Friday, September 30, 2011

Puck Life

Since last February, I have been writing a fantasy hockey column for a digital magazine called Puck Life that comes out once every couple of months. However, for their latest edition, they have pulled out all the stops, killed some trees, and gone to a hard-copy format.

This month's edition, with the Vancouver Canucks' Ryan Kesler on the front page, is being sold in Chapters all across Canada!

You should definitely check it out. My fantasy column is but a humble piece of the magazine, the majority of which is filled with excellent profile pieces on some of the top players and prospects in hockey. There's an article on Mad Men's Jon Hamm in this issue as well! He's a big Blues fan. I know you think he's dreamy, so what are you waiting for?

As always, I just want to thank everyone who has stopped by and shown an interest in my writing. I truly appreciate your support and hope to continue writing quality pieces in the future.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Viktor Stalberg Effect

So far this preseason, the Leafs are 3-3, good enough for fifth best in the Eastern Conference. Although this is a little disingenuous as they have played more games than anyone, except for Montreal and Ottawa, who have a combined three wins between them.

But, really, it doesn't matter at all. Tons of people get so worked up over the preseason and how well their team is doing when it doesn't matter. These games are pretty pointless.

Some people would agree, but argue that individual efforts are worth considering.

All I have to say to that is Viktor Stalberg! Viktor. Stalberg.

My latest post for The Good Point examines just how pointless these September games are, for both individuals and teams. The take home message: relax, there's plenty of time for you to push the panic button during the first week of the regular season, you don't have to get worried before the season actually begins.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Non-Dilemma

jake gardiner leafs marlies
The Leafs have themselves a problem. It's a nice problem, admittedly, but a problem nonetheless. They have too many defencemen. More importantly, one of those defencemen, Jake Gardiner, not seen as a serious contender to make the team before camp, is playing better than most of the players above him on the depth chart.

The Leafs must get Jake Gardiner in their line-up. He's so talented that his inclusion alone will propel the Leafs out of their playoffless hell. Brian Burke needs to do it by any means necessary: trade, demotion, kidnapping Mike Komisarek.

Or they should ignore the irrational cries of their fan-base and do what's best for their prospects and, more importantly, their organization.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Introducing the New Leafs: 2011

cody franson leafs
Today we have a guest post from my good friend Ted Rigby, who has previously lent his knowledge of all things moustachioed. We also intended to write together for the ill-fated John Olerud's Helmet, a baseball blog that died a fiery death.

Here is an introduction to the Leafs' newest acquisitions.    

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Leafs and Habs: Rediscovering the Rivalry

I could have become a Habs fan. A startling admission, I know.

My family is originally from Montreal and is full of die-hard Habs fans. But, for some reason, when my Dad was a kid he took no interest in le blue, blanc, et rouge (check out that awesome French I just pulled out). In fact, he was adamantly anti-Habs. Instead of cheering for the home town team who consistently won championships, my father decided to root for the Boston Bruins, the team that was consistently broken by the Habs.

Eventually, my Mother and Father moved to Toronto. The romantic in me likes to believe they moved to escape the oppressive Habs culture dominating their lives. This is unconfirmed.

It isn't hard to imagine if my Dad grew up a Habs fan he would have brainwashed me into the same cult when we were living in Toronto. Thankfully, he wasn't a Habs fan and didn't even attempt to brainwash me to become a Bruins fan.

So I merrily became a Leafs fan, aided by Doug Gilmour, Wendel Clark, Felix Potvin, and that upstart 1992-1993 team. I had a VHS copy of The Passion Returns that I taped off TV that I watched relentlessly. I usually stopped it before game 7 against the Kings.

This week for The Good Point I wrote about the state of the rivalry between the Leafs and the Habs. The family we still have living in Montreal are as Habs-centric as always, making family get-togethers full of good-natured ribbing. It's definitely more fun when the Leafs are doing well and I can do a little gloating (those being all but a distant memory now). The rivalry is alive to me. But is that still the general feeling around the league?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Can't Fight This Feeling

james reimer lupul leafs
I am fighting an opponent I can't win against: my heart.

Those are the words of the incomparable Jose Canseco. Of course, he spelt opponent 'apponent', but his words still carry meaning. 

Those words might as well describe my feelings towards the Maple Leafs. No matter what they put me through, they still grab hold of my heart and refuse to let go.

This off-season the Leafs have made changes to their line-up once again, and just like some idiot that never learns, I’m drinking the Kool-Aid. The heart is a powerful thing. Consequently, I’m convinced this season is different from all the others! Hmm, that sounds eerily familiar.

But I’m not such an idiot that I think this team is the 1976 Montreal Canadiens reincarnated (that reference hurt). There are reasons to seriously doubt the Leafs and I acknowledge them (and hate them).

