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Thursday, September 29, 2005

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

THE SMOKING PUCK!

September 27, 2005
By Rev. Sully

No More Ties at the Office
aka Working Overtime!


OK...so I’m reading the Boston Globe over coffee & break’est, as I’m oft to do whether in pixel or print. I turn to the last page of the Sports Section where the Scoreboard lives and under “NHL: Exhibition Season” I see something. Something that I’ve never seen before in an NHL score.

(SO)

The two letters were just as displayed here, in parenthesis and after the score. It was under “Last Night’s Results” and the Pittsburgh Penguins were downed 3-2 by the Columbus Blue Jackets in a Shootout. I looked over at “Sunday’s Games” under “Last Night’s” for more Intel.
Dallas 6...............at Edmonton 5 (SO)

No...it’s for real. It has finally happened.

Shootouts will decide tied games. There will be no more ties in NHL Hockey. No more kissing my sister. No more leaving the Rink dissatisfied. No more feeling choked by a tight collar and matching a handkerchief. Did you hear me? NO MORE TIES. The only ties allowed on the Ice will be those worn by the coaching staff.

Remember: Peter Forsberg won the Gold Medal in Sudden Death at the 1994 Winter Olympics for Sweden over Team Canada in this fashion.

The NHL Brand of Regular Season Overtime Shootouts differs from International Hockey only slightly. Instead of the usual FIVE shooters, three players will be used in the first round of the NHL Overtime Shootout. Here’s the short form:

SHOOTOUT

Following a scoreless five-minute overtime, three players from each team participate in the order the coach selects.

Each team takes three shots. The team with the most goals after those six shots is the winner.

If the score remains tied, the shootout will proceed to a "sudden death" format.

Regardless the number of goals scored during the shootout portion of overtime, the final score recorded for the game will give the winning team one more goal than the score at the end of regulation time.

A more detailed explanation can be found here at NHL Dot Com.


Guess Who Showed Up at the Office?
Boston Bruins goalie Andrew Raycroft is still the Bruins keeper and will be at least for the next year. His agent finally accepted the One-Year deal offered. This does something wonderful. Signing “Razor” gives the Bruins an Edge in the talent-packed Northeast Division and having a true Number One goaltender officially makes the Bruins...contenders. With real depth between the pipes, the Bruins can call dibs on their corner office with a view...as in the Playoffs.

Speaking of showing up at the Office, Rev. Sully will be going to the “Office” at least Ten Times this season. I got another Ten Game Pack. Over the years, I’ve enjoyed these Bruins partial season tickets and I’m in again. My pre-selected set is called the “Rival Package”. I can’t remember when Atlanta replaced Buffalo as a Rival though. The Only Northeast Division team not included with these tickets is the Sabres...but I digress. We get the Home Opener against Montreal and two other matches versus Les Habs. Two against the Maple Leafs, Philadelphia, the (PHOOEY!) NYR, Ottawa and 2004 Cup Champs Tampa Bay (not a rival but they were the last team to hoist Lord Stanley’s Tupperware). Hot’lanta and the Lightning...rivals? I’d take a Buffalo game and an additional Ottawa one over those two if I had any say in the matter and they will come to the Garden Ice at least Four Times this year. The Ottawa Senators are true Bruins rivals besides becoming a hockey force in the past few seasons. Once in my Ten Game pack, I was witness to a spectacle greater than Disney On Ice and still spoken of at the water cooler. The Ottawa Senators had come to town and it turned into a Big Brouhaha. The benches didn’t clear as they would have before the Kinder, Gentler NHL but all on the ice paired up and it looked like a high-school dance...only with fisticuffs. Even then-Ottawa goalie Patrick Lalime got into the “Swing” of things. He hopped on a pile near his net so then-Boston goalie Byron Dafoe skated the length of the ice and matched up with his opposite. Fights in hockey can be entertaining but the rare Goalie Fights is thrilling. It is Sumo on Skates.






The Ten Game Pack has also allowed me to partake of Ray Bourque Night, Terry O’Reilly Night and we also get first dibs on Playoff tickets in our seats.

And finally, the new guy at the office keeps his Red Swingline Stapler. Patrice Bergeron, contender for the 2004 Calder returns in Black & Gold...and now in Black & Blue. Congrats, Baby Bergie for scoring the “Gordie Howe Hat Trick”.



Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron, left, battles with Pittsburgh Penguins forward Ryan VandenBussche early in the first period of a preseason game Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2005, in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. Bergeron scored two goals and added two assists in a 5-4 overtime win for the Bruins.
(AP Photo/Ed Gonser)


'Namaste,

Rev. Sully

Come visit Channel Ocho for more PUCK.
The Smoking Puck is featured at the Boston Sports Massacre. The “BSM” is a Boston-based weekly Sports PodCast.
The PUCK is also now available at Philly Keith Dot Com. Great, independent Hockey talk from the City of Brotherly Love now with a Beantown Boy chiming in.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Things You Cannot Un-See
Filed under:* brainjuice

— warrenellis @ 4:41 pm

Eric O’Sullivan, I fucking hate you.


Click on Warren Ellis Dot Com in the Featured Link to see the same thing there. ^_^

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

OK...where are all the wedding and Kiwi pics??? ^_~

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

THE SMOKING PUCK!

