomorrow on oregonlive.com/hawks.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I Will Never Waive My Right to Love Hockey

The game: Chicago vs. Edmonton.

Why I chose it: It's the Stanley Cup champions facing off against the #1 Draft Pick and company on the Oiler's home ice. Also, I'm a one-woman, 24/7 pro-Jordan Eberle promotion machine. I love that when asked to describe himself, he said neat. He hates being late. He knows how to do his own laundry and cook. He gets up early to call his girlfriend. He likes to eat ice cream before games. Where was he when I was 20? And what's wrong with eating ice cream before a game? Dairy is a food group and it's sugar for energy later. Perfectly acceptable pre-game snack.

Which is why this is so painful: It's Chicago 4, Edmonton 0 at the end of the second.

Meanwhile, across the NHL: Guy Boucher and his evil comeback plan for Tampa roll into Nassau Coliseum to face off against the Islanders and their new coach. Vancouver and Pittsburgh get down to it at Consol Energy Center. And the Columbus Blue Jackets face the LA Kings. Games on.

I still don't understand this, but it's not for me to understand, it's for me to like: Anze Kopitar is even hotter now that he's sporting the start of a scar on his upper lip. So not fair. If I had a nasty gash like that running across my face, I'd have to move to a closet and only come out under cover of darkness.

The El Nino effect: Not long after the the New York Islanders returned Nino Niederreiter to the Portland Winterhawks, they went on a 10-game losing streak, and we racked up a 10-game winning streak. Coincidence or proof the Islanders need to re-think a few things before they take Portland's prized possession from us for good? Discuss.

The rule: NHLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement. Article 13, Waivers and Loans of Players to Minor League Clubs.

13.1: A Club shall not dispose of the services of any Player in which it has a proprietary interest by Loan to a club of another league without first having complied with the provisions of this Article. The Waivers that are recognized by this Agreement are Regular Waivers, Re-Entry Waivers and Unconditional Waivers. As defined in the glossary at the beginning of the CBA, waivers means the process by which the rights to a Player are offered to all other Clubs, pursuant to the procedure set forth in Article 13 of this Agreement and shall include Regular, Re-Entry and Unconditional Waivers.

Morals of the story:

The game: I've always wondered what waivers were and how they work. I didn't understand that waivers are what teams do when they don't need or want you anymore, but they must give you a chance to be claimed by other teams before they release you. Clearing waivers means nobody wanted the player and he can remain with his team or choose to go to free agent status and shop himself around. No matter what this rule says or how it protects players, being put on waivers blows. Sorry, but there's just no other way to put it. On the other hand, many a great player was claimed off waivers and went on to thrive with their next team. Erik Christensen, for example, after being bumped around from the Penguins to the Thrashers to the Ducks, is seeing his stock rise ever higher with the New York Rangers. Go figure.

On the other hand, we heard from broadcaster Andy Kemper last night that Portland Winterhawks' goalie Ian Curtis, who cleared waivers recently, has chosen to take a break from hockey to prepare for college. I'm glad he found a future and he's taking advantage of the WHL scholarship money. He's very smart and was interested in forestry management and ecotourism. It's perfect. I can totally see him giving guided wilderness tours all over his home province of BC. And going for that rock star option on the side to make a little cash wouldn't hurt either. Very best wishes to him all around.

Life: In my last months in New York, you might say that fate put me on waivers. I got fired twice in one year, hence didn't save enough money to buy a new couch, and lived in an apartment with a view of a brick wall, an oven with a broken pilot light and heat that worked when the landlord decided he wanted to pay for it. So I cleared waivers and went to free agent status. I do miss New York at the holidays, but I wouldn't go back now. I wouldn't go back to crowded trains and long days and no heat on a blustery night like tonight. I wouldn't go back to hauling laundry up three flights of stairs in a little shopping cart, or never making enough money to get ahead. But I wouldn't take back what I did either. Like a winning season that falls short before you win the Cup, it was still worth playing. It's just like waivers....it was just time for something else to claim me. And so it did. And here I am. Right where I belonged all along.

