Saturday, January 24, 2009


Fans cheer during the first period of the NHL Winter Classic hockey game between the Detroit Red Wings and the Chicago Blackhawks at Wrigley Field, Thursday, Jan. 1, 2009 in Chicago.<br />(AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)It's been an interesting first half of the season, I have to admit. I've watched more hockey, and payed closer attention thanks to the fantasy league (KOD!!!!!1), than ever before. The Devils sit in first place in the Atlantic (better than I thought they'd be without Marty), the Sabres are in 7th in the East (worse than I thought, with all their young talent), and the Rangers are showing signs of weakness. I think it will be an interesting stretch run for the rest of the season.

I haven't mentioned it yet, but I just wanted to make a few comments about the Winter Classic.

Having the game at Wrigley Field featuring two Original Six teams: that's what the WC is all about. Despite the fact the stadium has been around for a century, there's an amazing lack of history. Really, since the 1908 World Series, what classic moments have occurred at the Frozen Confines? Not many. Sure, Ernie Banks hit his 500th, and the Bears won something or another. But you can't count things like "The First Night Game" as "history"; the team was simply too cheap to install lights before then.

(Just wondering: where did the snow come from? From the overhead views, I didn't see anything on the surrounding streets. I think they just trucked it in to make it look more wintery.)

The game was 100% Bettman free. I guess he's finally realized that he casts a pall on every event he attends, since he's been booed everywhere he goes since 1995.

NBC. NBC Sports is simply the worst. First of all, Doc Emrick had laryngitis and had to bail out--strike one. Second, the rest of the crew had nothing to add except bullshit musings about the wind maybe playing a factor (it didn't). Also, the director seemed determined to never show a single faceoff on camera, and they were constantly one step behind what was happening on the ice, including this Seabrook hit:

HE CHECKED HIM INTO THE HOTEL! (Pierre, shut up with your nay-saying "dangerous" blabbering, that was a fun check that you only used to see the NHL '94 video game.)

THE UGLY. Yes, the game received good ratings, giving the NHL a serious boost in their self-esteem. But unfortunately, the league doesn't know what makes this game a classic, as evidenced by their comments about possible future games in Vegas and the Rose Bowl. They simply don't have any clue what makes this game "classic". No, it's not just because it's played in the winter, it's because it celebrates the game's long tradition as a winter sport. The NHL, meanwhile, will do anything they can to shit all over that tradition.

Here's a great compilation of Top 10 Charity Point Goal-Off Circus Shots That Don't Really Count In The Stats (So Far).

Just one thing to say about this TSN Sportscentre (sic) video: THE GRAPHICS OBSCURE THE ACTION ON EVERY CLIP. Yeah, I know, they show multiple replays, but why does the clip description have to be in black across the middle of the screen? Put it at the top of the screen where the scoreboard already is! I don't know who to blame, so I blame ESPN.

ALL-STAR MEMORIES. This might be oft-injured (and now shelved for the season) Rick DiPietro's lasting legacy: dropping F-bombs on Versus.

"I fucked my hip up again." Eh, sit tight Fishstick Fans, he's got 12 more years to redeem himself!

No, I'm not talking about those players who had good first halves and were not selected. Because let's face it: ASG is all about the star players you want to see, not who had a good 30-40 games this season, and I have no problem with Mike Modano being there instead of someone like David Krecji. So what if the fans in Montreal, Pittsburgh, Chicago and Anaheim stuffed the ballot box, and put Giguere and Komisarek in the lineup? That only means that they cared about this game the most, and thus they get to see their favorites.

The "snubs" I'm talking about are the players who declined to appear, like Crosby (who is allegedly hurt) and the two Red Wings, meaning that the defending Cup champs will send NO representatives at all. That's pathetic, and shows what little the players think of Bettman, the league and the fans in general.

Still, it will be fun to watch those who do show up play in a loose, defense-free environment and show off their skills for a change, even if it seems the game is quickly becoming an irrelevant novelty.

CAPTION CONTEST. According to the AP this is Gary "Bettan" gesturing during a press conference:

NHL commissioner Gary Bettan gestures as he responds to a question during a news conference Saturday, Jan. 24, 2009 in Montreal in advance for this weekend's All Star hockey game. AP


UPDATE. OVIE in his AS duds--looking sharp.

MONTREAL - JANUARY 24: Eastern Conference All-Star Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals warms up during the McDonalds/NHL All-Star open practice as part of the 2009 NHL All-Star weekend on January 24, 2009 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada. (Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images)

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