Monday, January 31, 2011

Today shall be an off-day for hockey fans

The distraction/some people can go days, weeks, even, without hockey: I'm not one of them. I'm watching a mix of Lord of the Rings, All-Star Game replays and my Firefly DVDs to distract from the fact that there are absolutely no NHL games on tonight. Zip. Zilch. Diddly. It's just wrong. But 12 more hours and all will be right with the world once again.

Get well soon: No sooner had Portland Winterhawks fans swallowed the news that Oliver Gabriel (signed with the Columbus Blue Jackets over the summer) was undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery, than we learned today that Captain Brett Ponich (signed with the St. Louis Blues last year) will undergo surgery on Thursday to repair a torn ACL in his left knee. He may also be done for the season.

The Tri-City Americans are indeed bad luck: Brett suffered that injury during a Tri Cities game on January 18.

Injured players, no hockey games, what's a girl to do?: Well, I guess I could try to cover this rule:

NHLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement, Article 16: League Schedule; Playing Rosters; Reserve Lists; Practice Sessions.

16.5, Restricted Days. (a) No NHL game, practice or travel to a city other than the Club's home city shall be scheduled on the day prior to Christmas Day. Christmas Day shall be an off-day for al purposes, including travel, and no Club may request a Player's consent to play on Christmas Day for any reason. No NHL game shall be scheduled on the day after Christmas Day, except an NHL game that is to be played against a Club where the average scheduled flight time between the cities involved would not exceed two and one-half hours.

(b) No NHL game, practice or travel to a city other than the Club's home city shall be on the day prior to the All-Star Game. The day of the All-Star Game shall be an off-day for all purposes, including travel, and no Club may request a Player's consent to practice on the day of the All-Star Game for any reason.

Morals of the story:

The game: Somehow I don't think the NHL figured in what qualifies as "average scheduled flight time" during the blizzard-o-rama that is blitzing the Northeast every other weekend or so. Because if they did, then this rule would have to include another section entitled "airport weather strandings" in which they outline what the league can and can't ask of players who are trapped in Dulles Airport, for example.

Life: Did you notice that, thanks to technology, people don't really go on vacation anymore? They take a "working" vacation in which they check email, answer voicemails and never really disconnect. If you want to take a real vacation like the good old days, you have to leave a message that says "I will be in a third world country studying the mating habits of rare birds and therefore unreachable by cell phone or Crackberry, please call my assistant if you expect to get any business done today." That's why we need this rule for Corporate America. No work, semblance of work or attempt to work shall take place on the day before an employee leaves for vacation. A vacation shall consist of 5 or more days in a row, which will be off-days for any and all reasons. On the day of the employees return, no employer may request that the employee actually work or do anything resembling work. The employer may request an exception to this rule, but they are advised that no employee who is properly self-medicated will agree to it.

Next up: Article 16, Practice Sessions, Game Times, Travel Requirements, Single Room Accommodations.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The key to succeeding in the NHL: show up

The only NHL game in town: The All Star Game Skills Competition.

In case you're wondering how they got there: The Collective Bargaining Agreement Article 16.14, All Star Game, states that The Club or NHL must provide first-class airline accomodations to any Player selected to play in the All-Star Game.

The only WHL game in town I'm interested in: Seattle Thunderbirds vs. Portland Winterhawks.

You're never too old to be awesome: Nicklas Lidstrom notched his first hat trick this season, at age 40.

It was a new low for mispronunciations of Portland's roster (or high, depending on how you see it): Among the numerous botches of our players' last names by FSN broadcasters last night:

Brendan Leipsic: Leepsic (it's prounounced Lipe-sick, unless there's something Portland doesn't know).

Derrick Pouliot: Pouli-AT. (proper pronunciation: Poo-lee-AHT).

Tyler Wotherspoon: Witherspoon. So many broadcasters and announcers have twerked it, he should just change the spelling of his family name.

Sven Bartschi: Burt-chi. (it's Bear-chee, with a litle rolling R).

Good news: Tayler Jordan returned from injury in the Tri-City Americans vs. Portland Winterhawks game last night.

But it was to no avail/"They're snake bit in this barn": That's what the FSN broadcasters said about Portland's bad luck on the road against the Ams, which continued last night with a 5-2 loss for Portland.

Of course he scored a hat trick, he has a hockey name: Captain Kruise Reddick scored three of Tri-Cities' goals. Adam Hughesman and Connor Rankin joined him on the scoreboard.

Dude, give it up: The Islanders have suspended Evgeni Nabokov for failure to report for duty. This might top the Kovalchuk deal in terms of delusions of grandeur. You're 35, nobody in the NHL thought you were worth your salary, the KHL let you go, you're lucky Detroit and the Islanders wanted you. You're not going to help a team get to the Cup with your whining. Report for duty, man up and you might at least help a struggling team get closer to the dream. And, hey, here's a concept: you get to keep going to the rink and you keep getting paid to do so. How does a player get from Nino Niederreiter, who just wants to make the Islanders' roster next year, to this BS? Somewhere along the way we all get lost, and NHL quasi-superstars are no exception.

Good time to refresh on this rule: Exhibit 1, Standard Player's Contract. The Club may from time to time during the continuance of this SPC establish reasonable rules governing the conduct and condtioning of the Player, and such reasonable rules shall form part of this SPC and the Agreement as fully as if herein written. For violation of any such rules or for any conduct impairing the thorough and faithful discharge of the duties incumbent upon the Player, the Club may impose a reasonable fine upon the Player and deduct the amount thereof from any money due or become due to the Player. The Club may also suspend the Player for any violation of such rules.

Morals of the story:

The game: Get over it. If you are lucky enough to play in the NHL and get paid the accompanying outrageous salary, show up and shut up. The end.

Life: If I failed to report for duty to my job, I'd be toast too. That is why I show up, sometimes I shut up (when called for) and I do what they pay me for. May I suggest NHL players follow my fine example. Because at least they get to do something they love -- even if it is for a losing team -- and that's a privilege most people will never experience.

