Thursday, October 06, 2005



High on life (presumably), Colby Cosh rounds up some impolite but hilarious chants from last night's opening games ("over-rated", boy, didn't see that one coming). That, and the last couple of comments at this post, reminds me:

The Flames have four October home games, and they'll all be special for their own reasons. Dallas on the 13th is the opener, and the "So Close!" banner is getting raised. The Oil is in town on the 15th and the 20th. And the fourth is Phoenix, on the 17th.

That one's going to be fun, because it will mark the return of my favorite Saddledome chant ever. "Ricci's Ug-ly!"? Guess again:


I don't think I've ever rooted for bad officiating before, even for the Flames' benefit, but on the 17th, I think I'll make an exception. I put the over/under for the first chant breaking out as the 15-minute mark of the 1st period.


I enjoyed Colby's comments but who said Peter Forsberg is the world's greatest player. I am a die-hard Oilers fan but I have no trouble saying that the world's best player wears a flaming C on the front and 12 on the back. Iginla can do it all better than anyone. He will fight Derien Hatcher to lift his team up (a major turning point in last year's playoffs) and always seems to get the big goals.

If the choice between Forsberg and Iginla had to be made, I can't believe that many NHL GM's wouldn't take Iggy first.

Iginla's strong point has been his combination of toughness and skill. He could get through the clutching and grabbing and still score. However, with the ice being oppened up I don't think that quality is as valuable as it once was.

Forsberg isn't getting any younger and ontop of that his back is now questionable. However, he is an amazing two way player.

I'd say Jagr is the best player in the NHL any time he feels like being the best player on the ice. However, his motivation is questionable. I get the impression if a team spent 6 million on Jagr and another million on a motivational speaker following him around they'd have made a much better investment than just the max on Jagr.

Gretzky is another guy who doesn't ever appear to be enjoying himself.

Seriously, when was the last time you saw an interview with him where he smiled, cracked a joke, etc.

I know he has been carrying the entire sport on his back for at least a decade, but the guy looks totally stressed-out all the time. If Phoenix has a tough start out of the gate, I expect him to look just like Walter by Christmas.

Of course all the GMs would take Iginla first, but age & durability (touch wood) have a lot to do with that.

If you're looking at peak performances, over the past 5-7 years, I don't have any problem saying Forsberg has been the man. Talented, tough, & smart - tough combo to beat.

That does beg the question, though: if they dispersed the whole league, and drafted from scratch, who would be #1? Iginla? Kovalchuk? Nash? Even leaving goaltenders out of it, it's a tough question.

SI went through this fantasy for the NBA before the draft, and decided Duncan would be #1, with Lebron and Amare close behind. Maybe this should be the next "distributed intelligence" question the Battle of Alberta poses.

Well when you come right down to it, if I could only take one player to start a franchise with I'm pretty sure I'd take Roberto Luongo. He's young, and just about to hit the top of his game with a lot of years left ahead of him.

He's the best goal tender in the game right now and they're out there for the whole 60 minutes and a hot goalie can carry a team like a player in no other position.

If you leave goal tenders out of it your looking at Iginla, Nash, Lecavlier, or Kovalchuck. Iginla would have a bit of an edge as he's more of a proven commodity. However, who knows how people are going to look in the "new" NHL. Of course the fact is if you could draft one player your going to take a young player over a more established one who likely has a downside coming, so its not the most accurate read on who the best player in the game is.

Forsberg is, of course, described in my original entry as the "consensus" best player in the world. That is probably a stretch these days, but a lot of journalists in the United States and in Europe would still describe him this way. I personally was never 100% certain that Foppa was even the greatest member of the Colorado Avalanche. Counting Roy, he might have been in third place.

If the players were all dispersed and drafted today, at least 20 of 30 GMs would probably grab Crosby first. That has nothing to do with who is the best player right now--and that, unless you want to entertain a goaltender, is Iginla.

Ask yourself this question: if you had to bet on a current player to go to the Hall of Fame, and you weren't allowed to take somebody with established full credentials (like Yzerman or Chelios), who would you take over Iggy? Lecavalier, the guy whose own teammate won the Hart Trophy over him? Nash, who didn't lead his Swiss A-League team in scoring? Forget about it. Iginla is the boss man. I'm not one of these jags who's going to downplay the talent of a great rival (cf. these comedians in the Saddledome who are apparently preparing a 1981-vintage chant of "Whi-ner!" for a guy who fed them their own dongs creamed on toast four dozen times).

Zing! Man you're good at this, Cosh.

Both for Iggy and Forsberg the toughness factor is the tipping point of what makes them great. Both cycle like axle grinders down low, with quick feet and good hands around the net.

Iggy will scrap, which is a moral boost for his team, but it is rare. The 'tough speed' of both is what makes any comparison a close one.

Downplay Gretzky's talent? Oh, heaven forfend! One of the greatest players ever, national treasure, blah blah etc.

However, he did put up a remarkable fuss any time someone touched him and wasn't rewarded with a penalty (or a canoe ride). Anyone prepared to argue that 99's numbers would have been even better if only the refs had given him a little room? To borrow a phrase, the question answers itself.

I have to agree w/ Cosh on most of his points. Iginla can (and probably still will) carry a whole team on his back. Lecavalier? Give me a break. Forsberg? For the Avs, Sakic was great more often and more consistently, and as for other Swedes I'd probably choose Sundin.

As for other active forwards who could be the best in the world in regards to skill/heart/franchise-building/everything else, I would put Yzerman, Mario and Thorton on the list with Iggy & Sakic, and possibly Heatley.

I will say this, screwing up the lineup card on your second day on the job is not the best way to continue building a legacy.

Until Nash learns to play some defence, he'd be about 15-20th on my list of players I'd take.

First would be Luongo, then Iginla. Third.... Ovetchkin or Crosby. Crosby would help me sell better, so I'd have to say Crosby.

Cosh points out here that the smaller but possibly more interesting angle on Gretzky's goof was the way Andy Murray played it: he was going to wait to see if Phoenix scored a goal with Sjostrom on the ice, then have it disallowed.

Score one for the nerd coaches, if you ask me. I can easily see someone like Hitchcock, Renney, or Jacques Martin playing it the same way; I have more trouble imagining Gretzky, MacTavish, or even Darryl Sutter doing so.

Oh, and yeah, the "dongs creamed on toast four dozen times" was a pretty good blast, but I think yesterday's turn-of-phrase about Igor Ulanov (at this post) was funnier:

"The year before, I was ready to have him shot and his family billed for the ammo."

That one's definitely going in the vault.

'Nerd coach' is definitely a good designation for Murray, who probably has sleepless nights thinking of scenarios like this.

One of the league's most underrated coaches.

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