December 30, 2011

The Ducks, Habs, and Capitals are living proof that players and not coaches are the key to success

The NHL has had some great coaches in the past and not so distant past.  Al Arbour coached Mike Bossy in NY to a dynasty with the Islanders. Scotty Bowman was the man behind Hall of Famers like Larry Robinson in the Habs' glory days of the 70s.  Joel Quenneville had Jonathan Toews up front for the Blackhawks when they won the Cup.  The point here is of obvious.  Great coaches are made by great players.  Great players have skill and determination and a commitment to professionalism which great coaches use to mold championship teams.

Too many players today don't understand that the horse has to come before the cart.  A coach cannot take undisciplined, unprofessional , and uncommitted players; despite what some NHLers think.  Big mouths, loud mouths and lazy asses on the Ducks, Habs, and Capitals cost some very decent coaches their jobs.  The Ducks , Habs , and Capitals are proof that changing the coach is no guarantee of success.  All three teams dumped their bosses behind the bench but their downward slide continued.

The Ducks' issues are with guys like Bobby Ryan and not the coach.  The Habs' issues are with slackers like Gomez and not the coach. Hotshots like Ovechkin are the problem with the Capitals; not the coach.  We wish that for 2012  some of the guys on the Ducks, Habs, and Capitals wake up and smell the coffee and assume a bit of responsibility.  Players win games and not coaches.  Once they accept something that history has proven ; they can expect to have more success and maybe 2012 will be better for them than 2011.

Record Breaking Night In East Yorkshire - Panthers win Again

It was a record-breaking night in Hull for the EIHL as the Stingrays and the Panthers carried on the festive week of hockey action. For the Hull Stingrays it was their third game in 3 days as they hosted the Nottingham Panthers playing their third in 4 days.

The home side started brightly opening the scoring through Jason Silverthorn only for the Panthers to reply a minute later. The second period saw the Panthers take control of the game. A double from the Beauregard and Hereema put the Panthers two up only for the Stingrays to get back in the game before the end of the second period. Hull scoring first through Osman and then 16-year-old Bobby Chamberlain with 50 seconds left on the clock; Chamberlain becoming the EIHL’s youngest ever scorer in the process.

The record breaking did not stop there as the Panthers began their third period rout. David Clarke was eventually given the Panthers forth goal marking the GB international becoming the EIHL’s leading goal scorer outright with 230. That goal was added to by a brace from Lachowicz and singles from Lee, Levers and Fox as the Panthers hit 6 scores in the third period.

That win puts the Panthers just one point behind the Belfast Giants at the top of the table and extends their regulation unbeaten run to 12-0-1-1.

Neil Tucker

2012 NHL Predictions

Sidney Crosby will not play a game till the 2012-2013 season

That being said the Penguins will still win the Stanley Cup.

Nashville will lose both Shea Weber and Ryan Suter to Free Agency. Reason being Weber feels jilted and Suter shines this year and gets a huge payday. However sense I love seeing hockey flourish in non-traditional markets I hope not.

There will be a new CBA signed, but not right away. I don't see it being as bad as the NFL or the NBA but it won't get done September 15th.

There will be a major rule change to try and curb concussions. It maybe re-instituting the red line but hopefully it will be shortening the ice surface by 10 feet.

God Forbid without another incident, but with pressure from other governing bodies the NHL will institute hybrid icing.

Donald Fehr will become the most hated man in Hockey, but only because 85 percent of hockey fans don't realize his genius.

Phoenix will move to either Quebec City or Kansas City.

The Florida Panthers will sign a big free agent because attendance will blossom. Proving winning not geography trumps all.

Nick Lidstrom won't hang 'em up and continue to be top-blue liner for the Detroit Red Wings.

Guy Boucher will be the new coach of the Montreal Canadiens.

At least one former American Superstar will attempt a comeback and fail.

God Willing The Chicago Blackhawks change “Chelsea Dagger” as their goal song and “SandStorm" as their powerplay song.

Gary Bettman will have a very special announcement live from the 50 yard line at Michigan Stadium with Rocky Wirtz, Patrick Kane, Jonathon Toews, Mike Ilitch, Nicklas Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk. 2013 Winter Classic live from the Big House

This last prediction is more of a wish...Dear NHLPA, please approve all players using softcap shoulder and elbow pads at ASAP!


 - Joe DeTolve

December 29, 2011

Hull Douses the Blaze

Coventry Blaze 2 Hull Stingrays 3

There was just one game in the Elite League as the Stingrays and the Blaze swapped favours and headed to Hull for the return leg from last night. Tonight that it was the home side Stingrays that held on for the win.

Goals from Silverthorn and a brace from Tendler put the Stingrays in charge after Coventry had gotten the scoring underway. A late onslaught on the Hull net by Coventry though only produced the one goal and the home side went home the happier.

