Thursday, December 20, 2012

Five hockey books for your last-minute shopping

One of the cool things that happens when you write a hockey book is that… hey, have I mentioned that I wrote a hockey book? I totally did write a hockey book. I probably should have brought it up on twitter or something, because I’m sure people would have been interested in hearing more information about that.

OK, I’ll shut up.

But as I was saying, one of the cool things that happens when you write a hockey book (which I did) is that other people who write them too start sending you free copies. So this fall, in between bouts of vaguely annoying spamming, I’ve been reading some excellent hockey books.

If you haven’t finished your Christmas shopping yet (and let’s face it, you haven’t), here are five titles to consider stuffing a few stockings with this year.

Journeyman, by Sean Pronger

Sean Pronger spent a decade in the NHL, including brief stints with… well, everyone. This is his story, and while it doesn’t involve the thrill of a championship or detailed descriptions of what it’s like to win hardware at the NHL awards show, that’s kind of the point. This isn’t the typical superstar’s biography – Pronger takes you the life of an NHLer who’s often just barely hanging onto a job.

I enjoyed it thoroughly, although I admit I got a weird vibe from the chapter titled “That time my younger brother strangled the blogger who kept making fun of him” that just reads “Coming in the next edition”.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Scouting the 2013 World Junior Championships

Craig Leipold saw the word "ufa"
and immediately offered the
tournament a 14-year contract
he had no intention of honoring.

It's almost World Juniors time again, with the eagerly anticipated annual tournament kicking off next week in Russia. Here's an advanced scouting report on the ten teams competing to take home the gold.

United States
The good: Top prospect Seth Jones is the son of former NBA star Popeye Jones, but chose to pursue a career in hockey instead in an attempt to maximize the percentage of his career he can lose to lockouts.
The bad: Have had to waste valuable training camp time repeatedly ejecting undercover Russian spy Alex Galchenyuk and his ridiculous cover story about being born in Wisconsin.

The good: Are apparently the defending champion, according to North American hockey fans who just Wikipedia'd last year's tournament because they stop paying attention once their team is out.
The bad: Goaltender Oscar Dansk was a high pick in the 2012 NHL draft, but it was by Columbus so it's possible he's never actually been on skates before.

The good: Are said to have their most athletically gifted team ever.
The bad: That means that this year when somebody yells "Oh no, Team Canada is taking a slapshot, everybody run!", some of the players will be physically capable of running.

The good: The national program continues to produce excellent players.
The bad: Many of them are unavailable for this tournament because, following long-established Slovakian law, the country's five best players each year are merged Voltron-style to create a new version of Zdeno Chara.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Countdown to drop dead - A look ahead to a month of CBA talks

Seriously, who still leaves voicemail?

There's no denying that last week's dramatic breakdown in negotiations between the NHL and NHLPA was bad news for hockey fans holding out hope for a partial season. After a bizarre Thursday session that left Don Fehr shaking his head and Gary Bettman shaking in anger, it feels like we're closer than ever to writing off the 2012-13 season completely.

But despite all the doom and gloom, observers kept reminding us of one positive: there's still time. While we don't know when the season would be cancelled, most experts agree we should have another four weeks or so before doomsday.

Will that be enough time? Nobody knows. Here's a look at how those next few weeks might play out.

December 14 - Gary Bettman makes a proposal to the NHLPA that he swears is the league's best and final offer, and everyone believes him because he'd certainly never lie about something like that.

December 17 - The two sides find common ground for the first time in months when everyone in the room is able to agree that Steve Fehr's sweaters are starting to get ridiculous.

December 20 - Your children are disappointed to find out that the man with the long straggly beard and the big jiggly belly sitting by himself at the mall is actually just a locked out NHL player who didn't bother to find a job in Europe.

December 24 - The Grinch Who Stole Christmas is fired from his job at Proskauer Rose for not making enough people miserable.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

20 years ago today...

This happened:

Happy anniversary, Rob and Sylvain. And wow, I'm getting old.

(Glove tap to @checktheticker for the heads up.)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The NHLPA's advance scouting report on today's session with NHL owners

Hi guys… your pal Donald Fehr here. As you know, you've been selected to represent the NHLPA in today's special "players/owners" meeting. The league released the names of the key owners and league officials who'll be representing them over the weekend, which gave me time to put together this scouting report on the key stakeholders you'll be dealing with today. Have a look, and make sure you're prepared.

And remember, if at any point you get confused or lose track of our negotiating points, just look for the window washer outside who looks mysteriously like me wearing a mustache made of duct tape.

Mark Chipman, Winnipeg Jets

He's not allowed to take his finger off his
mouth unless Jacobs says it's OK.
Strength: Many of the negative feelings in this dispute have revolved around contract rights for top-tier players, so it will probably be super helpful to include an owner who doesn't have any.

Weakness: Occasionally annoys fellow owners by saying crazy things like "Hey, did anyone notice how moving that struggling southern team to a better market made us all way more money?"

Jeffrey Vinik, Tampa Bay Lightning

He has two hands and his eyes open,
so he's the new starting goalie.

Strength: He also has ownership stakes in Liverpool FC and the Boston Red Sox, so even if this meeting ends in a full-scale fist fight it will still be the most successful thing he's been a part of all year.

Weakness: Every time the negotiation teams agree on an updated set of rules regarding unrestricted free agency, he sneaks over during a break and writes "(except for Stamkos)" in tiny print at the bottom.