|Monday, February 25
NHL and the Olympics: Boom or Bust?
By John Buccigross
Special to ESPN.com
In the end it was all very ... uncomfortable. Unlike the hockey women of USA and Canada, who have basically been living together and training together for the Olympic Games, the hockey men of USA and Canada are teammates and friends. Millionaires thrown together in the middle of the hockey season. In comparing the faces of the men and women, it was strikingly obvious that the Olympics meant more and hurt more for the women than it did the men.
So, does the NHL participate in 2006 Winter Olympics? There are positives and negatives. Here are some to consider.
Will NHL players go to Italy in 2006? Nearly a couple dozen Canadiens just lost some interest. They have their gold. While some of those players will be retired in four years, the others would likely not want to go through another pressure cooker like this in the middle of an NHL season. Unless it's part of a future television contract, I can't imagine the NHL participating in 2006.
No. 1: You missed the last couple of games before the Olympic break with a hamstring injury. How do you feel and are you ready to go?
No. 2: What has the reaction been from fellow players about your contract? Has it been more supportive or have you sensed resentment?
Marty and a group of teammates go to Massimino's Restaurant before every home game in Boston. He gets the veal with a little pasta on the side.
No. 3: Are there times you look at your paycheck and shake your head?
Would YOU turn down 5 million a year? "Ah, you know, jeez, boss, I don't want that much money. It doesn't feel right. You keep it and buy another boat."
No. 4: Are you happy with your year so far?
The last movie Marty saw was "Life as a House." He says it's a great movie. From the previews it looked ridiculous to me. If you've seen it let me know what you think.
No. 5: Are you a playoff player and are the Bruins a playoff team?
No. 6: Do you speak French to your kids or English?
Marty is a big Creed fan. That was the last concert he saw. He uses music to pump himself up.
No. 7: If the Bruins trade Bill Guerin will that be a disheartening blow to the Bruins locker room?
No. 8: What makes the Bruins a Stanley Cup contender?
2. Mike Modano, Dallas Stars: While his organization is in a transition period, he is having the second-best goal-scoring year of his Hall of Fame career. Strong on faceoffs. Defensively, no centerman is better. He really should win the Selke. His speed breaks up plays no one else even gets to. His stick work stripping opponents of the puck is exceeded by none. He and Sakic both entered the league in 1988. Sakic has attempted 500 more shots than Modano. Last year Sakic took 332, Modano 208.
3. Patrick Roy, Colorado Avalanche: I know a lot of people have him as their MVP, but he plays on a good team for which to tend goal; the Avs are good defensively and don't give up a lot of shots. That being said, Roy has been stellar and still has that psychological edge over everyone else. He is why the Wings are not a lock to reach the finals. If Hasek doesn't match Roy, the Avalanche could be right back in the finals again. How good would an Avs-Wings Western Conference final be?
4. Mats Sundin, Toronto Maple Leafs: Tied for fifth in scoring. Remember the last person to win the scoring title other than Mario, Wayne or Jagr was Marcel Dionne in 1979-80. Like Modano, historically he hasn't taken many shots - he took 226 last year and 184 the year before. That has changed this year - he'll get close to 300. He's playing with a playoff edge in the regular season. His Leafs are good enough to get to the finals.
5. Joe Thornton, Boston Bruins: The 22-year-old thinks pass first and would have been great on the big ice. His size and strength make him an MVP player. Only Adam Oates had more assists at the break. He, too, doesn't shoot enough -- he has 113 fewer shots than teammate Bill Guerin. The Bruins should sign him to a 10-year, $60 million Nomar Garciaparra-type deal to save the hassle of negotiations. Thornton gets the better of the deal early, the Bruins late. A Conn Smythe kind of player. He had nine points in the Bruins' 11 playoff games in '99 when he was 19.
I talked a member of Two Man Advantage who goes by "Spags," who is a big Islander fan.
On fighting the novelty act label: "What we have going for us is that we are passionate on what we are singing about. We MEAN it! This is what we like. It comes across. In the past we've been called a novelty act, but, lately we haven't been. That's why we named out latest CD, 'Don't Label Us'."
