Posted by: Cat | September 30, 2009

An Optimistic Start?

With tonight being the last game of the preseason, sort of, versus our brand-spankin’-new minor league team, the Texas Stars, is it truly an optimistic new beginning?

I’m sure we all remember how last preseason went.  I was all “It’s just preseason, it’s just preseason”, while Jen was mournful about the bad start.  This preseason, the roster was pretty much set before the end of it.  The Boy and I went to the very first preseason game, and were pleased – not so much with the shootout win (although I suppose it was good for him to see all a hockey game could turn out to be) – but still, it was a win.  The Stars then proceeded to lose 4 of the following games, making them 3-4-0 this preseason, and I know for a couple of those games it was pretty much what the NHL club would look like.

Razor guarantees an opening night win, which, of course, would be really nice (I especially love his guarantee to purchase every fan in attendance a ticket to another game if they lose – I know I’ll be there, because either way I win), but I’m not exactly optimistic.  I flicker between that hope of a new season, and the mourning of a horrible season before.  Yes, there were a couple of shakeups, but the players are mostly the same.

Assuming Brenden Morrow stays healthy, things could go well.  Assuming Marty Turco is back to his 07-08 self, things could go well.  Assuming our defence steps it up a notch, things could go well.  Those are too many assumptions for me.  Injuries happen, and even if Morrow stays healthy, who’s to say another key player will?  Marty is kind of a fickle player, I guess, as he can be really really good, or really really bad.  And our defence?  Let’s face it, quite a few of them are kids.

However, this could very well be Mike Modano’s last season, and he certainly will want to go out with a bang (in case you don’t know, another Stanley Cup would qualify as a big bang).  There’s a new coach, which means a new system.  Ther’s a new GM, which means players will want to impress to keep their jobs.

Let’s just all cross our fingers and pray to Baby Hockey Jesus, shall we?

Posted by: Cat | September 15, 2009

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year…

Well, kids, it’s that time again. September has come, and we all know what that means.

It’s been a rough off-season for some of us. Dave Tippett got fired, Marc Crawford got hired. Sergei Zubov decided to go play in Russia. I’m sure there’s more, that I’ve just forgotten – I take the off-season to be “real life time”, which for me, means lots of Warcraft, hanging out with friends, taking trips, etc. I went on my excellent Midwest road trip, which meant heading up to Minnesota again. I saw three HLOG gals – Kirsten, Steph, and Bethany. We actually didn’t talk much hockey, as it was June/early July. We mostly just fished (Kirsten), drank (Steph), and were dorks (Bethany). I’ve also taken the liberty of introducing my boyfriend to hockey – he’s a California boy, and didn’t live near any of the California teams before moving to Texas. This is good, because it means he’s untainted and I can make him a Stars fan.

At any rate, this isn’t “What I Did Last Summer”, this is a sentimental hockey post. This past Saturday, the Boy, Jen, and I all went to the “unofficial/official” practice. The Boy found it interesting and, he says, invigorating and exciting. This is probably a good omen for our relationship. Me…Well, it’s the same thing for me every time. I avoid going skating, going to the rink, listening to the same music I do, all of it – I like for September to be like the first day of high school, where everything is fresh and new. They remodeled the Dr. Pepper StarCenter in Frisco over the summer, so it really was very new. I was damn near skipping when I walked in, and smelled THAT smell. You know what I’m talking about – the smell of new jerseys, and fresh ice.

I don’t want to talk too much in the “season preview” sort of way, I’m planning on saving that for a few days before opening day. I’m heading to camp in the morning, with the Boy and our friend Courtney in tow. It’s shaping up to be an optimistic start to the new season.

Posted by: Cat | June 11, 2009

Tippett out, Crawford in

All right, y’all.  I will tell you, straight up, that when I found out about this I was at the car dealership waiting on my car to get fixed.  I immediately called Bethany, and she screeched – she hadn’t heard of Tippett being fired.  I, of course, heard about it yesterday, and it made me horrifically sad.  I was hoping that it was just a rumor, just one of those things that TSN gets wrong.  Sadly, it was not.

