Thursday, March 31, 2011

Kerrzy’s Notebook: The Good, The (Not) Bad & The Ugly

It was an interesting night between the pipes on Wednesday in the NHL as one guy stayed perfect (with a little help), a cold call resulted in a clean sheet and the Blues went totally Chinua Achebe on the Wings!

What’s that saying – you have to be good to be lucky? Ray Emery must be pretty good then, because he got quite lucky in Calgary on Wednesday in the second period of an eventual 4-2 win for his Ducks over the Flames. The home side appeared to tie the game up during a goalmouth scramble in the Anaheim end, but the video replay was inconclusive and so the goal wasn’t given. The replay seemed to show the puck over the line, and common sense would lead you to believe that it was a good goal, but it was impossible to tell for sure if it was in.

Just like that, former Oiler Lubo Visnovsky put the Ducks up by two before the end of the period and that was about all she wrote for the Flames, whose playoff hopes took a real hit on the night. As for Ray Emery, he is now 6-0-0 since signing with Anaheim, with a 1.90 GAA and a .935 save percentage!

Over in the East, the Buffalo Sabres made a big statement on Wednesday with a 1-0 win over the NY Rangers, bumping them up into seventh place in the conference.

Sabres goalie Ryan Miller, who is arguably the team’s best player, was a late scratch for this game because of what the team is calling an “upper body injury,” but his rookie replacement didn’t skip a beat!

Jhonas Enroth made 23 stops for his first career shutout, which was made sweeter only by the fact that Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist was apparently his childhood hero. Oh, and did I mention that he just happened to fly his parents in from Sweden to see their first NHL game that night? Not bad!

It wasn’t all high fives and smiles on Wednesday though – just ask Joey MacDonald and Thomas McCollum.

Things fell apart for the Detroit Red Wings netminders in a 10-3 loss to the St. Louis Blues at Joe Louis Arena, a game that saw the visitors find mesh eight times in the first two periods! MacDonald was yanked after giving up five goals, but found his way back into the game when McCollum allowed three more on the eight shots he faced in relief.

It’s not often that a team puts up 10 goals in a game, so let’s take a look at them:


I bet they can’t wait for Jimmy Howard to get healthy!

Kerrzy’s Notebook: Madden 12 & E-Concussions

With the NFL lockout now into its twentieth day, the prospect of a shortened or even cancelled season is looking more and more plausible.

Whether or not that happens though, two things remain true: You’ll be able to fill the void with Madden 12 starting in August, and concussions will still be an issue in 2011!

How will concussions be an issue if no one is playing, you ask? It turns out the folks over at EA Sports are doing their bit to bring about some awareness to the injury by making it a part of the upcoming video game. Pasta Padre reports that EA Sports president Peter Moore has announced that players will miss the rest of a game if they suffer an e-concussion. Up until now, you had the option to just reinsert the player and continue playing as if nothing happened.

GameSpot confirms that news with a Tweet from the NFLPA’s George Atallah, who says:

“Good for EA Sports. Concussed players in NFL Madden prevented from returning to play. Culture change is important.”

This is an interesting development, isn’t it? Since concussions are a hot topic in the rest of the major sports on the continent, especially hockey and baseball, it makes you wonder if EA will end up adding this to the rest of its games!

Speaking of Madden 12 though, have you voted for who you think should grace of the cover of this year’s game?

That’s right – rather than make the choice themselves, EA Sports has teamed up with ESPN to launch a bracket-style contest called “Cover Vote,” with the winner to be announced in late April.

One of the players still in the running for the honor is Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, and why not? He had an outstanding season and was named the AP’s Comeback Player of the Year, but not everyone is happy with his inclusion!

While most right-minded people are okay with the fact that Vick has been given a second chance (after serving his time in a federal prison, of course), there are still organizations like PETA who won’t let it go.

CNBC reports that they took this opportunity to complain to EA Sports that Vick should be taken out of the bracket because of his past involvement in dog fighting. For his part, company president Peter Moore says they have no problem with putting Vick on the cover, should he win. I can’t believe that PETA is still going on about Vick and his past – to me, this type of nonsense cheapens any good work that they actually do.

Personally, I think they should put Roger Goodell on the cover!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Kerrzy’s Notebook: Big Week for NHL’s 40+ Club

Remember when 40 years old was old?

It seems like that just isn’t the case in the NHL anymore, with the first two days of this week serving as an exclamation point to that notion. On Monday we saw an epic outing from a Duck and a Wing doing something no one else had done before him, while on Tuesday we witnessed an old Bear hitting yet another milestone!

When the current season started there were five players who were at least 40: Nick Lidstrom and Mike Modano of the Detroit Red Wings, Doug Weight of the NY Islanders, Teemu Selanne of the Anaheim Ducks and the senior of the group, Boston’s Mark Recchi who turned 43 on February 1st. Modano and Weight had their seasons cut short by injury, but for the rest of the 40+ crew it has been quite a ride.

Lets start with Detroit captain Nick Lidstrom – there are many who say that the 19-year veteran is playing the best hockey of his career right now, despite his age. He blasted his 15th goal of the season past Chicago’s Corey Crawford on Monday in an overtime loss to the Blackhawks, becoming the first defenseman over 40 to hit 60 points in a season.

How’s this for a model of consistency: As a rookie in 1991/92, Lidstrom had 60 points, 22 penalty minutes, five power play goals, one game winner and 168 shots. This season, the Swede has 60 points, 20 penalty minutes, seven power play goals, one game winner and 162 shots. The big difference this year is his plus/minus, which will likely end up below plus-10 for just the third time in his career, but other than that he is right on track.

Later that night, Teemu Selanne turned some heads in Anaheim with a penalty shot goal, a hat trick and five points in a 5-4 Ducks win over the Avalanche, which included his 700th career assist. The Finnish Flash now has 75 points in 67 games this season, with 11 of those points coming in his last five games ahead of tonight’s all-important tilt with the Flames.

Aren’t guys that old supposed to be slowing down?

Selanne has 28 goals this season after putting up 27 in each of the past two years, but the big difference in his game this time around is how he is sharing the puck. He’s up to 47 helpers so far this year, which is his highest total in that category since 2005/06. In the history of the league, only two players have put together better seasons as a 40-year-old - Gordie Howe (103) and John Bucyk (83). Not bad company eh?

The final old-age accomplishment on our list this week comes from Boston Bruins forward Mark Recchi.

The 43-year-old picked up an assist in a 3-0 win over the Hawks on Tuesday, giving him 1,532 career points. Recchi’s 47th point of the season moves him into 12th on the NHL's all-time points list, one up on Oilers legend Paul Coffey.

The best part about this story is that it looks like Lidstrom, Selanne and Recchi will all be playing postseason hockey this year, so there could be lots more to talk about!

Which of the 40+ Club impresses you the most?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Kerrzy’s Notebook: 15 Minutes of Fame

Happy Tuesday!

It’s a very hockey-heavy episode of “15 Minutes of Fame” this week as Geoff Driscoll & I take a look at the goaltending situation of the Washington Capitals (three guys, one starting spot) and we discuss what’s left to prove this season for the Edmonton Oilers. This week’s GABBYs feature Joe Sakic, Matt Cooke, Sidney Crosby, Ryan Suter, Marc Savard and Tiger Woods!


See something that you think should be a GABBY? Give us a shout! You can get a hold of us on Twitter @15MinutesYEG, you can find us on Facebook or shoot us an email at 15MinutesYEG@gmail.com!

For last week's episode, click here. Thanks for watching!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Kerrzy’s Notebook: Canseco Conspiracy?

