Friday, September 28, 2007


Good question, wrong answer

John Buccigross picks Calgary to finish 6th in the WC, and takes aim at Alex Tanguay:
...There is no excuse for Tanguay not to be a double-digit power-play scorer. Five power-play goals is unacceptable.

This is where Mike "3:10 to Lethbridge" Keenan can help with a confrontational preseason pep talk to Mr. Tanguay.

"Alex, you are gutless. You need to get in high-traffic areas and take a beating sometimes and score more power-play goals. You have plenty of quality padding and a Ford F-250 windshield across your face. You are hurting yourself, your teammates and your family name by your soft play. Now, get in there or I will call you out in the media and I will take away your ice time and your future earning power. You make $5.3 million a year and I have no idea why. You almost make as much as Martin St. Louis, who has 10 times your courage and conviction. Is this how you want to be remembered? Because that's how you will be remembered by everyone you've ever played with. [...]"

I basically agree with Butch's first two sentences there -- it's a mystery, and not the fun kind, why Tanguay isn't more productive on the PP. But the rest is a pretty outrageous drive-by slur, and, even minus the hyperbole and character assassination, at least 5 kinds of wrong.

1) Tanguay, as noted on this site ad nauseam, is an extremely productive player at even-strength. He led the Western Conference in EV Pts/60 (led the league amongst non-Sabres). As Butch is quite aware, generally a PP involves one fewer player on the ice, which is at least enough to make you think twice about whether "traffic" is Tanguay's problem on the PP.

2) Here are the 15 most productive forwards in the NHL last season, ranked by PP Pts/60 (min. 180 minutes):

Your mileage may vary, but if I was looking for a common characteristic among these players, the first thing to mind would NOT be "guys most willing to head to the high traffic areas to take a beating".

3) I have never seen Tanguay shy away from contact. As noted in the playoffs, he was plenty physical.

4) I have never read anything from an ex-teammate calling Tanguay soft.

5) Tanguay is just an effing outstanding passer. Since he's not a flashy puckhandler, it's tough to appreciate, but really: he spent most of last season getting the puck in open ice to the only guy the opposition really cared about defending. He sees the ice and makes decisions exceedingly fast; he is the proverbial one step ahead. As such, it would be awfully tough to justify standing him in front of the net to take cross-checks as a sound PP strategy.

Considering how many words Butch has spent slobbering over what a unique and beautiful player Scott Niedermayer is, I'm actually pretty shocked that he's so down on Tanguay. This cat plays the game differently, and is bloody effective doing it.

Uh, except on the powerplay. Why is that? I don't know... maybe he's the hockey analogue to the basketball player who can exploit man-to-man defense but not zone. What I do know is that Buccigross' diagnosis, and his prescription, are way, way off.

PS: I have nothing bad to say about Martin ("Ten Times") St. Louis, but when you put EV and PP rates together, Tanguay is more productive. MSL's totals are higher because of (A) quite a bit more ice time (which I grant could demonstrate heart), and (B) a bunch of SH points on what was otherwise the 3rd-worst PK team in the NHL, which I'm pretty sure doesn't.

PPS: Also, Butch picks 4 NW teams to makes the playoffs, and in 2nd, 5th, 6th, and 7th no less. I think this is only mathematically possible if the Oil goes 0-32 in the Northwest, but he picked them 12th. (And used Barry Manilow to do it. Just saying.)


Open Season, Open Mike

So I've been pondering a way to have the readers and other bloggers note their outlook on the pending NHL season. Straight predictions are too flavourless, so I figured (just this once!), why not do something that prominently features arrogance, bombast, and profanity? This is an internet blog: why not play to type for a change? Hell, we all want to be optimistic about our team's season anyway.

So the challenge is this: rhyme it. The 16-line rhyme should be "to the tune of" The Geto Boyz' insanely catchy 1999 contribution to the soundtrack of Office Space, "Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta"; Line 1 and Line 16 are to be "Damn it feels good to be a [TEAM] fan".

Lyrics in all their NSFW-ness are here. One of those weird YouTube clips -- with the real song, but a homemade (symbolism? wat dat?) video -- is below. My own sample/entry is Comment #1. Busta Rhyme.

Thursday, September 27, 2007


Potpourri for 10 games please, Alex

**I don't really want to join the debate in earnest about Downie/McAmmond, head shots, etc., but I will say that the debate in general could (as is so often the case) benefit from a bit of clarity.

For one, could we all please acknowledge that the primary aim of most bodychecks is, in fact, to hurt? Maybe it's just because I'm a bit anal about language (words matter), but it drives me crazy that every one of these situations is followed by the checker saying, "I didn't mean to hurt him". Of course you did, buddy. No, you didn't intend to cause an injury that leads to your victim missing multiple games, or being hauled off on a stretcher, or retiring. But what other purpose could there be to initiating a high-speed collision besides causing pain? If there's no pain, then what are the benefits of an open ice hit? (If getting hit wasn't painful, hockey would be a much different game).

And for two: there seems to be a growing consensus (since Tuesday night, I've heard it from players, coaches, and media alike) that a lack of respect is a, if not the, root cause of these hits to the head. I quite agree -- so may I suggest that the NHL start weighing and citing this factor explicitly when they hand out suspensions?

Bob McKenzie has never been so right as he is in this piece, where he gives a pretty compelling first-person account of the whole thing. He says you can debate how late the hit was, or whether it was an elbow, or whether Downie left his feet, but
none of it matters a bit. And that's because there is one aspect of it that is so overwhelmingly obvious the rest of it is inconsequential. And that is, quite simply, Steven Downie was looking to take off McAmmond's head and inflict damage, his protestations to the contrary notwithstanding.

Indeed. I'm on record as saying that Colin Campbell's Best Judgement is less worse than the alternatives, so I would be all in favour of him citing McKenzie's logic verbatim, Downie's history as a junior, McAmmond's status as a 13-year vet, and a desire to deter and punish appalling disrespect for other players, as cause for a 15-game suspension.

**Meta-media: I listened to Mirtle's appearance on Bob Stauffer's (Edmonton) TEAM 1260 show yesterday, where they discussed this among other things. It's the second time I've listened to Mirtle on the radio: the first time was on XM204, and man, what a difference.

He was on XM (a few weeks ago) to discuss his piece on changes in NHL teams' salary structures under the new CBA, and it was an excellent bit of radio. The hosts were clearly interested in what he had to say (his work was quite original and insightful), and asked some good questions. Even though I had read James' post, the segment was entertaining and informative.

Yesterday's was not (though I will stress that this is no fault of James). It was your standard, "let's talk about every hockey item on the front page of for 90 seconds" chit-chat. I've never heard Stauffer's show before, so I'm not really criticizing him -- and if you're going to chat with any hockey blogger about multiple general hockey topics, Mirtle's the guy -- but it seemed like a real waste.

If Stauffer is going to talk to a hockey blogger, why not talk about some of the things he's blogged about that aren't the very same subjects he covered on his own in the opening segment? Would that not make for better, more original radio?

Instead of asking Mirtle, "So, that Steve Downie's a dick, eh?" or, "Did you see Raffi Torres on The Daily Show?", he could have talked to him about guys who have impressed in the preseason, or unsigned veterans on tryouts. Or he could have asked him about his contrarian take on Gretzky's future in Phoenix, which may or may not be correct but makes all sorts of sense. Just my two cents: since weekly appearances are planned, I thought I'd pipe up.

