Saturday, March 31, 2012

Leafs Fan v. Sabres Drunk Fans

After Drew Stafford scored late in the third period to draw the Buffalo Sabres to within one goal of the Toronto Maple Leafs, CBC’s camera caught a trio of drunk Sabres fans dancing in their seats. Beer was swilled and spilled, and then a pre-teen Leafs fan gave them a salute Stone Cold Steve Austin would have been proud of.

Leafs Sabres Flip Off

Click on the image to get a closer look.

Monday, March 26, 2012


The Nationwide circuit saw Joe Gibbs Racing win it's eighth consecutive race at Fontana with Joey Logano winning the 300 mile Saturday race. He did this by holding off Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Brad Keselowski who ran second and third respectively.
After starting at the pole Logano regained the lead with twelve laps to go and stayed in front of a tight pack til the finish. Kyle Busch who was placed last because of being late for the drivers intro went from forty third to first but lost his gains through a misshap on pit road.
Points leader Elliot Sadler finished ninth and still leads Stenhouse by eighteen points in the Nationwide standings. The new kid Danica Patrick left early with engine trouble and finished thirty-fifth, another loss after her high profile entry into the full time Nationwide series.

The Sprint cup circuit saw The Auto Club 400 as a rainshortened race of 129 laps, with it's first caution coming out at 125 laps. Tony Stewart had the lead when the first caution flag fell, the rain stopped the race and NASCAR called it a day and red flagged the race at 05:30ET.
Kyle Busch led the race for 80 laps but came up short at second place because of the rain, Dale Earnhardt Jr. came in third, Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards finished out the top five.
Jimmie Johnson showed that skill and luck can sometimes go hand in hand. His car started smoking from an oil leak on the caution lap, but he kept his car on the apron until the race was red flagged, thus keeping his tenth position.
I must say that even though the race was called I think the car that won was one of the cars to beat, so good for Tony and what a great start to the '12 season that is taking off from his great finish in the '11 season.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Fail For Nail: Stretch Run

Another week of mostly losing has passed and a group of teams are still jockeying for one of the coveted (?) spots in the annual NHL Draft Lottery. Every non-playoff team has an entry in this lottery but only four teams can “win” and move four spots ahead in the draft order to select future NHL superstar Nail Yakupov with the first overall selection.

The following is a brief summary of the teams most likely to be in contention in the Fail For Nail™ competition during the next two weeks.


COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS (2-1-0 last week, 55 points overall): Assuming he’s still in charge after the end of the regular season, general manager Scott Howson can make arrangements to appear on the televised draft lottery. If by some strange reason the Blue Jackets went undefeated the rest of the season they’d still be the fourth-worst team in the league.


EDMONTON OILERS (2-0-2, 69 points): This team would have been in the same category as Columbus but last week’s wins against Nashville and Florida and shootout losses against Phoenix and Tampa Bay have given new life to the teams “below” them in the standings. With games against Columbus, Dallas and Los Angeles there’s a chance the Oilers may take themselves out of this competition altogether.

MONTREAL CANADIENS (1-2-0, 71 points): With only six games remaining the Habs find themselves in the unenviable position of becoming the most likely team to finish with the second-worst record in the league. They have three games against Florida, the New York Rangers and Washington, which should translate to three losses if they play “up” to their abilities.

NEW YORK ISLANDERS (1-1-0, 71 points): The Islanders lost ground basically for having last week off. This week the NHL gods have given them four games, one against Florida, home-and-home games against Pittsburgh followed by Boston. This could be a rough week for the Isles, who could use another forward to play alongside John Tavares.

MINNESOTA WILD (2-1-0, 72 points): The Wild got hot at the wrong time of the year, beating Vancouver and Calgary before losing to Buffalo last night. With upcoming games against Washington, the New York Rangers, Florida and Los Angeles they have a shot to overtake Montreal and the Islanders.


TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (1-2-1, 75 points): The Leafs were on the right track with blowout losses to Boston and the Islanders but inexplicably beat New Jersey in a shootout and nearly did the same against the Rangers last night. They find themselves on the outside looking in with only six games left and don’t expect Carolina, Philadelphia or Buffalo to make it easy for them to go 0-3-0 this week.

CAROLINA HURRICANES (2-2-0, 75 points): Like the Leafs, the ‘Canes have six games left to make some noise. Games against Toronto, Winnipeg and New Jersey this week may give them the momentum to tank, but if they go 0-3-0 you know someone’s going to raise an eyebrow over that 5-1 loss to Columbus the other night.

