Saturday, February 26, 2011

I've moved to Kukla's Korner

The news: At last, I am officially one of the bloggers on Kukla's Korner ( This is a great opportunity and I am very proud to have been chosen to be part of Paul's hockey world.

What's the same: You'll still find all the same content you do here, but with a little more focus on the NHL.

What's different: The name (Above the Glass) and the location.

The local angle: The new title refers to my big picture take on the sport, and it's also named for my Portland Winterhawks season ticket seat.

Speaking of which: Fear not, Winterhawks family and fans. I'll still be featuring the Winterhawks on the new blog, and I'll be boosting my coverage on oregonlive as we head into the playoffs, NHL Combine and the draft. Be assured there will still be plenty of information and news about the Hawks in both places.

The indirect link: If you go to the general Kukla's web site, hover over the "Blogs" toolbar to click on it, or scroll down to the right side for the list of blogs. I'm second. I encourage you to go the general web site first, as Paul and his bloggers have a lot to offer. My personal favorites are The Confluence (Pittsburgh Penguins), The Malik Report (all things Red Wings), Beasts of the Southeast (Tampa Bay Lightning) and Canucks and Beyond.

The direct link:

For followers: You can continue following me on my new home. There is an RSS feed link on my blog. Or, even better, here is the direct URL:

Parting shots: Thank you to all who have followed, visited or read this blog since its inception in 2009. I appreciate each and every little kibble, visit and follower. I hope you will continue to share in my adventures on the new home. And Portland fans can keep tuning in on That will continue as is, and thanks to my press pass, look for photos in the coming months. And the archives of 87in107 will continue to live here, so you can peruse favorite past entries anytime. It has been my pleasure to provide you with information and entertainment here, and I look forward to continuing to do so.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

There are too many men playing hockey tonight

The games: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Phoenix Coyotes. Edmonton Oilers vs. Colorado Avalanche.

Why I chose them: Honkin' tall French Captain is back in fine form, the score is Tampa 8, Phoenix 3 with seven minutes to go in the third period. And there's Guy Boucher, mais oui. Matt Duchene is back. That means one current and three potential Calder nominees (Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Magnus Paajarvi) in one game. Good enough for me. So is this: Honkin' tall French Captain there racked up five points (one goal, four assists).

The other game: Portland Winterhawks plays tonight in the second of two games against Prince George Cougars.

You don't see this everyday: In last night's game between Portland and Prince George, both teams got coincidental penalties for too many men on the ice. If the WHL rulebook is similar to the NHL, yes this is possible. Here are the key highlights:

Rule 74, Too Many Men on the Ice:

-- Players may be changed at any time during the play from the players' bench provided that the player or players leaving the ice shall be within five feet of his players' bench and out of the play before the change is made.

-- If in the course of making a substitution, either the player entering the game or the player retiring from the ice surface plays the puck with his stick, skates or hands or who checks or makes any physical contact with an opposing player while either the player entering the game or retiring is actually on the ice, then the infraction of "too many men on the ice" will be called.

-- A player coming onto the ice as a substitute player is considered on the ice once both of his skates are on the ice. If he plays the puck or interferes with an opponent while still on the players' bench, he shall be penalized under Rule 56 - Interference.

Early bird special: He's not even on our roster yet, but keep an eye on the Portland Winterhawks' first round pick in the 2010 Bantam Draft, Nic Petan. He just played in the Canada Winter Games, which features young hockey players 15 and under. He was on Team BC, which won the tournament. More importantly, he racked up the game winning goal and four assists in the final gold medal game and the stick he used to do so will henceforth be living in its new home in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. Oh yeah, he's all of 16 (as of March 22), he's all of 5'6" and among his teammates on Team BC: Steen Cooper, running a very close second to Steele Boomer for best hockey name, ever.

In the meantime, we must make this happen: Ryan Johansen continued his blitz with two goals last night. He nearly had a hat trick about two weeks ago, save for a late video review that handed it to Brad Ross. So Portland readers, to refresh, we must all take a pre-game moment to repeat the following: Hat trick. Ryan Johansen. Hat trick. Ryan Johansen. I know we can make this happen.

Morals of the story:

The game: Like life, the devil is in the details. Or not. Notice that this rule does not define putting an extra player on the ice without pulling the goalie qualifies as a penalty. So math would not be one of the details you need to worry about, then? Discuss.

Life: There should be a rule like this for commuter gridlock. Once there are too many men on the highway, anyone who attempts to hit the freeway after that should be "penalized" by being made to return home, indulge in the extra cup of coffee, tea, whatever and try again at 9 am, when the rest of the rat race is safely esconced in cubeville in Corporate America.

