Friday, September 5, 2014

A Quick Blurb On Why Sergei Bobrovsky Is One Of The Best In The World

Get to know Bobrovsky before the neck beards claim him.

Here's a quick blurb and my case for why Sergei Bobrovsky is one of the best goaltenders in the world and why he's a huge man crush of mine. If you go back in this blog's archives you can see me hyping the heck out of this kid back when he first entered the NHL.

Bobrovsky came out of nowhere in Russia to be the number one cop on the force. He started out working his way up in Russia to ascend to being the number one goaltender for Metallurg Novokuznetsk which didn't have any sort of goalie training or coaching in it's program, Bobrovsky just kept beating out other goaltenders purely on his natural ability. Flyers saw him and wanted to draft him but didn't think they could get him out of Russia. So he went undrafted until the Flyers signed him as an international free agent after he came out of nowhere again to tear up a World Championships tournament for Russia. Came over to a completely new country, league and style of hockey at 22-years old. Everyone thought he was going to mature in the AHL for awhile but he again beat out all the other Flyers netminders (not like that was hard) to make the NHL team. He was raw as hell and had some quirks in his game but was definitely the hardest working, most passionate and most talented goalie they've had in years. However Bobrovsky had a problem with wearing down over the course of a NHL season because he never had such a work load before and he was still just a raw kid. So the Flyers were like "Fuck we need goaltending for? We're the Philadelphia Flyers! LOL! Here Bryzgalov take a nine year contract and fuck the best young goalie in the league! I'm PAUL HOLMGREEN BITCH!" and then shipped off to Columbus where he's quietly emerged already as a top five goalie and former Vezina winner in his four years in the league. How can you not love this kid? He's the real deal.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Boom or Bust Tryamkin Signals Red Revolution in Vancouver

Boom or Bust Tryamkin Signals Red Revolution in

(Blake Gumprecht - Flickr)
Tryamkin having a moment of silence for his competition. (Blake Gumprecht – Flickr)


It was 2,562 days or 7.01 years between the time the Vancouver Canucks drafted a Russian prospect. It has been 3,721 days or 10.8 years since the Vancouver Canucks have had a Russian player as a regular part of the roster.
The history of Canucks players from the Russian Federation in the modern era has been largely non-existent. This unspoken of wall seemed to finally fall at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft when new Canucks general manager Jim Benning drafted boom or bust prospect Nikita Tryamkin from Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg of the KHL.

Did the Canucks Draft
Ivan Drago?

When I woke up the morning of the second day of the 2014 NHL Draft, my eyes nearly popped out of my head when I saw the Vancouver Canucks drafted Nikita Tryamkin with a third round pick. Tryamkin is a 19-year old 6’7 defenseman who’s been something of a well kept secret in hockey circles and draws comparisons to Tampa Bay’s Andrej Sustr. The smooth skating Tryamkin was passed over in the past two NHL Drafts with scouts being wary of Tryamkin being left off Russian national teams for the World Junior Championships and other national junior tournaments.
Nikita Tryamkin appeared on the radar when he began play in Russia’s top league at 18-years old. Tryamkin was finally selected for Russia’s U-20 team at the 2014 World Junior Championships and distinguished himself with a three point +5 performance in seven games on route to a Bronze for his team. Tryamkin also drew comparisons to the character Ivan Drago from the Rocky films due to his size and icy cool play in the tournament. From his performance at the WJC Tryamkin finally attracted the attention of NHL scouts with the Lightning, Rangers and Canucks rumored to show interest. The Canucks selected Tryamkin 66th overall making the smooth skating giant defenseman the first Russian drafted by the Canucks in seven years.

