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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
“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.)
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.
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.
Update:Nick Kypreos of Rogers Sportsnet reports that Matt Cooke has been suspended by the NHL for the rest of regular season and the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
During Sunday’s Penguins vs. Rangers game, Matt Cooke was up to his old tricks. The 32 year-old former Capital delivered an elbow to the head of a defenseless Ryan McDonagh. The Ranger player went down like a sack of potatoes but fortunately was uninjured. Cooke received a five minute major for elbowing on the play and a game misconduct. As Daniel Tolensky points out, Cooke has played in 881 NHL games yet has only been suspended a total of ten matches in his career. The League obviously deserves some of the blame for allowing Cooke’s dirty play to continue without significant consequences for his actions.