As the Barry Bonds perjury trial gets into its second week, it’s another former baseball player with links to steroids that has people talking…

Yes, the internet is abuzz today with the latest Jose Canseco controversy: The “Juiced” author is in a bit of a dispute with a (shady) celebrity boxing promoter after he apparently didn’t show up for a fight on Saturday. If ESPN is to be believed (we’ll get to that in a minute), not only did Canseco not show up, he sent his twin brother Ozzie in his place!

Jose was supposed to fight at a Hard Rock CafĂ© in a place called Hollywood, Florida, but promoter Damon Feldman says it all fell apart when the wrong brother walked through the door. There are conflicting reports, but ESPN says some of the fans in attendance started to pipe up when they noticed Canseco’s tattoos weren’t right.

Radar Online tells a completely different story though: They say Jose was there, which was confirmed to them by his would-be opponent, Billy Padden. Their sources say that Canseco wanted his money before the fight because he’s had issues with Feldman in the past, and when he didn’t get it he left. They also confirm that Ozzie was there too, but that he was just a spectator.

After the fact, Jose took to Twitter to tell his side of the story. Here are some of the highlights:

Photobucket

First off, I’m pretty sure that ESPN isn’t owned by the MLB…but maybe Jose knows something I don’t. As for the media being right 20 percent of 50 percent of the time – I’m not very good at math, but I think the overall batting average is just a touch higher than that!

The initial comment is an interesting one though: “Be very careful with Damon Feldman who runs celebrity boxing he will not pay you if you fight for him.”

Here are a couple of things you should know about this Feldman character: He’s been in trouble with the law recently for fixing fights and promoting fights without a license, and he’s the type of guy who wound find himself in a hotel lobby scuffle with someone like Lindsay Lohan’s dad.

In other words, he’s not the most trustworthy fellow in the game. Then again, Jose Canseco is a bit sketchy as well…

Who do you believe?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Kerrzy’s Notebook: SuperGore goes Beast Mode (and loses)

It’s a good thing Lucas Gore isn’t allergic to rubber, because he’s certainly seeing a lot of it these days.

The Chilliwack Bruins netminder has been left out to dry by his teammates more intensely than any other goalie in the league on a few occasions this season, but still has some pretty solid stats to his name. A prime example of that would be a March 16th shootout loss to the Spokane Chiefs where Gore made a whopping 77 saves, giving up just one goal!

No, you’re not seeing things – the kid made 77 stops in 65 minutes! If you’re wondering, and I’m sure you are, that appears to be a WHL regular season record (via Buzzing The Net).

Gore and the Bruins were back on the ice on Friday night for game one of their first round playoff series with the very same Spokane Chiefs, and guess what? He may very well have set a league record for saves in a playoff game!

While the WHL Record Book doesn’t seem to have the stat we’re looking for handy, let it be known that Lucas Gore stopped 60 shots in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Chiefs! So, in exactly 135 minutes of hockey against Spokane, Gore has made 137 saves on 141 shots and lost both times!

Are you ready for some even crazier stats? Including the two games against Spokane, Gore has made at least 54 saves on five occasions this season and has a record of 0-1-2-2 in those games! On December 15th he stopped 54 shots in Red Deer, he made 64 saves in Seattle on February 20th and another 55 in the same place on March 11th. He’s also had seven more outings where he’s been called upon to make at least 41 saves, but is 5-2-0 in those tilts!

If the Chilliwack Bruins make it out of the first round in the WHL’s Western Conference, you can be that Lucas “Super” Gore had something to do with it!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Random Friday Thoughts: Ocho to MLS, Suter Strikes & More!

Football to Football for Ochocinco?

Now that the NFL has officially locked out its players, one guy is putting football aside to try his hand at…football!

Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco is taking this opportunity to give a childhood passion of his another go, suiting up for a four-day trial with Major League Soccer’s Sporting Kansas City. Yes, the man who once raced (and beat) a horse is now trying to make it in soccer!

Here’s the crazy part: Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star says he’s actually a pretty good player!

According to reports, his first day on the pitch didn’t blow anyone away, but as he works off the rust and gets more comfortable, Ochocinco is starting to look like he belongs out there. Coach Peter Vermes commented afterwards that he’s “alright” at some things and “far behind” at others, but either way they’ll probably decide this weekend what to do with him.

If he’s good enough to play at the MLS level, you’ve got to think that KC will take a chance on him, even if it’s just a ploy to sell a few more tickets and get a bit more attention directed at the team. If he couldn’t actually play, it would be a different story, but it sounds like he could maybe be a pretty decent addition to the club!

Should Sporting KC take a chance on Chad Ochocinco?

The Next Gizmo?

While it’s completely too early to call him the next Henry “Gizmo” Williams, the Edmonton Eskimos may have that next superstar on their roster!

His name is Brandon James and he’s a 5-foot-7, 176-pound kick return specialist out of the University of Florida. I could go on and on about the SEC records he set and the national title in 2007, but lets get right to what matters – the video evidence:


Does he not remind you of Gizmo? If that video package is anything to go by, the Esks are gaining a player who could be a game-changer anytime he gets between the white lines.

After a tough couple of seasons, wouldn’t it be nice to have a guy like that come in and be a star?

What a Strike!

Nashville Predators defenceman Ryan Suter looked more like Ryan Giggs on Thursday night in a win over the Anaheim Ducks…

With less than 30 seconds to go in the game, the Ducks made it 5-4 when Corey Perry floated the puck into the slot and Suter tried to kick it over the net. I say “tried to,” because he ends up putting it bar-and-in on Pekka Rinne!


Maybe next time he should try a bicycle kick!

Sir Alex vs. The BBC

Did you know that it’s been six years since Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson gave any post game love to the BBC?

Yes, there are rules that say you have to speak to the media after your team leaves the pitch, but Fergie has ignored that and instead accepted fines for that whole stretch! What has him all riled up? The Daily Mail says it has something to do with a BBC3 documentary from back in 2004 about his son Jason, who is a football agent.

No one seems to be quite sure what it was about that documentary that set Ferguson off, but whatever it was, he has been demanding an apology this whole time. Whether or not he gets it is yet to be seen – there isn’t even a date set for this meeting, which was organized by EPL chairman Sir Dave Richards.

You’ve got to admire the stubbornness of Sir Alex on this one – six years is a long time to hold a grudge!

Speaking of soccer and TV, the top divisions of Spanish soccer are postponing next weekend's contests over a dispute over TV revenue.

The teams want a complete pay-TV package and are demanding the government pull back on a law that guarantees one game per week on free television. The clubs say they need the extra cash, so it’s pay-TV or bust!

Other stuff…

He won't be playing for Wales this weekend, but check out this awesome animation of Gareth Bale’s two games against Inter in Champions League play…

Remember when Qatar was awarded the 2022 World Cup and there was all that worry over the scorching hot summer temperatures? Scientists there have invented artificial clouds to keep things cool!

Things went from bad to worse for Mario Balotelli in the past few weeks – first there were the pinny problems and a red card, now he’s been dropped from the Italian national team!

Kerrzy’s Notebook: Marchand hit Foul or Fair?

The Boston Bruins absolutely annihilated the Montreal Canadiens 7-0 at the TD Garden in Bean town on Thursday night, the first time the division rivals met since the Zdeno Chara/Max Pacioretty incident.

Seems fitting then, that there would be another semi-questionable hit for us to talk about afterwards, doesn’t it?

A quick scan of the post game articles and comments from around the interweb doesn’t seem to show many mentions of a Brad Marchand hit on Scott Gomez in the third period, but it’s a hit that I’m sure the NHL will at least take another look at. With about 7:25 to go in what was then a 6-0 game, Marchand goes high on Gomez in the neutral zone, sending him flying and earning himself a roughing penalty. To me, it’s a hit that could easily be racked up as another headshot on Marchand’s resume and, given that he was just suspended for one, could easily result in another ban.

