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Monthly Archives: May 2002
Special thanks to Derek DeLash, although I’m not sure if he was sending me a joke or an accusation….
Tom Holt (allegedly) on Usenet Trolls (to the tune of Gilbert &
Sullivans “Modern Major General”)
I am the very model of a Newsgroup personality.
I intersperse obscenity with tedious banality.
Addresses I have plenty of, both genuine and ghosted too,
On all the countless newsgroups that my drivel is cross-posted to.
Your bandwidth I will fritter with my whining and my snivelling,
And you’re the one who pays the bill, downloading all my drivelling.
My enemies are numerous, and no one would be blaming you
For cracking my head open after I’ve been rudely flaming you.
I hate to lose an argument (by now I should be used to it).
I wouldn’t know a valid point if I were introduced to it.
My learning is extensive but consists of mindless trivia,
Designed to fan my ego, which is larger than Bolivia.
The comments that I vomit forth, disguised as jest and drollery,
Are really just an exercise in unremitting trollery.
I say I’m frank and forthright, but that’s merely lies and vanity,
The gibberings of one who’s at the limits of his sanity.
If only I could get a life, as many people tell me to;
If only Mom could find a circus freak-show she could sell me to;
If I go off to Zanzibar to paint the local scenery;
If I lose all my fingers in a mishap with machinery;
If I survive to twenty, which is somewhat problematical;
If what I post was more mature, or slightly more grammatical;
If I could learn to spell a bit, and maybe even punctuate;
Would I still be the loathsome and objectionable punk you hate?
But while I have this tiresome urge to prance around and show my face,
It simply isn’t safe for normal people here in cyberspace.
To stick me in Old Sparky and turn on the electricity
Would be a fitting punishment for tasteless crass duplicity.
I always have the last word; so, with uttermost finality,
That’s all from me, the model of a Newsgroup personality.
Not exactly “I’ll do the forwards in a separate message” as I original said I would, but a question came up that (I think) neatly answers my thoughts on the forwards, so rather than write it a second time, I’ll just use that message as my comments…
> Random thought I had last night: Kipper for Jovanovski. Maybe throw in
> Heins. Balance out with picks or whatever.
> I have this (possibly baseless) anti-Cloutier bias, think Kipper could
> be a #1. Is Toskala ready for prime time as a backup?
It’s an interesting deal. Vancouver won’t — Kipper’s unproven, Hedberg’s
performance or no. For Jovo? Not enough.
Personally, I’d want to staff up our forwards. I’m just not worried about
Going into next year, we have:
Rags, Rat, Stuart, Hannan, Marchment, Jillson. If I’m the Sharks, I talk to
suter about coming back for $400–500K and mentor Jillson, and take on the
role of 7th D (reprising Bob rouse) and locker room guy, and playing the
minutes that Jillson isn’t ready for.
I just don’t see that as needing an upgrade. Heins fades into the sunset, an
experiment that was good enough to crack into the NHL, but not good enough
to crack the Sharks. Maybe someone else can use him (Andy Sutton,a nyone?)
but his value’s minimal.
Would you trade Rags and Kipper for Jovo? I’d bet that’s what you’d need to
do to get a return phone call that isn’t a snide comment. And I’m not sure
that’d get him.
I might, actually.
I’d look more to upgrade the forwards. I think next year you see Marleau
moving to #1 center and Damphousse moving to #2 center. My big focus is
bringing back selanne. You don’t do that, the other moves don’t matter. We
slip down the depth scale. If we can do that AND something else, great.
Me, I try to bring back Suter and Matteau at the $400K range. That clears up
a million or so. Don’t take Korky’s option and bring in Hyvonen for less.
That’s $1.5 mil freed up after paying for replacment players. On top of what
we paid Selanne last year, plus Selanne’s willingness to take a pay cut,
we’re right now pretty close to a deal, without hosing depth, and our black
ace crew (Matteau and Suter) give us great veteran depth and leadership, so
we don’t go too young.
You figure Graves slides the depth chart to some degree, maybe to the 4th
line spot Matteau had, and we have an opening in the top six forwards
(nolan, marleau, Selanne, Damphousse, Sturm, who?). Fill that spot and we’re
really happy. We need to give Cheechoo a chance to make the team — but to
step right into top six? I dunno. But the third/fourth lines are also full.
To me, we go into next year this way:
aces: cheechoo, matteau
Goal: nabokov, kiprusoff
This implies Smith, Korolyuk and Heins aren’t on the team.
And I don’t mess this up other than find a way to fill that
IMHO is the only real need we have — of course, that only real need is the
first line RW scorer (yes, I’m saying that the nolan line is our 2nd line).
