Thursday, July 31, 2008

Summer break

We'll be taking some downtime in search of sun, shall resume more regular postings in a couple of weeks, Sun Gods willing of course...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Wii have an option for those that want to play but would rather leave the skates in the storage tub

For aficionados of the Wii craze, September 9th is the day to apparently mark on your calendar.

That's the day that Nintendo will launch their first hockey game for the ever so popular game platform.

The Arts Technica website has details on the upcoming release, as the Opossable Thumbs journal has the opening preview as to what to expect and what some of the new features that will be unleashed on the gaming world by 2K Sports.

Among some of the highlights, Wii Remote Goaltending, Precision passing and shooting and if your player apparently gets fed up enough, even a dropping the gloves feature which allows you to go toe to toe with your opponent.

An option that will no doubt give Don Cherry something else to do with his thumbs come September!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Auld aquaintances won't be forgot at Wrigley on New Years Day

The Field of Ice Dreams; if they build it Chicagoans will probably bundle up and come!

The NHL is taking its outdoor show to the Ivy clad walls of Wrigley Field, with confirmation on Tuesday that Chicago will be host of the New Years Day Classic when the Stanley Cup champion Red Wings will ring in the New Year.

A crowd of around 41,000 is expected to test the Chicago climate notorious for it's cool breezes off of Lake Michigan, the NHL is hopeful that by featuring the sport on New Year's Day in one of its original six cities and one of the largest metropolitan areas in the USA that the game will grow in popularity.

It will make for an interesting experience for sure, though we do wonder exactly when they will break out in traditional song. Normally they join in chorus for Take Me Out to the Ballgame during the seventh inning stretch.

What they have planned for Hockey at Wrigley could be the pivotal part of the entire day, by our reckoning a seventh inning stretch in hockey might be somewhere along the lines of the ten minute mark of the third period.

Our choice for the sing along favourite... Stompin' Tom's The Hockey Song also known as The Good Old Hockey Game! To help our friends in the Windy City prepare, as a public service HockeyNation provides this tutorial for Bleacher Bums everywhere, however cold they may become!

Globe and Mail-- NHL hopes Wrigley game will raise profile
USA Today-- Players itching for Wrigley's Winter Classic
Detroit Free Press-- Red Wings execs tour Wrigley Field, tout Winter Classic
Detroit News-- Icers in the outfield
Chicago Tribune-- Wrigley Field on ice: Blackhawks, Red Wings preview Winter Classic
Chicago Sun Times-- Take me out to the hockey game at Wrigley

The League of "Less" than extraordinary gentleman

Well the troubled path of life for current and now former NHL owners continues on, with more and more frequent legal reports highlighting some corporate malfeasance or another to entertain the paying customers.

With that in mind, we launch a new feature on HockeyNation today, call it sunstroke if you wish, but we think that there may be some legs in a listing of those folks that find themselves the centre of attention for all the wrong reasons.

While we’re going to concentrate on the current crop of the ownership cadre, there will be from time to time, names from the past that once again jump to the headlines. And who knows we may even decide that our very own Hall of Shame might be a handy thing to have, leading us to the Hockey archives.

For now however, we'll try to keep it current. So while our subjects seek out absolution from a higher power (no NOT Gary Bettman) we without further ado present our "League of less than extraordinary gentlemen"!

September 8, 2008-- Will he go from the ice house, to the Big House?

For Anaheim Ducks owner Henry Samueli the possibility of a plea bargain, designed to keep him from finding himself behind bars seemed to be less and less likely today. With a declaration that "The court cannot accept a plea agreement that gives the impression that justice is for sale," US District Court Judge Cormac Carney seemed to making plans to send Samueli a little further down the bench than the penalty box for his involvement in a stock options backdating case that led to the largest corporate write down of its kind...Judge rejects plea deal for Ducks' owner

July 22, 2008-- They sing the Blues in St. Loo don’t they?

From the bad old days of the St. Louis Blues, when bankruptcy seemed like a common theme and fire sales were the thing of legend, a name that will stir many a memory in the city with that big Arch… Former Blues owner enters guilty plea

June 24, 2008-- If it looks like a Duck and quacks like a Duck!

It wasn’t that long ago that Brian Burke was praising his owners for their fine charitable works and dedication to the Anaheim Ducks. Turns out perhaps he was auditioning to be a character witness for the defence… NHL suspends Ducks owner Henry Samueli

May 31, 2008-- No money, no problems, well ok maybe a few problems!

