Friday, February 26, 2010

It's A Celebration!

The Canadian Woman's Hockey Team were victorious in their Gold Medal game versus the only real rival that they have in the world and the only team that can play at their level, Team USA.
I am not going to get into the politics involved in woman's hockey right now and whether or not it should be an Olympic Sport as the other countries are slow in developing programs in their respective countries. Finland does seems to be making an effort and china is a lot better they they have been but if they aren't careful it could spell the end of Olympic Woman’s Hockey...but I have deviated away from my original theme.

The Canadian Woman won a spirited and well played game versus the Americans where they managed a 2-0 shutout victory. 18 year old phenom Marie-Philip Poulin was the lone goal scorer and Olympic rookie Shannon Szabados pitched the shutout for Canada. This years team was a healthy mix of young and old and have come a long way since their camp in Calgary last summer and played over 50 games versus many Midget Boys AAA teams and international friendlies versus the same team they beast for the gold, Team USA.

Going into the tournament I knew that, as everyone else did, it was going to be a USA Canada Final. There were a few players that I was excited to watch and see how they would do; Captain Hayley Wickenheiser was one as she was the leader and the most recognizable player on the team. The young Szabados in net as the Canadians had 3 goaltender that could very well have been #1’s. Marie-Philip Poulin was the third (in the summer Lightning Captain Vincent Lecavalier saw her on the ice and remarked that she skated and shot the puck well enough to be in the NHL...and he was not joking). Last but not least was Meghan Agosta from Mercyhurst College - she was the most pleasant of all. Agosta was named tournament MVP with 15 points.

Like I said I was looking forward toward seeing Meghan Agosta play, she did not disappoint on the ice...or after the game. The Woman had a bit of an unscheduled party on the ice at Canada Hockey Place that got caught on “film” where some members of the team were on the ice enjoying beer and smoking cigars in celebration. They worked hard, they came up big, and then they played hard — the way athletes so often do.I don’t have a problem with this as much as some have. Boys may be Boys, but Woman can be Woman and there should be no double standard. If this were a men’s team it probably isn’t as big a deal. Sure it was not a good idea to be doing it in the arena, the lit cigars inside may have been a little above and beyond and maybe the alcohol should have been left in the locker room but come on, hockey players have done worse.

I say no harm no foul. Would I say the same thing if it was USA who won and did the same thing...i don’t know, and thankfully I don’t have to make that decision. I probably would have called them out and said it was a cocky US thing and was in bad taste...but Canada won, so it is OK. Canadians are often criticized for not being patriotic enough or wave the flag enough or pound our chests enough. It wasn’t the best decision but it is done and we are all still proud of our Canadian Woman.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Canada Takes The Next Step

“Hope nobody hurt their ankle jumping off the bandwagon. Miller stood on his head and Canada was in line to play Russia at some point, it may just be a little earlier then we may have wanted. Stop bitching and try to enjoy the extra game” ...

This is what I wrote on Sunday when Canada lost to the USA in the Round Robin portion of the tournament. Then there was the German game where Canada managed to beat Germany 8-2 on Tuesday. Some people were crying that they wern’t shooting the puck enough...they still managed 8 goals not bad for not shooting. In any event they moved on to face the Russians in a game where I would bet no one had any idea which way it was going to go. It was my belief that the team with the first goal would likely take the game, maybe in overtime or in the shootout but not in a 7-3 drubbing.

Mike Babcock proved that he can out-coach the Russian coach. Questionable decisions or lack of decisions were very costly to the Russians. Lines and match up adjustments needed to be made...they were not. Nabakov needed to be pulled after 20min...he was not (Russia outscored Canada 2-1 after Bryzgalov came in).

Now Canada is is still a long way from a possible Gold medal and regardless of who they play (Sweden or Slovakia) in the next round they have at least put themselves in position to play for a podium placement. A step up from the last Olympics where they ended up in a similar position to where Russia is in now.
It will be interesting to see how the rest of the tournament plays out but at least for one night Canada can hold its head high and celebrate a great win and a well played game. I just hope that they know that there are still 2 games left until the job is done. The next game has to be played with the same physicality and passion that they had tonight.

I love Pepsi but lets be real, “Go Canada Go” still is a lot better then “eh-oh-Canada-go” and I am glad that it did not catch on. Also they can cut the Ole-Ole music in Canada Hockey Place this isn’t a “Footie” or “Soccer” match.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Duff & Comrie Engaged

I think that is is just a little bit funny when opening up Yahoo Canada that the headline reads: Hilary Duff engaged to Canadian NHL star
I am not sure what sources they are using but I find it a little far fetched to classify Mike Comrie as a hockey star. Sure it makes for a more enticing headline then to say serviceable hockey player but it is way too much of a stretch to say star.

