We're all upset that the NHL has cancelled the first two weeks of the season. It's no shock, but it still is a tough pill to swallow.
Here's your stress relief, folks. Print it out, attach it to something, and have fun. Potato gun? Darts? Spitballs? Use whatever you'd like.
And yes, I know this isn't entirely 110% on Bettman, but it's fun and easy. Like I said on Puck Drunk Love, he's the figurehead, and he's got to accept some of the blame. Accept away, Gary.
We're all upset that the NHL has cancelled the first two weeks of the season. It's no shock, but it still is a tough pill to swallow.
I'm a hockey fan, obviously. I'm also a Cardinals fan -- they're my first sports love, and while I might first and foremost consider hockey my favorite sport, the Cards are my favorite team. I've written here before how hockey's allowed me to appreciate the Cardinals' World Series wins. The Blues've never won the Cup, and the Cardinals have won the most World Series in the National League. The fact that the Blues can't seem to seal the deal makes me appreciate what the Cardinals have accomplished even more. It's not easy to win a sports championship, and it's not easy to make the playoffs.
This year in Major League Baseball, it's easier than usual to make the playoffs with the addition of a second wild card slot. If the Cardinals win their game tonight (they're winning 1-0 at the time of this writing), they'll be in and facing off against the Braves at Turner Field on Friday. The question swirling around tonight (or whenever they clinch) might not be who the starter needs to be Friday. It might be if they need to pop the bubbly. I hate to be a buzzkill, but I don't think that they do.
Hockey players wait until they win the Stanley Cup (or whatever their league trophy is) before they celebrate. Sure, the t-shirts come out when they win their divisions and their conferences, but teams have their eyes on one thing, and the only thing worth popping the bubbly over is that grand prize. Getting into the playoffs when in any other previous season you'd be at home? Maybe pop a Busch Light.
I know ballplayers love their celebrations, and there's nothing wrong with being happy. I'm just saying that maybe some restraint is in order. But hey, at least we're not the Reds, who apparently made up their own trophy to drink from upon winning the division. That's just wrong, regardless of where you stand on the celebratory rule.
Still, the Cardinals -- and other ball clubs -- could take a hint from hockey players. Get focused boys, and bring home a real reason to spray champagne.
No one has ever said that Google Translate is perfect. In fact, it usually churns out some of the best butcheries of two different languages at once. Needless to say that wit the NHL lockout underway, players are heading overseas and people are trying to read press releases on foreign websites. It's nothing less than amazing.
Patrik Berglund will be playing with VIK Västerås HK in Sweden, and here's how their website is welcoming him to the team:
Well, ok then. I'm not really sure what that's supposed to mean, but there you have it. Patrik Berglund is now the Bergie Bump. The actual interview is in Swedish, so best of luck understanding that. Still, nice job representing St. Louis, Berg. Love the Cards cap.
Let's face it: the lockout's only a few days old, and already it sucks. What more reminder can we need? Well, as our friends at The Pensblog found out, the NHL's team pages are as blank as blank can be when it comes to members of the NHLPA. While not as blank as the Pens' site, the Blues have replaced David Backes' face with a stylized Blue Note. Witness:
Well, that's depressing. Frankly, the last time I saw a hockey website that was this stark was the Jets' website back when they were known as the Winnipeg NHL.
It's nice to be loved, isn't it? All of a sudden, hockey fans are the center of PR messages from the league and spiffy videos from the NHLPA (featuring David Backes!) explaining why people won't be going to any pre-season games this month, or NHL hockey games in general for quite some time.
I feel loved now, don't you? I mean, these guys are fighting for their paychecks, and they're still thinking of us.
It's always difficult to see a player, especially one that's been productive over the course of the last four seasons, leave in unrestricted free agency. It's one of those facts of life, though. Sometimes a team wants to go in one direction, sometimes they'd be happy sticking status quo but the status isn't quo-ing, and sometimes it's just un-realistic to stick with the known quantity.