Next up: The ongoing futile but noble attempt to understand the cap room rule.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Does Pittsburgh's payroll range have room for another Niskanen-Crosby fight?

The game: Washington Capitals vs. Pittsburgh Penguins.

Why I chose it: The rivalry continues, with two new players in tow following today's blockbuster trade with the Dallas Stars that sent Alex Goligoski to the Stars.

Oh the irony: The two Dallas players who will call Pittsburgh home for the rest of the season are James Neal and Matt Niskanen, the latter of which is best known for being the other half of a rare Sidney Crosby fight.

Ok, now I'm nervous: Anaheim Ducks' GM Bob Murray has stated in an inteview that he is concerned about Jonas Hiller's health. According to the latest reports he has a balance problem. Ok, I still don't freel any better. Goalies with balance problems, especially ones who are the reason I watch the Ducks, is generally not good. Equally scary is the fact that we've reached the point in the season that the injured reserve list of NHL teams on any given day is bigger news than trades, points or final scores.

The rule: Article 50, Team Payroll Range System; Lower Limit and Upper Limit; Payroll Room; Lower Limit and Upper Limit Accounting.

I'm reading slowly and carefully through this section, lest I should miss an important detail: The second half of (b) (i) "The Upper and Lower Limits of the Team Payroll Range shall be determined in accordance with the following formula" reads as follows: If a significant one-time increase or decrease in League-wide revenues (e.g. by reason of the addition or loss of a national television contract or the scheduled opening of one or more new arenas which is expected to result in a significant increase in League-wide revenues) is anticipated the next League Year, the parties will endeavor to estimate the expected increase or decrease and incorporate that estimate into the above-stated formula for calculating the adjusted midpoint. After adjustment for the revenue growth factor, the Payroll Range shall be constructed by adding $8 million to the Adjusted Midpoint to establish the Upper Limit, and subtracting $8 million from the Adjusted Midpoint to establish the Lower Limit.

Morals of the story:

The game: At last, a math equation I understand. Add a number to get the upper limit. Subtract a number to get the lower limit. On occasion, the NHL keeps it simple. Just like it should be.

Life: With the current economy still not showing official signs of improving, we need a rule like this, whereby if some poor soul should happen to experience a sudden downturn in salary due to a layoff, then his or her severance package range should be reconfigured to account for the sudden loss of guaranteed income to cover more money over a longer time, thereby protecting him or her from foreclosure and repossession of car and/or large household electronics.

Next up: Backtracking to what defines hockey related revenues. A word of caution, though: It's 24 pages long. I'll be doing the Cliff's Notes version.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

It's hockey day on my couch

It's hockey day in America, and that means: I'm not going anywhere. Not to the store. Not to the gym. Zip. It's a national holiday for hockey fans, and I therefore must devote my undivided attention to NBC's games of the week, the NHL Networks' pre-Heritage Classic extravaganza and of course, the Heritage Classic. Then maybe I'll go to the store to replenish the snack supply. Because a girl can get hungry sitting on her ass watching all that hockey.

It was hockey night in Portland: The Winterhawks kicked off the local festivities with Pink the Rink night, in which the ice was indeed pink, the team sailed to a 6-3 win over the Chilliwack Bruins that also clinched them a playoff berth and New York Islanders prospect Nino Niederreiter scored his first hat trick of the season:

The rule: Article 50.5, Team Payroll Range System; Lower Limit and Upper Limit; Payroll Room; Lower Limit and Upper Limit Accounting.

50.5 (i) The Upper and Lower Limits of the Team Payroll Range shall be determined in accordance with the following formula:

Preliminary Hockey-Related Revenue (HRR) for the prior League Year multiplied by [x] the Applicable Percentage (as defined in Section 50.4(b) of this Agreement, 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 (5) 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 (5) percent growth factor shall continue 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: So presumably, this is before taxes, then? And yes, the plus, minus, multiplied and divided by signs are in the actual rule. Just in case a team tries to get out of this on a they couldn't read the actual words.

Life: I've always wondered how companies determine salaries for their employees. They must use a formula like this, only with a few variations: the working middle class employees' salary shall be determined by adding the total potential hours worked and the talent/experience of said individual, divided by what the company actually thinks they are worth even if it's less than their actual value, minus the amount of money that must be reserved for executive salaries and bonuses, multiplied by the minimum wage the employee would be earning if they didn't have the ambition to claw their way to middle management. I didn't major in accounting, but I'm pretty sure it equals less than $100,000.

Next up: Part 2 of the Lower and Upper Limits.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

An NHL team must have a salary room of their own

The game: Montreal Canadiens' vs. Edmonton Oilers. Jordan Eberle is back. James Wisniewski is out. Eberle and Ryan Jones just scored 15 seconds apart to make it 3- 1 in the third period.

