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.


  1. Great Writing and Message to Dedicated Families and Players! My concern is why did you not name all 23 players on the roster? There are 5 missing from your list of players of the future. The entire 2010-2011 Winterhawk roster of 23 are ALL Very Talented players and Deserving of accolades.

  2. I think it's called blogging after midnight. Falling asleep at the computer = missing players. Oy! Also, I've not met the other 5 yet, so I think they haven't been firmly ingrained in the brain the way the others have. For non-Portlanders, the other 5 are Troy Rutkowski (also known affectionately in Portland as "Colorado Avalanche prospect Troy Rutowski"), Seth Swenson (one of the few Americans on the roster), Josh Hanson (graduated from high school at 16, one of the other Americans on the roster), Jason Trott and Keith Hamilton (mentioned above in the "top 10"). With exception of Troy, most have not seen a lot of ice time just yet, but it looks like that's improving as we had into the stretch run. You are quite right, all deserve notice. And now that Mike Johnston is putting them on the ice more, I'll have more chance to meet them, quote them and feature them here and on oregonlive. I highly doubt this will be the last time I feature a special note to the parents or players, so look for future entries to include ALL our players of the future.

  3. Correction, part 2: Ok, so posting corrections after dinnertime probably isn't a good idea either. I have met Keith, but it's only been a handful of times. Very cool kid from what I've seen so far.