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

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Signs you need a hockey intervention

1) Planning your Friday night consists of figuring out how you're going to simultaneously watch and actually pay attention to the All Star Game Fantasy Draft and the Portland Winterhawks on FSN while listening to Todd Vrooman and Andy Kemper on the local radio station. And figuring out which pajamas to wear while doing so.

2) You are in a French restaurant eating lunch and watching the Turner Classic Movie Channel they've got playing in the background and you realize that Hey! That actor looks exactly like Mike Milbury!

3) You spend precious hours on a Wednesday night Googling WHL Referee Matt Kirk to see if any new articles have popped up about him. Because major junior league referees are so popular, you want to make sure you didn't miss anything that might have run in the past 24 hours.

4) You turn on the Center Ice channels on your cable system and get no games on any channel at all. In a panic you call Comcast to inform them that hey, I just paid off this package deal this month and I thought I still got another three months worth of hockey on these channels, how come you switched them off? And declare that you, the consumer in this tough economy, are not standing for any monkey business from your cable company, who's already ripping you off as it is. Only to be told that "ma'am we're looking at our programming here and it says there's a break for the All Star Game until January 31st."

5) You wonder why even the pants that had room to grow in them don't fit you, not realizing that it has been caused by a regular diet of barbecue nachos, beer and salted pretzels.

6) You spend your lunch hour filling out a customer feedback form on to inquire as to whether it's just an error on or it's true that the Pittsburgh Penguins don't make grown up pajamas or matching sheets for large sized beds.

Not that any of these things actually happened to me... but ya' know, if they did... I'm here to help loyal readers learn from the wisdom of my experience.

As for what to do in the event of said realizations: You could try turning off the NHL Network, canceling the Center Ice package and selling all your remaining Winterhawks season tickets on eBay, but that would lead to permanent brain damage and possible death, so I recommend a 24-hour cleansing ritual (after the All Star Game is complete of course) in which you leave the television off, put the season tickets in a drawer, drink nothing but juice and water, and eat a small handful of peanut butter filled pretzels every two hours. By the next day, you should be able to live like normal people and only watch one hockey game when you get home at night instead of six simultaneously while surfing hockey blogs like this one for things you didn't already know about hockey. Of course, this didn't actually work for me, but I like to keep an open mind and hope that others will be more successful in their attempts.

Oh, and the Portland Winterhawks gave me my birthday present, a 9 - 2 routing of the Chilliwack Bruins, just like I asked for:

Monday, January 24, 2011

Note to the Portland Winterhawks: no, I'm not a whiney stat blogger

The games: Portland Winterhawks vs. Everett Silvertips, Seattle Thunderbirds and Spokane Chiefs.

The final score: It went like this: Portland won, all three of the other teams lost. Portland reclaimed the number one spot in the U.S. Division of the WHL.

It was also a mini parents' weekend: Due to the back-to-back schedule of the games, several of the players' parents were in town for the weekend. And I see somebody pinged this blog from Langenthal, Switzerland (Sven Bartschi's hometown) and I have a follower from Ty Rattie's family. Welcome all. I hope you like what you read here. Now, I know all y'all like the blog, but I hear tell your sons are not so convinced that bloggers speak the truth. And indeed most of them do not. But this one does. And here's what I know:

1) Behind the great plays and great playmaking are great players.

2) Three cliches in one interview are quite enough. And that includes you, Ryan Johansen. You're an original player, I know you can think of an original quote.

3) Whiney stat bloggers are what my father called T for Tacky. Pay them no mind and maybe if we're really, really lucky, they'll go away when they realize no one's listening.

And this: The NHL is a beautiful, imperfect, scary, ugly place full of unbelievable highs and totally unforeseen lows. Kinda like life. The players who call Portland home for now will soon see what I mean. But in the meantime, you need not fear all the crazy lady who writes about you on oregonlive. I mean you no harm, and hey, I might actually think you're really cool.

I've done it once, and it worked, so here you go. Feel free to share with fellow parents, your sons, and whoever else might need convincing. And for those of you who keep up with the oregonlive blog, excuse me while I go buy a warm and fuzzy cat.

Dear Portland Winterhawks,

Thank you for coming to our city to play hockey. I know you don't necessarily get to choose what city drafts you or trades you later, but you did choose junior hockey over a normal teenage existence. And for that we are grateful. And by the way, that other's not so normal and it's not so fun. You didn't miss anything. But if you hadn't come here, you would have missed what I hope was the time of your life. And all those silly questions you answered after the OT winning goals and Sunday 5 pm losing games and playoffs and almost wins on Nino bobblehead night? They just might come in handy one day.

For our part, Portland fans are proud to say that we knew you when. We remember where we were on June 25 when the Columbus Blue Jackets and the New York Islanders called your names. We wrote about it, even. And some of us sat at home the next day and waited for the rest of the Winterhawks' names to be called. So if someone ever asks you what it was like to play here, we hope you think well of us, as we do of you.

As for the "experts" who hide behind the anonymity of cyberspace, never mind all those ugly things you hear and read and see out there. Real fans don't go there, we don't do that and we don't listen to the chatter. Neither should you. We know that you just went from Portland to the draft to international tournaments to Prospects Games to three games in a row on a weekend. And we applaud you for your fortitude and your grace. It's more than most of us had at your age, or will ever have.

Whiney stat bloggers, my friends call them. I'm not one of them, in case you hadn't noticed. Need proof? Read on. And in the meantime, remember that there are some of us who really do believe that behind the great plays are great players. We have seen the future and it's name is Ryan, Nino, Brad, Taylor P., Taylor A., Tayler J., Oliver, Stefan, Mac, Luke, Riley, Brett, Spencer, Ty, Tyler, Joe, Sven, William, Craig, Brendan and Derrick. I'd say make us proud, but I already know you will.

Yours truly,


The ten things I know for sure:

1) When they aren't hanging 10 in the penalty box, Brad Ross and Riley Boychuk know the meaning of dazzle.

2) When they aren't busy squirting refs with water bottles and punching out opponents who go after their teammates, Tayler Jordan and Brett Ponich are two of the nicest, most mature young men you will ever meet.

3) When he's not busting out his latest litany of cliches, Ryan Johansen is a genius playmaker who has more of an edge beneath the surface than you might think.

