Thursday, September 15, 2005
HOCKEYBUZZ.COM IS ALIVE!!!!!!!
Still a bit buggy, but come on over...This will be my last post on hockeyrumors.blogspot.com...
Come to my new home and meet the other bloggers...and play fantasy hockey to win an HDTV!
THE BLOGGERS OF HOCKEYBUZZ.COM (more being added soon)
Stan Fischler-MSG Network
Tim Panaccio-Philadelphia Inquirer
BOB FOLTMAN-Chicago Tribune
Dan Russell-SportsTalk, Vancouver
Howard Berger-Fan590, Toronto
Iain Morrel-McKeen's Hockey
John Madden-NHL Stud
PJ Stock-Ex-NHL Stud
Jeff Rimer-Voice of the Blue Jackets
Dale Arnold-Voice of the Bruins
Johnny Ahlers-Voice of the Mighty Ducks
Kevin Gibson-640AM Toronto
Rob Kerr-FAN960 Calgary
Andy Strickland-KMOX, St. Loius
Jeremy White-WGR, Buffalo
Kevin Lee-Phoenix Coyotes, Team1200
Paul McCann-Nashville Predators Commentator
Alan Walsh-Player Agent
Bill Zito-Player Agent
Dan Wallace-Fantasy Hockey Specialist
Adam Porrier-Fantasy Hockey Specialist
Gilles Moncour-NHL on TV
FREE ICE CREAM TO EVERYONE!!!
Launch Delayed until 4pm ET...
We will be flying soon...one hour from now....promise!
thanks for your patience
TODAY WE LAUNCH 3pm ET!!!
See you at hockeybuzz.com
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Ryan Smyth and Peter Bondra
Bruins Sign Goalie
Close The Doors and Figure this Out
I will write about today. One last time before the new website opens tomorrow at 3pm. Because the idea of hockeybuzz.com is to create a place where the sport will be allowed to grow by leaps and bounds through people who love the sport. I spent a year of my life writing positive stuff in hockey's darkest hour, trying to keep the sport alive through the surgery. It thrills me to see the sport is alive now. Someone at the NHL office told me yesterday that they anticipate a full sellout on opening night. Considering what has happened that is an amazing testament to hockey fans and just how good this sport is.
This Saskin thing is a pissing match now..no one wins a pissing match. It is easy to find plenty of fault with both sides.
The PA is at fault for ignoring several procedures, and doing so in a way that left them vunerable to the remnants of Bob Goodenow's supporters. Now, it is not only Goodenow's goons that think something wrong has been done. It is several of hockey's respected people who are worried that procedure needs to be followed. However, the fact that procedures weren't followed is nothing new to the PA at all. This organization never follows procedure on anything it does. It is one of the reasons that a season could be lost without the players having any say whatsoever. It is why players would call me to find out what was going on in the lockout for crying out loud! That is why people are looking to procedures now. In procedures comes some sort of stability. In the past they wouldn't have mattered.
What Ted should do, and I hate using the word should, is call a task force together to write a new constitution for the PA. One that assures the players will be communicated to and allowed to control their fate more. That would calm many people moving forward. It would be a constitution that everyone would be forced to follow. The one written now was written by Eagleson when there were twelve teams. It is moot in many ways. Especially when it comes to marketing.
See this the thing. What the PA has done is wrong, but most people are willing to forgive based on the past and the fact that Ted is the guy. However, they are more concerned this continues a pattern that will keep them in the dark. A new constitution would soothe those fears.
The other issue I have with the PA right now is that the player reps are in disarray. Prior to this secret ballot it would have been better to hold secret ballots to elect new player reps. Right now so many guys are on new teams. Mark Recchi is the rep for the Penguins for example. Robert Esche quit the Flyers post. The anti-Saskin folks are going around telling player reps that if they vote on Ted they may be liable themselves in a criminal case. That is ridiculous according to a lawyer I spoke to last night, who said, "It sounds like they are afraid this vote will clear Ted."
And this segways into the problems i have with the other side. Taking this dispute public may help get your case some attention, but it stabs hockey in the back over and over again. If you have a case, hire a lawyer, like you did, and deal with it internally and through the courts. What lawyer is advising you to release internal emails to a reporter? I agree that there are things that need to be looked at, and you may be right about many of them, but to use a sport that has been beaten up as your cover is the most horrible offense that has happened here. Afraid of the escrow? Airing your laundry in public could scare away sponsors that are already iffy about hockey's stability.
