Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

FBI Probe Of Danbury Trashers Owner Widens

In A Straight-Edge Limbo

From an article that ran in today's Hartford Courant:

Two Connecticut state troopers have been suspended from regular duty after information surfaced that they provided law enforcement motor vehicle records to a company at the center of a federal investigation of payoffs and mob involvement in the trash-hauling industry, law enforcement and other sources said. In at least one case, sources said, one of the troopers received tickets to a professional football game.

The two troopers are accused of improperly accessing computerized state police motor vehicle records at the request of an employee of Automated Waste Disposal Inc. in Danbury. State police records typically include vehicle registration information and driver law enforcement histories. It is unclear how the information was used.

FBI and IRS agents raided Automated, dozens of other trash-related companies and government offices across Connecticut and suburban New York in July as part of a broad investigation of the regional hauling industry.

Sources, who agreed to discuss the investigation on the condition that they remain anonymous, said the federal investigation of the hauling industry has been active for at least eight months and has involved court authorized wiretaps of multiple telephone lines. The sources said they were unable to say when it is alleged that the troopers provided information to Automated.

During the July raids, teams of agents served subpoenas at more than 60 businesses, private homes and government offices in Connecticut and New York. The sources said federal agents were looking for evidence that mob-controlled trash haulers used threats of violence and payments to government figures to stifle competition.

It has become apparent from investigative activity since that Galante and a business partner, Thomas Milo of Pelham, N.Y., are at the center of the investigation. Galante owns more than 20 trash-related businesses operating in New York state and Connecticut and, through Automated, dominates hauling in western Connecticut. He was linked through Milo in federal court in the middle 1990s to mob efforts to stifle competition in Westchester County, N.Y.

In 1996, Milo was one of seven people charged by federal prosecutors in New York with mob-related racketeering, extortion and tax conspiracy charges in connection with the trash industry in a 61-count indictment. He pleaded guilty to lesser tax-related offenses after reaching a plea agreement with prosecutors. Milo was sentenced to 36 months in prison and fined $3.16 million.

In a separate case three years later, Galante was sentenced to a year and a day in prison and fined $100,000 for assisting in the preparation of false corporate tax returns.

In addition to AWD, Inc., Galante owns the Danbury Trashers of the United Hockey League. During the Trashers' initial season last year, Galante was charged with several offenses related to his operation of the team, including assaulting a UHL linesman last December, and for pushing through renovations of the Danbury Ice Arena without allowing "timely city inspections for building code violations" (the list of code violations was 28 pages long).

In the interest of not being completely negative, since the Trashers are a local Connecticut pro hockey team and thus deserving of your support, here's a video you can watch about purchasing Danbury Trashers season tickets.

Fedor Fedorov rumor mill continues to grind

My Friend, The Pit Chris Rutsch photo

The entire New York Rangers team, led by Jaromir Jagr, joined in the celebration that preceeded Fedor Fedorov's scuffle in a Tampa Bay nightclub, according to an anonymous source in Sport Express:

Two weeks ago, after a game between Tampa Bay and the Rangers, the players on the New York club left to celebrate their victory in a night club, where Rangers forward Fedor Fedorov was beaten. The version that was given in the Florida press of what had occurred was that one of the club's employees attacked Fedorov at the entrance to the club, after which Fedorov, with injuries to his cheekbone and a broken nose, left the club after refusing medical aid and without filing any charges.

Our source in the NHL, which asked to remain anonymous, gave some more details about what had occured. It turns out that it wasn't just a few Rangers players, led by Fedorov, who were on hand to celebrate the victory over the reigning Stanley Cup champions, but rather the entire team. Furthermore, the trip to the club was co-ordinated by a group of Czech players, led by Jaromir Jagr.

The events were as follows: Fedorov left the group of players by himself, and upon exiting the club was suddenly struck a severe blow from behind by one of the visitors to the club (Fedorov's nose was not broken, however). The other Rangers players, being some distance away, were not able to assist Fedorov in the scuffle. No other patrons of the club were involved in the assault, as was reported by the Florida press.

Several days ago a detective in charge of the investigation into the assault was able to locate the person who struck Fedorov, according to our information. In spite of what was reported in the press, he is not an employee of the night club. However, Fedor Fedorov so far has no intentions of continuing this matter, and refuses to comment. The remaining Rangers players have also agreed not to discuss their activities in the night club, except for a few details authorized to be in the press by acting captain Jaromir Jagr. Fedorov is now playing with the Rangers' farm team in Hartford.

Guns For Everyone Sergei Fedorov

In the same edition of Sport Express, Mighty Ducks GM Brian Burke gives an interview in which he denies any personal feelings were involved with him trading Sergei Fedorov to Columbus:

When Sergei Fedorov headed for the free agent market in 2003, Brian Burke, then general manager of the Vancouver Canucks, responded in this manner to a question about acquiring Sergei so that he might join his younger brother on the Canucks: "We already have a Fedorov, and that's one Fedorov too many." SE: So this means, you continue to assert that your dissatisfaction with Fedor Fedorov is in no way connected with your dislike-- Burke: (interrupts) No, no, no, nonsense! SE: This means, there is no personal vendetta? Burke: There can be no argument about this. I have nothing to say about Sergei but kind words. He is a good fellow, and a good hockey player."

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Wolf Pack nip Providence, 2-1

Yesterday's trash, too bored to thrash Chris Rutsch/HWP photo

Goalie Robert Gherson continued to have a hot hand in his third consecutive start this week as the Wolf Pack beat the Providence Bruins at home on Saturday, 2-1. Gherson now has a 1.30 GAA and a .960 save pct in three games for the Wolf Pack since being signed to a try-out contract not even five days ago.

Gherson played a near-perfect game according to the scoreboard (28 for 29 in saves), although he did cause a couple of tense moments in the third period when he started to fight the puck a little and ended up losing control of the puck in the crease a couple of times, with Providence players looming nearby. Gherson made a number of stunning saves throughout the game, though, including a one-in-a-million stop in the second period. With two Bruins bearing down on him from either side, Gherson moved out ever so slightly to challenge the shooter, Jason MacDonald, who instead slid the puck to his right over to where Tyler Redenbach was skating, looking at an open net. Gherson somehow stopped Redenbach's shot with his glove behind him just before the puck crossed the line.

