Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bourque To Open Season in NHL, Just Not For the Caps

Yesterday morning Chris Bourque thought he was going to be a member of an NHL roster for opening day tomorrow. And today, well, he is going to be on an NHL roster, just not the one he had thought.

Bourque, son of hall-of-famer Ray Bourque, was drafted 33rd overall in the 2004 draft by the Washington Capitals and has spent 4 seasons with their AHL affliate, the Hershey Bears. Monday morning Capitals head coach Bruce Boudrea informed Chris he had made the NHL squad by coyly asking him if he wanted to have dinner at his fathers house in Boston, the location of the Capitals season opener on Thursday night. Instead, Bourque will be on the home bench in Pittsburgh as the Penguins raise their 2009 Stanley Cup banner before their opener with the New York Rangers.

With the intent to open up some salary cap space and perhaps pick up some players off the waiver wire themselves, the Capitals placed Bourque on waivers Monday night. The team wasn't planning on demoting him to the AHL roster, they only needed to take his cap hit off the books for a day. Most teams passed on Bourque, but the Penguins, one of the later teams in the waiver order, and Washington's top rival, claimed him for their NHL roster. The transaction is bound to tweak the already cold relationship between the two franchises who meet last May in the second round of the playoffs, going 7 games before the Penguins advanced.

The Penguins and Capitals won't meet until January 21st, the first of 4 eventual regular season match-ups this season.

Bourque's Wait Is Over, as Left Wing Makes Caps Roster - The Washington Post
Penguins Claim Bourque, Lose Bissonnette - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Friday, September 25, 2009

Penguins Fans Refuse to Tone It Down

The Penguins new "Defy Ordinary" ad campaign, apparently brought to you by the same people that make those ridiculous Miracle Whip spots.

Defy Ordinary.

We Are Miracle Whip, And We Will Not Tone It Down

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Setting a Standard

Just like any other sports know-it-all, I play fantasy sports. Fantasy sports of every fashion and sort. Football has just become a given for every male in the 18 to 35 demographic. And despite the Pirates best efforts to ruin professional baseball for me, I've stumbled through a few fantasy baseball seasons. I've participated in a fantasy golf pool, though I honestly can't say I recommend it. I even made a fantasy Electoral College map last November.

So, of course, with my love of all things puck, I'm an avid fantasy hockey fan. However, as I think anyone with some fantasy hockey experience under their belt will admit, it's got its share of problems. So as I prep for my leagues upcoming draft, I can't help but think that these issues can be addressed. Look, I'm not saying I can fix it, but hell, it's worth a shot. Right?

Part of what makes fantasy football so much fun is the community. Sure, maybe there is even a little too much discussion to the point that there becomes too much of a consensus (try not taking Adrian Peterson with the first overall pick), but it's fun. Try having that kind of discussion about fantasy hockey. Obviously your not going to find it on ESPN, but try just having it with other hockey enthusiasts. You can't. Why? Because unlike fantasy football, there is no standard system for fantasy hockey.

A hundred some odd years ago the states faced this same issue with currency. Delaware wants to make it's own dollar bill? Well, isn't that cute. Louisiana wants to make one of it's own? Way to go Louisiana. But at some point we figured if this whole dollar bill thing was ever going to really strike it big, we had to switch to a nationally accepted standard bill. It sounded like a good idea, so they printed some up, stamped George Washington's face on it, and there you go.

So I humbly offer you this, my custom scoring settings, painstakingly researched and developed. Be kind.

It's a ten team league, with weekly head-to-head match-ups. Each roster has 3 starting centers, right wingers, and left wings; 6 starting defensemen; and one starting goaltender. There's one spot on the IR for any injured player, and 6 bench spots, although I've recently become enamored with the idea of knocking it down to 2 spots.

Skaters get points for the standard stats: goals, assists, powerplay and shorthanded goals and assists, and game winning goals. As well, in an effort to bring more value to defensively minded players, they get points for hits and blocked shots. Face-off victories and losses are worth a fraction of a point, and defenders recieve an additional fraction of a point for each goal or assist they tally.

Goaltender scoring is simply. Throw out victories. Not important. Anyone who has played fantasy baseball has learned this the hard way with pitchers. Wins don't accurately give you the value of a tender. Instead they are awarded points for saves, and deducted for goals allowed. And on the rare instance that they steal the game with a shutout, they are rewarded handsomely. That's it. Simple.

Again, I'm not saying everyone in the world should adopt this particular system, but I believe we have to pick one. And I do believe this is better than most. What do you think, did I get something wrong. Should points really be awarded for a GWG? Are shutouts over valued?


10 Teams - Weekly Head to Head Match-ups

3 C  -  3 RW  -  3 LW  -  6 D  -  1 G  -  6 B  -  1 IR

Goal - 5
Assist -3
Plus/Minus - +/-1
Powerplay Goal - 2
Powerplay Assis - 1
Shorthanded Goal - 4
Shorthanded Assist - 3
Game Winning Goal - 2
Faceoff - +/-.2
Hit - .5
Blocked Shot - .5
Defensive Pts - .2

Goal Against - -3.5
Save - .5
Shutout - 10

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Five Reasons I Love Hockey

In the hockey world, there is no month more unholy than that of August. September brings us camp and exhibition games. The season runs from October to April. The playoffs carry us through May. The Cup is handed out in June. And the first of July is free agency frenzy. But August? August brings us nothing.

