Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Money Problems For Dynamo?

I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today
Team bus for sale: 50000 Euros or best offer

Dynamo Moscow, the team founded by the Soviet KGB that has won nine Russian Super League titles in the last 16 years, has been having trouble meeting its payroll lately, according to several reports from Russian news sites over the past few weeks.

Pavel Rosa, formerly with the Los Angeles Kings and a star player in the AHL when he was with the Manchester Monarchs, was recently given the right through arbitration to break off his contract and leave Dynamo to play in Sweden for Timrå IK, due to Dynamo's failure to pay.

This is how the story originally appeared in Soviet Sport, January 27:

"(Rosa) asked that his contract with Dynamo be considered ineffective, since the Moscow club did not satisfy the conditions of the agreement. Rosa claims that three months' payment is due to him, based on the terms of the contract. Last week, Rosa was released from Dynamo at his will in accordance with the Russian Federation Labor Code. But, based on Russian Hockey League regulations, he did not become a free agent, since there is still an active contract. Only after authorization through RHL arbitration will he be allowed to go to another club, in this case Timra of Sweden."

Further along in the Soviet Sport article, it says that Rosa and his agent considered their contract with Dynamo voided by the fact that they hadn't been paid in three months, and so they travelled to Sweden and signed a contract with Timrå. However, Dynamo claimed to still have the rights to Rosa and would not sign off on the transfer, instead asking the Swedish club for a fee of $100,000 dollars, which Rosa's agent referred to as a "shakedown".

Thirty-five dollars and a six-pack to my name
Pavel Rosa skating for Dynamo earlier this season

Then, on January 28th, the Russian site gazeta.ru reported positive news for Rosa:

"On Thursday, former Dynamo forward Pavel Rosa made his debut for the Swedish team, Timra, in a game against Mora (a 5-2 loss-- Rosa played left wing, and was credited with an assist on Timrå's first goal). As it was previously reported, in the beginning of the week the Russian Hockey Federation refused to grant the transfer of Rosa to the Swedish club, saying that Rosa had left the team without following procedure. Russia signed the transfer late Thursday evening... the Dynamo club promises to close out their wage debt completely in a few days."

As this was going on, back in Moscow the Dynamo team was having to deal with rumors that more players were unhappy with the financial situation. This is from an article that appeared late last week on gazeta.ru:

Dynamo's Denis Kulyash refuted information that said the team's players planned to refuse to leave for their 46th game, against Ak Bars, because of the salary arrearage. 'All of us are united to play to the end, in spite of that situation', said Kulyash to RIA News. 'Everything will be set straight, everything will be fine. I think that they will pay everything off to us in February. But, no one on the team is paying any attention to all of this. It is very obvious that all of the players are bearing down to the very end, regardless of the fact that there are some delays."

What did the fish say when he hit a concrete wall? Dam.
Dynamo's Denis Kulyash skating against Spartak

Kulyash himself, who has one of the hardest shots in the Russian Super League, won the game against Ak Bars with a hat trick that included the game-winning goal in overtime, for a 4-3 victory. It was the first hat trick in the traditionally low-scoring RSL by a defenseman in many years. Kulyash was given some more good news yesterday, when it was announced that he was being added to the Russian Olympic team as a replacement for the injured Dmitri Bykov.

I should probably note that ticket prices to Russian Super League games are generally priced in the low single digits, and most teams meet their budgets only because of the large sums of money (as much as $10 million or so) that they get from their team sponsors.

Hexxxxx-tallll!!  Hexxxxx-tallll!!

There's been even more fun and games in the Russian Super League, as yesterday the president of the Russian Hockey Federation, Alexander Steblin, made a public apology to a Sport Express reporter following an incident at the European Champions Cup (which Dynamo Moscow won). At a banquet after the Cup and in an apparent drunken rage, Steblin threw a tray of hors d'oerves at the reporter, among other things.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Giroux tallies two as Pack rub out Rats, 5-4

Those French have a different word for everything
Alexandre Giroux (Chris Rutsch photo)

In a see-saw battle that saw the lead change hands three times, the Hartford Wolf Pack defeated the Albany River Rats on Sunday, 5-4. Alexandre Giroux scored twice for the Wolf Pack (21, 22), including his AHL-leading sixth shorthanded goal of the season in the third period on a great feed by Jarkko Immonen. Immonen also assisted on Giroux's other goal. With the win, the Wolf Pack move back into a tie for second place in the division with Manchester, while the River Rats fall even further into the division's basement. Albany's 33 points is second-worst in the AHL ahead of only the San Antonio Rampage (31), the Phoenix Coyotes' affiliate who coincidentally will be visiting the Hartford Civic Center to play the Pack this following Friday.

Thomas Pöck had a goal and an assist for the Pack, and Hugh Jessiman added his third goal of the season, using a nifty spin move to slide the puck past the River Rats' goalie, Scott Clemmensen. Colby Genoway had the game-winning fifth goal for Hartford, Genoway's 17th of the season. Albany's brilliant Russian, Aleksander Suglobov scored twice, pushing his goal total to 19; the only other River Rats player in double figures is Aaron Voros (11).

You Bet We've Got Something Against You!
Rampage? You bet!

