Monday, November 02, 2009
Well after exactly three years at Getting Glenergized and a few short, neglected months at Backpackers Soul, the time has come to bid adieu. As of this post both sites are officially closed. Before you start to plan their respective eulogies, know that their hearts will go on in a new cyber-location. As of right now I'd like to officially announce the formation of my new on-line opinion platform, the easy to remember Glen Thoughts.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Can the Penguins repeat? Will Crosby, Ovechkin, or Malkin win the scoring title? Can the Wings go deep in the playoffs? Who will make the Olympic teams? Who will own the Coyotes?
I certainly don't feel like I can answer too many of those questions, but I can make some educated guesses as to where the teams will place in the standings. These are of course guaren-damn-teed*
*Guarantee not valid anywhere*
The last two seasons have seen a surprise Original Six Northeast Division team snatch the first seed, after the Habs and Bruins were able to pull it out the last two years. Logically that means that the Leafs will shock the hockey world and finish first in the East. Right?
Hang up the phone, don't call Vegas, and make that wager please. The Leafs should certainly be the most improved team in the Conference this coming season, and will be a lot of fun to watch for the first time in eight years or so. However, there have been a lot of proactive teams this off-season who should be able to tough it out past the Buds to make it in the Top 8.
The other Canadian teams have undergone similar make-overs, with the Habs having completely revamped their roster, and the Sens making slightly less drastic, but still noticeable changes. The Canadiens have one of those teams that is difficult to put your finger on. They could easily miss the playoffs, but could just as easily be in the Conference finals. Seriously. I'm going to lean towards the former, but if they get off to a hot start I'm changing my mind, and jumping on that band wagon. The Sens on the other hand, I am actually quite optimistic about. A full season with Pascal LeClaire gives them probably the most stability at goaltending that the team has had since the 1920s. Also, their offensive depth is pretty staggering as they have probably the best top 9 forwards in the Eastern Conference for a team that is not based in Pennsylvania. Their defense is questionable, but I think that Phillips and Volchenkov can more than shoulder the load. And if Cloughston can coach as well as he did near the end of last season, they should have a chance to play in the spring.
As for the rest of the Conference, obviously the main focus will be on Pittsburgh and Washington. Can the Pens repeat? Can the Caps make the next step? To be honest, I think that the answer to both of these questions is: no. The Pens have all of the talent on paper to make a run for a repeat, but I think that they may be lacking that extra special oomph to sip from the Mug once more, much like the Ducks a few years ago. The Caps have all of the offense but are lacking a bone-crushing defenseman, and Theodore and Varlamov are big question marks in net. They should have a successful regular season, but I just don't see them getting too deep in the playoffs.
I think that the three biggest usurpers stand to be the Philadelphia Flyers, the Carolina Hurricanes and the Florida Panthers. The Flyers have fantastic depth at forward, incredible defense, but a question mark in net. If Ray Emery can play like it's 2006 and not like it's 2007 then this team should be a Stanley Cup favourite. The two Southeast teams made huge strides last year and are still looking up, I think that the Panthers will finally end their playoff drought this year, with or without Bouwmeester.
As for the rest of the Conference. I think that the Bruins and Devils are still going to be a threat, while the Rangers lack of offensive depth hurts them down the stretch. The Sabres, have the talent to make it to the playoffs, but I think that they are going to suffer from playing in a tough division and will not quite be able to make the dance. The Thrashers and Islanders should toil in obscurity a bit longer, while the Lightning should improve, but not nearly enough. When it's all said and done I think that the Conference should look like this:
1. Boston Bruins
2. Washington Capitals
3. Philadelphia Flyers
4. Pittsburgh Penguins
5. Carolina Hurricanes
6. New Jersey Devils
7. Ottawa Senators
8. Florida Panthers
9. Buffalo Sabres
10. Montreal Canadiens
11. Toronto Maple Leafs
12. New York Rangers
13. Tampa Bay Lightning
14. New York Islanders
15. Atlanta Thrashers
With the Conference finals coming down wot the Bruins and the Flyers, with the Flyers pulling it out. Pronger always gets results in his first year with a new team.
And now things get interesting.
Let's start this out with something easy. The Red Wings and Sharks are going to be at the top of the pile. The Coyotes and Avalanche are going to be at the bottom of the pile. Everyone knows that. It's the rest that leaves a lot of question marks.
