Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Atlanta Headed West... CBJ or Nashville Headed East...?

So Atlanta has now made it official... there is a deal in place to sell the Thrashers and move them west to Winnipeg.

There is only approval by the Board of Governors remaining -- they next meet on June 21 -- to make the Winnipeg/Manitoba... Whatevers official.

Now, the question goes back to who might move east… and whether that change will happen in time for the 2011-12 season.

It has been a hot topic, both in this space and elsewhere… mostly in Columbus, Nashville and Detroit. Assuming the NHL wants to keep its divisions in the East mostly intact – in order to not mess with the obvious rivalries in the Atlantic and Northeast divisions – the team moving east would wind up in the Southeast Division. This makes the most logical options Columbus and Nashville.

Why not Detroit? Well, as I've said before here, I can think of about 14 NHL governors in the Eastern Conference that know moving Detroit to the east would be the conference's undoing. Let's face it… the Red Wings are that good, and the Eastern Conference would never be able to keep up.

I will not delve into this topic too deeply, as I have already done so earlier this month. However, having discussed the issue with a few people since that post it still seems to me that Nashville and Columbus have the best arguments for a moving to the Eastern Conference.

So, for the next few weeks, hockey fans in Nashville and Columbus can only speculate whether one of those cities will get some good news in June (which I'm betting is not likely), or at least have a timeline for when either franchise might get to move east. Either would be a good addition. Columbus has the potential to be an instant contender in the Eastern Conference. Nashville has the potential to be an instant power. Sure, they don't have a bunch of "marquee players," but I defy you to show me a team that works harder and gets those kind of results despite that fact.

But, enough about that. Congratulations to the city of Winnipeg, for its apparent, unofficial acquisition of an NHL hockey team again. For the record, I found it refreshing to see the fans were not being jerks about it, like they were when Phoenix was eliminated from the playoffs, and trumpeted the Coyotes' "coming home."

Maybe Winnipeg fans can be likable after all.

Wrandom Wristers

* As we head into the Stanley Cup Final, I have to say that I am really happy to see that Manny Malhotra has a chance to play in this series. Obviously, as a Blue Jackets fan who was horrified to hear about his eye injury back in March -- and the ensuing surgeries that were required -- it's a good feeling to know that he can be back on the ice this season. The dude has a good beard going, too, from a news conference photo I saw last week.
However, as a Bruins fan, I won't be cheering for him. But it is damn good to see him on the ice, and I certainly wish him well, as I'm sure all Columbus fans do.

* I have to tell you those last "History Will Be Made" spots for the Vancouver Canucks and the Boston Bruins are awesome. It's driving me nuts that fans have to wait another 24 hours for the Stanley Cup Final to start. I haven't been this excited about Finals in 10 years, when Ray Bourque finally hoisted the cup for the first time. Even as an Avs fan, I always wished I could have seen him with it in Boston.
But that was Ray's moment. Starting tomorrow, the Boston Bruins get theirs.

Go Bruins!

Follow @MartiniHockey on Twitter….

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Bruins Will Win Tonight... They Just Have To...

It's a disturbing, recurring theme for the Bruins in the last year and change: Unfinished business.

The Bruins have been inconsistent when it comes to closing the deal early.

Obviously, we don't need to bring up last May. No sense dredging up the demon they exorcised a couple weeks ago.

But there was that April 4 game against New York, in which the Bruins blew a 3-0 lead and lost 5-3. They didn't close out a clearly inferior Montreal team in Game 6.

They let Tampa back into Game 2, after taking a huge 6-2 lead. They missed a huge opportunity to take a 3-1 lead in the series, after they chased Dwayne Roloson, then blew another 3-0 lead, and lost 5-3 in Game 4.

Then they couldn't close out the series in Game 6.

You can't totally blame the refs. It's just as lame an excuse as blaming injuries. I have said it for years... you have to kill the bullshit penalties, too.

Now... the Bruins face another Game 7 that some would think shouldn't have been necessary. It's safe to say that many would have preferred to avoid it.

