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.

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