Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Bob Ridley: all time classic

Bob Ridley is awesome.  He's been calling Medicine Hat Tigers games on the radio since 1970.

The new barn in MH will feature the Bob Ridley Broadcast Booth.  He's called 3,000 Tigers games - and been recognized for that accomplishment.

He's a 2000 inductee to the Alberta Sports Hall Of Fame:

The elephant in the room?  The dude drives the Tigers bus.

I love interviews where they are all, "That's so cool when you used to drive the bus..."  "Well, I still do..."

I've only listened to a few of his calls, but they feel like a baseball game to me:  lots of great stories sprinkled in with play X play work.  He's a classic, for sure - and 'Hawks fans tuning into the webstream will be treated to a legend for this game.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

I love it when Swift Current comes to town

The Swift Current Broncos are coming to town on Friday.   We only see them in Portland once every two years, which is a shame.  There's lots of history with this team.

Both times that Swift Current won the WHL, they beat the Winterhawks in the final.   The entire city of  Swift Current would fit in the Rose Garden (pop. 14,946) - its the smallest market in the entire CHL.  Their rink only seats 3,239.

The Broncos are community owned, rather than having a single owner like Mike Gallagher or Paul Allen.  In fact, the Broncos would love for you to purchase a share of the team.

The Pipeline Show has interviewed several current Broncos lately, and they have some interesting players right now.

My favorite thing about the SC Broncos is the shoulder patch honoring the 4 retired numbers for that franchise:

  • Trent Kresse
  • Scott Krueger
  • 11 Brent Ruff
  • 22 Chris Mantyka

These are the 4 players who lost their lives in a bus crash on 12/30/86.  With the millions of miles that teams put on every year, we are fortunate that this isn't more common.  I found an in depth ESPN piece about it, as well as the crimes committed by their coach at the time: Graham James.

Gregg Drinnan is one of the authors behind a book about this era of Broncos:  Sudden Death The Incredible Saga of the 1986 Swift Current Broncos.  The voice of the Broncos, Shawn Mullin, had an interesting interview with Drinnan about the book.

Joe Sakic was on that bus.  He walked away unharmed, but never wanted to speak about the incident.  he married a girl from Swift Current, and they return during the summers.

Several other players on that fatal bus ride contributed to the Broncos 1989 Memorial Cup.  

I remember when Sheldon Kennedy made his story known about the abuse suffered under James.  It shocked the conscience.  I think we saw Theo Fleury's demons on and off the ice during his career.   One has to wonder if there were more players involved.

The Broncos have a history that we should know about:  stories of resilience & overcoming dire circumstances as well as horror stories that we must do what we can to keep them isolated incidents.   Its a shame that we, as 'Hawks fans, don't get to interact with the Broncos more than one night per season.  I'm looking forward to that night.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Iverson suspension closure? (redneck league part 2)

On Friday, 10/4/13, we learned of Iverson's pending suspension.  Not from the WHL, but from our teams radio PXP guy, during his pregame show.  The way the league handled this really upset me.  Again, the issue isn't the suspension itself, its how it went down.

Supplemental discipline happens.  There is precedent.

The Iverson suspension stemmed from a game that happened on a Wednesday.  It was first applied on a Friday, but not announced anywhere.  On Saturday, a TBD announcement went up on the WHL discipline page, but nowhere else.   Sometime late Monday, it was changed to 4 games, still with no announcement.

Tuesday morning rolls around - 6 days after the incident - and folks are still trying to get to the bottom of this.

Apparently that's where we are at.  A week after said incident, we have a guy who blogs for the Oregonian (on his own time), and a local freelance sports writer going over the video (also on his own time) to assess the damage of the hit.  This is confirmed by the teams radio personality, which should fall outside the realm of his duties with the team.  Talk about reinventing the wheel.

After this group of local hockey heavies were batting this around, and I was throwing rocks at the league, they broke their silence with a full explanation of the matter:
On the one hand, you could look at it like the league felt the pressure from our inquiries, and felt that they needed to acknowledge that supplemental discipline occurred.  Its like they listened to us.

On the other hand, what kind of shit is that?  Is this the first 2 word press release in human history?  Who does that?  If some dude in Lethbridge does something, and we don't notice out here, does the WHL handle things differently for them?