Why? Well, for one thing, Dwayne Roloson is 7-0 with his team faces elimination, including including 2-0 in Game 7 situations.

Obviously, all records go out the window… or at least they need to, in the Bruins' heads. Roloson's 7-0 record consists of two series comebacks from 3-1 deficits, plus Game 6 on Wednesday. Obviously, Roloson has been a beast this playoff year. However, the Bruins have lit him up and chased him twice. It is a big cliché, but now is as good a time as any to make the third time the charm.

The Bruins have to.

A) A 39-year wait to win the Stanley Cup (and a 21-year wait to play in the Final) is long enough.

B) See above... its time to get Duane Roloson out of the playoffs. Don't get me wrong... I'm a hockey fan, and it's a great hockey story. I'm just not a Tampa fan. It's nothing personal.

And, most importantly... C) If Tampa Bay fans are so thin-skinned that they can be led like sheep by some jackass on the radio to harass the Bruins marketing department over some supposedly offensive signs… I'm not sure they're fragile little selves can even make the trip to Vancouver. Half of those oversensitive sissies probably didn't even show up to games in Tampa.

D) Let's face it, it would be fun to see how pissed off Canadiens fans would be to see Boston still playing in June.

Okay, one more...

E) I'm still waiting for some sweet Bruins swag in the mail... "straight to storage" is not an acceptable option for me.

Neither is giving up the remote to the Mrs.

One more win and it's off to Vancouver.

Go Bruins!

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Wrandom Wrister: The Rapture Is Postponed... Until Next Season

Still alive? Good.
So... it's safe to say hockey fans survived The Rapture this weekend... an event we all pretty much knew wouldn't happen anyway. Still... it figures that some jackass would schedule it when an Original Six team is trying to break a nearly 40-year Cup drought. 

(And yes, I called him a jackass. It's okay. He's a person, so it's technically not blasphemy.)

What's hilarious, though, is how this clown reacted as he "emerged from his compound" on Sunday. Was there an apology? Nope.

Was there a promise to return the money that people donated to buy billboard space to prepare people for The Rapture? Not even close.

Okay, there technically was an apology, for the fact that he miscalculated the date. So it boils down to "Oops, my bad, please send more money for me to revise the billboards... ad space ain't cheap, y'know.

"But great news, everybody! I definitely got the date right this time... October 21st!"

Great. Next hockey season.

Sooooo... 200 million faithful will allegedly ascend to heaven, and the rest of us will suffer "five months of Hell on Earth," leading up to the world's end. According to this nut-job, anyway.

I know of only one "Hell on Earth," people. It's called the offseason.

Or, being a season ticket holder for Ottawa Senators or New York Islanders...

...and that's a punishment no one deserves. Not even Harold Camping.

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Don't Have A Cowhead, Man...

First off, if you are one of those Lightning fans easily offended by humor.... Oh who are we kidding? You clicked on it. Read on and take it for what it is, since you're already here.

I was incredibly surprised to find out about the removal of the Bruins Hockey Rules signs in and around TD Garden, amid apparent protests because they were apparently offensive to Lightning fans.

So, I had to see for myself, to find out what horrid insults the Bruins' marketing department had hurled at the Lightning faithful.

The worst of them go something like this, courtesy of the St. Pete Times:

"For your courtesy, Tampa fans, there will be shuffleboard during the second intermission."
"Lightning fans, which Tampa player is your grandson?"

I think they listed another one, a clever one about hip checks being something that comes from an insurance company, but I think they may have deleted it.

Is it perhaps a little ageist? Maybe.

Something for reasonable hockey fans to get bent out of shape about? Meh.

I'm pretty sure I never once saw Flyers fans whining about "Never date a Flyers fan. Even if she does shave her moustache."

I talked with the Mrs. about it -- since we're both in the marketing field, and it's as much a marketing issue as it is a hockey one. After she caught her breath from laughing at the ones I read to her over the phone, she pointed out that the ageism angle in the messaging could be particularly offensive in Florida, as there are many retirees and such in that state.

