26 Thoughts on 26

A few years ago, on a site called Atomic Sports Media, I started the tradition of giving myself one throwaway, Larry King type of column a year for my birthday. And when you consider that I have been caught up with the real job, recovering from a week that saw me cover both the Stanley Cup and NBA Finals and having to work on key dates like the NHL Draft and the start of free agency on July 1, I figured now might be the best time to capture all of those here.

So here are 26 thoughts on turning 26, in a hockey sense.

1. As much fun as the Stanley Cup Final was, to have six wild and crazy games between two teams that could put the puck in the net, the Olympics were the highlight of the 2009-10 hockey season. And the United States and Canada played two games, on back-to-back Sunday’s that they’ll be talking about until the 3009-3010 season.

2. Sidney Crosby would never do what LeBron James just did. In fact, no National Hockey League player would, it just isn’t Canadian.

3. As great as Jonathan Toews is, Patrick Kane is better for the National Hockey League. Few players come across as cocky, yet few have the charisma and the frat boy image to dodge the athlete-speak that plagues so many of today’s athletes. Plus, the mullet and the mouth guard look makes the women of Chicago grow weak at the knees.

4. A tap of the stick to my friend Christy Hammond, who went from the Red Wings Super Intern, to their Community Relations Coordinator. Christy defines what it means for a student to get involved in their passions and chase a dream.

5. Sad to hear about Bob Probert, who was once a roommate of Shawn Thornton, early in his career.

6. I wonder which NHL player would consider himself the best soccer player? You’ll see groups of players kicking a ball around before nearly every game.

7. The top three highest priced sports events of 2010, according to FanSnap.com? The Olympic Gold Medal Game, the Super Bowl, Blackhawks Stanley Cup Final games. Two out of three ain’t bad.

8. I don’t have any issues with NBC’s hockey coverage. It will never be of the level of anything out of Canada, but it isn’t terrible. That being said, I’d be willing to bet that most Canadians would trade Jim Hughson for Doc Emrik in a heartbeat now that iconic legend Bob Cole has been bumped down to the CBC B-Team. This isn’t a knock on Hughson, but immense praise for Emrik, who has a passion and a storytelling ability like few out there.

9. I was on the radio saying the Flyers would come back from a 3-0 deficit against the Bruins right after Game 4. At that point in time, with a healthy Gagne and an injured Krejci, the Flyers were the better hockey club.

10. At what point do the Sharks realize they have to blow it all up?

11.  If someone sends me an Erika Lawler Team USA jersey, I will proudly wear it during the media skate at next year’s Winter Classic and during the next pickup game with friends. I will also proudly admit to owning said jersey, but I’ll never have her dance moves.

12. Actually, I’d rather sport it at the Heritage Classic …

13. Hockey Pop Culture Highlight of the Year: The Mike Comrie-Hilary Duff engagement pictures. There was an episode of Lizzie McGuire where Duff goes shopping for a training bra and not even a decade later, there she is with a massive rock in hand, texting pictures back home and eventually giving Mike Comrie the best assist he had all season long.

14. If I’m Vegas, I start wagers on which hockey player marries Taylor Swift. How have we not set her up with Sidney Crosby yet?

15. I have complained endlessly about how the Bruins only play music from the last time they won a Stanley Cup over the TD Garden PA. It turns out, the guy who runs the music’s nickname is ‘Disco’ … Meanwhile, I heard Ke$ha’s Tik Tok in Montreal.

My playlist: Lots of Ke$ha, Party in the USA, Run this Town, Airplanes (I could really use a wish right now), Waving Flag. If Eminem was good enough for the league wide Stanley Cup promotions, I wouldn’t mind hearing him at a Bruins game.

16. Not going to lie, I love the Canadiens intro with the passing of the torch. One of the best in all of professional sports.

17. Did Free Agency actually happen this year? I mean, NOTHING happened.

18. The Inside Hockey YouTube channel netted approximately 150,000 views during the 2009-10 season. Among the highlights were Winter Classic coverage, the Blackhawks on-ice Stanley Cup celebration video and content with the U.S. Women’s Hockey Team which went viral during February’s Olympic Games in Vancouver. This is something I would love to see built upon in 2010-11 and ultimately, I believe Inside Hockey could be front and center providing postgame video from across the country at the NHL, AHL, NCAA and Junior level.

