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Evan Grossman

About Evan
Evan Grossman comes to NHL.com after six years as a sports reporter for the New York Post, where he was the Islanders beat writer from 2001-2006. Among Evan's memorable assignments at the tabloid were Shawn Bates' penalty shot against the Maple Leafs in the 2002 playoffs, walking with Phil Mickelson on Sunday at the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot and countless hours waiting in the Yankee Stadium parking lot for Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.

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Recent Posts
"I’m not looking for the best players, Craig..."
“Throw it to Lucas!”
“What’s a lace-curtain guy like you... ”
“None of this would have happened... "

Season Archive
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

“I’m not looking for the best players, Craig. I’m looking for the right ones.”

I’ll never know what it’s like playing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and I most definitely will never know what it’s like to be on a team going into Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. Most of us never will. But this week at the NHL offices, we have the company hockey tournament, known as the Mountie Cup.

Maybe I took the experience a little too seriously. Maybe I had a little too much fun with it all. But in the spirit of the approaching Stanley Cup Playoffs, in the spirit of the ongoing NCAA Frozen Four, all the Stanley Cup countdown stories we’re working on, and in the spirit of all the men’s leagues around the world that take their games too seriously, this was our time to play the part of our NHL heroes.

Maybe you played dress-up as a kid. Well, I got to play dress-up as an adult this week.

That being said, I still can’t imagine the pressure and angst NHL players feel going into the real playoffs, as opposed to our little office tournament. But it was fun to play the part, even if nobody will ever confuse this guy with being a professional hockey player.

So here’s my Mountie Cup Journal.

My last – and only – shot at the big time.

Tuesday night – Tryouts. Didn’t go as bad as I thought they would. Didn’t exactly start out the right way. Getting ready for my first on-ice appearance with co-workers, one of them says to me, “So did you play in college?” as I lace ‘em up in the room.

Uh, no.

“OK, well what about high school then?”

What kind of game am I getting into here? Didn’t play in high school either. In fact, we didn’t exactly have a team in high school. Right then and there, I’m thinking the office players can probably play a little bit and it may not have been such a wise idea to skate with them. I took a deep breath -- yoga-style, in through the nose -- pulled on my jersey, and hit the ice.

Took a few laps out there to get the blood going. Took a few shots on the goalie, too. So far, so good. Hadn’t yet embarrassed myself, when I looked up and didn’t recognize anybody out there on the ice. Not a single familiar face. And why are they all wearing uniforms? One team is in red. One is in white. And I’m wearing a black Kings throwback jersey in the middle of the rink. I’m on one knee stretching, when I realize, hey, I’m on the wrong rink. My revelation was followed by the most impressive disappearing act of all time. Even better than Alexandre Daigle.

Finally made it to the right place and nobody seems to have gotten a bigger kick out of my mistake than me. Drop the puck. Let’s go.

OK, didn’t go that bad. I later learned that on the scale of 1-3 the captains used for the draft -- one being excellent and three a beginner -- they graciously awarded me a two. Didn’t embarrass myself (apparently that only happens when the new blog comes out), didn’t hurt anyone else, and most importantly, I didn’t puke. Success!

Wednesday – Not nearly as sore as I expected to be. In fact, I am able to walk upright, which is great. And if anyone was chasing after me for my wallet, I’m pretty confident I could have run away. Or at least put up a fight. Interviewed Flyers forward Mike Knuble at the morning skate at Madison Square Garden. Hopefully some of his toughness rubs off on me. At some point in the evening, teams are picked in a secret draft held in a secret location.

Thursday – Out of the office to attend Pittsburgh at the Islanders. Interviewed Sidney Crosby, and hopefully some of his Crosbiness rubs off on me. Emails went out in the afternoon, alerting me that I was a member of the Red Team, also known as “The Shock Doctors.” Captain Nick did a bang-up job at the draft it seems. On paper, we have the makings of a championship team, but we all know titles are won on the ice, not on paper. Shaved for the last time in the morning in an attempt to grow a playoff beard in four days. We’ll see how that pans out.

The Red roster looks like this:

Nick Gennerelli (capt.), Aliya Ansari, Chie Chie Sakuma, David Lehanski, Dean Matsuzaki, Eric Dwyer, Kate Allen, Mike Chute, Pete Helfer, Pete Pennecke, Wesley Clarkson, Me.

Friday – Back in the office. Let the trash talk begin. A rumor circulates that the actual Mountie Cup is somewhere in the office. I’d like to go see it, check out what we’re playing for. But superstition wins out. I don’t want to be face-to-face with the thing. I don’t want to touch it. Until we hoist it on Tuesday night. It’s not quite a playoff beard yet. More like five o’clock shadow. More like a guy that looks like he slept too late to shave in the morning.

