Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Unofficial NHL Awards for 2009-2010...

Ah, yes, it’s that time of year again. It’s time for my mock NHL awards. This tradition started several years ago and was originally based off of the mock awards that were voted on in high school. Over the years, they’ve evolved quite a bit and fake trophies come and go every season. The real NHL awards show doesn't take place until tomorrow night, but it's never too early to get into the spirit.

The Dr. Rahmani Award (comes with a free lasik procedure) goes to Dennis LaRue. When I saw the Brad May no-goal on TV, I really thought I’d seen the most obnoxiously bad call ever. Of course, then Jim Joyce came along and had to one-up him right in front of my eyes, but since these are NHL fake awards, it goes to LaRue.

The Hatfield-McCoy Enemies Award goes to Wings fans and referees. No season in recent memory has been plagued by more obnoxiously bad calls. Call us tin foil hat wearers all you want, but there were a boatload of legitimate complaints this season. The bad officiating was rampant throughout the league, but plays like the May goal, the shootout winner against Dallas, and the better part of the San Jose series only served to reinforce the notion.

The Golden Pretzel Award for Epic Choking goes to the Boston Bruins. They had a 3-game series lead and a 3-goal lead in Game Seven and still managed to lose. Seriously?

The Class Couple Award goes to Gary Bettman and Sidney Crosby. Previous winners include Gary Bettman and Sidney Crosby. In fact, it should really be re-named after them, what with all of the discussion of renaming the real NHL awards to honor more modern players. It's fairly obvious why the commish and his Little Buddy won, so I won't go into depth. (Yes, I did just copy/paste this from last year’s awards post.)

The List Award (as in, "You're on my list.") is awarded to Shane Doan. I honestly never had an issue with Doan until the Wings faced Phoenix in the first round. He very quickly made his way onto my list where he shall remain forever.

The Chosen Ones Award goes to the Chicago Blackhawks. Their Cup victory was everything the NHL could’ve dreamed of. They got there thanks to young stars they obtained by tanking for a long time and using high draft picks to make no-brainer selections. They’re a huge media market, and their stars are young, North American, and marketable. If it couldn’t be Pittsburgh…

The first annual Eavesed Award goes to (shockingly) Patrick Eaves for his hilarious contribution to the H2H festivities. We’ll be laughing about that one for years to come. (Stick tap to Jenn for this one.)

The Mr. Invisible Award goes to Jason Williams (Who?). I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I follow hockey pretty closely. Despite the amount of time I spend obsessing over the Wings, I always managed to find a way to forget about Williams. I know I wasn’t alone. Even when he was getting ready to come back from injury, the reporters included his progress as an afterthought several days later. Poor Willy. (Stick tap to Amanda for this one.)

The Goalie in A Past Life Award goes to Brad Stuart. How many goal line saves did he make this season? It seemed like every couple of games, he was knocking a puck out of the crease after it had gotten by the goalie.

The Master Thespian Award goes to the entire San Jose Sharks lineup for managing to make even professional soccer players shake their heads in disgust at their flopping. (Stick tap to Rob for this one.)

The Face Only A Mother Could Love Award goes to Shane Doan. His goal celebration in the first round inspired the awesome #Doanface photoshops. This could just as easily have gone to Crosby's Olympic celebration, but since that one wasn't actually from the NHL, Doan won out.

The Team MVP Award goes to Pavel Datsyuk for accumulating the most Cookies and Cupcakes throughout the season. He finished in first place with 11 sets of baked goods. Jimmy Howard finished just behind him with 10 awards. Hank and Homer tied for third with six each. Everyone who spent significant time on the roster managed to snag the goodies at least once except for Abdelkader, Draper, Maltby, May, Williams, Ericsson, Kronwall, Lebda, Lilja, and Meech.

The Team Scapegoat Award (maybe not an award, actually…) goes to Todd Bertuzzi. He managed to rack up eleven Golden Facepalms throughout the season. Big Rig was a distant second with six of them. Rafalski came in third with 5 Facepalms. The only major players to not get a Facepalm at least once were Draper, Franzen, Maltby, and May.

Thoughts for other awards or nominees?

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Red Wings at Cedar Point...

