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Toledo’s Walleye > Detroit’s Octopus

The Toledo Walleye are in their first year of existence as a minor league hockey team in the ECHL. They’re affiliated with the Blackhawks and Red Wings of the NHL and apparently their fans have taken a cue from one of their parent franchises. Instead of chucking octopuses on the ice like the fans of Detroit have done, the fans of the Toledo Walleye actually toss a Walleye (catfish looking fish) onto the ice after goals. Here’s a news package on the matter from FOX Toledo and keep your eye out for one of LBS’ most famous commenters towards the end:

I dunno Spin, I kind of like the guy who rocks the air guitar with the walleye but kissing it isn’t bad. In case you’re wondering about the history of throwing an octopus on the ice, we’ve explored that topic in the past.

AHL Hockey Coach Jim Playfair Has Epic Meltdown, Breaks a Stick!

I’ve seen some pretty classic coach’s meltdowns in my day with Braves minor league manager Phillip Wellman and Joe Mikulik coming to mind. Usually the meltdowns happen in the minors because the coaches figure they’re lower profile and there aren’t as many cameras around. That’s true, but these days anything worth seeing (and plenty more not worth a look) winds up on YouTube. And that’s exactly where this awesome meltdown by AHL Abbotsford Heat coach Jim Playfair wound up. Check out the video:

The best parts are when Playfair rips off his shirt as if he’s about to challenge the refs to a fight like he’s Ed Orgeron and the player to his left who has to cover up his mouth with his glove because he’s trying to hide his laughter. In case you were wondering, Playfair’s team lost 4-0. Not that you cared.

NHL Wised Up with New Headshots Rule

Thursday, NHL owners voted unanimously to implement a new “head shot” rule which will remain in effect for the remainder of regular season games and for post season play. The NHL Player’s Association gave their blessing for the rule as they believe it will help keep players safe.  The NHLPA supported the new rule in their statement:

“We are encouraged by the league’s recent willingness to explore on-ice rule changes as a means of reducing player injuries and have no doubt that by working together, a safer working environment can be established for all NHLPA members.”

The new rule states that “lateral, back-pressure or blindside hit to an opponent where the head is targeted and/or the principal point of contact” are not allowed. This new rule is a response from the NHL to the hit Boston Bruin’s Marc Savard took from Pittsburgh Penguin Matt Cooke that went unpunished but ended Savard’s season (pictured above). The hits have been getting more violent as the playoffs near, so this couldn’t have come at a better time.

I’m happy to see this happen. I’m happy to see the NHL taking action to protect players against possible brain damage or other career ending injuries. I’m happy that this is just the beginning and that they are working on a permanent rule for next season.  Even though hockey has and hopefully always will be an aggressive and pretty violent sport, I’m sure that these guys are happy that their chances of ending their career with most of their brain intact have improved.

Sources:
NHLPA supports new NHL initiative on head hits [Sports Network]

Stanley Cup Playoffs Arriving Means Hits are Getting Harder

The last couple weeks, NHL players seem to be hitting each other harder and harder. In some cases, like the hit laid on Chicago Blackhawk Brent Seabrook by James Wisniewski a few nights ago, they are literally knocking players out cold. But what’s with all the hard hits lately fellas? I might know the answer.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are a few weeks away and the pressure is on. I don’t know exactly what is going through the mind of players like Wisniewski. I don’t know if he intentionally tried to lay Seabrook out like a sack of potatoes or if he was “in the moment” and feeling aggressive. But Seabrook isn’t the only hit that’s been like this lately. There’s also his teammate Brian Campbell (who is now out for the season) and Boston Bruins Marc Savard who was knocked out a couple weeks back. These hits are proof that the players aren’t messing around and they will be as aggressive as they have to so that they can be the ones hoisting up the Stanley Cup in just a few weeks time.