Getting back to the San Antonio Rampage, who like to play with guns apparently (let it be known that Sidearm Delivery supports every American's Second Amendment rights)-- Martin Sonnenberg, recently picked up in a trade that sent Jeff Taffe to San Antonio, looks to be a very useful addition so far for the Wolf Pack. Sonnenberg stays active the entire game and doesn't shy away from physical play or getting his hands dirty, as well as having some decent offensive skills also (19 points in 45 games this season). I think having Sonnenberg and the re-born Hugh Jessiman in the lineup, instead of guys like Taffe and the infinite healthy scratch Fedor Fedorov, will prove to be a big positive step for this team as the second half of the season progresses.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Wolf Pack beat Lowell, 4-2

Not to be confused with a few other Fews
Joe Rullier (Chris Rutsch/HWP photo)

One day after losing 8-2 in Lowell-- their most lopsided loss of the season and their fifth loss in their last seven games-- the Wolf Pack enacted a measure of revenge against the Lock Monsters on Saturday night, beating Lowell in Hartford, 4-2. Joe Rullier tallied the first two Hartford goals, with Chad Wiseman (10) and Nigel Dawes (22) also scoring goals for the Wolf Pack. Martin Sonnenberg had two assists, and was +3. Defenseman Rory Rawlyk was +2 and had an assist in his first game for the Wolf Pack this season since being called up from Charlotte to replace David Liffiton, who was out with a concussion he suffered in the first period of the previous night's loss.

Al Montoya showed a return to form in this game, stopping 22 of 24 shots, including two sets of spectacular saves in the final three minutes of the game. In his previous two games, Montoya had given up 2 goals on 7 shots against Lowell on Friday, and 3 goals in 10 shots against Springfield on Wednesday.

The win was only Hartford's second in 6 games against the 19-22-4-4 Lock Monsters this year, and their first victory in 5 tries against goalie Vitaly Kolesnik. Tonight's game was also the first of six Wolf Pack games this season that are airing live on Fox Sports, although the in-house feed at the game was a bit difficult to follow, since the center ice video board has begun to look all weird and over-exposed lately.

Meanwhile, even further down on the farm, Dusty Jamieson provided the winning goal in a 2-1 overtime victory by the Charlotte Checkers over the Toledo Storm, in Charlotte. Earlier today, Jamieson was named the ECHL Player of the Week for Jan. 16-22, having put up 5 goals and 9 points in that span.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Wolf Pack flatten Falcons, 6-3

We're no longer called Sonic Death Monkey. We're on the verge of becoming Kathleen Turner Overdrive, but just for tonight, we are Barry Jive and his Uptown Five. Martin Sonnenberg (Rutsch photo)

All-Star defenseman Thomas Pöck recorded his third 4-point game of the season (1g, 3a), with defenseman Dan Girardi posting three assists of his own, as the Hartford Wolf Pack beat the Springfield Falcons at home on Wednesday night, 6-3. Hartford came into the game having lost 3 of their last 4 at home. The win allowed the Wolf Pack to gain a bit of ground in their division, with second-place Manchester and first-place Portland being idle.

Robert Gherson was credited with the win for the Pack, as Al Montoya was pulled (for the second time in 8 days) after giving up 3 goals on Springfield's first 10 shots. Martin Sonnenberg, a gritty winger newly acquired for ineffective floater Jeff Taffe, played his first game in a Pack uniform, on a line with Craig Weller and Chad Wiseman.

The line of Dawes - Genoway - Helminen was back together again, after a two-game break due to Helminen's groin injury, and it was a productive reunion as Dawes scored his 21th goal of the season, with Genoway scoring his 16th. Alexandre Giroux (19), Chad Wiseman (9), and Hugh Jessiman (2) also scored goals for the Wolf Pack.

Now that it’s just past the halfway point in the season, some people like to hand out "report cards” on all of the players. For instance, you could log on to HockeyTurd and get some useable info written by a guy who actually goes to Wolf Pack games and knows what he’s talking about, or you can go to some other guy.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Lowell, Kolesnik shut down Hartford, 3-2

It's really cold in Canada, you know
Fedor Fedorov, being held behind the net by Lowell's Cody McLeod. The Fedor Tyutin #15 SKA-St. Petersburg jersey in the background is me. Big freaking deal, huh? (Chris Rutsch photo)

The Hartford Wolf Pack threw 44 shots on net but couldn't solve Vitaly Kolesnik, losing at home on Sunday to Lowell, 3-2. Kolesnik, the Team Kazakhstan goalie who played seven games earlier this season with the Colorado Avalanche, stymied the Wolf Pack's best efforts all day and was voted the #1 star of the game by the local Hartford media. He also looks somewhat like Robert Pollard, though I wouldn't expect anyone else to notice that.

Hartford's best chance to win the game came in the third period, after Jarkko Immonen had gotten in behind Kolesnik and made a behind-the-back, back-handed swipe at a rebound, knocking the puck into the net and tying the score at 2-2. With less than eight minutes to go in the game, a high-sticking major was assessed to Lowell's Mike Zigomanis, giving Hartford a 5-minute power play. The Wolf Pack had 5-on-3's twice during the course of the 5-minute major and beyond, on two seperate minor penalties by Lowell, yet still couldn't keep consistent possesion in the offensive zone. It was probably the most inept Wolf Pack power play that I have ever witnessed, ending in disaster when Lowell scored shorthanded to take a 3-2 lead. Craig Weller then took a minor penalty to negate what little time was left on the man advantage, and that was pretty much the end of the game.

The line of Dawes - Genoway - whomever scored again for the Wolf Pack, with Genoway potting his 15th goal of the season. With Dwight Helminen still sidelined with a groin injury, Fedor Fedorov was in the line-up again, taking a stupid interference penalty in the offensive zone less than 20 seconds into a Wolf Pack power play in the second period. I've been really hoping for the Fedorov trade to work out for the Wolf Pack and the Rangers, but the guy just has no clue.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Wolf Pack whomp Providence, 6-2

Meet Me In The Dollar Bin Fedor late, then never

Led by two goals from Alexandre Giroux, the first one coming only 1:18 after the opening puck drop, the Hartford Wolf Pack steamrolled over the Providence Bruins on Saturday night, 6-2, before a healthy crowd of 6,420. Hugh Jessiman added a goal for Hartford, his first ever in the AHL, and had an assist.

