Alex Ovechkin Named NHL’s First Star of the Week Again

ovechkin-first-star

Photo credit: Alex Brandon

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin has been named NHL’s number one star of the week, beating out two goaltenders I’ve never heard of in my life.

I think you’ll agree, Ovechkin had a pretty good week. He scored two last-minute game-tying goals, had a four goal game, bloodied Brayden Schenn with a huge body check, and helped make this tremendous holiday-themed music video. Oh, wait, I’m being told that making the music video did not impact voting.

Dammit, it should have though!

The NHL’s press release is below.

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The National Hockey League just released a two minute video they produced commemorating the official end of the lockout. It features cameos by Alex Ovechkin, Jason Chimera, and Sidney Crosby… crying. Liev Schreiber, the voice behind 24/7, also narrates. “Hockey is back,” the video claims. No, that never really left. Just you, NHL. Just you.

For whatever reason, this video feels hollow to me, but I encourage you all to watch it for yourself and come to your own conclusions.

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Ticketmaster Email

Reader Stephen C. forwarded us this email. On Monday, Ticketmaster sent him a campaign promoting the December 4th Capitals/Islanders at Nassau Coliseum. Except there’s this lockout thing going on, so that ain’t happening. We figured it was just a screw-up in the system, some email marketing intern noob flying off the handle. Stephen thinks it is a sign that “our long (inter)national nightmare is nearing an end.”

On Wednesday night, I got this apology in my inbox from Ticketmaster.

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Photo credit: atlant-mo.ru

Let’s start with a disclosure: we aren’t actively covering the lockout. Financial negotiations (and their public face) are all about posturing, tedium, and equivocation, whereas our principal interest in hockey has always been scoar, moar, and goals. That said, our Alex Ovechkin has spoken out about the ongoing melee between NHL ownership and players, and it’s definitely newsworthy.

Talking with SovSport’s Dmitry Ponomarenko after Saturday’s game, Ovechkin gave his spin on the NHL’s offer to the players earlier this week, dismissing the proposal as “nothing new” and “good only after a quick look.” Ovechkin continued:

If we speak in Russian, the NHL provided a beautiful dream to the media and fans, but in reality it’s a lie. It’s showboating. The league is trying to show that they are kind of working, trying to save the season, but they offer nothing new. It’s all the same, just in different words.

In the interview, Ovechkin carries some water for the players’ association, but he ends with a bombshell: he is willing to walk away from the NHL if the new CBA is no good.

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Photo credit: hotice.ru

On March 12th, the MHL, the KHL’s developmental league, held an All-Star game for under-18 year-old players in Cheylabinsk, Evgeny Kuznetsov’s hometown. KHL president Alexander Medvedev attended the one-day event and made time to meet with the local press. When asked his opinion about the future of the league’s most popular player, Medvedev responded, “Kuznetsov would be better playing a couple more years here.”

Apparently Kuznetsov agrees with Medvedev, because today on KHL-TV’s “The Icing Show,” the 19-year-old Caps prospect revealed that he will stay in Russia next season.

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The NHL is Back on Russian Airwaves

After long negotiations, the Russian National Broadcasting Company (VGTRK) has secured the rights to broadcast the NHL on their sports channels (free SD Russia 2 and cable HD Sport 1).

Back when RMNB was in its infancy, I described what it was like to be a fan of the Washington Capitals in Moscow. Staying up until 6am and searching the internet for feeds of Caps games (where there’s no guarantee I will hear Joe B. and Locker), is neither convenient or healthy.

Understanding this shortfall, the NHL started offering a Russian version of their website this season, and they allowed Europeans to watch games on NHL GameCenter Live. The VGTRK deal — which was completed in November — is another step towards globalizing the NHL.

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Book Review: Hockey Prospectus 2011-12

Hockey Prospectus 2011-12

Before Moneyball (the book, not the movie), there was Bill James.

For those of you who may not know, James is the grandfather of Sabermetrics (baseball #fancystats) and is currently a senior advisor on baseball operations for the Boston Red Sox.

Part of my personal #fancystats book collection

He began writing The Bill James Baseball Abstract in 1977 which was “the first of its kind to scientifically analyze and study baseball, often through the use of statistical data, in an attempt to determine why teams win and lose.”

Luckily, Hockey Prospectus is there to carry the torch into the Moneypuck era.

Since I got their inaugural copy last year I have been waiting for Hockey Prospectus to make their 2011-12 annual available. Finally, I got to download it last week.