The challenge to grow in popularity: "We tour constantly. The only way to win people over is to play live and to what you are all about. The only way is to keep playing. We have some big die-hard fans on the East Coast. There's a big group of Washington Capital fans that are fans of the band."
The relationship between punk and hockey: "As far as I'm concerned hockey is punk rock. The best way to describe our band is Tie Domi. We're an annoying little runt that won't go away. We'll stand up to anyone."
Staying the course in this "boy band" climate: "We keep in mind that we all love punk rock and we have all been punks our whole life. We play what we like because we like it. It's not about making it, it's about being true to what we like."
Searching for the perfect hockey anthem: "We are presently writing a song about Barry Melrose and his hockey hair which you know all about. We just wrote a song called 'Blue Seat Riot.' It's about Ranger fans and Islander fans fighting in the blue seats."
Tell me more about the Melrose song: "We were really upset when he cut his hair last year, but we're real excited that the mullet is back this year. We're definitely going to write a song on hockey hair."
What's it like hearing your songs in an NHL arena: "Thirteen arenas played songs off our first CD, 'Drafted.' The Colorado Avalanche called us and told us about it. They played a song called hockey junkie. We thought that was great. We shopped our new CD to all the teams to see if they'll play some of the ones they CAN play. They are not all suitable for children."
Who's going to be in the Stanley Cup finals?: "Detroit is a great team, but I think they are going to run out of gas. St. Louis has a shot. I think the Flyers are the top team in the East, but they are streaky. I think I'll go with a Blues-Flyers Stanley Cup final."
How about getting out to Utah and giving poor Bill Clement some help. The quality of hockey being played is outstanding, but, I can not stomach any more Jim Lampshade.
It's over. It's all over.
By the power invested in me, I am not granting a license to the Pang-Messier bald off. That's not my bag, baby. I like the Avs third sweater. A Bunch, Brian.
Another strike AGAINST the NHL in the Olympics. They are cannibalizing their own product. Pitting fans against NHL players and NHL legends doesn't sound healthy. The Olympics are very emotional and lasting. You wonder if some fans will always have a negative vibe towards Gretzky as a result of these Games.
Clutching! Grabbing! 1-0 games! Diving! No long passing! No speed through the neutral zone! And if you do, you'll likely get concussed! Chip it off the glass! Cue up Pink! "I'm coming up, so you better get this party started!"
It is spooky. Both are good announcers. But Panger is taller, better looking and a better golfer. They aren't the same person, however. LastJune during the Stanley Cup finals, they were both in Denver at the Chop House having dinner. If you go there, get the mashed potatoes.
Yes, on the Black Crowes request. Make sure you watch. Once again some more PANGERISMS to add to last weeks anthology. Just when you think there are no more ... PANGus Khan ... PANGin with Mr. Cooper ... From the B-52's "Love Shack": PANG, PANG, PANG, on the door baby ... NHL players - Robert PANG, Jamie PANGenbrunne, Daymond PANGkow ... PANGxiety attack ... "Walk like an Egyptian" by the PANGles ... T.S. Eliot said, "This is the way the world ends: not with a PANG, but with a whimper ... PANGER management classes ... The Star PANGLED banner ... The whole ShePANG ... T Rex and Power Station sang, "PANG a gong, get it on" ... WolfPANG Mozart ... Orange flavored PANG ... Buckwheat was part of Our PANG ... Workin' on the chain PANG ... Back on the chain PANG ... AC/DC's PANGus Young ... Actor Jackie PANG ... Ice-T, the original PANGsta ... Ba da bing, ba da PANG ... PANGkee doodle dandy ... PANGglider ... PANGhi moon ...
Thanks for the contributions. That has to be it?!! Right??!! 74 so far. We need 365 for a PANG a day calendar.
John Buccigross is the host of NHL 2Night, which airs Tuesday-Saturday on ESPN2. His e-mail address -- for questions, comments or crosschecks -- is firstname.lastname@example.org.