Fedor Fedorov was finally inserted into the lineup after being a healthy scratch for four straight games, and he played with a little bit more effort, getting credited with a point (his 12th assist of the season) and a +1 rating. Fedorov was also on the ice for the penalty kill at one point, which was almost comedic to watch.

Thomas Pöck, apparently loved in New York but given far less regard in the better parts of Connecticut, was back in a Pack uniform after spending a couple of games with the Rangers. Pöck was paired for most of the game with "Less Than" Jake Taylor, possibly making up the most ineffective defensive duo the Pack have put on the ice this season. Pöck was up to his usual tricks, letting the puck out of the zone while playing the point on the power play and so forth, but the Pack won the game big, so I should probably just leave it alone.

Dwight Helminen, the Pack's leading scorer with 32 points, was scratched for some reason-- possibly to get Fedor Fedorov back on the ice, though I'd have a tough time accepting that as a good enough reason to break up the most effective line the Wolf Pack have had this season. Jeff Taffe took over Helminen's centerman position on the line with Nigel Dawes and Colby Genoway, which didn't really work too well, though Dawes did score a goal (his 20th).

Martin Grenier scored his second goal of the season, when he flipped the puck towards the net and it took a lucky bounce off of a Providence player's skate. Grenier also won two fights in the third period, including an absolute pummeling of Mark Stuart-- at one point cracking him so flush on the jaw that it made Stuart's helmet pop straight up like a Rock'em Sock 'em Robot. Grenier fought Scott Ford a few minutes after that, though few actual punches were thrown, with Grenier wrestling Ford for a bit before throwing him down to the ice.

(Photo credit: Chris Rutsch/Hartford Wolf Pack)

Russian Super League All-Star Teams

I'm betting that guy from SNL has to be funny at some point in his life
Travis Scott, goalie for Metallurg Magnitogorsk

These are the rosters of players selected for the January 22nd Russian Super League All-Star Game, which is being played in honor of the 50th anniversary of the first Russian ice hockey gold medal in the Olympics (I've added each player's NHL team where it was appropriate):

West All-Stars: Maxim Sokolov (SKA-St. Petersburg) and Dushan Salfitski (Khimik Voskresensk), goaltenders; Sergei Vyshedkevich (Dynamo Moscow), Denis Kulyash (Dynamo, Nashville Predators), Dimitri Bykov (Dynamo, Detroit Red Wings), Vadim Khomitsky (Central Army - CSKA Moscow, Dallas Stars), Alexander Titov (CSKA), and Dimitri Krasotkin (Lokomotiv Yaroslavl), defensemen; Alexander Boykov (Khimik), Alexander Semin (Khimik, Washington Capitals), Andrei Potaychuk (Khimik), Maxim Sushinsky (Dynamo), Alexander Kharitonov (Dynamo), Mikhail Grabovsky (Dynamo, Montreal Canadiens), Sergei Mozyakin (CSKA, Columbus Blue Jackets), Alexander Korolyuk (Vityaz Chekhov, San Jose Sharks), and Ivan Tkachenko (Lokomotiv, Columbus Blue Jackets), forwards.

East All-Stars: Travis Scott (Metallurg Magnitogorsk) and Fred Brathwaite (Ak Bars Kazan), goaltenders; Evgeni Varlamov (Metallurg), Vitaly Atyushov (Metallurg, Ottawa Senators), Dimitry Yushkevich (Metallurg, Washington Capitals), Sergei Gusev (Avangard Omsk), Dimitri Ryabykin (Avangard), and Alexander Karpovtsev (Sibir Novosibirsk), defensemen; Alexei Kaigorodov (Metallurg, Ottawa Senators), Eduard Kudermetov (Metallurg), Evgeni Malkin (Metallurg, Pittsburgh Penguins), Alexei Morozov (Ak Bars Kazan, Pittsburgh Penguins), Sergei Zinoviev (Ak Bars, Boston Bruins), Danis Zaripov (Ak Bars), Dimitri Zatonsky (Avangard), Alexei Kalyuzhny (Avangard), and Artem Chubarov (Avangard, Vancouver Canucks), forwards.


I regret the day I stole your Quiet Riot record
Ivan Tkachenko (Lokomotiv) levels Nikita Alexeev (Avangard)

Apparently, there's gonna be some kind of skills competition also, though I can't figure the damn thing out. It doesn't look like they're going to be breaking any styrofoam plates.

By the way, for the people who think that the Russian teams all play in "dark, musty old hockey rinks" (a comment that I read on another web site once), this is the arena that Lokomotiv Yaroslavl plays in:

I think it's the shame of quantum physics Sucks the life outta me

Ak Bars Kazan:

May or may not be actual size

SKA - St. Petersburg:

Because no one is getting any younger If I didn't have puke-breath, I'd kiss you

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Wolf Pack trounced by Monarchs, 6-3

The Kids Will Have Their Say Nigel Dawes (Rutsch photo)

The Hartford Wolf Pack lost at home to the Manchester Monarchs, the team they are chasing for second place in the division, 6-3 on Wednesday night. A couple of inexplicable goals given up by Al Montoya, more than any lack of effort by the team as a whole, doomed Hartford's chances in this one (though it would be nice if the Pack cleaned up their play in front of the net a little more). The loss moved Hartford to 4 points behind Manchester in the standings.