Again, its not like they don't know how its supposed to work:

I was really starting to wonder what the hell Iverson did, as this thing continued to drag on.  I was hoping that it was something badass like barging the other team's locker room, but that generally gets you 10 games.  Sometimes you worry about something off the ice entirely, like a drunken car crash, but that may not effect your eligibility at all (but you might get run out of town).   I think we remember that squirting the ref with a water bottle gets you 3 games, but squirting a fan is worth 2.

I've compared the transparency of the WHL to the KGB before, and probably will again.  I don't know how good Ron Robison's backhand is, but at least Vladimir Putin can bury his shot:

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Time for panic?

Here we sit - 7 games into the season.  The 'Hawks are 4th in the division & 7th in the West.  They have given up more goals than anyone else in the league to this point.  The 'Hawks D corps lost half of thier regulars, as well as the winningest playoff goalie in WHL history.

Many folks are concerned that the D corps aren't good enough.  I agree with the sentiment that not getting Veviros into more games over the last 2 years is showing right now, although I think he's been making a great effort so far.  You could make the same argument for Josh Hanson, who is struggling right now.  I feel that its a confidence issue with Hanson, so the best thing is to keep throwing him out there to work through it.

Its early in the season, and we are working with a small sample size.  Visually we aren't necessarily seeing what the numbers are telling us.  Garrett Haar has 9 points in 7 games, and is +9.  Hanson is currently (-1).  I'd have guessed he was more like (-5).  You don't go out and get Cederholm to fight dudes, but when he figures out how to get the other guys lid off - watch out:

Sure, I think I understand the game.  I'm guessing that you have conficence in me as well, since you're reading this.  You probably think you know the game as well.  The guys that really know the game do it for a living:  NHL scouts.

Right now, the 'Hawks have 3 drafted D men: Pouliot, Haar, & Cederholm.  That's half of your back end - guys that NHL teams have invested in.

Many WHL fans feel that Kelowna has the best group of defenseman in the league right now, and I'm one of them.  They also have 3 drafted players on the back end.

Seattle looks to be much improved, and they have one drafted defenseman.  (side bar - thier all time drafted list is just a graveyard of players who never turned out.  depressing.)

Everett has 2 drafted D men:  a Euro that went in the 1st round, and Betker in the 6th - who the 'Hawks gave up in the Jones trade.

If I'm reading things right, the Am's have no drafted D men - of course they have had 4 dudes drafted since Chet Pickard.  That is also sad.

The Chiefs don't have any D men on NHL prospect lists either.  They've had 4 guys drafted since Jared Cowen, counting Kicthon twice & Darren Kramer once.

Assuming the Oil Kings don't get Griffin Reinheart back, they don't have any drafted defenseman.

Completing that exercise,  folks that evaulate players for a living believe in the defenseman that the 'Hawks are playing.  It could be as simple as letting guys like Haar & Cederholm get used to this league, and thier teammates - not to mention fellow rookie Texeria.  We've also only seen Pouliot for 2 games.

One could look at the near future like they are trading a 1st rounder for Shane McColgan, Paul Bittner, and Dominic Turgeon.  It doesn't improve the back end, but the defense corps may prove to be good enough to win games as is.  Its also worth mentioning that the 'Hawks have scored more goals than any team so far.

Friday, October 4, 2013

WHL: Redneck League

The Winterhawks played a game on Wednesday, the 2nd of October.  I'm writing this prior to the game on Friday, the 4th of October.  Apparently, the league looked at a hit that Keegan Iverson threw in the last game, and felt its worthy of some sort of suspension.

Sometimes that happens - guys get supplemental discipline.   There is a place for listing said discipline - and there's nothing on there from that game.  I proposed that there must be some reason that the league hasn't got around to announcing this development yet:

By my simple math, Thursday was a business day, as well as all day Friday.  Sure, I get that the WHL doesn't work on weekends, which is strange considering the majority of game action happens then, but who am I to judge, but they were to goddamned busy to write up a memo for two days?

Is this a joke?

All the scoresheet shows is 2 for interference - which generally isn't suspendable.  Many 'Hawk fans feel that the WHL is out to get us, and this won't help.  This is a developmental league for players, coaches, and front office staff.  Apparently this doesn't extend to the leadership group for the league, since this group would embarrass any organization they are involved with, especially the one they are running now.