"I think that when you get to that age, you might be a little offended too," she said.

I respectfully disagree with Mrs. Martini here. I'm a hockey fan... I would laugh my ass off. Because that's the point of the marketing campaign... to make people laugh.

Come on, I'm a Columbus Blue Jackets fan! I hear worse from friends and neighbors! Hell... from Mrs. Martini, even!

Plus, this season, our team unveiled a mascot named "Boomer." It's this inflatable... thing that resembles an item you'd find at a business with "Garden" or "Adam & Eve" in its name (he seemed to have quickly disappeared shortly after).

Believe me, we have this "sense of humor" thing nailed in Columbus.

Honestly, if/when Columbus moves east and manages to get a playoff series with the Bruins... I can't WAIT to see what they come up with for our team!

Now, to be fair, I can see why someone could be offended. After all, there probably are more shuffleboard-playing old people in Tampa, than there are mustachioed women in Philadelphia.

I get it.

But... why now? Why is the Bruins marketing department suddenly caving (no bear pun intended) to a bunch of oversensitive sissies in Tampa?

Because enough of them called and whined about it, apparently. Why? Because a guy going by the name of "Cowhead" told them to.

Cowhead is a radio jock at Tampa's 102.5 FM station, who apparently organized a "grassroots effort" to have the "offending" signs taken down. He encouraged Tampa Bay fans offended by the signage to call the Bruins and nag them about it, so they would take it down.

After doze mean, mean Bwuins people took down their signs, Cowhead then thumped his chest to the St. Pete Times, saying that, in a "swift and strong attack," he showed doze mean, mean Bwuins people that no one picks on Tampa fans wike that.

And that's not even the best part! Get THIS quote he gave the Times:

"We moved in like Seal Team 6 and shut them down in a way that other teams they attacked have never been able to do."

THAT was when it hit me: "I bet this dude could give two $#!+s about Tampa Bay hockey or its fans."

Yes, that's right. A prank. A stunt. A plea for attention and publicity from a guy who probably doesn't need it anyway, because, let's face it, he has one of the most enviable jobs in the U.S. -- he's a radio jock. He can say whatever dumbass thing he wants... and gets paid for it.

Plus, it's a SWEEPS MONTH. The only rule in a sweeps month is that you can say or do any dumbass thing you want if it makes people listen/watch.

Not convinced? Let's look at that SEAL Force 6 comment again. This guy has essentially compared himself and a bunch of oversensitive sissies, to an elite military force that recently took out the world's most wanted terrorist. After all, some signs making fun of opposing hockey fans is pretty much IDENTICAL to blowing up buildings and killing people, right?


You know what the funniest part is? Comparing one's civilian self to our military fighting overseas isn't even an original idea! Check out this gem from years ago, from a guy who happens to be a current Tampa Bay personality:

The only difference here is that, sadly, I think Kellen Winslow II was serious. Still, if you're going for a jackass for a role model... he's a good place to start.

So, in closing...

To the Bruins marketing department... shame on you for falling for this prank. Put the signs back up. You're doing a great job, and keep up the good work.

To Bruins fans... if you're reading this, and agree that the signs should go back up... go ahead and pass this around. Think of it as a "grassroots effort" to laugh off Cowhead's prank, and tell the Bruins marketing department to take back control of TD Garden. It's your arena... you should be able to laugh at what you want.

To Lightning fans... shame on you for falling for this prank. You're a hockey city... and a damn fine one with a Stanley Cup championship, too. Grow a pair and laugh a little.

To Cowhead... I can't really shame you for pulling this prank and herding a bunch of oversensitive sissies to harass the Bruins marketing department. It actually is kind of funny. However, it does make you look like a bit of a putz.

Then again, maybe my theory is way off, and this wasn't just a prank... in which case you'd be just as much of an oversensitive sissy as the rest.

And a putz.

Go Bruins!

Follow @MartiniHockey on Twitter....

Also this week:
"I'll Have What That Seguin Kid's Having"

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I'll Have What That Seguin Kid's Having...