Golden boy Fedor Fedorov didn't put in much of an effort, skating sluggishly most of the night and even losing track of the puck in the defensive zone a couple of times, which almost lead to Providence scoring opportunities. Fedorov did get an assist on Lee Falardeau's game-winning goal, when Falardeau took a backhand shot from a bad angle outside the left face-off dot and somehow Tim Thomas let it through. Even Falardeau seemed suprised after the puck went in.

Alexandre Giroux' 10-game points streak and 5-game goal streak both came to an end. Defenseman Dan Girardi continued with his impressive play; Girardi came into tonight's game at +7 in six games with a goal and 3 assists, plus he can dish out a check as good as anyone on the team.

The night before, the Wolf Pack had lost to the Monarchs in Manchester on a shootout, 2-1, after Fedor Fedorov just missed a game-winning goal in overtime when he hit the post with 18 seconds left. Wolf Pack coach Jim Shoenfeld had a good quote regarding shootouts in this morning's Harford Courant: "An inch either way, and it's happy time. I thought we played a great game, but it comes down to fancy dans and goaltenders. It's too bad."

I got home from the Wolf Pack game early enough to watch the last half of the third period of the New York Rangers game against Ovechkin and the Capitals. FSN was carrying the MSG feed of the game, which almost never happens (just my luck that I moved to a town this year that doesn't have MSG on their cable system). Ovechkin has amazing physical talent, without question. Jagr got called for an illegal stick at the beginning of the overtime period, and while I think it's pretty well understood on both benches which players have a little too much curve in their blades (especially since Jagr used to play for Washington, right?), I think it's also up to the player to switch back to a legal stick during the last minutes of regulation, so something like this doesn't happen.

I've got strange and grandiose ideas, I never know or care what day it is Watch this one, grandpa

The Rangers won the game in a 15-round shootout, when Marek Malik passed the puck back between his skates and then shot it past Kolzig. I have no idea how the big Czech defenseman, who hasn't scored a goal yet this season, pulls a shot like that out of his bag so non-chalantly, in a pressure situation, but he did it. Then Malik gave a little flourish with his hand over his head and with a stoic look on his face, as if it was no big deal. It was pretty funny to watch.

UPDATE 11:56am - The video of Marek Malik's shootout goal is making the rounds this morning on more than a few sites; click here for a .gif file that was on HockeyBird.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Nazarov: "Who said the Cold War was over?"

I'm a bad idea whose time has come

A little more than a month ago I had posted the story of Russian enforcer Andrei Nazarov, who was seeking a trade (possibly to the New York Rangers) after being benched indefinitely by the Minnesota Wild's head coach, Jacques Lemaire. A trade never happened, and at the beginning of November, despite his one-way NHL contract, Nazarov was assigned to the Wild's AHL affiliate in Houston.

At the time, Nazarov wasn't able to pursue the option of returning to Russia to play, as he was still serving a one-year suspension for abusing an official over there. The suspension was lifted about a week after Andrei reported to the Houston Aeros; still, Nazarov remains in Houston, where he has yet to appear in a game after three weeks on their roster.

Recently, the Russian site Sport Express ran an interview with Nazarov, where he was light-hearted as he discussed being in Houston and the AHL. The article bears the heading, "Who Said That The Cold War Was Completed?", and began:

"In the lowest league of North America under the direction of the NHL, is one of the most popular hockey players from Russia, for whom 10 days ago the RHL removed its one-year disqualification. 'Now I am found in Houston, one of the largest and most beautiful metropolises in North America,' Andrei Nazarov began his story. 'Here is the Houston Aeros of the American League, to whom several weeks ago I was sent by their NHL team, the Minnesota Wild.'"

What are your impressions of the hockey in the AHL?
Our club is on a long road trip, and therefore I haven't had the chance to make my debut in the AHL, only to train actively and get into the best shape. If I were to give my observations from the sideline, then the level of the American League seems high to me. It is equal to the third or fourth level of clubs in the NHL. Here is an example: recently, Minnesota recalled Kurtis Foster from Houston, who in his first game in the NHL scored two goals!

Here there is a very interesting rule: each AHL club per game can play only 5 veterans, players who have appeared in no less than 250 games. This is done so that in the league there would be as many young players as possible. In Russia, it is vice versa-- there is no concern for a limitation of veterans, and a quota of three juniors has been introduced.

You already have 250 games, after all.
Yes, therefore it is necessary to overcome that for a place on the team. In Houston, if I am not mistaken, we have have at least seven veterans. It seems that two will have to sit on the bench.

Are there many fights in the AHL?
Sometimes not many, then sometimes a lot! A lot of players who in recent years battled in the NHL now play in the American League. Krzysztof Oliwa, Francis Lessard, Brantt Myhres, Reed Low-- guys like these are playing now in the AHL. It goes without saying, in the NHL they were not elite fighters of Donald Brashear's level or equal to Tie Domi, but nevertheless they are notable players. Alas, in connection with the rule changes in place in the NHL, they are not there now.

Competition among the AHL enforcers is high?
Mad! Just look: in Houston, besides me there are two additional enforcers, Tetarenko and Kinkel, and there is only one place on the team... To go even further, on Minnesota's farm club there are another two players taller than two meters who weigh more than 110 kilograms (about 6'-5" and 240 lbs), and they also battle for one spot. To go down along the system still further, on the junior level, you'll find even at the minimum two fighters. So the fight for survival here goes on from the lowest rung!

However, not all NHL clubs are cut from the same cloth. In Minnesota's system, or for example Anaheim or St. Louis, there is a minimum of six enforcers. But at the same time there are some clubs-- Detroit in particular, where they have another policy entirely-- in their entire system there will be a maximum of one or two policemen.

It is known that in the NHL there is a secret Soviet "boys' code". Is there such a disposition among AHL players?
Here, everything is very simple. I expect that for me as a Russian, who is well known and has played a little in the NHL, the enemy enforcers will challenge me without exception. Probably in the AHL, as it is in other lower leagues, they did not hear that the Cold War between the West and the East is long over. For that, I am ready. And also, as the saying goes, to work on solving problems in the order of their appearance (laughs). (most likely meaning, crossing bridges when he gets there)

Ovechkin: "I signed no contract with Dynamo"

Someone's got a stamp that I can borrow
Alex Ovechkin (in blue) playing for Dynamo against Spartak last season

The basis of Moscow Dynamo's claim for the rights to Alexander Ovechkin seems to be built upon an arbitration decision this past summer in Russia in their favor, granting them the rights to Ovechkin over Avangard Omsk while Ovechkin was still a free agent. Dynamo is now suing Ovechkin, and not the Washington Capitals, trying to force Ovechkin to return to play for Dynamo.

