Wednesday, June 30, 2010

NHL free agency through the years

With free agency season upon us, all eyes are focused on this year's crop of UFAs. Who'll get the best deal? Who'll bolt for the KHL? Which teams will improve, and which will be left on the sidelines?

We'll know soon enough. But in the meantime, let's remind ourselves of how unpredictable free agency can be by looking back at some notable signings from recent years.

Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Vancouver, 2009 - After signing a last-minute extension with the Canucks, the twins' plans to celebrate with a slice of that big cake that showed up on their doorstep that morning are ruined at 12:01 when Brian Burke awkwardly pops out of it.

Colton Orr, Toronto, 2009 - Orr becomes one of the highest paid enforcers in league history, thanks to a deal with Toronto that pays him a quarter for every time he punches Matt Carkner in the face.

Marion Gaborik, New York, 2009 - The Rangers sign the oft-injured star to a $37.5M deal. While other teams were willing to match the money, the Rangers were the only team to meet Gaborik's demands of a "no playoff-clinching shooutout" clause.

Brian Campbell & Cristobal Huet, Chicago, 2008 - The Blackhawks sign the pair to long-term contracts that most observers feel are significantly overpriced. While many fans fear the contracts will cripple the Hawks, the front office assures fans that the team will be able to stay under the salary cap thanks to careful roster management, judicious use of buyouts, or at least some other team eventually hiring Rick Dudley.

Thomas Vanek, Edmonton, 2007 - After an 84-point season, Vanek signs a $50M offer sheet with the Oilers which the Sabres are forced to match. After realizing how close he came to spending the rest of his career in Edmonton, a shaken Vanek vows to never risk attracting the Oilers' attention again by spending the next several seasons disguised as a second-liner.

Gary Roberts, Toronto, 2000 - Roberts agrees to terms with the Leafs, choosing their contract of just under $3M a season over the Senators' offer of "Oh god, sir, please don't hurt us, take whatever you want and just leave us alone".

Chris Drury and Scott Gomez, New York, 2007 - Upon learning that critics are calling the signings the worst free agent contracts that are even theoretically possible, Glen Sather mutters "we'll see about that" and circles Wade Redden's name with a yellow highlighter.

Sean Avery, Dallas, 2008 - Upon signing Avery, Stars general manager Brett Hull tells him "Hey, I know you're better known as a Ranger, but we don't mind picking up other teams' sloppy seconds. Ha ha! Um, why are you writing that down?"

Peter Forsberg, Philadelphia, 2005 - Coming out of the NHL lockout, Forsberg shuns the Avalanche to sign with the Flyers. "I really wanted to make the right decision," Forsberg tells reporters, "because I know that the experience of being an unrestricted free agent is one I'll only ever get to have once, maybe twice, per year, for the rest of my career."

Jason Blake, Toronto, 2007 - The Leafs agree to terms with Blake early in the day, although the actual contract signing is delayed several hours due to technical problems after it's discovered that John Ferguson Jr. had earlier tried to fax himself a grilled cheese sandwich.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The 2010 NHL Draft Liveblog

11:00 - The Islanders trade up to the 30th pick, and have their selection announced by Scott Wolf from Party of Five. And with that, the first round is over.

Thanks to everyone for dropping by tonight. Enjoy rounds two through seven tomorrow.

And hey, why didn't Tomas Kaberle get traded?

10:50 - Hey, here's a question: if I have the 25th pick, and I trade it for the 20th pick, did I just move "higher" or "lower" in the draft?

You're not sure, are you? Doesn't it seem strange that we've had decades of pro sports drafts and we don't know the answer to this question? Can we get this figured out? Somebody call the guys a Behind the Net and get them working on this.

10:45 - Wouldn't it be fantastic if a player who had just been drafted responded to Gary Bettman's handshake by leaning into his face and yelling "BOOOOOO"?

No? OK, moving on.

10:20 - We finally get confirmation on that Canucks/Panthers deal involving Keith Ballard. Meanwhile, TSN is showing photos of a child with a broken leg on a tricycle. Five picks to go. God help me.

10:00 - The Habs trade up for Jarred Tinordi. Fun fact: his father Mark played for the North Stars, was a defenceman, and had a career record of 0-437 against Wendel Clark.

