My thoughts on the NHL Lockout

As of Sunday, January 6, 2013 the travershamockery of the NHL lockout all but ended. I greeted the news with a resounding, “Meh”. This isn’t the reaction most people would expect. At work I’m the “hockey guy”. For the past few months I’ve had co-workers asking if I was ok and if the withdrawals were too much. I told them I was fine. I told them the NHL could shove it if they ever came back. I have the Cutthroats, Pioneers, Eagles and high school hockey to keep me entertained. I’m a hockey fan, not an NHL fan I said.

Well now it’s time for me to put up or shut it. Now it’s time for me to put my money where my mouth is and show that I’m not all talk.

I’m shutting up.
There’s no money in my mouth.
I’m all talk.

The 2 biggest reasons are…

  • During the lockout, my anger has been directed at the NHL not the Avalanche. The way Kroenke Sports Entertainment (KSE), parent company of the Avalanche, responded to shooting death of aspiring hocky reporter,¬†Jessica Redfield was amazing. KSE shows that they care about this community. I love them for it.
  • My 9 year old daughter, Ashlynn. I wish I would’ve thought to record her reaction today when we told her the news. She’d surely be a YouTube hit by now. After we told her that the NHL and NHLPA came to an agreement, she jumped up and down in girlish glee shouting “AV-A-LANCHE! AV-A-LANCHE!” It was awesome.

So I guess it’s time for me to hook cable back up so we can watch the games. The more I think about it, the more excited I get. A few of the things I’m looking forward to are…

  • Seeing Landeskog (aka. Country Forest*) skating as Captain of the Avalanche.
  • Seeing Mighty Matt Duchene be mighty again.
  • Hearing that the Avalanche have resigned Ryan O’Reilly.
  • Knowing that my new nephew, Quinn will finally be able to hear Marc Moser call an Avalanche game on the radio outside of the womb.
  • Knowing that I get to finally hear Marc Moser on the radio, too.
  • Seeing a Kyle Keefe/Mark Rycroft post-game show.
  • Seeing my hockey-related blogs and hockey friends on Twitter talking about hockey again.

I can’t wait!

* – Adrian Dater, hockey reporter for the Denver Post found out that using Google Translate to translate Swedish to English interprets “Landeskog” as “Country Forest”. This was one of the few good things to happen because of the lockout.

Back on WordPress and Sakic’s Hole In One

I’ve found myself with some new financial constraints, so I’ve moved www.slapshotsandchipshots.com to WordPress so I can save my measly $6/month that I was spending on web hosting. I tried other options, but they failed. I tried lobbying the Avalanche to pay bloggers to write about them to get to the cap floor, but that didn’t work. I also tried contacting Joe Sakic since he just found himself with $500,000 more than he had thanks to a hole-in-one.

Speaking of which, is that not the best combination of golf and hockey? My favorite thing about this is him high-fiving the fans. Here it is if you missed it:

Are hockey fans ready to call for an end to goonery?

The chippy play and after-whistle scrums have become a story unto themselves during this year’s Stanley Cup Finals. I’m getting tired of it and a lot of other people are too. I used to be all about watching the fights and dirty plays and looking for payback. I loved the violence! But it seems that love is fading… and I’m not the only one!

Over at Puck Daddy, they are hearing that back in the good ol’ days players used to break each other with respect and class which they rightly call BS on. Anyone who harkens back to a better time is fooling themselves. Either they were never there and just heard stories or they were there and want to make themselves look better. Either way, there were just as many if not more dirty players in the NHL 20-30 years ago as there are now. Stop kidding yourselves!

The Puck Daddy post points toward a great article in the Edmonton Journal that nails my current attitude about the goonery:

The 1980s’ hair rock between whistles, the cold beer and new truck advertisements, the fights, the concussions, the buffoonery of Don Cherry, everything that used to be an acceptable -even charming -distraction from the beauty of the game, is mysteriously becoming … tiresome.

I know why those distractions are getting old for me: I now play hockey and I don’t want to deal with players who are influenced by the crap they see in the NHL. I’m tired of players getting injured. I’m tired of every solid hit being scrutinized for bad intentions. I’m also a parent and I don’t feel like subjecting my kid to a sport that promotes disrespect.

More from the Edmonton Journal article:

What we want out of hockey, out of any sport, is the same simple thing we want from a Friday night movie: thrills, a good story, a hometown struggle against adversity, surprise, heroism, the triumph of the little guy, escape, change.

A three-hour highlight reel of bodychecking and spitting and slashing, interspersed with witless yet patriotic beer commercials and a little bit of skating and scoring, might make us nostalgic.

For an entertainment organization in the abstract and difficult business of making us feel something, I’m not sure that’s enough.

How do you feel about the current state of goonery in the NHL? Too much? Not enough? What should be changed?

D League Chronicles: My First Drop-In Game

Last night I participated in my first drop-in game. What is a drop-in game? It’s an informal hockey game, like a pick up game of basketball. I’ve heard those north of the border call it a “Shinny” which just sounds like one of those words that only Canadians can say like “Hoser” or “aboot”.