Saturday – If ever there was a tactical error made in the week leading up to the biggest hockey night of my life, it happened on Saturday. Went to play golf. It was barely 50 degrees out. Too cold. Hadn’t hit a ball since September. The soreness in my back after nine holes came out of nowhere. Actually, it returned again the very moment I lifted my gym bag out of the car for a post-round workout. There are worse ways to hurt your back. Like lifting a candy bar to your face. Or slipping in the shower. What are you doing? You have a hockey game to prepare for. Save the golf and lifting luggage for after the season, just like the pros do. My old friend Ben Gay and the Advil triplets would make an earlier-than-expected appearance.

Sunday – It wasn’t a full-on back spasm. Thank goodness. But there is still something going on in there under my left shoulder blade. Still made it to the gym for one final workout before the tournament. I wasn’t Mario Lemieux, unable to bend down to tie my shoes, or anything. Should be able to play through it just fine. Playoffs are for warriors anyway, right? If this was pro hockey, the Toronto Sun would have run the headline “Back Off Man!” under my photo on the back page.

Monday – The playoff beard is filling in. I haven’t turned into a wolfman or anything, but I’m curious what this thing would look like after two months of NHL playoff hockey, as opposed to a condensed, four-day wait going into the Mountie. Co-workers, even those who are aware of the tournament, look quizzically at the stubble. They probably think I was just too lazy to shave in the morning. They must think I’m a big dork. But that’s OK. Maybe we’ll meet in the corner on Tuesday.

Mountie Cup Green Team
By coincidence, Monday night I saw the new Blades of Glory movie that the rest of you can see in theaters on Friday. Basically it’s Ricky Bobby meets Napoleon Dynamite meets The Cutting Edge (you remember, the movie starring D.B. Sweeny as an ex-hockey player who becomes a figure skater). Needless to say, I officially laugh all the laughter out of my system. Really. There’s nothing left but toughness and a scowl and a John Madden-like stare that could stop traffic.

It’s the funniest movie I’ve seen in years, which is good news for a guy that thought they didn’t make funny flicks anymore. Jon Heder and Will Ferrell are a riot playing figure skaters who are forced to team up for an unlikely pair. Plus, the opening scene is a vast Canadian pond hockey experience which hooked me right from the start.

*More on Blades of Glory: http://www.bladesofglorymovie.com/

Tuesday – Gameday. Woke up this morning wearing my game face. Is this what it’s like waking up the morning of Game 7? Wish I had a morning skate to get the legs going, to answer any last-minute questions the media might have. Wish I had a hotel room for an afternoon nap. Or a Tim Horton’s coffee. Couldn’t find any shark cartilage to munch on at lunch, so settled for pasta instead. Light trash talk around the office. Still think I’m taking this whole thing entirely too seriously. Like when I refused to touch the Cup in the taxi over to the rink, managing to avoid doing so sitting in the back seat with the thing, might I add.

Mountie Cup Blue Team
Game 1: Red 3, Blue 2 (OT) --
Red starts the tournament with an emotional shootout win after two goals in regulation from Pete Helfer and the winner from Wes Clarkson, who somehow never lost his focus despite deftly organizing the whole tournament. Evin Dobson and proud pop Troy Ewanchyna got goals for the Blue squad in a preview of the championship game.

Game 2: Red 3, Green 0 -- Goalie Pete Pennecke records the first shutout of the tournament behind solid defense and a blocked shot in the final minute by yours truly. Helfer continues his scoring binge with two more goals. David Lehanski also scored for the Red team.

Game 3: Green 3, Blue 2 (OT) -- Another thriller. Brad Holland potted two goals for the Green team while Greg Mueller and captain Bobby Correira scored for the Blue team. In the shootout, Alexander Townsend-Mitchell (ATM for brevity purposes) scored the winner after Correira won the day’s sportsmanship award by recommending they send out the beginners for the first attempts of the shootout. Style points to Neil Pierson for the attempted spin-o-rama.

Semifinals: Blue 3, Green 0 -- Blue advances to the Mountie Cup Finals. Seemingly in response to the cheap shot leveled on Michelle Marra from an unidentified member of the Green team, Blue pounds their way into a championship date with the Red team thanks to unanswered goals by Evan Neel, Dobson and Pierson.

