Saturday, June 30, 2012

2012 Free Agency Preview

The last known photo of these two without a
trillion dollars stuffed in their pockets
Tomorrow marks the start of the NHL's annual free agent frenzy. This year's crop is thin on big name talent, but there should be enough top tier players available to ensure that tomorrow will be a busy day.

Here are some of the players who'll be getting the most attention once the clock strikes noon tomorrow.

Ryan Suter

The good: It's extremely rare to have the opportunity to see one of the best defensemen in all of hockey patrolling your team's blueline, so Suter was pretty lucky to get to watch Shea Weber all those years.
The bad: Unlike all his brothers and cousins who are cool about it, when you ask him what it was like growing up on the famous family farm in Viking, Alberta he just stares at you like you're some sort of idiot.
Worth noting: Has been so torn over which of his many potential destinations to choose that he's spent several nights wide awake, pacing his bedroom floor in his favorite Red Wing footy pajamas.

P.A. Parenteau

The good: Shows surprising speed, according to Nassau Coliseum security guards who watched him sprint out of the building the second the season ended.
The bad: Has racked up impressive assist totals with the Islanders over the years, but there's no way of knowing if he could also do it with good players.
Worth noting: His signing will be our only chance to read the headline "Ownership and P.A. reach agreement" for the next six months.

Ray Whitney

The good: Has been a team leader in Phoenix for the past two years, so is probably getting really good at fake-laughing at a teammate's twitter updates.
The bad: Was teammates with Raffi Torres for an entire season and never once pushed him out the cargo door of a moving airplane, so how good a guy can he be?
Worth noting: The league is trying to cut down on ridiculously back-loaded contracts that take a player well past the typical age of retirement, so they'll probably veto any Whitney deal longer than three weeks.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Other NHL brother acts

The Courtnall brothers persevered and made the
NHL despite growing up in a town with no barbers.
The weekend's NHL draft unexpectedly turned into a family reunion, thanks to a pair of high-profile players being traded to the teams that already employ their brothers. The Penguins made the first move on Friday, dealing Jordan Staal to the Hurricanes where he'll team up with his brother Eric. The Maple Leafs followed suit on Saturday, finally pulling the trigger on a long-rumored trade that made Luke Schenn a teammate of brother Brayden on the Philadelphia Flyers.

But while it was an interesting quirk to have both deals made within 24 hours of each other, it's not all that unusual to see brothers sharing the spotlight in the NHL. From the Richards to the Espositos to the Sedins, the league has a long history of siblings sharing the ice as both teammates and opponents.

Here's a look at some of the other NHL brother acts that have played together or otherwise crossed paths during their careers.

Rich and Ron Sutter - Became the first set of identical twins to suit up for the same NHL team during the 1983-84 season in Philadelphia, marking the only time that Flyer opponents were able to see double without first getting sucker punched off the opening faceoff.

Rob and Scott Niedermayer - Won a Stanley Cup together in Anaheim in 2007 while establishing themselves as prototypical Brian Burke players, in the sense that neither one of them has any idea how to play goal.

Saku and Mikko Koivu - In addition to being brothers, both players have been NHL captains who've been criticized for not communicating properly in the local language; Saku in Montreal, because he could not speak French, and Mikko in Minnesota, because he is able to properly pronounce vowels.

Max, Doug and Reg Bentley - A goal by Reg in 1943 marked the first time in NHL history that three brothers all recorded points on the same goal and it will sure be fun to do the same thing in Carolina in a few years, says Marc Staal before realizing he probably wasn't supposed to say that last part out loud.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Announcing "The Best of Down Goes Brown" - In bookstores this fall, available for pre-order now

This is an actual real thing that now exists.
Hi everyone. Today I can finally share some news that's been filed away in the top secret category for the better part of the last year: I wrote a book, and it's coming out soon.

The book, creatively titled The Best of Down Goes Brown, will be released in September by Wiley Publishing. It's a paperback, and will list for about $20.

The book will feature 250+ pages of material, such as:
  • 46 old favorites
    (many of which have been revised and updated), including:
    - The suspension flowchart
    - The official map of an NHL rink
    - A detailed look back at game seven of the 2011 Stanley Cup finals, which due to a scheduling error had to be published twelve hours early
    - The Code: Hockey's unwritten rules revealed
    - The other former NHL stars who interviewed for Colin Campbell’s job
    - How the NHL stacks up against the NFL, MLB, UFC and others
    - The 1993 Leafs/Kings liveblog
    - A hockey fan’s guide to modern TV technology
    ... and more.

