Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Kerrzy’s Notebook: The Gift of Gab

Marian Gaborik made his return to the Minnesota Wild lineup on December 17th after missing 27 games with an unspecified “lower body injury,” and guess what? He’s already been out again with an injury.

The oft-injured Slovakian sniper has five points in six games this season, but has a groin made out of wet paper – creating a problem for real and fantasy General Managers alike.

Here’s the thing – despite missing 83 games since the lockout, Gaborik has still managed to put up 211 points in 195 games (as of the Christmas break), including an amazing 113 goals (22 of them game winners)...and his contract is up after this year.

If you’re the GM of the Wild, do you stick with your club’s first ever draft pick and offer him a big-money deal? If Minnesota passes on Gabby and you’re the GM of any of the 29 other NHL teams, do you take the risk?

He’s got the statistics in the games he actually plays to demand big money, but he is always injured.

Only Alex Ovechkin and Dany Heatley have a higher goals-per-game average than he does since the 2005-06 season…but only Peter “Robo” Forsberg has a weaker groin!

Speaking of band-aids, New York Islanders goaltender Rick Dipietro also missed 27 games before the Christmas break this year and is already back on the shelf too.

After recovering from knee surgery, DiPietro was healthy just long enough to record a 4-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Boxing Day (his first win since February 28th), but is now out with a sore groin.

In that 28-save win, the 27-year-old also notched his 14th NHL assist, moving him past Billy Smith on the Isles all-time franchise list for points by a goaltender.

It’s a shame he’s out of the lineup again, the Islanders need all the offence they can get right now!

Columbus Masonry

Masonry: Walls built by a Mason, using brick, stone, tile or whatever they make goalie pads out of.

Steve Mason started the season on the injured reserve of the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch, the farm team of the Columbus Blue Jackets, but since being called up to the big club he’s been nothing short of amazing.

When I sat down to write this, Mason had a 11-7-1 record with a league-best 1.78 GAA, a second place .935 save percentage and four shutouts, also good enough for second behind only Roberto Luongo…not bad for a rook!

Speaking of Bobby Lou, Mason’s four shutouts give him the highest total for a rookie since the 2000-01 season when Evgeni Nabokov had six, Luongo had five and Brent Johnson had four.

Unfortunately for the Blue Jackets though, they found out this past week that the second half of their dynamic rookie duo would have an early end to his season.

Hull, Quebec’s Derick Brassard was told he would need season-ending shoulder surgery just before the Christmas break. Through 31 games, the 21-year-old Brassard was leading all rookies in scoring with 25 points (10 goals, 15 assists).

That’s a tough break.

Let’s Make a Deal

We’ve all seen Mats Sundin’s dumb PokerStars.net commercials…

The NHL has seen them too, and they’re apparently looking into his contract with the poker website.

According to an article I read in the London Free Press, the league says no one involved with a team can be linked to an outfit or competition that involves handicapping or predicting the scores of its games.

Pokerstars.net is a “free” site, while their sister site Pokerstars.com is one of the most successful cash poker rooms on the web. The sites often have commercials that look (to me) like them trying to convey poker as a legitimate “sport,” next to other actual sports.

Sundin should be okay on this front though, because thankfully for him, his biggest gamble was signing on to play for the Canucks!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Kerrzy’s Notebook: Recession Proof?

How about those New York Yankees? If you’re a Yankees fan, you’re smiling right now; if not, you’re probably saying to yourself and anyone that’ll listen that the Yankees are everything wrong with professional sports these days.

The Yankees signed switch-hitting first baseman Mark Teixeira to an eight-year deal, worth $180-million on December 23rd, further proving that they are “recession proof.”

This is, of course, after they signed pitcher C.C. Sabathia to a seven-year, $161-million deal (which apparently included a $9.5-million signing bonus) and former Blue Jay A.J. Burnett to a contract worth $82.5-million over five years, both in the second week of December.

Here’s an interesting tidbit I plucked from a Gordon Edes column on Yahoo! Sports:

“The Yankees will have nine players being paid $13 million or more in 2009. Those nine players – Teixeira, Sabathia, Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, A.J. Burnett, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon – combine for $159.1 million, more than the payroll of any other team.”

