Next week, we'll post the first of an annual two-part series, previewing the NHL season. We'll rank the teams in each conference and give each team a song that applies to it. We'll start with the West next week, followed by the East the week after.
Until then, I thought I would publish my second annual hockey chat-room transcript from a recent late-night session with some well-known hockey folk.
LOOB12RULES@Puck.organIzation: What's up? Welcome to my hockey hizzy, yo!
ABERCROMBIE&RICH87@TeenBeat: Why are you trying to sound hip, you pathetic old man? What are you, like 50?
LOOB12RULES: Easy there, Bing. You haven't worked a day in your life and you're schooling me? Come talk to me when you are making $15,000 a year and buying pasta every day to eat.
ABERCROMBIE&RICH87: You call putting on makeup and talking about sports work?
CLUELESSGM@PalmSprings.Cohiba: Why are you guys quibbling like school girls when there are more important things going on like an NHL lockout!
ABERCROMBIE&RICH87: Ahh, Mr. Sather, the lockout is over. You won.
CLUELESSGM: Holy Shnikey!! I got to go sign Forsberg, Nasland, Thornton, Kariya and Charlie Huddy. HONEY, GRAB MY CHECKBOOK!! AND DON'T FORGET THE CUBANS!!
LOOB12RULES: Ladies and Gentlemen, Elvis has left the building.
PDADDY13@Russian.Mafia: gjahk isifojg akjncljkl!!
LOOB12RULES: Warren! What's up? I see that English is getting better. Maybe you should score a playoff goal before you ask for $6 million a year from the Red Wings. It's almost four years since you scored a postseason goal.
PDADDY13: kjasfh nieuij ldjfpb!!! Real World Austin!!!
ABERCROMBIE&RICH87: Now, you're talking my language!
CLUELESSGM: Who does Johnny Bucyk play for these days? I gotta call his agent.
YOUBETTERYOUBETTERYOUBETTMAN@BOBWHO?.CBA: The fact of the matter is, that the fact of the matter is the fact of the matter. And that's a fact. As a matter of fact.
LOOB12RULES: The Commish! Boy life is good for you! Salary cap, escrows, new TV deal, XM Radio, Goodenow's keester. You are on fire!
CLUELESSGM: Did someone say Commish? Who invited Ziegler? Is he here to give me another Stanley Cup? Where are my suspenders?
LOOB12RULES: Any other news on the horizon, Mr. Bettman?
YOUBETTERYOUBETTERYOUBETTMAN: We are considering invading Iceland and moving all 30 teams to Reykjavik. That would provide us with the travel cost certainty we need. Plus, the ice would all be like Edmonton's, and I think they get OLN there. At least you think they would with all that nature.
ABERCROMBIE&RICH87: Speaking of OLN, is anyone going to see me play this year?
YOUBETTERYOUBETTERYOUBETTMAN: Are you kidding?! What says hockey more than beaver video!
LOOB12RULES: Excuse, me?
YOUBETTERYOUBETTERYOUBETTMAN: You know, beavers building dams, beavers hiking, beavers mountain biking. That channel is great!
CLUELESSGM: Why did we leave SportsChannel?
HAVEANOTHERDONUT7@GetaBluesClue.Burp: Anyone other than Buccigross as host is an improvement.
LOOB12RULES: Keith Tkachuk! How 'bout this word -- Jog! How 'bout two words -- Push up! How bout this whole sentence -- "Oh, I couldn't possibly eat more pudding."
HAVEANOTHERDONUT7: I'm big boned!!
CLUELESSGM: I'll give you 5 years, $50 million right now, Walt!
HAVEANOTHERDONUT7: I'm already signed, and the most I can make is 7.8. What a bummer. I had to cancel my subscription to Marble Cake Illustrated.
LOOB12RULES: I know, you got to feed your family. Apparently, you've eaten yours.
HAVEANOTHERDONUT7: Don't be bitter because ESPN lost the NHL and OLN didn't want you! You know how many people are rejoicing that they won't have to see you and hear you while watching NHL hockey?
LOOB12RULES: I agree that the hiring of Ron Burgundy as studio host was the smart move.