2007 NHL Mountie Cup champions pose with the cherished trophy.
The Championship: Red 2, Blue 1 --
They came together as a team faster than anyone else and the Red squad hung on for dear life for the Mountie Cup title. Killing off a one-minute power play with the time ticking down, Pennecke preserved the win with several big stops in the game’s final moments. Red had built a 2-0 lead on goals from Mike Chute and off a brilliant transition after your favorite blogger dug the puck out at the top of the zone, hit Eric Dwyer on the tape of his stick with the outlet. Helfer finished the play and the goal, after a desperation score by Dobson with less than five minutes to play, stood up as the game winner. So I assisted on the Cup-winning goal, thank you very much.

It’s now Wednesday morning, the morning after, and when I woke up it felt like the scene in Perfect Strangers when Balki and Cousin Larry woke up after going to the gym for the first time. When they woke up screaming in agony. Well, the lower back is a mess today, but I’ve got the whole off-season to heal.

It was not Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. And it wasn’t the Stanley Cup playoffs. It was the Mountie Cup. And it’s ours until someone takes it from us.

Two-handers:

* Smoking, obesity, lack of exercise and a bad diet contribute to mental decline, according to researchers in Scotland who followed up on a 1947 study of the IQ’s of people in that country. According to the report, lifestyle affects the brain and bad habits may play a part in acquiring certain “dementing diseases,” while physical fitness and eating properly alternately enhance mental power. Let this be a warning to all of you who refuse to pass and take shifts that are too long: Those bad habits may also shrink your mind.

* Multitasking overload? According to several published and unpublished reports, the human brain has a threshold for the amount of multitasking it is capable of, thereby putting a limit on how much we email, IM, talk on cell phones, Blackberry, listen to iPods and surf the internet at the same time. It is also recommended that people curb their multitasking behavior when working in an office or operating a car. What, then, is a multi-tasker like Scott Niedermayer -- a vital cog on the power play, penalty kill and at even strength – to do?

* Scientists at St. Louis University have developed an experimental battery capable of running on any type of sugar source. The battery, capable of running four times longer than a regular lithium battery, can run on anything from flat soda to normal table sugar. Imagine the half-life of a battery powered by a plate of poutine.

* According to a report last week, teenage girls are suffering at the hands of “cyber-bullies” who use mobile phones and computers to send hurtful and frightening messages, new research has shown. Technology, it seems, is supplying a new medium to pick on people. So then, can PayPal be used to shake down lunch money?

* Sydney, Australia will go dark for an hour on Saturday in a staged blackout to raise awareness of global warming. The intention of “Earth Hour” is for other major cities around the world to turn out the lights in an effort to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions responsible for global warming. Little did blackout organizers realize that Boston staged its own power outage years ago when the lights went out at the old Boston Garden during the second period of Game 4 in the 1988 Stanley Cup Final.

Posted by Evan @ 11:22 a.m.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

“Throw it to Lucas!”

So we’re getting ready here at League HQ for next week’s office hockey tournament. Not sure if it’s an annual thing, or if the Mountie Cup is semi-annual, but I do know that I will be playing in my first one.

As always, the mission will be to not embarrass myself. Or get hurt. Or puke.

Now don’t get me wrong. I know the game pretty well. I know where to go and where to be out there on the ice, but I grew up playing on the street, on roller skates, the old Tour quads with the orange wheels. Playing on the ice was not something I had the luxury of experiencing until later in life. But that’s cool. I know that if the NHL game was played on quads, I truly believe I could have made it as a third-line guy. At least. See, on our street, we would literally be out there every day after school until the sun went down.

Fights on our little block were generally settled this way. Instead of actually brawling on Riva Ridge Court, my brother and I would have the gauntlet thrown down to us, “Yeah, but you can’t beat us in hockey!” And then we would proceed to beat them into Mylec-induced submission. We’re still looking for our first defeat.

OK. Getting back on point. Office tournament. Where we separate the men from the boys, the women from the girls. Not sure how many of you people work in an office, but it’s always fun to compete in sports with your co-workers away from the cubicles. At my old job, every summer we would have a golf outing. It was sort of the way I would gauge my annual progress on the links. One time I finished as high as second, by virtue of the generous handicapping system. Most of the time, though, life wasn’t as grand.

I remember when I left the paper, someone said, “Now who’s going to finish last in the golf outing every year?” Great. Well, hopefully my change of address will also signal an upgrade in athletic prowess. Not likely, but a guy can sure hope, can’t he?

Like Ron “Tater Salad” White says, “I told you that story to tell you this one.” So here goes.