You won’t get that by giving up kipper, heins, korky, smith or unproven
prospects. It’s a tough spot to fill. If I can’t fill it, then I guess we
let Graves and Cheechoo try to fill it and see what happens. But unless we
need to use some of that lineup to get that key player, I leave it alone and
not dink with the lineup just to dink with it. I’d rather not try to improve
the defense, when I expect that Stuart/Jillson/Hannan will all improve next
year and the rest (other than Suter) won’t decline.
IMHO, of course.
Now that the season is over for the sharks (arrgghhh!!!!!!!!), I find myself
increasingly drained of energy. Much of me wants to just sit down, relax,
and not care who wins the cup. Don’t worry, I’ll get over it. But as Laurie
will attest, I normally don’t yell at the TV much watching hockey games. I
did in game 7.
But it’s over, and it’s time to start thinking about where to go from here.
And the first thing I think of is the points streak. Only one other team has
increased points every season like the Sharks. That tells you something
about the way this team was built — but it also implies that sooner or
later, that streak will break.
I think next year is that year. There’s going to be a stumble along the
path, and we have to expect it. I don’t think it’ll be a major stumble, but
I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Sharks slip to about 90 points next year.
But I expect 90 points will make the playoffs.
But that really only means something if you see what happens elsewhere in
the league, so that’s what I’ve been thinking about first. In the west,
here’s how I see the teams moving into next year:
Detroit: descending, although they’ve fooled me before. This has the look of
a “one more kick at the can” crew, and I expect retirements and significant
changes here, whether or not they win the cup. More if they do. If they
don’t, some guys will try one more time, but it’ll get harder for them. Not
a bad team by any means — but their cycle is finally ending. Still a top 8
St. Louis: Top 8 team. If they figure out goaltending, a top 4 team.
Chicago: ascending. The big risks here are goaltending (I don’t trust it)
and that next year, they’ll lose the urgency to prove themselves they had
this year. But the talent is improving, they have a good coach and
commitment to him, and I expect they won’t go away quietly. They’ll probably
slip a bit from 96 points, but be in the playoffs.
Nashville: improving. Playoffs next year? Maybe — if they get help from
teams that fade or collapse.
Columbus: improving, but not competing for the playoffs yet.
Colorado: my bet for best team in the west next year. Going to stay together
for the most part again. Scary good. Again.
Vancouver: top 8 if they can solve goaltending. Top 12 if they can’t.
Edmonton: I guess Salo has to prove himself again. Best thing Emdonton can
do is finally figure out they can’t play him as much as he wants to play.
But I see this team as descending.
Calgary: messed up. Will likely take a couple of years to figure it out and
pull it back together again. Sigh.
Minnesota: Better than Columbus. I like Nashville’s chances at the playoffs
better than the Wild.
Los Angeles: ascending. They worry me. A lot.
Dallas: rebuilding. They won’t suck, but I don’t think playoffs are
Anaheim: I think they’ll be better. Playoffs? Probably not. But not “worse
than the expansion teams” sucky.
If you take this year’s sharks and stuff them into next year’s standings,
where would they sit? IMHO, second, after the Avs — but it’d be a tight
race to the finish.
Where do I see next year’s sharks in next year’s standings? Probably 5th,
based on the stumble — a key injury here, a bit of a letdown there…
Going into next year, the most important thing the Sharks can do is:
nothing. They don’t need many changes, so don’t change. So my first priority
is signing Dean Lombardi, and his first priority is signing Darryl Sutter. I
think anyone who says a management group that takes a team to 99 points and
game 7 of the conference final should be replaced is pushing some other
agenda, because there’s no way you can tell me this isn’t successful. Ask
yourself what message it sends to potential coaches, GMs and free agents
that a team would do that, too.
So I see bringing back the existing hockey group as crucial. We’ll see if
the Sharks agree. IMHO, they’ve earned it.
Players? Again, like teams, I try to decide who’s ascending, descending, and
who’s stable. Even with the same personnel it won’t be the same team. But
will it be better?
Suter: descending. It’s time for him to go. Sorry, Gary.
Stuart: ascending. Still has another notch or two he can add to his game.
Will he? I think so.
Rags: stable. But he’s aging, so we have to start looking past him.
Rathje: ascending. I think he broke through a bit this year. I think he’ll
move up a little more next year. Not a huge stride, but even 80 games of
this year makes him more valuable to us.
Marchment: descending. But not enough it’s an issue yet.
Hannan: ascending. Rags in training, I think.
Jillson: will he be ready for a full-time gig next year? I think so. I hope
I’ll do forwards in a later message.
Leafs in 6. The Canes aren’t the walkover people keep insisting they are,
but I think the Leafs will ultimately win out here.
Avs in 5. Gut check here, but I think the Avs and Roy are starting to roll,
and I don’t think the rest is as much of an advantage to the Wings as
momentum and talent is to the Avs.
