Tuesday, June 24, 2008

This week in hockey mask news:

Well, the fine folks over at Platinum Dunes, the producers of the highly anticipated remake of Friday the 13th, have officially released photos of the most famous hockey equipment since the era of Gerry Cheevers: the hockey mask of famed slasher Jason Voorhees. The new movie comes out Friday the 13th of February in 2009, and co-stars Mike Modano's wife.

Is it safe to say that hockey is back?

Here's a Friday the 13th themed hockey joke for ya:

Q: What does Hall of Fame hockey coach Toe Blake call a dude who can get up after getting stabbed, shot, electrocuted, run through, and drowned, yet still feels the need to wear a protective hockey mask?

A: A Pussy.

For more on Toe Blake, Jacques Plante, and Clint Benedict click here.
For an awesome punk rock song about Gerry Cheevers, click here.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Fear not, hockey fans:

I have just set up my DVR to record every episode of SoapNet's new hockey series "MVP" which premiered last night. From what we can tell so far, it's less about hockey than it is about a bunch of hot trashy women who are involved with hockey players.

I'm already on board.

That being said, I have a few ideas for episodes-

How about one when the star player takes his team on an underdog run to the the championship game, loses, then his wife demands he be traded in the off season as rumors swirl that he impregnated a local TV reporter!

Or one when the former backup goalie is not only inexplicably promoted to general manager of the team, but unexplained pictures surface of him with a bunch of hot blondes making out with each other!

Or one where the American hockey star's hot wife steals headlines when she nabs a part in the remake of the classic slasher film Friday the 13th!

Actually- forget it. That all sounds WAY too far fetched.

Even for a soap opera.

We'll keep you updated.

For my hockey-related, non hockey entertainment, I'm sticking to reality programming:

(Thanks to Danny for the find)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

New York Rangers vs. The NHL?

Strange news out of New York today, as a report has surfaced that the NHL could actually wrest the New York Rangers from the grasp of the MSG (Madison Square Garden) group. MSG is owned and operated by the Dolan family, a group of men whose names alone elicit the same raw, visceral hatred among Ranger fans as the name "Voldemort" does for the student body of Hogwarts.

When I forwarded the article to my Ranger fan buddy Eric, he replied dryly that he hoped that the Dolans and Bettman might "off themselves like in the end of Reservoir Dogs."

Oh, and if I could extend the Reservoir Dogs analogy, the cop who gets tied to a chair, doused in gasoline, has his ear sliced off, and eventually shot to death would be your average New York Knicks fan after this season . (The Dolan's also run the Knicks.)

Apparently, the Dolans have sued the NHL for maintaining a league wide consistency over all NHL team websites, claiming that it violates anti-trust laws and the NHL has responded by threatening disciplinary action for challenging the league constitution.

The NHL team sites are all functional and good looking, if a bit boring, but any team run site is going to have the interests of the team at heart and not print any negative information that might hurt ticket sales. All that seemed fine with me- so what do the Dolans want to do differently?

There isn't anything in the story about WHY the Dolans want to challenge the NHL's website consistency rules, but upon a quick perusal of both the New York Rangers site, and as a sample group, the Boston Bruins or New Jersey Devils sites, the Rangers site has a noticeable difference.

Up on the top of the Rangers site, under the NHL network links and above the consistent looking team website content there are the following links:

* MSG.com
* |Madison Square Garden
* |Radio City Music Hall
* |WaMu Theater at MSG
* |Beacon Theatre
* |The Chicago Theatre
* |MSG Insider
* |NY Knicks
* |NY Liberty

All of these are Dolan holdings, and no such similar link list appears for either the Devils or Bruins. My guess is, the NHL would much rather have the Ranger fans who come to the Rangers team page clicking on links that are NHL properties, as opposed to links that are not. I'm guessing the league told the Dolans they couldn't promote their personal holdings on an NHL website, seeing as the presence of a link to the New York Liberty might distract a Ranger fan from clicking on one of the NHL approved sites, like, you know, Poni23.com, the official website of Alexei Ponikarovsky (Now featuring an actual sculpture of Ponikarovsky's hand, for only $199.99 Canadian!)

I can't imagine that the NHL will actually remove the Rangers from the Dolan Empire, but for the benefit of my Ranger fan pals, here's hoping.

Still, though- if and when this debate fades away, it will be interesting to see if that link list atop NY Rangers dot com fades with it.