Tuesday night the team captains encouraged all participants to play in the weekly office game, so as to scout the talent and form their draft strategy. In preparation, I’ve been skating with the meatheads at my local rink, where the first-ever open hockey fight took place a few weeks ago when the combatants threw haymakers after forgetting to remove their gloves or helmets first.

Anyway, the draft will be held later this week and I’ve already notified one of them to reserve a slot for me real low on their list. I’m sure that will need little reinforcement once this week’s scouting combine begins, in the words of Steve Stirling, I’m out there “where there’s nowhere to hide.”

It won’t be the end of the world if I’m picked late. Or last.

I won’t be the first star they found at the bottom of the heap.

Mark Messier, second all-time in scoring behind Wayne Gretzky, was drafted in the fourth round, No. 48 overall, in 1979.

Moving down the list of the NHL’s all-time leading scorers there are plenty of diamonds in the rough. Adam Oates wasn’t drafted but is No. 15 on the league’s all-time scoring register. Doug Gilmour, who scored 1,414 points in 20 seasons, was taken in the seventh round – No. 134 overall – in 1982. Jari Kurri, one of the pure scorers of all time, was taken in the fourth round of the 1980 Draft.

Before Luc Robitaille scored 668 goals in 19 seasons, he was a ninth-round selection (No. 171 overall) in the 1984 Draft. That’s so low, they don’t even have a ninth round anymore.

Brett Hull, who scored 741 goals in his star-studded career, watched 116 players go before he was selected in the sixth round in 1984.

Pavel Bure, "The Russian Rocket", was a sixth-round pick in 1989. Nicklas Lidstrom, one of the great defensemen of the modern era, was a third-round guy in 1989. Six-time Vezina winner and two-time league MVP Dominik Hasek was taken in the now-defunct 10th round (No. 199 overall) in 1983 by Chicago. Glenn Anderson, one of the great playoff scorers of all-time with 93 postseason goals, was taken by the Oilers in the fourth round in 1979.

Theo Fleury, a member of the 1989 Calgary Flames, a team laden with late picks, was taken in the eighth round (No. 166) in 1987. Joe Mullen, who until this week was the most prolific American-born goal scorer in league history, was not drafted. Gary Suter, another Cup winner with the ’89 Flames, waited until the ninth round of the 1984 Draft. Hakan Loob, one of that team’s scoring threats, also was drafted in the ninth round in 1980. Joel Otto, one of the great two-way forwards in recent memory, also won a Cup with that team after he was not drafted.

Sergei Fedorov went in the fourth round. Alexander Mogilny, also a casualty of the Iron Curtain, dropped to the fifth round in 1988.

The trend continues.

The leading scorers of four of the NHL’s 30 teams going into this week were also not high draft picks. Marc Savard, lighting it up in Boston this year, was a fourth-round pick in 1995. Dallas’ leading scorer, Sergei Zubov, came into the league as a fifth-rounder in 1990. Pavel Datsyuk, leading the Red Wings in scoring, was a sixth-round pick in 1998. Minnesota’s leading scorer, Pavol Demitra, was a ninth-round selection in 1993 (the same year Alexandre Daigle went first). Until Ryan Smyth came aboard, Jason Blake was the Islanders’ leading scorer, and he wasn’t even drafted.

Four of the NHL’s top five goals-against leaders coming into this week were also not very highly regarded on draft day.

Dominik Hasek is leading the League again in that stat, but right behind him, Niklas Backstrom wasn’t drafted, Evgeni Nabokov was a ninth-rounder, and Marty Turco was taken in the fifth round in 1994.

Chris Mason was an eighth-round pick of the Devils in 1995. Vesa Toskala was a ninth-round guy in 1995. Henrik Lundqvist was a seventh-round pick in 2000, long before anyone called him “The King.” Miikka Kiprusoff was a fifth-round selection. Ryan Miller, the Eastern Conference starter in this year’s All Star Game, was also a fifth-round find. Andrew Raycroft, too. Ray Emery was found in the fourth round in 2001. Later in that same Draft, Cristobal Huet was discovered in the seventh round.

So the point is this people: You can measure how fast a guy skates, you can see how hard he shoots, how well he handles the puck, but until the games begin, can you really truly know how good someone’s going to be?

We think not.

Wish me luck. I’m going to need it.

Two-handers:

* Russian President Vladimir Putin made news last week when he called for the creation of a government agency to regulate the Internet in that country, harkening back to the old days of heavy censorship. The fear, according to some, is that such an agency could control the media and certain bloggers. To our knowledge, Gross Misconduct should remain available to hockey fans all over the world.