September 13, 2005
By Rev. Sully

A Nor’easter This Way Comes!
aka Breaking Down the Northeast Division


The Northeast Division is where the Boston Bruins call home and it is one of the fiercest divisions in NHL Hockey. This is showcased by the fact that 4 out of the 5 Northeast Division teams made the 2003-2004 playoffs with Buffalo missing by six season standings points over the stretch (the NYI got the “8 Spot” with 91 points). It used to be called the Adams Division in the Prince of Wales Conference way back in the “Classic NHL” and bitter foe Montreal became the Bruins division rival in 1981-82. The Northeast Division contains three of the “Canadian Six” teams with Edmonton, Calgary & Vancouver residing in the Western Conference. Buffalo is so close to Canada you can throw stuff at it. All five of the NE Division teams are true “Hockey Burgs” and each team plays their rivals hard, regardless of talent level or place in the standings.

Pay attention. The Bruins face off against these teams eight times this season. Four home, four away. Welcome to the Division Rival Schedule format.

Who will give the Bruins the most intra-divisional trouble this season? Toronto. On paper, the Maple Leafs are as enhanced as the Bruins for the New Ice Order. Depth in goal, consistent on defense and improved on forward, the Maple Leafs found that elusive “It” that the Bruins lack. That “It” has to be a well-rounded team. The B’s have lots of “It” on forwards but still lack “it” in a “No. 1” goaltender. Toronto, an Original Six team and longtime Bruins opponent, recently came over to the Eastern Conference, Northeast Division in the 1998-99 Season. Before that, the Leafs inhabited the Western Conference, Central Division with Detroit and Chicago as Division rivals (nee the Campbell Conference, Norris Division...perhaps the toughest NHL division ever having also featuring the Minnesota North Stars & St. Louis Blues). Eddie “the Eagle” Belfour is still Toronto’s starting goalie with former Penguin No. 1, J.S. Aubin as backup. Mats Sundin, Jason Allison, Eric Lindros, Darcy Tucker, Marius Czerkawski, Jeff O’Neill and even Tie Domi’s toughness added with a sharp defense of Aki Berg, Brian McCabe, Ken Klee and Tomas Kaberle make the Maple Leafs far from “Make Believes”.

Elsewhere in the Northeast, from the national Capitol of Canada the Ottawa Senators are another real threat. Unless starting goalie Dominik Hasek goes down with injury as he’s been oft to do in the course of the regular season. However Ottawa’s defense and forwards are solid. On Defense, Chris Phillips, Wade Redden and 6’-9” Zdeno Chara with a strong forward corps featuring Jason Spezza, captain Daniel Alfredsson and the recently acquired Dany Heatley. Ottawa has been a very strong team in the past few seasons and have finally become a true hockey force. Goalie is their only suspect area but with the new rules for a better offensive game, will a Superior goalie still matter? Only time will tell but I digress...

The Buffalo Sabres signed Free Agents defensemen Teppo Numminen and fellow Finnish countryman Toni Lydman and have been pretty inactive in the “NHL Free Agent Rodeo” besides these two acquisitions. The Sabres retained goalie Martin Biron and even have a Finnish goalie waiting in the (dare I say “Buffalo”) wings with #35 Mika Noronen as a backup. Overall threat Level: Minimum but they will still show up for most games.

Et finalment, le Bleu, Blanc et Rouge. Les Habitants de Montreal. The Montreal Canadians have kept their team very intact. Keeping No. 1 goalie Jose Theodore and 2003-04 Rookie of the Year runner-up forward Michael Ryder. Take account of Saku Koivu, Radek Bonk, Alexei Kovalev, and the developing Mike Ribeiro up top on the attack with a respectable defense, “Les Habs” will be hardnosed against the Bruins as it should be. Remember: The Canadians knocked the 1st Place in the NE Division Bruins out in the first round of the Playoffs in a Game 7 the last time the NHL had playoffs.

It won’t be too hard to read how the NE Division might pan out...unless the Bruins come up with a bona fide starting goaltender look for Toronto and perhaps Ottawa to be the main forces early in the season. Also, the new offensive rules (no Red Line, Tag Up) and bigger offensive zones will matter greatly so we can’t know until the Puck is dropped who will be the Beast of the Northeast. It’s really going to be a different game of Hockey coming up this NHL Season and I look forward to being an active fan again. Any game against these teams, and there will be plenty seeing over half the home games are against the division rivals, will entertain and show a great side of hockey neglected in the past decade. Seeing a team for the 6th, 7th & 8th time in a season makes for better drama and intensity. There might even be some heavy grudges coming soon.


'Namaste,

Rev. Sully

Come visit Channel Ocho

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

THE SMOKING PUCK!

September 7, 2005
By Rev. Sully

GREATEST CHECKS EDITION!
aka Get comfy...Hope you brought a neck pillow, some deodorant and a lunch.


During a slow news week Hockey Wise, I thought I’d tie up the Puck ‘til the whistle and get a line change. I was reflecting over the 2004-2005 NHL “Un-Season” and anticipating the upcoming “new” brand of Professional Hockey in less than a month. I did this by reading the archive of the best Hockey article that you’ve never heard of...the Smoking Puck. The Smoking Puck has been burning brightly for about three years online at my Blog and only since late April 2005 here on the Boston Sports Massacre Dot Com. Before being picked up by BSM for the best homegrown local Hockey News my blustery rants have only been shared with a select few when in fact, you all deserve to have Smoke blown in your eyes.