Next up: NHLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement, Article 13, Waivers and Loans of Players to Minor League Clubs. 13.2, Playing Season Waiver Period. 13.3, Re-Entry Waivers. 13.4, Exempt Players.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

One Streak Ends, Another Begins

The game: Portland Winterhawks 4, Brandon Wheat Kings 2. They had their winning streak temporarily snapped on Friday night in Saskatoon, but the Hawks are back.

On the other hand: Sven Bartschi had his point scoring streak snapped with the Brandon Wheat Kings game. But he still leads all rookies in goals, assists and points, and until tonight, his 16-game point streak was the longest by a Portland Winterhawks player since the 1997-1998 season. Which, by the way, was the year we won the Memorial Cup. Coincidence? I think not.

But you really want to meet Portland's secret weapon?: Meet Ty Rattie. Unlike the Moose Jaw Warrior's color commentator, who hadn't really heard of Ty and Sven, you can simply go to whl.ca or nhl.com and get the download on him. He was also on a streak that was snapped a few nights ago, but then he promptly proceeded to come back with four points (2 goals, 2 assists) in a 6-3 win over the Moose Jaw Warriors.

Why am I telling you all this?: Well, one the Portland Winterhawks just completed their annual East Swing road trip with 5 wins and only one loss. They are still #1 in the U.S. Division of the Western Hockey League. Oh, and because Sven and Ty are sitting pretty on top of the preliminary rankings for the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Among all WHL players, Sven is ranked second and Ty is third. Joining them are teammates Joe Morrow (5th) and Tyler Wotherspoon (9th).

Continuing the tradition: The Portland Winterhawks currently have 9 draftees from the 2010 Entry Draft on our active roster, and three who were invited to training camps over the summer (one of whom was signed by the Columbus Blue Jackets). I think it's safe to say that we will hear "[insert team here] is proud to select from the WHL's Portland Winterhawks" more than once in the 2011 draft.

And finally, you can read all about it here: www.oregonlive.com/hawks.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

And They Win Some Again...The Portland Winterhawks, That Is

The game: Portland Winterhawks 8, Prince Albert Raiders 2.

In an odd coincidence: New York Rangers 8, Edmonton Oilers 2. Hat trick for Marian Gaborik, after going scoreless so far this season. Not a good week for the rookies, however: Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall were benched earlier in the week for a poor showing in Carolina. No, I'm not changing my vote for Eberle and the Calder. I'm all in. Period. No exceptions. But that game was some serious ugly.

Meanwhile, back on the Winterhawks' road trip front: The boys roared back late in the first period and kept coming. The only question is who from the Portland Winterhawks didn't score? Maybe the goalie. That's about it. The name to watch: Sven Bartschi. Mark the calendar for the 2011 NHL draft day, my little experts. He's coming your way. I'd wax rhapsodic, but Winterhawks broadcaster Andy Kemper beat me to it. And he said it way better than I could have, so here you go: http://afterthewhistle.wordpress.com/.

In other big scoring difference news: Former Portland Winterhawk Stefan Schneider's new team the Manitoba Moose (AHL) beat the Rochester Americans last night 6 - 2.

And speaking of whatever-HL watch: Former Portland Winterhawk and Springfield Falcons rookie Chris Francis has been loaned to the Fort Wayne Komets in order to get him more playing time. He'll be back. Just you wait.

Alas, if only Gene Simmons hadn't cursed our game in Saskatoon: Our winning streak would be up to 12. Not to worry, plenty of time to start a new one.

And oh, by the way: Pittsburgh continues the mini comeback with a hat trick from Malkin and some stellar goaltending from Marc-Andre Fleury, and a 4-2 win over Atlanta.

Salary Arbitration, Part 12.10, Walk Away Rights for Player-Elected Salary Arbitration.

12.10, a: If a Club has elected to a one-year SPC, and the award issued is for $1,042,173 per annum, then the Club may, within forty-eight hours after the award of the Salary Arbitrator is issued, notify the Player or his Certified Agent, if any, the NHLPA and the NHL in writing, in accordance with Exhibit 3 thereof, that it does not intend to tender to the Player an SPC based on the award as determined by the Salary Arbitrator. Upon receipt of that notice, the Player shall automatically be deemed to be an Unrestricted Free Agent.