In the case of Carlo Colaiacovo, it's the latter. Colaiacovo, it was reported, wanted a three year contract. Colaiacovo, as it is well known, tends to sit for around 20 games a year due to injury. While he was a good soldier for the Blues -- a solid top four guy with good stay at home sense that let Shattenkirk or Pietrangelo roam a little bit -- it just wasn't feasible for the team to pay someone a decent amount to be injured. The Blues have some defensive depth in the system, and are still on a bit of a budget. Would they like an upgrade? Sure. Are they ok with Ian Cole? Yup.
The Wings, though, whoo did they miss out on a lot this summer. Nicklas Lidstrom retiring? Check. Ryan Suter signing with the Minnesota Wild and not the Red Wings? Yup. Shea Weber staying put in Nashville? Yepper. They had holes to fill, and they have money and apparently patience for someone who is often injured. Ergo, Colaiacovo found a new home.
No one wants to see a Blue go to a division rival, let alone the Red Wings. But hey, it could have been worse! You guys know I'm avowed Barret Jackman fan. And the Wings wanted him. Ryan Suter? Naah. Let's get Barret Jackman! Sir Jaxx wanted to stay put in St. Louis, and the Wings settled for Cola. Eventually.
The Blues got the better end of the deal. Yeah, they're going to have to work with a green defenseman, but Cole'll grow up. Heck, he'll have a whole extra year (thanks, owners). Jackman? He's still a consummate professional, still stay at home guy, and still the kind of player a lot of teams would have gone for over the off-season. The Blues would have had a harder time filling the gap had he left; Cole in for Cola is do-able, but Cole for Jackman? Absolutely not.
I know some of you hate Jackman with every fiber of your being, and that's cool - but who do you want to deal with six times a year: Jaxx or Splodeybones?
Retrospectives and anniversaries of tragedies are hard for me to write on. Tragedies themselves find me at a loss of words, but to ask how I feel a year or so after one happens just seems to make the words come out clunkier. I know that I write because I'm a terrible verbal communicator, but when it comes to serious topics, it's almost as though my chronic muteness comes out on paper as well. Factor in that I didn't know anyone lost personally, and I fear any sort of reflection would come across as trite.
I'm not going to write a huge retrospective on Pavol Demitra and Igor Korolev, nor on Brad McCrimmon. If you want a retrospective, I've re-published mine on Demitra over on SB Nation St. Louis. I did just want to take a moment to remember those that passed away a year ago today and say that the hockey world is better off for having known those who died. Lokomotiv Yarlslavl is back on the ice this season, re-built from the ground up. Former Blue Curtis Sanford is continuing the St. Louis link to the team by tending goal for them. They, as an on-ice product, have returned. It's still important to remember though that those who made up the team a year ago will not.
Hi, all. You've probably seen my half of the Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Jets 1.0 Essentials post over at Puck Daddy that I co-wrote with Drew Mindell of Illegal Curve. There are parts of it that you will agree with, and parts that you don't. Maybe your favorite arena food was the Nutella crepes (that was #2 for me). Maybe your essential goal was when Kovy potted a hat trick a few years back against the Senators and almost won the game for the Thrashers. Maybe your unsung hero is Nelson Emerson or Scott Mellanby or Bobby Holik. Perhaps your swag is the third jersey or that awkward bird throwing a punch logo hat.
We're going to differ in opinion on a lot of aspects of this, but I think the one we're going to differ the most over is the "Franchise Villain" section. I chose several under-performing Thrashers -- whipping boys, if you will -- for a reason. Over the eleven years that the franchise existed, the team never had a team or an opposition player that you could consider a villain. Sure, some like Steven Stamkos and Jordan Staal owned the Thrashers, but there's no point in calling someone a villain when your team isn't being held back from a great accomplishment. The only people that did the holding back for the Thrashers were those on the ice, behind the bench (on occasion) and those in the front office. You can't look outside of the team for a bad guy -- you have to look within.
