Saturday, June 30, 2007

MLSE kicks off Free Agent Frenzy

Huge acquisition breaking this morning...

Ontario Teachers Pension Plan wins bidding for BCE telecom

BCE Inc., Canada's largest telecommunications company, said Saturday it has reached an agreement to be bought by a group led by the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan for C$51.7 billion (US$48.5 billion), making it the largest takeover in Canadian history.

The Ontario Teachers Pension Plan Board in co-operation with U.S.-based Providence Equity Partners and Madison Dearborn Partners, LLC won out over several other bidders, BCE said in a statement.

The Teachers Pension Plan was already BCE's largest shareholder with a 6.8 percent stake.

The Ontario teachers pension group — with assets of C$106 billion (US$99 billion) in 2006 — invests and administers the retirement funds for Ontario's 167,000 teachers and 104,000 retired teachers.


Friday, June 29, 2007

Cap Relief

The league has announced the cap figure for the 2007-2008 season and the Leafs suddenly have a bit more wiggle room. The cap will be set at $50.3M which, based on Bitter's cap work, leaves the Leafs (is that still considered clever by the anti-Leafs brigade?) with $4,964,672 under the cap.

You'll notice a few things from looking at the roster. First, is that the Leafs are already at 20 players that could be on the big club's roster. The second is that $4.97M doesn't seem like enough to land the big free agent. However, with some clever moves they could be able to free up some more cap space.

The team won't be carrying 8 defencemen. They'll be carrying 7 defencemen and the bane of my existence (swingman Wade Belak) who, while hilarious, tends to bring the humour to the ice. In terms of dream moves, the Leafs would move White to the Marlies and save $850K dollars of salary. That brings us up to $5.72M of cap space available. Even with Woz out of the picture the Leafs would still have an extra $463K to offer.

Of course, that is a pretty basic scenario involving just putting salary on the Marlies. There are innumerable trade rumours (McCabe to the Isles?) that could also free-up a lot of cash. I am sure that waiver considerations will come into play but the Leafs have a change to figure in the UFA frenzy that was not possible with a $48M cap.

Needless to say, there will be a lot to catch up on Tuesday morning.

Warm Up Gerber!

Ottawa's answer to Steve Simmons is reporting that JP Barry, Ray Emery's agent, is lining up offers for the RFA goalie. A former member of the sens' brass is at the top of the list of teams looking to poach Emery that includes St. Louis and Los Angeles.
If Chiarelli makes a successful offer of between $3.5 million and $4.7 million for Emery, Boston would have to give up a first-, second- and third-round pick in 2008 to Ottawa. Emery can also file for arbitration and could get an award close to the $4.5 million that Rick DiPietro is making with the New York Islanders. Emery had a 33-16-6 record with a 2.47 goals-against average last season and played a big role in the Senators reaching the Stanley Cup final.
So much for Emery getting somewhere in the region of a 100% raise. Murray has been very active in trying to keep his number 1 goalie,
Emery has until July 5 to decide whether to file for arbitration. If he receives no offer sheets, that's the route he'll likely take because he's had only brief contract discussions with Murray.
I guess he thinks that a first, second, and third rounder are a good trade-off. I always thought that the compensation was a lot more. If Emery gets up to $4.5M it would certainly make it a lot tougher to re-up Spezza and Heatley.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Fed Up

As much as all of the real Leaf fans hated the idea of dealing with another team in Ontario Canada definitely deserves more teams. Doubly so when the owner is a billionaire that loves the game and might help improve it. At some point in his childhood a Canadian must have made fun of him for looking like a freaking elf. He has moved two teams out of Canada AND moved heaven and earth to keep two from moving to the United States.

Gee's solution is the one that works best. In the hopes that there is a massive uprising against Gary Bettman here are the NHL sponsors that I have been able to track down and how to contact them. Let them know that you won't buy their products as long as Bettman is the commissioner. If you find any that aren't listed (very likely) e-mail me and I'll add them. It only takes a couple of minutes to let them know how you feel

Verizon Wireless
Anheuser-Busch Inc.
Bank of America
Best Buy
DaimlerChrysler - Ha, here's a phone number and CEO name to call!

One Riverside Drive West
Windsor, Ontario N9A 5K3
(519) 973-2000
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer
Reid Bigland

Dodge Corporation
MasterCard International
Pepsi-Cola North America
700 Anderson Hill Road
Purchase, NY 10577
(914) 253-2000

SIRIUS Satellite Radio
XM Satellite Radio This one will be easy for sens fans to boycott
590 King Street West, Suite 300
Toronto, ON M5V 1M3

Mind Boggling

Don beat me to the Balsillie news but I have to add that I love that idea. If only fans had the balls to do it.

The bright side is that all of the apostate Leaf fans that declared their allegiance to the team that never was are left with nothing to do but wait for their ticket deposits to be returned. If you are one of those don't pretend to cheer for the Leafs. Slink over to the sens and join that bandwagon.

In other insane news, I haven't found written confirmation but word on the Sportsnet ticker last night was that the result of the MLSE board meeting today will be that JFJ will NOT be offered a contract extension until next year when they see how the team is doing. This is why the Leafs have not won a cup in 40 years. If they weren't sure that Ferguson was the man then why let him run TWO drafts, TWO trade deadlines, and TWO free agency periods? And why tell him that his third time around better be the charm or he'll get fired? Why not fire him when you first had doubts?

I pray for the day of a single owner. Peddie and Tanenbaum and the rest of the board are absolute idiots. The Leafs could have had Scotty Bowman running the hockey operation but Peddie would not let him fire Junior. Why were they able to admit that they were clueless about basketball but they can't make the same admission about hockey? You guys are great at business but stay the hell away from the sports franchises. Look at how you guys let Mo Johnston run Toronto FC without interference. Please stop meddling!

Action required?

