5 December 2010

The Pain Game 2010/11 - Part Two

Injury stats update – November 2010

This is my second look for the 2010/11 regular season at which teams have been hit hardest by injuries by trying to place a value on the games missed by players due to injury/illness.  (Last month's analysis is HERE.)

The concept again - multiply each game missed by a player by his 2010/11 cap charge, then take the aggregate of these figures for each team and divide by 82. This indicator of value lost to a team by injury/illness is called CHIP (Cap Hit of Injured Players).

Alternatively...
Again, for a different indicator of player "value", I've also illustrated a similar metric based on TOI/G alongside the CHIP numbers.  Clearly, neither cap charge nor TOI/G are perfect measures of player value, since each have a number of limitations and inconsistencies, but they provide a decent comparison and the results do vary somewhat.

A quick summary of the alternative metric:
  • TOI/G (through games played on 30 November) replaces cap charge as the measure of value in the calculation
  • For goalies, TOI/G has been worked out as Total Minutes Played / Games Dressed For* - i.e. a goalie playing every minute of 75% of the games, zero in the rest, would end up with a TOI/G of 45 minutes (or close to it, once you factor in OT and so on).  [*Actually, "Games Played by Team - Games Missed by Goalie" - I'm not inclined to disentangle any three-goalie systems or minor-league conditioning stints.]
  • This arguably overstates the worth of starting goalies somewhat, but it's simple and you could equally argue that a workhorse goalie is the hardest position to replace, so it's fair for them to have a much higher TOI/G figure
  • Where a player hasn't played all year (several examples at this point of the season) or where a player fairly clearly has a reduced TOI/G figure due to getting injured in their only game or one of very few games (e.g. Chris Drury), I've used TOI/G from last season (or further back if necessary)
  • For each player, multiply games missed by TOI/G to get (for a more palatable name) Cumulative Minutes of Injured Player (CMIP)
  • Take the aggregate of CMIP for the team and divide by games played by the team to arrive at AMIP (Average Minutes of Injured Players) - it feels more understandable expressing this metric as an average per game (whereas CHIP is a running total)
The figures...
The table below shows:

  • Total CHIP for each team for the 2010/11 regular season (through games played on 30 November)
  • The player who has contributed most to the team's CHIP figure
  • The number of players with a CHIP contribution of over $250,000 (think of it as being equivalent to a $1m player missing 20 games or a $4m player missing five games)
  • AMIP for each team over the same period (e.g. an AMIP of 40:00 could be seen as the team missing two 20-minute per game players for every game this season)

10 second analysis...
The Rangers continue to surge way past the CHIP numbers they recorded the last two years.  Has the absence of Chris Drury's clutch face-off wins and shot blocking really been the devastating loss that the numbers here suggest?  In a word: You must be kidding.

The Devils have not seemingly coped well with the absence of a handful of players during games this year.  Puzzling, given there are normally around 10,000 men missing from most of their games, so you'd think they were used to it.

Colorado's figures suggest they must have faced an epidemic of injuries to minor league defensemen and are not paying Craig Anderson enough

The next lists are the top 30 individual CHIP and CMIP contributions:

As Captain Clutch is apparently not too far away from a return from the NHL's longest ever finger-related absence (at least until a certain Leafs D-man completes a few more weeks in the minors), expect long-term absentees Langkow and Markov to lead the way soon.

BONUS
Finally, another update of the crude injury-by-location analysis. Again, I’ve just used the descriptions found in the player profiles on tsn.ca, so the figures will encompass all the inaccuracies and vagueness within them. It should give a broad indication, if nothing else, though.


Notes/Disclaimers
  • Figures exclude a few minor-leaguers / marginal NHLers (Ryan Stone?) who are or had been on the NHL club’s IR since pre-season. Generally, if a minor-leaguer gets called up and then injured in an NHL game, his games missed will then count towards the CHIP though.
  • There are undoubtedly a few inaccuracies and inconsistencies in there - I do the best I can with the information out there. Some corrections are picked up month-to-month too
  • The cap figure doesn't really correlate very well to the "worth" of a player in some cases, e.g. where rookie bonuses are included this year, where players are seeing out an old (underpaid or rookie) contract or where players are horrendously overpaid
  • Also, for any player who was acquired on re-entry waivers (e.g. Sean Avery), the cap hit will only reflect that for their current team, i.e. 50% of the player’s full cap hit (shared between his current and old teams)
  • I've once again stuck a full team-by-team listing of games missed and CHIP/CMIP numbers by each player on the web HERE
  • Injury/games/TOI info courtesy of tsn.ca and nhl.com - man-games lost info more than likely does not exactly match up with the "official" figures released by individual teams
  • Cap info courtesy of capgeek.com

17 November 2010

NHL Road Trip 2010

*Technically, featuring no roads

A few brief observations from each of the games I attended while on the wrong side of the Atlantic recently. Written at the time (or close enough), explaining any tense tension.

