Thursday, December 30, 2010

What falls down must go back up

Well, at least they were consistent: Wednesday the Portland Winterhawks fell to the Tri-City Americans for the second night in a row, and the score was the same both nights (Ams 5, Portland 1). Omen, coincidence, or a sign that my hex on Tri-Cities didn't work? Discuss.

I know the streak had to end sometime, but did it have to be right before the Winter Classic to this team?: The New York Islanders snapped Sidney Crosby's point streak at 25 games. And they didn't stop there. They beat the Pens 2 - 1 in a shootout, where they put the cherry on their sundae by denying boy wonder on his shot. Well, it is Sidney Crosby, after all. I guess it's only natural that when he does lose, he does it all the way, the same as when he wins. I don't think I'm as upset at the loss as I am that it was to a team that pretty much everyone in the NHL can beat right now.

Maybe he should just change his name to Brendan: Spencer Bennett and Teal Burns -- both traded to the Vancouver Giants in the Craig Cunningham blockbuster deal -- are expected to get more ice time, and Spencer is expected to play on the first line with Brendan Rowinski and Brendan Gallagher.

World Junior Hockey update: In the "just like life, hockey isn't fair" department, Jaden Schwartz has suffered a tournament-ending ankle injury, on top of his sister's well-publicized battle with cancer. To add to the indignities that nonetheless don't seem to be stopping Team Canada, after a stunning five-point night against Norway, Brayden Schenn somehow was not named player of the game, an honor that went instead to Erik Gudbranson. One bright spot: Sven Bartschi and Nino Niederreiter scored in Switzerland's game against Slovakia. And Ryan Johansen nabbed two assistsin Team Canada's victory over Norway.

Meanwhile, across the border at the U-17 World Challenge: Portland Winterhawks Derrick Pouliot and Brendan Leipsic have been named Captain and Alternate Captain of Team West.

The rule: Article 15, Training Camp; Travel Expenses.

Aha! This is why you always read about players' individual off-season training regimens: 15.9, Conditioning Camp. In each off-season, a Club may hold one conditioning camp for Unsigned Draft Choices and any Player in the Entry Level System with less than 120 NHL games played. Such Conditioning Camps may not last longer than 7 days. The Club must pay for all expenses of the Players attending the Conditioning Camp including, without limitation, airfare, lodging and meals. 15.10 No conditioning camp. Other than the Conditioning Camp described in Section 15.9, a Club is prohibited from organizing or holding any mandatory or voluntary camp in the off-season for any Players.

Morals of the story:

The game: So, this is the NHL's way of saying to players "keeping your butt in gear and in shape is your responsibility. And if you come back to training camp bloated and winded and whining, we'll assign you to the lowest of the low minor league teams in our system until you stop. Good luck and have a great summer!"

Life: Life is kinda one giant "no conditioning camp" isn't it? Even if you did sports in high school, college or professionally, sooner or later that's going to end and you're on your own to stay in shape, eat right, sleep 8 hours and all that. And it only takes a quick look around you on your morning commute, in the cubicles at work, or in line at Safeway to realize that most people don't do it on their own. They don't even try. Which is why we should have a mandated conditioning camp law for all individuals over 18, in which we are required to eat from the four food groups, do at least 30 minutes of cardio every day and avoid any indulgences, like the extra beer at the hockey game or that extra cookie after lunch, in order to qualify for basic necessities like a driver's license, a mortgage or a car loan. If you want to live like an adult, then you have to live it to the fullest with no excuses. Brilliant, if I do say so myself.

And finally: This weekend, I'll count down the top hockey moments of the year. But first, we have to get there alive and kicking. Therefore: There's nowhere to go but up. Portland Winterhawks game vs. Seattle Thunderbirds on New Year's Eve = excellent time to restart a winning streak. Winter Classic = perfect chance for Sidney Crosby to restart another point streak. World Juniors = excellent chance for Nino, Ryan and Sven to keep scoring and winning medals and what not.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Look out Vancouver Giants, here come 2 of the Winterhawks

The news: In one of the biggest trades they've pulled off since acquiring Luca Sbisa last winter, the Portland Winterhawks have acquired Vancouver Giants' Captain Craig Cunningham. He won the Memorial Cup in his rookie season with the Giants (2007) and he was the WHL Western Conference player of the year last season, when he racked up a total of 97 points (37 goals, 60 goals, and that was just in the regular season). Oh, and he was drafted in the fourth round of the 2010 Entry Draft by the Boston Bruins.

But it came at a high price: In the trade Portland has lost Spencer Bennett and Teal Burns and several future draft picks. I'm as excited as the next person to see Cunningham on our ice tonight, but it has come at the price of losing one of my favorite players. Spencer -- a Calgary Flames prospect -- is on fire this season, and he's a masterful penalty killer. He's also one of my favorite people and a natural leader. Spencer will not be forgotten in Portland, where he scored the 2009 Teddy Bear Goal and assisted on the very best goal ever scored on Portland's ice:

Last year, in the Dash for Cash we were down by one point with less than 2 seconds to go in the third and pretty much on our way to losing to Seattle. After a stoppage in play, Mike Johnston convinced the ref to put a second or so back on the clock and we went to a face-off in front of the Seattle net. People had already begun leaving, assuming the game was a foregone conclusion. And it was. Until Spencer tipped the face off to Chris Francis, who parked a shot in the Seattle net in time to tie the game. It was a hat trick for Chris, who went on to top it off with the shootout winner. Most people think of Chris when they think of that goal, but I always remember Spencer too. Portland has gained a great player today, but we have also lost one. Very, very best wishes to Spencer, who I'm sure will bring to the Vancouver Giants everything and more that he brought to the Winterhawks.

