Friday, November 16, 2007

This is the End...

Well, sadly, real-life is a real pain.

To put it simply, I just do not have the time to devote to a college hockey blog anymore. Despite my undying love for this sport, and despite my attempts to make this blog flourish, illness, school, and other things have hindered my impact here greatly.

I really was planning so much for this blog. I wanted to have daily updates, near-daily rundowns of other blogs, analysis -- the whole nine. I looked to other great blogs, like WCH, as my quazi-blueprint, and aspired to reach the elite levels of the college hockey blogosphere, and perhaps a bit higher.

Sadly, I have learned that, well, I’m extremely human. I just don’t have the iron will that is needed to be a content-generating machine. And ultimately, what this blog has become, score and poll updates, was not what I had in mind as primary content.

I will keep the blog "up" essentially for two reasons -- one, in an attempt to not fall to the same fate that the Hockey East Blog did when they shut their doors, and, two, perhaps people might find the link list to the right marginally useful in the future. However, for now at least, it’s extremely unlikely that new content will be created.

Most importantly, however, thanks to my readers and other bloggers who supported this blog -- without those people, this blog would have not reached any level of success.

A. A.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Final Scores (Nov. 15).

Thursday, November 15th

● Miami U. 4, Michigan State 2.
Justin Mercier (MIA) - 2 goals.

Monday, November 12, 2007

USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll (Nov. 12)

Courtesy of:

TeamPoints(First Place Votes)Last PollRecord
University of Michigan491(21)29-1-0
Miami (Ohio) University479(12)19-1-0
Michigan State University430(1)38-1-0
University of Denver398
University of North Dakota377
University of New Hampshire367
Colorado College285
Clarkson University218
Boston College215
University of Wisconsin210
University of Notre Dame198
University of Minnesota154
St. Cloud State University105
University of Massachusetts37
University of Minnesota-Duluth31
Others receiving votes: Harvard University 25, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute 21, University of Maine 15, Bowling Green State University 7, Michigan Tech University 6, Niagara University 5, U.S. Air Force Academy 2, St. Lawrence University 1.

A Weekend-Ending Schmoz.

Strange things were a happenin’ on Saturday at the Kohl Center. Well, actually, with the semi-bad blood between these two squads, perhaps it was slightly expected...

Regardless, from my understanding, the Fighting Sioux of North Dakota and the Wisconsin Badgers played a hockey game on Saturday, things were getting chippy throughout portions of the game (apparently beginning after a North Dakota goal), and, by the time the smoke settled, North Dakota won 3-1, a multiple-minute melee occurred (along with reportedly many miniature melees), and over 120 penalty minutes were spooned-out by likely-exhausted WCHA officials.

Here’s USCHO’s report on the game. Below, some YouTubery from the encounter.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Final Scores (Nov. 9).

Friday, November 9th
Atlantic Hockey:

● Bentley 4, Connecticut 2.
Dustin Cloutier (BEN) - goal, assist.
● Air Force 2, Rochester Inst. of Tech. 1. (OT)
● Army 4, American International 3.
Bryce Hollweg (ARMY) - goal, assist.
● Holy Cross 3, Canisius 2.
Rob Forshner (HC) - goal, assist.

Michigan 4, Alaska 0.
Aaron Palushaj (MICH) - goal, assist
Western Michigan 4, Northern Michigan 2.
Cam Watson (WMU) - 2 goals, assist.
● Nebraska-Omaha 5, Ohio State 2.
Mick Lawrence (UNO) - 2 goals.
Bowling Green 6, Ferris State 3.
James Perkin (BGSU) - 2 goals, assist.
● Notre Dame 2, Miami U. 1.

Bemidji State 2, Alabama-Huntsville 0.
Travis Winter (BSU) - goal, assist.
Niagara 4, Robert Morris 0.
Matt Caruana (NIA) - 2 goals.

● Harvard 3,
Rensselaer Poly. 0.
Alex Biega (HAR) - goal, assist.
● St. Lawrence 4, Princeton 3.
Charlie Giffin (SLU) - goal, assist.
● Cornell 2, Yale 1.
Riley Nash (CRN) - goal, assist.
Dartmouth 4, Union 0.
Scott Fleming (DTM) - goal, assist.
● Quinnipiac 3, Clarkson 2.
Jamie Bates (QU) - goal, assist. Bryan Leitch (QU) - goal, assist.
● Brown 5, Colgate 2.
Ryan Garbutt (BRN) - goal, assist. Sean Muncy (BRN) - goal, assist.

Hockey East:
Merrimack 3, Boston College 3. (OT)
Matt Jones (MMK) - 2 goals. Anthony Aiello (BC) - goal, assist.
● UMass 5, Boston University 3.
Chase Langeraap (UMASS) - goal, assist. Pete MacArthur (BU) - 2 goals, assist.
Providence 6, Maine 2.
Matt Taormina (PRV) - 2 goals, 3 assists. Nick Mazzolini (PRV) - goal, 2 assists. Andrew Sweetland (MAI) - 2 goals.
● Mass.-Lowell 2, New Hampshire 2. (OT)
● Northeastern 4,
Vermont 2.
Joe Vitale (NE) - goal, assist.

Minnesota 4, Minnesota State 3.
Tony Lucia (MIN) - goal, assist. Blake Wheeler (MIN) - 2 assists.
Colorado College 5, Minnesota-Duluth 3.
Derek Patrosso (CC) - goal, assist. Jordan Fulton (UMD) - goal, assist.
Wisconsin 4, North Dakota 0.
Brendan Smith (WIS) - goal, assist.
St. Cloud State 5, Michigan Tech 2.
Ryan Lasch (SCSU) - 2 goals. Peter Rouleau (MTU) - 2 goals.

Michigan State 6, Mercyhurst 2.
Tim Kennedy (MSU) 2 goals. Justin Abdelkader (MSU) goal, 2 assists. Scott Pitt (MHR) - 2 assists.
Lake Superior State 3, Wayne State 2.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Week 6 Breakdown.

#12 Notre Dame v. #1 Miami U. (CCHA)
Fri./Sat., Steve Cady Arena, Oxford, OH; 7:35p/7:05p EST.

The Miami RedHawks (8-0-0, 6-0-0 in the CCHA), without question, are playing an absolutely crazy brand of hockey. Undefeated in the CCHA, the Redhawks have won all but one of their conference games by at least three goals, tallying as many as nine in a game against Northern Michigan last week. Two players for Miami have notched points in the double-digits – senior Ryan Jones (8g-3a-11pts.) and freshman Carter Camper (3g-7a-10pts). Junior forward Justin Mercier has notched seven goals and a pair of assists thus far this season as well for Miami.

The Fighting Irish of Notre Dame had a rough start to the season in non-conference play, going 2-2-0 with losses against Wisconsin and Denver. However, since those opening two weeks, the Irish have settled down a bit, going 4-1-0 in conference play with a win at Bowling Green, a series-split at Ferris State, and a series-sweep against Lake Superior State. Senior forward Mark Van Gilder has notched six goals and three assists thus far in the early season, and sophomore Ryan Thang has netted five goals for the Domers.

#15 Minnesota-Duluth v. #9 Colorado College (WCHA)

Fri./Sat., World Arena, Colorado Springs, CO; 7:35p/7:05p MST.

Woof. One of the surprising developments in the WCHA thus far in the season – Minnesota-Duluth is heading into Colorado Springs looking quite strong. The Bulldogs are 4-1-1 thus far in the season – a record which includes a conference win against Denver, a sweep of conference foe St. Cloud State, a victory against the CCHA’s Northern Michigan, and a tie against the CCHA’s Lake Superior State.

