Thursday, December 31, 2009

No Protractors/Brannock Devices in Hockey

The question came in real time via Twitter from my former colleague Jeff Hale, who was taking in the Los Angeles Kings/Calgary Flames game on Wednesday night.

"What you think of Phaneuf hit? 2 guys going for puck, Kopitar out of his weight class, gets turned around and crunched."

Watching live in the Bunker, I had a hard time seeing this as anything more than a play worthy of a minor for interference. The Flames' Dion Phaneuf plays the Kings' Anze Kopitar right into the boards, leaving the puck to skitter behind the net for a teammate to clean up.

Context needed here. Phaneuf, who is a hitter, has been known to finish high and he has been known to leave his skates. Neither appears to be the case here.

More context: Kopitar is a rising star, or was one before his teammate Ryan Smyth went on the injured list, deflating Kopitar's standing in the overall scoring race. He is a guy the National Hockey League intends to protect. Perhaps that is the case here; Phaneuf's punishment is a major for boarding and a game misconduct.

Good night, Mr. Phaneuf.

Now we add a little perspective. I watch the hit repeatedly, far removed from the moment it occurred, and can see where I say yes, you say no, I say why and you say I don't know. Whoa no.

The NHL has been shaken in the last decade or two, its foundation picked apart by well meaning and safety-minded inspectors with protractors and Brannock Devices to determine what is legal. If it is a crime, what is the punishment? How strong? How weak?

How tiring.

I cannot say I know the solution to the problem of dangerous hits along the boards, although Kopitar should have taken some steps to defend/prepare himself for the hit in the corner. (A police officer told me after my car was hit broadside by a van that ran a stop sign: "You had the right-of-way, but you had to have seen that van not slowing down. Next time, do yourself a favor. Be more defensive.")

In other words, I can break out the protractor and measure my the angle of the van's path into my vehicle, and I can cite the laws of the road, but could I have saved myself some time upside down in my car along the side of the road by doing some simple math? Hey, that guy is speeding; I'm not. I can stop; he might not. I was in the right, the police and witnesses said, but what is that worth when only the dome light is keeping an average -- read short -- man from having his head touch the roof of the car, which has its wheels in the air?

Now regarding Phaneuf. Was he dealt with because of his history of aggressive play and did his actions merit the size of the penalty? This is where the Brannock Device comes into play, as I told Jeff in a Tweet.

"calling penalties now is like using that old metal foot sizer at the shoe store. How do U use it, what does it say, what's it mean?"

Does the penalty fit the crime, or in this case, does the shoe fit? A master at a shoe store might be able to come up with any number of precise rulings with the device, which cannot be found at any of the shoe grab piles (5 shoes for $4) where I pick up my fine footwear.

Where are those masters today? They are not in stripes on the ice, where they have little time to break out the Brannock while picking up the pieces after the collision, separating agitated parties and anticipating any number of suggestions from fans as to precisely where they can place those whistles and/or rulings on the play.

Other than telling everyone to defend themselves, which I know is the old school approach, there really isn't much more that can be improved through more rules, longer suspensions and even more protective gear.

You can hurt everyone BUT yourself in the latest equipment. You have rules that seem to run counter to other rules. And you have suspensions for some and nothing for others. None of that quite measures up if you are using Brannock, common sense or advanced reasoning.

I am reversing myself here. In late 2007, I asked whether Colton Orr could take a few nanoseconds to consider a perhaps safer bodycheck in open ice. My argument was that these guys know precisely what a shift of their skate, twist of the stick, will do for them when they deliver a check or shoot the puck.

But by making this suggestion, I became the object of my own fears, a protractor-waving, Brannock-Device pushing shirt and tie. Great suggestion in theory. Tougher to employ in practice.

So Mr. Greg Wyshynski, the Puck Daddy, I stand corrected, ready to head to the box to feel shame. My foot is now defensively placed in the Brannock. Please be kind.

Happy New Year, everybody. Take care. (Especially you, Anze.)

At Boston 4, Atlanta 0
At New Jersey 2, Pittsburgh 0
Philadelphia 6, at N.Y. Rangers 0
Montreal 2, at Tampa Bay 1 OT
Colorado 4, at Ottawa 3
At Calgary 2, Los Angeles 1
At Edmonton 3, Toronto 1
At San Jose 5, Washington 2
The standings are here.
The night's recap, the best around, by Sportsnet.
Three stars by Puck Daddy.

Adirondack 4, at Albany 2
At Hartford 5, Springfield 3
At Toronto 3, Peoria 2
At Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 6, Binghamton 3
At Hamilton 4, Rochester 1
At Chicago 5, Houston 1
At San Antonio 3, Syracuse 2
The standings are here.
The roundup is here.

Johnstown 2, at Trenton 1
Wheeling 3, at Reading 2
Victoria 5, at Utah 4
At Alaska 3, Ontario 2 SO
The standings are here.

Acadie-Bathurst 5, at Prince Edward Island 2
Cape Breton 4, at Halifax 2
Drummondville 5, at Victoriaville 4
At Lewiston 6, Gatineau 4
Rimouski 4, at Quebec 3 OT
Chicoutimi 4, at Baie-Comeau 3
At Montreal 2, Shawinigan 1
The standings are here.
The roundup is here.

At Kingston 5, Oshawa 3
At Mississauga 3, Brampton 2 OT
At Owen Sound 3, Niagara 1
The standings are here.
The roundup is here.

Moose Jaw 2, at Prince Albert 1
At Lethbridge 3, Medicine Hat 2 OT
At Red Deer 4, Brandon 2
Kamloops 4, at Kelowna 1
Prince George 4, at Vancouver 1
Saskatoon 4, at Seattle 3
The standings are here.
The roundup is here.