In a discussion that appeared on Sport Express, Ovechkin emphasized the fact that he had never actually signed a deal with Dynamo, that Dynamo had only matched an offer from Avangard in order to keep Omsk from signing him as a free agent, which is when Ovechkin then came over to play with the Capitals:

"When I left for overseas, I did not have a contract with Dynamo. I had an agreement in place with Omsk, but they let me go without a problem. I had signed absolutely nothing with Dynamo, and Dynamo never even conducted negotiations with me. My last contract with Dynamo had elapsed at the end of the past season, and since then I, and I will repeat, I signed nothing and conducted no negotiations."

When asked about Dynamo's chances to win a trial in the U.S., Ovechkin responded:

"What chances are there, when they do not have my signature? My signature exists only in Omsk. But, Avangard cannot have any claims, because in that contract it is clearly stated: I had until July 21 to sign an agreement with Washington, and then I could go quietly to the NHL, which is what I did. In Omsk they let me go and wished me well."

When asked about Dynamo's motivations for the trial, Ovechkin had this to say:

"I think they want to obtain some compensation for me. If Russia had participated in the agreement between the NHL and IIHF, compensation would've been a possibility. Now, though, it is difficult for me to say that Dynamo has rights for something.

"I do not want to imagine if Dynamo's contract was recognized as legal. Certainly there is a saying, never say never, but I do not think I will return to Russia. Personally, at least, I want to play in the NHL."

Mascot Monkey Business

On 'Sprockets', vee dance!

On Tuesday the Connecticut Defenders, the Double-A Eastern League affiliate of the SF Giants, introduced their new mascot, an as-yet-unnamed eagle of some sort. The new mascot is due to be named through yet another "Name The Mascot" contest, and who isn't already tired of those?

Unfortunately, as these things go sometimes, the Defenders' new mascot looks pretty much like Sammy Spirit, the former mascot of the defunct Waterbury Spirit:

The price war starts here

After the Waterbury Spirit closed up shop in 2000, the Sammy Spirit mascot costume was shipped to the New Britain Rock Cats, where it serves as a secondary mascot ("Thunder", or some such crap) to their main mascot, Rocky. (Apparently this isn't anything unusual, as the Defenders own the mascot costume of Rally the Raven, which the Navigators picked up after the New Haven Ravens moved to New Hampshire, though they've hardly ever used it.) It just so happens that the owner of the New Britain Rock Cats, Bill Dowling, wasn't too happy when the Norwich Navigators changed their name to the Connecticut Defenders about a month ago and began calling themselves "Connecticut's hometown team", especially considering that the Rock Cats' attendance in 2005 was about double what the Navigators drew last year.

From a story that ran recently in the Norwich Bulletin:

Rock Cats owner and general manager Bill Dowling told the New Britain Herald he thought the Norwich Navigators changing their name to the Connecticut Defenders was "utterly disrespectful to the Rock Cats, the City of Norwich and to the (Eastern) league."

". . . For a lot of different reasons I'm upset over it, and while I don't think it's going to have any meaningful impact on our fan base or their fan base, I think it's important for our fans to know that we're proud to be Connecticut's number one team. We feel we've earned that right and by merely calling yourself 'Connecticut' doesn't give you any additional support."

I wonder what Bill Dowling is going to think when he finds out that the Defenders and the Rock Cats are both gonna have the same dumb-looking mascot running around in each of their stadiums.

Pack stomp out Rats, 7-2

My latest last chance Fedor Fedorov (Rutsch photo)

The Hartford Wolf Pack (9-6-1-2, 3rd place), who've not been playing very well of late, got the break they needed on Wednesday night as they hosted the New Jersey Devils' farm club, the woeful Albany River Rats (5-12-0-1, last place). Some very solid goaltending by Robert Gherson and physical play by the Pack led to a 7-2 blowout victory before a sparse weeknight crowd of barely more than 3000 (everyone else was probably saving up for the big Ken Gernander bobble head night coming up this Saturday).

Rolling numbers, rock 'n' rolling, got my Kiss records out Get there early

Gherson, who had been in camp with the Wolf Pack during the pre-season, had just signed a try-out contract earlier in the week as the Pack chose to send the struggling Chris "Five-" Holt (© down to Charlotte.

The game didn't start out so well, with the Wolf Pack stuck in their own end for much of the first period and being outshot 12-2 to start the game. Only the excellent netminding of Gherson kept Hartford in the game, and the first period ended all tied at 1-1. The Wolf Pack then scored 4 goals in a span of 3 minutes in the second period as the game quickly turned into a rout.

Ranger fans, as well as some beat writers and web site pundits, have been clamoring for defenseman Thomas Pöck to be brought up to New York, and I can say that his output while in Hartford has hardly been worth mentioning before tonight's game, when he was selected as the #1 star of the game. Pöck rang up 2 goals and an assist against the River Rats, and both goals were great to watch-- the first one coming on a nifty double stick-fake and deke move, the second on a booming slapshot from outside the right face-off circle during the power play. Pöck's assist came on a power play goal by Nigel Dawes, with Pöck again faking a slap shot as he has done before this season, going into a full wind-up, and then passing the puck sideways instead.

Welcome To The Daiso Pöck #22 (Rutsch photo)

Nigel Dawes lead the scoring with a 4-point game (2 goals, 2 assists), and the P.A. guy even brought out Jason Dawe's old theme song, Trio's "Da Da Da"-- you probably know it as the song from the Volkswagen commercials-- to highlight the occasion. In keeping with the "old theme song" theme (I theme seem to be repeating myself), Tony Tuzzulino's former signature tune, "Mambo Italiano", was given to Dan Girardi, who scored his first AHL goal this game and has looked great since being called up from Charlotte a short while ago. Alexandre Giroux extended his point-scoring streak to 9 games with a goal and an assist (Giroux has 9 goals and 4 assists during the streak), and Jeff Taffe added three assists.