I will extend a congratulations to the two on their impending nuptials as confirmed by Duffs PR people. "Hilary Duff & Mike Comrie were engaged this weekend while vacationing in Hawaii," the rep said in a statement to Access. "After having been together for over two years, they are very excited to share this happy news. They are thankful for all of your warm wishes."

The two shouldn't have any difficulty in furnishing a home together as his uncles Fred Comrie and John Comrie, and his father, Bill Comrie, are the founders of The Brick furniture company.

In any event I am sure that Hillary will make a nice little hockey wife. (Comrie during an interview on The Team 1200 said that she was a good little hockey girlfriend)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I Got A Fever! And The Only Cure Is More Olympics

I watched Beijing and I got hooked and bought into the whole Summer Olympic experience. I watched all I could and enjoyed most of it. Sure I am not going to watch the 3m springboard or the 200m backstroke again until the London Olympics but for those 2 weeks I was in. The same looks to be holding true for the Winter Olympic in Vancouver. I knew that they had me when I watched the entire ski jumping completion including the qualifying. After the announcer explained how they generated the speed and power to launch themselves down the hill, I began to try to break it down myself to see if I could tell if it was a good jump or not (I will admit that I am still no further ahead but that isn’t going to stop me). Luge-cool.....alpine-sure why not....speed skating - close so it is compelling...snowboarding- gnarly. The only thing so far that just isn’t holding water is cross country skiing. They don’t even race. There is a staggered start and they race the clock and then just sit back and hope that their cardio brethren doesn’t match their time. Then at the end to drop like they were hit by a sniper. Yeah, your tired, you sold out and left it all on the course...we get it, so does just about every other athlete in their sport. Marathon runners manage to stay on their feet you’d think that these guys could do the same.

The only down side is just what a Cluster F%#@ the first few days of the games have been. When you start off with a tragic storey like the death of a Luger even before the Opening Ceremony that casts a pretty somber shadow over the games. Then you go to the Opening Ceremony itself it was not as big a success as it could have been. All in all the show was great but there were a few exceptions. The singing of O Canada was sung by a girl with a great voice but she butchered the anthem. She tried to over "Pop" it like she was at the Grammy’s or something. Bryan Adams? Really? Where was Rush? The giant falic symbols were interesting and got some snickers from our brothers to the south. Couple that with the hydraulics not working and only 4 of the 5 sides of the Olympic Indoor Flame structure coming out of the floor.
The Electric "Green" Zamboni that kept dropping hot water on the ice at the long track oval causing countless delays (It didn’t help that the racers kept kicking chunks of ice up). Thankfully a gas one is on the way from Calgary.

Then you have to look at all the events out at Whistler where events are being postponed on a daily basis. Practices, qualifying and finals are being put on hold due to rain, fog, warm weather, snow...pretty much whatever happens it is bad for the hills. Some Snowboard competitions have been postponed as well and spectator tickets have had to be refunded.

Yep That is right people, pack your winter jacket and head to Canada’s warmest city!! Good for golf in February maybe not the best for Nordic events.
Either way I will watch the filler material and catch whatever events come up first.

Go Canada Eh! I’m OOOUT!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

SI's Cover Girl

Sports Illustrated has made a young girls dream come true and at the same time will have brought great joy young boys and men alike. Oh yeah and some woman who are looking for the new fashion in Swimsuits (although they may be in the minority).

Last night it was revealed that this years cover girl of SI’s annual and always anticipated Swimsuit Edition is none other then the lovely Brooklyn Decker. Decker has been working with SI for a few years now and she has finally made it to the pinnacle and is now donning the cover, joining the likes of .. Bar Refaeli, Marisa Miller, Kathy Ireland, Elle Macpherson, and Rachel Hunter, Rebecca Romijn, Cheryl Tiegs and others.

Brooklyn is not only known for being ridiculously good looking and by all accounts (based on interviews that I have heard with her) a very nice person who is surprisingly down to earth considering who she is. What adds to her celebrity is the fact that she is married to the top rated USA male tennis player and former World #1 and US Open champion Andy Roddick.