YOUBETTERYOUBETTERYOUBETTMAN: You mean Bill Clement.
LOOB12RULES: Looked like Ron Burgundy to me.
ABERCROMBIE&RICH87: Stay classy San Diego!
PDADDY13: Hkjjnj uhru Scotch!!!!
CLUELESSGM: Who has scotch??!!!
LOOB12RULES: Clement is great. I hope they hire Keith Jones as analyst. Keith once negotiated a contract with Predator general manager Dave Poile by himself. Jonesy showed up in Poile's office wearing shorts, T-shirt, flip flops and a briefcase. A briefcase that was empty. Jonesy would keep opening and closing the briefcase as he stated his case for a raise. He got his raise.
CLUELESSGM: Holik did the same thing to me!!!
HAVEANOTHERDONUT7: I gotta go. I ordered takeout.
YOUBETTERYOUBETTERYOUBETTMAN: What did you get?
HAVEANOTHERDONUT7: Mozzarella sticks, cheese fries and a side of cheese.
LOOB12RULES: Sounds like the ol' neutral zone might be getting clogged later tonight.
ABERCROMBIE&RICH87: I have 12 pack abs!!!! You want to see them? They'll be in Vanity Fair in the next few days.
HAVEANOTHERDONUT7: I had an ab once in 1987.
LOOB12RULES: So, Dear Abby, how many points are you going to score this year? I've taken a lot of heat saying you'll get 100.
ABERCROMBIE&RICH87: I've always had 100 points by Christmas. When I was 11, I had 100 points by Thanksgiving. When I was nine, I had 100 points by the second period of the third game.
YOUBETTERYOUBETTERYOUBETTMAN: Keith is having his post cheese nap.
LOOB12RULES: I'm thinking ab-boy will be the benefit of all the power plays this year. Maybe 40 power-play points? Gonchar, Palffy, Mario and company. They will have a top five power play.
ABERCROMBIE&RICH87: I just hope I'll be able to find a girlfriend.
LOOB12RULES: I know what you mean. Girls HATE good looking guys who make a million dollars a year playing NHL hockey. You better join a computer dating service.
HAVEANOTHERDONUT7: Anyone have any ham?
LOOB12RULES: I'm out. Peace.
Being a Flyers fans, I have seen way too much of Scott Stevens. I raise the following:
-- Early in his career, Stevens was easy to take off his game. He was a hot head with the Capitals.
-- Stevens always seemed to want to fight the little guys. I remember him going after Derrick Smith and not wanting anything to do with Rick Tocchet. And he always seemed to get a lot braver once the linesman had a hold of him.
-- Some of his "great hits" were actually cheap shots hitting a guy with his head down.
-- I still think in his own end, there were many, many better defensemen.
-- Although I will give him kudos for "going" with Lindros early in Lindros' career. Lindros easily took the decision.
Thanks for listening,
Indiana University of Pa. '79
Can you explain what the NHL-XM Radio partnership means for this year's NHL season? The article on ESPN states that XM gains full rights in 2007, but it also read like some games will be broadcast this year, as well. I'm on the fence about getting XM Radio, and if they broadcast enough games this year I might have to do it. And you're like "Why don't you get the NHL Center Ice package?" I would if I could, but I live in Kansas, John. My cable provider has decided that since I live in Kansas, I don't like hockey and therefore they do not need to provide the Center Ice package for me.
The quality of my life increased with the announcement of the NHL coming on XM Radio. If you have Sirius Satellite Radio, you will still have the NHL. It will be on both Sirius and XM for the next two seasons and then XM takes over exclusively for the 2007-08 season. If you love music and love hockey there is now NO reason not to get XM. XM will also have an NHL channel, which is nirvana for the hockey fan that doesn't get intelligent hockey talk on American radio. It's a great time for hockey fans. The NHL may not be covered in the mainstream media, but between the Center Ice Package, XM, ESPN.com, TSN.ca, etc., there are plenty of outlets providing information and entertainment for hockey fans. These are the good ol' days. Also, whenever ignorant television critics compare Arena Football or Pro Bowling to the NHL, tell them about the $100 million XM Radio deal or the potential $300 million television deal. When the AFL or bowling gets those kinds of rights fees, come talk to me.