We ended up with 7 skaters and 1 goalie. All of whom were much more skilled than I was. One guy skated like walking was harder to do than skate (Turns out he’s been skating since age 5. He’s in his 40’s now). Another was nicknamed “Wheels” by his friend (Guess who won every race to the puck?). We played 3-on-3 and only used half the ice. Luckily for me I was wearing a dark sweater and there were 4 of us so I got to rest a lot. Some of the important things I learned from my first drop-in game were:

  • It’s a drop-in game: Goals are not counted (I scored one). Slow down, chill out and have fun.
  • I have nothing to prove: It’s amazing how much breaking a limb can change your attitude for the better if you let it. I am just happy to be able to play hockey. I don’t need to try to play above my skill level.
  • My skill level? Beginner: And I’m perfectly fine with that. Lifetime Skater skated past me with the puck EVERY TIME I challenged him at the blue line. “Wheels” beat me to the puck 9 times out of 10 and almost every attempted poke check against me ended up in a turnover. The difference between now and the last time I played? I didn’t get frustrated this time around. I know they’re better than I am. However…
  • I have definitely improved: I felt much more comfortable on my skates and with the puck than the last time I played. I’m going to the right spots most of the time and I’m much more patient handling the puck. With good positioning and patience, I noticed that I was a better teammate and had more fun.

I’ll be taking these attitude with me when I get back into a league this winter. As if I wasn’t already looking forward to playing this winter, this made me even more excited for it. My legs work great. My skill has improved and my head is in the right place for rec-league hockey. Drop the puck! Let’s go!

D League Chronicles: It's NOT Just Part of the Game.

You hear it all the time when people are defending the NHL…

“It’s just part of the game.”

The jabs and grabs after the whistle. The slashing and taunting. The¬† fights. It’s just part of the game! Unfortunately, this isn’t helpful for anyone for those of us that want to start playing hockey.

Whether you’re 7, 17 or 37 just about everyone who wants to play hockey does so because they are fans of the NHL. I was 15 when the Quebec Nordiques came to Colorado to become the Avalanche. I instantly loved hockey. I cheered at the fights and the violence and marveled at the skill it takes to play. The Avalanche showed me what the NHL was all about and for all I knew, the NHL was hockey.

Fast forward 15 years (that would be last year if you’re not keeping track). I finally had the money, the equipment and some of the skills needed to play hockey. So during my 10 game summer season I tried to incorporate some of the things that were “just part of the game”. There were some problems though, hockey is a demanding sport and by the time the whistle blows or by the time I was frustrated I was too tired to really do anything. Nothing says futility like trying to slash someone and having the stick fall out of your hand or knocking yourself over while trying to facewash someone.

Another problem was that a lot of the guys I was playing against were either 20 years older than me, just plain better than me or just starting out like me. Anyone who spends their time goading those types of players is, basically, a jackass. I was a jackass. A worn out, pathetic, ineffective jackass, but a jackass just the same.

So if you want to lace up and start playing hockey, know this: The crap you see after the whistle in a pro hockey game is NOT just part of the game and it shouldn’t be in yours. If you want to see how you should play hockey go watch a high school or NCAA game and you’ll see that hockey is still a passionate, fast moving, fun sport.

If you’re a coach or an organizer for a hockey league, I’d like to hear your experiences with changing the attitudes of new players.

Old Time Hockey is Back in Boston and Why I'm Rooting for the Bs

That was a helluva Stanly Cup Finals Game 3. It had everything you could want in a hockey game and a couple things you don’t. I have a feeling the coaches are gonna reign in the asshattery for the rest of the series, but watch out if they get to play each other next season. Since I feel the need to root for someone, I picked the Bruins for no other reason than the fact that their the favorite team of the Dropkick Murphys.

I was going to post the links to The Nutrocker by Dropkick Murphys, but since there’s 20 bazillion lyrics websites with NO LYRICS ON THEM, you get a video instead:

If anyone knows of a lyrics website that actually has lyrics on them, I’d love to know about it.

“GO! GO! BLACK AND GOLD!”…for now.

Nothing Replaces Actually Playing the Game

Exercise your body. Train your brain. Practice your form.

Doing these things will help you elevate your game, no matter what sport you play. But nothing, NOTHING replaces the things you learn when you actually go out and play.

Since I broke my leg in July, I’ve been exercising, training and practicing to be able to play hockey again. I play EA Slapshot on the Wii and watch hockey games of all levels to focus on positioning and strategy. As soon as I was able to, I went to the gym to improve my flexibility and endurance. I’ve practiced my stickhandling and skating skills. But I’m not going to become a better player without…well playing.

Nothing replaces playing the game. I can do skating drills all day (well, not really) and I won’t skate nearly as hard as I will trying to chase down the puck before my opponent and it turns out stickhandling a puck around another player is much harder than doing so around a cone.

So Saturday I’m going to go check out a drop-in game at the Edge Ice Arena. Hopefully enough skaters show up to make it a game instead of just a stick and puck session. Who wants to play some hockey?