Saturday, 22 December 2012

You can't take the game from us

Although you've tried hard!

Hockey is a game of passion. Brotherly love and hate. Of curses, swearwords and great plays. Six men with bats, knives on feet and armor go out on the ice hitting each other in battle for the small rubber band. How can we not love it? Well.. when the top league isn't being played, that's how. Give us our game back guys. Think we deserve it.

And it looks like we're going in that way. NHLPA has taken a vote and its a loud "YES". So these guys are going to court to file a dispute against the league. This will be fun.

Whats going on with the game we love?

What Ovi, Stammer, PK and everyone round the world has been asking the same question. And these guys replied - Hockey is ours. The game is on, regardless of what few billionaire owners say about it. And another multi - billion company just found a way to use it to generate revenue. Because NHL doesn't want to generate it, better not to make any money than to give away some of it.

NHL is cancelled until mid January

And fans are outraged. Hell, we want our guys to play, stop bitching about peanuts. NHL cancelled the games, NHLPA player's vote ended with a loud "YES" and we're going to court now. Man the fuck up and get the game where it belongs. Back on ice.

Meanwhile in Europe

There's hockey. Russia is busy voting on their ALL STAR game rosters, many other leagues are shuffling NHL lockout players, washed up AHL players and just trying to bring fans on the rink to spend a dime or two. Support your local hockey club guys! Or local rich guy owning your club.

EBEL league in Austria is particularly funny this week. Actually, not the whole league, but one special part ran by mr. Pierre "I turn the" Page.  What do guys like: Alex Auld, Tobias Enström, David Clarkson, Derrick Brassard, Derek Dorsett have in common with Johnny Boychuk, Mike Duco, Rob Schremp and Mark Cullen?

They were all teammates at one point in Salzburg in last couple of weeks. Yeah, all these guys passed through Salzburg in last two months or so.
Derick Brassard in days of glory for Red Bull Salzburg

Aaron Portzline via twitter: Derick Brassard left his Austrian team without their permission, agent Allan Walsh had this to say: ”Derick Brassard is the 5th NHL player to sign with Red Bull this season and the 5th player to leave within 3 weeks of arrival. Talk to Tobias Enstrom, David Clarkson, Derek Dorsett or any of Red Bull’s current players. There is no more unprofessional organization in all of Europe. The club is misrepresenting the facts in an attempt to justify to their fans and media why NHL players keep leaving.

Wow. Guys with unlimited money managed to turn away PRO players from it? No idea, no tactics, no hope for future as they are sitting on a 9th place and train to Playoffs is going further and further away. 

And then there is... Switzerland! (and Austria and Croatia)

Congrats to Sam Gagner of EC KAC (Austria) on his first invitation to play for Team Canada in Spengler Cup next week! He'll be joining John Tavares, Carlo Coloaiacovo and many others who are yet to be named. 
Sam Gagner in KAC doing a "victory chicken dance" native to a farm he plays at

Very excited to get the invite to play for  in the Spengler Cup. Always a tremendous honour to play for your country.

His new line mate in KAC is Tom Zanoski who ran away from a bad bad coach in Zagreb and went to big league rivals in the most uprising story of the last week. No one outside Zagreb cares about it so we'll leave it at that.
Francois Bouchard in Zagreb, decent on ice, 82kg, rly?
Zagreb went on and tried to sign Bouchard. They couldn't get the actual NHL hockey player so they signed his baby brother Francois Bouchard. Frankie got to town couple days ago and then hopped on buy, went to Czech hooker town of Znojmo and scored a nice goal after a pass of a face off draw. Not bad kid. Now get your cousin PA over here and we can talk some more. Right? Okay thanks.

And don't forget to check out whats Dustin Jeffrey been doing when he's not playing hockey for Penguins.

Michal Handzus, epic hair guy
Stupid Dornbirn also went in line to break Zagreb's record of biggest defeat in season (11:2 against EV VSV Villach). These chaps sitting on 11th (out of 12) place managed to lose by 12:3 in Salzburg. By a team marginally better then theirs and around thousand times more costly.

Good job guys scoring three goals on these boys.

We're on pretty soon again, hopefully some guys (shoutout to Ned Lukacevic and Mike Handzus) will finish up their interviews. Will you guys? Thanks!

p.s. Ned go work out and get out of that slump. We need you back on scoring track buddy!

Monday, 10 December 2012

We have hockey here

and you don't. Say thanks to Bettman

NHL got cancelled until 30th of December. Is it the last milestone until cancellation of the whole season? Could be, previous were October games, then Winter Classic, then All Star game, and is this the last step before NHLPA and NHL refuse to kiss and make up?

Please do, or we're going to have many more players come overseas and face the cultural shock when they do come. 