(Blake Gumprecht - Flickr)
Tryamkin has shown an intriguing gritty side to his game. (Blake Gumprecht – Flickr)

A Strange History

Bure (Hakan Dahlstrom/ Flikr.)
Pavel Bure (Hakan Dahlstrom/ Flikr.)
The drafting of Tryamkin marks the beginning of a revolution in thought for Vancouver. The Canucks were historically one of the first to bring Russians to North America. However the Canucks have had a notoriously difficult history with Russian players. The history of Russian Canucks brings about tales of Vladimir Krutov’s love of gas station hot dogs and the Canucks’ first true superstar Pavel Bure demanding to be traded.
The history of Russian Canucks also leads to stories of the organization being one of the first to send executives and players into the Soviet Union to recruit the best in Russian hockey. The last Russian to regularly suit up for the Caucks was fourth line center Artem Chubarov who infamously left his car at the Canucks’ arena while leaving for bigger money and more playing time in Russia in 2005.

The Modern Era of Russian Canucks

Sergei Shirokov playing in the 2012 IHWC.
In the modern era the Canucks had a habit of using late draft picks on enigmatic Russian forwards. Most never made it to North America but the two most noteworthy were Fedor Fedorov and Sergei Shirokov.
Fedor Fedorov managed two separate cups of coffee with Vancouver’s NHL squad in four years spent with the organization marked by inconsistent effort and rumors of a poor attitude. Fedorov was traded to the New York Rangers where he also received a cup of coffee before leaving for Russia permanently.
Sergei Shirokov is a skilled scoring winger drafted in the sixth round of the 2006 NHL Draft by the Canucks who made the transition to North American hockey in 2009. After an impressive training camp Shirokov managed a cup of coffee with the Canucks in his two seasons in North America before getting lost in the shuffle under general manager Mike Gillis. Shirokov was a two time AHL all-star in his time with the Canucks’ AHL affiliate the Manitoba Moose but never got a fair opportunity on the NHL team. In 2011 Shirokov signed a three year contract with CSKA Moscow of the KHL. Shirokov has gone on to become a two time all star and one of the leading scorers in Russia.

What Did Gillis Learn When He Was Bure’s Agent?

Former Canucks general manager Mike Gillis has deservedly received a lot of praise from the Canucks faithful. The team’s GM and President from 2008 to 2014, Gillis brought the Canucks the most success in it’s history. Under Gillis’ reign the Canucks also came one win away from aStanley Cup Championship in 2011. Yet Mike Gillis never drafted or signed a Russian player in his six years as the Canucks’ boss.
The Canucks unspoken of bias against Russian players led to several maligned moments in the Gillis era including missing out on drafting skilled Russian prospects; most notably Dallas Starsforward Valeri Nichushkin. Gillis also missed out on key free agent Russian scorers such as Alexander Semin. During the Gillis administration from 2008 to 2014 the Vancouver Canucks had the lowest amount of games played from Russians of any NHL team with only eight from Sergei Shirokov.
Valeri Nichushkin Stars
Did the Canucks miss the next elite Russian scorer? (Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)

Change Comes From Benning

When former Canucks general manager Mike Gillis was fired in 2014, the Canucks fan base was unsure what to expect with the regime change. That uncertainty grew when former Canucks’ player Trevor Linden and Bruins’ assistant general manager Jim Benning were hired to head the managerial group for the team. Benning as the new general manager has made some controversial moves including trading away key players and taking the reigns of a necessary youth movement in Vancouver. However the biggest sign of change may be the drafting of a little known boom or bust overage defenseman from Ekaterinburg, Russia
Nikita Tryamkin.

Someone was hitting the bottle this morning


It was around 3 AM when some odd details coming from the QMI Agency (a Canadian news service) hit the internet last night claiming Sidney Crosby had been arrested in Ottawa on driving related charges. It was just released a hour ago that initial report was a mistake and Crosby isn't even in Canada right now as he's in Colorado preparing for the Penguins trading camp. Unfortunately this Roswell crash in Ottawa has still prevented Crosby from being interesting.

Sidney Crosby Arrested?

The Biggest Question, will this actually make Crosby interesting?

