Posted by: kristagolden | February 13, 2014

Thoughts on Olympic Men’s Hockey and the NHL

usa best

I’m on Day Two of watching men’s hockey in Sochi, and the discussion of NHL participation in the Games has come up yet again. There’s talk that this could be the last time NHL stars will be allowed to participate for their countries. I’ve been thinking about this, and you know I have some questions/comments on it.

1. Okay, fine, you don’t want NHL guys in the Olympics. Who do you get to replace them? This is easier for other countries, but the US and Canada have nothing but those guys on their rosters.

2. “Well, we could replace them with college guys.” For the US, maybe. But what about Canada?

3. While were on that subject, let me draw on my experience as a college student. Whereas the NHL can shut down for two weeks, colleges can’t. The rosters are announced during winter break, so guys would have to scramble to contact their professors and try to work out some kind of syllabus especially for them during that time. Now, most professors don’t follow their syllabi to the letter – class cancellations and other interruptions can derail the schedule. This would make it even harder for players to follow along. And it’s not just one class, it’s three or four at the least AND the players won’t come from just one or two schools.

4. Finally…really? You’re whining about a quadrennial two-week shutdown? The league literally shut down for four months. Two weeks out of a season is not going to hurt. It’ll give guys who need a break time to recharge, and others who are injured can have an extra two weeks to heal.

5. Bonus: if the NHL isn’t going to send their best, then the NBA shouldn’t send their best to the Summer Olympics, right?

Okay, time to rest and recover from a full morning and early afternoon of hockey. I need (another) nap.

Posted by: kristagolden | February 12, 2014

Hello, We’re Back!

It’s been a loooong time since either Emma or I have been on here (since September 2012, to be exact). Since then, a lot has happened: the lockout, the Blackhawks breaking records and winning their fifth Stanley Cup, blockbuster trades, retirements, outdoor games and now the Olympics.

To be honest, we’ve both been busy with life, and we forgot about the blog. I was writing for one website and then switched to another (hello, ladies of Faceoff Violation). I’ve been wanting to get back to blogging about hockey, the Blackhawks and other NHL happenings on here for a while, but I always got sidetracked with something else (say, a super compressed season). Now I’ve come back with Emma’s blessing to run things solo. Don’t worry, she’ll be back to give her thoughts occasionally, but it’ll be mostly me on here.

I’ll come one here about 2-3 times a week, maybe more, but rest assured you’ll find something at least once a week. So welcome back, those who’ve stuck with us, and bear with me while I ease back into blogging here.

– Krista

Posted by: kristagolden | September 10, 2012

In Defense of Patrick Kane

I’ve been holding my tongue for four months trying to figure out what exactly to say about what happened with Patrick Kane this summer.

He’s a huge talent on the ice, and by all accounts, he’s a wonderful guy off the ice as well – Denis Savard has said that he’ll try his best to do something if you ask it of him. But he’s also human and 23 to boot. You also have to account for the fact that while most kids/teens are spending time with friends and doing normal school and social things, he was off playing hockey…or practicing…or in playoff games…or at hockey camp. So in some respects, he’s still a kid who’s catching up on what he’s missed.

That being said, what he did back in May was bad. If you don’t already know, over Cinco de Mayo weekend he went to the Mifflin Street Block Party, which just happens to be close to the University of Wisconsin in Madison. He hung out at a few frat houses and got more than a bit drunk. Oh, and of course there were pictures and secondhand accounts of how drunk he was.

Right away, people screamed that he should be traded or sent to rehab. These two suggestions are completely laughable for the following reasons:

  • Patrick is an essential part of the Blackhawks’ core. Yes, he had a bad season (if you can call 66 points bad), but that and a drunken weekend are no reason to trade him. Besides, here’s the most important point: he has a no-trade clause in his contract. Oops, the haters forgot about that.
  • Let’s see, he was drunk that weekend, and he was drunk two years ago at the Cup rally. Yep, he’s an alcoholic! Of course I’m being sarcastic about that, but you see my argument? Those two incidents don’t warrant rehab. He does need to curb the drinking so that he doesn’t turn into a doucherocket, but from what I’ve been told by people whose loved ones suffer from alcoholism, Patrick’s not even close to being that bad.

