Monday, February 26, 2007

Week In Review: All Hockey (almost)

I'm sure it must be all the snow out there, but I definitely have hockey on my mind. Sure, it's almost championship week in basketball (absolutely one of my favorite times of year), but until we get to the tournaments, its really hard to provide any really solid analysis. I'll try to slip in some news from other sports, but really, this week in review is all about the hockey.

ITEM ONE: So, tomorrow is the trade deadline for the NHL, and for various reasons, it's more active than any other deadline in the league. There will certainly be more activity than the two trades the NBA saw at their deadline last week. In fact, teams are already overpaying for veteran acquisitions, like Anson Carter, who went to the Hurricanes on Friday and Keith Tkachuk, who moved on to Atlanta yesterday. The bounty for Tkachuk, who is old and has an expiring contract, was Glen Metropolit (meh) and a 1st, 2nd, 3rd and another conditional first round pick. Gadzooks! Just imagine what the Blues would have got if Tkachuk was still in his early thirties! Of course, this mixes things up on the trade market, since, clearly, the bar is very high now. The Predators got Peter Forsberg cheap.

ITEM TWO: Consistently, it seems, the Wild find a pleasant surprise for their season. A few years back, it was Pascal Dupuis. Last season, you might say it was Marc Chouinard. This season, without a doubt, it is Niklas Backstrom, who has done excellent work in net since Manny Fernandez went down. All of this means that the Wild have prospect Josh Harding still waiting in the wings, and proven goalie Fernandez on the shelf. When he gets back, there will be three decent goalies, including a prospect on the roster. You should only have two, and really, you only need one. Dealing one of those goalies at the deadline would bring a king's ransom, if the Wild so desired.

ITEM THREE: I say no to trading Backstrom, however, as he has provided an incredible spark to the team. This past week, the Wild swept their three games, allowing only 5 goals, and getting a shootout win against Colorado. The Wild are going to be a tough team down the stretch in the Northwest, especially after whatever activity they have at the deadline.

ITEM FOUR: There was college basketball this past week, and I'm happy to say that my Purdue Boilermakers may end up in the tournament after defeating Indiana and on the road against Northwestern. Everyone says that if they win their next two , they are in. Keep your fingers crossed. Elsewhere in the Big Ten, I think Wisconsin is much better than Ohio State. They play a better team game, and Brian Butch is now double jointed!

ITEM FIVE: Is it a bad sign when the pitcher you spend about 100 million dollars on shows up to spring training waddling? I think so. Be afraid, Red Sox. Be very afraid.

ITEM SIX: I thought I would point out that the Minnesota Gophers hockey team is on the verge of clinching the WCHA (despite getting swept by St. Cloud State this weekend). It's nice that the U can do something right, athletically this year.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Minnesota Twins: Offensive Juggernaut

This weekend has allowed the opportunity to catch up on college basketball, like Brian Butch's ghastly injury for Wisconsin against Ohio State today, and hockey, where the Wild handled the Edmonton Oilers easily. Of course, with all the snow, I thought about skiing. Briefly.
I needed to find my happy place, eventually, after realizing we were dealing with about 10 inches of snow. My happy place this winter has been the Twins offense. Naturally, I find this terribly confusing, as nobody has been optimistic about the Twins bats since around 1994. Hopefully, a good offensive season doesn't lead to another strike.
The foundation of any good lineup is a series of mashers in the middle, and the Twins finally have some. Michael Cuddyer, while not the ideal clean up hitter, did his part last year, driving in over 100 RBI. Of course, he really only is hitting cleanup to break up the two big lefties, batting champ Joe Mauer and MVP Justin Morneau. In a perfect world, we bat Mauer-Cuddyer-Morneau 2-3-4, but the world is not perfect.
The Twins, however, are blessed by a glut of dink and dunk, top of the order type players, from Luis Castillo, who, when healthy is an ideal lead off man to Nick Punto, who, while he doesn't make as much contact as desired serves well in the two spot. Jason Bartlett, who generally bats near the end of the order, as it seems he is more comfortable there, is more powerful, but is emerging as a better contact hitter.
Where is gets a little muddled is from the 6-7-8 spots. Torii Hunter is reliable, if not fantastic. When he's on, he's a great clutch hitter and a demon on the basepaths. His .270 average is great, now that Twins fans don't expect him to be our top power hitter. Rondell White will slip into 7th, probably, playing in left field. As frightening as this is, he's a more healthy option than Jason Kubel, who will likely be confined to the designated hitter role while he hones his plate presence.
There are a couple of guys off the bench who will see a lot of time, especially in left. Jason Tyner and Lew Ford are both overstated players who have had one good season and ingratiated themselves to management, but it's my belief they will be a drain on the lineup if they get any sort of regular playing time. The thing is, however, there are 9 guys that can play and play hard every game, meaning they (and new infielder Jeff Cirillo) will be relegated to sub duty when necessary.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Snowed In

As it turns out, I appear to be looking forward to 48 hours straight stuck in my house, as Victoria is about to be buried under a metric ton of snow this weekend. I think that's the worst part of the winter. We're trapped indoors all weekend, and what are we left with? Some college basketball games, a NASCAR race, probably, and one or two hockey games. In order to help my fellow, stranded Victorians, here's a look at what you could watch this weekend, when you aren't checking Victoria-Weather for updates.