Game #1: Chicago Blackhawks 2-3 New York Rangers
  • I'm sat a few rows behind a group of Swedish-looking people wearing matching red "I ♥ Hjalmarsson" T-shirts. Stockholm branch of the Jason Pominville fan club on vacation?
  • Generally seems to be a fair few more Hawks fans than were at MSG for the same matchup two years ago. Hmm, why could that be?
  • Tomáš Kopecký scores to give however many Slovakian fans might be in attendance something to savour, since the two Marians are both on the shelf
  • As is ritual, the guy doing the intermission puck shooting contest gets a special MSG boo each time he misses the target
  • Duncan Keith apparently played 27:23, but it seemed more like 57:23
  • Odds on a Ryan Callahan jersey purchase have dropped further still
  • Why can't the Rangers play like this more often? Pretty damn solid defensively, some timely scoring and Lundqvist making big saves when needed (I'll excuse him a soft looking second goal)
  • Duuuuuuuuuuuubbbbbbbbbiiiiiiiii
Game #2: New York Rangers 1-4 Philadelphia Flyers
  • On the main concourse, former NHL ref Kerry Fraser is signing copies of his new book. A fairly healthy line suggests that Flyers fans are generally prepared to spend an extra $29.95 to abuse an official from closer range than normal
  • Some fairly obvious yapping between Carcillo, Avery and Boogaard during warm-ups. Carcillo in particular appears to eschew any involvement with the pucks on the ice the whole time, preferring to skate repeatedly along the red line past the two Rangers, even long after they give up paying attention
  • The Flyers' PA announcer still has a voice that makes me want to slice my ears off with a blunt spoon
  • Parents of ginger-haired children in the Philadelphia area: Your kids will have things difficult enough. You should really buy them the road white jersey instead.
  • Jeff Carter's work ethic and ability to avoid cheap penalties are questioned by more than a few home fans in my section
  • Unusual first intermission entertainment, as we get to watch ex-Flyer and celebrity moustache, Bill Clement, officially become a US citizen (despite messing up one of the oaths). Not entirely sure what I'm supposed to do with myself when the crowd is then asked to rise and join in a recital of the Pledge of Allegiance
  • Fairly ridiculous pass from Claude Giroux to Mike Richards on the Flyers' first goal
  • Despite rarely getting tested, Sergei Bobrovsky receives rapturous applause for even the most basic 50-foot wrister at his chest. Maybe the fans really aren't used to seeing such things...
  • Carcillo with a dangerously cheap headshot? Really? I'm shocked. Shocked!
  • The officials completely missing/ignoring said dangerously cheap headshot? Really? I'm shocked. Shocked!
  • Generally a fairly even game until the Rangers opt to aim both barrels at their lower extremities to make it 3-1 - Michael Del Zotto with a horrendous giveaway in front of his net for Blair Betts to score; Henrik Lundqvist somehow deflecting a Nik Zherdev shot taken from the corner of a rink somewhere in Delaware into his own net
  • The Rangers missed Marián Gáborík more than other recent games - some decent work down low, but hardly any good scoring chances created and practically nothing off the rush
  • Maybe finally inserting Alex Frolov into the line-up after missing the first 12 games will inject some offense. Oh, wait a sec...
Game #3: New York Rangers 3-0 New Jersey Devils
  • Perhaps not the most salubrious surroundings and it's never close to being full, but Prudential Center is a really nice building
  • Lots of Rangers fans in the house as normal. Personal welcomes limited to one old guy muttering "scum" under his breath as I walked past. Slightly disappointing lack of commitment to the insult there...
  • A lot of injury absences on both sides (most notably, Gáborík, Callahan, Captain Clutch for the Rangers; Brodeur and Parise for the Devils). Olivier Magnan-Grenier's appearance in the Devils' starting line-up produces a "Who the hell is that?" comment from a Devils fan behind me
  • Not a whole lot to report from the game, as it's mostly pretty (s)crappy throughout. The second period is perhaps the most poorly played 20 minutes of NHL hockey I've seen in person
  • The man Duuuuuuubbbbbbbbbiiiiiiii is on fire - Stamkos Schmamkos...
  • Hello, Ilya Kovalchuk? You there? Still, not all his fault or that of Uncle Lou - a lot of the blame needs to go to the Devils' owner (who is, of course, Henrik Lundqvist)
  • Always a satisfying win, but it doesn't feel the same without a Maaaarrrrrrtttttyyyyyy chant
Game #4: St. Louis Blues 2-0 New York Rangers
  • A real buzz in the building as everyone anticipates the much-hyped, marquee goalie match-up of...er, Ty Conklin versus Marty Biron
  • If you like having people walk across your line of sight repeatedly, including vendors carrying large objects above head height, then try and get tickets two rows back from the internal concourse at MSG. (Alternatively, just watch a Red Wings home game on TV.)
  • Beer Pong has a strong first period to keep the game goalless, as the Blues dictate most of the play
  • A break - aided by the fleet-footed Derek Boogaard stranding himself in the offensive zone looking for a pointless hit - sees Alex Steen open the scoring early in the second
  • From that point, the Blues sit back and watch the Rangers painfully flounder for the rest of the game
  • I was hoping for a disallowed goal from the Blues' #64, so I could say it was nixed as Nikita Nikitin kicked it in, but no joy...
  • The only serious threat comes from a five-minute powerplay in the third period after B.J. Crombeen tries to decorate the boards with the contents of Derek Stepan's skull. The "threat" mainly one of being deafened by the booing of the practically impotent Rangers PP
  • My view of the empty-netter is blocked by a few hundred people leaving - not that I care by that point. A pretty rancid game all round
Game #5: Washington Capitals 5-3 New York Rangers
  • A smattering of Caps fans / Ovechkin fanboys in evidence during warmups - including one confused kid wearing a Caps jersey and Rangers hat
  • The guest anthem singer is apparently the former frontman of Barenaked Ladies - US/Canadian diplomatic relations become strained as he botches the lyrics
  • A fast, physical start as Ryan Callahan dumps Semin in the corner
  • Brandon Dubinsky and Mike Green discard helmets and square off - more grabbing than punching going on though. Smart move by Green to take the more talented, dangerous offensive threat off for five minutes...
  • Despite the 24/7 efforts of some of the finest minds in the hockey world, nobody has yet found a way of stopping Brian Boyle scoring goals
  • John Erskine is revealed as tonight's winner of the "Player Who Never Scores Or Is In A Horrendous Slump Until He Plays The Rangers" Lottery
  • That is soon surpassed by the frankly astonishing sight of Derek Boogaard channeling his inner Pavel Bure, as he blazes a path down the left wing (slight exaggeration) before unleashing a laser of a slapshot (no exaggeration) over Michal Neuvirth's shoulder - I struggle to surpress laughter for the rest of the period
  • Despite playing much better than the last few games and containing the Caps reasonably well over the last 40 minutes, the crushingly inevitable tie-breaking goal from a fourth line scrub, followed by the crushingly inevitable total inability to control the puck with the goalie pulled kills off the Rangers
Game #6: Buffalo Sabres 5-4 (SO) New Jersey Devils
  • Despite spending most of the day in bed or on the toilet and feeling like I've lost about 10lbs in five hours (the "Reverse Brodeur"), the lure of seeing two bad teams that I don't support proves too much, so I make the late decision to head out
  • Surprising to see the box office lobby so full of people. Is it Tommy Albelin's jersey retirement tonight? Ken Daneyko's TV make-up crew having a meeting? Whatever it is, precisely one other person is actually there to buy a ticket, which makes more sense
  • More backup goalie dueling tonight - Enroth and Hedberg are filling in for the injured Miller and Brodeur respectively
  • My section is jam packed with annoying fans tonight:
    1. Your typical sports radio idiot sat right behind me. He yaps away constantly (sample: "I hate all Canadians except one. Spezza. And Rick Nash.") and is well on pace to smash the records for most instances of saying "Just shoot the puck!" and calling Mattias Tedenby "Tanabe", until he is moved on by someone actually having tickets to sit there
    2. His replacement is a kid unfortunately prone to greeting any routine clear or two foot pass with an exclamation you would perhaps hear had Marv Albert starred in "When Harry Met Sally" and smoked 100 a day from birth
    3. A Sabres fan rhetorically asking why Drew Stafford (#21, right-hand shot, not playing due to injury) was still in the NHL every time Rob Niedermayer (#20, left-hand shot, actually playing tonight) touched the puck. For the whole game.
  • I'd like to be able to describe the first two Sabres goals, but I was too busy projectile vomiting a bottle of orange juice across the nearest bathroom floor. Should be more embarrassed by that than I really am...
  • Having regained control of my stomach, I get to see four more second period goals as the Sabres and Devils both do a pretty good impression of teams with bad defense, which (against type and reputation) they actually seem to be
  • After the Sabres tie it up again in the third, they have most of the chances the rest of the way with Hedberg somewhat fortunately surviving several scrambles in his crease
  • His confidence up after missing the net by roughly 30 feet on a partial breakaway late in the third, Ilya Kovalchuk then caps off the shootout in sudden death by amusingly flubbing the puck slowly into the corner
Game #7: Buffalo Sabres 2-3 (OT) New York Rangers
  • Just because I haven't seen enough backup goalies this trip, Henrik Lundqvist is a late flu victim (late pull out rather than it being fatal...) so Marty Biron gets another MSG start. Lundqvist not even in warmups, but he'll have to be on the bench
  • The returning Marián Gáborík gets crunched into the boards on an early shift. I (and probably most of MSG) ignore the rest of the shift to instead see if he's hurt on his return to the bench - he seems OK
  • Rob Niedermayer misses on a breakaway as he exits the penalty box - further proof, if it were needed, that Drew Stafford does not belong in the NHL
  • After a shaky looking first period from Jhonas Enroth in the Sabres goal, the Rangers take advantage by pummeling him with four shots in the second, which ends tied at two as the Rangers obligingly let Mike Grier stand in the crease untouched to score with 2.9 seconds left
  • I even manage to watch the whole second period without painting the floor of an MSG bathroom vivid orange
  • The crowd becomes mildly incensed when Ruslan Fedotenko has a goal chalked off in an "intent to blow" scenario. Especially odd for a quick whistle (at least an intended one) to come when two earlier goals came from similar situations that were allowed to play out
  • Things look bleak for the Rangers when Brian Boyle takes a penalty with six minutes left shortly after yet another PP failure - a circumstance that has not produced favourable results on roughly 300 other occasions this year already. However, the PK holds firm
  • Alex Frolov's third period contribution includes another slam dunk chance missed from right in front of goal and a sensible decision to ice the puck late in the game rather than take two strides in open ice to reach the red line first
  • In OT, a Vanek/Roy 2-on-1 is survived by the Rangers (not the first such mess up by Vanek the last two nights) before Artem Anisimov secures the two points with his second goal of the game
All in all, a satisfying end to the trip and another strong showing by Beer Pong, which hopefully earns Lundqvist the lighter workload this year that the Rangers are looking for. A 3-3 record for the Rangers in my presence, just about maintaining my streak of non-losing records (19-9-1 overall for those scoring at home...)

4 November 2010

The Pain Game 2010/11 - Part One

Injury stats update – October 2010

This is my first look for the 2010/11 regular season at which teams have been hit hardest by injuries by trying to place a value on the games missed by players due to injury/illness.

[For more up-to-date analysis, look HERE.]

The concept again - multiply each game missed by a player by his 2010/11 cap charge, then take the aggregate of these figures for each team and divide by 82. This indicator of value lost to a team by injury/illness is called CHIP (Cap Hit of Injured Players).

Alternatively...
Again, for a different indicator of player "value", I've also illustrated a similar metric based on TOI/G alongside the CHIP numbers.  Clearly, neither cap charge nor TOI/G are perfect measures of player value, since each have a number of limitations and inconsistencies, but they provide a decent comparison and the results do vary somewhat.

A quick summary of the alternative metric:
  • TOI/G (through games played on 1 November) replaces cap charge as the measure of value in the calculation
  • For goalies, TOI/G has been worked out as Total Minutes Played / Games Dressed For - i.e. a goalie playing every minute of 75% of the games, zero in the rest, would end up with a TOI/G of 45 minutes (or close to it, once you factor in OT and so on)
  • This arguably overstates the worth of starting goalies somewhat, but it's simple and you could equally argue that a workhorse goalie is the hardest position to replace, so it's fair for them to have a much higher TOI/G figure
  • Where a player hasn't played all year (several examples at this point of the season) or where a player fairly clearly has a reduced TOI/G figure due to getting injured in their only game or one of very few games (e.g. Chris Drury), I've used TOI/G from last season (or further back if necessary)
  • For each player, multiply games missed by TOI/G to get (for a more palatable name) Cumulative Minutes of Injured Player (CMIP)
  • Take the aggregate of CMIP for the team and divide by games played by the team to arrive at AMIP (Average Minutes of Injured Players) - it feels more understandable expressing this metric as an average per game (whereas CHIP is a running total)
The figures...
The table below shows:
  • Total CHIP for each team for the 2010/11 regular season (through games played on 1 November)
  • The player who has contributed most to the team's CHIP figure
  • The number of players with a CHIP contribution of over $250,000 (think of it as being equivalent to a $1m player missing 20 games or a $4m player missing five games)
  • AMIP for each team over the same period (e.g. an AMIP of 40:00 could be seen as the team missing two 20-minute per game players for every game this season) [Editor's note: At least it would if I'd remembered to include it...]