As they did against Portland in their previous game, the Wolf Pack jumped out quickly, with defenseman Dan Girardi scoring just 29 seconds into the contest. The Monarchs responded with four straight goals after that, including goals on each of their first three shots in the second period, putting Wolf Pack goalie Al Montoya on the bench in favor of back-up Robert Gherson. Hartford then closed the gap to 4-3, including a goal by Jarkko Immonen following a nifty set-up by Chad Wiseman, but that was as close as they got. The Monarchs' final goal was scored on an empty net, helped by a case of bad timing, as Manchester's Petr Kanko was skating with the puck into the Hartford zone before Gherson had even reached the bench.

Nigel Dawes, who was named the AHL's Player of the Week a couple of days earlier, dished out one of the season's better hits when he leveled the Monarchs' Konstantin Pushkarev in the second period. The Wolf Pack have had no plans for Fedor Fedorov lately, as he was not in the lineup for the third straight game.

After the team played without a captain for the first half of the season, the captain's "C" was finally bestowed on Craig Weller. This is slightly different from the "A" that the Monarchs' Brad Smyth wears on his jersey, which I believe in his case stands for either "Ancient" or "AARP".

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Ref's Last Call

Your sister can't wrestle but you should see her box
"Keg party at the second intermission!"

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) Mon Jan 16, 2006 - An assistant referee was sent off from a Swedish third division ice hockey game over the weekend after the players began to suspect he was drunk.

During the contest between Sveg IK and Halsingegardens AIK one of the two assistant referees started behaving increasingly erratically and, smelling alcohol on his breath, the players became suspicious.

"The longer the match went on, the more he started to fall over and hold on to the boards, dropping his whistle and making contradictory signals," Sveg trainer Hakan Nilsson told Reuters on Monday.

"Some of the signs don't even exist in hockey. They looked more like he was doing the doggy paddle."

After the second period, the two teams had had enough and together with the referee took the linesman to the locker room for the final period.

The third period of the game, which Sveg won 6-3, was played with the remaining two referees.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Evgeni Malkin has 6-point game for Metallurg Mg

I'm never talking to you again Evgeni Malkin (Is he saying "Blame Canada"?)

A few days after returning to his home country following Russia's loss to Canada in the World Junior Championships in Vancouver, Evgeni Malkin reclaimed the lead for the scoring title in the Russian Super League by amassing six points in one game this weekend. Malkin had 3 goals and 3 assists for Metallurg Magnitogorsk in their 9-2 victory on Saturday over Sibir Novosibirsk, a team in the lower half of the standings in the RSL. Malkin currently stands as the leading scorer in the RSL with 43 points (19g, 24a) in 35 games.

Hold it, now hit it
Malkin skating in on Lokomotiv's Steve Valiquette

Evgeni Malkin is also currently the leading vote-getter among forwards for the East squad in the upcoming Russian Super League All-Star Game, to be played on January 22nd. Metallurg's Travis Scott, a 7-year veteran of the AHL, is leading in the voting among Eastern goalies. Former Hartford Wolf Pack goalie Steve Valiquette is fourth among goalies in the West, in a very tight voting race with only 9 votes separating the top 5 goalies. Voting ends right about now (January 16th), meaning there's only a slim chance left for anyone who wants to stuff the ballot box for Anton But (Lokomotiv/West), but you can still try anyway.

Pirates prevail over Pack, 5-4

That trick never works Courant photo

The Hartford Wolf Pack lost at home to the Portland Pirates on Saturday night, 5-4, in a entertaining back-and-forth contest that had plenty of bumps and bruises for both sides. With the loss, Hartford falls back into a second-place tie with Manchester.

In the first period, Wolf Pack goalie Al Montoya strayed out to the blue line to play the puck and was upended, landing awkwardly on the back of his neck. Montoya finished playing out the period but left the game after that, with Robert Gherson playing the last two periods in net for the Pack. Later in the game, Portland goalie Nathan Marsters took a puck in the chops and was down on the ice for a while, and Ivan Baranka checked a Portland player completely into the Pirates' bench when the door to the bench popped open after the two players crashed into the boards.

Hartford jumped out quickly in this one, with Craig Weller scoring just 27 seconds into the contest, but three straight goals by the Pirates turned a 2-1 Hartford advantage into a 4-2 deficit early in the third period. Hartford then scored two goals to tie it, with Nigel Dawes picking up a loose puck on a weird bounce in the Portland end and jamming it home, and then shortly afterwards Bryan Rodney splitting two defenders and roofing a nice wrist shot over Marsters' glove to make it 4-4.

Fedor Fedorov was a heathy scratch for the second straight night. The game drew a crowd of 7,951 fans, raising Hartford's average attendance to 5,221 on the year-- 11th in a league of 27 teams and above the minimum 5200 benchmark required by MSG's lease, giving Jeff Jacobs one less thing to snivel about.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Wolf Pack crush Hershey, 4-0

I'm Saving Myself For Nichelle Nichols Lawrence Nycholat

In a game that had a number of interesting sub-plots, not the least of which was the return of Lawrence Nycholat to Hartford for the first time since he signed with the Capitals organization over the summer, the Wolf Pack trounced the Hershey Bears on Friday night, 4-0. The win was Al Montoya's first shut-out as a pro, and Montoya was also given credit for 2 assists.

Fedor Fedorov was scratched for this game, hopefully because of his uninspired play as of late, and defenseman Bryan Rodney was brought up from Charlotte. Rodney didn't play that bad of a game, showing some defensive toughness as well as some offensive ability, though apparently he's been tagged as being a bit of a slacker by Charlotte fans (this according to Pack Attack, who usually knows about these things).

