Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Ready To Fight

I'd give my right arm to be ambidextrous

It seems the long-awaited "Hockey Gladiators" or "Hockey Enforcers" contest finally got off the ground last weekend, playing in Canada after a few failed attempts to license the event in the US. None of the participants would've been recognizable to the casual NHL fan, and none were even active players in any sort of legitimate affiliated pro hockey league, save for maybe Jason Bone (recipient of the infamous "You! Suck! Bone!" chant from New Haven's Section 14 fans when he played for Adirondack of the UHL). The prize money was legitimate, though: the winner of the event, Dean Mayrand, took home a hefty $62,000; the second place guy got $25,000.

I like hockey fights almost as much as anyone, and a lot of my favorite players are the ones who can drop the gloves when it's time. Hockey fights are exciting to me mostly because they punctuate the storyline of a game; either starting as a reaction to an incident that happened on the ice, or flaring up during a crucial part of a game as a means to get the team and the crowd going and cause a change in the game's momentum. Stripped of any context, though, which the "Hockey Enforcer" fights were, and they become pretty much irrelevant.

It wasn't even just that; the "Hockey Enforcer" combatants wore helmets and gloves, and the fights were stopped if a helmet fell off, which isn't how real hockey fights go anyway. About the only good thing I can say for the event is that they ripped off the lyrics to Underdog's "Say It To My Face" for one of the graphics on their website. Old School!

Radiation has made me an enemy of civilization
"...say it to my face!"

Kovalchuk signs with Khimik

Ilya Kovalchuk

(From kovy.ru) "There is as yet no progress in my talks with Atlanta. It is already common news that the New York Rangers allegedly want to propose to me a contract, but these are only rumors-- why comment on them? In the meantime, I've signed an insurance contract with Khimik. On Monday I will already be training with the team in Voskresensk."

Monday, August 29, 2005

If I'd known it was them, I'd have thrown it away a lot sooner

Depeche Mode, Morissette Using Aliases to Fool Pirates and Thieves

(contactmusic.com) August 29, 2005 - Sir Paul McCartney, Faith Hill, Alanis Morissette and Depeche Mode are among the huge acts using aliases in a bid to make sure their new albums get to critics at newspapers and magazines. Music industry bigwigs fear the bigger stars' preview albums are being swiped by interns and pirated weeks before their release dates.


I can be just as non-competitive as anybody Not to mention the intervention

So, McCartney's upcoming album has been credited to Pete Mitchell, while Hill, Morissette and Depeche Mode are sending out their albums as Fern Holloway, Arthur Moore and Black Swarm respectively, according to the Los Angeles Times. But the publicists admit their alias plan is far from flawless - some critics, who are inundated with albums to review, give unknown artists' albums away or discard them.

Geffen Records publicist Jim Merlis explains, "You can actually out-clever yourself in these situations."


As if there wasn't a good reason to throw away a Faith Hill CD before.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

The Peterborough Patriots vs. the Charlestown Chiefs-- brought to you by Sheehan's Rustproofing

I laid my head down, and now my wallet's gone Good luck with the NCAA, pal

Yesterday afternoon, before heading out to New Britain Stadium to see the Rock Cats beat Norwich, I was watching an actual "live" hockey game through a link provided by europeanhockey.net, as HKm Zvolen beat the Frolunda Indians 2-0 in the final game of some tournament over in Europe. The Frolunda Indians, from Goteborg, Sweden, had NHL'er Tommy Salo in net; I couldn't tell who any of the HKm Zvolen players were, but last season they had Michal Handzus and Richard Zednick on their team, when they made it to the finals of the Slovakian "ExtraLiga" hockey league. I guess there's nothing quite like watching a hockey game in August between a Swedish team and a Slovakian team with French announcers.

At one point during the game the trim at the bottom of the rink boards came loose, and a guy wearing shorts and white lab coat carrying a cordless screwdriver had to come out and fix it. I'm sure his bare knees were in pain after kneeling on the ice for the literally 5 minutes or so that it took to make the repairs. There was an award ceremony after the game, and a bunch of the players were given bottles of wine; one of the players (I think he was from the third-place Italian team) promptly dropped his bottle onto the ice, smashing the bottle to pieces all over the place and leaving a huge pink stain. I bet they don't invite the Italians to play ever again.

Rock Cats' streak ends at 6

Went down with like 14 bucks and woke up with like 16 grand, went down with some crust punk junk and woke up with a straight edge band

New Britain dropped a rain-delayed, 4-2 decision to Norwich this afternoon, after a ninth-inning rally came up short. The Rock Cats scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth and had two runners on with only one out when Alex Romero grounded into a double play to end the ballgame. New Britain, who had moved to within 2 games of second-place Trenton after beating Norwich on Saturday night, now drop to 3 games back as they embark on a 7-game road trip to Akron (8/30-9/1) and Binghamton (9/2-9/5) to close out the regular season. The Eastern League playoffs start on September 7th.

New Britain's Alex Romero and Norwich's Dan Ortmeier were selected to the Eastern League's post-season All-Star squad; you can go to easternleague.com if you want to see the rest of the players that were selected, though with the EL's normal way of doing things, it'll only be up on their web site for about a week. That's Ortmeier above, wearing one of Norwich's "Dead Day" jerseys (though "Drop Dead Ugly" seems more appropriate). Romero also finished second in the voting for the Eastern League's Rookie of the Year, won by Reading Phillies outfielder Chris Roberson.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Rick Ankiel, anyone?

