Friday, September 28, 2007

Got an email today-

So, for those of you who don't know, I pick up a few bucks on the side writing for the Court TV blog.

I rarely mention it here, mainly because, um- who cares, right? Other than the occasional photo of two girls kissing, there really ain't much of interest going on over at Court TV to the average hockey fan.

Not today.

I work over there three days a week, and today, just as I turn my back for a second, there's a post up the Court TV blog plugging an episode of Forensic Files
entitled: Did Craig Rabinowitz Kill His Wife or Just Watch Hockey?

My co-worker just forwarded it to me, with the snide tagline, "Did you see this? Hockey=crap alibi!"

The obvious assertion here by my ball-busting co-worker is that hockey is so lame that there is no way ANYBODY would believe that watching hockey would be a plausible lie. Like the cops would go "sure- that's a fine story, but the national television ratings for hockey simply don't bear out that you, or anyone in this country was watching hockey on that night. Ergo, you killed your wife. Come with us please."

Indignant at this assertion, I did a little looking into this case, and the murder happened on April 29, 1997 in suburban Philadelphia. As it happens, the 1996-1997 season was the best the Flyers have had in the past 20 years.

From Wikipedia:

Though Lindros missed 30 games in 1996-97, LeClair still managed to score 50 goals for the second consecutive year. Despite finishing just one point shy of a third straight Atlantic Division title, the Flyers blitzed their way through the Eastern Conference playoffs. Backstopped by the goaltending tandem of Hextall and Garth Snow, the Flyers dominated Pittsburgh, Buffalo and the Rangers all in five games apiece to win the Eastern Conference championship, and clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1986-87. However, their opponent, the Detroit Red Wings, swept the Flyers in four straight games. After Game 3, Terry Murray said that the team was in a "choking situation". It is said this remark cost Murray his job, as he was fired soon after.

So, in late April, it is in fact very plausible that Craig Rabinowitz would have been watching a hockey game. Lots of people in Philadelphia were. It is also worth noting that he turned himself in on May 6, 1997 and confessed to strangling his wife for her life insurance money, because his obsession with a high priced stripper caused him to not know the difference between right and wrong. Oh, and he had a little girl too. Nice guy.

This means three things were probably true:

1) He was a major league scumbag
2) He wasn't watching hockey that night, (busy killing his wife.)
3) He turned himself in during the best Flyers playoff run in many years, less than three weeks before the Flyers went to the Finals. No true hockey fan would do that.

Therefore, not only would watching hockey have been an awesomely plausible alibi in 1997 Philadelphia, but this a-hole was clearly not a hockey fan.

And with that, Court TV- the defense rests.

One more thing:

Hockey starts tomorrow, across the pond.

Game on!

UPDATE: My pals at Court TV just reminded me that on April 29th, the Flyers weren't playing, having defeated the Penguins three days earlier. Still though, if this a-hole were a hockey fan, there were two different game sevens to watch that night, both of which were decided in overtime, as Buffalo beat Ottawa and Edmonton beat Dallas. If a real hockey fan wanted to kill his wife, he'd wouldn't pick a night with 2 separate game sevens, I'll tell you that much.

My hypothesis stands.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Obsessive Statistical Number Crunching: The Next Best Thing After Hockey

In the interest of spending even less time producing valuable output while strapped to our computers, the good folks at AHF have all joined the same fantasy hockey league, along with a dozen friends, leaving me wondering who the hell else in America is playing fantasy hockey. When draft time came around Tuesday night, the chronological math of an 11 PM start time, 16 teams, 20 roster spots, and a minute and a half alotment per pick wasn't looking promising for those of us with actual, functioning circadian rhythms, so reckless, baseless picks were encouraged from the start. Though Yahoo's done some good things with tweaking the AI for fantasy baseball autodraft in terms of prioritizing you filling your roster before slavishly following the questionable O-rankings decided upon by the CFO's teenage son, no one trusted them to have been so attentive to the red-headed stepchild of fantasy sports, and it was nearly a full virtual house. After my team, the Sixth Hole, drew first slot in the order, I formally introduced myself to Mr. Crosby--all naysayers can march alongside your own drummer all the way to April, say hi to the Coyotes and Kings for me-- and poured myself a drink to sit back and watch everyone scramble to achieve mediocrity.