10 second analysis...
Pretty striking that the Rangers are already approaching $2m in CHIP when you consider that their totals for the entire season in 2008/09 and 2009/10 were $1.3m and $2.5m respectively. This is largely due to the long-awaited semi-serious Gaborik injury and Drury's double-clutch finger breakage.

Brian Campbell's almost singlehanded contribution to Chicago's CHIP total (helped by the Hawks' relatively busy schedule in October) bears comparison to some of the much lower CHIP totals for teams also with around 20 man-games lost.

The three games missed by minute-munching Jamal Mayers may have irretrieveably derailed the Sharks' season already.

The next lists are the top 30 individual CHIP and CMIP contributions:


Again, the AMIP figures perhaps inflate the worth of goalies somewhat. The Flyers and Senators have certainly shown they can find even more mediocre-to-poor goaltending pretty easily whenever injury hits the incumbent.

BONUS
Finally, another update of the crude injury-by-location analysis. Again, I’ve just used the descriptions found in the player profiles on tsn.ca, so the figures will encompass all the inaccuracies and vagueness within them. It should give a broad indication, if nothing else, though.


Notes/Disclaimers
  • Figures exclude a few minor-leaguers / marginal NHLers (Ryan Stone?) who are or had been on the NHL club’s IR since pre-season. Generally, if a minor-leaguer gets called up and then injured in an NHL game, his games missed will then count towards the CHIP though.
  • There are undoubtedly a few inaccuracies and inconsistencies in there - I do the best I can with the information out there. Some corrections are picked up month-to-month too
  • The cap figure doesn't really correlate very well to the "worth" of a player in some cases, e.g. where rookie bonuses are included this year, where players are seeing out an old (underpaid or rookie) contract or where players are horrendously overpaid
  • Also, for any player who was acquired on re-entry waivers (e.g. Sean Avery), the cap hit will only reflect that for their current team, i.e. 50% of the player’s full cap hit (shared between his current and old teams)
  • I've once again stuck a full team-by-team listing of games missed and CHIP/CMIP numbers by each player on the web HERE
  • Injury/games/TOI info courtesy of tsn.ca and nhl.com - man-games lost info more than likely does not exactly match up with the "official" figures released by individual teams
  • Cap info courtesy of capgeek.com

11 October 2010

NHL Premiere 2010 in Prague


An incoherent bullet-point list of observations complemented by a handful of scratchy photos of non-action? Two teams I have no interest in playing in a strange, foreign land? Why, yes...

Phoenix Coyotes 5-2 Boston Bruins, 9 October 2010
  • Not sure why the people selling souvenir scarves outside the metro station were all stereotypical cockney wideboys, but not that surprising all the same.
  • The arena staff stationed at every entrance to the lower deck seating area really don't like hearing reasons for somebody with an upper deck ticket needing to get to the lower deck seating area an hour and a half before the game starts.
  • Too many Flyers fans in attendance.
  • The sound system from the upper deck is louder than the suit Don Cherry wore to Doug Gilmour's 40th birthday party (theme: loud suits).
  • Throughout the evening, we hear from ("hear" only for me, since it was all conducted in Czech for some reason) several "Czech Legends" in attendance: Petr Nedvěd, Martin Straka, Jiří Hrdina, Robert Reichel and Jiří Šlégr. Hrdina didn't seem outwardly upset about the big screen video showing a clip of the entirely different and much younger Jan Hrdina.
  • My initial thought of "that little kid is way too short" for the intermission "Circle to Circle" puck shoot contest proves slightly off, as he puts all three efforts within eight feet of the diagonally-opposite face-off dot, destroying his much taller and older opponent.
  • A woman sat within my earshot wearing a Flyers jersey - against type - appeared to be cheering for the Bruins and - entirely not against type - shouted "Let's see a fight!" as the puck was dumped out the zone during one penalty kill.
  • Nice handsy (if it's not a hockey analyst term yet, it should be) goals by Radim Vrbata and Taylor Pyatt.
  • Having seen rookie pro Mark Recchi get away with a horrible blind backhand pass across the blueline leading to a short-handed breakaway earlier in the game, Daniel Paille repeats the dose later, allowing Scottie Upshall to score.
  • Not wishing to miss out, the newly-minted Zdeno Chára also sees his pocket picked on the point during a powerplay to a pressuring Petr Průcha. Sadly, the true Czech legend is stopped by Tuukka Rask on the breakaway.
  • The third period sees the long awaited, much-hyped Vernon Fiddler-Gregory Campbell fight. Plenty of flailing, not much landing.
  • Decent game all-round. Bruins need to improve a lot defensively. Ilya Bryzgalov looks particularly sharp.
Boston Bruins 3-0 Phoenix Coyotes - 10 October 2010
  • The escalators at Českomoravská metro station outside the arena must be among the top five fastest in Europe. Surprised not to see a pile of old people on the floor at the end of them.
  • The programme for the games is considerably cheaper at 50 Kč than that for the 2009 games in Stockholm. I can understand considerably less of it though.
  • Smaller crowd at the second game (around 12,000 compared to 15,000). Noticeably fewer Flyers fans.
  • We ae treated to the same Jiří Šlégr interview. Either it was the same or he needs to change the outfit from time to time.
  • They were giving away Panini NHL sticker albums at the gate after the games. Must...resist...buying...stickers.
  • Daniel Paille is rewarded for his Game One gaffe with a seat in the press box, his place in the line-up being taken by Jordan Caron. Tim Thomas starts in place of Tuukka Rask. No changes for the Coyotes.
  • The opening goal by Milan Lucic sees one fan wearing his jersey in my section get slightly excited, rushing to the bottom of the steps and almost bouncing over the safety barrier.
  • Tyler Seguin nets what Brian Burke genuinely hopes is the first of several hundred NHL goals with a nice breakaway move.
  • A fairly uneventful game in comparison to the previous night - more like what I was expecting from these teams. Thomas isn't heavily tested during the shutout by the flat Coyotes.


25 September 2010

The Ranger Movie Series - new release

Emphasis on the word "release"...

(Full collection remains HERE)


Tales of ineffectual relationships, wasteful spending and
a fight against the ravages of time, (once) set in Manhattan

19 September 2010

Burning Questions - Western Conference

While I could break down the East a week or two ago without a problem, obviously I had to scrutinise carefully training camps out West for a couple of days before being able to pose these key questions...

Anaheim Ducks

Can George Parros and Paul Mara spare enough of their surplus facial hair to complete Ryan Getzlaf's long-awaited hair transplant?

Calgary Flames
Will Olli Jokinen again wear out his welcome by regaling Ian White and Jay Bouwmeester with tales of his infinitely greater playoff experience?

Chicago Blackhawks
Has the signing of Hugh Jessiman finally brought closure to the Hawks' 2003 draft fiasco that saw them embarrassingly end up having to select Brent Seabrook two picks later in the first round?

Colorado Avalanche
Can David Kočí repeat his three-minutes-per-game, six shot season of 2009-10 and parlay it into a Boogaard-esque free agent deal?

Columbus Blue Jackets
How much is Nikita Filatov looking forward to hearing the Special Advice that newly-appointed Special Advisor, Ken Hitchcock, will be bringing to the organisation?

Dallas Stars
Is being one Kari Lehtonen injury away from owning a team relying on Andrew Raycroft for wins more or less worrying to Tom Hicks than his reported financial "issues"?

Detroit Red Wings
Can fresh-faced rookie Mike Modano crack the line-up and finally bring down the average age of the Wings' roster?

Edmonton Oilers
With a shutdown defense corps led by the likes of Ryan Whitney and Tom Gilbert, does the freewheeling coaching style of Tom Renney mean Hall, Eberle and Pääjärvi-Svensson don't even need to consider learning to playing a two-way game in their rookie years?

Los Angeles Kings
Did the Kings see Alexei Ponikarovsky's two goals in 34 career playoff games and mistakenly think they were still looking at Ilya Kovalchuk's bio?

Minnesota Wild
Did the Wild front office think persuading an aging NFL legend out of retirement was the only way to bring national publicity to the area, or did they actually sign the John Madden they wanted?