So instead of scraping the dregs in order to have something to talk about, I therefore bring you some Smoking Pucks “Greatest Checks”. I mean even Hillary Duff is coming out with a Greatest Hits album and I’ve been writing incendiary Hockey Talk longer than she’s been on Nickelodeon but I digress...

It is a little tough to write a Hockey column when there is no NHL Hockey to talk about. The 2004-2005 Un-Season was like being separated from a loved one and writing long lovelorn letters wondering how & when they’d get to meet again. Over the “Break”, I found out a few things. That absence makes the heart grow fonder and that Hockey still could be enjoyed outside of the 30 NHL rinks.

A few times I emailed the New England Sports Network, NESN on why they were not showing any Pro Level Hockey. I’m still waiting for my answer. I mean there are only eight AHL teams in New England all with Professional affiliation with an NHL Parent Club. I talk about my lack of interest in US College Hockey and “why”. US College Hockey was the only regularly televised Ice Time on the New England Sports Network. Poker & fishing? I should have complained to Dunkins and Foxwoods instead about NESN not televising more local Minor-Pro Hockey in an NHL-less season. I tried to justify hockey’s “violence” by defending the right to defend one’s self. Try to remember that “fisticuffs” differs from “fighting”.

So put on your helmet & shin pads. Come into Rev. Sully’s Smoking Puck Way-Back Machine as we review how we got to this point in the NHL and why we’re so glad for it to be back. The following are two previous Smoking Pucks from earlier this year, way back when there was no NHL Hockey and all we had was hope for the future. The length of this review isn’t meant to be gratuitous or ostentatious but instead meant to be informative & reflective about the current state of the Game. As the Buddha said, take whatcha need, discard what you don’t need. I was thinking of breaking this up into two parts due to the length but as I said, this is a “Greatest Checks” Edition. The “Smoking Puck: NHL Funeral Edition” was published immediately following the cancellation of the 04-05 Season. The “Pugilism” Edition was to talk about a great Hockey Topic: what is violence and what is justice. Hockey is one of the Best Sports in the World and here are two Open Love Letters seeking to thrill, entertain & Enlighten you and if I’ve done my job correctly, I’ll see you in the Cheap Seats this season.


'Namaste,

Rev. Sully

Come visit Channel Ocho




THE SMOKING PUCK: NHL Funeral Edition
Choosing Hockey Still
AKA How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Game
Originally Published March 10, 2005
The Channel OCHO Blog


I really do have something to say about NHL Hockey, their Lockout and their self-destruction of the 2004-2005 season but I prefer to talk more about life, choice and ice hockey for a moment. When asked why am I a Hockey fan, my default answer is an old joke I heard a while back: "on the Eighth Day, God created the Ice for God was bored...". Things in life revolve around choice. Choosing Wisely, choosing Rightly are the "correct" ways to seek Enlightenment if that is one’s Way. Selfish choice revolving around simple survival should not incur Karma if done with Right Thought. Any truly "wrong choice" will be Karmic but always can be justified by simple selfishness and there is not a damned thing you can really do about that, innit? However, as a lifelong NHL fan I must initially describe this akin to watching one’s parents divorce as the way this 2004-05 "Un-Season" played out in my eyes. Two parties that have legitimate problems with the other and the fan; the "child" can only observe and await the resolution. Also the fans, the children have to live with the results, the choices of these "parents". Our "best interests" are figured out after "theirs".

Hockey is doggedly available to the Public, especially in New England where the Smoking Puck is scribed. New England has long been a home to Hockey, the Sport a cultural touchstone. Cold climes are hot beds for Hockey; Canada where it is was conceived, New England, Minnesota, Michigan, and cold points international. Hockey in New England is played in every form be it pro, minor, college, high school, adult "beer league", pee wee, mites & squirts; ice, roller or street depending on the conditions and season. The Boston Bruins of the NHL were established in 1924. The upstart World Hockey Association in the 1970s featured legend Gordie "Mr. Hockey" Howe, his sons & the New England Whalers who called Matthews Arena home at Northeastern University in the South End of Boston. The Whalers moved to Hartford, CT when the WHA folded and four teams were absorbed into the NHL (along with Edmonton, Quebec/Colorado, and Winnipeg/Phoenix) in 1979. However, the American Hockey League, established in 1936, supplies an abundance of teams in which to support & endorse with patronage and has entertained fans in the New England and the Atlantic North East area for quite some time. The old-time hockey of the New Haven Nighthawks, the Rhode Island Reds, the Providence Bruins, the Springfield Falcons, les Citadels de Quebec, the Adirondack Red Wings, the Syracuse Crunch, the Maine Mariners, the Cape Breton Oilers, the Rochester Americans, the Portland Pirates, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, the Capitol District Islanders, the Binghamton Rangers, the Utica Devils, the Prince Edward Island Senators, the Lowell Loch Monsters, the Manchester Monarchs, the Albany River Rats, the Springfield Indians, the Worcester IceCats, the Cornwall Aces, the Hershey Bears. Teams Past and Teams Present. Independent teams and clubs with vital affiliations with an NHL "Parent Club". However, these Developmental Farm teams in the AHL change around occasionally. Cities are added, franchises end up folding; change is an essential part of the AHL experience from locales to clever rulebook experiments. Many an entertaining game I have taken in Providence, RI, in Worcester, MA and even now in Lowell, MA. Manchester, NH lies a short drive away, also a great afternoon with old friends who have moved "up theah" when we finally get around to going. (PS: tomorrow night that's just what we're gonna do; Manchester Monarchs versus the Philadelphia Phantoms at 7:30PM!)