There were no less than six fights in this game, including an outbreak of five scuffles practially all at once during a one-minute span of the second period, once the Pack had put the game just about out of reach. The festivities reached a peak after Albany's David "Kelly" Clarkson leveled David Liffiton in an open-ice hit, drawing a 5-minute major for charging. Fedor Fedorov then beat the crap out of Clarkson, though Clarkson did land one good blow after both players lost their footing and fell to the ice. Fedorov not only had 2 assists on the game (giving him 9 points in 7 games with the Pack this year) and was +2, but added 3 minor penalties, a major, and a game misconduct. All told, three players drew game misconduct penalties and were ejected.

Gherson ended up with 48 saves on 50 shots (3 saves shy of the team record set by Al Montoya earlier in the season), and looked brilliant the entire night. The River Rats kept Ari Ahonen in net the whole way, despite the 7 goals. Ahonen was once a top goalie prospect, or so I remember, but his AHL stats this year are just awful-- a 4.05 GAA and .888 sv pct to go with a 2-5 record, and that's before this game is figured in.

Seen your video River Rats- still in the cellar

Hey, that's the second time this year that I've used that Ratt album cover for a joke. Pretty good, eh?

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Dynamo's lawyer speaks

I should've played football in high school

The following was taken from an article that appeared in Sport Express today, regarding Moscow Dynamo's recent claim that they own the rights to Alexander Ovechkin:

Dynamo introduced an action into the Circuit Court of D.C., requesting to keep Alexander Ovechkin from playing for the Washington Capitals. If the case is decided in favor of the Moscow team, it will force either compensation or the return of Ovechkin to Russia. Representing the interests of Dynamo in the "matter of Ovechkin" is well-known sports lawyer Alexander Berkovich. Yesterday, from New York, he answered questions from Sport Express correspondent Pavel Strijevsky.

Mr. Berkovich, first make clear who is the defendant in this case: Ovechkin himself, or the Washington Capitals?
Precisely Ovechkin. His present club, the Washington Capitals, are not formally a party in this matter.

Can you tell us the sum of the compensation being sought by the Moscow club?
The discussion does not deal at all with compensation. Dynamo wants it so that its contracts with its hockey players will be respected in North America. The "matter of Ovechkin" was initiated precisely for this purpose.

In that case, what resolution will satisfy Dynamo?
In order to answer your question, first I must go into more detail in the nuances of jurisprudence. Dynamo matched the conditions of Ovechkin's standard contract with Avangard. In this contract it was clearly stipulated: any differences between the club and the hockey player are to be settled before the arbitration committee of the Russian Hockey League; moreover, this specific committee is the only allowable course of resolution of similar conflicts. When Ovechkin instead of returning to Dynamo flew away to Washington, the Moscow club had no other option except to take this action. And, as it is known, the arbitration committee delivered a verdict in favor of Dynamo, after confirming Dynamo's rights to Ovechkin. Which leads us to the following point. There is an international convention about the observance of the solutions of foreign arbitration tribunals. Both the USA and Russia signed this convention. This means that if you won an arbitration matter abroad, then it can be confirmed also in the States. Federal arbitration legislation makes it possible to turn to the local law court and to make a resolution of the foreign arbitration matter into a resolution of the American law court. In our case, initially the basis of the matter will not be examined, only the fact that everything followed the correct procedures. This is why Washington is not the interested party: the Russian arbitration committe examined the interrelations of Ovechkin and Dynamo. The acting contract with Dynamo, and the means by which it was accorded by the resolution of the arbitration committee, means that the hockey player's appearance for any other club is in breach of the agreement between the player and Dynamo. Since the arbitration of the Russian Hockey League forbids the player to chose in favor of any other teams, we are requesting that the American law court confirm this solution, and forbid Ovechkin from playing for Washington.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Sidney Crosby through the eyes of the Russian media

Lookin' Out Forever

The following article appeared today in Sport Express, and refers to the Nov. 15th game between the Penguins and the Flyers:

...The fans of the Flyers, perhaps, are the least sane group out of all the American teams in the NHL. It is fresh in the memory how one worthy representative of the "City of Brotherly Love" climbed into the Toronto bench in order to fight Maple Leafs forward Tie Domi. Judging by the recent match between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, it may still be possible to place Sidney Crosby as one of the new favorites among the fans of the black and orange. But there is still much for the young Canadian and Rookie-of-the-Year candidate to overcome before that happens.

The game in Philadelphia at first illustrated all of those doubts, but only at first. In the last 20 minutes, Crosby emphatically removed those doubts. The eternal "love" of the local Philadelphia fans might have served to rattle Crosby in the first two periods. After taking a stick end to the lip, the talented youth reacted strongly by shouting at the officials (finally earning an unsportsmanlike penalty), acting out his injury, and losing his composure. It reached a point where every time Crosby touched the puck, it was accompanied by the deafening boos of inhospitable Philadelphians. But nevertheless, Crosby is a true talent. Having the skill to succeed under difficulty is the mark of a star. In the third period Sidney suddenly regained himself, shook his arms, and led the Penguins to victory. He scored a goal, then set up another with a beautiful assist, and sealed the victory with a breakaway goal in overtime.

Comparisons to Alexander Ovechkin at this stage in the career of both players are premature, but judged on his own, Sidney looks powerful, and holds the official endorsement of the press in contrast to Alexander. Perhaps this is due in some part to the influence of Lemieux.

After the Philadelphia match, Sport Express had a talk with the "super-rookie".

For a rookie, there is probably no better way to make your claim than a goal in overtime. Would you agree?
For sure, the main thing is to win. But this is the best way to bring the team a victory. I had just barely jumped onto the ice when I took an outstanding pass from behind the line. Once I entered the zone, I looked to take my shot. It isn't always a good idea to carry the puck in past the circles, because by overtime the ice is very chopped up.

So you were able to exact revenge for being struck by the stick at the beginning of the match.
Anytime something like that happens, it's nice to be able to respond. But to take it upon myself to retaliate for sticks or fights isn't my duty. What is important is to do whatever I can in order for the team to earn two points.

But you still did react to the rough play of the other team, did you not?
Well, yes. The first time I took a stick, the referee didn't react. Then on the following shift, it happened again, and again nothing. This angered me, of course, though I probably shouldn't have yelled at the ref and given the other team the man advantage. My emotions took over, but I hope this won't become a habit.