Woohoo! alert: The Winterhawks have been busy since returning from the holiday break. Today, Taylor Aronson signed a three-year deal with the Nashville Predators. Happy New Year to him and his family. By signing an entry level deal he will make more money than I've ever made in a year in my lifetime. It boggles the mind. But like all the Winterhawks who are getting drafted, signed, prospected, etc. Taylor deserves all of the good fortune that has and will come his way.

What, no goals?: After scoring what turned out to be the game winner against Russia in the World Juniors, Ryan Johansen loaned an assist tonight to Team Canada's first goal by Brayden Schenn, as they beat the Czech team 7 -2. But this too, came with a price tag: Zach Kassian, Ryan's linemate, was ejected for a controversial hit on Petr Senkerik that sent the latter away on a stretcher, and Ryan's roommate Calvin DeHaan and Jaden Schwartz both left with injuries.

But minor bummer alert: Finland cooked Switzerland 4 - 0 in the World Juniors, and Nino Niederreiter only managed three shots and was a minus-1. They must not have provided him with an ample supply of chocolate. I'm telling you, just give him a little Swiss chocolate truffle and all will be well. He doesn't even need to see it. Just tell him about it. He got all excited when I merely mentioned during an interview that we have a Swiss chocolate store here in Portland. Trust me...chocolate = goals.

And with that, I'm off to watch our new acquisition take the ice in a game against Tri-Cities. Back to the rules tomorrow. And to repeat: very, very best wishes to Spencer and Teal.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Look out World Juniors, here come the Winterhawks

The game: Team Canada vs. Russia (World Juniors). Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Ottawa Senators. Anaheim Ducks vs. Los Angeles Kings. Edmonton Oilers vs. Vancouver Canucks.

Why: Because Ryan Johansen is going to break out for Team Canada. Because it's the Pens vs. the Sens and Sergei Gonchar faces off against his former teammates. Because Anze Kopitar is a good enough excuse all by himself. Because it's Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall facing off against the Sedins.

It's totally unpatriotic of me, but here's the deal: The Portland Winterhawks regrettably have no players on Team USA in the World Juniors, Therefore, I'm all in for Team Canada and Team Switzerland. Now, technically I'm being patriotic because Ryan Johansen and Sven Bartschi and Nino Niederreiter (Team Switzerland) play here in the United States. Therefore, I can shamelessly root for their teams. There. I said it. Now I feel better.

Of course, they probably don't need my help, but still: Nino has been named Captain of Team Switzerland and he scored one of Switzerland's four goals in this morning's game against Germany. Sven hasn't scored yet, but just wait. He's known for late-blooming heroics.

Since he's going to break out, could the NHL please spell his name right?: did a feature on Sven, which is fabulous. Except for the part where they spelled his name Baertschi.

The rule: Article 15, Training Camp; Travel Expenses.

We definitely need this rule at my office: 15.3(e): During the first five days of Training Camp, no player shall participate in more than three hours of practice per day, including on and off-ice practice, and there shall be no more than one practice session per day except, however, that the first day of Training Camp may last up to five hours, for the purposes of photographs, medical examinations, and/or off-ice testing only and, on Exhibition Game days, the three-hour rule shall not apply to Players playing in the Exhibition Game. If a Club wants to operate more than 5 hours on the first day, a request must be submitted to the NHL and NHLPA before July 1.

And we definitely should change our sick and medical leave policy to something like this: 15.6: Any Player who is injured during Training Camp and who has qualified during the preceding season, including Playoffs, for at least 50 games credit for the purposes of the Pension Plan or is on a one-way SPC, shall receive his Paragraph 1 NHL Salary and Signing Bonus until he receives appropriate medical clearance. All other Players shall be paid a daily rate until they receive appropriate medical clearance.

Morals of the story:

The game: I hope there's a rule somewhere that says teams can hold longer practices during the regular season. Because one would hope that teams like the Washington Capitals or Toronto Maple Leafs might want to hold extra ice time to get their team's butts in gears. As well they should be allowed to.

Life: Obviously, we need the NHL's rules for Corporate America, where we have to show up bleeding out one eyeball before we're allowed to go on the equivalent of injured reserve. And where we live to work, which serves no one's best interests. True, America innovates and produces a lot of important technology and medical advancements and what not. But one thing we don't produce is well-rested, happy individuals who aren't caught up in the rat race. For that, we definitely need better rules. Like one for the co-workers who take days off, but not really because they still ping everybody on their mobile devices out of a sad need to show other people how important they are. For that, there should be a rule that if you take a vacation day and attempt to ping co-workers to add to their workload instead of giving them a day to catch up whilst you are out, they should have the right to ignore your calls. In fact, if you're someone who's that sad and desperate to get attention and approval, they should have the right to ignore you altogether.

Next up: Onward with Article 16, League Schedule; Playing Rosters; Reserve Lists; Practice Sessions.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

It's the mother of all NHL game days

The game: Washington Capitals vs. Pittsburgh Penguins in the only match-up before the Winter Classic.