Nevertheless, very few AHL games are televised in the Boston Area per year. An email inquiry to the New England Sports Network (local pay television’s home of Red Sox & Bruins) was ignored when asked why AHL hockey and the Providence Bruins in particular were not being offered instead of the locked out Boston NHL franchise. Why was NESN not interested in purchasing broadcast rights of AHL Hockey? I thought the games, any game broadcast on NESN, was a platform to remind me about Dunkin Donuts, Mobil gasoline, Foxwoods casino and a local bank or two. At least I would be tuning in. I am lucky enough to be able to choose to go to these games given the effort. But think about it for yourself: if Coke and Pepsi stopped making beverages does that mean you still could not purchase a Virgil’s Rootbeer, an IBC Cream Soda or a Goya Pineapple pop?
Here: sports@nesn.com Email NESN yourself and ask them where is the AHL Hockey this year? The "New England" Sports provider does not show New England Professional Hockey? Not offered in an NHL lock out year? As a treat to Boston Bruins fans, NESN traditionally will show a few AHL Providence Bruins games a year. College Hockey is shown, as it is every year but is no substitute for NHL games are given. NESN has very little programming to offer in this past winter and makes me leery to have been paying for it as part of my Paid Television subscription. FOX Sports New England could be offering AHL coverage too, you know.

I have never been a fan of American College Hockey but it is a very viable alternative to No Hockey At All. If I could, I would prefer to watch the Canadian Major Junior Leagues instead if given the choice. Just paradigmatic differences I assure you. Not saying that US College hockey is unworthy; rather the game is played, not differently, but a little "erroneously" in my opinion. Check this out: Canadian Major Juniors mandatory helmet safety makes all players wear half-shields to protect their eyes. US College Hockey has compulsory full-shields and/or full cages. In addition, fisticuffs are allowed as a dispute resolution tool in the Canadian Major Junior game but a much maligned and suspendable infraction in US College. Those pieces of minutiae separate the two cultures, the two "schools", and the two styles of Hockey greatly and in ways often not taken into account; such as North American Hockey (smaller ice surface, more physical) versus European Style (larger Olympic ice surface, more passing & speed over brutal contact, et al.). US College players consistently raise their sticks above elbow level, especially in the corners and on the boards because of the security felt in knowing their jaws are unexposed and protected but I digress... All personal problems aside, there is plenty of US College hockey to view on the television in season for those interested in their Hockey "fix".

What is the use in finger pointing anyhow for the NHL’s troubles? Any complicated structure will have its problems. Look at Marriage, Government and the Big Dig for examples of the Buddha’s dying words; "subject to decay are all component things...". Moreover, in the Strike shortened 1994 NHL season (the harbinger to this current debacle) we all knew the next CBA, the next collective bargaining agreement that expired in ten years would be worse. Anyone who remembered the 1994 Season accurately will recall the consequences the players assumed upon agreeing to that CBA (as well in the 11th Hour to avoid Season cancellation). Anyone who fairly factored in the 1994 NHL CBA into account would have understood this as Dharma, as Inescapable and Undeniable Truth. This joke of the 04-05 NHL season has been coming and it did not surprise those with the practical understanding of the 1994 situation. Blame whom, indeed? Blame the players for wanting as much money as they can get? Blame the Players Union for not wanting to blink until the 11th Hour and 59th Second? Blame the owners for wanting to make as much money as they can, save as much as they can in the process and also not wanting to give any quarter? Blame the Board of Governors for not rolling with the times and not wanting to adjust the rulebook to suit fickle & popular tastes? Blame allowing fighting; is the game is too violent (and NASCAR is all about the race and not the occasional crashes?) for "key" demographics, what about the children you know? Blame network television for saying, ‘we can do without NHL hockey as it is’ as ABC Sports actually did? Blame the sports media for not making a big deal about the CBA/Lockout of 2004-05 until it was too late to do nothing but inventory the carnage and excuses? Blame the fans for not caring enough at the beginning of this Season and now at its cancellation? Lemme tell ya, chief, being an NHL Hockey fan this year felt like a student standing tall before a Chinese tank.