Nigel Dawes, who I think has been Hartford's best all-around player this season, scored twice in the third period, giving him 17 goals on the year. Dwight Helminen scored his 20th, even though a replay seemed to show that it didn't go in; the AHL doesn't allow the refs to use replays, though, because not every game is set up for it. Hershey's captain (and former Pack player) Void Boyd Kane was ejected from the game for arguing the call and for swinging his stick at the glass in front of the goal judge. How a bum like him ever became a captain in this league is something that I can't figure out.

David Liffiton, a ferocious fighter, fought Louis Robitaille in what seemed to be a draw. Liffiton has been an awesome fighter all year, and throws punches with total abandon, which makes him fun to watch. Later in the third period, Craig Weller tore apart Dwayne Zinger, in what probably was the best fight I've seen so far this year. Both players landed almost a dozen heavy punches, with Zinger having the upper hand at the beginning, but Weller took over and had Zinger down on the ice by the end of the bout.

The attendance seemed to show a bit of a bump Friday night, following the last home game when over 12,000 showed up for "Whalers Appreciation Night", and I did see a few more people at the game wearing Whalers jerseys than I usually see, but the attendance was announced at only 4586. Tonight's game (Saturday) marks the return of another departed favorite, Maxim Kondratiev, when the first-place Portland Pirates come to town.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Wolf Pack Clinch GEICO Cup

Hopeless Case Of A Kid In Denial Who's planning the parade?

In a road game that I didn't go to, and barely listened to on the radio-- gotta love Bob Crawford, but he has a voice sometimes that sounds like mice trying to claw their way through sheetrock-- the Hartford Wolf Pack defeated the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in Bridgeport after an overtime shootout, 4-3. The line of Nigel Dawes, Colby Genoway, and Dwight Helminen had a hand in all three of Hartford's goals in regulation, with Dawes netting his 14th and 15th goals of the season, and Helminen his 19th. The Wolf Pack outshot the Sound Tigers, 13-1, during the scoreless 5-minute overtime, after the shots on goal were even (33-33) during the game itself. The win upped Hartford's record over Bridgeport this season to 60-0-0-0, or something.

Looking at the scoresheet, I see that Fedor Fedorov drew a diving penalty in the first period, if you can believe that (noooooooo).

For more info on the GEICO Connecticut Cup, go to the Search This Blog box at the very top of this page, and type in the word "trivial". (That's a joke, son.)

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Peter Worrell Fight Video

I'm always left with nothing

This is a minute-long video of a recent fight between Peter Worrell of the Charlotte Checkers, and 6'4" Lee Jacobson of the Augusta Lynx. The video clip is courtesy of packattack.org, after originally being posted on the Checkerboard.

Just click on the link below, and if you have Windows Media Player, the video will start right up. If you check out the replay towards the end of the video, you'll see that Jacobson is knocked out cold, though he's standing and joking around at the end.

Peter Worrell fight video

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Dynamo Moscow wins European Champions Cup

No Christmas While I'm Talking

Earlier today, Dynamo Moscow won the IIHF European Champions Cup tournament, emerging victorious among a field made up of the current champions of six different hockey leagues in Europe. The tournament title positions Dynamo to be the European representative for a future meeting that is being proposed between the overall European champion and the NHL Stanley Cup champion.

Maxim Sushinsky, Dynamo's leading scorer so far this season in the Russian Super League (10g and 17a in 31 games), had a goal and an assist for Dynamo in the final game, a 5-4 shootout victory over Kärpät of Finland. Sushinsky was voted the tournament MVP, an honor that he had won the year before as a member of Avangard Omsk.

The recap, as it was given on EuroHockey.net:

Dynamo won its first ever European club title in their tenth attempt, but it took a penalty shootout against a resilient Kärpät Oulu to claim it.

The loss is sour for Kärpät who have been so close in both editions of the ECC but remain empty handed. Last year they were beaten in overtime by Russian Avangard Omsk.

Igor Mirnov scored the game and ECC winner in the fifth round of the shootout. His shot beat Niklas Bäckström high on the glove side.


The light was green and so was I
Dynamo captain Maxim Sushinsky

A couple of months ago the NHL Deputy Commissioner, Bill Daly, had made comments to the effect that an IIHF - NHL series would be off if Dynamo were to become the ECC champions. At a press conference following the ECC tournament, IIHF president Rene Fasel had this to say:

"I discussed this subject with Gary Bettman, the commissioner of the NHL, when we met in Vancouver (at the World Juniors). Up through now, he doesn't have any objections. Now it is only for us to find a date on the calendar that is suitable for all of us."

Rangers trade Kondratiev

Theoretical Sounds of Slow Motion

Press release from the New York Rangers web site:

1/8/2006
The Rangers acquired right wing Petr Sykora from the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim today in exchange for defenseman Maxim Kondratiev. As part of the trade, the Rangers also secured the return of a 2007 fourth-round draft selection they had sent to Anaheim in the Aug. 23, 2005, trade that brought Steve Rucchin to New York. Details to follow ...


G12 called me exactly an hour ago to tell me that Kondratiev is already skating against the Wolf Pack today for the Anaheim farm team, the Portland Pirates, wearing number 33.

Sykora adds to the Rangers' assembly of Czech forwards, while hopefully Maxim will have someone to help him integrate into a new system and his new surroundings, since I understand that Fedor Tyutin and Darius Kasparaitis were a big help to him in that regard these past two seasons.

