I had, like, three posts lined up before this - even one about how I'm really bad about consistently blogging. But after last night's Pens/Islanders gongshow, I had to post now. The whole game was just a disaster for both sides (I've seen enough Friday Night Lights episodes to know that winning by a lot doesn't make you a success), but the one thing that has my blood boiling right now starts around the 1:30 mark of this video:

Now even though I'm beyond loyal and completely biased toward the teams I support, I try to remain neutral when it comes to judging right or wrong in the sport. Fortunately, Trevor Gillies actions last evening allow me to side with my boys.

I had to look up Gillies' age to make sure he wasn't an 8 year-old with a strange ability to grow a mustache. He's not, he's 32. So really there is zero excuse as to why he not only shot Eric Tangradi an elbow to the head but then proceeded to taunt him after Tango is clearly hurting on the ice.

Are. you. serious.

All I have to say is that Gillies should be embarrassed and ashamed of himself. Actually that's not all I have to say, but what I do have to say is not suitable for public consumption. Grow up. There's nothing remotely professional about what he did.

Can't wait to boo you the rest of your career bud.


To Sum It Up: Penguins, Terriers

"At 5-0, the Penguins are the last undefeated team in the AHL." 

Those sweet words came from WBS Pens' beat writer, Jonathan Bombulie, after last night's win against the Hershey Bears. Just as expected, the Pens are off to a strong start. What wasn't quite expected is how they're doing it. This part I like. Bombulie described it well when he said:
Overall, I think the most impressive thing about the start the Penguins are off to is that it's sustainable ... the Penguins haven't done anything in the first five games that they won't be able to do for the next 75. They're just playing good fundamental hockey.
Like music to my ears. The exact type of successful team I like to see. Sure, it's not always as fun to watch as guys doing ridiculous Ice Capade moves, but it's more reliable. I've always been a fan of fundamental, hard-working teams over the rely-on-pretty-skill teams (see: San Jose Sharks).

With injured Pittsburgh players healing up, keep an eye out for Eric Tangradi and Andrew Hutchinson to be back in NEPA.
How about those Terriers too? Geez. If you remember back in my nostalgic preview, I basically said I wasn't expecting much out of them, and anything else will be a pleasant surprise. Well, count me as someone who's pleasantly surprised. After beating UMass last night, BU is now 3-0-1. They defeated both Wisconsin and Notre Dame to win the IceBreaker tournament opening weekend, tied UMass last weekend and got the win last night. Looks like they've woken up from last year. They're working for the wins. 

Three guys I've especially enjoyed so far: Charlie Coyle, Sahar Gill and Matt Nieto. This freshman class is shaping up for a fun few upcoming seasons.

Class of 2014.

And last, but certainly not least, the Pittsburgh Penguins. They had an ... yeah, I guess interesting is a good word for it ... they had an interesting start to the year. By interesting I mean they were 1-3. Certainly not something anyone saw coming. I didn't panic because anyone who thought that was going to dictate the rest of the year should pull their head out of the sand. A lot of spoiled Penguins fans came out. People who clearly forgot what it was like prior to these past few seasons of being awesome. Back then, if you were to have a slow start, you knew that's what you were in for. Now, we go 1-3, and I look around at Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, et. al, and I know they'll figure it out. No team is invincible. A little adversity never hurt anyone.

And now they're 5-3 and in second place in the Atlantic. So there.


Inside Hockey: Ryan Miller + Fashion + Charity

I started writing for a lovely hockey site called Inside Hockey. First piece went up today. Take a peek:
When you think of hockey players, you think of tough guys with missing teeth. Guys who put their heart and soul into games and aren’t afraid to get roughed up doing so. You think of goaltenders standing in front of 80 mph shots. You think of clothing and catwalks … wait, what?
It turns out Sean Avery isn’t the only guy in the NHL with some fashion sense.  Sabres’ goaltender, Ryan Miller, has a taste for it himself. His Michigan clothing store, The Refinery, features plenty for label whores to drool over including Seven for All Mankind, True Religion, Nicole Miller and Hugo Boss. And on November 21, Miller is leaving his crease to take on the runway. The best part? It’s all for a good cause.
Read the rest at Inside Hockey


Boo hoo

Someone get this guy a tissue. Poor baby.