ANAHEIM DUCKS (2-1-0, 75 points): The Ducks were on the right track until they beat San Jose and St. Louis before taking the rest of the week off. This week they have games against Boston, San Jose and Phoenix – and if they go 2-1-0 again they can forget about drafting first overall.

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (2-1-0, 75 points): The Bolts proved they’re not good at this failing thing by beating Edmonton and the Islanders when they didn’t need to. The only reason why they still have a shot in this competition is they have eight games in thirteen days. Philadelphia, Boston, New Jersey and Winnipeg are on tap this week. Oh my!


WINNIPEG JETS (1-3-0, 78 points): Up until this past week the Jets were in contention for eighth place in the Eastern Conference. Three losses in four games later they find themselves between a lottery pick and a playoff spot. With seven games left it’s likely too little, too late for the Jets to make a run at Nail Yakupov – or the Buffalo Sabres for that matter.

Friday, March 23, 2012

New guy test.

Hello all, I just thought I would write a small thanks to Zeb for his invite to his blog. He has asked me to do a NASCAR write up, so I thought a quick thank-you would give me a feel for this posting set-up, it's great to be here as a contributer and I've enjoyed reading all the posts of the writers, so thanks all and you will see more of me in type.

Better off in the Big East

Hey Boston College, are you still sure moving to the ACC was the best move for the future of your basketball and football programs?  You all have heard me mention this before -- that in my opinion it was a mistake for the only D1 football school and one of only two big-time basketball schools in New England to move to the South -- and it is magnified when you look at the success of the Big East in this year's NCAA basketball tourney.  More in that in a minute.
My point has been that it is better sometimes to be the biggest fish in a small pond than to be another small fish in a big pond.  Maybe you won't get eaten as the small fish but you're also going to get ignored.  The one place you don't want to be ignored is in your own backyard.  Who the hell in New England cares about BC football and basketball outside of the campus on Chestnut Hill these days?  No one, that's who.  At least when you were playing other Northeast schools, whether you succeeded every year or not, we cared.  Now no one in New England cares or, worse yet, even notices what you do.  You're a Northeast school and you should be playing other Northeast schools because we care about rivalries and tradition here. And I dare say we'll never care about big time college football, which is obviously what you want to be a part of.
Now look at the success of the Big East thus far in this year's tourney -- no, it's not the exact same league as it was when BC left but BC and Va Tech leaving had as much to do with this change as anything -- as of this writing (prior to Marquette and Cincy playing) the Big East is 13-4 (check my counting), with two of those losses coming in the first round from usual powerhouse UConn and Notre Dame.  They advanced four teams to the Sweet 16, with two of those teams already in the Elite 8.
Now again, this isn't exactly the Big East of the '80s with Georgetown, Villanova, St John's, et al, at their zenith but those schools are still strong and Syracuse, UConn and others are still very much relevant.  And to add salt to the wound, you have Sweet 16 games being played in the Boston area.  Tell me why you couldn't have continued to grow your basketball program as part of the Big East?  Right, it was a football decision and no one in New England cared about college football.  Well, that's not true -- it's just not as many people cared as you wanted.  But now look at you, playing football in another conference almost as irrelevant as the one you left but one in which the fans from your own backyard could care less about.
UPDATE:  After this writing last night, Cincy lost to Ohio St and Marquette was upset by Florida (the former outcome ruining my bracket) but I still stand by my post.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Saints Got Too Tough Of A Punishment? Naw, It Isn't Enough

Well, besides the Tim Tebow to the Jets fiasco, the big news coming out of the NFL is the toughness of the Saints penalties in regard to the bounties that they put on opponents.  The Saints received the following punishment:  2 second round picks: one in 2012 and one in 2013.  A fine of $500,000.  That is it for the club.  For the individuals, Head Coach Sean Payton received a suspension for the 2012 season starting April 1st.  GM Mickey Loomis is suspended for the first 8 games of the season.  Current St. Louis Rams Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams has been suspended indefinately starting immediately.  Assistant Head Coach Joe Vitt is suspended for the first 6 games of the season.  While it seems that the penalty is stiff, I believe that the Saints got lucky that the entire rulebook wasn't thrown at them.