Morals of the story:

The game: So, where, exactly, did they come up with the salary per annum amount? Why not just round up to $1,050,000? Or down to $1,000,000? Oh right, because in the NHL one million or less is pocket change. What was I thinking?

Life: It's Sunday night and I find myself suddenly uninspired. Instead, tonight I will follow the fine example of properly media trained hockey players everywhere; I'll keep it simple. If I made that kind of money, I would never go to arbitration. I'd say thank you for finally paying me what I'm worth, take the money and run to the nearest bank. The end. For tonight.

Up next: NHLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement, Article 13,Waivers and Loans of Players to Minor League Clubs.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

They Win Some, They Lose Some

The games: Portland Winterhawks vs. Saskatoon Blades (WHL). Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Pittsburgh Penguins.

The final scores: Saskatoon 4, Portland 3. Pittsburgh 5, Tampa Bay 1.

So we won't be getting fitted for a glass slipper just yet: You can read all about the Portland Winterahawks game here: www.oregonlive.com/hawks. It involves the end of our winning streak, Gene Simmons, Riley Boychuk's rising star continuing to shine, and future NHL draftee Ty Rattie getting back on the scoring train. Bonus question for Portland fans: has Sven Bartschi gone even so much as one game without scoring or assisting? I think not, but feel free to correct me.

Meanwhile back in Pittsburgh, somebody planted a new flower in the garden: In his return from temporary exile, Marc-Andre Fleury racked up his 150th career win, stopped 15 of 16 shots and earned the first star of the night. Also racking up some impressive stats: Sidney Crosby's goal and assist put him three points behind Steven Stamkos' league-leading total. But the action didn't really get started until the second period, when the Pens scored two goals within 27 seconds of one another (thank you, Pascal Dupuis and Alex Goligoski). Back in Stanley Cup form, Max Talbot went top shelf with a nice one in the third. But really, it was all about the flower last night. Welcome back.

Speaking of Crosby: Did you ever notice that the people who rip him for being a whiner are by their actions, whining themselves? Discuss.

And this is why I am now addicted to everything Guy Boucher says and does: When talking about his team last night to NHL.com, he applauded them for giving everything they've got and that's all he can ask for.

Mini bummer alert/the NHL needs to invent better mitts: Honkin' tall French Captain is down with a broken hand. It's the Jordan Staal syndrome. No sooner does Lecavalier get back on track from injuries and a low-scoring season than he goes down again. Therefore, I will think nothing but good thoughts for a speedy recovery and comeback.

Oh right, the rule: NHLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement, Article 12, Salary Arbitration.

12.9, Rules of Procedure, (g) Evidence: This is all about the kinds of evidence that the artibrator can request, including: overall performance and statistics of the player in the previous season; number of games played and injury or illnesses; length of service to the Club; overall contribution to the competitive sucess or failure of the Club in the preceding season; any special qualities of leadership or public appeal not inconsistent with the fulfillment of his reponsibilities as a playing member of his team.

But this is the best part: In the absence of a written agreement, the parties shall, in good faith, take all necessary steps in advance of the start of the hearing to jointly confirm and memorialize the occurrence of any events described in paragraphs (A), (B), and (C) above. The steps shall include, but are not limited to, a conference call by and between representatives of the parties no later than three (3) hours before the hearing begins.

Morals of the story:

The game: So, in other words, if you are a lazy whiner who didn't contribute to points, assists, didn't display good leadership or all around sportsmanship or who isn't well liked by the public, forget it. Why are you even complaining? Also, in good faith they will memorialize the preceding events? Good luck with that .

Life: Corporate America needs salary arbitration. Think of all the senior vice presidents with fancy degrees who would be weeded out when evidence is presented that clearly proves they faked it until they made it to the top. Or all the hard working middle managers who suddenly climb the ladder because the company figures out that they are, in fact, the ones running the show. It boggles the mind.

Up next: Article 12.10, Walk-Away Rights for Player-Elected Salary Arbitration.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Winning Streaks and Barbecues and Comebacks, Oh My!

Going streaking: The Portland Winterhawks extend their winning streak to 10 games behind game tying and a game winning OT goal from Brad Ross. They also scored the first and second goals of the 5-4 game against the Regina Pats.