Just yesterday, I was talking about how Tyler Seguin finally had a chance to break the ice on Saturday, scoring a goal to give the Bruins some hope in the first period. Sadly, we all know how Game 1 went, so his admirable debut was for naught.

Still, Seguin's immediate impact in his first playoff game for the Bruins left fans hoping that this, perhaps, was a sign of things to come.

However, I think it is safe to say that no one at TD Garden, or anyone watching on television, was expecting the sheer spectacle that occurred last night during the second period.

Seguin single-handedly blew open a hockey game against a damn good Tampa Bay Lightning team, notching two goals and two assists in the effort. First, there was that breakout from the neutral zone after taking a long pass from Michael Ryder. After slipping through two Lightning players, and managing a couple of nice dekes, Seguin went to the backhand and put it past Tampa goaltender Dwayne Roloson to tie the game. The Garden went crazy.

Hell, after I picked my jaw up off the floor, I went crazy.

Seguin's second goal came from a feed from Nathan Horton, and the ensuing wrister put the Bruins up 4-2.

The guy still wasn't done yet. Ever the young gentleman, Seguin returned Michael Ryder's favor from earlier in the period, and assisted on both of Ryder's goals.

One period. Two goals, two assists.

The last time a teenager had four points in a Playoff game, Tyler Seguin was not even a proverbial glimmer in his parents' eyes. The last guy to do it was Trevor Linden, sometime in the late 1980's... I think I read it was '88 or '89. I'm sad to say I had not started watching hockey yet.

Obviously, coach Claude Julien took a fair amount of flak in the first round for not playing Seguin in the Montréal series, even though he had dropped off toward the end of the season. I'm guessing that with the dominant sweep over the Flyers in the second round, getting Seguin into games probably got lost in the shuffle of things on the Bruins' minds.

Obviously, Seguin put the extra time too good use, and when Patrice Bergeron went down in Game 4 with a concussion, he got his chance. I'm sure no one will argue that he certainly has answered the call, and provided some answers for the Bruins.

However, Sagan's emergence also brings up a potentially very tough question, with Bergeron expected back very soon, what happens to the Bruins' lines?

According to the Boston Globe, Bergeron is expected to be in the morning skate at the St. Pete Times Forum tomorrow, and they will make a decision from there. Julien has established that Seguin isn't sitting.

But what will the decision be? That is the big question, as the Bruins try to take the lead in Tampa tomorrow.

More bodies than spots. Wow... I can imagine there are teams that would kill to have that kind of problem, especially in the Playoffs.

Thanks for reading! Go Bruins!

Follow @MartiniHockey on Twitter....

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Move Out East? Where Do I Sign Up...?

I do genuinely love hockey conversations with Mrs. Martini... at least the ones in which her participation is more substantial than the "Dammit, it's another [expletive] hockey conversation" eye-roll.

But seriously... when we're sitting down and talking pucks -- and I actually have a good, quality response to the question "And I will unequivocally care about this BECAUSE...?" -- it's a good time. So, over the weekend, as I'm explaining the different scenarios that are now buzzing regarding Atlanta's potential move to Winnipeg and the corresponding potential move of Columbus, Nashville or (for some reason) Detroit, the first thing on her mind was... would it help, and would it even make a difference as far as the Jackets' long-term future in Columbus?

(Yeah, she's a bit less optimistic than I am about what happens if/when the CBJ's financial situation comes to a head.)

I explained the important details that have been so eloquently discussed by others in the CBJBC -- which is why I'm not going to spend a lot of time rehashing.

But, I essentially discussed:
  • the Jackets' performance against Eastern Conference clubs, especially the Southeast Division
  • the opportunity to get a couple good rivalries going (not that I don't love ripping on Detroit, but I'll get to them in a sec)
  • not as much travel, so there's a cost savings, the team hemorrhages a little less money
  • comparing points in the standings, in which the Jackets would have contended for a spot in the East (at least until about mid-March), and that was playing a tough West schedule... just imagine what would happen if our guys were playing in the East, plus... the added revenue of Playoff games, more money, etc.
Her reply?

