All Things Hockey In The Carolinas

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Change it is a'comin

Some exciting news on the horizon here as we close 2008. Stay tuned my friends.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Ho Ho Ho

Happy Holidays to you and yours from COI.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Professional Chotchke Makers Union Must Be On Strike

I'm sure that most of our readers already know that I've got a thing about promo chotchkes. Specifically, I hate them; mainly because they are almost always cheesy. But when it comes to figurines and such, the Canes really take the cake. The above figurine is supposed to be Eric Staal. However, like the Brind'amour figurine from last year, this looks nothing like the actual player, but instead bears an uncanny resemblance to Erik Estrada or Ralph Macchio [with thanks to Cason Blog for picking up on the Macchio resemblance...]. WTF? Is it that hard to make a figurine that resembles Eric Staal? Jeez, if you can make one that looks like Ralph Macchio, how hard could it be to make one that looks like Eric Staal? Hell, for that matter, why can't they just make one that doesn't look like Ralph-frigging-Macchio, for god's sake!

Worse, the designers of this monstrocity apparently chose what appears to be Staal's signature pose after scoring a goal. I say "appears to be" because I haven't seen it enough this year to confirm that this is indeed that pose. In fact, I find it ironic that this is the pose they chose for this year. Didn't we just pay him $7 million a year not to score much anymore? It sure seems that way. Maybe they should've gone with the "I've got my money, so piss off" pose:

Maybe that is a bit unfair. After all, everything I hear in the media is about how Staal may not be scoring, but he is doing all these other little things (that we mere peons can't see or appreciate) so well that it somehow makes up for us not scoring goals and therefore losing hockey games. But that's another story altogether.*

So back to the chotchke. When I first saw this, I got that nagging feeling that you get when you see something reminds you of something else, but you just can't place what it is. Maybe it is someone you know or some incident from your past. As I had that thought, it hit me like a ton of bricks! I knew where I'd seen that face before:

Yep. It looks just like the face of those cheap blow-up sex dolls that hang on the wall behind the counter of every sleazy 'adult novelty' and peepshow store you've ever been in. Or at least it looks just like the ones hanging on the wall behind the counter of every 'adult novelty' and peepshow store that I've ever been in. The resemblance is uncanny.

Now, I know what you're thinking. "How many sleazy porn huts have you been in, East?" Well, the truth is, I've been to one or two in my time. It's not that I'm a bad person, mind you. It's just that College, Alcohol and an optimistic (though misdirected) spirit of adventure often conspired to lead me into places and situations that still amaze and astound me to this very day. But truth be told, the image of the blow-up doll face was burned into my brain on my very first foray into the seedy underworld of low rent porn shacks. I won't tell the entire story here, because it does not relate to hockey in any way, shape, form or fashion. But suffice it to say that the image of that doll face is burned into my brain because it was the first thing I saw upon entering my first sleazy porn shack, and it was the last thing I saw before the great big guy behind the counter grabbed me by the collar of my shirt and the waist of my bluejeans and threw me face first out the door and into a rock parking lot. Total time from entry to ejection: 18 seconds. It might've been a record; I don't know. But I digress...

I guess I just find it funny that it seems like every chotchke that this team comes up with (the Macchio-Brindy figurine, the defective car flags and now this) seems to be problematic or otherwise humorous in some fashion. Or maybe I'm just too critical. But just once, I'd like to see a figurine or bobblehead from this team that actually resembled a player and didn't look like Chachi from "Happy Days". But apparently that'll never happen, unless JR trades Scott Walker for Scott Baio.

Come to think of it, considering JR's decision to re-hire Mo, a Scott Baio trade might not be so far fetched after all...

[*Historically, whenever I've bitched about Staal slumping, he has usually broken out shortly thereafter. So, I'm piling on him right now. Unfair? Maybe. Necessary? Definitely...]

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Flyers @ Canes Gameday: They may still suck, but the tailgates don't

God bless Saturdays.

College football (go Pirates!). Sunshine. Cornhole. Brats. Beers. Good friends.

and some (hopefully) some fine hocka-ja-wee-ah.

Go Canes.

Friday, December 5, 2008

We're boned. Seriously...