4) Brendan Leipsic may be small, but he is mighty. He's like those little toys called Weebles, which we used to play with when I was growing up. They wobble, but they don't fall down. And in Brendan's case, they get back up when they do.

5) Taylor Aronson and Joe Morrow don't give you but a few words when you interview them, but they say it all with their game winning goal set ups and their slap shots from the point into "wherever the goalie isn't."

6) Nino Niederreiter and Sven Bartschi are.... well, they're Nino and Sven. They love chocolate, they score goals, they give the best quotes and at 17, they crossed several continents and an ocean to live their hockey dreams. Switzerland has given the world watches, chocolate and Jonas Hiller. And they have given us Nino and Sven. Thank you.

7) Ty Rattie will never get a swelled head because he's too busy using his noggin to plot new and exciting ways to assist, score and nab the game winning goals in Game 7 playoff nailbiters against Spokane.

8) Taylor Peters took honors physics, fights with precision and has firsthand knowledge of Consol Energy Center from the inside. Oh, and his quotes? They're kinda like his fights: wickedly smart, brutally honest and always worth quoting.

9) Keith Hamilton, whether he just misses a shutout or just gets to play for a game or two to back up Mac Carruth, is like a kid who just got a new toy for Christmas. Happy he got the toy he wanted, and happy to tell you about it afterwards.

10) Craig Cunningham lost a C and a team he'd played for his entire junior career in a trade that sent Spencer Bennett and Teal Burns to the Vancouver Giants. But if you talk to him or meet him up close, it's like he was always here from the start.

Beggars can't be choosers: unless their name is Evgeni Nabokov

The news: That crap-ass waiver rule isn't working for former Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov either. After being put on waivers by Detroit, he was snatched up by the Islanders and refuses to report for duty. Ummm...maybe somebody needs to remind him that he just got released from the KHL, where he was relegated because the NHL couldn't find a place for him, and he should take what he can get. I know the Islanders aren't doing so hot right now, and you do go to the lowest bidder when claimed off waivers, so I kinda understand. But dude, it beats looking for the kind of jobs that are listed on the back of a matchbook.

Meanwhile, back in Portland, where the NHL's future is appreciative of their good fortune, the Winterhawks racked up three wins in three nights: And they weren't small games either. The points earned in Sunday's OT dazzler over the Spokane Chiefs helped put us back ahead of them in the division after we had taken a brief pause for the number 2 spot. Read all about it here:

I have to write about hockey. It's a moral imperative: Wednesday is my birthday, and I share it with Wayne Gretzky, Montreal Canadiens' prospect Louis LeBlanc and depending on which story you believe, January 26 is also the date of the first hat trick in hockey.

So, in's partay week: Monday is also the 19th birthday of one of my favorite Portland Winterhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins prospect Taylor Peters. Taylor wasn't drafted this year when he became eligible, but I'd keep an eye out for this story. The Winterhawks have quite a few players who went to the NHL via the non-traditional route (Oliver Gabriel - Columbus, Stefan Schneider - Vancouver) or on the second try (Luke Walker - Colorado Avalanche, Riley Boychuck - Buffalo Sabres). I am trusting Taylor to keep up the tradition.

Oh, and it's All-Star Game weekend, but major bummer alert: Sidney Crosby is definitely out for the Game and won't even travel to the game as he recovers from a concussion. Malkin is a maybe. Jordan Eberle is out of the skills competition. As we already know, Jarome Iginla is out and Danny Briere is in. What's a girl to do? Good thing I don't know the first thing about how to conduct a fantasy draft, or I'd be toast right about now.

Next up: Someday I'll understand it, but since NHL players don't get it either, I will just move on from the waiver rule to the next totally unintelligible rule in the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

To refresh, the NHL's waiver rule totally blows

The game: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. New Jersey Devils.

Duh: Minus the two-headed monster, the Pens were blanked by the Devils 2 - 0.

Nabokov to Detroit? Not so fast: The Detroit Red Wings have signaled their intent to sign Evgeni Nobokov, but he still has to clear waivers and it's apparently unlikely that he will. Not but a few days ago, the St. Louis Blues signed Kyle Wellwood and San Jose snatched him up. It's the six degrees of hockey separation. The Sharks are Nobokov's former team.

I don't have a Harvard degree like Craig Adams, but I will now attempt to review how the Scooby Doo cleverly disguised as a high-paid lawyer came up with this one:

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

Let's tackle one bullshit rule at a time. Since he's been in the KHL, I believe this applies for Nabokov: 13.23, In the event a professional or former professional Player plays in a league outside North America after the start of the regular NHL Playing Season, other than on Loan from his Club, he may thereafter play in the NHL during that Playing Season (including Playoffs) only if he has first cleared or been obtained via Waivers.

Oh wait, I think I've got it: "Waivers" means the process by which the rights to a Player are offered to all other Clubs. Aha! It's the great equalizer: everyone has to have a shot at a player before a team hoards him all to their little salary cap selves. And who exactly gets first dibs on these exclusive players and their rights, you might ask? That's why I'm here:

Part 1/the easy part: If only one Club makes a claim to a player on Waivers, then the Player is transferred to that Club.

Part 2/the fuzzy part where I go make martini and re-read it: If more than one team makes a claim to a player, he shall be transferred to the team that has the lowest percentage of possible points in the League at the time of the request for Waivers.

Praise whatever you believe in, I finally understand something in this flippin' agreement: This is exactly like those sales where they give you 20 percent off any item, but it's 20 percent off the lowest priced item on the sale rack not the brand spankin' new, more expensive item they just put on display this morning. Hallelujah and let there be light.

Back in the junior leagues: The Portland Winterhawks are in the middle of a hockey blitz this weekend. They will play all three nights this weekend: Friday night they will play in Everett and they must turn around and play Seattle at 2 pm on Saturday. They top it off with a 5 pm Sunday game against Spokane. Personally, I think it's an evil conspiracy between the Portland Trailblazers (who must use the Coliseum Saturday night) and the WHL Schedulers to make us play our archenemies back to back. Good for Hawks fans. Not so much for the players, who I predict will get a little punchy come Sunday, literally and metaphorically.