Apparently, your chances for the "Lady Byng" trophy are finished.
I think so, yes. A long time ago.

Do they frequently try to provoke you by rough tactics?
They try, but I don't know if this is directed at me personally. This is what defensemen do with most forwards who drive the net.

In each game, you are given special attention, from both the press and the rival team. Do you not feel psychological pressure?
I cannot change my game, no matter how much they beat on me during the game. It is necessary for me to play the way that I know how. If I become distracted by any extra tactics from the other team, they gain the advantage, which is exactly what they want. My last two seasons in the junior league, there were also many journalists and rival players on my heels. I've already learned to concentrate on my own game.

Did you feel being the object of the fans in Philadelphia?
Already, yes. Home wins are much more pleasant. On the road, you celebrate only with your teammates. Wins on the road are more important, so it becomes necessary to get used to the schedule.

You are a skilled technical hockey player, yet you knew how to respond to the power game of Philadelphia. You don't have a problem, when it becomes necessary to push back?
I would not say that power hockey does not leave a place for technique. Simply, in this game they angered me, and I knew how to turn my anger into a positive result.

Can you comment on the race for the Calder Trophy? Is it already said that your chief competitor is Alexander Ovechkin?
I am not totally concerned with the battle for this trophy. In any case, we have only played 20 games, so we are very far away from it being awarded. I don't generally pay attention to the comparisons with Ovechkin. What occurs outside of my team doesn't concern me. Everyone says that he is an excellent player, but my main concern is helping Pittsburgh to win games.

(At the bottom of the article, there is a comparison: Crosby, 21 games - Ovechkin, 20. Crosby, 10 goals - Ovechkin, 15. Crosby, 15 assists - Ovechkin, 6. Crosby, 25 points - Ovechkin, 21. Crosby, -6 - Ovechkin, -3, and so forth.)

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Pirates beat Pack, 5-3

Where do you find a turtle with no legs? Wherever you left it last C. Rutsch photo

The Hartford Wolf Pack lost to the first-place Portland Pirates, 5-3, in a late afternoon game played earlier today in Portland. The Wolf Pack outshot the Pirates, 44-34, but the Pirates went 5-for-8 on the power play, scoring all of their goals with the man advantage.

Hartford's Alexandre Giroux extended his points-scoring streak with a goal and an assist, and Jeff Taffe also added a goal (his first with the Wolf Pack) and an assist. Fedor Fedorov, assigned to the Wolf Pack yesterday after clearing waivers, notched an assist and was +1. Fedorov reported to the Pack despite a previous claim by the director of the Russian Super League team, Metallurg Magnitogorsk, that Fedorov would return to play for Metallurg instead of accepting an assignment to the minors.

Meanwhile, Peter Worrell scored a goal for the Charlotte Checkers yesterday, in a 4-3 loss to the Florida Everblades. An article on Worrell was posted earlier today on the ECHL web site.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Alexandre Giroux nets hat trick

I got your point, and it's so dull Chris Rutsch/HWP photo

Not only did the Wolf Pack end their own 4-game losing streak at home on Friday night, beating the Sound Tigers 6-4, they put an end to Bridgeport's 6-game win streak as well. The win also gives the Wolf Pack an early 2-0 advantage in the annual battle for the so-called Geico Cup, which no one has ever actually seen in person before, or even has any idea what the stupid thing is, anyway.

As the score would suggest, it was a very entertaining game, if not very well-played. Jeff Hamilton scored for Bridgeport in his second game since returning back to the States after playing for a little while over in Russia. Hamilton's goal in the second period chased Wolf Pack goalie Chris Holt, who was miserable again; in fact, I can only remember Holt having one decent game all year, although he does have two wins so far, which beats the hell out of me.

Alexandre Giroux, now on a 7-game point-scoring streak, notched a hat trick, of which two of the goals were assisted on by Jeff Taffe, including a shorthanded tally. Bruce Graham scored two goals for the Wolf Pack, his first goals as a pro. Nigel Dawes scored the other goal for Hartford, on a laser of a wrist shot at the end of a nifty breakaway.

Playing Bridgeport used to be a lot more intimidating when they had goons like Graham Belak and Eric Godard on their roster, if not a few players with some actual talent. I mean, their team captain this year is Kevin Colley, who is the practical embodiment of the mediocre career minor leaguer (though I should probably admit that I own a Kevin Colley jersey, if only because he was born in Connecticut and his dad, Tom Colley, had his number retired by the New Haven Nighthawks). And, I don't think the Sound Tigers have a single player on their team this year who can fight, except that they recently signed Jeff State, who fights to stay upright on his skates all the time.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Fedor Fedorov speaks out

The least we can do is wave to each other
Fedor Fedorov (#81) playing for Spartak last year

It's been an interesting past few days for New York Rangers forward Fedor Fedorov. First, he had his nose broken in a fight late last week outside a nightclub in Tampa. Then, he saw his older brother Sergei get traded from Anaheim to Columbus in a suprising move a few days later.

Fedor talked about all of this-- a little bit about the fight, but mostly about his brother's trade-- in an interview that ran yesterday in Sport Express:

Your family has been in a stretch of bad news recently. First, after a game against Tampa Bay, in a night club in Florida, you fell into a ticklish situation. Then several days later, your brother is traded.
Let's talk about the incident in Tampa later. As far as my brother is concerned, I have no doubt that he has handled it well, especially considering that it happened so quickly.

Can you relate the events leading up to the trade back to us?
It wasn't even twenty-four hours before the official declaration of the trade that I first learned from someone who was well-informed and familiar that any minute now a trade would take place. Naturally, I called Sergei. He didn't believe me; he said that everything was normal, and it couldn't be. Nevertheless, later on Tuesday the trade did happen.

So up to the very end Sergei didn't believe it was possible that he would be traded?
I think, yes.

Was the trade a suprise to you?
Quite the opposite-- I figured it would happen. The fact is that Brian Burke is now the general manager of Anaheim. Let me say that Burke himself, in all the years with Vancouver, did not contribute with my development in this stage of my career. It also seems that he has a preconceived notion of players with the name "Fedorov"... (Probably a reference to Burke's "We already have a Fedorov, and that's one Fedorov too many" quote while Burke was in Vancouver)

In a recent Sport Express interview with Burke, he expressed his admiration for Sergei Fedorov and asked not to compare the two of you.
Of course-- this is America. Here they show a happy face to the public and pretend to only say good things about each other.