Then again a lot of people are just as quick to call it a completely clean hit, Marchand included – here’s what he told NESN:

“I didn’t even think it was a penalty, let alone something to be worried about. As far as I know, it’s a good hit.”

Here’s what happened: A puck-carrying Gomez enters the neutral zone with Marchand in front of him, skating backwards. As Gomez crosses the red line, Marchand stops and prepares to stand him up before delivering what appears to be a high hit that sends the Habs forward flying (though he gets up right away and continues playing). Watching the replay, it looks to me like Marchand made contact with the head of Gomez. Have a look for yourself:


If it was a shot to the head, and to me it was, should Marchand get a call from the league?

When Trevor Gillies laid that dirty hit on Cal Clutterbuck in his first game back from a long suspension, the NHL got serious with him. Marchand was playing in his second game since missing two for an elbow to the head of Columbus forward RJ Umberger – should that be a factor?

If he were to get suspended for this hit, it would be two suspensions in pretty short order for a hit to the head. Wouldn’t it be ironic if he earned a bit of a reputation for this type of thing, given what he had to say after Matt Cooke laid out his latest victim?

“He's got to be taught a lesson. He's doing that stuff left, right, and center. I expect that he'll probably get a bunch of games, but he's got to be taught a lesson. You can't be running around doing that stuff all the time.”

I’ve noticed that there are a lot of people who seem to think that this is a clean hit and it would be a joke if the league sent Marchand a message by banning him. The thing about that is, to get rid of headshots, you have to be tough on them whenever you see them. You can’t suspend a guy for one headshot and then a week later not suspend him for another one.

In this case, I think we’re seeing a clear blow to the face by a guy who is just coming off a suspension for an elbow to the back of another guy’s head. He should get at least a phone call and a fine, and at most, a 2-3 game suspension.

What do you think: Should the league fine or suspend Brad Marchand for his hit on Scott Gomez? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Around the Rinks: A (Fake) Letter to Gary Bettman

Dear Gary,

How are ya, pal? I hope everything is good over there at NHL headquarters!

New York is such a nice city. How about all that snow you guys got this year though? How many times did you have to shovel your driveway? Do you have a driveway? I still get Sidney to shovel mine…well, not lately (damn Winter Classic! And by that, I mean the game after the Winter Classic!). Oh, I saw you on TV the other night – was that a new suit? It looked good, and that was a really neat tie you were wearing. I’ll have to get the name of your tailor sometime!

Anyways, on behalf of the Pittsburgh Penguins organization, I am just writing to tell you just what a great job you have been doing lately. Really, I mean it! Colin too, he’s really taking care of business! I like how his name isn’t pronounced like the other Colin’s I know – it really sets him apart, you know? It’s weird that his son’s name doesn’t have a cool pronunciation though. Maybe it skips a generation?

I can’t wait for the playoffs to start, how about you? Oh, by the way that reminds me: You guys really had a chance to send a clear and strong message that headshots are unacceptable and embarrassing to the sport this week and you totally succeeded! I’ve always said that we, as a league, must do a better job of protecting the integrity of the game and the safety of our players. I’ll be honest – I thought Shero was pulling my leg last March when Cookie Monster got away with that hit on Savard! Boy, did we laugh. I bought a lottery ticket that night because I felt so lucky (I didn’t win though…).

You know, hockey is a tough, physical game and it always should be, but what happened on Sunday afternoon at our barn wasn’t hockey. Well, most of it was hockey, but that one part totally wasn’t hockey. It was painful to watch the game I love turn into a 5-2 loss as well, because I was playing that game on NHL11 the night before and totally won. Ughhhhhh.

I’ve been thinking lately about if I even want to be an NHL owner anymore, but Gary, you are the wind beneath my wings buddy. You’re the cold side of my pillow and the maple syrup (the Quebec stuff!) on my Eggo in the morning. I can’t wait to see you at the meetings in June, maybe we can sit by each other!

Oh, by the way, I have a dentist appointment on the Tuesday, so I won’t be able to do that speech I was going to do. It’s totally okay though, that whole “fining the team” thing was kind of a stupid idea anyway.

Fine the team? What would that even do? I can be so silly sometimes! Now that I think about it, the current system where the offending player is punished is pretty good, as long as you actually punish the offending player! There’s no need to drag the owners into it!

Anyways, I’ll try texting you later on to make sure you got my letter. Do you still have the same number? I don’t think you got the last couple of texts I wrote you or the picture message I accidentally sent (which was probably for the best). It was probably just a bad connection when I sent it or something. I’ll keep trying!

Hope you enjoy the fruit basket (Shero said you liked grapes, but I pegged you as more of a strawberry guy).

Love,

Mario

PS – Do you like the picture I made of us? It’s like that movie with the politician and the penguin from Batman Returns. We should get it put on shirts for those meetings in June. I know a guy who does that kind of stuff! Think about it and get back to me!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Around the Rinks: Matt Cooke Gets What He Deserves

Like an ice cold pop on a scorching summer day, isn't it refreshing to see the NHL actually do something significant when it comes to a guy like Matt Cooke?

On Monday afternoon, the league suspended the Pittsburgh Penguins forward for the rest of the season (10 games) and the first round of the playoffs for a filthy hit on New York Rangers defenceman Ryan McDonagh this weekend. The hit and the ensuing major penalty, which came with about 15 minutes to go in a 1-1 game, cost his team the two points and now costs them some depth at a crucial point in the season.

It boggles my mind that a guy like Cooke, as easy as he's had it so far in his career, would tempt fate by making a hit like that during a stretch where headshots, concussions and lax league discipline are such a hot topic! Then again, Dany Heatley and Brad Marchand both threw dirty elbows on the same day the league's general managers said they wanted tougher suspensions, so I guess he's not the only one!

Being a repeat offender didn't help Cooke's cause, as he was given a four-game ban last month for a hit from behind on Blue Jackets defenceman Fedor Tyutin. Of course, in most people's minds, Cooke was a repeat offender long before that - he is best known for his unpunished blindside hit to the head of Boston's Marc Savard, a blow that put him out of the lineup for a long time and helped dramatically change the direction of his career. It also earned Cooke the lead-off slot in the "illegal check to the head" section of the NHL's rule enforcement video from this year!

This story gets a lot more interesting when you bring Mario Lemieux into the fold: he was very critical of the NY Islanders organization after a big series of brawls between the Pens and the Isles earlier this season, which included a Trevor Gillies hit on Eric Tangradi that got him suspended for nine games. Last week he chimed in again, suggesting that the league issue fines to the teams that employ repeat offenders. To quote Alanis Morissette - isn't it ironic, don't you think?

Here are some of the best bits of a letter Lemieux wrote to the league last week (via ESPN):

"The current system punishes the offending player but does very little to deter such actions in the future...While there have been 50-plus suspensions since the start of the 2009-10 season, the suspensions themselves don't seem to be deterring these illegal acts and tactics...We think it is time that teams also are held accountable for the actions of their players."

Lemieux goes on to note that if the system was already in place, the Pens would have shelled out $600,000 this year alone - a number that would get a lot higher if you brought in Cooke's latest infraction. That hit on Ryan McDonagh would cost the team at least $750,000, or as much as $1-million if Pittsburgh's first round playoff series went past five games.

Oh, but wait - Cooke is a repeat offender!

Lemieux also said he wanted to see fines doubled if a player is suspended twice during the same season. That would mean a possible total fine of $2-million for that hit on Sunday and a grand total (so far) of $2.6-million on the season for the Penguins. In other terms, Matt Cooke would wind up costing them as much as $3.8-million for 2010/11, not to mention what it would cost them in additional salary (call-ups, etc) to fill his roster spot for what could be as many as 21 games.