Wolf Pack demolish Monarchs, 5-1

A blind man walks into a drugstore and starts walking up and down the aisles, knocking things off the shelves with his cane.  The manager comes over to him and says, 'Sir, may I help you?', to which the man replies, 'No, just looking.' Joe Rullier (Chris Rutsch photo)

The Hartford Wolf Pack won on the road in Manchester on Saturday, defeating the Monarchs, 5-1, and passing Manchester for second place in the Atlantic Division. The Wolf Pack have now won three games in a row this week, scoring 16 goals in that span.

Former Wolf Pack forward Brad Smyth led off the scoring for the Monarchs with his 16th goal of the season, but it was all Hartford after that as Immonen, Baranka, Rullier, Helminen, and Giroux scored consecutively for the Wolf Pack, with Hartford outshooting Manchester 26-6 over the final two periods. Helminen's goal was his team-leading 18th goal of the season. Joe Rullier, who played four seasons in Manchester before joining the Rangers organization this season, added two assists and was voted the first star of the game. Nigel Dawes also had two assists for the Wolf Pack.

The Wolf Pack now trail division-leading Portland by 3 points, and now travel up to Portland to face the Pirates at 4:05pm on Sunday.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Pack bid Whale adieu, finish off Portland 5-2

Those dishes won't wash themselves, you know T. Pöck (Rutsch photo)

On a night where the Wolf Pack honored three former Hartford Whalers players-- raising the jersey numbers of Ulf Samuelsson, Kevin Dineen, and Ron Francis to the rafters in a ceremony that gave the Whalers fans one more hockey memory-- the Wolf Pack also gave to the fans something that the Whalers didn't give to their fans nearly often enough: a win.

Colby Genoway had 2 goals and an assist while Thomas Pöck assisted on all but one of the Wolf Pack goals, as Hartford beat the Kevin Dineen-coached Portland Pirates on Friday night, 5-2. Pöck's 4 assists came the day after I made the comment, "Craig Weller had 4 assists on the night, which is more than Thomas Pöck has ever had in one game for the Wolf Pack", so I guess that shows how much I know.

Fedor Fedorov's line (Fedorov, Craig Weller and Lee Falardeau) got credit for shutting down the top line of the first-place Pirates, a line that features the AHL Co-Rookies of the Month for December, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Perry came into last night's game with 32 points (15g, 17a) in only 17 games, but was held off the scoresheet for the first time all season. Portland's top scorer, Dustin Penner, had an assist in the game, and now has 38 points (17g, 21a) in 25 games this year.

The game saw three fights, with Hartford's Dave Liffiton pounding Nathan Saunders to start things off 10 minutes into the contest, and then Joe Rullier squaring off against big Trevor Gillies a few minutes later. Rullier is a very good fighter, but Gillies is a true heavyweight, and while Rullier didn't get beaten up, he didn't fare too well either. Gillies and Martin Grenier, teammates with the Wolf Pack last season, fought each other as the game was winding down in the third period, probably to renew acquaintances more than anything else.

Maxim Kondratiev was once again impressive on defense, showing off the smooth skating and stickhandling skills which prove him to be a cut above most AHL defensemen, even if the Rangers (and justifiably so) believe that he still needs a bit more work to make it on the NHL level. Kondratiev isn't the most physical of defensemen, but his skating and positioning are near-perfect, and he can get the puck out of the zone far more effectively than any other Hartford player on the ice.

The big news of the night, of course, was the 35-minute "Whalers Appreciation Night" ceremony that preceeded the game, honoring current Wolf Pack assistant coach Ulf Samuelsson, current Portland Pirates head coach Kevin Dineen, and the newly-retired future Hall-of-Famer, Ron Francis. When I first walked through the doors of the arena I thought it was actually snowing inside the building, from all of the moths that were flying around due to the hundreds of Whalers jerseys that were being worn out in public for the first time in nearly a decade. Many old Whalers fans hold a grudge against MSG and the Wolf Pack for occupying the Civic Center, for whatever reasons. Still, I saw none of the planned protests that were being discussed by the breathless (as in, needing life support) Whalers Booster Club in the weeks before the game, such as turning their backs during the game, or rooting for the opposing team, or watching the ceremony but then leaving before the game started (a "mass-exitous", as one of the brilliant Whalers faithful spelled it on their crummy message board).

Chris Rutsch photo She Played Me Like A Booger

Whomever was in charge of putting together the replica Whalers jerseys that were worn by the honorees got the colors wrong, as the green "W" and blue whale's tail were switched. I guess it didn't matter, as many of the more boisterous fans wearing Whalers garb seemed way too young to have ever been to a Whalers game, except maybe as a grade schooler. Some of the older fans were wearing "New England Whalers" garb in an attempt to be "classic" or old school, though it was obvious that they had bought the stuff three or four years after the team had already moved away, so it symbolized about as much as buying a sweater a week ago from L.L. Bean.

The game drew 12,206 fans, which is about triple what the Wolf Pack have been drawing for an average Friday night game so far this year, meaning that about 8000 extra fans came out to give the Whalers franchise one last goodbye before the coffin gets nailed shut. The "Let's Go Whalers" chants during the ceremony and throughout the game were as loud as anything, and after each Wolf Pack goal the Civic Center played the Whalers goal song-- which is of those game show themes, like the "Price Is Right" or something like that. A couple of times during the game, the cameras caught some Whalers fans holding up a sign reading "Hartford Still Belives" (sic), and you know what, that just about sums it up for me too.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Wolf Pack brush off Syracuse, 6-4

We're Not So Smart C. Rutsch/HWP photo

Chad Wiseman score a hat trick, Jarkko Immonen had a 3-point night (1g, 2a), and Fedor Fedorov notched his 2nd goal of the season as the Hartford Wolf Pack easily dispatched the Syracuse Crunch at home on Wednesday night, 6-4. The win ended Hartford's 3-game losing streak. Sometime defenseman/sometime forward Craig Weller had 4 assists on the night, which is more than sometime defenseman/sometime forward Thomas Pöck has ever had in one game for the Wolf Pack, I'll bet, yet you don't see anyone on HockeyTurd whining for Weller to be brought up to the Rangers.