And the thing is, thus far, it has truly been a team-effort for Minnesota-Duluth. Not one Bulldog has flashy statistics – five skaters have scored a pair of goals (with four of those players notching at least a pair of assists). It also helps that UMD sophomore goaltender Alex Stalock has been nothing short of stellar, tallying a near-microscopic 1.65 GAA in six starts.

Woof? Woof, indeed, my friends.

It’s been no bed of roses for Colorado College thus far (3-3-0). After playing a pair of exhibitions, the Tigers have taken on a “who’s who” list in college hockey – Minnesota, New Hampshire, and North Dakota in consecutive weekend series. But despite the tough schedule for CC thus far, the Tigers have found a way to keep their heads above water in the WCHA, going 3-1-0 for 6 points. Two players for CC have tallied four goals – sophomore Bill Sweatt (4g-3a-7pts.) and junior Eric Walsky (4g-0a-4pts.).

Niagara v. Robert Morris (CHA)
Fri./Sat., RMU Island Sports Center, Moon Township, PA; 7:35p EST.

A really good series that you’ll, sadly, not hear a lot about coming up in CHA, as the 5-2-0 Niagara Purple Eagles make the trip to Moon Township, PA, taking on the 4-2-0 Robert Morris Colonials for a weekend pair.

Robert Morris started the season shocking the college hockey world, winning the 2007 Nye Frontier Classic in Anchorage, beating conference foe Wayne State and Boston University in consecutive nights. After getting trounced twice against Wisconsin in non-conference play, the Colonials bounced back, taking a weekend sweep in CHA action against Wayne State. Robert Morris has a trio of very good upperclassman – senior Ryan Carruthers (3g-4a-7pts.), junior Chris Margott (1g-6a-7pts.), and junior Jason Towsley (4g-2a-6pts.).

The season for the Niagara Purple Eagles, a team projected to, by many, take the CHA this season, has been characterized by book-end losses against season-opener Merrimack and conference-opener Bemidji State, and a five-game winning streak which included wins against Bowling Green State (thus far, a modest surprise in the CCHA at 3-2-0) and Western Michigan (in a weekend sweep). NU senior forward Matt Caruana has tallied five goals and three assists thus far in the season.

#4 North Dakota v. #10 Wisconsin (WCHA)
Fri./Sat., Kohl Center, Madison, WI; 7:05p CST.

North Dakota, at the end of last week, was looking very un-North Dakota-like in a 4-1 loss to Colorado College. That was the bad news for UND. The good news? Well, they’re still North Dakota, and thus, are still chock-full of talent. Linesmates and juniors T.J. Oshie (5p-2a-7pts) and Ryan Duncan (3g-5a-8pts.) are still fantastic players, and senior goaltender Jean-Philippe Lamoureux, still, is having a fantastic early-season, only giving up seven goals (GAA of 1.06) on the strength of a .958 SV%.

Meanwhile, things have been awkwardly quiet out of Madison as of late. The Badgers have played six games total (no exhibitions), going 4-2-0 with non-conference wins against Notre Dame and Robert Morris, and one lone in-conference win against Michigan Tech. They do have one heckuva freshman – forward Kyle Turris has notched five goals and eight assists in Wisconsin’s six games thus far.

Massachusetts v. Boston U. (Hockey East)
Fri., Agganis Arena, Boston, MA; 7:30p EST.

Home, sweet home… possibly. It almost seems as if Boston U.’s played just about everywhere this season except Agganis, having semi-disastrous results regardless of which rink they play at. BU’s season began in Anchorage at the Nye Frontier Classic, taking a disappointing third place with a tie against Alaska-Anchorage and a loss against Robert Morris. Following the tournament, the Terriers went back to Boston for a drudging against New Hampshire, then, back on the road to Ann Arbor, losing a pair against non-conference Michigan at Yost. But recently, the Terriers have begun to turn things around, taking a pair of games at Providence and at home against Mass.-Lowell.

What do we know after all of this for Boston U.? Good question. Well, we know BU’s offensive output has been, as of late, balanced, with seven Terriers scoring at least two goals in the early-portion of the season.

What do we know about UMass? The Minutemen have had just as crazy, if not, a crazier season. UMass has tallied a record of 3-2-2, with a conference win against Merrimack, draws against Mass.-Lowell and Providence, and losses at Providence and at non-conference Clarkson. Five players for UMass have tallied at least two goals in the early-portion of the season.

Final Scores (Nov. 6, 8).

Tuesday, November 6th
Atlantic Hockey:
● Bentley 3, Sacred Heart 1.
Dustin Cloutier (BEN) - goal, assist.

Thursday, November 8th
● Nebraska-Omaha 5, Ohio State 2.
Brandon Scero (UNO) - 2 goals, assist.

Monday, November 5, 2007

USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll (Nov. 5)

Well, perhaps I can squeeze this in...

Courtesy of:

Points(First Place Votes)Last PollRecord

Miami (Ohio) University510(34)18-0-0

University of Michigan465

Michigan State University400

University of North Dakota398

University of Denver372

Boston College360

University of New Hampshire338

Clarkson University244

Colorado College231

University of Wisconsin189

University of Maine154

University of Notre Dame151

Michigan Tech University96

University of Minnesota82

University of Minnesota-Duluth60
Others receiving votes: Niagara University 8, Ferris State University 6, Princeton University 5, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute 4, St. Cloud State University 3, U.S. Air Force Academy 2, College of the Holy Cross 1, St. Lawrence University 1.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Disturbing Trend in the WCHA?

The word has always been that the WCHA is an upperclassmen's league. For years common wisdom has predicted and statistics have confirmed that the teams with large junior and senior classes were the teams to succeed. The league has had it's share of "phenoms" or "one year wonders" and those great players have helped their teams succeed of course. But those players have been the exception. More often than not freshman in the WCHA require some seasoning time before they step up. But this year an early trend looks to me as if it could possibly upset the upperclassmen apple-cart. Granted that for some teams only 6 games have passed but the majority of WCHA teams have played 8 games. For this fan, one statistic specifically jumps out at me.

Of the 222 goals scored this season 112 of them have come from freshmen and sophomores. More than 50 percent? After just 8 games? What happened to the "seasoning time"? Did nobody tell these kids they're supposed to simmer for a while? Here's a team-by-team breakdown:
  • DU - 23 of 25 for 92 percent
  • UAA - 22 of 27 for 81 percent
  • UW - 19 of 28 - for 68 percent
  • SCSU- 18 of 30 for 60 percent
  • MSUM - 9 of 16 for 56 percent
  • UMTC - 6 of 17 for 35 percent
  • CC - 4 of 16 for 25 percent
  • UND - 4 of 16 for 25 percent
  • MTU - 4 of 24 for 17 percent
  • UND - 3 of 23 for 13 percent
The biggest effect of this youth trend are being seen primarily at 4 schools and like any good bell curve there are 4 schools on the other end of the spectrum. But more than 50% league-wide? Is that really out of line? I calculated last season for comparisons sake:
  • UND - 117 of 153 for 76 percent
  • UMD - 73 of 103 for 70 percent
  • UMTC - 105 of 161 for 65 percent
  • DU - 63 of 107 for 58 percent
  • MSUM - 61 of 106 for 57 percent
  • UAA - 44 of 90 for 48 percent
  • UW - 43 of 93 for 46 percent
  • CC - 48 of 111 for 43 percent
  • MTU - 41 of 90 for 42 percent
  • SCSU - 46 of 127 for 36 percent
The season totals were 641 of 1147 for 56 percent. Well that certainly didn't confirm the "wow" factor in my mind for this year. Of course it's still early and I'd imagine that plenty of youngsters will begin contributing more as the season goes on.

