Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Around the Rink 01.30.07

To the surprise of no one, the US broadcast of the All-Star Game dropped 76% from 2004. Many people blame the network it was on (OLNVS), while others blame it being in the middle of the week, being a rather meaningless game, and pitting itself up against "American Idol", which anyone will watch to see a British man berating glorified Karaoke singers. Good news is that viewship in Canada was up 6%.

Look, it's an All-Star Game in the middle of the week. Let's not get all up in arms about it. It's a meaningless game that people probably didn't want to stay up to watch. I think the Show will also take credit for stealing some viewers.

Ken Dryden had his number retired last night. I've mentioned this before about the ceremonies and with Ken Dryden being a long-in-the-tooth man, this thing seemed to drag on. However, I'll spare you that rant.

However, how many numbers will the Habs have when all is said and done?? CBC's cartoon The Instigator has it spot-on when it comes to what could happen in the future of the Habs jerseys. Word is Dryden didn't want a retirement, but an honoring; much like the Toronto Maple Leafs do. With all the greats the Habs have had; there's really very few you should RETIRE-retire. Maurice Richard is one of them, while others are up for debate.

Craig Conroy is heading back to Calgary, after the Kings dealt him there for Jamie Lundmark and a pair of draft picks. Conroy has had a brutal season with only 16 points, but the hopes of magic between himself and Jarome Iginla has Flames fans all warm and tingly inside.

More off, Conroy brings a cool demeanor into the room; with the uncanny ability to relax people in the room without losing the intensity factor. That's what gave the Flames a great run in '04-- a nice balance. Leadership is what Conroy can bring to the table and should help the Flames out both on and off the ice.

Some crazy happenings this weekend in all of hockey; here's a rundown:

-The Saginaw Spirit beat the Oshawa Generals. It may not seem like much, but because of it-- Stephen Colbert will have a "Stephen Colbert Day" in Oshawa. for the whole story, TSN really helps out a lot in explaining it all.

-Robbie Bina is in the running for "Goal of the Year." This past weekend, the North Dakota defenseman shot it from the bottom of the circle in his own end and beat Jeff Frazee for a short-handed goal and the first of five unanswered goals in a North Dakota win. Thanks YouTube-- you're the best.

That's all for now, but for more-- check out Face Off Hockey Show Wednesday night at 9 PM ET or catch us on the Podcast or even Message Board.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Around the Rink 01.25.07

After watching the new RBK Edge jerseys in game action, I have to say that not many will see the obvious if they are a causal fan. The jerseys looked to be great out on the ice and many of the players raved about the jerseys after the ASG, which was won by the West 12-9.

They definitely aren't as bad as they could have looked or as many perceived them to look. Right now, the verdict is still out on the look of the 30 teams; thought Uni Watch's Paul Lukas said on last night's show that the teams had the option to look the same as they do now and many will pick-up on that option.

Though Lukas did say that six teams will make total overhauls. The Dallas Stars being one of them, with a description of the possible look being put out in the Dallas Morning News. Other teams that have been speculated in the overhaul have been the Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, and Boston Bruins.

There will be some changes next season, as the Minnesota Wild announced they would ditch their green uniforms for next season, while their expansion cousin Columbus Blue Jackets said they would use their current third jersey logo on all their jerseys next season.

The fun of waiting for the jerseys to come out now is to see who will have a new identity and what the "traditional" designs look like on the new template.

Speaking of All-Star Games, Montreal was awarded their bid in the 2008-09 All-Star Game, which also helped them celebrate the 100th year of the franchise. Montreal was looking to get the All-Star Game, World Junior tournament, and NHL Draft to help the celebration, but they'll have to settle for the ASG for now, as the WJC went to Ottawa and the Draft is to be determined.

Next season, Atlanta will host the ASG, getting it after their original plans to have it in 2004-05 was dropped due to the lockout.