After a successful season expectations are high in Vancouver. Despite an injury to Luongo and Sundin doing not much, this team still won a very difficult division and made it to the second round of the playoffs for only the second time in a decade. The core of their team is still intact, and they added a lot of depth to their defense, and made a great signing in Michael Sammulson. But at the end of the day, I just don't buy it. Their defensive core of Bieksa, Mitchell, and Salo are always injured, so I wouldn't be shocked if they all miss substantial time this season. Also, and more importantly, the Canucks have to go on a record setting 14 game road trip in February because of the Olympics. If this team doesn't go at least .500 on this trip than their season could be in jeopardy in their ultra-competitive division. I know that the Canucks will make the playoffs, but I just don't see them clinching their division again. I instead see them competing with Chicago for the 4-5 spot.
That honour should instead go to the most proactive team of the summer, the Calgary Flames. They made a huge addition getting Jay Bouwmeester, which will give them the best defense in the league, bar none. Also, and probably more importantly, they made a big change behind the bench getting Brent Sutter behind the bench. Sutter deserves all sorts of credit for his work in New Jersey last year, guiding them to a division crown, despite the fact that Brodeur went down with an injury. He should be able to take this ultra-talented team and lead them to the top of the division.
The last Canadian team, Edmonton, is showing a lot of promise. Khabibulin should be an asset between the pipes, and they have a fantastic amount of depth up front, also Souray and Vishnovsky should still be solid powerplay contributors. I think that they will be in a grind with the likes of St. Louis, Minnesota, Anaheim, Columbus, LA, Nashville, and Dallas in the very nebulous 6-13 region of the Western Conference, which really could go anyway for any team.
As for that very large group of teams, I think that the Blues are in the best shape. They have the same great young team that they did last year, only their former-future-franchise Eric Johnson will probably not be injured in a freak golf cart crash. Add in another year of development for the likes of Perron, Backes, and Oshie, and an injury free season for Kariya and MacDonald and they should be a lock to be at the top of that pile.
I am not certain what to think about Minnesota and Anaheim who both made some pretty drastic changes in the off-season, both in terms of players and more importantly, in terms of philosophy. The Wild are trying to open up and the Ducks are thinking about rebuilding. As a Sens fan I know that it is foolish to count on Havlat to be both healthy and productive in the first year of his contract, so I think that the Wild will be disappointed, while I think that the Ducks will be just barely on the outside looking in.
Next up, there is the feel good story of the Blue Jackets, who made it to the playoffs for the first time last year on the backs of a rookie goalie. While this young team seems likely to make it back to the dance. However, I think that this is far too much pressure to put on a sophomore goalie, who is bound to undergo a few growing pains. Just ask Carey Price.
The Predators, Kings, and Stars seem easy to write off after last season, but that would be premature in all of these cases. The Preds have a long history of being better than the sum of their parts, and if their rumoured interest in Kessel was true, then they may be looking to actually increase their payroll, which could make them a challenging team. The Kings are once more one of the NHL's most promising teams, who should finally compete for the playoffs, but have too many questions in net to secure a spot in the Top 8 at this time. Lastly, there is the Dallas Stars. This is a team that one year ago had very lofty expectations, but fell severely short in the end. Some blame Sean Avery, some blame Marty Turco, and some blame Brendan Morrow's ACL. The truth is, it's probably a bit of all three. However, now Avery is gone, Morrow has been healed, and Turco has the opportunity to bounce back. I'm going to go out on a limb, again, and say that the Stars should be able to find their way back into the second season, to the surprise of many.
So it should look something like this:
1. San Jose Sharks
2. Detroit Red Wings
3. Calgary Flames
4. Chicago Blackhawks
5. Vancouver Canucks
6. St. Louis Blues
7. Dallas Stars
8. Edmonton Oilers
9. Columbus Blue Jackets
10. Los Angales Kings
11. Minnesota Wilds
12. Anaheim Ducks
13. Nashville Predators
14. Colorado Avalanche
15. Phoenix Coyotes
With the Conference finals coming down to San Jose and Calgary, and just like 2004 the Flames will come out on time. This leads to a showdown between Calgary and Philly. As much as I want to go with Calgary, Philly seems too good...ahh screw it, CALGARY IS WINNING THE CUP IN 2010!!!!!!
Crazy? Let's find out...game on!
Until next time,
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
Philadelphia Flyers: Chris Pronger makes an already potent defense corps absolutely terrifying. He will log big minutes against big stars and do big damage. Also, Ray Emery is certainly an interesting addition. I think that Ray has a lot to prove after his disastrous last season in Ottawa. I fully expect him to bounce back, which should make the Flyers a legitimate threat in the East.
