"I let Erik take three or four bites of his meatballs before I ask him to give me his opinion. And much to my surprise, he has a favorable review.
"These taste just like the ones at home. I would definitely come here and eat my meatballs," he declares, wiping the lingonberry sauce from his chin.
And as much as I was surprised by his love for the IKEA meatballs, Erik had a bigger bombshell in store for me.
"You know, I've heard a lot of Swedish players in the NHL will go to the IKEA in their city to buy their food," he divulges to my amazement."
Monday, June 30, 2008
Friday, June 27, 2008
Here is the short, edited version with all the nasty stuff and below is the real time video of the brawls in three parts to further soak up the vibe of that night.
"What Neil did is not something to be proud of. I'm ticked off that a player like Neil would go after a player like Somik. If Martin says it's not his responsibility, then he doesn't have control of his bench."
Clarke had to be restrained from getting to Ottawa coach Jacques Martin outside the Senators' dressing room Friday night.
"I would not have hit him – I am not that stupid," Clarke told the Philadelphia Inquirer on Saturday. "But I would have confronted him."
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Then a very young Paul Romanuk from TSN blocks Sundin on his way to the podium for an interview that nowadays only takes place after the pick has put on the sweater and posed for the photos.
On top of that, Sundin has a nice full head of hair instead of the Mark Messier style he now sports and can barely speak a word of English.
If you had told anyone in 1989 (still the Harold Ballard years) that Sundin would go on to captain the Toronto Maple Leafs and become one of their most beloved players in history, they would have killed themselves rolling down the stairs in laughter.
Then Sundin tries to put on the team cap and he can't get it to fit so he lets it sit there, in essence making him look like a Kentucky truck driver.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
His casual, jokey demeanour belied a vicious temper that once in a while boiled over into an all out shit-show as seen below.
Here's Murray ripping into L.A. Kings broadcaster Jim Fox after a tumultuous game (which I had the the pleasure of seeing in person) in 2005 that saw Zdeno Chara pulverize a very frightened looking Tim Gleason and Brian McGrattan re-engineer Sean Avery's grill.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
"Rick Curran, who represents Roberts -- a veritable folk hero in his season-plus with the Penguins -- said yesterday that Roberts will continue playing, but not in Pittsburgh.
"He very much enjoyed his time there," Curran said. "But he understands that Ray [Shero, the Penguins' general manager] has a number of items on his agenda that would take priority."
Curran added that Roberts, 42, "most definitely" intends to continue his career and will decide where after reaching unrestricted free agency next Tuesday."
Monday, June 23, 2008
What a difference a year makes.
Last summer, the Senators were coming off their longest playoff run ever, losing to the Ducks in the Stanley Cup final, yet optimism was at an all-time high.
We all know what happened next but it is still shocking to see the state of disrepair that the Senators find themselves in after spending more than a decade accumulating talent and depth in the organization.
Going into the free-agency period, the Senators look like a team teetering on the edge of a major decline.
Let’s start with goaltending.
Does anyone truly believe that Martin Gerber is capable of leading a team, any team, to the Stanley Cup? In 12 career playoff games, Gerber has 1 victory.
If anything, Gerber excels only at being frustrating. His state of confidence seems to be so fragile that fans and management openly acknowledge that he can’t be pushed by another goaltender.
What kind of parallel universe are we existing in? An NHL goalie who cannot be pushed or his confidence crumbles?
And somehow, this is deemed acceptable. In fact, it’s generally conceded that the Senators will rely on Gerber once again next season after getting rid of the troubled but talented Ray Emery.
There’s no sense in debating spilled milk because Emery is already gone. Now the focus is squarely on Gerber and there is no indication that he can even handle the pressures of the regular season, let alone the playoffs.
Bruce Garrioch of the Sun, who led the rabid crusade to run Emery out of town, is suggesting the likes of Ty Conklin and Dwayne Roloson could be brought in to backup Gerber.
Does that sound like a Stanley Cup winning combination to you? Since when did the team switch their focus from being a champion to merely being average? Many people are surprised that Detroit’s Chris Osgood was able to win the Stanley Cup yet Martin Gerber is maybe half the goalie that Osgood is.