No games scheduled.
The standings are here.

Group A (at Saskatoon)
Switzerland 7, Latvia 5
The recap is here.

Group B (at Regina)
Finland 10, Austria 1
The recap is here.
The standings and statistics are here.
Three stars by Puck Daddy.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Is Go Juice Approved for the Olympics?

A can of Coca-Cola mixed with a two shots of espresso or a bottle of Starbucks mocha frappuchino acts like EMT flat paddles on the chest -- a nice jump-start on a cold day. Or the morning after staying up late to watch Vancouver at Phoenix and Minnesota at Anaheim.

I call it Go Juice.

As we get closer to the Winter Games in Vancouver, I have to ask whether this is a legal boost for East Coast viewers of the Olympics.

Everything from Nagano in 1998 seemed to be late, and I was living on the West Coast. I spent one of the Olympic weeks in Kauai, where seemingly all of the Olympic action was broadcast on tape delay as well.

Want to see the big Olympic hockey games? Back then, you had to wait until after "Late Night with David Letterman" -- HAWAII TIME -- before the game would begin. Not a happy experience.

I hope for better this February, but I do have my Go Juice ready for the long haul.

Fresh from TSN and CTV, here is what Team Canada will look like in Vancouver. Over at Puck Daddy, you can find the rosters for Finland and the Czech Republic.

From the Rink has the rosters for Germany and Switzerland. Also there are the rosters for Latvia, Norway and Slovakia.

And now, on to the scoreboard.

At Buffalo 4, Pittsburgh 3
At N.Y. Islanders 2, Columbus 1 SO
Nashville 4, at St. Louis 3
At Dallas 5, Chicago 4
At Phoenix 3, Vancouver 2 SO
At Anaheim 4, Minnesota 2
The standings are here.
The roundup is here.
Three stars by Puck Daddy.

Peoria 5, at Lake Erie 3
Providence 3, at Springfield 2 OT
At Worcester 5, Manchester 2
Hershey 5, at Norfolk 3
At Milwaukee 7, Rockford 1
Syracuse 4, at Texas 3 SO
The standings are here.
The roundup is here.

Florida 4, at Gwinnett 1
Elmira 7, at Reading 1
At Stockton 5, Bakersfield 1
At Las Vegas 3, Idaho 1
The standings are here.

At Cape Breton 6, Halifax 0
At Saint John 5, Prince Edward Island 2
Baie-Comeau 5, at Chicoutimi 4
Moncton 4, at Acadie-Bathurst 3
At Val-d'Or 2, Rouyn-Noranda 1
The standings are here.
The roundup is here.

London 4, at Guelph 2
Erie 4, at Saginaw 1
Barrie 7, at Kitchener 4
At Ottawa 4, Belleville 2
Plymouth 5, at Sarnia 2
At Sudbury 4, Sault Ste. Marie 2
The standings are here.
The roundup is here.

At Moose Jaw 6, Prince Albert 3
At Calgary 4, Regina 3
Lethbridge 2, at Edmonton 1 SO
At Kootenay 5, Red Deer 4 SO
At Chilliwack 6, Prince George 1
At Portland 4, Spokane 3
At Tri-City 1, Everett 0
The standings are here.
The roundup is here.

At Youngstown 4, Waterloo 3
The standings are here.

Group A (at Saskatoon)
United States 12, Latvia 1
Canada 8, Slovakia 2
The recaps are here.

Group B (at Regina)
Czech Republic 7, Austria 1
Sweden 4, Russia 1
The recaps are here and here.
The standings and statistics are here.
Three stars by Puck Daddy.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Four Barrels of Coffee

Just stringing together short shifts and big barrels of Joe as I try to make it through another day after a long night.

The World Junior Championship tournament is struggling to hold my interest. Canada is blowing everyone out. The announcers on TSN have pretty much exhausted all the superlatives they can use for any given 30-0 blowout. That pretty much leaves what elementary school they attended as the final note.

If I didn't have "On the Fly" to watch each morning, I'd pretty much be stuck with basketball highlights, NFL news and promos for whatever ESPN thinks is more important than hockey. Glad I have the NHL Network.

The Los Angeles Kings return to Calgary on Wednesday night. They better have an answer to Mark Giordano, who pretty much took it to Dustin Brown and the Kings. Giordano hit Brown everywhere on the ice and the Kings had no response. If you want to compete with the big boys in the Western Conference of the National Hockey League, you had better respond with a strong checking game of your own when called out. The Kings are on notice.

And now, the fourth barrel of coffee has been consumed. Can I get a refill?

As I run for more Joe, here's TSN's top plays of the decade, with an assist earned by From the Rink.

At New Jersey 3, Atlanta 2
Carolina 6, at Washington 3
At Columbus 1, Detroit 0 OT
At Ottawa 4, Montreal 2
At Tampa Bay 2, Boston 1
Calgary 4, at Edmonton 1
Minnesota 4, at Los Angeles 3
At San Jose 3, Phoenix 2 SO
The standings are here.
The roundup is here.
Three-stars by Puck Daddy.

At Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 4, Adirondack 3
At Hamilton 5, Toronto 2
At Milwaukee 5, Grand Rapids 2
At Houston 5, Syracuse 4 OT
At Manitoba 2, Abbotsford 1 SO
The standings are here.
The roundup is here.

At Victoria 5, Alaska 4
The standings are here.

At Lewiston 3, Victoriaville 2
At Gatineau 3, Montreal 2
At Rimouski 8, Quebec 1
At Drummondville 7, Shawinigan 4
The standings are here.
The roundup is here.