The AHF crew was nicely spaced throughout the snake, and other than the deafening crack that shook the city when Ben saw Marty Brodeur (handsomely) snapped up in the pick before his, and the general feeling that the Sabres have truly, truly broken Jack, the first few rounds went much as expected, somewhat regrettably. There's very few poor decisions that can be made at that point, so shittalking was minimized, but you gotta use your gems before the later rounds, when no one knows what the hell they're doing anyway and you have to fall back on rather specific insinuations as to Ben's mom's whereabouts and doings. The beauty of hockey is that the players are so distinct, in their look, their attitude, and the goddamn stupidity of their actions (Dani Heatley, here's looking at you), so shittalking can be regressed back to schoolyard namecalling, using particularly bad offenders. When Ritch picks up, say, Tim Thomas as his goalie, a simple "Who next, Yashin?" gets the point across almost eloquently.

Most of us assumed that even a passing familiarity with hockey would carry us through at least the first six rounds of such a large league, but it turns out there's some sort of weird top-down thing with Slavic hockey player names- you're familiar with one -qvist or -inen, you think you know them all, when in reality, it turns out you are an ignorant, ignorant fool. One doesn't understand how desperate things are until Teppo Numminen goes in the thirteenth round with the hope that it was only "light heart surgery", and odds are laid out on Mike Modano breaking a hip before the All-Star game. Drafting strategies evolved from skill level---starter---have heard the name before---name sounds Russian---suppose should take a Western Conference player---name sounds dirty---name sounds like he's hung well---pointer happened to be over his name. I dare each and every one of you not to snicker at the name Alexander Semin after five beers and two hours in front of a computer screen.

All in all, we clocked in at a little over two hours, and I walked away with a bomb squad, and Ritch walked away from a hockey event not in tears. For those who who joined an American Hockey Fan Contributor Fantasy League, results of Week One's showdowns, conveniently between Ben/Jack and Ritch/Myself, are to come.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Will the NHL put highlights of the Rangers/Isles brawl on YouTube?

Time will tell, but I doubt it.

Watch this space for updates. Or I guess you could just go to YouTube yourself, but that wouldn't really help our site traffic, now would it?

Friday, September 21, 2007

Hey- you guys know how I post on another blog too?

It's called the Nosebleeds, and it's about all sports.

I mention this because both this blog and that blog are powered by blogger, and I just wrote a post for AHF that I unintentionally published on the Nosebleeds.

I thought about changing it, but who gets hurt if there is more hockey available on general sports site?

You know, other than the hundreds of thousands of American sports fans who don't give a crap about hockey?

Oh well- it's a pretty good post I think, and I haven't posted for them in a while.

You can click here for a direct link.

I gotta go, Rangers/Devils starts in 20 minutes!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Eric McErlain-

--has a terrific wrap up of the Ice Bowl ticket flap over on AOL's Fanhouse, which you should definitely check out, and not just because they mention my name.

While I'm at it, I can't say enough good things about the FanHouse. In addition to the fact that it's a great hockey source, I'm even more impressed with how it caused me to almost immediately get over my knee-jerk desire to despise it simply because of the big, corporate AOL logo. It's sort of like a Barnes and Noble over there, in that you want to hate the big giant chain, but then you get inside, everything's laid out beautifully, and there is plenty you want to read.

Of course, the Fanhouse is better, because unlike Barnes and Noble, you can enjoy it in the nude.

Boy, did I learn that the hard way.


I'm the only one who sees a couch and a good book and feels the urge to take his pants off and relax? I'm not the bad guy here, it's society.

Anyway, Eric did a great job with the wrap up of the Ice Bowl story, and thanks to all the boys from the FanHouse who were in touch with me about it. From what I have been able to figure out, it was more important for the NHL to be able to say that they sold out in half an hour than it was for them to make sure that the right fans got into the game.

On the bright side, that decision has led to a lot of decent press from several major sports outlets not generally known for being particularly respectful of hockey. They have been praising the drawing power of the NHL, and raised the game's profile. This is great stuff.

The bad part is, I truly believe the NHL could have had it's cake and ate it too. Like most of the massively embarrassing PR blunders the NHL has made and continues to make, (The Gladiator ad campaign, Glowing Pucks, The Columbus Blue Jackets)this all could have been avoided if the NHL had actually LISTENED to it's fans, something it seems tragically unable to do.

The Hockey Blogs and websites have been calling the Ice Bowl the worst kept secret in sports for a reason- people were really excited about it. The outdoor game in Edmonton was a big deal, and I was pissed when it wasn't on television. The Michigan-Michigan State outdoor game was something that people loved. I really believe that the game would have sold out quickly without the backstage maneuvering, and both the fans and the league would have been thrilled.

Also, to address the baffling question of why tickets were set aside for Toronto Blue Jays Season ticket holders, a comment I got from a reader named David bears reprinting:

The Jays and the Bills have promotions for joint season tickets, whereby if you buy your Bills tickets through your Jays account you would qualify for a discount. Or something to that effect.