Nashville Predators
Will David Poile's experience in suspending moody eastern Europeans when they don't show up for work help Sergei Kostitsyn to settle in?

Phoenix Coyotes
Can Paul Bissonnette round up enough homeless people to fill the lower bowl for the team's home opener?

San Jose Sharks
Will the Sharks going cheaper in goal result in Dan Boyle's playoff goal tally only increasing further?

St. Louis Blues
Is Roman Turek feeling a bit bemused about how feelings have changed in St. Louis towards goaltenders who can take teams as far as the Conference Final?

Vancouver Canucks
Did Mike Gillis only take the "C" off Roberto Luongo's mask because he didn't want Keith Ballard's stick to do it first?

11 September 2010

National Hug-a-tree League

If you've visited the homepage of nhl.com recently, you might have noticed links to the league's "NHL Green" sustainability initiative.

The limited public reaction to the initiative that I have seen appears to consist of the accusations of one or two climate-change deniers that it's all part of a global left-wing conspiracy (for the record, it's nothing to with me...)

However, the NHL community has already made an impressive number of pledges to support the initiative. Here are just a few:
  • The Minnesota Wild to reduce energy use by drying players' equipment using the heat from a naked flame
  • Don Cherry and Mike Milbury to continue their media campaign to limit trans-Atlantic air travel by European players
  • The lifetime of red lightbulbs at Madison Square Garden to be extended by up to 200% due to policy of employing one scoring forward
  • Jim Rutherford of the Carolina Hurricanes to continue his policy of repeatedly recycling players
  • Fans in Vancouver to organise collection of used beer cups on the ice surface after every home playoff loss
  • Fans in Montréal to flip over any car parked downtown that is not electric or a hybrid after every playoff victory
  • Charles Wang to reduce the Islanders' carbon footprint significantly by having the team play out of a "virtual" new arena
  • Joe Sakic to promote the use of shovels instead of electric or gasoline powered snow blowers
  • The Devils, Coyotes and Panthers organisations to reduce the use of paper by printing 10,000 fewer tickets than arena capacity for each game
  • The NHL to establish the "Green Trophy" to be awarded annually to the defenseman considered by voting fans to have expended the least energy in the defensive zone during the season
  • Air conditioning in all luxury suites in the Air Canada Centre to run on the hot air produced by Brian Burke
  • The scoreboard at the Pengrowth Saddledome to be powered entirely by Darryl and Brent Sutter's electric personalities
  • All lighting at the new CONSOL Energy Center to be provided by the sun shining out of Sidney Crosby's lower body
  • Nikolai Khabibulin to travel to work by public transport for an entire season
  • Dan Carcillo to fit a draft excluder to the door of his trailer
  • Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr to commit to a league-wide 100% reduction in air and road travel to games and arena energy usage on game nights during the 2012-13 season
  • Dan Ellis to use unleaded fuel in at least half of his sportscars

6 September 2010

Burning Questions - Eastern Conference

In the time-honoured tradition of stealing the lazy concepts of NHL writers and rehashing my own work from sometime around this point in the off-season a year ago, here are this year's incandescent posers for the Eastern Conference.

(Publishing note: The Western Conference equivalent may not appear before the first year Ilya Kovalchuk is forced to beg for food.)

Atlanta Thrashers

Will Byfuglien, Sopel, Ladd and Eager have a Cup-winning goal flashback every time a goal is scored and elicits virtually no crowd reaction?

Boston Bruins
Following the acquisition of Gregory Campbell, will the Bruins benefit or suffer from his father having no power to serve suspensions on players who maim Marc Savard, after several years of having no power to serve suspensions on players who maim Marc Savard?

Buffalo Sabres
Will Tyler Myers be grateful for the extra 25 cents saved towards his contract extension from the team buying out Tim Kennedy?

Carolina Hurricanes
Will the campaign to repeal the law that prevents Anton Babchuk playing even-numbered seasons in the state finally bear fruit?

Florida Panthers
Can anyone score after Grabner-Bitz?

Montreal Canadiens
Will the lavish ceremonies held to celebrate the first anniversary of the lavish ceremonies to celebrate the club's centenary distract from on-ice performances?

New Jersey Devils
Might the league again challenge the Devils' management after finally wising up to their strategy of paying players for the vast majority of the year but then tacking on five or six worthless games in April at minimal to no cost, that they have no intention of competing in?

New York Islanders
Could this be the year that the pressure of being the team's two highest-paid players finally tells and leads to declining production from Alexei Yashin and Rick DiPietro?

New York Rangers
Will the ceaseless intimidation of Rangers players stop with the presence of Derek Boogaard, or will Tortorella still treat them the same way?

Ottawa Senators
By what date will lazy headline writers run out of candle puns if Roman Wick makes the team?

Philadelphia Flyers
Were the "loose bodies" removed from Chris Pronger's knee:
(a) Stolen game pucks from the Stanley Cup Final?
(b) A couple of Scott Hartnell hairballs?
(c) Fragments of the front wing of a Montreal-based writer's car?

Pittsburgh Penguins
What will replace the "young player is now better at faceoffs than he used to be" on-screen graphic as the obligatory #87-based go-to conversation filler during Versus/NBC broadcasts?

Tampa Bay Lightning
Which Canadian journalist will be the first to break ranks and describe an especially mundane roster move by the new GM as anything other than "an outstandingly savvy demonstration of understated management"?

Toronto Maple Leafs
If last season's storming run caused performance bonuses to reduce this year's cap space by $1.4m, will missing the playoffs by something less than 14 points make the Leafs' cap negative in 2011/12?

Washington Capitals
Can Jeff Schultz follow in the legendary footsteps of the previous three defensemen to lead the league in +/-, Marek Malik, Wade Redden and Michal Rozsival, in getting regularly booed at MSG within three years?

22 August 2010

The NHL Dictionary - fresh new content!

In the usual August absence of anything of consequence going on in the NHL, instead of biting commentary on the potential long-term impact of the R&D camp or the devastating aftermath to the Blue Jackets signing of Ben Guite, I can only offer another weak update to my existing collection of hockey lexicography (found HERE).

The concept again - take any word or phrase from the dictionary, add/subtract/change one letter, supply new definition. So, much the same as the process as that the Devils will be using to turn an invalid contract into a valid one anytime soon.

Boogey - to sign for something higher than it was supposed to take, typically achieved while on golf course

Kab fare - the cost of being taken for a ride by a driver who provides endless running commentary, promising to take you away from your current location but ending up going round in circles

Kessellation - identical pieces fitting together exactly, e.g. the 2nd overall pick in 2010 fitting together with the 2nd overall pick in 2011 in a future line-up

Kovenant - a formal agreement of only temporary legal validity

Maximeize - to increase to the greatest possible amount or degree Penguins' fans blind, devoted enmity towards an opposing player

Salei of the Century - game show featuring Ken Holland's ongoing attempts to construct a defense pairing with a combined age under 100

Ysermon - exhortation on seemingly trivial issue, such as minor league trade or signing of free agent fourth-line grinder, delivered by higher power and re-told by enraptured Canadian media

21 July 2010

NHL "cheat" contracts

Taking a (likely brief) break from Sather-Boogaard bashing, I figured I'd instead return to posting a table of numbers.

Wherever you read about the Kovalchuk contract signing/rejection ("Me? Lou Lamoriello? Employing dubious cap management practices to wriggle through loopholes in the CBA that I had a hand in creating? Never!"), there are references abound to some of the other heavily front-loaded, long-term deals handed out in recent years to other players, that tested the NHL's patience before it finally decided to crack down.

Expanding slightly on the analysis at Behind The Net, the table below (click to expand) summarises the salary progression and resulting cap hit for each of the contracts in perhaps the seven most contentious deals. [Source: capgeek.com]


Notes/observations
  • The "real" part of each contract is highlighted in yellow, the "dead" money/years in orange. I've slightly arbitrarily chosen salaries under $2m to be the "dead" money, though there's clearly some argument as to where to draw that line in some cases - and the numbers would accordingly look somewhat different.
  • Adjusted cap hit (1) represents the total contract value divided by the number of "real" years
  • Adjusted cap hit (2) represents only the contract value within the "real" years divided by the same number of years
  • In both cases, I've shown the annual cap saving made from structuring the contract how it was compared to either paying the same total value within the shorter "real" term (1) or eliminating the "dead" years entirely (2)
  • It's fairly evident that the Kovalchuk deal is pushing the envelope more than its comparables by a number of measures, though clearly $1m of cap savings for one team may well be of more value in a sense than $3m to another team
  • Interesting that the Savard deal could be considered as the next most contentious, while acknowledging that the term is shorter than most and whether you regard the $1.5m in Year 5 as "real" or "dead" makes quite a difference in this case
  • Of course, the Pronger deal is distinguished from the others by it being classed as an "over-35" contract, meaning Pronger will be suspended for over 35 games during the lifetime of the contract the Flyers will be stuck with the cap hit (barring trade) even if Pronger retires before the "dead" years are reached - just as Paul Holmgren intended (ahem)

9 July 2010

Boo Hard With A Vengeance

More from the file marked "Dead Horse: Flogging"...