Toronto Maple Leafs: As much as a I hate to say it, they are looking good right now. A top four defense that boasts Tomas Kaberle, Mike Komisarek, Luke Schenn, and Francois Beauchamin is down right terrifying. Also, if Gustavsson turns out to be as good as everyone says that he is, they are definitely solid in between the pipes. However, I really have no idea who is going to score any goals for this team. They will probably miss the playoffs yet again, but should be in better position then they were before.
Montreal Canadiens: Now this is going to be a team to watch for the first month or so of the season. The completely new look first line of Scott Gomez, Brian Gionta, and Mike Cammelleri will either crash or burn. If Gomez and Gionta can reignite their magic from a few seasons ago, and Cammelleri can build on his career year then it should be the former, but one never knows. The defensive additions of Spacek, Gill, and Mara are certainly interesting, and Spacek in particular should help their ailing powerplay. Also, a very understated signing was Travis Mohen, who is a very effective defensive forward, and should add a good amount of grit to a team that looks soft on paper. After the disastrous closing of the Centennial Season the team needed a drastic change and that is certainly what it got.
Anaheim Ducks: Sure losing Pronger is a big hit, but they were able to get a Joffrey Lupul and two first round draft picks in exchange for him. They also were able to become Finland's favourite team by uniting national heroes Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu. Those three players should make an excellent second line to compliment their big three of Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf, and Corey Perry. Of course, if they can parlay J-S Gigure for even more help up front they could get even better.
Calgary Flames: Remember what I said about Toronto's defense? Now replace those four names with Dion Phaneuf, Jay Bouwmeester, Robyn Reghr, and Corey Sarich and you may as well call them War, Famine, Death, and Pestilence because they will bring an Apocalypse on their opposition. Also add in the highly predictable coaching change, and the Flames may just be able to finally get over the hump and be a Western Conference powerhouse. Of course, they will need to add some offense to replace Mike Cammalleri's missing goals, but they should be able to figure something out.
Florida Panthers: I gave this team a lot of love last year, and I'm ready to do it again. They knew that they were going to loose J-Bo, but were able to add Jordan Leopold which is certainly a step up from nothing. They also added Scott Clemensen who was simply brilliant in New Jersey last year, and I honestly thought that he would end up starting somewhere. This gives the Panthers lots of options in between the pipes. Their forward crop of Nathan Horton, David Booth, and Stephen Weiss grew in leaps and bounds last year, but fell just short of making the playoffs. I think that this team legitimately has a chance to make it to the big dance for the first time in ten seasons.
Boston Bruins: Sure they didn't add anything, but they didn't lose anyone. Their core of Kreji, Lucic, Savard, and Kessel are still Bruins and that should terrify the rest of the Eastern Conference.
Chicago Blackhawks: Last season I applauded them for their big additions of Christobal Huet and Brian Campbell, but both ended up having terrible seasons. Somehow though, the team was able to make it to the Conference Finals despite their big name, big money signings. The team then signs a 30 year old Marian Hossa to a staggering 12-year contract, which is being investigated by the league for attempting to circumvent the salary cap. For their sake I hope that they were being crooked, because a 42 year old Marian Hossa would be next to useless, especially given how much of a “contract year” type player he has turned into. To top off the idiocy, they mess up the offer sheets for Cam Barker and Kris Versteeg, two of their building blocks, and are forced to pay more to keep them around. This puts them closer to the cap, and given the fact that both Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are in need of big money contract extensions in the near future, makes this once promising team look a little bit bleaker in my eyes.
Atlanta Thrashers: If this team has any hope of resigning Ilya Kovalchuk, who is set to be an unrestricted free agent, then they need to surround him with talented players. Nik Antropov and Pavel Kubina were wastes of space in Toronto, chances are they will be again in Hotlanta. Look for this to be Kovalchuk's last season as a Thrasher, which will make this team even more pathetic in the future. Ah well, not like anyone will notice.
New York Rangers: Their multi-year signing of Marian Gaborik was the summers biggest gamble. As he could end up scoring 50 goals, or he could end up missing 50 games due to an injury. Both seem equally likely. While they were able to free up cap-room in trading away the over paid Scott Gomez, they are still stuck with Redden and Drury's massive contracts. They also added Ales Kottalik to their long list of over-priced contracts, signing him to $3 million a year, which must make sense to someone, because it sure is not me. Also, they chose to allow their most consistent scorer last season, Nikolai Zherdev walk away in arbitration over $600,000. Not the best decision for a team that struggled to score goals last year.