Paul Godfrey, president of the Jays has been a huge proponent of bringing the NFL to Toronto and has had strong ties to the Bills organisation dating back to his days as publisher of the Toronto Sun.

I have no idea if this is true, as if there are two things I couldn't give less of a crap about it's Canadian baseball and Buffalo football, but it sounds plausible to me. If anybody can confirm or deny this, I'm all ears.

Ultimately, at the end of the day, I am thrilled for hockey.

This game is going to happen, it's a runaway sellout and will certainly help to restore some of the excitement that many hockey fans have lost since the lockout.

I just wish I coulda scored a ticket.

Who knows though? There are definitely still some tickets out there, and maybe, just maybe- I could find one.

Unlike these two guys who play on my street hockey team,

I guess I just haven't looked everywhere yet.

Good day for Blue Jays Fans-

-they managed to top the Red Sox last night, and their season ticket holders managed to grab (at the very least) 133 tickets to the Winter Classic/Ice bowl- tickets that- well, how do I put this...? Hockey fans were not allowed to access.

I'm disgusted.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Winter Classic/Ice Bowl- the questions continue

OK- I've thrown up a few updates on this already, but I've been able to confirm that yes in fact, very few tickets were made available to Pittsburgh season ticket holders, while many more were made available to Sabres, Maple Leafs, and Blue Jays(!) season ticket holders.

I for one, followed the rules, went to Ticketmaster at 10:09, and missed out entirely. Sure, maybe I should have been trying at 10:01, or 9:59:59, but jeez- I mean, that place fits 70,000. Even after they pull out a mess of seats for TV cameras, that's a lot of tickets in 9 minutes. And from what I can determine, there was a lot more at play here than just overzealous scalpers buying up blocks of tickets. Kevin over at Bflo blog is reporting that Sabres PR man Mike Gilbert told a sports radio station that the biggest block of tickets sold through Ticketmaster was 32, even though it was supposedly possible to buy as many as 50 at a time, another fact that is mindboggling. Who, besides scalpers buys 50 tickets for anything?

While I have heard that people far more connected and qualified than I am are looking into it, I still haven't gotten a decent answer as to why the NHL feels that season ticket holders for the Toronto Maple Leafs or Blue Jays don't have to wait in line like everybody else, or why so many fewer tickets were made available to Penguins season ticket holders.

I contacted the Blue Jays organization, they couldn't confirm anything about ticket promotions, but said someone over there would try to get back to me in the next few days. Apparently, it's crazy over there with the Red Sox in town. I really hope someone calls, but I'm not holding my breath.

And why those two teams?

If it was the Leafs and the Raptors, who are both owned by the same company, that'd still be corrupt, but at least I could understand the motive.

A reporter from Pittsburgh was told by the NHL that they opened the market to Toronto to "attract more fans." Except it's not like Ticketmaster is closed to Toronto, right? Maple Leaf Fans come down to HSBC arena in Buffalo all the time without any special tickets being withheld for them. In fact, the entire reason so many Toronto fans come to Buffalo for games in the first place is they can't get single game tickets to home games, because practically the entire building is bought up by the season ticket holders.

So if the stated excuse for this is to encourage the sports loving residents of a great hockey city who might have a difficult time getting NHL tickets in their home arena, well that might, sorta explain why they reached out to Blue Jays season ticket holders, but why do you also open it up to the Leaf season ticket holders, the one group who have no problem getting tickets in their home arena?

And why the Blue Jays instead of the Raptors or the Argonauts?

OK, just the Raptors.

But still!

And why does Pittsburgh get so screwed?

I'm pissed as it is, but if I were a Penguins season ticket holder, I'd be livid, especially considering the shoddy treatment they've received from their team's management and the NHL with all the rumors of the team moving. All Penguins fans have done is RABIDLY support their team through all this horseshit, and now they have to queue up behind Blue Jays fans?

And what is the NHL thinking? They are using Sidney Crosby to sell the league, then reward his biggest fans by giving them third class citizen status for the biggest game of his career?

Is this a concession for not moving another NHL franchise to the area?

All I'm saying is, If I can't get a ticket to this game, I'd really hope that a Pittsburgh fan, a Buffalo fan, or an NHL VIP is sitting in my seat. As for the Blue Jays, I hope the Red Sox fucking massacre you tonight.

Your fans have had more than their share of good luck for today.


OK- here's a question:

Seeing as tickets for the historic New Years'Day "Winter Classic" outdoor game between the Sabres and the Penguins went on sale this morning at 10:00 AM, and I couldn't get four at any price at 10:09, can anyone from the NHL answer for this announcement on the Ticketmaster webpage?