In Case You Were Wondering How Saponari Felt ...


The 2010-11 WBS Penguins: Yes Please.

I haven’t been this excited for a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins’ season in a long time.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m always excited for the team I hold closest to my heart, but things could be really fun this time around.

For the first time in awhile, they Pens are kicking off the season with an awesome roster. And that’s not including the very real possibility that we’ll see Eric Tangradi, Derek Engelland and Ben Lovejoy at some point this year. Mark Letestu is on that list as well, but so far he seems to be the guy that had the best camp with the big boys.

Without further adieu, a quick glance at what's in store this season:

Up Front
Brett Sterling.

Okay, I know the team does not revolve around Sterling, but when I hear his name I think of how he dominated us in the Calder Cup Finals. Then I realize he's on my side now, and I love it. Sterling is not a big guy by any means, but he can score. Some say his signing is the biggest in WBS history. I'd have to look back, but if it's not the biggest it's certainly in the top 3.

Ryan Craig was another nice pick-up, coming off a 45 (23+22) point season with the Norfolk Admirals. He's battling a groin injury right now, but once he's healed up I think he could be a nice asset to have around.

Familiar faces like Dustin Jeffrey, Nick Johnson, Chris Conner and Tim Wallace are all returning. Toss in Joey Vitale and you have a nice little offensive group.

The Blueline
My eyes are on Brian Strait and Robert Bortuzzo this year. They looked good last season, and as they mature, they'll get even better. Part of the fun of watching an AHL team.

Newcomers include Corey Potter, former BC Eagle Carl Sneep, Andrew Hutchinson and Jason DeSantis. Hutchinson is the one to watch out of this group.

The defensive corps aren't going to be as strong as the forwards, but it's nothing I'm going to lose sleep over.

In Net
This is the one area I’m concerned about. Both Brad Thiessen and John Curry have a lot of potential. We’ve seen them play great, and we’ve seen them play not-so-great. This goaltending situation reminds me of the San Jose Sharks: two guys who are good, but neither of them are above and beyond spectacular. You don’t look at either one and think: ‘Okay. I’m completely confident in him.'

Brad Thiessen earned himself the starting job last season, and he starts out at number one again. I hate to admit this by the way. Like, it makes me cringe. He was a Hockey East foe, and to see a Northeastern kid be ahead of my BU boy ... well, it’s just a tough pill to swallow. BUT I always gave Thiessen credit when he was a Husky. It’s not like he’s Nate Gerbe or anything. If all goes according to plan, Thiessen will have a solid year.

John Curry is my golden child. I will never dislike this kid even if he turned into Martin Brochu. People who have been reading this blog for awhile aren’t surprised at this. He was the walk-on goalie for BU who became a savior in Terrier Nation. He helped get the Pens to the finals in his first season. And then he got hurt. Curry never really seemed to get his mojo back since he was injured. He had a so-so year last year, so here's to hoping he's back to true form this season.

Overall ...
The Baby Pens are going to be a good team. Hockey's Future said the Pens won't be any different from last year. I disagree. I think they're already different from last year. Yes, they'll have to compete with the mighty Hershey, but they can do it. The key will be establishing good chemistry, having fun and working hard. If they can work night in-night out, they'll be rewarded. Those are the Penguins teams that have excelled in the past, and this year will be no different. I think they have the right group of guys to do it.

And what's more fitting than to play the first regular season game against our interstate brothers, the Hershey Bears? They're stacked again - even without guys like Alex Giroux (who failed to make the Edmonton roster. This continues to blow my mind). Rumor has it Sheldon Souray will not be playing in tonight's match-up. I'm certainly not complaining about that.


