Where I Again Try To Guess The Future

Bergfors predicting how many goals he'll score for the Nashville Predators

Many Nashville Predators were excited about the off season acquisition of Swedish sniper Niclas Bergfors. He was seen as a Kostitsyn-esque low-risk investment. Like the Belarusian Niclas never seemed to be able to settle down into a consistent role. Unlike our trigger shy Eastern European friend Bergfors never could seem to put anything interesting on the table. His single goal this season didn't come off of a shot, but rather involved a surprised Swede chesting the puck in the net past a likely very startled Miikka Kiprusoff. What made the play all the more hilarious was that the puck was coming off a rather silly looking shot from Hillen. Bear Force has generally been a disappointment and watching McGrattan gobble up the last roster spot had to be tough on the kid, so it came as no surprised when the Predators chose to waive the player.


We've Crossed the First Threshold.

There are two simple rules that I follow early in each and ever NHL season. The first that the standings are pretty meaningless until (American) Thanksgiving. This is the time of year with bizarre stat leaders, neck in neck races between future champions and lottery winners, and the Ottawa Senators not thinking that they are going to be spending the second half of the season hanging out with the Blue Jackets in their mom's basement listening to Jawbreaker and watching The Kids In The Hall DVDs. I know, doesn't sound like the worst Friday night, but it certainly isn't how you want to spend the second half of your hockey season. My second rule is that I start to evaluate a team's performance until they've struck the ten game mark. While teams continue to go through changes, work around injuries, and have mid-season surges, I think that you can get a solid feel for the look and feel of the team.

That brings us to the Nashville Predators. At the start of last week I would say that I wasn't anticipating sitting down and writing this little piece. Sure, when I'm ranting and going off the deep end I'm far more entertaining, but it would still mean the Preds were playing like utter crap and that I was twitchy from people jumping ship, calling for Trotz's/Poile's head/blood, and declaring war on the color gold. Fortunately for my mental health things have settled down from that point and the team finds itself right in the thick of the Western Conference and only three points from the Central Division leading Blackhawks. So, with all those positive thoughts in mind let's actually take a look at the team.


To Address Some Issues

So, last year I used Photoshop to hack together the Predobear that has become to endeared to OnTheForecheck community. After updating Predobear's jersey this season I played around with some other ideas in order to make the meme more versatile. Along the way OTF user Poiju recolored a honey badger in gold and blue in order to pay tribute to former University of Wisconsin Badger and current Nashville Predators forward Craig Smith, a player we affectionately call the Honey Badger.

Because dammit this is hilarious

In what I can only imagine was a fit of insanity or some sort of fugue state brought on by the consumption of too much tea I created the image I unveiled during the recent Preds victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. OTF readers have offered several excellent names for the... piece... but currently its just loosely referred to as Predobear Rides to War. The image has garnered some attention from the fan base, which is nice. It has also started a few mummers in regards to Predobear t-shirts.

The topic cropped up last season when Predobear first gained traction within the OTF community and started leaking around the internet a bit. I'm always happy to explain to people that Predobear is a repurposing of the Pedobear meme. Pedobear is a 4chan meme. It is a pedophiliac bear. Not really the most pleasant thing. Predobear bear is a pun on the the Pedobear name and the concept of sexual predators, but that isn't what the Predobear is. Predobear is essentially a sexless (as in not male nor female) bear that happens to be an energetic puck bunny. Predobear simply has an extreme love for Nashville Predators hockey players. Predo is just another fan.

To get back on the topic of t-shirts. There are a lot more people out there that know what Pedobear is than Predobear. What people often see, since it is true, is Pedobear wearing a Predators jersey. This creates problems because I don't know a lot of people that want to be associated with pedophilia, and I am certain that the Nashville Predators don't want to be associated with pedophilia. Therefore I'm hesitant to authorize--as much as it is my right since I just hacked a trademarked jersey onto an anonymously produced cartoon bear--any sort of merchandise with Predobear appearing on it. It is a somewhat disturbing albeit often hilarious meme that Preds fan that are in-the-know can enjoy.


The Return of Album Reviews: You've been here all along...Haven't you? Well, maybe.

So, ok. It has been nearly a month since I've posted anything at all. Between mass amounts of school work and working on my guitar project I basically used it all as an excuse to take a break from the whole color scale thing. In the NHL we're going to hit the 10 game point soon where I feel like I can start to evaluate what the Predators are going to look like this season. If the current trend of sketchy play and anemic shooting continues it is going to be a cold and whiskey friendly early evaluation. I do have at least one hockey related blog rolling around in my head, and I can promise that it will be a return to the general weirdness that seems to permeate my hockey related blogs.

In the mean time I decided to write a review for one of the big releases in punk rock as well as one for an album that I've really being loving since I got my hands on it. In case you can't figure out the Cobra Skulls are the former and Candy Hearts are the latter.


2011-2012 NHL Colors Scales Super Turbo Bonus Edition: The Rejects

If you actually read all the crap that I wrote then you know that there were several colors retired before the start of the 2011-2012 season. Instead of just dumping them into a lonely pit of silly names and broken dreams I compiled them into a single sad block.

And here is it, with all the glory of a Wheatley designed test chamber, the rejects of 2011:

Nashville has totally eschewed silver this season, and having seen the gold jerseys we should all be grateful. I couldn't picture actually look at another human being in direct light without being afraid of severe retinal damage due to the combination of silver and eye-bleed banana peel gold. Still, at least no one has to worry about the eye twisting purple and gold combo. I was under the impression that outside of film buffs everyone was glad that the 80s had died, but for some reason hockey fans pine for the NHL equivalent of leg warmers and Miami Vice. We also got to witness True North taking the Thrashers colors out back and shootin'em right in their cutely named hues. 

Oh, the Islanders also retired a color but no one cared.

If at any point some color seems off or flat out wrong, then please don't bother emailing me. My goal is to stick this little scale here for my own entertainment, and since the colors are retired I'm not terribly concerned with perfect accuracy. Thanks


2011-2012 NHL Color Scales: Red & Blue

And so we have reached the final color scale. I do plan on releasing all of these on a single page so that people can have them or fiddle with them or whatever it is that people do when they are downloading pictures off the internet. Today we have the two largest scales in the Red and the Blue scales. People often talk about how overused these colors are in the league and this pair of scales really demonstrates how extensive the use of blue and red really are. It isn't terribly surprising since blue and red are often tested as the two most popular colors in the world. In case you're curious, orange is often picked as the least appealing color, go figure. If this is your first time looking at these scales I invite you to go back and take a look at the first two entries for the rest of the the scales in the series: Green, Purple, & Natural and Orange, Silver, & Gold.

And since both of these are so long, you can find them both after the bump if you navigated here via the main page.


2011-2012 NHL Color Scales: Orange, Silver, & Gold

Ok, time for the second round of color scales. As the scales get longer things get more interesting as you can see what has been added and dropped for the start of the new season. The three that I'm posting today consist of the Orange, Silver/Gray, and Gold scales. If this is your first time here then I want to point you back towards the first entry where you can find part one of the series.

EDIT: It just occurred to me that the Islanders haven't unveiled their new third jerseys. If there is one team in this league that I'm not going to wait on it would be the New York Islanders. If there were two teams it would be them and the Red Wings. I stuck this edit here because the jersey is supposed to include grey, which would fall on the silve scale.

Orange Scale:

So, I lied a little bit because not much happened in the world of Orange. Really the only change that we have is that the redish toned orange that the Flyers have employed since 1999-2000 has been totally retired in favor of the brighter orange from the heydays of the franchise (or the years when they won those shiny Cups).