Try this one, grandpa

Jason Neighborgall's pitching stats so far this year with the Missoula Osprey, the Arizona Diamondbacks' affiliate in the rookie-level Pioneer League:

16-1/3 IP, 15 H, 17 Ks, 35 walks, 16 wild pitches

The report on the 6-5, 205 Neighborgall is that he has "an upper-90s fastball and a 12-to-6 power curveball as a second plus pitch", which is why the Diamondbacks took a chance and used a 3rd round pick to get him in this year's draft, even though he had problems with wildness even when he pitched at Georgia Tech.

Meanwhile, the St. Louis Cardinals' Rick Ankiel is attempting a comeback in the minors as an outfielder, almost 5 years after his control deserted him and he could barely find the backstop, let alone the plate. Ankiel's numbers as an outfielder between Single-A and Double-A this year: 76 games, .254, 16 HRs, 63 RBI.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Hartford Wolf Pack unveil sucky new slogan

Bread: The Edible Napkin What a pile of crap, eh?

I'm picturing all of the marketing people going out to dinner together to develop the new slogan, and not being able to come up with anything. By the end of the night, they all end up at an adult video store, and one of them says, "Fuck it! Let's just steal the slogan from this place! Who's gonna know?" Either that, or they drove past a PJ O'Pootertoots.

So far, there hasn't been an official press release or announcement to introduce the new slogan; it just all of a sudden popped up on the Wolf Pack web site this afternoon. I presume there's going to be a theme song to go along with it, because that's how those marketing geniuses get us to come back year after year. The year after they won the Calder Cup the slogan was "Take Us Higher", accompanied by that annoying Creed song. Another year it was "Right Here, Right Now" to the tune of Van Hagar's "Right Now"; then the following year's slogan was paired with Bon Jovi's "Raise Your Hands". Wait, don't put your coat on to run out and buy your tickets just yet-- it gets even better! Last year's slogan was "These Are The Moments". Ooooooo, cheesy.

'Do you have any artificial plates or limbs?' 'Er, not really.' Paul Lukas is now pissing himself

That was horrid enough by itself, until I found out that "These Are The Moments" was a song by some dipshit band, The Calling (try to imagine an even more boring Switchfoot, only without hanging yourself), meaning they would be playing this song at every home game all season. Eventually the guy in charge of pushing the "play" button in the control room out of sheer agony slashed his wrists, so they switched to some friggin' U2 song ("Elevation" or "Vertigo" or one of the two dozen other U2 songs that sound just like them)... although they kept the highlight video the same. The video would be cued up to flash "These.. Are.. The.. Moments.." during the chorus of the song, only U2 would be playing over the speakers. So, it was kinda like one of those "we're a touring band" videos that dopes like Motley Crue and Jimmy Eat World put together when they've run out of ideas-- just random footage of the singer talking on the phone or the drummer twirling his sticks, having no relation to the song whatsoever. Actually, it wasn't at all like that, I just made that up.

Steve Valiquette pitching shutouts in Russia

Heavy Metal Country An annoying electrician: Dick Wattage

Former Wolf Pack goalie Steve Valiquette is playing in the Russian Super League this season, for Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. Although not against the best competition yet from what I can figure, Valiquette has three shutouts in his last four pre-season games (the Russian regular season starts Sept. 7th). Yesterday, he shutout Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk, 2-0, though in the game re-cap it says that Neftekhimik ("Petrochemist") was resting some key players for a pre-season tournament. Valiquette also posted shutouts in two games that Lokomotiv played in Switzerland, against two teams that I'm not familiar with: 4-0 against the Nuremberg Ice Tigers, who're probably German, and 8-0 against HC Turgay (not quite sure about the name-- they're probably Swiss). While in Switzerland, Valiquette was also the goalie in a 3-2 win over HC Davos; about a week later (Aug 23rd) Davos signed Shane Willis, who played in the AHL and the NHL with the New Haven Beast and the Carolina Hurricane, and was with the Springfield Falcons last year.

(Note: this article was originally a part of another post, until I moved it here)

Malkin's reasons for staying

Man who burns money at the Mint: Jack Ash

Originally this was part of the comment string on the "Ilya Kovalchuk situation" post, but I decided it would be worthwhile to take that information out and make its own post out of it. The quotes are from interviews with sport-express.ru, taken from the Russian Hockey Digest web site:

8/24/05 - Comments by Gennady Velichkin, the GM of Malkin's Russian Super League team, Metallurg Magnitogorsk: "From the very beginning we agreed to make a decision constructively without any external affects. We worked with Evgeni and his parents in all directions. Our head coach Dave King talked to him, his teammates and I talked to him, as well. Of course, Evgeni will go to the NHL, eventually. He’s one of the best young Russian players. But, in my opinion, Malkin is not mature enough in order to become a star in the NHL; it’s a little early for Malkin to go. Also, he needs to work on his English, as well. But the most important, he should return debts to his parents that brought him up, the club that made him a hockey player and spent much power and resources. He should help Magnitogorsk to win the Championship. This coming season we have the real chance to fight for the golden medals. Besides, we build the second line around him... Malkin has a contract with us until 2008. Yes, he may leave earlier than that, but he shouldn’t forget that he has such a team, as Metallurg, that can fight for him with any competitor. This fight would follow all possible civilized rules. No one is going to hinder Malkin to leave. Even this year no one prohibited him to go. If he’d bought an airplane ticket to America, than who would stop him? We made an effort to keep the player for Russian fans, especially, Magnitogorsk."