* According to the Associated Press, two stray cats broke into a house in Nebraska and attacked three people. Apparently the Florida Panthers aren’t the only felines making it tough on people.

* Have you heard about the pizza selling in New York for $1,000? The pie, featuring non-traditional ingredients like caviar and lobster, was added to the menu last week at one Manhattan eatery. Individual slices can be purchased for $250 per slice. Even with the NHL flourishing, it’s highly unlikely to see one of those pies in the post-game player spread. Not unless it had ham and pineapple on it.

* A public-school dress code will be recommended in Indianapolis this week after the superintendent assembled a task force to combat baggy pants and revealing shirts. If the law passes, we recommend Reebok design the uniforms that will surely wick away perspiration encountered in all those spelling bees and pop quizzes. Cutting the amount of drag will also help in evading the bullies at recess.

* According to a report last week, Mars -- the planet, not the candy bar -- has enough ice at its south pole to blanket the entire planet in more than 30 feet of water if everything thawed out. With the use of radar, astronomers penetrated about 2.5 miles beneath the south pole's frozen surface where they discovered what has been described as “pure water ice.” Not sure when the next expansion will hit the NHL, but a road trip to Mars might edge Montreal for the greatest stop in the league. Maybe.

* A seventh-grade student was being held in Ohio last week on 128 felony counts including burglary and theft. Roberto Luongo seems to have played in more games than that this season in Vancouver, and yet he’s getting off without so much as a slap on the wrist?

* A 20-year study of Scottish sheep found weather patterns were driving changes in body shape and population size, according to a report this week. Harsh winters, it said, led to larger sheep, which brought about changes in population size. In milder winters this effect was not seen. Global warming, then, must also be responsible for hockey players coming into the league bigger, faster and stronger than ever before.

* And last but not least, the White House Correspondents’ Association met this week to discuss rearranging the West Wing Briefing Room when the setup moves to a 49-seat format. Columnist Helen Thomas will remain in the front row and CNN will be moved up to rock-star seating. But where will Grossie be?

Posted by Evan @ 10:28 a.m.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

“What’s a lace-curtain guy like
you doing in the Stateys?”

Every NHL trophy is awarded for a reason. Some are easy. Like the Rocket Richard goes to the player who finishes the year with more goals than anyone else. The Art Ross goes to the player who accumulates the most points in the regular season. The Norris is for the best defenseman; Vezina goes to the best goalie; and the Selke is handed to the league’s best defensive forward.

Those, to an extent, are all pretty cut and dry. There is little interpretation needed by the voters. But then there is the Lady Byng, which is presented to “the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.” In the simplest terms, it is usually presented to the best player with the fewest penalty minutes each season. There should be a Byng Formula that you can punch in point totals, divided by penalty minutes, and come up with a winner.

But there isn’t.

In my mind, there’s plenty of room for interpretation. In that way, the Lady Byng is probably the most complicated of all the NHL’s major awards. That doesn’t make it any less important than the others. In fact, the Lady Byng is one of the most distinguished of all the postseason awards.

According to the trusty dictionary I keep on the desk here, a “gentleman” is a “well-bred man; man of good social position; man (used as a mark of politeness).”

But what, exactly, entails being the most gentlemanly player in the game today? To be certain, I thought Ray Emery was a perfect gentleman when he helped Martin Biron get back up on his skates. But he’s not going to win this year for the same reasons Billy Smith never won one.

The Lady Byng brings to mind those old Right Guard commercials with the famous athletes dressed up as high-class gentlemen, waxing prophetic about the finer things in life, generally in a stuffy country club setting. A good example of that ad campaign appeared in the movie Major League II when Charlie Sheen’s Rick Vaughn took part in one of those popular commercials.

“When on the croquet lawn, one must be careful not to offend an opponent with an unscented, unwanted odor,” Wild Thing said. “That’s why I use Right Guard Sports Stick ... anything less would be uncivilized.”

In the NHL, instead of Right Guard, we’ve got the Lady Byng. In the past, players like Pavel Datsyuk, Brad Richards, Alexander Mogilny, Ron Francis, Joe Sakic, Wayne Gretzky, Paul Kariya, Pierre Turgeon and Mike Bossy have won the award.

They are all great icons. But this is the new NHL, and this season, I’d like to see voters go in a different direction.

My nominee for this year’s Lady Byng is Trent Hunter of the Islanders. Forget that I think he’s a swell guy, that he’s always there in the hallway with an outstretched hand and wondering, “How’s things?” Forget that he is one of the most caring team guys in the game. That he probably holds doors open for people, helps old ladies cross the street and never misses an opportunity to say “please” or “thank you.”