Hand picked by the powers that be to take a share of the Predators franchise, all was going well until it was discovered that cash, er might be a little problem at the end of the day… Legal troubles tarnish San Jose society golden boy 'Boots' Del Biaggio

January 17, 2008-- So that's why they call the place the Shark tank!

Backdating stock options is apparently not a wise thing to do, that at least the inference from a 21 month sentence to the former part owner of the San Jose Sharks... Brocade ex-CEO gets 21 months in prison for stock options scheme

August 15, 2007-- Well at least he doesn't have to watch the Islanders play

Hard time for software fraud, well perhaps hard time is a stretch. You would have thought that being a co-owner of the Islanders would qualify you for participation in the witness protection program however... Ex-Software Executive Begins Prison Term

The Golden Ages of Corporate Malfeasance

June 20, 2005-- But, But the Sabres are on cable tonight

Justice pulled the plug on the Rigas clan, after they got caught up in all of that financial voodoo of the early part of this century, a scenario that almost, almost brought down the Sabres with them... Adelphia founder sentenced to 15 years

January 29, 2000-- Who said all the crime was in Jersey?

The Islanders have come a long way from their remarkable years of Stanley Cup victories, sadly for the folks on Long Island, their team is somehow becoming better known for its past ownership troubles than all of those Stanley Cup banners... Spano Draws Prison Term For Fraud in Islanders Deal

January 6, 1998-- An Eagle caged

He may not have been an actual owner, but he sure acted like one. Alan Eagleson who ran his affairs in a most autocratic way found that eventually justice will prevail, even if she takes a little time... Eagleson pleads guilty

January 10, 1997-- Instead of spending time with his favourite players, he's spending time in the hole

He was perhaps the poster boy for a troubled era of sports, a CFL and NHL owner travelling in those worlds where the money flowed fast, apparently even if there wasn't any money to flow... No Glitter, no Gretzky for 'New' L.A. Kings

August 15, 1972--- And then there was Harold

Finally a chance for King Clancy to have some time to himself, as the Legendary King would have to find someone else to hang out with for a few years or so... Harold Ballard convicted of fraud

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Imposing to the end, the Spectrum will soon be gone

It's one of the NHL's legendary arenas, not a bad achievement for a complex that is only forty two years old and not even used by the big club anymore.

But when you mention the name the Spectrum, you can be sure tough hockey players (and more so those that weren't particularly tough) everywhere either cringe in horror or have a twinkle in their eye for an ancient battle ground.

The Philadelphia Spectrum, the scene of some of the Flyers greatest (and most disturbing) moments is slated for destruction next year, bringing to a close yet another of the rinks of the past with more than a little history.

While the Flyers haven't used the Spectrum for a number of years now, having moved upscale and next door into the Wachovia Centre, you have to think that just having that ominous building greeting visiting teams was worth a point or two in the standings over the long run.

For Flyer fans it was their cathedral of hockey, a rough and tumble experience where the faint of heart feared to tread and the Broad Street Bullies gained their most fame. From NHL opposition to Russian visiting teams a trip into Philadelphia sometimes seemed like a trip to Hades itself, the gates to the Spectrum a portal into a place where the fans were rabid followers and more than a few of the players considered just plain rabid.

Yet there was more to the rink than just the violent era of the seventies. The Spectrum was home for perhaps the most successful of the first wave of expansion teams of 1968, a home for hockey's most passionate if slightly exciteable fans.

A collective that live and die with their Flyers and are more than willing to step in to help out if the home side is having a problem holding up its end of the covenant.

While the Wachovia Centre is of the cutting edge in comfort and experience for the fans, there will be many who will be left a little disappointed that their baptismal pews will soon be taken down, their temple imploded to make room for restaurants, shops and the other oddities that seem to be the requirement for sports palaces these days.

The current tenant, the AHL phantoms are on the search for a new home, no longer able to carry on the tradition of hockey in the old barn of Broad Street.

Like their team of legend that played on that famous ice, the "Spectrum will soon be a part of history, not quite as historically shocking as the Forum, Maple Leaf or Boston Gardens, but in its way every bit as significant as those shrines were to their cities.

Philadelphia Daily News-- Memories won't stand in way of progress
Phialdelphia Inquirer-- Wachovia Spectrum to be demolished
Philadelphia Daily News-- Gone but not forgotten
Phialdelphia Inquirer-- A roar and rush of memories
Hamilton Spectator-- Philadelphia's Spectrum to close and be torn down
Globe and Mail-- Philadelphia's Spectrum to be demolished

"Bring gloves," he said, "and don't forget your long johns."