It's easy to see how they bred Jordan Eberle and Carter Ashton: The Regina Pats must eat a completely different brand of Wheaties than everyone else. Because I must admit, they do kick ass.

You can read all about it here: www.oregonlive.com/hawks. And have a giggle at my expense: last night as of 10 pm or so, the OT goal on whl.ca was credited to Ryan Johansen. Nice...ah well, I knew it would happen sooner or later.

Maybe the Pens can borrow Guy Boucher and his sports psychology master's degree for a few games: Boston Bruins 7, Pittsburgh Penguins 4. Five of Boston's goals were scored in the third period. If I hadn't been listening to the Hawks extend their winning streak to 10 games, I would have had to turn the NHL game off. Because it truly was physically painful. I love the Pens and I will never officially give up on them. Ever. But dudes, could you pace yourselves on the losing games? I'm already trying to keep the gray hair and wrinkles and other signs of aging at bay.

Now, normally I'd be like what the heck?: But since they are the future home of Portland Winterhawk and Number 4 overall draft pick Ryan Johansen, kudos to Columbus for barbecuing St. Louis 8 - 1. On the the other hand, the Blues are the future home of Winterhawk Captain Brett Ponich, so if this happens in future, it will be a major dilemma pour moi.

NHL Draftee to watch: Riley Boychuk, drafted 208th in the 2010 Entry Draft after missing last year's draft due to injury and subsequent surgery. He's on the upswing with a capital U, he scored the game tying goal against Regina tonight and I do believe he meets the Buffalo Sabres' minimum height requirement (which is what, like, 8 feet tall in skates?). Ok, he's really 6'5", and also...when he's not scoring, nobody gets in your face like Riley. I don't know why opponents even bother. He could eat you for breakfast. Don't even try it.

Morals of the story:

A year ago, the Portland Winterhawks were just another losing team on the comeback trail. This year, we are #1 in the WHL, #1 in our Division, #2 in the CHL and the winning streak continues as the boys hit the road tonight for Saskatoon. Nino is back. Ryan is back. Fans are starting to come back. It's a good time to be a hockey fan in Portland. Meanwhile the team that may one day employ prospect and Winterhawk Taylor Peters is out there somewhere, not sleeping, not happy and not winning. Evgeni Malkin alone is his own hard act to follow. Throw a flu bug and Jordan Staal's injury in there, and there goes the comeback neighborhood. But here's the deal, and I know 'cause I've done it myself: 1) The one advantage of losing is there's nowhere to go but up. 2) Losing in the NHL isn't totally losing. Of the 210 players drafted each year, only a portion are fortunate enough to go on to major league careers. 3) The only way to learn how to rally is to live through it and to do it.

So here's my evil plan for a Pittsburgh Penguins comeback. And I didn't even have to earn a master's degree in sports psychology and get a bad ass scar on my face: pond hockey. Forget about rankings and cliches and off-day press scrums. I say freeze over Mario Lemieux's pool, slap on some mismatched gear and get out there. If possible, get your moms to come over and drag you out of bed and drive you there. Anything that reminds you of why you did this in the first place and why you love it. What do you have to lose? Oh right. Nothing.

Next up: Checking to see if my evil plan worked and the next section of Article 12, Salary Arbitration.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Heads or Tails?

The games: Tampa vs. Toronto, Anaheim vs. San Jose, Portland Winterhawks vs. Swift Current Broncos (WHL).

The scores: Tampa 4, Toronto 0. Three of those goals were scored in the first period, two of which were scored within 29 seconds of one another. So the evil Boucher "don't mess with me I have a bad ass mystery scar AND a master's degree in messing with players' heads" plan is working. I like it. Carry on.

Anaheim 2, San Jose 1 end of second period.

Portland 4, Swift Current 2.

On the other hand: In another couple of years, I must be pro Toronto all the time, because Portland Winterhawk Brad Ross will be playing for them. I've even purchased a Toronto Maple Leafs Christmas stocking in preparation.

Repeat performance: On Saturday night, Ryan Johansen topped off the Winterhawks' scoring with an empty netter that helped us beat the Everett Silvertips 4 - 2. He scored two goals tonight, and the second was an exact duplicate of the Everett game: an empty netter that resulted in the same final score.