Terriers Begin a New Era (and I Do Too)

Tonight marks the start of the Boston University hockey season as they take on the Wisconsin Badgers in the Ice Breaker tournament in St. Louis.

After four seasons, it also marks the first time I won’t be sitting in section 108 for every home game at Agganis Arena. And, well, it’s sad.

In the four years I was at BU, I saw two Beanpot championships, a lot of Eric Gryba penalties, a kid named Colin Wilson who always found a way to score and the best hockey game I have ever seen – which came with a nice National Championship trophy as well.

More importantly, I found myself a hockey family. Because a lot of my girl friends can only stand the first 30 seconds of a game, I started tagging along with four of my guy friends. I didn’t know them all that well in the beginning, but by the close of the 2009-10 season, I was proud to call them some of my closest friends – not to mention some of my favorite people. Ever. (Trust me, if you met them, you’d agree).

If it wasn't for them, I wouldn’t have learned things like:
+ ‘Get on the Ice’ is just as effective and a lot more fun to chant than ‘Get off the ice’
+ Southern Comfort isn’t that bad.
+ Not all BC students are Jesuits - or are they?
+ Knocking out ceiling tiles is a lot easier to do than attempting to take one home is a little more difficult.

But we all collectively agreed, that watching a team down 3-1, with 59 seconds to go in the National Championship game, miraculously tie it up and go on to win in OT is the single, greatest thing that we saw – and, as far as hockey goes, will probably ever see.

I guess what I’m trying to say is: I’m going to miss them. A lot. And I won’t feel bad for nagging them each season to reunite for a game.

Now, aside from my sappy feelings on the upcoming season, the Terriers are undoubtedly facing a transition year. Some names you won't see on the ice: Colby Cohen, Kevin Shattenkirk, Eric Gryba, Nick Bonino. Scary.

The new BU Terriers are young. The USCHO preview mentioned there are 17 freshman and sophomores and only one senior -- possibly Jack Parker's youngest squad ever. Young teams don't always bring in a ton of wins, but they can be a lot of fun to watch. In a season or two, after they're used to playing with each other, BU will be a strong team.

The one guy I'm looking forward to seeing the most this year is first-rounder Charlie Coyle. He gave a nice sneak peek of what he can do with his hat trick last weekend against Toronto. The other player I'm excited about is Dave Warsofsky; he's little, but he's one of BU's best right now.

Overall, I'm not expecting a lot from the Terriers. I'm looking forward to see the young guys and watching them grow. Everything else will be a pleasant surprise.

Get it BU.


Saponari Crosses Enemy Lines

Hi everyone. I’m going to kick off the official start of hockey season with a joke:

Vinny Saponari.

Remember him? You may recall him as one of the producers of the infamous, chart-topping hit, ‘Party like a Puckstar.’ Or you might remember him as the kid who got booted off the BU hockey team for thinking he was above showing up on time and staying sober the nights before games. Yeah, that’s him.

Well, the kid has skills, so he was going to have to play somewhere else to keep his career going. Then, with a swift kick to every BU fan’s nuts, he committed to play for the Boston College Eagles. Wait, let me repeat that for you:

The. Boston. College. Eagles.

Per NCAA rules, he has to sit out a year before he can join the Eagles, but words cannot explain how excited I will be for the first BU-BC match-up in the 2011-12 season. Cannot even wait. I know Terriers fans will eat this up. It has to be one of the first times, if not the only time, that a player has transferred down Commonwealth Avenue – either way.

As a hockey move, good for him. BC has an elite program, and isn’t going to be horrible anytime soon (unfortunately). Saponari is a good hockey player. And he will go pro. A guy’s gotta do what a guy’s gotta do. He got lucky that someone as good as BC was willing to put up with him.

BUT if there’s one thing I hate, it’s someone who is presented with an unbelievable opportunity and isn’t mature enough to keep it. There are no excuses. You’re not 2 years old. You can act like a grown-up.