I think I may have liked Tippett more on a personal level than on a coaching level.  He certainly made some poor choices when it came to how he coached the team.  This past season, the team struggled right out of the gate, fueled by things like injuries and “The Avery Situation”.  The way Tippett handled the goaltenders was, to me, his biggest and most annoying flaw.  Despite Turco not playing up to his standards, Tippett refused to put Tobias Stephan in net.  Stephan was only used when the game was already so far blown that it didn’t matter anyway.  Certainly, we’ve all heard about Tippett as a “players’ coach”, how he’s not hard enough on his players.  I mean, I’m not claiming to know or anything, but every time that bottom lip disappears and his voice gets all low and scary?  I wouldn’t need him to yell, I’d just say “Yes, sir” and work my ass off.

But, I’m getting off-topic, which happens when you stay on the phone until 6:30am instead of sleeping.  Dave Tippett was unceremoniously fired yesterday (as it’s been reported, Tippett asked Nieuwendyk to keep the lid on the news until today, but we all know that news in the sporting world is easily spread), and this morning we all awoke to the news of Marc Crawford being the new head coach of the Dallas Stars.  Do I think this is a step in the right direction?  I don’t know – only time will tell that.

Crawford is known for the Bertuzzi incident coaching a high offense, simple but solid defense, sort of team.  That is fine with me.  I have no issues with that part, or the fact that he’s sort of a hard-ass coach.  My huge, main concern is that when he was let go from the Kings in 2008, it was said that he had a serious lack of patience with young players who were still learning.  This is a HUGE problem for me.  The Stars are a team in transition.  Older players, like Modano, Zubov, and Lehtinen, are being forced into lesser roles, while younger players take their turn in the spotlight, and the even younger begin to learn.  I do think that the Stars have the potential to be a solid team this next season, barring any serious injuries.  But when most of your defense is under the age of 25?  Or how about some star rookies, who may fall into sophomore slumps this season?  How will Crawford handle that?  By demanding more of them, when they don’t fully know what it is they need to be doing?  Maybe it’s the mother hen in me, but these young players need nurturing, not yelling and screaming every time they make a mistake.  They need someone to say “Look, you messed up.  Learn from it, and don’t do it again.”  They don’t need a coach all up in their face, screaming at them incoherently.

All in all, this feels like a very knee-jerk decision by Nieuwendyk – but then, what do I know?  It’s possible that he had this vision of what he wanted the team to be right from the start.  All I know is that I’m really tired of these sorts of decisions.  Most of them I’ve been okay with the firing, not okay with the hiring.  It all started with Doug Armstrong.  I was okay with him being fired, I was not okay with HullJack (well, I wasn’t okay with the Hull part of the equation).  I wasn’t okay with Sean Avery (no matter how much I tried), and I’m not okay with the hiring of Crawford.  I can see the argument to let Tippett go, and I’m okay with it – I’m sure he’ll find another coaching job (Minnesota!  Minnesota!), but this whole Crawford thing is really rubbing me the wrong way.

Posted by: Cat | June 4, 2009

Stanley Cup Finals

Yeah, I neglected this all season…Possibly because the Stars gave me nothing good to write about, so I said “eff that noise”. But tonight, the ladies of HLOG have talked me into a Stanley Cup Finals LiveBlog. So come join us as we talk smack about the Red Wings and the Penguins!

Stanley Cup Finals game 4 LiveBlog

Posted by: Cat | December 28, 2008

Book Review: “Ice Time”

I know I’ve been terrible at updating lately, so I figured I’d write up a book review.  I’ve been reading a lot lately, and of course hockey books are always standard fare for me.  One day I went to Half-Priced Books to see what sort of gems I could unearth.  I found a Dallas Stars season ticket holder commemorative book, a book about high school hockey in Minnesota (which I’m currently reading), and this book.

My high school did not have a hockey team.  I live in Texas, it’s all about football here.  We don’t have the luxury of having frozen ponds to skate on, strapping on a pair of skates and donning a toque, falling down ten times, getting up eleven.  Now that the Stars are here in town, hockey is becoming a bigger thing in this Texas city, but it’s nowhere near the level it is in places like Minnesota or New England.