AUTO RACING: I'm going to be honest. I'm just going alphabetically here, so don't pay any mind that this came first. In any case, you can look forward to something called the Slater Brothers 300 tomorrow and the Auto Club 500 Sunday. I'm not sure if the Slater Brothers are members of the Auto Club.

BASKETBALL: There are exactly 26 basketball games on Victoria TV this weekend, which is good, because flipping channels may be the only excersize you get that doesn't involve a shovel this weekend. There are 5 womens games, so if that's your thing, go ahead and watch all of them. That seems easy enough. They don't ever overlap. Victoria gets 2 NBA matchups, Miami vs Cleveland on ABC and Sacramento at Indiana on ESPN, so if you haven't seen enough Stuart Scott lately, you can catch that. Otherwise, we're left in the college ranks. If you aren't in the market for channel flipping, and need some guidance, well, here's what I would watch at the specific times.
Things start at 10AM on Saturday, with Siena facing Marist, which, no doubt, you will want to switch away from quickly. At 11, three games will start, with your best choice being Oklahoma St. at Texas Tech on CBS. While Purdue IS playing, they are at Northwestern, which, well, I would rather watch an intramural game. Pittsburgh at Georgetown should be a great game, starting at noon on ESPN, which you could ride until 3, when Florida takes on LSU. I know the temptation is to watch Big Ten games, which there are aplenty, but don't. For the love of all that is good, don't. You're already stuck indoors, don't torture yourself too. I mean, until the evening, when your only choice is Indiana at Michigan State. Or the COPS drinking game. Actually, play the COPS drinking game. E-mail me at for instructions.
Sunday is a pretty solid triple header on CBS, with little interference (aside from the race) on other networks. First, you get Louisville at Connecticut (historic rivals) at 11. Interestingly, UCONN doesn't appear to be making the Big Dance this year. Next up, Duke is at St. John's in a very odd non conference game that I don't anticipate being any good at all. In what could be a great game at 3, Wisconsin is playing at Ohio State. A bunch of lunky white guys playing against some freshmen not on the same page? Sign me up! Actually, though, this game pretty much demonstrates what is wrong with the Big Ten this year (read: no competition), but it will be a close, low scoring affair. Later, North Carolina is at Maryland (good) and Arizona is at Arizona St. (very, very bad) on FSN.

GOLF: I'm not entirely sure why you would want to watch golf when you were snowed in. It would just send me into a fit of rage, I think. In any case, if you feel the need to raise your blood pressure, the Accenture Match Play tournament is on NBC all weekend.

HOCKEY: On Saturday, it's hockey amateur hour, with the state girls championships on 45 (or 7, in Victoria). With any luck, my alma mater, Benilde St. Margaret's, will make an appearance. Also, on FSN at 7, St. Cloud State (with the state's largest percentage of alcohology majors) will be visiting Minnesota, which should be a solid college event.
Sunday, the pros come out to play. Because of the golf, NBC isn't showing us another NHL game (stupid golf), but at 1 on Channels 5 and 45, the Wild will be taking on the Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers are struggling this season after making it to the Stanley Cup Finals last year. Additionally, this could be the last outing with the team as it is, with the trade deadline fast approaching.

First and foremost, I want to say good luck and be safe out there. Secondly, can we start baseball in February?

Monday, February 19, 2007

Roses and Sunshine

Things are going well today in Victoria. The sun is out, birds are singing, the temperature is above freezing. I'm in a good mood. Sounds like the best time to make sure my bitter switch still works.

ITEM ONE: If the Wild can keep up the pace their at, winning one truly impressive game a week (like they did against Nashville), then we can excuse overtime losses like the game at home against the Vancouver Sedins, and tough ones like the game in St. Louis last night, where they had to play on consecutive nights. If they can keep at least two of there primary goal scorers (Gaborik, Demitra and Rolston) on the ice every game for the rest of the year, they should have no problem making it into the playoffs. Of course, in the playoffs, they need a more consistent effort, because you can expect it from the opponents. By the way, I'm really looking forward to Pierre-Marc Bouchard trying to grow a playoff beard.

ITEM TWO: Speaking of Nashville, didn't they acquire a player recently? Yes! And I'm not talking about Vitaly Vishnevski. The Predators overpaid for Peter Forsberg a couple of days ago, finally assembling the late nineties all star team they have desired, with Paul Kariya anxiously awaiting his new teammate. Sure, this makes the team stronger now, but it cripples them down the road. Scottie Upshall is an underrated young player, with speed for days, and the Flyers also acquired two early draft picks, while the Preds nabbed a star on the decline who has been broken much of the season. Good luck, Nashville. Good thing you got Vishnevski.

ITEM THREE: As I'm sure I've established, I love college basketball (by the way, Purdue is making a strong case for a spot in the big dance!) and there is nothing during the season more pointessly enjoyable than Bracketbuster weekend. I mean, really, Albany at Boise State doesn't tell us anything, but I think it's fun to catch Virginia Commonwealth in action. I don't need to see Duke every time they're on, and I'm pretty sure Georgetown has played Villanova about 19 times this year. In any case, the team that came out of this smelling like roses was Drexel, who won at Creighton.