Here are the findings of the league's investigation:

1. The Saints defensive team operated a pay-for-performance/bounty program, primarily funded by players, during the 2009, 2010, and 2011 seasons. Under that program, players regularly made cash “donations” to a pool, and were “fined” for mental errors, loafing, penalties, and the like. At least one assistant coach (defensive coordinator Gregg Williams) also occasionally contributed to the pool. There is no evidence that any club money was contributed to the program.

2. Payments were made for plays such as interceptions or fumble recoveries. All such payments are against league rules. Payments also were made for plays on which opposing players were injured. In addition, specific players were sometimes targeted. The investigation showed bounties being placed on four quarterbacks of opposing teams – Brett Favre, Cam Newton, Aaron Rodgers, and Kurt Warner. Multiple sources have confirmed that several players pledged funds toward bounties on specific opposing players, with defensive captain Jonathan Vilma offering $10,000 to any player who knocked Brett Favre out of the NFC Championship Game in 2010.

3. Coach Williams acknowledged that he designed and implemented the program with the assistance of certain defensive players. He said that he did so after being told by Saints Head Coach Sean Payton that his assignment was to make the defense “nasty.” Coach Williams described his role as overseeing record keeping, defining payout amounts, deciding on who received payouts, and distributing envelopes with cash to players who “earned” rewards.

4. In each of the 2009-2011 seasons, the Saints were one of the top five teams in the league in roughing the passer penalties. In 2009 and 2011, the Saints were also in the top five teams in unnecessary roughness penalties; in 2010, the Saints ranked sixth in the category. In the January 16, 2010 divisional playoff game against the Arizona Cardinals, Saints defensive players were assessed $15,000 in fines for fouls committed against opposing players. The following week, in the NFC Championship Game against the Minnesota Vikings, Saints defensive players were assessed $30,000 in fines for four separate illegal hits, several of which were directed against quarterback Brett Favre.

5. Coach Williams now acknowledges that when he was first questioned about this matter in early 2010 he intentionally misled NFL investigators and made no effort to stop the program after he became aware of the league’s investigation.

6. Coach Williams further confirmed that the program continued during the 2010 and 2011 seasons, and that he occasionally contributed funds to the pool in each of those seasons.

7. Assistant Head Coach/Defense Joe Vitt acknowledged that he was aware of the program in 2009-2011. He admitted that, when interviewed in 2010, he “fabricated the truth” to NFL investigators and denied that any pay-for-performance or bounty program existed at the Saints.
See more below the fold.

Orange & Blue Blasphemy

Manning Donks JerseyI don’t know about you but I have a sick feeling in my stomach when I see the above. I find it troubling that Peyton Manning will wear the retired number of Frank Tripucka, the first Donks (Denver Broncos) quarterback in the team’s history. I also find it more troubling that Tripucka is eighty-four years old and has Alzheimer’s.

If Manning had truly spoken to Tripucka before his big press conference yesterday, then it shows what character he and the Donks have when he didn’t take a different uniform number like 16, the number he wore at the University of Tennessee.

Maybe karma will bite him in the a** and the Colts will give Andrew Luck number 18 next month?

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Changing Landscape Of College Hockey

"A man is insensible to the relish of prosperity until he has tasted adversity." - Rosalind Russell

     That quote sums up what I believe college hockey will experience over the next couple of years.  The college hockey powers are insensible to the relish of prosperity that they have been experiencing and breaking into all sorts of conferences.  The breaking up of the CCHA and WCHA into the Big Ten, the NCHC, and a revamped WCHA will cause some problems over the next couple of years.  However, there are possibilities out there that after a few tough years, that all the conferences could add a couple of teams and in turn have the strength to grow the sport of college hockey.
     The Big Ten conference is a natural conference that can expand into all 11 schools.  That is an additional 4 schools that will be playing Division I hockey within the next decade, I believe.  I would expect by the year 2016, that there will be announcements that the three Big Ten schools that do not have hockey and Illinois which has an ACHA team will be forming Division I teams and become members of the Big Ten conference.  It would be cool to see that a major conference have total representation in college hockey.

     This is the last year for the CCHA.  Most of the members are joining the WCHA.  Three members are joining the Big Ten Conference, Notre Dame is joining Hockey East, and two schools are joining the NCHC.  The CCHA has been around since 1972 and will be missed.