The Wolf Pack were up 2-0 in this game before Fedor Fedorov had even taken his first shift on the ice, and Crunch goalie Andrew Penner was pulled early after giving up 3 goals on the Wolf Pack's first 4 shots. It was only a couple of shots later when Penner's replacement, Martin Prusek, gave up Hartford's 4th goal of the game, and from then on the final outcome was never really in doubt.

Fedor Fedorov looked lost, as has been his usual lately-- his standard defensive technique is to stand in place waving his stick at the puck going by-- and the goal he scored was on one of his puck-hogging spin moves in traffic, with the puck clanging off the iron before going in. Fedorov also took a stick in the face late in the second period, leaving blood on the ice and giving Hartford the powerplay on a 5-minute major, which Syracuse killed off.

Pack Man Fever
Maxim Kondratiev (Chris Rutsch photo)

The one full-fledged fight in the game happened during the face-off that followed right after the first Wolf Pack goal, not even a minute and a half into the game, when Martin Grenier squared off against Brandon Sugden. This one was a bit pre-meditated, as the gloves were on the ice before the puck was even dropped. Grenier controlled the action for most of the fight and got in a few damaging punches, though not much in the way was thrown by either player-- it was more of a wrestling match, which is about all that Grenier's been involved with this season. He doesn't seem to ever be able to get his hands loose during battle.

Peter Sarno was one of the goal-scorers for Syracuse, netting his 6th goal in only 11 games this season. Maxim Kondratiev suited up for Hartford and played well, after been sent back to the AHL earlier in the week following a one-game stint with the Wolf Pack the week before.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Alexander Ovechkin: "When Crosby was made alternate captain, I laughed"

All Thru The Night Buttobase!!
Alexander Ovechkin celebrating a game-tying goal in the final minute against Tampa Bay

The following is a Dec. 29 interview with Alexander Ovechkin through the Russian news agency, RIA, that appeared on the NHL.ru web site:

First of all, congratulations on making the Russian Olympic team. Have you had time to study the rosters of the teams you will be playing against?
Thanks for the congratulations, it's a nice feeling to have been chosen to be on the Olympic team. As far as the make-up of the rival teams is concerned, I don't see why I should study them. It is only necessary that I go there to play, and to win!

Whom do you consider the Olympic favorites, and what are Russia's chances?
I believe Russia to be the favorite!

Speaking about the NHL now, what has been the most pleasant surprise to you about living overseas?
I'm very pleased with the good relations I am having with the management and people around me in Washington. As for the game itself, there are some local rules like four-on-four (in overtimes), though shootouts are the same...

How would you explain having more success at scoring in the NHL than in the Russian Super League? Is it mostly a matter of playing time?
I think that playing time matters the most. I am given a lot of ice time here, and they also allow me to play on the man advantage and the penalty kill. That wasn't the case with Dynamo; I played hardly at all on the penalty kill, only on the power play. The more playing time you receive, the better your results.

Are you worried that with this extra playing time you might not have the energy to carry you through an 82-game season?
Why wouldn't I have enough energy? After the games, with whatever I have left, I rest and I restore myself.

Is it difficult mentally to go and play for a non-contending NHL club after winning the championship with Dynamo?
Certainly, that was a great Dynamo team-- the games, the players, and everything. But we can make it that way here, with Washington. This is an entirely different team, but I must play in any situation. Each year this team will have a chance to get stronger, so let's watch and see what happens.

Many fans will want to stereotype you as not being a giving player. You don't ever worry about becoming a player wrapped up in his own statistics at the expense of the team? There are many instances in the league of players celebrating their goals while the team loses...
I don't think I'll be like that. It's easy for me to make a pass to a teammate, if he is in a better position. I play with the opportunity that is presented. It's no secret that I love to score, but if I score a couple of goals and we lose, it takes away some of the satisfaction from scoring.

How popular is hockey in Washington?
When the season began, for the first game, we had a full stadium. Then increasingly fewer and fewer fans came. Now that we have won some games and are starting to play better, the fans are coming out more.

Do you go to the guest book of the Washington site in order to meet the fans?
No, not usually. If I go as a guest, I don't usually write anything. (I think this is referring to message boards, but I'm not definitely sure)

How do you usually spend your free time? Have you been to the Capitol Building?
Of course, I haven't been to the Capitol Building. I usually stay in the house. I'm statisfied with just being able to relax; with an 80-game season, it's necessary to conserve energy.

What do you figure would be a good number of goals for you to score during the regular season?
I scored 13 goals for the season twice in Russia, and already here I've scored a lot more in only a partial season (22g, 20a after 35 games). It would be hard for me to guess, but the more goals I score, the better.

Do you feel that they are playing harder against you now than at the beginning of the season, when the NHL still didn't know what to expect from Alexander Ovechkin?
Yes, it it harder. I notice that the defensive pair on the ice changes on the fly the moment I take to the ice. I've seen other differences as well.

Have any situations arisen where they try to provoke you into fighting?
We have players who will immediately step in for me when that happens. They want their key players to stay in the game, and not be in the penalty box. The coaches tell me, "You should fight back in the way that you play." In Buffalo, there was an instance when one of their players tried to start something with me, but I was brought over to the side while the others did the fighting.