I would rather have NHL hockey than blame. I do know a few things though. I am aware and am a perceptive fan. I know that the NHL in the 1990s thought it was the NBA. Fill "key" demographics to support greater national television, expansion! The NHL grew naturally over a quarter century from 1967 until the early 1990’s. The League doubled in size in 1967 from the Original Six to twelve teams. Six more teams throughout the 1970s. Four teams from the failed WHA in 1979 to where I feel the NHL reached its Ideal size. This was the time of the New York Islanders dynasty. The Edmonton Oilers of Gretzky, Messier, Kurri and Fuhr. Ticket prices & concessions were fair making a night at the Old Barn not that bad on the Bucks. Premiere talent in Hockey had not yet demanding millions. First-round bratty draft picks had not yet demanding trades & refusing to put the jersey on at Draft Day (thanks Eric "Big Dummeh" Lindros). Local broadcast television stations were proud to show the seasonal Sports of their cities, once being the only way to watch televised games and pre-dating the homogenization of Sports broadcasting & exclusive pay Cable arrangements. The impact of Bobby Orr as a defenseman on the Game gave way to Paul Coffey, Brian Leetch, Larry Murphy, Al McGuinness and Ray Bourque. A revolution in Goaltending came with the Montreal Canadian’s Patrick Roy setting the modern standard with a style as relatively new as hip-hop. By 1992, Tampa Bay, Ottawa and San Jose were in the mix and the Florida Panthers in the Miami area and the Disney owned Mighty Ducks of Anaheim soon to follow. The Panthers and the Mighty Ducks were the result of the Expansionist mentality and the new era in the NHL.

The NBA Syndrome had hit the NHL. It was the Clinton 90’s. Dot-com IPOs, Free Trade, good times. The NHL wanted what they deserved from their market Share and looked to make their market bigger. Players finally were being paid as other Sports were. The owners were seeing Green and making the best of a Bull Economy. The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim; Disney’s marketing idea and an excuse to sell Hockey jerseys with a moniker based on a child’s movie. The Florida Panthers, a team that in a few years after their arrival, clutched, grabbed and trapped their way to the Stanley Cup Finals. This Panthers Cup team enabled Rulebook changes in regards to Interference and Obstruction. Hockey was starting to get boring and I am not talking boring as in "Bruins Adams Division Dump n’ Chase". In the 22-25 Team Era of 1980-1993, NHL Hockey was a sport of excitement, grace & brutality. The Miracle Team USA and their Lake Placid Gold reminded the nation that winter sports were more than just skiing and the bobsled. It truly contained the Yin & Yang of Sports. However, something was lost with the 1994 strike, something in the 1990’s happened that changed. Little foundation things changed. A new flow and tempo of the game itself had to be created with the advent of TV Time-outs, made to actually get the NHL product televised through more opportunity for advertiser revenue. The TV Time-out disrupted the established feel to the individual games for both the players and the spectators at the arena. Upper echelon players felt the need to be paid as much as other Sports high-profile talent. Ticket prices reflected this. Further expansion into "markets". Columbus, Nashville and Minnesota and by 2000, the NHL was a turgid thirty teams large. Benches had to be filled and an exodus of talent arrived from Europe and the ex-Soviet Union. In years past, only the best of the Best, Brave & Toughest got to come over. Look up Peter Forsberg, the Statsny Brothers, Jarri Kurri, Teppo Numminen, Slava Festisov, Alexei Kasatonov to name a few. I am sure you should be able to suggest a few more. Now Euros are stock players and third & fourth liners.

If I have to take a side in the Hockey Talk of "What’s Going On" and "What’s Going To Happen" regarding professional hockey such as the NHL, I would have to say I am for Contraction. That means the opposite of Expansion. Cut several teams loose. Redistribute the talent so teams of the 1980’s such as the Calgary Flames, the Edmonton Oilers, the New York Islanders, the Montreal Canadians (such Major Market Cities ^_~ ) could once more be possible. Let the players play with other talented players again, all over the league and not just in Markets that can afford it such as the NY Rangers, Philadelphia and Dallas. That might solve a bit of the goal drought instead of adjusting the Goalie equipment size or where the Goalie can or cannot handle the puck. Someday I might be talked into getting rid of the two-line offsides and compulsory game misconduct of any fighting. One has to allow for concession in disputes. What lies in the future of the NHL? As the resounding Tragic Greek Chorus of We The Fans has been heard loud and clear: we do not care. There has been something fishy about the NHL for over a decade and it happened around the time Octopi at the Olympia were banned. Professional hockey will be around in some future fashion but where and when is anyone’s guess. The NHL as it is cannot be forecasted and there can be no assumption of NHL product for the 05-06 Season. Selfishly, I would hate to be a Hockey Fan and unable to be a Bruins or Flyers fan anymore.

