Thursday, June 24, 2010

Dustin Byfuglien Traded?!

Wow..Dustin Byfuglien was traded along with two other Chicago Blackhawks to the Atlanta Falcons. It was common knowledge that Chicago had salary cap issues to deal with for the upcoming year. Dustin Byfuglien? That was not expected at all.

Mike Milbury was just interviewed on NHL Live! and stated he believed that was a huge mistake. I totally agree. When I first heard the news, I thought..”Of all the people”.
During the regular season, he may not have been that impressive. The regular season does not matter much, anyways. The regular season, basically, determines who makes it into the Playoffs. However, once the Playoffs and Final started, “Big Buff” kicked in.
He thrives in that “big arena”. Byfuglien was the major reason for the Hawks keeping Pronger until control for the last two games. He was the backbone of the Hawks getting their act together. Until Byfuglien took Chris Pronger out, the Hawks were kind of floundering. Just the fact that Pronger was able to be taken down, in and of itself, says a lot about Byfuglien's talent and strength. The team rallied together and gained strength when Byfuglien was at his best.

In my opinion, the Hawks will not be the same AT ALL without Dustin Byfuglien around.

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Friday, June 18, 2010

Stanley Cup Addiction

Well, since the Hawks won the Stanley Cup and ended their 49-year drought, it's fun watching what's going on. Chicago Sportsnet has daily updates on where the Cup is, or was, for the day. It's addicting. So far it's been to the children's hospital, local bars and eateries, hockey school for the deaf, at elementary schools and on the streets. Versteeg was interviewed on NHL Live! yesterday and regaled the story about how he and Sharp were carrying the Cup while walking on a Chicago street. Suddenly, traffic's congested, crowds swelled and the “Cup guy was probably going nuts”. (The Keeper of the Cup needs to be with Stanley at all times...from what I understand). The players had to get back on the bus. That's what the Stanley Cup does. It's a magnet.

There's something special about Lord Stanley's Cup. Other sports have trophies, but none compare, in my opinion. There are so many great things about it...

Winning the Cup is so rare, you just cannot take it for granted. It's fun watching the playoffs start and wind down as teams get eliminated. All with the goal of winning the Stanley Cup.

It's pure fun watching the winning team hoist the Cup over their heads after winning it. For the first time all season, we can see players, coaches and others simply beaming. The looks of content, ecstasy, thrill and excitement are fantastic to witness. For instance, this is the first time I've seen Joel Quennville (coach of CHI) smile all season. Throughout the season, players and coaches are interviewed and may smile as part of that. It's not the same. Season-long interviews are conducted while the ultimate goal is still being pursued – that of winning the Cup. Smiles are short-lived and sometimes, contrived. Not after winning the coveted Cup, though.

There's something magical about the Cup. Witnessing the Stanley Cup Parade through Chicago last week was just fantastic. Seeing the Cup and the proud, yet temporary, winners holding it never grows old. (I don't care what year it is). Knowing that it took 49 years to accomplish the goal makes it even more special. It's a part of history. Any true hockey fan would appreciate that. Over 2 million people lined Chicago streets to catch a glimpse of the Cup and team. Wow...that's just indescribable.

The Stanley Cup provides inspiration, hope and, many times, sparks memories. Seeing the smiling faces and/or twinkling eyes on those who can touch or glimpse the Cup is something else that never grows old.

The Stanley Cup signifies achievement and team effort. The Cup is not just for the players or management team of the winning franchise, however. It is for an essential element of the team effort, the fan. That is why it is known as the “People's Cup”.

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

What A Crazy Ending to a Crazy Season..NHL 2010

This NHL season was one unlike others I've remembered. It started out with more body injuries, head shots, cross-checking, blind shots, incorrect calls, uncounted goals, miscalled goals, etc.... And, it ended with a game-winning goal being scored without anyone but Patrick Kane knowing about it. Bizarre from beginning to end. Fun, but bizarre.

This was the first time in 18 years that we weren't sure whether the Detroit Red Wings would make it into the playoffs. To say that was bizarre is an understatement. It was fun, yet rather nerve-racking to pay attention to how many points the low-seeded teams had and how the Wings were fitting into the equation. What a strange trip it's been. Having become accustomed to the Wings being one of the top-seeded teams for so long was quite a strange reversal.

To have the season start without knowing the plight of the Phoenix Coyotes is another story. The team was bankrupt. No purchase offer was accepted. So, the NHL purchased the franchise. The team went on to become one of the top-seeded teams for the season. Another bizarre story.

To have the low-seeded Philadelphia Flyers gain entrance into the playoffs via a shoot-out is another story. How rare is that? And, their climb to the Stanley Cup Finals makes for another Cinderella story. So much fun to watch and root for.