ITEM FOUR: See, Americans think they have the craziest athletes, like, for example, Mike Tyson or Dennis Rodman, but then you get stories like this. Let me give you an example of how ridiculous this is. Let's say, before the AFC Championship game, Marvin Harrison and Dwight Freeney were out and Freeney didn't want to sing some Bruce Springsteen, except Harrison did, to the point that he attacked him. The only difference was that Craig Bellamy used a golf club and this was in Portugal, and the victim was Norwegian. I almost wish these had been Americans, because this story is too ridiculous to get passed up by local media.

ITEM FIVE: I decided to make a more concerted effort to follow NASCAR just so I have something to talk about with my more gear minded friends. I watched the Daytona 500 yesterday, and you can rest assured that I won't be writing any more on the topic this year, because I don't really understand it all, but it has cars driving really fast and catching on fire! (Go Newman and Montoya!)

ITEM SIX: I'm dissapointed in my continued lack of vitriol, so let me tap into some reserve. Why the hell does February deserve so many stupid, pointless holidays? Valentine's Day? President's Day? For as short as the month is, you think they could move one of them, especially since the NFL has moved the Super Bowl to February and more people celebrate that than the nations' past leaders. February is just plain silly, if you ask me.

ITEM SEVEN: If anyone was wondering, this might be the best week of the year. All my favorite shows are back and new. It started last night with the Amazing Race (which, unfortunately, does not look promising. Why do Dave and Mary keep teaming with people that are clearly just as awful as they are?) last night, and continues with How I Met Your Mother and Heroes tonight, Boston Legal tomorrow, Jericho and Criminal Minds on Wednesday, My Name Is Earl, The Office, CSI, and Shark on Thursday and if that wasn't enough, I've found a buddy to play the COPS drinking game (which I definitely need to introduce to you sometime) on Saturdays. I think I need to get out of the house more.

Until next week.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Pitching.... Concerns?

As most of the sporting world realizes, today is Daytona 500 day, so I'm doing my best to flip to it every once in a while, even though I'm not sure I completely understand the allure (Left! Turn left!). At the same time, as most hockey fans realize, today is a good chance for the entire nation to see the top two young stars in the league, Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin, squaring off on NBC, so I am keeping my attention there as well. I've become pretty good with the remote on weekends.
However, my focus has drifted. I'm troubled, vexed even, by the state of the Twins right now. OK, that's not completely true. I'm worried about the future. This season, they may be buoyed by a suddenly explosive offense, but what of the future? I worry.
This year, of course, we can look forward to Johan Santana doing what he does, and Boof Bonser answering the question of "can he match his freshman success" and Carlos Silva will probably regain some of his success, keeping the ball on the ground this year. There are some unanswered questions for the back end of the rotation. Ramon Ortiz will probably be the fourth starter, and a mix of Sidney Ponson (a horrible cross of Kyle Lohse and Silva: Overweight sinkerballer with a bad attitude) and one of any number of prospects, either Matt Garza, Scott Baker or Glen Perkins seem to be the most likely options.
But what about next year? The stalwart, reliable Brad Radke hung up the glove this offseason, meaning the Twins will be without that reliable name penciled in, and Santana's contract will expire after 2008. Will he be resigned? Traded? And will Carlos Silva recover after last season? Will the prospects develop? Will Phenom Francisco Liriano pitch effectively again? It's a scary future indeed, made scarier by the recent squabble about the new stadium. If the deal falls through, will the Twins even make an effort to keep Santana for '09? And lets say the deal falls through because the landowners won't sell. Will Aaron Gleeman kill them with his own hands?
Back to the staff, however. I like the way the relief staff is shaping up. I like the idea of having some veterans stored up, like Randy Choate. Pitching coach Rick Anderson always seems to bring out the best in them. Just ask Dennys Reyes. Then there are homegrown talents like Jesse Crain and Juan Rincon which will more than adequately keep opponents in check before closer Joe Nathan comes in and blows those opponents away. If there is one thing the Twins system has always done, it's provide the big league squad with a good bullpen.
I'm pretty sure that the pitching staff won't be frightful this year, but I worry about there future for the first time in a while. I get the feeling that this season may be the last good chance the Twins will have at winning a Series because of the pitchers.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Not so Neat Cool in Victoria