By now, the sports world has had time to digest the ever-so-mature response from Cleveland Cavaliers owner, Dan Gilbert, to the decision of LeBron James to shift his jersey/shoe-selling business to another state.

With the time set aside for signing a big paycheck with LeBron's name on now vacant, MSG big cheese, James Dolan, was then free to keep the neglected New York Rangers fanbase updated with the background to their team's recent work in free agency:


Dear New York City, All Of New York State (apart from that stinky Long Island bit and that cold bit near Canada) and New York Rangers Supporters Wherever You May Be Tonight;

As you now know, our future hero, who grew up in the very region whose name is taken from his ancestry - Sasquatchawan - is no longer a Minnesota Wild. No, I don't know what a "Wild" is either.

This was announced with a several hour, narcissistic, self-promotional build-up on TSN's "Free Agent Frenzy" - a national (in Canada) TV special of his "decision". This led to something unlike anything ever "witnessed" in the history of sports and probably the history of entertainment - stunned silence from Pierre McGuire.

Clearly, this is bitterly disappointing to all of you.

The good news is that the ownership team and the President/General Manager (if we have some hard-working, loyal, and driven staff, I'll let you know when I meet them) over here at your hometown Rangers have not cared about you nor NEVER will care about you.

There is so much more to tell you about the events of the recent past and our more than exciting future. Over the next several days and weeks, we will be referring you back to the transcript of the President/General Manager's sole scheduled conference call for 2010, rather than telling you any more about these events.

You simply don't deserve this kind of unfathomable free agent signing. You've been spoiled enough with this kind of thing for the last 15 years.

You have been given so much and deserve so much higher ticket prices.

In the meantime, I want to make one statement to you tonight:

"I PERSONALLY GUARANTEE THAT THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS WILL WIN AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP BEFORE THE MISLEADINGLY-TITLED CURRENT ‘HALL OF FAMER’ GETS FIRED"

You can take it to the bank. And we all know how respected and trustworthy the banking industry is.

If you thought we were motivated before tonight to bring the hardware to New York...well, clearly, you're nuts. I can tell you that this shameful display of over-reactive ignorance and unnecessary largesse by one of our very own has shifted our "motivation" to previously unknown and previously never experienced depths.

Some people (looking at you, Chelios) think they should go to heaven but NOT have to die to get there.

Sorry, but that's simply not how it works.

This shocking act of incredulity from our home grown "tomato face" sends the exact lesson of what we would want Messier to learn. And "who" we would want them to grow-up to become.

But the good news is that this heartless and callous action can only serve as the antidote to the so-called "running" of Henrik Lundqvist.

The self-declared "King" will be taking the "running" for a whole six minutes per game less than ever before. And until he does "right" by Philadelphia and Carcillo, Derek (and the town where he plays) will unfortunately own the dreaded spell and bad karma left by that Brashear guy last year.

Just watch. If you can see past the guys in suits standing up and checking their Blackberries for the half hour they show up for in the row in front of you.

Sleep well, New York. Don't fear the Boogeyman.

Tomorrow is a new and much brighter day....

I PROMISE you that our energy, focus, capital, knowledge and experience will be directed at one thing and one thing only:

DELIVERING ME the corporate ticket sales and zero to two home playoff dates I have long deserved and is long overdue....











James L. Dolan
Chairman, Madison Square Garden
New York Rangers

6 July 2010

Boo Hard 2: Boo Harder

Five days into the free agency period, there's still a lot of interest in discovering where one free agent in particular - one who's been stuck on a team in a crummy market, with very few capable team-mates and has experienced nothing but playoff disappointment in his career to date - will end up, having been seeking an outrageously lucrative long-term deal.

But as well as Ilya Kovalchuk, I hear that the decision of some NBA player has been attracting a modicum of media interest. Apparently, the clamour to sign this guy has been so intense that even hugely successful franchises like the New York Knicks have taken to commissioning a study from a firm of marketing consultants to present the case for playing in Madison Square Garden next season and beyond. The report is now in the public domain, having been leaked to Forbes.

You might think such a study is a one-off, a unique expense by a high-profile franchise to attract a Hall of Fame talent at the peak of his career. But in fact, I can reveal the other MSG tenants always apply similar rigour to their summer recruiting process - witness the study pulled together to lure in a much sought-after forward from Minnesota just last week:

1 July 2010

Boo Hard

You know you can rely on Glen Sather on 1 July when almost three hours in, you are thinking to yourself:

"Wait, we're almost three hours in and he hasn't done anything insanely and criminally asinine like signing Derek Boogaard to a bigger, longer contract than Jody Shelley just crowbarred out of the Flyers yet. I'm nervous."

...and only have to wait a matter of minutes for the cigar-chomping genius to flourish an almost uniquely ridiculous deal on a zero-dimensional tough guy who "earns" five minutes of ice-time per game.

But having had time to consider the details of the signing, against all odds and conventional thought, there are in fact several worse ways the $6.6m could have been used:

  • Set up a construction company in partnership with Chris Neil
  • Buy Nassau Coliseum...twice
  • Buy two platinum seat tickets at Air Canada Centre for that key Maple Leafs - Thrashers game on a Tuesday night in November
  • Use it to pay off Sather's contract and immediately hire Darryl Sutter as his replacement
  • Increase the annual Versus budget for its NHL coverage by a factor of 6,600
  • Sign Wade Redden to a four-year, $6.6m contract extension

26 June 2010

Is there a draft in here? (2010 Edition)

The 2nd Annual LW3H "not really live" live blog of the NHL Entry Draft: 2010 in Los Angeles, California

Following my efforts last year, this is...er, this year's crack at a totally after-the-fact commentary / cutting critique of the draft that you almost certainly could have already read elsewhere on your favourite social media platform as it was happening.

Once again, TSN's coverage of the event is being shown live here at the peak viewing time of midnight...Once again, they open with a risibly over-dramatic montage of the contenders for the first overall pick, Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin...It features Seguin commenting that he's "not going to be all depressed and crying" if he goes #2 - no, you can leave that to watching Leafs fans

Host James Duthie immediately "throws it downstairs" (technical media term) to scoophound Darren Dreger, who fills us in on stories that the Oilers have been trying to secure the #2 pick to go with their #1...Apparently not looking likely, since Ales Hemsky clearly isn't the talented yet slightly flaky and injured winger it takes to obtain such a pick...A Canucks/Panthers trade, featuring Keith Ballard for Steve Bernier and the #25 pick is expected though

Elsewhere in Staples Center, Gord Miller is in his customary spot next to draft doyen Bob McKenzie and daft annoyance Pierre McGuire...B-Mac opts for the pronunciation "Seg-winn" as opposed to Duthie's "Say-gun" or "Say-gan"...P-Mac states he will be shocked if Hall is not taken by the Oilers

After last year's highly-entertaining miking up of Brian Burke on draft day, there's little sign of the same happening tonight, which is both a huge personal disappointment and understood to be the first recorded instance of Burke not wishing to offer his thoughts to the media...Taylor/Tyler are/is interviewed briefly - Hall revealing that they are not yet famous enough in La La Land to avoid being shunted away by photographers at a movie premiere

We cut to the draft party at Rexall Place in Edmonton...We learn that a local poll resulted in a 50/50 split of opinion between picking Taylor or Tyler - who knows how many of those polled just got the name the wrong way round anyway?...The fans there seem to be waving silver pom-poms for some reason - either that or there was a job lot of John Muckler fright wigs still lying around from last Halloween

The ritual Bettman boo suggests we are about to be underway...the commish appears to be suffering from a sore throat...as is now custom, he thanks all viewers everywhere...as is custom, "everywhere" excludes Europe

#1 - Edmonton Oilers select Taylor Hall (Windsor Spitfires - OHL)
GM Steve Tambellini gives the usual empty platitudes to the host city and the watching fans at the team's draft party (no French needed this year) and picks Hall...We soon hear the sound of the Rexall Place goal horn, for roughly the 12th time since last October...A few words with new coach and noted lexicographer, Tom Renney - most notable Rennyism: "the net is the end point"

#2 - Boston Bruins select Tyler Seguin (Plymouth Whalers - OHL)
Seriously, still nothing from Burke?! I reckon this would be a great point to hear his thoughts...No shock as Seguin is taken...A lot of depth at centre for the Bruins now - P-Mac and B-Mac concur that Marc Savard could be headed out of town (after Matt Cooke's unsuccessful attempt to elbow him out of town)...Duthie mentions that Seguin and his dad have matching tattoos...No further details of what/where though, intriguingly