Finally, and absolutely most importantly, these fans deserve better. These people are being forgotten here. They open their sports sections to read about new line combinations not this. Hockey is a release from the everyday. We all go to work, and hear gossip, and people get fired, etc. When we come home we turn on hockey and don't want to talk business. We have talked about your business for over a year now. Deal with it yourself and let us watch the games.
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Berger Fix on All Things Leafs Up
The Fan-590 Radio, Toronto
IT WAS CERTAINLY A PLEASURE to be back in an authentic hockey atmosphere yesterday, as the Maple Leafs began their 2005 training camp with physicals and fitness testing. The Ricoh Coliseum, on the grounds of the Canadian National Exhibition, is the main site of Leafs’ camp, and will serve as home ice for the American Hockey League Toronto Marlies this season, the club having re-located from its long-time base in St. John’s, Nfld. – one of the friendliest places on earth.
Read the rest...
Hockey Buzz Launches Thursday at 3pm ET
For 24.95 you will get one full year of Full Site Access plus all the benefits below:
-Fantasy League Tip Sheets
-Real time scoring stats for Fantasy League
-The luxury box‚ a chat room just for season ticket holders.
-The press box, a chat room for scheduled chats with players and other hockey personalities.
-Eklund podcasts, that feature players, writers and other hockey personalities.
-A special call-in number to ask guests questions.
-A personal contact form to email Eklund directly with questions for podcasts
-Ability to comment & interact with the bloggers on the message boards.
-10% off everything in the hockeybuzz.com store.
-Up to the date email notifications on updates to Eklund blog or receive a daily digest once a day.
"Hockey Blog World" will feature the best the sport has to offer...players, agents, broadcasters, hockey writers, and one anonymous blogger...It will truly be the place to kill time.
The Fantasy Game will be amazing, free to everyone, and we will give away prizes galore including: Jerseys, XBOX 360, T-shirts, and an HDTV. Anyone who signs up for the fantasy game prior to Oct 5 will get a chance at winning an Authentic Rick Nash Columbus Blue Jackets Home Jersey.
More than anything hockeybuzz.com will be aplace that celebrates the triumphant return of the sport we all love! I am really looking forward to it. Now back to work...alot to do!
Thanks for your support.
Scott Young To the Blues
Saskin Steps Up
The PA just put out this statement ten minutes ago:
"Following a conference call with members of the Executive Board on Monday evening, Ted Saskin made the following statement:
“After good dialogue with members of the Executive Board, I decided that it was in the best interests of the membership to conduct a secret ballot vote amongst our Player Representatives and Executive Officers so that there are absolutely no questions regarding my election as Executive Director and General Counsel.”
The NHLPA will make no further comment on this matter until the voting process has been completed."
In my opinion this goes a long way towards putting this behind us and allowing the sport to start the season with only positive energy. It is a great move and I commend him for it...
There is a belief out there among players that if someone else was to fill this position it wouldn't be good at all for the PA. Basically what many players are thinking is summed up by this: This CBA is Ted's deal and we need a guy in there who is accountable to this deal. He will work harder to make this deal work than anyone else. If we bring another guy in, he could always say, "I didn't make this deal."
The secret ballot that will be conducted, upholds the NHLPA constitution that requires a secret ballot to ratify Ted's position. The fact that this didn't happen has been a major issue since the five hour conference call that started this controversy.
After this vote, should Ted be elected, I feel the fact that he did this will allow the PA to become a much stronger and more united organization. Ted can turn this into a unifying and positive event.
Monday, September 12, 2005
Berger Fix on Maple Leafs Training Camp
CONSIDERING THE MAPLE LEAFS were in a state of paralysis during the height of the free agent scramble this summer, general manager John Ferguson has done a decent job of playing catch-up.
The process evolved in stages for Ferguson, and it began with astonishing incapacity after the club failed to position itself, financially, for the cream of the free agent crop. Part of that failure involved choice, as the Leafs, like most other teams, decided not to add salary by executing buy-outs of current players that would not count against the cap. While competitors eagerly scooped up front-line talent such as Peter Forsberg, Scott Niedermayer, Sergei Gonchar, Adam Foote, Brian Leetch and others, Ferguson stood by – allegedly dreaming about next year – which has long been a pastime for fans of the Blue and White....
Read the rest...
The Saskin Story Continues
There is a problem here, and not a small one, but I think we need to sit back and grab some perspective.
Great leaders become so by how they react to adversity. Ted has a golden opportunity here to unite a group that has been divided for years.