That being said, for players like Ryan Johansen, who informed me that he will not be keeping me entertained with so much as a smidgen of a little scrap because he's never starting a fight, ever, unless it's for one of several exclusive reasons, including defending a teammate or to get the guys fired up. In that case, may I suggest he take the opportunity on the bus ride to or from Everett to review this easy guide from Down Goes Brown on "How To Fight When You Don't Want to Fight." For Ryan, may I suggest employing the best case scenario.

Next up: Check out to keep up with me and the Winterhawks fight tally this weekend.

Here comes hockey's future

The game: The CHL top prospects game, Toronto, Ontario.

The score: Team Orr cruised to what sounds like an easy win over Team Cherry, 7 -1. And that was only with one Portland Winterhawk on their roster (Sven Bartschi). Team Cherry had the other three (Ty Rattie, Tyler Wotherspoon, Joe Morrow).

Small and quiet, but mighty: That one Portland Winterhawk is Sven Bartschi, who was pretty quiet at the World Juniors (Team Switzerland). He did make a splash at the skills game, though, with a one-handed, through the legs breakaway shot, and he scored during the game last night. And he's certainly making noise out here in Portland. Sven may be small and a little more quiet, but just wait. Big things will be coming in a 5'10", soft-spoken package. Ditto for Joe, who is also a bit shy, but has a really nifty sense of humor. As evidenced by his full-on diving shot during the breakaway competition. When I asked him once what was said during a Portland line brawl with the Kamloops Blazers, Joe told me "some inappapropriate things were said." Genius. Three guesses as to what the inappropriate things were. He also gave me this choice bit when I asked him about his gift with goal-scoring slap shots from the point: "I just looked for where the goalie wasn't." Ah, if only hockey were that simple.

Names who are not Winterhawks to watch: Take your pick. The list is long and distinguished and most of it plays in the QMJHL:

Would you like fries with your routing?: Huge scoring differences were apparently the order of business last night in the NHL too: Rangers 7, Toronto 0. Minnesota 6, Calgary 0. Enough said.

If you want to keep up on all things junior hockey, this is the place to be: True, I'm a tad biased because they link to my oregonlive blog, but even if they didn't this is one of the best reads out there when it comes to all things junior hockey, and the prospects game.

Ok, it's not just me, the waiver rule in the collective bargaining agreement is messed up: No sooner had he been signed by St. Louis than Kyle Wellwood was put on waivers and snatched up by the San Jose Sharks.

Up later this evening: look for a refresh on that stupid waivers rule. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

When in doubt, link to your favorite hockey things

The news: But we liked being number one. The Portland Winterhawks have dropped to second place in the US Division. The team is tied with Spokane in points, but has lost more games. Hence, the #2 spot. I think. I'm not good with math, but I'm pretty sure more losing = slipping in the standings.

Alas, we shall carry on, but without our superstars, who are off showing off their skills (literally and otherwise) at the CHL Top Prospects Game. It's the second year in a row we have dispatched four players: Sven Bartschi (#6 on NHL Mid- Season Rankings, #14 on Bob McKenzie's rankings), Ty Rattie (#11 on NHL Mid-Season Rankings, #17 on Bob McKenzie's rankings), Joe Morrow (#16 on NHL Mid-Season Rankings, #33 on Bob McKenzie's rankings), and Tyler Wotherspoon (#33 on NHL Mid-Season Rankings).

Read all about them here: – Bob McKenzie's mid-season rankings – NHL mid-season 2011 Entry Draft rankings

Joining them at the prospects game will be Team Orr Captain Ryan Nugent Hopkins, who is blogging all season long about his experiences leading up the 2011 Entry Draft:

And his team the Red Deer Rebels aren't too shabby either:

And if you want to read all about the Top Prospects, of course there's a web site for that. There's probably an app for it too, but darned if I know what it is since I only just learned how to use the space bar on my cell phone text tool:

I wonder if Nino gave him any good tips for good moves: Last year, Nino Niederreiter, who went on to become the highest drafted Swiss player in the NHL's history, wowed with a one-handed, backhander during the Showdown Breakaway Contest:

This year it will be his teammates' turn, as Sven and Team Orr compete against Ty and Joe and Team Cherry. Tyler will participate in the Hardest Shot competition.

Just in case the media tunes in to Portland's frequency during the skills competition today and the game tomorrow, here is Ryan Johansen on TSN to remind you of how to properly pronounce Oregon (hint: it's not Oreygone):

And if you want to see who else is watching the prospects, head East:

Or if you just want to learn about how to tell if your team bus is on fire, read NHL Players Letters to Santa and pick up tips for dominating the NHL Fantasy Draft, this is a must:

Happy reading! Whilst our prospects are back East dazzling, self-respecting hockey fans in Portland will be reporting for duty at the Memorial Coliseum at 7 pm sharp to watch the Winterhawks take on the Tri-City Americans. Look for an update on oregonlive tomorrow.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Portland Winterhawks fans like being number one, if you don't mind

The games: Montreal vs. Rangers, Edmonton vs. LA, Chicago vs. Nashville. Portland Winterhawks vs. Kamloops Blazers.

Why I chose them: Mike Cammalleri is back from his battle with strep throat cooties, Anze Kopitar vs. Taylor Hall, and thanks to recent losses, Portland's #1 division and conference standings are on the line tonight. Feels kinda like a playoff, now that I think about it.

Prospect watch: Non-Portlanders tuning in to the CHL Top Prospects Game this week should keep an eye on the following: Sven Bartschi, Ty Rattie, Tyler Wotherspoon, Joe Morrow. Sven is on Team Orr, the others are all on Team Cherry.

A for the A: Ty Rattie has been named an alternate captain for Team Cherry. Ty and his linemate Sven Bartschi are the Ryan Johansen and Nino Niederreiter of the 2011 Entry Draft. Look for Sven and Ty to go top 10, very likely close to one another. And don't worry about NHL greatness going to their heads. I've spent quality time getting to know them, and if who they are now is any sign, nothing of the sort will be happening. When I asked Sven about his goals for this year, he told me "I just hope I get to play a lot." Done. When I asked Ty what it was like to be awesome, he thought I was talking about the team. It took me three questions before he realized I was asking him what it was like to be awesome personally, and even then he still credited good linemates and teammates as part of his success. I'm in for Joe going top 20, and at least one mock draft is with me. Mike Morreale of has him going 16 to the Colorado Avalanche, which would be supremely cool since they already drafted two other Winterhawks (Luke Walker, Troy Rutkowski).