2011-2012 NHL Color Scales: Green, Purple (sort of), & Natural Tones

Back in December of 2010 I sequestered myself in my apartment for an entire weekend working on a single, time consuming project. Granted the only difference between that weekend and my typical weekend is that I spent less time sprawled on my office floor mumbling the lyrics to Off With Their Heads songs. Still, it was an incredible fulfilling project that several people got very excited about but was ultimately ignored until someone did the same thing only with a pretty but useless presentation that got linked on Puck Daddy. Ultimately I found myself undaunted and moved ahead with updating my color scales for the 2011-2012 season. Now that all of my somewhat pretentious angst is out of the way I can go ahead and start breaking out the scales.

If at any point some color seems off or flat out wrong, then please email me at puckandpunk [at] gmail [dot] com. My goal is make this as accurate as possible and I'm always happy to accept input. Thanks


Austin Lucas Needs Your Help

If you don't follow Austin Lucas on twitter, then you may not know that someone sold him a shitty van that is now all broke like. He says the read differential needs to be rebuilt. I don't know what that is, but it sounds complicated and expensive. Austin is accepted donations in exchange for some live recordings from his most recent tour. I really encourage you to offer any little bit you can so that I can get back to doing what he does best. I met him just a few days ago and really enjoyed his company and his attitude. If you'd like a point of reference I reviewed his latest album just a little while ago.


Don't use Facebook? Then you can donate via Paypal by sending your donation to the follow email address: blownamps [at] hotmail [dot] com

*and I really hope that link works...


More Bargain Contracts From the Nashville Predators

There has been an ongoing series over at NBC Sports’ ProHockeyTalk where James O’Brien takes a look at each NHL team’s best bargain contracts. The only two players that made the cut for the Nashville Predators were Pekka Rinne and Ryan Suter who next season will be making $3.4 million and $3.5 million dollars respectively. Clearly both of these are extremely talented hockey players. What is also clear is that they both only have a single season left on their contracts are due sizable raises when the 2012 offseason arrives. Those aren’t the only bargain contracts on the Predators roster, and I am hardly surprised that Mr. O’Brien overlooked some of Poile’s deft signings. 


Friday Music: Most of the good bits were about frogs, I remember that

I am so happy that the bulk of the Webergeddon (Weber Watch, Sheananigans) stuff is all behind the Predators now. But this has been a fairly shitty week as far as I'm concerned, so I'm just going to let the reviews take over.

Aficionado – Self Titled (iTunes Link)

I have to say that the energy and excitement surrounding this album drove me to make the purchase. I’m fond of the indie + punk rock sound, and from what I’d heard, that was exactly what Aficionado were serving. Right off the bat I’m going to let you know that the band’s eponymously titled debut is a good album. What it is not is a great album. That may prove to be fortuitous because Aficionado has a lot of room to grow and really wow people whenever they record and release a sophomore album. The thing I love most about the record is the guitar work. The entire album is packed with soaring guitar riffs that are just too energetic and alive to be compared to metal. I instantly thought of a less technical Fang Island, which makes sense with Fang Island being an instrumental band. I’m not entirely sold on the inclusion of the keyboard. Frequently the keys are used to support the melody and it sounds wonderful. Other times the keys try to make themselves known and it just sounds forced. The other thing is the flute. I saw all sorts of people talking about the flute. There is one song on the album with a flute part, and it is pointless. The melody during the bridge of “Everything Was Right” is wholly given over to the flute, and the flute sounds totally out of place and weak. It strikes me as being somewhere between a gimmick and pointless addition.

 I am found of the vocal work. Nick Warchol puts up some really great vocal work that is reminiscent of an American Frank Turner. Laura Carrozza sings what I guess you would call back-up vocals. She takes the lead on a few songs, but gets overpowered the second Warchol joins in. This could be due to a difference in loudness of the vocals or it could be due to the mixing, but it works. Laura’s more melodic tones are pleasant and contract nicely with Nick’s voice. Finally, the band really shines lyrically and compositionally when they slow things down. It may be because there seems to be a greater emphasis on the lyrics or possibly because Laura and Nick can play off one another better at a slower tempo. All things considered Aficionado put out a solid album, and I could see them having a bright future.

Aficionado:EOAYSDF from brighterlightsmedia on Vimeo.

Larry & His Flask – All That We Know (iTunes Link)

You can’t just sit down and write a review for Larry & His Flask. Every song that the band performs is meant to be heard and experienced in a live setting. When you record that music you lose an important element of what makes the band what they are. But I would in no one deny that “All That We Know” does not do its absolute best to capture the raucous spirit of the band. L&HF belong to the same general family as Old Man Markley and Mischief Brew. All of the band’s songs are punk-infused bluegrass romps paired with lyrics that are part Americana, gothic and part drawn from the diaries of free-roaming rapscallions. There is lots of shared vocal duties, but guitarist Ian Cook handles most of the leads. What the band can guarantee is that they will do their best to sweep you up in their stories and carry                
                                                      you dancing into the night.

Since I’ve had the privilege of seeing Larry & His Flask live I wanted to touch on the band in their element. They were touring with Streetlight Manifesto, and I have to say I’m grateful that they were first band on that night. If there had not been a buffer band between the two I think Streetlight risked getting shown up that night. The boys on stage were certainly a unit, it seemed like they could switch around instruments at will without losing a beat. Well, to be honest they did exchange instruments regularly without a drop in skill or intensity. Within the first thirty seconds the entire crowd was into the set, and for the last five minutes the band was into the crowd. Literally. The final song found the whole band intermingled with the crowed dancing, playing, and singing. It was a wild good time, and I imagine that the remnants of my memories of the show enhance my enjoyment of the album.

This song features Andrew Carew on lead vocals. The crazy bearded man with the guitar is Ian.

Call it What You Will - Larry and His Flask (Music Video) from Wes Coughlin on Vimeo.


Wouldn't You Want Out?

This blog is inspired by recent events and certainly this CBC Sports article from Elliotte Friedman. There are assumptions and speculation, and a surprising lack of humor, floating around this piece.

There has been a lot of talk about the Nashville Predators taking the next step. David Poile shocked Preds fans last offseason when they went out and grabbed one of the best players available through free agency Matthew Lombardi. The organization further shocked fans by going out and grabbing center Mike Fisher from Ottawa (replacing the Matt Lombardi), showing a commitment to spend the money needed to compete. Myself and other Predators fans were looking forward to an offseason where we could solidify our team around new captain Shea Weber and get the missing elements needed to make Nashville a real Stanley Cup threat. At this point any fan of the team knows that the offseason is not going how anyone envisioned it.

I can't verify that this Shea, but it could be

This offseason, the Preds have brought on board Brett Ledba, Zack Stortini, Niclas Bergfors, and Tyler Sloan. Wow, about the only thing that we can get excited about it Bergfors, a player that is basically this season’s Sergei Kostitsyn. What have we lost? Where to begin? Joel Ward, Mark Dekanich, Marcel Goc, Matthew Lombardi (who may never play again), Shane O’Brien, JP Dumont, Steve Sullivan and Cody Franson were all either traded, not invited back, or had their contract bought out. Any and all replacements are rookies that have never seen NHL ice or only played in the NHL due to last season’s injury woes. On top of all the player movements we had and error on the part of David Poile that almost cost the team O’Reilly, Halischuk, Kostisyn, and Spaling. So, here we are. If you were an elite defenseman, is this the commitment to winning that you want to see from your organization?