Although I’m all for being aggressive, I think these guys need to be smart about it. When you are headed towards another player and you’re ready to hit him with all you can, remember that you can injure yourself in the process, too. If these NHL players keep making these reckless hits they are not only going to injure their opponent but themselves as well, and then picking up that Stanley Cup will be a difficult task when you have a broken arm.

Repeat Offender, Reckless Ovechkin Needs to Stop Playing Dirty

I think we have all seen the nasty hit that Washington Capitals captain Alexander Ovechkin gave Chicago Blackhawks forward Brian Campbell during Saturday night’s game. Campbell was down on the ice for several minutes before being ushered off by team doctors while Ovechkin sat in the penalty box waiting to serve his five minute major. After reviewing the play, referees declared the hit “reckless” which led to his ejection from the game and a two-game suspension by the NHL.

Ovechkin didn’t just shake up Campbell, his hit caused a broken collar bone and broken ribs, not to mention an early end to his season. But what does this to the NHL? The main reason people say they don’t watch hockey is because of the violence. They don’t want their children subjected to that. So when Ovechkin, one of the best players in the league, blatantly tries to injure an opponent, doesn’t that turn people even further away from hockey? Ovechkin even tried to defend his hit:

“It was not a hard hit,” Ovechkin said. “I just pushed him. It’s a moment in the game. I don’t think it has to be five minutes or something like that. I just feel bad. That’s it.”

No matter what the real intention was, I think that if you are the captain of your hockey team you need to own up to your actions. That’s what real leadership is. Besides, this isn’t the first time Ovi has done this. He’s now a repeat offender in the league’s eyes, and maybe he should get a reality “check” and know that you can win without playing dirty.

Sources:
Cap’s Oveckin banned two games for Campbell hit [NHL.com]

Better Fist Pump: Adam Burish or Jersey Shore’s The Situation?

Following five long months of waiting, Chicago Blackhawks forward Adam Burish made his return to the ice Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Kings. It was his season debut after missing 65 games due to a torn right ACL which he injured in a preseason match-up against the Minnesota Wild. For those who are unfamiliar with Adam Burish, he is the character of the Blackhawks team. Whether he’s taunting other teams or calling the Canadian Olympic hockey team the USA’s “little sister”, he’s always entertaining. That’s why it’s no surprise he came back in style.

After assisting Patrick Sharp on a goal in the first period, Burish found the opponent he was looking for — Richard Clune. Burish told ESPN 1000 Chicago that he was planning the scrap all along and that he had looked over the King’s lineup to find the guy who likes to fight. The real treat came after the brawl was finished and both players had received their penalties. Burish was skating to the penalty box and celebrated by fist pumping. Burish described the feeling of fist pumping for the sold out United Center to ESPN 1000’s Afternoon Saloon:

[Read more...]

Canadians Sure Love Their Hockey

And apparently so do we. Not as much as them, but the TV ratings for the Olympics gold-medal game between the U.S. and Canada were through the roof in both countries. The game apparently had an average viewership of 27.6 million and maxed out at 34.8 million viewers at the end of the 3rd period. The only game with a higher rating in the U.S. in the last 30 years was the 1980 gold-medal game against Finland which followed up the Miracle on Ice. Now if you thought that sounded like strong ratings, the numbers in Canada blow ours away:

It was also the most-watched television broadcast ever in Canadian history, with an average audience of 16.6 million viewers. Nearly half of the Canadian population watched the entire game on average, while 80 percent of Canadians watched some part of the game (26.5 million).

80% tuned in at one point? Damn, that’s freaking crazy. The Super Bowl usually attracts less than 50% of our population by comparison. Also putting this game into proper context, the gold-medal game outdrew the Rose Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals, March Madness championship game, and the Daytona 500. Without a doubt this was a boon for hockey and hopefully just what the NHL needed to regain some of the popularity it once had. Remember, it was only 15-20 years ago that the NHL had equal popularity as the NBA. I hope this enthusiasm keeps up.