Hockey players are incredible people. And all this turmoil really doesn't matter to them right now. They want to play. They, by a wide majority, wanted Ted. They appreciate the work he put in to get this season on ice. If you ask them, like I did to a head coach recently, they will likely say, “Whatever..they got the right guy.”
Does this mean that Ted and Trevor did this the right way? Not at all. It is frustrating to all involved to see how they handled it. A respected agent said to me, “Given the history of distrust to the position, certain people are waiting for mistakes. They found some and they are jumping on it.”
Does this mean the PA is in turmoil? Not at all. The PA is reporting to training camp. They are all saying the same thing to me at least, “We wish it had been handled differently, but Ted will do a great job. He is our guy”
Talking to a source at the PA late last night there are serious concerns about the internal emails being leaked to the press. The belief among several sources was that the emails are being leaked by someone within the executive committee.
“He is still a member of the executive committee last we checked. He goes around saying that what we did was wrong, and at the same time he goes and releases internal emails to the press? How can we work with the guy? How can we trust sending him anything right now? I view it as a desperate attempt to keep this controversy alive. These emails came out just when this was about to die on the vine. The player reps are calling in saying 'what the hell?'”
There are some fascinating rumors circulating surrounding this. One says that Linden is trying to get another conference call together to address the internal leaks with the player reps, and stop the leaks.
The other is that a suit has already been file.
The moment I heard that rumor, I went back to some player reps that I had talked to who said that during the conference call the disgruntled group had told the reps that they were dropping the case and moving on. One rep I talked to was very upset about this, claiming, “he gave his word.”
I have yet to have a player say to me that they thought Ted shouldn't be the guy in the job. I have had many say that they wish it had happened differently. Some do feel that he should step back and allow a search. Make a statement to the effect of, “Due to the fact that concerns have arisen, I will allow a search for my position to be performed, I will act as the guy for now, and will throw my hat in the ring of course.”
One respected agent said to me, “In doing this he would regain control immediately and squelch this group. Take away all their ammo, and get the job he deserves.”
The PA source didn't appear to expect this to happen. “If Ted did that it would be giving credence to a very small vocal group of out-of-work players led by opportunity seeking agents. The vast majority of players are fine with him and realize his 15 years at the PA and the tireless work he did to get here are what matters.”
The fact is the PA is damaged right now by far more than this controversy. The players will let this blow over, but the agents, not just a few, are notably concerned about the lasting effects. And they are waiting for Ted to make his move and lead. I believe and hope that he will. I think Trevor and Ted have done some things less than perfect, but it can be fixed. I don't believe for a second it was done for greed or as any sort of blind ambition. It was done quickly so that the PA could put the past behind them and move on. The conference call was put together so that big business would know the PA now has a stable and respected leader that can work with the NHL.
And after what hockey went through, that is no small potatoes.
The relationship that Daly and Saskin have is the kind of relationship needed right now. They work together extremely well, and are both motivated to find ways to grow the sport in creative ways. And that is UNBELIEVABLY VITAL right now.
How Ted deals with this will be a big part of his legacy. If he can find a way to overcome this, and he should be able to, he will have more power and effectiveness as a result. This can be turned into a positive. If he doesn't handle it well, everyone's radar will be up. People will remember the ones that came before him. And his power will be nullified. Great leaders find ways…and I think Ted has that in him.
The players of the NHL are the reason the sport exists. They hire the PA so they can play hockey and not worry about the business. There is a huge peace of mind that comes from knowing how those you hired are working on other things for your benefit and you can do what you do. Ted Saskin is someone the players still feel that way about. That is obvious from talking to over a hundred of them. They just want to know they don't have to worry about this anymore. Time to put away the suits and put on the skates.
BONDRA TO ATLANTA (e5)
I have to say this is a great move by a team that will be fun to watch this year. And from what I am hearing Kovalchuk isn't far beihnd. The Thrashers have made some great progress signing guys like Holik, and picking up Hossa, Devries and now Bondra. Very skilled guys. Can you imagine the Power Play in a league where there will be plenty of them?
Sunday, September 11, 2005
Farewell to Three Wise D-Men
Macinnis was known as the guy that could make every goalie cringe. (that's what happens when you split a goalies mask with your shot, as he did to Mike Liut) The reputation that he carried of having the hardest shot in the NHL was mentioned by every announcer every time he stepped on the ice. In 1989 he not only won a cup with Calgary, but he won the Conn Smythe for MVP of the play-offs. He is a rare player who actually is claimed by two teams. Calgary and St. Louis. You hate to think that you won't see that shot again. Unless you are a goalie of course.