  • 24 chapters of exclusive brand new material, including:
    - The NHL War Room's top secret flowchart for deciding whether a goal counts
    - What an official suspension call really sounds like
    - A beginner's guide to advanced statistics
    - A history of the NHL in pop culture
    - In-depth comparisons: Eric Lindros vs. Peter Forsberg, and Mario Lemieux vs. Patrick Roy
    - A brief history of Wayne Gretzky
    - A period-by-period look back at the 2012 Stanley Cup final
    - A history of the NHL's greatest rivalry: Canadiens vs. Maple Leafs
    - The ten greatest coaches in NHL history
    - A complete transcript of every postgame call-in show ever broadcast
    ... and more.

  • Forewords by TSN's Bob McKenzie
    and James Duthie.

  • Update: You can now find a sample chapter and full table of contents here.

Here's some additional information about the book in a handy FAQ format, since long-time readers know that I'm incapable of just writing in paragraphs like a normal person:

When will this be in stores?
The date will vary depending on when it ships from publisher's warehouse, but right now it looks like mid-September. Just in time for the lockout that will make everyone not want to read about hockey!

Can I pre-order?
Yes. You can pre-order today from sites like,, Barnes & Noble, Chapters/Indigo, or directly from Wiley.

I'm from the Internet. What is this "paying for things" concept that you speak of?
I was a little hazy on that one too, but I'm told that apparently you can exchange money for things that you feel have value. It's all very confusing, but the accountants at the publishing house seemed to think this part was important.

Will there be an ebook version?
I'm told that there will be. Details to come.

What does "exclusive" new content mean?
It means that the new stuff will only be available in the book. It won't appear on this site or in the National Post, or (except for any excerpts they do for promotional purposes) anywhere else. If you want to read the new stuff, you have to buy the book and/or awkwardly read it in the store aisle while everyone stares at you.

Wait, Bob McKenzie and James Duthie wrote forewords? Do they even know who you are?
Well... not necessarily. Let's just say McKenzie covers this topic in his foreword.

Will there still be typos that I can race to be the first to point out?
Probably. Feel free to write pithy comments about them in the margins.

There will be more detail coming as the release date gets closer. I hope you all get a chance to check out the book and enjoy it. And once again, sincere thanks to everyone who has been reading, forwarding posts, sharing links and just generally helping the site grow over the years. You're the reason this sort of project was possible.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

A look at the 2012 Hall of Fame candidates

The Hockey Hall of Fame's selection committee is scheduled to hold its annual meeting this Tuesday in Toronto. By the end of the day, the committee is expected to formally announce who it will induct as part of the Class of 2012.

It won't be an easy job. This year's list of possible inductees is one of the strongest ever, featuring an excellent crop of newly eligible stars and several strong candidates who've fallen just short in recent years. With a limited number of spots available each year, there's no doubt that some deserving candidates will be snubbed.

Here's a look at some of the names that the selection committee will be considering this year.

Jeremy Roenick - Recently made an extremely eloquent and impressive case for his induction to the members of the selection committee, and was disappointed at the end when they all took their Stanley Cup rings out of their ears and said "sorry, what?"

Mats Sundin - Leaf fans are eager to see him take his place in the Great Hall, partly due to his accomplishments and career statistics but mostly because they just want a chance to see him surrounded by some decent wingers for once.

Markus Naslund - No player who was primarily known as a Vancouver Canuck has ever been inducted into the Hall of Fame but Naslund has a chance to finally change that, assuming he spends some time emailing the selection committee YouTube videos of how awesome Pavel Bure was.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

2012 NHL Draft Preview

Unsurprisingly, Brian Burke is desperate to trade up
for the one who apparently can't tie a necktie.
With the Stanley Cup final wrapping up last Monday, hockey fans were forced to endure over one full week without any major NHL news. Luckily, our long collective nightmare is now over: The NHL draft starts on Friday night, and we can spend the rest of the week speculating about which young players will wind up where.

Of course, NHL scouting departments have been preparing for this weekend for months. They've compiled detailed reports on each player available and can recite their strengths and weaknesses with ease. But the casual fan may only be getting caught up on the top prospect now, which doesn't leave much time to cram before things get started on Friday.

Here's a look at some of the names that fans can expect to hear called early in the 2012 NHL draft.

