Monday, October 31, 2011

October Recap: Flying High

Stephane's mom always warned him about playing close to the tracks.
The Leafs are off to a great start and the derisive cries of "it'll never last" get quieter and quieter after their improbable run continues. The longer they hold high in the Eastern Conference the more people have to wonder whether the Leafs are a legitimately good team this year. They certainly don't look like the bottom dwellers of years past, although there are certainly some major flaws to their start.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Safety Trumps Rights: Make Visors Mandatory

chris pronger injury
Chris Pronger narrowly escaped becoming an older, more accomplished Bryan Berard. Last night in a game between the Flyers and the Maple Leafs, Mikhail Grabovski's stick hit Pronger in the eye after following through on a shot. Pronger, who is one of the toughest players in the NHL, screamed so loud his pain was audible all the way up in the press box.

People immediately worried Pronger might lose sight in his eye. Thankfully, the prognosis was much better and Pronger is expected to return between ten days and two weeks.

Unfortunately, Pronger's injury isn't an isolated incident. A number of high-profile players, such as Steve Yzerman, Dany Heatley, and Al MacInnis, received serious eye injuries during their careers, which convinced them to go with a shield. Manny Malhotra was hit with a puck in the eye late last season and had to undergo emergency surgery. Malhotra returned during the playoffs with a full face shield.

The most high-profile case was Bryan Berard, then a member of the Maple Leafs, who was hit on a Marian Hossa follow-through. Berard almost lost his eye and after seven operations his vision improved to 20/600. He eventually made his way back to the NHL after losing more than a full season, thanks in part to contacts that brought his vision to a league minimum 20/400.

Chris Pronger is one of the most accomplished defencemen in the history of the league, but his career nearly ended under the most preventable of circumstances.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Battle of the (Better) Blade

Last week I conducted my first real interview. The lucky interviewee? None other than four-time Stanley Cup champion Claude Lemieux.

Lemieux has teamed up with researchers are Brock University to help curb the incidence of foot injuries that are seemingly being caused by modern skates. The thinking that lighter is faster, and faster is better might not be true.

Check out The Good Point for the full report.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Us, We and Them: The Psychology of Support

hockey fans
Chris Jones, a writer for and Esquire magazine, recently wrote a piece on sports fans' use of the word "we" when describing their favourite team. As in "Hey, we won last night!" or "I'm really glad we didn't blow that lead last night" or "Man, I'm glad we fired that deadbeat Mike Milbury."

Jones is pretty adamant in his stance on the issue: "Here's the deal: If you don't play for, or you are not an employee of, the team in question, 'we' is not the pronoun you're looking for. 'They' is the word you want." - via

It's a concept that I endorse. It's weird to associate yourself so personally with a team that you have no actual association with other than a one-way emotional bond. You didn't have any influence on the outcome of the game, so you can't say "we".

But it isn't quite so simple. There's actually science behind fans' use of "we".

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Appreciating The Silver Fox

cliff fletcher leafs brian burke
Honestly, I have been really proud of this MSpaint-job I did sometime last year and I've had no idea when I could actually write a Cliff Fletcher post to use it on. To solve that problem I thought it was about time we start appreciating the wonder that was Cliff Fletcher's second time around in Toronto. He did sign Jeff Finger, which is always good for a few laughs, but that's no reason to consider his Toronto redux anything other than a complete success.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Martin Brodeur: One Last Season?

The New Jersey Devils went through a disastrous season last year. They fell flat on their face and didn't put it all together until the new year, when they went on an impressive, but ultimately futile tear to close the season.

For the first time during the regular season the Devils also received sub-par goaltending from the immortal Martin Brodeur. Suddenly, after one season (and a brutal Olympic performance still fresh in everybody's mind), it looked like the game finally caught up to Brodeur.

Brodeur always seemed like the rock of those great Devils teams, and New Jersey continued to play well even after defensive stalwarts like Scott Stevens, Scott Niedermayer, and Brian Rafalski moved on, confirming as much.

So is this the end of the road for Brodeur? Or was last season just a minor bump in the road? Can we except a Roloson-like longevity out of Brodeur?

That's the issue I looked at for this week's article on The Good Point.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Death of the Trolley Tracks

All the talk surrounding Rule 48 is that it's going to eliminate hitting from the NHL. That's a very knee-jerk reaction. More likely, there will be a temporary feeling out period between players and officials to deem what is and isn't legal. Eventually, players should become better hitters, without resorting to walloping each other over the head at every opportunity.

However, in the mean time, what does the rule mean for the big open-ice hitters in the league. Are they going to change their game in reaction to the new rule and how effectively will these players be with the new rule. Certainly, a player like Scott Stevens could never play in this NHL, he'd become a weekly guest star on Shanahan TV.

My post this week at The Good Point is on this very topic and how it relates specifically to Dion Phaneuf. How will the rule change affect Phaneuf's long road back the Norris calibre defenceman he once was in Calgary?

I also hope this is the last post I write on stupid head shots this season.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Word Up: A Leafs Season Preview

mikhail grabovski carlton bear leafs
The NHL season starts on Thursday, which indicates my life is close to regaining meaning.

I'm too excited, there's no time for coherent intros. Let's look at the Leafs' forwards, defence, and goaltending, describing them in one word (and then if you're unsatisfied, many words).

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