In case you need to put the name and the talent to the face: Oregonlive has a great feature about top prospect Ty Rattie, complete with photos. Read all about it at

The rule: Article 50.5, Payroll Range System; Lower Limit and Upper Limit; Payroll Room; Lower Limit and Upper Limit Accounting.

Part 2 of (a) Overview of Operation of Team Payroll Range: For purposes of calculating any Club's "Payroll Room" at a given point in time, the Upper Limit for such League Year shall be measured against the Club's "Averaged Club Salary" as defined below. Any Club with an Averaged Club Salary that is less than the Upper Limit has available Payroll Room in the amount of the difference between the Averaged Club Salary and the Upper Limit. As set forth below, if a Club has Payroll Room during a League Year, the Club may use such Payroll Room to contract for or otherwise acquire additional Player Salaries and Bonuses. A Club may contract for or otherwise acquire additional Player Salaries and Bonuses only to the extent of its Payroll Room, subject, however, to certain limited exceptions as set forth herein.

Morals of the story:

The game: Of course there's an exception. How else could you get away with the Kovalchuk deal?

Life: Think of all those gazillionaires on Wall Street who never would have made all that money if there was an Upper Limit on unscrupulous stock trader salaries. And if they did, they would have been traded away to a lesser brokerage firm for a lower salary. And all those working class citizens who socked away their money in stocks, bonds, mutual funds and whatever else wouldn't be putting off retirement or coming out of it altogether to make milkshakes at McDonald's.

Next up: Article 50.5, (b) "Lower Limit" and "Upper Limit."

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

There's always payroll room for outrageous NHL salaries

Score!: On Monday, I went to the Portland Winterhawks Booster Club pizza night thinking I'd either defend my title as the fan who buys Ryan Johansen a pizza, or I'd win nothing at all. I ended up with something in between. I won the auction for a hockey stick signed by all of our NHL draftees for the bargain bid of $65. There was nothing like meeting Ryan, but this will do very nicely, thank you.

The game: Edmonton Oilers 4, Dallas Stars 1. There is hope.

Mini bummer alert: The Flyers beat the Tampa Bay Lightning in a shootout 4 - 3. I'm about to watch the replay, but I'm guessing it also involved Guy Boucher flipping his lid and yelling at refs. When you can't have victory, you can have hot French coaches bugging out en Francais. Game on.

As that festive time of year known as the trade deadline approaches, you may hear tell now and again that a team doesn't have salary cap room and therefore must dispatch a player, or that they have a lot of room and can afford to acquire bigger, better talent. What does it all mean, you may wonder? I think it has something to do with this:

Article 50, Team Payroll Range System: 50.5, Team Payroll Range System; Lower Limit and Upper Limit; Payroll Room; Lower Limit and Upper Limit Accounting.

Let's start with this: (a): Overview of Operation of Team Payroll Range. The Team Payroll Range created by this agreement consists of a Lower Limit and an Upper Limit during each League Year for permissible spending by each Club based on its Averaged Club Salary. Team Payroll provisions do not permit clubs to have Averaged Club Salary below the Lower Limit. Nor does the Team Payroll Range permit the team to have Averaged Club Salary above the Upper Limit, except for 2 limited exceptions provided in this Agreement, with respect to bona fide, long-term Player inuries or illnesses, as set forth in Section 50.1(d) and with respect to the "Performance Bonus Cushion" as set forth in Section 50.5(h).

Morals of the story:

The game: What's missing here is the third "as set forth in" provision that allows once great teams like the New Jersey Devils to acquire over-hyped, underperforming talent that demands $100 million plus over the next decade. Key to this provision is the requirement that the player is not required to pull their weight or produce key returns on investment like goals, assists or all around team leadership.

Life: We have lower and upper limits for salaries in Corporate America, but nothing says a certain salary is too high or too low. Hence most companies are "run" by executives who make too much and the actual work that keeps said companies really running is done by people who make too little. Companies should try the food service system, where everybody makes a flat fee as required by law and the real money is earned through tips for exceptional service. If you work on the top floor of a building and make more money than God while spending most of your day in your fantasy whatever league, making paper clip forts and waiting for someone else to tell you how to take charge, then you make your little flat fee and go home. On the other hand, if you work on the middle or lower floors, but you have gone above and beyond your job description each and every time you take on a task, then you get that automatic 20 percent gratuity they tack onto room service, plus whatever else satisfied customers add on top of it. You save diligently, buy a bar in Mexico and eventually end up serving little drinks with umbrellas in them to the CEO and his buddies who have all lost their hair, their jobs and their wives. Justice sometimes takes a while, but it's always worth it.