"You're starting to sound like a Browns fan... a term usually preceded by the word 'Godforsaken.'''

[Cue my "Oh-hell-here-she-goes-again-with-that-Ohio-Pro-Sports-Are-Cursed" eye-roll]

ME: C'mon... are you really going to hold on to the "Curse" theory the rest of your life?

MRS.: "It all revolves around having low expectations, and being pleasantly surprised... yet still being afraid to talk about it..."

Like I've told you before... she is from Cleveland. This is also why I never tell her more than the score when my phone gets Tribe score updates. Anything from wearing a hat the wrong way to a broken mirror, from high gas prices to that infernal Rebecca Black "Friday" song, could jinx the team the rest of the season.

Still... for the aforementioned reasons and many others, I'd be stoked to have Columbus move East. Obviously, losing less money to travel expenses and restoring profitability would nice, as would not being up until 1 a.m. watching a game. But let's face the big issue head-on... getting into the Playoffs is awesome, and those chances increase significantly by playing in the Eastern Conference. Yes, showing impressively in the much tougher Western Conference is a bragging point, but only if you can finish the job. The Jackets have only done that once.

So, you know what? Let's take a few years off from the West... maybe move back in some other realignment scenario down the road. Yay, Columbus!

Then again, there are two other potential candidates to move. Nashville, of course, would seem an obvious choice for the Southeast geographically -- assuming the league would simply replace the open slot in that division. The fact that they're a very good team would certainly do good things for the division -- that would be one hell of a fight in the Southeast among Nashville, Washington and Tampa, don't you think?

Really, I think the only knock against the Preds might be the Central Time Zone thing. And really, more of the focus seems to be on Columbus and Detroit, anyway.

Now, Detroit seems a very odd choice. First, I don't buy the rumor of some agreement with the league that Detroit would eventually go back east. And even if I did, I doubt it would happen now, unless the NHL were to expand.

Second, a lot of Detroit fans seem to be okay with this. And I can't say I blame them. Hell, if the league gave me a chance for my team to essentially clinch the Presidents' Trophy every year by rolling over the inferior conference, I suppose I'd think about it.

The closest thing I can think of to compare it to is the BCS in college football. Schools like Texas Christian and Boise State whine about not being taken seriously, because they're not in BCS conferences. Well, TCU did something about it. They went shopping, found the weakest BCS conference, and joined the Big East, thereby clinching a BCS spot annually for the foreseeable future.

Think of it... the Detroit Red Wings in the Stanley Cup Finals every damn year.

Would it sell a lot of hockey tickets? You bet. In Detroit.

Would it sell the game... and bring new fans to the sport of hockey? I'm not so sure. I think it would just breed more WalMart WingNuts. Nobody needs that. There are more than enough now.

Plus, I don't think it would clear a vote by the Board of Governors. The guys in the Eastern Conference know that would be absolute suicide to bring Detroit to the East.

So, why take the easy way to the Cup Finals -- other than the obvious -- when Detroit is a contender every year, and has won the Cup in four of the last 14 years? They draft insanely well... their biggest stars were like mid- to late-round picks. They're run extremely well.

They're just fine in the West, really.

Or... is age catching up to them? Maybe @FrickinDannie (Straight Jackets on AerysSports) was onto something a couple days ago when she noted, "They must be planning to scrape by with mediocrity for the next 10 years, a la Washington."

I'm not sure I totally agree, but she makes a very interesting point.... Look at what Washington has done... sure, they're still years away from a Cup, but aside from that, they're not a bad team... well, except for the Playoffs, but that's just because they're just not built for a Cup run yet.

I like Columbus' prospects in the East, and I think both the team and the Conference would benefit.

Thoughts from the gallery? I'd love to hear 'em.

Follow @MartiniHockey on Twitter....

It Was Just One Game, Right...?

Come on. No one expected the Bruins to make a clean sweep en route to the Stanley Cup Finals, right?