The rule: NHLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement. Article 12, Section 12.7, Scheduling.

If you thought the NHL was a highly organized, professional, impeccably marketed, global sports marketing and sales empire that runs like clockwork with the help of Stanley Cup champions, Harvard-educated lawyers and Wharton MBAs: Forget that. 12.7 (c) After the NHL and NHLPA have compiled the Player List, salary arbitrations shall be scheduled as follows:

(i) The NHL and NHLPA shall flip a coin to determine which party shall begin the process set forth in subsection (ii) below.

(ii) The party winning the coin flip set forth in subsection (i) above shall select a Player from the Player List and shall assign such Player to a particular Salary Arbitrator on one of such Salary Arbitrator's available dates, as indicated in the Salary Arbitration Calendar.

Morals of the story:

The game: No, that's not a typo. Salary arbitration is one of the most contentious, costly and time-consuming activities in this agreement and the scheduling and selection of the top notch grade A individual who is going to decide your financial worth and fate is at the mercy of a coin toss. If I'd known working for the NHL didn't require a degree in sports marketing, I would have applied for my dream job years ago.

Life: What if your fate in life was decided by a coin toss, and you had no control over it whatsover? Would you be relieved because you weren't responsible for the outcome? Glad that someone else decided for you, instead of making your own stupid choices? Disappointed because it wasn't what you wanted, dreamed, or hoped? There is a part of me that wishes I didn't have to choose between one fate and another in life, or that I had the kind of talent where only one fate awaited me in life. But alas, I was left to my own devices. Some of that was good, some of it was utterly forgettable, a lot of it was memorable and some of it was just plain stupid. But in the end, if I'd taken any other road, I wouldn't be here. And for right now, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.

Next up: NHLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement. Article 12, Salary Arbitration. 12.9, Rules of Procedure.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Because the 4th Overall Pick Is, After All, the Coolest Teenager in the World.

The game: Portland Winterhawks 3, Red Deer 2. Portland Winterhawks 4, Everett Silvertips 2. Squeakers all around, thanks to NHL Draftees Taylor Aronson (OT goal in the Red Deer game) and Brad Ross/Ryan Johansen/Nino Niederreiter (Brad got the game winner against Everett, Nino and Ryan helped and then Ryan topped it off with an empty netter).

As for that headline: The Everett game was stopped about 2 minutes in when two Silvertips players collided with each other on open ice. Medical personnel were called to the scene once it was clear he wasn't getting up or moving a whole lot. To ensure that one of them didn't fall while walking across the ice, Ryan skated over and took his arm to escort him out to the scene. If you've seen the post over on oregonlive, forgive me for duplicating with the audience here: behind the great playmaking is a great player. Get ready Columbus, it won't be long before you see what I'm talking about.

Road trip: Here in Portland, darkness is coming early due to the end of daylight savings time, coupled with rain and two weeks without any home games. While life on the home front is admittedly dreary, somewhere out there rolling down I-5, is a gaggle of young hockey players heading to Canada for a 3000+ mile road trip and all the adventure that comes with it. The Winterhawks sparkle on the road, and they head out on an eight-game winning streak. The recent return of Nino Niederreiter just puts the cherry on top of the whole thing. Times like these only come once, and one would hope that in ten years when they are still plenty young and off in the NHL or wherever fate leads them that they remember well what Portland taught them. I have had the pleasure of meeting most of them, and I know that they will.

That took long enough: Pittsburgh beat Phoenix last night in a shootout. Doing the game winning goal honors was Mark Letestu. A small glimmer of hope in a not terribly hopeful road trip. Here's my theory: one of the great things about the Penguins is that they play, lose and fight as a team. Sidney Crosby's generosity on and off the ice is well documented and rarely disputed. But the side effect of playing like one person is that when one or two players are sidelined, it's like all of them are. With Jordan Staal's injury, the team was dealt another blow just before leaving for a road trip. They had no time to absorb it or deal with it. Just get on the plane and good luck. That's no excuse for the middling play that marred their recent games, but it was cause for reflection on tonight's morals of the story.

But first, the rule: NHLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement, Article 12, Salary Arbitration.