I took a couple of days to cool off and think things over before I posted about the Hurricanes' recent tragic turn of events. Only I didn't cool off. And after some thought, I am not afraid to say it:

We're totally and deeply boned!!!

Now before any potential JR kool-aid drinkers get their panties in a wad, let me give the disclaimer: I loved Peter Laviolette as a coach. And I hated to see him fired. But I also think that something had to change, and maybe it was the right time for him to move to Tampa [Ironically, Rick Tocchet is giving 3 to 1 odds that this is where Lavi will end up]. And to be perfectly clear, I don't fault Paul Maurice for this. It's nothing personal. I think he is a nice guy and I can't blame him for accepting a coaching job rather than sitting around taking VCR repair courses at Regina Technical Institute and Beauty College. BUT...

WTF? Paul Maurice? Seriously? Why would they do that to us? I mean, damn! It makes no sense! I could understand if they'd threatened this in the week or so before season ticket invoices were due:

"Dear STH, if you do not renew your package by [applicable date], we will fire Peter Laviolette and hire Paul Maurice so you won't be able to enjoy the games on television either..."

But dammit, they already got my money! And, if they just wanted to be sadistic, they've got my address on my season ticket holder file. They know where I live. They could've just sent some random employee to come to my house, ring my doorbell, and then kick me square in the balls when I opened the door. It would've felt the same to me, but they would have at least gotten the satisfaction of seeing the shocked and pained expression on my face when they did it. But this? This is just senseless abuse.

And then, to add insult to injury, they don't even come out and say what they really mean. The least they could do is be honest with us and release a statement that says:

Dear loyal season ticket holder,

Thanks for your hard earned money. Instead of using it to improve the team, Mr. Karmanos has decided to buy that private island in the Bahamas he's always wanted. And a Porsche. We hope you enjoy the return of the boringest hockey ever played. If you're a good boy and don't boo, we'll paint Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart's numbers on the Zambonis and have the arena staff drive them in a counter-clockwise pattern during the intermission so you'll feel more at home. If you don't like it, go f**k yourself.

Sincerely yours,

The Management.

Nope. We aren't so lucky. To add insult to injury, they (the team, the NHL, the media) are spinning this like crazy; as if we are too stupid to see that this is nothing more than another cheapskate maneuver designed to pocket a greater percentage of our cash. They still believe that we are just a bunch of ignorant, inbred NASCAR fans who won't notice the difference. Don't believe me? Look around. Nearly every article contains this line (or one nearly identical):

"Maurice, 41, is the winningest coach in franchise history with 268 wins in 674 regular-season games."

Obviously, they believe that we are unable to do simple arithmetic. Unfortunately for them, I lernt my cipherin' in skool back in da holler, and I can subtract 268 from 674. And I can even subtract the 99 frigging ties and see that there's 307 losses to go along with those 268 wins. Yes, technically, he is the winningest coach in franchise history. But he's also undeniably the LOSINGEST COACH IN FRANCHISE HISTORY!!!

If "Mo" had more wins than losses, then I wouldn't bitch about the semantics of this. But when the guy has lost more games than he's won, it's pretty damn cheeky to pick the adjective 'winningest' over 'losingest', when both are legitimately on the table.

And they are also trying to whitewash the whole thing by saying that they are going to continue to play an aggressive and exciting style of hockey. Here's the quote:

"We are not going to try to change the identity of the team in terms of how it plays, because it's built a certain way," Maurice said. "It's built with speed and it's built to be aggressive. Because of that we're going to try to continue that. " (Emphasis added).

Really? That's good to know. So, 2 days into this glorious goat f**k, let's see what that statement really translates into:

"Before practice Friday, Maurice’s second with the team, the Hurricanes discussed their defensive positioning in the neutral zone, taking an approach Eric Staal called “not so aggressive, . . .”

Can you say "trap" and "dump and chase" boys and girls? I thought you could.

I could say a lot more, but I've already said enough. I can only hope that by some cosmic miracle, this works out for the Canes. But I'm not optimistic. Playing lockdown hockey with a bunch of "offensive defensemen" doesn't inspire my confidence. And if Thursday's game was any indicator of what is to come, it shouldn't inspire yours either.

Thats what happens when you STILL suck

To borrow the line from our friend Tim Gleason - the Hurricanes are still rather crap-tastic one game into the 2nd Paul Maurice era.