Your 2011-2012 Nashville... Predators?
What we’re left with is a team that has once again decided to work with what they’ve got. After clearing all sorts of cap space by buying out Dumont, trading away Lombardi’s dead fish contract, and passing on a new contract with Sullivan fans have seen nothing happen. No one can say whether the team is going to be better or worse next season due to the assumed influx of young, homegrown talent. The team has clearly adopted this very passive strategy in a division where we saw rivals make bold and numerous moves to improve their teams. And now think about Weber; a player that had faith in the organization and frequently expressed that he wished to remain with the team. He’s been watching this offseason unfold right along side, and as we grew more and more tense following the draft, we could assume that Weber was feeling that right along with the rest of us. He’s approaching that soft “prime” age of 27 years and he has to think about his future, his future holding the Cup above his head.

When I start thinking about things that way I can start to understand his point of view. Already this summer we have seen people argue whether or not Predators Hockey can even win the Stanley Cup, a brilliant blog inspired by the idea that the organization believes that the team can win on the merits of defense alone. Weber gets to see all of this first hand and has access to information for which bloggers and fanatics would practically kill to obtain. You take everything that has happened this offseason and that “sure thing” attitude of Weber might have taken a few hits. He may have just gotten fed up. And what about the agent change? The switch was made before even the draft had taken place, and like Patten over at Puck Scene writes about, the agent change may have created an even bigger mess out of this offseason. If he wanted to give the franchise one more shot then he could’ve set up a one-year deal before arbitration, but I agree with Elliotte Friedman that Weber may just want out at this point. The goal and dream of any NHL player is to win the Stanley Cup, and it is perfectly reasonable for Weber believe that such a victory is not within the grasp of this Nashville Predators organization.

Of course this is all speculation. My personal favorite theory is that Poile and Weber are just trying to help Weber’s new agent gain some experience at being a player agent.

Selfishly, I also don't want to have to work on new art for my sidebars for the 2012-2013 season. I really enjoy the ones that I have at the moment.... *Warning, lower resolution screen users may have no idea what I'm talking about*


How Much Is Too Much: True North Entertainment and Canadian Militarism (or how to write sensationalist titles)

I guess you’d have to say that the biggest thing happening this offseason is the ongoing emergence and changes of the new Winnipeg Jets. The most recent round of controversy surrounded the unveiling of the team’s logos. Personally, I’m not a fan of any of the logos that the organization unveiled. I think they could potentially become iconic, at the moment they currently are just boring, or flat out bad when it comes to the word mark. But I’m not here today to throw in my 2 cents (or 0.0191 Canadian cents) on the branding. Well, I guess I am doing just that, in a way.

Disclaimer: I don't know a ton about Canadian politics, so this piece is based entirely off of the articles that I read as well as a personal reaction to the concepts discussed within those articles.


Friday Music: What's Yellow And Dangerous?

There really isn't anything hockey related that I really feel like addressing today. Shea Weber's arbitration is slowly approaching, they're expanding Bridgestone Arena by a hundred seats, and Preds fans are so desperate that some are looking to Chris Drury as potential free agent to bring on board. Yikes. Oh, and the Predators signed Tyler Sloan. It isn't entirely clear if this guy is a hockey player or the new head of group ticket sales. I'm sure we'll all find out when training camp rolls around.

The reviews start after the break. Also, there is a special feature today! Well, depending on what your threshold for special looks like.


It's Friday Music Reviews! Don't Be Alarmed, the Lizards Have Been Retired

As always here's some hockey stuffs people I dive into this week's reviews. If you stumbled across a brief post from earlier this week then you already know about Cait and here ongoing series about punk bands that love to roll around in some tasty hockey goodness. The first post featured the Hanson Brothers, and since then she's looked at hardcore, straightedge band Slapshot and, most recently, the hugely popular Dropkick Murphys. Cait even has a video and some pictures of the Bruins loving DKMs playing in Vancouver not to long after the Canucks lost out to Boston. So, I say that its worth heading over to HockeyN3rd and catching up on the series.

Wednesday evening I was able to enjoy my first ever Skate of the Union event and got to be there for the unveiling of the new Predators gold jerseys. I of course warmed up greatly from my initial impressions and am looking forward to wrapping one around my body in the next few months. Chances are you can get really detailed and wonderful impressions of the event from the real bloggers, but it was all good stuff. Also... massive discounts in the pro-shop... so I bought me some mugs.

mmm... tea

Ok... Reviews after the Break!


First off, I haven't been available lately to do much writing because I was slowly becoming overwhelmed with a summer class. I thought it would be a great idea to jam Managerial Finance into fives weeks... my both worked and made me work a lot more than I had anticipated. Since I haven't been active I wanted to pass on this link to fellow hockey punk blogger Cait. She has started a series that focuses on punk bands with a definable hockey connection.

The first band she takes a look at is the obviously hockey themed Hanson Brothers. So, head on over there and check it out. It is a series, make sure you don't miss any of her posts!

HockeyN3rd: Hey Ya Think They Show Speed Racer Here?


The New Predators Jerseys Double as Working Guitars

Over at On The Forecheck I've got a new FanPost taking a quick look at a demo of how the guitar strings from the new Nashville Predators jerseys will look on numbers over than 1s. Go ahead and hope on over there to take a look.

How Will All These Strings Work on the New Preds Jerseys?


Friday Music: Call It What You Want, Call It All Punk Rock

After yesterday we are all now intimately familiar with the new Predator Jerseys. If you haven't seen them then take a look at my blog from yesterday. I do hope that the overall design grows on me, but I am highly apprehensive. Still, there were assurances from the team that what we were looking at was not in fact the final design. I guess you can upgrade me to anxiously excited.

I admit I was shocked to see Carter and Richards get shipped out to the Western Conference. Still, the moves don't bother me because the Flyers at least got picks and NHL caliber players in return, including the much touted Brayden Schenn. It will be interesting to see the Orange & Black come out next season with a brand new attitude on the ice. One can only assume that the fearsome Chris Pronger will be named the new captain of the team. I think this is a bold new direction for the team, and I'm looking forward to the next season.

The Swellers – Good For Me (iTunes)

The Swellers have become a frustrating band over the years. When I first listened to the band they seemed like they were working to revive the sound of ‘90s skate-punk. Since that time they have steadily been moving in other directions and growing the depth of their sound. Unfortunately, I don’t think the changes have served the band very well. On this year’s Good For Me we find the Swellers writing some melodic pop rock with tinges of their punk rock past. The record struck me similarly to how Millencolin experimented with their sound on 2002’s Home From Home and to a lesser extent 2005’s Kingwood. The difference between those albums and Good For Me is that the Swedish skate-punkers had a strong grasp on their identity. Meanwhile the Swellers are delivering ten tracks of modern alt-rock with catchy choruses, but those choruses don’t have much of impact. I think the strongest track is The Best I Ever Had, a song that would feel very comfortable on a Bouncing Souls album. Fortunately that track comes immediately after Parkview, which is lyrically cringe worthy. Overall the music is really tight, clean, and well arranged, but all together the album is a bit on the dull side.

Tin Armor – Life Abundance (album is "name your own price")

Upon listening to the first track on the newest Tin Armor album I was first stuck at the beauty of stark arrangement of piano and vocals. It worked, but it was mightily different from the springy introduction from 2007’s A Better Place Than I Have Been. The next thing that revealed itself was the fuller sound that the band achieved, part of that possibly due to an improved recording quality. The beginning tracks are pretty jaunty and casual in feel while still maintaining the sound defined on the band’s previous full length. The band is certainly having a lot of fun with rock & roll on Life Abundance. Tin Armor’s love for Ted Leo can still be hurt lurking around the edges of many of the songs, but it isn’t quite as pronounced on the new album as the band has further established their own sound. A couple of highlights are the bass lines in Wayward Kites and the wonderfully crafted lyrics in Shake Up. The lyrics are one of the real treats on the album, it is well worth the time to sit and absorb the poetry. I also really love the title track and I Am Resolved because singer/song-writer Matt Umland absolutely croons, and the effect is fantastic.