Once again, the NHL Board of Governors have said they won't change the schedule for this season coming up. This was after they could not get a two-thirds majority over how the schedule should look. Many though that the BoG would approve something similiar to what the NHL had pre-lockout, but the debate will rage on.

Right now, I think it would be better to just go through with the three-year plan that they have now and then change it. It gives them the whole year to figure out what they want to do afterwords, and no team misses out on exclusive viewing rights to five teams this coming season. You can also bet that should the Penguins move west, then there could be a drastic flop of how the schedule is done.

Speaking of the Penguins, the drama for your mama continues. First, Mario and the gang went to Houston to see what they had going on down there. All the while, officials in Pittsburgh were upset that Lemieux wouldn't take their "sweet" offer. Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell actually thought of talking to the NHL about blocking any deal that the Penguins could make in moving the team. That changed, as he is now more than optimisitc about a deal being done.

Now, I'm not the biggest fan of Mario and the Penguins, but to block the move is pretty bush league. You can't strong-arm someone into keeping a team in a place that isn't going to get the support. I said that about the Jim Balsillie deal and I'll continue saying it. It's not the best way to do business and it's not the way to go to attract prospective buyers. You can't force a market if there isn't one to be had.

That's all for now, but check out the archive of Face Off Hockey Show if you missed anything from last night. Also, check out the message boards to keep up to date on all the randomness that could occur.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Slipping at the Top

We're at the midway point of the NHL season and there could be cause for concern on both coast. First, the Anaheim Ducks, who were very dominate in the first quarter of the season, have fallen to the #2 team in the Western Conference, while losing seven of their last nine games. In the East, the Buffalo Sabres continue to be atop the conference, but haven't seem as dominate as they did at the beginning of the season.

The main question now is what is the problem with both sides??

With Anaheim, the easy excuse is injuries. Chris Pronger has been out for almost a month, J-S Giguere is still out with a groin injury, Francois Beauchemin's spleen issue, and Scott Niedermayer not at 100% with a stress fracture. However, the main issue is inconsistency. They haven't been scoring at the torrid pace they started with, which could be a cause for concern when your goaltending is suspect and your defense depleted. Veterans like Teemu Selanne and Andy McDonald need to lead by example to show the young kids like Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry how to fight off adversity.

The Sabres have an issue with some consistency as well, this time it's in goal. Ryan Miller has been a great goalie for the Sabres, yet there are some parts of his game that need help. He seems to let in very late goals and loses confidence into the next game. Martin Biron hasn't been much better as of late in net, though he can get wins. It also seems that the goal-scorers at the beginning of the season aren't producing that much heading into the break. Chris Drury and Thomas Vanek have slowed their pace, which I'm sure the Sabres would love to have back coming down the stretch.

It's much to early to tell if this trend will continue for the Sabres and Ducks. I know fans of both teams don't like to see the slumping happen, but in this game-- it's inevitable. I'm sure once the walking wounded are back and the consistency returns; these teams should become dominant again, hopefully sooner, rather than later.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The New Uniform Debate

The NHL revealed the new uniforms, team-by-team, to a small portion of media folks yesterday. On Monday, they will put it all out to the public. USA Today, however, put up a nice piece about what the new uniform will do with aiding the players and making the game move. They also had a picture of Sidney Crosby in the Eastern Conference uniform, which is the take for the new uniforms to be rolled out. The picture is below.

There has been plenty said, because everyone is a critic. Now, SportsLogos.net Message Boards have been both the most critical and the place with the most converts. There have been other places more critical without giving it a chance.

Personally, I was skeptical, but gave it a chance. Looking at it, they don't seem too shabby for the All-Star Game. How that will translate with the team uniforms and what they look like will have to wait. Yet, it's not as bad as I thought it could be, much better than the first prototype that had the jerseys tucked into the pants.

The real test will be on Monday when all the teams are shown.