All this spurred my curiosity and so I calculated the six years. In 05-06 the league-wide average was 48 percent (599 of 1245). In 04-05 the average was 46 percent (591 of 1283). In 03-04 the average was 49 percent (680 of 1381). In 02-03 the average was 50 percent (702 of 1394). In 01-02 the average was 43 percent (591 of 1372). In 00-01 the average was 41 percent (550 of 1325). So all this indicates two trends. Scoring is declining slightly but underclassmen seem to be providing more and more of it as time goes on.

Considering all this information begins to leave me with the impression that the quality of the WCHA product could actually be declining slightly. I doubt the top three teams this season would fare very well against the top three team from 00-01 or 01-02. This is all due of course to the last NHL collective bargaining agreement. Gee thanks NHL. I'm not saying here that the WCHA is less competitive or exciting than it was 5 or 6 years ago but the trend is a concern. The NHL's new tendency to try to sign players before they've used their eligibility is slowly turning Division 1 hockey into not much more than an NHL farm system. It's disturbing. Thoughts? Should I have looked at older stats? Are my conclusions reasonable? Will the teams that succeed be the ones that can keep most of their players for 4 years?

A Hiatus...

... until Thursday. Very busy on my end.

I will post a week-in-preview post by late-Thursday/early-Friday.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Final Scores (Oct. 30, Nov. 2).

Tuesday, October 30th
● Quinnipiac 3, American International 2.

Thursday, November 2nd
● Notre Dame 7,
Lake Superior State 3.
Hockey East:
Boston U. 5, Providence 2.
Merrimack 3, UMass-Lowell 1.

Monday, August 20, 2007

It's time to call it quits

I've been blogging for over 2.5 years and as you probably have noticed, I really haven't done much in the last 2-3 months. It's about time that I give this up as the drive just isn't there anymore. I covered the last 2 Packer seasons, drafts, etc and I watched all the games thinking in my head "How can I best blog this?". It has become tiring. Now I am simply going to enjoy the games and still critique them, but I think I would be better served for a while just commenting on other Packer sites and blogs, as that is what we all crave, someone to comment on what we do.

This blog was originally started as a writing experiment and turned into a primarily WI sports (mostly Packer) site with some snippets of my life thrown in. I've met a lot of great people while doing this and found sites I never would have.

So, where should you go for great Packer info?

Brats and Beer has always been a favorite, he's a good writer and not afraid to call BS when he sees it.

Mr. Carriveau does a fantastic job over at the
Railbird Central. He's made leaps and bounds in his blog over the last 1.5 years. Proud to say I was there in the beginning for him.

The gang over at
The Frozen Tundra has carried the torch very well that I started 2 yrs ago there (where I had some of my best writings).

Check out SBNations
Acme Packing Company. It's a new guy who's just started about 2-3 months ago but he's doing a nice job.

Someday, I hope to write again when the muse strikes and hopefully one of these fine sites would allow me to join their team as my days of flying solo are at an end.

It's been a great run of over 450 posts and 75,000 visitors. I thank all of you for making this site so much fun for so long. Take care and God bless.

Monday, August 13, 2007

First preseason game in the books

The Packers played the Steelers on Saturday night. The final score really doesn't matter (we won 13-9) and all that does are injuries and several positional battles. So, here's what we learned:

  • Brandon Jackson is a rookie. He had several moments where he stood out, but this was his first "game" as a pro and had the understandable rookie moments.
  • Jones is a stud WR. He's quickly moving from being labeled a draft "reach" to a "steal".
  • Aaron Rodgers is nowhere near the bust the critics like to label him as. He looked fantastic and if he keeps this up, he's looking to be a fine successor to Favre.
  • The starting defense was awesome, especially Jenkins. He and Kampman are going to be a fantastic DE combo this year.
  • The starting offense was understandably rusty. A bit disappointing, but again, just the first pre-season game and they'll get better as they get more playing time in the preseason.
  • Blackmon is making a huge play for the nickelback spot and contributed quite well on special teams. He has really stepped up his game this year.

Most importantly, nobody got hurt in the game. Justin Harrell was exhausted at the end of the game, but he needs to get into football shape after such a long injury layoff. Plus, the Packers are thin right now with DT and he needed to play some extended time.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

47 games to go

What is with the Brewers on the road?

They are the 5th worst road team in the MLB. They have a winning percentage of 38% on the road, that's pathetic. They have lost 9 of their last 11 on the road, add in that they have lost 5 of their last 9 at home, that's 6-14 in the last 20 games and it's a sad state of affairs in Milwaukee. The worst part is, they have more road than home games to finish the season.

This has gone way beyond the Brewers not catching breaks or catching a hot team at the wrong time. This is flat out a crappy ballclub right now and has been for some time.

Sure, some may say I'm just mad after we get swept by Colorado. True, but the Crew was not even competitive in that series, not even close. They were outscored 36-10. 36-10!!!

The vaunted starting pitching staff we were supposed to have has failed us for over the past two months. Suppan (ERA 4.84/ WHIP 1.52) has been a complete bust, Bush (5.03/1.36) hasn't repeated last year's performance which likely was a fluke, Vargas (4.97/1.50) only wins because he happens to get run support, otherwise he's not much better than Bush. Cappy (4.96/1.49) has hit bottom, and our best pitcher Sheets (3.39/1.16) is on the DL for a while yet. Don't even get me started on how completely unreliable our bullpen is.

I'm making the call right now:

This team is not winning the division, nor are they making the playoffs.

There is no pitching here and at this point in the season, that's what separates the contenders from the pretenders. There is absolutely zero confidence in the Brewers dugout right now. They are hoping they can win the division, hope is not a strategy. They have to go out there and take the division. However, this team is not ready yet to do that, they don't know how.

<;span style="font-size:85%;">It's another disappointing season in Milwaukee, I'm just choosing to believe it a month and a half early. I hope the Brewers prove me wrong, but I just don't see it happening.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Photo of the Day

Training camp is looking great right now, but it's camp and I won't get too worked up about it. So to pass the time, I figured some nice picures will pass the time this week until we get to the first preseason game.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

KG gone from MN

Got a comment from my NYC atty buddy Russ wondering about the KG trade. Since I live in the Twin Cities I get a front row seat for it.

The T-Wolves are a complete disaster right now and have been for several seasons. They gave stupid contracts to poor players who had some success. Those players than went on to suck horribly. However, the worst contract that was given was to the Big Ticket himself. His deal he got in 1997 for 6 yrs $126 million was worse for basketball than A-Rod's deal was for baseball. KG's deal handcuffed the Wolves for years as they simply could not sign players. Then his contract extention in 2003 which gave him over $20M/yr continued the lunacy. Sure they made trades, but eventually, those players left for more money.

The T'Wolves are rebuilding, yet again and KG simply couldn't and wouldn't go through that. He wants to win a title and Boston offers him a better chance of getting there in the weak Eastern Conference. If he, Pierce and Allen can stay healthy, Boston should run away with the Atlantic Division and be a 1 or 2 seed come playoff time. Happy days are back in Boston.

Minnesota sports fans love the big name player and essentially need it to really root for and follow a sports team. Right now, the T-Wolves don't have that and I would be surprised if they avg in the top half of attendance this coming season. This is a 20-25 win team in Minneapolis right now.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Around the NFC North Camps

Well, now that some training camps have started I thought it would be interesting to look around to see how some of our division rivals are doing:

Detroit Lions
Kitna became the laughing stock of the league by saying the Lions were going to win 10 games this season. Yes, they did draft Calvin Johnson, but he still isn't signed and per the web, he's not even close. He stays out too long and he won't get a chance to get to know a complex Mike Martz offense and will be fairly useless his rookie year. The OL still hasn't gotten any better from last season and thus no running game and poor pass protection. Poor poor Lions.