If Ray Emery is looking for a crash course in what to expect during his exile in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League, he need look no further than the National Post.
The newspaper posted an interview with Fred Brathwaite, who has become kind a trailblazer for goaltenders with Canadian passports traversing the Russian hinterlands. Brathwaite, who is now happily ensconced with Dave King (also one with more than a bit of familiarity with the Russian ways) in Germany, expanded on his days and cold, cold nights while backstopping the local heroes of Omsk Avangard.
From discovering a few familiar restaurant locations in a foreign land to cultural observations of a very different place, he provides a fairly good thumbnail sketch for Emery as to what life away from the rink might look like.
A quick on line search for life in Omsk finds something called the Siberian ice marathon, a large number of universities with a wide range of specialities should he wish to seek out higher learning, one ominous looking large monument to Lenin and a rather lengthy list of links for young Russian ladies looking for a husband (one describes Omsk as the city of brides!), perhaps a good thing for Ray, perhaps not....
On the plus side, they seem to be in the process of building a fairly ambitious and far reaching Metro system in Omsk, so maybe Ray can leave the (uh, Hummer?) behind and catch the train to the game.
Stuff like this Rayzor won't be finding in the local Fodors guidebook that's for sure.
While the action on the ice may seem familiar to the former Senators goaltender, it's a safe bet that once he's spent a few weeks wandering the lanes of Omsk he'll be thinking "we aren't in Ottawa anymore Toto"

The Portable Predators?

The intrigue of the recent sale of the Nashville Predators has added another twist, as one of the then co-owners at the time, William J. "Boots" Del Biaggio III was apparently flogging the idea to other potential investors that the team wasn’t long for Nashville and would be a good place to park some cash while the moving vans apparently idled off in the distance.

The Nashville Tennessean did some investigative reporting over the last few weeks, (perhaps more investigation than the NHL did on their would be investor) and discovered that Mr. Del Biaggio was selling the idea to investors that the Preds had something called portability, a phrase that we suspect means that they could be moving down the road with little in the way of roadblocks (unless of course your name is Balsillie).

The Tennessean reveals a number of confidential presentations that painted a bleak picture for Nashville as an NHL team, all apparently designed to lure other investors into the boat that then would set sail for an alternate location, frequently rumoured to be Kansas City.

Mr. Del Biaggio of course has since run into a few financial setbacks and legal troubles of his own, so any thoughts of moving the Predators to an alternate venue are probably far off on his agenda these days.

However, it’s suggested by the Nashville paper that his subsequent legal problems are going to leave creditors on the hook for millions of dollars, presumably some of whom call Nashville home, not to mention the bind it might leave the current ownership group in as far as financing goes.

With this latest land mine going off, the remaining group of owners in Nashville are doing what they can to provide a little damage control and reassure the locals that the Preds are in the city for the long haul.

What’s remarkable about this whole mess is the apparent lack of oversight exhibited by the NHL, which of course raised eyebrows when they allowed former owner Craig Leipold to pick up the Minnesota Wild after selling his Predator squad to the new owners including the now in the spotlight Del Biaggio.

They’ve been rather quiet while this mess continues to play out in Nashville, having yet to give the locals there any indication that the word professional, should be confused or used for that matter with the word hockey when it comes to dealings in the city.

It’s becoming a mess that keeps getting uglier and uglier and the sooner the NHL begins to get prominently involved the better.

The current ownership may be trying to sell the idea that they’re in Nashville to stay, but the question is whether the folks in Nashville would want to have much more to do with a league that seems to be finding trouble at every turn when it comes to the franchise.

Stephen Brunt of the Globe and Mail weighed in on the issue with another excellent article on the troubles that Boots has brought to Mr. Bettman's office door, raising more than a few questions about the stewardship of the league under the current chain of command in New York.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Emery explains his Senators days, to a fashion

As he prepares to pack his hockey gear for a winter in Russia, Ray Emery who was once touted as the future of the Ottawa Senators and now is very much a part of their past, took an appearance on Michael Landsberg's Off the Record to set the record straight, kind of, sort of.

Emery sat in for the entire program and provided some background on the tumultuous season that he and the Senators shared, admitting to a few of his very public flaws, but certainly not taking the entire blame for the Senators monumental crash to earth last season.

While he touched on the many off ice distractions that seemed to mark his season with the Sens, the one bone of contention that seemed the most divisive in the Sens room didn't get much of a mea culpa.

When discussing his now much documented and discussed tardiness for practice sessions, Emery seemed less than concerned about the perception of it all, suggesting that he's not one to be too terribly concerned about arriving on time.