Ottawa Senators: Kovalev was certainly a good signing, and he should mesh well with Alfreddson, Fisher, and Spezza. However, as of this posting Dany Heatley remains a Senator, so I have no choice but to keep them here. This has proven to be a massive distraction for the entire organization. One has to wonder if they had not spent so much time dealing with him than perhaps they could have made some bigger splashes. Had the rumoured Penner/Smyd/Cogliano trade happened then they would be squarely in the winners category. Also there is talk of him going to San Jose for Ehroff, Cheechoo and a first round pick, which is at the very least intriguing. However, given the way things are now, I'm on the fence for their chances next year.
New York Islanders: They made the right decision in taking Tavares first overall. Sure they need defense more and Hedman would be a perfect fit for that, but this is a team that needs fans and desperately needs a face for the franchise, which he should be. I think that he may not have a Crosby/Ovechkin/Malkin/Kane/Toews style rookie year that we have grown accustomed to in recent years, but rather he should have a slower build much like Joe Thornton and Vincent LeCavalier went through a decade ago, and hey they both turned out to be not too bad. But they started making some bad decisions when the free agency period began, signing two goaltenders in Martin Biron and Dwayne Roloson. Does this mean that DiPietro has not yet recovered from his injury? Or are they planning on holding one to trade to another team should their goalie either fail or get injured? Also, they really should be chasing some sort of offensive help for Tavares in his rookie year, because right now he has next to none.
Vancouver Canucks: I never know what to think of this team in the off-season. The signing of Mikael Samuelsson was a good one, and he should compliment Kessler and Burrows as excellent two way forwards. However, they let Ohlund go and do not replace his big minutes. While it seems like Mitchell, Salo, and Bieksa can shoulder the load, the fact remains that those three have missed a ton of time for injury in the past few years, so it remains to be seen if they will be able to provide those big minutes. Also, it appeared the Cory Schneider was developing well as an NHL backup, yet they got and sign Andrew Raycroft of all people, leaving Schneider to play in the minors. On the plus side, it appears that Cody Hodgson is poised to make it in the big time for the Canucks, and has already been touted as a favourite for Rookie of the Year. Let's hope they don't screw him up!
San Jose Sharks: After their absolutely embarrassing first round loss they promised all sorts of changes. There was all sorts of talk of Marleau and/or Thornton finding a new home. So far there have been no major additions, which could just mean more of the same for this talented but underachieving team.
Los Angeles Kings: They definitely made the right call in picking Brayden Schenn as opposed to trading him, but after that I start to wonder what exactly is going to happen with this team. In bringing in Ryan Smyth and Rob Scuderi they add two solid depth players with winning pedigrees who should be positive influences on their young players like Dustin Brown and Jack Johnson. However, I do feel that they are overpaying for both of them. Scuderi is not at all worth the $3million plus that he is set to receive and Ryan Smyth is a fantastic character addition, but has been a career 70 point man, certainly not worth making over $5 million. Also, Kyle Quincey who was traded as part of the package for Ryan Smyth was blossoming into a solid top four defenseman, who certainly cost less than Scuderi. This team is a solid dark horse candidate to make the playoffs, but when they have to play San Jose and Anaheim eight times a year, one never knows.
Right? Wrong? Let's spend the next few months finding out...
Until next time,
Friday, September 04, 2009
So without further ado....
ECW and Unified Tag Titles on the Line
Shelton Benjamin and Cryme Tyme
This seems like a pretty logical match to me that will get everyone on the card a little bit. I think that Regal will win the title from Captain Charisma, and should be in for a nice long reign. I'm not sure how the titles will end up getting to Kozlov and Jackson, but it seems like a nice fit. Also teaming Benjamin up with Cryme Tyme could do wonders for him. I'd like to see the challengers win here.
John Morrison vs. Christian vs. MVP vs. Rey Mysterio
vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Matt Hardy vs. Evan Bourne vs. The Big Show
The usual massive match with some of the usual suspects like MVP, Matt Hardy and Kofi Kingston. However, for intrigue I've added Evan Bourne and Rey Mysterio, who would excel in this environment, and The Big Show who was originally penciled in for this past years match, but was placed into the World Title Match instead. I think that he would actually be a solid addition to the match, as the sight of him trying to climb the ladder, throwing little guys out of the ring, or crashing down through tables would be all kinds of awesome. I ranked the wrestlers in order of who I think should win. If the WWE wants to create new stars, they need to realize that John Morrison is going to be at the forefront of the new generation. Give him a chance to run with the ball. Of course, this assumes the Rey Mysterio will not quit the WWE over his recent suspension, but if he does he could be easily replaced by The Miz, The Hurricane, or Tyson Kidd.
