this week + some others: the game’s fast, sometimes guys go into the boards wrong

Embed from Getty Images

“Mon captain,” Yvan Cournoyer said this month, tearfully, “mon captain. Bon voyage.”

With Jean Béliveau’s death on December 2, the country remembered, and paid homage.

“Like a prince, like a king,” said Sportsnet’s Stephen Brunt. “Our royalty.”

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman: “For all the feats he has accomplished and all the accolades he has received, Jean Béliveau has always symbolized the little boy whose only dream was to play for the Montreal Canadiens. Hockey is better because of the realization of this dream.”

“In all of my thoughts about Jean Béliveau,” wrote TSN’s Dave Hodge, “I hear Danny Gallivan’s voice.”

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau stood in the House of Commons. “Mr. Speaker,” he said,

I had an extraordinary childhood during which my father introduced me to kings, queens and presidents, but he was never more proud than when he was able to introduce his eldest son to Jean Béliveau.

Every time I met Mr. Béliveau thereafter and shook his hand, I saw what an impact he had not just on me, but on everyone around him. He was a man who epitomized dignity, respect and kindness.

Jean Béliveau was a man of class, of strength, who demonstrated the kind of leadership that inspired not just players but all who watched and met him. He will be greatly missed, but he will continue to inspire generations of not just young hockey players but of Canadians across this great country.

“Beyond being one of the greatest players in NHL history, Jean Béliveau was class personified,” said Mario Lemieux. “He was a hero to generations of his fellow French Canadians and hockey fans everywhere. Our sport has lost a great ambassador. He will be missed.”

Hockey, meanwhile, carried on.

Connor McDavid mentioned that he had a favourite Canadian Tire memory.

Dave Bidini took issue with a newspaper’s use of the word “belted” to describe a puck propelled by Toronto captain Dion Phaneuf that ended up in Carolina’s net.

“If you can build off a game we lost, we can keep our heads high,” Philadelphia captain Claude Giroux told CSN Philly after his team lost a fifth game in a row.

Though goaltender Steve Mason had a different take. “We’re all tired of moral victories,” he told Ryan Dadoun from NBC Sports. “The team played a good game but you don’t win it. It’s not good enough. Enough of the moral victories. We got to go out and start winning hockey games. Everybody is frustrated and ticked off, but it’s a matter of going out and winning now.”

“Belted” was James Mirtle’s word, in The Globe and Mail:

… Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf belted in his second goal of the season with three minutes left in the second.

Legitimate usage or no? Bidini felt that it belonged on baseball grass and dirt, not ice.

Sidney Crosby the latest NHL player to have the mumps

was a headline, this month.

Another was:

Kevin Klein Loses Part of an Ear, Helps Rangers Down Pens

“Say what you want about hockey players,” mused New York coach Alain Vigneault after that particular game, “but they’re tough SOBs.”

Toronto is likely to miss the playoffs, a professor of economics at the University of Waterloo suggested this month. Dr. Phil Curry is his name, and he works with a group called the Department of Hockey Analytics, gathering up and crunching advanced statistics to (quote) better understand the game. Using a model that incorporates both points and Score Adjusted Corsi, he contends that Toronto will be on the outside looking sadly in when the post-season gets going next spring — oh, and the Calgary Flames are due for collapse, too. Continue reading

this week: once wayne gretzky told me stats are for losers

Winnipeg artist Diana Thorneycroft’s 2007 digital photograph "March Storm, Georgian Bay" from her series "Group of Seven Awkward Moments." "By pairing the tranquility of traditional landscape painting with black humour," Thorneycroft says, "the work conjures up topical and universally familiar landscapes fraught with anxiety and contradictions." For more of her sublime northern visions, visit dianathorneycroft.com.

Winnipeg artist Diana Thorneycroft’s 2007 digital photograph “March Storm, Georgian Bay” from her series “Group of Seven Awkward Moments.” “By pairing the tranquility of traditional landscape painting with black humour,” Thorneycroft says, “the work conjures up topical and universally familiar landscapes fraught with anxiety and contradictions.” For more of her sublime northern visions, visit dianathorneycroft.com.