9:50 - I have no idea who Pittsburgh just drafted, but when he pulled on a Penguins jersey with "10" on it, the entire Senators organization had a Gary Roberts flashback and fled the building.

9:40 - Brian Burke is interviewed on TSN and mentions turning down a first round pick for a defenceman. Duthie assumes it's Kaberle, Burke says no, Duthie asks for a name and Burke says "none of your business".

Is it me, or didn't we already know that Burke turned down a deal for Schenn this week. I thought we knew that. Didn't we know that?

9:15 - Sens are up. Bryan Murray is furiously shouting into a cell phone, leading to trade speculation. My guess: he's checking with the security to make sure Brian Burke isn't going to swoop in and steal his pick again.

9:10 - And we have a trade! The Kings trade up to #15.

Here's my question: for 364 days a year, it takes the NHL hours to confirm a trade. Just a few days ago, the Hawks/Thrashers deal took about six hours to go through all the league approvals. On deadline day, deals get announced throughout the evening because of delays.

But during the draft, a trade can get be made in five minutes. Why?

Does the NHL stop reviewing deals on draft night? Do they hire a second guy to work the phones? Do they outsource the customer service center to India for a night? How does this work? Am I using too many question marks? I think I am.

8:55 - The Coyotes wind up with top five prospect Brandon Gormley. They were using a pick they got from the Flames, by the way. For Olli Jokinen. Leaf fans, you can start feeling slightly better about yourself... now.

8:35 - The Rangers just passed up Fowler and Gormley for Dylan McIlrath. In related news, Pierre McGuire's eyebrows are floating six inches over his head right now.

8:30 - Six-word phrases that make me happy:

#3 - "That cheerleader thinks bloggers are sexy."

#2 - "Yes sir, it's an open bar."

#1 - "We have a trade to announce."

Needless to say, I'm 0-for-3 tonight.

8:20 - I'm going off-topic here, but can somebody explain to me what the deal is with the NBA draft? I don't follow basketball, but whenever I watch their draft there seems to be about three good players before you start hearing phrases like:

"With the fourth overall pick, they take a guy he doesn't know how to dribble yet."

"With the fifth overall pick, they take a guy who is seven feet tall and comes from a country where they have no basketballs."

"With the sixth overall pick, they take a guy with a bad hip and a deformed hand."

Hm, OK, maybe that last one was a bad example.

8:05 - Lightning GM Steve Yzerman picks Brett Connolly at #6. The TSN panel doesn't like the choice, until Bob Probert shows up and pummels them all.

7:45 - Pierre McGuire on the Blue Jackets pick Ryan Johansen: "He's really good. And he's only going to get better." Yes, that's certainly an important quality for an 18-year-old draft pick to have.

7:30 - The Bruins take Seguin. Hey, obscure trivia: did you know this pick once belonged to the Leafs? It's true. Gord Miller just mentioned it 9,000 times.

7:25 - The Bruins will take their full 15 minutes to make this pick. Because it's a really hard decision.

7:15 - It's official: Hall is the Oiler pick. He hugged his family, kissed his girlfriend, then pulled out his cellphone and called his agent to demand a trade as he was walking to the stage.

6:50 - We're almost ready to go. No word yet on who the Oilers will be picked.

Meanwhile, the other intrigue right now is a potential Keith Ballard trade. Which would be fantastic, because I could use the leftover "hit your own goalie in the head" jokes that I didn't get to use in December.

"I'm glad I got drafted first, because
no one remembers number two"
5:00 - Welcome to the 2010 NHL Draft liveblog. Tonight, hockey fans will finally get answers to questions such as:
  • Where will Tomas Kaberle be traded?
  • Will the Oilers take Taylor or Tyler with the #1 pick?
  • Will the Panthers use the #3 pick on that one guy, or that other slightly taller guy?
  • If the Leafs don't have any picks, why does TSN keep showing Brian Burke every few minutes?
  • Does Gary Bettman practice looking insufferably smug in the mirror, or is he just a natural?
  • Wait, Burke's on the phone! Is he trading Tomas Kaberle!
  • Has there ever been a draft pick that Pierre McGuire didn't like?
  • And hey, why didn't Tomas Kaberle get traded?
I'll be updating throughout the first round. I'll also be on Twitter, and maybe even Facebook. (Did you know I was Facebook? I'm on Facebook. Nobody knows I'm on Facebook.) Everything gets going at 7:00 EST.