Nail Yakupov - The consensus top pick has recently added a previously unseen physical aspect to his game, according to all those holes he punched in his wall after watching the Oilers win the draft lottery.

Alex Galchenyuk - Impressed scouts at the combine by showing off his surgically repaired left knee, although some admit they'd have felt even better if it hadn't been inside a jar with holes poked in the lid.

Ryan Murray - The young blueliner has been described as a perfect fit for the New York Islanders, so apparently he's really good at turning to the referee and saying "I think our goalie's bones just exploded".

Filip Forsberg - Is often incorrectly assumed to be related to former NHL star Peter Forsberg, which is understandable since he's Swedish, an excellent two-way center, and retired from hockey four separate times last season.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Behind the scenes at the auditions for the 2012 NHL Awards Show hosting job

Scene: An empty auditorium in Las Vegas. A banner hanging above a stage reads "2012 NHL Awards Show - Host Auditions". In the first row sit three judges, waiting to watch the various candidates read for the part.

Gary Bettman: Hey guys, thanks again for helping me out with this, I really appreciate it.

Brendan Shanahan: No problem, Gary.

Brian Burke: Yeah, I'm not really busy this time of year.

Bettman: OK Brendan, who's up first?

Shanahan: Our first audition is … Tim Thomas.

Tim Thomas (strolling casually on to the stage): Hi guys!

The judges stare at him nervously.

Thomas: What?

Shanahan: Um… I think I speak for everyone when I say we're all waiting for you to say something crazy.

Thomas (laughing good-naturedly): What? Guys, come on, don't believe everything you read. I'm just a regular guy who happens to be a proud American.

Shanahan: Actually, every American I've ever known in hockey makes terrible decisions…

Burke: Hey!

Bettman (reaching to high-five Shanahan): Ha! Burn on you, Brian!

Thomas: Nah, I'm the same guy I've always been. Sure, I've expressed some political views, and they may not happen to be the same ones you share. But that doesn't make me a bad person.

Shanahan: You know, that's actually a very fair point. So why don't you flip to page 12 of the script and read through some of the host's lines. This is the part of the show where you give out the awards that are already pre-determined, like the Art Ross, the Rocket Richard, the President's Trophy…


Thomas immediately tears off his tuxedo to reveal a vintage revolutionary war uniform underneath.

Burke: Um, did you make that yourself?

Thomas (proudly): Out of tinfoil!

Shanahan: Let's just get to the next audition.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Winners and losers from the 2012 NHL playoffs

"Wait. When coach said my ice time would
need to be much lower, maybe he meant..."
The Devils and Kings were at it again last night, with the Kings finally ending the series and claiming the first championship in franchise history. But while the Kings will understandably be dominating the league's headlines in the coming days, they're not the only team that's been busy over the past few months.

Between the three prior rounds of postseason play and all of the intrigue among teams that are already in off-season mode, there's been no shortage of news around the league since the season ended. After all, everyone wants to someday find themselves in the same spot the Kings and Devils were in last night, and they're willing to do whatever it takes to get there.

Of course, not every move turns out to be the right one. Here's a look at the some of the names that have been making news over the past two months, both positive and negative.

Winner: Tomas Vokoun, Pittsburgh Penguins - His new job as the backup to Marc-Andre Fleury is a perfect fit for an aging veteran coming off of an injury, since it means he won't have to play in any playoff games until six or seven minutes in.

Loser: Ilya Bryzgalov, Philadelphia Flyers - Had hoped to use this season to finally establish himself as a top-tier playoff goaltender, so will probably be devastated when someone eventually gets around to telling him that the Flyers were eliminated four weeks ago.

Winner: Tampa Bay Lightning - Their Norfolk Admirals farm team won the AHL's Calder Cup while gaining invaluable experience, such as figuring out how to pause the game, access the options and menu and turn offsides off.

Loser: Brendan Shanahan - Showed poor taste by having a fake Raffi Torres head mounted on the wall of his office, although you have to admit it's pretty neat how it occasionally blinks and whispers "please help me" in that oddly realistic way.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

A New Jersey Devil's guide to coming back from a 3-0 series deficit

So the Devils aren't quite done after all.

With the entire hockey world expecting to see the Stanley Cup presented to the Kings once they completed the sweep on Wednesday night, the Devils played spoilers with a 3-1 win. That sent the series back to Newark for tonight's fifth game, and may have created just enough momentum to get people thinking about a comeback.

