Friday, September 28, 2007

They Always Catch The Retaliation

This hot topic in the NHL this week wasn't about the fact the season starts this weekend. It was about an ugly hit by Steve Downie on Dean McAmmond. The topic has been debated into the ground since McAmmond's head bounced off the ice on Tuesday night. Was the hit late? Did Downie leave his feet? Did he hit him with the shoulder or was it an elbow? Being a hockey fan, I can't go without putting in my two cents either. The hit was a bit late, but not by very much. I don't think Downie left his feet as much as he leaned into the hit. I don't think it was an elbow. I also think that Downie didn't have to make a hit like that in pre-season hockey, which speaks volumes of his character that has always been in question as it is.

The kicker to this saga is that the entire ordeal could have been avoided.

This hit was 100% retaliation on Downie's part. Just 30 seconds before he hit McAmmond, Downie was hit, from behind and face first, into the boards by Chris Schubert. There should have been a call immediately at that point in this hockey game. A hit from behind is just as big of an issue as a hit to the head in today's NHL. Yet the refs turned a blind eye and Downie went head hunting. Downie got the match penalty, which is the right call, but Schubert got off scotch free. They always get the retaliation.

Then again this is just a damned opinion.

~ damned
The NHL Arena

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Fans Don't Have To Hate Them

The new jerseys are always worth a decent discussion regardless of where you go. Getting past the new 'edge' concept, you come to notice that yes, teams are looking to increase revenue, and yes, teams are trying to make the game 'look' faster. When it boils down to the nitty gritty, the jerseys really aren't that bad.

My initial reaction was heavily biased considering I prefer the same old game, and this is just another perfect chance to harp on the NHL for going in a direction that was not considering tradition. This year marks a serious change in the way we may perceive the game, and it may honestly make the games rule changes more apparent. This year, it will be quite obvious if you are able to grab onto another players jersey and pull him. No more flimsy jerseys that can make a call both ways. If you can get a hold of these jerseys, you are doing something you shouldn't be doing.

Then there were the seven templates available to teams. Don't get me wrong, they kept their colours, but did they keep their dignity?! Ottawa, Tampa Bay, and Pittsburgh all have the same template, with a different colour scheme. While this is not obvious, when you look at the two jerseys side by side, it is terribly apparent. So much for making these teams stand out!

There have also been complaints about the heat being caused by the jerseys. The most common trend here is how many veterans say their gloves and undergarments are soaked by the end of the game. I have a solution for you. Stop complaining! Drinking water and sweating are two natural things, and as long as you are doing both, you are perfectly fine.

Let's assume these guys are still getting their paychecks at the end of the year. Can anyone honestly tell me the last time they had a job that allowed them to complain about something as miniscule as sweat because of a jersey? The only acceptable argument I have heard is the durability of the jerseys, and whether that may cause harm.

Everything else is just another millionaire swimming upstream, trying to latch onto some media. Don't hate the jerseys. If someone can love the new Reebok 'O' stick, which is about as non-traditional as it gets, anyone should be able to love these jerseys. Remember folks, you aren't cheering for fashion, you are cheering for the team.

~ srotaneS
The NHL Arena


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Error 406, Not Acceptable

While I am mostly just a Sabres poster on the NHL Arena, there is a real man behind the moniker known as "Atma". Part of my time away from the Arena is spent working as a web developer for a start up ISP Reseller, as well as a free lancer. I've been doing web development since I was 17, which totals roughly 8 years of previous experience. I've hand written everything from blogs to commerce sites to classified ad programs, so I have some sort of idea of what I like.

Let me tell you this is not just a self promotion tool to try to get some business. There's something I've noticed as a web developer that bugs the ever living crap out of me, especially when it comes to hockey.

This is the's implementation of their so called "media".

Sabres pre season games in this region are hard to come by unless you listen on the Internet. Luckily I live in an area where I get MSG and Versus, so I won't miss anything as far as the regular season. However, this pre season has been a nail biter, and not because the Sabres are 1-2. It's because certain aspects of the interface when it comes to their score sheets, to their implementation of has been, IMO, sheer crap at best.

Lets start with the score sheets. I was home to listen to the Wild/Sabres game on WGR 550. Unfortunately, that's the only method I had to keep up. Steer away for a second and you missed out on who scored what goal. Why? Because something glitched on the NHL site and while the scoreboard was rolling on the score section, all the links weren't active. It was if the game wasn't even being played.