Will the trade to Columbus prove fortunate to Sergei's career?
I think my brother has already proven himself in his 15 years in the NHL, and he has earned almost every possible award in North American hockey. In general, I am glad that Sergei is with Columbus. There is a contrast to Anaheim in the caliber of their general manager, Doug MacLean. It was with him that my brother began his career in Detroit, when MacLean was an assistant coach. Additionally, it is very important to note that the Columbus head coach is Gerard Gallant, who played alongside Sergei on that same Detroit team. I know from my own experience that it is important to have a complete trust with your coach.

How well did your father (Victor, a well-established hockey coach in Russia) take the news of Sergei's trade?
Certainly he is the man who brought us up, put us on our own two feet, and made us hockey players. He is in agreement with the fact that the trade to Columbus is only for the best.

I can be just as non-competitive as anybody

Now, let's talk about what happened to you last week, after a victory against Tampa Bay. There are rumors flying about, whether you tangled with security guards, or other guests...
The local press fanned it from a fly into an the elephant. Yes, in that evening I was with several teammates, I had only just left. I won't discuss what the disturbance was about, although the incident did occur.

It was written that your nose was broken. How is it now?
It is already fixed.

Were any of your Russian teammates nearby during the course of the incident?
There were none, only Americans. I can't recall their names.

How did your team officials on the Rangers see this?
They have been supportive. Indeed, I acted as well as I could have.

One last question. Why recently have you been placed in reserve on the Rangers? Is your lack of playing time with the team related to the incident in Florida?
No, there is no problem, only that the team right now is playing well and winning just as it is. As you know, you do not change a winning team.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Those Stubby Penguins

Here, I found your stupid bike It's just wrong

Last night at the Harford Wolf Pack - Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins game I saw more stubby jerseys in one place than I had seen in my entire life, except for maybe every other time that the W-B/S Booster Club (a.k.a. The Travelling Wilkes-Barries) have been in Hartford. Since most of the WBSBC members are either about Gordie Howe's age or Eddie Gaedel's height (or both), they buy their jerseys really small-- and what they end up with for their troubles, more often than not, is a silly-looking jersey that barely reaches past their midriff and has sleeves that are longer than the hem.

I got a basketball jones
The W-B/S Booster Club annual softball game

Now, I'd rather not mock* any group of people that spends their entertainment money on hockey tickets and hockey jerseys. There's been plenty of that type of discussion lately (or not), and I'd like to avoid added to the pile. What I would like to do, while it's fresh in my mind (seeing as the Stubby Penguins were just in town yesterday), is gently point out to people that it's a hockey jersey. It would be nice if it looked like a hockey player might be able to wear it. When you wear a hockey jersey like a regular piece of clothing (i.e. without pads underneath), it's supposed to fit oversized, and not end up hanging above your crotchline like a sweatshirt you'd buy at Old Navy. Otherwise, when you put on your jersey, you'll end up looking somewhat like The Grinch...

I got holes in my jeans cuz my knees are too sharp

...and that's not funny!

*at least not in this particular sentence

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Pack lose to Baby Pens, 5-4

Just listen while I'm dissin' cuz you're pissin' me off
Martin "Wooden Indian" Grenier takes a hammering to some fool. Note that Grenier has allowed his hard plastic elbow pad to slide down to his wrist on his throwing arm, an old fighter's trick. That HURTS when it hits. (Chris Rutsch/HWP photo)

In a game that saw no less than 4 fights, way more than I'd seen in all of the other games I've been to this year combined, the Hartford Wolf Pack lost to the nearly undefeated (13-0-1) Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Saturday night, 5-4. Following two shaky efforts from Chris Holt on Wednesday and Friday, Bernd Bruckler put in his second straight start in goal for the Wolf Pack, looking good at times and not so good at others. The Wolf Pack had been on a 6-0-1-1 run before the day Al Montoya broke a finger in practice, and have lost 4 straight games since.

Michel Ouellet game-winning goal for the Pens in the 3rd period came after he stole the puck and carried it down the right side with the Pack's Jeff Taffe remaining a step behind the whole time, seemingly uninterested in making any more of an effort to stop the play. Earlier in the 3rd period Dan Carcillo scored the Penguins' fourth goal when the usually solid Bryce Lampman went down into his shot-blocking stance too soon, allowing Carcillo to skate on past and find an easy path to the net. The Penguins almost added a 6th goal on an empty net, but Colby Armstrong held onto the puck a bit too long, perhaps intentionally, and the buzzer sounded just before the puck slid across the line.

Alexandre Giroux kept his 6-game scoring streak alive, scoring a goal late in the 2nd period which at the time put the Pack up 3-1. Thomas Pöck made a beautiful set-up on Giroux's goal, winding up to fake taking a slap shot and then in the same move directing a pass over to Giroux, who sent home a wrist shot one-timer from one knee, Brett Hull style. Jarkko Immonen scored his 7th goal of the season on another bang-bang play, Jeff Taffe feeding Immonen from behind the net. Dan Girardi added two assists for the Wolf Pack, giving him 3 points in two games to go along with a +4 since being called up from Charlotte to replace the injured Joe Rullier.

Keep all sissy soft suckas off my corner Rutsch photo

Martin Grenier fought the Penguins' 6'-6" David Koci twice in this game, to very little effect each time. The main event was Craig Weller's bout with old man Dennis Bonvie, the AHL's all-time leader in penalty minutes. Weller withstood a flurry of 5 or 6 punches landed by Bonvie, in between throwing two long flurries of his own in winning by a clearcut decision. The fourth fight of the night was a good one, also, as David Liffiton beat up on Dan Carcillo, who appears to be another annoying little punk-ass twerp in the mold of Brendan Walsh, only with a bit more scoring talent.