Since the band doesn't seem to have any videos of the new songs... you can stream them all below. Alternatively you could click the link up there and it will take you to a magic place where you can get the album for yourself and stream all the tracks.


New (?) Predators Jersey Ranting

Update: Here is an update on the jersey from On The Forecheck:
UPDATE: My contact with the team is saying those aren't the sweaters, but that could mean many things. These could be preliminary versions to be used at Development Camp, or other prototypes. But it's telling that the logo and coloring match what was unveiled yesterday, so I'd say it's likely these are pretty close to what we'll see this fall. - Dirk
I'm happy to read something along those lines. Since the pictures were first posted I wanted a statement to emerge like the ones that that Dirk was able to provide from the Predators Organization. It gives me hope that some of the improvements I was hoping for may still be realized.

Do you see that?  Those may be the newest jerseys for the Nashville Predators. Yep. Now, I admit I like the white look quite a lot, if I ignore the truly awful pipping that runs down the front and the back. But really, the one of the left looks like one of those free jerseys that team give away to the first 1000 ticket holders. At best it resembles a sickening merger between a soccer jersey and an Underarmour top. I really feel like there is potential with these jerseys... if it weren't for the mistakes. The striping on the home jersey simply looks heavy and dark, while the piping the away jersey makes it look like a disastrous minor league jersey immediately following the switch to the Edge system. It really looks like the design team unlearned many of the mistakes made in jersey design from the dawn of the Edge jerseys.

The more I look at these the more it just scream lost potential.

I also feel like the new primary logo is lost amongst the gold of the home jersey.

Apparently the stripes on the number are supposed to be guitar strings, which makes sense since there are 6 of them. wow, that is actually so much worse.

You can also see the keyboard inside the collar... because why the hell not right? You're already putting guitar strings and a guitar pick on the jersey, why not throw in some piano keys.

HEY DID YOU KNOW NASHVILLE IS THE MUSIC CITY?! DID YOU KNOW THE PREDS PLAY THERE?! Well, if you didn't you sure as hell know now.

How much crap can they put on this jersey? There are random splashes of color, minute and heavy handed nods to Nashville's Music City nickname.

The very worst thing, take a look at the white striping on the gold jersey... it looks like suspenders holding up a pair of pants. In that sense Canadians should be huge fans of this jersey since it combines two national staples, hockey and lumberjacks.

Screw that.

In honestly, what kills me is the ridiculous piping and the unnecessary details.  They make what could be a great jersey and turn it into a heavy handed effort to pay tribute to a city.


In Case You Weren't Paying Attention (or Why Juuso Puustinen is The Boy Who Destroyed The World)

There have been some small, yet important, happenings in the world of Nashville Predators hockey. Now, there are some great blogs out there with some talented and highly knowledgeable folks doing all the writing and analysis. I try not to tread on their toes because there are way to many of them and you people don’t need another person telling you all about what has already been covered. Fortunately, this frees me to dig in and find out what is really going on behind the curtain. Some may recall when I revealed Ollie Jokinen as the reason for the numerous injuries to Predators’ centers. Others may recall the exemplary passable accuracy of my playoff predictions that I channeled through the nearby shelves of assorted objects of nerdy goodness. Well, now I’m applying my considerable skills to interpreting some of the recent bits of Preds news.


Just Call 'Em the Jets? Even if It Was I Would Always Disagree

I find the whole Winnipeg NHL naming thing to be all together tons of fun. The very second that it looked like True North Entertainment was going to acquire the Atlanta Thrashers organization one of the biggest topics has been the new name of the franchise. There were previously assurance from TNE was that the name would be revealed only after the 13,000 season ticket mark was reached, and this number was achieved almost immediately. Well, we still have not as much as a whisper as to the future identity of the franchise. I recently read an article from Tom Oleson of the Winnipeg Free Press talking about the deep and widespread commitment to the Jets moniker. It is a fun little read, even if the author is a tad fixated on polar bears. I agree with Oleson that the Polar Bears would make for a terrible name, but a third of the article talking about bears? Still, he gives further credence to the fact that the overwhelming number of hockey fans want the franchise to be renamed the Jets, whether they are Manitoba or Winnipeg is another thing.

Personally, I'm not a fan of bringing to name back into the NHL. The original Jets organization moved to Phoenix. It still exists, and the Phoenix Coyotes still recognize and pay tribute to the Winnipeg Jets. The new team coming to Manitoba is totally unrelated to the former Jets and I believe deserve their own identity that is not mired in misplaced nostalgia. Yes, misplaced. There is nothing innately wrong with nostalgia but there have been suggestions that there could be a fan backlash, disillusionment, and a loss or departure of fans if the team is not named the Jets. These fans seem to forget that regardless of the name, Winnipeg will once again be home to an NHL team. The whole threatened negative reaction seems extremely ungrateful towards the folks that have worked hard and spent millions of dollars to bring the NHL back to the province.  Which leads me to the big issue.

Why hasn't TNE come out and announced the name of the team?

I think it is because TNE has stated that they want the franchise to begin its own history in Manitoba, but are faced with massive support to revive the Jets name and colors. Paul Friesen of the Toronto Sun reminded us all that even if the team were called the Jets TNE wouldn't own the history (source). The team would be the Jets in name only since, as I mentioned, Phoenix has possession of the Winnipeg Jets' history. Another recent article from the Winnipeg Free Press also discusses the complexities and problems with renaming the franchise as the Jets. History, records, retired numbers, these are things that would have to be tacked on but are all things officially held by the Phoenix Coyotes organization.

I break it down like this:
The fans want to paint stripes on a horse and call it a zebra, whereas TNE would rather replace the horse with something like a moose or maybe another bird.


Friday Music and then Ship! Sun! Wham BANG!

Believe it or not, I am actually working on some hockey related material. It is honestly no fun to write about whatever everyone else is writing about because if you're reading this sentence you've already gotten the idea. I have got several idea that I am looking into. One of which involves that profile on the UTC inline hockey program that I mentioned when I first started this blog. But, on to the reviews.

I have a system when it comes to prepping to write the reviews. Each album gets one side of a standard 3x5 index card. Whatever I can fit on there goes into the review, with the goal being to keep these things short. Seriously, no one wants to read long-winded reviews. Today we've got two bands that are awfully different, as you'll quickly learn.

Reviews after the break


And Then A Step to the Right

With the impending move of the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg chatter has renewed as to what team will replace the Thrashers in the East.  There are two popular theories: the first is that one of the Detroit or Columbus would go East since those cities are in the eastern time zone, while the second is that Nashville will move to the East since it is in position to slip into the Southeast division.  The major conversation among my fellow Predators fans is whether the conference move would be a boon or a curse on the team.  My own viewpoint is that I would much rather the team remains in the Western Conference, and so I shall explain.

The first thing is time zones.  Nashville would be the first and only team in the EC that will be in the central time zone.  It is guaranteed that most of our road games will now have a 6:00cst start, rolling everything back an hour and making it variably difficult for people to get home and settle in before the game starts.  In some cases commuters will probably go from the door to couch without much choice if they want to catch the game.  I cannot help but wonder what sort of impact could this have on viewership and ratings?  An hour can make quite a difference.  Of course the advantage here is that fans will no longer have to contend with nearly as many 8 and 9 cst starts.