There and back again

There are few traditional migrations of players between Europe and North America. One happens with young talent that goes from Europe to try in various junior leagues all over NA and in case of older boys to collegiate hockey, where mostly they stick to studying and play some hockey until their talent gets recognized or more often, until they finish school and return home. 

The other "natural" migration is of talented hockey players moving to top European leagues in search of their dream, and seasoned vets and players to less prominent leagues and clubs looking for jobs. "Kids" often find it strange when they come over from big hockey towns with newer facilities, different ownership status and different lifestyle to a more traditional, sedentary way of life.

Most of these countries have lots of "history" as they put it, and lots of, behind the scenes work, issues players just don't understand at first glance. From mostly English (or French) speaking countries, players venture to Swedish, Finnish, German, Czech, Slovakian, in some cases Italian and in best of those to English (UK) and French speaking countries. Lots of languages, players from all over world and from dozens of different cultural styles often meet. And then you start talking about hockey. If they're lucky they land in a place where there are a few NA players already or at least a coach to help them sort it out. 

Crimmitschau ice hall - open to the side and woods on the right
Now, imagine to land in a small city (eg. Crimmitschau - signed Simmonds, Stewart and MacArthur), some 250 km south of Berlin on border with Czech republic. Folks are mostly German with some Czech mixed in between, players are almost all German, with few imports from East. And you're a Canadian guy that doesn't speak German. Your coach knows some words but that's it. And in between facility is 3 parts closed and one part open towards the woods. And You haven't played outdoors since you were a kid. 

Its kind of hard to get there and into the game isn't it? Now instead of German town put in a Czech city, a Hungarian metalworking town, or any other place. If you're lucky you end up in bigger cities or, in places where many people know your language. Otherwise you adapt, start learning the local language or in some, you just don't bother.
Wayne Simmonds in Europe during NHL lockout
Now imagine that with all those cultural and language barriers you head into a bunch of provocative and drunk fans that start throwing racial slurs. Wayne Simmonds is a hell of a player and he felt that. Lots of ink has been spilled over chants calling him a monkey in Czech republic so I wont cover it all again. It was just a really ugly game, that shed some really bad light on European hockey and its great and loud fans. Hope it won't happen ever again. Good luck back home practicing with great guys at "Beyond the next level" facility in Toronto by @DeejBTNL 

Players that head into bigger cities like Vienna, Berlin, great organisations like Red Bull Salzburg (just added Boychuck, Dorsett, Mike Duco etc.), Milano get it easy as they can feel the spirit of Europe just by poking their heads out. 

Dustin Jeffrey (Medvescak Zagreb) - photo by Igor Šoban
Dustin Jeffrey (Pittsburgh Penguins) went to Venice on his first day off, then went to Budapest. All in a driving distance from Zagreb, Croatia, where he currently plays and makes fans love him with his every move  day in and out. He will get to visit one of the great cities of the world, Dubrovnik, and many more just by having an NHL lockout. 

Many others, including guys in Swiss, Germany and other countries like Briere, Giroux, Tavares, Ty Seguin and many more have great time playing abroad. Of course they mostly play for pocket money and insurance, but they do what they love. They play hockey. They give their best each day, each practice and aren't spared on the ice. 

Sam Gagner happily chewing on a mouthpiece. He's the one
 in white red jersey. #97 in case you missed it. (P: Igor Šoban)
EBEL league has its stars too. Sam Gagner just can't believe how beautiful the Austria (and 4 other countries he plays in while on the roster for EC KAC).  

Beautiful Austria“: On the way to Innsbruck earlier today  

And then he proceeded to demolish Innsbruck with a few goals justl like his teammates Alex Cogilano and Tyler Myers (currently on IR list with a knee injury but expected to be on roster by weekend). Or was it an ankle injury? I'm sure someone cares about it, but its not me. 

Free summer with additional free fall?

And it looks like the NHL season is in indeed a free fall. Another batch of games up to Dec. 30th have been cancelled. Xmas is right on the corner and owners (and players according to HRR) are going to lose bunch of money by not selling games and merch during the games. All that TV coverage, and overall hockey related revenue is basically as good as gone. 

Season 2004. - 2005. is likely going to be repeated, and no one is going to profit from that. Well mostly no one, Europe will love it. Some guys will come over, enjoy the opportunity, possibly for the first time ever in their schedule driven life to enjoy hockey and play abroad. From midget, to AAA to collegiate/pro hockey most of them never had a "free" summer followed by a free fall/winter. Without having to worry about getting through the camps, being sent up/down or traded on a whim of the owners and coaches, players have a chance to do what they're best. Enjoy hockey without a capitalistic driven North American society. 

Enjoy it while you can, soon you'll be flying franchise jets, living a fake dream and enjoying bloated contracts that block negotiations more firmly than any other points Bettman and Fehr are trying to battle around. 

