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,
Saturday, July 04, 2009
On Sunday I return to Canada for an all too brief time back in my country of birth. I will be there for just over three weeks (with a quick but exciting sojourn to New York City) before coming back to the Far East, where I'll be traveling for a while before getting ready for my sophomore year in the Middle Kingdom.
This year has been simply fantastic for me. It certainly had some ups and some downs, but all in all China gave me more good days than bad days, and what more can you really ask for than that? Well great friends, fantastic students, career challenges, and new and exciting experiences sure don't hurt.
So China, I'll miss you. Canada, I can't wait to see you, and New York, I can't wait to meet you!!!
I'm coming home!!!!
In my tradition, I'll leave you with some musak to keep you company over the next little while...
Kanye West featuring Chris Martin - Homecoming
Leonard Cohen - First We Take Manhattan
Until next time,
Monday, June 29, 2009
As usual all matches were put in suggested order
Colons and Evan Bourne vs. Hart Trilogy and Finlay
A match that seems destined for the pre-show. I figure that the Harts are going to be holding the tag titles soon enough, and Finlay as the heel ECW Champion sounds great, so why not put those two matches into one? If the faces win then the Colons get the tag titles and Bourne gets the ECW Title. Seems easy and entertaining enough for me.
Dolph Ziggler (c) vs. Shelton Benjamin vs. Rey Mysterio
Just because I couldn't find room for any of these guys in the MITB and I think it would be an awesome way to give Ziggler some exposure, especially if he defeats the masked wonder.
MVP vs. CM Punk vs. Kofi Kingston vs.
Christian vs. The Miz vs. M. Hardy vs.
Cody Rhodes vs. Jack Swagger
Great Money in the Bank match, or greatest Money in the Bank match? All eight of these performers would be great in the situation, and I for one would love to see them really excel here. I put both MVP and CM Punk in here because I think it would be a great underwritten story to have Punk claim to be ready to three-peat only for MVP (someone who was in for his first two wins) come out and take it at the last moment.
Featuring: The Big Show, Kane, Mark Henry, The Great Khali,
Vladmir Kozlov, Santino Marella, Tommy Dreamer,
Festus, Mike Knox, Chris Masters and possibly others
Easily the best place to put the likes of Show, Kane, and Henry. These are 10 guys who would put on an entertaining Battle Royal. I'm not sure what the stakes would be other than knowing that you are the king of the heavy weights. It would be a great way to get any one of them over the top, or to have Santino do something entertaining for a bit longer.
HBK vs. HB2K10! This has star-making dream match written all over it. I would love to see these two go at it, and I wouldn't even mind HBK winning, as I am sure that Morrison could look good in a loss to Michaels. I am not sure if a Morrison heel turn would be required, but it probably wouldn't hurt.
Not sure where else to put the gals, this is probably the best match available. It could work if you end up with both titles on the line here.
The WWE seems set with having Dibiase making it as a singles star, and this seems like a great place to cement his, ahem, legacy. Apparently there are plans for him to turn face during the fall in the build up to The Marine 2, so I am not certain how long they can have this feud simmer instead of having them actually fight. But this would be the right place to have them have their big match. Even if they have a match or two before, it would be good to have them end their feud here.
Triple H vs. Edge
These two had a one-on-one match back at last year's Great American Bash, but it received very little build and no follow up. To have these two huge stars not have a huge match is a huge crime. They deserve a big match on the big stage, I think that they could both really deliver.
John Cena (c) vs. Batista
Well it looks like big Dave is on the shelf once more. Apparently he is not due back until December, so a Royal Rumble victory could be a fantastic comeback for the big guy. Randy Orton seems like a logical opponent given how Batista went down, but that match feels a little tired at this point. The biggest option would be to have him get the big rematch with Cena from last year's Summerslam. Apparently that was the original plan for Wrestlemania 25, but Dave's injury ruined that one. This gives them a chance to have the rematch and for Cena to rightly, get his win back.