Roddick is known for having a great serve and was involved in the epic Wimbledon match versus Roger Federer that clinched the 15th Grand Slam of Federer’s career in one of the best matches of all time last year. A fiery competitor he has been known to get over emotional on the court but that did result in one of my favorite quotes ‘You aren’t good enough to be this cocky!’...Classic. He also dropped the "You’re an idiot! Stay in school kids, or you’ll end up being an umpire." Not a bad little power couple and will likely have the most beautiful children ever created. Just wait for a few years when their child hooks up with David and Victoria (Posh) Beckham’s kid and creates the ultimate super child that will one day rule the world.

(Little known fact: This year if/when there is a wardrobe issue the word "Pepperoni" is said as a discreet way of letting the girls know that they need to adjust themselves.)

Good call by SI and congrats to Brooklyn.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Super Bowl Sunday

Super Bowl Sunday is here and all the hype over the last two weeks is coming to a head. Thankfully they moved the Pro Bowl to the bye week in between the Conference Championships. Because everyone was able to complain about how useless the Pro Bowl is that enabled the media from breaking down the game to the point where the length of the shoelaces of the players will play a factor on crowning a champion, or about Dwight Freeney's ankle, or Peyton Manning taking on the team that his father played for for all those years.

With the two most explosive offences in the league it only stands to reason that this will be an old fashioned shoot out and be end to end rushes. Due to that expect a lower scoring game with surprising defensive stops and uncharacteristic both sides. The Colts are favoured big and by all accounts should win big; therefore it will be a close game and will likely come down to whether veteran kicker Matt Stover makes or misses a field goal.

The Saints defence are not bad by any stretch and if Reggie Bush manages to break a punt or kick return could provide the spark that New Orleans needs to propel them to victory. What they have going against them is the MVP of the league and that is Peyton Manning. He is going to want this win to help build a case for the best QB ever. He probably is already and is a first ballot Hall of Fame player but no matter what he does those whispers from the negative uninformed or ignorant people is still 'he can't win the big game'. Couldn't beat Florida in college, couldn't win this one in the big game, can't win a Super Bowl. Then he wins a Super Bowl and now they say, yeah but he only has one. Can't please everyone I guess.
The Colts Should win 35-24, and control the game all the way. That will not happen.
If the Colts do win it will likely take a comeback as I suspect that New Orleans will come out flying, and get up by 14 early either on a defensive stand or a special teams play that will swing momentum.
The final will probably be 31-28. I'd like to see that score for the Colts so that means that will be the score for the Saints.

I am sure that in any event it will be a good game and at the very least The Who is performing at Half Time and that should be AWESOME...Love THE WHO so even if the game is a bust there will still be Roger Daltrey and Peter Townshend with a little Zack Starkey mixed in for good measure.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

When A Goaltender Is Not A Goaltender

While watching the Ottawa Senators game, Chris Phillips took a goaltender interference penalty when the Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller came out of his crease and made a play on the puck. In doing so he was handling the puck with his side to the oncoming Phillips. Phillips ran into the side of him, not with a violent or predatory hit but just a low impact body check that a Pee-Wee player could absorb.

At this point Tyler Meyers come to the 'aid' of his goaltender and somehow Phillips gets 4 minutes and Meyers gets 2 for roughing. I am all for protecting the goaltender but only when he is in his crease, you know the on painted BLUE. If a goaltender can't play the puck in the corners why is he overprotected behind the net. If those line are there to promote offence is what Phillips did not, by rule, a legal hit to a player playing the puck? If anything it should have been 2 for roughing and 2 for instigating on Meyers and nothing or at best 2 min to Phillips even though all he did was attempt to get away and/or defend himself.

If a goaltender is going to put himself in harms way then he needs to expect to be treated like a skater. Gary Galley said on the broadcast that it was the right call...I would argue that it was the convenient call and the one that always gets made, however, that does not make it the right call. Either fix this rule or don't let the goaltenders out of the crease at all. If it is a contact sport you have to allow contact. This is not as difficult to police as head shots, elbows and hits from behind.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Around The Horn

NFL- The Super Bowl is less then a week away and that means we should only be subjected to 6 days of updates on Dwight Freeney and his ankle. Apparently a ‘grade 3 lower basketball sprain’ in fact means torn ligament. That is a little deceptive. Being the second most impactive player on the Colts the focus on Freeney and his injury will be covered closer then a Brett Favre retirement watch... Certainly Freeney’s ankle is Freeney’s ankle, it is on TV more then Leave It To BEAVER....RE-RUNS

NBA- Sunday the Lakers played the Celtics in a possible NBA Finals Preview. The cam came down to 1 point in the dying seconds of the game. The Lakers wound up victorious. Any idea who took the last shot for the Lakers and made it for the winning basket?? Yeah, was Kobe....again. When will teams learn. You make the Luke Walton or the Jordan Farmar’s of the world beat you. You can’t keep letting arguably the greatest clutch shooter/player the league has ever seen keep beating you. Coaching 101...Rookie Mistake Doc.