At the Pens game last night - the Canes came out firing but had little success getting quality shots on Danny Sabourin. Sabu is about as solid of a backup that one could ask for. Leighton was looking good to start the year but his last few games have exhibited why he has been traded 47 times over his career. Out of position, not controlling rebounds, etc.. are all quick ways to let the other team pounce - as Pittsburgh did successfully nearly every time the puck was around the Canes' net. Sigh, Cam Ward can't get healthy soon enough.

How bad does this Carolina team look right now? As bad as they've been since the pre-lockout '03-'04 season. Sure they've had some clunkers of games over the past 3 seasons but on a consistent basis they've been real bad for quite some time now.

Melichar and Dwyer went back to Albany today. Melichar because he blows (see post below), Dwyer because Williams is back to being healthy. Good on Pat Dwyer for his time here. He got his 1st NHL goal and was playing his part well on the PK. In comes Tim Conboy and Casey Borer.

I was real impressed with Borer last season and lauded his play earlier this year. Glad to see him get his chance again with the big boys. He looked pretty good in pre-season this year and was one of the final cuts. So far on the season with a struggling Albany squad: 1 goal, 3 assists in 21 games. Keep in mind that he's coming back from a horrible knee injury and surgery.

You have to like Tim Conboy as a Hurricanes fan - the energy, the fights, hell - even his offensive contributions. You have to despise him as a fan of any other team. With the departure of Keith Aucoin to free agency (btw, Tater Aucoin will probably be in the line-up for the Caps on Sunday) - Conboy is the new captain of the River Rats. His first shift with the Hurricanes was last year's home game with the Colorado Avalanche. He drops the gloves with Scott Parker - who appeared to be 5 feet taller than him. He got his ass handed to him - but props for showing no fear and standing up to the other team's goon.
But Conboy may very well be certifiably crazy. Like belongs in Dorthea Dix Mental Hospital crazy. During his days of college hockey, he pulled what's being described as a "Todd Bertuzzi like play". He got suspended for his role in this brawl at the end of AHL season for the Rats in April. He bit Steve Downie on the hand earlier this year. He apparently took a run at some Caps players last year and Japer's Rink now refers to him as "Clownboy".

Either way, his infusion into the Hurricanes line-up can do nothing but help this struggling team right now. If they're gonna suck - they at least need to go down biting fighting. We'll see what happens against Philly & DC sat/sun.

Josef Melichar: The shutdown defenseman?

Seriously, why didn't Rutherford just sign this guy:

to a 1 year contract? His astonishing ugliness would do a better job of scaring away opposing forwards than Melichar's "shut-down" skills. Adios, Josef. Get down to Albany and please, stay down. Even better, I hear that the new KHL in Russia is really awesome and they are looking for defensemen your type!

In fact, if they're shuffling the roster around - why not sign these two?
They at least look prepared to provide some emotion and humor to lighten up the locker room!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

It's Pens vs. Canes, Pensblog vs. COI

Pittsburgh still flying high into Raleigh tonight even as they lost to the Rain-jahs in a shootout last night. Everyone is curious to see how the team will react to one-eyed Paul being back behind the bench.

Oh yeah, and it's back-to-back nights of Staal Wars for Jordan as he played brother Marc in NY last night.

Interestingly enough, I'm squaring off against Pensblog Charlie this week in the Barry Melrose Rocks fantasy league. I'm off to a decent start through last night's games:

uh, "Do it." ?

Go Canes.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

In other news , John Grahame kicked out of KHL?

Listen, anytime you bring up the topic of John Grahame - people seem to jump at it from all angles to either pile on or praise him. In what unofficially became the post for his secret fan club, this one had folks coming back near every time the former Canes goalie won a game in the KHL this year to comment and inform.

So here's your update Grahame lovers/haters:

Things aren't looking so good for Crackers and his future playing career after this blurb shows up today in my inbox:

"More trouble for Avangard Omsk"

"Yesterday near the club “Atlantid” Grahame was noticed in an intoxicated state, after which a police squad arrived and took him to a detoxification center. Club president Konstantin Potapov and Avangard general manger Anatoli Bardin came shortly after to collect him from there. Later from a source in the club came information that the management of the Hawks is going to terminate the contract with the hockey player. Another option that is not ruled out is the possibility of trading the player. The press service of the club has not yet officially commented on the situation."- Russian site, Sports Planet

So let me get this right.. a man can't even get drunk in a bar anymore without losing his job? What's this world coming to?