Next up: The second half of the overview, which defines "payroll room."

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Get ready Columbus, Ryan Johansen is coming your way

The game: Portland Winterhawks vs. Seattle Thunderbirds.

The stats:

-- Winterhawks 8, Thunderbirds 2.

-- Portland went 6 for 7 on the power play, a season high.

-- Rookie defenseman Josh Hanson netted his first WHL career assist. Stay tuned. He graduated from high school at 16...imagine what he'll do once he starts getting more ice time.

-- Seth Swenson scored his second goal of the season, one week after scoring the first (which by the way, was the first time he'd scored in a year). The player to watch in the playoffs.

-- Columbus Blue Jackets' top prospect Ryan Johansen scored two goals in two minutes in the second period, and was thought to have scored a third for the hat trick. A video review led to the final ruling that the goal was in fact scored by his linemate Brad Ross on a deflection.

-- Oh, and the almost hat trick goal? Brad scored that 39 seconds after Riley Boychuk dove to put one into the Seattle net. And, it was on a power play.

-- Later, in the third period, defensemen Taylor Aronson and Joe Morrow scored three minutes apart. Are you with me so far?

You can read all about it here:

Like I said, when Brad and Riley stay out of the box, they know how to dazzle: Brad did not rack up one single penalty minute. Riley only got a four minute minor early in the game, and then he got on with the business of scoring.

Taylor and Joe never give me but a few words in interviews, but who cares?: Defensemen who score like that can stand there and pick their noses while I'm talking, I'd still be impressed. Well, ok, maybe that's a bit extreme. Hold the boogers and give me a quote whenever possible. And by all means, do carry right on with the scoring.

So Portland's getting on with the business of scoring, but meanwhile back in Pittsburgh: That goonfest against the New York Islanders was just the start of the Twilight Zone that is the Penguins:

First, Mario Lemieux isn't pulling any punches either. He issued this statement about the events of the other night:

Second, when your bus collides with a car and you are in full gear and need to get to an outdoor practice in Central Park: Hail a cab, of course. It is New York City, after all (

About that almost hat trick and the player who scored it: I first took notice of Ryan Johansen during an early season game in 2009, when he gave a good shove to an opponent and laid down a play that led to the Winterhawks scoring. I don't remember who the opponent was, or what period it was or what the score ended up being. But I remember looking down to take note of the player: Johansen, number 19. Little did I know that about five months later, I would meet him.

It was all a single moment of chance. I picked the winning ticket at the Portland Winterhawks Booster Club pizza night, where I bought him a pizza and he got to sit at my table. In the course of about an hour, I learned the following:

-- Why hockey players love golf: it's outside and non-hockey related. But contrary to my belief, it has nothing to do with being allowed to wear ugly pants in public.

-- That Nino Niederreiter does not in fact ride around in a town car with Troy Rutkowski at the wheel, chirping orders at him ("turn left up here, it's faster....turn up the heat, it's cold in here...can we stop for a snack?")

-- That Ryan had no idea he would go fourth in the 2010 Entry Draft, one spot ahead of Nino. In fact, he was more interested in talking about how cool Nino is than he was in talking about himself.

Moral of the story: Get ready, Columbus. Something very special is coming your way.

As for the rest of the NHL's future: If you've not already done so, I'd suggest you tune into the frequency of the following Winterhawks prospects and rookies:

-- Ty Rattie. It took me three tries before he realized I was talking about him and not the team when I asked him "what's it like to be awesome?" I don't remember the last time he went without an assist or a goal in a game.

-- Sven Bartschi. Switzerland's newest gift to Portland puts Swiss cheese on his Subway sandwiches, gives the very best soundbites, scores one-handed breakaway goals (, and has already played in the World Juniors and the Top Prospects game. Easily a top ten draft pick this year. Ditto for Ty.

-- Joe Morrow. First, let me be clear. Joe is one of the most quiet, shy, polite and totally upstanding players on this team, who would never pick his nose during an interview. Never. Period. Exclamation point. He likes to score breakaway goals whilst diving ( When he's not doing that, he likes to score slapshots from the point. And he knows how to drop the mitts. In the latest midterm draft rankings, he was ranked 16th overall. Defensemen tend to go later in the draft, but Joe is my dark horse candidate for a surprise first round pick.

-- Tyler Wotherspoon. He's racking up the points of late, including a perfect beauty (or two) in a recent 8 - 2 routing of the Tri-City Americans (

-- Seth Swenson. As he picks up more ice time, he's picking up more goals. I spoke to him recently, and the coaches have been pushing him to work on all aspects of his game, especially finishing his scoring chances. Mission accomplished. Look for a big finish this season and a stronger 2011 - 2012 season. He shared the Portland Winterhawks' academic achievement award last year with Vancouver Canucks' prospect Stefan Schneider (currently playing for the AHL's Manitoba Moose).