As I've mentioned, the site I use to research the local news here in Victoria doesn't really believe in hyperlinks to it's columns, so I remain unable to read the columns from regular columnists, but I was able to pick out a couple headlines that I found entertaining.
First, the local golf pro wrote a column (and in the headline, golf was spelled "gold") in which he reminds us what a big deal tennis was in the 70s and 80s. Every new neighborhood had a tennis court and what not. Then he went on to say that tennis isn't popular anymore and golf is the new tennis. Take THAT tennis! I would really like to see a response and a full scale rich people sport throwdown in the local paper.
Then, there were a couple articles that were entertaining only in their juxtoposition. First, there was a column regarding the coming ice fishing tournament on Steiger Lake, which was sponsored by the fire department. They bring all sorts of stuff out for it, and I remember a year or two when they had some firefighting vehicles on the ice. Right below that was a warning from the Carver County Sherriff reminding us that, if we can avoid it, we should never drive on the ice. Unless, apparently, you have a 16 ton fire engine.
Usually, as I have also mentioned, when looking for news from Victoria, to read the letters to the editor because she prints everything she gets. I'm half expecting this letter one day, "Dear Editor, You are prequalified for a Capital One Visa! - C. One, Wilmington, Delaware". There was one bit of important news there. The president of the local high school was stepping down to take a job with the William Mitchell school of Law. It strikes me as impressive that such a new school has already garnered enough reputation that it's president could gain such a prestigious new career based on his experience. Other than that, however, the letters were pretty devoid of any really significant news, other than the tragic passings of some really old people.
In the paper's city hall section, it was revealed that the new mayor, Mary Thun, began her term by "looking and speaking directly to the people". So thats good news. Victoria elected someone with good diction.
Another good quote was in regards to the city's new phone system. Councilman Tim Amundson said he wasn't interested in a "neat cool" phone system because Victoria is a town of only 5000. I'm embarrassed that Victoria is apparently not ready for neat cool phones. Some day, however. Some day.
In more serious news, there was some tension in the council regarding the Victoria Field House, and the potential to hire a new director for it. Councilman Richard Tieden was quite pleased about the change in tacticss. This was a shift in the original plan that had been dominated by Mayor Thun and Councilwoman Kim Roden. He said that in the past he, "[had] been told if he's not on board, to shut up and not talk for the past couple of years." First off, it's unbelievable to me that a city in America could seek to snuff out dissenting opinion like that, and secondly, it's alarming that Tieden didn't speak his mind and represent the opinion in question. Additionally, neat cool Councilman Amundson mentioned that he was dismayed that the council had voted to not even let former Mayor Mary Meuwisson speak at the prior meeting. To paraphrase Vince Lombardi, what the hell is going on up there?
There was also quite a bit of dissent in the council on a liquor liscence issued to a new business downtown. It will be a wine shop, and the owner of the main liquor store downtown was opposed to it, saying that Victoria wasn't big enough for two liquor stores (even though the new one was probably going to sell wine exclusively), and for as small as the town was, there were too many liquor liscences being bandied about. Another concern was the parking situation (dreadful) that would be made worse by a new retailer downtown. these ideas were eventually squelched, and Victorians everywhere can look forward to Parker Tannin's Wine shop.
That will wrap up this month's attempt at hard hitting news. I thought it was pretty neat cool.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


Back at Purdue, I had a friend, Chris, who was about the same scale of college basketball fan as I was, and we often sent instan messages regarding the topic. Really, it was the most reliable way for us to communicate, but I think that's just a guy thing. In any case, one day Chris sent me an e-mail with a projected bracket for the NCAA tournament. Really, if Joe Lunardi could get a degree in bracketology, why couldn't a couple of kids from Purdue do this? So we did. We have a spreadsheet and we worked out the kinks and developed our own projected brackets every couple of weeks for one season. It was a lot of fun and a terrible waste of time. In any case, I have nothing but time to waste, so I dug up the old file and generated my own brackets. Here they are. They go South vs. East and Midwest vs West.

South (San Antonio)
(New Orleans)
1. Florida
16. Play in (Central Connecticut St. vs Jackson St.)

8. BYU
9. USC

5. Marquette
12. Virginia

4. Butler
13. Vermont

(New Orleans)
6. Boston College
11. Michigan St.

3. Texas A&M
14. Santa Clara

7. West Virginia
10. Stanford

2. Nevada
15. Marist

EAST (East Rutherford)
1. Pittsburgh
16. Delaware St.

8. Virginia Tech
9. Xavier

5. Oregon
12. Holy Cross

4. Kentucky
13. Wright St.

6. Villanova
11. San Diego St.

3. Southern Illinois
14. Oral Roberts

7. Tennessee
10. Illinois

2. North Carolina
15. Pennsylvania

MIDWEST (St. Louis)
1. Ohio State
16. Weber St.

8. Creighton
9. Florida St.

(Winston Salem)
12. Virginia Commonwealth

4. Georgetown
13. Long Beach St.

6. Oklahoma St.
11. Purdue

3. Washington St.
14. South Alabama

7. Clemson
10. Arkansas

2. Memphis
15. Rhode Island

WEST (San Jose)
1. Wisconsin
16. East Tennessee St.

8. Maryland
9. Alabama

5. Arizona
12. Winthrop

4. Air Force
13. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi

6. Indiana
11. Davidson

3. Kansas
14. Akron

7. Duke
10. Missouri St.

15. Austin Peay

So once again, I have too much time on my hands for college basketball. Of course, I dont suspect Southern Illinois will get a 3 seed, or Nevada a 2. I also suspect that a team other than Rhode Island will win the A-10 this year, but since they sit atop the division right now, I had no choice but to leave them in. If Rhode Island does in fact lose out, and Xavier takes the A-10 crown, Georgia and Kansas St. were the last two teams out. The ACC won the most teams in contest, so congrats to them on their 8 tournament teams. Well, for now, anyways.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Personnel Moves

I wonder how much I would like the world of sports if I was actually employed there. How would I like being told that I was being shipped to New York in the best interests of the team? What would I think of my salary being bandied about among the press? All this fascinates me, as you can tell, but I wonder how I would feel if the shoe was on my foot.
OK, that's quite enough introspection, let's review a week FULL of HR type maneuvering.