     The NCHC is a new conference that has been formed partially in response to the Big Ten conference and partially due to the power schools of the WCHA and CCHA deciding that they wanted to form a power conference.  From the CCHA Miami University has won the conference title in 2006 and 2010.  The Redhawks won the tourney title in 2011.  Western Michigan won the tourney title in 2012.  The only other team that has won anything in the past decade besides Notre Dame or the Big 10 schools is Ferris State.  They won the league in 2003 and 2012.  

     The WCHA teams joining the NCHC have a pedigree as well.  Since 2000, Colorado College has won the conference 3 times, the University of Denver has won the conference 3 times the WCHA tournament 3 times and the National Title twice.  Minnesota-Duluth has 1 tournament title, Nebraska-Omaha joined just 2 years ago and is starting to develop a reputation as a tough team to play.  North Dakota has four regular season titles, 5 tournament titles (including the last 3) and 1 National Title, and St. Cloud State has 1 tournament title.  The only other two schools that have a title during that time frame are Wisconsin and Minnesota who are joining the Big 10.

    The revamped WCHA have all the colleges that have a program that aren't considered powers in the past decade or so.  Like I said the only school that has won a title in the past decade is Ferris State.  So the teams that the schools of the NCHC thought wouldn't be anything if the conferences stayed the same now have their own league where some will start to rise to the top and themselves become relevant in hockey.  Another thing that is nice is that Alaska has both of their hockey teams in the same conference.  Can anyone say rivalry?  Alaska-Fairbanks and Alaska-Anchorage I will guess becomes a hard ticket to get because of the bad blood that will develop real quickly there.  The state of Michigan now has 4 teams in the WCHA.  Michigan Tech, Ferris State, Northern Michigan, and Lake Superior State.  Add Bowling Green from Ohio and you have rivalries galore.  You also have Bemidji State and Minnesota State-Mankato in the conference.  I would have loved to have seen the WCHA add Alabama-Huntsville Chargers to the league.  I understand that the team is located in the South and a long distance from every other team, but it would be to the benefit of college hockey to invite them and make them a part of the conference.

     Now for the expansion of colleges that could be Division I college hockey programs. Seattle University could be a prime candidate for a new hockey program.  You could easily attract Montana and possibly Montana State as programs if they are included into a conference.  And as a fourth school from that region, try to land Portland State.  Then if the 2 Alaska schools wanted to pull from the WCHA and form a league with the 4 new programs, you have the mandatory 6 schools you need for a conference.  If you only get two or three of the schools to start a hockey program, then incorporate them into either the WCHA or the NCHC.  That would strengthen those conferences. 

    In closing, realignment in college hockey probably isn't done.  I can see Air Force leaving the Atlantic Hockey Association and possibly joining the WCHA.  There are teams that participate in the ACHA that might get a building that corresponds with NCAA guidelines and could move to Division I like Iowa State, Ohio, and Michigan-Dearborn.  More teams in Division I hockey is good for each conference and in turn each school.  I hope that the schools take heed of the possibilities and work in bringing other schools into the fold.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The NCAA Hockey Tournament Field Is Set

As Zeb said in a comment on his Maine Black Bears post, the Black Bears play defending champion Minnesota-Duluth in their 1st Round game.  The other game in the Worcester bracket is #1 overall Boston College against Air Force.

In the St. Paul Region, possibly the hottest team in college hockey right now, the University of North Dakota is the #1 seed in the region.  They play the Western Michigan Broncos in the first round.  Minnesota and Boston University are the other teams in that region.

At Bridgeport, the Top seed of that region is Union.  They play Michigan State in the first round while Miami (OH) and Massachusetts-Lowell play in the other game of that region.

Finally at the Green Bay Regional, the #1 seed Michigan plays Cornell and Denver plays Ferris State in the other game of that region.

I figured that I would do predictions for this so I can be ridiculed as a homer for each time I pick UND to win.  And I can show how little that I know when it comes to predicting this tournament.

Worcester Bracket
#1 Boston College over Air Force
Maine over Minnesota-Duluth

#1 Boston College over Maine

St. Paul Region
#4 North Dakota over Western Michigan
 Minnesota over  Boston University

#4 North Dakota over Minnesota

Bridgeport Region
Michigan State over #3 Union
Miami (OH) over Mass.-Lowell

Miami (OH) over Michigan State

Green Bay Region
#2 Michigan over Cornell
Denver over Ferris State

Denver over #2 Michigan

Frozen Four
#1 Boston College over #4 North Dakota
Denver over Miami (OH)

Title Game
#1 Boston College over Denver