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."


Crosby Almost Takes a Stand and *sigh* Comments on Adam Baratta's Interview with Puck Daddy.

Myself and many people have a hate-hate relationship with Sidney Crosby. We hate him for playing hockey against our teams, we hate him for being the NHL's poster child, and we hate him for getting away with the same cheap shots that many players around the league get away with, albeit they are in smaller spotlights. Finally, we also hate Crosby for being so damned talented and the being the best hockey player in the world. There is one thing that I do like about the sure-to-be-lifelong Penguin center, his willingness to call out the league.


2nd Predators' Goal Scored By Shea Weber, Assits from Suter and Ward and About Nine Thousand Fans

I avoid writing anything that resembles a game preview, summary, or post game recap. Two reasons: I really have no interest in writing those type of posts, and there are half a dozen Predators bloggers out there that already do a phenomenal job on all of the above. Yet, as a Preds fan I cannot help but want to write about what happened during tonight’s 2-3 Predators OT win over the visiting Chicago Blackhawks.

If you watched the game or read someone else’s post-game then you can skip down to the third paragraph, unless you want to read about me bashing Klein.

While the game started with strong showings from both teams and both goaltenders. It wasn’t until about the fifteen-minute mark that the Blackhawks opened the scoring with a power play goal from Tomas Kopecky. Frankly, it was all Klein’s fault. He went for a poke check and totally whiffed then he sucked and then they scored. It was stupid. The Preds seemed ok but a little shaky after that goal, but they finished out the period.

Besides shaky play from the Preds all through the second, the only thing that happened was the second Blackhawks goal. It was a fluky goal from Viktor Stalberg that bounced off of Rinne’s back and went into the net. Oddly enough it results from an unforced turnover caused by Klein put a bad pass off of Chris Mueller’s skates, and then Klein managed to do absolutely nothing to prevent Stalberg from flipping the puck around. It sucked, but then again Klein was on the ice.

Here’s the third paragraph à The third period looked to be the same as the last, although the boys in dark blue did seem to have a bit of fire in them. Unfortunately the crowd was drifting in and out of the game. There was some sporadic cheering as the Preds made some solid plays and looked like they were going out fighting, but the crowded needed something. That something came around the ten-minute mark when Spaling, Ward, and Smithson came into the zone with some speed. Spaling was able to maintain control of the puck and get it so Smitty who just snapped it in the net. Now, some people say that the crowd was half Blackhawk fans, others say that there were more Chicago fans in attendance than Predators fans, I don’t know. What I do know is that when Smitty scored that goal the building thundered.

I’ve been in that building for some crazy, emotional games, but you could tell that something special was going to happen. Not long after the Preds’ first goal there was TV timeout. The second the play was whistled dead and the red light came out the building erupted. The few Hawks fans that I could see around me looked visibly shaken as the throng of Preds fans cheered and clapped and did whatever we could to try and force Chattanooga to call the police to file a noise complaint. The fans weren’t just expressing relief about the goal and not getting shutout, we were telling our team that we believed in them. At that moment we knew that the game was ours and we were going to be damn sure that the Blackhawks and their fans knew what was about to happen. And, oh, did it happen. The Preds won the first face off about the TV timeout standing ovation, and the puck was shoveled back to Shea Weber, who just blasted it past Crawford to tie the game.

I admit that the Blackhawks are real pros. They recovered their composure and tested the Preds several times before the end of the period, but weren’t able to crack Nashville’s resolve. The game ends with a shootout victory for the Preds, but the victory wasn’t the most incredible part of the game.

I talked about the emotion surrounding the standing ovation, and I talked about the goal Weber scored immediately afterwards, but I also have to say that the second goal was ours. Each and every Preds fan in the Bridgestone Arena had a hand in scoring that tying goal. Even if we had lost the game tonight, it would have been a loss where we could hold our heads with pride. There are some fantastic fans bases in the NHL and there are some fan bases out there that absolutely hate us. So, fuck ‘em all. Tonight we showed them that this is our team, and even if they have the money and the tradition, we’ve still got more heart.


Feature Friday IV

After an absence of nearly a month, Feature Fridays are returning to my little blog.  Once we get deeper into 2011 my goal is to include a band of my choice and a band/album that was released this year.  I wouldn't call it a review per se, but will be very similar to how I wrote the summaries for the first three Feature Fridays.  Also, there is now a button at the bottom of the blog that might let you tweet this blog, so share with your friends or unleash me upon your enemies.

