Thursday, May 29, 2008

Onward And Upward - Ice Junkies Merges With The Daily Deke

Ice Junkies are packin up the van and heading over to

Over the past couple months I have been engaged in a weekly podcast with Grant Beery, Alan Sheilds and Chris Roberts. We started this podcast through Twitter when Grant sent out a message about starting an NHL focused podcast that would air once a week. I Tweeted (or something like that) back to him that I would be interested and the rest is history.

The podcast started out painful and clumsy, lots of dead air, rambling thoughts and horrible microphones (on my part - seriously, I sounded horrible)! Now, 8 shows later we are starting to sound like an actual Hockey show (I still don't like the way my mic makes me sound, but I am working on that) ... anyway, so last week, Grant and I were talking about how to make what we are doing even better. One suggestion was to focus on the blog ... but which blog. Ice Junkies was going pretty well and our content was updating once in a while. Grant was falling back on his content since he started the podcast, so we decided to blend our 2 blogs together.

Starting soon (not quite sure of the date yet) I will be taking over the Daily Deke blog and Grant will be focusing on the podcast. We will be migrating Ice Junkies content over to the Daily Deke and I'll post up one last farewell with a couple links to get you where we're going!

For all of you who read ... Thank You for checking us out. We are moving up to better places and we hope to see you over at our new home!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A Few Notes from Around the NHL

Alexei Yashin, who spent the season in Russia after his inflated contract was bought out by the Islanders, appears to be heading back to the NHL. He was league MVP in Russia putting up 43 points in 56 games so it could be interesting to see if he returns. He was quite productive at times during his career, but his attitude and level of commitment were always questioned and who would be willing to give the 35 year old another shot….and how much does he want? Apparently the Canadiens and the Wild, each looking to upgrade their offense, are both interested. However, if someone wants him they’ll have to go after him pretty quickly as by the time July 1st rolls around he’ll already be committed to his team in Russia.

Sounds like the Penguins will not make a serious attempt to re-sign Marian Hossa for fear that it would eventually cost them Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal or Marc-Andre Fleury. Bruins and Canadiens, both of which made a big push at the deadline to get him, are the most likely of suitors. However, if Scott Niedermeyer retires perhaps the Ducks will have the cash to get Corey Perry locked up to a long-term deal and bolster their offense…they certainly have the need.

Wade Redden hasn’t received a contract offer from the Senators and will almost certainly be a free agent come July 1st.

According to a Toronto newspaper it appears that the interim Toronto GM may not be so interim as they are reporting that he will stick around for one more year in that role. “One more year” makes me feel like they already have a target in mind but need to hold out for a year……HMMMMM wonder who that would be *cough* Burke* *cough*.

Dan Ellis stands to get a hefty raise after his performance in the first round where he almost singlehandedly beat the Red Wings. He is in discussion with the Preds who also have Chris Mason under contract and are paying him top goaltender money. Signing Ellis makes me feel as though they'd want to deal Mason.

Ottawa newspaper claims that while the Sens would love to unload Ray Emery in a trade, no one has shown any real interest. This leaves the team with one option: buy out the remainder of his contract for 1/3 of the total amount, which would make him an unrestricted free agent. If that happens, someone has to sign him and take a chance that the young, erratic goaltender could return to the form that had him lead the Senators to the Stanley Cup Finals last season.

Rumors about Brian Gionta being on the tradeblock as the Devils hope to get tougher overall and improve their offense. This is not the first time his name has come up and they desperately need a center as Patrick Elias is more comfortable on the left wing.

Olaf Kolzig packed up his stuff, removed his name tag and missed all the following team meetings after the Caps lost in game seven to the Flyers and appears to be heading into free agency and into a season with only the second team in his career. This means that the Caps need a goalie and after Cristobal Huet’s performance down the stretch he seems to be a no-brainer. Apparently, he’d like to stay in Washington as well. Also, Sergei Fedorov will get a contract offer from the Caps if he still wants to play.

Monday, May 12, 2008

San Jose Sharks Looking For A New Coach!

Doug Wilson, the GM for the Sharks, fired Ron Wilson, Coach of the Sharks, today. They also said they will begin a search for a new head coach immediately. This does not come to a surprise to me seeing that only 5 days ago Ron Wilson was quoted on saying “That's all irrelevant. You look at my record, it's second to none, literally, in the sport, so I'm not even worried about that,” when asked about his job security. This decision was made many months ago by Doug, the Board and Ron himself … and I can prove it by the last paragraph in the story on TSN. Doug Wilson was quoted as saying "People will tell you we've accomplished some really good things the last three or four years, and that's wonderful. The disappointment is we haven't accomplished what's ultimately our goal, and we're not going to stop. We're going to push through, and decisions will be made when they get made."