Why I chose it: Ummm.....let me see....oh right.....DUH.

I'm so glad my employer's offices are closed today: The NHL Network is broadcasting an all Caps, Pens, Crosby, Ovechkin fest, complete with Winter Classic promos, a replay of the matching hat trick semi-final game from 2009 and Sidney Crosby Reebok ads.

And you thought holidays with the crazy relatives was bad: I read a tidbit on TSN that Ryan Johansen's family is traveling from Vancouver to Buffalo at 8 am on Christmas morning to watch Ryan play for Team Canada at the World Juniors. Ryan told TSN his little brother is probably going to be a little pissed. So, note to Ryan's little brother: In a few years, the older bro is going to be in the NHL, and making an NHL salary along with Gatorade promotions and what not. So all future Christmas presents are gonna be way better....ya' know, like sports cars and big TVs and stuff. Besides, I know your brother and he's one of my favorite people in the world. And I know that if the shoe was on the other foot, he'd do the same for you.

So, to keep track: The Portland Winterhawks have three players at the World Juniors (Ryan, Nino Niederreiter, Sven Bartschi), two at the Under-17 World Challenge (Derrick Pouliot, Brendan Leipsic) and four who will be trekking to the CHL Prospects Game in January (Sven Bartschi, Ty Rattie, Tyler Wotherspoon, Joe Morrow).

At last, I'm in the holiday spirit: Skating with Santa, Winterhawks on the loose at tourneys and prospects games, Pens and Caps preview. Happy holidays, indeed.

The rule: NHLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement. Article 15, Training Camp; Travel Expenses.

15.3(c)/of course there's a rule for this. It's hockey, after all: No more than 9 exhibition games shall be scheduled by each Club during said period each season, except that this subsection shall not be applicable with respect to any game provided for in Article 24 hereof.

Proof that veteran doesn't equal "old": A Club shall be permitted to dress a minimum of 8 veterans for any Exhibition Game. For purposes of this section, a veteran shall constitute either: (1) a forward or defenseman who played in 30 NHL Games during the previous season, (2) a goaltender who either dressed in 50 or more NHL games or played in 30 or more NHL games in the previous season, (3) a first-round draft choice from the most recent year's NHL Entry Draft or (4) any Player who has played 100 or more career NHL games.

Morals of the story:

The game: So technically, Nino Niederreiter -- who was 17 at the time he went to the New York Islanders training camp -- qualifies as a veteran because he was a first-round draft choice from this year's NHL Entry Draft.

Life: I love it. The minute you're drafted, you're already a veteran. How like life hockey is. The minute you're born, you start getting older and every minute that passes in life is one you don't get back. And the magic number is 30: you reach this age in life, and you're considered a "veteran," just like hockey. Which is hilarious, because once you cross the 40 mark, you realize that 30 isn't old at all. And to those of you haven't reached either milestone: trust me when I say life starts at 40. Because if you make it that far, it's like "bring it on. I made it this far. What else 'ya got for me." I didn't get it until I got there myself. And now I understand: 40 is just the beginning.

Next up: Article 15, Training Camp; Travel Expenses. 15.6 and 15.7, which deal with injured reserve and renting or purchasing a home.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Travel expenses for skating with Santa: $0.

The games: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning vs. New York Islanders.

Why I chose them: It's the warm up for the last Washingvton vs. Pittsburgh game before the Winter Classic. It's the honkin' tall French captain and flamin' hot French coach versus Nino Niederreiter's future employers. Yummy, yummy, yummy.

The distraction: The second episode of 24/7, in which the Pittsburgh Penguins go on a 2-game mini losing streak and the Capitals win, at last. But I still think Rhys Adams and Max Rupp need their own spin-off show. The only thing more entertaining than the players are the little toddlers who call them dad.

Final scores: Pittsburgh 5, Florida 2. Ben Lovejoy scored his first NHL goal. Pascal Dupuis sealed the deal with an empty netter. Islanders 2, Tampa Bay 1 in OT, thanks to John Tavares' late-in-the-OT game winner.

Be afraid. Be very afraid: I'm getting into the holiday spirit tomorrow by skating with Santa at the new Winterhawks Skating Center. Look for a headline on oregonlive to read "Portland Winterhawks blogger injured in unfortunate Santa accident."

The rule: NHLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement. Article 15, Training Camp, Travel Expenses.

15.1, in a nutshell: Travel expenses for the player and his family shall be paid for by the Club, to cover their travel from their summer residence to the Club city for training camp, and back to their summer residence at the end of the season. This is based on returning to and living in their summer residence for a minimum of two months. And lest you should think players fly first class when not on the team's cushy charter jets, think again. The airfare that's covered is economy.

What, no compensation for snacks?: 15.2: All players attending Training Camp shall be paid the same per diem allowance provided in Section 19 (a), and shall receive lodging provided by the Club during the period of their attendance at Training Camp. Clubs have the option to provide breakfast and/or lunch during Training Camp. If they do, the following gets deducted from the player's per diem: $12 for breakfast, and $15 for lunch. So, I guess the difference left over is for snacks and dinner.

Morals of the story:

The game: I think I get it. This is the consequence of those gazillion dollar, multi-year player deals. There's no money left over for first class airfare and snacks and what not.