The Undertaker (c) vs. Chris Jericho
This really is the last big dream match that the WWE has among it's current top-level talent. The stars never once aligned for these two to cross paths, so it seems like it would be a huge addition to a huge card. It may seem obvious to have Jericho as the champion going into it, but in recent years we have twice seen a Title vs. Streak match. As such, I think that it would be even more amazing to have Jericho claim to want to take everything away from The Deadman, his title and his legacy to cement himself as the greatest of all time.
That just about does it I think for the big card. Hey, it looks better than last year's Mania that's for sure!!!
Tune back to see if it comes true!
Until next time,
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Alright so all of the good “Pittsburgh”, “Penguin” and “Steel” puns were taken, so this was all that I had left. But the fact remains that it is GREAT to see the Penguins win the Stanley Cup. They have two of the best players in the world, and a fantastic organization from top to bottom. There is nothing to not like about this except if you live in Detroit or are Marian Hossa.
While I still consider Crosby to be the best in the world, it is hard to deny Malkin the Conn Smythe. He had a fantastic run, and scored more points in one playoff series by anyone not named Wayne or Mario. Not too bad. Of course, one could argue that Crosby drew the best of the opposition more often than not (especially against Detroit), so Malkin had it a bit easier, but none the less, well done Geno.
I would also like the record to show that I officially defeated a piece of Chinese Currency and two of my friends (in that order) to claim the Prediction Title for 2009, even with my disastrous Columbus, Montreal, and St. Louis picks.
Bye, Bye Danny
It looks like Heatley is on his way out of Canada's Capital. This is a shame, as I have always liked Heatley's ability, and there are not too many multi-time 50 goal scorers in their 20s playing at the moment, but if he doesn't want to be part of the system, good riddance.
There has been all sorts of talk about which teams are in the market, and if I were a betting man, I'd say that he ends up in LA. They have the cap room and are searching for a big named star. If they end up making a deal for LeCavalier that renders the point rather moot. Not certain if Heatley will waive his no movement clause for a trip to Hollywood, but it would be a good fit for both sides. Let's face it, if he ends up in a hockey-crazed city he'll end up a scapegoat yet again and end up getting jeered for his inability to backcheck. People keep saying the Sharks, as a Thornton-Heatley pairing sounds good, and could probably combine for 200 points in a regular season, but would struggle to get 5 in a playoff season. I hope for the Sharks sake that they stay away, they don't need him.
I think that Heatley's current situation may have really hurt his chances to play in Vancouver next February. Let's face it, the GM of Team Canada, Steve Yzerman is a team first kind of guy, and to take a trade demand public, especially over a coach's decision to put him on the second power-play unit is not Stevie Y friendly.
With Canada having so much depth, with all things being equal who would you choose: someone who is concerned about the amount of goals he scored playing on a team that happened to underachieve (but has potential for next year) or a guy who consistently puts up good numbers for a terrible team and lit it up for Canada on the International stage last year? The second one, right? Replace those names with Heatley and St. Louis and Stevie's job may have just gotten easier.
I think that Thornton and Marleau's sub-par playoff runs really had them drop down on the depth chart with Heatley. The same also stands with Jeff Carter and Mike Green (although they are young enough to be given a pass I think). Crosby and Getzlaf's spot on the roster was never really in doubt, but their runs in the post season really solidified them as the top two centres on the squad I think. Add in Eric Staal's borderline legendary first two rounds, Jonathan Toews clutch play, and Martin St. Louis, Shane Doan, and even Steven Stamkos' world championship and I think some big name forwards may be enjoying a two week break in February.
The back end is slightly more stable. Chris Pronger proved that he can still go, and should not get bumped. Brian Campbell continued to be a disappointment, getting jumped by teammates for the biggest potential move in defense, Duncan Keith and maybe even Brent Seabrook, who did a fantastic job in a shutdown role in the first two rounds. Otherwise there should be little movement on the D from most pre-season predictions.
In between the pipes both Ward and Fleury made some noise for their inclusion on the team, while Price made even his most ardent supporters (I.e. me) question his ability under pressure. However, all of the competition appears to be for the role of third wheel/press box warmer as Brodeur and Luongo seem destined for the top two spots.