Embrace the LOCKOUT, see the World, play hockey. 

Saturday, 1 December 2012


And there is nothing we can do.

Third month of 2012/13 NHL owner imposed player lockout is looming. Both parties have presented proposals, counter proposals, withdrew proposals and refused to move from their positions. Both parties wish to bring the public and fans on their side. But fans, media and public do have a single standpoint in common: they want to see the game played at the highest level.

RIP David Courtney
But with all these big players, team owners, managers and agents either arguing or looking for job for their clients overseas, fans pay the ultimate price. Without fans the League is nothing. Just like Phoenix. But these guys are not the only ones at loss now.

Recently deceased 22 season long LA Kings PA announcer David Courtney had a job regardless of Lockout. He was the voice of LA Clippers, Angels and Kings so he still had a job when NHL decided they won't play any games yet.

Many other arena and facility workers are now without work. No games, no announcements, no facility maintenance, some places don't even have ice on. Garry Bettman, you didn't just lockout players, you lost a lot of people their livelihood. Get it rolling and take some cuts, be a man in this sport. Its a game of men and honour. Tge greatest game on planet.

While Gary, Don, mediators or not, stop playing. We want to watch hockey, not lawyers and managers fighting over money fans and sponsors throw at your face. For a reason. To watch hockey.

And here is the Class of 12/13 NHL Lockout:

Phil Kessel (@BTNL) doing interview for Sportsnet
Hiding in a world class gym and ice rink the Class of 12/13 Lockout spends their days working out, getting ready and pleasing the not-so-small crowd that gathers at every practice. Beyond the next level training facility is run by a guy living the dream. With big players working hard in the great facility under professional care Mr. BTNL (Dan Ninkovich @DeejBTNL) is doing a real work during the days of Lockout.

It all started with a few players reporting in at the start of lockout for a regular gym sessions, some skating time and dangling the puck while the few days the lockout was supposed to last pass. 

These days you can see running around the gym PK Subban, Kessel, Kaberle, Clarkson, Mason, Winnick, 
many other younger prospects, and many, many fans enjoying a beer while watching their stars skate, play a dummy game or just work out.

Dan, you're doing the job NHL can't. You're making the players stay fit and ready for fans. Keep up the work and lets see you play some shiny with the boys! We're watching.

What else to do when there's no games?

Many players have headed over the seas. Some are in Europe, some in Russia, some are still at home working out. Over the past weeks I've written about numerous players in my "home" league, and since last update there were a few more additions. After Boychuk in Red Bull, the bulls signed Rob Schremp. Why you ask? 
Rob Schremp signed for Red Bull Salzburg
I think this is a good enough answer. Then they signed an NHL duo Derick Brassard and Derek Dorsett. And in their first game, they won! Atta boys! Schrimp boy added 4 assists, Brassard scored and assisted, while Boy-chuk was there too. So happy.
From left to right three guys making a living in Salzburg after Gary fucked up NHL season
(Brassard, Schremp, Dorsett)
Rest of the guys aren't noteworthy so far. Gagner is skating in Klagenfurt, Myers is there for company and with roughly 35 TOI, while Bickell can't get his team on a winning track in Znojmo, Czech. Muršak scored tonight a decisive penalty for his team to finally take two points from another away team except Zagreb.

Grabner is skating around, and Nodl is enjoying sweet alpine air. His team did take 5 points in three games but who cares anyways.

The guy who I like in Vienna (one of few) is this guy:

Philip Pinter. Nice guy, nice mustache and great twitter feed. Follow him @85fipo. And he owns twitter feed of Caps. A real spirit of the team.

What else? Ljubljana did a Teddy bear toss. Barely scored a goal. Did throw roughly 7,5k stuffed animals on the ice, almost two per person at the game.

Dustin Jeffrey (Pittsburgh Penguins/Medvescak) scored a goal and started a Toss in Zagreb
Two days laters Bears did the Teddy bear toss. Barely scored a late game goal. 5 thousand something stuffed animals hit the ice, which means less than one per peson in the hall that day. Maybe it'll get better. Or the guys will do some more original activities. But it looked cool though. Really cool.

And now... the conclusion

I've started this post with a thought about players I've been wanting to see on ice in Zagreb for past four years. There are few I've had luck of seeing, and some a luck of calling friends and working with them for a while. 

The list would become a standalone club if all the guys came over. Few of them are "wet dream" of every Zagreb fan, yet, we've seen a few of them ending careers instead of coming over. One of these guys is Victor Oreskovic. 