According to Slam Sports


, Last Updated: 3:52 AM ET
Pittsburgh Penguins centre Sidney Crosby was arrested by Ottawa Police late Tuesday while driving a rented Porsche, sources have told QMI Agency.
Reasons of his arrest were unknown, but appear to be driving related.
Sources say Crosby was taken to the Ottawa police headquarters on Elgin street for fingerprinting and a mugshot.
It is unknown at this time why the NHL star was in Ottawa.
Ottawa Police have been unable to be reached for comment.

First Bieber, now Crosby... what's going wrong Canada?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Who is Aaron Ekblad?

Ekblad has the precarious distinction of being a 1st overall in a "bad" draft year.
Is Aaron Ekblad the least talked about 1st overall pick ever? I hear very little about this kid despite his having some impressive accolades from the OHL and the coveted number one spot. It's weird in the last couple of years the hockey world has had collective orgasms over Tavares, Hall and MacKinnon but no one seems to care about the Panthers' new potential franchise defenseman while obsessing on next year's draft.

Monday, September 1, 2014

How a Billionaire's Mistress changed the Islanders' Destiny

Islanders owner Charles Wang and GM Garth Snow share a fist-bump
Charles Wang: Misunderstood Genius or Destroyer of Innocent Planets?
Just a few years ago a gathering of NHL owners could be confused for a Bond villain reunion. Leading these Old Mustache Pete’s you had “Dollar” Bill Wirtz who choked the Chicago faithful with pitiful player payrolls, blacking out local games and being a reprehensible owner to the point he was booed during his own moment of silence at the Blackhawks’ season opener after his death. You had two rich businessmen in Len Barrie and Oren Koules who bickered over the last place Tampa Bay Lightning like co-owners of a basement fantasy team leading to one of the most humorously bad seasons by a NHL team in recent memory.
Then you have the long suffering Islanders, the team that’s had consistently woeful to mediocre performances with bizarre decisions coming from it’s owner Charles Wang.
Taking over as part-owner in 2000 and majority owner in 2004 Charles Wang has become something of a legend with bizarre decisions such as hiring his team’s active backup goaltender to be the Islanders’ general manager. Giving his franchise netminder a fifteen year contract which ended in a buyout when the netminder received several career ending injuries two years into the deal. Former General Manager Mike Milbury said Wang wanted to try-out sumo wrestlers in net as his goaltenders. Charles Wang also spent several years trying in vain to build something called “The Lighthouse Project” which as far as I can tell may have been a real life Death Star.

Wang Dang Doodle

The Wang owned Islanders have been wallowing with only two forgettable first round playoff exits since the lockout in 2004 and one of the smallest payrolls year to year in the cap era. The team also seemed to find itself mired in yearly mismanagement dramas with Wang crying poverty that the Islanders were losing money.
The tide on Long Island began to turn in 2009 when the Islanders drafted franchise center John Tavares and slowly assembled a cast of talented young players to surround him with. The Islanders also announced a deal beginning in 2015 to move from it’s antiquated home at the Nassau Colosseum to the modern Barclay Center in Brooklyn.
New York Islanders Barclays Center
The Islanders' new home beginning in 2015.
The dawning of a new era for the Islander faithful climaxed this month when it was announced that the much maligned Wang would sell the team and it’s assets this off-season to New York businessman Andrew Barroway. Islander fans rejoiced until in true “Wang’ian” fashion the initial sale of the Islanders to Barroway was cancelled leading to lawsuits and rumors of a shadowy deal to an unknown owner group.