-- Josh Hanson. Graduated from high school at 16, just in time to come to Portland and play hockey. I've only met him once, during which interview I goofed and asked him where he was going to high school. In case you want to know just how dinged out I was: the article about his graduating early was located on, where I also blog. Way to go, Scrappy Doo. Not one of my finer moments, to be sure.

-- Jason Trott. Still working his way up to some serious ice time, but he has already notched up his first WHL goal and he must be taking fighting lessons from Riley, because he's pretty good with dropping the mitts too.

-- Brendan Leipsic. I believe he's officially the smallest player on the Winterhawks' roster. Not that you'd notice, because he gets back up when you knock him down, he likes to chirp and he doesn't take anyone's crap. Oh, and if you need someone to score on penalty shots and shootouts and what not, he's your boy. And, he wins hands down for best goal celebrations. When he notched his first WHL career goal, he went totally airborne when he slammed into the glass. I don't mean like he just jumped off his feet a little bit. I'm talking totally, completely airborne. Genius. Along with teammate Derrick Pouliot, he was recently chosen to wear one of the As for Team West at the Under-17 World Challenge. Keep him on the radar for the following in 2012: World Juniors, Top Prospects Game and the NHL Entry Draft.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

You tell me, you were watching it

Audience participation: I was at a Portland Winterhawks game, so I didn't see this..but can someone explain how this happened? New York Islanders 9, Pittsburgh Penguins 3. Wait, don't answer that, I got it: combined penalty minutes: 346, including 12 fighting majors.

I don't know how this happened either: Tri-City Americans 5, Portland Winterhawks 0. But I think it might have something to do with this: per the web site, Portland PIMs 51, Tri-City Americans' PIMs 25.

What went up had to come down: Two nights ago in Spokane, Portland scored five goals in just under 2 minutes in the first period. And it went uphill from there. You can read about both games here:

Note to Ryan Johansen's parents: We have victory. At last, I got an original quote. I was so impressed I showcased it as 'bite of the night on oregonlive: "we didn't play the game in the moment." Of course, it was about a losing game, but's progress.

Or, you can always the ole turn an answer into a question technique: When I asked Ryan (who just took over as the Columbus Blue Jackets' top prospect) what exactly happened out there he said "you tell me, you were watching it." I believe the key was penalties, penalties, penalties for Portland. Ryan and Sven Bartschi agreed: in fact they pointed out its how Tri-Cities beats us most of the time.

You can't score from the box, my little rookies: Sven has spent four or more minutes in the box for the last three games. He didn't have much of a reason, except for plain old bad luck.

Morals of the story: Not sure how the Pens fell to the worst team in the league. I'm not sure I want to. I don't know how the Hawks ended up in the box and not on the scoreboard. But sometimes it is just as simple as getting away from your game, not living or playing in the moment and simply running out of luck. The Hawks need four points and Seattle needs to lose four in order for the team to clinch a playoff berth. The Pens need to stop losing to one of the worst teams in the league. For now, the luck has run out and they will have to find some other ya' know....playing the game in the moment. It works in life, so it should work in hockey.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A playoff journey starts with a single trade deadline

This is yet another reason why I own a Mini Cooper: I popped into Rasmussen Mini for a quick repair and some smart cookie had tuned into the Boston Bruins vs. Montreal Canadiens game on the waiting room TV. So, since I was held hostage to an original six matchup/boxing match:

The games: Boston Bruins vs. Montreal Canadiens. Edmonton Oilers vs. Chicago Blackhawks.

The scores: Boston 8, Montreal 6. Chicago 2, Edmonton 0 going into the third period. But Jordan Eberle is back, so not all is lost.

187: number of combined penalty minutes in the Boston vs. Montreal game.

Goalies are the new enforcers: Carey Price and Tim Thomas went at it, in a pretty even fight where both goaltenders' jerseys were removed. To refresh on the rule regarding jerseys and fights:

47.13, Jerseys: A player who engages in a fight and whose jersey is removed (completely off his torso), other than through the actions of his opponent in the altercation or through the actions of the Linesman, shall be assessed a game misconduct penalty. A player who engages in a fight and whose jersey is not properly tied down, and who loses his jersey in that altercation, shall receive a game misconduct penalty.

