Friday, March 29, 2013

Grantland grab bag: Important advice on your fake deadline day twitter account

In the weekly Grantland grab bag: a good week for comedy, whiny GMs, and the time a Kings fan threw a live chicken on the ice.

>> Read the full post at Grantland

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Grantland: Eight Great NHL Trade Breakouts

If you’re an NHL general manager pulling the trigger on a trade, there are a few ways the move can blow up in your face. Maybe the star player you get back has nothing left. Maybe the deal messes up your team chemistry. Maybe somebody gets hurt. Maybe your owner panics and forces you to overpay.

Or every once in a while, maybe you get what has to be a GM’s worst nightmare: when an established player you’ve traded away suddenly takes his game to the next level.

We’re not talking about the long shot prospect who develops into a star down the road. We mean the guy you had on your roster and thought you knew pretty well, who almost immediately transforms into one of the league’s elite players. Suddenly, a deal that might look defensible or even downright smart at the time it's made ends up haunting a franchise for a generation.

Here are eight deals that saw teams give up on a player who turned out to be a year or less away from making the leap to superstardom...

>> Read the full post at Grantland

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Ways NHL front offices are using advanced technology

Hey cool, looks like Steve Yzerman finished
running the playoff probability calculations.

Last week was an interesting one for sports fan who enjoy peeking behind the curtain at the world of high-stakes front office decision making.

In one article, James Mirtle explained how the Penguins relied on advice from an outside analytics agency to make the trade that brought James Neal to Pittsburgh. The data went beyond simple statistics to track where on the ice shots were coming from.

Meanwhile, NBA teams like the Toronto Raptors are taking things a step further. The franchise recently gave Grantland a tour of the proprietary tools they've developed based on SportVU camera technology. The software allows the team to track player movements and analyze performance in intricate detail.

Some saw that post and concluded that hockey is still trailing basketball when it comes to modern technology, but I'm not so sure. According to sources, several NHL teams are using computers to varying degrees in an effort to find a competitive edge.

Florida Panthers - Thought about developing a web-based database that could tell us everything we could ever want to know about each one our star players, but then realized somebody else had already invented WebMD.

Detroit Red Wings - Are using a program that tracks their players wherever they are on the ice or, in the case of Niklas Kronwall delivering a bodycheck, two feet off the ice.

Nashville Predators - Probably shouldn't have let Sergei Kostitsyn update all their software, since now they can't find the "No" option on the dialog box that says "Are you sure you want to quit?"

New York Rangers - Have kept their best players in the lineup thanks to computer technology that lets them hack into private email accounts and find those photos that we wouldn't want anyone else to see, WOULD WE BRENDAN?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Grantland grab bag: You won't like Ron Asselstine when he's angry

In the weekly grab bag: Mush madness, the visor debate, NTC stupidity, and why it's a really bad idea to turn your back on an angry Bear.

>> Read the full post at Grantland

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Grantland: Ten names to watch as we approach the trade deadline

We’re still two weeks away from the NHL’s April 3 trade deadline, but there’s a good chance action could pick up over the next few days. Recent history has shown a trend toward a quieter deadline day, with most of the bigger deals going down in advance. And because of this season’s modified post-lockout schedule, this week’s annual GM meetings are taking place before the deadline instead of after.

So now seems like a good time to get an early jump on the speculation with a look at 10 of the players who are showing up in trade chatter. Not all of them will be traded (let’s face it, there’s a decent chance none of the top players will), and we all may have moved on to 10 different guys by next week, but right now, these are some of the bigger names driving the rumor mill.

>> Read the full post at Grantland

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

What's gone wrong with the Toronto Maple Leafs?

This is how literally every
Korbinian Holzer shift ends.

The last few weeks haven't exactly been kind to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

At the season's halfway mark, the Leafs were 15-9-0 and seemed like they'd easily end the franchise's postseason drought. But since then they've dropped five straight games, and they now find themselves dangerously close to losing their grip on a Eastern Conference playoff spot.

What's gone wrong? I reached out my sources embedded in the Leafs organization, and they supplied a list of issues that the team and its players are facing right now.

  • As a traditional franchise, are still struggling to adapt to modern cutting-edge strategies like carefully monitoring zone entries and focusing on newly developed possession metrics and actually putting their best players in the god damned lineup sometimes.