Which should make for an interesting approach to his new duties in Russia where time and distance will make for an interesting challenge in travel considerations in the Kontinental League he is about to join.

If Ray is looking for a little reading material for his summer vacation, we suggest he pick up Dave King's most recent book King of Russia (which we reviewed here earlier this year), as he thumbs through the pages he might discover that a good alarm clock and driving service may make for a more enjoyable experience in his new hockey homeland.

TSN features clips of his appearance hosted on their website.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Ted Nolan let go on Long Island

"I understand there could be some criticism, and if there is, it can fall on me."-- Islanders GM Garth Snow playing Nostradamus for the avalanche of interest set to follow his announcement today.

Once again Ted Nolan finds himself looking for a new job and once again the team that fired him looks to be on the wrong side of the situation.

The two year uneasy arrangement between Nolan and Islanders GM Garth Snow came to a head today, as the Islanders announced that the popular coach and team were going their separate ways.

While it's a bit of surprise announcement, perhaps it shouldn't be considered such. Nolan must have immediately felt that things were going sideways when Neil Smith was let go just 40 days into his tenure as the Islanders GM, a sure sign that team dysfunction was still a going concern on Long Island. Nolan's fate was speculated upon as recently as yesterday as Long Island Newsday hinted to trouble on the Island.

More recently for Nolan last season, was the disappointment in a denied a contract extension, despite having made the Islanders a fairly respectable team in rather short order. Instead of rewarding his coach for changing the culture on the Island.

He began those changes, without benefit of a particularly strong line up and one which frequently saw free agents prefer to move on, rather than stay in what seems to be a less than enjoyable spot on the NHL merry go round.

Snow seemingly at odds with his coach, chose not to offer his coach an extension and instead now has decided to go in a new direction, beginning the search for a coach that more fits into his vision of how the team should progress. A scenario that might be making the fan base on Long Island just a little bit nervous we suspect.

That is his prerogative as a General Manager, though many might suggest that if the Islanders wanted true success it wouldn't be Nolan that was packing the moving van today.

What will be interesting to watch now is how long Nolan will have to sit on the sidelines again, before gaining another opportunity in the rather closed shop that the NHL seems to be at times.

His well documented nine year stay in pro hockey's purgatory after the Sabres let him go, served as a warning to coaches everywhere that fame can be fleeting and sometimes good people get steam rolled by events.

Of concern for hockey fans of New York however, is the indication that the Islanders are once again becoming the talk of the league for all the wrong reasons.

Today's announcement once again makes for an eyebrow raising moment for the Islanders, which seem to have no shortage of them. A team that frequently takes two steps backwards, for every baby step forward that they make.

Newsday--Ted Nolan out as Islanders coach
New York Daily News-- Ted Nolan out as Islanders coach
Canadian Press-- New York Islanders announce Ted Nolan out as their head coach
CBC Sports-- Ted Nolan out as Islanders coach

(Photo above from Newsday website)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Finally Canuck fans have a name to watch next season that they might have heard of before

Lately the exodus of now former Canucks was beginning to look like the legendary evacuation of Stalingrad before the siege broke out.

Canuck fans were a tad shell shocked by the start of this week after watching their beloved Trevor Linden retire. While popular captain Markus Naslund took his hockey sticks to New York to work near Broadway and Brendan Morrison, a long time fixture in Canuck colours suddenly heading for the Ventura highway and a California calling with a contract to be had with the Anaheim Ducks.

It made for a rapid fire changing of the offensive guard that left many Canuck fans scratching their heads and beginning to wonder if they should maybe pick up a copy of last years Manitoba Moose roster for future reference. Up until this week, the list of players added to the Vancouver payroll ledger wasn't particularly overwhelming.

More than one fan has most likely begun to wonder if this Mike Gillis guy knows what he’s doing, as name after name on the free agency lists signed on with other teams. Gillis apparently content to wait for Mats Sundin to decide if he really, really needs twenty million dollars or not.

With that suspenseful drama apparently still playing itself out, Gillis at least could point to a couple of signings in recent days as a signal that all is not lost in Canuckland for the next season.

Today, the Canucks announced that Pavel Demitra, most recently of the Minnesota Wild will be joining the Canucks this season, signing on for a two year deal at four million dollars per year.

Demitra, who is a dandy playmaker, was at one time a regular twenty goal a year man, though his time in Minnesota seemed to reign in some of that offensive exuberance, as he tried to adjust to Jacques Lemaires strict edicts to keep a thought on the defensive aspect of the game. While Demitra’s goal scoring touch may have been reduced in Minnesota, he proved to be more than an able contributor to Marian Gaborik’s offensive numbers last year.