He got lucky twice: I was most distressed when Portland traded Spencer Bennett and Teal Burns to the Vancouver Giants. But we gained an equally awesome play in Craig Cunningham and Spencer and Teal are wasting no time helping Vancouver rock the house. Check it out here: The first time I interviewed Spencer, ironically enough it was a winning game against Vancouver in which he scored two goals. When I asked him about his success that night, he said "I got lucky twice." And so he did. Carry on boys. If you hear a Winterhawks fan cheering you the next time you're back in Portland, it was me. I did it. And I'll do it again.

The rule: 16.4, Active Roster Size: Playing Roster. (a) For the 2005/6 season and thereafter, there shall be a maximum of 23 Players on each Club's Active Roster at any one time, provided, however, that on the date of each season's Trade Deadline, a Club's Active Roster may be increased to any number of Players the Club, in its discretion, so determines, subject to Article 50 hereof. (b) Except in case of emergency, there shall be no reduction of the required minimum Playing Rosters of the Clubs, below 18 skaters and 2 goaltenders.

Morals of the story:

The game: This is like one of those complicted math equations from high school. If two trains leave the station at the same time and one makes three stops of 10 minutes each on a route with 20 stops and one makes one stop of 10 minutes on a route with 25 stops, which one will arive at the next station first? I thought this sport was all about keeping it simple. So are there 23 players on the roster, or aren't there?

Life: It could be a good and bad thing if we had this rule for Corporate America during the bad economy. On the one hand, if companies were required to keep their full employee roster, nobody would have to worry about being fired. On the other hand, our spend now, pay later culture would never have a wake up call to make us think about our spending habits, and rethink whether the rate race is really worth it. We don't have a legally binding agreement that makes it so, but getting fired, job hopping and the like are just life's way of pushing us towards the roster we really belong on. I find it best not to fight fate, because a lot of the time it leads you right where you should have been all along.

Next up: NHLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement, 16.5, Restricted Days.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

184 days of hockey isn't nearly enough, but I guess it will do

The game: Edmonton Oilers vs. San Jose Sharks.

Why I chose it: Because Vancouver vs. Rangers and Philly vs. Boston just isn't doing it for me tonight.

I'm pretty sure I picked the right game, though: Edmonton's up 3 - 0 as the clock is running out on the second period. Plus, Center Ice has the game in hi-def. Things are looking up.

Not so much in Portland: Where we fell to the Spokane Chiefs 4 - 3, as part of operation "wait until the third period to show up and score." They hit the road to Kelowna and Kamloops for weekend games, where I suggest employing operation "show up in the first period and keep showing up until we win."

Prospect alert: On the other hand, next week Portland will dispatch four sprightly young things to the CHL prospects game. This year, we will send Sven Bartschi, Ty Rattie, Tyler Wotherspoon and Joe Morrow. It's an even split: two defensemen (Tyler and Joe) and two top-ranked forwards (Ty and Sven). All are sitting pretty in the mid-term scouting rankings. Look for Ty and Sven to easily get drafted top 10 in 2011 and keep an eye on my personal dark horse favorite for a top 20 draft pick, Joe Morrow.

Hey look! A rule I understand: 16.1 League Schedule (82 games), 16.2, Playoff Games (four rounds, with each series in each round having a maximum of 7 games).

But I learn something new every day: 16.3, Length of Season. Without the NHLPA's advance written consent, the Regular Season will be scheduled over a period of not less than 184 days. Each Club will play at least one NHL game during the first three days of the Regular Season and at least one NHL game during the last three days of the Regular Season.

Morals of the story:

The game: So, this would be the no cop-out rule, where you must show up and play in the waning days of the regular season, even if you are out of contention for the playoffs. This is where I mention that nowhere in this rule does it say you have to like it.

Life: Clearly, workaholic America needs this rule. Unless employees provide advance written consent, no company shall make their staff work beyond the standard 40 - 45 hour work week or check email/messages/call in to conference calls whilst on vacation. If company wishes to seek special dispensation and overwork employees to the point where they become useless and unhappy, they must submit said request in writing to employees a minimum of 30 days in advance, so staff may have ample time to review said request before tearing it to shreds, throwing it in your face and telling you to piss off.

Next up: 16.4, Active Roster Size; Playing Roster. 16.5, Restricted Days.

Things you didn't know you didn't know about hockey

The game: Spokane Chiefs 4, Portland Winterhawks 3 (WHL). Apparently, operation we'll show up around the middle of the third period is still in effect for the Hawks.

Other than that, here is what I learned: I had two Australians sitting next to me who had never watched a hockey game. Of all the people to sit next to, they picked me. Oh, the irony. They asked me "now, you can explain this game to us, right? And I thought I could, until they hit me with a few choice bits I had to go look up. But I got a few right without assistance. So in case you need small talk for your next office party:

What's on the scoreboard?: The score of each team, the period, the shots on goal, the saves and the player and his penalty time left.

So, the ref just decides to stop play so they can fix the ice? The ref decides everything.

Do they have other events in this building? Yes. How long does it take to melt the ice? Dude, I didn't major in physics.

How thick does the ice have to be? At least two inches.

How long does it take to make the ice? It took master NHL icemaker Dan Craig and his crew one week to set up, paint and properly freeze Heinz Field for the Winter Classic.

Why did they hold the face off on that circle? Because it's held on the face off spot closest to the penalty or the stoppage of play (e.g. goalie catching a shot in midair).

That is what I know. As for why we lost to Spokane, no clue, but you can read all about my attempt here:

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Ducks went down, the Winterhawks went trading

The distraction: The University of Oregon just lost a heartbreaker to Auburn in the BCS national title game.