The go-to bad guys are Don Waddell and the Atlanta Spirit Group. That goes without saying, which is why I didn't say it. I'm getting tired of having to rehash and explain to everyone why the team relocated. I believe that most hockey-savvy people have at the very least a bare-bones grasp of how mis-managed the team was. Everyone knows that a decent share of the relocation blame lies on Don Waddell and ASG's shoulders. Why go over it again? You're flogging a dead horse.
I wanted to take a look at franchise scapegoats because consistently they've been the ones dogged for under-performance. Waddell had a few seasons worth of a grace period, and ASG was really a flagarant issue starting in 2007-2008 when they fired Bob Hartley and replaced him with Waddell. But every season except maybe the first one, on-ice performances shot this team in the foot. There were good teams put together -- the last season that squad ruled the roost the first half of the season before everything collapsed due to shoddy on-ice performances and the propensity to put terrible people out there on the PK. The Thrashers weren't always necessarily short on talent, but there were times where they were short on effort and short on willpower, and to me that's what needs to be called out more so than saying "blah blah Atlanta Spirit Group's incompetent blah blah Don Waddell can't draft blah blah Winnipeg."
It's been tiring to repeat the same line ad-nauseum for a year and a half, and frankly, I wanted to make the Essentials about the team that we loved, not the people that we hated. Why ruin a perfectly good chance to look back at the frustrating franchise that we called our own?
Pre-season predictions don't mean much to me. Some dude looking at last year's standings, looking at each team's off-seasons, trying to figure out who's going to win each conference... it's just opinion. It's even more fantastic when you're thinking about this season, which will probably be either lockout-shortened or just lost altogether.
Now, just because I said that I don't put a lot of stock in predictions (and power rankings) doesn't mean that I don't enjoy it when my team's ranked pretty well up there. Is it a jinx? Oh, probably so. But then again I'm a Blues fan and I've been conditioned to expect the gut punch at some point during the year. But isi it pretty fun when your team's picked to win the Western Conference? Yup.
The Hockey News hasn't released their predictions for first overall yet, but if you scroll through the other 14 teams on their list, you'll see one team missing from each conference. In the East it's the usual culprit, the Pittsburgh Penguins. The West? Your very own St. Louis Blues. My reaction? The usual Blues' fan mix of incredulity and "aw, yeah! We got recognized!" Of course, mixed in with that was a hint of "great, now our goaltenders' hips will explode and we'll finish last in the division." But still, it was more of the second of the bunch.
Still, the fact that THN picked the Blues is a bit of a mystery. The forwards didn't upgrade, but I guess they're counting on Chris Stewart actually playing this year and Andy McDonald and Alex Steen not being injured. Fair enough. Defense? Well, Colaiacovo's probably gone, so yay Ian Cole. Enjoy the big leagues. Goalies? Will Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott repeat last season or just regress to the mean? So many things about the Blues don't scream "Western Conference Champions," so either competition's weaker this year or The Hockey News is trolling every Central Division fanbase at once, including our own.
Of course, if the season's only half as long as it should be and the Blues get on a hot streak, then sure. Anything's possible.
BTW, here's exclusive footage of THN deciding their list. I'm sure that they had Detroit and Chicago in mind here.
So, it's August. There's a lockout looming around the corner, the Blues haven't done diddly squat, and hockey news is slim. This is the time of the year that I like the least, because I get to either do one of two things: not write because there's nothing to write on or I can pull stuff out of nowhere. I've done that a few times this week on St. Louis Game Time, so allow me to do so here.
For your viewing pleasure, here are some of the worst pieces of St. Louis Blues attire that I could find on the internet. It's sad, but the first two are actually team sanctioned. They're student night giveaways, and they're terrible.
First off, here's Teej:
And here's Petro:
Trendy. After the jump, more tackiness.