All those people who say no one cares about hockey anymore should take a look at what happened today in Boston. Bruins tickets went on sale to the general public at 10 a.m. The game was sold out before tickets even went on sale. Do you realize what that means? There were enough season-ticket holders, enough people bought all the different 10 game packages the B's offered with opening night involved, and enough people that got the special voucher for the internet pre-sale yesterday morning, that the Black and Gold sold 17,865 tickets before general sale to the public. Does that mean anything to those skeptics that say hockey will suffer greatly? I'm just glad I was able to buy the five other games I wanted besides opening night, including getting to see No. 87 play Oct. 22. Now, as a college student, I might not be able to afford to buy books this semester, but who cares hockey is back!
Ticket sales are going well, but some teams still are concerned about suite and club seat sales. Also, getting major advertising dollars back is still a challenge. OLN still doesn't have its television roster set and the season starts in about two weeks. Things might get off to a rocky start.
Do they have plans to sell the game to the general public? Are they going to start doing so before the season begins? Or are ticket sales so far ahead of projections that they feel they don't have to? I mean, it can't hurt to sell the game anyway, because they can always sell merchandise and other products and services.
Merritt Island, Fla.
The NHL had a full-page ad in USA Today last week and one in the Globe & Mail (Canadian newspaper). I have been told the TV ads will start soon. This week, the league will unveil its marketing plans as all of its partners, business and marketing, meet in New York. Give the NHL a mulligan on this. It had a long CBA chess game. It conducted a draft lottery, a draft, constructed a schedule, negotiated a television deal and satellite radio deal, and tried to get a second wind to start a long season. Slowly, the hockey coverage will emerge. It would be nice for the NHL if the Yankees, Phillies and White Sox get knocked out of the baseball playoff picture, so the those cities' NHL teams get more attention in October.
I read your third period story on Al MacInnis (9/15 "The game will miss these hockey greats") and couldn't help but put in a Coldplay CD and dream of the NHL figuring out why it is different than the NFL, NBA and MLB.
For the NHL to succeed and compete, it need look no further than finding a top-flight, "Nike-type" advertising agency and telling the story as us passionate hockey players, coaches and fans see it. I still haven't seen anyone run an ad using the teams (both NHL and national) that come up short. Defeated warriors standing bloodied and bruised. Grown men or women along a blue line with tears in their eyes. Only to start training again weeks later in hopes that they get close to having the chance to be in that game again, year after year.
Chicago, Ill. (born and raised on the ice in Detroit)
Once again, the NHL plans to unveil its marketing plans this week in New York with its new marketing partners. But, you are right, Rob. There is much to say with words, pictures and music with the players and the game.
There was a Brandon Dunn who wrote in your last column about the Gretzky/Lemieux debate. I would just like to make a couple of points to show you and your readers that this guy does not know what he is talking about.
-- Gretzky was not in his prime from 1986 on. He was in his prime from 81-86, with the following point totals: 212, 196, 205, 208, 215.
-- Lemieux only has one season of more than 170 points. Gretzky had six seasons.
-- The reason Lemieux has a more points per game and goals-per-game average is because Gretzky played for 20 seasons and Lemieux 16. Also, Lemieux has played in only 889 games in his career. Gretzky played in 1,419 games in his career. When Lemieux has played in that many games, then we can compare that stat.
-- Gretzky has not always had great line mates. Did you happen to see his last three years with the Rangers?
-- The reason Lemieux was scoring more goals in the clutching-and-grabbing period was that Gretzky was near the end of his career and Lemieux was still in his prime.
I realize that Lemieux was hurt a lot, but it is not Gretzky's fault that he was durable. Injuries happen in sports! So as you can see, there is no way that Lemieux was better than Gretzky, so you were right in the first place John. Gretzky was the greatest player to ever lace up the skates!
When is the "John Buccigross Fishing and Hockey Extravaganza" premiering on OLN? That's one for the old TiVo schedule. Perhaps in Episode Three, you could have Melrose wrestle a bear. That would be fantastic.