The referee for tonight's game was NHL ref Kerry "Fonzie" Fraser's son, Ryan Fraser-- all 3'-6", 80 lbs. of him. Ryan appears to be a bit smaller than one of his dad's industrial-sized cans of hair spray. At one point during the game, Ryan stood in front of the black-and-white Advance Auto Parts sign that's along the boards, and nearly disappeared from view.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Dynamo To Be Left Out In The Cold

Too tired to make an effort, can't go out or find a clean shirt

NHL: "Winner of Stanley Cup won't play European Champion, if it's Dynamo"

As had been discussed in an earlier post, the NHL and the International Ice Hockey Federation are tossing around the idea of the Stanley Cup-winning team and the winner of the European Champions Cup meeting in a playoff. It had already been speculated that if the Russian team, Dynamo Moscow, were to win the EC Cup (to be held this January), they would not be allowed to participate in the NHL - IIHL playoff-- a "punishment" resulting from Russia's refusal to ratify the player transfer agreement between the NHL and the IIHL.

A brief interview with Bill Daly, Exec. VP & Chief Legal Officer of the NHL, which appeared earlier today in Sport Express confirmed that speculation:

(from the article) The Vice President of the NHL, Bill Daly, in a conversation with Sport Express, stated that the match between the holder of the Stanley Cup and the winner of the European Champions Cup will not take place if the European tournament is won by the Russian champion, Dynamo Moscow.

Unfortunately, Russia did not sign the agreement between the IIHF and the NHL. But can there still be negotiations about other matters, even without this formal agreement?
Daly: It's only possible now to make an assumption, based on "ifs". If in January one of the countries that signed the agreement with the NHL wins the European Champions Cup, then a possible match between the winning European and NHL teams can be discussed. But if Dynamo Moscow wins the tournament, there won't be any discussions.

Having the NHL team play against the second-place team from Europe isn't a possibility, either. This must be "champion against champion".

What if one assumes that Russia will eventually enter into the NHL - IIHF transfer agreement?

Daly: And when would that be? We are ready to negotiate at any time. Anything else, though, would fall under the same category as "if".

Ah, well-- I guess the Cold War isn't really over.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The New Wolf Pack Away Jerseys Look Hot

Warren the Thief stole our records C. Rutsch photo

That's Chris Holt, above, sporting the new road jersey that the Wolf Pack are wearing this season. Unfortunately, starting goalie Al Montoya broke his ring finger in practice yesterday, and will be out 4 to 6 weeks. That meant that Holt started tonight's game, a 7-4 loss to Portland at home, getting pulled after giving up 4 quick goals and being replaced by our new favorite goalie, Bernd Bruckler. Bruckler had just been brought to Hartford from Charlotte and signed to a PTO contract today, with Montoya being injured.

Dale Purinton, fresh off his first goal of the season, will also be out 4 to 6 weeks, after suffering a ligament sprain in his left knee during the Springfield game this past Sunday.

Hilton blows, can't go to shows Chris Rutsch photo

Just so this post won't be all bad news: last week I checked out for the first time, and it's practically the most hilarious hockey web site I have ever read. Check out Presenting Your 2005 Divealanche ("Joel Quenneville comes to Colorado from St. Louis, where he enjoyed a long and illustrious career as the Detroit Red Wings' bitch"), or the Fan Test ("Why is Scott Parker nicknamed "The Sheriff"? Because he skates as though he's wearing cowboy boots"). There's also a section called Media Homers that profiles some of the Avalanche-related media people, including Barry Melrose, even.

My favorite part, though, is the cartoons.

Join the Coffee Achievers learn it, live it, love it!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Pack stay tied for first

Whatever you do, don't start a band Chris Rutsch/HWP photo

The Hartford Wolf Pack maintained a piece of first place on Sunday, as Colby Genoway's two 3rd-period goals led a 5-3 come-from-behind victory over the Springfield Falcons in a late afternoon contest in Springfield. Defenseman Dale Purinton's empty-net goal in the game's final seconds sealed the Pack victory. The often-maligned Purinton, first demoted to the minors after incurring a 10-game suspension with the Rangers in the pre-season, now has 4 points (1g, 3a) in 7 games for the Wolf Pack.

Nigel Dawes started off the scoring for the Wolf Pack with his 5th goal of the season, while Alexandre Giroux added a short-handed goal and, in an unusual occurrence, goalie Chris Holt was credited with assists on two of the Wolf Pack goals. Daniel Sparre assisted on both of Colby Genoway's goals. Sparre is in his first professional season after leading his junior team, the Halifax Mooseheads, in goals and points last year. Genoway is also in his first full pro season, having signed with the Wolf Pack last spring once his college career had ended. Genoway led the Frozen Four runners-up North Dakota Fighting Sioux in points last year, before seeing action in 4 games with the Pack at the tail end of the '04-'05 season.

Hartford remains tied with the Portland Pirates for first place in the division, and will face the Pirates in Hartford on Wednesday night.

In other news, Hugh Jessiman, sent down from Hartford to Charlotte earlier in the week after posting zero points in 7 games this season with the Wolf Pack, tallied a hat trick in Charlotte's 7-2 victory over the South Carolina Stingrays today. Jessiman was the Rangers' top pick in the 2003 Entry Draft.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Wolf Pack nip P-Bruins, 4-3

She sold her Warlock and bought a drum machine Colby Genoway (C. Rutsch photo)

For a New York Rangers and Hartford Wolf Pack fan, things worked out pretty well today. First, the Rangers held onto first place in their division by beating the arch-rival New Jersey Devils for the second time in three days, on Petr Prucha's shootout tally in an afternoon contest at MSG (Prucha also scored in regulation), and then in the evening the Wolf Pack dispatched the hated Providence Bruins in Hartford, 4-3. The Wolf Pack are now 6-2-1-1 on the season, and are unbeaten in regulation over their last seven games.

The game actually featured a fight early in the first period (imagine that), as Providence's 6'7" Garret Stroshein put a beating on the Wolf Pack's own wooden indian, Martin Grenier, leaving Grenier momentarily face down on the ice in a fairly large pool of his own blood. That was about all that went the P-Bruins' way in the first period, as Hartford held a 17-2 advantage in shots on goal at one point and took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission. The Wolf Pack's second goal came shorthanded on a nifty breakaway by Colby Genoway, as he took off from behind his own blue line and then faked a shot once before snapping a wrister past Providence's goalie, Tim Thomas.