At Plymouth 3, Erie 2 OT
The standings are here.
The roundup is here.

At Swift Current 4, Brandon 2
At Vancouver 6, Kamloops 3
The standings are here.
The roundup is here.

No games scheduled.
The standings are here.

Group A (at Saskatoon)
Canada 6, Switzerland 0
The recap is here.
Group B (at Regina)
Russia 2, Finland 0
The recap is here.
The standings are here.
Three stars by Puck Daddy.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Bacon, Eggs, Roll. Your Line Starts.

Winter mornings in New York send the message early. Winds off the Hudson work the forecheck hard.

Bags, papers, hats. You better grip 'em hard because the wind wants to play, prove its strength. You are the fresh kid on the playground; your hat looks like a perfect item for keepaway.

Get wise to what the winter wind wants and you can play your hand. Call the first play that puts you in control, gives you the strength to mute that wind, to put it back in the box, where it will spring back out on someone less prepared, less fortified.

Bacon, eggs, roll. That's the call. Your street-corner agent works in a metal box no bigger than a hall closet. If he stands at the center, he can reach every corner without much difficulty.

Bacon, eggs, roll. At that bark, that action begins. Two eggs cracked into a metal bowl. Beat with a fork. Add small conversation. If he's cold, he doesn't show it.

A friend of the agent passes by. Greetings in Czech, Russian, Polish. All done while the eggs hit the grill, the roll is sliced and placed face down on the sheet. Two large barrels of Joe, prepared, bagged. The roll comes off, eggs and bacon folded in. Foil, ketchup packets, salt packets, pepper packets, five napkins. Into the bag, transaction complete. Bless you, my son. Go and sin some more.

Marching into the wind, I find a bench in Bryant Park. Two deep pulls of Joe; it hurts, but the sting cuts the cold quickly, trading one pain for another. Now the sandwich. See that smile? You know that it had to be as good as it smelled going into the bag.

Bacon, eggs, roll. The world never looked better. Warmer, yes. But better? No.

The rink is up now at Bryant Park, and I catch the show of early skaters taking a few turns before it's time to head to work -- stolen moments in a city where your time is already accounted for. Gotta be here, shoulda been there, need to make it up now. Late is the constant state. Early? Where the heck are you from? You are not from here, boss.

Get in the game. Play catch up. Make the call.

Bacon, eggs, roll. Your line starts.

Sunday's Scoreboard
Philadelphia 2, at N.Y. Islanders 1
Boston 2, at Florida 1
Buffalo 5, at St. Louis 3
Toronto 4, at Pittsburgh 3
At Chicago 5, Nashville 4
Vancouver 5, at Calgary 1
The standings are here.
The roundup is here.

Three stars from Puck Daddy.

At Manchester 2, Providence 0
Hartford 4, at Springfield 3 SO
At Worcester 3, Lowell 2
Rockford 6, at Chicago 4
Peoria 5, at Grand Rapids 1
At San Antonio 4, Texas 1
Lake Erie 7, Toronto 0
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 3, Albany 2
At Hershey 7, Norfolk 1
At Rochester 5, Binghamton 3
At Manitoba 4, Abbotsford 1
The standings are here.
The roundup is here.

Cincinnati 3, at Kalamazoo 2 OT
Charlotte 5, at South Carolina 4
At Gwinnett 3, Florida 2 OT
Reading 4, at Trenton 3 OT
At Toledo 7, Johnstown 3
At Wheeling 4, Elmira 3
Bakersfield 3, at Ontario 2
At Victoria 7, Alaska 3
The standings are here.

At Quebec 10, Chicoutimi 1
At Shawinigan 7, Gatineau 5
Lewiston 4, at Victoriaville 3
Moncton 10, at Halifax 1
At Cape Breton 3, Prince Edward Island 0
Saint John 5, at Acadie-Bathurst 4
At Rouyn-Noranda 6, Val-d'Or 0
The standings are here.
The roundup is here.

No games scheduled.
The standings are here.

Vancouver 7, at Kelowna 3
At Kootenay 3, Calgary 1
At Medicine Hat 5, Regina 2
At Red Deer 1, Lethbridge 0
Tri-City 6, at Everett 3
Chilliwack 3, at Seattle 2 OT
At Kamloops 6, Prince George 1
Portland 5, at Spokane 4
The standings are here.
The roundup is here.

No games scheduled.
The standings are here.

Group A (at Saskatoon)
United States 3, Switzerland 0
Slovakia 8, Latvia 3
The recaps are here.

Group B (at Regina)
Sweden 7, Austria 3
Finland 4, Czech Republic 3
The recaps are here.

Three-stars from Puck Daddy.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Coming Out of the Holiday Blackout

It felt great to be waking up on Boxing Day, knowing that there would be some hockey to watch.

Now don't get me wrong, I like all the trappings of the holidays: eating, sitting around talking to others, eating, drinking, taking note of things that you should eventually address, eating.

But really, how is that so different from what I do during the rest of the week? It's the hockey. That's the what makes the day special.

I made certain every chore was either done or was properly scheduled for Sunday, which gave me a clear schedule for the three World Junior Championship games and at least two National Hockey League games. Where I went wrong was not having anything to distract me from the total debacle that was the Canada-Latvia contest.

Full marks to Latvia for trying to stick to its game plan. One of these days, it just may work against a superior team like Canada. But not Saturday. The Canadians played through them, turning the contest into a light workout.

A 16-0 victory for Canada, and the score does not reflect how far the Latvians have to go. I know that this game left me drained, and I was not up to the full night of hockey I had planned.