Battle Royal for the United States Title
Jack Swagger vs. The World
Alright, so I couldn't exactly think of a good place to put either Swagger or the US Title on the card so I came up with this idea. Have Swagger (the US Champion) complain to some RAW Guest host or another about being left off of the card. Since the host does not like the treatment, he books him to defend his title in a special 26 man Battle Royal consisting of wrestlers from all three brands. This would of course allow a lot of other wrestlers to get a place on the card, and it could have some fun dynamics between different wrestlers. I would choose to have Swagger get eliminated quickly by everyone, and have Tyson Kidd win it to steal the US Title back to Canada and Smackdown. Of course, the draft could easily bring that title (or the IC one) back to RAW, but it could make for some fun promos in the mean time.
Jeff Hardy vs. CM Punk
I know that Jeff is gone for now. But I have a feeling that he won't stay gone. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see him come back in early 2010. Logically this would have to lead to a showdown with CM Punk. Really, what better place to see Punk get his due than on the grandest stage of them all?
The Undertaker vs. Dolph Ziggler
While this seems like an odd pairing, and in many ways it probably is. But I think that the Undertaker is going to be used to elevate someone new come March. Ziggler has been on quite the roll since moving to Smackdown, and would be a great person to think that he can take on The Dead Man. Of course, he would end up losing, but so long as he looks good, it's something.
It seems like the WWE wants to split up the Legacy, and turn Ted face. I'm not 100% certain that he could play a Main Event face, but I think that if he is going to, it's going to need a big time showdown with Orton. I would love to see Dibiase get kicked out of Legacy, take a leave for a while and then slowly hunt down Orton before finally getting a one-on-one match with him at Wrestlemania.
Women's Title Match
Michelle McCool (c) vs. Natalya Niedhart
The typical bathroom break match. Although I think that this match could be incredibly good. I'd love to see Niedhart get a win here on this stage.
Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels
Do you know that these two have not had a match in five years? Also, do you know that they have never had a showdown at Wrestlemania? That kind of logic made HBK-Taker fresh, and it could again here. I have heard a ton of rumours that Shawn is thinking of retiring after Wrestlemania 26, and what better way for him to go out than a match with Triple H?
WWE Title Match
John Cena (c) vs. Batista
The WWE wanted this to be a big match at this past Wrestlemania but Batista's injury ruined that one. I guess they should really push it back to this year. It'll still be a major showdown between two major talents. And with Batista's talent is fading, it should happen sooner rather than later.
World Title Match
Chris Jericho (c) vs. Edge
Probably the most set in stone match on the card. I'm not sure that it will be for the title, but it would be so much better if it was. These two have proven to be two of the best performers in the company over the last few years so they really and truly deserve to get the main event slot. I think that it would be great to have Jericho retain here only for Morrison to come out, cash in his shot and win the title. Now that would make a new star and a Wrestlemania moment for sure.
I think that just about does it, keep watching in the next 6 months to see how right/wrong I am.
Until next time,
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Of course, this is all based on speculation at this point, and making the best possible "paper team" that is available. Also, Yzerman has been clear to point out that the camp selections may not be limited to players who are attending the camp. However, I would be shocked if anyone not on this list becomes a member of the team.
Next to each player is a blurb about why I think that they will/won't make the team, also a number between 1 and 10 for how likely I think that they are to make the team.
So without further ado...