Life: In all the years I lived in New York, I never did the summer house thing. We had summer hours in my offices, but I never talked endlessly on my cell phone on a Friday afternoon ride on the Hamptons Jitney. I never had an affair with a lifeguard who'd barely graduated from high school. I somehow ended up in the city on 4th of July weekend, when everyone else vacated. My "summer residence" was my little room on the Upper West Side. And those were some of the best summers of my life. No free airfare and snacks, no wine-soaked weekends at some plush beach house. Just me and the other diehards sticking it out. It was a lot like Portland Winterhawks' Sunday games at the Memorial Coliseum, notorious for being the black hole of game attendance. Games in the dead of winter on Sunday, against an ok team, boast fewer than 3,000 fans in the stands. But I love it. I love being part of the small but mighty band of fans who stand fast and stay until the end. I prefer to think of it as being an exclusive event that only a few select people enjoyed. And seemingly unimportant though those games may seem to most people, they are just as important as a Saturday night Teddy Bear Toss at the Rose Garden. If you live in Portland, feel free to join us. After all...the more, the merrier.

Next up: The second half of Article 15, Travel Expenses: Training Camp.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Does rent at the Plaza Hotel qualify as a reasonable moving expense?

The game: Phoenix Coyotes vs. Pittsburgh Penguins.

So, that little mini-2 game losing streak is over and they are back: Pittsburgh 6, Phoenix 1.

They are really, really back: Pittsburgh killed all 6 of Phoenix's power plays.

And he is most definitely back: On the comeback trail from a knee injury, Evgeni Malkin already scored the team's only two goals in the game against the Flyers. Tonight, he racked up 5 points (2 goals and three assists). Are you sure there isn't some rule hiding somewhere in the NHL archives that once classified three assists as a hat trick of some sort? Discuss.

Ladies and gentlemen, presenting the real stars of 24/7 Road to the Winter Classic: Little Rhys Adams, Craig Adams' son, who can be seen for about two seconds at the Christmas party in his Team Canada jersey declaring "I'm gonna go on the ice!" Or how about Pascal Dupuis' family unit, or little Max Rupp? Forget the players, they're just here to fill space for the other 58 minutes. The kiddies own this one. But the prank where Ben Lovejoy and Mark Letestu return to find their hotel room emptied of all its contents was pretty choice too. I love the part where they declare they're going to find out who did it, and do abosolutely nothing about it.

But if you're pausing the 24/7 DVR to watch the Crosby show: He's extended his streak to 21 games with one goal and two assists. He and Malkin are the two-headed monster, indeed.

Good news/bad news from the World Juniors: Sven Bartschi and Nino Niederreiter are on Switzerland's roster. On the other hand, Team Canada just routed Switzerland in pre-tournament action 8 - 0. For those just joining the fray, Nino, Sven and Team Canada's Ryan Johansen all play for the Portland Winterhawks, and Nino and Ryan are linemates. Routing and all, I'm still in for Sven as this year's World Junior breakout star.

Now, on with the rule: Article 14, Player Assignments.

14.2, Moving Expenses: The reasonable moving expenses incurred by a Player who is assigned during the playing season by one Club to another Club and moves to the area where it is located shall be paid by the Club to which the Player was assigned. This doesn't hold if the player delays moving his family. In that case, costs for him are not paid by the Club, but costs for moving his family are. If the assignment of a Player happens in the off-season, his expenses shall be paid by the Club to which he was assigned, if he maintained a year-round home in the city from which he was assigned, and moves during the playing season from the previous Club's city to the new one. If the player is traded, he gets a hotel room and rental car paid for 21 days while he looks for new digs. Or just moves into the Waldorf-Astoria permanently, which apparently some of them do.

Morals of the story:

The game: I rather like this rule. When I was little, I always thought it would be quite glamorous living in a hotel instead of a house. Provided of course that hotel was The Plaza and I could eat tea and scones every afternoon and have adventures like Eloise, who lived in the "room on the tippy-top floor" with her dog Weenie.

Life: I think there was a part of my grown up self that thought I would have Eloise-esque adventures when I got to New York, and I'd spend my afternoons lounging at the Plaza whilst the world whizzed by outside. Perhaps I should have plotted out a career as a hockey player, because that particular reality never materialized. The only time I set foot in the Plaza was for a business meeting in which I spilled that fancy tea and clotted cream all down the front of my expensive Brooks Brothers suit, and that cream spot never came all the way out at the dry cleaners. Oh, and there's the classic time I thought I'd go there for lunch on my birthday and I woke up late and missed my reservation and I ended up going somewhere else instead and getting drunk on pink champagne, and wandering around the Disney store on 5th avenue asking the salespeople where they were hiding the adult-sized Winnie the Pooh slippers with the little nightlight/headlamp thingy on the front of them. And as if that wasn't disappointing enough, to top it off, I never owned a dog named Weenie either. Alas, no Plaza tippy top rooms, no wiener dogs, no slippers. But I still wouldn't take it all back. After all, if none of that never happened, what would I have to write about?

Next up: Article 15, Training Camp: Travel Expenses.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Speaking of Sven Bartschi, let's meet him too

His team: Portland Winterhawks (WHL).

Position: Left wing, usually on a line with Ty Rattie and Teal Burns, Ryan or Brendan Leipsic.