ITEM ONE: Joe Mauer signed a four year deal on Friday, meaning he will be assured thirty three million dollars. Additionally, the Twins have bought out his first year of free agency, which is wonderful news. On the open market, Mauer would have likely seen double that salary. I mean, in a world where Gary Matthews Jr. can get a 50 million dollar contract, I think that the Twins got a steal. May Joe Mauer never hit the open market.

ITEM TWO: The Wild executed a trade on Friday, pre-Ference, sending winger Pascal Dupuis to the Rangers for center Adam Hall. Once again, the Minnesota general managers are listening to what I have to say. First the Twins, now the Wild. They shook up their forward lines that were further down on the depth chart, and already, after one game it appears to be paying dividends. In the Saturday game against Carolina, Hall crashed the net with ferocity and gave the Wild the little spark they needed in order to overcome the high flying 'Canes.

ITEM THREE: In non-Minnesota news, there were a couple of other trades worth noting. First, there was the Vitaly Vishnevski for Eric Belanger trade between Atlanta and Nashville. Why was this significant? Well, because Carolina just traded Belanger to Nashville the day before, even though Atlanta apparently wanted him. I'm assuming that Carolina didn't want to trade with an in-conference rival like the Thrashers, but Nashville and Atlanta circumvented the 'Canes intentions. Drama!
Additionally, as I have previously noted, the NHL hot-stove league was officially opened with the trade of a Ference, as Andrew Ference was a part of the blockbuster trade that sent the top available defenseman, Brad Stuart, to the Flames. This definitely gives the Flames a good shot at making noise in the playoffs, as they patched their largest hole (if only they hadn't traded away Jordan Leopold, huh?), however I fail to believe that this is the best the Bruins could have done. They gave up Stuart AND Wayne Primeau for lesser versions of each player. Chuck Kobasew is young, to be sure, but he really only projects to a third line forward, because he lacks the offensive skills the B's so desperately need. And Andrew Ference is no replacement for Brad Stuart. Hell, he's no replacement for Brad Ference.

ITEM FOUR: Drew Brees got injured in the Pro Bowl, dislocating his elbow, making it the second year in a row he sustained an injury in a meaningless game. Last year it was the shoulder. I anticipate a wrist injury next year.

ITEM FIVE: Speaking of personnel, I really hope Liev Schreiber can get a fantastc job after his work on CSI, particularly in the last episode he was on. I can honestly say I had never heard of him, but I was unduly impressed by the brilliance of his acting.

ITEM SIX: I'm beginning to think that the Big Ten isn't much of a basketball conference this year. Wisconsin has received all they could handle from Northwestern (twice) and Iowa, and Ohio State has struggled with Purdue twice, including one time on the road, where the Boilermakers have been putrid. Just the return of Spencer Tollackson has made Minnesota competetive again, and the Gophers, for all intents and purposes, should have been forgotten a long time ago. Granted, Northwestern and Penn State are traditionally poor teams, but even the supposed middle of the road teams aren't playing that well this year, like Illinois, Michigan, Michigan State, and Iowa. If the Big Ten only received three bids this year (Wisconsin, Ohio State and Indiana) I don't think anyone should be surprised.

Sorry I diverged from the theme there towards the end. Please forgive me? Until we meet again.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

FerenceWatch '07: Update

This just in: A Ference has indeed been traded. Andrew Ference was part of a four player trade today, in which Brad Stuart was sent to the Flames from Boston. Have fun in Beantown, Mr. Ference, but I wouldn't get too comfortable.

And with that, the NHL trade season is in full swing.