The United States spotted Slovakia a two-goal lead before coming back to take a 7-3 decision in the WJC opener for both teams. (The recaps for all four games from Saturday are below in the scoreboard.) A good test for the American squad, but it was a weak effort by me, who chose to rely on videotape to capture the Devils/Capitals, Kings/Coyotes, Oilers/Canucks and Ducks/Sharks.

Some days, you just don't have it. When that happens, you have to ensure that you will get it back the next day.

Today, I have a few chores and a meal to prepare before the U.S. junior team faces Switzerland in the WJC. I'll also be looking in on Flyers/Islanders, Sabres/Blues, Predators/Blackhawks and Canucks/Flames.

Internet radio feeds will employed for Bruins/Panthers and Maple Leafs/Penguins.

Looking forward to a better day in hockey.

Saturday Scoreboard

Ottawa 3, at Buffalo 2 SO
Montreal 3, at Toronto 2 OT
N.Y. Islanders 3, at N.Y. Rangers 2 OT
At Washington 4, New Jersey 1
Philadelphia 4, at Carolina 3 SO
At Detroit 2, Columbus 1
At Tampa Bay 4, Atlanta 3
Chicago 4, at Nashville 1
At Minnesota 4, St. Louis 3
At Phoenix 3, Los Angeles 2
At Colorado 4, Dallas 1
At Vancouver 4, Edmonton 1
At San Jose 5, Anaheim 2
The standings are here.

At Bridgeport 3, Hartford 2 SO
Chicago 7, Grand Rapids 4
At Hershey 4, Syracuse 1
At Lowell 5, Providence 1
Manchester 2, at Portland 1
Adirondack 3, at Binghamton 2
At Rochester 4, Hamilton 2
At Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 2, Albany 1
At Worcester 7, Springfield 2
At Lake Erie 4, Toronto 2
At Rockford 4, Milwaukee 2
San Antonio 4, at Houston 2
The standings are here.

Florida 3, at Charlotte 0
South Carolina 4, at Gwinnett 3
Trenton 3, at Johnstown 2
Toledo 4, at Cincinnati 3
Wheeling 5, at Kalamazoo 3
At Elmira 6, Reading 3
At Utah 5, Idaho 2
Stockton 3, Bakersfield 1
At Las Vegas 4, Ontario 2
The standings are here.

Group A (at Saskatoon)
Canada 16, Latvia 0
United States 7, Slovakia 3
The recaps are here.

Group B (at Regina)
Sweden 10, Czech Reupblic 1
Russia 6, Austria 2
The recaps are here.

Three stars from Puck Daddy.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Somebody's Playing Hockey Out There

I still think that it's a good idea to have the National Hockey League go dark for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Gives everybody some time to rest before the fun begins on Boxing Day with the NHL back on the ice and the World Junior Championship tournament dropping the puck as well.

Happy holidays to everyone from your tender here at the Lounge. Come back again soon.

The Management.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

One Night in New York City: USHL

It might seem strange to precede a report on the United States Hockey League and its activities right up to the holiday break, but please follow me on this one.

As I have done with the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League and Western League, I have given readers a chance to see how I came to view the world through hockey and how the sports gives me hope in a time of turmoil.

With that, I give you Dec. 23, 1979.

Or at least, I give you a window into that time and what New York was like.

"Lawless. The whole place had gone wild."

The man was speaking to me on the train platform while waiting for a Metro North local to arrive. He was talking about the city in the 1970s. The Rolling Stones said the place was in tatters; the Ford administration, according to the New York Daily News, told the city to DROP DEAD.

New Yorkers lived in Fun City, with both wading and deep-end pools of crime all around. The police? They had their own issues to deal with; yours could take a number.

And in that spirit, the Boston Bruins found themselves taking matters into their own hands in a city gone wild. The guy on the train platform had described the city well. His description most certainly captured the spirit of the night in question.

The Rangers' Phil Esposito misses wildly on a breakaway and smashes his stick to the ice. He makes a quick getaway and leaves the post-game sharing of grievances between teams to others.

John Davidson leads a discussion before the scrum heads toward the halfboards, where a fan is said to have gained unauthorized access to Stan Jonathan's stick. Not waiting for grievances to be voiced, Bruins captain Terry O'Reilly leads the charge into the stands of Madison Square Garden.

He finds the fan, separates said fan from Jonathan's stick, and then begins to emphasize his point about what is yours, mine and ours: The stick is mine, the current displeasure is all yours, and our time will now be spent exchanging unplesantries, both vocal and physical.

Another fan reaches over, perhaps to tap O'Reilly on the shoulder and say, Hello. Perhaps he was saying, "I think the guy said, 'I give!' "

Either way, that, shall we say, calm fellow then beat a quick retreat up the aisle as Peter McNab (No. 8 in your program and in the video) does Spider-Man one better by quickly navigating his way from the front rail to an intersection with the formerly calm fellow.

As McNab delivers his message, here comes Mike Milbury, who in all this really does get a bad rap, albeit while giving one.

The legend has grown that Milbury pummeled the fan with his own Florsheim. But look closely here. Milbury looks more like a shoe clerk here, struggling to remove a clearly too small style -- lace-up? He manages just one swing before persuading the customer that the shoe does fit, and perhaps the punishment for the crime as well.

Now back to this morning and the guy on the platform. Peter, a lawyer who tries civil cases involving corporations, said he grew up in the Manhattan at the time. Attending a parochial school, he said, was a haven, the calmest place to be all day.

The rest of the time, he said with a touch of a smile, the city had the air of mayhem, just like the night in question.

"The Bruins and people were crawling all over the place, but not the police," he said. "They weren't going to help you or anyone."

"After the game, my father and I went outside and there was a large group of fans," he recalled. "I asked him what was going on. He said, 'They're going to rock the bus; let's get out of here.' "

Indeed, the bus was shoved from side to side before it escaped from Manhattan.