I do want hockey and I can have it anytime I want respecting season and opportunity. Do you want hockey? Got a nephew or niece to watch play at a local MDC rink? Ever eat the food of the Rink Rat? How about lacing up the rollerblades and sweating for an hour. A street twig and a couple of Mylec Orange balls probably run you under $30 these days and you can play on "D" if you have not got skates. My street goalie equipment has not seen the light of day or the taste of asphalt in a dog’s age. Oh yeah, it is Patrick Roy appreciation day when Rev. Sully gets between the Pipes. My first time donning 40 pounds of Ice hockey goalie gear was as if I had been doing it all along. Good thing Roy ended his career in Colorado so I could actually like him. Respect was always there even in the Bleu, Blanc et Rouge of Les Habitants de Montreal. Ever play Shinny on a frozen pond using your snow boots as goal posts, playing 2-on-2 against a couple of kids? That is the Game. Not the selfish NHL team owners, not the selfish Player’s Union. Not the unrealistic salaries for Entertainers. Not the myriad Third Jerseys. Not the "Weak Market" teams versus "Strong Market" teams. Not an agreeable CBA. Not the ticket, parking and concessions prices that border on the obscene and that alienate the blue-collared "true" fan base. It is about throwing in $10 for an odd hour’s worth of ice time with a bunch of mates and guys you have never met, having a few beer in the parking lot before the "game" and hoping you still have legs. It is about the Rink Rats and the food they see fit to consume. It is about the Five Hole, the Deke and One-Timer. It is about the Goalie skating out of the safety between the Pipes to meet the shooter on the 1-on-1 Breakaway; robbing them of precious room to shoot and then dropping into a "Butterfly", flashing a glove hand and snagging the oncoming, rock-hard, high velocity vulcanized rubber puck midair. It is about tossing your stick into the Center Ice circle to pick a team. It is about waking up with the Roosters in order to drive the kids to practice before school. It is about Goals Against Average, Plus/Minus and Power Plays. It is about living with snow. Russians, Swedes, Germans, North Americans, Danes, Norwegians; if there is snow, there can be Ice Hockey played.

Remember: hockey is still yours if you choose it.

Hockey Talk and the Smoking Puck on OCHO will return when there is something more to say about Hockey. Because the only thing about Hockey I could say right now is "go out there and play". There you will find happiness in Hockey again.

‘Namaste & Never Forget the Fourth Rule of Tankers,

Rev. Sully



THE SMOKING PUCK!!! Pugilism Edition! I’M FIGHTING MAD!!! ^_~
Originally Published April 4, 2005
The Channel OCHO Blog


Why fight? Well, fighting has been and always will be the “end all be all” of conflict resolution for any man, woman or nation. We learn these lessons the hard way on school yards and bar rooms. Insults, territorial pissings, hurt feelings, venting frustration, low self-esteem, coveting others things, miscommunication of emotions, satisfaction of blood lust. If you can think it, you can fight over it. Sun Tzu opens his infamous “The Art of War” with: “the art of war is of vital importance to the State. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected”. Fighting is a part of life like it or not. It is why we have an Army. It is why boxing and wrestling are such huge spectator sports. It is why people take karate and other forms of self-defense. This is a violent world we live in. Our games & sports reflect that fact being one part strategy and another part physically dominating.

Hockey is a contact sport as Football, Soccer, Lacrosse and even NASCAR are. Never forget that. Ice Hockey is a high speed, all out chase for the puck. It is that simple. Get the puck. Faster than normal speeds can be achieved with just a few strides on ice skates. Checking is allowed to get the puck. It is a contact sport. Sometimes people don’t understand that Basketball in its own way is a contact sport. I once made the mistake of saying that it wasn’t to a lifelong college basketball fan and he then demonstrated the “hand check”, a legal basketball defensive move, on mine own self. He also eluded to the “cheap elbow” my bro Aaron “Posty” DeGraff can tell you all about, with or without his two front teeth. Baseball in its own right is a contact sport. My favorite play, offensively or defensively is the throw out attempt at home plate. That is when baseball becomes a contact sport. Also when stealing a base or sliding into the shortstop at Second to prevent the out at First on the Double Play.

Professional North American Ice Hockey has long been associated with a sense of “thuggery”, that only beasts and ingrates play that barbaric sport. There is cause for that sure with the NHL & the 1970s featuring teams such as the Philadelphia “Broadstreet Bullies” Flyers and the “Big Bad” Boston Bruins and movies like “Slap Shot” which lampooned that certain violence in Pro Hockey. Nonetheless, regard Wayne “The Greatest” Gretzky who looked like a skating stick and only had 3 fights ever as an NHL player (and then juxtapose to his muscle, Marty McSorley). Currently in the 04-05 Lockout Un-Season, reports from overseas in Europe and Russia report that their playoffs and the influx of North American/NHL Players has caused a plethora of pugilism. That fights are breaking out more than average and that the North American style & players are to blame.

In recent news, Bruins legend Raymond Jean Bourque’s 19-year old son Christopher is leaving the hallowed confines of Boston University to play in the QMJHL, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League where the game is played differently if not, dare I say a bit more pure. And now I come to the Point. Fighting in Hockey. Why is fighting allowed in Hockey and not in other sports? Well, there is no easy or pandering answer. There’s not one blanket statement to satisfy and “outsiders” just cannot accept the default answer that it’s just “part of the sport”. Do or should we let children or high schoolers fight? No. But there comes a time in a man’s life, not a child but a man’s life where & when they might have to rely on their own to defend themselves. Why is fighting allowed in Hockey? Because it is a dispute resolution tool and that is the most intelligent and honest answer I can think of.

I would never say to a US College Hockey player that they are a wuss because they can’t fight. There is a huge difference in “cannot fight” and “are not allowed to fight”. Ice Hockey is a fast and physical game. It is hard and grueling. It is not for the weak or wimpy. The corners are for the brave. The goalmouth is for the Big & Brawny. The old axiom goes, “Might equals Right” rings true for the Mighty will end up with the puck on their tape while the weak end up on the Ice. US College Hockey is a different game from its Canadian brother in very small but meaningful ways.