It is a vital win for the Stingrays as the 2 points raised them above the Stars into the last playoff spot.

Neil Tucker

December 27, 2011

EIHL Action and More (UK Round Up Tuesday 27th December)

Cats Get the Cream in the Derby Clash

Every team in the EIHL were action today as the busy festive schedule continued. However there was little doubt were the game of the day would be as the Steelers Panthers home and home series shifted down the M1 to the sold out NIC. Elsewhere it was the Giants turn to host the Clan whilst Coventry and Hull returned to action following their day off yesterday.

There were games too in the EPL as Manchester and the Sheffield Steeldogs played out the roses game and league leaders Guildford played Bracknell.

Aside from the league match ups the first British Hockey Legends match up has been announced. The game will feature the Whitley Warriors and the Durham Wasps on May 6th at the Whitley Bay Ice Rink.

Sheffield Steelers 1 Nottingham Panthers 5

Nottingham went one better than the night before by limiting the Steelers to 1 goal on their way to taking the festive bragging rights.

Second period strikes from Myers, Beauregard and Francis all took advantage of some lax defending by Sheffield to set up the win. Myers and Francis then put the game to bed in the third period both with their second of the game.

The win keeps the Panthers above the Steelers in second place but more importantly to their fans it is 2 wins against the enemy.

Cardiff Devils 5 Edinburgh Capitals 3

After a quiet start the game came to life in the third period. A Jarolin double inside 6 minutes of the third period had seemed to set up a strong finish for the Capitals. However the Devils sparked into life with 9 minutes on the clock scoring four times through Richardson, MacRae, Voth and an empty netter from Davies.

It was a second successive defeat for the Capitals who need to get back on winning ways to have a push for the playoffs.

Hull Stingrays 2 Coventry Blaze 5

Coventry’s recent good run of form had seen many people forget about their off ice struggles and tonight’s win was no exception.

A strong first period with goals from Fussey and Jurynec set the Blaze on their way. Even when Hull did get on the score sheet it made little impact as the home team pressed on and kept the 2 points.

Braehead Clan 4 Belfast Giants 1

In the second of the teams home and home series the roles were reversed. Tonight it was the turn of the Giants to look slow and under performing. Even Craig Peacock’s third period goal for the Giants did little to alter their fortunes as the Clan had already ceased the initiative thanks to goals from McPherson, Campbell and a brace from Bayrack.

It will be disappointing for the Giants not to come out on top of this one but with Sheffield loosing again the damage is not as bad as perhaps it could have been.

Dundee Stars 1 Fife Flyers 2

Dundee travelled to Fife boosted by their first win under Brent Hughes the night before but they fell behind early against bottom side Fife. The Flyers scoring through Nicolson before the Stars did find an equaliser with Mazur. That was not the end of the scoring however as Mike Hamilton netted late on what was to be the game winner.

It turned out to be a very disappointing result for the Stars who would have hoped for more following their defeat of the Edinburgh Capitals the night before. The Stars do however remain in the final playoff spot due to Hull’s defeat to Coventry. Fife though were delighted with the win as the team answered Coach Dutiaume’s call for wins in a match up they need to win if they are to make the playoffs.


With both Slough and Milton Keynes not in action Guildford took full advantage by beating Bracknell to move 2 more points clear at the top. Elsewhere the roses clash in Manchester was a tight affair as the home side came back from 2 down twice to win on penalties in front of a bumper crowd in the Altrincham Ice Dome. At the foot of the table the Telford Tigers eventually beat the Phantoms after penalties and Basingstoke showed some skill and flair to beat the Swindon Wildcats.

The results mean that the Flames move 8 points clear at the top of the EPL whilst Manchester jump above the Steeldogs into 4th place.

Sheffield Steeldogs 4 Manchester Phoenix 5 (APS)
Telford Tigers 5 Peterborough Phantoms 4 (APS)
Basingstoke Bison 6 Swindon Wildcats 1
Guildford Flames 5 Bracknell Bees 3

Neil Tucker

Will NHL Players Follow NFL Players and Sue Over Concussions?