Victor Oreskovich during glroy days
Vic already had a break in 05/06 and 06/07 after not reporting to AHL camp. This fall he considered going to KHL, hoped of playing a role other than checker and gritty boy in NHL, thought about big money and finally decided to sell insurance. Wow Vic, thats a promising career. From an NHL player (even though you're a 4th liner) to a insurance guy. Hope you like it, but the world is really big and I'm sure a step across the pond (you see what I did there?) would be the right one. Good luck.

Daniel Vukovic
Then there are many other players who fans would like to see over. Phil Oreskovic (without H) is playing in East Coast this season. He would be an okay addition but D part of the club is really strong this season. Also, Mark Popovic is the guy to look out for in Langnau (NLA), Mark Katic (Berlin), Travis Hamonic (NYI - a real wet dream of a few guys I know), Daniel Vukovic, all on D. With these guys Medvescak could take a shot on KHL though. That would be a fun team to watch. And listen to curse. 

Maybe its time to get some lottery money and start a team. Should work like a charm. Or does anyone got a rich uncle? 

Until next time, stay fit, watch hockey, keep your feet moving and head up high.

P.S. Anyone seen Stewart or Simmonds lately? 

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Is it time yet?

Around this time of year in many of the leagues serious contenders for playoffs are profiled. First third is already down, most teams know their ups and downs and first changes are being made. Weakest links and all that business.

EC KAC is a team with tradition, history and passionate fans. They do lean towards the right a bit too much, but as long as there is beer and food there is no problem in Klagenfurt. However... the title keeps eluding their grasps for a few years now despite big names and players coming to play in Corinthian club. Four seasons without the title makes KAC a place with lot of pressure both on players and management. Last year's "shock" therapy with removing Manny Viveiros from the head coach bench has proven to be a "minor improvement" and then managed to get to the finals for the second year in a row just to get demolished by EHC Black Wings Linz. Now they tried to shock the team back on track again.

Andy Chiodo (EC KAC) doing a crazy dance in front of Adam Miller (Medveščak)
On Sunday KAC lost to Vienna with 1:0, and then a change happened. Weber took some time off to be with his wife, and Manny Viveiros managed to hustle his way back on the bench. 11 injured players and a new import Andrew Cogliano. Cogliano is friend of an NHL Lockout player on a stint in Klagenfurt, Sam Gagner. While KAC is steering towards utter fail, signing of Gagner and Cogliano isn't helping. Two "good" players have between them a total of zero pro seasons when they played in playoffs. Is time for them to try the taste of it finally? Only time and Bettman will tell.

Sam Gagner chewing his moutpiece while Bears own his a$$ (photo: Igor Šoban)
Sam Gagner fires a shot from a blue line. 
Sam Gagner appeared (sorry for the pun) in 11 games so far for EC KAC and got 14 points on his sheet. Not bad though, but he's also +- 1. KAC is still looking for a home win in November, and Head coach change wont help with it. On the road they're terrible, five losses in a row.

Sammy said he's all alone there and he needs a friend from americas. So the management went to ask Cogliano whether he's bored over there. Lucky for them he came over and in one game added a single assists so far. Oh boy. So good.

Another Bull in Salzburg - Johnny Boychuk
Red Bull Salzburg on the other hand is slightly worse than Klagenfurt. With 20 points in 23 games RBS is firmly holding 10th place. Bernd Bruckler is injured, terrible Alex Auld holds one win for the team, while Gračnar, a terrific young goalie is out for next one to two weeks. Clarkson and Enstrom left the team few weeks ago, while the Bulls added Johnny Boychuck to the roster.

PAN Arena Ice Fever (photo: Igor Šoban)
After suffering a defeat in front of 15.200 fans in Arena Zagreb, with brave youngster Gračnar between the pipes, Bulls had no choice but to have Auld in goal on Tuesday. NHL veteran goalie had a stunning 83% SVS% and they managed to lose against their arch nemesis Szekesfehervar devils with 4:5.

Also check out this gnarly interview that an NHL player gave. He did lose but still, that's one poor loser. You can hear everything under the dub that Croatian commentator did live. Good job Tyler Myers, you're a complete twat.

Are NHL players really worth it regardless of teams they play in? Vanek certainly wasn't. Ever since he left Graz 99ers are on the roll, last five games they won clearly. VSV is slowly dropping and now they're third with 4 points behind leaders, while Andreas Nodl is not to be mentioned ever again. Clearly one of the best additions to the league currently is Jan Muršak in Olimpija who in 18 games has sky high 33 points (12 goals).

Medveščak just finished their first series of Arena games with two wins and one loss in 5 days. Rougly 40 000 fans saw Medveščak playing against Olimpija, Salzburg and Klagenfurt and quite few NHL players: Sam Gagner, Tyler Myers, Alex Auld, Dustin Jeffrey and Jan Muršak. A game on Sunday, 18th of November, had a special meaning to all Croatians, as it was the day when 21 years ago Vukovar fell. In honor of that heroic city there was a minute of silence for all victims of the war horrors. And it was quite the picture.