Hometown: Langenthal, Switzerland.

But he seems much older: Age: 18.

Small but mighty: Height: 5'10".

Maybe it's all that Swiss chocolate he and Nino eat: He leads the team in goals and points. Goals - 21, the most recent of which was the game winner in his last game before he left for Team Switzerland's World Junior training camp. Points - 47. Trailing just behind him is linemate Ty Rattie with 46. In the pre-season, Sven scored 4 goals in a 6 - 2 victory over the Kootenay Ice. Last I saw, he was also leading all WHL rookies in points.

How do you pronounce that again?: Among the numerous mispronunciations of Sven's last name by the announcers at away games: Bar-chi, Barch and Sven's favorite, Bart-ski. For the record: it's Bear-Chee, with a little rolling R like arrivaderci.

He's a little psychic genius too: Last weekend, he correctly predicted that Ty Rattie would get the teddy bear goal in our teddy bear toss because, and I quote, "I can feel it." So naturally, he helped out a little by telling Ty when the big moment came around, "you have to score right now" and then promptly proceeding to assist on the goal. How did he know? "Because that's always how it is with big moments like this."

No cliches allowed: The thing I love best about Sven is that when you interview him, he is a treasure trove of non-cliched, brilliant answers. My personal choice bits:

On a brutal losing game against the Calgary Hitmen: "we weren't hungry enough to score goals" and "you can't score goals from the corner."

On winning in front of his parents when they were in town: "I told my mom I will get some points for you." And that he did.

This is my personal favorite: When I asked him about his personal goals for the season he said, and I quote, "I just hope I get to play a lot this year." Really.

He's the next Nino. I'm telling you, it's all that chocolate and clean air and water in Switzerland: Nino and Sven departed yesterday for Switzerland's World Junior training camp. Look for both to make a splash at the tournament. Sven is also second among all WHL players on the preliminary rankings for the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

Moral of his story: oregonlive readers will forgive me if they've already seen this on the other blog, but it bears repeating: if you've even met Sven, you know it's easy to be moved by anything he says and does, because it's all brilliant. Behind the great plays and the great quotes is a great player. Get ready hockey world, something very, very special is coming your way.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

If you've never heard of Ryan Johansen, allow me to enlighten you

First, and most importantly: He just made the Team Canada roster for the World Juniors, which will get underway December 26 in Buffalo, NY.

But before that, there was this: He was drafted 4th overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. He was the first Portland Winterhawk taken in this year's draft, where he was followed immediately by his team and linemate Nino Niederreiter, who went 5th overall to the New York Islanders. Around that time, Ryan also graduated from high school.

And somewhere in between there, he did this: He played in the 2010 NHL Prospects game for Team Don Cherry, and he just got back from playing for the WHL in the Subway Super Series.

But before all that: I met him last February. Before the draft. Before the hype. Before everything. Now, that in itself was a small miracle. The Winterhawks' booster club sponsors a regular Pizza Night with players, in which among other things, you get a ticket that entitles the winner to buy a pizza for a player and have that player sit at their table. Now, I never win things in contests. Ever. Not raffles. Not free key chains. Nothing. But that night, I stopped for a split second and picked a set of tickets because --I kid you not -- it looked like a winner. No clue how I knew, but it worked. And the prize winner at the other end was Ryan. Think that's weird? The $12 it cost me to buy him that pizza was exactly how much cash I had left in my wallet, to the dollar.

So you see, it was fate: But nothing like the one that awaits Ryan. For that, I'm afraid, the rest of us will have to ride shotgun. Because I will never be able to say enough good things about Ryan if I try, let me just say this: get ready Columbus, something very special is coming your way. Ryan is regarded by experts as a wee bit of a late bloomer, so you may have to wait just a tad. But believe me when I say it will be worth it. Oh, and if you're wondering if his ego and head will explode when he gets there... not to worry. He's the same kid I met last February, except maybe with a slightly cooler haircut. And not a lot of teenagers can rock an argyle sweater the way Ryan does, so he gets fashion brownie points too.

Behind the great playmaking is a great player: And great parents. I've only met his mom, but after reading the Vancouver Sun article about Ryan and his family this morning, I believe his father is one of the regular readers of this blog. If I'm right, then thanks for tuning in and send my congratulations and best wishes to Ryan. Oh, and since he knows how much I loooooovvveee cliches, he'll understand if you tell him that Samantha said he's reached the quota with using surreal in interviews. It is real, dude. Enjoy the ride.

Oh and in case you need greater proof than my word: Google him or visit and look him up. My personal recommendation is the interview where he and Nino interviewed each other at the Draft Combine. It's classic. A true vintage moment, if there ever was one.

And speaking of breakout stars at the World Juniors: To digress, I'd also keep an eye on Nino's fellow Swiss genius Sven Bartschi. On this year's preliminary draft rankings, Sven is second among WHL players. To repeat: to whatever city drafts him, get ready because something very special is coming your way too.

But you see, I owe Ryan more than he knows: This blog will soon be moving to Kukla's Korner, where I hope readers will continue to enjoy it and will find other blogs and information they might also enjoy. The entry that helped me score that gig was entitled "You Had Me at Draft Picks Four and Five." As its title implies, it was a mini-prospect watch about Ryan, Nino and the other draft picks that Portland is hoarding at present. I will probably never win another raffle, key chain, whatever in my life. But that's ok, because once was enough for me.