The WHL trade deadline report from Portland: All quiet on the last minute blockbuster trade front. The team made a quiet swap of two prospects, both of whom keep our roster full of the most popular hockey names. Read all about it here:

Crosby's down, so are the Pens: Duh. I missed it, but apparently the Boston Bruins pulled out their signature move and scored four goals in the third period within mere seconds or minutes of each other, to defeat the Penguins 4 - 2.

So, no national title for Oregon, no win for the Pens, no blockbuster trades. But there is this: On Central Scouting mid-term rankings for the 2011 Entry Draft, four Portland Winterhawks are sitting pretty: Sven Bartschi (#6), Ty Rattie (#11), Joe Morrow (#16), Tyler Wotherspoon (#33). A beacon of hope on a sub-zero Monday, in which we are battening down the hatches for a snowstorm tomorrow night. Or worse, just in time for game day on Wednesday. This happened last year, and the game started nearly three hours late and I ended up staying at a nearby hotel. Stay tuned.

Tonight's mini moral of the story: The problem with luck is it always runs out, as it did for the Pens and for the Ducks. Or, you can do as the Winterhawks did this weekend and make your own luck. And if that luck comes courtesy of the five players who have returned from international tournaments, so be it. Whatever it was, they racked up back-to-back victories against Seattle and Everett this weekend, so I say carry on, boys. I'm already in the midst of paying for my playoff tickets, and I fully expect a return on my investment.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Outrageous NHL superstar salaries shall be greater than the Team Salary Range

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

Why you should come out and watch it if you live in Portland: Because our full roster is back for the first time in nearly a month. Because it's the chance to see our newest acquisition William Wrenn make his debut. Because we lost on New Year's Eve to Seattle, and there's nothing like a little revenge on a Saturday night.

We interrupt your regular programming on the NBC network: Sidney Crosby is out for a week with a mild concussion. What's a girl to do? I guess I'll just spend more time Googling Guy Boucher.

Rebuilding, what rebuilding? There's no rebuilding going on here: Devils Captain and Olympic Gold Medalist Jamie Langenbrunner was dealt back to his orginial team, the Dallas Stars. Lou Lamoriello claims it's not rebuilding, but did say "with the status of our payroll, we were not going to re-sign Jamie next year." Translation for the hockey to English dictionary: We blew our salary cap wad on one player who hasn't returned on his investment and who doesn't need to since you guaranteed him a multi-million dollar paycheck for an eternity, so we have to purge any players who are actually worth more but who we can't pay because we don't have money left to go around.

Now might be a good time to focus on the salary cap article in the Collective Bargaining Agreement:

Article 50, Team Payroll Range System:

Uh-oh. There's math involved: But I think I get this part: For each League Year there shall be a "Lower Limit" and an "Upper Limit" at or between which each Club must have an Averaged Club Salary. The range between the Lower Limit and the Upper Limit shall be known as the Team Payroll Range.

But this is where I get a little fuzzy: Preliminary HRR for the prior League Year mulitplied by the Applicable Percentage minus Preliminary Benefits, divided by the number of Clubs then playing in the NHL shall equal the midpoint of the Payroll Range, which shall be adjusted upward by a factor of five percent in each League Year (yielding the Adjusted Midpoint) until League-wide Actual HRR equals or exceeds $2.1 billion, at which point the five percent growth factor shall unless or until either party to this Agreement proposes a different growth factor based on actual revenue experience and/or projections, in which case the parties shall discuss and agree upon a new factor.

Morals of the story:

The game: Aha. Now I see how New Jersey got away with the Kovalchuk deal.

Life: There should totally be a rule like this for executive salaries in Corporate America: the exorbitant, undeserving salary of CEOs and VPs who delegated their way to the top without actually working shall be determined by multiplying the number of individuals who actually respect said leader by his or her salary and bonuses, then divide by the number of employees who hate him or her, minus the hours said individual spends building paper clip forts and padding his or her expense report instead of working and leading to arrive at the salary midpoint range.

Next up: The results of the Portland-Seattle match up and Article 16, League Schedule: Playing Rosters: Reserve Lists: Practice Sessions.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Yeah, I definitely cursed it: Russia 5, Canada 3

The game: World Junior gold medal game, Canada vs. Russia.

You could say they defended their silver medal: But that's not what happened as Canada lost 5-3 to Russia after leading 3 - 0 going into the third period. Russia scored 5 unanswered goals in the third, three of which happened within five minutes of each other.

Maybe they should have changed places with the Pittsburgh Penguins: Who beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 8 - 1 in their first post-Winter Classic game. I've said it before, I'll say it again. You don't want to play the Pens in the wake of recent losses. They are the kings of comeback.

The only question was who didn't score?: Well, actually, Sidney Crosby. Or Steven Stamkos. But Crosby did grab an assist, so the streak is back.

Alas, comeback was not the order of the day for Canada: I believe one of my friends calls it a thermonuclear meltdown: Plain and simple...they let the game slip away. Russia took over and Canada never got back in it. But that doesn't mean Ryan Johansen's star shined any less brightly, that Jaden Schwartz was any less brave or that Brayden Schenn was any less spectacular. It just means that they learned one of life's biggest lessons at the worst of all times: never take anything you have for granted. You never know when you might lose it.

So yeah, I think it's safe to say I definitely cursed hockey this week: But the good news is, I don't think there are anymore epic, life-changing games I can ruin.

Morals of the story: Like life, a hockey game (or tournament) never goes the way you planned. And rarely just the way you wanted. Canada thought they had Russia under control, and they didn't. Nino Niederreiter went into the tournament with a promotion from breakout star to Captain and he ended up in the box during a crucial game. And Jaden Schwartz after already having been through more than enough, broke his ankle early on and wasn't able to even try to help his team on the ice. I truly do hope that one day the boys realize that warts and third period meltdowns and all, there was beauty in the midst of the disapointment:

1) Prize for coming back to still do well: Switzerland still finished at a strong 5th place, earning them a chance to return next year. They will play in Group A in Calgary. Hey! You learn something new every day: not every team in the world gets to join the fun. Only the top 10 teams are eligible to attend and compete in the World Juniors. And next year it will be in Canada (Calgary and Edmonton). No, I didn't know that. Go ahead, Facebook, Twitter, call your friends. I'll wait. In the meantime, allow me to issue a safety warning for Team Canada: Boys, if you lose again next year on home ice, you will need to enter the junior leagues' player witness protection program, where you will be forced to watch a loop reel of this year's game at least three times a day and the background music in restaurants, stores and elevators will consist of fans booing you.