I’ve got other reasons for heaping such high praise on him.

“You want to show some highlight clips of how to hit and how to play the game properly, Trent’s one of those guys,” head coach Ted Nolan told me. “Lady Byng is one of those things when everybody says, ‘Oh, well he’s a soft player.’ But he’s the reverse. He’s probably one of the most aggressive players who plays the game the way it’s meant to be played. He means a lot to our team. He kills penalties, he’s on the power play, he’s on a regular shift, he’s on in the last minute of a game. He’s a big player for us and he should be recognized for it.”

Going into this week, Hunter was fifth in the League and with 206 hits, was one of only six players with more than 200. So that tells you Hunter isn’t shying away from any sort of contact. Even more remarkable, Hunter had only 16 minutes of penalties, despite all that smashing. That’s only eight minors all season. So in addition to the 19 goals and 30 points he had this season, those numbers should tell you that Hunter plays the game hard. And that he plays it clean.

That’s pretty gentlemanly to me.

“Trent is a chip off the block from the old days,” Nolan said. “When you hit people, you hit them for a purpose and you hit them for a reason, and that’s to separate the man from the puck. Trent does that to the best of anyone in the League right now, he’s one of the top hitters in this League. He positions himself well, he hits clean, he hits with his shoulders, doesn’t get his stick up or his elbows up. He doesn’t try to hit someone in the head. He separates the body from the puck and he gets rewarded for it.”

It might be a long shot, but maybe, just maybe, he’ll soon be rewarded with a Lady Byng, too.

Anything less would be uncivilized.

Two-handers:

* Teemu Selanne became the first player with multiple 40-goal seasons after turning 35 years old this week. "The Finnish Flash", 36, raised his total to 41 goals, over 40 for the seventh time in his career, which is tops among active players. Selanne scored 40 last season, too, and continues to prove that he can play for as long as he wants to.

* On the other end of the age spectrum, Sidney Crosby became the youngest player in NHL history with consecutive 100-point seasons when he reached the century mark Saturday in the Penguins’ win against the Rangers. Amazingly, Crosby’s production has been so consistent that even scoring just two goals in 19 games did little to hinder his season stats.

* A documentary about controversial documentary filmmaker Michael Moore premiered in Toronto last week. Manufacturing Dissent reveals that Moore actually spoke with former General Motors chairman Roger Smith for the film Roger & Me, though footage was not included in the final cut of Moore’s 1989 debut flick. Perhaps Moore might want to hire Mike Murphy and the video guys from Toronto for his next movie, because those guys don’t miss a thing.

* Michael Peca skated for the first time this weekend since breaking his leg in late December. He told reporters he would be ready to join the Maple Leafs “no later” than the first round of the playoffs. In looking at the Eastern Conference standings, we’re wondering if Pecs meant the first round of next year’s playoffs.

* Oprah Winfrey’s private school in South Africa, according to reports, has rules so strict that students at the academy are not permitted to carry cell phones or send emails during the week, are only allowed to phone home on the weekends and may not have more than one parental visit per month. In addition, no junk food is allowed either, making the NHL’s crackdown on obstruction seem like minor enforcement.

* A new trend is developing in Hollywood with movie villains switching from black-hat bad guys to eco-terrorists determined to destroy natural resources and the environment. Perhaps one day the worst villains of all – the guys who don’t pass the puck and take shifts that are way too long -- will finally be exposed on the big screen.

* According to a report, a Swedish firm proposes chicken -- that’s right, chicken -- can help generate electricity by turning fowl into fuel for power-generating furnaces, just the latest in the search for alternative energy. Next time you order the chicken fingers at the rink concession, you can save your leftovers to power your walkman.

* A house in Australia is being constructed entirely from recycled wine bottles, according to a report. This one is real, too. Approximately 13,500 bottles will be used for the walls of the structure, being built by a longtime environmentalist who might want to think twice about throwing stones once it’s complete.

* According to a report this week, close to 60 percent of office workers in a recent poll admitted they steal office supplies like pens and paper clips from work. Two percent of those polled actually admitted to swiping much bigger items like computers or digital cameras. Experts estimate companies lose anywhere between $50-120 billion per year on employees indulging in “free” office supplies. Now imagine if a thief like Martin Brodeur shared a cubicle with you.

* Scientists are now saying that time travel is impossible, according to a report this week. Really. How then to explain a 40-year old Gary Roberts looking like he’s 18 again? Maybe some of that youthful exuberance in that Penguins room is rubbing off on the guy. Ditto for Mark Recchi.