Los Campesinos! (iTunes Link)

There are many reasons that I love this Welsh band.  First of all, I really love twee (cutesy, simple indie pop).  In fact, I've always thought that my idea of meeting the perfect girlfriend involves her playing The Bird and The Bee song Fucking Boyfriend at some point.  Back on track time!  Los Campesinos! oozes twee, but they take the typically simple sounds and beef them up by having lots of sounds.  I mean, there are sounds coming from all over the place, even a few places that you might not be sure you'd want sound to come from.  In fact, the band have themselves referred to their band's sound as tweecore.  For the first few releases tweecore sounded like high energy, somewhat crazy pop songs surrounded by what I like to think of as a beautiful cacophonic assault (oxymoron, yes, don't care).  Los Campesinos!'s (hah) most recent release tweaks that formula to include some yelling and aggression that is more typical of genres that dip their suffix into the pot full of hot and melty -core.

Something else that Los Campesinos! have that I love is mixed vocals.  By mixed vocals I mean that there are two or more people sharing lead vocals.  The band also takes it one step further since there are both male and female vocalists.  Gareth is not terribly melodic, preferring howls and punk styled vocals, and does thankfully little to hide his Welsh accent.  In opposition is Kim, formerly Aleksandra on the first two albums, providing smooth and soothing vocals with nary a hint of an accent.  The totally different approaches as a dynamic layer to each song.

To be honest, it works for some people and others just hear noise and get annoyed.

The Menzingers (Interpunk Link)

They look like a bunch of nice guys, eh
Anyone who read my 2010 Top 20 list may remember that The Menzingers' Chamberlain Waits topped my list.  Interestingly enough, the album has been topping all sorts of list, appearing as number one and number two on Punknews' aggregated editors and readers lists, respectively.  That suggests that I've got excellent taste, which we already knew (hah!), and that the album must be pretty damn good.  And it is.

The first Menzingers release was a interesting, if not a little banal folk-punk album.  Their subsequent EP suggested a movement towards to a fresher more dynamic sound that was fully realized with the release of Chamberlain Waits in the Spring of last year.  While the folk-punk sounds were still featured on a few tracks, the majority of the album consisted of sharp technical punk and seamlessly executed scream/sing vocals.  The seamlessness comes from the face that its not like Tom and Greg will scream the verses and then sing chorus like their distant metalcore relatives, instead the melodic vocals get pushed into passionated, gruff screams.  Hell, screams might not even be a good term.  The first write-up for today was really long, so I'm going to cut this short and just let you listen to the music for yourself.

The Menzingers "I Was Born" - official video from Steadfast Videos on Vimeo.


The Guardian Project Part 2: Restraint Is Key

I've been critical of the Guardian Project and I don't really see that tend changing all that much as we near the NHL All Star game.  Since the few heroes I profiled, five more have been released to varying degrees of success.  The observant among you might note that I used the phrase "varying degrees" to indicate that they weren't uniform in their complete awfulness.  They may also see that I actually used the word success to describe these next five Guardians as opposed to terrible.  You see, The Flame... wait The Devil (every time I look at The Devil I see this Calgary Flames jersey, The Wild, and The Oiler were all uniformly terrible.  I will give bonus points to the Wild for having Celestial Incinerators, something that sounds and looks cool, and ties into the subtleties of Minnesota's awesome logo.

But then yesterday we met The Lightning and today The Predator, two unoffensive and occasionally cool Guardians.  These two recent heroes share several elements in common that I believe makes them far more successful attempts compared to their fugly brethren.  The first major factor is that Marvel seemed to exercise restraint when it came to the appearance and powers of The Lightning and The Predator.  They aren't burdened with crazy color patterns and skin tones or tacked on accessories and powers.  Both Guardians are solid embodiments of the teams' themes.

The second major factor is that neither concept seems to tied up in a previous Marvel superhero.  Sure electric based powers aren't original, but when you're giving powers to the Tampa Bay Lightning's Guardian it needs to be lightning/electricity or nothing.  I admit to not knowing much about Tampa, but The Lightning sure looks like he could be right at home in Florida.  My only gripe: his official description notes that he's supposed to look like a young teenager, I don't see it.  Below you'll be able to see The Predator.  Much of what I said about The Lightning and the concept tying in with team theme is applicable.  I don't imagine a Preds fan would have guessed that our Guardian would be anything other than a muscled out version of Predators mascot Gnash.  Obvious similarities between The Predator and X-Men villain Sabertooth or X-Man Beast, but seriously what are you going to do? Sabertooth... sabertooth tiger... Nashville's logo... Beast is catlike in the face and blue.  I'm acknowlegding that the similarities are there, but I don't feel like those two inspired Marvel in the creation of a saber tooth weretiger.