Update 8/26/05 - Comments from Evgeni Malkin: "After the last season Metallurg saved many great players and added the new ones to them. The lineup looks younger now. After the Canadian coach came we should increase in our speed and toughness. Possibly, this Metallurg is weaker than the one in late nineties, but we have an excellent chance to win the gold... I was ready to compete with Alexander (Ovechkin) and Sidney (Crosby) for the Calder Trophy (the NHL's Rookie of the Year). But my agents told me that it’d be easier to win the trophy in a year... My dream, as any other player, is to participate in Olympics. I think, it’d be harder to get in the Olympic national team from the NHL than from Russia, where the coaches watch the players all the time. I hope Pittsburgh will respect and understand my decision. I already made a decision, so we’ll come back to this conversation in a year."

I think one of the more telling quotes is from the Mettalurg GM: "He should return debts to his parents that brought him up, the club that made him a hockey player and spent much power and resources." It's only fair that the Russian teams have a chance to keep home-grown players that they've developed and trained in team-affiliated hockey schools since they were in their early teens, and not have to watch their top prospects getting plucked by the NHL before their pro career has really even started for what amounts to next to nothing in return.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

More on the Ilya Kovalchuk situation

Pass the dust, I think I'm Bowie

Last night on the Ilya Kovalchuk web site, www.kovy.ru, a post was added mentioning the Dany Heatley trade to Ottawa, and a discussion of Kovalchuk's ongoing contract negotiations with the Russian team, Khimik Voskresensk: "As reported yesterday in Soviet Sport, Ilya Kovalchuk and his agent conducted negotiations with Khimik late into Monday night, but so far Kovalchuk has not signed a contract with the Moscow club. Certainly, Khimik will not be able give equal money with Atlanta, who has the rights to Ilya overseas: the market price of Kovalchuk in the NHL is not less than $6-$6.5 million per year. But, not everything is based on money. Plusses for Ilya would be playing near Moscow, and that taxes in Russia are lower. The main thing is that with Khimik, most probably there will be a concluded insurance contract. If Atlanta does not make a worthy proposal to Ilya, he will begin the season in the Super League."

I'm guessing that "concluded insurance" means "guaranteed", but I'm not exactly sure, because I believe that contracts in the NHL are also guaranteed once the season starts anyway. I think that Atlanta has about $8 million in cap room left to sign Kovalchuk and finish whatever other deals they're still working on, though that number could be higher or lower depending upon how the contracts of players like Marian Hossa are structured.

The story about Bettman forbidding NHL teams from signing Russian players doesn't seem to be getting much legs here in the States, other than a pretty comprehensive mention on the Hockey Rodent web site (way better than my crummy translation from a day or so ago, that's for sure). There's been some strong reaction on the Russian news sites, however. A story on Soviet Sport, headlined "Russians aren't necessary to the NHL?", shows that the Russian clubs are appreciative of the NHL and Bettman acknowledging that Russian teams have legitimate contracts with their players, while also being very worried that this could lead to a huge legal mess as countless Russian players try to get out their contracts in order to be able to go overseas, by claiming that they signed their contracts under pressure or by using other loopholes.

(8/24, 9:50pm)Update: More comments from Kovalchuk have been added to the web site, from an interview with Soviet Sport.

About the Dany Heatley trade: "I cannot believe that Heatley was traded. There was information that Dany himself requested the trade... We played together for three years, we almost became like relatives. Heatley was one of the brightest forwards in the NHL. It's a pity that he's left. I am left without a friend, to be together with as a team, to play as a unit, to sit next to in the locker room... life goes on. As far as I know, Heatley signed a 3-year deal with Ottawa, and after that, Dany will be an unlimited free agent. Perhaps then we will play again on the same team."

About staying to play in Russia: "I am ready to start training in Voskresensk. It is very possible that within a day I will sign a contract with Khimik, but it will be without obligation, so that if my contract situation overseas is resolved I can still return to America. I may play in Russia at least until October 6th, when the season begins in the NHL. If it is necessary to play in Russia the entire season, it is possible that I will switch teams in the Super League, or continue to play for Khimik. I can only speak in general, and not speak specifically."

Rock Cats 2-1/2 back with 2 weeks to go

Tell the kids the cops are here Matt Yeatman

The Rock Cats pulled out a 2-1 extra-inning victory over the Reading Phillies yesterday, on Felix Molina's single to score Alex Romero in the 11th. New Britain is now 2-1/2 games out of a playoff spot with 12 games left to play, though it'll be a bit of a trick for them to catch second-place Trenton because they'll have to pass New Hampshire in the standings in order to do it. The Rock Cats have been getting some really good outings from their pitching staff lately, including beating Reading 10-0 the night before, with Matt Yeatman and Kevin Cameron combining on a 4-hit shutout. On Saturday, Pat Neshek picked up his 22nd save in a 2-1 win over Bowie and Matt Bailie (Bailie had pitched a no-hitter in his previous start), and going back to last Thursday there was Levale Speigner throwing a 2-hit, 1-0 shutout against Erie.