Draft Day Dealings
I'm not certain if Heatley will get moved before the draft, since he has a $4 million bonus coming on July 1st which some teams may be hesitant to pay for. However, there are some big names that may get dealt. I think that Philadelphia is going to make some big moves, most likely involving any of Daniel Briere, Simon Gange, and/or Joffrey Lupul in an attempt to clear up some space. They seem to have their sights set on Jay Bouwmeester, and they need to clear up some cap room. I would not be surprised to see them make a trade for Bouwmeester's rights much like they did with Hartnell and Timmonen a few years ago.
In other trade news, I think it's safe to say that the Leafs will NOT end up with Jonathan Tavares. The Islanders would be stupid not to take him at this point. They do not have much going on in their organization, other than Kyle Okposo, and as Pittsburgh and Chicago are showing, a dynamic duo up front can go a long way. Of course, every team needs more than just two forwards, but it is a pretty good start, especially when it comes to marketing. The Leafs talk of trading Luke Schenn is stupid for a variety of reasons. For starters Schenn is going to be a cornerstone of any franchise for years to come, but also because the pick that the Leafs traded for to get Schenn was with the Islanders. If they wanted him, they would have taken him last year, instead of trading down with the Leafs.
That being said, the Leafs will very likely move up in the draft, especially if they dangle Tomas Kaberle out there. I think that they would be very happy to end up with Brayden Schenn (Luke's brother), Evander Kane (Patrick's brother) or maybe Matt Duschene (nobody important's brother) to help their anemic offense.
Free Agent Frenzy
In addition to the previously mentioned Bouwmeester there are some big names available. The D-man should be the biggest prize, with some other great options, in particular up front, with Marian Hossa, Martin Havlat, the Sedin twins, Marian Gaborik, and Alex Tanguay being the biggest names.
While it is virtually impossible to predict at this point, I am going to try anyway! I think that the Flyers or Bruins are going to land big Jay, while the forwards are probably going to be scattered about on the following teams looking to make a big splash: Los Angeles (unless they end up with Heatley or LeCavalier), San Jose, Toronto, Montreal, Chicago, and maybe even Florida. I think that the Sedins are going to end up on the Blue Shirts, Hossa in San Jose, Gaborik in Montreal, Havlat resigning in Chicago, and Tanguay maybe even going to Ottawa.
It looks like, for the time being at least, that the Coyotes are staying in Phoenix to loose millions of dollars yet again. I, for one, will not claim to be shocked about this one. Sooner or later though, the NHL needs to realize that loosing money is a bad, bad idea. Franchises like Phoenix, Atlanta, Carolina, and Nashville are simply not viable in the long term. They are going to need to move somewhere else eventually. While everyone who understands the game sees that Southwestern Ontario is a better hockey market than the Southwestern United States, it seems like that is just not going to happen for the time being. I imagine that the next team to get an NHL team will be Kansas City, with Las Vegas as an outside second choice.
I think that if a team ever ends up in Hamilton, or anywhere else in Ontario they will probably have to pay $100 million to the Leafs and about $40 million to the Sabres. Ballsillie has deep pockets, but I think that even he has his limits, which is a shame because with the current economic climate a wealthy owner who likes the game sounds like a great idea. But what do I know about economics anyway?
As I said in my previous post on the topic, this is not about dollars, or about sense. This is about pride, which is a damn shame.
But fear not Canadian hockey fans, this was Ballsillie's third attempt to get a team in Hamilton, and probably the one that came closest to succeeding. With enough troubled franchises out there, he can always wait until next year.
I guess he has a lot in common with the Leafs on that one.
Until next time,
Sunday, June 07, 2009
The one interesting story comes from the CNN, BBC, and AFP reporters who had the strangest form of censorship that we may have ever seen. As their reporters were on the edge of the square attempting to report on the day, they had plain clothes officers with large umbrellas come in between the journalists and their camera to try to attempt to block the shot. I understand what they were trying to do but it came across as being pretty stupid. I'm not sure who came up with this idea, but I am sure that they did not deserve a raise for it.
Check it out for yourself (courtesy of the Shangaiist):
Great eh? How about it as a video...
If that wasn't enough, check out this great remix of it, sadly there is no Rihanna involved....
Umbrellas, saving the masses from the horrible truth since 2009.
Until next time,
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH
Party Mottoes, 1984
Some days I feel like I am living in Orwell's nightmare.