18.11.2012. PAN Arena Ice Fever KHL Medveščak Zagreb - EC KAC 4:1 (photo: Mirko Janković)
Three home games in a row meant that its time for Bears to hit the road. First stop was again a game against Klagenfurt, just this time Red-White had Cogliano to back up their battered roster. It wasn't enough once again regardless of 3 point game by Sammy Gagner.
Dustin Jeffrey (Pittsburgh Penguins) scores a decisive penalty shot for the victory.
Yeah, no chance for Andy Chiodo there...

Last week I also met some guys, so shutout to Barbara Kavčič, Matej Grošelj from Ljubljana and Hannes Biederman from Vienna. You all owe me beers now. Officially. Only Rok Županc gets a free pass but he's EBYSL Team Manager now. Lucky guy!

Hopefully next update will be soon, so spread the love, we're back!

P.S. Simmonds and Stewart broke up and Stewart ran back to East Germany to cry manly tears. Simmonds decided not to return to Germany, had a family issue and returned to Toronto area. Hopefully guys will get back together in NA or somewhere else if Lockout lasts. I would hate to miss all this love and energy.

P.P.S. A friend of mine, Ned Lukacevic also left Crimmitschau but went to Slovakia and Banska Bystrica. So far in 4 games Neddie has 2 goals and 4 assist. Not bad buddy, by Xmas I want atleast 2ppg or we're not going to Adriatic this summer.

Ned Lukacevic and Dennis Bozic with a friend

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Fight for your right party!

Hockey brawls are common. They're a reason why we love hockey as well. An occasional one on one can turn the tide, change a loss to a victory, energize players and fans. But when does the game of hockey turn into a massive brawl? Are fights inevitable when the refs show their incompetence and annoy the players and fans alike?

Tensions rise, one bad foul leads to another bad call, and then all hell breaks loose. This is a story of such a game. 
Adam Naglich (Medvescak) vs Kevin Moderer (Graz 99ers)
Have you ever seen a game with 295 PIM? If not go to the official highlights and check it out. There is big rivalry between the teams of KHL Medvescak Zagreb and Medical Moser Graz99ers dating to season 09/10. Back then the last seeded underdog Medvescak kicked Graz 99ers in the nuts and made a miracle on ice. G99ers were first seeded team before playoffs. 

Naglich and Moderer flashing the fists

Mile is our hero
Dennis Bozic (Photo: Sanja Berend)
Sundays' game started with lots of penalties and a dance
between Croatian/Swedish youngster Dennis Bozic and G99ers' tough guy Gill Lefebvre. Former Flyers prospect proceeded to teach Dennis a lesson. He learned later its not nice to pick on younger guys. 

38 PIM in first period and no goals led to an even wilder second period. Curtis Fraser took on himself to dance with Lefebvre but was knocked down in the process. However Lefebvre recieved a GM and was sent off. 

Three goals later, at 2:1 for Graz, Dario Kostovic used his extensive knowledge of swearing in Croatian and translated it to German while trying to say to refs what they've done wrong and where should they stick it. He was awarded with a complementary shower. 
Kosta Kosta!
Dario Kostovic scored 4 goals in 4 victories. So far when he scores his team wins (Photo: Sanja Berend)
Vanek tallied his first goal of the night and probably thought he will leave Graz with a nice win to seal the one month vacation in Austria. But refs and Van Ballegooie decided otherwise. Ganahl decided it was time to settle the score with MacAulay and Van B. jumped in to help his buddy. Meanwhile Naglich went on to beat Moderer into a pulp. Few minutes later and 130PIM later (Match penalty for VanB) refs returned Greentree who was sent of instead of MacAulay and sent Kenny to shower early. 

You can see the video of the brawl below:

And here:

Second period ended with 3 PP goals by the Bears. Brandon Buck, David Brine and Tomislav Zanoski decided to score and turn the game around.

Halfway through the third period Ouzas got injured in the net (upper leg muscle, up to two weeks off the ice) and refused to get out of the net. Vanek took it really nice and awarded Ouzie's dedication to the team with a wrap-around for the tie. He left the crease and got changed by Robert Kristan in the net.

Vanek scored a brace in his last game of Euro trip
However, 99ers didnt laugh for long. After apparently a big mistake by former Flyers and Medvescak defensman Andy Delmore (my dear friend, hi Peter!), Nathan Perkovich scored for the lead. Two minutes later, Andy Sertich added a 6th goal of the night for the Bears. With two minutes to go Coleman Rodney Jarrett scored for 99ers, who pulled their goalie for another attacker but the Bears held firm. 92% of PK in 18 games for Bears and excellent defense (best SV/SA ratio in league) were enough for them to take a 9th win in a row and continue a streak of wins since Jeffrey joined the team.