Minnesota Vikings
Well, Tarvaris Jackson is looking absolutely brutal so far. He apparently is allergic to completing passes to his own teammates. It is looking more and more like Brooks Bollinger is going to be the starting QB come opening day. If Brooks is your starter, your offense is screwed, well, same can be said of Tarvaris. RB Chester Taylor got hurt and rookie RB Adrian Peterson isn't dazzling anyone so far. The Vikes D apparently looks good, but look at what they are going up against for an offense.

Chicago Bears
The Bears get Lance Briggs back, after his proclomation that he will never play for them again. Real good chemistry there. They lose thug DT Tank Johnson for his gun charges and that leaves a big hole in the DL. They are counting on the ancient Adam Archuleta as their answer at safety. Plus, they still think Rex Grossman is their answer at QB.

Meanwhile, the Packers draft picks are playing fantastically, the OL is blocking very well and the LB and secondary have made marked improvements. So far, things are looking great.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Time to talk Packers (finally)!

It's been a real boring summer for football news, and as well it should be. The Packers moved along with mini-camps and coaches and the GM talking up players and such. We are finally within 2 days of training camp so there is something to actually discuss.

The biggest news is that RB Brandon Jackson
has finally signed and will be reporting to camp on time. This is a huge win for the Packers, and Jackson. RB's who hold out from camp come in behind the curve and just never seem to catch up, so it's almost a wasted season. Jackson can come in from the start and learn the system. We still have to get DT Justin Harrell and WR James Jones signed, but I think they will both be finished up fairly soon. The Steelers signed their pick (#15 overall) to a deal already, so the market is set for Harrell, it's just details at this point. Jones is admitedly a project, so I wasn't expecting much from him this year anyways.

Let's take a look at the roster to see what we should be looking for in camp:

With Favre returning, we are set at QB. I've heard all the negative talk about how he's fading and blah blah blah. But he's still the best QB in the division, so suck on that you fans of the rest of the NFC North.

The running game is going to be the biggest key this year. The OL all returns with Clifton reportedly in the best shape he's been in since Sapp cheap-shotted him several years ago. With a year of the zone blocking system under their belt and Colledge, Spitz, Wells and Moll all taking part in the offseason lifting program in Green Bay this offseason, look for the blocking to improve quite a bit. Last year we saw some flashes of what they can do, just need those to increase and be more consistent this season. The running back duo of Morency and Jackson should provide a surprising 1-2 punch. While both have questions around them that neither can be a featured back, but there is no expectations of that. It's a RB-by-committee approach, so they should see equal time with McCarthy going with whomever is hot that day.

The offensive line needs to improve it's pass blocking from last season, and they should. Last year there were games with 3 rookie OL in and the Packers had to use a max protect package far too often. It limited the passing game as only 2-3 receivers could go out at any given time. Easy defense for most teams (except the Vikes, they sucked at pass coverage). Again, given the former rookies now have that year under their belts and a solid offseason, they need to step it up.

The wide receivers are an uninspiring bunch after superstud Donald Driver and surprise 2nnd yr man Greg Jennings. Jennings needs to build on his spectactular first half of his rookie season and be more consistant. As for the rest of the WR corps, it's a crapshoot. Jones, as I mentioned earlier, is a project and not really counted on for big things. Ferguson is a waste of a uniform, and the rest of the group hasn't really shown anything. Need to have someone step up their game and show they belong.

With the drafting of DT Justin Harrell, the Packers have one of the better DL in the NFC. After Kris Jenkins was moved to DE, the line overall excelled in stopping the run, being one of the best units in this category over the last 4 games last year. Harrell will add even more interior run-stopping ability and give us unprecidented quality depth at that position. Uber-DE Aaron Kampman should see a similar season this year as his 15.5 sack season last year. Definately the strength of the team is the front 4 (or 8 in our case)

The linebackers are an interesting group. MLB Nick Barnett is underappreciated in Packer circles with many gleefully pointing out his faults. He's been in 4 different schemes in 4 seasons, and he has thrived. Now he gets the same scheme for the first time in consecutive seasons so he should only be better and start turning into the playmaker we need him to be. AJ Hawk. He lived up to the billing last year and should be even better this year. Brady Poppinga is the interesting case study here. He's fast and has that "never ending motor", he certainly has the physical ability to play at a high level, but injuries have kept him from getting there. The constant theme with all of these guys is their less than stellar pass coverage. This is a definate area that needs to be addressed in camp.

Speaking of pass coverage, how about that elite duo of CBs Al Harris and Charles Woodson? These guys define shutdown and the team looks for them to help lead the defense. The nickle back position is a bit sketchy, but the Packers have several promising young CBs in Walker and Blackmon who look to fill this spot. The safties, *sigh*, are another story. After a brilliant rookie season, Nick Collins regressed last year. One argument for that was he had to make up for the absolute piss-poor play of Marquand Manuel. To say Manuel sucked is an insult to hookers everywhere. Many Packer fans hope that Marviel Underwood, who was outstanding last camp and preseason before being lost to injury, steps up as the starter. I am simply hoping that Manuel goes from terrible to average. That would be a big improvement. The safety position absolutely needs to improve this season or we'll be seeing a lot of the big pass plays being given up again.

Special teams
The punt and kick return units were dreadful last year and need to improve big-time this year. We were one of (if not the) worst kick return units last year. The young WRs need to step up in camp and show they have some return ability. The draft this year was geared towards getting players who were special teams standouts so let's see if that translates to better kick returns and coverages.

I fully believe that P John Ryan and K Dave Rayner will still be our starters. Both are young guys who will only get better and both have loads of potential.

There's my pre-camp thoughts on the team. We have a lot of question marks, but certainly we have some solid bases to build around. Let's hope for no major injuries and that Harrell and Jones sign soon. Go Pack!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Back from vacation

Hi all,

Haven't posted in a while as I've been on vacation in South Dakota with the wife and kids. While the drive out there really isn't all that interesting (I mean it is really, really boring), once you get to the Badlands and Black Hills, it is completely worth it.

The Badlands was awesome. I haven't been out here since I was 2, so it truly was like seeing it for the first time. Just breathtaking scenery and awe-inspiring. You feel like you are on a different planet. My kids really loved climbing around the rocks and getting "lost". We also saw a rattlesnake there, which was cool.

Definately the cutest thing we saw all trip were the prairie dogs. The kids absolutely loved them and wanted us to stop and pull over everytime we passed by one of the prairie dog towns. These towns were huge! Some of them were the size of about 10-12 football fields big. To think that these tunnels are all interconnected and that the prairie dogs know them all is amazing.

Next up was the infamous Wall Drug. You've seen the signs on the road "1365 miles to Wall Drug" out in the middle of Arizona, Texas, WV or wherever. I know I've seen bumper stickers for it on cars in Nashville. Well, it certainly was an interesting stop. We got the free ice water and the insanely good donuts. We didn't stay too long as, well, it's a store and restaurant when you get down to it. A really big and fairly interesting one.

We then spent a couple of days tenting in Custer State Park. That place is outstanding. The kids got to pan for gold, go swimming in really clear lakes (we're talking almost Boundry Waters clear), and we all went to what was my favorite part of the trip: Mount Rushmore.

I've always been impressed with this monument and the story behind it. The sculptor who started it, Gutzon Borglum had 9 different versions of the monument in mind and constantly changed his vision as the work unfolded depending on how the rock in the mountain was. He never saw it finished as he died just prior to the completion.

I took this picture moments before a hail storm hitting us here. Yep, we get there and 10 minutes later a hail storm hits with hail coming down about 1/2 inch in diameter. It was really cool and the kids absolutely loved it. They kept running out in it (along with several other kids there) to get the larger hailstones. Needless to say, we had to buy some souvenier t-shirts for them to wear.