Who’s next for the Yankees, Manny Ramirez?

In a funny side-story, the Yankees are offering old-time prices for a pair of exhibition games against the Cubs in April at their new stadium. Fans can buy tickets for as little as a quarter – which is what it cost on opening day in 1923 at Yankee Stadium.

That’s before the real prices kick in, which peak at $2,500.


The NFL made itself a cool $20,000 last week after a couple of snow-related incidents by players that Commissioner Roger Goodell deemed fine-worthy.

The first $10,000 fine went to NY Jets defensive end Shaun Ellis who threw a “snowball” at Seattle Seahawks fans as his team left the field, after a 14-3 loss.

In the heavily-viewed YouTube video it looks like it’s snowing, but it’s actually snowballs being fired at the visitors. What I originally read was that Ellis threw some snow back...but in the video, you see that Ellis clearly throws what’s equivalent to the bottom third of a snowman into the crowd!

Here it is:

Next up – Wes Welker of the New England Patriots gets fined $10,000 for making a “snow angel” in his club’s 47-7 rout of the Arizona Cardinals.

The NFL’s leading receiver scored his third touchdown of the year on that snowy Sunday, and celebrated by dropping to his back and moving some snow around.

This is one thing that I hate about the NFL. You want exciting games, but God forbid a player shows any personality!

History says they’ll repeat…

If the history of the NBA is anything to go by, the Harlem Globetrotters…I mean, the Boston Celtics, will have a second straight NBA Championship banner hanging from the rafters of the TD Banknorth Garden by opening night in 2009.

With their 26th win of the year, a 124-105 win over the NY Knicks, the Boston Celtics tied the 1966-67 Philadelphia 76ers and the 1969-70 Knicks for the best start in NBA history at 26-2. Both of those teams went on to win the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy.

With their next win, the Celtics beat the 76ers 110-91 for their 19th straight win, setting a team record (they lost to the Lakers in LA on Christmas Day though). They also set an NBA record with their 27th win in 29 games. That’s ridiculous!

It’s a good time to be a sports fan in Boston – at the TD Banknorth Garden, the Celtics have won 12 straight games, while the Boston Bruins have won their last 13! According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it’s just the second time in NBA/NHL history that co-tenants of a building have had double-digit winning streaks at the same time. Coincidentally, it was the Celtics and Bruins that did it the last time it happened too, around this time of year in 1973-74 when they won 27 straight between them.

Boston teams are 20-0 at the Garden to wind out 2008. November 14th, when the Celtics lost to the Denver Nuggets, was the last loss of the year.

Honorable Mention: After a 31-21 loss at Green Bay, the Detroit Lions became the first team in NFL history to go 0-16…winless through the entire season. Ouch. They’re selling “2008 Preseason Champions” shirts in Motown. Gotta love it.

preseason champs

Friday, December 19, 2008

Kerrzy’s Notebook: RoboForsberg poised for NHL return?

PETER FORSBERG wants to come back now too?!?

The Denver Post says Peter Forsberg wants to play in the ’09 NHL playoffs…for the Colorado Avalanche.

Peter Forsberg is recovering from – you guessed it – surgery on his troubled right foot and told Swedish TV show “Hockey-night” of his intentions this past week, also addressing rumors that he is part robot.

As for his wish to resume a very successful professional hockey career, Forsberg doesn’t want to come back for just any part of the season…

No sir…right to the playoffs, please.

Last year Forsberg racked up nine regular season appearances and appeared seven more times in the playoffs for the Colorado Avalanche after signing a one-year deal on February 25th. Even in that limited number of games, the 35-year-old still missed time due to various injuries.

After addressing his plans to play this season, the rumored cyborg also shed some light on how he was able to play with his wonky foot last year:

"(I had) a battery package hidden in my pants. When I turned it on, the foot straightened in the skates," Forsberg said. "It was kind of funny.”

If he could find a similar contraption for his back and his groin maybe RoboForsberg could play for a few more years!

I wonder if he thinks Colorado will actually make the playoffs.