Believe it or not, all the powers work really well for The Predator as well.  His powers make sense, even the the radioactive plasma blasts.  Fellow Predators blogger (though far cooler than I) and Cellblock 303 inmate Patten Fuqua put it best when he said, "as much grief as I've given the Guardian Project, the Predator doesn't suck, I mean a cat who shoots radioactive hairballs? Hell. Yes."  How can you not love a giant metal cat that spits deadly hair balls.  I guess licking his titanium fur causes some sort of displacement of ions that can be stored in some sort containment canister in his stomach until the blast is ready to be let loose.

Hey, anyone notice that we're 11 Guardians in and there are no women?  I don't know if that's a reasonable expectation, but the NHL has traditionally had the greatest balance between male and female fans of all the major sports.  They are also smarter, prettier, and way more dedicated to the sport than any other female sports base, though I may be biased.



Edit: Thanks to some new information from Seth Lake from On The Forecheck we know that the below speculation on why Lundmark left the Predators organization is false.  Since I don't believe in erasing something that I've published, and as such I will leave the below text.  If you read it understand that while the intent may still be true, Lundmark is not an example of a "better fit" player being chosen over a more highly skilled player.  I wish Jamie and all his family the best.

Any Predators fan that follows On The Forecheck probably read last night about how Jamie Lundmark has chosen to leave the Milwaukee Admirals farm team in order to play in a European league. Just last season the Predators and Admirals dealt with a similar happening when Ben Eaves, brother of Red Wing Patrick Eaves, announced his retirement early in the 2009-2010 season, possibly because he didn’t make the big club, only to later come out of retirement in order to play for Jokerit of the Finnish SM-liiga. Similar to Eaves, myself and other Predators fans have speculated that Lundmark choose to leave the Admirals because players such as Steve Bégin, Chris Mueller, Linus Klasen, and, recently, Andreas Thuresson have all, at one point or another, received a call-up to the big league.

The call-up of Thuresson may have been the final straw for Lundmark. The fine writers over at Admiral Round Table even expressed confusion as to why Thuresson got the call. What stood out to me is when writer Ryan expressed the notion that there were other players, like Predators prospect Matt Halischuck, that deserved the shot at the majors more than Thuresson. Ryan further said something that I wholly agree with; he noted, “I’m sure there’s a reason why they chose him.” He then goes on to cite several solid reasons why the Preds would want Thuresson over another player.
Maybe his previous NHL experience. Maybe he fits tonight’s game plan better than others. Maybe they were tired of dressing Wade Belak and wanted someone who could play some D. Maybe it’s just for depth. 
I am an adamant supporter of the notion that you do not always want the most skilled player, you want the right player for the job. It is a belief that I’ve held since I was a junior varsity athlete. It is also why I believe that Alex Ovechkin was not the best choice of captain of the Washington Capitals when you’ve got guys like Brooks Laich in the locker room.

After Nashville’s game against the San Jose Sharks I think anyone would be hard pressed to say that Thuresson wasn’t the write man for the job. He came out, played a solid physical, defensive minded game, and skated for just over 14 minutes. A major problem for the Predators this season is that injuries hampered the team’s ability to run complete scoring lines. A player like Thuresson is able to come on board, play the grinding role, and allow for the offensive to get things done in the offensive zone.

On a team of decimated centers it has to be frustrating to never get a call from Nashville, but the Predators do not seem to believe that Lundmark one of the pieces needed to help the work through the injury woes. Lundmark may have had an opportunity one day with the Preds, but after spending eight years trying to become an NHL regular I’m sure that the European pastures seem quite a bit greener.


NHL Guardian Project: What The Hell.

I've always been a comic book fan and a fan of superheroes in general for as long as I can remember.  I've also been a hockey fan ever since I went to my first Hershey Bears game when I was a kid.  So, when the NHL and Marvel announced that they were going to create a team of superheroes to represent each team in the NHL I was excited.  Sure the whole promotion felt like it was something geared more towards kids, but there was a lot of potential for fun.  All thirty teams have interesting team concepts, personalities, and histories from which the Guardian designers could draw their ideas.  The only limit was how much time the creative team(s) had to, or chose to, put into developing quality superheroes.  With today's announcement of The Flyer, fans have seen 20% of the Guardians.  The general responses that I've read have expressed confusion, bafflement, and derision, although there are, as always, those that have positive responses, but those people tend to be pleasers and can safely be ignored since that will please me and they are, again, pleasers.  Personally, I'm not a fan of the Guardian Project because the execution of the cross-promotion feels phoned in.