As for Ryan and family: Thanks again for reading, happy holidays and safe travel to Buffalo.

Up next: Back to topic with the collective bargaining agreement.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What goes up must come down. Sort of.

The games; Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Philadelphia. Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Edmonton Oilers.

Why I chose them: Sidney Crosby on the Pens on a tear. Taylor Hall unleashing his first PR booboo to give the Leafs extra motivation. What other reason does one need?

All good things must come to an end, but...: The Pens' 12-game streak came to an end as a bad penalty led to a third goal for the Flyers, giving them a 3 -2 victory. On the other hand the player who committed said penalty, Evgeni Malkin, also returned to play after an absence that seemed longer than it was, and scored both of the team's goals. And Sidney Crosby at least kept his point streak alive with two assists. But still, major bummer alert for the Pens.

Speaking of major bummers: Maybe the Leafs should encourage Taylor Hall to make more comments to the media about being "there for the taking." The Leafs just cooked the Oilers 4 -1.

World Junior update: Portland Winterhawk Brad Ross has been released from Team Canada's World Junior training camp. Linemate Ryan Johansen is still in Toronto, and is expected to be a significant contributor to Canada's effort to recapture a gold medal. Sven Bartschi and Nino Niederreiter will be departing this week for Team Switzerland's training camp, where Nino is a shoo-in for the final roster. Look for Sven to be a breakout star this year. Brendan Leipsic and Derrick Pouliot, meanwhile, are off to try their hand at the Under-17 World Challenge. Best wishes all around and welcome back to Brad. Wednesday update: As expected, Ryan has indeed made the roster, which was announced this morning.

The rule: NHLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement. Article 14, Player Assignments.

14.1, Rent/Mortgage Expenses: A Player whose SPC is Assigned from one Club to another shall be reimbursed from the assignee-Club a sum equal to six months' rent or mortgage, as the case may be, on his living quarters in the city from which he is assigned; provided, however, that such reimbursement shall be made only if and to the extent that the Player is legally obligated to make and does make such payment and provided, further, that the Club's obligation shall in no event exceed for the 2005-2006 and 2006 - 2007 seasons, $3,100 per month, for the 2010 - 2011 seasons, $3,300 per month.

Morals of the story:

The game: So, this is probably a great deal unless you play for the New York Islanders or the Rangers. When I left New York six years ago, real estate brokers were raving because the rent on a 3rd floor walk-up studio apartment with sporadic heat and no view in Brooklyn was coming down to $2000 per month. Really.

Life: Six months rent free for the trouble of moving to a new life, that probably comes with heat and a view? Brilliant. I lived in six apartments or rented rooms over 10 years in New York. I financed all of them, to the tune of almost $10,000 over time. I'll take six months rent or partially rent free, thank you.

Up next: Article 14, 14.2, Moving Expenses.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Teddy bears, winning streaks and skating with Santa oh my!

The math: Pittsburgh 5, Buffalo 2. Portland Winterhawks 7, Prince George Cougars 4 (WHL).

The streak continues: Sidney Crosby notched up an assist last night, and the Pens ran their winning streak up to 12. Refresh me, why do the rest of us bother? We'll never catch up.

Speaking of scoring: How about that Portland score? Fueled by a near sellout crowd that tossed more than 12,000 bears to the ice in our annual teddy bear toss, the Winterhawks turned a losing streak around with a winning weekend against the Prince George Cougars. And Ty Rattie, NHL prospect extraordinaire, scored the teddy bear goal, turning his own scoring drought around. He added two assists to officially break out. You can read all about it here:

Penalty kill is their middle name: Led by Taylor Peters, Spencer Bennett and defenseman Tyler Wotherspoon, Portland's penalty killers are a thing of staggering beauty. And if you're lucky, they'll be coming to an NHL rink near you.

I'm going skating with Santa: Next week, the Portland Winterhawks reopen the remodeled version of Valley Ice Arena, and they are inviting the public to skate with Mr. Claus over the holiday weekend. Genius. So, if you don't see any entries around Christmas, you'll know I'm in an emergency room somewhere, watching reruns and slurping egg nog. If I do survive, then I'm signing up for the "Learn to Play Hockey" program. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

The rule: Holy crap! I just realized I missed a rule: Article 7, No Strike, Discrimination and Other Undertakings. More frightening, I covered it and have no memory of it. Oh well....doesn't hurt to refresh now and again:

7.1: (a) Neither the NHL nor the NHLPA shall authorize, encourage or engage in any strike, work stoppage, slowdown or other concerted interference with the activities of any Club or of the League during the term of this Agreement. (b) Neither the League nor any Club shall engage in a lockout during the term of this Agreement. The rule goes on to ban any form of intolerance based on race, sexual orientation, religion, ethnic background, marital status, etc.

Morals of the story:

The game: Smart move, this one. One lockout in my lifetime was enough. The only thing uglier than an ugly win or nasty game is no hockey at all.

Life: For all the Miss Americas who just want world peace, this is the rule for you. You could just add it to the Geneva Conventions: parties engaged in international diplomatic relations shall not engage in a strike, slowdown, lockout or any other action that would lead to war. Brilliant.

Up next: The last of Article 13, Waivers and Loans of Players to Minor League Clubs.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

It's game weekend in Portland

You can read all about it here: www.oregonlive/hawks.