The concussion crisis in professional ice hockey continued today with the sobering news that Nashville Predators star forward Shea Weber is out indefinitely with a concussion.
The news regarding Weber is the latest blow to the NHL and their efforts at limiting hits to the head and promoting the sport to a wider audience. Sidney Crosby, Claude Giroux, Mike Richards, Jeff Skinner, Joni Pitkanen, Kris Letang, Chris Pronger, Zbynek Michalek, Marc Staal, Robert Bortuzzo, Jay Beagle, Milan Michalek, Brayden Schenn, Radek Martinek, Marek Zidlicky, Nathan Gerbe, Nino Niederreiter, Peter Mueller, Marc Savard, Ian Laperriere and Mike Green. These are some of the victims but the list is even longer. One of these players with concussion symptoms is unacceptable. This many is a crisis that must be dealt with.
Some analysts say the increased speed of the game following new rules implemented after the lockout are to blame for the increase. Did removing the red line cause more neutral zone crashes between opposing players? Perhaps. Others argue that the increase in concussions is a result of improved detection and treatment by the league. Would a bigger ice surface help avoid collisions? Would stronger helmets with more padding protect the players from head injuries in the event of a collision? Maybe.
There are many possible reasons behind the increase in concussions and many possible solutions. They should all be on the table and should be the number one topic of discussion in the NHL until there is a noticeable decrease in head injuries.
Otherwise, there is the very real possibility NHL players could take legal action similar to what 21 former NFL players recently did in suing the NFL over "severe and permanent brain damage they say is linked to concussions suffered on the job." According to the USA Today story, the lawsuit "accuses the NFL of deliberately omitting or concealing years of evidence linking concussions to long-term neurological problems."
Yes, football and hockey are violent sports. But that doesn't mean the leagues, players and fans should accept concussions as part of the job risks these athletes signed up for. If legal action is the only avenue players have to protect their precious noggins than more power to them. 
by Josh Marks

Every General Manager’s Nightmare

Every few years or so, most of the 30 NHL GMs will have to walk on eggshells as some of their top players will don a different sweater, that of their country for an IIHF sanction tournament. It gives the player a chance to showcase his skills on an international level. If the player performs well, that can benefit his pro team in many ways. Such as: increased jersey sales, ticket revenues and even other GM’s noticing a player and perhaps making substantial trade offers.  In most cases the player comes back after the tournament none the worse for wear with a few exceptions. The most notable was when legendary Goalie Dominick Hasek was playing in the 2006 Olympics for the Czech Republic and hurt his hamstring. This led him to not being able to play for his pro team; The Ottawa Senators.

Yesterday in Calgary, Anahiem Ducks General Manager Bob Murray experienced one such twist of fate. As a player which he gave permission to play in the World Juniors blocked a shot and fractured his left foot during Canada’s dismantling of Finland 8-1.

Devante Smith-Pelley is in the midst of a decent rookie year with the struggling Ducks, who of course fired their Stanley Cup winning coach Randy Carlyle back on November 30th.  The 42nd overall pick in last summer’s draft was not returned to his former OHL club, Mississauga St. Michael's Majors and was developing into a productive 3rd and 4th line winger. He is expected to miss four to six weeks of action, so since its Canada and they will play all the way till the last day of the tournament, The Ducks will miss him until about February 1st.  

Now I realize this case is not the same as Hasek getting hurt in 2006 and then not being able to play for the Senators when they finished first in the East in points only to get bounced in the 2nd round by the Lightning.  But it brings up a bigger question, is it really worth it for a team to lose their superstars for a few weeks to play in tournaments with the risk of injury so pervasive in hockey?

What would have happened if Pat Kane or Duncan Keith had been dinged in the 2010 Olympics? That could have changed the entire dynamic of the Blackhawks season and Chicago could still be waiting for a Stanley Cup. I for one, enjoy the Winter Olympics more than most and because hockey players appear to be some of the most down to earth athletes in sports, I find it so easy to throw all my patriotism behind the team.  I was crushed in 2010 when Sid scored that goal; I understand what that exposure did for the game in the United States. However I also totally understand the apprehension from the league to not go to Sochi, Russia in two years. This will be a very interesting  nine months as the CBA will expire in September and participation in the Olympics will no doubt be on the agenda, with some players including Alex Ovechkin stating regardless of what George McPhee or Ted Leonsis says he will be in Russia playing in 2014. This for sure will be a point of contention.

Joe DeTolve
Chicago, Illinois

December 26, 2011

Habs, Ducks, Hurricanes are going to fight the Blue Jackets for last

The calendar will soon change to 2012 but the same old same old will be the order of the day for some of the bottom dwellers in the NHL.  On the other end of the Bruins, Blackhawks, and Wild we have teams like the Habs, Ducks, and Hurricanes.  The Blue Jackets are a shoe-in for last but it looks like they have some serious competition from some NHL squads which just can get their footing.  The race for the bottom will be exciting and the winner will have the chance to draft like a rock star.    

The Habs are mired in a slump which has become a way of life.  The guys on the squad have zero confidence.  Trades will be needed here to shake things up.  There is also a need for a GM change.  Tough decisions are hard to take but they are eventually taken.  
We think Montreal will end up last in their division and if they can manage to slump well enough; they could have a decent draft pick come next year.