One escapee, McNab, was doing color commentary on the Colorado Avalanche's game with the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday night. Sounded calm and reasonable. Downright friendly, in fact. Probably is a great friend.

One thing we do know. He's a great friend to have when someone takes a teammate's stick.

And now, here's what the USHL has been up to in the run-up to the holiday break.

Friday, Dec. 11
Youngstown 5, at Team USA 5 OT
Lincoln 1, at Indiana 0
At Green Bay 5, Fargo 2
At Sioux Falls 8, Cedar Rapids 2
At Tri-City 4, Omaha 3 SO
Des Moines 6, at Waterloo 5
Sioux City 3, at Chicago 2 OT

Saturday, Dec. 12
At Tri-City 5, Des Moines 3
At Team USA 4, Youngstown 3
At Indiana 4, Lincoln 3 SO
Sioux City 3, at Green Bay 1
At Omaha 9, Sioux Falls 2
At Cedar Rapids 4, Waterloo 3 OT
Fargo 5, at Chicago 3

Sunday, Dec. 13
No games scheduled

Monday, Dec. 14
No games scheduled

Tuesday, Dec. 15
At Green Bay 5, Cedar Rapids 2
At Omaha 9, Tri-City 2

Wednesday, Dec. 16
Des Moines 5, at Fargo 4 SO
Waterloo 8, at Sioux Falls 7 SO

Thursday, Dec. 17
No games scheduled

Friday, Dec. 18
At Team USA 8, Cedar Rapids 1
Youngstown 5, at Indiana 2
At Sioux City 3, Des Moines 2
Green Bay 5, at Lincoln 2
At Tri-City 7, Waterloo 2
At Chicago 3, Omaha 2
At Fargo 3, Sioux Falls 2 OT

Saturday, Dec. 19
At Team USA 9, Youngstown 3
Cedar Rapids 2, at Indiana 1
Fargo 4, at Sioux City 1
At Des Moines 6, Waterloo 5
At Sioux Falls 3, Lincoln 0
Green Bay 3, at Tri-City 2 SO
Omaha 4, at Chicago 1

Sunday, Dec. 20
No games scheduled
The standings are here

The USHL resumes play Dec. 29.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Mortal Enemy, Friend at Large: WHL

Brad (Bradford) Stull introduced himself to me in sixth grade, saying he shared the first name of Brad Park.

Hockey reference. That always works for me. Rather than paying attention to whatever Mrs. Merle Smith was trying to teach us in class, Brad and I started to talk about hockey. Table hockey, to be exact.

I had *owned everyone in my neighborhood. (* - I will qualify this in a bit. Nobody in my neighborhood had a lot of experience playing table hockey. In fact, most of them were terrible. My games against them were like an Original Six team playing the first-year Oakland Seals or Pittsburgh Penguins, the worst two teams in the first season of modern expansion.) And now there was some fresh competition to challenge my won-loss-tie record of *300-0-0. (* - Slight exaggeration.)

Boasts were made. Skeptical eyes were cast. Challenges were accepted.

The next day, Brad and I played an epic game. Epic for him because he was taking on the *all-time champion (* - self declared) of Broadview Park. Monumental for me because, well, I did not win. It was a 5-5 tie, and it was as good as a loss for me. (Another side note. To me, there is nothing good about a tie. I don't care what you hockey fans who love a tie say, a well-played tie is a well-worn myth. Especially now in a 1-yes, 0-no digital world. You either win or you feel shame. None of this soccer nonsense for me. End the madness in the National Hockey League and eliminate ties, or at least consider them a loss. Winning is everything, in table hockey, in real hockey, in getting a seat on the train.)

I would win a few games down the road, I would suffering a few crushing defeats down the road. That set up the best-of-7 series for the miniature Stanley Cup that came with my game. As the *defending champion (* - nobody else proclaimed neighborhood dominance), I would get the extra home game, if needed. (Ha, like I was worried about needing it.)

Should have worried, I guess. First off, Brad cheated. Well, I say that now, but what I should explain is that his table had the center's control on the left side of the goalie lever. (My superior game had the center's control rod on the right side of the goalie lever.)

Still we managed trade home and road victories, setting up an amazing Game 6, that was so tiring that when Brad won in something that might be equal to *nine overtime periods (* - The game, which started right after school, lasted until suppertime, when I went for the center on the right side of the goalie lever. Wrong. Goal. Shame. Loss of hunger.) we suggested a mini-game for Game 7.

We could not settle on the length of the mini-game or when it would be contested. That led to a Battle Royale worthy of low-level pro wrestling. In the end, there was none. Game 7 remains uncontested. Right up through high school, we left that battle for table hockey superiority on the shelf to gather dust with our table games.

Around high school graduation, he tried to instigate something by saying his beloved Boston Bruins would end the run of Cups by the Canadiens. That was 1979. Brad was wrong. And the Habs would add Cups in 1986 and 1993. The Bruins? Still waiting, as am I for Game 7.

It's your move, *Brad. (* - First, get a game with the center's control rod on the right side of the goalie lever, OK?)

And now, my attempt to catch up with the Western Hockey League as it made its way to the holiday break.