19. Bruins play-by-play voice Jack Edwards and I were going back and fourth about the World Cup all hockey season long, including an intense, very passionate conversation in the snowflakes at Fenway Park during the Winter Classic practices. If you thought Jack was something during NESN telecasts, this was the man who used words from the ‘Battle Hymn of the Republic’ after the U.S. beat Portugal in the 2002 World Cup. What I would have given to see him call Landon Donovan’s goal against Algeria that sent the Americans through to the knockout round as winners of the group. I missed hearing his voice and his intensity immensely, especially when it came to the endless diving done by some of the European clubs.

20. If Jennifer Love Hewitt was the person Taylor Hall was most excited to see at the NHL Entry Draft in Los Angeles, I think I’m happy with Tyler Seguin.

21. On a similar note, Hewitt picked up some recent notoriety for talking about her vajazzling experience on TV. Now to explain it to those who don’t know, vajazzling is the process of putting some bling-bling down there after a Brazillian wax. Personally, I think it would make a great hockey lingo ….. ‘Ovechkin vajazzled the defender with that move’… I think you define it as, excessively flashy to the point where you make someone look bad.

22. How soon will the Canadiens regret trading the rights to Jaroslav Halak to St. Louis. He was the difference between a run to the Eastern Conference Final and finishing 12th in the conference.

23. Fewer and fewer writers, especially in sports journalism are merely interested in telling you the facts instead of selling the beauty of their story. Sometimes, in the middle of reporting on player moves and 5-1 regular season borefests, we forget that this game and our jobs allow us to be creative and artistic at the same time. If I were teaching a journalism class, my first 30 minutes would be dedicated to this game story, written by Peter Gammons after Game 6 of the 1975 World Series.

The opening paragraphs are as simple as they are poetic.

“And all of a sudden the ball was there, like the Mystic River Bridge, suspended out in the black of the morning.

When it finally crashed off the mesh attached to the left-field foul pole, one step after another the reaction unfurled: from Carlton Fisk’s convulsive leap to John Kiley’s booming of the “Hallelujah Chorus” to the wearing off of numbness to the outcry that echoed across the cold New England morning.

At 12:34 a.m., in the 12th inning, Fisk’s histrionic home run brought a 7-6 end to a game that will be the pride of historians in the year 2525, a game won and lost what seemed like a dozen times, and a game that brings back summertime one more day. For the seventh game of the World Series.”

I have always maintained that good writing shouldn’t just tell a story, but at its very best, should utilize the brain, the body’s most sensual organ to its fullest.

24. This column does not apply to that previous statement. I have nothing beautiful to work with about turning 26. I just feel older….

25. I have to hand it to ESPN ombudsman Don Ohlmeyer for taking his paycheck and abiding by the company line in regards to the lack of hockey coverage on the Worldwide Leader. No quote in his recent article strikes me as arrogant as this one.

“There’s little question that hockey got more attention on ESPN when the network carried the games and the sport had its own nightly show. Did the NHL occasionally get an undeserved preference on “SportsCenter” because of the network-league relationship? Probably, but at the same time, with a nightly NHL show, “SportsCenter” also might have considered using its slots for another sport.”

This coming from the ombudsman of ESPN, which may as well broadcast Brett Farve’s bowel movements. That, even though I love the World Cup, shoved it down the throats of the American fan. And don’t get me started about “The Decision”, which blurred new lines between journalism and a 60 minute infomerical.

There is absolutely no excuse for Inside Hockey being able to produce better on-site video content on our HD Flip Cameras than the ‘Worldwide Leader in Sports.’ That doesn’t speak for the talent in place, which does a tremendous job, just the resources and general disrespect the ‘suits’ in Bristol give our sport. Seriously, how much time have Pierre LeBrun and Scott Burnside gotten on ESPNNews, or on ESPN Radio over the last few years. It is utterly offensive.

26. Let’s all tap our sticks for Kevin, Brad and Tim, who keep this site afloat on a daily basis. None of this would be possible without you. I speak for the entire Inside Hockey Team when I say I appreciate all of your hard work.


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