Goaltending should be the top priority going into free-agency but unfortunately, there are not a lot of options. The only one that makes any sense is Cristobal Huet. That’s not exactly a home run but he’s certainly an upgrade on Martin Gerber.
The defense still has a solid core in Chris Phillips, Anton Volchenkov and Andre Meszaros. Unfortunately the Senators don’t have that top-flight puck mover that every Cup winning team needs.
Detroit has Nicklas Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski. Anaheim has Chris Pronger, Scott Niedermayer and Mathieu Schneider.
Ottawa has Brian Lee.
If Bryan Murray can convince former Ottawa 67 Brian Campbell or ex-Hab Mark Streit to sign in Ottawa, things will be much rosier. Unfortunately their services will be in high demand, in particular Campbell's.
The forwards are in better shape but there is still no second line center. No matter how well loved Mike Fisher is, he’s more effective in a checking role than an offensive one. Garrioch reports that the chances are “slim” that Cory Stillman comes back so that even further depletes the skill up front.
The Senators now have an abundance of gritty forwards and defenseman but slowly the skill in the organization has been depleted outside of the Big Three.
Players that have or will walk out of the organization for virtually nothing include Wade Redden, Zdeno Chara, Martin Havlat (only Josh Hennessy remains from his trade), Tom Preissing, Mike Comrie, Cory Stillman (and if Stillman isn’t resigned, Joe Corvo and Patrick Eaves) and Ray Emery.
Not many organizations can take that kind of hit over three seasons and still call themselves Stanley Cup contenders.
That’s not to say that there isn’t hope.
Not many teams outside of Pittsburgh can boast the talent of Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley.
Bryan Murray is also a smart general manager and if anyone can reverse the fortunes of last season’s disaster, it’s him.
But are there too many vital weaknesses on this team that free-agency won’t be able to patch?
Saturday, June 21, 2008
"Every player has a down year, but I don't think I had the support of management. At the end of the year, I don't think they respected what I do. That makes it kind of hard to respect them. I took most of the blame for last year, and looking back, that was a mistake. It wasn't the best thing to do. The message from the staff was that [missing the playoffs] was my fault. How much can you blame one guy? Maybe they didn't do such a good job either."
"Karlsson has been compared to Detroit blueliner Niklas Kronwall.
Karlsson needs to get bigger, but those who have seen him play say that he "hits like a Mack truck" and has tremendous offensive skills that are going to help the Senators' power play down the road. "
- Ottawa Sun (Bruce Garrioch)
"He led all defencemen in points at the U-18 Worlds grabbing 7 assists in 6 games. He was selected as the best defenceman in the tournament. In 38 games with his junior club Frolunda, Karlsson averaged almost a point a game scoring 13 goals and adding 24 assists. His 68 PIM showed he may be small but is feisty. He also played seven games in the Swedish elite league where he scored a goal and registered a plus-2 rating. "
- USA Today
Friday, June 20, 2008
Thursday, June 19, 2008
It's too bad for McGrattan who wasn't really used by either John Paddock or Bryan Murray last year. Gratts is a better player than people give him credit for and he has always been popular in the dressing room (as most enforcers are).
Strange McGrattan fact: He once scored 20 goals in 31 games for the Mississauga Ice Dogs in 2001. In 143 games with the Senators he managed only 2 goals.
As for Carkner, he's a big mean sonafabitch but there is no guarantee he'll even make the team next year. If McGrattan is jettisoned, Murray better make sure he finds someone other than Chris Neil who is capable of handling the Steve Downie's and the Donald Brashear's of the league. The Senators might have been the toughest team in the league right after the lockout but with Zdeno Chara and possibly McGrattan gone, the organization is looking soft once again.
No matter what the pundits say, fighting and intimidation is still part of the game. Just because Anaheim suffered their predictable Stanley Cup hangover doesn't mean that their style is ineffective.
Here's a few Matt Carkner videos to ponder. The guy can certainly throw them.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
"Jacques knew I had this knee replacement surgery ... when we first talked I was still in hospital, and he said he'd call me again a week ago Thursday," said Pearn, who never received a call, which bothers him after learning about DeBoer's hiring on the sports channel ticker. "It's not the end of the world (that) I didn't get the job. People have to make the decisions they make, but what I can't accept is I didn't get a call.