In the meantime, here's a thought: There's been a recent trend in sports drafts of teams letting players announce their picks. The Capitals had Ovechkin do it a few years back, and there's a rumor that the Penguins may have Crosby do it today. I'd like to see more of this. I know most teams would rather use the opportunity to give the assistant director of scouting (aka "Mr. Electricity") some face time, but there's a lot of untapped potential here.

Such as: If you're the Boston Bruins, don't you fly in Tuuka Rask to make the #2 overall pick tonight? Wouldn't that be the greatest anti-Maple Leaf moment of all-time? Wouldn't TSN have to break out a split screen so they could show Brian Burke sitting at the Leafs table trying to swallow his own tongue?

Do it, Chiarelli.

Friday Funnies: For those with time to kill today. Like Leafs scouts.

The Friday Funnies is an occasional feature that highlights hockey humor from around the web.

Here's a few links from around the web to give you a quick laugh as we wait for the draft to get started. Unless you're a Bruins fan, in which case you've been laughing nonstop since September.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Ciccarelli vs. Bure vs. Gilmour: The case for the Hall of Fame

Raise your hand if you don't belong in the Hall of Fame
The Hockey Hall of Fame's Selection Committee announced the 2010 inductees today, and they came with plenty of controversy.

The women's side saw the induction of Angela James and Cammi Granato, choices that most hockey fans are applauding. The builder's category excluded Pat Burns, which I won't write about because it makes me so angry that I'll end up slamming my face into my keyboard until my neck is nicknamed "Stumpy".

But on the men's side, the committee selected only one player: Dino Ciccarelli. The instant reaction bordered on disbelief, as most fans had expected players like Doug Gilmour or Pavel Bure to get the call instead.

I admit, I was one of those outraged fans. But then I decided to sit down and look at things rationally, and I have to admit: Ciccarelli has a good case. Don't believe me? Let's compare the three players:

Most memorable stat
Bure: Had 437 career goals, 120 of which came in back-to-back 60 goal seasons.
Gilmour: Had 1,602 career points, 188 of which came in the post-season.
Ciccarelli: Had 608 career goals, 13 of which came from outside the opponent's crease.

Bure: "The Russian Rocket"
Gilmour: "Killer"
Ciccarelli: "The Poor Man's Dave Andreychuk"

Unique use of stick
Bure: Was among the first players to intentionally kick the puck up to their own stick to confuse a goalie during breakaways.
Gilmour: Used a stick without a curve to allow for accurate backhand passes.
Ciccarelli: Once tried to see whether it was possible to swat Luke Richardson's brain into the Maple Leaf Gardens greys.

When you saw him play, you thought...
Bure: "This guy is the most electrifying winger of his generation."
Gilmour: "This guy is one of the best two-way centers of all time."
Ciccarelli: "This guy is the second or third best right winger on his team."

Unfortunate fashion choice
Bure: Apparently wore lipstick during every game of his career.
Gilmour: Donned embarassing cow tights for a milk commercial.
Ciccarelli: Wore an orange jumpsuit for one day.

Would have been ever more productive if...
Bure: Knee injuries hadn't cut his career short.
Gilmour: The 1995 lockout hadn't interupted his Maple Leaf momentum.
Ciccarelli: The league hadn't enacted the controversial "you can't cross-check the goalie in the throat, Dino" rule.

Notable flaw
Bure: Would occasionally pick up his defensive man too late to prevent a scoring chance.
Gilmour: Would occasionally pick up retaliatory penalties without regard to game situations.
Ciccarelli: Would occasionally pick up his newspaper without wearing pants.

What you thought about him when you were a kid
Bure: Wow, he's almost impossible to stop once he gets a full head of steam.
Gilmour: Wow, he's almost impossible to beat in puck battles along the boards.
Ciccarelli: Wow, he's almost impossible to spell.

Believe it or not
Bure: Has more 58+ goal seasons than Brett Hull or Rocket Richard.
Gilmour: Has more career playoff points than Steve Yzerman or Mario Lemieux.
Ciccarelli: Has more Hall of Fame plaques than Doug Gilmour or Pavel Bure.