New Britain can break their season attendance record for the 6th straight year as long as they draw a crowd of somewhat more than 2000 fans tonight, which is a given. The Rock Cats have five more home games left including tonight's game.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Here comes irregular

Sports teams that you might not already know about

To me, the sports teams that people end up rooting for is a fairly clear exercise in geography. If you grew up in northern New England, you were a Red Sox and Celtics fan. If you grew up in southwestern Connecticut, you were a Yankees fan and a Giants fan. If you grew up in Cleveland, well, you were fucked no matter what.

However, there always seems to be the mass of "bandwagon" fans who start to root for a team for no other reason than that team had just won a championship. Witness the sudden outbreak of St. Louis Rams fans after Kurt Warner led them to the Super Bowl in 2000 and 2002, or the hundreds of jerk-offs wearing San Francisco 49ers jackets who would pop up every winter on the frickin' East Coast during the late '80s to mid-'90s.

What follows are the actual team logos from real teams, taken from logoserver.com. To separate yourself from the rest of the rabble, start rooting for these teams now, before the bandwagoners can catch wind of them:

Welcome to Denny's Culiacan Tomato Growers, Mexico (baseball)

Please Stop Blaming All Of Your Personal Problems On Films Nippon Ham Fighters, Japan (baseball)

The phone never rings, my life is a drag, I'm into punk rock and I throw like a fag Flamboro Mott's Clamatos, OHA (hockey)

I fall asleep while standing and I lie awake in bed, I got those screamin' demon Martians ridin' go-karts in my head Trail Smoke Eaters, BCHL (hockey)

If you got the rubber, sister, I got the plastic, I dance how I look and I look fantastic Augusta Missing Links, GBA (basketball)

Six feet of twisted steel and sex appeal Lewiston MAINEiacs, QMJHL (hockey)

I feel I lost all feeling and I sense I lost sensation but my family doctor told me that it's just my generation Detroit Belle Tire Lightning, CEHL (hockey)

NHL suspends signing of Russian players

Where can you find a turtle with no legs? Wherever you left it last

The Russian web site sport-express.ru has posted an article stating that an edict has been issued by Gary Bettman, instructing that NHL clubs are "not to take any Russian players who have acting contracts." Not knowing exactly which players are under contract to any Russian clubs, I can't say if this affects any crucial players, or for how long. Presumably a clearer version of this announcement will be on TSN.ca soon.

(sport-express.ru) Aug 23, 2005 - The Commissioner of the NHL, Gary Bettman, has directed all clubs in the league an instruction not to take any Russian hockey players who have acting contracts. Because of the non-participation of Russian side in the agreement between the NHL and IIHF about just compensation and the means of maintaining players, naturally, there can be no discussions. It is also forbidden to conduct any negotiations with the Russian clubs about the acquisition of any players, i.e., no one can conduct the discussion about the purchasing or trading of any contract. At the same time, Commissioner Bettman does not exclude the possibility of the fact that Russia nevertheless will enter the IIHF agreement.

Saddam Hussein Offers Up Soul

AMMAN (AP) August 21, 2005 - Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has said in a letter he would sacrifice himself for Arab nationalism and to end foreign occupation.

“I (offer) my soul and very existence to the Arab cause and liberation of our homeland from foreign liberation,” the former Iraqi leader said in the undated letter that was heavily censored by the U.S. military which holds him on behalf of the Iraqi government.


Just in case, the Foreign Services and Trading Exchange has set the value of Saddam Hussein's soul at 115 IQD (Iraqi Dinar), or about 8 cents US. So far there has yet to be any takers, though several days of passing the hat amongst the people of Iraq has lead to a counter offer of 20 IQD (roughly, one US penny) for Saddam to promise never to be photographed walking around in his underwear again.

Datsyuk, Kovalchuk playing in Russia for now

Pavel Datsyuk Datsyuk vs. Finland in 2002 Olympics

Currently not under contract to either of their NHL clubs, Pavel Datsyuk and Ilya Kovalchuk are moving forward with their plans to play in Russia while their contract negotiations with Detroit and Atlanta, respectively, are on-going.

A report from Sport Express (translated on the Russian Hockey Digest web site) says that Ilya Kovalchuk's agent is meeting today (Monday) to arrange for Kovalchuk to join Khimik Voskresensk of the Russian Super League in the upcoming Spartak's Cup (which starts tomorrow).

Meanwhile, Datsyuk is already playing with Dynamo Moscow (last season's Super League champions), scoring a goal in a 6-2 Dynamo victory over Karpat in a pre-season tournament played in Finland this weekend. Datsyuk spoke about his ongoing negotiations with the Red Wings in an interview with Soviet Sport (translation from Russian Hockey Digest).

Saturday, August 20, 2005

IIHF: "All hockey players will be allowed to go to Torino"

Throw me down the stairs my cigarettes, eh Throw me off the roof my framing hammer, eh

When word came out that first Russia, then the Czech Republic, were voting not to ratify the new NHL - IIHF transfer agreement, it was said that the NHL had threatened to not allow any players under NHL contract to return to their home countries and represent their national teams at the Torino Winter Olympics if those countries did not ratify the agreement. A bit of "dirty pool", perhaps. The Czech Republic did eventually join in with the transfer agreement, which sets the level of compensation that European teams will receive when a player that they have under contract leaves his home club to go play in the NHL, but Russia did not. Russia wants to allow its clubs to negotiate the price of player transfers on an individual basis, hopefully leading to either higher transfer fees or more Russian players staying at home to play. One of the more notable Russian players in this equation now is Evgeni Malkin, who was drafted (but not signed yet) by the Pittsburg Penguins and is unanimously rated as being one of the top 2 or 3 prospects in the world.