"I spent eight years with the guy and was pretty good to him," ... "it was a bit shocking to read it on TV. I mean, if Jacques had called and said, I'm going in a different direction,' that would have been fine.
"I certainly didn't think I was a shoo-in by any stretch, or a front-runner, but I thought for sure I'd get an interview. I've been working really hard on my knee so I could travel (for a face-to-face meeting with Martin)."
- Edmonton Journal
"Panthers' captain Olli Jokinen has indicated to Florida's general manager Jacques Martin that he would like a trade. The big centre will continue to lure tons of interest, although one team suggests the asking price is marked at two young NHL roster players and a first round draft pick."
- TSN (Darren Dreger)
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
If Cam Neely is in the Hall of Fame, why not Bure?
Here's the relevant stats:
In case you've forgotten how good Bure really was, here's a few videos to remind you.
And now, "The Mother Of All Elbows". Bure had a nasty streak that people tend to forget. If this happened nowadays, Bure would have gotten 20 games.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
"If the Senators hire DeBoer, there's a strong belief in NHL circles that the club is going to need an experienced assistant coach.
Since former coach John Paddock is already under contract, there was one suggestion yesterday that the club might want to put him in that role with DeBoer. "
- Ottawa Sun (Bruce Garrioch)
- Mel Bridgman in 1992 after selecting yet another player in the Expansion Draft that wasn't available to be selected.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Monday, June 9, 2008
"Word on the streets - or at least in one small neighborhood - is that Bryan Murray likes two coaching candidates so much he's prepared to offer a job to both of them.The above rumored scenario has Bob Hartley taking over the head coach position and Craig Hartsburg being hired as an assistant, although it's possible the latter could be given a bigger role and title. Either way, it still sounds like Murray's short list has just the two names on it."
- Off The Posts
Thursday, June 5, 2008
"...I’d say he joins Ron Wilson as the best candidate on the market right now. Whether you liked Bob or not, his success with the Thrashers and Colorado is undeniable and it certainly doesn’t hurt his cause that the Thrashers went in the tank this season after he left. I think he’d be a great fit in Ottawa but I want him in the Southeast so I can deal with him eight times a year. I can’t be the only one who misses quotes like “no more Romper Room.”
- Thrashers Blog
"You look at the pieces, they have unbelievable good, young players. (Jason) Spezza and Dany are still young players. I think they have an unbelievable leader in (Daniel) Alfredsson. They have a pretty solid blue line. Young (Nick) Foligno showed in the playoffs he's a real one. (Mike) Fisher, (Chris) Neil ... I love Neil. I asked Don Waddell for Neil in that trade for Dany Heatley. They have some guys who can play a good role for the Senators when it comes to grinding.
The season is finally over and it ends with the Detroit Red Wings lifting the Cup for the 11th time in their history. Bring on the "closest the Cup will ever get to Toronto" jokes. A great win for an excellent organization.
What's almost as good is Chris Chelios telling a Detroit reporter on NBC that he plans to play in the NHL next year. "I don't need to go out on top." If he's come this far, he might as well go for Gordie Howe's longevity record.
The only black mark on an otherwise stellar night for the league was moronic CBC reporter Scott Oake interviewing Darren McCarty after the win and bringing up McCarty's past substance abuse problems while McCarty's kids were hanging off his sides.
The question was along the lines of "Substance Abuse to the Stanley Cup. How do you feel?"
I'm sure McCarty felt just dandy about Oake bringing up the subject in front of his kids. Nice work Oake. Really classy. Perfect timing.
For the best blog coverage of the final you can head to some of these great Red Wing and Penguin-centric blogs like From Abel To Yzerman, Pensblog and Empty Netters.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
"The only concern with Tortorella is the amount of power this guy wants," a league executive said. "He wants to make sure that everything in the organization is done his way."
- Ottawa Sun
"Murray said yesterday his new coach would likely come from a group of candidates he had already spoken to -- meaning that Tortorella isn't necessarily on his radar. ...
"I heard I was waiting for a particular guy on another team ... that's not true," Murray said. "Very definitely the people I'm talking to, I've got permission to talk to, and, at this point in time, I'm going to hire one of them."
- Ottawa Citizen
So it looks like Murray is set to hire either Bob Hartley, Craig Hartsburg or Peter DeBoer who is slated for an interview today according to Warren.
To Black Aces, both Hartley and Hartsburg aren't very appealing but DeBoer looks promising if all the accolades NHL insiders are heaping on him is true. Hartsburg has a very spotty NHL record as head coach even though he has been successful in every other league. That sounds exactly like John Paddock actually.
Bob Hartley just seems like a miserable sonofabitch though he has a penchant for loving tough hockey, so that might be an improvement in this pacifist organization. You can be sure there would have been some retribution on Steve Downie if Hartley had been coach instead of Paddock last season.
There's a part of me that would like to see Tortorella coach of the Senators, if only to see him in scrums telling reporters like Garrioch to "f**k off" which he did to Larry Brooks last year.
A mean sonofabitch coach would be a refreshing change in Bytown but it sounds like Murray has his mind made up already.
"Holmgren, who sources say held several discussions with Murray before Monday's GMs' meetings in Detroit, might be willing to offer winger Scottie Upshall or centre R.J. Umberger, who is a restricted free agent after making $1.25 million last season, for Meszaros.
"You have to be careful about giving up defencemen because everybody is looking for them," a league executive said. "Especially, young defencemen. That's where you have to be careful. You can't just give up on a guy because he's had a tough couple of years.It seems I just wrote about this the other day. Giving up on Meszaros, even for players like Scottie Upshall or the overrated R.J. Umberger (remember Fernando Pisani?) would be foolish and get this team nowhere. Murray must do everything he can to protect the remaining skilled players on this team, including Jason Spezza, who would be winning scoring titles for another team if the incredibly short-sighted Ottawa fans had their way.
"Sure, it's going to be hard to pay (Meszaros), but you have to find a way. (The Senators) used to have the best blue line in the league."
- Ottawa Sun
"this email from a source in New York...That is right up there with some of the insane rumours that Eklund has posted in his time but it is truly hard to imagine Sundin in red and black. There just seems like too much enmity over the years from both sides.
"Mats Sundin WILL return to the NHL and not to the Maple Leafs, However he wants to stay in Canada and in the East. The Canadiens are preparing a major offer, although Dan Alfredsson is making a big pitch as well. Look for Sundin to see who is taking over in Ottawa as coach before making his decision."
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
"An NHL source — not connected with either team — advises that the Sharks and Columbus are indeed close to a deal. San Jose would send Marleau and another player (unspecified) to the Blue Jackets for their first-round draft pick — 6th overall in the NHL entry draft later this month — and right wing Nikolai Zherdev."
Fans of the Senators should be watching this deal closely. Patrick Marleau was once thought to be targeted by GM Bryan Murray to fill that second line centre slot but for various reasons, the trade never materialized. It has also been speculated that Murray wants to land free-agent Brian Campbell to replace Wade Redden but the Sharks may have some money to throw at Campbell with Marleau's salary off the books
If this deal does go through, Murray's "Plan A" possibly goes right out the window. Instead of Campbell, Murray will be looking into the likes of Mark Streit and Michael Rozsival etc. In other words, second-tier free agents.
With Cory Stillman, Chris Kelly, Wade Redden and Mike Commodore ready to hit the open market, there could be some major problems with no apparent solution come July 1st.
Monday, June 2, 2008
"In terms of big-name results, Nikita Filatov of Red Army was the most anticipated of his section. In fact, if you judged on how many people were gathered, you'd conclude watching Filatov do curl-ups was the most entertaining thing in the world to watch.
Filatov did better than some expected on the bench press, lifting the 150 pounds six times. And while he seemed to have a good time with the Vertec jump, his 1.8 was one of the lowest totals scored (Drew Doughty was slightly lower).
The VO2 was Filatov's undoing. Maybe there were some translation issues, but it looked as though he gave up a couple times. At one point, an official braced to catch him, as it looked like he would fall over. When he was finished, Filatov looked as though he had gone 12 rounds with a prizefighter: He wobbled back and forth and really didn't seem to know where he was."
- The Hockey News