Today is an important anniversary of a solemn event, or maybe it is a day like any other, it all depends on who you ask, or who you don't ask. As many of you may know, twenty years ago today an infamous student protest in China drew the wrath of the government and their tanks, and many people were killed. Pardon me for using cryptic language, but I do not want to attract the attention of the powers that be in the country I reside in.
There has been a huge crackdown in the buildup to this day. A few months ago YouTube was banned, and blogger is currently banned (I am posting this via a proxy), while Wordpress has been banned since I arrived in August. The most recent additions to this were Twitter, Flickr, and Hotmail which went down on Tuesday (eerily as I type the rough draft for this post). Interestingly, the on-again-off-again bans on sites like BBC, Wikipedia, and Google are not in effect. In essence websites that allow regular people like me to communicate with the outside world (through posting videos or blogs) are not allowed. Somebody is worried that something is going to happen.
Also, the popular messaging system Skype, is very difficult to download in this country, instead it diverts you to a program called TOM-Skype, which restricts some of the messages that you send. For example, if you try to send the F word the message will not go through. I read reports (not going to link, too dangerous at this time) of it tracking the use of certain hotbed words that the people in charge would not like.
But the internet is not alone in it's censoring. Apparently there has been some grassroots movement to get people to wear white (the colour of mourning in Asia) on the day. There is a rumour persisting that newscasters are not to wear white for the next several weeks (which appears to be adhered to by turning on the television). A few weeks ago, an interesting bit of news came out that 300,000 newspapers had to be recalled because it had an incredibly subversive photo in it. Just in case you didn't see it when it made the rounds a few weeks ago, check it out.
Do you get why it was somehow subversive? I'll give you a hint, look at the pants of people in the front row. Now divide the picture in two and count the people on either side. Now think of today's date.
There are six people on the right side and four people on the left side, translate that into a date and you have today. Look at the four digit number on the little boy's pants in the bottom left and you have the year that the event took place.
Think about this for a second or two. If this was something that someone caught after the fact, what more obvious things are being caught before publication? I imagine someone refusing to publish an image because it bears a picture of someone who resembles a certain spiritual leader or not taking an ad for the classified because every 5th word spelled out the National Anthem for the island that China claims to be its own. I'm probably wrong, but maybe not too far off. If this picture is deemed subversive, what else gets to be in the same category?
All of this is done with one simple mission in mind: to restrict the flow of information. In other words, the government wants to keep people ignorant in order to keep the nation strong. Ignorance is strength.
What I find the saddest about all of this is how most of the concern comes from outside of the country. In the two decades that have passed since this event China has undergone a tremendous economic boom. Naturally in times of economic fortune people tend to not focus on problems with the government, and demands for change lessen. This coupled with the party's crackdown has made many of the demands of the original dissenters disappear.
Most people in this country seem to be living in a bit of a fool's paradise, similar to how I imagine America being in the 1950s, and even the 1990s. There were certainly bad things happening in the country then, but people mostly kept quiet because things were going well and they did not want to rock the boat. Flash forward a decade in either case, and the economy starts to fall and people start to protest more about the “corrupt government” and “illegal wars” which were going on before, but nobody ever cared when they were making money.
The party seems to have found the right mix of 1984 and Brave New World. Oppress people and control information while giving them all sorts of distractions that they have never imagined. Either way, it is keeping people in this country from the one thing that they truly need for development, the truth.
Until next time,
Monday, June 01, 2009
That's right, there will be no nuclear war, no reunification, just more of the same status-quo that has persisted for the last 56 years. This is just another big scare that will inevitably blow over, and things will continue on as they are.
Sure, the North seems to have nuclear capabilities (maybe), and long range missiles (definitely) which seem like quite the game changer, but we can't forget the ultimate x-factor, and biggest benefactor from the way that things are, China.