The other problem is the level of competition in the EC.  The widely held opinion is that even the weaker teams in the West would compete for playoff berths if they were located in the East.  Playing the Panthers and Senators and Hurricanes more times every year will certainly be far less exciting than playing the Sharks, Ducks, Stars, or even the Oilers.  That competition makes the Predators a better team and put a better entertainment product on the ice.  So, the team might not only lose viewers due to a time shift, but also due to a fewer number of engaging hockey games.

But someone has to move to the Eastern Conference: does the NHL send one of the two WC, but eastern time zone, teams of the Detroit Red Wings or the Columbus Blue Jackets?  Traditionalists would likely favor sending the Red Wings back into the East, but that doesn't make a lot of sense for the league.  Moving Detroit away leaves the West with a single Original 6 team in the Blackhawks and removes an iconic and constantly competitive team from the WC.  Further the Red Wings have maintained a number of rivalries in the West; it would be a minus to the league to strip away those rivalries.  Then there are the Blue Jackets.  Columbus is a team with some talent that has continued to struggle in the competitive WC and the ultra-competitive Central Division.  A move to the East would likely give the Jackets the ability to compete at a higher level and bring success to the struggling franchise.  It further helps the teams by easing their travel schedule and placing them back into their natural time zone.

If Gary Bettman and the league are interested in making money and making Sunbelt hockey success Nashville needs to remain locked in the Western Conference.

Also, don't forget to check out my continued parody of Stanley Cup Playoff predictions


Stanley Cup Final Prediction: According to My Notes: You Like Baseball, I Like Ghosts edition

It seems like just a little bit ago that the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs took off with multiple teams player games seven days a week. Now it is… wow… the finals start in June? I feel like we should just ahead and spread the season out over the entire twelve months, or at least ten or eleven. Could you imagine how much football players would whine if the NFL season ran from October to June? Ok, but we’ve got a recap to do!

I think that this was one of my stronger rounds for predictions. Not only did I nail the Vancouver in 5 predictions, but the only thing that I got wrong fro the TB/Bos series was the winner! If we’re issuing partial credit on a sliding scale with +/- for the number of games, then my performance was downright dominating.


Friday Music and Hockey Talk

We're coming up to another weekend and that means me sitting down and putting together another couple of album reviews.  As always my goal is to provide a flavor of an album rather than break the album down into pieces and analyze the life out of and every song.  It feels like respecting the music as art, but it could also just an excuse for a little bit of laziness.

After tonight we'll finally know which two teams will be meeting in this years Stanley Cup Finals, and that means I'll have to right my last round of predictions for the summer.  Still, I think that the safe pick is Vancouver in any number of games.  Over the past few days I've been going back and forth between the pair of Eastern teams that will battle tonight for the Prince of Wales trophy.  Neither of them seems entirely well suited towards beating the Canucks.  On one side you have Tampa Bay with questions in goaltending and questions in the defensive zone.  Their 1-3-1 system that got them to the Finals isn't standing up to hard forechecking of the Bruins, and their goaltending is not bailing them out of the bad situations.  As for the Boston Bruins, it is amazing that they have made it this deep into the playoffs with such a terrible powerplay.  They have been so solid defensively and play well five on five and they have Tim Thomas in net.  While he hasn't been spectacular in this round, it doesn't mean he won't be if he is in the finals.  Which of the two teams have a better chance against the Canucks?  I'm leaning towards Boston even with their anemic powerplay.

Now that the hockey talk is done let us move on to the music for today.


New Releases from Have Nots and Face to Face, Thursday might as well be Friday

I have a couple of new album reviews for you today.  Both of these are some of my favorites so far, and I am excited to be able to share them with folks.

Have Nots – Proud (CD and MP3 iTunes Link)

When I reviewed Have Nots first album Serf City USA I already knew several things. The band consisted of members of two Boston bands, ska punk outfit Stray Bullets and the pure punk rock of Chicago Typewriter. I praised Serf City for it’s fusion of the speed and catchy ska riffs from the Stray Bullets with the melodic sensibilities of Chicago Typewriter. On the Have Nots second album Proud we find the same fusion but augmented with all new sounds that go further to showcase the bands that influence the band. If I picked a single band that Serf City reminded me of I would easy say the Suicide Machines, but the new album mixes in the feel from bands such as Rancid and The Clash. The blend of new styles certainly breaks the album up and means that the best tracks really stand out. One of the big things is that instead of blasting through at all 14 tracks at various breakneck speeds, there is a lot more variation in tempo. I was thinking about picking out a few tracks that stood out as the absolute best, but that is a tall order. What I can easily say is that the songs sit on hill with Dead Man sitting right at the top.

Dead Man - Link to the song, really worth a listen

And for the truly lazy and/or interested:

Face to Face – Laugh Now, Laugh Later (the store should be somewhere... iTunes Link)

It has been a long time since a new Face to Face album was released upon this Earth. It also just so happens that Face to Face was one of the bands that introduced me to the world of punk rock all those years ago, so I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for the band and front man Trever Keith. I was nervous about this release because the band has tended to release a good album followed by a weaker effort, and 2002 found us listening to the enjoyable How To Ruin Everything. Fortunately eleven years seems to have been long enough to avoid that particular cycle. Throughout these eleven tracks the listener is treated to some classic 90s melodic punk rock, which means this is a great summer soundtrack (something sorely needed in the absence of new material from The Gaslight Anthem). In a world were reunions of seminal punk bands coincide with banal sounding music, Face to Face instead delivered an album packed with quality tunes just chock full of the band’s signature sound.


Stop Trying To Steal Our Cake Simmons!

Via twitter Steve Simmons, a spots columnist for the Toronto Sun, expressed that in his perfect world Nashville, Florida, Atlanta, Columbus, New York Islanders, and Phoenix would be eliminated, leaving with 24 teams. Clearly this list includes several troubled franchises that have suffered from finance and attendance issues of late. Several of these teams have also been incredibly bad for an extended period of time. One of these teams has not been bad for some time and has only seen rises in attendance since the lockout.

Us Nashville Predators fans are an understandably sensitive lot when it comes to media and other fans attack the existence of our team. During the recent playoff run we were treated to a nice period where the NHL go to see what hockey is like in Nashville, and everyone was shown that the team was set in a hockey city. Still, we’ve dealt with comments like Simmons’ before, so it’s nothing to get worked up about. At least, that is until he asks one of the questions that drives me crazy:
“If the Preds had six straight years out of the playoffs, would they still sell tickets?”
That is a deceptive and just plain silly thing to ask. A popular saying in the NHL fan circles is, “if you put a good team on the ice, then people will buy tickets.” Simmons is basically asking Predators fans what would happen if Poile stopped doing what he’s done so well and then went about signing players like he were running the New York Rangers. To put it another way, if any service or product is proven subpar, then no one is going to buy it. In the world of professional sports, the only reason that certain franchises succeed in spite of their failure to produce on the ice/field/court is due to allegiance and fanaticism.

Most Canadian teams have not had to deal with such issues because hockey is part of the culture as it has been for well over a hundred years. The same applies, to a lesser extent, to many other northern cities were hockey was already being played. Starting those franchises in these places was like opening a new church in Chattanooga’s Hamilton County. If you remove the fanaticism from the equation, teams have to provide a product that people want to consume. In successful “non-traditional” markets there is the opportunity to build such a following by doing what the Nashville Predators and the Dallas Stars have done, which is bringing hockey to the community. You combine a front office whose goal is long-term stability through quality of product and service as well as strong brand awareness and connection with the consumers and you start to reach towards consumer devotion. At that point you can hold onto the fan base during non-playoff years.

So, would ticket sales decline if the Preds were struggling to win on the ice? Yes, and that is just as true on Long Island as it is in Colorado and Detroit.