  • Stupid official scorers refuse to add more goals to our total no matter how many times we send Frazer McLaren over to punch them.

  • Despite our coaching staff spending the entire offseason crafting their strategy by carefully studying the team's media coverage, every time they yell "Getzlaf and Luongo, get out there!" the whole bench just stares back at them like idiots.

  • Heard an unconfirmed report about some Maple Leaf fan somewhere in the world being happy; had to nip that in the bud.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Grantland: The NHL misery watch

A wise person once told me that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. After several years of living in complete silence, I realized that person was an idiot and I became a hockey fan instead.

Let’s face it, hockey fans tend to be a pretty cranky bunch. Whether it’s because the game is so violent, or the rinks are so cold, or the hair is so horrible, we seem to be destined to focus on the negative. And luckily for us, this NHL season has given up plenty of negativity to celebrate.

So let’s take a look around the league, focus on what’s gone wrong, and figure out why you should feel good about it.

>> Read the full post on Grantland

Friday, March 15, 2013

Grantland grab bag: Why you should never let Glenn Anderson write you a song

In the weekly Grantland grab bag: The original Kaspars Daugavins, a debate about three-point games, Don Cherry’s dying fish and video proof that The Leafs Are The Best.

>> Read the full post at Grantland

A quick book update

It’s been a while since I’ve posted an update on The Best Of Down Goes Brown. Unfortunately, there was a good reason for that: There wasn’t much to say, because for the past few months the book’s been out of stock at all of the major online stores.

In some sense that was a positive, since it means people are buying the book faster than the stores can stock it. Having to hang up an occasional “sold out” sign isn’t a bad thing. But in this case, “occasional” somehow stretched into “pretty much permanent”. I heard from plenty of people who had to wait weeks and months to get their copies, or who had their orders cancelled altogether. That’s not cool, and you have my apologies.

So here’s the good news: As of this week, it looks like the book is finally back in stock at sites like Amazon and Indigo, and there’s a second printing on the way that should prevent this from happening again. If you had an order that was on hold, it should ship soon. If your order was cancelled, or you gave up waiting, you can try again if you’d like.

Here's where you can find it: | | Barnes & Noble | Chapters/Indigo

In the meantime, here’s some evidence that the book really does exist once again:

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Grantland: Ranking history's greatest dirtbags

Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta remains suspended this week, ineligible to return to action until next Sunday after his dangerous hit from behind on Brad Richards. The incident led to renewed debate over whether Kaleta now deserves the title of the NHL’s most despicable player.

There’s not exactly a shortage of competition. Whether it’s Matt Cooke, Raffi Torres, or Daniel Carcillo, there are plenty of players these days who can leave fans tearing their hair out. Whether you’d prefer to call them agitators, pests, flat-out dirty, or just stains on the game, chances are you’re not alone in screaming at your TV whenever their smirking faces appear.

But this post isn’t about them. After all, each of today’s NHL villains is simply following in the footsteps of those who came before them. So today, let’s pay tribute to the previous generation. These 10 players may no longer be in the NHL, but their legacies helped lay the groundwork for players like Patrick Kaleta, who make the game what it is today.

>> Read the full post on Grantland

A brief history of Chris Pronger

Dammit, Pronger.

Chris Pronger finally addressed the status of his NHL career last week, first in a series of interviews with Dan Murphy and later in a press conference with the Philadelphia media. And while the defenceman stopped short of formally announcing his retirement, it seems all but certain that he'll never play again.

That's hard news to swallow in the hockey world, including around here where Pronger has been a frequent source of material. It wouldn't seem right to let the occasion pass without dedicating one more post to one of hockey most infamous personalities. So here's one last look back at the career of a hockey legend.

October 10, 1974 - Chris Pronger is born to Jim and Eila Pronger in Dryden, Ontario, according to a doctor holding an icepack over his black eye and muttering that he could swear that kid did that on purpose.

June 26, 1993 - Pronger is chosen by the Whalers with the second overall pick in the 1993 entry draft. "I'm glad I got drafted first, because no one remembers number two," says some guy.

March 25, 1994 - Pronger and five Hartford teammates are arrested after a bar room brawl caused by some obviously drunken moron who won't stop yelling about how someday it will seem like a good idea to move the Whalers to Carolina.