Friday, Dec. 11
At Moose Jaw 11, Edmonton 2
Red Deer 3, at Prince Albert 2
At Brandon 8, Kelowna 4
Calgary 3, at Kootenay 1
At Medicine Hat 7, Regina 2
Spokane 7, at Chilliwack 1
At Vancouver 5, Kamloops 3
Prince George 3, at Everett 2 SO
At Seattle 5, Tri-City 1

Saturday, Dec. 12
Kelowna 2, at Moose Jaw 1 SO
At Saskatoon 4, Red Deer 3 SO
At Brandon 4, Edmonton 2
Medicine Hat 6, at Calgary 5 SO
At Lethbridge 5, Regina 1
At Chilliwack 5, Prince George 2
Vancouver 5, at Kamloops 4 SO
Swift Current 2, at Spokane 1
At Everett 2, Seattle 1
At Tri-City 5, Portland 2

Sunday, Dec. 13
At Calgary 3, Kootenay 2 SO
Medicine Hat 5, at Lethbridge 4
At Portland 2, Everett 0
At Tri-City 6, Swift Current 2

Monday, Dec. 14
No games scheduled

Tuesday, Dec. 15
At Prince Albert 3, Kelowna 0
At Kootenay 6, Medicine Hat 4
At Red Deer 3, Regina 2
Spokane 3, at Seattle 1

Wednesday, Dec. 16
At Saskatoon 4, Kelowna 1
At Edmonton 3, Regina 1
Portland 3, at Spokane 2
At Everett 3, Swift Current 2

Thursday, Dec. 17
No games scheduled

Friday, Dec. 18
Brandon 4, at Moose Jaw 1
At Prince Albert 4, Saskatoon 2
At Calgary 3, Regina 1
At Edmonton 3, Red Deer 1
Kootenay 8, at Lethbridge 2
Kamloops 7, at Prince George 2
Seattle 3, at Spokane 2 OT
Swift Current 6, at Portland 3
Chilliwack 3, at Vancouver 2
Tri-City 3, at Everett 0

Saturday, Dec. 19
At Saskatoon 5, Prince Albert 2
At Brandon 8, Moose Jaw 2
At Kootenay 6, Lethbridge 1
at Medicine Hat 6, Calgary 4
At Red Deer 2, Edmonton 0
Everett 4, at Chilliwack 3 SO
Tri-City 6, at Portland 0
At Prince George 4, Kamloops 2
Swift Current 3, at Seattle 2 SO

Sunday, Dec. 20
No games scheduled
The standings are here

The WHL resumes play Dec. 27.

Late, But I'm Making Good Time: OHL

Keeping in a theme of trying to tie up all loose ends before they tie me up and throw me in a box, I wanted to briefly recall the names of a few people who have helped make hockey a part of my life.

My father, for one, still regrets taking me to my first game, the Denver Spurs versus the Portland Buckaroos in 1969. The Western Pro Hockey League team played their home games at the Denver Coliseum, the barn near the stockyards and under the viaduct of Interstate 70.

My parents and I left early allowing apparently two hours to make a 50-mile trip to the arena. (My parents would do that for just about everything. Sunday Mass at 8 a.m.? Better allow an hour to make the 12-minute drive.)

Before the days of GPS, you needed a map or, if you were my family, you traveled with the idea that the general vicinity of the arena would become clear the closer you got to it. The exact location? Well, that's what signs are for.

Roughly two miles from the Coliseum, my father asked my mother to tell him when she saw the road sign for the arena. Two minutes later, my mother said, "There it was."

Was. Indeed. Past tense. Back there. Not where you are now. A brief dispute broke out in the front seat, not worthy of a penalty, but worth staying out of the way for a few seconds afterward.

The next hour was spent circling a few refineries, a grain mill, stockyards, the same grain mill, a power plant and a derelict warehouse before we came upon the Coliseum. Ten minutes to faceoff.

Stick night. Good crowd. One happy son. Hooked for life.

My father? Not so much, but to see his son enjoying a game -- and not asking for single snack, thank you very much -- had to be worth the trip. He made a lot of trips like that for me. Direct route or polar route, we always got to the game and shared a great conversation on the road home. No signs needed for that one.

Now, here's what happened in the Ontario Hockey League leading up to the holiday break.

Friday, Dec. 11
Oshawa 5, at Kingston 2
At Plymouth 6, Erie 3
At Guelph 8, Owen Sound 1
At London 5, Kitchener 4
Windsor 3, at Mississauga 2 SO
At Ottawa 3, Brampton 1
At Sault Ste. Marie 5, Belleville 2
Barrie at Sudbury PPD

Saturday, Dec. 12
At London 7, Guelph 3
At Niagara 4, Peterborough 3
At Sudbury 4, Belleville 1
At Plymouth 8, Saginaw 0
At Barrie 4, Ottawa 1
Kingston 7, at Owen Sound 3
Erie 3, at Sarnia 2

Sunday, Dec. 13
Oshawa 4, at Brampton 3 SO
Kingston 5, at Guelph 3
At Mississauga 8, Ottawa 0
Kitchener 5, at Windsor 2
At Sault Ste. Marie 4, Sarnia 2

Monday, Dec. 14
No games scheduled

Tuesday, Dec. 15
No games scheduled

Wednesday, Dec. 16
At Belleville 4, Brampton 1

Thursday, Dec. 17
At Peterborough 3, Plymouth 1
At Windsor 4, London 2
At Saginaw 3, Sault Ste. Marie 2
Sudbury 3, at Niagara 1
Kitchener 5, at Sarnia 2

Friday, Dec. 18
At Erie 5, Sudbury 4
Barrie 10, at Kingston 2
At Kitchener 4, Guelph 3 OT
At London 5, Sault Ste. Marie 3
At Mississauga 3, Sarnia 2
At Ottawa 8, Peterborough 0
Plymouth 2, at Oshawa 1

Saturday, Dec. 19
At Guelph 4, Plymouth 3
Mississauga 3, at Erie 1
At Peterborough 4, Ottawa 2
Windsor 6, at Saginaw 1
At Barrie 5, Sudbury 4
Oshawa 6, at Owen Sound 5
Brampton 2, at Sarnia 1

Sunday, Dec. 20
Ottawa 4, at Brampton 3
Niagara 3, at Mississauga 2
Owen Sound 8, at Oshawa 1
The standings are here.