The obverse to US College (NCAA) Hockey is Canadian Major Junior Hockey, otherwise known as the Canadian Hockey League or the CHL. The CHL contains the QMJHL, the OHL (Ontario Hockey League) and the WHL (the Western Hockey League). NCAA Hockey has 3 division of talent so the equals to CHL would be NCAA Division 1, which includes conferences such as Hockey East, CCHA, and the ECAC. The game play is basically the same but the differences are sublime. For the equipment, helmets matter. Mandatory full face shields/cages for NCAA; half-shield visors for CHL. This matters greatly because with a protected jaw, sticks in NCAA Hockey rise over the elbow level at an alarming rate and can only be controlled so much. In the CHL, knowing this injury risk is such a subconscious thing and in some ways fosters a respect not found in the US College system.

The other major difference is the attitude towards fighting or with better eloquence in the Canadian Art “fisticuffs”. Fighting is a major part of the game whether is be fighting for the puck, fighting for position in from of the net or fighting to win a faceoff. Fisticuff is the act of pugilism but I digress in the minutia and semantics. Fighting does suffice for “fisticuffs” all around. For brevity’s sake, I’ll link the CHL’s rules on Fisticuffs after the article. The NCAA’s are short enough to post here in the narrative. The short form is this; NCAA fisticuffs are not accepted, allowed or tolerated. In the CHL, used “properly”, fisticuffs are a dispute resolution tool.

2005 NCAA Hockey rules
Penalties:

Rule 4, Section 5, (4-5), page 37

The gist of the copy says that if you get a disqualification penalty, you’re kicked out of the game.

Disqualification Penalties and suspensions:

First Disqualification Penalty- that game plus one
Second Disqualification Penalty- that game plus two
Third Disqualification Penalty- that game plus three
Fourth Disqualification Penalty- that game plus four
(the progression shall continue after the fourth Disqualification Penalty)


Rule 6, Section 17a “Fighting”, page 60

A player shall not fight an opponent, or participate in a fight on or off the playing surface (Punching or attempting to punch is considered fighting).

PENALTY-DISQUALIFICATION

Source: 2005 NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Rulebook


In NCAA Hockey, fighting is not a dispute resolution tool and has been subjugated to “thug” status. Look at the structure for suspensions following Disqualification Penalties. If one were to defend themselves or a teammate for any reason with their fists, the penalties suffered are stiff and in this opinion, quite unreasonable. There is room for fisticuffs as a dispute resolution tool for questionable cheaper and rough play, for asserting one’s physical dominance, to naturally vent frustration especially heated play between two particular player who could be “going at it” all night and yes, to intimidate the opponent (though the last example plays into why fighting is bad). Without fisticuffs, other means of dispute resolution tactics could be employed for infractions not seen or deemed penalty worthy by the Referees such as cheap hits resulting in injuries.

The Major Junior CHL, having basically the same age and talent level as NCAA Hockey, uses a more “Professional” attitude respecting fisticuffs (see WHL rules below for specifics). There is a difference between a natural fight and showboating. A Natural Fight occurs because Hockey is a demanding game and tempers can and do flare. Showboating can best be illustrated by Jay Miller of the Boston Bruins and Chris Nilan of the Montreal Canadians in the 1980s when every time the two “tough guys” stepped on the ice at the same time, they dropped their gloves almost at any occasion. Gone from NHL Hockey are the days when the “Enforcer”, the resident tough guys would pair up and fight just for the spectacle of it. The Days of Basil McRae, John Kordic, and Bob Probert are at an end. Fistcuffs in the NHL have changed into a proper Dispute Resolution tool. Although the CHL rules regarding fisticuffs will undoubtedly be taken for granted by some, it still remains a bit more pure than the NCAA version because you can still stick up for yourself if need be. The CHL is a bit more pure I say because suspensions are not just the only way to enforce excessive fisticuffs and unnecessary violence, fines are also applied making the motive a bit different when it comes out of the wallet. NCAA player (for the “record”), are not paid. ^_~ ^_~ Sure.

Let’s hope the words “Ya wanna go?” will never be stricken from Pro Hockey’s vocabulary. No one wants to see senseless violence but what happens when the violence does indeed make sense.

Here is the complete Western Hockey League’s Rule 56 on Fisticuffs. It’s a little wordy but when compared to the NCAA Hockey rules it makes me think the NCAA treats its players as children and the CHL treats their players as men and hockey players.
RULE 56. FISTICUFFS

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

STARLARKING!
Appreciate your inner geek. They will make you happy. So reward your inner geek with two offerings which might make you watch the movies differently...


STAR WARS CLONE WARS: VOLUME 2 to be Released December 6, 2005


Volume 2 DVD Cover Art

With Episode III Revenge of the Sith being sold on DVD November 1, 2005, the release date for Clone Wars: Volume 2 has finally been set. December 6, 2005 the perfect stocking stuffer for the geek in your life arrives on store shelves just in time for your last-minute shopping.

I might wait until a Clone Wars boxed set with perhaps sensational extras appears. A Boxed Set of the Prequel Trilogy might be the "Big Geek" Gift next year. I geek out BIG TIME with Star Wars on the Director's Commentary track and I put on the Subtitles in order to follow the movie.