Who throws a shoe?!

Gary Bettman swung through Edmonton last week, speaking to a local group ahead of one of the Oilers worst-ever losses on home ice.

Bettman threw his support behind a new rink for the Oilers, discussed his disgust over the whole Sean Avery thing and talked about how much more exciting the NHL is this year with more come-from-behind wins and lead changes.

While I, too, am down with a downtown rink for the Oil, think the Sean Avery thing was ridiculous and agree that the NHL is very exciting this year, not to mention high scoring…that’s about all myself and Mr. Bettman agree on.

I just wish someone had told me he was coming – I would have had my shoes ready!

Also…classic quote from President Bush about the shoe-throwing incident:

"I don't know what the guy said, but I saw his sole.”

Blackhawk downed

And lets take a moment, shall we, to reflect on last Tuesday’s blowout at Rexall Place.

An own goal, a shorthanded goal (on the same play), four power play goals and eight different scorers…that was the case in Chicago’s 9-2 thumping of the Edmonton Oilers, exactly 13 years and one day since the last time the Oil allowed nine goals in a game.

Even worse for Sam Gagner, he was playing against his former London Knights teammate Patrick Kane, who scored the game’s opening goal and added two assists.

It was as if the Blackhawks were shooting into one of those NHL prototype nets!

Remarkably, that was the second time in five days that an NHL game ended with that score (the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the NY Islanders 9-2 on December 11th). So the question remains – how long until we finally see a team hit double digits???

Teams have been flirting with the elusive double-digit mark all season long, and quite frankly, I think it’s time.

To those who say “we need to increase scoring in the NHL” – Thursday night saw an 8-5 win for Boston, a 6-0 shutout for the Red Wings (over the league-best San Jose Sharks), a 6-5 shootout win for Dallas and a 6-3 win for the Pens (with a couple of *2-1’s, a 4-2 and a 5-2).

The number of high scoring affairs so far this season is hopefully putting “ways to increase scoring” on the backburner of the NHL’s decision makers – but what better a way to do it than by scoring 10+ goals in one game!

(*For the record: The Lightning were ROBBED in the shootout against Colorado...there’s no way Mike Smith “threw his stick” on that play)


Monday, December 15, 2008

Kerrzy's Notebook: Broadway Bound?

Apparently, people still care that Mats Sundin is a player looking for work.

Ever since the end of last season (which was April 5th for the Maple Leafs), we’ve been bombarded with speculation about Sundin’s future.

After a summer of indecision, the 37-year-old Swede-in-limbo says he will play this season…but where? Tune in next week and find out!

He’s back in the news this week because he met with the management of the New York Rangers. Sundin took in the thriller between the Rangers and the New Jersey Devils, which ended 8-5 for Jersey.

My problem is, I just don’t believe all the hype over Sundin.

The Vancouver Canucks have $10-million on the table for the services of the former captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs. That’s a lot of money for a guy that’ll get you 70-80 points in a full season, never mind half a season.

Why pay so much for a half-season of average?

Having said all that, maybe he’ll come back and prove me wrong. I just think there are better ways to spend your money in these “tough economic times!”


Got Yourself a Gun?

Joey Porter does, and he doesn’t care who knows.

The Miami Dolphins linebacker came to the defense of former teammate Plaxico Burress, who shot himself in the leg with an illegal firearm at a New York bar.

Porter was an innocent bystander shot outside a Denver sports bar in 2003 and says NFL players are targeted and need protection.

Why not just hire yourself a bodyguard? Porter had an interesting take on that suggestion in an interview with ESPN:

“How do you know that this bodyguard you're supposed to get doesn't get bought out by somebody else and set you up for your own house to be robbed? Because, at the end of the day, you're trusting somebody you really don't know.”

That’s a pretty good point…but lets not forget: Plaxico Burress shot himself.

I’m sorry; I still can’t get over that.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Kerrzy's Notebook: KG made a grown man CRY!

Kevin Garnett MADE A MAN CRY this week. Wow!

Glen Davis is a forward in the Boston Celtics reserves, and when Boston’s bench players let the Portland Trailblazers chip away at lead on Friday night, they felt Garnett’s wrath on the sidelines.

