Welcome back, once more to the insighteningly insightful insights on the world of professional hockey, brought to you by your puck-pariahs, Glen and Troy...enjoy!!!!
Topic #1: The Anaheim Ducks recently announced that former Captain Scott Niedermayer is in fact rejoining his team. This marks yet another retirement to go unfulfilled. Where do you think that Niedermayer's return will rank with any other big comebacks?
Troy says: Niedermayer's return is an interesting one. Look no further than motivation. What motivation does he have for coming back? This is a player who has won every single hockey championship that any Canadian player can win. Memorial Cup, World Juniors, World Championships, Olympics, and 3 Stanley Cups. He has nothing left to prove yet he still wants to play. The only reason I can see is that he still feels the passion. This can be scary. When someone plays for no other reason than passion and love of the game nothing can stop him. I think Niedermayer will be a huge help for his team and once he dusts off the rust of not playing for a while he will be his old amazingly gifted self again.
But the best hockey-related un-retirement easily goes to Mario Lemieux. He had a point within the first minute of his first game back. He continued to play at nearly a goal-a-game pace.
Glen says: As much as I hate to admit it, I find myself agreeing with my Caribbean friend here. I think that Scott is going to pick up right where he left off, and that is as a dominant player. I think that the Ducks are immediately a better team the second that he steps into that dressing room, let alone on the ice. While the Champs struggled a bit out of the gate, I think that they are instantly the team to beat out West.
Also, on the hockey front, I am totally in love with all things Mario; the man kicks all kinds of ass. Seeing him return in 2000 was a thing of beauty. He was simply dominant on the ice, and made all of his teammate’s better players. If he had not been there, I doubt that we would have been able to taste Olympic Gold in 2002.
On a slightly more scripted, but still real level, there is also Shawn Michaels, a pro-wrestler who retired in 1998 with severe back problems. He returned in 2002 and had the best match of that year against long-time friend Triple H. Shawn eased his way back into a full-time schedule and has been arguably the best wrestler in the past 4 years. He even wrestled in the Main Event of Wrestlemania this past year, a full 9 years after he was supposedly done wrestling forever. It really has been an amazing ride for that man.
Troy says: Wrestling sucks.
Glen says: You suck.
Troy says: Lets take a look at the other side of the coin and talk about probably the worst unretirement of all. Michael Jordan. Don't get me wrong, he is the best basketball player off all time and his first unretirement was actually good, but the second one was a disaster. Before he came back a second time the last scene of MJ in an NBA game was when he hit that late game jumper just before winning the title. How awesome would it be to be remembered by something like that? But instead he decided to come back again as a Wizard. Too bad. Would have been a nice memory.
Glen says: I totally agree, Jordan's second comeback sucked. I think that the key reason why it was so lame was not only because of his level of play, but because of the sweater that he wore. Lemieux struggled a bit after a few seasons back, but all was forgiven because he was still a Penguin. Jordan, on the other hand, was not a Chicago Bull anymore, he was playing as a Washington Wizard, and the magic nostalgia factor just wasn't there for him like it was for Lemieux. I really hope that people block those Wizard days from their memory, and just remember that last shot against the Jazz in 1998...man that was awesome...
But I think that the best comeback ever belongs to the king of the low-fat grills, Mr. George Foreman. The man retired in 1977, a few years after his famous loss to Muhammad Ali in Zaire. However, he would return 10 years later, at the age of 38 (making him a veritable relic in the world of boxing). After a few years as, essentially a sideshow, he was given a title shot. While he lost his first few chances, he was given one final shot in November of 1994, at the age of 45, he somehow, someway defeated champion Michael Moorer and won the title. You couldn't write it any better than that...
Troy says: I must admit I am not the biggest fan of boxing. With people like Mike Tyson and Don King this sport has sadly lost of lot of credibility. Foreman however is a great exception. Not only is he a great ambassabor for the sport of boxing but this is a man who has constantly reinvented himself. After miraculously regaining the title in 1994 he began a second career as an entrepeneur (ever heard of the Foreman Grill?) and he also became a successful and respected boxing commentator for HBO. He is now an ordained minister and has his own church. Whether you like boxing or not you gotta respect a man like George Foreman.
Topic #2: Reports suggest that former Vancouver head coach (and current Los Angeles head coach) Marc Crawford instructed Todd Bertuzzi to make Steve Moore must "pay the price" leading to the imfaous attack in 2004. What are your thoughts on this finding?
Troy says: To be honest I find the whole Bertuzzi/Moorre to be very overexposed (especially initially) and annoying and I just want it to go away but this adds a very interesting spin on things. If it is true that Crawford did this, and it probably is, then it begs the question "is retribution right or should it be handled by the league?". It's a tough call but I personally like the idea of retribution because it forces player to be responsible for their actions immediately. If a player knows he will be punished immediately perhaps it can deter him from taking a cheap shop. I am not however condoning what Bertuzzi did to Moore. It was wrong. We all know that. I would not be surprised if coaches order these types of things a lot more than we think. Hockey is much more of a "self-disciplined league" than most. I like the idea of it staying that way.
Glen says: Man, oh man, can an issue not die? First off, I'm not even the slightest bit shocked that this report comes out. As much flack as Bertuzzi (and now Crawford) are getting over this issue, there really is one man that nobody has even bothered to hold accountable, Colin Campbell.