Demitra rejoins his former agent in Gillis, providing at least one current NHLer who apparently was willing to talk to the Canuck’s new GM.

Last week, Gillis put together a deal with Buffalo for the services of Steve Bernier, a deal that almost became irrelevant as the St. Louis Blues offered up a 2.5 million dollar offer that would have redirected Bernier to Missouri. Gillis however decided that he really did want Bernier and matched that offer from the St. Louis Blues, winning the bidding war for Bernier, and apparently setting up the foundation for a feud with St. Louis that may one day rival the Brian Burke - Kevin Lowe conversations.

It remains to be seen if Demitra and Bernier prove to be some of the key segments of the Canuck’s puzzle; there still is the huge question of whether Sundin will want to make the move to the West coast after a career of playing in the more travel friendly east and without him the offense will still be considered rather weak.

If Sundin takes a pass on the Canucks, then Gillis will need to try and find a different approach to rebuilding his team.

His moves so far haven’t exactly resulted in a wave of relief in Vancouver, a city quite anxious for their Canucks to succeed, but just a little worried that this year will be another lost year of unrewarded faithfulness.

NHL and Kontinental League find some common ice

"Everyone agrees we could make a war very easily, but with no winner. The loser will be the game."-- IIHF President Rene Faisal expressing the thought that jaw, jaw, is better than war, war when it comes to the mobility of hockey players.

The declaration wasn't quite "Peace in our Time", but it was probably as good as it's going to get for the next little while. As the Swiss mountain air apparently did some good, clearing the minds of the world's hockey executives this week. After a few days of Swiss hospitality, the NHL, the NHLPA and its European counterparts were able to cobble together an arrangement, that will at least end the opportunity for poaching players prior to the 2008-09 NHL seasons.

With the new Russian based Kontinental League set to begin this fall, there was some concern that a bidding war for players would take place, whether they were committed to an NHL contract or not. With the discussions of Thursday complete, the two rivals for player talent as well as the various European leagues all decided that for the foreseeable future everyone will respect everybody's contracts, that at least to NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly.

While they have a temporary truce in effect over any raiding parties, the longer range goal of having a well documented policy in place is still a ways away. All of the European federations would like a larger share than the $200,000 compensation fee they get when an out-of-contract player leaves for an NHL franchise. It's been a rather contentious issue for a number of years now, and surely doesn't seem to ready to go away any time soon.

Added to the mix is the rising star of European hockey and monetary offerings, Alexander Medvedev, the money and idea man behind the new Russian league and a fellow with more than a few ideas on how to stock teams in Mother Russia.

To keep him occupied for the next little while the gathering in Switzerland this week nominated Medvedev to a working group that will meet with the goal of creating an international transfer agreement. It would be designed to replace the one that lapsed last month after six European leagues backed out, Russia for their part haven't been part of any formal agreement in three years.

With that past history to work with, one gets the idea that there will be many more discussions at the peace table before any future hostilities break out, but as is always the case one wrong word, or a misguided direction and it could be back to the barricades in no time.

As Eric Duhatschek outlines in his column for the globe and Mail, it may be no more than a temporary lull in the ongoing Cold War between the NHL and its newest rival in the hockey world the Kontinental league.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

There's more than forest fires burning in Southern California!

While Gary Bettman might wish for both Brian Burke and Kevin Lowe to just go on vacation and stay away from microphones, that apparently won't be happening any time soon.

Despite the Commish's edict last week for both gents to hush up, The Anaheim Ducks President and GM decided to try and sneak in a few shots today, suggesting that Lowe might have been guilty of tampering and was certainly guilty of dissing the Duck's fan base.

The Burke response came out of Anaheim as Burke chose to offer up rebuttals to Lowe's much documented outburst last week on an Edmonton radio station, offering up a point by point examination of the issues raised by Lowe.

Interestingly enough, despite the sudden flare up of hostilities between southern California and Northern Alberta, business it seems will still be business, as the Ducks' website still prominently features advertising for a Rocky Mountain Vacation in Alberta. We're sure that Kevin Lowe will be more than happy to be Brian Burke's mountain guide should he decide to check out the offerings made available through the Duck's website.

With his thoughts recorded for posterity on the information portion of the team's website and relayed to the eager LA media, Burke declared the issue closed and suggested he would abide by the commissioner's request to cease and desist. For now anyways....