The park is full of animals, while we were there the park had approximately 950 elk, 950 big horned sheep, 1000 prongers and 1000 buffalo. The buffalo were what the kids were most looking forward to on the trip. One evening we drove on the Wildlife Trail Loop and encountered a herd of about 150 buffalo next to and in the road, they were majestic. Buffalo of all different ages were about and the one in the picture was one of the biggest ones. He came right next to our van and I could have reached out and petted him he was so close. But, given that I don't believe in possibly provoking a 1 1/2 ton animal, I kept the window closed as he came by.

One night we drove up to a fire watch outpost on a 6000 foot hill (or would that make it a mountain?). The gravel road going up was just wide enough for 2 cars to pass by each other, and the top had just breathtaking views. It seemed as though you could see for over 100 miles. We got there just prior to sunset and the views just got better.

Later on in the trip, Adam got to dig at the Mammoth site in Hot Springs which was a very cool place. The building for the site surrounds the entire dig, so there's no slaving under the hot sun. Sweet!

We also visited the Mitchell Corn Palace which frankly was disappointing. The inside is just a meeting hall and a gym. Pfft, a bit overrated if you ask me.

Overall it was a fantastic trip and one that we likely will do again with the kids someday.

Friday, June 29, 2007

With the #6 pick in the NBA draft, the Bucks select...


In one of the more surprising moves in the Bucks and NBA history, the Bucks took Chinese PF/C Yi Jianlian (pronounced EE TEE-an-LEE-an).

Now, it has come out that Yi's agent (Dan Fegan) came right out and told the Bucks prior to the draft that Yi would not play in Milwaukee. They were so serious about this that they barred the Bucks from coming to any workouts Yi had in the states and would not allow him to have an individual workout with them.

Bucks GM Lenny Harris saw 2 things:

1 - Yi is a big time talent that could really help the Bucks.
2 - The Bucks would have an "in" into China's marketing base, population 1.5 billion. Can you say "Cha-Ching"?

Harris decided that the team needed him and the Bucks could not pass up this opportunity. Now the rumor is that Fegan is going to formally request that the Bucks trade Yi. To this I agree with how Ty over at Bucks Diary feels:

If I were Larry Harris I would absolutely and categorically refuse such a request on the spot. Harris was right to defy their original efforts to avoid a selection by the Bucks, and having done that, it is imperative now that he sticks to his guns. Giving in to the ridiculous demand at this point would do nothing but harm the Bucks and set a dangerous precedent that, once established, would damage the future interests of small market teams like Milwaukee.

Harris' message to Yi's representatives should be direct and simple: If Yi wants to play in the NBA, he must do so in Milwaukee. End of discussion. The sooner he gets that through his skull, the better for him. A protracted holdout, or a return to China, would be a seriously foolish move, as it would only serve to hurt his pocketbook and his marketability. It would cost him NBA paychecks he can never recover, and it would damage his public reputation and squander away the precious goodwill his representatives hope to cash in on through their various endorsement schemes. He has no rational choice but to play for the Bucks.

Sorry Yi, you enter the draft and take your chances on where you are picked. That's the nature of all sports in the US and you have to live with it. Now, after you're done with your Chinese team duties in Vegas and such, get your ass to Milwaukee and see for yourself how it is. You may want to stop by Summerfest. That will change your trade demands real quick.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

A moment of silence

In case you have not heard, the founder of Johnsonville Brats, Ralph Stayer, has passed on. From the AP article:

Stayer's butcher shop was struggling in 1945, when he went to a picnic and saw garbage cans filled with partially eaten brats. He and his wife drew upon their Austrian and Slovenian heritage to make better-tasting bratwurst based on an old family recipe, his son said.

Stayer once said he knew the company was doing something right when a customer who had previously ordered 5 pounds of bratwurst and 30 pounds of hamburger returned six months later and ordered 30 pounds of bratwurst and 5 pounds of hamburger.

For centuries, mankind has yearned for that perfect food, that ambrosia to make their life worthwhile. Ancient Sumerians went on discovery treks for months on end to locate it, Rome tried to conquer the known world in search of it, Columbus dared sail to the edge of the world to find it. Ralph Stayer discovered it, and the world would never be the same.

Now the masses had the perfect food and world peace was that much closer to reality. Summertime picnics have become that much more enjoyable as friends and family come together knowing that with Johnsonville brats, the outing will be a joyous one. Professional sports attendence has gone up by over 100,000% since Johnsonville brats came out as tailgating has become the national pastime.

What a debt we owe to Mr. Stayer, and to show how much we appreciate his creation and to honor his legacy, we should all grill some of his delicious creations. So raise your Johnsonville brats in a toast to Ralph Stayer all you cheeseheads and say thanks to our hero.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


The Brewers sweep the Giants and have now gone 7-1 in their last 8 games. They have a 7.5 game lead over the Cardinals and are 10 games over .500. Attendance is nearing the level it was when the stadium first opened (currently at about a 2.7M pace Whoo Hoo!). The hitters have gained their confidence back and the pitching staff is doing a fine job as well.

Things are real good right now. Let's keep it up Crew!

Monday, June 18, 2007

The phenom has arrived

What a fun weekend. I got to go to both Friday and Saturday night's games of the Brewers and the Twins at the Metrodome. Nothing better than being around the opposing teams place, surrounded by their taunting fans and having your team just crush them.

Best part, there was a large group of Brewers fans who kept starting "Let's go Brewers!" over and over. The local hicks kept trying to boo them out, but they failed. The chants only got louder and louder as the game went on, but the boos had less and less heart behind them. For two days, the Brewer fans took over the Metrodome.

For a breaking news story: Joe Mauer is back on the 15 day DL. Apparently he was doing a complex Word Find and has a brain strain. What a wuss.

I also had a fine personal weekend as well. In addition to the aforementioned games, I went to a big family picnic (wife's side) at Minnehaha Falls. Great day outside with loads of fun people. Even my buddy Murph showed up as he and the family were up doing some other family business. Father's Day itself was a good day. Found out that my gift was a black leather recliner. OOOOOOOOOO! Top it off with a steak dinner and life is good.

But enough about that, the time has come. Tonight features the debut of a pitcher that has not had as much hype and expectation since Ben Sheets arrived. The man has posted legendary minor league stats: This year he has a 2.90 ERA and has struck out 110 batters in 77 2/3 innings. His name is
¡Gallardo! There are several individuals who are larger than life and can pull off the single name: Zorro, Godzilla, Prince. ¡Gallardo! is such an individual.

So cower in fear San Francisco Giants. You shall be the first to witness the destructive power of ¡Gallardo!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Rules for dating my daughter

1. You do not touch my daughter in front of me. You may glance at her, so long as you do not peer at anything below her neck. If you cannot keep your eyes off my daughter’s body, I will remove them from your head.

2. I am aware that it is considered fashionable for boys of your age to wear their trousers so loosely that they appear to be falling off their hips. Do not take this as an insult, but you and all of your friends are complete idiots. Still, I want to be fair and open minded about this issue, so I propose this compromise: You may come to the door with your underwear hanging out and your pants ten sizes too big and I will not object. However, in order to ensure that your clothes, do not, in fact, come off during the course of your date with my daughter, I will take my electric nail gun and fasten your trousers securely in place to your hips, buttocks and legs.

3. Convention dictates that in order to us to get to know each other, we should talk about sports, politics and other issues of the day. Please do not do this. The only information I require from you is an indication of when you expect to have my daughter safely back in my house, and the only word I need from you on this subject is "early”.