Strange news as the Russian translation is so vague on the description of events. Was Grahame just seen drunk and buzzed? Was he found passed out face down on the sidewalk outside the club? Did he almost Jimi Hendrix/Jim Morrison himself?

I'm not sure what exactly went down, but I do know that he hasn't been playing well - and the team finding out that he's piss-drunk and being arrested to detox would get just about anyone dismissed from any pro hockey team. This one here hopes he can get his act together to at least make a decent back-up goaltender in the NHL one day. Perhaps he could consult current River Rat Dan LaCouture - who gave up alcohol for the betterment of his personal life and hockey career.

After all, if you can't handle your liquor - you shouldn't be drinking in the first place.

h/t Beyond the Blueshirts

Can Kristen Laviolette stay if Peter has to go?

Peter Laviolette gets canned this morning. Shock and awe prevails. I'll miss Coach Lavi and wish him the best. I'll also certainly miss his lovely wife Kristen.

Replaced by Paul Maurice? Really? Is that the best choice?

Reaction thoughts will be posted tonight.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Hurricanes make it a sucky November (again)

Had to get back on here if for no other reason than to have something other than a horse's choad staring directly back at me!

It's been an eventful past week and 1/2 or so for the Wuffy family. We're all moved in our new abode and life is good as a Cary-ite so far. Thanks to East of Here for spewing some brilliance in my absence here.

I didn't have cable TV set up for most of last week, thus I didn't catch much hockey action. From the looks of it, I didn't miss much Hurricanes wise as they continue their lose 3, win one, lose 3 trend.

Every Caniac out there seems ready to offer their reasons why this team isn't clicking. It's the casual co-worker who stops by your office with the "Damn man, what's wrong with the Canes?" spiel. Then there's the "esteban1949" type who apparently hit refresh on Lord Stanley's Blog once every 30 seconds waiting to comment with his optimistic approaches. Old COI friend Pokecheck is more of your pessimist here within the Canes' recent slide, eating rats and ready to give away her tickets after a loss.

Myself? I'm still undecided at this point about the team. The talent is present (enough) on the Canes to challenge near any team in the NHL. A lot of people here lately are ready to throw Jimmy Rutherford under the bus. With all he's done and the respect he can garner among the league - not to mention his longstanding relationship with Peter K - Jim is here to stay. Fuhgeddaboutit if you think there's a chance he'd get canned.

If there is one thing he's been able to do over his tenure, it's ice a quality team that glides under the league average. Note Bubba's great post @ Canes Country the other day regarding this specific topic of personnel expectations.

Justin Williams - ye of the injurious fate - returns to the fold this week hoping to stay healthy for a change. It doesn't get much more unlucky for the kid as he tore his ACL last winter, returned to hurt his back immediately months later and in pre-training camp his Achilles tendon snaps in a freak ordeal. He hasn't been playing any hockey, so at least he's been able to spend time with his wifey and their new baby. So he's got that going for him if doesn't have his health.

Justin's working on the powerplay unit today, so maybe he can score a PPG for the Hurricanes on Thursday seeming as they haven't had one since they were the Hartford Whalers. Guess who else was working on the ice to fix the struggling man-advantage? Ronnie Francis.

As they say, "he's in the best shape of his life".

Tell me THAT wouldn't be an awesome thing. I know he won't un-retire, but just thinking about the possibility gives me the heebie-jeebies.

Really, I don't know how to fix the Canes. Maybe a trade. Maybe a new coach. Maybe a house-full of esteban1949's every night at the RBC. The big kicker for me is that the big guns aren't towing their load in Raleigh this season.(not sure who's PS job this belongs to, maybe East's)

I'd rather pay to see a team iced with 4 lines of Brandon Sutters and Ryan Baydas who are ready to play balls-out night in and night out - than to shell out the cash to pay a hefty salary of a non-producing player. So maybe that's it - Staal wakes up, the team will follow.

Yeah! That'll fix them!

Go Canes!