But, now it's your turn. What do you all think of the first look at the new uniforms?? Email comments@faceoffhockeyshow.com to voice your opinion; good, bad, indifferent. Keep it clean and keep it on topics. To quote an intelligent man, "Have a take. Don't suck." Just put the subject like something "New Uniforms" or something like that.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Around the Rink 01.09.07

The Penguins are getting calls. After the Kansas City venture, the Penguins have received calls from other cities about moving to their city. Oklahoma City has called with interest and, as always, so has Houston and Portland. However, owner Mario Lemieux has said that meetings with the Pittsburgh government have gone well and is confident that they can hammer out a deal.

Of these cities, I think that Kansas City has a slight edge over Houston; but if Portland can get a new arena in place; they could in the hunt. Lemieux has to be loving this because he has all the leverage in the world right now to get something done in Pittsburgh, barring they actually want to keep the team there. Lemieux has all the cards right now and waiting for someone to call his bluff.

Rory Fitzpatrick isn't going to be in the top-2 when All-Star Voting is revealed tonight, says the Vancouver Sun. Citing NHL sources, Fitzpatrick was on the outside of the top-2, probably Scott Niedermayer and Niklas Lidstrom. It avoids an awkward situation that Fitzpatrick may have had to endure.

Some people are too happy that Rory didn't get in. Listen up people-- The All-Star Game sucks. All-Star Voting is a joke; this showed how much of a joke it is and how powerful the intraweb is. Look, the ASG voting is all a popularity contest and really needs to be taken out of the hands of the fans. If the NHL wants to put the top guys in; hand the votes over to the GMs and a select number of players to pick who they want in. It's just that simple. For Rory and those who supported him-- rock, rock on; for those who has their panties in a bunch about this-- lighten the eff up.

Talk about a resurgence. Both the LA Kings and Phoenix Coyotes have woken up from the dead and are making themselves look pretty good as of late. The Kings can attribute that to the return of Mathieu Garon, who has played like a monster as of late. You can bet that Garon should get more starts than Cloutier from here on out.

The Coyotes finally told Curtis Joseph the season has started, which got him off his duff for three straight wins. Jeremy Roenick is playing like he wants to and Shane Doan continues to be the leader on and off the ice. Who knows, both these teams could sneak into the playoffs if the rest of the conference is not careful.

If you are in Canada and you need something to do to prep yourself for Face Off Hockey Show (9 PM ET), then you need to check out OLN and a show called Road Hockey Rumble. The premise is that two captains, Mark McGuckin and Calum MacLeod, head for one side of Canada to another playing road hockey (street hockey for our American readers) to see whose team reigns supreme, like so much Iron Chef.

Looking at the trailer on their website, the show looks pretty damn funny, whether that's the intent or not, I don't know. However, if you have the chance, check it out. I don't know what to tell our droves of American readers; but bug the hell out of Versus and tell them to get this on the stations.

That's all for now, check out Face Off Hockey Show this Wednesday at 9PM and as always you can check out the Message Board and our MySpace for other happenings.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Around the Rink 01.04.07

It appears that the Penguins could be Kansas City bound. Mario Lemieux has met with Kansas City officials over the past couple of days in order to "kick the tires", if you will, regarding the Sprint Center. Lemieux has also had some brief discussions regarding how they will be able to get an arena deal in Pittsburgh. To sweeten the pot, Kansas City has offered free rent for the Penguins, should they move to KC. Lemieux has told them that he would make his decision in 30 days.

We've heard 30 day a lot in this Penguins saga, like 30 days to get a deal done after a letter of intent. If KC does get the team, that will pretty much force a realignment situation, that we talked about last time. We'll see in a month's time if Lemieux was serious or just using this as leverage to get the City of Pittsburgh to get their act together.

As an aside, is it just me or does the Sprint Center look like a giant disco ball??

Mike Comrie helped relieve some of the Ottawa Senators' center woes when he was acquired yesterday. He netted two assists, got plenty of power play time, and seemed like he wanted to play again. This has been a knock on Comrie since his run-in with the Oilers' front office. We'll see if Bryan Murray can keep Comrie movtivated or if he'll just fall by the wayside again.