Friday, February 09, 2007

How NHL Reallignment should work

I know I promised some baseball content this week, but for heavens sake, there isn't anything for me to gripe about. As much as I may want to lambast the Twins for only getting Jeff Cirillo, Sidney Ponson and Ramon Ortiz, I really can't. If you dig through the archives, you'll see that I recommended a utility infielder and a veteran pitcher to eat up innings. That's what they did! How can I complain? They're just saving up for the next couple years, when Minnesota will need to sell Anoka County in order to keep the roster intact.
In any event, the NHL is the feature professional sport in my life right now, and there are plenty of interesting subplots. First, it's nearly the trading deadline, and the trading season is in full swing. Sure, the Ference's the traditional first to be traded, haven't been dealt yet (that's soon to come) but another trade bait favorite Andy Delmore has changed addresses (Tampa to Atlanta) and Josef Vasicek had his annual trade back to Carolina. I don't know why the Canes dont just sign him to a long term deal. Also, there is the whole debate on whether or not the NHL should return to balanced scheduling. They should, of course, but after next season, so the entire cycle can expire. Lastly, Gary Bettman has been spouting off about some reallignment plans for the NHL. This is what I want to talk about. How should the new divisions work out?
Well, first, let's point out the fact that some teams simply need to be moved. It's that simple. So let's first move some teams, shall we? Top of that list is Florida, a bad team that traditionally doesn't attract many fans and fails to incite interest. We'll plop them in Quebec City, the largest town in Canada without a team. Next, it's only right to return the Coyotes to their rightful owners in Winnepeg. Hartford doesn't deserve a team, but neither does Raleigh. The Hurricanes are moved to London, Ontario. The Thrashers are greatly improved this season. Atlanta isn't a sports town, much less for hockey, so they get moved to Halifax. Tampa Bay is our last team to move to Canada. I'm most reluctant to move them, because, of the southern teams that aren't Dallas, they are the most successful. But that's really a left handed compliment. They can worry about things later as the Saskatchewan Lighting (playing in Saskatoon). I'd like to see California reduced to one team, probably the Ducks or Kings, which means that the other two get moved to more hockey crazed parts of the world, like Wisconsin and North Dakota. They proved that they have benefactors willing to pay for hockey in Grand Forks, and I can't imagine it would be any different in Fargo.
So those are our new teams. Let's look at some new divisions. Of course, these are hypothetical, and I'm open to suggestion.
Out East, we would have a new mid-Atlantic division, featuring Washington, Nashville (who keeps their team because I think there is interest they can still drum up, especially from places like Huntsville), Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Buffalo. The New England division would play host to New Jersey, the New York City teams, Boston and the relocated Thrashers from Halifax. The last Eastern Conference division is the Eastern Canada division, which will host the Quebec Panthers, Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa and the London Hurricanes, which should probably be renamed.
The Western Division got really interesting. It was difficult to set up divisions that made sense geographically, but here's what I got. The Great Lakes division would feature Detroit, Columbus, Chicago, St. Louis and the Wisconsin Ducks. The Rocky Mountain Division would be the largest in the league, geographically, hosting Minnesota, the North Dakota Sharks, Dallas, Colorado and Los Angeles. That leaves my new favorite fictional divisionm the Canadian Plains division, hosting the Winnepeg Jets, nee Coyotes, the Saskatchewan Lightning, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver.
The reason that hockey is struggling to reemerge is because the NHL is working too hard to establish itself in markets that have never been hockey hotbeds. Why not give it back to Canada? Why not make Sidney Crosby take road trips to Fargo and Saskatoon? As always, let me know what you think with your comments.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Temple-St Bonaventure. It's finally over

Well, we had a lot of fun with this, I'm not sure you did, but here's a little bit of the postgame.

"Steve" (7:48:11 PM): great shooting performance all around for Temple

Ryan (7:49:05 PM): They were strong all around, especially Tyndale, Christmas and Dacons

Ryan (7:49:15 PM): They were strong on the boards, especially

Ryan (7:49:50 PM): I love the look at the announcers during the commercial

Ryan (7:49:56 PM): they havent said a word to each othr

"Steve" (7:50:09 PM): they look like they'd be good friends

"Steve" (7:50:26 PM): they share a mutual love for Temple basketball

Ryan (7:50:42 PM): If I'm not mistaken that's Dick Cheney and Joe Morgan

"Steve" (7:51:23 PM): 24 3's made combined

"Steve" (7:51:32 PM): I would pay to listen to that

Ryan (7:52:33 PM): The radio feed is just about wrapped up

Ryan (7:52:40 PM): So I think that will do it for us

Temple - St. Bonaventure, 2nd Half. It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

I apologize for the dnot so witty comment up there. And, so much for making this shorter...

Ryan (6:59:11 PM): ok.. second half

"Steve" (6:59:16 PM): tack another one on

"Steve" (7:00:10 PM): Temple is trying to push this series to 47-6

Ryan (7:00:40 PM): This is getting ugly again for the Bonnies

"Steve" (7:00:44 PM): Tyndale just missed a dunk

"Steve" (7:00:50 PM): is your video still working?

Ryan (7:02:08 PM): yeah, I just couldn't get the stats up

Ryan (7:02:35 PM): The camera guy just fell asleep there

"Steve" (7:02:41 PM): haha yeah

"Steve" (7:02:54 PM): we just got a critical Xavier-St. Louis update

Ryan (7:03:06 PM): I noticed too that the Bonnies have only used 7 players. I mean, if you're that bad, why not play the whole bench?

Ryan (7:03:28 PM): I was more intrigued by the La Salle - Duquesne matchup

Ryan (7:03:52 PM): Temple is the best intramural team I've ever seen

"Steve" (7:04:39 PM): yeah they would have dominated our fraternity league

"Steve" (7:04:53 PM): maybe at least 3 of their starters are drunk too, just like that league

Ryan (7:05:15 PM): With 15:14 to go, Temple is already at 60

Ryan (7:05:25 PM): This is what happens when you can hit the three

"Steve" (7:05:32 PM): and the Globetrotters are coming to Temple on March 10!!!!

Ryan (7:05:55 PM): Will they fill seats? That upper deck is hauntingly empty

"Steve" (7:06:07 PM): yeah even though Temple is doing badly this year, this would be a major upset game in the tournament if they shot like this

"Steve" (7:06:22 PM): is this where the Sixers play?