Lasting legacy
Bure: Along with Sergei Fedorov and Alexander Mogilny, paved the way for a generation of dynamic Russian superstars.
Gilmour: Along with Pat Burns and Wendel Clark, rebuilt the Maple Leafs franchise from the ashes of the Harold Ballard era.
Ciccarelli: Along with Doc Seaman and Jimmy Devellano, ushered in an era where the Hockey Hall of Fame Selection Committee doesn't get to pick the inductees any more.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Signs you're not getting drafted this weekend

NHL draftWe're now just days away from the NHL draft, which begins on Friday night and concludes Saturday. Most of this week's coverage will focus Taylor Hall vs Tyler Seguin for the top overall spot, as well as which players will fill out the rest of the first round.

But there's another side to the story: There are hundreds of players hoping to hear their names called this weekend, and many will come away disappointed. Watching a player who wasn't picked file out of the arena at the draft's conclusion can be one of the most heartbreaking spectacles in sports. And it doesn't have to be that way.

So since a significant portion of DGB readers are draft eligible hockey players, this seems like a good time to inject some harsh reality into the week's proceedings. If you're hoping to hear your name called this weekend, read on for some signs that you may not be picked after all. It might spoil the surprise, but it's better to know the truth now.

  • Current estimated population of the earth: 6,828,300,000. Your current Central Scouting ranking: 6,828,300,001.

  • At the combine, the only workout event anyone ever asked you to do was the "100 meter dash to that exit door over there".

  • When a scout asks you whether you shoot right-handed or left-handed, you answer "You know, it's never come up".

  • Scouts unanimously agree that you're at your best in the faceoff circle, which is odd because you're a goalie.

  • Brian Burke scouted you for one game and immediately started trading away all his draft picks "just in case".

  • Instead of a cool nickname like "Ace" or "Boom Boom", everyone just refers to you as "That guy over there with his helmet on backwards".

  • You had a disappointing result on the Wingate test after the effort of climbing onto the stationary bike caused your lungs to explode.

  • The hour-long highlight DVD your agent sent around the league consisted entirely of a slow-motion loop of the one time you remembered to take your skate guards off before your first shift.

  • Lou Lamoriello promised to draft you just as soon as he wraps up the paperwork on that Brodeur-for-Semin deal.

  • Scouting reports describe you as "Alexei Kovalev without the commitment to winning".

  • Your entire segment on TSN's draft preview show consisted of Pierre McGuire asking NHL GMs to lean into their TV screen, then smacking the camera with a rolled up newspaper and yelling "NO!"

  • During your sit-down interviews with various teams at the combine, you answered every question with a 30-second long blast on the vuvuzela.

  • Despite your excellent dressing room presence and leadership skills, NHL front office executives can't seem to get past the whole "never played organized hockey before" thing.

  • You're so awful that the Habs are currently trying to figure out how to trade their best player for you.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

MLSE's Real Sports Bar & Grill: The leaked menu

Last night was the highly anticipated grand opening of MLSE's Real Sports Bar & Grill. The massive establishment is the latest crown jewel in the MLSE corporate empire, and is sure to become Toronto's premier dining destination. Located right outside the ACC, Real Sports will open to the public next week and hosted a special invitation-only sneak peek last night.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to make it due to prior commitments, travel complications, and the restraining order. But some of my spies were able to sneak in and get their hands on one of the menus. Even though it's top secret, I'm publishing it here.

Ever wondered what a Maple Leafs-themed restaurant would serve up? Wonder no more.

Monday, June 14, 2010

A hockey fan's guide to the World Cup

The Canadian referee kept waving off
goals due to distinctive kicking motions
Hockey fans experiencing withdrawal after the end of the NHL season got some good news when the FIFA World Cup began on Friday. But while hockey fans would no doubt appreciate the spectacle of the world's most popular sporting event, many don't understand the "beautiful game".

On the surface, the World Cup is actually quite similar to the NHL. But while there are several difference, many are subtle and may prove confusing for novice fans. That's why I put a call out to DGB's various international bureaus, and together we put together this guide for hockey fans hoping to follow the World Cup action over the coming month.

The World Cup: If you see a guy wearing flamboyant clothing who is struggling to communicate with you in English, he is likely a diehard fan who was travelled from an exotic foreign land to attend the game.
The NHL: If you see a guy wearing flamboyant clothing who is struggling to communicate with you in English, he is likely Don Cherry.