Allow me to give a quick overview of East Asian geopolitics. The unquestioned forces are Japan and China, which are currently the 2nd and 3rd largest economies in the world, respectively (although they will probably flip by the end of the year). China has a very large military, and while Japan does not have any forces of their own, they have near unquestioned support of the Americans. Japan and China have long been distrustful of the other, and have been at war with each other several times in their history, most notably during WWII. Conveniently, between the two nations, there is the Korean Peninsula. This was divided at the conclusion of the Second World War, with the southern half being in the US sphere of influence, and the Northern half being in the Soviet sphere of influence. North Korea quickly became a reclusive state, relying on itself, and only itself, with the South has grown into a very vibrant economy and has served as a model for development in Asia.
While the South has been culturally closer to Japan, in recent years it's economy has been getting closer to China's. According to John Pomfret's blog on the Washington Post "Why China Won't Do More With North Korea" (the inspiration for this post), he mentions that China is South Korea's largest trading partner. While this may seem surprising, let me tell you from the inside that there are a LOT of very wealthy Korean companies doing business in China. Almost forty percent of the students at the international school that I currently work at are Korean and those kids do not come from poverty.
This huge amount of money pouring into the PRC is helping fund the current economic boom, and China needs to keep it that way. Obviously a thermonuclear war in a country that has so much investment in China is not in their best economic interests. So they will do nothing to help empower the North in a horrible to "reclaim" the South.
All of this Korean money is flowing into China because, quite frankly, there is not much else for them to develop in their own country. However, should the North collapse a massive humanitarian and economic undertaking would ensue. The North would need to be developed in a bad, bad way which would trigger require a flow of capital and efforts from companies like Samsung and Dae Woo, which are currently doing business in China. Given the current economic climate, it is likely that any of those companies would need to contract elsewhere in order to set up shop in North Korea, which would probably mean a lot of them would move out of China. China can not let this happen, certainly not while their economy continues to benefit from Korean involvment in the country.
Also, should the North fall and the Peninsula become unified, there is the pesky question of the ethnic Koreans living in the Chinese Northeast. A huge swell in Korean nationalism would no doubt catalyze the notion that those people should join their reunified homeland. Jilin and Liaoning provinces both have sizeable Korean populations, and should they ever get vocal about their land leaving China, then the PRC has large problems on its hand. They already have enough seperatist regions to deal with, why add another one? Especially one that would have Japan and America's sympathy? Jilin in particular has a great deal of national resources, notably iron, coal, and oil, which an industrializing nation like China certainly needs and could not afford to jeopordize.
China is in a clear case of "damned if we do" with very little "damned if we don't". This can only lead us to one conclusion, we're going to get more of the same, so you can crawl out of the bomb shelter.
Until next time,
Sunday, May 31, 2009
Going 1-1, upping his point total to 9, which is far below his Monkey-esque run in 2008 is last year's undisputed Champion, Jeff...
Jeff Says: So, the third round is over and again i was wrong on another one. Carolina really crapped out. Pittsburg played pretty solid, i will admit, hard to stop both Malkin and Crosby and they were both on fire. So no worries Carolina, you played well, and had a good run. Same to Chicago, who had to face Detroit which is a daunting task at all times. They played with heart and put forth a good effort. Detroit is just to deep, and simply to good.
Also going 1-1 to bring it's total to 11 is an inanimate object, the Chinese Reminbi.
Going 2-0, with an extra point for predicting the length of Detroit's victory, giving him four out of six picks (with two extra points) is Troy, who is short on words this time.
Troy Says: Hey bud, I'm in.
Seriously, that's all he had to say...
And going 2-0, with another point for Detroit's victory, is this blog's namesake. This brings his total up to 11, tying him with a piece of foreign currency.
Glen Says: After the best second round in recent memory, we get treated to perhaps the most anti-climactic Conference finals we could have asked for. Neither series was ever in doubt, as last year's finalists truly proved to be a cut above their competition dominating the next big things and the team of destiny. That being said, both Chicago and Carolina should be incredibly happy for their deep runs, and both teams should be ready to do some serious damage next season.
We have decided to add to the predictions by including guesses for MVP and favourite moment of these wild playoffs.
Jeff Says: So here we go, Pittsburgh vs Detroit part 2
This will be a good series. Pittsburgh is older and more mature. At this point in time their best two players are the best two players in the playoffs so Detroit is going to have to step up. Fleury is playing super well and the team seems to be rolling. Detroit is battling injuries so if Pittsburgh is smart they will capitalize early on this. Those players will be back eventually, so they need to win, and they need to win now.