(results of round 2: 2 of 4. so far in the playoffs, I’m 5 of 12. Not exactly “lets’ go to Vegas” numbers…)
(just realized I didn’t post these up front. Honest, I dind’t change them…)
But first, I come clean on round one.
Detroit/Vancouver: Vancouver in 5.
for two games, I was right. Then they found the real hasek, and
the real cloutier, and it was all over. The Canucks did answer
a significant question, though — is Cloutier for real? Answer:
hell, no. But I hope they take a close look at Peter Skudra.
Kelly Hrudey thinks he ought to be considered for starting, and
I tend to agree.
Colorado/LA: Avs in 6.
Okay, Avs in 7. Close enough.
San Jose/Phoenix: San Jose in 5.
St. Louis/chicagl: Chicago in 5.
oops. Brent Johnson came to play, and thibault didn’t. Chicago needs a
a goaltender. We still need to see if St. Louis does.
West: 2 of 4.
Boston/Montreal: Boston in 5
congrats to the habs and Jose theodore. I won’t complain, they flat out
Philly/Ottawa: Philly in 4
I will never, ever, ever predict a win by the flyers as long as
Bobby Clarke is attached to that organization. Never. Ever. Again.
I’ve lost too many bets to assuming that this time, the Flyers won’t
find a way to tank. Idiots.
Toronto/Islanders: Leafs in 6
but do they have anything left?
Carolina/New jersey: Jersey in 4
Yeah, right. The more I watched this series, the more I came to
realize that their division sucked, but the Canes didn’t. Very
under-rated team, and Jersey just didn’t click well. Weekes
flat out-played brodeur late, and Irbe out-played him early.
the big question is whether their goaltending will continue
to carry the day, and which goaltender will do it.
Eastern record: 1 of 4. Damn you, Philly.
3 of 8? Pretty lame.
Okay, 2nd round:
Detroit/St. Louis: Detroit in 6
Vancouver had a chance. St. Louis won’t.
Colorado/San Jose: San Jose in 7 (double-overtime)
Can you say “evenly matched”? Can you say “long, nasty
and a hell of a lot of fun to watch?” Can you say “only
reason I didn’t declare it a tie is I can’t?” Luck,
bounces and injuries will make the difference here.
Toronto/Ottawa: Toronto in 6
I just think toronto si better, with better and more reliable
goaltending. Ottawa needs to strike early while the Leafs are
still tired and beaten up.
Carolina/Montreal: Montreal in 6
I think the teams are close, I like Jose theodore more in goal.
I would not be too surprised to be proven wrong.
> in football even with seven guys on the field they still are pretty
In large part because each ref has a specific area of control, and they
don’t cross over much. So there’s no much ambiguity over differing
But beyond that, the NFL has had many years to train their people and
standardize the way they call games. The NFL also has a pretty strong
commitment to a standardized system, as well as to a consistent calling
Contrast that to the NHL — we’re in year two of the two ref system. The NHL
is still working out some of the issues in that. When the NBA went to three
refs, it took three seasons before the new system settled down and worked
(as well as the NBA reffing system works, but we won’t go there. The
problems aren’t in the number of refs). Prior to Van Hellemond returning,
there was little to no attempt by the league to standardize how the game was
reffed — it wasn’t an NHL game, it was a “stewart” game or a “Koharski”
game. Baseball’s struggled with this as well — there’s the official strike
zone, which every umpire ignores, and then each umpire has “their” strike
There are, honestly, positives and negatives to that. I think allowing the
refs some leeway in interpretation is good. I always found that it added a
little flavor to a game — it wasn’t just the Sharks/Hawks, it was the
Sharks/Hawks with Stewart reffing, which you knew would be a different game
than the same teams with Faucette in charge. It gives coaches one more
aspect of complexity they have to coach to.
But in the two ref system, that can get tough. You have to create the
assignments of control for each ref, but since action in hockey is so fluid,
you simply can’t partition the field the way you do football. There IS no
way one ref can handle just the line of scrimmage in hockey… So the NHL
has to move to the NFL model for consistency across referees, and it’s
working on it.
It simply isn’t there yet. And I think it’s unrealistic to expect it to be.
I think the two ref system is improved this season, and I think it continues
to improve. But it takes time for everyone to break their old habits, and
for the league to come up with the standards and training needed to get
everyone on the same page. Some refs won’t be able to make the shift, and
they need to be given a gold watch and a handshake. And some of the new refs
aren’t going to make the cut, too — and they’re training on the job as it
IMHO, the NHL is on the path to quality reffing, if everyone just gives it
time to get the job done. Teams can’t build overnight successes — but the
referees were expected to by some, even though the refs had to build through
the draft like everyone else…. (grin).
And I’m still convinced the refs are being interfered with from above (i.e.,
above Van Hellemond, the board of governors). The first round this year was
a travesty — how many guys ended up in the hospital in the name of Cherry’s
“let the boys play” grail? And gee, here in the second round, the refs found
their whistles again. What a coincidence.