Standing penalty bench only: In the NHL Rulebook, the penalty bench has to be built to hold 10 people, including the penalty timekeepers. Of course, it doesn't tell you what size people it should hold. Like, for example, 8 foot 10 NHL defensemen. That might explain why -- after a line brawl near the end of second period in the Boston vs. Montreal game -- players were standing in the penalty bench because six from each team went to their respective boxes.

We now interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to bring you this update from Portland: The Winterhawks just scored 5 goals in 1:59 late in the first period in a game against Spokane. The first goal was scored (shorthanded) by Taylor Peters, who was invited to the Pittsburgh Penguins' training camp last fall, and the rest were the work of NHL draft picks (Brad Ross, Riley Boychuk, Ryan Johansen, Craig Cunningham).

It is midway through the second period, and they are now leading Spokane 7 - 2. Winterhawks' goal number 6 was courtesy of Craig and thank you 2011 draft prospect Joe Morrow for number 7. Oh, and wait, we're up to 9 - 2. Number 8 and 9 were courtesy of Brad Ross, with the hat trick (number 8 was a breakaway). And he just came back from a minor concussion that kept him out of the last Winterhawks' game. For those who've been following my oregonlive blog, the Brad Ross breakaway curse is broken. The guilty party must be on vacation.

Tick tock: With the trade deadline looming, it seems appropriate to cover that article in the NHLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Less is more: In Article 1, Definitions, "trade deadline" shall have the meaning set forth in Section 13.12(j) of this Agreement.

13.12(j), Transfers to/from Minors: A player may be loaned to a club of any League affiliated with the League at any time up to 3 pm New York Time of the 40th day immediately preceding the final day of the regular season (the "trade deadline").

Morals of the story:

The game: Oh. So that's why it changes from year to year.

Life: If we had a trade deadline for milestones in life, would it stop us from slacking and procrastinating and proclaiming that someday we'll move the coast of Spain to write a best selling novel? If we knew that if we didn't achieve the goal, produce the novel, lose that weight, whatever, that we would be toast by a very specific deadline, would we let it slide? Discuss.

Next up: I may be forced to take a detour for some post-Winterhawks reflection. We are now up 10 - 5 as I post this.

Monday, February 7, 2011

NHL Rule 48.1: No bumps to the noggin. Sort of.

The games: Vancouver Canucks vs. Ottawa Senators. Edmonton vs. Nashville. Chicago vs. Calgary.

Why I chose them: Jordan Eberle and Shawn Horcoff are back. The Oilers just shut out the Predators. The Vancouver vs. Ottawa game is in high-def, a rarity on Center Ice.

Back to the future: With concussions and head hits in the news these days, I thought this would be a good time to refresh on the newest addition to the NHL Rulebook.

The rule: NHL 2010 - 2011 Rulebook. Rule 48, Illegal Check to the Head.

What it is: 48.1, Illegal Check to the Head. A lateral or blind side hit to an opponent where the head is targeted and/or the principal point of contact is not permitted.

What they do about it: No minor penalty provision. They go directly to a major penalty and an automatic game misconduct. The Referee, at his discretion, may also apply a match penalty if in his judgment, the player attempted to or deliberately injured his opponent with an illegal check to the head. any player who incurs a total of two game misconducts under this rule, in regular or Playoff games, shall be suspended automatically for the next game his team plays. For each subsequent game misconduct penalty the automatic suspension shall be increased by one game. If deemed appropriate, supplementary discipline can be applied by the Commissioner at his discretion.

Aha. I see what's wrong with this rule: The punishment doesn't fit the crime. I mean, really, what's a few game misconducts and a suspension going to do to the offender, except piss him off a little? In the end if you bump a guy's noggin, eventually you come back. Trouble is, the guy you whacked usually doesn't, because he can't.

That is why I say let's give this a try: If you wonk a dude's noggin hard enough to take him out for the season or longer, then you are suspended for the same amount of time it takes to him to fully recover and return to the game. And if he has to retire because of your antics, then guess what? Better brush up that golf game, 'cause in my book you'd be toast.

Come on now, Sam, that's a little harsh now isn't it?: Nope. Head hits are a cheap, cowardly and easy way out of a hard situation. You want to beat a top 10 team or a player like Sidney Crosby in a huge game during the stretch run or playoffs? Play a better, faster, smarter game. If you are good enough to get into a top line in the NHL, then you are good and smart enough to find a better way than blind side/open ice hits to the head. Period. End of rant.

The Sidney Crosby factor: Is the League paying more attention just because it's him? Maybe, but think about it this way: it's just another way he's changing the game. Concussions have ruined players' careers and lives when they were still in their prime. The most exciting thing about players like Malkin and Crosby is that the best is yet to come, provided they recover properly and fully from their injuries. To miss out on what they will contribute to the sport in the next 10 to 15 years would be truly unfortunate and tragic.