With the season gearing up, here are five reasons to be optimistic, five reasons to be pessimistic, and five reasons to be realistic about the upcoming season.

Friday, September 16, 2011

By Divine Right: Why Leafs Nation Wants all the UFAs

john tavares islanders leafs
John Tavares' new six-year deal with the Islanders solidifies a major piece of their future and affirms his desire to stay on Long Island and build a winner that will make the Islanders' legacy proud.

But Tavares' deal also represents something else. Something far less rational. Tavares' commitment to the Islanders represents a betrayal; a betrayal to the team he grew up rooting for, the Toronto Maple Leafs. Well, at least that's what a certain delusional faction of Leafs Nation will have you believe. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Rebuilding the City of Champions

The Oilers are a team on the rise. They have Taylor Hall – who looks deadly, but sort of skates like he’s slack-jawed – and Captain Clutch, Jordan Eberle, which could become a pretty fearsome 1-2 punch in the near future. They also could have the ‘Nuge, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, but he’s about as heavy as a fart in a strong wind at this point, so he might not be making the team this season.

If the Oilers can only get some goaltending maybe they can make their big first step towards respectability this season. But if for some reason they have to actually play Nikolai Khabibulin more than 30 games this season they are headed straight for another 1st overall pick. Khabs is terrible. He can’t stop anything. It's amazing he stopped his car during that police check...

Check out The Good Point for my latest article looking at what's in store for the Oilers this season and beyond.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

2011 Fantasy Hockey Team Names

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Last year I compiled a pretty comprehensive list of all sorts of fantasy hockey team names I've found over the years in various leagues, message boards, and random surfing on the web. My friend Mike added a bunch of gems he came up with as well. You can find last year's list here.

But, as you can imagine, a year is a long time to scour the internet and rack your brain for other clever (and stupid) things to name your fantasy team. Sure, that year could have been better spent doing a lot of other things, but I'm here to help you make your friends laugh, so I've amassed another set of names to help you.

Because, as always, no one should feel the shame of a lame fantasy hockey team name. You might not have the best roster, and you might finish in last, but at least you'll get a few laughs. And, ultimately, isn't that what fantasy sports are about?

No? They're about money? Okay, well read my post about sleepers then.

For the rest of you, onto the names!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

2011-2012 Fantasy Hockey Sleepers

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Last year I waited until closer to the start of the season to post my fantasy sleepers in the vain attempt to do better in my league, but this year I’ve decided to share my knowledge with ample time before the season begins. I’m a giver.

I will make one disclaimer: the term sleeper is relative. If you’re in a pool with a bunch of fans from one team then those players instantly become overrated. That doesn’t mean you still can’t get them and they won’t be productive, but it means other people will be reaching for those players as well, so they probably won’t really fit the true definition of a sleeper.

I have one more piece of advice: don’t doubt yourself. In one of my pools last year I was planning on taking Carey Price. My thinking was that he was actually pretty decent in the previous season (despite the hate) and with Alex Auld as the backup he was going to play a ton. Anyway, he was hanging around pretty late (everyone already had at least a goalie, some had two), and I was ready to pounce. The only problem was I was in a league with Montreal fans and I began to worry why they were leaving him. Did they know something I didn’t? Was he back in the party scene? If emotionally invested Habs fans didn’t want him, why should I? Well, I didn’t take him and he turned out into a Vezina quality goalie. Trust yourself.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

JVR: The Market Matters

More than a few eyebrows were raised when the Flyers signed James van Riemsdyk to a 6-year deal worth $4.25 million per season. That sure seemed like a whole lot for someone who hasn't really done much in his career.

The deal has also emboldened some other restricted free agents, notably Kyle Turris. Sources told ESPN that Turris is now looking for a deal worth $4 million a season. Um, good luck with that, buddy. James van Riemsdyk has at least proved he's a quality NHL calibre player; Kyle Turris hasn't even come close to proving that.

My latest post at The Good Point tackles the JVR extension and argues that it's actually a lot more reasonable than people initially think. Sure, the Flyers are taking a risk. But they took the same risk with Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, and Claude Giroux, and those all worked out pretty well.

One final note: I have been named The Good Point's hockey columnist, which means I will have a weekly column that looks at some of the major issues in the NHL during a given week. The column will be published every Thursday, so set your clocks accordingly.

Once again, thanks for reading and supporting my writing.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Warrior's Cry

wade belak death
This was the hardest post I’ve ever written. I can barely comprehend what happened, so how can I write about it? I can’t write anything that comes close to explaining what happened, and, ultimately, no words can. Instead, I wrote about my memories of Wade and what this all means for the NHL, from that point the words just started to come out. It is my humble submission and my inadequate attempt to answer one question: why?
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