According to

"Ron helped foster a new era in San Jose Sharks hockey with some record-setting regular season performances,” said Doug Wilson. “However, ultimately we have decided that it is time for a different voice and a different approach to lead this team. We are proud of what we’ve accomplished as an organization but we feel that this team is capable of achieving greater success. I want to thank Ron for his level of commitment and desire to make our organization successful. Our entire organization wishes him well.”

The 2007-08 Pacific Division-champion Sharks were eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a four-games-to-two series loss to the Dallas Stars in the Western Conference Semifinals.

Wilson, named the sixth head coach in franchise history on Dec. 4, 2002, leaves the Sharks as the team’s all-time coaching leader in wins (206) and winning percentage (.535), and postseason games coached (52). In four-plus seasons, the Windsor, Ontario native posted a 206-134-45 regular season record and a .535 winning percentage in 385 games with the Sharks. During his tenure, the team won two Pacific Division Championships (2004, 2008).

Wilson also leaves as the franchise leader in post-season games, posting a 28-24 mark in 52 Stanley Cup Playoff games. He led the team to a berth in the Western Conference Finals in 2004 and to the Western Conference Semifinals in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

Wilson reached several milestones while serving behind the Sharks bench, including his 1000th game as an NHL coach on March 18, 2007 at Colorado, his 500th NHL win on Feb. 9, 2008 vs. Nashville. He notched his 200th win as Sharks coach on March 18, 2008 at Los Angeles and surpassed Darryl Sutter for the franchise all-time wins list on March 1 at St. Louis.

Here is a quick snapshot of Ron Wilsons accomplishments as the Coach for the Sharks:

There is a good pool of candidates for Doug Wilson to contact over the next couple weeks. Two that come to mind are Joel Quenneville from the Avalanche and Paul Maurice from Toronto are both holding their “Will Coach For A Cup” signs. Since Toronto has all but laid their cards out on the table, it appears the San Jose Sharks will have plenty of interviews starting to line up – I mean, who wouldn’t want to coach the Sharks. They are the most consistent team in the NHL. Over his career Wilson has coached the San Jose Sharks, Washington Capitals and Anaheim Ducks, compiling a record of 518-446-127 over his 1,091 games. He coached the Capitals to the Stanley Cup Final during the 1997-98 season but Washington was swept by the Detroit Red Wings.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Detroit Red Wings - Wherefore Art Thou Fans?

While last night was text book example of how a team can get caught on their heels and not recover I have to say how interesting it was to see so many empty seats at Joe Louis Arena. Cheap seats, Expensive seats – Did not matter. Empty clusters and Half-empty rows were scattered throughout as if this was “just another Detroit game.

I thought for a moment I was watching a Nashville game. Did anyone put the word out that Detroit is known around the league as “Hockeytown, USA” where every seat should be filled, after all … these are the conference finals, the bridge to the championship, the last push for that beloved battle to raise Lord Stanley’s Cup. Maybe it was because they are playing against Dallas, a team that hasn't been here for the playoffs in 10 years, when Detroit knocked them out of the Conference Finals in 6 games. Also, maybe because they are playing against a goalie that has yet to add a tick mark to the Win column when playing against Detroit. Even IF those are all true – Why would you still not pack the arena during the Conference Finals to show your team (Hockeytowns Team) that they have fans behind them? Is it because this is what you have come to expect from your team? Is it because it does not mean anything until your team is IN the Finals? Let us not forget the Month of February where your team went 4-8-2 being outscored in that month 28-38.

So what's the problem, I know the economy is bad and I am not telling people to go farther into debt for a Hockey game … but seriously, we're not talking 100,000 seats to fill at Joe Louis either. I would want to think there are enough fans and money in Hockeytown to fill those empty seats. Come on - if Detroit can fill Lions seats, why can’t they fill Red Wings seats.

Some great hockey is being played this year and this post season has given us games that will be relived for many years to come. Ever since Game 5 against Nashville, the Wings have been a different team. Grinding, hitting and hat-tricking. They haven't lost in three weeks. They look tight and enthused. They've gotten production from their stars and their supporting cast. They're protecting the puck and they're getting an enormous boost from Osgood, the goalie. This is the combination every great Stanley Cup winner possesses – The stars of the team shine, the supporting players back them up and before you know it, your lifting the Cup with tears running down your face … because since your 4th birthday when you were given those “New Skates” … THIS is the moment you have dreamed of.

If you missed last nights game, here's my quick wrap up. The Wings started off the night with too many opportunities. They got a 5-on-3 chance less than five minutes in. Nine seconds later, they scored -- a beautiful ricochet slapper by Brian Rafalski. How about Franzen, redirecting a puck for his 12th playoff goal and his fifth straight playoff game with a score -- tying a team record held by, ahem, Gordie Howe and Ted Lindsay. Even captain Nicklas Lidstrom said, when asked to evaluate the seven-game winning streak "It's comparable to some of the great teams (we've had).”