It's such a fine line between stupid, and clever.
Malkin tells Jagr how much of a wuss he thinks he really is

Earlier today (in Russian time, you know), the Russian website Sport-Express.ru printed an interview with Rene Fasel, the president of the IIHF, in which Fasel addressed some of these issues. They may turn out to be minor points (and the translation might be a little rough, too, which would be partly my fault), but I felt that it was interesting anyway. Fasel also said, in so many words, that Bettman is an upstanding and trustworthy guy, but of course I left that part out.

You can't really dust for vomit. Will it come out now that the NHL won't let Russian players go to compete in the Olympics?
"No, it will not-- all hockey players will be allowed to go to Torino. We are unanimous on this position: The Olympic Games are too important for our sport. In no way should personal ambitions prevail above the interests of the game and the fates of people. How can we force our young players, who have a dream of playing with their national teams, to forego it?"
Can you say precisely if this was used to influence the position of the leaders of Russian clubs?
"I cannot assert this."
Now that Russia has said "no" to the agreement, will the doors be closed to them?
"No, the door is not closed. There are seven hockey federations (Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, and the NHL) that signed the agreement. I hope that Russia will join them. So that you know that I am sincere on this fact, I would personally like to organize the next hockey summit, in the summer of 2006, in Russia. I can name two cities, Moscow or Saint Petersburg, where in any of them, hockey people would feel very comfortable. In a word, I do not assume the Russian "no" to be in the final version."
The Russian side wants it so that the NHL would recognize their contracts with their players. In your view, is this realistic?
"Bettman is ready to agree to have the NHL representatives meet with representatives from Russia, and together they can develop a 'universal contract' which will be acknowledged on both sides of ocean. However, in Europe it is accepted as the law that contracts with any players that have reached 18 (summer age) cannot be any longer than for two years. It is not possible in Europe to deprive the young players their free agency. Although, of course, I understand it when clubs want to preserve their good players for themselves."

End note: In regards to the Russian national team, Alexander Ovechkin is one player who has spoken about this issue. In an interview with sport-express.ru that had been posted on the Russian Hockey Digest web site a couple of days ago, Ovechkin was asked if his move overseas to North America, along with Russia's refusal to ratify the NHL - IIHF agreement, would create any difficulties for him in participating with the Russian national team. His response was, "I've already said several times that the national team is my first priority, and if they invite me, than I’d definitely come over... I have a special term in my contract: upon the invitation from the national team, Washington’s management is required to let me go."

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Rangers Have Pot To Piss In

These clever kids are killing me. For one, they ain't that clever Pot(v)i(n) sucks!

...errr, I mean Ranger fans have Poti to poop on. Wait, I mean that the Rangers announced this week that they had re-signed marshmallow salesman defenseman Tom Poti for $2.356 million. What do I mean?

Supposedly the NHL will return to a more open style of play this season, which could make a defenseman with Poti's skills that much more valuable. When the Massachusetts-born Poti-- who the Rangers traded my then-favorite player, Mike York, in '02 to get-- entered the league with the Edmonton Oilers, Bobby Orr (his agent at the time) claimed that Poti would eventually become a Norris Trophy winner. Not unless it's the John Norris Trophy, for being as useless as a turd in a punch bowl.

I've survived the '80s one time already Forgot about him, didn't you?

Other than Poti, I can't see any other blueliners on the Rangers' roster who have proven themselves capable of scoring 40 - 50 points in the NHL. There's always another one of my favorite players, veteran Dale Purinton, who absolutely lit up the ECHL during the lockout last season, tallying 3 goals and 9 assists in 25 games for the Victoria Salmon Kings before being suspended for pulling someone's hair. Nah, Purinton's probably not the guy to run the Rangers' power play, especially since he skates like Jed Ortmeyer with both ankles tied together.

The Rangers this week also re-signed Steve MacIntyre, Jozef Balej, Chad Wiseman, Jamie Lundmark, and Garth Murray, all of whom spend most or all of last season in the AHL with the Hartford Wolf Pack. MacIntyre, who shuffled between Charlotte (ECHL) and Hartford, is as big as a tree, and played better in Hartford than I would've expected after watching him stink it up during the pre-season. He at least was better than watching Jake Taylor skate around like an idiot, though I can't see MacIntyre ever being anything other than a 4th-line AHL defenseman. Balej, a Slovakian forward who was a 20-goal scorer last year in Hartford, is a guy who ought to make the Rangers roster this season; he's got a bunch of flashy one-on-one moves on offense, but he plays two ways and can also get gritty down low. Murray had all the earmarks of becoming a bruising power forward a couple of years ago, but he missed a lot of time due to an injury last year and when he made his return he didn't look like he was back on the same level yet. I'm not sure if Wiseman is even considered an NHL prospect (he doesn't even show up on Hockey Future's Rangers team page), but he's a guy who can wear an "A" and put up points at the AHL level, as well as effectively drop the gloves every once in a while.

Kovalchuk to stay in Russia?

I've got some hazardous chemicals, drive around to the window

It will never be more than an interesting rumor, but this interview on the Russian Hockey Digest web site seems to want to suggest that Atlanta might not be able to sign Ilya Kovalchuk, and he'll end up playing in Russia this season instead (remember, Russia's season starts a month before the NHL season does). I'm sure that Atlanta would start getting rid of some players if they found themselves without enough cap room to sign a superstar like Kovalchuk. Still, the interview points out some of the acrimony that European clubs have towards the NHL's practice of poaching their players. Now that Russia isn't a part of the new NHL - IIHF transfer agreement (and good for them, I say), things should get very interesting as Russian clubs can now fight to retain their home-bred players, or at least recover enough money to sign suitable replacement talent when one of their stars jumps to the NHL.