Draftees will be getting jerseys with a number "10" on the back tonight...A quick check shows that the number has been retired by the Red Wings (Alex Delvecchio), Hurricanes (Ron Francis), Canadiens (Guy Lafleur) and Jets (and Coyotes?) (Dale Hawerchuk) - does this mean those teams will offer something else to display?...The Canucks/Panthers trade is fleshed out by TSN - it's Ballard and Victor Oreskovich for Bernier, Michael Grabner and pick #25, but the trade is still conditional

#3 - Florida Panthers select Erik Gudbranson (Kingston Frontenacs - OHL)
Another good Canadian boy, good Ontario boy, good Kingston boy (i.e. high Cherry marks)...Fluently bilingual with a Canadiens-supporting father (i.e. lower Cherry marks)...P-Mac notes that Gudbranson dwarfs everybody on the podium - true, but then Bettman got dwarfed when Brian Gionta was drafted...Miller suggests that GM Dale Tallon favours North American players, adding for emphasis: "Canadian and American"...I must confess that the Mexican impact on the NHL has been somewhat negligible (and yes, I am including Scott Gomez in that)

#4 - Columbus Blue Jackets select Ryan Johansen (Portland Winter Hawks - WHL)
Steve Yzerman is apparently desperately hoping for a defenseman to fall to #6 for the Lightning...Columbus GM Scott Howson decides to move things along swiftly by engaging in a lengthy conversation with Bettman on stage before moving to the podium...The selection of Johansen is "excellent news" to an uncharacteristically positive P-Mac...Someone should tell Pierre that he didn't actually get the Tampa gig...It then takes Johansen roughly ten minutes to reach the stage...Something tells me I'm not getting to bed any time soon

Back to Dreger for an update from the floor...The conditionality (yeah, it's a word) of the Canucks/Panthers deal is that the trade seemingly won't take place or will be subject to change if the player the Canucks want at #25 is still available

Everything still seems a bit quiet and predictable so far...Something is missing - I think it's the lack of a constant, loud and invasive noise that serves little or no purpose...Oh yeah, no Burke interview vuvuzelas! (I'll tip my hat to acknowledge the 10 millionth use worldwide of a variant of that joke)...Duthie livens things up - a chat with big-hitting NHL analyst Alyssa Milano...We learn that her dad was/is a Rangers fan...Miller throws in a needlessly gratuitous Wayne McBean reference

#5 - New York Islanders select Nino Niederreiter (Portland Winter Hawks - WHL)
Shoulderpad legend Garth Snow and the Wang entourage, including what seems to be a slightly large Wang Jr, take to the stage and select the first gutless Euro puke of the night...This affords the opportunity for P-Mac to bring out a couple of terrible Swiss cheese puns...El Nino is the highest ever Swiss draftee, beating the Oilers' selection of Michel Riesen at #14 in 1997...Riesen of course was a bust in North America, before returning home to the family business...Stevie Y is presumably smiling right now

Dreger informs us that the Oilers are still looking to acquire a second high first round pick

#6 - Tampa Bay Lightning select Brett Connolly (Prince George Cougars - WHL)
The TSN team are strongly expecting Cam Fowler or Brandon Gormley to be taken here, but after stepping up to warm applause, the new GM instead picks a forward...A graphic compares Connolly's injury-plagued draft year to those of former picks Gord Kluzak, Rocky Trottier, Drake Berehowsky and Andrei Kostitsyn - all first ballot Hall of Famers, so no worries there for Lightning fans...Yzerman demonstrates in his interview that he has quickly mastered the vital GM skills of the NHL cliché and stonewall response

A quick feature on expected first rounder Jeffrey Skinner's figure skating background is shown...At least if the NHL career doesn't pan out, he can look forward to featuring on CBC's Battle of the Blades in 25 years time (surely still a staple of CBC's output in 2035, alongside the voice of Bob Cole, the suits of Don Cherry and the losing teams of the Toronto Maple Leafs)

#7 - Carolina Hurricanes select Jeffrey Skinner (Kitchener Rangers - OHL)
Right on cue, Skinner's name is called by Ron Francis...Still no Fowler or Gormley, unexpectedly...Francis does pass a #10 jersey to Skinner to wear and seems OK with it..."Last time you're wearing that, kid. Enjoy it while it lasts."

#8 - Atlanta Thrashers select Alexander Burmistrov (Barrie Colts - OHL)
Just before the Thrashers pick, a clip of Fowler features him saying: "You've got to be used to a lot of people watching you"...Might not be anything to worry about if you're heading to Atlanta, Cam...However, new Thrashers GM Rick Dudley - taking time out from Inside the Actors Studio to attend the draft - takes another forward...TSN's graphic cruelly states Comparable: Scott Gomez...Being known as the Russian Scott Gomez is possibly among the worst insults possible for a player in some parts of North America

Dreger chimes in with his first Leafs/Kaberle update...It's merely white noise without input from Burke though

#9 - Minnesota Wild select Mikael Granlund (HIFK - Finland)
As another forward is taken ahead of Fowler/Gormley, it's noted that D-men have slipped to the Rangers' spot before in recent times, when Marc Staal and Michael Del Zotto were chosen...Not particularly paying attention for a moment...Er, Granlund is not a Finnish goalie (I never said you should come here for thorough analysis, OK?)

During a commercial break, I read that the Rangers staff are "huddling at the table"...Clearly, everyone is still trying to physically disguise the fact that Glen Sather died in 2003

#10 - New York Rangers select Dylan McIlrath (Moose Jaw Warriors - WHL)
As Sather's corpse is routinely and rightly booed onto the stage, P-Mac and B-Mac are smelling a Russian (and it's not Ovechkin's Cologne for once)...Hmm, don't think anyone was expecting McIlrath to go while Fowler and Gormley were still on the board...B-Mac is "blown away", P-Mac similar...Obviously way too early to cast judgement on these players, but Jessiman recent Jessiman history Jessiman gives Jessiman Rangers Jessiman fans Jessiman an Jessiman uneasy Jessiman feeling

#11 - Dallas Stars select Jack Campbell (US NTDP)
P-Mac is a bit confused by this one given the Stars' recent acquisition of Kari Lehtonen, though he (obviously) likes Campbell...B-Mac notes that Fowler and Gormley are "falling like Iraq" (or maybe it was "a rock" or "Laraque" - it's getting late...)

#12 - Anaheim Ducks select Cam Fowler (Windsor Spitfires - OHL)
Spirited booing from the LA crowd for the Ducks representatives...P-Mac is by now almost reaching in-game NBC shouting levels as he implores Bob Murray to pick Fowler or Gormley...As Fowler is finally taken, P-Mac then goes for the damning with faint praise approach by asserting that Fowler could be "as good as François Beauchemin"...Aiming high there

#13 - Los Angeles Coyotes of Glendale select Brandon Gormley (Moncton Wildcats - QMJHL)
Before getting picked, Gormley has a "**** me, I don't want to play in Phoenix" face going...He seems to cheer up a little by the time he gets to shake hands on stage though

#14 - St. Louis Blues select Jaden Schwartz (Tri-City Storm - USHL)
John Davidson leads a well-deserved tribute to draft favourite and stone-faced legend Jarmo Kekäläinen, who is soon leaving the Blues to dominate the Finnish hockey landscape...Jarmo calls up Schwartz...Noticeable that nobody drafted has handed his jacket to Bettman this year...There is some mention of similarity to Zach Parise in Schwartz - P-Mac somehow resists unleashing his latent Jessiman/Parise anger (check back in seven years for a similar McIlrath/Fowler rant?)

TRADE: Dale Tallon and Dean Lombardi are seen talking...Bettman then announces that pick #15 has gone to the Kings in return for #19 and #59 from the Panthers - a popular move with the home crowd

#15 - Los Angeles Kings select Derek Forbort (US NTDP)
P-Mac snaps out of his earlier mini-depression to raise some enthusiasm for the selection of Forbort...It seems to be a popular move with the LA crowd - we see an applauding Tobias Fünke lookalike in a Kings jersey

Bryan Murray is shown taking an important call: "No, Burkie. You can't screw me over this year. Congrats on picking Seguin and on your playoff run this year, by the way..."