Ryan (7:06:30 PM): no

"Steve" (7:06:45 PM): they should have kept the Spectrum just for Temple

Ryan (7:08:51 PM): Temple is going to win by about 30

"Steve" (7:09:11 PM): yeah its kind of like the Bonnies are giving up

Ryan (7:09:31 PM): When you hit threes with guys in your face like that, there is no way you are losing

Ryan (7:10:10 PM): The second half so far is 20-9

"Steve" (7:10:08 PM): missed free throw....probably because it wasn't a 3

Ryan (7:10:26 PM): Jesus.

Ryan (7:10:31 PM): That was incredible

"Steve" (7:10:35 PM): I'm kind of surprised the announcers don't seem to notice all the 3s

Ryan (7:10:42 PM): Christmas wsa clearly fouled and hit a three

Ryan (7:11:04 PM): He fell down as he was shooting

"Steve" (7:11:08 PM): the refs haven't been calling many

"Steve" (7:11:19 PM): it really is like a pickup game

Ryan (7:11:23 PM): and then on the other end, some doofus just had the ugliest lay up I've ever seen

"Steve" (7:11:44 PM): I wonder if Dwyane Wade is going to show up to drop off a Navigator

Ryan (7:11:48 PM): Well, Temple is going to keep the court... Who got next?

Ryan (7:12:26 PM): The Bonnies cant figure out the zon

Ryan (7:12:27 PM): e

"Steve" (7:12:30 PM): UMass got next

"Steve" (7:13:18 PM): I wonder how big St. Bonaventure's place is

"Steve" (7:13:28 PM): incredible

Ryan (7:13:47 PM): They just aren't stopping with the threes

Ryan (7:14:01 PM): Stopping with 11:35 and its 76-51

"Steve" (7:14:05 PM): think they'll get to 100?

Ryan (7:14:14 PM): Those were 30 quick points in the second half

Ryan (7:14:21 PM): at the rate they're going they will

"Steve" (7:14:45 PM): 30 YEARS FOR MCGARRITY FORD!!!!!!!!

Ryan (7:14:58 PM): WHY IS HE YELLING?!

"Steve" (7:15:00 PM): that was the worst commercial ever

Ryan (7:15:33 PM): If you have ticket number 036454 you have won the 50/50 cotest

"Steve" (7:15:50 PM): I just wonder if it was sold

Ryan (7:16:28 PM): Temple is still playing their starters... it hardly seems necessary at this point

Ryan (7:16:50 PM): Christmas is taking the game over

"Steve" (7:16:57 PM): I guess they don't really need to rest them for anything

"Steve" (7:17:53 PM):

"Steve" (7:17:58 PM): this is who I want to see

Ryan (7:18:09 PM): Christmas can't miss!

Ryan (7:18:56 PM): thats awesome

Ryan (7:20:19 PM): That was just a killer screen right there

Ryan (7:20:37 PM): Do NOT leave Zarryon Fereti alone! Unless you are winning by 25

"Steve" (7:21:02 PM): haha yeah, then its probably ok

"Steve" (7:21:45 PM): I should probably do a score update 86-61 Temple with 9:14 to go

Ryan (7:22:04 PM): Oh, right

Ryan (7:22:29 PM): One name they keep bringing up that I haven't yet, "Tyler Relph" That'

Ryan (7:22:31 PM): s it

Ryan (7:22:47 PM): Christmas missed!

"Steve" (7:22:47 PM): I'm satisfied

Ryan (7:23:07 PM): But Dacons gets the rebound slam, of course

Ryan (7:23:53 PM): Bonaventure is packing it in... They just brought in a couple pudgy white guys

"Steve" (7:23:58 PM): do you think Dion is a nickname for Dionte?

Ryan (7:24:09 PM): no... Dion DAcons

Ryan (7:24:14 PM): and Dionte Christmas

"Steve" (7:24:20 PM): I know, I was just asking

"Steve" (7:24:36 PM): like maybe they're both named Dionte

"Steve" (7:24:46 PM): uh oh, the Bonnies are turning to the Croatians

Ryan (7:24:52 PM): That seems... unlikely

Ryan (7:25:00 PM): Ivan Kovacevic

"Steve" (7:25:20 PM): I love how he came to play for St. Bonaventure

"Steve" (7:25:28 PM): and sit on the bench most of the time

Ryan (7:25:42 PM): LOL Nice camera work! We just got a zoom on the entire dance team bending over

"Steve" (7:25:59 PM): I knew it was going to happen eventually

Ryan (7:26:15 PM): Our camera man is bored and lonely

"Steve" (7:27:36 PM): we could see a record breaking night here

Ryan (7:27:40 PM): Temple is going to get a record tonight. They will get the highest point total ath the Cyprus centerm which was previously at 98

Ryan (7:27:46 PM): In a double OT game

"Steve" (7:28:05 PM): just a testament to the Bonnies' tenacious D

Ryan (7:28:51 PM): In the past two games (this one isn't over yet even) they have given up 201 points

Ryan (7:29:25 PM): Tyndale may get his 1000th point tonight as well

Ryan (7:29:36 PM): And he has 16 rebounds

"Steve" (7:29:43 PM): I know one day I'll remember where I was when Tyndale got his 1000th point

Ryan (7:30:11 PM): 16 boards... that would be a crazy stat if they were playing someone good

"Steve" (7:30:10 PM): what???