Playoff hockey is usually fun, but this season was especially true. Seeing the Washington Capitols, seeded #1, being knocked out of contention early was unexpected. Fun to watch, but unexpected. The Pittsburgh Penguins, last year's Stanley Cup Champions, were eliminated before the finals. (I personally liked seeing that happen.)
Tying goals were scored in the last .2 seconds of a game to force OT. Games were won by 3-0 down teams. Etc..etc.

The best part, though, was watching Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Four minutes into OT, Patrick Kane takes a shot. Then...he raises his hands, skates around the net and gloves start hitting the ice. I thought a fight broke out. Then, it looked like a celebration. I didn't see a goal scored. No goal light went on. No ref called a goal. When it dawned on me that the winning goal was! What a way to end a season! So apropos.
What started as a crazy regular season ended with the strangest winning goal I never saw.

Kudos to the Chicago Blackhawks for ending their 49-year Cup drought. Lord Stanley's Cup is going back to Chicago. It was way too cool to see Scotty Bowman during the victory celebration and interview. It's his 12th Stanley Cup. Wow....

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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Go Hawks?!

Tonight's game 6 between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Philadelphia Flyers is tough to decide between. As a die-hard Detroit Red Wings fan, the Chicago Blackhawks are arch enemies. However, it would be great to see them hoist the Cup and end their 49-year draught. Plus, the team is so young. And, they are so strong. Four strong lines to choose from. The depth on their team is phenomenal. All around fun to watch. What an accomplishment it would be to win Lord Stanley's Cup. :) And, Scotty Bowman is with the team now. Wherever Scotty Bowman goes, the Stanley Cup follows shortly. So....

Then there is the Philadelphia Flyers. A pure Cinderella team for the 2009-2010 season. Being such a low-seeded team and scooting into the playoffs via a shootout is so uncommon, it's just pure fun to watch. The depth of their team talent is tremendous, also. Multiple players kicking in when needed. Coming up with game-winning goals at the last moment, it's just too cool. You never know what to expect from the team.

Watching the television broadcasts of the series has been great. Being able to see each arena's opening ceremonies is wonderful. The tradition of hearing and watching Kate Smith sing “God Bless America” is priceless. Hearing the National Anthem sung before Chicago's games is great. But another great thing about when the team enters the ice. “Stranglehold” by Ted Nugent is playing. Woohoo!! Way too cool, in my opinion. Kudos to NBC and Versus for doing a great job. Now, if only Pierre McGuire....well, we'll let this article end on a positive note.

The hockey during this series has been just great. I, selfishly don't want it to end.

As much as I may hate to say this...”Go Hawks!”

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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Why Chris Pronger is Entertaining

Now that Chris Pronger is not in the Western Conference, my opinion of him has changed for the positive. It's a 360-turn around. For years, when he played in the Western conference, he was head-to-head with the Red Wings and other contenders. I despised the dude. He took cheap shots, was forever and a day starting fights and was just a downright spiteful player. He definitely got away with moves other players would have received penalties for. He was mean. Many times I found myself yelling at the tv after watching some of his moves. (I'll deny yelling at my tv, if anyone asks). He was excellent at playing defense, but I still hated him.

That's changed this season. I was thrilled to see him become part of the Philadelphia Flyers. That team has had a reputation for being rough and “dirty” for years. I felt he would fit right in. And, he has.

It's a blast watching him go after players and do his stuff. It's fun watching him get in someone's face and chirp. It's fun watching him maneuver for position in front of the net. He's just all around fun to watch. :)

His antics at press conferences are entertaining, also. So many stupid questions asked, and he gives stupid answers. He plays with the media like they deserve to be played with. The media, in my opinion, has gotten out of hand. They have invaded the sport far too extensively and ask the most redundant, ridiculous questions. And, some questions are asked at the most inopportune times (like when players are sitting on the bench). For instance, at a recent press conference after Game 2, he was asked something about how he guessed. (I'm not certain of the correct wording since I couldn't hear it). He responded, quite defiantly, ...”I don't guess”. He would request media to ask one question at a time. He would ask which question they wanted him to answer since there is such a propensity for the media to ask two questions at a time within one phrasing. He was putting it to them. Kudos to him! It's refreshing to see a player take a stance instead of hearing the usual, run-of-the-mill answers. I'm willing to bet some it has to do with him being a veteran player. New kids on the block probably couldn't get away with it. Plus, who's going to mess with Chris Pronger?

Pronger is a seasoned veteran who, I believe, will be a first-round Hall of Famer. It's fun to finally be able to have the pleasure of watching him play.

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