**Not recommended if you're on dialup: excellent, link-rich roundup of NHL uni changes from the one-of-a-kind Paul Lukas of's Page 2 (and the Uni Watch blog).

**Highly enjoyable Five-word NHL Previews from the OSHL Blog. Guess who gets "Glory Years Available on Betamax"? Also from OSHL Blog: post header of the month.

**Go Flames.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Luongo To Retire

Calm down, Canucks fans. It's only your goalie whining about potential rule changes. Roberto Luongo says he'll retire if the NHL ever uses bigger nets. I can't say I blame him. He's had such a tough ride with his huge pads, cheater, and ability to roam untouched around the ice like a drunken drifter. I can't imagine how much worse it will be for him if shooters are actually able to see an inch or two of open net.

I'd actually prefer smaller padding to a larger net, but Luongo's stance here is ridiculous. He's perpetuating the Divine Right of Goaltenders myth, carrying on the constant "woe is us" complaints of fellow netminder Martin Brodeur. There's a legitimate argument to be had here about whether nets sizes should be increased, whether it will actually help increase scoring levels, whether it's ruining the traditions of the game, whether this is all being done to please Americans who will never ever care, etc., etc. But ultimatums like this don't move the conversation along. Here's hoping Luongo stops pouting, and a proper dialogue on this issue occurs.

***Instant Update*** It appears that Luongo's argument has to do with "preserving the traditions of the game". There is further exposition in an article by Jim Matheson. I remain unconvinced that this is anything other than a goalie acting out of self-interest, but there it is.



From an AP item on the Stanley Cup returning home to England:
Lord Frederick Stanley, a Governor General of Canada in the 19th century, bought the cup from a London silversmith and donated it to Canada's top amateur team in 1892. In 1910, it was given to the champion of a professional competition and remained that way until it became the property of the NHL in 1917.

The NHL may wish it were so, but the Stanley Cup is not their "property". (And secondly, the NHL only acquired exclusive control over awarding the Cup in 1947).


Battle Game Day: What's Shaking (out)?

Tonight the Flames and Oilers match up for the second time this preseason; this time it'll be in that rickety old barn up north.

Both teams are coming off of shootout wins last night. Tonight's Oiler lineup will resemble Opening Night slightly more than last night's (at the back end), though MacT is still test-driving a whole bunch of rookie forwards. Roloson will presumably be in net, and apparently, so will Kipper.

Speaking of Kipper, the most instructive result from last night's game comes from these three items on the scoresheet:
So (A) Keenan didn't do what he's famous for, and yank the starter after two quick ones, and (B) this was obviously reinforced, by events, as the correct decision. I wasn't really concerned about head games before; I'm even less so now.

The Flames lineup isn't posted, so I don't have much to say about it. Oiler fans will be curious to see if the Pensky line is effective with Cogliano in the middle; I'm more interested to see who MacT uses them to pick on, as I'm guessing that Thoresen-Horcoff-Brodziak will be deployed against Tanguay and whichever veterans are alongside him (Iginla & Langkow played last night, but may well dress again; maybe it's Lombardi; dunno).

Prediction: Souray and Matt "Surging up the Depth Chart" Greene get exposed; Grebeshkov and Tarnstrom are on for more GA than GF; and the road team puts a damper on MacTavish's pumped-ness with a 5-2 win. Go Flames.


Raffi Torres On Daily Show

The video is finally available of Raffi Torres on The Daily Show. Thanks to Tyler for giving the heads up last night.


Bill Wirtz, 1929-2007

Bill Wirtz, owner of the Chicago Blackhawks, has passed away. It's a harsh thing to say at this point and time, but it is doubtful that he will be missed by many Hawks fans. The Hawks have long been considered the worst franchise in professional sports, and it was in no small part due to the policies and practices of their owner. Wirtz was 77.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Smelly Hands

Jes Golbez Hates The Oilers. ATTACK!

Actually, don't. I'm totally joking. But I do think Jes is more than a little off in his evaluation of both the Oilers off-season and their handling of Master Sam Gagner. I think most would agree that the Penner deal was an overpay, but they had the money and needed to inject some offence (never mind appease an irritated fanbase). Far worse overpayments have been made (the Vanek deal would have been a disaster, for example). But there was nothing wrong with the fact that they pursued a RFA, no matter how much Brian Burke whines about it. Yet that's the only reason the Penner signing was/is a story. Players all around the league are signing big deals. Another NHL GM giving a relatively untested kid a big contract? Ho hum. Bringing up Geoff Sanderson as an example of bad management is purposely misleading, as the deal with the Flyers was really about acquiring Joni Pitkanen. Does Pitkanen's name even appear in the post? No. As for Anson Carter, it cost the Oilers nothing to invite him to to camp, he's out with a concussion (see him in the lineup? I didn't think so), and wherever he ends up, he'll probably score more goals than fifteen players on the Canucks roster. As for rushing Gagner, I really don't believe that is happening, or going to happen. He's not being forced into anything. The team is deep at centre, and there were a bunch of other prospects expected to make the team in front of Gagner before camp started. He's gotten more ice time this year because he's earned it. It's that simple. He's not being forced into a role he's not yet ready for. To say anything else is disingenuous. Or smelly, as the case may be.


Just Thinking Out Loud Here

But is there a chance we could put together an Oilogosphere ball hockey unit and join some rec. league this year? Anyone? I'm looking mostly at that crew that plays every two weeks at Lister. PM? Anyone?


Oops, I Uploaded Again

Anyone else see the story yesterday about the individual who uploaded his own picture onto the Flickr site of the company that he may have stolen the computer from? As someone who had his house broken into and computer stolen last year, this story just delights me. It's also good news because the Oilogosphere's very own Erin Loxam helped push the story along, after it was first reported in a story by Rebecca Bollwitt, one of the podcasters on the Crazy Canucks show. Well done, hockey ladies of justice. Well done, indeed.


Searching For A Desert Island Athlete

I read a lot. Even more than I say the words "a lot,” which is a lot. Other than the necessities (sleeping, breathing, eating), I'm pretty confident that I read more than I do any other activity. I waste hours on it. Days. Months. Years. And on and on and on. I read so much that I've gotten to the point of not reading while I'm reading, where I'll sit there and tell myself than I should be spending that time doing other things (like, for example, writing). But then I keep on reading, and the writing and everything else suffers, consumed by my insatiable desire to know, be entertained, and run away. Over the past 14 days, as just a small sampling, I've read Wikinomics by Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams, Feeding the Monster by Seth Mnookin, I'm A Lebowski, You're A Lebowski by Bill Green et al., Chronicles: Volume One by Bob Dylan, and 1602 by Neil Gaiman (a re-read, but it felt like a new read). That of course doesn't count the hundreds of stories, posts and pieces I've had sent to me daily through my RSS Feeds, three or four magazines, issue #9 of The Spirit, and the chapters I've read from Pro Football Prospectus 2007, Summerland, and the Count of Monte Cristo. And actually, now that I look at that list, I'd say that's a slow two weeks of reading for me.