While he may consider the matter closed, having fired off another shot across Lowe's bow on the tampering issue we suspect that the silence may be golden rule may get more of a workout for a little while yet..

Orange County Register-- Burke speaks out on Lowe’s comments

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Ray rushes for Russia

The NHL won’t have Ray Emery to kick around anymore, well at least for one season anyways as the NHL’s most mercurial and troubled goaltender of 2007-08 moves on to Russia to ply his trade.

As this season progressed it was Emery who proved to be the largest of distractions for the Ottawa Senators, ending with little fanfare when he found himself placed back on the NHL open market last month, when Ottawa bought out the remaining two years of his contract. The only problem was that nobody it seemed was shopping for an unknown quantity anymore.

For most of June he sat in the off season version of the end of the bench, as team after team took a pass on his potential, more mindful of his troubled press accounts of the last 365 days than any possible skills that he might add to an NHL roster.

Emery would sit back and watch on the June draft mania and then Free agency frenzy, when a large number of the NHL’s goaltenders seemed to be changing jerseys, only to find his phone a lonely machine with only the tunes on his mp3 player to keep him company.

His agent, J.P. Barry, provided the understatement of the off season so far with his declaration that “The reality is that since Ray's buyout, there hasn't been a lot of interest”. So shunned by teams from Anaheim to Washington, Emery has taken his game to Russia.
It probably wasn't the first time that the idea of sending Emery to the Russian front crossed the mind of an Ottawa coach, manager of fan, but in this case the trip is a voluntary experience.

Securing a deal with Atlant Mytishchi of the new Continental Hockey League, where he will earn a tax-free salary of $2-million (U.S.), plus bonuses. We assume a driver will come with the deal, to help avoid some of the much discussed road rage incidents that bedevilled Emery while driving along Ottawa’s Queensway during his stay in the nation’s capital.

The season in Russia will provide him with the opportunity to rebuild the foundation of his career and perhaps one day earn him a second chance in the NHL.

Until then, he’ll be one of the Canadian pioneers of the new Russian league, backed by some pretty impressive money from the Russian energy sector but one with a decidedly different set of circumstances than what the NHL has provided in recent years.

There will be many watching from afar to see how Emery adjusts to life in his new league and if it helps to regain some of that promise that seemed overflowing a few short years ago, or if it’s just the final slide out of pro hockey, the next step on the road to world journeyman, a one day answer to the question; Whatever happened to Ray Emery?

Globe and Mail-- Emery heads to Russia

Monday, July 07, 2008

Saskatchewan gets the call to host the World Juniors

Canada's favourite Christmas time special will soon be set for Saskatoon and Regina, as Hockey Canada announced today that the Saskatchewan cities will be co-hosts of the 2010 tournament.

The World Junior's are Canada's most anticipated tournament, held in the two weeks around the Christmas season, they are the dominant feature of the sporting world above the 49th parallel. While Americans sit down to a plethora of college football bowl games named after fruits and courier companies, Canadians gather round the big screen TV to cheer on Canada's young hockey players as they challenge the world to a game of shinny.

Canada finds much more financial success with the World Junior championships than any other country on the hockey map, traditionally selling out the rinks for most games and delivering gigantic television ratings for TSN, the host broadcaster of the tournament.

Because of that tradition of support, Canada will host the tournament this Christmas in Ottawa, Saskatoon/Regina host it the following year and still up for bids is the 2012 competition which also has received a bid from Saskatchewan to go along with Toronto and Calgary/Edmonton's applications.

With the two hockey mad cities of the prairies already hockey hotbeds, 2010 should not be any different as far as support and excitement locally, with some $25 million dollars expected to be seen by the province of Saskatchewan as the tournament plays down its thirty one games.

Saskatoon/Regina beat out rival bids from Winnipeg/Brandon and Halifax/Moncton for the rights to host the tournament, marking a return of the tournament to Saskatoon for the first time since 1991.
Regina Leader-Post-- World juniors will return to Sask.

Now go to your rooms!

"We felt for a host of reasons it was important to bring the parties together and make it clear to both organizations that public comments disparaging the other were bad for the business and would no longer be tolerated,"— NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly on why the NHL told their feuding GM’s to put a lid on their antagonistic ways.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has finally said enough is enough, tired of the bickering between Anaheim GM Brian Burke and Edmonton’s GM Kevin Lowe, Bettman issued a cease and desist order to the NHL’s most colourful if slightly embarrassing feud.

Bettman’s intervention came after Lowe went thermo nuclear on the weekend finally relieving himself of the burden of biting his tongue over Burke’s frequent jabs at his General Managers duties in Edmonton.