Surely the fans can do something to let the NHL Governors know that if Nashville moves to Kansas City instead of Hamilton, even when Balsillie is offering 50 million more for the franchise, we will be royally pissed.

But what?

Pledge never to buy a ticket if Kansas City visits our rink?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Oldtimers Chime in on Toskala.

Some Toronto alumni give their opinions on the Leafs new Goaltending situation. The best part is Sittler still calling the team "we", after all these years.
Once a Leaf always a Leaf.

Unless you're Aki Berg.

#9 in Blue?

First there was Toskala and Bell. Then yesterday Toronto signed Swiss scoring champion and NHL journeyman Simon Gamache. Now, one columnist makes a damn good argument for whom Toronto should sign next.

Paul Kariya a Toronto Maple Leaf? On Mats Sundin's wing?

Sounds good on paper... but would it be?

Friday, June 22, 2007

Let's Give Them Something To Talk About

Well, looks like JFJ grew a pair sometime between his repeated affirmative statements about Andrew Raycroft and today as he made a big splash on Draft Day. The Leafs will trade their 2007 First and Second Round picks as well as a 2009 Fourth Round pick for goaltender Vesa Toskala and forward Mark Bell. Note: The first round pick is set for 2007, but if the player the Sharks want isn't available, San Jose has the option to move the pick to 2008 with a top 10 protection covering the Leafs. That means if Toronto's 2008 pick is a top 10 pick then it will slide to 2009.

In a repeat of last year's move JFJ picked up a potential # 1 goalie who he will probably sign to a new contract in the next couple of months. The saying 'fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice...well you won't fool me again' (Thanks Dubya) comes to mind. If Toskala doesn't pan out then it HAS to be JFJ's last chance. Right?

Anyway, this draft has been labelled a weak draft by everyone involved in hockey. Giving up the picks could hurt the Leafs down the road but the odds are more likely that they won't. Scratch that, knowing the Leafs the 13th pick is going to be a Hall of Famer.

Here's a look at some work from Hockey Numbers looking at the save percentages of Toskala and Raycroft (left and right respectively) based on shot location:

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That's easy, Toskala is better in 3 of 4 areas. That was shot location on the ice and now is shot location on the goalie:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Looks like we traded a goalie with a glovehand problem for one with a stick side weakness. Toskala is again the better overall goalie. There is no doubt that this is an improvement in net for the Leafs. The interesting thing will be to see how Raycroft reacts to the trade. He can either pout and leave (like in Boston) or he can man up and challenge Toskala (please).

Mark Bell will be a good addition to the Leafs' second or third line. He is in the second year of a 3 year $6.5M contract. He is coming off a weak year with San Jose but previously he had years of 45 and 48 points on terrible Blackhawk teams so hopefully all he needs is a change of scenery.

I'll put a post together on what I think that this means cap-wise over the weekend but the Leafs are a much improved team in the present. The long-term effects will probably be devastating if only because that's what it's like to be a Leafs fan but right now I am happy.


It's Draft Day in Columbus and the Leafs are getting some work done. They signed Carlo to a 3-year extension at $1.283 which is about $400K more than he had to receive in a qualifying offer as an RFA so Mats' unselfish contract has already paid off.

The most interesting part of the article came near the end though:
The Leafs now have eight defencemen under contract including Marlie Staffan Kronwall who's expected to crack the Leafs lineup.
That means that a spot has to open up in the top 6 of Kaberle-Kubina, McCabe-Carlo, White-Gill. In terms of who would make way for Kronwall I would have to say it would be either Kubina, McCabe or (please God) White.

The former pair would have to be moved via trade and the latter could just be sent to the Marlies to learn a backhand and that being hit won't actually kill you. Considering the following:
"We're looking to get better in goal. We'd like to have a tandem that can push each other and create a little more healthy internal competition and ultimately better results on the ice in goal,"
the rumours are rampant as to how Kubina or McCabe could fetch a goalie with the names of Manny Fernandez, Ilya Bryzgalov, and Vesa Toskala all being bandied about.

Add in the fact that the Leafs have a chance at a very good player at 13th and today could go a long way towards getting the team back as a fixture in the playoffs.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Who the hell is Chris Stevenson?

He's bringin' it:
Muckler would fit in T.O.
In the wake of John Muckler’s dismissal as Senators GM are reports he could be in line as a consultant in Toronto for Leafs GM John Ferguson, Jr.
He would fit right in there.
JFJ overpaid Pavel Kubina and Bryan McCabe, so if the idea is to get somebody to keep Fergie Jr. from agreeing to those kinds of deals it would make perfect sense to bring in the guy who gave $11 million over three years for a backup goaltender and $10.5 millon over four years to a sixth defenceman.
Sounds like a good move for the Leafs.

Razor going under the razor

I know I'm not supposed to call him Razor but it just wrote itself.

Wrist surgery this afternoon.

UPDATE: Out for 3 months. Definitely more serious than most thought.

Take it.

Bruce 'The Rumour' Garrioch says:
Martin Gerber, Ottawa: Making $3.75 million next season, everybody knows what happened in Ottawa. The Kings and Coyotes have shown an interest. The Coyotes might take a chance if Ottawa is willing to take D Derek Morris and his $3.9 salary off their hands.

Also, Reds talks about the Edmonton rumours. I've changed my thinking on Wade a few times - right now I think it would be a mistake to move him.
He had a tough year with the injuries in the fall that never properly healed but we know he'll bounce back. Trading away Wade is one of those moves that you could regret for years.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Will Draft Day be JFJ's Day?

John Ferguson Junior hasn't been one to pull big time trades since becoming GM of the Leafs. Most of his moves have been small cost efficient UFA signings, or small trades where it's hard to tell if anything was lost or anything really gained.

Speculation is that on Draft day 2007, some pretty significant players will be shopped. And it's no secret that Toronto will be looking for a back-up goaltender or even a legitimate #1 who can challenge Raycroft for his spot.