TRADE: It's now a trade frenzy as Murray ships the #16 pick to the Blues for one of the dark-haired Swedish invasion from the 2009 draft, David Rundblad

#16 - St. Louis Blues select Vladimir Tarasenko (Sibir Novosibirsk - KHL)
More Jarmo! All business, as usual...On Tarasenko (who clearly has hockey teeth already), P-Mac says "all skill", B-Mac responds with "Balmochnykh"...No need to be so rude to Pierre, Bob. It's just an opinion

Time for a brief Bryan Murray interview...He reveals that the player he wanted (an unnamed forward) had gone, hence the trade...Nothing much to say about Jason Spezza trade talks...I seem to remember he said similar about Dany Heatley at the draft last year, so let's hope it drags on as long as the in-no-way-excruciating Heatley saga did

#17 - Colorado Avalanche select Joey Hishon (Owen Sound Attack - OHL)
The first "off the board" pick of the night according to B-Mac...The shock causes the normally smooth B-Mac to flap about searching for his notes on Hishon...I've still no idea what Greg Sherman looks like or if he was even on stage just then...Wouldn't recognise him if he got Darcy Tucker to scream "That's Greg Sherman!" in my face repeatedly from an inch away while sporting a Greg Sherman: That Way> tattoo on his forehead

#18 - Nashville Predators select Austin Watson (Peterborough Petes - OHL)
Watson is one of nine kids in his family, with a tenth on the way...Nervous laughter breaks out in the Sutter and Staal households (joke obviously - Sutters are physically incapable of human emotion)

BURKE! He's with Duthie, looking like a man 12 hours into a wedding reception...He defends the Kessel trade (shock) with no perceptible nasal growth and talks about offers for his D-men - not just Tomáš Kaberle, apparently...Throughout, Burke stares directly into the camera in a faintly menacing way, which I think has pierced two dark holes in my plasma screen

#19 - Florida Panthers select Nick Bjugstad (Blaine HS - USHS)
Minnesota's Mr Hockey for this year is selected by Director of Amateur Scouting, Scott Luce, who is forced to stoop over the microphones like everybody seems to - clearly they are not adjustable from the default Bettman setting...Bjugstad is said to have also been a skilled tennis player

#20 - Pittsburgh Penguins select Beau Bennett (Penticton Vees - BCHL)
Miller notes that Pittsburgh set the post-lockout model for success (tank long and tank hard?)...Bennett looks pleased at the prospect of being traded at the deadline in 2012 for impending UFA #467 to play on Crosby's wing...Bennett eschews tennis in favour of being a terrific piano player, we learn

The latest Dreger-flash is that Sergei Gonchar wants a three-year contract at upwards of $5m per, while the Penguins are sticking at two years...This programme is due to end in 12 minutes...Can we get through 10 picks in 12 minutes (known as the Jay Cutler ratio, I understand)?

#21 - Detroit Red Wings select Riley Sheahan (Notre Dame - CCHA)
Seemingly in reference to the absence of Wings Euro über-scout Håkan Andersson, P-Mac notes there is "no hocking on the podium" - this of course, a reaction to the unsavoury spitting incident between Ken Holland and Don Maloney at last year's event...Jim Nill eventually settles on "Shee-han" before being immediately corrected by P-Mac who is sure it's "Shay-han"...Scouts are said to be unconcerned at Sheahan's involvement in an underage drinking incident

We move to an interview in the stands with draft-eligible Jarred Tinordi and his ex-NHL father, Mark, who has clearly been strictly following the Brett Hull diet since his retirement

TRADE: Bettman - now starting to sound like Dave Manson - announces a flip of the Coyotes' #22 and #113 picks for the Canadiens' #27 and #57

#22 - Montréal Canadiens select Jarred Tinordi (US NTDP)
The Habs duly select Tinordi Jr...B-Mac says his leadership ability is "off the scale" - much like his dad's weight then...A big tug-of-war is expected between Notre Dame and the London Knights for the services of Tinordi next year...My money is on Notre Dame comfortably winning the tug-of-war before Dale Hunter severs the rope and blindsides the Athletic Director while the officials aren't looking...During his Duthie interview, GM Pierre Gauthier also looks into the camera while talking, but unlike Burke, he doesn't produce homicidal urges in me while doing so...The Rangers' selection of McIlrath now looks even more risky, considering Tinordi Sr has just eaten him

#23 - Buffalo Sabres select Mark Pysyk (Edmonton Oil Kings - WHL)
Pysyk is your typical solid, no-frills late first rounder, by all accounts...Presumably, he has a certain amount of mental toughness too, given the abuse his name must have attracted while at school

Certainly, there hasn't been the expected level of trade action so far...Dreger is spotted refereeing an impromptu sumo bout between Wang Jr and Tinordi Sr to kill time

#24 - Chicago Blackhawks select Kevin Hayes (Noble/Greenough - USHS)
With the pick aqcuired from the Devils via the Thrashers in the Byfugalchuk trade chain, the Hawks take a reach down the draft rankings...Hayes was a star of the draft combine, so we see shots of him bench pressing...No shots of him with his shirt off though - guess we'll have to wait until his first limo ride with Patrick Kane to see that

TRADE: Confirmation of the Canucks/Panthers deal from the commish, now sounding like Macy Gray

#25 - Florida Panthers select Quinton Howden (Moose Jaw Warriors - WHL)
Howden faced some adversity to get here - we see shots of him in a body cast as a kid...So he has the chance of being the first NHLer to overcome almost total immobility since Hal Gill

#26 - Washington Capitals select Evgeny Kuznetsov (Traktor Chelyabinsk - KHL)
Only George McPhee plus one other on the stage for the Caps, unusually...Has Burke acquired the rest of their staff to fill out the Leafs' rather bare looking front office?...Kuznetsov has two years left on his KHL contract, so no risk attached to this pick then...And a KHL contract is, of course, nothing if not synonymous with being water tight and a cast-iron guarantee of continued remuneration for Kuznetsov

#27 - Los Angeles Coyotes of Glendale select Mark Visentin (Niagara IceDogs - OHL)
Off the board pick number two, says B-Mac...We see a great "I wasn't expecting to hear my name before Saturday" face from Visentin replayed

As this thing drags on, we learn that John Isner and Nicolas Mahut just turned the coverage off because "it's just taking way too long"

#28 - San Jose Sharks select Charlie Coyle (South Shore Kings - EJHL)
Getting hazy now...Big body, bit of a project, extrapolated scoring...Balmochnykh...

Miller explains how the upcoming pick for the Ducks (via the Flyers in the Pronger trade) slipped from #10 to #29 as the evil Flyers sneaked into the playoffs and then ended up in the Cup Final...Thanks, Olli Jokinen!

#29 - Anaheim Ducks select Emerson Etem (Medicine Hat Tigers - WHL)
Conflicting feelings for the California crowd as the local SoCal product goes to the hated Ducks...Surely Etem was named after former Kings stalwart, Nelson Emerson?...In his interview, Etem says getting drafted was "almost like a blur" - I know the feeling...

TRADE: The Hawks deal pick #30 to the Islanders for #35 and #58...Bettman now sounds like Marge Simpson swallowing a jug of gravel

#30 - New York Islanders select Brock Nelson (Warroad HS - USHS)
Team Fishstick select the first round's 11th US-born player, which is a new record...Always slightly unnerving for the rest when the US starts taking an interest in a sport - next they'll start being successful in sah-ker or something crazy like that

Only time for a quick recap by TSN now, since this has taken just over four hours to complete...In a superb piece of spinning, the record selection of Americans is summarised in a table headed Canada Leads Way...Finally a promo for next week's main event, Free Agent Frenzy (subtitle: "It's a pile of crap this year!")

19 June 2010

Hungry for hockey?

Taking a lead from (OK, shamelessly ripping-off) the ever-excellent Down Goes Brown, and considering the kinship between fellow big-market NHL success stories, the Leafs and Rangers, I figured it wouldn't be too difficult to envisage a Ranger-themed menu.

So...


(Click to enlarge. Graphic design skills admittedly lacking...)

10 June 2010

For crying out loud

The hockey world is today still reeling from last night's shocking and unprecedented event. Yes, the moment when millions of TV viewers across the US (OK, a few hundred thousand in Chicago and Philadelphia) witnessed Jeremy Roenick being lost for words.

Of course, as retired NHL cyborg Mark Messier would attest, crying simply is not tolerated in and around hockey. So what really caused JR's momentary eye-dampness?
  • Standing in close proximity to Mike Milbury for two months thirty seconds will do that to even the strongest of men
  • The sudden realisation that 95% of NHL news for the next four months will feature the thrilling words: "Phoenix Coyotes ownership saga"
  • "That bitch Chrissy Pronger was wearing the SAME outfit as me! And she knew it!"
  • The vapours from Scott Hartnell's post-game hairball fumigation had just wafted into the NBC set
  • The waning but beautiful memory of Dan Carcillo's graceful, languid skating and dextrous stickhandling in Game Three just wouldn't stop lingering in his mind
  • Hiding those pucks from Ben Eager exactly where Pronger told him to was starting to cause some physical discomfort

29 May 2010

Stanley Cup Final: A Viewer's Guide

If your team has (yet again) not made it as far as the Stanley Cup Final, watching the games can clearly get somewhat tiresome. So what can you do to spice up your interest in a series between two small-market expansion teams that inexplicably does not feature the great Crosbechkin?

If you have nothing better to do, why not use my spotter's guide? Score along at home during the series and if you break 30 points, a multi-million dollar prize will head your way. At least that's what Chris Drury and Shawn Horcoff told me...