Martin Brodeur – Makes it on legacy alone. Add in the fact that he can still get it done, and this is one of the most certain choices at the camp. He will certainly have his work cut out for him to keep the starting spot though. 10
Marc-Andre Fleury – I think that he was able to close the “chocker” label that had haunted him for most of his career. He was simply astonishing in the playoffs especially in both game 7s he had to play. However, there is certainly a backlog in net and I think that he needs to have a great start to the season to get on the roster. 6
Roberto Luongo – See Brodeur, Martin. I think that he's the favourite to be the starter for now, but Babcock will go with whoever is hottest. 10
Steve Mason – He'll be under more scrutiny than anyone else at the start of the season. Was his phenomenal rookie year a fluke? Will he have the dreaded “Sophmore Slump” (a la Carey Price)? I think that those are both clear no answers. He's probably neck and neck with Fleury right now. 6
Cam Ward – Probably the favourite to be the third goalie. He is 6-1 in playoff series' which is pretty stunning to say the least, especially when you consider how none of those six victories would have came without him. Still, he needs to start out strong, and more importantly, he needs to be as good, if not better than Fleury or Mason. 7
Francois Beauchemin – Pro: He's a great physical presence with a great shot. Con: The describes to many other bigger names at the camp. He'd be a great addition to any roster, but I don't think that they have quite enough room for him on this one. 3
Jay Bouwmeester – Let's see, he's one of only three defenceman at the camp to have Olympic experience. He consistently leads the NHL in minutes played, he is one of the best skaters at the blue line in the league. Must I go on? 10
Dan Boyle – An interesting choice if there ever was one. He had a great bounceback year after leaving Tampa (surprise, surprise), and he was a member of the practice squad at the 2006 Olympics. However, I think that there may not be quite enough room for him on this roster. A strong start of the year could bump him up though. 6
Brent Burns – An even more interesting choice. He seemed like a lock after his stunning play in the 2008 World Championships, however a sub-par season had him fall off most depth charts. However, it should be noted that he spent a fair portion of the year playing as a forward. This gives him a great deal of versatility which can never be overstated in such a short tournament where one injury in a key position can create a large opening. I think that he would make a great addition to the alternate roster, but is a stretch to make the main roster at this point. 4
Drew Doughty – He's an absolute lock to be at the top defensive pairing...in 2014. Doughty showed an incredible promise for most of the season and should be a cornerstone for the Kings for years to come. However, his lack of experience hurts him at the moment. Still could be a great member of the alternate roster. 2
Mike Green – Was an absolute lock until his sub-par playoff run. However, he is still one of the most gifted offensive defencemen in the league. I think that he's a very likely candidate, even if he just mans the Powerplay. 8
Dan Hamhuis – He's a very prototypical Canadian defenceman. However, I don't think that he quite has enough to crack a very deep defence corps. 2
Duncan Keith – Shot up in the rankings in the playoffs, and with good cause. However, it is odd that he was not discussed more before that run, he was an All Star the year before after all. 7
Scott Niedermayer – Let's see, the Olympics are in his hometown, he has won more championships than any other active hockey player, and he's playing one extra year just to be eligible for the Olympics. Not only is he a lock but he should be a favourite for the Captaincy. 10
Dion Phaneuf – He had a bit of an off year which dropped him from a lock to a bubble player. However, I think that he'll start the season off incredibly motivated to atone for his slump. He's one of the best all around d-men in the league and should play like it again next year. 7
Chris Pronger – Apparently, after he was left off of Pierre McGuire's list last February and he called McGuire to guarantee that he would make it when it counted. His excellent playoff run certain helped emphasize that point. I certainly would not argue with him. 9
Robyn Regehr – As much as I would love to put him in there with the other Flames defencemen, I just don't see it happening. He's a great team player and would be an excellent choice, but I think that the “stay at home d-men light on the offensive talent” quota is being filled by Duncan Keith. If Keith falters, expect Regehr to take his place. 6
Stephane Robidas – I had no idea he was even in the running to be honest. He's solid, but this is supposed to be a spectacular lineup. 1
Brent Seabrook – As great as it would be to have Seabrook and Keith play together for the Red and White, I just don't see Seabrook making the final cut. He should fight it out with Regehr for a spot on the alternates. 6
Marc Staal – He will probably join Doughty on the top pairing in 2014. He has scores of potential, but potential doesn't win championships, certainly not at this level. I just don't see it happening, unless he blows the doors off of Madison Square Garden this year. 2
Shea Weber – Funny what difference a year makes doesn't it? He seemed like a long shot this time last year, but now seems like a lock. Hopefully, he won't be one of those Good Year-Bad Year players. 8
Pronger – Neidermayer
Phaneuf – Weber
Keith – Bouwmeester
Jeff Carter – Seemed like the odd man out in Philly a year ago, but after scoring more goals than anyone whose name doesn't end with “echkin” this season I think that he's made a strong enough case for himself. 9
Dan Cleary – Interesting and sympathetic choice. He's been around for a long time now, and he seems to get better every year. However, after Kris Draper's curious inclusion in 2006, I think that they may have learned their lesson on Red Wings defensive forwards. 1