12.3, Eligibility for Club-Elected Salary Arbitration: If a player has a Paragraph 1 NHL Salaries plus Signing, Roster and Reporting Bonuses Greater than $1,500,000 in the Prior League Year, the Club may elect salary arbitration for said salaries, etc in lieu of making an offer for the upcoming League Year. And if it goes to arbitration, the arbitrator may not award less than 85% of the Player's salaries, bonuses, etc, in the final League Year of his most recent SPC.

Morals of the story:

The game: When you make between eight and oh, say, $10 million a year, is 85 percent really so bad?

Life: This rule is all about what a player is worth to his employer. Ryan Johansen and his teammate Nino Niederreiter are worth just under one million dollars to their respective NHL teams. But back here, we don't place a dollar value on them and when they have moved on to their well-deserved professional careers, no amount of money could compensate for their loss. Jordan Staal's value to the Pens goes beyond his salary: it's key to the heart of the team.

Which brings me to this: why is it that we determine our worth in life by material worth? Generations before us survived the great depression, but we flip out if we can't own the latest iPhone-like gadget or a bank won't float a loan anymore for that McMansion we can't really afford. Material worth is important when it comes to salary, since that is how an employer demonstrates your value to them and how we pay the rent. But it's what they do with it that causes some people to lose the plot. Nobody needs expensive cell phones, a pimped up ride with all the bells and whistles or radiant heat on their floors to show others how important they are.

Therefore: I propose that Club Elected salary arbitration be allowed in every Fortune 500 company in America, so all those VPs who got to the corner office on a wing and a prayer can be put in their places every now and again. Only in my book, I wouldn't be as generous as 85 percent. I'd go for, oh...I don't know....say...fifteen percent, tops. Any sum that would require said individuals to sell the Jag, the McMansion and rent a small house within their actual budgetary means will do. If it works for the NHL, then it should work for everyone else.

Up next: Finding something to do with the next two weeks of my life while the Hawks hit the road. And 12.7, Scheduling.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

When In Doubt, Follow the Lead of the 4th Overall Pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.

The game: LA vs. Tampa Bay.

Why I chose it: This time, it's honkin' tall French Captain and Slovenian alternate Captain staring each other down the barrel of a hockey gun. Plus, Guy Boucher looks like he's going to eat a Ref for dinner, if Steve Downie doesn't beat him to it.

I'm following Ryan Johansen's lead: When his mom told me where he got his ambition and drive for success, she told me simply that growing up he was "always, always, always" about hockey.

I'm following his fine example this weekend as I indulge in the last of a 6-game homestand before the Hawks hit the road: www.oregonlive.com/hawks. On tap this weekend is a game between the Portland Winterhawks (#1 in the U.S. Division) and the Red Deer Rebels (owned by Brent Sutter, #2 in the Central Division). Followed on Saturday by a matchup with the Everett Silvertips. Stay tuned.

When I'm not doing that, we'll get back to topic with: Article 12, Salary Arbitration. 12.3, Eligibility for Club-Elected Salary Arbitration.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Go Ahead, Whine About Your Multimillion Dollar Salary..the NHL Dares You.

The games: Anaheim vs. Tampa Bay. Dallas vs. Pittsburgh.

Why I chose them: It's Honkin' Tall French Captain and cutie pie Swiss goalie staring each other down the barrel of a hockey gun. Why not watch it?

An evil comeback plan has been hatched in Tampa: And I like it. And did you notice that the combination of holding a master's degree in sports pychology and having an unexplained scar on his face just makes Guy Boucher more of an evil genius that other NHL teams should fear? Discuss.

Ok, that's it, the Pens are officially annoying me: I know Staal's down and all, but really, get it together dudes. I just grew a new gray hair. Scratch that, I'm pretty sure I'm up to three. Stop, already. On the other hand: No sooner did Dallas Captain and former Portland Winterhawks Brenden Morrow drop the mitts than Sidney Crosby followed suit. And Crosby does not screw around when he goes at it. He just starts and doesn't stop until the other guy goes down. They may be losing the game, but damn sure he's not gonna lose the fight.

It's going to be a long, quiet flight to the next gig: With 14 minutes to go, it's Dallas 5, Pittsburgh 1.