(I accept no responsibility for the consequences if you instead turn this into a drinking game. Watching a few playoff games is no excuse for drunken debauchery. At least that's what the Montreal Police Department told me...)

  • Dysugtien Bufflin successfully parking himself within three feet of the goal without getting slashed by the guy in a #20 Flyers jersey (2 pts)
  • Chicago writer successfully parking his car within three miles of Wachovia Center without it getting trashed by 20 guys in Flyers jerseys (15 pts)
  • Each use of the following words by Mike Emrick: squib/waffleboard/careen/Brodeur (1 pt)
  • Visual evidence of a living, wild animal in Scott Hartnell's hair (excluding Hartnell himself) (5 pts)
  • NBC or Versus getting through an intermission without any mention of Sidney Crosby (25 pts)
  • Mike Milbury making any kind of wilfully controversial/idiotic/xenophobic statement (1 pt)
  • Pierre McGuire saying the words: "I have nothing to say about Mike Richards. Back up to you , Doc and Edzo." (20 pts)
  • Each shot of Vince Vaughn looking mildly confused in his rinkside seat (3 pts)
  • Each shot of Bob Clarke looking mildly constipated in his luxury suite (2 pts)
  • Each on-screen graphic of a completely inaccurate statistic or statement shown by Versus ("James van Riemsdyk is just the second Latvian to play in the Stanley Cup Final") (1 pt)
  • Eddie Olczyk not attributing a routine play to a "good active stick" (1 pt)
  • Bob Harwood (8 pts)
  • Dan Carcillo drawing a high-sticking penalty (1 pt)
  • Dan Carcillo legitimately drawing a high-sticking penalty (25 pts)
  • Marian Hossa putting in a trade request before Game Seven (5 pts)
  • Brian Burke surviving the whole series without seeking a slice of publicity by holding a press conference, proposing a rule change or trading away several lottery picks (15 pts)
  • Each minute of time Joel Quenneville or Peter Laviolette spends complaining about the officiating (2 pts)
  • Each minute of time Ron MacLean spends complaining about the officiating (0.2 pts)
  • Gary Bettman being received by warm applause as he takes to the ice to present the Cup (50 pts)
  • Anybody at all being received by warm applause as they take to the ice in Philadelphia (51 pts)

12 May 2010

Now Hiring!

It had escaped my attention until today that job vacancies with NHL teams were advertised on the official league website.

Obviously, the primary purpose of my visiting every day from now on will be in the (forlorn) hope of seeing the words "President and General Manager - New York Rangers (Manhattan, NY)" on the list.

Until that great, great day, I can content myself with breaking down some of the current advertisements, reading between the lines to get past some of the typical management jargon that infests these things.

Case in point, this vacancy with our friends on the Island:

Administrative Assistant - Part Time - New York Islanders (Uniondale, NY)


"...meeting and greeting visitors."
Sometimes up to 8,000 in one night!

"Must be proficient with...Excel..."
So you can work out exactly which decade we can stop paying Alexei Yashin.

"The ideal candidate will have three or more years experience..."
i.e. Approximately three or more years more experience than Garth Snow had.

"...excellent verbal and written communication skills..."
No applicants from the Milbury family, please.

"Candidate will work with team members..."
Every chance you will be playing wing next to Tavares by November.

"...between 25-30 hours a week."
Or the same as DiPietro works in a year.

"No relocation assistance available..."
You'd better live close to Kansas City already.

"Please send cover letter with salary requirements..."
...which Mr Wang will multiply by 20 over a period four times as long.

13 April 2010

The Pain Game

Injury stats update – end of season awards

This is the final update for the 2009/10 regular season looking at which teams have been hit hardest by injuries by trying to place a value on the games missed by players due to injury/illness.

(The corresponding analysis as at the end of February 2010 can be viewed HERE.)

The concept again - multiply each game missed by a player by his 2009/10 cap charge, then take the aggregate of these figures for each team and divide by 82. This indicator of value lost to a team by injury/illness is called CHIP (Cap Hit of Injured Players).

Yes, I'm still doing the extra bit ...

Again, for a different indicator of player "value", I've also illustrated a similar metric based on TOI/G alongside the CHIP numbers.

While acknowledging cap charge is a less than perfect measure of player, with a number of limitations and inconsistencies, I'm not totally sold on TOI/G as being any better overall (I'm guessing Mike Mottau isn't a significantly more important player to the Devils than Zach Parise) - it does provide a decent comparison and the results do vary from the CHIP rankings somewhat.

A quick summary of the alternative metric:

  • TOI/G replaces cap charge as the measure of value in the calculation
  • For goalies, TOI/G has been worked out as Total Minutes Played / Games Dressed For - i.e. a goalie playing every minute of 75% of the games, zero in the rest, would end up with a TOI/G of 45 minutes (or close to it, once you factor in OT and so on)
  • This arguably overstates the worth of starting goalies somewhat, but it's simple and you could equally argue that a workhorse goalie is the hardest position to replace, so it's fair for them to have a much higher TOI/G figure
  • Where a player hasn't played all year (e.g. Mike Van Ryn) or where a player fairly clearly has a reduced TOI/G figure due to getting injured in their only game or one of very few games (Kurt Sauer), I've used TOI/G from last season (or further back if necessary)
  • For each player, multiply games missed by TOI/G to get (for a more palatable name) Cumulative Minutes of Injured Player (CMIP)
  • Take the aggregate of CMIP for the team and divide by games played by the team to arrive at AMIP (Average Minutes of Injured Players) - it feels more understandable expressing this metric as an average per game (whereas CHIP is a running total)
The figures...

The table below shows:

  • Total CHIP for each team over the 2009/10 regular season
  • The player who has contributed most to the team's CHIP figure
  • The number of players with a CHIP contribution of over $250,000 (think of it as being equivalent to a $1m player missing 20 games or a $4m player missing five games)
  • Movement in CHIP ranking since 28 February
  • AMIP for each team over the same period (e.g. an AMIP of 40:00 could be seen as the team missing two 20-minute per game players for every game this season)

10 second analysis...

Rather predictably, the Oilers manage to hold on to their big lead and easily claim the much-coveted title of The Most Injured Team in the NHL 2009/10.

Interestingly, despite a clearly horrendous run of injuries this year, neither the Oilers' total man-games lost nor CHIP figure would have ranked #1 last year (see HERE for the 2008/09 rankings).

Also, while the aggregate CHIP figure league-wide was just shy of $200m, this is still $25m lower than the corresponding figure for 2008/09 - perhaps unexpected given all the conjecture earlier in the season about an injury epidemic and the effect of the Olympic break.

At the other end, largely thanks to a late injury to Ryan Malone, the Rangers clinch an unprecedented (OK, only two years of compiling this doesn't give much opportunity for precedent...) second consecutive 30th place finish. Something the esteemed GM of the team has seemingly been straining to achieve in the real NHL standings for the last 10 years, without success. Not for want of trying.

Again, there doesn't appear to be much more than a weak correlation between the extent of injuries and a team's position in the standings - the three healthiest teams all missed the playoffs, for example. (The dubious sanity of the GMs in question has not been allowed for here.)

The next lists are the top 30 individual CHIP and CMIP contributions:


P-M Bouchard's virtually season-long concussion results in his leading of the CHIP table. Ricky DP's "flu" - yes, that's "flu" - not quite emerging soon enough to trouble the podium. There's always next year, eh Rick? And the next 12...

I suspect next year's figures will no longer be distorted by the impact of Mike Rathje's unretired corpse. This may or may not be due to Paul Holmgren re-signing him to be the Flyers' next saviour in goal.

BONUS

Finally, another update of the crude injury-by-location analysis. Again, I’ve just used the descriptions found in the player profiles on tsn.ca, so the figures will encompass all the inaccuracies and vagueness within them. It should give a broad indication, if nothing else, though.


Notes/Disclaimers
  • Figures include (and are arguably distorted by) some players on long-term IR, such as Mike Rathje. They do exclude a few minor-leaguers who are or had been on the NHL club’s IR since pre-season
  • There are undoubtedly a few inaccuracies and inconsistencies in there - I did the best I could with the information out there. Some corrections are picked up month-to-month too
  • The cap figure doesn't really correlate very well to the "worth" of a player in some cases, e.g. where rookie bonuses are included this year, where players are seeing out an old (underpaid or rookie) contract or where players are horrendously overpaid
  • Also, for any player who was acquired on re-entry waivers (e.g. Sean Avery, Randy Jones), the cap hit will only reflect that for their current team, i.e. 50% of the player’s full cap hit (shared between his current and old teams)
  • I've once again stuck a full team-by-team listing of games missed and CHIP/CMIP numbers by each player on the web HERE
  • Injury/games/TOI info courtesy of tsn.ca and nhl.com - man-games lost info more than likely does not exactly match up with the "official" figures released by individual teams
  • Cap info courtesy of hockeybuzz.com and capgeek.com