Yeah, Sam, but lots of players got hit in the head and they went right on playing: Right you are. Eric Lindros carried right on, and we all know what happened to him, don't we?

Morals of the story:

1) The punishment needs to fit the crime, and it needs to apply to every player, every time. It works for disciplining little children, it should work for the NHL.

2) Smart players should find a smarter way to deal with their opponents. Like, ya' know, the kind of goals that Jordan Eberle scored in his first NHL goal. Or Derek Stepan's hat trick in his NHL debut. Cool, smart stuff like that.

3) Like life, when you're seriously injured in hockey, it's always better to take the long view. Coming back for a batch of playoff games may seem noble and necessary at the time, but if it means not ever playing to your potential again or missing part of the next season, it's not worth it.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Hey, I know, let's get all our star players on the injured reserve list at the same time.

The games: Anaheim vs. Colorado (2/5), Pittsburgh vs. Buffalo (2/4).

This is not good: Jonas Hiller is not in the net, due to fatigue and lightheadedness, according to the team.

This is really, really not good: Evgeni Malkin, as many had predicted, has a serious knee injury. His ACL and MCL are torn. I'm not a doctor, but I'm pretty sure that tearing any body part that ends in CL is not good.

The Portland Winterhawks are in a bit of an injury rut as well: Team Captain Brett Ponich underwent surgery on his left knee Thursday. Oliver Gabriel is out for the season due to shoulder surgery. More painful than the injuries is that because they will both be overagers next season and have signed with their NHL teams, it is unlikely we'll see either of them on our ice again. One game, one injury and they are done. Just like that. And just like the NHL, no one is invincible. But it is particularly hard in this case, because Brett came to Portland at an all-time low with the team, and finally, this year we are in an ideal position to contend for the Memorial Cup. While Brett will no doubt provide other forms of leadership, the likelihood it will be of the on-ice variety is very small. And Oliver is one of the team's best underdog stories. He wasn't drafted in his eligible year, got invited to the Columbus Blue Jackets' training camp in 2010, and ended up signing with them. No one is more deserving of a chance to lift very large shiny objects than Brett and Oliver. And so they shall, if the team continues winning like they are now. I find in general that early hardship in life means one of two things: 1) great character and success later in life because you learn the lesson and you survive it well, or, 2) you keep going down the rabbit hole because you don't handle it well. I've met Brett and Oliver, and for them, I'm all in for option 1.

Speaking of winning, you can read all about Portland's late game heroics against Edmonton here: Hint: it involves a strong first period, a slightly lazy second period, and a reinvigorated third period, during which two empty net goals were scored in 17 seconds. Look for more ice time and goals from Seth Swenson, who scored last night for the first time this season. Or if you are his teammate Nino Niederreiter, with his very cool Swiss-German accent, Seth Svenson.

Ok, this is just creepy: I'm up to the Article in the Collective Bargaining Agreement about injured reserve lists. 16.11, Injured Reserve List:

(a) A Club may place a player on the Injured Reserve List if such player is reasonably expected to be injured, ill or disabled and unable to perform his duties as a hockey player for a minimum of seven days from the onset of such injury, illness or disability. It goes on to explain that if the player continues to be injured or ill at the time training camp starts, he will still be eligible to be placed on the list.

(c) To paraphrase: Players on the Injured Reserve List may travel with the team, attend team meetings, participate in practice sessions with the active roster. They may also have access to the team's training and medical facilities during regular business hours, but the team may restrict their access during times when the active roster is expected to be there, and for reasonable periods of time before and after that.

(d) Once a player is placed on the Injured Reserve List, the Club can replace him with another player, but he doesn't count against the player's active roster. However, the injured player and his replacement's salary and bonuses both count against the team's actual club salary and averaged club salary.

Morals of the story:

The game: Of course the money counts, and the player doesn't. The NHL is still a business after all. And who wants to hobble to team meetings on their crutches or in bandages and braces and what not, only to be kicked out when the active roster shows up? Injured reserve makes it sound like you're still important to the team, but according to this rule, you're not.

Life: This is a bit like the laws that govern work-related injuries and disabilities. Theoretically it should protect you long enough to let you rehab the injury, and not encourage you to take advantage. While there are some people who truly didn't mean to hurt themselves and just got unlucky, there are also those who scam the system and take advantage, hurting everyone in the process. Pity is, a lot of the time the people who really want to get back to work can't and the ones who are scamming don't want to work.

Therefore, with our new government taking power, I suggest a new system whereby we follow the NHL injured reserve list rule, which does have a provision for discipline by the commissioner if he feels the team has taken advantage of the rule. Kinda like he did when Jersey circumvented the salary rule. Of course all that means is that Kovalchuk makes two million dollars less for two years less. On the other hand, they are losing talent because he is eating their salary cap, so there is still punishment. But still, some discipline is better than no discipline.