4. I have no doubt that you are a popular fellow, with many opportunities to date other girls. This if fine with me as long as it is OK with my daughter. Otherwise, once you have gone out with my little girl, you will continue to date no one but her until she is finished with you. If you make her cry- I will make you cry.

5. If you stand here in my front hallway waiting for my daughter to appear and more than an hour goes by, do not sit and fidget. If you want to be on time for a movie- you should not be dating. Instead of just standing there, why don’t you do something useful, like changing the oil in my car?

6. The following places are not appropriate for a date with my daughter: places where there are no parents, policemen or clergy within eyesight: places where there is darkness; places where there is dancing, holding hands or happiness; places where the ambient temperature is warm enough that it is not necessary for my daughters clothing to cover every inch of her body from her chin down. Movies with a strong romantic or sexual them are to be avoided- no exceptions. Movies with a “G” rating are okay, hockey games are okay (that “covered from the chin down thing”). Visiting old folk’s homes or attending the church skating party are better.

7. Do not lie to me. I may appear to be a middle aged dimwitted has-been, but on issues relating to my daughter, I am the all-knowing, merciless ruler of your world. If I ask where you are going and with whom, you have one chance to tell me the truth. I have a shotgun, a shovel and five wooded acres behind the house. Do not trifle with me.

8. Be afraid. Be very afraid. I will have my weapon cleaned, locked and loaded as I wait in the darkness for you to bring my daughter home. As soon as you pull into the driveway you should exit your car with both hands in plain sight. Shout the perimeter password, announce in a clear and loud voice that you have brought my daughter home safely- and early- and then return to your car. There is no reason for you to come inside. The camouflaged face at the window is mine… and the little red dot on your forehead will go away as soon as you do.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

What to make of John Jones

Well, everyone is all worked up about John Jones being rejected to run the Packers like a layup against Dikembe Mutumbo. Jones had been groomed for years as the successor to Bob Harlan, but now is deemed "unworthy" by those in charge, namely Harlan.

So what happened?

For years Jones and Harlan were a great tag team, they seemed to be on the same page with every decision. Then Jones had his big heart surgery in June of last year and we were told not to worry.

According to the reports that have come out, it was several months ago that the complaints started coming in. He was too abrasive, his management style wasn't easy, he bascially didn't play well with others.

People don't complain about their bosses very much and certainly not right away when they feel he/she is doing something wrong. They wait it out to see if it's just a passing phase, and give someone who has been their boss the benefit of the doubt, especially if they just came out of major surgery as nobody wants to look like an uncaring ass. Plus, nobody likes to put their job on the line like that. Challenging your boss is serious business.

Given this, likely it has been 4 maybe 5 months of issues with Jones that the members of the organization had prior to bringing it up to Harlan. Combined with the reports that they had come in for several months after that time that would mean about 8 or 9 months had gone by. This would make it shortly after his heart surgery. Coincidence? I think not.

It seems that Jones came out of his surgery a changed man, this certainly is not uncommon when someone has a major health issue like this. However in Jones' case if appears he did not change for the better when it came to his work relationships as the complaints indicate.

Given that nothing was brought up about the man who had been groomed for years until after the surgery lends weight to this argument.

Just my opinion mind you, but it seems to make sense. Any comments out there?

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Panic! at Miller Park

Back on May 9th, the Crew was 24-10 and the darlings of baseball. They were about to enter a stretch of 19 games where they were going to play good teams and division leaders. This was to determine if the Brewers were for real or not. They are now 4-13 during this stretch of games and they have shown that they are not ready for prime time yet.

Were the Brewers simply playing over their heads or was it just the level of competition early on in the season? I'd argue both. They started off strong thanks to a weak schedule and the confidence level was soaring and they won several games that they should not have. Then the Philly series came and it all changed.

In the first game, the Brewers were cruising to a victory and it all fell apart in a 6-run 8th inning by Philly and the Brewers have yet to recover from that it seems. The confidence was shattered in that game as they had just lost the series against the Mets including a big beat-down in the last game and then this game was blown. The next night they Brewers lose another heartbreaker (thanks to Turnblow) and it was all over at that point.

The most pathetic stat of this whole thing? Even with the fall the Brewers are in, they still have a 5 game lead in the division. That's how bad the NL Central has been this year, it's the worst division in baseball and it's not even close. One of the teams behind them, likely the Cubs, will start playing to potential and make a run and catch them. Unless the Brewers right the ship and do so in a hurry they will fall back even closer to the pack and the hot start will have meant absolutely nothing.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Wisconsin is simply superior

Not that it's all that much of a surprise, but the Badgers once again win the Border Battle against MN. They even made it sporty and kept the score close, just so that the Goophs' spirits could be crushed on the final weekend. Brilliant strategy.

Grab a Miller beer, get a basket of deep fried cheese curds, a brat and celebrate fellow Cheeseheads!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Rockstar Weekend

Well, even though the Brewers lost the series to the Twins, I had a great time in Milwaukee with Shane and Dean (Freealonzo).

The drive down was early (like 6am early) on Saturday morning and we had a good time listening to some new music and chit chatting the whole way down. Time for the drive down: 5 hrs 34 minutes which included a 10 minute breakfast stop and a gas stop. Traffic was sweet.

Saturday we ate at Sobelman's, which is a fantastic corner bar and grill with some good outdoor seating. Eating cheese curds and a loaded burger on a sunny day outside... great way to start the weekend.

We then went to the Miller Brewery for a tour, but there was an hour and a h`lf wait so Gabe gave us a driving tour of the scenic parts of Milwaukee (there's not that many, so it was quick) but fun nevertheless. We actually went past the lakefront park where my wife and I watched fireworks together on the night we met (Awwwwww) so that was a nice trip down memory lane. The Brewery tour was fun and the free samples were good, then it was off the the ballpark!

We had killer seats for Saturday's game. Section 214, Row 1. Just a wonderful view of the action from just inside first base. Saturday night's game was fun... for the first inning. Hardy continued his year of being the top offensive SS in the game (and continued huge boom for my fantasy team) but the Brewers simply could not get any breaks and Bush was awful. Scott Baker had his stuff working for the Twins, but really was not as dominant as the stat line indicated. The Brewers hit plenty of hard balls, but they were right at the Twins defenders. A couple of those go over a few feet and it's a completely different game, but the Twins won and that's the bottom line. The place was packed and a fair estimate of 20k Twins fans were loud. Great atmosphere and fun for all. The roof had to be closed part way through the game as rain was coming in. Funny, there was no loud grinding sounds and it was a pretty quick process unlike what myths the naysayers proclaim about it.

Sunday's game was unbelievable:
We had tickets in section 120, row 6. We were 6 rows behind the Twins on-deck circle. We were so close I could see Morneau's steroid zits. I did some minor heckling, but overall was real polite.

Without a doubt, they were the best seats I've had for a game. I always wondered what the game would look like from down there and I wasn't disappointed. You could really see that the ump, Bruce Froemming was all over with his strike zone. The look on Punto's face when he struck out looking in the 9th was priceless. The ovation Jenkins got for his 200th HR was loud, real loud.

For you Bucks fans out there, new HC Larry Krystowiak was sitting 2 rows in front of me with his 3 boys. I let him be as there's no need to bug a guy who's out for a nice father/sons outing. As he left, I did wish him the best with the Bucks this year. He was kind, said thanks and had to attend to the kids.

I also got a high five from the Polish Sausage before the game. They were out taking photos with kids. The Polish won the race as well, and yes, that was all because of me.

Just a real good time overall. Hopefully the 4 of us can do this next year as well.

The Brewers are in a bit of a slump with a 3-7 record in their last 10. They seem to have lost some of that confidence that their cup was overflowing with a few weeks ago. Gotta finish the month strong at SD and Atl.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Off to the Motherland!