I finished Chronicles some time this evening/morning, after a fitful two hours of sleep. I then picked up Stranded, a collection of rock essays edited by Greil Marcus. The book is considered a seminal work of rock criticism, and I found myself a copy about a month ago. It has been republished by Da Capo Press, in my mind the flagship printing press on all issues relating to and about popular music. The idea of the book is the "if you were gonna be stuck on a desert island, what single album would you take with you?" thought experiment most famously articulated by Nick Hornsby in High Fidelity. I got through the Foreword (written by Robert Christgau), the Preface (by Marcus), the Introduction (also by Marcus), and the Prologue (by Nick Tosches) before halting in my tracks. And no, it wasn't because I was exasperated by the fact that the book had a Foreword, Preface, Introduction and Prologue, though now that I think about it that would have been a perfectly acceptable reason. No, the reason I stopped is because the book gave me an idea—like many of the thousands of books I've read before it—and this time I decided to actually follow through with it rather than the reading. If there is one thing I have learned, it is that passive activities like reading are much easier to return to than active activities (?) like writing. Having learned that fact usually doesn’t stop me from ignoring it, but this time it did.

WriteRoom tells me that I just wrote a 478-word waste of an introduction, and I know the green screen is correct. All I really wanted to say was that I've been reading a book about essentials that bring people great joy, and it made me think about athletes. As I started an essay on the Stones' Beggars Banquet I wondered, "who would be my desert island athlete?" I quickly came to the conclusion that this is both a lamely imitative and highly imaginative question. On the one hand, how many thousands of times have dumb lists like these been made? Booooring. On the other, what kind of creative leap does it take to imagine a professional athlete stranded with a total stranger on a desert island? It's a desert island after all. Where's Bobby Orr going to play?

This land being my land, I decided to push ahead with the thought experiment (I'm also hoping I'm not ripping anyone off here other than Marcus and colleagues). In fact, the entire time I've been writing this, my noggin has been dancing with possibilities. I actually don't have an answer to my question, at least not yet. Several options have popped into my head, but nothing firm and convincing has yet solidified. So we might as well explore some parameters.

1) The athlete is not there for companionship of any sort, platonic or sordid. Jennie Finch is therefore immediately deleted from my mind list, despite her beauty and furious windmill. I’d just get angry that I couldn’t court her. The athlete does not cook, clean, walk around naked, play the guitar, build a stethoscope out of bamboo, nothing. They are there to play sports, and that is all.

2) They are not actually the only athletes on the island. There are others, as your athlete of choice obviously needs to play with and against opponents. But these "others" are just that, nameless and faceless automatons operating at various levels of excelled performance. Basically, they are robots programmed to perform at a professional level of performance in whatever sport it is that your desert island athlete is playing, and that is all. Rule 1 also applies to the robots, perverts.

2.1) An alternate option is one where the athlete isn't actually there. Instead, you get to take a mysteriously powered video player that shows every single game that athlete ever played. The benefit of this is that there is no need for the robot opponents. The downside is that you become limited to seeing just those games, not the athlete playing new games in new situations.

3) I'm still thinking this one through, but I believe the athlete chosen should only qualify in one sport. Ergo, you don't get to watch Bo Jackson or Deion Sanders play football and baseball, and you don't get to see Jackie Robinson play baseball, football, basketball and track and field. I'm open to hearing counter-arguments on this one, but I'll start with that limitation.

4) The athlete tires within the game itself, but once the game it plays is over, it is instantly refreshed and ready to go again. Elf will never need food badly.

5) Most importantly, you shouldn’t choose an athlete because they are thought to be the greatest athlete of all-time or any such thing. Rather, you choose them because they are the athlete you would enjoy watching the most. Enjoyment and wonder on the desert island is paramount.

Other than that, the sky is the limit. You want a hockey rink on that island? Done. Basketball court? Done. Tennis court? Grass, clay, and hard. Speedway? No, because racecar drivers aren't athletes, any more than the best Halo players are athletes (I'll let chess players slide, though). They can be athletes who are alive, or athletes who are dead. Male or female (but human). Black, white, brown, yellow or red. Basically, you get your own Field of Dreams to help you survive on that desert island, and you get to watch your very own version of Shoeless Joe perform for the ages. So who will it be?

I still don't know. I still don't even know if I want to go with Rule 2 or 2.1. But a list is forming:

Wayne Gretzky, Michael Jordan, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Ted Williams, Satchel Paige, Jim Brown, Barry Sanders, Mark Messier, Bo Jackson, Pele, Mario Lemieux, Larry Bird, Bobby Orr, Paul Coffey, Jackie Robinson, Gale Sayers, Pedro Martinez, Willie Mays, David Ortiz, Ty Cobb, John Olerud, Muhammad Ali

I'm assuredly missing others, but those are the names that I thought of right away (I wonder if there is any meaning other than just my love of the sport that so many baseball players made the list?). I think Joe Posnanski would take Bo Jackson. My friend Avi might take Barry Bonds. I wonder if Cosh would take Pavel Bure or Tim Raines. In ten years’ time, Sidney Crosby might make my list. So too Lebron James, Albert Pujols, Alexander Ovechkin, Jose Reyes, Hanley Ramirez, Ladainian Tomlinson, Vince Young, and Reggie Bush. But not now, not today.

Taking the list I have, let's minimize it to five: Gretzky, Jordan, Williams, Robinson and Ortiz. I want to keep Jackson (the shoeless one), Orr, Paige and Mays around, but I think it's more out of nostalgia or a myth created in my mind than a belief that I would enjoy them more than the others. I never saw any of them play, which is probably part of the appeal, but ultimately the reason they don't make the final cut. I never saw Williams or Robinson play either, but I'm ignoring that fact. Robinson is my favorite athlete of all-time, maybe even my favorite human being of all-time, so he makes the top five. The Splendid Splinter deserves to be on the list just for the chills his nickname sends down my spine, never mind that if he was my choice I'd get to watch him in batting practice all day, every day, until the day I died.

All day, every day, until the day you died. Just imagine it. It's inconceivable. Breathtaking. Awe-inspiring. Your heroes. GODS. All day, every day, until the day you died.

My final three are Michael Jordan, Jackie Robinson and David Ortiz. I admit it: I'm spoiled by Gretzky. Plus, there is something impersonal about all the equipment that makes me think it's not a wise choice for a desert island pick. I'm waffling on this already, as my mind just told me I was being an idiot and that I could watch him play any way I wanted, so I better move on quickly here. Bye, Great One.

Ortiz is out next. I love Big Papi. I don't know if I've ever paid as much attention to a baseball player's at-bats as I have Ortiz's. He is my favorite professional athlete playing right now. It's obvious that he loves the game, and loves life. He is a beautiful hitter. And I'd get to sing, "I love it when you call me Big Papi" over and over again in my desert abode, watching him smack dingers over the Monster or center field in Yankee Stadium (hmm, the ability to alternate stadiums is a bonus feature I'd never thought of until now. I like that). But I don't think he gets to outlast Jordan or Robinson. Yeah, it's my choice, and I can pick whomever I want, and it's supposed to be about whom you would enjoy watching the most, but I just can't let Ortiz move on. My gut won't allow it.