Yes, Saturday night was a setback... no doubt about it. The beginning of the Eastern Conference Final was like the joy of leaving a hard day's work and going home to your wife and dogs.

The end of Game 1 was something resembling waking up with a godawful hangover, walking to the kitchen and finding Snooki pouring you a bowl of All-Bran for breakfast.

Now, not everything was horrid. Bruins fans not only got to see rookie Tyler Seguin in action, we got to see him make an impact almost immediately, as he scored a goal.

Heaven knows fans waited long enough. Now, maybe we weren't thinking of it as much during the second-round sweep of the Flyers, but it was on people's minds.

Obviously, Bruins fans were missing Patrice Bergeron badly in Game 1. The dude has been a consistent performer. Now, he's apparently a game-time decision for tonight. Hopefully, he's not being rushed back, and he's actually feeling good.

It will be interesting to see what the lines look like this evening. Hopefully not too interesting. From the looks of things, Milan Lucic may be out.

Yes, history apparently does not favor the Bruins. Just saw a graphic on ESPN saying the B's have lost nine straight conference finals games.

Fine. History gets defied every so often. History only means something if you let it. I think the Bruins -- whatever the lineup is tonight -- step up and even this thing up.

Plus, I'd say many of us in Columbus are a little tired of hearing Guy Boucher's name, how awesome he is, and so forth. Fine, he walked into a good situation after telling the Jackets to find someone else. It's not like he would have gotten the Jackets any farther. So... maybe knocking off Tampa Bay will make the hockey world shut up about him for a couple weeks while the Bruins win the Cup.

I'm all for that.

Go Bruins!

Follow @MartiniHockey on Twitter....

Friday, May 13, 2011

Relocation Drama... How Soon Until It's Us?

I recently took a stand in this space on the state of the NHL in Phoenix, after the Coyotes wrapped up their season on the wrong end of a sweep by Detroit. It's a team that has fallen victim to two years of NHL management, essentially stuck in the status quo until someone comes along to hopefully buy the team and actually market it to the masses effectively.

Now we know that the NHL will keep that status quo for another year.

Great. Another year of uncertainly for the fans who genuinely care about what happens to the team. Another year of trash talk from bitter Winnipeg fans about how hockey belongs there, and how they're prepping their "welcome home parade" for their Jets. Another year of massive losses, because it's not like the NHL is going to work toward any kind of creative marketing plan to attract fans to Glendale. To be clear, I'm all for Phoenix having a team, but this constant uncertainty sucks for their fans.

Then, the rumor started. Someone on Twitter said TSN was reporting someone has bought the Atlanta Thrashers and is moving them to Winnipeg.

This, of course, turns out to be a stunt for attention. A thinly-veiled jab at another franchise stuck in a market with a relatively small core of fans who genuinely give a damn about hockey...

...or even know what hockey is. Lest we forget, Atlanta has previous experience in losing an NHL franchise.

But it raises an unpleasant question. The same day, an article comes out discussing the financial woes of our own team here in Columbus. $25 million in losses this season, and $80 million over the last six.

Our Blue Jackets are a pro hockey team in a football town. Hell, the Major League Soccer champion Columbus Crew is barely a blip on the sports radar in Buckeye Country. It makes no difference that all the attention on O$U's football program right now is for all the wrong reasons.

The Jackets' fan base is a relatively small core of diehards, then some casual fans who still, thankfully, choose to use a portion of their disposable income to watch the world's greatest sport.

It doesn't take an economics degree, or even a high school diploma, to see that fans are frustrated, and season ticket renewals will probably experience another double-digit drop. Any purple-haired, facially-pierced dude flipping burgers can see that.

There are obvious parallels here among us in Columbus, Phoenix and Atlanta.

A devoted, but small, diehard fan-base... check.

Hemorrhaging money... check.

Other, more popular sports competing for attention... check.

Our problem is not market location, like it is in Atlanta and Phoenix. It's not arena location, like it is in Phoenix (technically, Glendale). It's not the weather... heaven knows we freeze our asses off in the winter months just like most other NHL markets.