* This week, for the second time in history, the Hockey Hall of Fame removed a ring containing the names of past winners from the Stanley Cup. The ring, with the names of the 13 Cup winners from 1940-41 to 1953-53, will be moved to a new public display case. Every 13 years, the oldest ring is removed and a new, blank layer is added for future winners so as to provide better portability. If the rings were not removed, by the time the youngest Staal brother gets a chance to lift it up, the Cup would be like trying to hoist a telephone pole.

* Goalie Vesa Toskala recovered from a groin injury and dressed as the backup Sunday. Any time a goalie encounters a groin problem, it is most definitely not vesatoskular.

* Sergei Fedorov took a few shifts on defense last week. He was patrolling the blue line because of a massive outbreak of injuries to the Columbus defense, not because Ken Hitchcock has a reputation for getting his players to play better at that end of the rink.

* And last but not least, it was announced this week that NHL.com now features the Center Ice package, allowing you and your friends to watch every hockey game every night of the week right here. Between that, the Frozen Moment and your weekly fill of Gross Misconduct, is there a better place on the Internet for hockey fans? We think not.

Posted by Evan @ 10:14 a.m.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

“None of this would have happened if Mr. McAllister hadn't meddled the way he did.”

Hey, if Garth Snow can go from being a goalie to being a very capable general manager of the New York Islanders, then why can’t Mike Richter, the goaltending legend, make the leap from the cage to Congress?

It could happen.

According to an Associated Press report last week, Richter is weighing whether he’ll run for the Fairfield County Seat in Connecticut in 2008. A 40-year-old Democrat, Richter retired in 2003 after a splendid 15-year career with the New York Rangers that included winning the 1994 Stanley Cup.

He is currently majoring in ethics, politics and economics at Yale University and the wicked-smart Richter could strike a major political blow in Connecticut if he were to win the 4th Congressional District. Stay tuned.

If he does enter the political arena, Richter will not be the first professional athlete to make the jump.

Steve Largent, who played 14 years with the Seattle Seahawks, was elected to the House of Representatives as a Republican in 1994. The former wide receiver and four-term Congressman also made an unsuccessful bid for the Governor of Oklahoma in 2002.

Jack Kemp, a former MVP quarterback who played in the NFL for 13 years for San Diego and Buffalo, was a Republican Congressman in Western New York from 1971-1989. He made an unsuccessful run for the Presidential nomination in 1988.

Former New York Knicks forward Bill Bradley, a Rhodes Scholar and Princeton grad, was elected to the United States Senate in 1978. Bradley, whose No. 24 was retired by the Knicks at Madison Square Garden, lost the Democratic nomination for President to documentary filmmaker Al Gore in 2000.

Hockey players, as expected, have also held office in Canada through the years. Howie Meeker, the former Maple Leaf, served as Conservative Member of Parliament for three years while he was still playing for Toronto in the 1950’s.

Frank Mahovlich, who played for Toronto, Montreal and Detroit as well as in the 1972 Summit Series against the Russians, was appointed to the Canadian Senate by former Prime Minister Jean Chretien in 1998. He served on the Fisheries and Oceans National Finance Senate Committees. Don’t forget about Ken Dryden in Parliament, or Red Kelly, or even Peter Stastny, who was a member of European Parliament.

J.C. Watts, the former Orange Bowl MVP who spent six seasons as a crazy-legged CFL quarterback, served four terms after he was elected to Congress as a Republican from 1994-2003. Even former professional wrestler/Navy SEAL Jesse “The Body” Ventura got into politics when he recently served as Governor of Minnesota. Bodybuilding legend and action hero, Arnold Schwarzenegger, is currently the Governator of Cal-ee-fornia.

Former University of Nebraska football coach Tom Osborn has been a congressman since 2001. Judy Martz, the 1964 Olympic speed skater, was also the governor of Montana from 2001-2005.

Even the highest office in the land has been touched by sports. Former University of Michigan footballer Gerald Ford went on to become President of the United States, while George W. Bush ran the Texas Rangers, the team that signed Alex Rodriguez for close to the national debt, before he moved into the White House.

An intelligent and effervescent person, Richter would likely be a fine politician. But would the former Ranger puckstopper ever pass a law against rooting for the rival Islanders? Would he pass a law removing restrictions on goaltenders’ equipment?

Probably not. But what if some guys around the league suddenly found themselves responsible for domestic affairs?

Well, then you could look forward to councilman Brendan Shanahan motioning to outlaw any opponent from ever touching Jaromir Jagr.