To be fair to Lowe, he’s been a pretty patient fellow as the bellicose Burkie has on more than a few occasions taken Edmonton to task for their offer to and subsequent signing of Dustin Penner last season.

In Burke’s world it seems that the move by Lowe was the start of the end of the NHL, while Lowe and more than a few others suggest that it was just another day at the office with the real line in the sand having been crossed much earlier with Columbus’ offer to Rick Nash.

It’s an argument that apparently didn’t sell in Anaheim, as through this past season, Burke has made the occasional jab at Lowe’s ability to run an NHL franchise properly, making for lively subject matter for hockey reporters, who always love a good feud.

As NHL feuds go it’s been a beaut, while Lowe has kept a low profile for the most part, with only occasional contributions, that all went out the window this weekend past when he appeared on an Edmonton radio station, to open up the shotgun with both barrels delivering a withering assessment of Burke’s abilities as an NHL executive

Among some of the more blistering observations that Lowe provided:

He described his Anaheim Ducks counterpart as "a moron" and "an underachieving wannabe"

Accused Burke of being a media junkie who gets his name in the headlines, though Lowe hates the idea of his name being attached to Burke's.

Suggesting that Burke is an underachieving wannabe in terms of success in the NHL, going on to count Stanley Cup rings Lowe tallied up his six to Burke’s one, "He won a Stanley Cup? Great. I've won six Stanley Cups, you want to count rings? Who cares? It's just a little pathetic that he carries on.”

Finally Lowe reviewed some past NHL history and offered up the theory that Burke had destroyed the Vancouver Canucks before he left, leaving successor Dave Nonis with nothing to work. Nonis has since been replaced by Mike Gillis.

With Lowe dropping the gloves on Friday and leveling his most fierce rebuttal yet, Bettman felt that he had no option but to step in today and enforce a little family discipline.

Making for what he hopes will be a more sedate summer season from his two bad boys, a wish that more than a few observers may hope doesn’t come to pass.

Nasty as it’s been, the feud has made for some pretty lively commentary, though judging by the reports over the last few days, more than a few are quite content that Lowe finally took Burke head on, toe to toe.

We found a few of the media highlights over the last few days to provide some colour commentary to Lowe’s play by play descriptions of Friday Night fights…

Edmonton Journal-- Silence is golden only for so long
Orange County Register-- Burke, Lowe ordered to knock it off
Orange County Register-- Lowe fires back at Burke
National Post-- It's about time Lowe fired back
National Post-- Lowe fires back about Burke
National Post-- Lowe's rant long overdue
Los Angeles Times-- Kevin Lowe finally fires back at Brian Burke
Vancouver Sun-- Silly season in the NHL
Toronto Sun-- Lowe levels blast at Ducks' Burke
Winnipeg Sun-- Lowe boils over
Calgary Sun-- Angry Lowe targets Ducks' 'moron'
Globe and Mail-- Gotta love that Brian Burke
CBC Sports-- Oilers GM Lowe fires back at Ducks' Burke
CBC Sports-- NHL orders truce between GMs Lowe, Burke
Maclean's-- Burke v. Lowe: L’il Gary wades in
Sporting News-- Oilers' Lowe unloads new salvo on Ducks GM OILERS' GENERAL MANAGER LOWE RIPS BACK AT BURKE
The Hockey News-- League would be smart to allow Burke-Lowe feud to fester

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Headlines of July 2008

July 31-- Scotty Bowman joins Chicago's front office
July 30--Time running out for Sundin to climb off the fence
July 29-- Decision on Sundin may be made this week
July 28-- Bouwmeester avoids arbitration
July 27-- Brett Sutter waits for his turn in an NHL jersey
July 26-- Plenty in the works for GM's this summer
July 25-- Tortorella to interview with Islanders: report
July 24-- Bruins waive RW Murray
July 23-- Carlyle receives two-year extension
July 22-- Miller optimistic about his future with Sabres
July 21-- Mike Milbury skates over to Hockey Night in Canada
July 20-- Sundin rumours untrue
July 19-- Therrien agrees on 3-year contract
July 18-- Radulov deal suspended by IIHF
July 17-- Murray in tough as Kings coach
July 16-- NHL confirms Wrigley Field game
July 15-- Del Biaggio planned to seize, move team
July 14-- Islanders fire Nolan
July 13-- Lecavalier inks 11-year extension
July 12-- Lightning GM bolts from post
July 11-- Transfer detente gets a major test from Radulov
July 10-- NHL, Russian league reach peace deal
July 9-- Emery heads to Russia
July 8-- Let Grapes wither on the vine
July 7-- Bettman to Burke, Lowe: Cool it
July 6-- Nolan signs with Wild
July 5-- Lowe's criticisms mostly bang-on, long overdue
July 4-- Jagr departs for Russia
July 3-- Rangers sign Markus Naslund
July 2-- Detroit scoops up Marian Hossa
July 1-- Canucks offer Sundin $20 million over two years