I’m going to guess that Stan Bowman and Coach Q sat Patrick down and gave him hell for his magical trip to Madison, and maybe they threatened to cut his ice time or even bench him if it happened again. It seemed to, for lack of a better word, sober him up by the time Convention rolled around (must remember to do a Convention recap in the near future). He apologized and said it was embarrassing for him because he wants to be a role model to everyone, not just kids. I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt on this.

I love him to death, but he’s got to be more aware of himself. This means, if he has to, ditching friends who enable that stupid behavior. And like I said, curb the drinking. I wouldn’t restrict it altogether, just don’t drink as much, and do it with people you trust won’t get your ass in trouble. Above all, he needs to remember that his actions affect other people. Trust me, a lot of people in this world don’t think about that.

(By the way, you know those secondhand accounts of his drunken behavior? Well, a reporter for the Chicago Tribune did what all good journalists do – he followed up on them and found that none of them were actually true.)

His summer’s been kinda quiet since Convention – laying low in Buffalo at his house on the lake and driving up to St. Catharines, Ontario twice a week for skill development. He even played in a local hockey league and was on their winning team. I’m waiting for the season to start so I can see if that quiet summer will explode on the ice, and if he’s taken his own words to heart. He’s a hockey player, but he’s a man first and foremost.

And I believe in him.

Posted by: kristagolden | July 29, 2012

The Origins of Toewsbot Unit 19-C

Emma and I began to call Jonathan Toews “Toewsbot” during last season because he basically shows no emotions like a robot. But based on the story I wrote this weekend, there might be more to that. Here is our story of how Toewsbot came to being. Enjoy. – K

Deep in the recesses of the Hockey Hall of Fame, below the exhibits and plaques, there lies a laboratory so secretive in nature that only a select few know of its existence. It was here in early 1987 that a group of computer scientists and robotics experts collaborated to make a Canadian version of the “perfect hockey player.” They wanted their own cybernetic unit similar to the Lidstrom Unit that Sweden had created with great success. The Canadians, wanting not to upstage the Lidstrom model but to copy it, began building their own with one exception: they decided to age the unit the way a human ages.

The unit was unique in that its status as an android was beyond society’s definitions: it would have human functioning in every way, even eating, experiencing “injury” and sexual relations. As the unit would be used within the sport of ice hockey, it would be given certain programs to learn the sport as human children would. The aging process would give the scientists the chance to upgrade and update the unit’s hard drive to reflect its length of activation.

As they planned an elaborate upgrading schedule that would allow for “puberty” and other growth changes, they began an intensive search for a couple who would be willing to “raise” the unit as they would raise their own child. They soon found one in the form of Bryan Toews and his wife Andrée, who lived in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The couple presented the cybernetic team with a unique setting for the “upbringing” of the unit because the “maternal unit” was Quebecois and wanted their children to speak fluent French. A program was added to the unit to accommodate this.

After almost a year of work, the unit designated “Jonathan Bryan Toews” was formally activated on April 29, 1988. The “baby” was immediately loved by the Toews family, who expanded to include a human child two years after the Toews Unit’s activation. The group of scientists kept in close contact with the family, upgrading and updating the unit as it “grew”. When the unit was sent to Shattuck-St. Mary’s for education and hockey training, the upgrades and updates became more long-term, as they did when the unit was later accepted into the University of North Dakota. As the unit’s hockey knowledge grew, the program “Critical Thinking: Ice Hockey” was executed with great success, and the unit was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2006. Training staff was told of the nature of the unit, now dubbed Toews Unit 19 for his assigned number on the Blackhawks, and they agreed to work closely with the cybernetic team in Toronto for necessary upgrades and adjustments. Even though he is technically not a robot but a fully functioning cybernetic unit, the training staff has nicknamed it Toewsbot or Toewsbot Unit 19.

In 2008 Toewsbot Unit 19 was given a C designation after being named captain of the Blackhawks, much like the Lidstrom Unit (or Lidstrom Unit 5) was given a C designation in 2006. As with human hockey players, Toewsbot Unit has experienced “injury” including two “concussions”, which is actually the result of a corruption of the hard drive. In such cases the unit will experience the symptoms of a concussion.