 Corporate Ethics in  the NHL

According to the NY Daily News the sale of the NBA team the Los Angeles Clippers for over two billions dollars led to a price spike after initial negotiations with Wang demanding $548 million dollars from Barroway. This came after Wang and Barroway had an agreed upon deal for $420 million for the Islanders and it’s assets. Wang apparently had buyer’s remorse and felt he sold the team for too little when news of the $2 billion Clippers deal went public. In the middle of this chaos on Aug. 1st, Wang informed Barroway that another unnamed ownership group had purchased the Islanders. This led to a $10 million lawsuit over a break-up fee between Barroway and Wang and a lot of messy legal posturing in the media. The Islanders now also allegedly belonged to an unknown shadowy owners’ group.
It wasn’t until Aug.19th nearly three weeks later when the news finally broke that the Islanders were in fact sold to a new ownership group led by former Washington Capitals co-owner Jon Ledecky (the 24th richest man in America according to Forbes) and businessman Scott Malkin.

The Islanders released this statement

A group led by former Washington Capitals co-owner Jon Ledecky and London based investor Scott Malkin has reached a definitive agreement, subject to NHL approval, to purchase a substantial minority interest in the team. Under the terms of the agreement, Charles Wang will continue as majority shareholder and Governor of the Islanders, with the Ledecky/Malkin group transitioning to majority owner in two years.
“We are pleased to have the opportunity to become partners in the New York Islanderswith Charles, and to pursue our shared dream of winning a fifth Stanley Cup for the greatest fans in the NHL,” Mr. Ledecky said.
“I’m thrilled that Jon and Scott have agreed to join me as we start the Islanders’ final year at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum,” Mr. Wang said. “I look forward to a long and successful partnership.”
Wanging ain't easy.

Like it came from a great noir film

The rumored price for the Islanders sale? Right around the $548 million inflated price Wang was looking for after the Sterling scandal. The sale of the LA Clippers was forced by Sterling being tape recorded saying racist things by his mistress.
Before the scandal  the Islanders were valued at $200 to $350 million. After the scandal went public the team and it’s assets sold in the mid $500 million range because a couple of n-bombs and a shaky business deal in LA. The ramifications of this Islanders sale are astronomical as this signals a significant value hike for every major sports franchise in America.
Donald Sterling poses in his home
With one racist tirade, Donald Sterling increased the value of every major American sports team by hundreds of million dollars.

Is the worm turning on the Island?

It seems the best NHL teams begin with a regime change from top to bottom to achieve success. The Chicago Blackhawks became one of the best teams of the modern era with two Stanley Cup wins after “Dollar” Bill had the team taken from his cold dead hands. The Tampa Bay Lightning became one of the best teams in the league once it found stable ownership and stole some of the best minds in hockey for it’s management group.
The Islanders enter this new era with a very odd story. The Islanders enter the season with the beginnings of a new ownership group spearheaded by one of the richest men in the country. A new arena for the 2015-2016 season and a young team led by a 23-year old superstar. The worm may have finally turned on Long Island.
…But this is the Islanders after all. Wang is still in the picture for the next two years as majority owner and there seems to be a very real possibility of a power struggle developing in this new found Brooklyn Triad. There’s extreme potential for this team to either surge into a perennial top three powerhouse in the Eastern conference or to develop a Taratino’esque corporate Mexican stand-off between the Islanders’ three new owners. Whatever happens the sands of time have shown that every terrible era of a major sports team comes to an end sooner or later. With the dawning of the Wang era in sight, the question becomes what lays on the horizon for the Islanders.
John Tavares Islanders
First order of business, get this man offensive support... and a big red cape.

Just a quick thought on Vrbata

Radim Vrbata
Potential 30-goal scorer and new Canucks's bear wrestler Radim Vrbata
I'm sorry to mark out as a fan but I am really excited for Radim Vrbata. I don't think the Canucks have had player like him since Naslund and I think he'll be a great compliment to the Sedins or the second line. My only concern is Sedin-Sedin-Vrbata is probably going to be the softest top line in the NHL next season and I imagine Vrbata will shift back and forth at times with Kassian and Burrows. But if Benning follows the Bruins' model I suspect the team will gradually get bigger and tougher.