Vanek and Brady bunch didn't laugh at the end of the game,
and David returns to Buffalo with a memory he'd  soon like to forget. 

In other news

Grabner decided to puncture young Red Bull goalie Luka Gračnar, Slovenian prospect and a GK with future with yet another trademark shorthander.

Grabner grew a lockout beard. Will it last until playoffs? Whats he implying with his hand gesture?
Gračnar didn't manage to get a 3rd win in a row and took 4 pucks out of his goal but still keeps team best 92.4% SVS and 2.34GAA. Not bad for a 1993. born kid.

Sammy Gagner is on fire. 5 goals and 3 assists in 7 games are kinda okay I guess. His team is so good it wins even with him sitting out.
Sam Gagner resting during the game against HDD Telemach Olimpija (1G 1A)
So far, with 16 points in 9 games for Medvescak, Dustin Jeffrey (or Justin) is the best NHL lockout player in the league. 9 games, 9 wins and 6 goals. Nice signing by the team. Sutter, be scared. Be really really scared.

Photo bombing Jeffrey's moment by the Author (photo: Igor Šoban)
The league goes to a break now, some of the players will be joining their National teams for a take on last 3 spots for 2014 Olympic games in Sochi, including Grabner, Nodl, Vanek (?), Kopitar, Muršak and few other "normal" players of EBEL.

League resumes in 10 days with and Medvescak is going for another venue change, 3rd of the season. Games on 14th, 16th and 18th of November are being played in 15,200 seat Arena Zagreb. HDD Telemach Olimpija, EC KAC and EC Red Bull Salzburg will be playing once again in the "big Arena" during a 3 game streak "PAN Arena Ice Fever".

Arena Ice Fever 2012 (Photo: Igor Šoban)
7 NHL lockout players will be playing during those 3 games, three (or four if Alex Auld stays) for RBS, two for EC KAC and one for Olimpija and Medvescak. It could be a record high fan attendance for all of them this season if the talks don't conclude something soon.

NHLPA and NHL had some talks on Sunday, and NHLPA continued this with a conf call earlier on Monday. This might be progress. But who cares, we got to see real class players in Europe this season so I hope Lockout lasts for a while more.

Biggest losers so far are NHL and hockey fans in North America and all over the world. Last punch they got was a confirmation that Winter Classic is cancelled.

Lost boys

are still talking about the incident when fans yelled "Opice, opice, opice" (Opice=monkey in Czech) to Simmonds. Looks like a day later he still didn't know what happened, and he found out next morning from the Internets. You can read a full article on it here on Puck Daddy. 

As we wrote earlier, Simmonds and Stewart started their bromance road trip in Crimmitschau and here's a story from the road (also by Puck Daddy author Nicholas J. Cotsonika):
They ended up in Crimmitschau, Germany, a town of only 20,000 people with a team in the German league's second division. They signed one-month contracts, hoping to find a higher level of competition later. They made no money. Though the team covered hotel rooms, hotel meals and cars, their salaries covered only the insurance on their NHL contracts.
Off the ice, it was quiet. Everything closed at 8 p.m. and stayed closed on the weekends, so they bought a TV and an Xbox to entertain themselves. On the ice, it was an adjustment. The NHL is so structured that Simmonds said "it's almost like you're programmed a certain way." This league was so unstructured that Simmonds didn't know where to be. He'd go to check his point man, and all five guys would be down low.
"I had to completely change my game," Simmonds said. "You can't do that, or else you're not going to be a good player in European hockey. You've kind of got to go with the flow of things."
But some of those things, they'll never forget. One end of their home arena was open to the air. You could see the woods. It could be cold. "If it was warm outside, you'd have the fog roll in," Simmonds said. It was packed with about 6,000 fans, who would go nuts and throw things on the ice, like cups and a chicken.
Yes, a chicken. Ready to cook.
"A [bleeping] chicken?" Stewart said with a laugh. "I was like, 'Whoa. Don't piss these fans off, man. They're throwing a chicken on the ice in Crimmitschau, they're no joke.' "
One game, Stewart scored two goals, and Simmonds assisted on both. In the NHL, they announce the three stars, and the guys take a little twirl, raise their sticks and disappear. In Crimmitschau, the fans would chant the players' names. The players would come out and dance.
Yes, dance. On the ice.
"They called him out first," Simmonds said. "The whole team is in a semicircle. He goes and does a dance, and then I had to go do a dance in front of the fans."
"Then literally you skate around the ice," Stewart said. "It's like a Stanley Cup party. I'm like, 'Is this every game?' "
That is the stuff Simmonds will remember most.
"The fan situation in Germany," he said, "that was probably the best part I think of my trip so far."
Wayne's happy face
Wayne Simmonds plays with his bro Chris Stewart for White Tigers of Liberec
Lockout lasts, and great stories are written all over Europe. I do hope it lasts a while longer. It could get pretty cool soon when even more players come over for insurance and allowance money.