Crosby Not Eating Well

was a headline this week at philly.com.

From up on the International Space Station, the commander of Expedition 35 tweeted that he was enjoying Leafs games on TSN. “I watch them while working out,” wrote Chris Hadfield. “Great to see their skill and grit. Go Leafs!”

In The Detroit Free Press, Red Wings’ coach Mike Babcock discussed some changes in line combinations he’d made to try to help generate more offense. “We feel,” he said, “with Fil and Bruns and Clears, that’s a pretty good line. Fil’s been a good centerman for us. We like what the Mule is doing, so we’re just going to spread our lineup out and go a little bit deeper.”

Gare Joyce had a dream he couldn’t fathom: “I was interviewing Sidney #Crosby but he was only 4 ft tall + had helium suffused voice.”

Viktor Stalberg looked in the mirror this week and tried to count the stitches. A shot from Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf had hit the Chicago winger, Crosbylike, near the mouth, although Stalberg’s jaw didn’t break. “There are still a couple you can’t really see,” he said, regarding the stitches.

The doctor said it was 50 to 60, something like that — 20 on the inside and a little bit more on the outside.

It doesn’t look great, but it doesn’t feel too bad, to be honest with you. You cut so many nerves, my face is still numb, and you can’t really move it like you want to. I’m sure when the swelling goes down and those nerves heal up it will feel a lot better.

“What happened?” said Pittsburgh’s James Neal after Michael Del Zotto of the Rangers knocked him cold for a moment with what one paper described as “a reverse-forearm/elbow.”

Boston’s Brad Marchand said he was pretty nervous the first time he skated on a line with Jaromir Jagr in practice. He felt compelled to pass him the puck. “I felt like every time I got it I had to give it to him and let him play with it. Guys were yelling at me because we’d be on a 2-on-1 and the defenseman would just stand by him and I had a breakaway but I would still give it to him.”

Toronto listed winger Joffrey Lupul as day-to-day, this week, with an ailment of the upper body that wasn’t a concussion. “You are the one that likes that word,” the coach, Randy Carlyle, told a reporter, “so you put the diagnosis you want on that.”

Of the Nashville Predators, Chicago goalie Ray Emery said, “That’s a team you have to really play some boring hockey against.”

Szymon Szemberg from the IIHF had a word, this week, for Ottawa’s 40-year-old captain Daniel Alfredsson: indelible.

Of Milan Lucic, The Boston Globe’s Kevin Paul Dupont reporter said, “Needs to play angry. Otherwise, passenger.”

Sidney Crosby met with reporters in Pittsburgh to tell them about his sore jaw. “Felt it but didn’t see it,” he said of the slapshot that hit him. Still unable to chew solid food, he said he’d been living on milkshakes for nine days. Keeping weight on, he said, was “impossible.”

He laughed. “It hasn’t been too enjoyable.” Continue reading

this week: will they ever find bigfoot?

IMG_2253

Sidney Crosby said the headaches are behind him.

Having gone from working in a windshield factory to winning the Stanley Cup in just 11 years, the new coach in Calgary, Bob Hartley, said he has no fear. “For me, I never lose. I just don’t always win.”

Asked how his team would start the new season, Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette endorsed going out and ripping the door off its hinges over just feeling around.

In Calgary, Flames’ captain Jarome Iginla discussed his groin. “I didn’t feel it,” he said after practice mid-week, “and it felt way better than last week. Last week, it didn’t feel very good at all.”

A Maclean’s columnist called Edmonton defenceman Ryan Whitney’s feet “God-botched.” Whitney said he was proud to still be in the NHL, even if he didn’t have what he once had. He said his dad recently told him that even on one foot he could move the puck, because he’d always been able to do that, like Larry Murphy.