Next up: 16.12, Non Roster Player.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Do the time, get your own room

The games: Dallas Stars vs. Boston Bruins. Philadelphia Flyers vs. Nashville Predators.

Why I chose them: All of these teams boast a former or current Portland Winterhawk on their roster or in their system (Brenden Morrow, Braydon Coburn, Craig Cunningham, Taylor Aronson). Simply put, it's a must.

B equals C: Today, Portland Winterhawk Captain Brett Ponich underwent surgery to repair his left knee. Chatter is already afoot about who would wear the C in his place. This being hockey, there's probably some goofy WHL hockey rule that says someone else has to wear it while he's recovering. But if it's not buried in legalese somewhere, I say leave it where it is. There's more than one way to lead, and it doesn't always involve being on the battlefield that is an ice rink.

Speaking of goofy rules: Article 16, League Schedule; Playing Rosters; Reserve Lists; Practice Sessions.

16.8, Travel Requirements: No Club shall be required to travel on the day of an NHL Game if the average scheduled flight time for the airplane on which the Club would travel is greater than two and one half hours; provided however, the foregoing shall not be applicable if the Club has played an NHL Game on the day before.

16.9, Single Room Accommodations: Any player who has played 10 professional seasons under an SPC and has played in 600 NHL Games (including NHL Games dressed for Goaltenders) shall be entitled to elect to have single room accommodations for all Club road trips.

Morals of the story:

The game: So, basically anything that interferes with the time-honored tradition that is the game day nap is not allowed. And if you've put up with 600 games worth of another player's snoring and not lining up his shoes (which, apparently, Sidney Crosby does) then yeah, I can see where you've paid your dues and you are entitled to get your own room. And by the way, I line up my shoes too. I also leave my clothes in a neat little pile on a chair. So no, I don't think it's weird. Of course, I am also a full scale nutter who likes things a certain way, but that's a whole other problem.

Life: What if you had the travel rule for 9 - 5 jobs? No employee shall be required to show up right at 9 and work all day if they worked overtime until well after 8 pm the night before. Nor shall they be required to stay after 5 if they got up at o dark thirty to attend a breakfast event that started at 7 am and that they had to attend so their company could look good in front of potential clients who really, aren't going to buy your products just because you got up at o dark thirty to eat rubber eggs with them. Furthermore, if any employee is asked to work outside these very specific restrictions, they shall be entitled to a one hour nap, undisturbed, under their desk or at another suitable location to be mutually agreed upon by the employee and their employer. They will be allowed a fifteen minute grace period thereafter to wake up, wipe the drool off their face and eat a small chocolate snack before returning to work.

Next up: 16.11, Injured Reserve List.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Maybe I'm just allergic to non-hockey days

The game: LA Kings vs. Edmonton Oilers. Pittsburgh Penguins vs. New York Islanders.

Why I chose them: Anze Kopitar vs. Taylor Hall. The Pens seek to keep the wins going against the Islanders, minus the two-headed monster. What's not to like?

Coincidence, allergy, or just plain cooties?: There was no hockey anywhere on Monday. And Monday night, I came down with a monster cold. Coincidence? I think not. I now have proof that not watching hockey can actually make you ill. There should be a new rule for that: the NHL shall guarantee that all days during the regular season will be active playing days with at least one game on all said days.

The other rules: Article 16, League Schedule; Playing Rosters; Reserve Lists; Practice Sessions.

16.6, Practice Sessions: Practice sessions shall be scheduled at reasonable times in accordance with the general practice of Clubs in the league.

16.7, Game Times: The NHL agrees not to schedule the start time of any Regular Season or Playoff Game before 12 noon (local time). If the League seeks an acception, the NHLPA has to consent.

Morals of the story:

The game: So, if the rest of the League likes to get up at noon and practice from 1:30 to 4, then you can too? Excellent rule. Unless of course, the rest of league likes to get up at 0'dark thirty and complete practice before breakfast. And just so we're clear, if you live on the West Coast, some games do start before noon, just not local time.

Life: I need the NHL workday schedule. I barely function before 10 am, and I much prefer not to start my day until at least noon. I have no problem with ending my work day around 10 or 11 pm, but alas my schedule is not in accordance with the general practices of other working professionals. So into every workday I go, half asleep and useless until my mid-morning snack around 11. Such is life. And like hockey, nobody said it was fair. And nobody said it keeps a reasonable schedule.

Next up: 16.8, Travel Requirements; 16.9, Single Room Accommodations.