I recently headed down to Cedar Point with some of the ladies of the Commune, Sara and Amanda. Now, the Red Wings and roller coasters are two of the great loves of my life, so it was only natural that the conversation turned to comparisons of Wings players and Cedar Point rides in short order. What else were we supposed to do while waiting in lines all day? We tweeted most of our ride comparisons while we were at the park, but I thought it would be a good idea to flesh out some of our logic and reasoning (terms that I always use loosely when referring to Commune events). I’ll start with some of our lamer choices and work up to the Brett Lebda coaster, which I think was our master stroke.

We named Mike Babcock the mayor of Frontier Town. It's rough and tumble and outdoorsy, just like the Wings' fearless leader. Can you imagine anyone else in charge?

Junior Gemini=Mattias Ritola
Cedar Point has two kiddie coasters, so we decided to name both of them in honor of prospects in Grand Rapids. It seemed fitting. We went with this one for Ritola in honor of Andy.

Woodstock Express=Jakub Kindl
This is the other kiddie coaster at CP, and it was named for the Wings’ top defensive prospect.

Cedar Creek Mine Ride=Derek Meech
Nobody ever remembers that this ride exists. It’s pretty lame, and one could argue for its inclusion with the kiddie coasters that have been previously discussed. It’s decent enough to ride if you’ve got time to kill and you’re bored, but there are much better things to be doing with limited CP time.

Iron Dragon=Jiri Hudler
I don’t recall the exact reasoning behind this one, but it had something to do with being short, spitting water at people, and being vaguely Asian.

Thunder Canyon=Dan Cleary
There really wasn’t a lot of thought behind this one. We realized at one point that we’d forgotten to name a ride for Cleary and happened to be in line for this one at the time. It sort of works, because I was really excited to ride it because I wanted to get wet, but the first two times I was the only dry person on the raft. After some debate, we decided to try riding one last time so I could get wet and the third time around, I finally got soaked. It’s kind of like how Cleary came in with all these expectations, and didn’t really work out until he was given a shot in Detroit. Plus, we figured Newfies would like water.

Demon Drop=Marian Hossa
Demon Drop, an old favorite of mine, packed up and moved to a different park.

Skyhawk=Drew Miller
This is one of my favorite non-coasters at the park. It’s quite simple in nature, but manages to be very entertaining. It’s not unique, but provides an adequate break from the roller coaster routine.

Mean Streak=Gordie Howe
This was a tough one. I have a secret love for the Mean Streak because I’ve been lucky enough to ride it when the brakes on the big drop were not running, so I’ve experienced it in all of its glory. However, it got old and rickety and had to slow down to keep it from falling apart. It still packs a mean punch, though. When you get off of it, it feels like you just took an elbow to the teeth.

MaXair=Valtteri Filppula
As far as I’m concerned, this is the crown jewel of non-coasters at CP. It’s flashy, exciting, and spectacular to look at. It also has great hair. I rode a ride just like MaXair at King’s Island a few years before it was built at CP, so it even takes care of the older brother that looks the same part. The more I think about it, the more I like it.

Wildcat=Justin Abdelkader
It runs around, slamming you into the side of the car. It’s not the biggest, the fastest, or the most exciting, but it’s a good, solid ride that’s a lot of fun. It also happens to be Sara’s BFF.

Snake River Falls=Chris Osgood
We decided to go with the water rides for the goalies. Snake River Falls was never great, but once the old log ride got taken down, it was the main water attraction at the park. However, it was shut down the day we were at the park, kind of like Chris Osgood this season.

Shoot the Rapids=Jimmy Howard
Shoot the Rapids is the shiny, new centerpiece attraction that’s taking all of the glory away from Snake River Falls. Like its Red Wings counterpart, the new log ride has stumbled out of the gate. It was slated to be open at the beginning of the season, but has had issues that have prevented it from opening on schedule. I’m sure once its issues get sorted out, it’ll wow the crowds.

Sir Rub-a-Dub’s Tubs=Thomas McCollum
It’s a kiddie water ride. Get it?

Wicked Twister=Tomas Holmstrom
Neither one is particularly flashy, but both are incredibly amusing. Homer is known for his backside, while Wicked Twister is known for going backwards. It actually kind of looks a little bit like the way Homer skates, now that I think about it.

Blue Streak=Brian Rafalski
Both are little, old, adorable, and possibly Polish. This was the comparison that started this whole mess. Neither one packs much punch, but Blue Streak is a must-ride at Cedar Point.