The question is, will JFJ do what it takes to bring Manny Fernendez or Vesa Toskala into the fold? The cost would be high. Certainly our #13 pick, plus at least one of our young NHL-ready defenceman. And that is on the conservative side. With LA and Phoenix looking for tending, and boasting higher picks to trade, JFJ may have to pay even more.

Is this the summer where he throws his balls to the wind? Is the do or die contract pressure on him enough to grow some hairs on his chest? Or, will he sign the 40 year old Curtis Joseph to a $700,000 contract, and hope that everybody over-achieves compared to last year?

I for one hope he eats a fist full of glass before he gets off the plane in Columbus.
It's time to get nasty.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Niedermayer Retiring?

Ok, what the hell. Now Scott Neidermayer is contemplating retirement, at age 33?

Apparently after every title and award you can think of, including winning a Cup with his brother, he's questioning if he has anything left to play for?

Scott. Are you kidding me? You need something to play for? How about this. Play hockey at least one more year so you can drop the gloves and show that low-life scumbag Daniel Afraidsson what happens when you slap a puck at Scott Friggen Neidermayer?

If not, can I do it for you?


The report about Dale Hunter being a top candidate caught me a bit by surprise. Check out his highlight reel.

Monday, June 18, 2007

If it was up to you...

Open post for comments

Senators presser scheduled for 1pm. TSN is showing it live.

McAmmond resigned for 2 years

In the middle of the TSN story:
Sources close to John Muckler tell TSN Muckler learned of his fate over the weekend, mere hours after signing veteran Dean McAmmond to a two year contract extension.

UPDATE: Globe and Mail says 1.75 over 2 years. Good value in my view.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Muckler Finished?

So why the sudden hate on for Muckler? Was it letting Chara go instead of Redden? Was it his "loading up" of talent for a playoff run by getting Mike Comrie and Oleg Saprykin? Or perhaps signing a $3.7M goaltender to play back-up to Ray Emery didn't sit very well with the guy footing the bill?

Whatever it was, sounds like Eugene isn't impressed:

TSN Report: Muckler out in Ottawa

Maybe the best way to beat the Leafs is to get the guy responsible for sodomizing your franchise for four straight years? Yes, Pat Quinn. I mean hey, you missed on Gary Roberts but maybe this will work out?

JAYUPDATE: Sens call news conference for 1:00 eastern, 10:00 pacific. Listen to the Team1200 here. Is the ultimate FUM on the way?

Friday, June 15, 2007

The BoO Apostasy Challenge

I saw several of the Hamilton season ticket depositors interviewed last night on Sportsnet. When asked about possibly putting his existing allegiance to the test, one of them mumbled something along the lines of "well, I've been a leaf fan for twenty years, but..."

Further to Don's question below, how many leaf fans (or Sens fans for that matter) are prepared to pull on the Mustard and Grey? I'm not referring here to people who buy season tickets simply as a cheap local alternative to the ACC or Scotiabank Place. I mean those who would publicly renounce their allegiance to the Blue and White or Black/Red/Gold.

If you're willing to put your name to it (and of course your street address so that old cohorts know which lawn to accidentally deliver a dump truck full of manure to) I've got an invitation to the blog waiting for you.

Do or should Leaf fans want another team in Ontario?

I was thinking today as I read the latest Balsille/Predators/Hamilton development about how it will likey be Bettman and the governors that decide whether this thing goes through.

I asked myself the question; 'Self, is the governor of the Senators going to vote for the sale? What about the Leafs?'

Is it in the Senators interest to have an additional Ontario team?

Absolutely. Consider the premium that the Senators charge for Leaf and Hab tickets because of their natural rivalry - a premium that would alse be applied to an additional Southern Ontario team. (No idea yet whether they'd be in the same division or conference so at this point the number of games is unknown.)

Any downside for the Sens? There is no talk of the team being located east of Toronto so there should be no concerns about the new team drawing supporters away from the Sens.

What about the Leafs? They would be affected the most by a new team. LeafsTV and regional broadcasting rights fees would be hit the hardest. I've got to think that the Leafs will be voting against a new team.

Leaf fans? Do you want another team down there?
If you do perhaps you better start letting MLSE know.

Haulin' Hardware

I was waiting for PPP to post this, since he was in fact in attendance at the NHL Awards last night. He seems to be MIA at the moment. Perhaps he stayed up until the wee hours drinking on the patio at Gretzky's with Pronger and Neidermayer? Maybe they got hosed and ranted about the politics of voting and how "nobody will eveerr win the God Damn norrisss ssoooo long as that bastaarddd Lidstrom is stillll arround..."
It's fixed. I tell ya.

Do I need to post the winners? Probably not. It's a toss up between my laziness and your hockey savvy. I'm quite sure everyone saw the show or has read who won by now.

My only surprise on the night is that Afraidsson didn't win the Hart. I mean seriously, the guy is amazing.
(insert straight face staring... just staring).

Thursday, June 14, 2007


The man didn't put any Sens up for the official awards but 3 Sens made the TSN awards - best goal, best fight, and best hit.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Huge thanks to Mirtle for the heads up about the NHL Awards looking for seat fillers for the awards show on Thursday night. Yours truly will be in the crowd filling in whenever someone accepts an award, goes to the bathroom, or just doesn't show up. Hopefully I am sitting beside some UFAs that I can spend the entire show convincing to sign in Toronto. Failing that, I'd love to sit beside Lauren Pronger and get the real scoop.

Unfortunately, I can only take pictures before the show and without a flash so I am not sure if I'll be able to get anything but I'll try my best. Hooray!

Oh, and Mats' deal is good for the price and the flexibility it gives the Leafs. Look for Iginla to be wearing blue and white next summer if Mats heads back to Sweden.

All Class.

Mats is taking one for the team.