Bummer. I had to wait for RJ to tell me Rolston scored the second goal for the Wild.

Speaking of score sheets, during the two games I did get to see a score sheet during the pre season, I couldn't have honestly told you who was playing in net for either team. Last year they had this information readily available. This year, it's missing. I think it's vital to me to know that Thibault and the Sabres were choking on the PP during their pre season opener, but I couldn't have told you that without paying especially close attention to the radio broadcast.

To their credit, they've implemented some interesting stats, like shots taken 5 on 3, 4 on 3, so on and so forth. However, I'd like to know which goalie is playing in net. This is important to me being that until Vanek made his way onto the Sabres roster, I was a goalie man.

And where'd the auto refresh go? That was useful, fellas. is another debacle all together.

I totally don't live in Ciecro, NY. However, that's where I had to say I lived just to successfully sign up for the service. checks your IP address against ARIN's records to figure out your "billing address". To summarize, your IP Address is a unique identifier on the Internet which permits information to be transferred to and from your computer. ARIN is in charge of registering these IP addresses to your Internet Service Provider, and the IP addresses need a physical address. Being that I live in PA, but the ISP I use is based out of NY, suddenly my billing address is somewhere in NY, roughly 200 miles away from where I'm physically located.

This also means that I'm blacked out from the Sabres/Leafs game that played 9/26/07 according to

Also, for a while, I couldn't access the games that were currently playing on the day of the week we were on. I could access yesterday, even though the feeds weren't there, and tomorrow's games, which haven't been played yet, but today's games were a wash.

In my opinion, these glitches are totally unacceptable. To build your web presence and gain fans, you need to have a perfectly functioning system. I can accept the TV black out rules, but they shouldn't apply on the Internet. And when they do, I should be able to access an alternate feed anyway, preferably on the day of the week I'm currently on. I shouldn't need a time machine to watch a Sabres game on the Internet.

I figure at best they have a week to get this stuff fixed. This geek is highly unimpressed with their current system, and for all intents and purposes, maybe a time machine should be in my budget. At least I'd get to see the stats and games I'd want to see, opposed to the current bumbling that the NHL is providing me here and now.

~ Atma
The NHL Arena


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It's All About The PRE

Preseason has only a few more days left and then the games that count towards the standings will begin in earnest. So, what have we learned about the teams in the NHL for the 2007-2008 season?

Well, in the Central division, the off-season disaster city of Nashville, once sold and moving, then just selling players, will win that division, with Detroit sliding in second place. Phoenix rises in the Pacific after being burned the last few years by the Great One, earning a playoff spot behind the Sharks of San Jose. Boston and Toronto will finish ahead of the Buffalo Sabres after a free signing period that just left the horned beast desperate for any players who even knew what a flat sheet of ice is. And the New York Islanders will win the Atlantic ahead of the Devils, Rangers, and the Penguins, who with their impotent offense will score the least amount of goals in the league.

And remember, you heard it here first.

Yeah, right.

This is PRE-season. Put the emphasis on the PRE. Some people put so much stock in a preseason result that they sell off their season tickets and dump the players on their fantasy team based on what happens for few games in early September. If any of these coaches sent their players on the ice for the sole purpose of a victory, they would be fired before people in NFL cities realize hockey season started.

It's all about the PRE. Getting PREpared, having PREsence, and PREventing injuries. Newbies are tested, veterans are rested, and good teams get bested. (Bested?) Relax if your team is in last place and you know they are better than that, and don't get too cocky if your team is in first place and deep in you hockey brain, not you hockey heart, you know they won't be there in April.

Enjoy the games with an open mind or may be eating crow with an open mouth.
~ Ogre1Kanobe
The NHL Arena


Saturday, September 22, 2007

Someday I'm A Saturday Nite.....

Yes indeed, I have further expanded my horizons...and headed straight to The War Room. With trademark cider in hand,
I bring an East Coast view from the West Coast and all the way back again. So what do we have this week??? Simple,
the first week of preseason action is pretty much in the books. So what teams are looking good? I can tell you one doesn't matter. Players are trying to get in shape. However, I noticed with the growing trend of strange injuries during this preseason....that some of the guys are inconspicuously absent so far.