Kovalchuk, from the interview: "I’ll stay in Russia for awhile. If I sign the contract in the NHL, than, as usually, in the beginning of September I’d go to the training camp. If not, than I’d practice at home, and even play in some Super League’s team."

Rock Cats keep rolling

There are other Jim Morrisons I could talk to Danny Matienzo

New Britain jumped out to an early 5-0 lead against the Erie SeaWolves last night and hung on to win, 7-4, aided by home runs from Matt Moses and Danny Matienzo. Alex Romero extended his Eastern League season-high hitting streak to 23 games with an RBI double in the 3rd. Despite winning 6 in a row, the Rock Cats have gained hardly any ground on a playoff spot, as New Hampshire (the current 2nd-place team, 4 games up on the Rock Cats) are on a 5-game win streak of their own, sweeping Norwich in a doubleheader yesterday.

With two weeknight crowds of about 6000 each already this week, New Britain continues to be on pace to raise their season attendance record yet again. Last season, New Britain drew a bit less than 312,000; this year they're already at 294,521 with 8 more home dates left (give or take a rainout or make-up game or two). Norwich, by comparison, has drawn about 141,000 fans so far this year, and it wasn't too long ago that none of the three Connecticut Eastern League teams at the time (Norwich, New Haven, and New Britain) would ever top much more than 200,000 in one season. New Britain regularly announces single-game crowds of 7000 or more, especially on the weekends, in a stadium that has an "official" capacity of 6135. No wonder there's never anyplace to park your car.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Rock Cats pull out nailbiter in 10, 8-7

Okay, Al, can you get a wide shot of this? Heck, I can boogie just like the next guy

A bases-loaded, one out single by J.R. Taylor in the bottom of the 10th gave New Britain an 8-7 victory over the Erie SeaWolves tonight (or Tuesday, depending upon which way you want to look at it), as the Rock Cats won their 5th straight ballgame and moved to within 3-1/2 games of second place and a playoff spot in the Northern Division. New Britain, wearing their gawdawful pink jerseys, actually took an early 5-1 lead in this game until Erie plated 6 runs in the top of the 4th, capped by a monster 2-run homer by Juan Francia that cleared both the wall and the Stanley Tools sign in right field. Taylor's eventual game-winning hit in extra innings came against SeaWolves closer Edwin Almonte, who leads the Eastern League by a wide margin with 32 saves despite having an ERA of over 5.00. Kevin Cameron held Erie hitless over the final 2-2/3 innings to get the win, raising his won-lost record (all in relief) to 6-1 and lowering his ERA to 2.45.

Look, an old Nordge.  You don't see many of these babes anymore Matt Moses

A couple of months ago the Rock Cats were struggling to score runs, and it seemed like they were getting shut out every other game; since the end of May, though, the Rock Cats' team batting average has risen by about 25 points (.266 coming into tonight's game, slightly behind Binghamton's league-best .269), and a lot of players are starting to put up some good numbers on offense. Centerfielder Denard Span has been a major catalyst; lightning-fast on the basepaths, he's batting .294 with 37 runs scored in 50 games since joining New Britain in late June, and he seems to have a strong throwing arm to boot. Matt Moses, the highest-rated prospect on the team, is still a bit shaky at third, but he's driven in 24 runs in his first 33 games with the Rock Cats despite only hitting .224 during that span. Alex Romero (.309, 14 HRs, 73 RBI) collected two more hits (and walked twice) against Erie tonight, extending his hitting streak to 22 games, and he's been on base in one way or another in 37 straight games. Danny Matienzo still leads the team with 19 HRs and 76 RBI, even though he has yet to hit one out this month. Luis Jiminez had yet another timely double in the 10th inning tonight (his second double of the game), and is hitting .282 with 14 HRs and 57 RBI on the season. Shortstop J.R. Taylor has only been with the team 16 games but can throw the leather around and is hitting .302, while Doug Deeds is hitting .300, with 15 homers and 68 RBI. Deeds is becoming a bit of a fan favorite, partly because the PA announcer, Don Steele, is able to draw his name out to infinity whenever Deeds is the next hitter ("Now batting, the right fielder, number 9, Doug Deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeedsssss!"). Sometimes they'll even spell his name "Deeeeeeeeds" on the video scoreboard, though I'd still like to hear them play AC/DC's "Dirty Deeds" as he walks to the plate, goddamnit.

The Rock Cats gave away t-shirts at tonight's game that were made to look like Deeds' jersey, with "Rock Cats" and his #9 on the front, and by chance it was the first time in probably four years that we got to the game early enough to still get the giveaway (the Rock Cats have become so stingy with their promotions, usually only making a thousand or so, that the giveaway item is usually gone before the first group of fans lined up outside has even made it through the gate). On top of that, I got two more foul balls. I'm just a good luck magnet, I guess.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Pat Neshek's Sidearm Delivery

We're not useless, we're just fucked up Kevin Pataky photo

Yesterday, the Rock Cats' Pat Neshek recorded his 20th save of the season in New Britain's 6-5 win over Harrisburg. Neshek is 5-3 on the year as a reliever with a 2.07 ERA and 81 strikeouts in 69.2 innings, and is now 5th in the Eastern League in saves. Neshek developed his sidearm delivery style after an old high school injury, which he discusses on his web site, patneshek.com.