Sundin just signed for $5.5M with a no trade clause for one year. A little more money than one would have hoped, but the flexibility it offers the Leafs is probably worth it.


Friend of the blog Neate Sager is getting sued by Frank D'Angelo.
For how much?
2 million - 'Oh, that's big!' Thanks.

Best of luck Neate.

Simmons strikes again

A Tuesday morning pick me up.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Mean Gene is all in...

Chris Stevenson:

Eugene Melnyk wants a winner and he's willing to shell out for it.

After seeing his Senators come up just short in their bid for a first Stanley Cup, the Senators owner told Sun Media yesterday he will likely boost the club's payroll to the salary cap -- whatever it turns out to be -- to take another run at bringing the Cup home.

"My sense is the cap will go up. Everyone knows my commitment to continuing to build a championship team in Ottawa, so in that context, spending to the cap is always a necessary consideration," wrote Melnyk in an e-mail to the Sun yesterday.

As someone noted on another board, the irony of Canadian teams having long playoff runs is that their additional revenue may be pooled so as to allow Nashville to re-sign Kariya and Forsberg.

"Loud and Proud"

[above: one of many memorable pics from the Elgin Street - The Sens Mile facebook album.]

A tribute prepared on my first Saturday night in ages without a hockey game to look forward to...

The Day After, I heard on the radio how a huge crowd was building up at the airport to welcome the Senators back to town. It's only been three years since I left, but I honestly find that kind of enthusiasm quite pleasantly surprising. I've been following the front pages and news reports as closely as possible throughout the series and it really is something special.

While I attended university there, the knock on Ottawa was always how it was a second rate bummint town that couldn't throw a piss-up in a brewery, how every professional sports operation to set up shop was destined for failure and how there was always a bit too much self consciousness displayed by the locals when it came to celebrating anything of importance. I think this was more often than not a creation of transplanted Torontonians.

It was noted at one point how the children growing up at the time the franchise was reinstated made up the bulk of those 19 to 25 year olds now partying it up on Elgin. Free from the pernicious influence of the Blue Oyster Cult, they and their even younger siblings will leave no doubts about having grown up in Hockey Country. Donning a leaf jersey will be regarded as a peculiar, but almost adorably backward indulgence for the old and graying. For a young bunch, they never sunk to the level of property destroying louts in other cities. When making the playoffs was a big deal, we used to joke about the flaming mayhem that might ensure if the Sens ever brought home the cup. By all accounts, the facebook generation kept things wound up, but professional.

Sure I'm angry about the way the Sens had the piss taken out of them in the final round. I wanted more, but I have to admit that was one helluva run. I could feel the spirit from 3,000 miles away.

As Colby Cosh bore witness to the Edmonton run in '06:

Of all our communitarian fictions--nations, tribes, geopolitical blocs, even families--cities may be the truest and most deserving of our suspended disbelief.

Many thanks to all who contributed, commented or visited throughout the season. I enjoyed the back and forth banter as always, and appreciated the perspectives of our rival blogs from Pittsburgh, NJ, Buffalo and Anaheim. Congrats to the Ducks on becoming the undisputed champions of hockey for 2006 / 2007.

Friday, June 08, 2007

The Explanation

I have been of the theory that the sens lost to the Ducks because The Wrath of Alfie had no targets on the Ducks. After dispatching Gary Roberts, one of the main cogs in a couple of BoOs, Marty Brodeur, he who kept the sens from losing in the Finals in 2003, and the Sabres, who had embarrassed the heavily favoured sens last year, the Ducks presented no one for whom the hate could flow.

Bitter Leaf Fan has come up with the real reason: Beards. Or the lack thereof. Need proof?
Biggest disappearing act in the playoffs by an impending free agent? Daniel Briere. Why? Because he can’t grow a beard – Briere grows facial hair like he’s the daughter of the bearded lady at the circus.
Hands down, the most consistent Senators in the finals - the guy that coach Murray said he wished he had a dozen of? Mike Fisher. Which Sen had the best playoff beard? Mike Fisher.
The goalie at the other end of the ice? Well, he ran into some pretty bad karma in game five – scoring on his own net to kill any momentum Alfredsson’s short-handed goal might have brought. In fact, many would argue that Emery had his worst run of games in the Stanely Cup final. Why? What was the cause of his poor play? The man is named Razor. Think about that for a moment. The Sens goalie is the anti-beard.
So here is Bitter's advice:
The Sens need to throw away their lady philishaves, get rid of those pink venus razors, home waxing kits and their disposable Gillette Daisy Plus - whatever their training staff put out in the clubhouse - and they need to get on the beard bandwagon.
To make it easy on sens fans BLF added pictures and don't worry, they are already coloured in. I can only hope that the Leafs institute a no-shaving policy all year long. If it can get you 16 wins in the playoffs imagine how many it could get you over 82!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Second Chance Club

Looking at (relatively) recent teams who have lost in the final and returned again to claim the cup, you are struck by how much a modern team's roster can change in as little as three seasons (I paired up the losing and winning player lists and deleted non-recurring names):

With the inevitable free agent / draft day threads on the way and the realities of the post-cap era, it's important to consider who you think belongs in that five to ten player core worth hanging onto tooth and nail through another few seasons.

Here's my "silver seven" that I'd like to see in Sens jerseys for years to come (this is certainly not to say I don't want most of the remaining players back next year, just that I think these are the guys most deserving of one more shot if possible):

1. Daniel Alfredsson
2. Mike Fisher
3. Chris Phillips
4. Ray Emery
5. Anton Volchenkov
6. Jason Spezza
7. Dean McAmmond

I realize #7's UFA journeyman status means he's least likely to stick around (and more likely to be a trade deadline acquisition by a savvy GM), but I thought he added key goals and plays all throughout the run that just weren't there from the more enigmatic one game wonders like Neil or Vermette.