Michael Jordan or Jackie Robinson? That is the question. A tough question. An impossible question. I never got to see Robinson play, but like I said before, I worship the man. By all accounts, he could do anything he wanted, on any given day. Field, hit, steal bases. All of it. If I chose him, I could let him play against all-white robots every single day, and watch him whup their asses. That would be great. He could steal home, spike the catcher in the chest, and then water them down with a hose before heading out to play defence. As for Jordan, oh God. I could put him in dunk contests, all-star games, games of HORSE, and anything else he could gamble on. No baseball games, thankfully, because of Rule 3. But he'd be a monster, a constant source of joy and bewilderment. Oh man, what to do?

I think I have to go with Michael Jordan, and here's why: I'd get more, holy shit, how the fuck did he do thats out of him than anybody else. In fact, if I went by that criterion alone (and maybe I should have) Gretzky might pop up to number two. But Jordan is the man. He shoots, dunks, rebounds, steals, covers and hustles his ass off. He is the best athlete I've ever seen, perhaps the best performer I've ever witnessed. And it's all thoroughly enjoyable. No one was bored watching Jordan play, ever. In fact, the exact opposite was true. Even in his fading years he had his moments, and you always sat on the edge of your seat waiting for him to do something spectacular. Plus, he is programmed to learn a new move every summer, so there'd always be new material. I can't deny that. I just can't. So when that day comes, when my little boat gets cast against a reef and I end up stranded on a sandy shore, His Airness will be there with me. He'll be in a red Bulls jersey with the number twenty-three across the front, tongue out, wearing one of the Air Jordan hats Mars Blackman used to kick in the commercials. He'll look at me, smile that smile, lift up his shoulder and arms in a "you've got me" pose, and then take off for the foul line, eventually launching his body into the air, framed by a yellow sun, green palm trees, and blue waters. I might make him stay like that forever. After all, it's my island.

***Update*** In the comments, Avi came up with a great idea that I now label Schadenfreude Island: the ability to bring one athlete onto the island so that you can take delight in watching your team of sophisticated robots annihilate him or her forever. Immediate candidates include Cristiano Ronaldo, the entire Italian soccer team, Patrick Roy, Rodney Harrison, Teddy Bruschi, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Chris Chelios. The individual who would appear on both my lists? Ty Cobb.

Monday, September 24, 2007


Rule 76.2

By the way, I meant to mention one other random observation from Saturday's game. The change to Rule 76.2 is quite discombobulating, and will take some time getting used to.

It used to be that the only face-offs right at centre ice were to start a period, after a goal, or after an accidental or incorrect whistle. Now there's a couple extra ones every period (puck deflected out of play, penalty in the neutral zone, etc.).

If you're watching at anything less than full attention, which for me is >90% of the time, then there's a few uneasy seconds where you're thinking did I miss a goal? That was nowhere near the net was it?

Anyway, fair warning. I guarantee you that sometime in October you'll get back from the fridge to the TV, see them facing off at centre, and think OH SHIT! What'd I miss!


Scouting Report

It was an enjoyable in-person look at the pre-season BoA on Saturday night. I promised some impressions, so here we go. I've avoided looking at the gamesheet or most other accounts of the action to "keep it real".

1. Iginla-Tanguay-Langkow shifts were a time to get the head out of the popcorn and pay attention. They were dominant at times -- hemming the Oil in for entire shifts (noticed them v. Stoll-Raffi-Nilsson most often) -- and porous at others, the Stoll goal and the Cogliano winner being two of them.

2. If Souray and Greene are actually paired together in October, that's going to be... an adventure. Greene is still not very good (Lowetide's comments here, among others, are spot-on: the OT penalty was a stupid, and pointless, elbow to the head).

3. As described (predicted? feared?) in my preview of the defense, Adrian Aucoin simply does not look like a good powerplay defenseman. I sincerely doubt he's next to Phaneuf on the #1 unit by October 15th.

4. Calling him outstanding would be a bit of a stretch, but Cogliano was very good -- very very good for a 20-year-old -- and looks every bit the NHL player.

5. Adam Pardy, #8 on the Flames defensive depth chart, was an absolute revelation. He was extremely composed; he moved into open ice when he didn't have the puck; he hit; he could play. He was absolutely the best surprise of the night, never mind the goal and assist. Definitely looked like a better hockey player than I've ever seen David Hale.

6. Robert Nilsson also looked like an NHL player. The giveaway by Eriksson to him on Horcoff's shortie was a bad one, but Nilsson made a smart, talented, heads-up play to take advantage. (Overall, especially considering Hemsky and Penner weren't dressed, it looked to me like the defensemen will be a bigger question mark going into the season than the forwards. Also, the Oiler PP without those 2 gentlemen was almost uniformly atrocious. If Souray was set up for a PP shot so much as once, I missed it.)

7. Anders Eriksson looked really solid except for the one horrendous giveaway that led directly to a goal. Where would this assessment rank on a scale of 1 to 10? You decide!

8. Boyd and Moss had some excellent shifts, I thought. Both those guys should make the team: Brett Sutter showed some good things (though took 2 needless penalties), as did Warren Peters, but they're just not as good. Godard hasn't improved, I expect him to fill the same role as last year with about the same # of GP.

9. Marcus Nilson scored a goal, but... he barely belongs around any more (the goal was a fluke deflection). He can't create anything. I was hoping he was run down in the 2nd half last year; looks more likely now that he's just slow and weak. (And signed through next season!) I don't see what he's going to contribute; hope he proves me wrong.

10. #88, Robert X. Schremp, Esq.:

Apart from the couple of shifts he had at the end of last season, I've never seen Schremp play, and I have to say, it was nothing like I expected. I was labouring under the conventional wisdom that his offensive skills were there, but that he needed to work on his speed, his 2-way play, and his attitude (committment, effort, whatever you want to call it).

If this was accurate, the prognosis would be better than it is. 2-way play can be learned, effort can be exerted, and -- as Brett Hull and hundreds of other NHLers have demonstrated -- you can compensate for sub-par speed, by using your instincts and experience to move into open spots before the other guy.

I don't believe he's bored or petulant; he couldn't have made it even this far in camp if that was the case. Here's the triple-threat of liabilities as I saw them:
It's been pretty thoroughly reported that Schremp has been passed on the Oiler depth chart by just about everyone, so this isn't a nyah-nyah to Oil fans, just some observations. It's been the line for 2 years: Schremp's offensive abilities aren't yet enough to overcome his other shortcomings. What I didn't realize before Saturday is that statement says as much or more about his offensive abilities as it does his other shortcomings. And apparently that was his best game. Wow.

INSTANT UPDATE: MetroGnome and Kyle were also at the game, and offer their thoughts. As well, I've finally added TheRealDeal Hockey to the sidebar -- long overdue. He always has lots of good stuff on the Flames and Oilers, as well as Team Canada. Check it out.

Saturday, September 22, 2007


Battle Game Day: Fo Sho

Pre-Season Record: 2-1-0
Pre-Season Record: 0-2-1


Battle of Alberta time, folks! It's a Saturday, it's getting cold, and even though it's just the pre-season, the Flames and Oilers are playing some hockey. OH, YEAH. There is no lineup card for the Flames yet, but here is who the Oil will be sending out this evening.