Comrie is going to be key for the Senators this season. Not so much because of the injuries, but the Senators forwards are either finesse or grinders. There's really no inbetween. With Comrie, you get a little of both; which should make for some exciting games.

Were you as amazed at the Petr Nedved word as I was?? Reports came out Monday that the Ottawa Senators were going to pick Nedved off re-entry waivers, but before they could get to it, Kevin Lowe and Edmonton Oilers snatched him up. That brings into question what's going to happen now with the Oilers?? It doesn't make sense for them to pick up another forward (who has a -20 rating and only a goal on the season) when they need defense.

So, now we play "Who's leaving Edmonton now??" We get to speculate which of the Oilers will be traded to get a defenseman for the team. You have some of the obvious thoughts like Shawn Horcoff and Petr Sykora; one for underachieving and one for overachieving. Yet, no one knows if this will mean anything at all, this could just lead to nothing. I'm sure the Oilers thought they could rangle someone away from the Sens for a Horcoff; but now with Comrie, the Oilers could be stuck.

The man who was voted the "Best Hair" in Denver 1996, Mike Ricci, is considering retirement. Ricci has been a healthy scratch for seven straight games and suffered a serious neck injury in training camp. Ricci returned home to Phoenix to talk things over with his family about this future in the game.

Ricci has always been a pest, but is one of the guys who personifys what people like about hockey. He has some scoring prowess, but always will get on the physical side of things happening on the ice. Whatever happens, best of luck to Mike.

That's it for now, check out the FOHS Website, FOHS Podcast, FOHS Message Boards, and FOHS MySpace for all the fun that's bound to happen.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Realignment Assignment

As I mentioned the last "Around the Rink" post, the NHL is looking into realignment coming up. This will be brought to the attention of the board of governors, which will then be voted on and all that fun stuff. The inital thought is that instead of six divisions, there will only be four in each of the conferences.

Granted, there's 30 teams in the league, 15 in each conference-- you're going to have uneven division settings. This could (and probably will) stir the talk of expansion (or even contraction) in the NHL, but the short term effect this could have is getting rid of the ridiculous division match-ups that were a good idea in theory, but somewhat poor in execution. That, or you can have what the MLB has with 16 teams on one side and 14 in the other....which really, when thought about-- isn't too bad an idea.

Due to a lot of time on my hands, I have developed three possible scenarios, with surely many more to come. These scenarios are pretty much easy to follow, but I'll map them out anyway in order to no confuse the whole lot of you.

SCENARIO ONE: The first scenario is basic. It just divides up what the Conferences are now. In the East, the Southeast would be the same with the addition to Philadelphia and New Jersey, while the other divsion will mix the other teams in the current Atlantic with those in the Northeast. The West would get Dallas out of the Pacific and Minnesota out of the Northwest and put them with the Central. The rest of the Pacific and Northwest would join their own division.

SCENARIO TWO: This sees the Pittsburgh Penguins moving to Kansas City, which would move them out West. Columbus would tolley out to the East. That's just a flip-flop from scenario one. Now, if the Pens move to Houston or Winnipeg, this wouldn't effect it much. If the off-chance they move to Portland, Colorado would move to the more Eastern Western Division (see Scenario 2a).

SCENARIO THREE: This is a copy off the MLB situation where 14 teams are on one side (Eastern) and 16 teams are on the other (Western). This is used with the KC Penguins model and would be adjusted as they moved. Basically, the Blue Jackets would move back to the West and each Western Conference division would have eight teams in them. Now, this would probably bring about more divisional play, but what can you do.

Playoff wise, it should be like it was in the old days, where you actually had to play out of your division in order to get to the Conference Finals. If you want to increase the rivalry set, don't worry about making all these games in the regular season; put it to the test in the playoffs, because that's where true rivalries are born.

If you have your own take on what the divisons should look like, either leave a comment here or join the discussion on the FOHS Message Boards powered by FantasyHockey.com.