Toewsbot Unit 19-C has been given a program that makes it fully aware of its existence as a cybernetic unit, but it has not been executed, thus making the unit believe that it is human.

Posted by: kristagolden | July 29, 2012

Goodbye to Rick Nash

Did I cover the Rick Nash trade? Yes I did. Now here’s my opinion on it. – K

Oh, Scott Howson, you make me laugh.

You traded your “best player” to the New York Rangers for two guys who barely did anything in the playoffs let alone the regular season, a prospect and a first round draft pick. You really could’ve had that back in February, despite what many people say.

You really did make a fair trade – mediocrity for mediocrity.

Better line up a future job, you may need it.

Posted by: emmaharger | July 23, 2012

The senselessness of tragedy

I know that we haven’t posted in a few days. Part of that is due to both of us being busy–I had a friend visit from out of town for a week and spent time with her–and that’s OK. But something happened over the weekend that affected us deeply as well.

By now you probably already know the terrible details of the shooting at a midnight show of The Dark Knight Rises out in Aurora, Colorado–the number of the dead, the wounded, the rounds of ammunition that the suspect was able to purchase legally, etc.

The shooting also took the life of a young woman who isn’t so dissimilar to me, Jessica Ghawi (pen name Jessica Redfield). I’ve written more about her here, but how sad it is that the world has been robbed of ever seeing the fruition of what looked to be a bright future–not only from her, but from all the other victims, too.

I went to a movie recently after the shooting. It wasn’t The Dark Knight Rises (I’m not a huge Batman fan), but, in a hopeful sign, two consecutive showings of that movie were sold out and the theater was packed. There were even some kids having a birthday party. Aside from one county police officer who walked out of the lobby as we walked in, I didn’t notice any heightened security. But people were still enjoying movies. We have to keep doing that. If we don’t, the shooter wins. Fear wins. Terror wins.

Simply put, that can’t happen.

Posted by: kristagolden | July 15, 2012

The Rick Nash situation: a theory

I recently became a writer for Rant Sports’ Columbus Blue Jackets blog (“But you’re a Blackhawks fan!” And I always will be, but the Jackets are familiar to me because they’re division rivals). We’ve already poked fun of the Rick Nash trade story, but here’s my actual take on it, even though I won’t ever publish this on Rant unless I’m asked. And yes, I have two articles already written – one if he goes, one if he stays. – K

Let’s go back to midseason, when the rumors began. Who would’ve thought that Rick Nash, the face of the franchise, would want to leave the only team he’s ever known? Yet two weeks before the trade deadline, a month after Todd Richards was made interim head coach (he’s since been promoted to permanent status), that Scott Howson would announce that “all options are open”. BOOM, Nash is on the market. Here’s the thing, though: Rick has a no-movement clause in his juicy 8-year contract, so he gets to pick where he’d like to go. He gave a list of teams (Rangers, Sharks, Flyers, Red Wings, Bruins and allegedly the Penguins) and passed that on.

We’ve documented the fact that Howson is asking for the impossible, like first-born children or someone’s mortal soul or things to that effect (I think our version is hilarious, by the way). BUT if you ask me, it’s more complicated than that. In fact, it reads like a soap opera.

Yes, Howson has done some good for the Blue Jackets, like build up the blue line (currently sporting James Wisniewski and Jack Johnson). But that alone will not bring wins and/or playoff potential – you must have a solid goalie unit (which they do not) and good forwards, ideally with puck skills and moves like Patrick Kane. Nash sees what’s been happening since Howson came on board in 2007, and he’s not thrilled. So when he went to management and requested a trade, it wasn’t out of a desire for the team to rebuild, as he publicly said, it was a vote of no confidence in Howson.

And how did Howson take this? Well, let me play devil’s advocate for a moment. Howson sees Nash as the cornerstone of the franchise, the alpha and omega of the team, the one guy the entire franchise has been built around (it was only two years old when they drafted him). For Nash to want to leave probably felt like a slap in the face, like he was ungrateful for everything the organization has done for him in ten years. How do you punish ungrateful behavior such as this?

Welp, Howson decided that if Rick Nash wants to go, it will cost whoever wants him the most. This is the crux of the situation – Howson wants not just one but several players, as well as prospects and draft picks. What he wants is players of Nash’s caliber to fill what he most likely thinks will be an enormous hole.