Is that enough to make a coaching staff like Pittsburgh's think twice before plugging a guy like Cooke back into the lineup?

Are "team fines" the right direction to go to get the message across to players and owners alike that this type of on-ice behaviour is unacceptable? Most importantly, will the league stick with big suspensions for headshots, or will we be back to two games, a fine or nothing (but inclusion in next year's enforcement video) with the next big incident?

These are all very interesting questions that only time will tell the answer to, but I think the league made a solid gesture with this decision. At this point, it doesn't matter to me if public opinion played a role either, because at least it resulted in something significant for a guy known for doing this type of stuff (and getting away with it).

Here's a question for you though: What's worse - the Cooke hit, or Rick DiPietro's (old) new mask?

Kerrzy’s Notebook: 15 Minutes of Fame

Happy Monday!

This week on “15 Minutes of Fame,” Geoff Driscoll of Any Sport Any Time and I are talking NHL general manager meetings & concussions, March Madness, bib issues on the pitch and a whole lot more!


See something that you think should be a GABBY? Give us a shout! You can get a hold of us on Twitter @15MinutesYEG, you can find us on Facebook or shoot us an email at 15MinutesYEG@gmail.com!

For last week's episode, click here. Thanks for watching!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Around the Rinks: Fine With Hornqvist Fine?

The NHL’s Hockey Operations department has been a busy bunch this week, ever since the league’s general managers called for tougher supplementary discipline at their annual meeting in Florida.

Since that request was made, the NHL has slapped San Jose’s Dany Heatley and Boston’s Brad Marchand with two game suspensions for pretty blatant elbows during Tuesday night’s action. On Thursday night, Nashville Predators forward Patric Hornqvist gave them a pretty good opportunity to make it three suspensions in three days when he rocked Bruins rookie Tyler Seguin with a headshot late in the first period, earning a major penalty and a game misconduct.

With Seguin turning up the boards in his own end, Hornqvist skated in and elbowed him in the side of the head, messing up his ear lobe and cutting him for seven stitches.

Right as contact is about to be made, Seguin takes a peek down at his feet to see where the puck is, but there’s no reason for Hornqvist to come flying in with his elbow that high! Also, it’s pretty tough to argue that you didn’t just clock a guy in the head when he’s got blood dripping out of his ear!


So, another opportunity for the league to flex some disciplinary muscles, right?

Wrong.

Rather than show a bit of consistency when it comes to doling out punishments for hits to the head, the NHL instead decided to fine Hornqvist a whopping $2,500 – the max allowed under the current CBA. Not only is that the most they’re able to fine him, it’s also much less than what he would have forfeited had he been suspended for a couple of games!

Let’s review the last two weeks in the NHL: No suspension for Zdeno Chara for his hit on Max Pacioretty, then Pavel Kubina, Dany Heatley and Brad Marchand all sit for pretty greasy elbows, and then Patric Hornqvist earns himself a fine for a shot to the head that got him tossed from a game.

What do you think: Did the NHL get it right, or should Hornqvist have been suspended?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Around the Rinks: A Suspension A Day...Heatley, Marchand, Lecavalier?

Three days ago, the NHL’s general managers told the league that they want stiffer suspensions handed out for the dirty stuff that happens out there on the ice.

Ask, and you shall receive, says the NHL!

Since then, both San Jose’s Dany Heatley and Boston’s Brad Marchand have been slapped with two-game bans for moments of stupidity during Tuesday night’s action.

I don’t know what Heatley was thinking when he skated past Dallas’ Steve Ott and hit him with a blatant elbow to the dome in the third period of a 6-3 Sharks win. As for Marchand, I’m not too sure what was going through his mind either – he skated up behind Columbus’ RJ Umberger and walloped him on the back of the head with his elbow.

I realize that dirty stuff like that is probably “heat of the moment” type stuff, but did either of these guys think that they’d get away with what they did, especially given the timing? At least wait a week or two!

Here’s something else I was thinking about: If the Zdeno Chara hit on Max Pacioretty happened tomorrow, would he be suspended?

If you asked the NHL that question, they’d of course say no, but they might not be telling the truth. Obviously every suspension from here on out will be compared to the Chara hit by people that think he should have faced a ban of at least a couple of games. If the hit happened after the GM meetings, with everyone’s focus on concussions and headshots, I think there is no way Chara gets off without a suspension.

Timing is everything!

My Centre Vinnie

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier might be getting a call from Colin Campbell today, that is, if the league is looking to stretch that suspension streak to three days!

On Thursday night, during a shift where he was being harassed at every turn by Montreal defenseman PK Subban, Lecavalier earned himself a game misconduct for a mighty chop to the thigh of his rookie counterpart.

It all starts when Subban trips Lecavalier up with a slew foot in the slot (which probably should have been called) while the Bolts were on the power play. The two players exchange shots, Subban cracks him with another cross check (which probably should have been called), Lecavalier attempts a face wash on PK, and then Subban grabs his arm and swings him around away from the puck (which could have been called as well). Lecavalier takes the puck behind the net and finds himself on the receiving end of a nice whack across the wrists from Subban, and that is apparently when he decided that enough was enough!


That’s a pretty hard chop on Subban, but in his defense, I think he was probably just getting fed up about the ref not doing anything. A slew foot, a bunch of cross checks and a couple slashes across the wrist in the span of about 30 seconds would probably make me do something stupid too!

Should he be suspended?

Well, it’s not a headshot so he probably won’t be, but I think the NHL also frowns upon using your stick as a weapon like that. It’s not like he wasn’t punished for what he did – since he got a game misconduct on the play, he has already been hit with an automatic fine of $200 (I’m not even kidding…isn’t that sad?).

The NHL should probably give him a game or two, otherwise Habs fans will start to get paranoid and Air Canada might threaten to pull its sponsorship again!

Around the Rinks: Underwhelming NHL Playoff Races

Has anyone else noticed a strange trend in the NHL’s playoff races lately?

Doesn’t it seem like no team actually wants those last couple of tickets to the postseason? Usually this is a very exciting time of year because if you’re in the thick of that race and you drop some points, you’re done. In the past couple of weeks though that just hasn’t been the case!

Don’t believe me?

Lets take a look at the Western Conference where the Dallas Stars are currently holding down sixth place despite losing three of their last five games, the Chicago Blackhawks are in seventh despite dropping four of their last five and the Calgary Flames sit in eighth, fresh off snapping a three game losing streak! It gets even worse when you bring in teams that are on the outside looking in: The Minnesota Wild have been a few points out for a couple of weeks now for example, but they’ve lost four in a row and five of six. The Nashville Predators are one point out right now, even though they’ve lost three of their last five games. The Columbus Blue Jackets were in the race for that final spot until they lost nine of ten, but no one is worse than Colorado – the Avalanche have plummeted down the standings after losing 10 in a row and 20 of 21!

In the Eastern Conference, the Buffalo Sabres and the Carolina Hurricanes can’t seem to decide who wants to play into the spring either. The Sabres hold eighth right now but have lost three of five, which is no problem because the Canes, currently in ninth, have lost five of six! Even the NY Rangers had some trouble, dropping three straight before going on a bit of a run and moving into seventh.

The Toronto Maple Leafs keep getting very close to that final spot and then losing a few games – right now they’ve lost five of seven. Even the New Jersey Devils, who went on an outstanding run to get their name back into the playoff conversation, start losing to teams like Ottawa as soon as they get to within a few wins of that final playoff spot!

Does anyone even want to finish eighth?!

Other stuff…

The NJ Devils are bringing back the vintage red and green uniforms for a game tonight - goalie Martin Brodeur wishes they got to wear them more often!