Is it the same as not even making the playoffs?

We'll hear from people that the Sens didn't win anything. They'll say that 1 team wins and all the rest can be grouped as those that didn't.

Well, we did win something. We were the best team in the East. My daughter asked me today if we could still have a parade party because we won the smaller Stanley Cup. Next year I said.

We won 13 games these playoffs. 3 short of the goal but we had 13 awesome victory parties each bigger than the last.

We saw our captain lead this team to a place where so many people said he couldn't.

Our younger players that are so key for this team in the years to come like Emery, Spezza, Heatley, Fisher, Vermette, Meszaros, Volchenkov, Kelly, Eaves, and Schubert all have finals experience - know now what it takes and what it's like to lose there. Same can be said about the other veterans like Phillips, Redden and guys like Schaefer and Neil. We didn't have guys who were there before and hungry to be on the other side like Anaheim's Giguere, Pronger, R Niedermayer, McDonald, and Pahlsson. Now we do.

From an organizational standpoint, the club made a lot of money with this run and have sold a lot of season tickets for next year. We expect that will allow the team to move up with the cap and reload for next year (not going into specifics on my wishes - we have the rest of June for that!).

It's not the same as missing the playoffs. We didn't win the Cup, but we achieved a hell of a lot this spring.

Thanks, I needed a laugh today

Ottawa Sun:
While the Islanders will pay Yashin more than $17 million to get his salary off the books, Gandler predicted there will be teams lined up to sign the former New York captain.
"It's a new chapter and we'll be calling Ottawa for sure," Gandler told Sun Media.
"That's not even a question. He had great stats last year. There won't even be a moment of hesitation involved if the Senators want to bring him back. He'd love to return to Ottawa, in fact."

I won!

YES!! Sweet victory is mine!

Playoff prediction contest final tally - only those who played every round are included (including Chemmy!):

Jared and DJ moved up a fair bit after the last round.

1 Don 26
2 Adam 30.25
3 DC in YOW 33.25
4 Indrew 34.5
5 Notch 36.75
6 Matt 37.25
7 Conrad 39.5
8 jaredoflondon 41
9 LMN 44
10 Duff 44.75
11 David Johnson 48.5
12 PPP 50.25
13 GeeIWonder 51.25
14 Chemmy 55

Wha' Happen'd?

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

That's the last of the Anthropomorphic Mocking Numerals. He'd be happier but I had to cut him out of the number 10 and for some reason only the one is happy. Maybe the 0 was an apostate Leafs fan.

Well, the dynasty that never was has never been once more. The wild ride that was the playoffs saw the senators challenge Bettman in their ability to ruin hockey for millions of people. Leafs Nation will rejoice in their salvation at the hands of Chris Pronger, Scott Niedermayer, his son Rob, and their future saviour JS Giguere while feeling more than a twinge of jealousy at seeing the runt of the family at least get invited to the dance. In order to assuage the pain of the cruelest of cuts here are some quotations that might help you see the light at the end of a long tunnel that almost ended in Eden...except the last one. That's salt in the wounds. Congrats on the run and hopefully next year you guys will be agonizing over Muppet, jared, and my happiness:

A sad thing in life is that sometimes you meet someone who means a lot to you only to find out in the end that it was never bound to be and you just have to let go.
It's know the end of something great is coming, but you want to hold on, just for one more second...just so it can hurt a little more.
Are you upset little friend? Have you been lying awake worrying? Well, don't worry...I'm here. The flood waters will recede, the famine will end, the sun will shine tomorrow, and I will always be here to take care of you. -Charlie Brown to Snoopy
Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow."
That's what learning is, after all; not whether we lose the game, but how we lose and how we've changed because of it and what we take away from it that we never had before, to apply to other games. Losing, in a curious way, is winning
You must never be satisfied with losing. You must get angry, terribly angry, about losing. But the mark of the good loser is that he takes his anger out on himself and not his victorious opponents or on his teammates.
2nd Place is the first loser.
Well, I am sure Jay and Don will have duelling eugoogolies on the playoffs and the finals. It was sort of a terrible roller coaster - All up-hill until the end when it careened out of control on the first downhill and flew off the tracks.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Congratulations Sens on a great season!

Bye Bye Now.

Round 4, Game 5: "If you don't wanna play then I'm gettin' the f**k outta here"

So it had to come down to this. As I wait to either prepare 2007 eugooglies or gear up for another rowdy Saturday night, it is not hard to rationally accept the enormous odds against the Senators. Without crunching a single number, I'd say the ducks have a 95% chance of shutting this down tonight and a 99.9999% chance of completing the task on Saturday or Monday. From their meek submission in the third period the other night to the euphoria building among the 40 years of failure cult, you can just feel death closing its grip (lots of python references on yesterday's drive home show).

But before the curtain of darkness closes and the Sens Army falls to sleep with the dulcet tones of John Rodenburg and the Team's perennial season-ending telethon in their ear, let's reflect once more on what's gone missing this series. Items in the toolbox that, if miraculously recovered this late in the contest, would - if not outright win them the series - certainly validate what has been a very late Novemberish finals appearance. Note there will be no specific keys to victory tonight, as they have been pretty much roundly ignored in Games 1 through 4 (could the keys perhaps be locked inside Emery's head, with no chance for retrieval?).

To turn Earl's question around, the ducks have unquestionably been the better team in every corner of the ice (credit where it's due, yadayada), but how much of this is due to the Eastern Conference Champs acting like chumps? While the ducks are all in a row (those that aren't injured or suspended), there are far too many Ottawa passengers putting in frustratingly mediocre performances through four games. To name just a few:

1. Spezza and Heatley: Soft, slow, afraid to take hits to make plays and generally look like boys playing men. As Murray said "You keep waiting and hoping that they get back to moving their feet...". Waiting and waiting and waiting. If they do show up it's going to be 240 minutes too late. Rumour is they'll be split apart for tonight, which is not a terribly encouraging sign. At the very least, their defensive liabilities will be spread across two or three lines rather than concentrated on one.