Now, I think Kevin Garnett is the scariest man alive. He’s got a Mark Messier-esque intensity, but he’s about twice the size of the Moose.

Garnett started givin’ it to the bench players just before the starters went back onto the court, and during that tirade he grabbed Davis by the arm. Davis pulled away and moments later, the cameras showed him makin’ it rain.

Don’t get me wrong -- I’m not saying KG couldn’t make me cry. Quite the opposite, and I hope he never reads this just incase he feels like making someone cry. All I’m saying is DAMN – KG made a grown man cry!

I looked up how Glen Davis got his nickname, too. The 6-foot-9, second year pro says he was a really big kid, so he always had to play sports with the older kids. He says he’s tough now, but he “wasn’t so tough back then,” and he sometimes got picked on for being younger…hence the nickname “Big Baby.”

Ah yes, and the Celtics won 93-78…Boston’s starters were each at least +14, while every bench player was a minus. On a related note – who knew they started keeping track of plus/minus in the NBA?

Tough night for my boy Greg Oden, he got into foul trouble and only had 5 points all night.


Anger Management 2: Starring Sean Avery

Six games, plus the embarrassment of looking like a creepy jealous ex-boyfriend on TV sets across the continent.

At least, that’s what I took from the comments Sean Avery made after the Dallas Stars’ morning skate at the Pengrowth Saddledome in Calgary on Tuesday. His Stars were getting set to take on Dion Phaneuf and the Flames that night, a game won by Dallas.

"I just want to comment on how it's become like a common thing in the NHL for guys to fall in love with my sloppy seconds."

Avery was referring to Elisha Cuthbert, who found a new Flame in Dion after her split with the NHL’s biggest pest. He was suspended by the league within hours, pending a hearing with Commissioner Gary Bettman.

The league gave Avery six games, including the two he missed before his hearing with the Commish, and the Dallas forward* agreed to undergo an anger management evaluation and take counseling, if needed.

Is that enough? Is that too much?

If he made that comment to Dion Phaneuf, face-to-face on the ice, Phaneuf would have taken care of the punishment. He didn’t say it on the ice, though.

Approaching a group of reporters and telling them you’ve got something to say is also a lot different than a reporter leading you into a question where you say something you might not mean.

Because of that, I’m going to say it’s a good suspension.

Avery’s mouth has gotten him in trouble before and he’s had to meet with the league on more than one occasion recently, so it was really only a matter of time until he was disciplined for something. I like the idea that they’re trying to get him some help too, though.

I wonder what Elisha had to say about all this…according to the Associated Press, she’s also been linked to Mike Komisarek of the Montreal Canadiens. Avery also dated Rachel Hunter, who’s now engaged to Jarret Stoll of the LA Kings.


*When I say “Dallas forward,” in reference to Sean Avery, I assume they still consider him part of the team. Some players have said to reporters, off the record, that they hope he’s done with the club. Owner Tom Hicks is reportedly pretty riled up about the whole thing too.

Will Sean Avery be this year’s Ray Emery, minus the Hummer? Our first chance to see any signs of that is December 16th, the night Avery is eligible to return.

This is funny too:


You’re facing up to 15 years in jail for shooting yourself during a night out at the club…with your own gun.

Not only that, the gun’s not registered, it cost you $100,000 to get out of jail after you turned YOURSELF in, your boss is fining you and you’re suspended for the rest of the season from your job.

Poor Plaxico Burress…according to the news reports, that’s basically how it’s gone down for the NY Giants star receiver.

If he’s found guilty of “illegal weapons possession,” he’ll be going to prison for at least 3.5 years – again, for accidentally shooting himself in the leg while walking to the VIP section of a night club.

Think about that…

”What are you in for?”

“Well I was out at the club, walking to the VIP section. I reached into my pocket…and uhh, I accidentally shot myself in the thigh with my illegal gun.”

Didn’t that happen to “Cheddar Bob” in 8mile? (Apparently Lee Harvey Oswald did it too during his time in the military too, and was court-martialled for it!)


That is one bad weekend.