Detroit can muster up some talent as they are deep so by no means is it going to be easy for Pitt to win, but I think they can steal a game in Detroit for sure, if not both. However, having said that, it is Detroit we are talking about and I do believe they will emerge victorious again. I think this will be a harder fought series then last year so that means a game 7 could be very likely. I think the most interesting thing about this series is the Hossa situation. It would be funny to see him lose with Detroit after having switched after losing with Pittsburgh, :) not that i wish any ill will towards Hossa as he is very good. Just would be humourous. I do believe he will get his ring though.
Prediction: Detroit wins in 7
Troy Says: My pick...
Prediction: Pittsburgh in 7.
Coin Says: Detroit in 7.
Glen Says: Here we go again! I for one am very excited to see the two teams that were unquestionably the best of the Spring go head-to-head. Everyone keeps saying that this is youth vs. experience, but that was so last year (or even last round with Chicago). The Penguins are a fundamentally different team this year.
Oddly they have been able to add by subtraction. No matter how you look at it losing Whitney, Roberts, Malone, and Hossa in exchange for Satan, Fedetenko, Guerin, and Kunitz is a loss. However, somehow the Pens are a better team than they were last year. Both Crosby and Malkin are on an absolute tear, playing with a purpose. Also add to the fact that the Penguins wingers are going well (namely the four that I mentioned), and most importantly, they are being much better coached than they were last year.
That being said, the Pens can not exactly claim to be the heavy favourites here. Despite injuries to Lidstrom, and the disappearance of Pavel Datsyuk, the Wings are still rolling along. Henrik Zetterberg continues to be the best two way player in the league, Johan Franzen is still a clutch performer, and roll players like Clearly and Helm are contributing and then some. The Red Wings very clearly have the best organization in the league, and possibly all of professional sports, but the time has come for the best two players in the world to assume their place in hockey history, by slaying the big red dragon.
Prediction: Pittsburgh in 6.
Jeff Says: As for MVP I think that Crosby will get it, even if they lose. No player on Detroit has been dominant. Very good yes, I think Cleary or Osgood have the best shot really. But I think that regardless, if Crosby has a great series he gets it. Maybe even Malkin. They have just been to good to not get it. Unless a player on Detroit absolutely steps up and dominates this next series (I am looking at you Franzen or Cleary) then a Pittsburgh player is getting it.
Glen Says: I hate to agree with you Jeffrey, but Crosby is my prediction for this. He was at the start of the playoffs, and he has been simply dominant these playoffs. That being said, Malkin has been no slouch, and is somehow underrated for reasons that I don't fully understand. They are able to do so well because of one-another. Even if they don't play together, one of them are going to draw the oppositions best checkers (i.e. Zetterberg and Lidstrom) and the better one plays, the more room the other gets. If it were possible to have it be a tie, I think that it should be given out, but this isn't soccer, so I'm going to go with the Kid.
Jeff Says: As for my favourite memories....I can't help but get chill from when Lebron hit that winning 3 pointer with 1 second left.....oops, wrong sport......umm.....I think my fondest memories will simply be the second round which had 4 series almost go to game 7 having 3 of them do that. I think that was the best hockey I have seen in a while. With the Crosby/Ovie hat trick night being absolutely amazing and Carolina's 90 second miracle also being near the top. It has bee a great playoff run for the NHL. I still just wish St.Louis could have won at least one game :) lol.
That's about it.....I would once again like to thank Glen for inviting me to do this, even though I have had a challenging time predicting it this year after my near perfect run last year.
Troy Says: I'll go with the 90 seconds for Carolina against Jersey.
Glen Says: Damn, they stole my two choices...but I think that I am going to go with Game 2 of the Pittsburgh/Washington series. The three best players in the world on the same ice at the same time, is going to be special no matter what, but when you have two of them put on what was arguably the best game of either of their lives, both getting hat tricks is something special. To have that game get followed up with Evgeni Malkin absolutely taking over, showing that he deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as those two was pretty great as well.
But my favourite moment will be Crosby hoisting the Cup, can't wait for it!!!
Until next time,