Raffi Torres--Jarret Stoll--Robert Nilsson
Ethan Moreau--Shawn Horcoff--Kyle Brodziak
Fredrik Johansson--Rob Schremp--Marc Pouliot
Jean-Francois Jacques--Andrew Cogliano--Troy Bodie

Sheldon Souray--Matt Greene
Denis Grebeshkov--Dick Tarnstrom
Joni Pitkanen--Steve Staios

Dwayne Roloson
Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers

Looks like MacT is sending out six of his top seven defencemen for the match (no Cyril Smid). That top pairing of Souray and Greene terrifies me. One is always in the penalty box, and the other is always standing still at the opposing team's blueline. Could be rough. I would imagine that third pairing will end up getting a large chunk of icetime, but we'll see.

The Flames, by all accounts, have looked mediocre at best in the pre-season. Don't know if that means a lot, or very little. I hope for the former, and pray against the latter. Matt is going to be at the game, so I doubt we'll get his take, at least today. Flames fans can chirp in here on what they are watching for tonight (other than the obvious "win").

I'll post the Flames lineup if and when it appears, but that's all for now. GOILERS!

Prediction: 4-3, Oilers. Cogliano's skates melt the ice on his seven breakaways, but he gets no shots on net. Phaneuf leaves his feet, elbows Player A in the face, and then turtles from Player B. The Hockey Jesus pots all four goals, including a miraculous shootout winner that sees the puck do this: take off from the stick, bounce off Keenan's shiny face, steal a chunk from his ice cup, hurdle over the glass, spit the ice in Harvey's eye, strafe through the canine's legs, change a tire on the Zamboni, shred an exact imitation of "Eruption", jump back on the ice, stop, start in different direction (mid-air, mind you), leap a pile of cow dung, spin a pirouette, execute the pop and lock, write an ode to beauty, circle around the net, tip-toe up and over Stinka Shootoutsoft's left shoulder, whisper "eat a d**k" in his ear, and mustang sally in, nothing but net.

MATT UPDATE: Mrs. Matt and I will be there, taking our 7-year-old to his first ever Flames game. I'll try to report back later with first-hand accounts of Kipper heroics, Boyd being the best prospect on the ice, and so forth. Go Flames.

Friday, September 21, 2007


Flames REview: What the heck happened, anyway?

At left: Flames 2006/07 season in a box.

I think we knew that after the rotten start, the Flames were excellent in November and December. What wasn't near as clear to me, until putting this table together, is just how much they were treading water from mid-January on.


Hey, wish I knew. The usual sportswriter procedure here is to look for an event that might have been a tipping point (an injury, an acquisition or departure, an off-ice controversy, what have you). I'm a bit leery of this, because there's a lot of possible events, and it's extremely difficult to distinguish the effects of one from another: forget about causation, it's even tough to establish correlation. But here's a bit of a January/February timeline:
Don't know about you, but nothing really sticks out sore-thumb-style here. The one thing I can identify that I expressed concern about at the time was (mostly) separating Iginla and Langkow after Conroy came in: Iginla's EVP/60 dropped from 3.89 after 40 games to 2.62 in the 2nd half (still a superb number, but that's a big drop); Langkow's split was 2.96/2.10.

There's no obvious clues here either; all this table really shows is that the Flames were a very outstanding EV team for the 32-game stretch where they made their season, enough for a 21-8-3 record despite poor special teams.

Did Kipper start playing worse halfway through the season? Did the mentality of a bunch of players change, and the coach couldn't do anything about it? Were they tired? Was there a lot of luck involved with their good stretch? Did Sutter cock up a perfectly sound roster by bringing in Conroy and Stuart (and shipping out Ference)? I wish I had better answers.


The Whyte Album

Smashing in a window at When Pigs Fly. Flashing Abbot and Costello to an approving crowd. Tightrope-walking a livewire. Fueling a bonfire and then sacrificing a small child to the Hockey Gods. Sound familiar? Was that you in the Summer of '06? If so, guess what? You're in a movie!!! You're going to be almost famous!!!

Filmaker Daniel Sponagle--FROM CALGARY--is releasing a movie this weekend entitled The WHYTE Movie. It's actually a depiction of the positive aspects of the Oilers 2006 Stanley Cup run, which became a back story once the primates let loose on Whyte Ave. The movie will be premiering tomorrow night, free-of-charge, on an outdoor screen in Churchill Square. Show starts at 8:30 p.m. Facepaint and tin foil Stanleys optional.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


Flames Preview: Goaltending

1. Miikka Kiprusoff

Not really a lot of scouting to be done here: Kipper's great. If he avoids injury, there's very little reason to expect his performance to drop from the last couple of seasons.

How much should he play? I've hashed this out enough times. I think starting your #1 guy more than 65 times is ill-advised.
Is this his last season as a Flame? I'm still guessing yes, because I think he can get a bigger, richer, longer deal somewhere else, and not just marginally. Luongo signed for $6.75M x 4 (as an RFA) when the cap was $44M. Khabibulin signed for $6.75M x 4 when the cap was $39M. Next year, the cap will probably be $52M-$53M. He could make a lot of money as a UFA.

I don't think Sutter can afford to pay him market value, or even close, and I'm not convinced that he would if he could -- for several reasons, only one of which is that I don't think he wants to pay him more than Iginla. And I don't think Kipper is inclined to sign for much below market value: he gave the Flames a gift with his last contract, and hey, if he was happy to sign at the Flames' price, he would have already.

Expecting anything different from him this year? No. In the '06 playoffs, I thought he was a hair slower at the end of a long year (recall that prior to the '04 playoffs, he only played 35 regular season games). But in the '07 playoffs, he was obviously 100%. I think Luongo might be a bit more talented overall, and Giguere is probably better fundamentally and at anticipating the puck, but no one is as athletic as Kipper. (I realize that athletic is usually used to describe goalies whose fundamentals appear weak, yet manage to stop the puck anyway. Kipper has excellent fundamentals and is astoundingly athletic within that framework. No one covers the far post with his pad as fast as Kipper).

That is to say, he's plently fit enough to play his best game no matter how much Keenan wants to use him.

2. Curtis McElhinney, Brent Krahn, Leland Irving, Matt Keetley, Kevin Lalande

I was so, so hoping that one of these guys would come into camp and just knock everyone's socks off. No dice, although it hasn't been bad news per se.

Keetley appears to be pro-ready, which is great. He showed nicely in the 1st preseason game vs. Florida, and the coaches have had nothing but good things to say. Lalande has been sent to the AHL Flames as well; whether he's pro-ready is TBD.

I was hoping Irving would get a look in an actual game, but he was sent back to Everett. It's hard to imagine that he's that well-served by playing another 75 games against junior shooters, but as a 19-year-old there's really no other options.

Krahn has (for the most part) struggled in the minors for years, interrupted only by serious injuries. Naturally he hurt his knee quite promptly in rookie camp this year. I feel bad for the guy, however, even before this camp, he's had chances. I was completely surprised that he was re-signed in July. His work is now perfectly cut out for him: get well, be the best non-Finnish Flames goalie, and earn the backup job. Anything less probably spells the end of his NHL hopes.

McElhinney now appears to be slotted in as the big club's backup goalie, which seems like a decent way to start the season. He had a nice college career, a terrific season with Omaha last year, he's had a nice camp, and (at least prior to last night's 3rd period) there's no reason to believe he can't succeed in this role. It's always a bit of a feel-good story when a 6th-round pick works his way up to deserving an NHL job; it would sure be nice if the story continues, and the ending is happy.