HUGE upset in the Swedish Elite League playoffs as the top-seeded defending champ is swept in the first round!

Detroit Red Wings forward Darren Helm says the key to his success is…some stubble!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Kerrzy’s Notebook: Sore Losers?

The Manitoba Junior Hockey League handed out a huge set of suspensions on Wednesday after a jaw-dropping incident over the weekend in Swan River.

The Portage Terriers advanced to the second round of the MJHL playoffs with a 4-1 game six win over the Swan Valley Stampeders last Saturday, but that game will be remembered for much more than that. Swan Valley forward Jesse Enns was slapped with a 40-game suspension, a coach from each team was suspended for 22 games and the head coach of the Stampeders was also given a ban.

So what happened?

With the game basically finished and the puck being fought over in the Portage corner, Enns skated from across the ice and absolutely crushed a defenseless Tyler Harland from behind. He was given a Match penalty on the spot and was escorted off the ice – all things considered, it was a pretty tame reaction to what happened.

That is, until the coaches got at each other!

Swan Valley assistant coach Dallas Anderson and Portage’s Jim Tkachyk have both been suspended after getting into a bit of a scrap at one of the benches following the final whistle. Along with their 22-game suspensions, they have also been fined $1,500 each. Stampeders head coach Dwayne Kirkup has also been suspended for two games and fined $1,000 for failing to keep his team under control.


In a statement on the MJHL website, commissioner Kim Davis had this to say:

“The MJHL takes a very dim view of violence in any form. This type of activity will not be tolerated and will be dealt with in a severe fashion. Our coaches are expected to set an example to their players, with respect to proper behavior and sportsmanship.”

What an embarrassment to the Stampeders franchise!

First, to have a player deliver a hit of that nature in the closing seconds of a 4-1 game and then to have the coaching staff act the way they did. That is simply appalling stuff.

If you’re wondering, Portage will now face off against the Dauphin Kings in the Sher-Wood Division Final.

What do you think: Is 40 games enough for that Jesse Enns hit?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Kerrzy’s Notebook: Edmontonian gears up for Crashed Ice finale

After stops in Germany, Holland and Russia, the Red Bull Crashed Ice World Championship circuit wraps up this weekend in Quebec City!

Born in Stockholm, Sweden, back in 2001, Crashed Ice is a sport that has grown by leaps and bounds in the past 10 years, a fact that will be on full display this Saturday night when over 100,000 people line the streets of Old Quebec City to take it all in!

If you don’t know just what Crashed Ice is, let me fill you in: it’s basically a mixture of hockey and ski cross and it hits a level of awesomeness that you would have been previously unable to compute. The competitors, dressed in full hockey gear, line up at the top of a winding, downhill sheet of ice and race to the bottom!

Edmonton’s Gabriel Andre will be gunning for his second Quebec City title on Saturday, currently ranked ninth in the world. Andre won the big race back in 2006, the first guy not named Jasper Felder to win an event! Heading into this final race, he says it’s definitely a sport that takes its toll on the body.

“I’m pretty banged up right now, but it's like any sport - if you're any type of a hockey player, you know that when it's a 0-0 game in the third period, your intensity gets up there and there's not many people that I know who enjoy losing. Everybody wants to win, so the competitiveness in a person really comes out."

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Andre says the toughest part of the sport has to be the mental side of things – when you’re up at the top of the hill with thousands of excited people watching you, knowing that you’ve got to be at your best or you face an early exit.

“You don't want to be last, you don't want to be one of those guys that doesn't make it to the next heat or doesn't qualify high enough."

Each event features four elimination rounds to help whittle the number of competitors down to eight, with the top four heading to the main final and the other four competing in the small final.

Needless to say, making it to the podium at a Crashed Ice event certainly takes a lot! You might be wondering how you even train for something like this – Andre says it’s pretty tough, given how unique the sport is, but there are ways to mimic what you might encounter.

“Obviously you're going to do a lot of your regular on-ice routine stuff. Maybe doing some downhill skiing, maybe jumping into the moguls to prepare your knees and your body for how to react to a lot of the jumps and a lot of the different things. It involves a lot of compression, like the moguls do.”

If he ends up in this weekend’s final, don’t expect to see a jacked up Gabriel Andre rocking back and fourth in the gate though – he says it’s important to stay calm up there, a bit of advice he got from a friend of his who is a professional arm wrestler!

“When you go up into the gates, you're like an engine,” says Andre. “Some guys are just maxed right out and I find that a lot of your energy gets expelled just sitting there and waiting. The thought that's in my head is that I've got to smoke everybody out of these gates, but I've got to stay calm.”

“When it's time to step on the gas, that's when I'll expel my energy."

Check it out on Saturday night as Gabriel Andre looks to end the season on a strong note and Arttu Pihlainen battles Kyle Croxall for the overall 2011 title!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Kerrzy’s Notebook: Around the Rinks

Kane You Dig It?

It’s been quite an exciting few days for Patrick Kane.

Last Friday, he received a compliment from the President of the United States and on Monday he became the third youngest Chicago Blackhawk to score 100 career goals in a rout of the SJ Sharks at the United Center!

Let’s start with that trip to the White House: As the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Hawks were invited to meet the president on Friday in Washington. Barack Obama, a Chicago native, seemed pretty happy to have some Illinois flavor in DC and cracked some jokes about how it usually takes teams from Chicago a while to win a title (think: Chicago Cubs and their 104-year drought). The best part was yet to come though:

“I don't want to jinx anything, but with the Blackhawks having won eight of the last 10, it's about time for Patrick Kane to start growing the playoff mullet. I thought that looked pretty sharp!”

Is that not an absolutely classic statement from the US President?

It was another great day for Kane on Monday too, when he potted the final goal in a 6-3 win over the Sharks, part of a five-goal second period for his club.

It was Jonathan Toews to Patrick Sharp to Kane in the slot and he put a quick one past Antero Niittymaki late in the frame for his 100th career goal (and 292nd career point) in his 305th NHL game. At 22 years and 115 days, Elias Sports Bureau says he’s the third youngest Hawk to hit that milestone behind Jeremy Roenick (21 years, 325 days) and Bobby Hull (22 years, 68 days).


Elias also noted that the other Patrick, Patrick Sharp’s four assists in the second tied a Chicago record that had only been reached five other times in the history of the club!

Yzerman Speaks Up

The NHL’s general managers are meeting in Florida as they usually do at this time of year, and obviously concussions are a hot topic again this time around (no, not because of you Air Canada).

Commissioner Gary Bettman kicked things off by presenting his five-point plan to deal with concussions and make the game safer, which included new protocols for diagnosing those injuries. The NHL and its GMs are also discussing different possible rule changes that could be put in to further protect the players, just like last year when they brought in the blindside hit to the head rule.

While we won’t know exactly what rules they are floating around until someone spills the beans, at least one GM doesn’t seem overly thrilled with what has been discussed so far.

Tampa Bay’s Steve Yzerman made some interesting comments on Monday that will probably only make total sense to those privy to what types of things are being thrown about in Boca Raton:

"It's kind of odd that we're talking about rules to slow things down. Players are bigger athletes. They're faster and stronger. The equipment is designed to shoot the puck harder and faster. But now we're going the other way and looking at, 'Okay, how do we make it slower?' "

I wonder what types of things they are talking about that would slow down the game?

Hit or Miss

There’s no question that hockey is a tough sport, but it’s even tougher when you’re an agitator and you do some embarrassing.

The situation gets even worse though if you’re an agitator and you do some embarrassing while trying to slam another agitator into the boards - just ask Minnesota Wild forward Cal Clutterbuck!

Late in the first period of Monday’s game between the Wild and the Canucks, Clutterbuck tried to take a run at Alex Burrows, missed, and ended up going head over heels into the Vancouver bench!