It's that great time of the year when I get to go to Milwaukee for the Brewers/Twins series. I've made it a 2 game weekend the last 3 years and this year my buddy Shane is once again joining me. We are joined this year by Freealonzo, who promises to buy polish sausages for all of us.

My best buddy Gabe as always is joining me and is kindly letting us crash at his place in Milwaukee, plus he procured some awesome seats for us as well. He always comes through.

Shane is wanting to see some of the history of Milwaukee, so a tour of one of the Miller Brewery is in order. Beer was such a major part of Milwaukee's history (and current status as well) that this is a must. Plus, free samples is always a good thing. We'll be taking him to some other "must" eateries as well.

I love Miller Park. It's a great place to watch a game and it's always a fun time. Great food, comfortable seats that actually face the action (right Shane?), state of the art scoreboards, sitting close enough to the concorse so that one can hear Bob Uecker call the radio action, the always fun sausage races. Ahhh... just doesn't get any better. Plus, the place is usually packed as several thousand Twins fans make the 6 hour trek down to watch the games as well. To me, that says a lot about Miller Park.

Here's to a great weekend and a Brewers series victory. They need one after that last 2-5 road trip.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Is Favre turning into a lockerroom cancer?

Well, the 8 people who read this site may jump on me for this, but frankly this is a legit question. I know it's heresy to say anything negative about Brett Favre in Packerland but hear me out.

Brett has done several big red flag items that one associates with players who are considered "cancers". From selfish comments and actions to outright disagreements with management, it's all there.

First there was the usual waffling on if he was going to retire. After 3 seasons of this, it can offically be classified as severely selfish and distracting behavior. It casts a huge shadow over the team and Brett is putting himself before the Packers with this need for a media circus. Brett knows this and it's obvious that he loves the attention, even if it's not as blatant as how other players show it.

Second there was the story of Favre essentially asking for a trade after TT failed to land Moss from Oakland. When a teams most famous (and arguably best) player and leader starts questioning managments direction of the team it does several things: One it causes the other players to start wondering if the right moves are being made themselves and they may lose faith in the system that put in place. They say confidence is contagious, but so is lack of confidence. And two, what message is the trade demand saying about the guys on the team? You know, the guys Brett has to work with every day? It says "these guys aren't good enough to win". This is a huge slap in the face to the rest of the team. McKenzie and Walker wanted out for more money and they were spat on by fans as they left, what Favre is saying and doing is far worse.

Third, now we are hearing that he wants to miss a manditory mini-camp. He states that he is hurt and won't practice anyway plus there are family things he wants to do. The camp is to get the vets to meet the rookies, get them familiar with each other and build up some team chemistry. It's friggin' MANDITORY! Yes, everyone else would rather spend more time with their families than go to work, but that's not how it goes with a job, deal with it. But Brett's already said through his actions that this team is not worthy of him anyway. This is simply another slap in the face of the coaches and teammates.

How can Brett effectively lead this team when his actions are saying that he doesn't believe in them?

If one would put virtually any other name instead of Favre in the above scenarios, many of the Packer fans would agree that this person could very well be considered a "cancer". We need to take off the green and gold glasses and set down the Kool-Aid for a minute and look at this objectively. When a player puts himself up as more important than any of the other players and the management and coaches and starts vocalizing it, especially if that player is in a position of great influence like Favre is, that bears serious consideration of being a "cancer".

These are thoughts for discussion. Feel free to comment.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Yes, it did hurt

This past Thursday night I was dominating, as usual, in the football league I'm in. We were up 12-0 and on defense and a pass was thrown to the guy I was guarding. He tipped the ball and it came at me. I had nothing but green in front of me and it was an INT for a TD for me.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the end zone. The ball was going end over end and my right pinky had an issue with this and the ball hit it and I got a compound dislocation. Basically, the lowest bone of my pinky was sticking out of the skin just under the knuckle on the palm side of the hand. It wasn't broken, just dislocated. Needless to say, I didn't catch the ball and immediately went to the ER as bones sticking out of your skin is not usually a good thing.

After a while and with the help of wonderful localized pain killers, the bone was popped back into place and back inside my body. I was held overnight for surgery, but since I had feeling in the finger and decent motion, surgery was not needed. Turns out there was no tendon or nerve damage. God sure was watching out for me on this one.

So I have a wrapped up right hand and typing is fun to say the least. I'm learning how to type with my left hand and just the thumb of my right hand. It's better than just hunting and pecking with just the left hand.

I know about the Favre tading fiasco and I'm waiting for a few days to let it settle down. Franky, it seems like his agent is being a dink and trying to make himself look good to Brett by giving him bad advice. More on this in a few days.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

End of Season Grades

Since I've been so lazy since the end of the season, I decided to get my act together and get to work. So without further ado, here's my end of season grades for the Tigers:

James Brannigan : D While Brannigan's playing time went down fairly drastically this season, he still did not perform very well at all. In fact, in terms of statistics Brannigan was pretty much non-existant - only four assists in 30 games. Not to mention his -11 +/- (worst on the team).

Brian Connelly : B+ Connelly was a pleasant surprise this year, putting up an impressive 17 points as a freshman (nearly .50 points per game). While there were initially concerns about his defensive play, he stepped it up later in the season and while his scoring declined, he became a veryaccountable defenseman.

Braydon Cox : B I was impressed with Braydon Cox this season and thought he really stepped up his game. His numbers (7 g, 9 a, 16 pts. in 38 games) were not spectacular, but I think he did a good job of leading the team and also scoring timely goals.

Addison DeBoer : C+ DeBoer had a decent year (5 g, 5a, 10 pts. in 35 games) for a freshman coming straight from high school, but also showed that he probably could have used another year of development. Nevertheless, I like the way he plays and I think his game will improve in the next few years. Size is still a concern.

Kris Fredheim : B Fredheim put up only four points in 23 games, but played excellent defense this year. I think he should have been used more this season. Look for him to be a top WCHA defenseman in years to come. Kris improved noticeably over the course of the season.

Jake Gannon : B- Gannon had a decent season this year despite putting up only two points in 37 games. His improvement from last season was quite evident. Gannon still seems prone to getting a bit overexcited while he's on the ice, and sometimes his effort to lay out huge hits detracts from his overall defensive play.

Jack Hillen : B+Hillen has been improving constantly since he arrived at CC and has become one of the team's top defenseman. He had another excellent year this season, scoring seven goals and tallying eight assists in 38 games. Also played well defensively.

Chris Kawano : Incomplete Tough to give a grade to the third-string goalie considering the limited playing time, but Kawano gets props for his hard work and commitment to the team.

Jimmy Kilpatrick : A- Kilpatrick emerged this year as one of the top players on the team, putting up 32 points in 37 games. He led the team offensively and was a godsend after the departure of so many top-flight players last season. He brings great energy every time he's on the ice.

Cody Lampl : A- Lampl put up only nine points in 37 games, but emerged as a catalyst for this young CC team. The energy that he brings to the game is absolutely unbelievable, and CC always seems to be playing better when he is on the ice. Without a doubt one of the three or four most important players on this team.

Scott McCulloch : B McCulloch got off to such a red-hot start this year that I was afraid he might bolt to the Blackhawks come the end of the season. I'm not so worried anymore. McCulloch's offensive production literally fell off a cliff at the end of the season and he ended up with only 24 points in 39 games. I still expect him to be a big scorer next season.

Brian McMillin : C Like DeBoer, I wasn't expecting a whole lot out of McMillan considering that he came to CC straight from high school. McMillin did not see a whole lot of playing time this year, and scored only two points in 22 games. Nevertheless, he seems like a hard worker and a solid role-player. I think he'll improve next season.