Next season is likely the make or break on the two ref system. It has some
flaws, but I think it’s a good thing for the game. Personally, I don’t care
if the back ref ever calls a penalty — the existance of his eyes keeps a
lot of the behind-the-play scrumming from happening in the first place, and
stopping that garbage is, IMHO, his primary function. So I see it as a
success just for that.
But for the two ref system to work, it needs to work some stuff out:
O positioning: something we talked a bit about earlier in the week. I went
and grabbed some tapes to look at some one ref games and I think the
comments were right. The two ref system does seem to remove the ability for
the deep ref to slide up the boards — he has to try to slip behind the net
to get out of the action, so the ref is stuck in the play more than with a
one ref system. How to fix? I dunno, but it seems to me this has to be
addressed. His mobility’s been limited, and so he’s getting into the action
more, and that’s not a good thing.
O sphere of control: who manages what? It’s a good thing when one ref misses
a call and the other covers his back. It’s not when one ref chooses to
non-call, and the back ref calls it anyway. I don’t know any easy way to get
around this, other than finding ways for the two refs to communicate on
these issues. Perhaps referees ought to start overtly washing out non-calls
with a hand gesture.
O consistency: better standards, better training. The NHL’s made good
strides here from what I’ve seen. It has more work to do. The more you can
get the referees to call consistently from referee to referee, the less
sphere of control matters. They go hand in hand. This is something only time
will fix — with training, documentation and feedback.
O better fan education: I think the NHL needs to be more accessible to the
fans. The printed rule book is just too simplistic for the game, but the
casebook is unavailable. I realize the casebook is a constant work in
progress, but a lot of education can be done to help people understand how
the rules are interpreted — and that education needs to be made avaialble
to the fans, and stuffed down the throats of announcers, broadcasters and
journalists, since a lot of those folks spend a lot of time ripping the refs
AND ARE WRONG. But that’s the story the fans hear, and react to. By putting
the casebook info out for the fans, the NHL can start working to repair the
damage that stuff causes.
And finally, my pet peeve: situationally neutral reffing. A penalty in the
first is a penalty in the third. A penalty 5 on 5 is a penalty during a
power play. A penalty by Bryce Salvador is a penalty by Chris Chelios. All
of which are significant issues and hurt the reputation of reffing in the
NHL. This is THE one place where I think the NHL ought to study the NFL
closely – because lots of people gripe about the NFL refs, but they rarely
accuse them of being corrupt or biased. The NFL is best (but not perfect) at
this, followed by baseball, then the NHL. The NBA is so blatant at refs
pandering to the stars I can’t watch it any more, it’s little better than
If you keep teaching the refs “the NHL way” to get consistency up, start
outreaching to properly explain what “the NHL way” is so that guys like Greg
Millen can’t pull some of his intelleectually dishonest slams at the 2 ref
system, and start reffing so that fans can learn that a penalty is a penalty
(except in the third, when chris chelios hits you on a PK), you can really
improve the reffing situation. And,in fact, much of this isn’t so much
“fixing” reffing in the NHL, but PR work to help people understand why it’s
not all that broken in the first place.
I would also, and I realize this is controversial, start publicly reporting
referee/linesman suspensions and fines. Right now, they seem to be above
rebuke (even though they aren’t). By announcing these in public, the public
will start to understand that referees are called on the carpet for
mistakes, too. And I think it’s an important perception for people to
understand the professionalism of the refs.
All IMHO, of course.
> in other sports (basketball and football) the officials have no problem
> calling an infraction at any time of the game regardless of the score, heck,
> many times the “officials decide the game” in basketball by calling a late
> game foul. heavens forrib we as hockey officials decide the game!
God, a real hot button of mine. Choosing to “not call a penalty” also
decides the game. It just decides it in a different direction. People whine
and complain about the interference, hooking, holding, and all that garbage.
And then when a referee calls a penalty in the third, he gets screamed at
for not letting the boys decide the game. Well, hell, guess what? By not
calling that penalty, he decides the game: in favor of the lower-talent,
grinding guys who hook, hold and interfere the high skill guys we all claim
we’re paying to watch. And that’s why the game has turned into a
corner-grinding, in-your-face, low-scoring hook and slash affair. Because
that’s “letting the boys decide”, and if they know they can get away with
it, they’ll do whatever it takes. So the referees have decided the game, in
the favor of the grinders. And then we bitch about the grinders taking the
game away from the skill guys….
Referees are in a lose-lose situation here. And it’s worse, because it’s
clear there are key power groups in the board of directors (the Philly guys,
the Boston guys, the Chicago guys) who are “old school”, don cherry
advocates pushing that kind of hockey, and as long as the guys at the top
demand it, it won’t change…