Can the Devils pull it off? History says probably not. After all, only three teams in NHL history have come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a series. But New Jersey has taken the first step, and they can extend the season again with another win tonight.

More hockey is always a good thing, so I want to help. Since my market research shows that the entire New Jersey Devils organization is made up of faithful DGB readers, I've put together a list of tips for them on coming all the way back from a 3-0 series deficit.

DO: Explain to younger teammates that while coming back from 3-0 is difficult, it has been done in the past by teams like the 1942 Maple Leafs, 1975 Islanders and 2010 Flyers.
DO NOT: Be surprised when those younger teammates just stare at you in stunned silence, since it will be the first time they've ever heard of the Leafs or Islanders winning in the playoffs.

DO: Closely study film from Game Four to try to determine why you were able to score twice in 23 shots against Jonathan Quick after struggling so much offensively in the first three games.
DO NOT: Become discouraged when you realize it's because he played the entire game with his eyes closed "to make it more challenging".

DO: Attempt to draw inspiration from any sports fans you meet by asking them to tell you all about any recent examples of their favorite team being down 3-0 in a series.
DO NOT: Ask anyone wearing a Red Sox cap, unless you have nine hours to kill and/or a cyanide pill handy.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A look back at the captains who have raised the Cup

"What a wonderful moment," thought Bettman.
"I'd better schedule a lockout."
We still don't know which team will win the Stanley Cup this year. But we can be sure of one thing: for only the second time in history, an American will be the captain of the winning team. And that means that either Dustin Brown of the Kings or Zach Parise of the Devils will get to take part in one of the best moments in all of sports. (Spoiler alert: It's going to be Brown.)

Unlike other leagues, where the championship trophy is handed over team owners and various corporate sponsors, the Stanley Cup is handed directly to the winning team's captain. And whether that captain takes the Cup for a victory lap or immediately hands it off to a deserving teammate, the moment always seems to end up being a memorable one for hockey fans around the world.

While we wait to find out whether Brown or Parise will get to enjoy that moment this year, here's a look back at some of the other NHL captains who've had a chance to accept the Stanley Cup on behalf of their teammates over the years.

1999 - Dallas Stars captain Derian Hatcher accepts the Cup while standing in the wrong spot, but for some reason everyone involved just ignores that and pretends that everything is fine.

2010 - The moment that Gary Bettman hands him the Stanley Cup is the happiest one of Jonathan Toews' entire life, apparently, since his one eyebrow looks like it kind of twitched there for a second.

1992 - As Mario Lemieux triumphantly lifts the Cup, the various NHL defensemen who have been clinging desperately to each of his limbs since the season opener sheepishly begin to realize that they can probably just let go now.

2008 - The historic moment of the first European captain receiving the Cup is ruined when a confused Nicklas Lidstrom asks if the big silver thing is some sort of fancy ashtray for his unfiltered cigarettes, Don Cherry imagines.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

A brief history of Nicklas Lidstrom

SEE? I'm not the only one who can't spell it!
The NHL said goodbye to one of the greatest players in recent history on Thursday when Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom officially announced his retirement. While the announcement wasn't a surprise, it was still a difficult moment for fans who'd become used to seeing him patrol the Red Wings blueline over the past 20 seasons.

Most hockey fans can recite the numbers by now: Lidstrom won seven Norris Trophies, was a first-team all-star ten times, and won four Stanley Cups. But perhaps just as impressive, he leaves the game as one of the most-respected players of his generation. Even in this cynical age, it seems as if nobody in the hockey world has a bad word to say about the classy superstar.

Here's a look back at the NHL career of Nicklas Lidstrom.

June 17, 1989 - The Red Wings select Lidstrom with the 53rd overall pick at a draft which is perhaps best remembered for the major traffic jam that apparently caused every team in the league to miss the first 52 picks.

October 3, 1991 - Lidstrom is a team-leading +2 in his NHL debut against the Chicago Blackhawks, who immediately vow to only let him dominate them like that maybe 150 more times, max.

January 20, 1996 - A 25-year-old Lidstrom makes his NHL all-star game debut, then celebrates with fellow young all-stars Teemu Selanne and Jaromir Jagr by taking a few swigs of that weird bubbling elixir offered to them by a cackling Chris Chelios.

November 3, 1999 - A bored Lidstrom makes a bad decision in the defensive zone, just to see what it's like.