To date we've met the Penguin, the Hurricane, the King, The Blackhawk, The Sabre, and the Flyer.  I'm seeing a pattern.  So, every Guardian's name is just going to be the hockey team's name re-purposed for a superhero?  That's a huge time saver since there is no pesky research involved with developing a creative, descriptive name for each hero that pays tribute to team's history and personality.  So far we've gotten off fairly each with the names, but are we seriously going to have superheroes with names like:

  • The Blue
  • The Senator
  • The Maple Leaf
  • The Star
  • The Devil (really... think about it.  They are actually going to have a hero called The Devil)
  • The Capital
  • And it goes on and on
Granted some of the team names lend pretty well to superhero titles.  The Red Wing and The Thrasher immediately come to mind.  though I do admit it will be kind of odd to see the Thrasher and if he has anything in common with a Marvel property that I have a soft spot for, Night Thrasher (I admit I laughed when I remembered that Night Thrasher is black).  Many of the other names have also be identified with other well known fictional characters.  I don't know how comic intellectual property laws work, but I was surprised to see "The Penguin" announced and find it odd that we'll have "The Predator" revealed one of these days.  But enough name bashing, I've still got to insult the character concepts, appearances, and powers.

The Penguin

Several people have pointed out that the Penguin looks sort of like Cyclops.  Others have said that the description begins and ends with the visor and spandex.  To the left we see a picture of a past mainstream costume worn by Cyclops.  You add a bit of a wing motif and a cap and you've got the penguin staring back at you.  Granted the visor on the Penguin protect him from the glare of the powers that were appropriated to him from Cyclops's fellow mutant and X-Man, Iceman.

The Flyer

I'm doing the Flyer second because while his powers are a total mish-mash of superhero standards, his appearance immediately reminded me of another X-Man Archangel.  The greatest similarity seems to be between The Flyer and the Horseman of Death Archangel.  As we can see we've got baldness, a different color face than the rest of the body, detailing in the eyebrow area, and the giant wings used for flight.  The inside of the Flyer's wings appear to be metallic in someway, much like Archangels.  Before and after being Archangel, he was just Angel and his wings were feathers, just like the Flyer's outer wing area.  Also, if you haven't read the Flyer's official description: 
The Flyer is a patriotic American who bleeds red, white and blue (and orange and black of course) but isn't blind to the inequities of the system.
Its like someone stuck wings on the guy's head, told his buddy that it looked sort of like an albino Captain America, and everyone decided that was just awesome.

The Blackhawk: an amalgamation of Iron Man and any of Iron Man's armor clad foes, except he's got a plexiglass face plate. Sweet.

The King: You know, he's not half bad if he wasn't a tired and worn out concept.  I can't help but wonder if that's his hair coming out of the top, or if he was just jealous of the Hurricane's sweet hairdo

Speaking of the Hurricane

For those playing along at home we've got Whirlwind, Whiplash, and Eric Staal.

And then there was The Sabre.  I hate the Sabre.  Ok, Buffalo, Niagara Falls, and hydroelectric power plats... we're doing ok so far, but wait the team name is the Sabres.  Quick, give him a sword so that he works thematically and all our problems are solved.  Can anyone actually prove that the sabre wasn't an afterthought?  I mean its not Rob Liefeld bad, but can anyone explain where the sword came from or why he would have one outside of the hockey connection?  I would also point out that the Sabre's powers are share a lot in common with Iceman.  If we can make it through another 24 Guardians without me referencing Iceman again, then I would declare the project not a complete disaster.

You're welcome to disagree all you want, but the effort that appears to have been put into the Guardian Project is laughable.  My one hope is that the team that worked on this didn't spend countless hours putting their hearts and souls into each of these creations.  Upsides, we're a fifth of the way through and Marvel thankfully didn't include secret identities for each of the Guardians.  I honestly don't know if I could think up 30 unique alliterative names, granted I'm sure we'd have a Guardian named Pete Packard.  I really wanted this joint venture between the NHL and Marvel to be something good.


Cursed: A Story of Why the Nashville Predators are Doomed.

This season for the Nashville Predators has been, at times, defined by injuries to many of the team’s top players. While it seems that the majority of the starters have spent their time on the injured reserved list or as an unhealthy scratch, the Predators’ centers seem to be at the nexus of this storm of injuries. Matthew Lombardi, David Legwand, and, more recently, Cal “What Kind of Name is Cal” O’Reilly have or will or will continue to miss time for a veritable Mix-Your-Own Jelly Belly bar of injuries.

We’re rapidly approaching the halfway mark of this 2010-2011 NHL season and I’ve become increasingly concerned at the rate by which our players are getting injured. And so, since I’ve got the time, I did a bit of research in hopes of discovering why centering a Predator’s offensive has become such a major health concern. Fortunately, with very little effort, I was able to determine the exact cause for why the Preds centermen seem cursed to drop like Sean Avery during a fight.