Ryan (7:30:30 PM): Dashone Kirkendoll checking in

"Steve" (7:30:33 PM): he just said he didn't think they'd get the record

Ryan (7:30:45 PM): the 98 point record?

Ryan (7:30:49 PM): I didn't catch that

"Steve" (7:30:45 PM): yeah

"Steve" (7:30:56 PM): yeah because the coach "is such a nice guy"

"Steve" (7:31:05 PM): even though they need 4 points

Ryan (7:31:15 PM): Ha! The scrubs can put 4 points on St. Bonaventure

Ryan (7:31:56 PM): I think we might see some fisticuffs.. Terron Diggs for Bonaventure is getting upset

"Steve" (7:32:03 PM): ooo I hope so

"Steve" (7:32:14 PM): uh oh Tyndale gets T-ed up

Ryan (7:32:41 PM): oooh, He was talking to Relph (I knew we'd use his name again) and Diggs

"Steve" (7:33:14 PM): 95 points, 998 for the career

"Steve" (7:33:19 PM): 96, 999

Ryan (7:33:29 PM): Tyndale will get the single game rebound record too

"Steve" (7:33:29 PM): NO!!

"Steve" (7:33:33 PM): they took him out

"Steve" (7:33:44 PM): 1 rebound short of the record too

Ryan (7:33:59 PM): For pete's sake

Ryan (7:34:10 PM): Now its all foreigners playing

"Steve" (7:34:14 PM): what if Tyndale gets hurt walking to class tomorrow and never plays again

Ryan (7:34:29 PM): Like he goes to class

"Steve" (7:34:30 PM): then he's stuck at 999 forever

Ryan (7:35:06 PM): "Coach Dunphy asking someone to get the finger going in the right direction"

Ryan (7:35:10 PM): No comment

"Steve" (7:35:23 PM): must be a Philly thing

"Steve" (7:35:43 PM): Sergio ties the record!

Ryan (7:35:56 PM): In front of his father@

Ryan (7:35:57 PM): !

"Steve" (7:36:07 PM): I think Disney just bought the rights to that script

Ryan (7:36:31 PM): The Bonnies, it should be pointed out, haven't scored in a good 5-7 minutes

"Steve" (7:36:46 PM): yeah and Temple has 43 rebounds as a team

"Steve" (7:37:01 PM): scratch that, 45

Ryan (7:37:05 PM): it's 98-61

Ryan (7:37:22 PM): And Tyndale has 16 of them

"Steve" (7:37:29 PM): can the scoreboard get to 100?

"Steve" (7:37:37 PM): it only lookslike 2 digits

Ryan (7:37:45 PM): We'll find out soon enough

Ryan (7:38:01 PM): it will probably go crazy, explode and fall to the floor

"Steve" (7:38:05 PM): I hope so

Ryan (7:38:11 PM): Relph did get a technical foul

"Steve" (7:38:17 PM): that would make good internet video viewing

Ryan (7:38:28 PM): 99

"Steve" (7:38:27 PM): New Record!!!!

"Steve" (7:38:53 PM): misses the 2nd. That was the loudest fan reaction of the night

Ryan (7:39:03 PM): There are three minutes + left, and Temple isn't putting anyone along the lane during foul shots

Ryan (7:39:35 PM): When I ref, this is one of those games where I just swallow the whistly

Ryan (7:39:39 PM): whistle*

Ryan (7:40:03 PM): Lou Guzman puts the Owls over 100!

"Steve" (7:40:58 PM): Lounceny Kaba

"Steve" (7:41:08 PM): just had to include that name too

Ryan (7:41:13 PM): ok, so now where is Anthony Ivory

Ryan (7:41:34 PM): Perry King, 1970's detective was just whistled for the foul

"Steve" (7:41:34 PM): I guess they don't trust him in 36 point games

Ryan (7:41:46 PM): There he is!

Ryan (7:41:54 PM): Oh my god he's HUGE

Ryan (7:42:24 PM): and the birthday boy, Brian Shanahan checks in

Ryan (7:42:41 PM): Not surprisingly, Ivory isn't too quick on defense

Ryan (7:43:12 PM): Ivory scores!

"Steve" (7:43:23 PM): I love it

"Steve" (7:43:36 PM): he got like 2 inches off the ground trying to block that shot

"Steve" (7:43:47 PM): Ivory's on FIRE!!!

Ryan (7:43:52 PM): The loudest this crowd has got was when Orlando Miller checked in

Ryan (7:44:07 PM): He looks like an athlete!

"Steve" (7:44:20 PM): he's a force down low

"Steve" (7:44:38 PM): Birthday Boy hits the 3!!

Ryan (7:44:43 PM): I dont know if you noticed, but every Bonnies player has a name on the back... except # 23

"Steve" (7:45:54 PM): I didn't...maybe they got him at a local playground

Ryan (7:46:26 PM): My favorite call towards the end was when the announcer nearly choked while saying Hvizdzak (who, by the way, was #23)

Ryan (7:46:37 PM): Ok... That's it, the final is 109-70 Temple