Ok, here is my qualifier: Yeah, Simmons was just saying in his fantasy world this is how it would be, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have the right to respond, especially if he issues a challenge to Preds fans like he did.

Also, the Predators had better regular season attendance numbers than a Sunbelt team that didn’t make the list, the Tampa Bay Lightning. What is up with that?


Playoff Predictions 3: Sycophants and Hypocrites, how we learned to love green tea edition

If you want to catch up on my pointless and misguided Playoff Predictions check out the First and Second round.

Did I do poorly with my second round predictions or what? I guess those magic dice weren’t all that magical, for this they will be disciplined. You could probably say that I am a tad upset over the Predators losing to the Canucks, especially since the team managed to win a grand total of zero games on home ice in the second round. Still, the team reached far this season, and I can now look forward with anticipation for a more mature and healthy team next year.

Now, back to my second round predictions. The only prediction that I got anywhere near correct was calling the Sharks in 6. It took them seven games because the entire team momentarily confused Niemi for Nabakov and promptly stopped giving a shit. Fortunately for everyone cheering against the Red Wings—because seriously who cheers for the San Jose—the boys in teal black managed to stop trying to reenact their favorite scenes from The Cutting Edge 2. All my other predictions were unmitigated disasters as the Flyers and Capitals managed to reinforce the stereotype that all Eastern Conference teams suck.

Well then, let’s move on to my predictions for the Eastern and Western Conference Finals!


Some End of Season Thoughts

Today marks the first day since September 24, 2010 that I can wake up in the morning and not look forward to more Nashville Predators hockey.  As anyone reading this probably knows, the reason for the absence of anticipation is the victory of the Vancouver Canucks.  In all honesty the better team won the game and took the series.  I am proud that our boys broke past the first round and pushed the Canucks as hard as they could, though maybe not as hard as they would have liked.  Ultimately there is quite a bit to celebrate about this season, and I wanted to take note of some of things that stood out to me.

  • Several late season call-ups stole spots on the rosters and allowed for guys like Colin Wilson and JP Dumont to be benched.  Jonathan Blum in particular was a revelation, as I had to remind myself that this guy was living in Milwaukee until the end of February.  Having only played 23 regular season games, if he makes the team next fall maybe he will compete for the Calder.  Matt Halischuk certainly has some fire and played solid Predators hockey.  Hustlechuk also has support scorer written all over him, and I can tell he's the kind of guy Trotz likes having around.  Finally we've Blake Geoffrion, the kid that we've all been waiting for.  Blake has shown that he can use his body and that he's willing to go in the nasty areas to score the dirty goals, two big things that will make him successful in the NHL.  It has been casually noted that Bam Bam always has an adjustment period before he is effective at each level of hockey.  Well, if we're just seeing his adjustment period I am ecstatic about the future.
  • And then we have Colin Wilson.  Wilson impressed during his call-ups in the '09-10 season.  The kid had fire in his stride, drove to the net, and had some real finesse with his stick.  To start this season it looked like we were getting the Colin Wilson we were excited about, sadly that euphoria did not last.  Most of the season his play was uninspired and #33 might as well have been invisible.  I'd like to chalk it all up to a sophomore slump.  In the final game of the playoffs he seemed to have found his fire, let's all hope that he can bring it back next year.
  • Kevin Klein continues to be awful.  Seriously awful.  As I've been found of saying all year, the guy is a very talented hockey player that lacks hockey smarts.  He improved playing next to Blum since I imagine Blum was more qualified to order Mr. Squinty McDevil Beard around the ice.  He's signed on through the 2014 season, so here is hoping that between Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, and Charles-Olivier Roussel one of them can bury him as the 6th or 7th defenseman.
  • Hornqvist had a rough year, everyone was expecting him and made his life hellish in front of the net.  I wanted 25 goals out of him this season and he managed 21, not too far off.  Let's hope he keeps strengthening his legs and core, because that will only make him more effective.
  • I originally bemoaned the acquisition of Sergei Kostitsyn, and I was wrong.  Tits made his presence known, although he could tand to shoot more and make drop passes at the blue line less. The big question is how much it will cost to keep the Belarusian on the team.
  • I also have to wonder who we lose in the off season.  Sullivan and O'Brien are the easy picks for players that won't get new contracts, but then you've got UFAs Goc and Ward and then RFAs Spaling, Halischuk, Kostitsyn and O'Reilly.  With Wilson, Geoffrion, Legwand, Fisher, Lombardi, and Smithson all under contract, how much room is there for O'Reilly and Goc?  All the RFAs except O'Reilly have a spot, and Ward fought past a poor regular season with a stellar postseason, but we'll have to see if it was enough to earn him a new contract.
  • I don't think that Ward will continue his playoff level production, but it was nice to seem him come alive in the playoffs.  He's certainly proved that he can be an effective hockey player in a myriad of situations.
  • One thing that I made a note of is that with new uniform coming next year, Game 6 may very well have been the final appearance of the Predators' classic uniforms.  I say classic since the only major change to the uniforms was some minor aesthetic changes when the NHL switched to Reebok Edge jerseys.  As a jersey enthusiast I feel sad to seem them go, but excited that we're experiencing our first team re-branding, which means we're only a dozen jerseys changes behind the Canucks.
  • What about Bouillon and Lombardi?  Both of them have been suffering from concussion symptoms for extended periods of time, and the team has given no indication of a timeline.  Concussions are tricky and dangerous, so it's far better to have no expectations than risk the health of the player.  Lombardi is signed for another two seasons and his contributions are a mystery, while Bouillon is only contracted through next season.  Bouillon has a family and will turne 36 early into next season, if he can't shake the concussion symptoms we may see him retire.  Matthew Lombardi is a mystery.  Preds fans aren't even sure that the guy still exists, and sitings of the player are greeted with mock excitement.  If he's ready to go next season then he has the potential to be a game changer.
  • UPDATE: I forgot to mention one thing about the playoffs.  You can't expect to make a deep playoff run when you're power play and your penalty kill units are not clicking.  The Preds struggled to be consistent on both fronts for both rounds of the playoffs.  They've got another summer and preseason to try and get the power play back on track.  I'll remain overly optimistic and believe in a middle of the pack power play.
All things considered it was an excellent season that exceeded fan and media expectations.  Average attendance was up, the new management showed a willingness to spend money, and the talent is on the rise.  Beyond the draft there is a lot to look forward to next season.  One big thing is that we no longer live for the opportunity to crack the second round of the playoffs.  The team will have new expectations and a new image entering into the 2011-2012 season, and it should be an incredibly exciting season.


Album Reviews: The Why The Hell Are The Flyers Just Now Playing Game 1 Edition

Austin Lucas – A New Home in the Old World (iTunes Link)

If I were to briefly describe Austin Lucas’ first major release Somebody Loves You I would say that it was a somber and beautiful work of sparsely arranged folk music. One of the most wonderful things about the album was Austin’s stellar verse and it’s country twang. In Austin’s second effort A New Home in the Old World his voice is still the sail that carries the album, but the music that supports him is a wonderful change.

This time around Austin is burgeoned by a full backing group of guitars, fiddles, banjos, and a slew of additional instrumentation. These additions lift up and away from being an acoustic folk record and towards a traditional country sound that still firmly maintains the earnest and earthy approach carried by all of Austin’s solo efforts. With the fleshed out arrangements we also get to hear Austin expand his lyric writing skills with hooks and energy.

Despite these changes A New Home in the Old World still features several tracks that would’ve felt perfectly at home among Austin’s earlier works. “Nevada Country Line” is perfect example of Austin playing to his roots and showing new listeners that he doesn’t need to hide behind a bunch of instruments. The track just features a duet backed with soft acoustic and slide guitars.