Gemini=Kris Draper and Kirk Maltby
Even though we could have gone the obvious Eurotwin route on this one, we decided to go with the Wings’ legendary BFFs. Amanda even went as far as to name the red train The Ginger Rocket for Drapes, which left Maltby as the blue train. Even though Gemini is past its prime, I absolutely adore the ride. It’s still one of my favorites after all these years, just like the old Grind Liners.

Raptor=Johan Franzen
Raptor very nearly became named after Filppula because it flips, but we decided that it was too ferocious for him. We went with the Mule because it seemed to suit his power and strength. It can really knock you around, but manages to combine that with a little bit of grace as it swoops through barrel rolls. And at the very end, it steals your mouthguard.

Power Tower=Jonathan Ericsson
It’s big and impressive, but just kind of stands there. It’s not nearly as exciting as it looks.

Magnum=Henrik Zetterberg
Magnum’s a fantastic all-around ride and one of my very favorites. It’s a traditional out-and-back ride that I think suits Z’s two-way play. Magnum doesn’t get nearly enough attention these days, even though it’s much better than its flashier counterparts. It’s solid, dependable, and always delivers. I love it.

Maverick=Pavel Datsyuk
Maverick is neither the fastest nor the tallest ride in the park, but it packs a lot of punch. It twists and turns and whips you around, and at the end you find yourself checking your pockets to make sure none of your valuables are missing. It’s a perfect match for wily Pavel.

Corkscrew=Todd Bertuzzi
This was fitting because of the way Corkscrew twists and turns over the midway. It seemed like the perfect metaphor for Bert’s spin-o-ramas. Later on, as we were walking by, a train was pulling out of the station. A guy on the train yelled, “We’re gonna die!!!” It was perfect. He knew what he was getting himself into.

Millennium Force=Nicklas Lidstrom
Quite simply, both of them are perfect. Millennium is stunning. It’s by far the best ride at the park and even after ten years (which makes me feel ridiculously old) of operation and being surpassed in height and speed by younger rides, you could make a very strong argument that it’s still the best roller coaster on the planet. That sounds an awful lot like a certain defenseman that I know.

Top Thrill Dragster=Darren Helm
Dragster has blazing speed, but not a lot of finish. It launches like a rocket, just like Helmer on a breakaway, but lacks the substance of Magnum or Maverick. In the end, it’s always a bit of a disappointment, but manages to keep you coming back for more hoping that there’ll be a better ending the next time around.

Disaster Transport=Brett Lebda
The Lebda coaster was by far my favorite name association. It was absolutely spot on. There’s the routine of, “Oh yeah, I forgot about that ride. I guess we can go on it. Oh god, this ride sucks. What were we thinking?” There’s also the cheesy theming, black lights, and glow paint that you queue through as you enter the Lebda Lair. Like Amanda said, it was, “so very Lebda.” Anyone who’s ever been there knows what we’re talking about.

That’s all I’ve got. Any thoughts, additions, or alternate suggestions?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Two More Years of Spin-o-Ramas...

I'm a little late to the party with this one, but I wanted to add my thoughts on the re-signing of fan-favorite Todd Bertuzzi. Even though I've never been a fan of good ol' Bert, I wasn't entirely opposed to having him return to the Wings. Thanks to Gary's cap, there weren't a whole lot of viable options out there. I just wish his cap hit was a bit lower. I really didn't expect him to get a raise. More of my thoughts are over at the Chicks blog here.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Homer Signs for Two More Years...

It's a good thing I saved some lingonberry juice to toast Homer's return for two more years. He comes in with a cap hit of $1.85 million, which is just about perfect. He was my number two priority after Nick Lidstrom, so I'd say this off-season is going about as well as possible. More of my thoughts are over at Chicks.

Now I guess Kenny Holland is going to turn his sights to Todd Bertuzzi. Ugh.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

TPH Back for More...

I was off the internet for a while this morning while I was at work. When I sat down to check my email at lunch and saw one with the subject line "Breaking News: Lidstrom," I pretty much had a heart attack. Last night I for some reason felt compelled to twitter about the fact that I didn't think he'd be returning. The announcement about needing a week to decide coupled with the news about his son in hockey school in Sweden had me feeling pretty negative. Boy, was I ever glad to be wrong though. On my way home from work, I stopped at Ikea and picked up some sparkling lingonberry juice for a celebratory toast. This news, combined with the fact that I finally turned my thesis in this morning make this a pretty good day in my life. More of my thoughts are over at the Chicks blog.

Now we just need to get Homer signed...