Whom have you made the most friends with in Washington?
I have a good relationship with Dainius Zubrus. But we all try to get along together.

Did they put together the rookie dinner yet (a tradition where the rookies provide for the entire team)?
Not yet, it will be in two weeks, right after a game.

Have you set it as a goal for yourself to win the Calder Trophy?
Of course, I want to win it. I've never hidden that, what's there to hide?

Who else, besides Sidney Crosby, do you consider to be your main competition for it?
There are very many good rookies this year. Dion Phaneuf of Calgary, Jeff Carter of Philadelphia, Marek Svatos of Colorado, many good rookies for sure...

By the way, in Pittsburgh they made 18-year-old Sidney Crosby an alternate captain; do they have any similar plan in Washington?
Even if they did, I wouldn't agree to it. I consider, at that age, to give someone that position-- it's ridiculous. To be honest, when Crosby was made an alternate, I laughed.

Describe as you see it all of the new rules, shootouts and so forth. Many have said that in the NHL this year, teams are almost always playing at uneven strength.
In principle, players are leaving the ice a lot more from penalties. But all of this is business as usual for me, I don't complain. But that's for the other people to decide, all of this can change, they will look at what happened this season and make a decision...

Shinkansen High Tension
Ovechkin sticking his tongue out (Michael Jordan-style) before scoring a shootout goal against Atlanta

Of course, you know that you are the best at scoring in shootouts in the NHL? No one else in the league has 5 shootout goals like you do.
Yes, I realize that.

With Dynamo, shootouts were not your strength, but now here you have this sudden improvement...
With Dynamo, I scored only twice out of 4 shootouts, they were good tries but they didn't all go in. Here, I try and they go in.

Who would you say out of the NHL goalkeepers has made the most impression on you?
Evgeni Nabokov. I've only played against him once, but he stands out a lot. His game made a great impression on me, it is very difficult to score on him. We were only able to get one goal past him, and even that was a fluke goal; the puck came out from under a pile in front, and he simply did not see it. All of the other shots he stopped cleanly.

Whom has appeared the best out of the Russians you have seen this season?
Undoubtedly, Pasha (Pavel) Datsyuk. Ilya Kovalchuk has impressed me as well, Maxim Afinogenov, Andrei Markov, Alexei Kovalev...

With which Russians are you the closest with?
Datsyuk, I share a bond with Ilya Bryzgalov, with Afinogenov sometimes...

Datsyuk and Afinogenov are understandable, since you played with them with Dynamo, but when did you have time to become friends with Bryzgalov?
We were introduced at the World Championships. And then when the situation with Avangard happened (Ovechkin tried to leave Dynamo Moscow to go play for Avangard Omsk this past offseason, before the lockout was resolved and he signed with the Capitals), and I went to Omsk, and he and Nikita Alexeev and I went everywhere together, because they lived there on the base. So we became friends.

Will you follow the World Junior Championships now that they've begun?
It is mandatory. If our schedule allows, I even plan to fly to Vancouver. In any case, I want to call Evgeni Malkin and wish him success, and call any of the other players whose phone numbers I have.

How do you plan to celebrate the New Year?
My parents have arrived, so we will celebrate in Russian to meet the New Year.

Pack knocked off by Providence, 3-1

I'm Through With White Girls J. Immonen (Rutsch photo)

The Hartford Wolf Pack lost at home to the surging Providence Bruins on Saturday, 3-1, during a snowstorm on New Year's Eve. It was a puzzling effort for the Wolf Pack, who outshot Providence by a combined 42-8 in the first and third periods but put in a disinterested effort in the second period, when Providence (playing their 5th game in 6 days) did most of their damage, scoring two goals while keeping the play in the Wolf Pack end through almost the entire period. The game marked the first time that the Wolf Pack have had three straight regulation losses this season.

The game began with an aggressive first period that saw a number of shoving matches, if not any actual dropping of the gloves, including a lengthy scrum in front of the team benches involving Craig Weller and Jason MacDonald and a bunch of others that had players from both sides leaning around the glass divider to yap at each other. Hartford was the first to score in the game, on a goal by Dwight Heminen (who now has 17 points-- 10g, 7a-- in his last 12 games), but it went downhill quickly from there.

Today's game recap in the Hartford Courant does a pretty good job summing up the uneven effort by the Wolf Pack, including this quote from head coach Jim Shoenfeld:

"We had a ton of chances, but some guys are really working hard and some guys are taking shortcuts. Guys like Giroux and Wiseman, who won't get physically involved, have a hard time generating scoring chances. They're two guys that could have a good finish if they'd just play with a little more grit, which would take some of the scoring burden off the Helminen-Genoway-Dawes line. We need everybody going all the time. It's not a part-time game and not a fragmented team. Everybody has got to play, and some guys are pulling their own weight and some guys aren't."

A number of Pack players are busting their butts every night (Genoway, Liffiton, Dawes, Girardi, and Helminen, to name a few), meanwhile guys like Fedor Fedorov and Dale Purinton haven't been helping the team much at all lately. Purinton just returned from an injury, perhaps, but he's looked lousy all season, and not just recently. A lot of promising scoring chances start with Fedorov yet he doesn't seem to know how to finish them, skating into traffic and refusing to pass off more often than not, and when Fedor doesn't have the puck he just floats around aimlessly.

Meanwhile, the Charlotte Checkers closed out their week with a win in Pensacola on Saturday, 3-0, though they also traded away goalie Bernd Bruckler, who I thought did well in his short stint with Hartford earlier in the season.