  • Howson wants Logan Couture, and the Sharks aren’t willing to part with him or anyone else.
  • I’ve heard that he wants the Rangers to give up the likes of Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan McDonagh or Derek Stepan.
  • The Red Wings just lost Niklas Lidstrom and Jiri Hudler, so they’re not willing to lose any more key guys.
  • Are the Flyers really going to give up anyone for just one guy?
  • According to Emma, the Bruins that are wanted are in some combo of Dougie Hamilton, David Krejci, Tyler Seguin, Milan Lucic, other prospects and draft picks. Yeah, right.
  • The Pens just signed Sidney Crosby and traded Jordan Staal to Carolina. I can’t think of anyone who’s expendable.

But it’s not like Howson’s peddling top-shelf merchandise. In the past three seasons, Nash has barely hit the 30-goal mark and wound up with a -19 (for the record, his 2011-12 record was 30 goals, 29 asissts for 59 points and that -19). His points are good, but if a 40+ goal scorer hasn’t done that since the 2008-09 season, you can’t trade him on the promise that he’s as good as he was, say, seven years ago. In essence, Howson wants the moon and several far-flung galaxies for an inferior product.

So, what will happen in this offseason? Howson could lower his price if he sees interest waning and finally lure someone into a trade, or he could dig in his heels and watch those teams back away from what they think is an outrageous price. If Nash is traded, the Blue Jackets will be able to move past this moment in time and push forward in the season. But if there’s no trade, Nash will be trapped on a team for whom he doesn’t want to play, answering to a man he will probably grow to despise with every passing day. He could sit out training camp and maybe the season, but that will cost him in terms of a daily fine, and the team will have to take the $7 million cap hit (like the Boston Bruins will do with Tim Thomas). He’ll more than likely play under duress, sitting in that locker room awkwardly trying to lead a team that knows he doesn’t want to be there.

In the end, there’s no win-win scenario for this drama. But I can tell you that Scott Howson’s job should be on the line because of how badly he’s handled this, if not given to someone else. Blue Jackets fans deserve something good this season, and I don’t think he can deliver that.

– Krista

Posted by: emmaharger | June 30, 2012

Dancin’ Roberto

The continued saga of “Where Will Roberto Luongo Go?” has been an interesting one to watch. There have been some serious considerations, such as the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Florida Panthers, and then ones that just seem so totally farfetched that you wonder if someone originally planted the idea for the lulz because it just can’t be serious–you know, like the Chicago Blackhawks.

It seems more and more each day like Luongo might go back to Florida, where he played for a time, met his wife, I believe they still keep a house there, etc. While south Florida is certainly quite a jump, climate-wise, from Vancouver, here’s the thing–would that put Jose Theodore in jeopardy? Or Scott Clemmensen? What’s the plan here? Is there one?

When Alain Vigneault told reporters that he would have Luongo drive the Zamboni if he couldn’t find any suitors, that gave me an idea.

I’ve been a Simpsons fan pretty much all my life. The show is, in age, roughly my age peer (it premiered as its own show, not part of Tracy Ullman, in December 1989; I premiered in December 1988), and I was recently thinking about some of my favorite episodes anyway. You know, gems like Marge vs. the Monorail. But there’s another episode from around that time that could be an inspiration for what to do with Luongo.

It’s called Dancin’ Homer.

The plot, if any recall is necessary, is that Homer becomes the mascot of Springfield’s baseball team by doing silly dances to the tune of Baby Elephant Walk. He tries to take his talent to Capital City, but it doesn’t work out well. Still, for a time in Springfield, the Dancin’ Homer thing totally works.

Maybe Luongo could do that, pump up the crowd at Rogers Arena with a little bit of dancing. It seems he already has the moves down, anyway:

Just put that to Baby Elephant Walk and we’re so there.

C’mon, Vigneault. You know this is a good idea in the making here. Get with it.

Posted by: Adventures in Pucking | June 29, 2012

2012 NHL Draft: The Night Peter Chiarelli Trolled Everyone

Well, that certainly was a fun draft weekend to watch! There were some predictable picks–like Edmonton taking Nail Yakupov first, although I personally think they should’ve taken a young defenseman–and some sleepers (Hampus Lindholm, anyone?), but it wasn’t until later in the first round that I think the biggest surprise happened.