Secretary Sean Avery might just do away with the instigator rule entirely.

Congressman Cam Janssen might do away with late-hit penalties.

And Darcy Tucker would likely debate him on that.

If Ray Emery were elected to Parliament, he would make it legal for goalies to leave their crease at their leisure to hit whoever they please.

If your average Edmonton Oilers fan were running the country, you could probably look forward to the elimination of all NHL trades.

When Don Cherry takes office, it will likely be the start of no-touch icing. And that’s probably a good thing.

Representative Rory Fitzpatrick would probably install a whole new set of Internet laws.

King Henrik Lundqvist of Sweden would probably ask to have the National Guard patrol his end of the ice.

When Lindy Ruff becomes mayor, he will likely have all arenas equipped with subway-style straps to hang on when yelling at the opposing bench, so as to avoid embarrassing spills.

Senator-elect Sidney Crosby would probably enlist Georges Laraque on his security detail.

Magistrate Martin Brodeur would just get it over with and go ahead and literally re-write the record books already.

Two-handers:

Nashville is a great place for boots. Any coincidence we haven’t heard a peep about Peter Forsberg’s boot since he got to the Music City?

Daylight savings time is coming up this weekend and according to a newspaper report, there could be a “mini Y2K” in the making. Though not feared like the date changeover from 1999 to 2000, moving the clock ahead an hour (unless you live in Arizona, Hawaii or Indiana, states that do not celebrate) may cause some technological havoc. Users may have to manually change the time in their computers because we’re turning the clocks forward three weeks early this year, as per the Energy Policy Act of 2005, in an effort to cut energy use. The thinking is that people won’t turn their lights on as early if the sun is still out. Therefore, automatic time changes in some appliances might not be triggered this year. And you thought moving the trade deadline up this year would cause mayhem.

Fathead announced this week they are launching an NHL product line featuring stars like Sidney Crosby and logos of the Original Six teams. Fatheads are colorful, life-size wall posters, NOT a reference to the thing between Barry Bonds’ shoulders.

According to the gossip pages, a Bryant Park hotel guest returned to his room to find Serena Williams’ two dogs asleep in his bed after they came in through an open terrace door from the tennis star’s suite next door. Notorious room-service prankster, Alexander “send lots of ketchup” Ovechkin, had nothing to do with it.

U2 rocker Bono is guest editing the July issue of Vanity Fair so as to better convey the hardships of Africa, a topic close to his heart. He was recently quoted as saying, “We need to get better at storytelling.” Hey, if you’re looking for some real prose, some true storytelling, the Irish rocker might want to check out the features on NHL.com.

According to a report this week, two packages containing body parts were inadvertently delivered to a home in Michigan, rather than the medical research lab they were intended for. Talk about having a problem with faceoffs!

Scientists have discovered a hole in the Earth. According to a report, marine geologists are investigating an enormous area 3,000 meters below the Atlantic Ocean where there seems to be a piece of the Earth’s crust missing. Jumping at this rare opportunity to gain insight into the mantle below the planet’s surface, scientists are abandoning their research of the Los Angeles goaltending situation, previously thought to be the planet’s largest hole.

Separated at birth?
Heartbroken Edmonton fans have started a local fundraiser in an effort to lure Ryan Smyth back to the Oilers when he becomes a free agent July 1. One website, SaveRyanSmyth.com, has already been established. VoteForRory.com, get your suit on. They need ya.

Separated at birth: Flames defenseman Dion Phaneuf and Beaker from Sesame Street.

Do the Rangers work on their post-game salute in practice during the week?

Shootouts are exciting, this much we know. They’re even better these days, with that extra point so valuable in the playoff race. Imagine the theater if – and when – someone’s entire season comes down to one in the last game of the year.

In celebration of Mullet Day in Atlanta on Sunday, the first 9,000 fans in the house for the Thrashers’ 3-1 win against Carolina received free mullet wigs. However, on Long Island, where they refuse to go out of style, the mullets are not fake. And we’re not just talking about the one Ryan Smyth wears.

University of North Carolina’s Tyler Hansbrough is expected to play in the Atlantic Coast Conference hoops tournament despite breaking his nose against Duke on Sunday. Head coach Roy Williams said Hansbrough, UNC’s leading scorer, is being fitted with a custom-made protective mask. Now let’s get something straight. No sport has as many broken noses as hockey, right? Yet I don’t think I ever have seen one of our boys saddled with one of those Hannibal Lecter masks.

Posted by Evan @ 10:21 a.m.



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