2. Alfredsson: Give the Toronto Sports Network credit for making his goofball shot on Niedermeyer out to be the Crime Of The Century (rich coming from the organization that hired - and then dropped in embarrassment - a barely intelligible simian whose proudest professional moment came from beating on a doughy, alcohol-soaked slob that tumbled into his lap), but if Alfie can back it up with a career defining performance tonight (that's exactly what it'll have to be) they'll have to go back to the tedium of covering whatever exactly it is that the Jays are doing right now.

3. Redden: Regardless of how the season ends, if this guy doesn't go in for some sort of major surgery (or rehab) then I don't know what in the world has gone wrong with one of the Sens longest serving and reliable defensemen.

4. Ray Emery: Capable of both a wicked glove save and a Hardy Astrom special minutes apart, on balance he has been perfectly average. What's most disconcerting is that when he does come to play (G2), the team is not responding.

5. Overall: I haven't seen 60 minutes of effort in weeks now. The occasional 10 minute burst here and there, but none of the energy has carried over from one period to the next.

That right there is the starting point from which the Sens will have to mount a comeback, if at all. Knowing the odds, I need any sign that the Sens are prepared to play hard for the remaining 180 minutes of this series. Is there a 2007 edition of Fernando Pisani in that locker room? If I see a spark, I'm willing to make a modified Pascal's Wager. I realize the probability of the Sens coming back is negligibly low, however, the reward of sticking with your team through a monumental comeback is infinite. It is relatively costless to make the choice of either believing or stepping down off the bandwagon, however, eternal damnation may await you if you decide to walk away now:

"since we stand to gain eternity, and thus infinity, the wise and safe choice is to live as though [the Senator's Stanley Cup destiny] does exist. If we are right, we gain everything, and lose nothing. If we are wrong, we lose nothing and gain nothing. Therefore, based on simple mathematics, only the fool would choose to live a [quitters] life. Let us see. Since you must choose, let us see which interests you least. You have nothing to lose. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation that [the Sens are coming back all the way]"

2-1 Sens (OT). Spezza, Fisher. Sens in 7. Fuck You Anaheim.

Say What?

Yesterday, Ottawa Reporter Ian Mendes guaranteed a win in game five for the Sens. Here's what the media are saying elsewhere.
(The authors names link to the stories)

Damien Cox: "Maybe Alfredsson was actually aiming in anger at unproductive linemate Jason Spezza, apparently stricken by stage fright in this series, and missed, just as he's been missing the target most of this series."

Terry Jones: Sammy Pahlsson for the Conn Smythe? Unheard of? A defensive forward? With three goals? The MVP? It could happen. There's no clear-cut choice for the award among Anaheim Ducks going into what could be the final game of the Stanley Cup playoffs here tonight.

BRUCE GARRIOCH:Cancel the parade plans in Ottawa. It seems as if the party is nearing its end for the Senators.

In related news, Ottawa Senators 2nd overall draft pick and once time franchise player Alexei Yashin has been paid in full for the next four seasons just to go away. Perhaps it's fitting that the Senators first ever draft pick is bought out on the same day the Senators dynasty that never was is paid for in full.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

THE 2007/2008 SEASON VOL .1

With the 2007 Stanley Cup behind us, it's time to move onto next season!

First off, Toronto are busy getting back into contention with some negotiations this week between management and Mats Sundin and Nik Antropov's agents. Seems the Leafs have hatched a plan to pay Sundin more than last year and yet save 1.5M under the cap.
Is this a good idea, signing an aging star?
When you look at the savvy veteran leadership that has impacted the success of winning teams lately, guys like Pronger, Neidermayer, Selanne, Brind'amour, Anderychuk... it's hard to argue that bringing him back at $5.5M isn't the right thing to do.

Antropov is asking for around $2M a year, around what Ponikorovsky garnered in his most recent trip to the negotiation table. Antropov would be making double that by now if his NHL career hadn't hit so many snags on the injury front. AND seeing how dominating big men who can cycle the puck have become in this suddenly smaller and faster NHL (See Getzlaf), I'm 100% for JFJ ensuring Pony and Antropov remain intact on the roster. I think an incentive-based contract is in order for big Nik. Win win, so long as he's healthy.

Now lets move onto the Ottawa Senators.
Wait... I have a call coming through on the phone... Hello... uh huh... Oh.... really?... hang on...

Ok. Ya, Um, sorry folks. Seems the Senators are actually still officially in the cup finals? My apologies, I um assumed it was over after last night. Turns out it's not "official" yet. Ya... wow... this is embarrassing...

Lets get back to this topic (checking phone)... Thursday morning?

UPDATE: The Cup is coming to Ottawa! That's right Ottawa fans... Sean O'Donnell has assured us he WILL be bringing it home at some point during the summer. Be sure and come back for more breaking news as it happens...

He guarantees a win!

Whew. I was worried for a bit that I may not see a finals game in person this year...
The Ottawa Senators are going to win Game 5 on Wednesday night.
This is not a guess on my part - it's a flat-out guarantee. I haven't been wrong yet in one of my Stanley Cup predictions with the Sens this playoff year. I guaranteed they would beat the Penguins and Sabres before those series started.
Now, I'm guaranteeing a Game 6 on Saturday.

It's not as good a story, that's why

MT at HockeyDirt looks at the incident:
Alfredsson starts his wind-up to take a long shot, but Anaheim defenceman Francois Beauchemin moves directly into the line of fire, about 8-10 feet from Alfredsson. To avoid hitting the Anaheim player from point blank range, Alfredsson adjusts so his shot will not be blocked. In avoiding Beauchemin, Alfredsson ends up shooting in Niedermayer's direction.