Why is there a special icon on the Ticketmaster page that allows season ticket holders from the Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Blue Jays to enter a code for either a reserved seat or some kind of deal on tickets, especially seeing as I logged in just after 10:00 and was told there were no tickets available?

I understand that Sabres and Penguin season ticket holders would get first crack, and would even understand why they might give Buffalo Bills season ticket holders a spot in line, but what in God's name does Toronto have to do with all this? The Air Canada Centre holds roughly 19,000 people, and the Rogers centre where the Blue Jays play hold 50,000. While I can't imagine that they have anywhere near 50,000 season ticket holders for the Blue jays, what's a safe estimate- 10,000? Add in- say 15,000 season ticket holders for the leafs, and you have 25,000 fewer tickets available for everybody else.


Seriously, what gives?

4:22 PM UPDATE: Rob Rossi at The Pittsburgh Tribune Review is reporting that only 1,500 seats were made available to Pittsburgh Penguins season ticket holders. I asked him why he thought special concessions were made through ticketmaster for Toronto Blue Jays and Toronto Maple Leafs season ticket holders, and he said he was told that the NHL "opened the market to Toronto to attract more fans." From my end, I can tell you that Buffalo and Pittsburgh are tremendously popular hockey markets, and something stinks. More later.

I'm taking credit for this

Brodziak, Oilers outlast Panthers 5-4

EDMONTON, Alberta (AP)-- Kyle Brodziak had two goals and an assist to help the Edmonton Oilers beat the Florida Panthers 5-4 in a preseason game Monday night.

Clearly, Brodziak read my post knocking him and decided to make me eat my words.

Well, Mr. Brodziak, you done good. But in a more accurate way, WE done good. Because let's face it...without the gentle prodding and encouragement of American Hockey Fan, you never would have scored those goals.

You're welcome, Oilers fans!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Anything you can plug, I can plug better

Just because Ritch is the boss around here doesn't mean he's the only one allowed to derail the hockey posting to plug his other projects. In fact, I've often considered myself the Alex Ovechkin to his Sidney Crosby in that regard...arguably better at it, but without the media adoration.

OK, that ought to take care of the tenuous link to on to the plug!

Today marks the launch of Season 4 of Unleashed, the weekly animated comedy show about the trials and tribulations of animal actors in Hollywood that I created and produce. Check out this week's episode and tell your friends!

If you're scared to leave AHF for fear you'll never find your way back, here's the trailer to wet your whistle.

Speaking of whistles, you know who wears those? Hockey officials.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Anybody wanna hear what my voice sounds like?

Well, listen to this recent edition of the national public radio show "Fair Game with Faith Salie." They were kind enough to have me come by last week and do a humorous little show opening with Faith on the topic of Global Warming.

And for those of you who think that Global Warming doesn't have much to do with hockey, I'll remind you that the last three Stanley Cup winners have been from California, North Carolina, and Florida.

I mean, for crying out loud.

Here's a link to the show, my segment is first.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Is it Tuesday yet?

How can it be possible that I'm sick of football already?

Granted, this kind of thing happens to me every year, and I swear, I like football, or at least I usually do, for the first few weeks it's back. I was never the biggest football fan, but seeing football coming back is usually like the return of an old friend, and it's welcomed. But not this year. Seriously, this year, I could not give a crap. And this is even happening while the Patriots are looking great! If I had to guess, I'd say that the aggressive marketing battles from different networks, highlight shows, videogames and what-have-you led to the NFL killing the golden goose. It's hard to deny that the sheer amount of hype they're putting out there is greatly eclipsing the product on the field.

It might be a function of the Michael Vick and Pac-man Jones stuff that was ever present over the summer, but whatever it is, I am just over football, man.


I mean, how fucked is it that the season opener of Monday Night Football is on tonight and not only am I wholly uninterested, but actually thinking "Man- I can't wait for September 11th?"

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Niedermayer - Dead?

Please ignore this picture. It's only here so
the title of the post makes sense. Thank you.

We’ve all heard the expression “fuck you money.” Meaning, an individual has so much money, he or she can pretty much tell everyone “fuck you, I’m doing whatever I want.” Well, Scott Niedermayer not only has "fuck-you money," he’s had a "fuck-you career."

Olympic gold, a Norris Trophy, and a ring for every four years he’s been in the league…so, yeah. F you. I’m going to abbreviate this from now on, so I don’t have to say “fuck” again.

Whoops. OK, starting now.