One such player is Martin Brodeur. He has not played a minute this preseason. Now, don't worry Devil fans....Marty is not hurt. AS a matter of fact, he has been seen in numerous practices. According to Coach Sutter, Marty has been looking better and has trimmed off about 5 to 10 pounds from last year's frame. I didn't think he would be in better shape but hey, this is a good thing. Expect him to see some action Monday night....against the hated Flyers. If he doesn't, hell I might even start wondering what in the blue Hades is going on.

In other news....yes I am going to touch the schedule change anticipated for next season....with one simple point.....IT'S ABOUT TIME!!! This was a worse kept secret than Gomez signing with the Rangers...worse than Kevin Lowe using offer sheets this offseason. Now hopefully they come to a schedule that everyone can agree on. This is an awful lot to ask given everything but something along the lines of 6 meetings within the division...4 meetings within the conference...1 time thru the entire Western Conference and then 3 wildcard matchups...could be any team outside that team's division. Not a bad plan..alas I doubt the NHL will come up with that because it's too obvious.

Has everyone seen their team's new jerseys yet? I have to say I was pleasantly pleased by the Devils new has the kept the same basic traditions that the old jersey had. Hell, I may even buy a replica when they come out in the hockey catalogs. Some jerseys have not gone over so the Canucks and Stars jerseys. At least to me, the Canucks jersey just looks dreadful...I am not sure what they were thinking. The new Stars jerseys at least aren't as bad as the old bovine jerseys which may have been worse than the late 70's, early 80's Canuckistan jerseys. Scary to think how far this has come and yet how many ugly or nice direction hockey jerseys can go.

Finally, this is just the beginning. Next week, who knows what will be in store as it's just another Saturday way out west. Have a great weekend and next Saturday, there will be some regular season hockey to talk about and a Loren sighting perhaps at the Ducks-Kings game.

~ Stevens8204


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Friday, September 21, 2007

The Next Train

The NHL Board of Governors had their first meeting of the year this past Tuesday. When they came out of the days meeting it was announced, that come November, the Board would be voting on the format that the NHL is scheduling it's games. It's expected that they will be changing back to the format that would see each team play each other at least once every season. The current format, one that is despised by most hockey fans, has East and West teams playing each other once every 3 seasons on a rotating bases. So it would seem that the NHL and Gary Bettman may have finally got something right. Fans, including myself, love that fact that some of our favorite players across the NHL will be seen on a more regular bases. Hockey forums are lit up with praise that the right call has been made and hockey fans are looking forward to the change. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

The problem is this, that light, is the next train wreck heading into Grand Central NHL.

The second topic of discussion by the Board of Governors was expansion. A topic brought up by none other then Gary Bettman, who has taken the NHL down this slippery slope once already. The NHL has 30 teams. Some of which can be argued do not belong as it is. So why are we thinking about, let alone talking about, adding more? Will teams in Las Vegas, Seattle, or Kansas City really make the NHL a better league? I think not. In fact I will argue that the NHL should contract and of course I will tell you why.

The NHL is a water downed product.

It simply does not have enough high end players to go around. Aside from the select few, the make up of most teams in the NHL is two or three "Star Power" names and then 3 lines of "Energy" players. Think about it, just take the time to run 10 teams through your head and tell me I am wrong. My Oilers have Hemsky and Souray. The Dallas Stars have Modano and Zubov. The Jackets have Rick Nash and ........ Rick Nash. The Canucks have the Sedins and whoever plays on their line. In most cases you will come up with 3-4 names on a team of 23-24 players that you could consider a star player. So what if we made the NHL a 20 team league instead of a 30 team league? The hockey would be better. Period. You would have line combinations on teams that you will NEVER see in the NHL today and with the cap system that is in place, the talent would be forced to be spread across the 20 NHL teams instead of just with the Rangers. A smaller NHL would but the best players on the ice in stronger doses and keep players, that just take up space in the 30 team league, in the AHL where they belong.

Then again, this is just a damned opinion.

~ damned

The War Room


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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Leave It The !@#$ Alone!

I think I'm the only person that I've seen right now that could defend this point of view. It ought to cause a mild drizzle, but not an uproar.

Leave it the !@#$ alone! starts a new article by saying “Sid the Kid will play every team in the NHL next season.”

I immediately know what I'm going to read, without reading the remainder of the article.

The NHL plans on ridding themselves of what they consider an unbalanced schedule at the end of the year. A schedule mostly structured in the vein of the NFL, where conference and more importantly, division rivalry were to be emphasized in an attempt to develop some tension between fans of opposing teams. A schedule, which if given a better chance, might have had great success at doing just that. It would've been a schedule which drove up revenue all around the board for more than just the one game that Sidney Crosby shows up at.