In the game before this incident, Moore made a blatant dirty shot on Vancouver Captain, Markus Naslund, giving him a concussion and he got no suspension for it. So the next game there was an aura of pure hatred and next thing we know, one of the most passionate men in the sport damn near kills a guy, colour me shocked. Bertuzzi's death punch occured in the second game of a home-and-home, the league KNEW this and didn't suspend Moore for even one game, to prevent an incident like this from happening. Its completely and totally inexcusable of the NHL to mess up like this and not own up in any way, shape or form. If they weren't going to suspend anyone they should have sent some senior official into the Canucks locker room and say "I know you're pissed, but don't do anything stupid" what a world of difference that would have made!!!
But as for the issue itself here, Bertuzzi has no right to place the blame on Crawford, or any other member of the Canucks organization. He is his own man, who makes his own decision. The "I was following orders" defense didn't work for the Nazi's and it shouldn't work for athletes.
Topic #3: The NHL has recently announced its vote leaders for the All-Star team. Based on performance, who would be on your All-Star Team?
Troy says: Here is my Eastern Conference All Star Team starting with Defence, Chara, Redden, Timonen, Campbell, Gonchar and Kaberle. For the forwards I went with Kovalchuk, Bring'Amour (I know Glen hates him for some unknown reason, but the guy is like 70 gajillion years old and he's still bringin it), Jokinen, Koivu, Sundin, Satan, Jagr, Lecavalier, Ovechkin, Crosby, Heatley and Alfredsson. For the goalies I went with Broduer (duh), Lundqvist, and Cam Ward. My starting lineup would be Crosby, Heatley and Afredsson upfront with Kaberle and Gonchar on the blueline with Broduer between the pipes.
Glen says: Not a bad lot I dare say...but I've got to wonder how you missed Markov, St. Louis, Stillman, and Williams...I guess they just goes to show how tough it is, especially when you need every team to have one player represented!!!
Troy says: I didn't miss them, I simply couldn't find spots for them. But dems da breaks I guess.
Glen says: As for the Western Conference, I went with a Defense Corps of Pronger, Zubov, Lidstrom, Phaneuf, Jovanaski, and Rafalski. The forwrds were a tough group, but I chose Thornton, Zetterberg, Iginla, Nash, Getzlaf, Stastny, Kane, Kopitar, Horcoff, Gaborik and Kariya. The Goalie platoon consisted of Luongo, LeClaire and Nabokov.
Based on this year only, I think that Pronger, Lidstrom, Thornton, Iginla, Zetterberg, and LeClaire deserve the starts. I struggled wit hthe starting goalies, since Luongo is clearly the better player, but LeClaire somehow has 6 shutouts so far this season, and that just can't be ignored.
Any glaring ommisions my friend?
Troy says: Datsyuk
Glen says: I know!!!! I already took three Red Wings and needed a Wild, Predator and Blue...
Troy says: I know I know I had the same problem. It’s not as easy as you'd think
Topic #4: After a close battle, Glen seems to have broken ahead as he currently sits a staggering 12 points ahead of Troy in their hockey pool. Your thoughts on this one?
Troy says: It's odd. Each time I think my team has had a great night, Glen's team just blows me out of the water. As much as I hate to do it, sometimes you've just gotta tip your hat to the better man. Things are going to get very interesting however once Scott Neidermayer is playing again. Better buckle up Glen, tis gonna get tight.
Glen says: Wow, I wasn't expecting that...at all...I have to say, my team has done quite well of late, and I'm really happy with the results so far. I do have some tough decisions to make in the coming weeks as Dan Boyle and Sheldon Souray, and Alexander Frolov all look to return to action. I'm really torn on if I should but them, or another player! I have a lot of guys who I know will explode the second that I cut them, so things could be really interesting in a few weeks. And with the season barely a quarter of the way done, a lot can still change
Any closing thoughts my friend?
Troy says: Looking forward to the next installment of "The Puck Stop" live from Sunset Beach Bar in Sunny St. Maarten!!!
Glen says: Now there is something that we can both agree on...
Until next time,
Appendix 1: Roster Changes to Hockey Pools
Activate D - Schneider from IR, drop LW - Semin
Place D - Boyle on IR, add D - Jones
Trade LW Kovalchuk and G Legace for G Brodeur
Add C -S. Koivu
Drop LW/RW - Michalek, add LW - Wolski
Drop D -Aucoin, add LW - Morrow
Drop C - S. Koivu, add D - Corvo
Place LW - Frolov on IR, add C - Arnott
Drop D - Boucher, add D - Hainsey
Drop LW - Wolski, add C - Horcoff
Drop D - Whitney, add D - Kaberle
Drop D - Pitkanen, add D - Phillips
Drop G - Fleury, add G - Huet
Place LW - Gange on IR, add RW - Cheechoo
Drop G - Huet, add G - Kiprusoff
Appendix 2: Current Rosters
C - Crosby, E. Staal, Jokinen, Horcoff, Roy, Arnott, Kopitar, Savard
LW - Ovechkin, Parise, Morrow, Vanek, Tanguay
RW - Iginla, St. Louis, Rolston, Pominville
D - Liles, Schneider, Timonen, Corvo, Jones, Gonchar, Hainsey
G - Lundqvist, Brodeur, Nabokov
IR - Souray, Boyle, Frolov
C - Briere, Marleau, H. Sedin, Stastny, Sakic, Richards
LW - Malkin, Heatley, Zetterberg, Brunette, Demitra, D. Sedin, Huselius
RW - Naslund, Satan, Cheechoo, Perry,
D - Phillips, Lidstrom, Zubov, Kaberle, Campbell, Ohlund, Phaneuff
G - Luongo, Kiprusof, Backstrom
IR - Gagne