My favorite quote out of Saponari’s comments on joining BC was:
"I love the city of Boston, and Boston College always has a good team. I played against them for two years. I know how the program is –– the professionalism that comes with being there and playing there."
Keyword: Professionalism. The one thing that got him kicked off the team in the first place. Well bud, I hope you fare better there.

To his credit, he did admit he acted like a jackass – sorry, that he wasn’t “very mature when I was at BU, but I hope in the long run, [the experience] helps me. It was an unfortunate situation, but I’ve grown up and learned from it.” If that’s the truth, I’m glad. I don’t wish him to be horrible for the rest of his life. Only when he plays against BU.

I always enjoyed calling Nate Gerbe a little bitch. Saponari isn’t as good as Gerbe was at the college level, but I will certainly enjoy bestowing him with the same nickname.

And So It Begins ...

Welcome to the 2010-2011 hockey season.


The @33dellis Fiasco

The past 24 hours has brought trouble to Dan Ellis’ Twitter paradise after some poorly worded tweets and some overly-sensitive people came together to create chaos.

In case you’re behind on the whole situation, Ellis - former Nashville & new Lightning goaltender - followed up on a tweet from Reggie Bush who was talking about upcoming labor negotiations.

Bush’s tweet was:

Ellis followed up with:

And apparently this is what caused all hell to break loose. Fans reading his tweets were outraged that any pro athlete could complain about money. I don’t see harm in Ellis’ follow-up comment to Bush, but I can see where some people were disgruntled with it. So let’s look at both sides:

Team Normal People: 
The economy still blows. Unemployment is still high. And here is a professional athlete with a multi-million dollar contact complaining. There’s just no way that gets received well. Plus his follow up reaction was this:

Ellis’ comment on being more worried about finances now than he was in college is ridiculous. There’s no way he’s in rougher shape now than he was in college. Sure, there are less worries in college because really all you’re there to do is play hockey, go to class and booze. For a lot of students, other people take care of the finances (parents, scholarships) or you worry about the loans moreso after school than anything else. Even so - very, very few people have a solid income in college. DEFINITELY not an income of a couple million bucks.

I also think his, “If you don’t make a lot of money, I don’t expect you to understand ...” came off a little bit snooty.

Team Ellis:
He was right when he asked if we would like getting 18% cut out of our salary. I know I sure as hell wouldn’t - and their 18% is a lot more cash than my 18% would be. 18% of $3 mil is like $540,000. Yikes.

There’s also a lot more to player finances than meets the eye. On top of escrow and all that CBA goodness, there’s agent fees, higher taxes (which can include residency depending on the player’s situation) and probably some more I’m not even aware of. Careers are short-lived; players can be out of a job by 35-40 years-old - not quite the retirement age the rest of us are used to. Don’t get me wrong, these guys still have plenty  of comfort room, and no one’s losing their home anytime soon. But for those not making the millions, it can add up.

Finally: relax, people. Do you really think this guy was trying to say he is bitter about his paycheck? I don’t think so.

Bottom line is he took some heat for poorly chosen words. The unfortunate outcome of this is that we will lose some candidness from Ellis going forward. The great thing about athletes on Twitter is that fans get to see their personalities and who they are while getting the chance to interact with them one-on-one. It’s a huge boost to the fan experience. I think people would prefer someone who tweets like his true self (like a Paul Bissonnette and a Dan Ellis) as opposed to the more canned accounts (like Rob Schremp - no offense, but that guy is tweeting what he's told to). But why should Ellis go back to being uncensored if he just takes heat for it? Not saying he didn’t deserve it, but he has no reason to do it anymore.

So @33dellis - I’m on your team. But for God’s sake, let it go. I think we may have gotten a tiny bit over-defensive yesterday. The best move is to close it out and move on from it. Or write up a guest blog post. I’m sure a site like Puck Daddy or From the Rink would host it without a doubt. I’d be really interested in reading that. You’d have to be careful because if you misword things again, then you could end up in hotter water than you already were in. But it gives you a platform of more than 140 and can help some people understand a bit more.

Just my two cents.

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