The Ducks are talent laden unlike the Habs and for some reason they still can't get a grip. The coaching change hasn't helped and just like Montreal; losing has become a way of life.  We see them making some big moves during the trade deadline.  This could advantage them during the draft process.  Bobby Ryan looks set to be traded.  The question is who wants him bad enough and how can the Ducks get better positioned for the draft.

The Hurricanes are also contenders for the best of the worst.  Staal, Skinner and Ward make a good nucleus for this team.  If they can draft decent next year; they will rebound the quickest and emerge from mediocrity.  They could be a southern version of the newly energized NJDevils.

Nottingham Panthers Beat Up on Sheffield Steelers (UK Round Up 26th December)

Panthers Take First Blood in the Christmas Derby Home and Home

Boxing Day in the UK is a traditional sporting day. Across the country fans and players travel the length and breadth to follow their side taking full advantage of the holiday. Whilst I am off to watch Derby County play Leeds United in second tier soccer match there were 6 hockey games.

These included the first of two derby games between the Nottingham Panthers and the Sheffield Steelers. The game in the NIC on Tuesday was sold out 2 weeks ago and tonight’s game at the Motorpoint was expecting a bumper crowd as well.

Nottingham Panthers 5 Sheffield Steelers 3

With Nottingham taking advantage of Sheffield’s cup tie on Friday night the Panthers moved above the Steelers into second place in the table. However the Steelers do have games in hand but a win would see them jump back above their archrivals as they hunt down the Giants.

After a delayed start due to the larger crowd it was first blood to the Panthers however as they came back from a goal behind in the first period. Despite a brace from Jason Hewitt the Panthers scored twice in the third period with Rob Lachowicz and Jeff Heerema’s empty netter to take the spoils.

The Panthers win puts them 4 points clear of the Steelers and keeps them second place no matter what happens when the sides meet at the NIC on Tuesday. The Steelers although disappointed with loosing to their biggest rivals know they are still in the title race with all their games in hand.

Belfast Giants 7 Braehead Clan 2

The Giants made the short hop across the North Sea to Glasgow looking to take full advantage of their main rivals for the league title playing each other.

After a tight first period the Giants loosened up scoring 3 times in 10-second period minutes to take a 5-2 lead going into the third. A further 2 goals from Daryl Lloyd sealed the win and his hat trick in the final period.

The win and the result in Sheffield will please Giants coach Doug Christiansen as his side remain in pole position. The Clan however will be upset to be dominated so much on their own ice but know it is the games against the teams around them that are more important.

Edinburgh Capitals 2 Dundee Stars 4

The Capitals had had a difficult in the Odyssey last time out but knew that this was a game they needed to win to keep a challenge going for a high playoff ranking. For the Stars though this was a must win game. Without a win in the league under new head coach Brent Hughes the Stars playoff hopes are vanishing quickly unless they can get some wins against the teams around them.

Despite scoring the opening goal the Capitals patchy form returned as the Stars showed what they hitherto had only shown in glimpses. Mazur and Konkle scoring in the second to cap a strong period that saw the Stars take a 4 – 1 advantage.

Hartmann cut the advantage to 2 in the third period. But the Stars weathered the fight back to take a valuable win.

Brent Hughes will be delighted to get a first win in the league. And it is a big one as the Stars look to press on towards the playoffs. The Capitals however will be worried at their lack of form in the last two games.

Fife Flyers 1 Cardiff Devils 4

Fife head coach Todd Dutiaume had asked his team to push on for the win after their heroics in their overtime defeat to the current Champion Sheffield Steelers last weekend.

The Devils though took the early lead before Mike Hamilton levelled the scores up as once again the Flyers showed they cannot be taken for granted. The Flyers even outshot the Devils through the first period.

It wasn’t until the third period that the Devils got hold of the game with 3 goals in less than 7 minutes. Despite mounting a response the Flyers could not hit the net again and the game went to the Welshmen.

What would have been forecast an easy Devils victory before the game was anything but. And the Cardiff faithful who stayed away from this game missed a tight affair and a score line that somewhat flatters them.


There were just two games in the English Premier League including current league leaders Guildford playing their game in hand. Basingstoke too were looking to capitalise on their nearest rivals not in action as they took on a revived Peterborough side facing their former goalie.

The Flames did manage to get the 2 points against bottom side Telford but they were made to work for it. After a goalless first period the Tigers hit the Flames with 3 goals in 10 minutes but it was the home side showed why they are a championship contender as they fought back with 2 goals in the third to level the scores and force overtime. Hitting the overtime winner to take 2 points and increase the gap at the top of the table.

In Basingstoke though the Phantoms came out on top with a commanding performance showing they are still in the hunt for a playoff spot.

Telford Tigers 4 Guildford Flames 5 (Aot)
Peterborough Phantoms 5 Basingstoke Bison 2

Neil Tucker