Drew O'Connell : D+ I had high expectations for O'Connell heading into this season and even expected him to compete with Matt Zaba for the starting job, but he ended up being one of the bigger disappointments (to me, at least) this season. Drew compiled a 2.90 GAA and .886 save percentage this season. These numbers just aren't good enough for the WCHA. While I still think that Drew could be solid if he got regular playing time, with Richard Bachman coming in next season it is looking increasingly doubtful that Drew will ever be a regular starter for this team.

Derek Patrosso : C Patrosso still has not played up to his potential. 10 points (3 g, 7 a) in 30 games isn't terrible but it also isn't anything special.

Brandon Polich : B Polich had a nice year, tallying 19 points in 36 games this season. He had good presence of mind on the ice and was good at creating chances. I also thought he was one of the better defensive forwards this season.

Nate Prosser : B- Prosser played pretty well this year for a freshman, but I was still expecting a bit more production offensively after seeing his numbers from the USHL. I think down the road he will be one of CC's best defensemen, and his offensive production should go way up in the next few seasons.

Dan Quilico : C Quilico saw very limited ice time this season and when he was playing, he wasn't doing much (no points in eight games). I think he will be a good role player for CC teams in the next few years but don't count on him being a top line type of player.

Chad Rau : B If you had asked me prior to the season to guess how many points Chad would put up this year, I would have put the over/under at 50. Thus, while he had a decent season with 31 points in 39 games, I still think the best is yet to come. The nice part about this is that these numbers are not likely to impress the Toronto Maple Leafs, who have Rau's NHL rights. I still expect better next season, however. Rau has the skills to be one of the top players in the WCHA and even the country if he plays to his potential.

Brandon Straub : C Straub was a fairly solid player this year and obviously provided leadership. He seemed to become something of a liability on defense this year, however, with an unimpressive minus 9 +/-.

Billy Sweatt : A+ The younger Sweatt was without a doubt the best player on the Tigers this season. Although he missed a few weeks at the beginning of the season due to mono, he emerged as CC's most potent offensive threat at the end of the year and scored several highlight-reel type goals. Sweatt isn't just an offensive force, he has great size and can throw his body around on defense as well. Billy's speed is absolutely insane - he might be the fastest college hockey player I have ever seen. The only concern to be had about Sweatt is that he is going to be a clear flight-risk after the draft. Billy was rated 27th among North American skaters in the draft and is likely to be drafted fairly high - where he ends up should be a good indication as to how many years he will spend at CC.

Lee Sweatt : A Like his kid brother, Lee Sweatt also had an excellent season. As captain, Lee was the obvious leader of this young team and was also very impressive both offensively and defensively. While Lee went undrafted by NHL teams, he has completed his degree and is playing minor league hockey already, so hopefully one day we will see him on the big stage.

Mike Testwuide : B+ When I first saw Testwuide play this season, I was very worried that he wouldn't be able to keep up. He improved constantly throughout the season though, and also scored some important goals against rival DU (home of his brother, JP Testwuide). By the end of the season, Testwuide had proved to me that he belonged. His size is a big asset on a team that has been pretty small across the board the last few years.

Scott Thauwald : B- Scott had a decent season, scoring 13 points in 39 games, but didn't quite produce the way I expected him to. I hope that he improves next season - I think he has potential to be a very good player.

Andreas Vlassopoulos : A- Andreas rebounded in a big way from his shortened freshman season. In only 24 games, he tallied 16 points and displayed obvious chemistry with his linemates. With Vlassopoulos, B. Sweatt, Connelly, Prosser, and Fredheim, CC has a solid core to build around. Look for both Andreas and Billy Sweatt to put up enormous numbers next season.

Matt Zaba : A One of the best surprises of the season for me, although he shouldn't have been. I was expecting Drew O'Connell to start sharing netminding duties with Zaba, but Matt's play this year put an end to that idea. Zaba is probably the graduating player with the best shot of eventually playing in the NHL.

Scott Owens : B- Owens looked like a miracle worker at the beginning of the season with the great (and unpredicted) success of his young team. While he did better with this group than many people would have anticipated, I still had some issues with his decisions down the stretch (largely goaltending choices), and it's also becoming concerning to watch his teams flame out at the end of the season. Obviously, this year was not as big a disappointment as last season, but it's something to consider. Consider teams like Maine and North Dakota - both had roller coaster seasons (Maine started out great, tanked at the end and barely made it into the tournament. North Dakota started out in pathetic fashion before developing into a powerhouse at the end of the year) but played their best hockey at the end of the season, with both squads making it into the Frozen Four. CC has seemed to do the exact opposite the last two seasons. I think Owens should get a pass on this season because of the youth and inexperience of his team, but if a similar late season tailspin happens next year, it will become a concern.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

News of the Day

Well it's been awhile since I last updated, but I figure if the professionals over at USCHO can take weeks and even months off after the national championship is decided, why can't I? In the meantime, I've let a few pieces of hockey news slip by. First, CC picked up a commitment for next season from defenseman Brett Wysopal of Tri-City (USHL). I don't know a whole lot about Wysopal but from what I've heard he's a nice pickup this late in the year. Another piece of news that I missed was CC once again being at the top of the WCHA in the NCAA's Academic Progress Rate. Nice. The most recent news for CC, however, is not so good; apparently forward James Brannigan will pass up his senior year at CC to play in the ECHL. I think Mr. Dilks at WCH is right in saying that the writing was on the wall in this case. Brannigan's playing time has definitely gone down since his freshman year and probably was not going to increase with the amount of young talent that CC has at forward. It's too bad for Brannigan and the team, but I think it's for the best.

That's the big news of the past two months. Now for some less noticed items:

* As usual a few college hockey players have signed professional contracts during the offseason so far. Here's a list off the top of my head:
- Andrew Cogliano (Michigan) : Edmonton Oilers - Not a big surprise since Cogliano is talented and Edmonton is coming off a disappointing season... Remember the Oilers traded away Ryan Smyth earlier this year - they need some help up front.
- Jack Johnson (Michigan) : Los Angeles Kings - I was surprised that Johnson even stuck around this long.
- Erik Johnson (Minnesota) : St. Louis Blues - I was surprised that this Johnson even played college hockey in the first place.
- Teddy Purcell (Maine) : Los Angeles Kings - Another college puck player headed to LA to live the life. If you don't follow NCAA hockey outside the WCHA, you may not have heard about Purcell, but the freshman phenom was a big reason why Maine made it so far this year.
- Ryan Dingle (Denver) : Anaheim Mighty Ducks - CC fans came to know Dingle well - not for good reasons. It'll be nice not having to face him anymore, although Denver still has plenty of firepower at forward.
- Jack Skille (Wisconsin) : Chicago Blackhawks - Skille was one of the top players in the WCHA last season and his presence/absence largely determined how much success the Badgers had. Once again, a player I won't miss facing.
- Mason Raymond (Minnesota-Duluth) : Vancouver Canucks - UMD fans can't be happy about this one. I'm not sure whether or not Raymond was expected to leave but he was without a doubt one of the Bulldogs' (and the WCHA's) top players last year.

It's a shame we don't get to see these guys play for four years, but that's the price you pay to get this caliber of talent in the NCAA.

* The WCHA recently decided to remain at ten teams for the foreseeable future. A lot of people had been speculating that Bemidji State might be invited to join the league due to the woes of the CHA. The problem is, the WCHA is at a healthy ten teams and is in no hurry to make it eleven. I agree with the WCHA on this one - I don't think letting in Bemidji State is a good solution to this problem. It would make more sense to me to tinker with a league that is already waaaay too big, the CCHA, in looking to accomodate teams that need leagues. I could go on for hours about this issue, but what's the point? You can read everything there is to be written about this issue over at the USCHO forums.