And if that doesn't work out, well, Noodles is available.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Flames 0-3 In Pre-Season

I counted 12 NHL regulars. So what's the excuse this time?


Flames Preview: the Defense

1. Robyn Regehr

Though you wouldn't know it to read or listen to most hockey media, RR is still the #1 D-man around here. Coaches in the past have relied on him to play against the most dangerous forwards, and there's little doubt that will continue to be the case with Keenan.

Last year was a bit of a mixed bag for Regehr. Leading the team in +/- (+27) in the role he played is clearly terrific; also, considering he plays a pretty physical game in that role, he does an excellent job of staying out of the penalty box (75 PIM, taking a non-coincidental minor roughly only every 4th game).

The biggest downside was probably the PK. It's extremely difficult to assess just who the difference-makers are on the PK -- i.e. how much is his fault -- but the fact remains that the Flames' PK was pretty lousy last year (22nd in NHL), and Regehr had over 50% more PK ice time than anyone else on the team.

That said, his statistical effectiveness did improve a bunch over the 2nd half of the season. (Mini-fact: the Flames allowed 19 5-on-4 goals after Brad Stuart joined the team. Regehr and Stuart were on together for 8 of them; Stuart was on w/o Regehr for 7 of them; Regehr was on w/o Stuart for 0 of them.)

For as long as Regehr stays healthy, and maintains the mobility he has, he'll continue to be the anchor of the Flames' D, and is a player that every team would love to have. Outlook very positive.

2. Dion Phaneuf

If Phaneuf is really going to become the perennial Norris candidate that Pierre McGuire and everyone else believe he will be, then this is the year when he needs to make another leap.

There's a lot to love about Phaneuf. He has a hard shot that he can get off. He hits hard. He infuriates opposing players, and Oiler fans. He makes plays -- right from his rookie debut, he was one of the best defensemen I've ever seen at keeping the puck in at the blueline. He's extremely fit: he led the Flames in ice time last year, playing tons of PP minutes, plenty of EV minutes, and even 1:58/gm on the PK.

It's almost unfair. He set the bar very, very high from Day One; he's already a nice NHL defenseman. And there is progress: in Year 2, he went from 21:43/gm to 25:39/Gm, all due to a big increase in EV icetime (14:12 to 18:05). Though the toughest assignments will continue to go to Regehr, the remainder of Dion's Handle With Care label will be pretty much removed this year.

All that said, if he's going to make the move from gifted to dominant, it's gotta start happening now. While middle-tier, stay-at-home type Dmen tend to slowly improve over the years, the elite #1 types who can do it all get there in Years 3 & 4. I'd like to see his PP production progress some more; I'd like to see him headhunt a bit less; and I'd like to see him get beat less often. Outlook optimistic.

3. Cory Sarich

I'd love to know more about this guy. From his career stats, we basically know (A) he has very little offensive element to his game (10 goals in 536GP), and (B) he never gets hurt. More encouraging: playing with Vic's awesome tool (that's what *she* said), Tortorella was pretty consistent about using him and Pratt against the other team's #1 line.

Sidebar: CanWest did one of those fluffy Q&A's with Sarich that, unlike the typical boxers-or-briefs, do you own an iPod? snorefests, was actually creative and thus interesting:
CanWest: What's the most ridiculous money you've seen a pro athlete spend?

Sarich: I've seen some guys buy $25,000 or $50,000 Versace beds. There's got to be better things you can do with 50,000 bucks...

Everyone's assumption is that he'll start the season playing RD with Regehr on the LD, as the #1 shutdown pairing. This is reasonable enough, though a lot depends on how Aucoin fares early... Outlook: most likely player on the team to exactly meet expectations.

4. Adrian Aucoin

Aucoin is a much more well-known entity, but probably more misunderstood. Most of the early buzz in Calgary about him -- apart from whether he can stay healthy -- seems to be whether he can mesh with Phaneuf at the point on the PP. My early thought is that this is very secondary.

What the Flames most need from Aucoin is to eat minutes in a reliable fashion. Yes, he had 18 PP goals one year with Mike Keenan's Canucks. 2nd best season of his career? 7 PP goals. 3rd best? 5 PP goals. Excluding his one monster season on the PP, he has 29 career PP goals in 612 games. Dion Phaneuf has 29 career PP goals in 161 games.

The Flames need Aucoin to be Steve Staios: nothing more, and preferably nothing less. What they don't need is a poor man's Rob Blake. I think the ideal top two EV pairings, if Aucoin can perform, are Regehr/Aucoin and Phaneuf/Sarich. This is theoretically more balanced than Regehr/Sarich and Aucoin/Phaneuf, which seems to be the reasonable assumption as we creep up on the season. Outlook cautiously optimistic.

5. Rhett Warrener

Promising news in the Sun yesterday: it would appear that after reflecting on a pretty injury-riddled career and perhaps a logey '06/07, Warrener has decided to go lighter. This suits me just fine. If the price of not getting beat one-on-one by Mike Grier is inflicting less punishing bodychecks (and maybe, just maybe, playing 75+ games), I'm all for it.

Staying healthy -- not just able-to-dress, free-from-debilitating-injury, but healthy -- is indeed the key for Warrener. He's 31 years old, and has played 683 career games. He should have some good years left. Outlook cautiously optimistic.

6. Anders Eriksson

Two words: fingers crossed. Mike Rogers had a pretty glowing assessment of him in last night's 1st intermission, which unfortunately I found more amusing (and baffling) than heartening. This is what happens when you're supposed to have an opinion on everything (I paraphrase):

"He was good, because I didn't notice him. [OK, fair enough. You're going to move on to something else now, right?] ...He sees everything so well, he's always got an eye on what's happening up ice. Great job of swinging the puck on the powerplay. He's just so solid back there." [Whaaa???]

If he can avoid making boneheaded mistakes and hold his own for 15 minutes a night, I'll be 100% satisfied. There will be times that he has to move up the depth chart due to injuries; the idea of hiring a 32-year-old veteran for the #6 spot is that he can do this effectively for brief stretches. Here's hoping. Outlook: resigned!

7. David Hale

Speaking of here's hoping: here's hoping that the Flames D-men are very healthy this season. It's not just Hale: the Flames organizational depth on defense from #7 down is weak. Giordano is gone, at least for now. Richie Regehr, who filled in capably on occasion and has an offensive upside, is gone. I've lost count, but this is not the first or second training camp where Tim Ramholt was expected to come in and impress, and failed to do so.

Hale seems a bit young to look at and say, "Nope, I don't see any Unrealized Potential there", but there you have it. He's a barely-NHL-calibre defenseman who I suppose could always keep cutting down on his mistake rate, but there is zero to be excited about here. Outlook somewhat unsettling.


I'm very bullish on the front four, but a lot of things can happen. If Warrener and Eriksson are ineffective, then more responsibility will be heaped on the other pairings, which is no good: Regehr has never been (and as such probably never will be) a guy who can consistently play more than about 24 minutes a night, and while Phaneuf can probably play 35 minutes a night, he loses effectiveness in the mid-to-high 20s.