The Clone Wars mini-series made the characters alive by seperating them from their human and CGI hosts. The stunning animation and voice actors give relief to any Star Wars fan unhappy with the quality & selection of acting in the 1999-2005 films. CGI limitations virtually ceased in Episode II Attack of the Clones "war" scene & Episode III Revenge of the Sith was a darker pallate, better for hiding the limitations, the "puppet strings" of the CGI creating more smoother & cohesive visuals. Nevertheless, the cartoon animation gives a great and unified visual tactility...that it all comes from the same cloth so to speak. No Ewan McGreggor misjudging Jar-Jar's gaze by an eyelash, no "Muppet-Free since 1999" Yoda. No pratfalling Threepio bumbing badly & clumbsily in the Droid Factory, making Indiana Jones & The Temple of Doom's railcar race a stunning example in SFX on how that could have been done. The Clone Wars cartoon is quality and deserves a spot on the Shelf bewteen Episodes 2 and 3.

The Clone Wars succeed where the "Expanded Universe" fails. The Star Wars "EU" is a chronal mess, over-classifying every charcter and burdens the mythos with too much continuity baggage. The movie excelled at showcasing circumstances that even set in a fantastic backdrop & stage, were very human & universal. The "EU" reads like a bad Sci-Fi serial...because the "EU" makes Star Wars into a bad Sci-Fi serial. The Animated Clone Wars although will ultimately be figured into a "Timeline" as canon, kept the sense of wonder in not over-classifying. Two of the main enemies of Volume 1 were never refered to by name (Asajj Ventress & Durge) as Boba Fett in Episode V ESB. Only the "Geek" would be in the know. The Clone Wars animated volumes reveals the evolution of the Clone Trooper to Stormtrooper. Anakin Skywalker, from brash Jedi Padawan to hardened, disillusioned veteran Jedi Knight. Obi-Wan & Anakin, from Teacher/Student to the most notorious duo of warriors in the Republic; the Negotiator & the Hero Without Fear.

STAR WARS REVENGE of the SITH NOVEL, Ballantine/Del Rey Books @25.95 Hardocover.

Cover of Hardcover Episode III Revenge of the Sith book by Matthew Stover

Knowing what Skywalker & Kenobi's "team" name of legend was is included in supplemental entertainment such as the bemoaned "EU" but also in the delightful Episode III novelization which illuminates the minutae. In addition to, the narative reads like Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse Five" in places. I swear Chapter 4 begins with "Listen: this is how Count Dooku dies. So it goes". ^_~ That's just funning with you but it's actually close to this.

Padme regains her strength of character with strong scenes cut from the initial release of the Episode III movie. A DVD version with these added in their correct places would reaffirm Padme as a central, strong, decisive character but also include interacting and conspiring with Alderran's Bail Organa, strengthening that character as well. Padme's deep scene's run against the grain of the action movie screen time. Episode II Attack of the Clones novel was based on the original screenplay including rich scenes on Naboo that were filmed but cut outright from the movie. These scenes are available on the Supplemental disc of "AotC" and feature Padme's family life. Mother, father, sister, nieces, family home & estate, abundance of love & comfort, privilege, education. Anakin was an only child from a single mother home; hardship, slavery, the fear of the the constant threat of something bad. He was regularly abused by Watto, something barely elluded to in Episode I. The edited Pamde scenes in Episode III did hurt her character and gives cause for fans to bemoan the character, the creator and the actress. Cause to bemoan for producing what once was a mighty character into someone esssentially weaker and out of character for what we expect of Padme, now "living a lie" for three years as warned by the fireplace in "AotC". After reading the book, I understand Anakin is not the only person to change but Padme changes too. Although in the book, Padme never lost her Inner Fire regarding her place in the story. It's as if I'll hear Lucas in the Episode III Commentary track, "You know...I hated doing it but I had too many things going on already in the movie. Too many things to keep track of so I had to drop Padme's story thread".

Two ideas for your inner geek...to keep 'em sated. And don't forget what Casey Casey always advised us to do, "Keep your feet on the ground but keep reaching for the stars".


Clone Wars ARC Trooper

Thursday, September 01, 2005

"Good Morning America...how are ya? Don'tcha knnow me I'm your native son...I'm the train the call the City of..."

The Police Are Looting
Filed under:
* researchmaterial
— warrenellis @ 2:02 am

The Survival of New Orleans Blog:


The police are looting. This has been confirmed by several independent sources. Some of the looting might be “legitimate” in as much as that word has any meaning in this context. They have broken into ATMs and safes: confirmed. We have eyewitnesses to this. They have taken dozens of SUVs from dealerships ostensibly for official use. They have also looted gun stores and pawn shops for all the small arms, supposedly to prevent “criminals” from doing so. But who knows their true intentions. We have an inside source in the NOPD who says that command and control is in chaos. He reports that command lapses more than 24 hours between check-ins, and that most of the force are “like deer in the headlights.” NOPD already had a reputation for corruption, but I am telling you now that the people we’ve been talking to say they are not recognizing the NOPD as a legitimate authority anymore, since cops have been seen looting in Walmarts and forcing people out of stores so they could back up SUVs and loot them…


From Warren Ellis Dot Com.