That is what made Jay Atkinson’s book so fascinating to me.  Atkinson played for the Methuen Rangers in Methuen, Massachusetts, the first year that the school got a varsity hockey team.  Twenty-some years later, he decided to go back and follow that year’s team, getting to know them, taking on the role of “volunteer assistant”.  Ice Time follows the team’s journey that year – the temperamental star of the team, the goalie with girl troubles, the first-year player whose father is battling cancer.  Obviously, hockey is a huge part of this book, but it’s not the only thing.

Atkinson still has friends in Methuen, guys he played with on the very first Rangers team.  They’re all still rink rats, playing a quick game whenever they can.  He spends a lot of time in the book writing about his own childhood as well – things from hockey at his old high school, to a strip mall that was built over a large field near his home.

The thought of a team dynamic and how players interact with each other is intriguing to me.  Does the back-up goaltender have a tougher time than the starter, having to sit on the bench and watch the team win or lose while he does nothing but keep a seat warm?  How about the guys who try so hard, but know they’ll never be able to be as good as the star of the team?  How does a high-school senior take on the responsibility of being captain?  Atkinson lets us in on some of that stuff with his interaction with the players.

Along the way, we meet Atkinson’s 5-year-old son, Liam, who is just learning to play hockey.  I remember one part in particular where Atkinson takes Liam to a baseball game, and reminisces on going to games with his own father.  He then worries that he won’t create the same experience for Liam, and tries so hard to recreate that magic that he felt when he was only five.  Liam even gets to be a part of the Rangers team, attending pregame spaghetti lunches with his father.  The boys on the team treat him like a little brother, even giving him a Methuen Rangers jersey of his own that little Liam cherishes.

All in all, Ice Time is a heartwarming tale, and an interesting look into the world of high school hockey – particularly for this girl who had never experienced the thrill.

P.S. In the next few days I’ll have some Stars-related stuff up – I PROMISE.

Posted by: Cat | December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I’m far too lazy to write up a post about Sean Avery, or how the Stars are playing better, or our amazing rookie goal-scorers. So instead, have an ElfYourself video featuring yours truly with some familiar faces.

I’m very upset, because it appears that it won’t embed for whatever reason. At any rate, you can always CLICK HERE to see it. It’s pretty excellent, although that may be the four hours of sleep I’m running on.

Posted by: Cat | December 14, 2008

Biggest non-news ever.

Surprise surprise, Sean Avery won’t be returning to the Dallas Stars. We all already knew that. Now we just have to wonder what’s going to happen with the Stars. The Stars are incapable of steadily winning games with or without Sean Avery. Without Sean Avery to blame, what are the Stars going to pin the blame on?

Posted by: Cat | December 10, 2008

Now that the mess is over…

Okay, so now that the whole Sean Avery mess is seemingly over (for now, at least – Tom Hicks and crew are meeting this afternoon to discuss what can and should be done about Avery), let’s focus a bit more on actual hockey, shall we?

Tonight, the Stars will face the Phoenix Coyotes. This is an important game for the Stars – every game is at this point, if they want to make the playoffs. The Stars are last in the Pacific division – the Coyotes are third. The Stars are only 2 points behind Phoenix in the standings, and any point they can get against divisional rivals will help. Hell, any points they can get AT ALL will help at this point.

Some stats, since I’m too lazy to do actual writing:

  • Stars are 10-12-4, Coyotes 12-13-2.
  • Brad Richards leads the Stars with 21 points (6G, 15A) – Coyotes captain Shane Doan leads his team (13G, 13A).
  • Marty Turco’s GAA is 3.38 (better than that 4.something he had earlier this season, huh?), with a save percentage of .876.  Not the numbers we’re used to seeing from Turco, but let’s cross our fingers that he’ll be more focused without Avery in the room (everyone’s blaming Avery – I’m not, really, but I think it’s kind of funny.).  Meanwhile, Ilya Bryzgalov (I named one of my Russian dwarf hamsters after him) is 2.99, .902.
  • Most important (IMO, of course) – the Coyotes suffered a 7-1 loss to Chicago on Sunday night, and will probably come out hard in hopes of that not happening again.  The Stars have won 3 of their last 5 games, including 2 wins without Avery.  Things seem to be looking up for the Stars, and we’ll see if they can continue the good play against Phoenix tonight.
Posted by: Cat | December 3, 2008