For those not familiar, the book is, for the most part, an in-depth analysis of each NHL team. It certainly has a #fancystats element to it, so those who love stats will enjoy it. But make no mistake: this is for anyone interested increasing their knowledge of hockey, sounding smarter on Twitter or just as a guideline for expectations for the 2011-12 season.

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Doug Johnson of PuckBuddys writes for Russian Machine Never Breaks.

“It’s tough, it’s fast, and you better be highly skilled,” says the Chicago pol bluntly. “Believe me, I’ve got my share of bruises and stitches over the years. There’s a brutal beauty to it.”

Rep. Quigley during last year's Warriors game.

You could be forgiven for thinking the not-quite-second term Democrat and former Cook County Commissioner was talking about politics– Chicago-style or otherwise. But he’s talking about his other hard-knocks passion: hockey.

Stocky and pugnacious, Rep. Quigley looks and talks like a guy who’s been around the rink a few million times. He should. “I’ve been playing since I was eight years old, skating around on old frozen lagoons,” he says. “Twenty degrees below zero, all of that. And I never stopped. I played every chance I could get.”

Quigley loves everything about hockey. Watching it: “Sitting at the old Chicago Stadium – 3rd row, 2nd box behind the blue line– man, that place just shook. Never shoulda torn it down.” Playing it: “My favorite play out there is setting up a bang-bang play, you know, a real good-looking goal.” Even tweaking his opponents about it: “When I was Cook County commissioner, I passed this resolution, right before the Winter Classic between Detroit and the Blackhawks. All the whereas’s and here-to-for’s … but if you read every red capitalized letter, it spells out “DETROIT SUCKS.” (We checked it out. He really did.)

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USA Warriors: “Hockey Was a Life-saver For Me”

Wounded warrior

Doug Johnson of PuckBuddys writes for Russian Machine Never Breaks.

Retired Army Staff Sgt. Drew Hill doesn’t sound like a guy whose life needed saving. He’s confident and friendly, with that ingrained Army habit of calling you “Sir,” and he loves talking about hockey. “Chippy,” it turns out, is one of his favorite descriptions for just about everything.

The Warriors pose for a photo after a recent game.

We spoke recently just as he stepped off the ice after practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. He was tired — “Sorry about being winded, Sir,” he said — but eager to talk about his team of military pals who don skates as often as they can. Whether they have all their limbs or not. After all, they have a big game coming up.

Hill is a member of USA Warriors Ice Hockey, a project of USA Hockey and the NHL, that gets wounded American combat veterans out on the ice, playing hockey, no matter if they’ve ever played before or not.

Hill was one of those who had. “I played off and on through high school and up from there,” he told me. “But when I got into the Army I had to back it off a bit. Then I got hurt in Afghanistan in 2006; I picked it back up. Hockey was a life-saver for me.”

In fighting, Hill’s right ankle was essentially shattered and had to be completely rebuilt. “I’ve got titanium and all kinds of metal down there,” he said. His rehabilitation was long and, as they often are, difficult. “Physical therapy was great, but it just wasn’t aggressive enough. I was still walking with a cane. Well, I strapped on a pair of skates and started skating around, and the therapy I got from being on the ice basically got me working my right leg again.”

Hill’s story is a familiar one to anyone who plays with, or knows of , Warriors Ice Hockey. Composed of wounded vets from Iraq and Afghanistan, it’s part exercise, part amateur league, and part therapy. And this Thursday at 7pm, the puck will drop at Kettler on a big game — the Wounded Warriors vs. the Congressional hockey team.

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Tonight, I was watching the Sabres/Flyers game on Versus when the above commercial popped up on the screen. Talk about furious. I’d rather have Gary Bettman come to my house, dip his hand in a bucket of ice water and backhand me across the face than involuntarily have to watch this goal again. But there Dubinsky was on my TV. In all his mustached-glory. Raising his arms triumphantly, while Neuvy hangs his head in utter defeat. What a great juxtaposition.

I have two questions for the NHL after being forced to watch this. First, if they don’t want to risk showing favoritism to certain teams, why show goals from this playoff year? The point of the promotion is to show the NHL’s rich history. Have they already run out of moments from the past? Don’t they think that fans’ feelings might be just a little raw one day after a loss? Second, how is this goal any better than the marker Alex Semin scored in overtime in Game 1? So Dubi can get a commercial, but Sasha Minor can’t? Sure, maybe I’m being a little sensitive here, but this just rubbed me the wrong way. I get what you’re trying to do NHL marketing team, but please go back to the drawing board.