I'm betting it will.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

VERY much hockey news today!

So Detroit won the Cup, Barack Obama won the Democratic nomination, and that prick Tiger Woods won another U.S. Open.


If you're like me, you're craving something surprising or unpredictable to help pass the long summer months until the puck drops in October. Well my fellow surprise-wanters, look no further.

SOAPnet is launching a new series about hockey.

Yes, SOAPnet. You know SOAPnet. They show soap operas?

So yeah, that's a little surprising. If you want to be further surprised, see if you can guess what established demographic segment of the hockey fanbase they're targeting:

Yes, I spent the morning googling "rob lowe
shirtless." What are you getting at?
Did I mention that at this point in the post, my use of the term "surprise" becomes sarcastic? No? Well, let me further illustrate.

Another surprise is that the show appears to lack authenticity. For one thing, the players' names: Gabe McCall. Trevor Lemonde. Damon Trebuchet. I mean, what the hell? Not a "chuk" in the bunch. And I'm pretty sure at least one of those is a font.

But perhaps most surprising of all, SOAPnet has managed to produce a 2:17 promo for a show about hockey that (spoiler alert!) features NO FUCKING HOCKEY. If you care to sit through the pre-roll commercial for Splenda (a staple in the pantry/breakfast nook of any true hockey fan), you'll see what I mean:

Can you believe that? (Yeah, like you watched the whole thing). In their defense, though, "no hockey whatsoever" is only 3 seconds less than appears in the average NHL promo.

SIDE NOTE/AHF CONTEST BONANZA ANNOUNCEMENT: Five bucks to the first reader who can find a non-ironic embed of the above promo. Post a link in the comments, if you have hours to waste looking for something that doesn't exist. This is not a joke...I will really send you $5.

So I don't know about you, but I'm pretty much set for the summer...assuming I can tear myself away from the Death Metal dog.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Not much hockey news today

What, can you think of anything better for today?

Monday, June 16, 2008

In case you haven't seen it.

The best 10 minutes of Bruins hockey in almost 20 years:

Friday, June 13, 2008

Rest in Peace, Tim Russert

It's hard to believe, but it's true.

NBC News Washington Bureau Chief, host of "Meet the Press" and longtime Buffalo Sabres fan Tim Russert has died today of a heart attack.

I have written about him fondly before, here and here.

Here's a recent clip of him at the end of Meet the Press rooting on the Caps in these playoffs, as his Sabres failed to qualify this year.

This is just tremendously sad.

NHL AWARDS: Big Winner, Big Loser

The Big Winner:

Who Else? Number 8, Alexander Ovechkin. Takes home a sideboard worth of hardware, and gives the fans of the Washington Capitals even more reason to salivate over the beginning of next season.

The Big Loser:

Whoever the poor bastard was who got stuck sitting behind Zdeno Chara for the whole evening.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Hey- how about those dicks on TSN?

Dominick Hasek announced his retirement this week, and as a longtime fan of the game, I'll say that he should be a first ballot hall of famer, and deserves nothing but praise for the seasons of excellent memories and plays he brought to the NHL.

After saying that, I'd also like to take a shot at Canada's TSN who celebrated his retirement with the following video:

What a pompous ass. OK- first of all, I know that Dominick Hasek can be kind of a jerk, and has suffered from shall we say "motivation problems" his entire career. But even with that, we're talking about unarguably one of top ten goaltenders of all time, easily top 5 and arguably top three. Hey TSN- you think you can cut the guy some slack on the day he announces his retirement?

Who knows what goes on in Canada, but I don't think I've ever, even once, EVER "heard" anybody ever do a Dominick Hasek impression. I've "seen" people do a ton of them, when street hockey goalies roll around on their spines, kicking their legs up in the air and call it "doing a Hasek." And when they do that, they are honoring the man and his unorthodox playing style, not mocking his foreign accent.

Second, Hasek falling down while trying to fight Patrick Roy isn't a career highlight, it's a blooper reel. Including that clip while ignoring the stop he made on Todd Bertuzzi's penalty shot in the 2002 playoffs seems to me like they are directly saying "We don't like Dominick Hasek, and are going to use his retirement from the game he made so much more exciting as one final chance to embarrass and poke fun at him."

Finally, giving a goaltender of his caliber a tribute in which your number one highlight shows him giving up a goal (not to mention a heartbreaking, controversial Stanley Cup losing goal) is just low class.