The OHL resumes play Dec. 28.

The Holiday Rush: QMJHL

Nothing like getting caught up in a whirlwind of home projects, office turmoil, holiday shopping and the odd seasonal illness. Sounds like a normal day for anyone, but for me it was a time of watching the time fly and a generational shift in the office, which lost a great deal of institutional memory.

Those still around will have to fill that void somehow. We will start by breaking down the days leading up to the break in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Friday, Dec. 11
Moncton 3, at Halifax 2
Saint John 4, at Prince Edward Island 1
Victoriaville 4, at Quebec 3
At Drummondville 4, Cape Breton 0
Chicoutimi 3, at Shawinigan 2 SO
At Gatineau 3, Rouyn-Noranda 2
At Rimouski 5, Val-d'Or 4 OT
At Montreal 4, Baie-Comeau 1

Saturday, Dec. 12
Quebec 4, at Chicoutimi 3 OT
Rouyn-Noranda 5, at Shawinigan 2
At Rimouski 6, Val-d'Or 1
Prince Edward Island 6, at Halifax 5 OT
Saint John 6, at Acadie-Bathurst 4
At Drummondville 5, Victoriaville 3

Sunday, Dec. 13
Quebec 7, at Baie-Comeau 4
At Gatineau 8, Montreal 6
Cape Breton 3, at Lewiston 1
At Moncton 7, Saint John 3
At Prince Edward Island 7, Acadie-Bathurst 2

Monday, Dec. 14
No games scheduled

Tuesday, Dec. 15
At Moncton 6, Halifax 1

Wednesday, Dec. 16
Lewiston 4, at Gatineau 1
At Rimouski 5, Prince Edward Island 4 SO

Thursday, Dec. 17
At Quebec 6, Acadie-Bathurst 4
Victoriaville 5, at Shawinigan 4 OT
Halifax 4, at Saint John 2
At Drummondville 7, Lewiston 3
At Val-d'Or 3, Montreal 2 SO

Friday, Dec. 18
At Cape Breton 3, Moncton 2
At Quebec 8, Prince Edward Island 5
Saint John 7, at Halifax 1
At Victoriaville 5, Shawinigan 0
At Val-d'Or 7, Rouyn-Noranda 2
At Chicoutimi 6, Baie-Comeau 2
At Gatineau 6, Drummondville 4
At Rimouski 6, Acadie-Bathurst 5 OT

Saturday, Dec. 19
No games scheduled

Sunday, Dec. 20
At Drummondville 5, Shawinigan 2
The standings are here.

The QMJHL resumes play Dec. 27.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Moving Day in the Juniors

A trade in the Western Hockey League and a shakeup in the management ranks of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's Lewiston Maineiacs are the notable moves as we move into the weekend.

Lewiston fired Don MacAdam as president and head coach of the team, replacing him behind the bench in the interim with Jeff Guay.

Out West, Regina and Vancouver were involved in a four-player deal that sent forward Cass Mappin, defenseman Mitch Spooner and forward Mikael Jung to Regina for goaltender Derek Tendler. In addition to Tendler, the Giants also received draft picks. Jung currently is playing Junior A hockey for the Cowichan Valley Capitals of the British Columbia Hockey League. Tendler is playing Junior A hockey for the Estevan Bruins of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.

The rest of the junior watch begins right now.

Cape Breton 7, at Victoriaville 5
The recap is here and the standings are here.

At Peterborough 3, Niagara 2
At Oshawa 5, Mississauga 4 OT
At Windsor 3, Erie 1
At Sarnia 3, Plymouth 2 SO
The roundup is here and the standings are here.

No games scheduled.
The standings are here.

Indiana 3, at Youngstown 0
The standings are here.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Playing Catch-Up With the Juniors

A season of buyouts and layoffs had everyone in the head office working and trying to keep a positive outlook amid a steady stream of negatives. For me, this meant keeping a eye on the juniors while keeping the other eye looking out to see if I was a step ahead of being in the Transactions column.

So far so good.

And that means I owe you a few days of roundups and results from the juniors. Here they are.

No games scheduled.

Moncton 3, at Prince Edward Island 0
Acadie-Bathurst 5, at Rouyn-Noranda 4
The roundup is here.

Drummondville 5, at Lewiston 1
At Gatineau 7, Baie-Comeau 1
At Val-d'Or 4, Acadie-Bathurst 3
At Montreal 3, Chicoutimi 2
The roundup is here and the standings are here.

No games scheduled.

At Kitchener 5, Guelph 2
The recap is here.

Barrie 5, at Owen Sound 4 OT
At Sault Ste. Marie 7, Saginaw 0
Peterborough 3, at Belleville 2 SO
The roundup is here and the standings are here.

Medicine Hat 4, at Lethbridge 3
The recap is here.

Kelowna 3, at Swift Current 2
At Spokane 3, Prince George 0
Portland 4, at Everett 3 OT
The roundup is here.

At Prince Albert 5, Moose Jaw 1
Kelowna 9, at Regina 5
Brandon 5, at Saskatoon 4 OT
At Kootenay 5, Edmonton 2
Medicine Hat 2, at Red Deer 1 SO
At Vancouver 5, Chilliwack 0
At Tri-City 4, Prince George 1
The roundup is here and the standings are here.

No games scheduled.

No games scheduled.

Sioux Falls 5, at Fargo 0
The standings are here.