How much would you have paid to hear what the Canucks had to say to Clutterbuck after that one? I bet he didn’t hear the end of it all game long!

Other stuff…

Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby was back on the ice on Monday but says he’s still a long way from getting back into a game…

Calgary’s Jay Bouwmeester is the NHL’s ironman, playing in his 496th straight game tonight

Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler talks about “interview bombing” (with hilarious picture from Yahoo’s Puck Daddy)

The Hoop & The Harm: Notes from the Hardcourt

Best Served Cold?

The Miami Heat didn’t have to wait long for a chance to enact a bit of revenge for their worst loss of the season…but could they do it?

On March 4th, the San Antonio Spurs beat the Heat by 30 points, which came a night after Miami blew a huge lead in a loss to Orlando and a few days before they were said to be crying in the locker room following a loss to the Bulls.

The sports world had a good laugh at their expense over “Crygate,” but the Heat seem to have really pulled it together (at least for now) since being embarrassed by their head coach, Erik Spoelstra.

Miami beat the LA Lakers last Thursday, they whooped the Grizzlies on Saturday and on Monday, the Heat recorded the biggest win of them all: a 110-80 victory over the Spurs. That’s right, they lost by 30 in Texas and won by 30 at AmericanAirlines Arena!

Chris Bosh, who has been the most inconsistent of the “Big Three,” had 30 points and 12 rebounds in the win but here’s the stat that shows you how dominant these guys could be if they played like this more often: Bosh, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade combined for 80 points and 27 rebounds.

The Spurs, as a team, had 80 points and 33 boards!

I don’t think we’ve seen that type of three-man dominance as often as we might have expected this season, but seeing Miami do it against the best team in the league (by six whole games) should turn some heads.

The key to the success of this thing though has to be Bosh stepping it up and playing like he did on Monday on a more consistent basis!

Tweetnical Foul

Upset with a reporter’s in game “tweet,” an NBA ref says he wants to settle things on the court…

Wait, no that’s not it.

Oh yeah, Bill Spooner wants to settle his differences with AP writer Jon Krawczynski IN court! The ref filed a lawsuit this week over something Krawczynski tweeted during a January 24th game between Minnesota and Houston that got him investigated by the league.

The Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal reports that during that game, a 129-125 Timberwolves loss, Minnesota coach Kurt Rambis gave Spooner and earful after a bad call, asking when he’d get that two points back. That’s pretty common in sports, but Krawczynski then tweeted that the ref promised he’d “get it back” and proceeded to make an “even worse” call at the other end!

Spooner says the tweet is a “defamatory accusation of game fixing” and he is now seeking $75,000 in damages, he wants the tweet unpublished and he wants the statement retracted.

The AP is standing by their man though – the Business Journal quotes AP Associate General Counsel Dave Tomlin as saying that they “believe all of the facts we reported from the game in question were accurate.”

The most interesting part for me about the Business Journal report is this little tidbit at the end: The suit…doesn’t say whether Spooner thinks he got the call right.

What do you think: First of all, should someone be able to sue in this case, and secondly, is Spooner just mad because he was caught out?

The NBA’s Peter Forsberg?

It seems Yao Ming isn’t ready to hang up his gigantic shoes just yet.

The NBA’s Hang Time Blog reports that Ming says he’ll be trying to come back, despite suffering another stress fracture in his left foot back in November that has limited him to just five games this season. This was after not playing at all in 2009-10 and suffering injury after injury since 2005, most of which were located on that left foot. If it wasn’t a problem with his big toe, it was a fracture here, a stress fracture there or one of a couple of knee problems that he’s had over the years.

Despite all of that, he says he wants to give it another try.

Obviously he has the support of the fans in Houston and elsewhere, because he was voted onto the All-Star team as a starter even though his season was practically over before it started! I think everyone wants to see him back in the game, because it is tough to see all that talent sitting on the sidelines.

When he’s healthy, Yao Ming is an elite player…but his problem is staying healthy and it’s sad to say that at 30 years old, he may have played his last NBA game.

Some people hate an athlete who doesn’t know when to say goodbye, as if it affects their lives in any way, shape or form. I’ve been guilty of it myself, but when it comes to an athlete retiring on his/her own terms, I say keep pushing!

Other stuff…

K-Love’s double-double streak came to an end on Sunday…but the moral of the story here is that Love is an unreal player!

Have you ever wondered what the NCAA basketball tournament would look like if academic performance ruled all?

Remember the story about the Michigan high school player who collapsed and died shortly after hitting a game winning shot? His team won the district title!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Kerrzy’s Notebook: 15 Minutes of Fame

Happy Monday!

As always, Geoff Driscoll of Any Sport Any Time and I are here once again to help you kick start another week of grinding it out at your j-o-b. Check out the newest episode of “15 Minutes of Fame,” where we go through some of the big stories in what was another wild week in the world of sports!

This week we’re discussing the fallout from the Zdeno Chara hit on Max Pacioretty, some more horrible luck on the injury front for the Edmonton Oilers, the NFL lockout, a little bit of curling and lots more!



See something that you think should be a GABBY? Give us a shout! You can get a hold of us on Twitter @15MinutesYEG, you can find us on Facebook or shoot us an email at 15MinutesYEG@gmail.com!

For last week's episode, click here. Thanks for watching!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Kerrzy’s Notebook: Random Friday Thoughts

More Chara

It’s Day Three of “CharaGate” in the hockey world as the fallout continues from the hit that left Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty with a fractured vertebrae and a severe concussion…

Day One featured some “he better be suspended,” a lot of “I can’t believe he wasn’t suspended,” and even some “we’ll pull our sponsorship money!” On Day Two though we saw some even more interesting developments:

First off, Montreal Police have now decided to open up an investigation into the Zdeno Chara hit (which you can see here, if you’d like another look). Secondly, Chara responded to Pacioretty’s “disgust” over a lack of suspension and commissioner Gary Bettman chimed in. Finally, and most importantly, Pacioretty was released from hospital and is said to now be resting at home.

Quite a day, wouldn’t you say?

Let’s start with the police probe: The Canadian Press (via Sportsnet) reports that an assault charge is possible, but the feeling from a lot of other sources is that it would be tough to get a conviction. Further to that, Pacioretty told Sportsnet on Thursday that he doesn’t want to see Chara facing charges over the incident.

Also on Thursday, Chara told ESPN that he understands Pacioretty’s frustration, saying he feels bad and wishes him a fast recovery. He says he knows “deep down [he] didn’t do it intentionally.”

Gary Bettman threw in his two cents on Thursday afternoon, first calling Pacioretty’s injury “horrific” and then taking a shot at Air Canada, after they threatened to pull their sponsorship dollars out of the game:

“Air Canada is a great brand, as is the National Hockey League. If they decide that they need to do other things with their sponsorship dollars, that is their prerogative, just that it is the prerogative of our clubs that fly on Air Canada to make other arrangements if they don’t think Air Canada is giving them the appropriate level of service.”

I’m not a huge Gary Bettman supporter, but that right there was classic!

The best news of the day had to be though that Pacioretty was out of the hospital and taking his first steps on the road to recovery. By the way: on Thursday night Montreal snapped a five-game win streak, falling 4-1 to St. Louis and Boston blew a lead and lost 4-3 in overtime to the Buffalo Sabres.

Supplemental Discipline

With all the hoopla surrounding the NHL’s non-suspension of Zdeno Chara, you might have missed the latest ban dished out by head disciplinarian Colin Campbell.

Tampa Bay’s Pavel Kubina was told to stay home for three games for an elbow to the head of Chicago’s Dave Bolland on Wednesday.