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

New Homes for the free

The much ballyhooed Free Agent frenzy wasn't quite a frantic rush of names and destinations on Tuesday. For the most part it featured the interchangeable names and faces of the NHL middle class, many of whom changed places on Tuesday seeking out fresh starts from stale situations But as for the Big names, there were fewer of them than anticipated filling out change of address cards on this day after Canada Day.

The most impressive name of those that have signed on a dotted line thus far was Brian Campbell, who has given up the life of Northern California's Silicon Valley for the Windy City of Chicago.

Campbell signed a $57.12-million, eight year contract with the Chi Hawks, providing them with what they hope will be many years of solid defense on the Black hawk blue line. Campbell was the most attractive of the recently freed on Tuesday, finding the Hawks willing to open up the vaults just a little wider than Ottawa, San Jose and a few other tire kickers along the way.

The Black Hawks also made Cristobal Huet a happy guy on Tuesday, giving him 5.6 million a year for four years, a move that has many observers wondering if perhaps the NHL's GM's are beginning to add something to their Kool aid these days.

In fact, Tuesday seemed to be Goaltender Independence Day as eight of the NHL's backstops moved to new locations, besides Huet, getting measured for new uniforms will be Olaf Kolzig, Curtis Joseph, Andrew Raycroft, Jose Theodore, Alex Auld, Patrick Lalime and Ty Conklin.

Just when you were thinking that the Toronto Maple Leafs were getting their act together, they cobble together some interesting deals that have many thinking that things are back to normal at the Air Canada Centre. Besides bringing Cujo back for another go round at the Maple Leaf hockeytorium, the Leafs signed the former Colorado Avalanche defenceman Jeff Finger to a fourteen million dollar, four year deal. Leaving Leaf followers to try and understand how a player with less than 100 games of experience in the NHL could be worth so much money, so fast.

Ottawa won't have Wade Redden to kick around anymore, the Ottawa Senators paid their farewells to Redden on Tuesday, as he signed on for a new deal with the New York Rangers, where he once was thought to be facing a cut in pay in order to retool from a couple of disappointing seasons in Ottawa, the Rangers instead have pretty well matched the Senators pay scale for Redden as he prepares to move to Broadway, the Rangers also topped up the roster by keeping Michal Rozsival in the folf, one of their own free agents Rozsival accepted a four-year, $20-million contract.

The Oilers while not signing any free agents (yet) did improve via the trade route as the Oil picked up Gilbert Brule from Columbus and Erik Cole from Carolina. Still to be seen is whether the wooing of Marian Hossa will have the speedy sniper heading to Northern Alberta for a training camp this fall. Hossa is said to be looking over an offer from Edmonton that could be offering him as much as 9 million dollars a year. Indications that the Oilers are once again eager to show the folks at home that Edmonton can compete with the money players in the league.

While Hossa tries to wrap his head around nine million a year, Mats Sundin sits in Sweden working out the math on a reported 20 million dollar, two year offer from the Vancouver Canucks. With some suggesting that Sundin is contemplating retirement, the Canuck offer sheet might be enough to postpone those thoughts for a couple of years. Sundin has apparently been mentioned by a few teams besides the Montreal Canadiens who spent last week trying to land him, however with Vancouver pushing the pay envelope as high as they have, a good number of those will no doubt be dropping out of any negotiations.

The Sundin bid is what appears to be the last chance for new Canuck GM Mike Gillis to attract a major name to the Canucks off season headlines. Shut out at the draft by his fellow GM's, he has but the cheque book approach left to team building for this season, though he seemed to let a few of the higher profile possibilities slip through his radar while he concentrated on Sundin, a fact that won't be missed by the eagle eyed and quick to react Vancouver media.

Gillis will be keeping close to the phone on Wednesday, hoping that the long distance call from Sweden brings him his prized asset. If that call doesn't come, there will be others made, from the always entertaining hockey fans of Vancouver eager to vent their thoughts on the city's many hockey hotline shows.

Those that have signed a new deal to date...

Those that are still up for grabs...