Don't get me wrong- I've poked fun at the Dominator over the years, but today is not the day.

For a more reasonable, respectful and in-depth retrospective of Hasek's career, including the high points along with the lows, check out the NY Times Slap Shot blog.

From everyone at American Hockey Fan, Congrats to Dominick Hasek on a fantastic career.

Friday, June 06, 2008

You know, this has been bugging me-

-Can anybody give me a good reason why every year in recent memory Gary Bettman has been the guy on the ice awarding the Stanley Cup? And I know he is the commissioner, but still. Every year I see him do it, he takes what should be one of the best moments of the season, seeing the overjoyed captain raise the cup over his head in triumph, and if not actually spoils it, kind of taints it with not only his presence at all, but his goofy, stilted, stammering, ham-fisted speechifying.

I mean, everybody loves the Stanley Cup.


Why taint that experience by including a guy who everybody hates?

Does ANYBODY like Gary Bettman?

I mean, really?

Additionally, this year, it seemed like this fact was acknowledged by the league as he was never really even introduced properly. I need to go back to the DVR to hear the actual wording of his introduction, but I know they didn't end it with his name. If they said "Ladies and Gentleman: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman" it is a rock solid guarantee that he would be booed, even if it was a night earlier in Detroit, and the hometown team was delirious with joy.

So if they are already altering introductions to make sure that the commissioner isn't booed, why doesn't he step aside for the good of the game? Because seeing him do his little dog and pony show is embarrassing.

He does his little rehearsed speech, awkwardly praises both teams and then says "come get the Stanley Cup" which would be great, if he'd fucking let go of it. He's gotta stand there like a fat little toad, clutching onto his completely unearned slice of the spotlight, while the captain of the team, a genuine hockey hero, stands around like a doofus, waiting for daddy to give him his treat.

It's disgusting.

Here's an idea. How about every single year the cup is awarded by a previous Stanley Cup winner and member of the Hall of Fame that remains unannounced until the actual ceremony itself. The Oscars do it right. The person who gives out the best picture award is a heavy hitter. Paul Newman, Al Pacino, Katherine Hepburn, somebody that commands unquestionable respect in the industry.

In hockey, it should be a person who means a great deal to the franchise who won the cup. Would it not be a thrill for even the Pittsburgh fans, (who like all great fans, stayed and applauded the ceremony) to hear "Ladies and Gentleman- Presenting the Stanley Cup: Hall of Famer and three time cup champion...Steve Yzerman"

If they managed to keep it a surprise up until the moment, it would make for supreme drama, and you know that Stevie Y would LOVE to hand that cup to Nick Lidstrom. He could deliver the same canned speech that Bettman does, but delivered from such an icon of the game, it would be a moment that would be nothing short of priceless.

If the Penguins won the cup, Mario awards it to Sidney Crosby. Winning the Stanley Cup represents being a part of history, and a part of the Stanley Cup forever, as your name will be engraved upon it from this point forth. It should be awarded by someone who is a part of that, either as a player, a builder, a broadcaster or a cherished member of the hockey family.

It would feature the game of hockey symbolically welcoming the newest chapter of it's history. That honor should come from a beloved part of that history.

Not Gary Bettman.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

How close they came....

So was I the only one who thought that the final seconds of last night's cup final resembled that Super Bowl game when the dude from the Tennessee Titans reached his arm out with the football and ALMOST broke the plane?

The New York Times hockey blog has a great post today with a photo taken with two seconds left, then one second left and then when time expired.

Good stuff.

I had wondered earlier this week if this Cup final qualified as a classic, and if that puck crossed the line there at the end, there would be no question. As it stands right now, I'm gonna say no. The only way this Stanley Cup final will go down in history is if the Penguins go on to win a cup or two in the next couple years, and this was the series that that taught a young dynasty how to win.

What a terrifying thought.

Ultimately, what I take out of this series is the only thing scarier than a Pittsburgh power play composed of six determined skaters is a Detroit penalty kill composed of only three.

Those 5 on 3 kills were things of BEAUTY.

Anyway, thus ends another NHL season, which despite having it's dull moments in the playoffs, was I think the best since the lockout, all things considered.

I'll keep posting over the summer, you know, just in case one of the Staal boys decides to have another bachelor party.

But for now, it's nice out.