Besides injuries, the other wildcard is the effect of having Playfair back as the guardian of the D. He got a lot of credit prior to last year for both the development and success of the defensemen. Was it deserved? And if so, can it be replicated? (???)


Hard Hitting, Computationally Expensive, Statistical Analysis

Matt's Team: 0-2
Sacamano/Grabia's Team: 2-0

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Oilers Game Day: Falling Leaves Division

Pre-Season Record: 1-0-0 Season Record: 0-0-0

The Panthers beat Calgary + the Oilers beat the Panthers = The Oilers kicked the Falmes' asses and this season's Battle of Alberta is over before it even started. It's true, check out the standings on yahoo -- Calgary is dead last, folks. Get used to it.

A few questions were answered last night:

"That's the closest you'll get to a perfect game . . . He wasn't in the wrong position all night . . Made great plays with the puck, scored two goals, had a beautiful shorthanded assist, big block at the end. There's nothing he didn't do tonight . . . That was a hell of a game." -- Mac-T

"THIS is how players win jobs" -- Lowetide

Tonight it's the Leafs. This is my first time living in the centre of Leaf Nation, and it is hilarious. Last week the radio stations and newspapers were all abuzz at Paul Maurice announcing that that the Leafs would -- along with the other 29 teams in the league -- compete for the Stanley Cup this season! More than that, he said that they would even make the playoffs! Whooo boy, with lofty goals like that it is no wonder they enjoy such resounding success over the last 40 years.

Let's go with 4-1 Oil. Hemsky with 2 and Pogge robbing him of his hat trick in the final 5 minutes.

Monday, September 17, 2007


Oilers Game Day: Preseason Division

Pre-Season Record: 0-0-0 Season Record: 0-0-0

Lineup Cards

Let's not beat about the bush. The most pressing issues facing Oilers fans this preseason:

1) Who will be the Oilers new whipping boy? And how long will it take to boo him out of town only to see him flourish elsewhere?

My vote: Matt Greene
Bonus Pick: Roloson

2) How long until Raffi's party starts again? And will the ladies at Hot Oil get the biznaz on compact flash this time?

I give it until Christmas.

3) There's a lot of new faces for which we require a lot of new nicknames.

4) How long until we see rubbish rumors about trading away our good young d-men?

Uhhhh, not long enough.

5) Do Rod 'n' Morley still have it, and will any of Rolie's saves tonight be diabolical?

Of course, if the rumour is true that Center Ice Online will be free during the pre-season, perhaps I'll watch that instead in the hopes of getting one of their gratuitous shower shots.

6) Who's the captain of this ship, anyway? Ethan? Staois? Greene?

7) Essay on a topic of your choosing

Sacamano's Prediction: 4-3 Oil with a Dvorak hat trick.


"Here's some news worth calculating." (Disclaimer: does not contain calculations)

It's my considered opinion that snarking at the Main Stream Media is just about the most boring thing a weblogger can do. However, this Globe on Hockey entry by Al Maki made me ask myself a new question: can something be both misleading and uninformative? It's short, so here's the whole thing:
Here’s some news worth calculating: the more our Canadian dollar rises, the more likely it is that NHL players may soon be taking a pay cut.

According to NHL bylaws, all player contracts are paid in U.S. dollars. It’s the way the NHL does business and it’s not a point open to negotiation.

This was all to the players’ advantage when our dollar was slumping much like the Florida Panthers (think as low as 61.80 cents U.S. in January 2002). Top-end performers were pulling in extra millions thanks to a currency conversion that was entirely in their favour.

But soon, our dollar and the U.S. dollar are expected to be equals. And should our dollar surpass its US counterpart – a possibility, according to some economists – NHL players will be taking home less money.

By the way, since the NHL deals in U.S. currency, it won’t allow clever agents to negotiate deals in either US or Canadian dollars, depending on which one is higher.

NHL players making less – what a concept.

To begin, for the majority of NHL players, this is entirely wrong: when the Canadian dollar goes up, players on American teams will make more.

Take Brian Rafalski for example (or Jagr, Lidstrom, Ovechkin, etc.). He's being paid $6M/year in Michigan. At no time will the Canadian dollar value of his paycheque be relevant to him in the slightest: whether that $6M US is worth $5M or $7M Cdn is of no consequence to him.

However! Recall that total player salaries (for all 30 teams) are adjusted up or down depending on NHL hockey-related revenues. The players as a whole will be paid 55.5% (IIRC) of those revenues, so the exact amount they collect depends on NHL revenues. Eventually, every player will end up with 92%, or 103%, or 97.5% of the face value of their contracts: it all depends on how much escrow is retained after final revenue figures are tallied up.

A higher Canadian dollar means higher NHL revenues, since Canadian revenues will be converted to $US prior to these calculations. Say the Canadian revenues this season will be $800M Cdn. If the CDN$ = $0.90 USD, then Canadian revenues in USD$ will be $720M. If the dollars are at par, then Canadian revenues in USD$ will be $800M. That's (uh, carry the one..) an $80M increase in NHL revenues, which means that players will get more escrow back, i.e. make more money. So again: for all players on American teams who have no need to convert any of their wage to CDN$, a higher Canadian dollar is entirely beneficial -- they will make more.

Who is it bad for? The hardest case is a Canadian playing for a Canadian team who is going to convert all his salary to CDN$ right away (for an apples-to-apples comparison, let's say Wade Redden, and that his salary is $6M). With a 90-cent CDN$, his contract is worth $6.667M CDN; with dollars at par, it's only worth $6M CDN. Luckily, the stuff about revenues above still mitigates his problem: for every CDN$ that comes out of his pocket due to increasing exchange, he gains about 35 cents back thanks to higher revenues.

These are the cases at either end of the spectrum, but there are several in the middle:
See below, but basically all of these guys are better off -- or certainly no worse off -- when the CDN$ goes up. I wish I knew exactly what Maki meant. Presumably he was referring to the Redden example, and sure, I guess it's worth pointing out in a little aside on a group blog that "Hey, when the CDN$ goes up relative to the US$, the CDN$-value of US$-denominated hockey contracts goes down". It's true. But there's enough other issues here, including the major one regarding NHL revenues, that saying "Rising dollar brings pay cuts" is entirely dis-informative.

Boring Math Appendix

Here's a wee bit of math for the 5 different classes of players noted above. I rounded all their salaries to $6M/yr to avoid a bit of confusion. Also, example players are selected for illustrative purposes only: clearly I have no direct knowledge of their individual financial needs or plans.

Everyone's income taxes are shown as 1/3 of income; this is obviously oversimplified, but works for this exercise. At any rate: here are the financial situations for five $6M/yr NHL players, the point being to compare how much better or worse off they are with two distinct exchange rates.

As discussed above, for non-Canadians playing in the US, a higher CDN$ is a good thing. Revenues go up, the players' share goes up. For all these examples, I've assumed that with a 90-cent dollar, escrow is 10%. It's been thrown around on fairly good authority that the Canadian teams generate one-third of NHL revenues: that's the assumption I've made here (which is a pretty good one) and that these revenues are in CDN$ (which I think is true, although if the CBC et al pay their rights fees in US$, this would change things).