2) Prize for oustanding sportsmanship and teamwork: Jaden Schwartz's teammates helping him literally hop out onto the ice to receive his medal. It almost made you forget the score, and it definitely reminded you that the players are better than what happened in that third period.

3) They're all stars in Portland too: Ryan Johansen was named to the tournament's all star team, Nino got promoted to Captain and Sven Bartschi made his first trip to the tournament. I guarantee you when the conquering heroes return, they will be welcomed. Damn the third period meltdowns and fifth place finishes.

4) Meanwhile the younglings did very nicely too, thank you very much: Over at the Under-17 World Challenge, Portland Winterhawks Derrick Pouliot and Brendan Leipsic were named Captain and Alternate Captain of Team West, respectively. They also racked up some pretty serious points and assists, and although it wasn't quite enough for a medal, they finished a still-respectable 6th.

Bottom line: Even two years ago, Winterhawks fans did not have international tournaments to cheer for, or players in prospects games or anything else of the sort. Disappointing though the final outcomes may have been, I hope one day the boys who trekked across the country or across the border realize that what they did these past few weeks was still pretty remarkable. And maybe, if we're really lucky, the hard lessons of this year's tournament will be our gain in the stretch run and the playoffs. Wanting to win is never enough. No matter what the score, the way to win is to do as the Russians did and play like you need to. And you never take any team or game for granted. Hurry back, boys. We have struggled through our own losses without you, and that, I think, will be enough of that.

Monday, January 3, 2011

I think I cursed hockey this weekend

The game: Canada vs. USA (World Juniors).

It's the all-Ryan Johansen and Team Canada show: Canada led by 3 going into the third period, courtesy of a third goal on the power play by Johansen. His linemae Zach Kassian put them ahead even further with a fourth goal with 15 minutes to go in the third.

Well, they are teenage boys after all: Ryan and Nino Niederreiter got a taste of NHL things to come when they faced off in a quarterfinal game yesterday, complete with chirping and shoving and little digs at each other. Get your ya-yas out now, boys. Because back in Portland, it's back to business as teammates and linemates.

Revenge is best served cold. Really cold.: Canada 4, USA 1. Canada faces Russia in the gold medal game, after cake walking right over the US.

What a difference a year makes: Last year at this time, Ryan was on deck for the CHL prospects game and still learning the finer points of WHL hockey. On his first try at the World Juniors, he heads to the gold medal game. So the story ends a little differently for Nino than he had hoped, but Switzerland still has the chance to at least finish 5th or 6th before returning home. Perhaps it was a loss for Team Switzerland, but for Portland it is always a win when our players compete on a world stage. And let's not forget Sven Bartschi, who has already delivered on early promise and he's just getting started. It's a good day for Canada, and a better one for Portland Winterhawks fans. You. Go. Boys.

Way to be cool, dudes: All the US players skated over to Jack Campbell to offer what looked like some encouraging words for a job well done. The IIHF agreed. Both goaltenders were named player of the game.

But back on the WHL, NHL, whatever-HL front: I might have to stop watching so as not to curse any more players or teams. To refresh, in the past four days, the Winterhawks lost a huge New Year's Eve game, the Pens lost the Winter Classic on their own ice, Switzerland lost to Canada in the World Juniors and Nino spent the final minutes of the game in the box, and now my favorite rookie Jordan Eberle is day-to-day with an ankle injury. I blame myself. I cursed it all. In case you were it wasn't the rain in Pittsburgh, it wasn't the officiating in Portland. I did it. And I promise not to watch hockey for 24 hours as penance. AFTER I'm done watching the Canada vs. USA game. And maybe the Boston vs. Toronto replay. Then I'll repent.

The only thing more pissed off than me right now: Team USA's bench. They looked so sad as that clock wound down. What a difference a year makes, indeed.

I was going to recap the top hockey moments of 2010, but Down Goes Brown did it better than I ever could: If you're not reading this blog, you should be.

Parting shots: You could tell by Nino's post-game comments and the Team USA bench how much the sport means to the players, and how much it stings when they lose. But lost in the unfortunate penalties and the blockbuster games that didn't quite go as I had planned, is the fact that precious few players get the privilege to even play in the World Juniors, Winter Classic, Olympics, whatever. Sidney Crosby has done all three, plus the Memorial Cup and times two for the Classic. Shiny things are pretty, but making it that far at all and playing honorably to the very last buzzer is prettier. This weekend, Portland welcomes home our conquering heroes, medal or no. Because for now, they are ours. All ours. Because they did us proud. If you live here, join us if you can. It's Saturday at the Rose Garden, what's not to like?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

It's the all Portland Winterhawks, all the time show

The games: Winter Classic. Canada vs. Switzerland (World Juniors).

About the Classic: Kudos to the Washington Capitals and Eric Fehr for getting it done. Boo to the NHL Network for making it all about the weather. So it rained and the puck bounced a little. Get over it. In Oregon, we do everything in the rain. Except wear fashionable attire.

Maybe they should have followed Washington's fine example and used a different goaltender: Biggest bummer of the night was watching a bad goaltending decision by Marc-Andre Fleury that allowed Eric Fehr to score the second Caps goal of the night. The Pens never looked like they fully recovered from that, and down came their game in front of 68,000 some odd fans on their home ice. As my little cousins like to say, it was a really big ouchy. The Pens have entered a mini-skid at the worst possible time. But I do feel good for the Caps that they are entering an upswing at the best possible time. Plus, how awesome would it be to be John Carlson? Last year he was scoring the winning goal for the US at the World Juniors and now this. Nicely done.