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Case of Mondays and the Juniors

Starting the week slowly, with a few notes from around the leagues. There is just one game tonight, with Medicine Hat visiting Lethbridge to make up the Western Hockey League game that was postponed Saturday because of bad weather.

The rest of the leagues are dark on Monday.

Now, on with the report.

At Baie-Comeau 6, Rouyn-Noranda 2
Moncton 5, at Cape Breton 4
At Quebec 6, Rimouski 5
At Shawinigan 6, Drummondville 3
At Saint John 8, Lewiston 3
At Victoriaville 3, Chicoutimi 0
Val-d'Or 4, at Montreal 1
The roundup is here and the standings are here.

In league notes, Prince Edward Island forward Samson Mahbod and Baie-Comeau goaltender Nathan Dunnett have been selected as the league's players of the week. Mahbod draws a mention in Patrick King's weekly junior notebook for

Sudbury 3, at Brampton 1
Kitchener 4, at Guelph 1
Owen Sound 2, at Kingston 0
Mississauga 4, at Ottawa 0
At London 6, Sault Ste. Marie 5 SO
At Oshawa 5, Windsor 4 SO
The roundup is here and the standings are here.

At Regina 4, Prince Albert 1
At Chilliwack 4, Vancouver 0
Spokane 5, at Portland 4 SO
The roundup is here and the standings are here.

In league notes, Tri-City forward Johnny Lazo has been selected as the league's player of the week.

Green Bay 2, at Cedar Rapids 1 SO
The standings are here.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Busy Weekend in the Juniors

Every where you turned, there seemed to be a junior game going on. The highlight of the weekend has to be the performance of Prince Edward Island's Joel Champagne.

He scored four goals and had three assists in the Rocket's 8-5 victory over the Halifax Mooseheads on Friday night. According to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, it was the first four-goal game by an individual this season. That's a note in itself for a league known for its scoring exploits.

And now, on with the report.

At Moncton 3, Gatineau 2
At Prince Edward Island 8, Halifax 5
At Victoriaville 3, Val-d'Or 2
Rouyn-Noranda 7, at Chicoutimi 6 OT
At Baie-Comeau 2, Shawinigan 0
At Montreal 2, Rimouski 1 SO
The roundup is here.

At Drummondville 6, Rimouski 1
At Saint John 2, Gatineau 0
At Halifax 7, Lewiston 3
Prince Edward Island 5, at Acadie-Bathurst 3
Val-d'Or 5, at Quebec 2
The roundup is here and the standings are here.

Barrie 6, at Erie 3
Plymouth 3, at Saginaw 2 OT
At Kingston 3, Mississauga 1
At Kitchener 8, Peterborough 4
At London 8, Guelph 1
Sarnia 4, at Niagara 3 SO
At Ottawa 2, Owen Sound 0
At Sudbury 5, Brampton 4 SO
At Oshawa 4, Belleville 3 SO
The roundup is here.

At Erie 3, Sarnia 2 SO
Barrie 6, at Niagara 1
Windsor 9, at Peterborough 5
Owen Sound 5, at Belleville 3
Sault Ste. Marie 4, at Plymouth 1
London 5, at Saginaw 2
The roundup is here and the standings are here.

Brandon 5, at Prince Albert 2
At Swift Current 3, Moose Jaw 1
Red Deer 4, at Lethbridge 3
Saskatoon 2, at Medicine Hat 1 SO
Tri-City 7, at Kamloops 0
At Kelowna 4, Edmonton 2
At Prince George 4, Kootenay 1
At Spokane 4, Seattle 2
At Portland 5, Everett 3
Calgary 5, at Vancouver 4
The roundup is here.

Calgary 6, at Chilliwack 3
Brandon 6, at Regina 4
Prince Albert 5, at Swift Current 2
At Red Deer 5, Saskatoon 1
At Kamloops 3, Prince George 2
Tri-City 5, at Kelowna 1
At Vancouver 5, Edmonton 2
At Seattle 3, Everett 2
Medicine Hat at Lethbridge PPD
The roundup is here and the standings are here.

At Youngstown 6, Chicago 4
At Des Moines 5, Indiana 1
At Green Bay 7, Waterloo 3
Tri-City 6, at Lincoln 2
At Omaha 3, Team USA 2
At Cedar Rapids 6, Sioux Falls 4
At Fargo 3, Sioux City 1
The roundup is here.

Indiana 4, at Omaha 2
Team USA 3, at Tri-City 2 SO
At Youngstown 3, Chicago 1
Cedar Rapids 8, at Des Moines 2
At Fargo 6, Sioux City 5
Green Bay 4, at Waterloo 3
The roundup is here and the standings are here.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Junior Watch Goes on a Mission

Starting this weekend, we will add the tracking of all of the World Junior Championship candidates for Team Canada and Team USA to the list of chores here in the Lounge.

Let's see, that means keeping an eye on the National Hockey League, juniors and college hockey games as well as stocking the fridge; serving some adult beverages; serving and sampling snacks; wiping off the bar every now and then; and also putting some more tunes in the jukebox.

Looking forward to the weekend. I hope you are, too. Now, for the rest of the junior report, which starts below.

At Halifax 3, Gatineau 2
At Cape Breton 5, Lewiston 2
Rouyn-Noranda 4, at Chicoutimi 3
The roundup is here and the standings are here.

Oshawa 3, at Brampton 2 OT
Sudbury 5, at Peterborough 4 SO
At Barrie 5, Niagara 3
At Sarnia 4, Sault Ste. Marie 0
The roundup is here and the standings are here.

No games scheduled.
The standings are here.

At Sioux Falls 6, Indiana 4
The standings are here.