Will the latest episode of the Sidney Crosby show produce the 12th in a row for the Pittsburgh Penguins?: Do I have to ask? But of course. Game on.

I would have stayed up until 3 am for this: Tampa Bay vs. Edmonton. The Oilers win it in a shootout. Guy Boucher, Jordan Eberle and shootout in one game. No drooling allowed, Sam.

The NHL was apparently in the house last night: Brian Burke was in town to check out his prized draft pick Brad Ross (went 43rd overall to the Leafs). He should come to town more often. Brad didn't spend one minute in the penalty box all night long.

My bets for who will score the coveted Teddy Bear goal in tonight's Teddy Bear Toss against the Prince George Cougars: Ty Rattie, prime NHL prospect who's in a bit of a scoring slump. Thanks to his team and linemate (and fellow prospect and potential Swiss World Junior star) Sven Bartschi convincing me, I'm all in. With a little help from Sven and Brendan Leipsic. Possibly Brett Ponich. Game on.

Up next: The results of the Teddy Bear Toss and onward to the next section of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The only thing I love more than shootouts: 10-round shootouts with Anaheim and Edmonton

The games: Anaheim Ducks 3, Edmonton 2 in a 10-round shootout. Pittsburgh Penguins 5, Toronto 2.

Why I chose them: My two favorite teams, a really long shootout won by a rookie and the Sidney Crosby show continues. He scored two goals and extended his streak to 17 games. Games on.

He wasn't too shabby either: Mark Letestu notched up his first career two-goal game.

Get ready. At last, it's coming: 24/7 Road to the NHL Winter Classic debuts in exactly one week. Filming has already begun with the Pens and Caps. Sidney Crosby in his pajamas with his honey nut cheerios. Alex Ovechkin scrolling through his iPhone to call his latest puckbunny conquest. Brilliant. I may stay home and watch it in protest of the Portland Winterhawks, because:

I cannot even believe this: The Winterhawks are down 5 - 0 to the Spokane Chiefs in the first period of a road game. Goalies have already been changed, to no avail. Mac Carruth let in 3 before being pulled and Keith Hamilton let 2 more in. Where is Ian Curtis when you need him? I've never been so excited to hear the buzzer.

The Portland vs. Spokane situation is so bad, I started thinking we should just forfeit and go home. So, to refresh:

NHL Rulebook, Rule 66.1, Forfeit of Game: In the event of failure by a Club to comply with a provision of the League constitution, by-laws, resolutions, rules or regulations affecting the playing of a game, the Referee shall, if so directed by the Commissioner or his designee, refuse to permit the game to proceed until the offending Club comes into compliance with such provision.

Morals of the story:

The game: Does allowing five goals in the first period qualify as failure to comply? UUUUGGGGGHHHH.

Life: On the other hand, if we gave up and packed it in when the equivalent of five goals was scored in our first period, we'd all be living in a cave feeding out of a bag of fig newtons and washing it down with cabernet that's just past its drinkability.

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

Monday, December 6, 2010

What, boy wonder there only scored one goal? I'm shocked.

The game: Pittsburgh Penguins 2, New Jersey Devils 1.

Why I chose it: The latest episode of the Sidney Crosby show produced one goal and one assist. Is there any team/goalie he hasn't cooked to a crisp? Oh, and it's the first time in his career that Dan Bylsma has gotten 10 wins in a row and Marc-Andre Fleury had a personal best with 9 wins in a row. But really, let's face it, it's all about the boy who wears the C. He leads the league in goals and points. And what did you do today?

Mini bummer alert: The debut of the 24/7 Road to the Winter Classic is airing the same night as a Portland Winterhawks game. Yes, I know it's going to be on like 80 times in 24 hours after that, but I grew up in the days of three network channels with no repeats. I still like the excitement of watching something when it airs for the first time.

Speaking of the Winterhawks: They got behind early and never caught up. They dropped a game in Spokane, where they lost to the Chiefs 4 - 3.

Could it be for real this time?: The Phoenix Coyotes may soon have a buyer in Matt Hulsizer. He's 40 and he's buying a whole hockey team. I'm 42 and today I bought a Team Canada jersey on sale at What happened to my life?

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

13.16, Waiver Prices: Ok. Maybe it's just because I didn't sleep last night, but this rule is backwards. Players with less experience are worth more. I've listed a few examples below. Except as specifically otherwise provided in this Agreement, the prices applicable to Players being Waived on Regular and Re-Entry Waivers shall be in U.S. dollars and are as follows:

For each forward and defenseman who has not in the aggregate completed more than the following years under one or more SPCs:
2 years $67,500
5 years $26,250

For each goaltender who has not in the aggregate completed more than the following years under one or more SPCs:

2 years $90,000
5 years $63,750

Oh wait I get it: Younger and less beat up by years of playing means you're worth more. Ok. Scooby Doo here is on top of things.

Morals of the story:

The game: Seems pretty simple to me. Stay young. Stay fit. Stay worthy.

Life: When we get put on waivers in life, we're worth exactly zero or the sum of an unemployment check until some other company decides what we're worth. But what if the federal goverment passed a law that said when employees are laid off and/or transferred to another company, they are worth a set price that must be paid by the old employer if no one claims you, or by the new employer for the privilege of winning you. Kind of like a signing bonus for getting fired. And it would be in lieu of unemployment/welfare handouts. A win-win all around. Brilliant.