At any rate, if the exchange rate goes from 0.90 to 1.00, NHL revenues increase by a factor of
1/3 * (100/90) = 3.7%
which is where the two escrow numbers come from.

So assuming Wade Redden converts all his US$ to CDN$ -- let's say all his investments are land in Saskatchewan -- the higher CDN$ is bad for him as a whole.

This class of players is the non-Canadians playing in Canada. Sure, some of them may want to retire here, or maybe they'll have the same problems converting their US$ into Swedish Kroner, or rubles, or whatever as they would into CDN$, but this is an illustration. And it shows that even after converting some US$ into CDN$ to pay their taxes and their half-million-dollar living expenses, they still have more US$ in the end with the higher exchange rate.

To ensure balance, here's the other class of player who's clearly worse off with the higher exchange rate: the Canadian playing for a U.S. team who socks all of his income (less living expenses) away back in his beloved homeland.

These last two examples are, with Rafalski, the most realistic: Canadians who, regardless of whether they are presently playing in an American or Canadian city, are going to keep in the neighbourhood of two-thirds of their "savings" in US$-denominated investments.

The columns don't exactly match up here, but you may get the picture anyway. Iginla is shown with $500k Canadian expenses and $1M Canadian investments, and ends up with the same amount of US$ regardless of exchange rate; Sakic is shown with $500k US expenses and $2M US investments, and ends up with the same amount of CDN$ regardless of exchange rate.

Is anybody still there? Oh...

Screw it. Conclusions:

Sunday, September 16, 2007


It's A Big Blue Alberta Sky Day

LT has a great post up on the Joey Moss Cup. I've been saying it alot this weekend (I've apparently become an aggregator), but check it out.


New Oilers' Jersey Officially Released

The wait for the official release is over. Here's Dustin Penner in the new Oilers jersey.

Picture taken by Greg Skafte at the Joey Moss Cup.

Here's another one from the Oilers' mainpage.

I really don't like them. I'm sure they will grow on me, but right now they look like the Islanders' uniforms. Or practice uniforms. They just don't sit right. Full photo gallery here.


Oh God, No

Anson Carter has been invited to the Oilers training camp.

***Instantastic Update*** Carter is also playing in the Joey Moss Cup today, on a line with Rob Schremp and Kyle Brodziak. I wonder if I should get off my butt and head down to watch the game. The chance to see a line of Dustin Penner, Sam Gagner and Ales Hemsky is definitely appealing.


Rate The New NHL Jerseys

Hockey Widgets has images up of all the RBK Edge NHL jerseys that have officially been released. Old uniforms are up beside the new ones. NHL Tournament of Logos also has the gallery of all the EA uniforms up. And if you do only one thing all day, make sure it's checking out the atrocious socks the Flames are apparently going to be using. Incomplete bands of colour are apparently the new black.


I Want My Ha-An-Leee

Just a super post from Avi on the current winner of the Josh Beckett/Hanley Ramirez deal. Baseball fans will want to start their Sunday off with this one.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


Nuff Said: Part Deux

No offense to Grabia and the rest of you elderly women, (þ to Mirtle for digging up this classic photo), but now that Smytty has started talking smack about the Oil, you can all stuff your tissues back up the sleeves of your uncomfortably transparent blouses.
"Well, hopefully, I can be an Oiler killer."
That goofy-grinned, greasy haired, goalie interfering ding-dong is an Avalanche now. It's unnatural to have feelings any more amicable than general disdain for those contemptible jerks*

*Except when those contemptible jerks are playing for Team Canada -- at which point they become Captain Canada and Burnaby Joe. Hey, I don't make the rules.

Friday, September 14, 2007


Nuff Said

"The mullet goes with Smitty."--Joe Sakic


It's Alive!

Avi is posting again on SportsMatters, at least for now. As always, his writing is well worth reading. Check. It. Out.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


Oilers' New Jerseys Leaked

***Update*** Images of official jerseys here.

They are only images from NHL 08, but it gives you an idea.

From HF Boards. Cleaner images are here. Covered In Oil have their take up, as well.

Shout outs to my boy Chris Cook for finding these for me.

***Update*** The images for all the teams uniforms are here.


Falmes Coach Uses Cash Once in a While, Lets Wife Wear Pants

I'm not sure how I missed it, but four days ago Eric Francis finally published his hard-hitting interview with Iron Mike.

Entitled "Iron Mike Fans the Flames", the lede tells us that:
As one of the most controversial coaches in league lore, Iron Mike has raised eyebrows for everything from refusing to dress his players in gaudy third jerseys (St. Louis) to his penchant for pulling goalies. In the midst of introducing himself to players on his eighth NHL club, Iron Mike took time to chat about the perils of moving, what he hopes to change about the Flames and why he's become such a big fan of the New England Patriots. [my emphasis]
Does "Sun Media", which I assume to be Eric Francis' Korean pseudonym, deliver the goods? You be the judge.

Here's a sample of Mr. Sun's probing questions:
And what does Keenan hope to change about the Flames, you ask? Here is that portion of the interview in its entirety:

Sun Media: Biggest thing you'd like to see changed with the Flames?

Keenan: In a broad comment, it's to go deeper in the playoffs. But specifically I can't give you a fair comment right now ... I don't even know the players.

Whoooo boy -- it's a good thing that he's coaching now where you can "focus more on your team, your farm team and the teams in your division and conference" rather than still working in television where he would have to "stay on top of the league".



I'm Speechless, Part II

No way this thing was up on Monday. Other than that, wow. Again.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


You think?

Breaking News: recent contracts for successful goalies "may offer a rough range" for other successful goalie's new contract
Neither side would comment about the specifics of negotiations, but the average salaries for netminding aces Martin Brodeur ($5.2 million) and Roberto Luongo ($6.75 million) may offer a rough range for the 30-year-old Finn's prospective pay hike.

Developing, shurely.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007



Sometime yesterday, The Battle of Alberta had its one millionth page view. This is rather exciting, as we're coming up on our 3rd season of existence: tomorrow will be the 2nd anniversary of this here site (I kicked it off on September 12, 2005 with this paean to Mark Messier).

Many thanks go out to the rest of the hockey bl*gosphere, especially Oilers and Flames bloggers, as well as to the fine commenters here who make things that much more interesting and entertaining.

Sacamano is back in Canada permanently, and his pop-ins may be a bit more frequent. Also, Andy's retirement output leaves little to be desired. As such, the never-started search for a new or additional Oilers contributor is on hold indefinitely -- until these two fine folks specifically instruct me otherwise.

What will Season 3 of the Battle of Alberta bring? Tough to say... if we were a TV series we'd be peaking, and then soon enough, jumping the shark. Are endeavours on teh intarweb destined to follow this same arc? Time will tell, although I wouldn't bet against it.

Lastly, a shout-out to our blogchildren:
Thanks for refining the form, and doing an excellent job!


So Fresh And So Clean

Thanks to Littlefury for catching this line in the Journal article I linked to below.

"With ease, the Oilers reached their season-ticket cap of 13,500. Plans are afoot for a brand-new home - a downtown-revitalizing arena."

Finally, someone puts this it into terms I can understand. I also can't wait to get rid of the dry, itchy scalp and dandruff that is our current city core. I want to have the same moisturized, full-bodied, glowy sheen that so many other cities have with their arenas. Send in the stylists!


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