Just ahead of Neshek on the Eastern League saves list is Altoona's Justin Kaye, who flipped me off once while he was pitching for New Haven (and it's not as if I'm that much of a heckler, really), so we're hoping that Neshek picks up a bunch more saves over the remaining 4 weeks of the season and kicks Kaye's ass in the standings. Since Neshek seems like a pretty decent guy, and we don't really have anything else better to do today, we're naming him the Official Pitcher of Sidearm Delivery. (You can watch Pat's pitching motion over in the sidebar, in a video from his web site.) Congratulations, Patrick!

Stay On Your Side Of The Internet:

For the past three or four years, Henry Yu has written a column for Maximum Rocknroll (does anyone still read MRR? If so, why?). He also has several blogs-- one of which, Cardboard Compulsion, is an overview not of the rare punk records that Henry owns, but of the mailers that the records came in. I'm guessing that when Henry buys magazines it's not for the pictures or the articles; instead, he buys them for the staples.

...My Name Is Kevin Seconds, and this is "my own personal way to include myself in your life somehow ." Apparently, "putting out a record that's worth buying" didn't make the list.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Rock Cats sweep Senators

You can't kill stupid

A three-run 8th inning, sparked by a leadoff home run by Tommy Watkins and capped by Luis Jiminez' 2-run double, gave the New Britain Rock Cats a come-from-behind 6-5 victory over Harrisburg today and allowed the Rock Cats to complete a 4-game sweep of the Senators. The Rock Cats' Alex Romero contributed an RBI single in the 4th to extend his hitting streak to 21 games. Romero's current streak began the day after a previous 14-game streak had ended, meaning that Romero has now hit safely in 35 of his last 36 games.

The chicks is reading Penthouse, the pigs is reading TASS, you better shut the oven, you're wasting all the gas Dee Haynes as a Raven

One player of note for Harrisburg was Dee Haynes, who had a 3-for-4 day with a double and two runs scored. Haynes led the Eastern League in RBIs (.312, 21 HRs, 98 RBI) when he played for the New Haven Ravens in 2002. This season with the Senators, Haynes is batting .283 with 19 home runs and 61 runs batted in.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Rock Cats win; Romero extends streak

Concrete shoes, cyanide, TNT... Done Dirt Cheap! Doug Deeds

Alex Romero extended his hitting streak to 19 games with a 2-for-4 day at the plate and the Rock Cats scored in each of the first 5 innings as they held on to beat the Senators today in Harrisburg, 9-7. Doug Deeds added his 15th home run of the season, and third baseman Matt Moses, the Twins' #1 pick in 2003 who is batting only .235 after his first month in Double-A, broke out with a 3-for-5 day that included two homers and 6 RBI.

Asian Invasion

Templar Fightin' Monk Lindros The Department of Redundancy Department Fukufuji

I would probably be remiss if I didn't mention two of the NHL free-agent signings from yesterday: the Toronto Maple Leafs signing Eric Lindros to a 1 year, $1.55 million deal, which is great because it means the Rangers won't have to worry about him anymore (or at least Ranger fans won't), and the Los Angeles Kings signing Japanese goalie Yutaka Fukufuji to a 2-year deal, which is great because it means that we once again have an excuse to say the name of our favorite Asian athlete (yep: Taiwanese golfer Virada Nirapathpongporn).

I'm not talking, not talking... still not talking Nirapathpongporn

"I can see your name in lights... a heckuva lot of lights!"

Rock Cats end skid, 9-5

Could you take Doug out? Alex Romero

The Rock Cats halted their 6-game losing streak with a win in Harrisburg last night against the Senators, 9-5. Doug Deeds gave New Britain the lead for good with a 3-run homer in the top of the 6th inning, his 14th of the year. Alex Romero also homered in the 6th, and extended his hitting streak to 18 straight games. Romero has also reached base in each of his last 33 games, this according to an AP report that I read in today's Hartford Courant-- the Rock Cats' own web site has nary a whisper about this. I'm not sure what the hit streak record is for the Eastern League; my EL media guide that I got a couple of years ago is missing, and the League seems more interested in flaunting their yearly attendance totals than they do in keeping any detailed hitting records anyway.

New Britain stands 11 games out of first in their division, only a game and a half ahead of last-place Binghamton. Rock Cats catcher Kyle Phillips has batted 6-for-11 (.545) with a home run since being promoted from Ft. Meyers to replace the injured Bryan Kennedy (back), and shortstop J.R. Taylor has batted .292 since his own promotion from A ball two weeks ago.

NY Rangers Prospect Report

To hell with you, I'll make my own people

NHL.com just released their "Rangers Prospects Report", which might contain a little bit of mucky-muck (it is NHL.com, after all, where the best kind of news is no news at all), but some of these players might be in a Wolf Pack jersey this season, which is why I'm posting it here. Here's a brief overview of what was written about some of the players:

LW Nigel Dawes - "Said to have the best hands in junior hockey and was voted runner-up as Western Hockey League player of the year. He's very strong, he's good at going to the net, and he's proven he can score goals."
G Henrik Lundqvist - "Lundqvist has represented Sweden in seven different major international tournaments. He's had five seasons in the top Swedish league and might have come to North America a year ago. He fills the net to the point where you couldn't get a pea past him sideways."
G Al Montoya - "Completed three seasons at Michigan before turning pro. He will be a solid, solid goaltender in the NHL. His lateral mobility has improved under the tutoring of Benoit Allaire."

