Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Mike Liut's School for Goaltenders

I can't wait for September! Until then this one is for all you goaltenders out there, take some tips from Mike Liut's goaltending school. Just kidding Mike.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Get Your Shotgun and Beer, We're Going to Ashburn!

I knew tensions between management at Piney Orchard, the Capitals former practice facility, and the Caps were mounting, but with the delay in getting the Ballston arena built, the Caps say, “Good-bye Piney, hello Ashburn.”

Yes, Ashburn Virginia. I am talking about a 2 hour commute for the Caps to hold their summer training. For those of you who are also political buffs, it’s one of the places Webb won’t go. If there are such things as rednecks in Northern Virginia, they would live in Ashburn… no offense.

I have only been to Ashburn Ice House once; I needed a map, a compass, and an Ouija board just to find the place. The Caps new practice facility in Ballston has been tied up in a lot of bureaucratic tape. When the Caps were faced with staying at Piney Orchard, I guess the answer was no. No word on whether it was the facility or the Caps who said it.

The Capitals will be splitting the time between Ashburn and Hershey Pa. Talk about two extremes. Next year they may hold camp in Tucson. Weather permitting.

While that drama is the only thing there is to talk about, Alex Ovechkin is in Toronto training for the upcoming season. In an interview with TSN, Ovechkin talked about the Malkin episode, his goals for the upcoming season, and how much he loves playing for the Caps (for now).

“My goal for next year is go to playoffs,” Ovechkin said. “No 50 goals, no 100 points.”

I hope he reaches that goal. Albeit a lofty one.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Steaming Mad Russians

Evgeni Malkin’s disappearance maybe a great thing for the Pittsburgh Penguins, but it shows that the strain between Russian elite teams and the NHL is on fragile ground. It may even make acquiring players from Russia near impossible.

I am not saying that Malkin should spend the season in Russia and not play for Pittsburgh. By all means, the Penguins did the only thing they could do. However, this sudden sneak in the night may make it harder for other teams to get their drafts to the western hemisphere.

It reminds me of the old Soviet Union keeping a keen eye on their players. Many will remember Sergei Federov’s dramatic rescue from the Communist team. He snuck out of a L.A. Hotel into a limo and whisked to Detroit. Malkin’s retreat is roughly the same.

So is that how to get talent out of Russia, sneaking them out of country just to get them into the states? For some teams, that won’t be an option. The Capitals have had a hard enough time to get Alexander Semin overseas.

Teams may think twice before drafting Russian players. Getting those players out of the country and into their rinks will prove a challenge that may put the courts in overtime, and could cost teams millions if they aren’t careful.

So it might be worth it to pull Malkin out, but it may mean consequences for others. Teams with Russian players may be treading thin ice.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Sports Odds & Ends

With the Capitals seemingly on vacation for the past week or so, the only real news coming up is that their practice facility in Ballston is way behind schedule. Exciting I know. So since my attention has been all over the place, I couldn’t help but notice a few big sports stories and I had to comment.

First, Floyd Landis needs to get his alibi straight. Look, Landis, I am with you on this one. If the French can’t handle their college graduates, how can they do a simple drug sampling test? Also, I still think they hold a grudge against Lance Armstrong for being a monster on a bike. But you need to shape up and stick with one story buddy; otherwise you’re just pointing fingers.

Michelle Wie fired her caddie. News flash Wie, bad shots are not your caddie’s fault. Why can’t you get along with your caddie like Tiger Woods?

Roger Goodell is your new NFL Commissioner. Although I don’t think there is much to change in a league that is just getting stronger and stronger with every season. Now if we can just find a new one for the NHL.

Finally, Maurice Clarett was arrested for having 4 loaded weapons in his car and he was wearing a Kevlar vest. It took several officers to subdue him and he was shot with a stun gun. It begs the question, where the hell was he going? Too bad Clarett, looks like you’re just another bad stereotype statistic whose career is going no where.

So there you go, had to get it off my chest. Oh yea, and for you hockey buffs; Manny Legace is now a Blue, and the Sabres walk away from J.P. Dumont. Also, for a good read, check out this column about Russia and the NHL by Allan Muir.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Back In The Day

Old Time Hockey Brawl- Maple Leafs & Rangers

Check out this old footage. Fighting in the NHL has certianly changed since then. 1971 Playoffs between Toronto and New York. You gotta be pretty tough to play this game with no helmets and a crazed crowd that can touch players over the short glass.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Childhood Games (I Got Tagged)

What the hell? I was tagged? I was king of home-base for years as a kid (and making up more home-bases as the game went along, “This blade of grass is home-base! Ha!”). So as not to be “it” anymore, here are my five things. Prepare to be impressed.

1. I just celebrated my 8th anniversary of a beautiful marriage to my lovely wife Katie in July. When we met, she was actually dating a guy at another college. Of course I had to end that right then and there. From then we just became infatuated with one another, and it really has never ceased. (Okay, mushy stuff over).

2. I met Lynda Carter at a Holiday party at Vice President Dan Quayle’s house. The highlight of my young life (I was 14 at the time). Since then I have always had an obsession with Wonder Woman. Lynda Carter can rescue me anytime!

3. I saved my Uncle Gary’s life by simply being there. My uncle runs a farm in Nebraska and he brought me along to fix a feed trailer when it collapsed on top of him. When it fell, I knew something was wrong because Gary was not standing next to it, he was under it. I freaked, and ran to the house and called 911. There were other people at the house that helped me out. We lifted the trailer with a tractor’s front loader. Lucky for my uncle, the ground under the trailer was sandy and soft so he mostly sunk into the ground. He is still working on the farm and is fully recovered after a few months in the Hospital.

4. I have worked as a Doorkeeper at the US Capitol building. It was one of the most interesting jobs I have had. I have met so many people who visited the Senate Gallery, which includes Michael Stipe from R.E.M., David Hyde Pierce and brother, Paige Davis (before Trading Spaces) just to name a few. During the impeachment trial of Bill Clinton I snuck a rock radio station DJ in the gallery (for some DC area people that may remember I was Mr. X. You get extra credit if you can name the DJ).

5. In 2002, I had the opportunity to go to the gold medal game in Salt Lake City. One of the coolest things I have ever experienced. We sat three rows from the ice and five seats from Canada’s bench. Close enough to hear Chris Pronger yell at Theo Fluery to get his ass off the ice. Although Team USA did not win (the look on Jeremy Roenick’s face during the gold medal ceremony was priceless, he kept rolling his eyes as they announced the names of the Gold Medal Canadian team), the experience was amazing. To see that kind of talent in a clutch game was awesome. We also met Wayne Gretzky’s wife and father after the game.

So there you go, I hope Japer is happy. I better Tag some others.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

A New Look!

A new season also means a new look. I hope you like it. A little more refined I think. I was planning to do a whole overhaul on the site, but then thought better of it. Anyway, I hope it's easier on the eyes, and looks a little less like a 15 year old did the graphics. Plus one of those guys up there is me. Cool.

Washington Capitals are busy sprucing up their look too, signing Matt Pettinger to a 3 year contract. Which has many fans, myself included, giving a sigh of relief. Pettinger had a career season last year with 20 goals and 18 assists. I hope that he continues to improve.

Also, on the Caps website, they have a short video of Coach Glen Hanlon's description of Alex Ovechkin done for EA Sports where the winger is the new poster child for the NHL 2006 video game. It's pretty cool to see Ovechkin as a computerized hockey player, and he may have a 99 or 98 overall rating in the game. I also heard a rumor that there will be a special Ovechkin move on this game that no other players can do. Remains to be seen I guess.

Hope you like the new look to Puckhead's Thoughts.