Up next: The second half of waiver prices. And attempting to achieve something with my life before Sidney Crosby goes out and scores another hat trick plus some.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Happy holiday roster freeze!

The games: Pittsburgh vs. Columbus Blue Jackets, Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Colorado Avalanche, and Portland Winterhawks vs. Tri-City Americans (December 3, WHL).

Go ahead, score the hat trick already: Sidney Crosby has already scored two goals, it's only the start of the third period and the Pens are up 7 - 2.

Or not: Final score Pittsburgh 7, Columbus 2. Crosby racks up two and Paul Martin shines with two goals (both unassisted), 3 shots and 20 minutes of ice time.

Things that are hot that are not on the ice: Guy Boucher and his evil plan have the Lightning leading the Avalanche 4 - 2 with two minutes to go in the second period.

Or not: Colorado just scored twice in the last minute of the game to close the lead to Tampa Bay 6, Colorado 5. That is the final score. The evil plan succeeds.

The Winterhawks are back. They're really, really back: Thanks to the Ross-Johansen-Niederreiter line, who collectively scored all of the team's five goals in a 5-1 routing of the Americans.

The rules: NHLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement, Article 13, Waivers and Loans of Players to Minor League Clubs. 13.13, Waiver Notification, 13.14, Transfer Form, 13.15, Holiday Roster Freeze.

13.13, Waiver Notification: (a) The Player and the NHLPA shall be notified within 2 hours whenever the Player is placed on waivers, clears waivers, or is claimed waivers. Notification to the NHLPA shall be by fax in accordance with Exhibit 3. It's not all bad; the player can request to right to talk with other Clubs about their interest in him during the waiver period, which of course must be provided to the NHLPA by fax.

Pop many pieces of paper does this rule require?/I thought the NHL was going green?: 13.14, Transfer Form. (a) Players loaned to or recalled from a minor league club shall receive a transfer form. In order to make said loan or recall effective, the Club must send a copy to the NHLPA and NHL by facsimile, in accordance with Exhibit 3 hereto, prior to that player being in an NHL game and, in all other circumstances, immediately. If the team recalls a player to replace someone who's been injured, is ill or has been suspended, they must submit a transfer form indicating whether the player's status has converted to regular recall or is loaned to his minor league club. (c) Club will provide written confirmation that players loaned or recalled from the minors will receive or have received the per diems required in Article 13.12 by way of the club checking the appropriate box on the revised version of the Transfer Form attached hereto as Exhibit 26.

13.15, Holiday Roster Freeze: For all players on the NHL Active Roster, Injured Reserve, or Players with Non-Roster and Injured Non-Roster status as of midnight local time December 19, a roster freeze shall apply through midnight local time December 27, with respect to waivers, trades, and loans; provided however that players may be recalled to NHL Clubs during this period, and provided further that if a Player is placed on regular waivers or re-entry waivers prior to the roster freeze period and is claimed during such roster freeze period, the roster freeze period shall not apply and the player shall report immediately to the claiming club.

Morals of the story:

The game: How like Corporate America hockey is. You can fire people at any time with only a few hours notice, you have to fill out paperwork for everything and if someone's let go, they get a break, only in this case it's the chance to be claimed by another team instead of unemployment.

Life: I want a roster freeze for my life this holiday season. From December 19 through the 27th I will abandon the rat race and everything that goes with it to rethink what I'm going to do with my life in the coming year. And if I've already begun seeking new opportunities when that kicks in, the freeze will not apply and I will move onto the new thing(s).

Up next: 13.16, Waiver Prices.

Friday, December 3, 2010

So, if Sidney Crosby scored two hat tricks in one week, why do the rest of us bother?

The game: Pittsburgh Penguins 3, Atlanta Thrashers 2. All three Pittsburgh goals were scored by Sidney Crosby. That makes two hat tricks inside of one week.

Note to said player: Dude, slow down so the rest of us humble peons, in our own small way, can at least attempt to catch up on our own life's achievements.

But seriously: What's really scary about him is that the best is yet to come.

I learn something new every day: A natural hat trick is when the three goals are scored consecutively without another player scoring in between.

Check this out. Was I destined to write about hockey or what?: My birthday (January 26) is also Wayne Gretzky's birthday and it's the date of the first official hat trick in hockey. The first one happened in Toronto on January 26, 1946. Perfect.

As for the Portland Winterhawks the other night, you didn't miss anything: It was kinda ugly. But bright spots emerged here and there, like a nice breakaway by Buffalo Sabres draft pick Riley Boychuk. Other than that, it was pretty much toast.

He's back. Be very afraid: Marion Gaborik, hampered in recent years by injury and illness, went out and scored his own hat trick in the Rangers' game against the New York Islanders. And it didn't stop there. He added an assist, fired 8 shots on goal and logged more than 20 minutes of ice time.

The future is on the loose in Edmonton: Taylor Hall scored twice, and Jordan Eberle racked up three points with a goal and two assists.

So, since I report on such achievements, perhaps I will get off the 9 - 5 merry-go-round myself: Major dilemma though. Could I make a living off a best selling novel called "The Definitive Anti-Expert's Guide to Hockey?" Discuss.