The World Cup: The sport is called "football", although Americans often refer to it as "soccer".
The NHL: The sport is called "hockey", although Americans often refer to it as "something to watch if there's no baseball, football, basketball, golf, Nascar, poker, MMA, fishing or bowling on TV".

The World Cup: "Injury time" refers to the additional playing time added to the end of each half at the discretion of the referee.
The NHL: "Injury time" refers to whenever Rick DiPietro steps on the ice.

The World Cup: Watching a game can be almost unbearable thanks to the "vuvuzela", a South African noisemaking horn that produces a horribly annoying noise that drones on nonstop for the entire game, leaving you fighting the urge to hurl the remote through your TV screen.
The NHL: Pierre McGuire.

The World Cup: The games can start as early as 7:30 a.m., due to differences in international time zones.
The NHL: The games can start as early as 7:30 a.m., due to NBC not wanting to preempt any important infomercials or horse racing pregame shows later that afternoon.

The World Cup: In 1986, the "Hand of God" sent Argentina into the semi-finals at Mexico City.
The NHL: In 1993, the "Hand of God" sent Marty McSorley's eyeball into the fifteenth row at Maple Leaf Gardens.

The World Cup: A player will occasionally be granted a "penalty kick", presenting him with so much open net to shoot at that he's virtually guaranteed to score as long as he doesn't miss the net or hit the post.
The NHL: This is known as "shooting against Vesa Toskala".

The World Cup: The last thing anyone wants to see is a referee holding a red card.
The NHL: The last thing anyone wants to see is Chris Neil holding a credit card.

The World Cup: In an embarrassing display that any self-respecting sports fan would feel nauseated by, players will often react to even the slightest contact by pretending to be injured while rolling around pathetically on the grass.
The NHL: Completely different. The game is played on ice instead of grass.

The World Cup: Riot police must often use tear gas, armoured vehicles and water cannons to subdue reckless perpetrators of violence known as "hooligans".
The NHL: Riot police must often use tear gas, armoured vehicles and water cannons to subdue reckless perpetrators of violence known as "Chris Pronger".

The World Cup: Canadian teams never win.
The NHL: Same.

The World Cup: If you notice a player wearing a different jersey than his teammates, it's because he is the goalie.
The NHL: If you notice a player wearing a different jersey than his teammates, it's because he arrived five minutes late and his team had already done another jersey redesign.

The World Cup: A game which is played under standard rules but won't have any actual impact on the final standings or eventual champion is known as a "friendly".
The NHL: A game which is played under standard rules but won't have any actual impact on the final standings or eventual champion is known as a "Maple Leafs regular season game after mid-November".

Friday, June 11, 2010

Leaked: Brian Burke's letter to the other 29 GMs about Tomas Kaberle

Without question, the biggest story in hockey this week is the continuing trade rumors swirling around Tomas Kaberle. According to reports, Brian Burke recently sent a letter to the league's other 29 GMs to clarify the circumstances around Kaberle's no-trade clause.

Hockey fans around the world were curious: What did Burke have to say in that letter? Did he tip his hand?

Well, thanks to some top secret DGB sources, you're about to find out. I was able to obtain a copy of the letter Burke sent to his fellow GMs, and I've posted it here for everyone to see. I think it sheds a lot of light on how he's approaching the process.

(It goes without saying, but I can't reveal the source of this document. It was given to me in the strictest confidence, and there's no doubt Burke would go ballistic if he knew who was leaking his private communications.)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Things to do now that the NHL season is over

And so another NHL season ends. The 2009-2010 NHL season is officially in the books, thanks to tonight's game that ended with Chicago Blackhawks all skating around with some big silver trophy that I didn't recognize but which seemed to be important.

And if you're a typical hardcore fan who's been watching every game you could since October, you're probably wondering: what the heck am I supposed to do now?

Never fear. Even though it's difficult to pass the time without a hockey game to watch, it's not impossible. There are plenty of useful ways you could spend your off-season. And here's a few ideas just to get you started:

  • Buy an expensive bottle of wine, light a few candles, cook a romantic meal, and eat it alone in the dark after realizing your spouse left you two months ago.

  • Head to library and sign out a collection of the world's greatest sonnets; come home and see if any of them are the right size to prop up that wobbly leg on your bigscreen TV stand.