Soon to be 27-2 (.931)

Because knowing the odds against it makes it all the more sweeter when it happens.....

HISTORICAL VICTORY PROBABILITIES: Leading 3-games-1:Ignoring win order; ignoring site order: The team that leads 3-games-1 irrespective of site (Anaheim) has the following best-of-7 playoff series and games record through the 2007 NHL and NBA Semifinals:

NHL only, Finals round: 27-1 (.964)

Separated at Birth?

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Least weasels do well in a wide variety of habitats, including open forests, farmlands, meadows, prairies, steppe, and capital cities. Least weasels avoid deep forests, sandy deserts, accountability and corners of hockey rinks. They are well adapted for the regular season.

We'd just want a slightly different ending
The Hurricanes lead their best-of-seven series 3-1 and have clearly outplayed the Oilers in three of the four games.

In Game 4 at Rexall Place Monday night, Carolina endured an early Edmonton flurry and took the play to the Oilers in the final two periods.


For their part, Edmonton players aren't buying into the notion that this series is over. A win Wednesday night could change the tone of the Stanley Cup final.

"We really feel like if we get [Wednesday night's] game [then] we're going back to Edmonton," said Oilers defenceman Steve Staios. "Game 6 in Edmonton would be something else. We just want to get it back there and see what happens."
Come on Sens! I've got a pair of Gm 6 tickets at home!

Return of the Mocking Numerals!

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

3 down, 1 to go! In Soviet Anaheim dreams crush you!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Round 4, Game 4: Do Not Feed The Ducks

An opportunistic win by the Ottawa Senators has got them back into the series, but they have a long, long way to go to gain control of it. A second helping of ugly goals, a patient and effective forecheck, splendid board work and contributions from lines 2-4 will sustain the pressure, but even more is required to go over the top on the ducks as we will see in tonight's keys to victory:

1. The Top Line: Not worthy of Top Line minutes. Heatley and Spezza put up goose eggs in shot totals and were absent on the score sheet. While Alfie's shown a playmaker's patience, he's also being physically outworked. Has not been a Conn Smythe performance for #11 in the first three games. The bigger problem to me, is that they've been defensive liabilities, often spending much of a shift trying to retrieve the puck from The Checking Line From Hell. The Sens are simply not going to win The Stanley without big contributions from Spalfredheat.

2. The Suspension: While I think one game is more or less what I expected, I'd prefer to see revenge served up on the ice rather than from Colin Campbell's desk. The ducks have recent successful experience in coping without him and are playing with a Burke-sized chip on their shoulders thanks to their GM's always entertaining passive-aggression. Don't give the fill-ins a chance to step up and provide some headline fodder. On the Sens side, if it means anything, you need to at least give your fans another chance to boo him mercilessly and prepare clever poster-board based insults [for the record, I think Neil deserved a penalty for the run on McDonald].

3. The Power Play: 1 for 7 and was nearly blanked if not for a fortunate Alfie deflection. I agree with other commenters who have noted he was actually jerking his foot away from the net in order to avoid a kick-in call and this is what caused the on-ice wave-off [for the record, I said way back in Round 1 that Sid's disallowed goal was legit]. Heatley just isn't fighting to get in there after the dump ins.

4. The Loss of McAmmond: Given the way his line has made use of its seven minutes of action, the loss of #37's speed and tenacity may well negate the advantage of not having to play against Cockface Stinkfuck. It remains to be seen whether Patrick Eaves is capable of filling his skates [see downblog discussion].

5. Emery: Not the best application of the kneeling technique on that Perry goal, but he did come back with a stellar G2 after a questionable goal the game before. Good to see him bringing his paddle up into Selanne's ribcage - exactly the kind of response required in Anaheim traffic.

6. Contain the PPG Line: They tons of energy and were clearly unfazed by the delights of Cabaret Pink. You know a line's going when you develop an intense, fear-based hatred for them. I thought there was no way they were coming back from that Getzlaf backbreaker.

7. Adjustments: There were two neat little adjustments I noted on Saturday. The first was the "tip-chip" using the blade to redirect the puck as it's fired up ice rather than getting stopped up trying to skate it in at the line. They also resisted the temptation to flush the puck carrier out from behind the net - there were several sequences where the ducks D were safely contained behind the goal line, rather than moving out a step ahead of the forechecker.

4-2 Sens. Comrie, Kelly, Redden, Alfie (EN). Sens in 6? Please?

Open thread for Irish Tommy appreciation, "celebrity" sightings of Danny Williams or Peter Mansbridge, Lauren Pronger's witchcraft and You Can't Do That On Television resets.

Eaves? McGratton?

With McAmmond out the question isn't so much which of these two will take his spot, but who will centre the 4th line?

I favour dressing McGratton should his services be required but having Schubert and Saprykin get centred by a rotating mix of Fisher/Vermette/Kelly.

I wouldn't mess with the success the 2nd and 3rd lines had by putting Eaves in and dealing with the cascading lineup changes that would force.


UPDATE: He might be back:
Dean McAmmond went for a bike ride this morning.

Then, the injured Senators centre went for a light 35-minute skate. Will he play tonight in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup final?

Get pumped O-town

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Elbow to the head

UPDATE: 1 game suspension to the repeat offender (7 suspensions in his career - 2nd suspension in 2 weeks for a headshot but still only 1 game). Doubtful McAmmond will play again this season.
UPDATE2: Daniel of Ducksblog asks: "Did Pronger even extend his arm or did the guy just duck and run into it?" Feel free to answer that question over at Daniel's blog. He also says "Jesus, Ottawa fans are such babies."

Saturday, June 02, 2007

13 down, 3 to go!

A coincidence that the Bird is spinning basketballs? The Cavs came back from a 2-0 deficit.

Spin 'em Biggie, spin 'em!!