Until next time, K.

P.S. for all of you who wonder what happened to Andy Nodl in this post.. well nothing. Just like his scoring, there's nothing to report on. He did get some flu or something in Innsbruck though. Get better Andy <3 

Monday, 29 October 2012

Five by five

Five by five!

Two game days have passed since last post in EBEL league, numerous games were played in other leagues. 

Nope, never again going to look at Detroit the same
None were played in "best pro league". NHL even cancelled their schedule for November. 

Even Obama commented on the lockout, he wasn't too happy about it and made a point in telling both to NHL and NHLPA that they're here because of the fans. And that they should find a way to work it out as soon as possible. American guy telling NHL how to make it work. 

Atleast they didn't have him play a hockey game and score a GWG just like Putin did some time ago.

Someone told NHL players there here to play hockey...

so they came this weekend to EBEL and did some work (chart below is blatantly stolen from a poster on a Medvescak fan and supporters group on FB). 

Olimpija Ljubljana: Jan Mursak - 10/21 (2,10)
Medvescak Zagreb: Dustin Jeffrey - 6/9 (1,50)
Orli Znojmo: Bryan Bickell - 6/9 (1,50)
HC Innsbruck: Andreas NÖDL - 8/11 (1,37)
Graz 99ers: Thomas Vanek - 8/10 (1,25)
Villacher SV: Michael Grabner - 7/8 (1,14)
Klagenfurter AC: Sam Gagner - 4/4 (1,00)
Vienna Capitals: Corey Potter - 7/2 (0,28)
EC Salzburg: Tobias Enström - 2/1 (0,50)
Klagenfurter AC: Tyler Myers 4/1 (0,25)

Obviously some players upped their performance, some just started to play but thats quite a nice number of NHLers playing in the league so far. Andy Noodles managed to score a couple of goals this weekend. I'm assuming he got acclimatized to nice Alpine air.
Andreas Nödl's happy face
Or he just forgot what they mage him to in Carolina and started playing some hockey. He even managed to help his team win a second game of the season. Yay Noodles! Good job buddy!

Auld got outmatched by a rookie 18 year old goalie Luka Gračnar 
Salzburg sacked another player. After letting go of Nick Ross they decided to part ways with Ryan Kinasewich, an East coaster with brief AHL stints. Apparently they've parted friendly, but there are always rumorus. Anyways, Salzburg recently brought up three new guys. After signing a NHL goalie this summer, Alex Auld of Senators who had 3,73 GAA and only .885 SVS% they decided to bring another Austrian powerhouse back home. 
Bernd Brückler returns home from KHL team Sibir to a star team EC Red Bull Salzburg. 

Berndy's angry face inside a mask. He wears #26 these days
After Bernd came back home (he's still hated not liked by OEHV, Austrian federation, though why it remains a mistery) RBS decided to hire more NHL lockout players. First it came on Tobias Enström to sign and manage the defense of the team. Just two days later they brought a Devil to the game, David Clarkson came to play and is supposedly here to stay regardless of lockout issues ending or not. Still wasn't enough to win games. 

Sammy Gagner upped his game with two goals against Salzburg and is coming into shape. Wonder if he'll be fit for playoffs or he'll watch them again on TV?

Medveščak is on fire so far. 

Six games, six victories in a row and two home back to back games coming up should be enough to tie in a franchise record and possibly set a new one. Current record is 7 games in a row and Raymond's team set it up last year starting with a win in Graz. New one can be set up by a win in Graz again, in a last game before IIHF break, on 4th of November. Vanek, boys are ready for payback.

Out of these few victories in a row, last 4 were won with 5 goals scored each game. 5:0 against Innsbruck (on road), 5:2 against Sapa Fehervar AV19, 5:1 against Linz (on road, reigning champions) and last night 5:1 against EC VSV from Villach who were current leaders. 

The Bears haven't lost a home game since outdoor games in Pula were played, almost two months ago. 

Team is on fire now, each game a different line stands up and goes "crazy". Yesterday it was time for a 4th line start the show with a SH1 goal that was set up by Kostović, a player with over 400 NLA games. A few minutes later hi tallied his second goal of the season which proved to be a GWG goal as well. Dustin Jeffrey (Pittsburgh Penguins) a player Carslberg Croatia, and their brand PAN, helped bring over is slowly getting more and more points, so far he's on 1.6ppg and 9 points out of 6 games played.