NASCAR- The DAYTONA 500, "The Great American Race". 43 of the best stock car drivers in the world take center stage February 14, 2010 in NASCAR’s biggest, richest and most prestigious race. I love the sport and am a HUGE Jimmie Johnson fan but I do fear looking in the stands to the type of people who will be in the grandstands celebrating St. Valentines Day at the Speedway. The old V-chip in the TV might kick in for inappropriate content by inappropriate fans and viewer discretion may be advised. Hope it is on a delay and any nudity is brief and tasteful (and has a weight limit).

CFL - Congratulations you have a league that not once but twice drafted a deceased person on the entry draft. They have had 2 teams with the same name at the same time (Roughriders and Rough Riders) Now they have made things look even more on the up and up as the Toronto Argos are all set to be sold to BC Lions owner David Braley. It is nice that the team will have an owner and not be in fear of folding but to have an owner own 1 team in the East and 1 team in the West is sketchy at best.

MLB- The Minnesota Twins and catcher Joe Mauer have apparently agreed to terms on a 10-year contract extension. Mauer, who became just the second catcher in the last 33 years to be named the American league’s MVP this past season, is slated to earn $12.5 million this coming season and could have become a free agent at the end of the year. For a small market team who is known for allowing their best player move on when they become stars because they can’t afford them it is nice to see that they actually have made a commitment to the player and the player to the team. A nice change of pace. It probably was made more possible that Maur is also a native of St. Paul, Minnesota.

NHL- The trade between the Calgary Flames and New York Rangers reportedly involving Olli Jokinen, Brandon Prust to New York and Ales Kotalik and Chris Higgins to Calgary. that was supposed to go down on Monday didn’t. The Flames played with Jokinen in the lineup in Mondays game in one of the most odd situations involving a players transaction. Nothing says motivation like knowing that you may be gone 2 minutes after the conclusion of your game. That didn’t seem to help as the Flames were shut out.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Trade Winds Start To Blow

I may hate the team but I will give credit where credit is due. In a time in the NHL where it is so difficult to pull of deals off all let alone blockbusters I was pleased to see the beginning of movement. With the salary cap it is do hard to make a ‘hockey trade’ that works players for players as well as making the money in-money out work at the same time is no small task. This may not be the Flames/Leaf deal that brought Douggie G to the Big Smoke in the early 90’s but not the first time these team have come together.

Brian Burke, the Maple Leafs GM managed to swing 2 big deals that came out of nowhere. What is maybe even more impressive is that with this regime of Burke and Dave Nonis that the deal was kept under wraps until it happened and didn’t drag out in the media..a welcome change as well.

The Leafs pulled in some good players and managed to get rid of some players that either didn’t want to be there or that were expendable. Sure it clearly hurts them offensively but the good seems to outweigh the bad and if you take Burke at his word, and we have no reason not to they are ‘open for business’ and they are NOT DONE. To pull in good players (and in Toronto, name players) is a good place to start. Dion Phaneuf, Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Fredrik Sjostrom and Keith Aulie (who played with Tyler Meyers in the World Jr.s).

Phaneuf is a wild card as he may come off as being a bit toxic right now as you don’t get rid of a player like that just because, he is clearly coming with baggage but a change of scenery can fix all that real fast. Some say that you get the best player in a deal you win that deal. Time will tell if that is in fact true.

Going the other way out of town to the Flames were Ian White and forwards Matt Stajan, Niklas Hagman and Jamal Mayers, while goalie Vesa Toskala and winger Jason Blake were sent to the Ducks. The Flames need help scoring and should get help from Stajan and Hagman while White is under rated and should be helpful on the back end.

Blake was a bit of a shocker to be moved because of a terrible contract but you know what they say, if you can move a Scott Gomez contract you can move any contract. After the Ducks signed Jonas Hiller it made Giguere and his money expendable. How they were talked into taking on Blake coming back is a bit odd. Again I give Burke all the credit in the credit in the world. Remember he was the guy that danced all over Doug Mclean and conned him into taking on Sergi Federov in Columbus from the Ducks. The guy seems to be a decent salesman of nothing else.