  • Find a sports bar showing a few different baseball games, settle in, and watch somebody throw a perfect game.

  • Call realtor. Cancel cable. Start packing. (Note: Tomas Kaberle only.)

  • Touch up resume, send it to the Chicago Tribune for upcoming sports editor vacancy.

  • Try to remember the last time you fed your puppy. In unrelated task, attempt to find the source of that awful smell coming from the crawlspace.

  • Try to arrange for a few days off work by requesting vacation time, getting a friend to pick up a few shifts, or criticizing Cito Gaston.

  • Tune in to CNN, find out how they ended up stopping that oil spill you heard about back in April.

  • Figure out the names of the guys in the band that sings that "Chelsea Dagger" song. Find them. Punch them all repeatedly in the face.

  • Hope against hope that, somehow, some other sport will emerge to satisfy your passion for low-scoring games, "Ole Ole" chants, and Europeans flopping around on the ground even though nobody touched them.

  • Find a Leaf fan, ask them what they've been doing for fun since November.

  • Anything you want, but do it quickly -- training camp starts on Monday.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Signs your favorite player may be bankrupt

Keep punching, Milan. They pay $20 per pint.
We heard some surprising news from Ottawa today, with reports that Senators' winger Chris Neil is apparently bankrupt. While the case appears to involve a family business and not Neil directly, he's still on the hook to creditors for $2.4 million.

Many hockey fans are stunned -- how can a guy who recently signed an $8 million contract find himself in financial trouble? Unfortunately, this sort of story turns out not to be an uncommon one in the league. Despite their high salaries, many players find themselves in severe financial difficulty.

Could it happen to your favorite player? Maybe. Just in case, here are some subtle signs that an NHL player may be broke:
  • After every victory, he digs up center ice to see if anyone hid a toonie in it.

  • If his team ever wins a championship, his plans for his "day with the Cup" involves sitting on a street corner and shaking it at passers-by.

  • His new dental bridge appears to be made out of paper mache, duct tape, and seven of Duncan Keith's old teeth.

  • Every time he goes out to eat, he tries to convince one of the Canadiens forwards to order him something from the kid's menu.

  • His current salary cap hit is negative fourteen million dollars.

  • He walks around looking like he spent five dollars on his haircut, instead of seven dollars like all his teammates.

  • Every time the zamboni slows down, he jumps out and starts trying to squeegee its windshield.

  • On Twitter, Allan Walsh keeps referring to him as "Client Mr. Better-Pay-His-Agent-If-He-Still-Wants-To-Have-Kneecaps".

  • Several weeks ago, he offered to buy Dustin Byfulgien lunch.

  • He's drowning in so much red ink that Ron Maclean immediately breaks into his slow motion Hasselhoff beach sprint every time he sees him.

  • Instead of a playoff beard or playoff moustache, he's currently rocking a playoff forehead tattoo.

  • When the Edmonton Oilers call with a contract offer, he answers the phone.

  • He's started blogging for Hockeybuzz. (Wait, I'm sorry, that was meant for the list of "Signs your favorite player is morally bankrupt").

  • He's so desperate for money that he's started posing for newspaper covers wearing a skirt.

  • Gary Bettman just legally adopted him.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

How do you pronounce "Byfuglien"?

I've become a fan of Dustin Byfuglien. Nice kid, power forward, and has had plenty of success this post-season.

The only issue I have is the name. It's pronounced "Bufflin", which I never understood. I mean, um, those sounds don't seem to match the letters.

Well, thanks to Bloge Salming, a hidden camera, and a time machine... now it all makes sense.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Things Ron Maclean was thinking as he saved a drowning man

Later, Gary Bettman emphatically
denied that water causes drowning.
A strange and inspiring story out of Philadelphia this afternoon, as Hockey Night in Canada host Ron Maclean apparently saved a man from drowning in the Delaware River.

According to reports, Maclean was having lunch with Don Cherry on a patio when he became aware of the commotion nearby. Maclean apparently sprinted from the table, jumped over a railing, and headed for the water to join in the rescue efforts. It's an amazing story, and one that makes you wonder what was going through his mind during those furious few moments.