Round 4, Game 3: Welcome to Hockey Country, Bitches

Tonight marks Ottawa's last opportunity to get back into contention for The Stanley. Having left Cali with little to build on but a battlin' puck stopper, the Sens have to start from the net out and work off the crowd noise and advantageous line matching to earn themselves a victory.

The ducks have a fine playoff road record, but they haven't paid a visit to Ontario for some time. Perhaps JSG will recall his last post-season visit to the eastern time zone - resulting in 4 straight road losses! In fact, according to the board scuttlebutt, the ducks have even opted to hole up across the Quebec border in Go-Go-Gatineau. It's hard to argue with their selection - Chateau Cartier is well known for its spa and golfing facilities. Further, I have heard it alleged that it is in close proximity to a popular cabaret featuring dancing women who remove their clothing in exchange for money (this is simply what I have heard secondhand from those who frequent such establishments).

Now whether the PPG line spent Friday night enjoying cold 50's, pole-oriented acrobatics, the sincere friendship of recently emigrated Romanians or simply bopping their heads to the soaring chords of "The Final Countdown", is certainly none of my business. So long as they're in less than ship shape for tonight's game, we can thank the team players at the The Pink for their committment to the cause.

As far as those vanilla, 'burb dwelling family men from the Ottawa Senators, they would be advised to be in bed by 9:00 and ensure attention is paid to tonight's [booming echo]KEYS TO VICTORY[/booming echo]:

1. Faceoffs: Spezza and Fisher were useless in the dots on Wednesday. Once Anaheim got control, particularly in the Sens end, it was headless chickens for a good minute or so. It was stupefying the way it drained the life out of their forward progress, and as Mike Eastwood noted the other day, losing faceoffs has got to be impacting Spezza's confidence and making him think too much when he has the puck.

2. You can run, but you can't hide: Last change or not, the top line is simply going to have to take on and defeat the Checking Line From Hell. Winning three games at home is not going to be enough to win this series.

3. Better skating and better dumps: Make that much better. Trying to penetrate the ducks zone was an exercise in futility last time out and without a more determined effort to get the puck in and get after it, it's going to be another long night.

4. The Emery factor: Throughout the season when Emery played with swagger, it often showed up in the rest of the team's game. No one picked up on the good vibes emanating from Number 1 on Wednesday, but hopefully the concentration and competitiveness he displayed there will carry over.

5. The Sens third defensive pairing: Redden played 23 minutes on Wednesday, the highest ice time on the team and the third highest at even strength behind Phillchenkov. Surprisingly, he wasn't nearly as bad as he was in G1 despite the extra minutes. If Redden can get his head in it on home ice, a significant liability has been relieved (it would also be excellent if Meszaros can resist turning over the puck on the game's first outlet pass).

6. The top line: Gotta take advantage of every second you get away from the checkers. Even strength, power play, 5 on 3 (you did practice your 5 on 3's, right?)...bury 'em.

6-0 Sens. Heatley (x2), Alfie, Redden, Neil, Corvo. Sens in 6. Believe.


Alanis Morissette will perform the national anthems at Game 4 of the Stanley Cup final Monday.

The Ottawa native could bring some good luck to the Senators, who are down 2-0 in the best-of-seven series after a pair of losses to the Ducks in Anaheim. When she sang the national anthem at the their first game on Oct. 8, 1992, the Sens beat the Montreal Canadiens 5-3.

Let's see if she can match Lyndon's antics though!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Sens fans in the States

Just saw this now.
Stanley Cup Viewing Events in the United States
Throughout the U.S., Canadians and friends of Canada are cheering on the Ottawa Senators as they take on the Anaheim Ducks in the Stanley Cup finals. Viewing events are taking place across the country, including select Elephant and Castle locations, which will be broadcasting live coverage of the playoffs.

Via Savage.

Friday afternoon tunes

In case you've lost the links:
Go Sens Go
His name is Ray
Sens from the get-go

Shot distribution

Here are some lovely charts I did up at lunch today.

Neil out?

Ice Chips:
Chris Neil did not skate Friday - stay on for an update. Patrick Eaves skated in his spot. - TSN

UPDATE: Turns out it was good news...
Chris Neil did not skate Friday to be with his wife Caitlin for the birth of their first child.

South-Western Ontario?

I found this somewhat amusing:

Bettman continued to indicate his reluctance to relocate any NHL team to Southwestern Ontario, a market that serves the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Ottawa Senators and the Buffalo Sabres.
That would be the Leafs, Wings, and Sabres, no?

For many in 'Southwestern' Ontario the Penguins or even the Blackhawks are closer than the Senators - who serve the Eastern Ontario market. As Cosh noted on his own blog - in Leafland it's the other way around - the market $erve$ the team.

Irish Tommy

If you are a regular listener to the Team1200 you're familiar with him. They played a clip of his call into the afternoon show yesterday. (It's at 2:20:00 of the Morning show podcast - instructions here). Somebody needs to put together a Tommy's greatest hits collection. I could listen to his rant about Jacques Martin looking up at the clock over and over.

The Vast Toronto Media Conspiracy Strikes Again!

A couple of days after Bitter Leaf Fan brought us the CBC's attempts to derail the sens playoff bandwagon Anaheim Duck Fan found a video of the Toronto Sports Network playing Devil's Advocate. If those 10 are not reason enough to join the Ducks' bandwagon then consider that only 1 of 31 teams has ever lost the first two games on the road and still won the Cup and that the senators have never come from two games down in their history. Also, while the Ducks went 0-4 on the road in their last trip to the finals they are 5-0 at home in their two trips and with home-ice advantage they can keep both records intact and still win the Cup. Daunting task indeed!

You can feel the energy building

The game is still 36 hours or so away but people are getting pumped. The forecast is looking good, the Red Zone is going to be amazing, and the bars will be packed.

We're lucky to be in this position according to Adami - I think he picked Ducks in 3 - so lets make the best of it!