Among Toronto winger Joffrey Lupul’s insights from playing for Avtomobilist in the KHL during the lockout: Russian women are absolutely gorgeous; Russian players shake hands every morning in the dressing room; people speaking Russian always sound like they’re mad, even when they’re happy.

In New Jersey, Ilya Kovalchuk laughed when asked whether Vladimir Putin had offered him lots of money to remain in Russia. “That’s not true,” he said.

Claude Giroux, the Flyers’ new captain, gave Scotts Hartnell and Laughton a beating at Scrabble, #gotbeatbyafrenchie.

Chris Kelly of the Boston Bruins reported that when you’re walking around the French part of Switzerland and you don’t know the language, it gets kind of lonely.

Bad luck injured Montreal centre Tomas Plekanec: in the Czech Republic he was trying to pass the puck and, quote, instantly felt there was something wrong with his body.

Prospect Louis Leblanc, who wasn’t invited to the Canadiens’ shortened training camp, didn’t hide his disappointment.

Sorry, Joe Sakic, but Colorado centre Matt Duchene said Hejdie has the best shot in Avalanche history. Milan Hejdie. Hejduk.

Anaheim’s 42-year-old winger Teemu Selanne said he usually likes to drive his four kids to hockey practice — “but this year it’s going to be different. I’ve got to rest.”

In Detroit, winger Tomas Holmstrom was called a goalie menace and a folk hero as, about to turn 40, he announced his retirement. Coach Mike Babcock called him a star, the best at what he did: stand in front of the other team’s net on the powerplay. Jonathan Franzen would be taking that job, now. “Mule, net-front, is as good as anybody,” Babcock said. A week earlier, he’d phoned Niklas Lidstrom, 42, in Sweden to wonder whether he wanted to unretire and play the season for the Wings. No. All in all, though, it was a heck of a week, Babcock thought. He’d expected more injuries.

In Lidstrom’s absence, Henrik Zetterberg was named the team’s new captain. He said his dad was proud. Pavel Datsyuk said, “He deserve it. He leader in locker room, out of locker room. It’s hit to target.”

Of Todd Bertuzzi’s groin, Babcock said, “Bert felt some tightness.”

Nashville centreman Mike Fisher wondered whether they’ll ever find Bigfoot, #headscratcher.

blogs like jagr

With Danny Briere, Claude Giroux has been the best of the Philadelphia Flyers this spring, playing the frantic, feisty game he plays in between the scoring and assisting and winning all those face-offs he does. But if the Flyers fall out of the playoffs tonight — they’re down three games to one in their eastern semi-final against New Jersey — they’ll do it without Giroux. He’s been suspended for a game for nudging, last game, the head of the Devils’ Dainius Zubrus.

I looked to Twitter today to see whether Giroux might have something succinct to say on the subject but no, it’s been all quiet over at @28CGiroux since the end of the first-round series against Pittsburgh in April. Which is maybe not so surprising. None of the hockey players seems to have much to say, Twitterwise. For the readers in the crowd, what we’d been hoping for, I think — if I can speak for the group — was a flash or two of insight, a shred of inside colour, a telling phrase, something wise or funny that Maxime Talbot might have observed in an unguarded moment.

It hasn’t happened. Hockey’s Twitterists have gone silent. Either they’ve been shut down by management (Rangers’ coach John Tortorella is supposed to have banned his players from social media for the duration of the playoffs) or else they’ve self-suspended. Too — busy? tired? Maybe so.

What seems more likely is that the hockey players have determined — and are, in their silence, tacitly admitting — a hard truth: you can’t write and play high-level hockey both at the same time. Eddie Shore used to say the same thing about sex with your wife. Not that you couldn’t write and have sex; it was the sex and the hockey that didn’t mix. But. Anyway. What we’re learning this year, I think, as the weeks go on is that as a player you have to decide where you’re going to channel your focus and your intensity: playoff hockey or meaningful comment on social media? Continue reading