Sloppy Seconds (Well, Second Day, At Least)

Things aren’t looking too up for Sean Avery right now. I’m still torn on the subject. I definitely think it should have been a team issue rather than a league issue. How hard would it have been for Bettman to sit back and wait for Tom Hicks to suspend the guy? Twenty bucks says he would have – sure, he issued the statement after Bettman suspended Avery, but I really do believe that Hicks wouldn’t have hesitated to let Avery know that his behavior was unacceptable. If Hicks hadn’t suspended him, go for it, NHL, suspend the guy. I get that there’s a bunch he hasn’t been punished for, but choose something bigger than this for a suspension. Or, you know, you should have just suspended him the first time it happened, instead of letting him push buttons.

Dave Tippett is really disappointed in Avery. Tippett, just MINUTES before Avery hollered the cameras over for his moment in the spotlight, defended Avery and his play. According to the linked article, Tippett went to Avery and asked him if he planned on speaking to the media. Avery said no, and then after Tippett defended him to the Canadian press, Avery went out and made a spectacle. That upsets me more than anything. Avery needed to sit down and shut the fuck up instead of making a scene.

Avery did issue an apology today, saying that it was “a bad attempt at building some excitement for the game”. Actually, from what I saw, it wasn’t actually too poor. I had some friends call me from places other than Calgary and Dallas saying “What the hell did Sean Avery do NOW?” and then telling me they were excited for what was surely to be a high-emotion game after Avery dissed Dion’s girl. Say what you will, but Avery knows how to get people talking. At any rate, in the statement issued, Avery says that he now knows how hurtful his actions were. I mean, I know the statement was probably written by his publicist, but after all that’s happened in the past 24 hours, I’m sure he knows that he took it too far now.

Last bit before the game starts – Mark from Andrew’s Dallas Stars Page has some audio up from an interview with Fan 590 that Brett Hull did today. Also in the article is a link to Hull’s interview with TSN. There was mention of mental therapy. No lie.

Well, I guess Brett Hull kind of got what he want. Avery’s definitely gotten people talking about the Dallas Stars.

Posted by: Cat | December 2, 2008

Free Sean Avery

This post is going to be all over the place, what with how scattered my thoughts are on the subject, but here goes nothing.

I’m sure everyone’s heard about it by now, but in case you haven’t, Sean Avery got suspended indefinitely for saying “obscene sexual remarks” (according to TSN) about Dion Phaneuf’s current girlfriend and Sean Avery’s ex-girlfriend, Elisha Cuthbert.  The remark mentioned “sloppy seconds”, which I don’t see as obscene or sexual, just a common way to refer to an ex.

Is it classless? Sure. Is it stupid? Yes. Is it fucking hilarious? Yes. Sean Avery is just doing what Sean Avery does. This is what Brett Hull signed him for. Yeah, it’s hard to see the normally classy Dallas Stars organization reduced to this. I’m sure some of the veterans are fed up with the behavior, but I think when the team is losing so badly, everyone will overreact to things like this.

I think most people are upset because they hated Sean Avery from the beginning. I was upset, too, when I heard the news that he was signed. However, things have changed. I’ve come to accept it and him into the hockey organization that I love so much. All in all, it wasn’t a cool thing to say, but I’m sure far worse things are said on the ice – it’s just that there are no cameras and microphones to capture that.

Lots of people are acting like it’s the worst thing they’ve ever heard in their entire lives. Bethany called me when she was watching the game on Versus and they said that if the league hadn’t suspended Avery, it could have become a Steve Moore incident. Personally, I think that’s absolutely ludicrous. Put in your big boy pants and fucking DEAL WITH IT.

There are plenty of people siding with Sean Avery here – I’m one of them. Bethany and her mom agree, so does my roommate. I’m considering calling my dad to see how he feels about it. I mean, in the NFL, someone brings an illegal gun into a club, accidentally shoots himself, and gets 4 games. Sean Avery says some stupid words, and gets suspended indefinitely? I don’t think that’s super fair. Maybe the NHL should be focusing more on that huge head shots issue than suspending Sean Avery for something so minor.

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