Sidney Crosby – Are we actually discussing this? 12
Shane Doan – Consistently puts up great numbers with little to no support in Phoenix. Always plays for Canada, and has no problem getting his nose dirty and shutting the big names down. He'll be playing. 10
Simon Gagne – I want to take him, really I do. He has a great success story, and put up very good numbers last year, but I think that he's getting bumped out for younger players, ironic considering his role on the 2002 team. Also, an injury early in the camp really hurts his chances here. 5
Ryan Getzlaf – He was a lock before his amazing playoff run. He's probably second after Crosby on the centre depth chart. That may not sound like much, but have you seen the other centres playing? 10
Dany Heatley – Easily the most contentious pick. Was a lock before his turbulent summer. This raises a ton of questions about his commitment to a team. However, he is Team Canada's all-time leading scorer at the World Hockey Championships. If we take him and don't win, it'll be his fault. If we don't take him and don't win, it'll be because he wasn't there to score goals. I'd take my chances in winning with or without him. 7
Jarome Iginla – Not only a lock, but another strong favourite for the Captaincy. 10
Vincent Lecavalier – He's won the Rocket Richard Trophy, a Stanley Cup, a World Cup, and a World Hockey Championship. I think that we can safely lock him up here. 10
Milan Lucic – I would love to see him on the team, just to see him hammer Malkin and Ovechkin. However, he is probably just going to miss the cut on the “hard hitting forward” category. He would be an interesting choice for the alternate roster though. 3
Patrick Marleau – I've gone up and down on my thoughts on Marleau. If he starts out hot he could end up with a spot on the checking line, but I think that he has an uphill battle after yet another short playoff run. 2
Andy MacDonald – I'm rather surprised that they invited him to the camp ahead of Marc Savard. Both are smooth skaters and crisp passers, but if you look at this list you will notice that passers are not exactly in short supply. I'd be shocked if he's playing in Red and White. 1
Brenden Morrow – He was a lock after his near-legendary play in the 2008 playoffs, however there are questions of his health at this point. He has spent the last few years going healthy-unhealthy-healthy, so he should be fine this year. I'd take him, and if he starts out great I think that Yzerman would be stupid not to. 7
Rick Nash – He scores 40 goals a year playing for Columbus, how do you think he'd do with Crosby feeding him? 10
Corey Perry – He would be a great addition to this team, but will probably be lose out in the logjam for the last few spots on the lineup. He should be favoured to be an alternate though. 6
Mike Richards – Probably the best two-way forward in the league who does not play for Detroit, thus making him Canada's best option. He'll not only play but he'll log some major minutes trying to contain the world's best. 10
Derek Roy – Skilled playmaker who is responsible in his own end, what's not to like? Sadly though, he is probably going to just miss the cut. 5
Patrick Sharp – Probably the most interesting “long shot” at the camp. While he is far from a superstar in the league, he is certainly dependable and a good finisher, and is one of the best penalty killers in the NHL. That is the kind of versatility that should appeal to the powers that be. Still, he has got to be a long shot. 5
Ryan Smyth – Sadly the time has come for Captain Canada to pass the title on to Shane Doan. It's been a great run Ryan, thank you. 2
Jason Spezza – The fact that he was a last minute addition to the camp certainly makes it seem unlikely that he will have a spot. I don't see this working out for Mr. Spezza. 3
Eric Staal – Was left off just about everyone's roster at the start of last season, and jumped up to a spot on the first line during the playoffs. The truth is he is somewhere in between. He's got the talent, and everyone's attention. Anything other than a disastrous start to the year will give him a spot. 8
Jordan Staal – I'd love to see him on the team, but I think that centre is just too deep for him this year. However, the debates should start now, will we see 4 Staal's on our 2014 team? I'm leaning towards a yes. But that's four years from now. 2
Martin St. Louis – His fantastic play at the world championships probably vaulted him above players like Perry, Gagne and Heatley for one of the final spots on the roster. I think that it's his for the moment, but that could change of course. 7
Joe Thornton – Got a lot of flack for having yet another terrible playoff. However, few in the NHL have his kind of scoring pedigree. He'll play so well at the start of the season that all of that should be forgotten. 8
Jonathan Toews – He'll be captaining the team someday. He may as well get some time to play right now. I think that he would be a perfect choice for 13th forward as he really can fit into any situation. 7
Nash – Crosby – Iginla
Carter – Getzlaf – Thornton
Staal – LeCavalier – St. Louis
Morrow – Richards – Doan
Alternates: Perry, Sharp
Until next time,
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
So without further ado, here is a recap of the last few months...
The King is Dead
Obviously the story that received the most media attention this summer was the passing of Michael Jackson. While it is certainly sad to see anyone pass away at a mere 50 years, I am certainly in the camp of people who say that this story was massively overblown. I have certainly always been a fan of his music, but his all too bizarre public persona left a great deal to be desired. I am wondering exactly where all of these fans and celebrity friends of his were when he was slowly poisoning himself with drugs and on this sad downward spiral that we all played witness to. From all reports it seemed like Jackson took the media's fascination with his self-destruction to heart, causing him to self-destruct even more.