It came in the first period of what would turn out to be a 4-3 shootout win for the Lightning. As Bolland goes to chip the puck into the Tampa zone, Kubina skates towards him and lays a hit. He literally only makes contact with his elbow, which was about as far from his body as it could possibly be at that moment.


It’s hard to argue that Kubina doesn’t deserve a suspension there, but I can already hear people comparing it to the Chara hit!

FAIL of the Week

What you’re about to see could very well be one of the worst goalie blunders on record: It seems that 25-year-old Sammy Bossut of Belgian Pro League cub Zulte-Waregem just doesn’t know when to let go…


It looks like all of a sudden the ball gets stuck to his glove and takes him for a ride! The worst part is, that wound up being the game winning goal!

Other stuff…

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger labels UEFA a “dictatorship,” while Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy says the NBA’s commissioner is against free speech!

PETA tries to get in Mike Tyson’s face over pigeon racing…

English soccer player sent off for tackling a streaker wearing nothing but a green thong…

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Hoop & The Harm: Notes from the Hardcourt

Fired Up?

With “Crygate” now in their rear view mirrors (despite the rest of us still laughing about it), the Miami Heat are gearing up for a meeting with the LA Lakers tonight at AmericanAirlines Arena.

They beat the Lake Show 96-80 back on Christmas day, but a lot has changed since then in FLA! For starters, that last win came in the middle of a run that saw the Heat take 21 of 22 games. At that point I think we all kind of figured that they had sorted out how to win games together and would be unstoppable for the rest of the season. Oh, how wrong we were!

After that streak was over they lost four in a row, won 13 of 16 and now come into tonight’s action having lost five straight. They’re not just losing either, they’re blowing huge leads, getting blown out or losing tight games and (allegedly) crying about it in the locker room afterwards.

I haven’t weighed in on “Crygate” until now, but I think it’s time. Are you ready?

First of all, if a team that is supposed to be challenging for a title is so upset after a fourth straight loss that some players are moved to tears, you’ve got problems. That said, why in the hell is coach Erik Spoelstra telling the media that his players are crying in the room? Did he not realize that he was about to open his team up to a week (or weeks) of public humiliation? They’re just lucky that Charlie Sheen took some of the attention off of them in the last week!

Here are some of my favorites so far from around the league – Toronto’s Sonny Weems (via TSN):

“I don’t care nothing about no Miami Heat or no Chris Bosh…First of all, nobody in our locker room would be crying. We lost more games than Miami put together with another team, it’s no reason to cry.”

Lakers coach Phil Jackson with some advice on where to cry, if you must (via Off The Bench):

“This is the NBA: No Boys Allowed. Big boys don’t cry. But if you’re going to do it, do it in the toilet where no one sees you.”

Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy on feeling sorry for the Heat (via Spurs Nation):

“I do chuckle a little bit when they sort of complain about the scrutiny they get. My suggestion would be if you don’t want the scrutiny, you don’t hold a championship celebration before you’ve even practiced together. It’s hard to go out yourself and invite that kind of crowd and celebration and attention, and then when things aren’t going well, sort of bemoan the fact that you’re getting that attention.”

I’ve got to say though that my favorite part of this whole thing is the fact that Spoelstra blamed the media for the coverage this got, calling it “sensationalism.” He must have forgotten that he specifically said that players were crying after the loss to the Bulls (via Pro Basketball Talk):

“I think (the media) can probably take anything I say and turn it into a story, I was shocked when [the Heat media guy] told me about it...I think you guys can be a little more creative than that…I think you guys are really searching for sensationalism now.”

Sure, Spo – blame the media for your loose lips! I wonder if he cried after the “We want Riley” chants on Tuesday?

Moses Milestone

It’s been a tough week for Moses Malone.

The former NBA/ABA great was probably just kicking back and enjoying life, looking back on all of his accomplishments and thinking about the records he set in his 21-year pro career, when all of a sudden BAM! Down go three of those records!

First, Minnesota Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love registered his 51st straight double-double in a loss to the Mavericks on Tuesday, pushing him past Malone’s single season record of 50. The next night, LA Lakers star Kobe Bryant scored 26 in a win over the Atlanta Hawks, moving him in front of Malone and into sixth on the NBA’s all-time scoring list with 27,410 points.

If that wasn’t bad enough, Love put up another double-double (despite nursing a sore knee) on Wednesday night for 52 in a row…which breaks the overall record held by Malone that stretched over two seasons!

Imagine that! The poor guy’s birthday is coming up in like two weeks and this is how people act? Kids these days have no respect!

Melo-Drama

I think it’s safe to say that Carmelo Anthony has officially settled into his new role as one of the go-to players on his dream team.

I say that because on Wednesday night he hit his first game-winning shot as a member of the Knicks in a 110-108 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies. He said afterwards that “it was just one of them shots that you know is going to go in!”


Swish!

Kerrzy’s Notebook: Chara – The Aftermath

Zdeno Chara will be in the lineup for the Boston Bruins tonight when they host the Buffalo Sabres; Max Pacioretty might get to watch his Montreal Canadiens face the St. Louis Blues, but only on TV if anything.

Like it or not, that’s the reality in the aftermath of a disturbing chain of events on Tuesday that left Pacioretty with a severe concussion and a fractured vertebrae.

The NHL’s decision to not suspend or fine Chara was met with a lot of resistance across the hockey world and opinions were voiced on various mediums throughout the day on Wednesday. From what I read, a lot of people (myself included) were disappointed that Chara escaped punishment and saw this as just another example of the NHL looking the other way when it comes to dangerous hits, which they say they’re against.

Here’s what NHL Senior VP of Hockey Operations Mike Murphy had to say in handing down his decision:

“I could not find any evidence to suggest that, beyond this being a correct call for interference, that Chara targeted the head of his opponent, left his feet or delivered the check in any other manner that could be deemed to be dangerous… This was a hockey play that resulted in an injury because of the player colliding with the stanchion and then the ice surface.”

Not too be too critical here, but doesn’t that last sentence kind of apply to every injury that happens along the boards? Will the league say “the guy got hurt because he hit the boards face first and then crashed his head off the ice,” the next time a guy is drilled from behind?

Again, not to be too critical, but didn’t Pacioretty hit the stanchion and then the ice surface because he was pushed that way by Chara?

That’s certainly what it looks like to me every time I watch the replay! You’ve heard what I think about it and I’ve read what a lot of others (on both sides of the fence) think, but what is Max Pacioretty’s take on the lack of supplemental discipline? The Habs forward spoke to TSN on Wednesday, expressing his “disgust” towards the decision:

“I am upset and disgusted that the league didn’t think enough of (the hit) to suspend him. I’m not mad for myself, I’m mad because if other players see a hit like that and think it’s okay, they won’t be suspended, then other players will get hurt like I got hurt…I thought the league would do something, a little something. I’m not talking a big number, I don’t know one game, two games, three games…whatever, but something to show that it’s not right.”

He also said that he thinks Chara intentionally tried to ride his head into the turnbuckle, scoffing at suggestions that he “jumped.” He added that it wasn’t the traditional headshot, but he feels his head was targeted.

At the end of the day, only Chara knows if he meant to do it or not, but I’m sure he wasn’t trying to send Pacioretty away on a stretcher. It definitely looked to me like he wanted to ring his bell though.

You know who is really hurt by incidents like this though? Air Canada.

At least, that’s what they would have you believe. The Toronto Sun reports that a spokesman for the company wrote a “strongly worded letter” to the league on Wednesday, threatening to pull its sponsorship money out of hockey if the NHL doesn’t get tough on headshots.

According to Denis Vandal, the issue of concussions in hockey due to headshots is becoming “bad for Air Canada’s brand.”