So when Niedermayer’s GM starts looking nervously at his watch as the trade deadline (in the case of Lou Lamoriello) and/or training camp (in the case of Brian Burke) draws near, there’s not much they can say or do to light a fire under his ass. He’ll decide when he decides, and that’s it. If Flavor Flav took this long to make a decision, there’d be no room on VH1 for Bret Michaels.

OK, so maybe a little deliberation wouldn’t always be a bad thing. But back to hockey.

The same passionless demeanor Niedermayer displays on the ice (seriously, this guy makes Ivan Drago look like Richard Simmons) must carry over to his discussions with management, because what are they going to say? You don’t issue an ultimatum to a player like Scott Niedermayer, lest he dump his Conn Smythe over your head and start beating it with a ladle just to mess with you.

In my opinion, the waiting is the hardest part.
I think I've been pretty clear about that.

That said, I think we can all agree that this foot-dragging is nothing more or less than a big time f you to the Ducks. The guy had all summer to decide whether or not he’s going to retire, and he’s still not sure? So now he’s going to skip camp, leave the team in limbo, cost himself who knows how much money, and for what? MORE time? Somebody get this guy a Magic 8 ball!

And what kind of marbles does it take to retire at 34, anyway? I think he’s going to need those extra 7 or 8 years just to decide whether or not he might go fishing.

The guy takes a long time with decisions is what I’m saying.

One month away-

Well, we're less than 30 day s a way from the debut of a brand new hockey season, and I gotta tell you, I'm starting to get excited about it. As a Bruins fan, I 'm falling into the usual pattern of hoping for the best, yet wondering whether this year will be any different.

And then, for some reason, I thought about the NHL and how far it has come. There was a lot of hype over the past few seasons about Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, and like I am pre-disposed to do, I doubted and waited.

But now, after each of these two extraordinary players have had two seasons to stretch their legs, work through the hype and expectations, I gotta say, I'm a believer.

This is the year to watch these guys.

Year one was the "which one will be rookie of the year" thing.
Fun, but ultimately not that big a deal.

Year two was "OK, are either one of these guys just a flash in the pan?"
A resounding no. These guys are not just here to stay, but the future of the game.

So what does this year bring from Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby?

This year brings all the gifts that all of them have offered, plus one mammoth, huge factor- confidence. Neither one has a damn thing to prove to the league as individual players anymore. Now we see how they can lead a team. Just for fun, here are a couple of YouTube Clips of Ovechkin, who I've praised in the past, and Crosby.

Now here's Crosby, in a clip that is kind of awesome, if only to bring people into the mind of a Penguins fan who thought to himself- "You know what would make people understand how great Crosby is? I know! The music of Foreigner!"

Either way, I saw both of them live last year, and I hope to do it again if I can.

This is the year of confidence.This is the year that the boys become men.

I say this now, before my love for the Bruins blinds me to enjoying any success that their Eastern conference rivals might achieve.

Seriously. This is the year.
Get your tickets as soon as possible.

Buckle your seatbelts.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Asphalt Avengers Assemble!

OK- I really, really tried to write something that could properly set this up for you, but I think it's better if you go in cold.

As Ben said, when he forwarded it me, "What the Holy Fuck is this?"


I mean, WOW.

I am the only one who thinks Brodeur and his weird goatee'd buddy are going to try to fuck those kids?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

To pre, or not to pre

That is the question. After a long summer of no hockey, am I desperate enough to go see a pre-season game? Ritch and I went to one right after the lockout ended. It had been over a year since we had seen any hockey, the tickets were free, we had our pick of seats, and beer was available.

It was still JUST BARELY worth it.

But yesterday I got a Ticketmaster email about upcoming events at the Garden, and there, on Friday September 21st, is a pre-season matchup of the Devils and Rangers. And God help me, I considered it. After all, it's tough to resist the chance to be one of the first to hurl insults at Scott Gomez as he takes the ice in Ranger blue - and one of the few, I'm sure, to hurl insults unrelated to his ethnicity.

Pre-season hockey? Why not watch me dry instead?

That said, there are a few reasons not to go:

1) There is nothing more pointless than pre-season hockey.

2) Thanks to the emphasis on intra-divisional competition, I will have the chance to see the Rangers play the Devils approximately 37 times on an 82 game schedule.

3) This is not the Devils vs. the Rangers. This is a collection of wide-eyed 4th and 5th stringers who are as likely to be caught gazing in awe at Eddie Giacomin's jersey in the rafters as they are to score a goal.

4) There is NOTHING more pointless than pre-season hockey.

Is anybody out there going to a pre-season game? If so, I dare you to defend yourselves in the comments.