Our team just plays badly.

Very badly.

Badly enough that we had to read in the Columbus Dispatch that Doug MacLean again felt the need to brag about his years as GM, and how much the Blue Jackets made while he was there, and spouting off about the Jackets' current woes as if he knows all.

Sorry, Doug... while you do have a point about the financials... for the most part, you couldn't draft for $#!+, you couldn't pull a decent trade for $#!+, and you couldn't win for $#!+.

Oh, right... you drafted Rick Nash. There's your one good thing... and you never let us forget it, either. Hold onto that. We don't see you running a team now, Doug... there's a damn good reason for that.

To paraphrase the old cliche: "Those who can't do... talk $#!+ about their former employers on the radio."*

And do little else, apparently.

But there is that nagging issue about the lease with Nationwide Arena, and of course, the Jackets' payroll being at a point that's probably far above what it should be for the results it's getting. John P. McConnell has been talking about examining the entire organization to figure out what needs to be fixed, and fixing it. He has also said he's willing to spend money to do it.

And we, the fans, are all for that. Believe me, I think there are definitely some of us who are concerned about the team's long-term future here. That's why there are organizations like Forward Together, who emphasize what a great contribution the Arena District is to the city. And it's not just about hockey, but let's face it... if there's no team in that arena, is there an Arena District? Look at what happened during the 2004-05 Lockout. Scary stuff.

So if the lease issue continues to dog the Jackets, and it comes down to the county, or some governmental entity, trying to buy the arena in order to get a better deal for the team, that's something that would require a vote of the people, right?

Well, before the NHL, getting voters in Columbus to support building a downtown entertainment venue was about as popular as casino issues. It just didn't happen. The only reason Nationwide Arena exists... is because Nationwide built it to get the NHL to put a team here. Honestly, if the Jackets' existence ever came down to a vote of the people regarding some sort of financial deal surrounding the arena, I wouldn't be able to watch on Election Night...

...at least not if it happened now, when the team is not winning.

Obviously, more wins means more people, more wins also means more games (via Playoffs), which also means more people. More people means more money. More money means... profitability. Winning will help solve a lot of financial problems.

Most importantly... winning just might make Doug MacLean shut the hell up for once. Wouldn't that be nice?

The crew over at Dark Blue Jacket had an interesting piece this week in the wake of the coverage of this current financial fracas, asking, simply: "Do you want hockey in this town, or just a winner?" If you haven't read it, I certainly encourage you to do so.

Obviously, I want both. Hell, every CBJ fan wants both... I'd question it if they didn't.

But for me... yes, profitability would be nice, a perennial Cup contender would be awesome. A Cup sometime during Nasher's current contract would be heaven (I'm still calling that, by the way... it will happen).

But what is more important to me than all of that is having this team. I love this sport... this city... and this team. And I know I'm not alone in that sentiment.

Go Jackets!

Follow @MartiniHockey on Twitter....

* - Those who can't do also blog. That definitely applies to me. :)

Wrandom Wrister: Demons... BEGONE!

Who has two thumbs and is insanely stoked that Todd Bertuzzi's name will remain absent from the Stanley Cup for one more year?


Finally, I'm no longer watching hockey games exclusively for the fact that I vehemently hate a team or individual players. It's a nice feeling, because for all my snark and venom, I do genuinely try to keep it positive in this space.

Twenty-four hours earlier, I was among what I'm sure was a throng of fans almost dreading last night's Game 7.

The headline itself was spit-take funny.

It read, "Sharks confident going into game seven."

After cleaning off my computer from the spray of Pepsi Max that shot out my nose, I asked the question that any logical person would ask….


Was it the fact that the mighty San Jose Sharks had blown a three nothing series lead and forced into a game seven? Was it the fact that the Sharks were in danger of becoming only the fourth team in NHL history to blow a 3-0 lead and lose it in Game 7… and the second team in as many years?

Well... whatever it was, they were apparently confident enough. Needless to say, I slept well last night. Boston avenged last year's collapse last week, and Todd Bertuzzi went home without a Cup last night. Right now... life's pretty good.