Stevens…well, growing up in Philadelphia of course I have seen too much of Scott Stevens. The Lindros hit is all that needs to be said about that. Scott caused me years of anguish. It is hard to remember him as a Capital, but he was for many years, before his brief stint in St. Louis. He ended up in NJ after an arbitration case awarded him to the Devils following the Blues signing of Shanahan. At the time Shanahan was the big name, and Brendan has had an amazing career. But that arbitrator helped turn the Devils from as Gretzky put it, “A Mickey Mouse Franchise” into a mini Dynasty. Stevens may have been the most intimidating player on the ice in the decade of the 90's. And (almost) every one of those bone-crunching hits was clean. He just had an amazing ability to time his weight distribution and completely level his opponent.
James Patrick is the picture of class, and the kind of player the NHL needs more of today. An intelligent, well-spoken ambassador to the game, who spent over twenty years in the NHL. Most will think of him as a Ranger, but he also made huge impacts in Calgary and Buffalo. You always hear his name equated with class at every turn. And due to his experience and communicative abilities he was always the first guy to bring a young guy along. I don't know his future plans, but I can only hope he intends to stay in hockey for a long, long time. We need him.
As for some rumors for you today….
It is looking more and more like the Thrashers will sign Kovalchuk soon, and follow that up with Peter Bondra…
Another Berger Fix on Internet Message Boards
BY HOWARD BERGER
The Fan-590 Radio, Toronto
Alright, you Maple Leaf message-board junkies: You’ve brought me to my knees. I thought I’d never receive anywhere close to the number of e-mails I got after the columns I wrote back in August on the Todd Bertuzzi/Steve Moore saga. But, you folks have annihilated that figure. On Thursday and Friday, I had more than 750 messages on my personal e-mail. Combine that with the various chat-site threads on the subject, and there must have been 3,000 bits of discussion. Obviously, this is more of a cottage industry than I imagined, and it prompted me to take a closer look at the phenomenon.
For the rest of the story click here
Saturday, September 10, 2005
NHL06 vrs. NHL2k6...and my history of hockey games
I have always been the guy to get every hockey game available.
When I was growing up, in the 80s, there really weren't many hockey games. Strat-O-Matic was, and arguably is still, the best for die hard hockey fans. In SOM each player has a card that reflects his last season stats. This was the pre-curser to the video games of today. The difference was, you really learn the players when you play strat-o-matic, and your job is to put lines together and match lines. Unbelievably fun, really.
As a kid, 4 or 5, I remember my grandmother had the old “Bobby Hull Rod Hockey” game. The metal players weren't in slots as I remember it. They were stationary and just spun…The puck had a metal ball bearing in it; it really moved.
Of course there was knock-hockey. A great game of angles, and you used a little wooden stick on a board…Knock-hockey is still a good time.
Then came Air Hockey; at least in this kid's timeframe. I liked air hockey, because as a goalie, it was all about reflexes. We used to sand the puck down so it moved faster.
Then came Atari. One orange button, one big joystick. One turning knob to play pong hockey with. I vaguely remember activision hockey for Atari, but it was Intellivision that brought the first real ice hockey video game with which I became obsessed. Remember you could trip guys, and the trick was to take a shot, the goalie would go down and you could score on the rebound? My friend had intellivision and we played that game until our thumbs bled. Remember the intellivision controllers? The silver circle?
Then I got an Odyssey 2 game. They had a rather uninspiring hockey game I believe.
But then came Nintendo Ice Hockey. Arguably still one of the best video games, not just hockey games, ever created. You selected your team based on three different sized men. Fat, skinny, or normal. The fat guys had killer shots, the skinny guys could fly around the ice.
About the same time a few arcade hockey games were hitting that I remember. There was one game, I can't remember the name of it, but it was just one on one and the ice got all scratched up; played that for hours!!! And then “Blades of Steel." “Hit the Pass!”
Then EA starting putting out games for Sega. These were a giant leap. NHL 94 was absolutely perfect for the time. I believe it was '94 when you could fight and the loser would lay on the ice with blood spewing from his head.
From that point on I bought all the EA games, and shifted to Playstation. EA lost it for awhile around 98-99. They went for realism over playability.
Anyway, that was a long background, but a fun one to remember…
So let's get to it: NHL06 vs. NHL2k6
Both of these games have some unique features. Both look excellent. For me the choice comes down to a generational thing. I am 37 years old and can do things with an X-Box controller fairly well, but I was more amazing with three buttons, and one joystick, something my parents couldn't fathom at the time.