Al Montoya kinda went back to his shaky ways tonight, after a brilliant three-game stretch that began with his 51-save effort against Bridgeport and saw his goals-against average drop to 2.39 from 2.99, and his save percentage improve from .893 to .935. Both of the goals that Montoya gave up in the second period were momentum killers, coming right after heavy offensive pressure by Hartford where it seemed that they were about to score again, then when Providence finally managed to break the pressure and take the puck down the other way, the red light would come on almost instantly.

Hartford took a 4-2 in the third period on a great play by Alexandre Giroux, who skated to the edge of the goal crease and feinted towards the middle, then carried the puck behind the net and scored on a wrap-around, unassisted. The Bruins then pulled to within one again when Eric Healey intercepted a clearing attempt at the goal line and quickly lifted the puck behind Montoya's left shoulder practically before Montoya even knew what had happened, but there was no more scoring after that.

The Wolf Pack gave up two power play goals, after going 30-for-30 on the penalty kill in their previous four games. Nigel Dawes added his 4th goal of the season for Hartford, and Jeff Taffe notched two assists in his home debut as a member of the Wolf Pack.

Always been a Mopar man, always had the upper hand

Tonight was "Scout Night" at the Wolf Pack, meaning there were lots of Boy Scouts in attendance with their creepy-looking Scout leaders, and the Wolf Pack gave out "Pinewood Derby" car kits to everyone at the door, which seemed like a really neat idea at first. They didn't look at all like the one in the above photo, though, instead being just a raw block of wood with some loose wheels and screws and stuff. You're supposed to carve the wood down and sand it and paint it and everything (it is a "kit", after all), but Christ, who else outside of maybe Theo Epstein (who isn't working now, or so I've heard) has the time to do all that?

Friday, November 04, 2005

Fedor Fedorov would return to Russia

Everybody's dressin' funny, color me impressed Fedorov, #81

According to a report that ran earlier today in Sport Express as well as on the Metallurg Magnitogorsk team web site, current New York Rangers forward Fedor Fedorov would likely return to Russia to play for Metallurg if the Rangers were to try to send him down to the AHL.

Metallurg's General Director, Gennady Velichkin, is quoted as saying:

"We will retain our rights to Fedor Fedorov. We have an agreement with the player that if he does not succeed in remaining on the Rangers roster, then he will not leave for the farm club but will instead return to Metallurg."

Metallurg currently sits in first place in the Russian Super League, with a 16-3-3 record.

After Fedorov scored 5 points (1 g, 4 a) in a 5-game tryout with the Hartford Wolf Pack last month, the Rangers signed him as a free agent to a one-way NHL contract, which allows Fedorov to refuse a demotion to the minors. After three games with the Rangers, Fedorov has no points (with only 2 shots on goal) and six penalty minutes, while averaging a bit less than 10 minutes of ice time per game, and it appears that the Rangers' gamble in bringing him to New York will most likely end as a bust. Even beyond the lousy statistics, reports on Fedorov's play while he's been with New York have hardly been glowing, which you can see when you read far enough along this post and this post on the Hockey Rodent web site.

Even the comments posted on the Metallurg web site (at the bottom of the article I linked to above) in response to Fedorov's possible arrival are less than enthusiastic, leading one fan to half-heartedly defend Fedorov this way: "In spite of his human qualities, as a player he's not very bad."

Meanwhile, Josef Balej, the player the Rangers traded to Vancouver for Fedor Fedorov, has 3 goals and 3 assists after 9 games with the Canucks' AHL farm team, the Manitoba Moose.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Demolishing of New Haven Coliseum begins

Let Dick Clark work out the details New Haven Register photo

Earlier this week, work began on the demolition of the New Haven (Ct.) Coliseum, which for three decades was home to several AHL teams, including the New Haven Nighthawks and the Beast of New Haven, as well as the New Haven Knights of the UHL.

The Coliseum was where I went to my first AHL game, which would've been around 1988 to see the New Haven Nighthawks. I remember buying a plastic souvenir Nighthawks hockey stick, which I kept in the back window of my car until the sunlight warped it. I was still going to about five New Haven Knights games each year, from Opening Night in 2000 until the building was shuttered in 2002.

Graham Smith Cries On Cue G. Fox photo

New Haven has a rich 75-year history of pro hockey, and the New Haven Coliseum was a big part of that. It wasn't the prettiest arena in the world-- there were huge concrete pillars at the corners instead of seats and immense, drab-looking ductwork everywhere you looked, plus the first row of seats at one end of the ice was practically above the glass, about 8 feet in the air. The box office was outside (which sucked when you had to wait in line during the winter), the escalator to the parking garage upstairs almost never worked, and the parking garage with its single corkscrew-shaped exit ramp was usually a bitch to get out of.

Old Leon may not know much, but he knows he could kick your ass New Haven Knights

Still, the building wasn't without some charm, and New Haven hockey fans are some of the proudest, fiercest, and rowdiest fans you'll find anywhere. It stinks that there isn't an AHL team in New Haven, but that might have as much to do with the current economics of the AHL-- which has teams increasingly being placed in larger markets while abandoning the smaller cities like those in Quebec and the Maritime Provinces-- as it does with the loss of the New Haven Coliseum.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

P.J. Stock, Mild-Mannered Reporter

Got Kinda Lost

When I sat down to watch the Blackhawks - Red Wings game on TV tonight, I was mildly amused to see that former New York Ranger P.J. Stock, a member of the Hartford Wolf Pack's Calder Cup-winning team in 2000, is now an in-studio analyst for OLN's NHL broadcasts.

Stock had been forced to retire this season because of injuries, and apparently decided to try his hand at announcing a couple of months ago. I wasn't able to take a picture of the TV screen while Stock was on camera, like the guy from does whenever his face is on the tube, so you'll have to settle for this photo of P.J. beating up Kelly Buchberger instead:

Hey, Pretty Boy... so smooth

As for P.J. Stock the announcer, I can't say he's any better or worse than any other former athlete who's now on television. Bill Clement was given one of the worst throw-to lines when introducing Stock, however: "Looks like the Maple Leafs will have to take stock in some of their players... and here with more on that is our own Stock, P.J. Stock", or something like that. I couldn't tell if what I heard right after that were groans coming from the rest of the people in the studio, or the noises that Keith Jones' chair makes due to the weight of his tremendously large head.

Blackhawks' head coach Trent Yawney was interviewed during the second intermission, which made me feel tired for some reason.