Now I can concentrate fully on what's important. And after the horrific tease of having the Conference Finals schedules released days ago, I can watch hockey I care about again.

It also reduces the number of games Mrs. Martini has to watch that she doesn't care about. Don't get me wrong... her "dammit-there's-a-[expletive]-game-tonight" eye-roll is adorable, but....

Boston's back to work tomorrow! Go Bruins!

Follow @MartiniHockey on Twitter....

Friday, May 6, 2011

Why 3-0 Leads Suck...

“A commanding lead,” an unnamed sports anchor theoretically quips….

“They have a stranglehold on the series,” says another.

If last year hadn’t happened, I would wholeheartedly agree.

But, last year did happen. So, for now… the above-mentioned sports anchors are full of $#!+.

Yes, 3-0 has been my least favorite lead ever since that fateful night of Friday, May 14 – 51 weeks ago today – when some redneck in a bar bathroom uttered the horrible words, Weren’t they up three games to nothing?

Up three games to nothing, and up 3-0 in Game 7… only to give up four goals, and ultimately four games to the Philadelphia Flyers. Last year’s Bruins were the third team in NHL history to blow a 3-0 lead to lose a seven-game series.

Now, the Bruins hold that same 3-0 series lead over that same Flyers team, with a few subtle differences – Danny Carcillo is a little uglier and thuglier, and right now a thin slice of Swiss cheese would be more solid in goal than any of the dozen guys who have put on goalie pads for the Flyers this year.

And yet… I don’t trust the situation.

Hell, the Vancouver Canucks nearly became the second team in as many years to blow a 3-0 lead, if not for some Game 7 heroics that never should have been necessary.

So, yeah… I don’t trust the Bruins’ 3-0 lead over the Flyers. Though, yes, they do have a “stranglehold.”

And I don’t trust the San Jose Sharks’ “commanding” 3-0 lead over the Detroit Red Wings.

Lack of faith? Absolutely not. I still pick the Bruins in the East, and I genuinely think the Sharks will preserve the sport’s integrity for another year, and keep Todd Bertuzzi’s filthy hands off of Hockey’s Holy Grail (then, of course, we have to start cheering for Vancouver to knock off the Sharks in the West Final… after all, Dany Heatley killed a guy).

I’m just not betting the proverbial farm on it… because this is Playoff hockey. That means one thing…

$#!+ can ALWAYS go to hell before you know it.

That’s why I was relieved when Nathan Horton broke that 3-0 lead Wednesday night, by scoring just 1:35 after Daniel Paille. At that point, I started feeling good, and it was just because it wasn’t 3-0 anymore. I know… it sounds totally crazy. I’m sure the feeling will pass with more time. But for right now, that’s how I roll.

The Philadelphia Flyers and Detroit Red Wings are very dangerous teams. Until they’re not.

Yes, I know… sounds like an off-the-wall quote that could make even Yogi Berra’s head explode.

So, Bruins and Sharks… give us those 4-0 series leads, so we can all sleep tonight.

Cheers. Go Bruins!

  • Wow, Washington... seriously? I figured the Bolts would win the series, but I at least thought you'd make it interesting. Still... it was entertaining.
  • I don't know what the hell that color was that Nashville Predators fans were wearing at Game 3, but I have to give major kudos to Preds fans. A few years ago, when the team was about to void the lease by not packing in enough fans, I was perfectly ready to write off Nashville as a hockey city, and advocated for the franchise to just give up, let Jim Balsillie buy the team and move it to Hamilton, because people just didn't seem to be embracing this great sport, even with a perennially strong team that regularly made the Playoffs. But you know what? Perhaps I've judged too harshly. Seeing how fans have been with this team over the last couple regular seasons and Playoff runs, I'll tell you... I think Nashville has earned some serious respect in the hockey world.
    (I still hate your team, but you have my respect....)
  • Hey, cool. CBJ and Team Canada captain Rick Nash just ended the USA/Canada game with a shootout goal!
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