Well, wonder no more. Here's a transcript of his actual thoughts.
  • Head pounding... Lungs burning... Everything going black... That's it, I can't take any more of Cherry's stories, I'm going to go help those guys down near the river instead.

  • That guy down there was flailing around like crazy, and now he's gone limp. Either a man is drowning, or somebody just lightly brushed up against Daniel Carcillo.

  • Note to self: Come up with a terrible drowning-themed pun to close out tomorrow's Coach's Corner.

  • Oh well, since I'm already wet, I guess I'll swim down to the Gulf and fix that oil leak.

  • Hey, why did the water just rise up and part down the middle ... oh cool, Roy Halladay is here!

  • This would be so much easier if Chris Pronger hadn't stolen all the life jackets.

  • It will be a nice change to read stories in tomorrow's paper that contain the words "NHL" and "desperately fighting to keep his head above water" but not "Tom Hicks".

  • I'll have to remember to thank Maxim Lapierre for those diving lessons.

  • This will be the most heroic thing a hockey broadcaster has done since that time a crazed hostage taker listened to Pierre McGuire talk about Mike Richards for 15 seconds and turned the gun on himself.

  • Quickly sir, grab onto my eyebrow, I'll arch you to safety!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Chris Pronger's other jerk moves

And then I told Carcillo:
"No, the moustache looks awesome".
While the Chicago Blackhawks have staked out a 2-0 lead in the Stanley Cup Finals, all anyone seems to want to talk about today is Chris Pronger. The Flyers' defenceman has been accused of poor sportsmanship after shooting a towel at Chicago's Ben Eager and twice stealing the puck after the final buzzer.

Sadly, this sort of behaviour isn't new for Pronger. In fact, throughout his career he's become notorious for a series of incidents in which his actions were inappropriate, unprofessional, and just downright mean.

Here are some of the most memorable:
  • Was suspended during the Stanley Cup Finals after delivering a vicious elbow to the head of Ottawa's Dean McAmmond, outraging fans around the world who were really hoping he'd get Chris Neil instead.

  • At 1993 entry draft, rudely stole the spotlight from #1 overall pick Alexandre Daigle by turning out to be like a hundred times better than him.

  • Once got bored during the Vancouver Olympics opening ceremonies, wandered to the backstage area, and cross-checked the guy in charge of making sure all the cauldrons were working in the throat.

  • Has been known to slack off and go up to two full years without single-handedly dragging a team to the Stanley Cup finals.

  • Caused a long delay during a 1998 game when he claimed to suffer a brief cardiac arrest after being hit with a slapshot directly above the heart, as if he has one.

  • Demanded a trade out of Edmonton in 2006, selfishly placing the desires of his wife and children above those of a company that had employed him for almost an entire year.

  • His hilariously sarcastic press conference performance after game one turned out to be a word-for-word recitation of Bill Hicks' Arizona Bay album.

  • Was once suspended eight games for stomping in Ryan Kesler's leg with his skate, which was kind of odd, since it was August and Kesler was napping on a beach at the time.

  • When presented with a seven-year contract offer from the Flyers last year, immediately signed it instead of politely saying "Um, maybe you should go back and re-read the CBA".

  • Knows full well that Flyers could have swept the Bruins, but convinced teammates to spot them a 3-0 series lead "just to mess with them".

  • Once borrowed Riley Cote's copy of Schopenhauer's On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason; returned it the next morning all dog-eared.

  • Post-loss ritual: cruise interstate looking for families stranded on the side of the highway with flat tire; pull over; slash other three tires; drive away.

  • During NBC telecasts of Flyers games, constantly leans over to Pierre McGuire and says "I don't think they can hear you, maybe try speaking louder."

  • After every playoff game this year, calls up John Stevens and leaves him a detailed message about how much fun it was.

  • You know when you have to get up early the next day but you can't sleep because some idiot's car alarm is going off all night long right below your window? Yeah, that's him.

  • Walks around the league like he's better than everyone, when in reality he's only better than 97% of them.

  • Immediately demands a trade every time he finds out that Joffrey Lupul has finished unpacking.

  • Lead the Anaheim Ducks to a Stanley Cup after being acquired in a deal with the Oilers, which apparently gave GM Brian Burke the idea that trading two first round picks for a star player is a good idea.

  • Is often rude and uncooperative with members of the media, even those he is currently sleeping with.