Dario Kostović scoring a GWG goal against EC VSV (Photo: Igor Šoban)
Whats next, we'll see tomorrow, the team is hot now, but coming 4th of November up to three players will need to be let go. Too many points and rosters are getting fixed. Who will stay, who will go is a big question that everyone is asking. Only time will tell...

Anyone wondered where Stewart and Simmonds are?

Stewart and Simmonds in an "on ice bromance" in Czech Republic
Well we found them! After driving off into sunset and ditching the team in Crimmitschau, and setting it up for their Leaf believer buddy Clarke MacArthur, Simmonds and Stewart drove to Czech republic to have some good time. Later that night someone steered them towards Liberec where they got signed. Looks like the boys were having time for only two games until the racist slur started. 

Click on link to watch Czech fans yelling "Opice, opice" meaning "monkeys, monkeys" after a scram on the ice involving Simmonds. That's not nice. Shame on you bad Czech hockey fans!

We just hope that Simmonds and Steweart will hop on soon to a new destination in Europe as this is a perfect time for them to see the world. And play some hockey while fooling around. Oh you bad boys!

BTNL jerseys and a young RB Crashed ice champ in Netherlands
Plus - can't let this slide by. Another wave of qualifications for Red Bull Crashed Ice has passed. And imagine what, my friend's best workout place in Canada got sported by this young athlete. Good job Dan, apparently the quality of your work spreads far and beyond! Check out this great video done by Beyond the next level team!

Tomorrow is an another game day in EBEL league, so expect another update on the league pretty soon. And pretend you like it, means a world to me. Until then, best regards and keep your sticks on the ice, head up and feet moving.


Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Men who wear pink

Men who wear pink!

Athletes, sports functionaries and fans often actively support good causes. October is usually reserved for support and fight against breast cancer. Therefor pink was the color of choice and a weapon against the dreaded illness. 

Giroux and Briere in pink
Claude Giroux and Danny Briere decided to go along with their team's effort and after getting pink Warrior gloves, they donned pink jerseys of their Lockout team Eisbaren Berlin. Pink Bears, sounds... nice. 

Good job guys! 

Another team that supported this cause were Zagreb Bears, Croatian national champions playing in EBEL league. 

KHL Medvescak Zagreb's laces against breast cancer (Photo: Igor Šoban)

Pregame warmup in pink (Photo: Igor Šoban)
Bears decided to support the cause by changing all the laces during October into pink ones. And boy do those look cool. 

And now, something completely different! 

Niclas Backstrom is another player that moved overseas and joined a KHL team during NHL lockout. 20 or so years after Cold War ended, Backstrom moves from Washington to Moscow and joins his former / current / future teammate Ovechkin in UHC Dynamo Moscow. 2006. first round draft pick decided to spice up the lockout talks by taking a jersey with #99 to play with in KHL. 

We all know #99 is retired NHL-wide in honor of the Great One, Wayne Gretzky. Backstrom is certainly a great player, but does he deserve this jersey? Time will tell. Is it a great public relations pull? Certainly.

Nicklas Backstrom made his KHL debut Monday wearing jersey No. 99 for Dynamo Moscow. (Photo: @plysenkov)

Lost boys found... in Czech republic!

On Sunday we reported Simmonds and Stewart driving somewhere towards Czech and into sunset after they decided to ditch Eispiraten Crimmitschau. The crazy boys decided to continue their Euro Trip playing for White Tigers of Liberec in Czech Extraliga. 

The Pirates from Crimmistchau didn't wait too long for their substitutions. On monday they signed a promising and hard working player Ned Lukacevic for a tryout period and then today they bombed us by signing Toronto Maple Leaf forward Clarke MacArthur for a month. Not bad. 

Clarke MacArthur of Maple Leafs throwing hands in the air like he believes
Hopefully MacArthur, just like Sam Gagner, will help his team in securing a playoff spot. If lucky they might even play in them. For the first time. In like.. thousand years. 

Game night tonight!

From Winnipeg to Salzburg for Toby!
EBEL has two games going on tonight, HDD Telemach Olimpija (with Mursak) welcomes a really bad team with Andy Nodl, HC Innsbruck. KHL Medveščak Zagreb (with Dustin Jeffrey of Pittsburgh Penguins) are hosts to Hungarian team Sapa Fehervar AV19 tonight at 19:15 (GMT +1) LIVE

In meantime, EC Red Bull Salzbrug decided to throw even more money around. After signing Austrian  goalie Bernd Brückler (@brucks30), who will wear #26 and probably push former NHL goalie Alex Auld out of the crease. 

With relatively bad Auld in goal getting a better substitution, Red Bull decided to sign Tobias Enström. Maybe they'll finally manage to get some fans to their games now. Probably wont, but who cares, they're Red Bull. 

Go Jets go! I mean, go Bears go!