July 27, 1995 - Chris Pronger is traded straight up for Brendan Shanahan, which in hindsight is basically the NHL discipline department's "the Joker kills Bruce Wayne's parents" moment.

Grantland: A midseason look around the NHL

Every team in the NHL has played at least 24 games. That means it’s time for a random collection of observations from the season’s first half, loosely held together by a common structure of … oh, I don’t know, let’s go with “threes." Everyone good with threes? Cool, threes it is.

>> Read the full post on Grantland

Friday, March 8, 2013

Grantland grab bag: Kaleta sucks, Letterman rules, and a Stompin' Tom mystery

In this week’s grab bag: Screw you Patrick Kaleta,: the advanced stats debate; Wayne Gretzky visits David Letterman; and did Stompin’ Tom’s good old hockey game really happen?

>> Read the full post at Grantland

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Grantland: A look at the new guys

It’s easy to forget that last summer featured some major player transactions in the NHL. Between free agency and an unusually active trade market, plenty of players found new homes. Some of those moves have worked out well. Others … not so much.

Here are a dozen of the biggest names who switched teams before this season, and an update on the impact they’ve had so far.

>> Read the full post on Grantland

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The NHL's official application form for submitting an offer sheet

Jay, just curious, how many pages of the new
CBA have you not got around to reading yet?

The Calgary Flames tried to offer sheet Ryan O'Reilly last week. You may have read about how that turned out.

But while we now know how close the Flames came to disaster, there's an aspect to this that most of us aren't familiar with: how an offer sheet gets made in the first place. Given the millions of dollars involved, you might assume that it's extremely complicated. It's not. The GM in question just has to complete a simple form to get the process started.

Luckily, DGB spies were able to obtain a copy of the very same form that Jay Feaster and the Flames recently had to fill out.


Dear general manager,
Thank you for your interest in signing an NHL player to an offer sheet. To help us process your request as quickly as possible, please fill out the form below.

Your name: ____________________

Your team: ____________________

Name of player: ____________________

Name of player's team who will immediately match this offer, making this whole thing a huge waste of time: ____________________

Amount of money that player is worth: ____________________

Amount of money you are offering that player (or just draw an arrow to the number written above, then write "times three"): ____________________

Offer sheets have rarely been successful in the NHL. Please indicate why you feel this is a good year to sign an RFA.
(   ) This year's condensed schedule may make teams less likely to match a front-loaded offer.
(   ) Next year's tight cap could make it harder for teams to find the space to match aggressive offers.
(   ) Brian Burke is not currently an NHL GM, so I probably won't have to fight anybody in a barn.
(   ) Can really focus on player transactions this year, since thanks to the Blackhawks this isn't one of those annoying seasons that's plagued by all sorts of distractions and uncertainty over who's going to win the Stanley Cup.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Grantland: Jay Feaster is not alone

Just one day after trying (and failing) to land Avalanche free agent Ryan O’Reilly with an aggressive offer sheet, Jay Feaster and the Calgary Flames found themselves in the center of a controversy over whether they’d almost committed an all-time blunder.

According to a report, the Flames would have had to place O’Reilly on waivers as soon as they signed him. That means Calgary would have given up the draft pick compensation and the $2.5 million signing bonus, only to see its new player immediately wind up elsewhere. That didn’t end up happening, because the Avalanche matched the offer sheet, robbing us all of what would have no doubt been a fascinating legal scramble, but the incident embarrassed the Flames and has fans calling for Feaster’s head.

All of which puts Feaster & Friends in good company. After all, NHL hockey is complicated business, and the Flames’ offer-sheet saga certainly wasn’t the first time that somebody in the hockey world found themselves getting tripped up by a legal loophole.

Whether it was through confusion, dishonesty, or just plain old incompetence, here are some infamous moments in NHL history that had fans and team officials alike scratching their heads and checking their rulebooks.

>> Read the full post on Grantland

Friday, March 1, 2013

Grantland grab bag: There can only be one Little Ball Of Hate

In this week's grab bag: Brad Marchand needs a new nickname, Alexander Ovechkin gets ripped, and we spend some quality time with the 1994 NHL all-stars.

>> Read the full post at Grantland