Anybody wanna watch a baseball game?


- for the first time in history, the Stanley Cup is awarded on my birthday.

This might be the worst goaltending, on both sides, that I have ever seen in a Stanley Cup Final.

I will say that the ending of this game was dramatic as hell.


Was there ever a lamer Stanley Cup winning goal?

OK- Brett Hull in the crease aside- really?

Was there?

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

While I'm at it-

Kristen Bell must be devastated.

It's sad to see someone who has had such a tough year, what with her great career, killer body, tons of fans and a hit movie playing right now suffering through such a tough Red Wing loss on Monday.

I mean, if the Wings don't pull this off, she'll have to suffer through the existence of being a gorgeous movie star whose hockey team has only won three cups in the past decade.

If anyone has an address when we can send our condolances, I will certainly post it in this space.

Chin up, Kristen- there's gotta be a silver lining somewhere.

You just have to look for it.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Could we have a classic on our hands?

Last night, as the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Detroit Red Wings wrapped up a second thrilling overtime period and were heading into a third, my wife, who is usually in bed by slightly before midnight and holds an opinion about televised ice hockey that can best be described as "tolerant," got up from the couch and announced "OK- It's after midnight. I'm going to bed." She took a couple of steps towards the bathroom, turned back and added, "the second this game is over."

It was pretty extraordinary.

Hockey hasn't crossed over to the casual fan since the ice bowl, and it did it again last night.

So now, after the most thrilling Stanley Cup Final overtime game since before the lockout, I'm wondering if we have a classic on our hands, one of those Stanley Cup playoff series that people talk about. Like the Rangers and Canucks in 1994, the Flyers and Oilers in 1987, or the Flames and Lightning in 2004. (OK- I'm not sure if people actually do still talk about the Flames and Lightning in 2004, but they should, it was a great Final series.) We're not there yet. I'll admit, there have been some boring ass games in this series. The Pens getting shut out in game one and game two make for boring hockey while it's happening, but what made for boring hockey back then makes for a compelling drama as a potential comeback takes shape.

If there are any Boston sports fans out there, you might remember that when the Yankees took game three of the 2004 ALCS by a score of 19-8 for a 3-0 series lead, that wasn't really great baseball either. But if you stuck around for the end of that series, you were treated to a pretty terrific finish.

The reason I'm wondering if this will be a great series is, since game three, like in all great Stanley Cup final series, I have found myself switching allegiances from game to game, period to period, even shift to shift sometimes. And I hate the fucking Penguins. Granted, the Red Wings appear to be the better team, I am on record in this blog as suggesting that the Pens might not even win a single game, and Detroit blows away the Penguins in shots on goal and puck possession.

Still, here we are going into game six in Pittsburgh, the Wings were a mere 30 seonds from a Stanley Cup and they couldn't close the deal.

The Penguins are a younger team and their building is going to be as amped up as they've been since Mario came back from retirement.

It will be very interesting to see how the Penguins respond to the boost of a triple OT win, and the raucous crowd, and even more interesting to see how the Wings handle the pressure. It is very possible that Detroit just comes out, cool as cucumbers, controls the puck, and walks away with the cup in a 1-0 victory (or maybe 2-1 with an empty netter.)

And I have to say, I have always been a critic of Sidney Crosby, not because he isn't great, I have always begrudgingly admitted his skill and tenacity, but because he was overhyped and over promoted before he had ever done anything in the playoffs. Well, in this series, he has done something. A lot of things. He won me over last night with great playmaking under pressure, and more impressively, tremendous backchecking, which in itself led to offensive chances.

But now, for the neutral hockey fan, nothing but good can come out of the rest of this series. If the Red Wings win, we see the cup awarded to yes, a hard working excellent hockey team, but moreover to a front office that has put an excellent, competitive contender out on the ice for over a decade. If past Detroit cups were the story of Yzerman, Federov, Chelios, Hasek or Hull, this cup is all about Ken Holland.

So if Detroit wins on Wednesday (my birthday, by the way) we celebrate a general manager and an excellent franchise, and if Pittsburgh wins, we celebrate an upcoming game seven of the Stanley Cup Final, which is a reason to celebrate in and of itself.

And then, after game seven is over, we'll go ahead and celebrate that general manager and excellent franchise.

I mean, c'mon, does anybody think Detroit is losing this thing?

If they even come close, we'll have a classic on our hands.