It's the Portland version of the Russia vs. US 1980 Olympic game: It was the all-Winterhawks game as Nino Niederreiter and Sven Bartschi (Team Switzerland) faced off against Ryan Johansen and Team Canada. Ryan is also Nino's linemate. Final score: Canada 4, Switzerland 1. Ryan goes back to his hotel as player of the game, having scored Canada's game tying number after Switzerland claimed an early lead, and pretty much setting up or assisting every other goal or chance. One of the TSN broadcasters (Pierre McGuire, I believe) said "whenever he's on the ice, something's happening." The win sets up a re-match/showdown between the US and Canada. Any self-respecting junior hockey fan will find a way to feign illness, personal emergency or other fake event to get out of work and watch it. Switzerland gets the dubious honor of playing the loser of the Finland vs. Russia game for placement at 5th or 6th place.

Oh, the irony: The power play on which Ryan scored happened because Sven was in the box for slashing.

Don't quit your day job on the forward line: Nino finished the game in the penalty box, after getting an unsportsmanlike penalty for trying to stop Zach Kassian's empty netter. Last year, he was the breakout star of this tournament. This year, he spent the last minute or so of crucial game on the bench. Hey, it's hockey. Nobody said it was fair. But Nino rarely takes an unsportsmanlike penalty, so it was especially hard to watch. On the other hand, it's a sign of his passion and commitment to doing all he can to try and help his team.

Anything was possible: Before he left for the tournament, I asked Nino what he thought the outcome would be if Switzerland ended up facing Canada. He struggled to come up with an answer and then said "Why not Switzerland? Anything is possible." Thanks to Switzerland's early goal and Benjamin Conz' stellar goaltending, for a time, it was. But alas, Canada is on a mission to avenge it's gold medal loss last year and they very nearly lost the chance to do so in the game to Sweden. And nothing much was going to stand in their way. Maybe the Swiss coaches didn't know that if you want to win, you have to feed Nino a chocolate snack every hour, on the hour.

The quirk:

Today, nearly all the match ups in the NHL involve a past or current Portland Winterhawk:

Dallas (Brenden Morrow) vs. St. Louis (Brett Ponich, 2009 Entry Draft)

Columbus (Ryan Johansen, 4th overall 2010 Entry Draft) vs. Nashville (Taylor Aronson, just signed a three-year entry level deal with the Predators)

Chicago (Marion Hossa, Mac Carruth, drafted 191st 2010 Entry Draft) vs. Anaheim (Luca Sbisa)

Phoenix (Jason LaBarbera) vs. Minnesota Wild (don't think they have a Winterhawk on board, but Mac is from there. Close enough).

Philadelphia (Braydon Coburn, who still has his Oregon number on his cell phone) vs. Detroit (former team of Marion Hossa).

Vancouver (Stefan Schneider, currently playing with AHL's Manitoba Moose) vs. Colorado (Troy Rutkowski, Luke Walker, currently playing with AHL's Lake Erie Monsters).

New York Rangers (Brandon Dubinsky) vs. Florida Panthers.

No wonder I'm annoyed and I bought a lot of food that's bad for me at Trader Joe's: Inside of a week, the Hawks gained a great new player and lost 2, they lost our New Year's game, the Pens lost the biggest game of the year except for the Stanley Cup final on their own ice and Sven and Nino didn't unleash an underdog win over Canada. Not exactly the week I was planning. But Ryan did get 'er done with Canada, Craig Cunningham scored a hat trick for Portland, Teal Burns and Spencer Bennett are on fire in Vancouver, and the Canada vs. USA rematch awaits. Now...what's a good excuse for leaving work tomorrrow around 4? Think, think, think.

Next up: The outcome of the USA vs. Canada game and updates from any further blockbuster trades for the Winterhawks (WHL trade deadline is January 10).

Saturday, January 1, 2011

It's the New Year. Time for hockey, of course.

The game: The Winter Classic. Duh. And yes, I've been sitting home watching the all day hype-o-rama on NHL Network.

The other game: Seattle Thunderbirds 4, Portland Winterhawks 3 (WHL).

It was all going so well: Last night's annual New Year's Eve extravaganza was not exactly the glorious shutout of 2009, but they can't all be showstoppers. Kudos to Craig Cunningham for nabbing the natural hat trick and to Brad Ross for making a concerted effort to stay off the penalty bench. You can read all about it here:

But then, there was this: If Portland fans care what I think, here you go: I agree that the questionable officiating had an impact on the game, but the boys also had a choice about the way they responded to that. They could have gotten their heads back into the game and tied it up instead of proceeding to chirp at the refs and get into some mini scraps. And the fans throwing cups and other debris onto the ice was simply unacceptable. What my father used to call T for Tacky. A "nattie hattie" by our newest prize possession shouldn't be lost in all that. Nor should a very choice, well-justified fight that Tayler Jordan started in defense of one of our other prize possessions, Ty Rattie. I went into last night's game feeling a little sentimental because last year's game was due in large part to Ian Curtis, who is no longer with the team. It will always rank among my top sports moments of all time. And Craig's hatter did kinda rival it, but the loss took the bloom off the rose. There. I said it. Now I feel better.

Meanwhile, in Buffalo: Linemates Ryan Johansen and Nino Niederreiter will face off against each other tomorrow afternoon for the chance to move on to the semifinals. It rivals the USA-Canada Olympic game from 2010 in my mind, but it's also a bit sad because one of those teams will not be moving on. oreognlive readers may recall I asked Nino what if this scenario happened, and as for Team Switzerland's chance, he said "Why not Switzerland? Anything is possible." I quite agree. Good luck to Ryan, Nino and Sven Bartschi, who is on Team Switzerland with Nino.

And the younglings aren't doing too bad either: Portland Winterhawks Derrick Pouliot and Brendan Leipsic are playing in the U-17 World Challenge for Team West, where Derrick is wearing the C and Brendan is wearing the A. Last night, they beat the Czech Republic 5 - 2. But wait, there's more. Brendan assisted on the first goal, and scored on the second with help from Derrick and Brendan Harms.

We like shiny things in Portland: Last year, Luke Walker returned from the World Juniors with a gold medal after playing with Team USA. No matter who brings it back, we definitely could use a little bling to brighten our spirits here.

T-minus 30 minutes: It's time to check out and get ready to devote my undivided attention to the Winter Classic face-off. Happy New Year to all and thank you for reading.