I pitched just that idea to the folks at OLN, but was turned down. My plan was to do a hunting and fishing show wearing a wrestling suit with a chest toupee, cowboy boots and a hockey helmet. And the fact I have a pet otter, named Ken, only seals the shows success. I wouldn't have Melrose wrestle bear. I'd tape some raw meat to his head while he slept in his tent. Then the next morning, I would unleash a pack of starving wolverines into "Bubba's" tent and see what would happen to that hair.
Does Martin Lapointe have incriminating photos of Gary Bettman and Bill Daly? How do you explain the enormous jack he continues to pull down in the face of all logic and declining production?
Los Angeles, Calif.
Lapointe signed a three-year, $7.2 million contract with the Blackhawks. He'll make around $30 million in career earnings when it's all said and done, and he's scored more than 20 goals once. He's one of those guys who played so hard in his 20s, he starts to get hurt in his 30s and has little value. He is tough and he is good in the locker room, and that's why he will average $2.4 million a year the next three seasons. On the ice, he is slowing down, gets hurt a lot and takes undisciplined penalties. He may have a 20-25 goal season in him and play 75 games, and that would be worth $2.4 million a year, especially if he cuts down on the stupid penalties. The other reason Lapointe gets this kind of money is because he's a good looking guy with a cool name. If his name was Fred Lopslodder and he looked like Ray Romano, he'd make like $900,000.
I would love to see a picture of Dan Hinote in a full Batman costume. Does anybody have a picture of that?
I'm working on it.
Greetings from the Great White North! I regularly enjoy your column and I find your talent for naming children particularly amusing. So, I naturally thought of you when my brother told me his wife was pregnant. The Thomson baby will be making his/her arrival in February to proud first-time parents in Ottawa. The kid will be skating the canal in no time. So, in this most busy of offseasons, if you could suggest a few names, I promise to name at least one of my children after you.
Thanks so much,
I love the name Tommy Thomson. There is a Tommy Thompson in Tim McGraw's song, "Don't Take The Girl," and a Tommy Thompson, who is a former Governor of Wisconsin and ex-Health and Human Services Secretary. How about Thomas Nathanial Thomson for a boy (TNT). And Theresa (wife's maiden name) Thompson. Theresa is one of the classic names that stands the test of time and is not used much any more in this Brittany, Hayley, soft-name era of naming girls.
When is "Shot of the Week" slated for a return? Even on my worst weeks, the comments always make me laugh out loud.
The shot of the week is coming soon. Stay tuned.
I understand you don't care much for fighting in hockey and I agree with you that the "new" NHL will put more emphasis on puck-moving and speed than physicality. But, if you have four forward lines of fleet-footed finesse guys, you'll get run over by the larger teams, not to mention they can take cheap shots at will. Outright thugs have no place in the game, but we still need enforcers who can thump and contribute 5-8 goals a season.
My concern is for my beloved Dallas Stars -- after releasing guys like Aaron Downey and Rob DiMaio, who is going to protect the Modanos, the Zubovs and the Lehtinens??
Let's get one thing straight: I LOVE fighting. I slobber like a pack of hungry wolves on the back of a meat truck when two guys square off to go. My entire world shuts off and my eyes burn a hole in the television. I just don't know if it's necessary or good or healthy or right or smart to have fighting with small repercussions.
Like I said before, we'll still have fights if there is no fighting, if you know what I mean. If someone takes a run at Joe Thornton's knees, he can choose to beat the Bavarian cream out of the cheap-shot artist if he wants, he'll just be kicked out of that game. And then it's the NHL's job to come down hard on the guy that went low at Joey T. Then, the guy gets a bloody nose and less money in his next paycheck.
And then when you take your 7-year-old Mite to a game, you can explain what happened and why. You can say what Thornton did was right, you can say it was wrong. Parents have different parental styles. But, fighting is getting more dangerous as players get bigger and stronger, and it takes away from the rest of the sport because it televises so well. Fights are like mozzarella sticks. Very tasty, but too much is unhealthy.
John Buccigross' e-mail address -- for questions, comments or cross-checks -- is email@example.com.