No, I don’t mean the Jordan Staal trade that will send him to be captained by his brother Eric. I kind of sensed something coming when he refused to sign that big 10-year deal with Pittsburgh. He’s a talented centerman, but his problem is that he was on a stacked team. When you have teammates like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, you’re going to be on the third line whereas on other teams, there’s a potential to be on top.

I was already waiting for the Bruins to make their choice just because they’re the Bruins. They had to wait a while to announce their selection because, for once, Toronto decided to actually use its high-up pick. By that time, the draft coverage had already changed dance partners from NBCSN to NHL Network (big mistake on NBCSN’s part), and the mayhem from the Staal trade died down. But then Peter Chiarelli took the podium and…drafted PK Subban‘s little brother.

I couldn’t hear the chatter from the talking heads at first–sounds like Pierre McGuire is really, really amused–because I was laughing so hard. The Boston Bruins drafting the brother of a Montreal Canadien?! But, as usual, Chiarelli is clever and made a good selection. Subban is a pretty darn good goalie, considering he’s only been playing that position for six years (he played defense just like PK until he was 12 at the behest of his father, who coached him). He won Goaltender of the Week for two weeks in November, then took honors for the whole month, and had a great season for the OHL Belleville Bulls.

Better yet, he has heart. I can tell by the way he’s talked about himself, his work ethic, being drafted, etc. It’s been made clear by Chiarelli and company lately that the Bruins draft guys based on character. They like hardworking, ego-less, dedicated young men who want to continue working hard and doing well. Take Matthew Grzelcyk, drafted in the third round by the Bruins. His dad has been part of the TD Garden ice crew for years and years, he’s from Charlestown and he’s a very dedicated hard worker. Plus, he just got into BU’s business school.

Already Subban, though, is making a good first impression at Bruins development camp. One of six goalies there, he got a lot of cheers when he first took the ice and continued his charm initiative by jokingly telling Boston sports radio chat show hosts that he was not a big fan of Montreal–or his brother.

I don’t think it’s likely at all that Subban will make the team next season. (This is the dawning of the age of Tuukkaquarius!) He may spend another year in Belleville honing his skills. But still, somewhere down the line, it would be a lot of fun to see the Subbans face each other on an NHL rink.


Posted by: kristagolden | June 25, 2012

Babies come back

I call the guys who play for the Rockford IceHogs “the babies” because quite a few of them were prospects not so long ago (I know some are older than 21, but they’re babies to me). I was happy to hear that three of the “babies” had been resigned to two-year deals recently:

Brandon Bollig made a big splash when he joined the Blackhawks roster after John Scott was traded. He didn’t score his first Blackhawks goal till the playoffs, but he filled Scotty’s shoes quite nicely with his 58 PIM. And we get two more years of his sparkling wit on Twitter!

Maybe this season he’ll grow out of that “I like ‘Call Me Maybe'” phase.

Ben Smith was the guy who sent the Blackhawks to a Game 7 in the 2011 playoffs, and even though he wasn’t used that much this season in Chicago, he still had a good year in Rockford. Unfortunately, he had to have hip surgery in March, but word is that he’s recovering nicely and should be ready for training camp.

He can’t wait for September, and neither can Blackhawks fans.

Carter Hutton stepped up as goaltender for the Hogs when Alexander Salak was sidelined with an injury during the season, and he did quite nicely for them: he was named team MVP for his 2.35 GAA and .917 save percentage. He even got to don the Indian Head jersey twice as backup to Corey Crawford when Ray Emery was out sick. Looks like we have some good depth in net with him.

You’re cute, we’ll keep you.

Unfortunately, a little rain must come with your sunny days, and in this case the resignings came after the team had released Salak on waivers. Word is that he’ll head to Sweden, so he’ll at least be playing and honing his skills more (which is what the Blackhawks wanted from him when they sent him to Rockford). Hopefully by this time next year, he’ll find a good home back in the NHL.

The Blackhawks now have their major players signed and newbies drafted, so now we wait for Free Agency Day. Methinks it’s gonna be good.

– Krista

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