While any of Jackson's choices remain his own to make, the media, and those of us who consumed any story about how weird he got with great zeal need to shoulder some of the blame for what happened. Everyone talks about how tragic his death was, but the reality is that his life was the real tragedy.
Of course, yesterday there was a huge bomb dropped, where it was revealed that his death is being treated as a homicide. I'm not sure what to believe anymore. I'll reserve comment on that for a later time I guess.
The Point Guard Makes the Pass...or Something Like That
Another huge story over the summer was Sarah Palin's resignation as Governor of Alaska. I know that I was certainly surprised by this one, yet in hindsight I don't know why. Since bursting onto the national stage less than a year ago, she has done everything she can to stay in the spotlight. As she returned to Alaska people started to forget about her. She needed to jump back into centre stage, and Alaska is certainly not the place for her to do that.
I do not truly understand the appeal that this woman has. It's as if someone in the Republican Party said “Hey, George Bush is not stupid, folksy, Evangelical, or hawkish enough” and Palin was born from that. I honestly feel that this woman is the biggest threat to the United States in the world, and the thought of her holding the highest office in the land is downright terrifying. For some reason the Rush Limbaugh wing of the party seems to love her, despite the fact that she proved to be a disastrous addition to McCain's campaign and ultimately lead to his downfall. She is just as much of an empty headed celebrity as they claimed Obama to be.
Free Agent Frenzy
Yet again the NHL's annual summer auction was fast and furious with all sorts of big names changes homes. I will have more to talk about this one later on, but I think that the signings of Cammalleri and Komisarek were the best, with the Hossa and Gaborik signings being the worst. I also really liked the Pronger trade, for both teams, and I think that it places both teams in a solid position when the fall starts.
Heel Turn of the Century
Once more I am going to talk a bit about internet darling CM Punk, who shocked the world when he cashed his Money in the Bank contract in at Extreme Rules on Jeff Hardy. Since then they two have been involved in one of the best feuds that the wrestling world has seen in a while which seems to be wrapping up now with Hardy leaving the company.. I couldn't be happier with this as Punk was made to play a heel, and I'm frankly surprised that it took the WWE this long to cash in on the heel potential of Straight Edge wrestler. (For the record: I CALLED IT...even if I didn't think that it would happen this soon).
After a series of civil unrest in China and Iran, internet censorship is back in full force. Web 2.0 in particular has been blocked. With Twitter, Facebook, and yes even Blogger all getting blocked. Right now I am posting through a VPN. This slows things down and makes life rather difficult.
While I am complaining about it as a mere inconvenience to me, there are many people who are under severe oppression as a result of this. Ignorance remains strength.
On a Personal Note
I had the pleasure of returning to Canada for the first time in almost a year for most of July. It was fantastic and surreal to return after so long, as I truly missed a great deal about home. I also got to head to New York City for the first time ever and I was able to travel for a bit in Western China, which was both all kinds of awesome (read about those adventures here).
Now for the first time since I graduated from Acadia in 2004 I will be doing the same thing for two years in a row. While I find the familiarity of returning to Suzhou a touch daunting, I am excited to be a little bit more settled, even if it is for just a short time.
Until next time,
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Increased Focus on Teaching:
I feel very good about how my rookie year on the International Teaching Circuit went. However, with all the time I spent learning how to “China” I was certainly guilty of not focusing enough on the task at hand.
I love cooking, but I have certainly gotten lazy with all of the cheap restaurants that can be found around Suzhou. I am certainly guilty of one of the habits which I decried as “Ineffective”.
This is heavily tied to the above point. Restaurant food is certainly a contributor to my expanding waist line. While I do not consider myself to be overweight or fat, I definitely weigh more than I did a year ago. My goal by the end of the year is to be back to somewhere in the 160-165 pound range.
Learn more Chinese:
Ugghhhh....there are moments when this language has been the bane of my existence. I find it exceptionally difficult to master and remember, but yet I know that it is important for me to do, especially while I am here in the country. I think that I have been decent at learning Survival Mandarin, but I certainly have a long way to go if I hope to be the next Da Shan.
(Quick Aside: For an excellent article on the trials and tribulations of learning Mandarin, give “Confessions of a Chinese Language Student” by Ericka a read over. It's ridiculously funny.)
I certainly have not been the best blogger this past year. While I split this blog up last year, started writing for Lost Lao Wai, and even made a contribution to a Travel Site, I feel like I have been writing less than I was in the past few years. I plan on fixing that one, and I guess this post is a good start.
Until next time,