But no, the NHL doesn't know well enough to leave it alone.

While NHL owners blow smoke up each others behinds and put Sidney on the pedestal of the money deity, I predict that in 5 years when we've had enough of Sid the Kid, everybody, owners and fans alike, will be whining for another schedule change. The excuse again will be there is no real rivalries in place, even though we only lose maybe 8 games a season, tops, within divisions.

I can pretend to hate a team for a year just to watch the next game, which by then I would've grown enough apathy to not give a damn about. At least the current system would've given me the opportunity to see the said rivalry between 2 to 3 more times, instead of the proposed 6 inter divisions and home-and-home series games we're probably going to get stuck with.

The only winners here are the Canadian teams whom already have enough hockey love to support such a change. You might sell out a building when Sid comes around in the US, but you're not going to really build any momentum with passion when you face 25 other teams twice a year.

Good luck Board of Governors. I'll be looking forward to your next proposed schedule change in a few years.

~ Atma

The War Room

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I Had It All Figured Out

Michael Vick was coming by to watch the dogs. Mark Bell was going to drive me to Buffalo, and I was going to sit in the hopefully freezing Bills' Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y., to watch the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Buffalo Sabres play an outdoor hockey game. Then I heard the bad news yesterday. Forty-two thousand tickets went on sale at 10 AM and all were gone in 40 minutes. It was bad news for me, but good news for hockey.

Along with the games across the pond in merry ol’ England, this preseason has got off to a pretty good start. This is the first time an NHL regular-season game has been played outdoors in the United States, and the first time the NHL has attempted to run this type of event. Host Edmonton ran the previous outdoor game, in 2003.

The speed at which the tickets were sold surprised many NHL officials who were worried they may be stuck with a glut of tickets and a white elephant event. Granted, a fair amount of those tickets sold have already found their way to the auction houses of the Internet, but even that shows how popular some people feel this sport has become again. If you think you are going to make a buck scalping these tickets, there must be a demand out there for it.

These steps and more are needed by the NHL to bring the sport back into its top four standing after suffering the “Year That Wasn't”. More people exposed to the sport will bring in the casual sports fan and bring back those upset at what happened a couple of years ago.

So, the '07-'08 season will begin soon and die-hard fans will be trying to convince their friends that this is a sport to be watched. And now it seems the NHL is finally trying to do that too. It’s about time.

Well, time to go a sit in my memorabilia room and wait to watch the “Ice Bowl” on television. O.J.’s coming over with some friends to see the stuff he gave me.

~ ogre1kanobe


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A Dying Breed?

A savvy veteran is a very important and heavily sought after player in the NHL nowadays. But what are you really getting for your buck? Some of the most influential players on each team are the confident and well known veterans, yet these are the same people who play as though they are walking on egg shells if they even hint on injury.

Bubble players are the worst. Scott Niedermayer can not decide whether to retire, or play for another season. Lucky for the Anaheim Ducks, Matthew Schneider, another bubble type veteran player was signed during the off-season, only to injure his fragile and aging body in the first pre-season game. Of course, that is not enough for the Ducks, who find themselves waiting on a rehabilitated Teemu Selanne, who had an incredible rebound season last year, and is now considering the same future dilemma that Scotty is pondering.

Now, having three guys with career numbers like that would draw saliva to any GMs mouth, but is it enough? Frankly, it is not. The new NHL has given birth to a couple new forms of player. The first, and most important is the hybrid player. This is the guy everyone looks to for the big goal or pass, and the big hit. He is fast, yet finds a way to be patient as well. This is the type of player that can easily replace the leadership that a veteran like Selanne can bring.

The second player form introduced after the pansy rules were implemented is the energy player. This is the guy that skates with more heart and intent than anyone else on the ice. This guy can hit, score, fight, pass, talk, and lead. This is the type of guy that replaces the grit and knowledge that a guy like Niedermayer will typically possess.

Why are they important? They do not break like fine china. Comparably, they are the plastic polymer of the nhl, and they last for more than one or two seasons.

This is where it gets simple. Teams who pay energy players and hybrids fair far better in the long run than those who blow their wads on veterans. If you want an example, go to Columbus and see how many times Sergei has iced his elbows in the past year, and compare his salary (6.08 cap hit) to someone who is actually a spark plug to his team. Columbus can not afford to be this absent minded.

~ srotaneS