The X-Box Generation blows MY mind. 6 buttons, two triggers, and three joysticks. I am getting better, but you are what you grew up with.
For me NHL06 is just more fun so far. Less things to think about and more playable. Another big plus is that NHL06, despite being released earlier, has many of the players on the right teams. Not all of course, but about 90%. For example, NHL2K6's Line 1 for the Flyers is Roenick, Amonte, and LeClair…UGH! Why? Amonte and LeClair weren't Flyers from the moment players could get bought out.
Compare that to NHL06 where Forsberg and Hatcher skate out as Flyers.
NHL06 kept the guys like Lindros as free agents. That way you can put them on the right team. In both games guys like Crosby, Carter and Richards don't exist. That is due to a NHLPA rule. However how can you play this season without Crosby?
In NHL06 you can create them, which I did immediately. You can actually shape their faces and hair colors. So I sat down with photos and stats and created the three players. So when I play the Flyers I can use the actual lines that I guess will start the season:
Forsberg, Carter, Gagne
Richards, Knuble, Sharp
Primeau, Kappanen, Radio
Handzus, Brasheer, Stevenson
Anyway, they both have great franchise modes.
This is not to say the NHL2k6 doesn't do some things better than NHL06.
NHL2k6 reminds me of Madden. All kinds of controls. You can make all sorts of moves by pressing certain combinations, plus there is “Pro Control” where you can pass to specific players ala Madden's new passing.
2K6 has a really awesome practice area to learn these skills, also like Madden. There is an enforcer system where you can lessen your opponent's effectiveness through intimidation--a great idea! There is also a Super Box section where you can play Air Hockey and win tokens to unlock features.
So 2k6 wins out in terms of features beyond the game and player control.
But I admit, it is beyond my hand-eye coordination at this point. I like it in Madden, but hockey happens so fast and is a sport of reaction and instinct. That gets thrown by thinking “what buttons do I use to kick it to my skate in the corner?”
NHL06 has a 9 page instruction booklet. NHL2K6 is 45 pages.
In summary, I miss hockey and I want the right guys on the right teams. And I want to play it NOW. I've waited long enough for hockey. So for this one person, it is NHL06 all the way.
Others I'm sure would differ, and I'd encourage your opinions.
Friday, September 09, 2005
McKee signs with Sabres
Hatcher and Forsberg Injured
Another Berger Fix on the Maple Leafs Up
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN young general manager John Ferguson, and “old” head coach Pat Quinn of the Toronto Maple Leafs has been the subject of intrigue ever since Ferguson assumed the role two years ago last month. Not only was a 36-year-old coming aboard in a position of authority over a 60-year-old, but the young buck was taking the wily veteran’s job. It seemed like a surefire invitation for strife and conflict, and a number of hockey observers predicted the Ferguson/Quinn union to be a disaster.....
For the rest of the story click here
Friday Morning's Random Paragraph
Friday' Morning's Random Paragraph
I talked to a few goalies over the last 48 hours regarding the rumor flying around that the NHL is considering allowing Goalie Jerzees to be different than those of other players...The goalies I talked to loved the idea. It gives them their own product to market, in a similar way to their mask designs. Except there isn't a group of people out there buying masks. So if they get good designers, it could be interesting. I know this flies in the face of tradition, so I am sure it will be hugely controversial. The rumors have largely focused on the goalies selling advertising on their jerseys, but I have been told that element has been discussed but isn't a definite at all..If a guy can make more money by selling advertising he should be able to. It hasn't hurt Nascar any. We all hated when ads were put on the boards, but now seeing a game without them looks odd. Fact is these players signed a linkage deal and they need to increase revenues. That is the bottom line. I am a purist as well, but I am also a realist. I am a purist when it comes to the game, but I like the rule changes. At least I like the sentiment. To say I like the rule changes until I see them in action is impossible. I like progressive thinking. I guess I am a purist when it comes to the way players are. The respect they give to the fans. The concept that they should be appreciative for their gift. I don't mind advertising, I do mind Terrell Owens. That is where I draw the line. Anyone in the entertainment industry that doesn't treat the people who pay the freight like gold doesn't deserve to make a cent. I have been playing NHL 06 and NHL 2k6 back to back as I work on a review to compare the two of them side by side.
The Penguins will hold a press conference to announce Sydney Crosby's signing today. A very symbolic moment in the new NHL...Exciting stuff.