I still don’t think you can pin this win soley on the stellar game Detroit brought to the table. Dallas did not even show up, I think they were caught off guard early in the first period and never recovered. It looked, to me, as if the Stars were watching the puck to much and standing around waiting for something to happen. Well, Marty did the best he could … after all, I would assume knowing your playing in an arena where you are 0-8-2 might do something to your confidence. That is where the 5 guys in front of him have to say … Not Our Goalie!

I am excited about the Philly/Pittsburgh matchup tonight and I will wait to see how the Stars answer back in Game 2 before I cast my judgment.

Friday, May 2, 2008

San Jose Sharks - Shooting for the Stars

Anyone catch the last game in Dallas? 6 days ago I posted my thoughts on the Sharks/Stars match up. 4 games down and San Jose is looking at elimination is NOT what I had in mind. So, let me ask again ... Did anyone catch the last game in Dallas? The Sharks come out fighting, owning the corners, dominating the offensive zone. Marty Turco turns aside shot after shot … then, 5 minutes into the second period POW, Dallas scores and the Sharks pack it up. They might as well had their equipment truck back up to the zamboni entrance. San Jose’s game changed the moment they were down by one. Then, on an amazing breakout pass from Sergei Zubov, Patty Marleau pulls out another short-handed goal on Marty Turco (yes, 2 games in a row he did that!) I was shocked, and that is what energized them enough for Milan Michalek to convert the only power play (out of 6) to make it 2 – 1 by shoving in his third goal of the series, and Evgeni Nabokov had his strongest game of the series, and possibly of the playoffs, making 17 saves in the win, and the Sharks live to play another day. I bit my nails, Dallas threw everything they had at Nabby and the Sharks won!

The Sharks win came on the second night of a back to back games in Dallas because everyone expected there would be a Dallas Mavericks playoff game that night, but the Mav’s were eliminated by New Orleans. The win gives the Sharks a very small shred of hope, in that, this series is not quite over yet. What San Jose has done is planted that same thought, into the heads of the Dallas Stars, instead of hope, it’s in the form of doubt. It’s like a seed has been planted, and tonight, the Sharks need to do everything in their power to make that seed grow. If they play the “in your face” hockey they showed us at the end of the regular season I believe they can get Dallas to second guess their play and capitalize that into another win.

With Detroit completing their sweep of the Colorado Avalanche, the Sharks can hope that a possible date with Detroit could be just what they need to rejuvenate their passion into power. Just the thought about meeting Detroit for the Conference should have some Sharks players and fans licking their lips, thinking a possible revenge match could be waiting for them in the next round.

However, as we all know, one game does not make the series, and the Sharks aren't close to seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. A win tonight night will get them that much closer, plus keep them in the second round for one more game. As of now, there is no Game 6 or Game 7 that the Sharks can even think about, because if they don't win Game 5, then neither of those will ever exist. There are ways for San Jose to secure another trip to Dallas: A continued presence from guys like Mike Grier, Tomas Plihal, Torrey Mitchell, and Devin Setoguchi up front, not to mention Marleau’s continued hot streak, and the occasional appearance from Joe Thornton needs to become a little more consistent. Back that with pressure from the defense, Brian Campbell needs to show up and push San Jose’s Defensive lines like he did after the trade.

Kudos has to go to Ron Wilson for bringing Curtis Brown back … in his Stanley Cup debut this year his veteran leadership allowed San Jose the ability to hand the Stars zero points on their 3 power plays, Brown also won 7 of the 11 face offs. Brown’s efforts were part of the reason why San Jose is playing a Game Five on Friday. The Sharks are pining for a chance to make history. Only two teams have rallied from a 3-0 deficit to win a Stanley Cup Playoff series. In 1942, the Toronto Maple Leafs did that in their Finals series vs. Detroit. Thirty-three years later, the 1975 New York Islanders repeated that performance in the quarterfinals vs. Pittsburgh. And ironically, it’s been 33 years since that Islanders-Penguins series.

If you are into numbers … this could be a great omen for the Sharks.

“It’s an awfully big mountain to look at if you say, ‘We have to win four’,” Brown said of the Sharks elimination situation. “We have to take little steps and win one. And then hopefully another one. That’s how you take little bites out of that big hill.”

“We know what the task is,” Wilson said. “You’ve got to win four games in a row to win the series. It’s happened before. If you think you’re facing an impossible situation, then we shouldn’t even bother playing the game. The advantage for us is that we have two of the next three games at home. We can hold our home ice. We just have to win one more game in Dallas. You just try to find any way to look at something positive.”