It is difficult for me to not gush about the sheer beauty of the entire album. As a whole Austin Lucas took what he does best and whipped it up into something even better. I also love that this is an album that I can later share with my family that doesn’t quite appreciate my eclectic taste in music.

Amateur Party – Truncheons In The Manor (iTunes Link)

The first thing that leaped to my mind when listening to this album is that this is not traditional punk rock album. The very next thing that happened is that I realized that the minds behind Amateur Party must be huge fans of Ted Leo’s old band Chisel. More often then not singer Mike McKee just seems like he’s channeling Ted Leo and Chris Noborg or he tapped into their collective minds circa-1995. This might sound creepy, but being possessed by Ted Leo would have to be the single best person by which to be possessed.

Amateur Party does maintain more of a classic punk edge with some shouted choruses and fuzzy guitars. Track six “Even They Would Move Against Us” is a harsh track with shouted female vocals that harkens back to a simpler time in the world of punk rock.

Red City Radio – The Dangers of Standing Still (iTunes Link)

I think writing a blurb about Red City Radio is obligatory. If you love the music championed by Punknews.org then you’ll love Red City Radio. Hell, Peter from Up The Pucks likes Red City Radio, and that means something!

If that didn’t sell you, I can tell you exactly what to expect from Red City Radio. The Dangers of Standing Still is filled with driving punk rock filled with melodic gravely vocals and lyrics about life and drinking rather than politics and social protestations. It is the sort of album that makes you want to drive around town with your windows down just so that you can force other people to listen how good your taste in music is. The major weakness of the album is that unless you’re paying attention, the album can blend together a bit. It isn’t a major problem and doesn’t make the album less enjoyable, but you can’t help but notice that similarities in song structure.


Round 2 Playoff Predictions: Royal Zombie Wedding Edition

I'm proud of myself. I watched a lot of hockey games and managed to accomplish almost nothing in the meantime. Typically I'd feel bad about that, but Playoff season is all about shirking responsiblity in favor of watching grown men in colorful clothes skate around on the ice. So... I guess the NHL Playoffs are strikingly similar to Olympic figure skating.

Also, if you didn't check out my 1st Round predictions you can take a look at them HERE. Since the predictions I made are totally irreverent the content remains amusing.

Anyways, I did pretty damn well in my Playoff Predictions. But you might find yourself saying, "Link, you made all that stuff up and seemed to pick winners totally arbitrarily." My reply to this sentiment is, I can't hear anything your saying because you're not in the same room with me and you don't have my phone number. Some of my highlights were picking Tampa Bay to win in 7 and picking Philly in 8. I consider the Flyers prediction successful because they are handicapped with the three stooges: Brobovsky, Boucher, and Michael "AWOL" Leighton. Overall I went 6 of 8, which reduces to 3 of 4, which means I only got one wrong. Yay me.

Let's move on to my second round predictions


State of My Albums

I’ve been pretty lazy when it comes to writing about music for the blog. School got busy, hockey got busy, and I was slow about getting around to giving new releases the attention that they deserved. What I would like to accomplish is to devote some of my energy towards mentioning some early 2011 releases that have stood out to me so far. We all need a break from endlessly staring at playoff stats, arguing about predictions, and throwing nails in the face of logic in the hopes of appearing knowledgeable.

Lemuria – Pebble
I’ve been a bit frustrated with album. I’ve listened to Pebble more times than any other 2011 record. There is a really good album here, but it has taken me real time to adjust to the sound. For me, I can see Pebble doing for me this year what Fake Problems' Real Ghosts Caught on Tape did for me last year. Real Ghosts grew on my slowly and now, looking back, I know that I underrated what is a fantastic album.
Music (MySpace)

The Cute Lepers – Adventure Time
The Briefs were an intensely fun band with a great live show, so I was disappointed when the band decided to take a break from new material. After hearing Adventure Time I also am disappointed that I didn’t chase after the Cute Lepers. Steve E. Nix’s new band combines the classic pop punk sound that the Briefs were known for, but mixes in power pop elements and 50s era rock & roll. The whole album is fun and infectious and is a good start for putting together a great summer soundtrack.
I can't find any recent music... so here is their website 

The Heat Tape – Raccoon Valley Recordings
I’m generally not a fan of lo-fi bands. If Jeff Rosenstock can record an incredible sounding album in his bedroom using his macbook, then why would a band intentionally want their music cheap and fuzzy? It’s like people who are part of the cassette tape movement, the logic is broken. But, none of that matters because The Heat Tape made a good album in Raccoon Valley Recordings. Each track bleeds punk rock nostalgia, with simple song structures, reverb, easy to follow lyrics, and plenty of attitude. It also helps that the supremely talented Brett Hunter of The Copyrights and Dead Landlord fronts the band.
                                                      Video: Oh, Camilla

Old Man Markley – Guts ‘n Teeth
Folk-punk was the big thing for some time, then the Gaslight Anthem ushered in punk mixed with Americana rock & roll, and now we’re starting to see a lot more punk fused with the sounds of raw country and blue grass. Old Man Markley certainly found a way to shine through the mud, and their popularity is probably partially due to being signed by Fat Mike and Fat Wreck. Guts ‘n Teeth is the kind of album that branches away from its punk rock roots and appeal to audience that will be all that much happier for having heard the music.
Video: For Better, For Worse

Here’s a list of some other records I’ve enjoyed, but haven’t gotten their due as of yet:
Let Me Crazy – Contraflow
The Mountain Goats – All Eternals Deck
The Pains of Being Pure At Heart – Belong
Red City Radio – The Dangers of Standing Still
Zoey van Goey – Propeller Versus Wings

All together it is looking to be another big year for music. There are still two things I am missing so far. The first is the ultra catchy pop punk album that is going to spend many long hours in my car. The second is the first truly excellent ska punk album of the year. I currently have high hopes for Have Nots and their sophomore release.


Playoff Predictions are Dead, Long Live Playoff Predictions: Round 1

First of all, some quick notes:  As you can see there are some new design elements to the blog.  I'm proud of how everything turned out, and I would love some feedback, especially if something doesn't look right to you.  You can e-mail any comments to puckandpunk [at] gmail [dot] com.  Also, the new Puck and Punk logo was created by forgivable Rangers and Flames enthusiast Cait over at HockeyN3rd.  So big thanks to her for the contribution.

At the start of every NHL season, bloggers and journalists bombard us with pointless predictions as to the performance of the teams in the league.  These predictions are then mostly ignored until they can be used to either deride someone or so that someone can talk about how awesome he or she was at predicting the final outcome of the regular season.  And then we hit the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  For the next week hockey fans are bombarded with predictions and analysis and outlines from every corner of the web.  After some time it just got annoying, but I still wanted to share my predictions and analysis of the first round of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs


Coming Soon to Trusted Retailers of Nashville Predators Goods

I have always been deeply interested in the world of marketing, advertising, and branding. My undergraduate work often focused on those topics while I studied psychology and business marketing. Being a fan of hockey and the NHL I’m always eager to see the promotional campaigns and branding concepts developed both by the league and the individual teams. Recently I found myself browsing shop.nhl.com to do a little bit of pricing and also to what new items might be offered. One could say that I was surprised to see that the NHL introduced two new products for the Spring, a hammer and a tape measure branded with whatever team logo that you could ever want. It wasn’t just that I was surprised; one could say that was laughing my ass off until I fell out of my chair. While I have no doubt the league will sell thousands of those items, it strikes me as being as silly as the Nashville Predators toaster or anything with both a Predators logo and a Stanley Cup on it. 