But the good people over at Puck Daddy did something to alleviate that feeling of hockeylessness this August. For the entire month they had a daily list of "5 Reasons I Love Hockey" by everyone from the incomparable James Mirtle to ESPN's Dave Dameshek to The Hockey Show's Carrie Milbank and her hot pants. And while I'm not really "a list guy" (in fact in the hundred odd EFotG posts there has never been "a list") I just couldn't let it get by me. So I thought, honestly, what are the five reasons I love hockey? Amazingly none of The Cutting Edge trilogy made the cut.

Pittsburgh in the Spring of '91
I've been watching professional sports from birth. It's really all I know. It's like breathing. But my earliest sports memories, those are of the Stanley Cup bound Pittsburgh Penguins in the spring of 1991. I remember getting off my school bus and walking into kindergarten, walking past the flag pole flying three flags: an American, a Pennsylvania State flag, and a Penguins flag. Pittsburgh in the spring of 1991 was unreal. It was a holiday-like atmosphere. Everyone was Penguins crazy, and the Penguins were everywhere. Jaromir Jagr and his euro-mullet had the female population swooning. Mario Lemieux had everyone in awe. I didn't quite understand everything that was happening, but I knew it was something that I wanted to be a part of.

Street Hockey
Like most, my love of watching hockey had a solid foundation in my love of playing hockey. And while unlike so many NHLer's in their youth, my parents weren't flying me 80 miles for a 6AM practice, my brothers and I did have an Mylec plastic hockey net and the street outside my house. It was there that we spent long summer days, knocking around a hockey ball with our plastic blade sticks, avoiding at all costs the dreaded street gutter. From that asphalt I could dream of wearing a Penguins sweater on the wing of Lemieux. To love the game you have to know the game, and you cannot truly know the game without lacing them up every once in a while.

NHL '94 for Sega Genesis
After leaving the suburbs of Pittsburgh for the Flyers territory of Wilmington, Delaware, lost was my ability to watch Penguins games on any sort of a regular basis. And even the Flyers games were only available to those who had a dish, a luxury not available in the Megahan household. So in between the playoff series and those select few nationally televised games, most of what I knew of not just the Penguins, but the rest of the league, came from SportsCenter highlights and the EA Sports NHL Series. And while NHL 94 wasn't my first hockey game, it was the one that cashed in on the promise of Ice Hockey, Blades of Steel, and NHLPA '93. Similar to the way kids growing up in the 1970s learned of the MLB through collecting baseball cards, those of us growing up through the 1990s knew what we did of the league through NHL video games. The game also fortified my already long standing belief that Lemieux was a deity skating among regular men. Cut to the slot, Shoot. Score. The man was always unreal.

NHL Center Ice
Wondrous as it maybe, NHL '94 can only go so far. Towards the latter half of the '90s the game seemed to garner more national television attention, first with Fox and then with ABC and ESPN. But it was not until the 2005-06 hockey season, after I had graduated from high school, got a job, and moved into a beat down apartment in the part of town you could not get a pizza delivered, that I finally landed NHL Center Ice. At long last I had all 82 games to bask in. It was the first year returning from the lockout. It was the first time we saw Crosby on the ice in a Penguins sweater, and it was the last time we saw Lemieux in action. Though rarely was it pretty. While Crosby clearly had the talent that we were promised, the season was a mess. In Ziggy Palffy's first year in Pittsburgh, he was never able to get anything going, and by the All-Star break he announced his retirement from the game. In his first and only coaching job, Eddie Olczyk, who had taken over the bench for the Penguins the seasons before the lockout, didn't last til the New Year. I loved the Penguins before that year, but watching them for 2 1/2 hours, 3 nights a week, for 6 1/2 months on NHL Center Ice to my love of hockey to a whole new level.

June 12th, 2009
With three sofas squashed into my parents living room, I sat (though more often I paced) with my brothers, dad, sisters and mother around the television. It was the 12th of June 2009, and it was the payoff.

I watch hockey because I love hockey. But all that time, everything I went through, that was my investment in the Pittsburgh Penguins franchise. Seeing Barrasso hiding underneath his net as the Florida fans rained plastic rats down on the ice while the Panthers were knocking the Penguins out of the '96 Easter Conference Finals. Losing to the Flyers, who were not only hated, but also the team of choice of all my classmates, in the longest OT game in modern NHL history. Falling in the Conference Finals to the New Jersey Devils in the first and the most successful season of Lemieux's comeback. Suffering through the Milan Krafts and the Konstantin Koltsovs. Impatiently waiting through he lockout. Heating up down the stretch of 2007, only to have the Ottawa Senators end our season in 5 games in the first round. Feeling like we just couldn't lose after going 12-2 through the Eastern Conference, falling down 3-1 to the Detroit Red Wings in the Stanley Cup Finals, finding life in the absolutely unbelievable game five overtime called shot from Petr Sykora, only to come up short and have the Wings win the 2008 Cup in Pittsburgh on Game Six. And on top of it all, having Hossa spurn the Penguins offers to sign with the Red Wings and get his "best chance at a Cup".

All of this, everything, was an investment. And that night, when the clocks hit zeros on the Game Seven of the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals, the gloves flew in the air, and the Cup was raise, that was the payoff.