What makes me laugh about all of this is that if Zdeno Chara hit Daniel Sedin, Taylor Hall, Jarome Iginla, Phil Kessel or Jason Spezza the way he hit Max Pacioretty, I don’t think Air Canada would be chiming in.

Whatever it is, there’s just something about the Habs that gets people’s blood boiling!

What do you think: Are you upset that the league didn’t suspend Zdeno Chara? Will you still fly Air Canada if the NHL doesn’t hand out more suspensions?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Kerrzy’s Notebook: Dirty Hit by Big Z?

If you thought the season series between the Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens couldn’t get any more dramatic, you were wrong!

On Tuesday night the Habs skated to a 4-1 win at the Bell Centre in Montreal, the first game between the two clubs since a wild 8-6 win for the Bruins that featured a ton of fights and a total of 182 penalty minutes. Much like their last two meetings though, the defining moment of this one wasn’t a big save or a highlight reel goal – this time around it was a young Canadiens forward leaving the ice on a stretcher after a questionable hit.

With about 15 seconds to go in the second period of what was then a 4-0 game, Max Pacioretty chipped the puck down the boards in front of the Boston bench and was rubbed out by defenseman Zdeno Chara. The late hit sent Pacioretty face first into the glass partition between the benches, knocking him out cold.

It was the end of the night for both players, with Pacioretty taken to a local hospital and Chara handed five and a game for interference. How long Pacioretty will be out of the lineup remains to be seen, but assuming he’s got a concussion it’ll probably be at least a couple of weeks.


After the game Chara was apologetic, telling reporters that he didn’t mean to do what he did (via NHL.com):

"I knew we were somewhere close to our bench but obviously that wasn't my intention to push him to the post. Like I said, it's very unfortunate and in that situation with everything you have to think fast. You're not planning to do that or that's not my style to hurt somebody. I always play hard and play physical but I never try to hurt anybody so I'm hoping he's OK."

Now, I don’t think Chara is a dirty player and I don’t think he meant to send Pacioretty to the hospital, but I am a bit skeptical about this incident. First of all, these two players have a bit of history stemming back to a game in early January where Pacioretty clearly got under Big Z’s skin. Secondly, it’s a 4-0 game and it’s a fairly harmless play by the Montreal forward with about 20 ticks left on the clock…Was it really necessary?

Those details aside, there is one other thing that really bothers me about this hit – if you watch the video one more time, the replay shown at the 1:38 mark makes it look like Chara is actually directing Pacioretty right into that padded post. I know things happen very quickly out on the ice, but when I saw that replay I cringed.

Montreal goalie Carey Price offered up his opinion on the hit, saying he doesn’t buy the excuse that the Bruins captain didn’t know where he was on the ice (via ESPN):

"It looked like [Pacioretty] chipped the puck in, took two or three or four strides and got his head pushed into the turnbuckle. Everybody's aware of what's what out there. I don't care what anybody says, you're aware of your surroundings. It's your job out there to know what's where. But the game does happen fast. He's a big guy, he's a big physical presence, and he can hurt somebody if somebody's not paying attention.”

I guess the question now is, should Chara be suspended for the hit?

It’s not an easy one to answer and I’m sure they’ll be thinking long and hard about it over at league headquarters, but here are some things to consider: On one hand, the consensus seems to be that Chara didn’t initiate that play hoping to really hurt Pacioretty. At the same time though, as TSN's Bob McKenzie points out, Chara made an illegal play that resulted in an injury and therefore he is at fault.

If the NHL wakes me up this afternoon (yeah, I said afternoon) to ask for my opinion about whether or not they should suspend Chara, I think I’ll tell them that they should. Even if the incident was completely unintentional, it still happened because of a late hit in a dangerous location. The fact that it was 4-0 for the other team at the time and the victim was a player Chara had beef with in the recent past also has me leaning towards suspension.

I’ll say at least one game, but fewer than five.

What do you think: Should the NHL dole out a suspension or has the appropriate punishment already been handed out?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Kerrzy’s Notebook: Off to the Races

Things are heating up in England as the race for the Premier League title takes a few sudden turns and gets much more interesting…

If you haven’t been paying attention, here’s the Coles Notes version of what’s been going on: The current leaders, to a Man, are coming Untied at the wrong time, the second place Gunners have a shot but no ammo and the defending champions, once singing the Blues, are now playing their way back into the conversation as the season winds down!

On Monday, Chelsea beat Blackpool 3-1 thanks to a double from Frank Lampard and while it wasn’t their best outing of the season, it certainly wasn’t their worst and it earned them a huge three points. With the win, the Blues move to within nine points of league leaders Manchester United as they try to mount a late charge and repeat as EPL champs.

Nine points is a long way to come back, but it’s worth noting that Chelsea have a game in hand and also have a say in United dropping at least three more points when the two sides meet again on May 7th at Old Trafford.

A tough month of February for the Red Devils is the reason we’re even having this conversation right now though: the team has lost three of five since Wolverhampton beat them 2-1 on February 5th, including defeats at Stamford Bridge and Anfield in back-to-back weeks. They aren’t just losing games right now either – skipper Nemanja Vidic was sent off against Chelsea, which left the team inexperienced at the back against Liverpool the following weekend. On Sunday, they lost winger Nani to an ugly challenge from Jamie Carragher and he’s now likely out for a month!

What does Sir Alex think about all of this? Your guess is as good as mine, since he and his players aren't speaking to the media at the moment!

That brings us to Arsenal, the other main player in this title race.

Twice in the last month the Gunners have had a chance to really stick it to United when they’ve dropped points and both times they’ve only managed a draw. The weekend that Man U lost to Wolves, Arsenal blew a 4-0 halftime lead in a 4-4 tie with Newcastle and this past weekend they only managed a single point at home to Sunderland!

Lacking that “killer instinct,” Arsenal remains three points back of the leaders with a game in hand. Like Chelsea, they too have one more meeting with United before the season is over (as well as a trip to Old Trafford for an FA Cup quarter-final next weekend).

So who will it be?

The beauty of this title race is that there are many scenarios that could play out here: Chelsea could benefit from a few more dropped points and make that improbable run to glory, Arsenal could get serious and start taking advantage of the opportunities presented to them, Manchester City could string together a few wins and end up in the top spot…or, United could hold on and claim a 19th league trophy…

It would be a great story if Chelsea were able to battle back and repeat as champions after that brutal midseason slump, but I’m not sure I would put my money on it happening. In order for them to pull it off, they’d have to beat Man City, Spurs and Man United, without dropping any (or many) points in their other remaining games. They’ve been so streaky this season that I can’t see it happening!

That said, after losing to Chelsea and Liverpool in the past two weeks United are looking draw-able, if not beatable at the moment!

That first week of May will be crucial one way or another – Man U/Arsenal at Emirates Stadium on the first day of the month and then Man U/Chelsea at Old Trafford the following Saturday. The title could be won or lost right there!

Loyalties aside, what do you think will happen as the season winds down?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Kerrzy’s Notebook: 15 Minutes of Fame

Happy Monday!

Another week has come and gone, which means there’s another seven days worth of sports happenings for Geoff Driscoll of Any Sport Any Time and I to dissect.

This week on “15 Minutes of Fame” we’re talking Taylor Hall and fighting, NHL suspensions and strange promotions in the NBA. In the GABBYs (The Good and Bad, By You), we feature a mixture of hockey and basketball items including a reluctant nod to a goalie and some question marks on the hardcourt…


See something that you think should be a GABBY? Give us a shout! You can get a hold of us on Twitter @15MinutesYEG, you can find us on Facebook or shoot us an email at 15MinutesYEG@gmail.com!

For last week's episode (where I dubbed over Geoff’s voice), click here. Thanks for watching!