You May Get All The Ladies But I Got My Shit Together Hugh Jessiman Suddenly, Everyone's A Smoker Nigel Dawes

C Jarko Immonen - "A well-balanced skater with good hands and a blistering slap shot. He plays a strong two-way game, he passes the puck well and his vision is terrific."
RW Hugh Jessiman - "6-foot-6 and 220 pounds. The scouting reports just glow. He uses his size along the boards, crashes the net, plays strongly both ways, makes open-ice hits, sets up teammates and has a heavy shot with a quick release."
C Petr Prucha - "An excellent skater with sharp moves and terrific puckhandling skills. One-on-one, he's a nightmare for opposing players. He has no fear and plays with great instincts."

I'm playing as fast as I can, you heard it slow Petr Prucha

Hockey's Future has the Rangers ranked 7th in their "NHL Organisation Rankings". (Don't blame me, that's how they spell it.) They list the top 5 Ranger prospects as D Fedor Tyutin (8.5), G Henrik Lundqvist (7.5), G Al Montoya (8.0), RW Josef Balej (7.0), and C Jarkko Immonen (7.0). Click here to see the "Organizational Depth Chart", listing all of the Rangers' prospects, according to Hockey's Future.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Rock Cats free-falling towards last place

I wish I was a little smarter, I'm number two or three but I don't try any harder 1B Danny Matienzo

Like a drunken Yankees fan plunging from the upper deck at Yankee Stadium, the New Britain Rock Cats' playoff hopes have taken a tumble lately. The Rock Cats have almost zero to show for a crucial 7-game homestand that started last Friday against two teams ahead of them in the division, the Trenton Thunder and the Portland Sea Dogs. The Rock Cats have lost the last five games of the homestand, including getting swept by Portland in a double-header yesterday, and have gone from a half-game back of Trenton and 3 games out of a playoff spot (the top two teams in each division make the Eastern League playoffs), to trailing Trenton (now in 2nd place) by 4-1/2 games and the division-leading Sea Dogs by a whopping 10 games.

Most of the Rock Cats' troubles during this homestand have followed the same pattern: a Rock Cats error to extend an inning, followed by a run-scoring double or a long ball or two by the other team, leading to New Britain surrendering a bunch of big innings early (27 runs allowed over the 5 games coming in the 5th inning or sooner). With only four more weeks left to play in the season (the EL regular season ends the first week of September), it would be quite a feat for the Rock Cats, who now stand at 11 games under .500, to finish with a winning record, not to mention clawing their way back into playoff contention.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Nycholat gone

R-r-r-rubber biscuit Chris Rutsch photo

(AHL.COM) Aug 9, 2005 - The Washington Capitals, parent club of the AHL's Hershey Bears, have signed defenseman Lawrence Nycholat. In keeping with club policy, terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Last season Nycholat was voted by AHL fans as a starter in the 2005 AHL All-Star Classic. He led all Hartford Wolf Pack defensemen in scoring with 43 points (5g, 38a) and was fourth on the team in that category. In 304 career AHL games, Nycholat has a plus-69 rating to go along with 27 goals and 112 assists for 139 points.


I'm sad to see Lawrence Nycholat go, although watching some of your favorite players leave to play for other organizations is a fact of minor league sports. That Nycholat was the Wolf Pack's best defenseman last season almost goes without saying. Not only is Nycholat a very good AHL defenseman, he's also suprisingly good at dropping the gloves, and his perfect demolishing of Peter Ferraro in a game against Springfield a couple of seasons ago is one of my fondest hockey memories. Also on the plus side for Nycholat is that he came to Hartford in a late-season trade in '03 that sent away goalie Johan Holmqvist, possibly the worst Wolf Pack player in team history.

League Few People Care About To Be On Cable Network No One's Ever Heard Of

Gotta Gotta Sinking Feeling tiny, eh

PHILADELPHIA (CP) Aug. 9, 2005 - The NHL is on the verge of signing off with a new U.S. cable TV partner, according to a report in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Comcast has formally submitted a two-year bid in excess of $100 million US to televise NHL games beginning this fall, sources directly involved in the discussions told the Inquirer in Tuesday's edition. The deal calls for Comcast to televise two games a week nationally. The cable giant plans to put the games on its Outdoor Life Network, which is also available in Canada.

If the NHL approves the deal, the contract will be forwarded to ESPN. In April, ESPN opted not to renew its $70-million option to televise the NHL for 2005-06 and 2006-07, but ESPN retains the right to match the new offer, a source told the Inquirer. ESPN has carried NHL games in the United States since 1985. The NHL also has a national broadcast deal with NBC but needed a new cable partner after ESPN withdrew in April.


The cable supplier in my area is Comcast, and the Outdoor Life Network was added to our selection of channels literally only last week. I hadn't even really heard of the Outdoor Life Network until their coverage of last month's Tour de France, when Lance Armstrong highlights with the little "OLN" in the corner were on every nightly sports recap.

Well, maybe a deal with the NHL will lead to OLN being added by hundreds of cable providers nationwide in the very near future. Think of what all that extra exposure could mean to the popularity of Tennessee Clay Target Shooting, not to mention the Red Green Show!

If the women don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy