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Archive for June, 2008

It took me a little while to notice, but the Dallas Stars have some adorable Draft Day videos up on DallasStars.com.

Steve Ott looks about the same age now as he did back in 2000 when he was the Stars’ first pick. Even on the day he was drafted, they knew he was going to be an agitator. He was a big-time scorer with the Windsor Spitfires, too.

Stu Barnes looks so adorable! Look at that smile! He was drafted by the Winnipeg Jets (defunct) in 1989 and he “[struck] a blow for the little guy,” according to the announcers. He already had a reputation for being a character guy and it has proven to be well-deserved.

Brenden Morrow was unfortunately nicknamed “Chunks” as a kid, apparently, but I think he’s showed them. He also was just dripping with adorability as a kid. The announcers in 1997 thought 5′ 11″ was a lack of size. Times have changed.

And Mike Modano was the cutest of all. He was the first overall pick in 1988 and he was pretty overwhelmed, I think. There was talk all the way up to the moment of the first pick that it could either be he or Trevor Linden. He is embarrassed today by that haircut, but I’d venture to say it wasn’t his worst over the years. He made up for it by wearing a normal suit. In 1988 there was no telling what kind of outfit he could have chosen. His y’know-laced interview is priceless. He said he hoped to turn around the club and did he ever. That was twenty years ago.

The Draft just might be my new favorite thing.

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I love Niklas Hagman. Just love him.

I love his penalty killing. One of the moves he often uses is staying up high, just a little below the point men of the opposing power play, and watching for a chance to intercept a pass between them. When he gets that chance (and he often does), he grabs it and runs. As a result, he had four shorthanded goals this past season.

I also get hypnotized by his stickwork and his footwork while he’s on the PK. His stick is constantly moving, trying to disrupt any passes, and his feet are constantly moving ready to go in any direction.

Nik is a guy that shoots. This season he found the net a lot. He also had a huge number of breakaways where he didn’t score. He’s so fast and so aware of the rest of the ice, that he gets breakaway chances, sometimes two or three of them in a game.

With all the setup guys on the team, we need shooters like Nik Hagman. His hat trick from three of Brad Richards’ five assists against the Blackhawks shows how a guy like Richards can use a guy like Hagman.

And he can really fly. We’ve seen him several times catch up with an opponent who’s gotten past the defense, and he can escape to open ice very well. He zips around the ice like crazy, stopping and starting and dodging and darting. It’s really fun to watch.

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The NHL has released the details of next year’s salary cap.

NEW YORK/TORONTO (June 26, 2008) – The National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players’ Association announced today that the Team Payroll Range established for the 2008-09 League Year, pursuant to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, provides for a Lower Limit of $40.7 million, an Adjusted Midpoint of $48.7 million and an Upper Limit of $56.7 million.

The National Hockey League canceled an entire season to get a salary cap for the supposed purpose of reining in player salaries, and after three seasons, the floor is higher than the original ceiling.

It’s kind of funny that the teams that were really crying poor and calling for a salary cap before the lockout, are now required to spend more than the original $39-million cap they insisted on.

When the cap was installed, the feeling also seemed to be that the player that spends his whole career with one team would be rare, and the salaries would be held in check despite the GMs of the League.

But there have been quite a few players signing extremely long deals. Vinny Lecavalier is apparently about to sign a nine-year deal for an average of $8.5 million a year. Alex Ovechkin signed a thirteen-year deal. Rick DiPietro is currently in the throes of his fifteen-year deal.

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I really don’t know where to start to recap the trip to Ottawa. That’s why it’s taking me so long to post something. I just don’t know where to start.

IPB and Top Shelf and The Humming Giraffe all have great stories about the weekend, so check them all out.

In the meantime, I might have to bite this project off in small pieces in order to get it done.

I’ll start by saying how hugely entertaining everybody was that I met there. I got to meet Pookie and Schnookie and Heather B. and Meg and alix and Hockeygirl in person for the first time and they were all even cooler than I had hoped. Every single one of them.

Schnookie and Heather were careful to keep reminding us all that the actual NHL Draft ceremonies were going to be excruciatingly dull and we should be prepared for that. They didn’t think going to it would be dull, but the actual drafting of teenage boys that we won’t even hear of again for a few years might not hold our interest.

But damned if it didn’t. The actual drafting process was full-on fascinating. We headed out to the arena at about 4pm or so and walked past the “fest” that was basically a handful of bounce houses and the obligatory (yet kinda cool) giant inflatable hockey player.

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We all went down to the arena for the second day of the Draft. The Stars didn’t have any picks in the first round, so today was their turn.

For their second pick of the day, at 89 overall (round 3), they picked Scott Winkler from Russell Stover. I am not making that up.

Russell Stover has a team in the Mid West Elite Hockey League. I have absolutely no understanding of the amateur hockey systems that feed the NHL, but it appears that it’s AAA Midget and that the next step up would be Junior B, then Junior A, where most NHL draftees are from. It seems to be on the level of elite high school teams.

I had to look it up the minute I got back to the hotel room, to make sure Brett Hull wasn’t just doing a bit. If he was, they all fell for it.

Several high school players from Minnesota were drafted this weekend, so it’s not unusual, I guess, to take kids from that level.

The rest of the Stars picks were fairly routine.

2nd round 59th overall TYLER BESKOROWANY Goalie
3rd round 89th overall SCOTT WINKLER Center
5th round 149th overall PHILIP LARSEN Defenseman
6th round 176th overall MATTHEW TASSONE Center
7th round 209th overall MIKE BERGIN Defenseman

I’ll have a separate post later that describes just how much fun the NHL Draft was. Because it was a lot of fun. I just had to point out that we got a player from Russell Stover.

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Patty’s (in Ottawa)

All of you that thought going to the NHL Draft would be excruciatingly boring, raise your hand. Well, you’re wrong. We had a great time. We even talked to an Ottawa fan who was very nice.

But, it’s really really really late, so let’s just check our list, and I’ll have more later.

Buffalo, NY
Niagra Falls
A Great Lake
The Canadian Border
Canada
The NHL Draft

Whoa. Looks like I’m done! Tomorrow is all elective.

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Patty’s (in Buffalo)

I made it to Buffalo! 
Heather B. picked me up at the airport and gave me a really nice tour of the lovely city of Buffalo. Mostly houses. I love looking at houses. It was very sweet of her to drive me around.

We also drove right by Lake Erie. It was right there next to the highway. As if it were just an everyday thing to be a Great Lake.

Tomorrow we’ll head up north and across the border.

Let’s see how we’re doing on the list so far…

Buffalo, NY
Niagra Falls
A Great Lake
The Canadian Border
Canada
The NHL Draft

So far so good!

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