I decide that I would take the time and see if I could get a sneak preview of some of the products that we can look forward to the NHL and Predators premiering over the summer. Fortunately for you I was able to get my hands on some of the distributors catalogues so that I could bring you a sneak peek of the some of the exciting items coming to shop.nhl.com and the Bridgestone Arena Pro Shop.  And sorry, no official prices as of yet, but I'll update this page if and when I can get my hands on them.


My Hockey Bookmark: An (short) Essay

I've always placed a high value of books.  I try to treat my books well, and when I buy used books I have to verify that the previous owners also treated their books well.  It is just unpleasant to page through a book and find stains or marks from pens or pencils.  The absolutely worse thing that I come across in used books is dog-eared pages.  I am pressed to think of a good reason to dog-ear pages outside of pure convenience.  Personally, I prefer to use bookmarks, but here is a problem: bookmarks get lost.  It is unavoidable that you will lose your bookmark at some point or another.  My solution to this problem is to simply use whatever flat objects that I find lying around my apartment.

In the past I have found myself using index cards with a myriad of notes, directions, lines of poetry, or crude drawings of inebriated ghosts scrawled on one or both sides.  At other times I will find myself preying on a pack of playing cards, actively choosing clubs since no one ever talks about that suit.  Most recently my bookmark of choice has been drawn from smallish stickers that came in the mail accompanying vinyl records or CDs that I had ordered.  Basically, I go after any number of objects that I'm not all that concerned with losing.  Last week I started reading Perdido Street Station by the shockingly talented China MiĆ©ville; it is a pretty incredible piece of writing and my first time reading one of MiĆ©ville's books.  I decided that I needed to grab a new bookmark in honor of diving into the works of a new author. Which brings us the the start of conflict!


Social Media & Band/Fan Relations

I haven't written a blog in so long that the second I was struck my an idea I had to sit down and pound it out.  It's especially nice to be writing something that focuses on music since this space is meant for more than just me wonderful hockey brethren.

A Sunday ago (the 6th) I went to the Exit/In up in Nashville to see Larry and His Flask and Streetlight "do I even need to post a link to these guys" Manifesto.  I had been waiting to see Streetlight Manifesto live since I first discovered the band back before I even graduated from high school, so this was a nigh religious experience.  To keep it short, the show was incredible, I got to be near Tomas Kalnoky, and Larry and His Flask really got the crowd pumped for the headliners.

Due to the highly energetic environment I was exhausted and drenched in sweat, and so, unsurprisingly, I ended up getting sick sometime between Wednesday night and Thursday morning.  It was just a cold but enough to keep me down pretty well.  Typically I would just be annoyed at getting sick, but I hard learned that the follow Sunday (last night) River City Extension was playing the same venue.  You may recall, but most likely not, that River City Extension was part of my occasional Feature Friday and ranked 5th out of 20 on list of Top 20 Albums from 2010.  I spent Thursday through Saturday resting, drinking a gallon of orange juice and eating spicy foods in hopes of chasing the annoying fatigue, congestion, and headaches (though the headaches may have been from that nasty elbow I took to my head at the Streetlight show) in hopes of making it to the show.

The actual story is after this break.... you know, because I tend to type a lot.


More Like Smashedville, amirite!

It would be an understatement to say that Predators as a whole are feeling pretty frustrated.  This season the Preds have specialized in bursts of stunning play that excites the fan base and sends certain media outlets buzzing about Nashville being a true contender, followed by a series of crushing, soul-sucking defeats that leave Smashville feeling like we had been crushed by a grotesque, soul-sucking demon.  And around all of this hockey related emotional abuse has been a couple of concepts that strike me a tad disturbing.


Jonathan Toews Wants You To Be His Valentine

I dislike greeting card companies.  I think that they are an evil embodied only by the cardboard rectangles that we shuffle around the world like money, germs, or, more likely, money coated in germs.  To this extent I tend to take issue with holidays defined by greeting cards such as Mother's and Father's days and Valentine's day.  Also, Children's day, the hell's up with that?

Anyways, I wanted to acknowledge Valentine's Day in my own way and with the help of Chicago Blackhawk center and captain Jonathan Toews.  Frequenters of this blog will recognize the format, and I admit to being a tad obsessed with it at the moment.

WARNING : All but the last of these use language and ideas that would not be out of place in a prime time network sitcom.  The final one is the same, but only due to language.  This distinction is primarily based off of having watched How I Met Your Mother for the past however many years.


Guest Hosting on Up The Pucks Podcast

For the first time ever, my voice is appearing on the Internet. I volunteered to join some of my fellow hockey and punk bloggers to discuss Buffalo Sabre hockey, music from the Buffalo area, and I summarized the Preds' current trials and tribulations. It was a lot of fun, and everyone should give it a listen. Pete and Brandon put out a fun podcast every week. Thy even managed to make a show with five hosts worth listening to, and that is talent.

I've posted a link to the most recent episode of Up the Puck below, and you can always find a link to the podcast on the right side of the blog. Finally, if I find the time over the weekend I should have a little something to make folks chuckle.
Up The Pucks ep 21


Barry Trotz's Words of Wisdom

As some of you may know, I frequent the Nashville Predator Game Day Threads over at On The Forecheck.  Over this current season the GDT community has exploded and evolved.  One thing that all of us have seized upon are various memes.  Besides my quick picture posting fingers I am known as the creator of this little piece of horror:


The All New NHL All-Star Game

It seemed that every NHL fan, even those that constantly complain that the All-Star Game is stupid but still debate player selections and watch all the events, was at the very least curious about how player draft was going to happen and be received by the players.  The NHL Network decided to take a break from running re-runs of last Summer's On The Fly in order to run a two hour pre-draft show featuring the awesome Kevin Weekes and awesomely silly Jeremy Roenick.  If you didn't or couldn't catch the pre-draft, what a shame.  The boys on the NHL Network worked to set up the overall tone that would carry over to Versus and be present through the entire draft.  The fun factor and the silliness of the whole thing was put up front and embraced by the entire crew.  There was plenty of joking and ribbing while selection orders were argued, the segment where Roenick tried to hunt down a Kevin Weekes hockey card had me laughing, and they did a good job conveying that the players in the draft were all getting a little antsy.


Ok, Enough Is Enough

I want you to take a look at the pictures below.  The picture on the left is The Panther from the NHL's and Marvel's Guardian Project.  On the right side you can see T'Challa otherwise known as The Black Panther.

I do not even know how anyone can defend the Guardian Project at this point.  There is nothing to excuse the parade of garbage that the NHL and Marvel has paraded out against us.  Time after time we've seen Guardians that borrow strongly from various other Marvel superheroes.  Its like they aren't even trying to pretend that these designs are original.  If Stan Lee wasn't one of the creators of the Black Panther back in 1966 you know that someone would be getting sued for plagiarism right now.

I am so over people saying that this isn't meant for someone my age, that it is all for kids.  Hockey has long been the most value laden, sportsmanship driven of all the major sports, even the fighting has a deep seeded code of conduct.  Yet, we're letting creative sloth and plagiarism (even if it is occasionally self-inflicted) go by just because its a project "for the kids."  The hockey community as a whole is about to blasted by the Guardian Project.  The media line-up includes film, comics, and even in arena appearances.  Finally, for those that actually put stock in the integrity of comic book publishes and the lore surrounding the heroes and villians that the love, we're seeing the publisher crap all over their Intellectual Properties.  Its insulting.  We've laughed at the GP, we've discussed its relevancy, but Marvel still insists on parading this crap in front off us as they pretend that everything is cool, and they are being "fairly creative."