The rule: NHLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement, Article 12, Salary Arbitration.

12.1 (a) A player is eligible for salary arbitration if the Player meets the qualifications set forth in the following chart and in Section 12.1 below: Players who are 18 - 20 must have 4 years of professional experience. Players who are 21 years of age must have 3 years of professional experience. Players ages 22 - 23 must have 2 years of professional experience. Players 24 and older must have one year of professional experience. "Professional experience" qualifies as 10
games or more in a given season.

Morals of the story:

The game: So why is it then, that the players who need more experience to qualify for salary arbitration are the ones least likely to get it and the ones who need less will have easily qualified? Oh. Wait a minute. Ok. I get it. In other aspects of life, I believe we call it seniority.

Life: I grew up in old fashioned household, where elders were respected and if you were young and stepped out of line, somebody was there to remind you that you didn't know diddly and that my grandparents walked 7 miles uphill in the snow with the dog just to get to the little two-room schoolhouse with no heat and a teacher who rapped your knuckles with a ruler if you misbehaved, so I could just suck whatever it was I was whining about right up. That's kind of what this rule is. The younger and sassier you are, the less chance you have to complain that the $50 million deal plus bonuses and quality time on ice just isn't quite cutting it. Works for me.

Next up: Article 12, Salary Arbitration. 12.3, Eligibility for Club-Elected Salary Arbitration.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Back to NHL Topic 11.15

The game: New Jersey vs. Vancouver.

Why I chose it: It's Olympians Brodeur and Luongo at opposite ends of the rink. What other reason do you need?

In my case the other reason is Zach Parise: But mini bummer alert...he's down with a knee injury.

Alas it's not the luckiest of weeks for NHL superstars, therefore: I'm giving the Pens a break. Jordan Staal, mere days before his anticipated return from a gruesome foot infection, is now out with a broken hand. Talk about a bad break...quite literally and otherwise. On the other hand the team has several league leaders in hits, points and goals-against-average, and is known for stepping up when one of their own goes down. All the more reason to wish them well and mark the calendar for Staal's triumphant return later this season.

And I'm not the only fan of Portland Winterhawk Ian Curtis: oregonlive.com has been kind enough to welcome me into the community blog space that I now share with Dylan Bumbarger. Dylan's posted a really cool piece about Ian's contribution to the Winterhawks while he played out here: http://tinyurl.com/26e7kpr.

The New Year's Eve game to which Dylan refers is my favorite local sports moment ever. And it's definitely in my top three sports moments of all time. Period. No exceptions. We will be watching and waiting to see where Ian lands. If it doesn't involve an organization whose name ends in HL, maybe it's all just a sign...like say, he should go be a rock star (see previous entry).

Ok, I guess I'll try to understand the CBA, seeing as how I don't have anything else to do tonight: 11.15, Default. If a Club defaults in the payment of any compensation to the Player provided for in his SPC or fails to perform any other obligation under his SPC, the Player may, by notice in writing to the Club and to the League and the NHLPA, specify the nature of any and all defaults and thereafter: I didn't quite get all the "thereafters" but as far as I can tell, if the Club and the League can't figure out how to pay you because they agreed to pay you some huge amount of money like...say...$100 million over several decades...and it didn't quite go according to plan because they couldn't put butts in seats and make back the money...you're screwed.

Morals of the story:

The game: Just because they're supposed to pay you more money than God on paper, doesn't mean they will. Get an entourage my little rookies, and include in it an accountant, a lawyer and another lawyer in case the first one turns out to be an asshole. You'll thank me later.

Life: This rule is proof that even huge, organized, professional sports in America can get in over their heads financially and default on basic things like player salaries. But this is America, after all, where we can just vote to have Congress bail us out of our next big mistake that we won't have to worry about because it will be paid off by several future generations to come. Forget the default rule. In life, we need the almost default rule, in which our bank machine goes off like a car alarm if we even attempt to go up and withdraw a cash amount that leaves us with just enough to get to the next paycheck. And if we try to use a credit card because we don't have enough to cover it with cash, a huge crane should just fall out of the sky no matter where we are and snatch it right out of our hands.

Next up: Article 12, Salary Arbitration.