The Move…

Posted: October 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

So, it’s official… The New York Islanders are moving from the only home they’ve ever known, Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.  After years of owners, developers, politicians and businessman, (all are not mutualy exclusive) there seems to big too much of a political roadblock to overcome in order to keep the last remaining professional sports team on Long Island.  The announcement was made from the newly built and their soon to be home, the Barclay’s Center. On Wednesday October 24th around 1pm, Islanders owner Charles Wang announced that after the lease of their current contract with their home expires, the Islanders will start off the 2015-2016 in Brooklyn. The new arena is about 25 miles west of their current home.

The new arena will hold about 13,500 fans and feature a “Horseshoe” shaped seating arrangment.

Barclay’s Center seating chart for NY Islanders home games.

This will make the Barclay’s Center the smallest rink seating wise in the NHL. The NHL also has no minimum seating requirement but one would think more seats = more money.

The arena is shared with the now Brooklyn Nets who came across the river from Jersey to their new home to compete with the Knicks for the NY/LI market. The Nets used to play in the Nassau Coliseum along side the NY Islanders until 1977 before moving the IZOD center in the Meadowlands.

They will be keeping their name, logo and color scheme (for now anyway). I do still believe they may still bare the “Islanders” title, Brooklyn is located ON Long Island, even if it is one of the 5 boroughs of New York City. (Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, Staten Island and Manhattan are the 5 NYC boroughs)

The Yellow and Orange colors are what locals consider “on the Island” the rest of the colors indicate the 5 boroughs of New York City

Just so everyone knows, Dustin Brown (Captain of the LA Kings) was not called for this, but maybe should have been.

Oh Cap'n Our Cap'n

That's not how that works!

It was not mentioned if Brendan Shanahan will make a phone call to the 27 year old NY native,  but I a “ShanaBan” should be considered. (Or at the very least make him grow a mustache for 2 weeks.)

Having won only 2 of their last 10 contests, the Islanders are having a rough November.  To shake things up a bit, the team has made a call for some young blood from their minor league associate, the Bridgeport SoundTigers.  They summon Swedish forward, David Ullstrom and 25-year-old, hard hitting C/F Mike Haley along with their 2010-2011 Swiss draft pick, winger Nino Niederreiter .  (Learn to spell it, this will be on the test later.)

They may not be every-day players, but I thinks it’s a good idea to not let guys get too comfortable with just being in the lineup.  One of the biggest shake-ups was last week was when GM Garth Snow sent Isles forward Blake Comeau back down to Bridgeport, their minor league team.  In the NHL, when a player does not have a 2-way contract, he must pass through waivers. Meaning; any team can make a claim on this player to add him to their team, in turn taking on his full contract and relieving the previous team of any responsibilities toward this player.  So you could imagine the effect this can have on other “complacent” players on the team.

Reading up on Hockeybuzz.com, we might be surprised to learn the NY Islanders are looking to move Minnesota native Kyle Okposo. (Or you might not be.) Personally, I like the guy. I think he has the ability to be a 25 goal scorer every season and be a great fore-checker, but he hasn’t exactly done anything amazing this season.   He had a great 2-goal, 3-point game against  Philly last week.  Other than that, he hasn’t even averaged 2 shots on a goal a game.  In his defense, Kyle had to end his season short last year due to a torn labrum (shoulder injury) which required surgery and plenty of rest. He did do fairly well in his only 38 appearances, which gives us hope and raises expectations for this year.

Does it warrant he be put up for sale? If so, who would take him based on his potential?  According to sources, “Columbus Blue Jackets, Toronto Maple Leafs, St. Louis Blues, and Winnipeg Jets are in on Kyle Okposo.”  Any one of those teams would be grateful to have such a young, talented playing who can play both sides of the puck.

In unrelated news, the Calgary Flames are looking to move Jerome Iginla and his $7 million a year (for the next 2 years) salary. The Islanders happen to be one of the NHL’s lowest “cap limited” teams, meaning they have lots of monies to give out if they so choose. Actually, their team doesn’t even meet the minimum amount they have to pay their team, but thanks to buyouts of ex-Islanders (who will rename nameless to not curse this blog), they just make the cap floor, leaving the ceiling somewhat…high.  If it weren’t for Jerome’s No Trade Clause, I’m confident anyone of the previous mentioned teams, including the Islanders, would have him, freeing up some space for the struggling Calgary Flames.

Also rumored, Bobby Ryan of the Anaheim Ducks could be seeing a new home by the new year. Teams are looking to shake things up and moving players and coaches seems to not let anyone become, there’s that word again, COMPLACENT.

So here’s the deal; the 8 & 1 San Francisco 49ers aren’t exactly looking good; they’re looking real good. Not only have not lost a game in regulation this season (their 1 lose came in an overtime stand-off against Dallas) but they are beating teams that are on top of their division (1st place NY football Giants, the previously undefeated Detroit Lions).

With that being said, the remainder of the 49ers schedule is against their struggling NFC West Division rivals: 2 games against the Arizona Cardinals (3-6) 2 games against the St. Louis Rams (2-7) and 1 more showdown against the tricky Seattle Seahawks (3-6).  It should be noted that all 3 of these teams are having some issues with their passing game, Kolb and Bradford being a boot for a few weeks and Tavaris Jackson having some injury issues. It would be safe to say that all these teams would need to rely heavily on their running game to not only ease the pressure on their banged up quarterbacks, but also to give touches to key players such as Beanie Wells, Steve Jackson & Marshawn Lynch.  As much success as these teams may have had with their ‘ground & pound’ games, the San Francisco 49ers have yet to allow a single rushing touchdown this entire season.   In 9 games, they have let up 136 points (fewest in the league) with 13 passing/receiving touchdowns allowed.

Aside from their Monday night match-up against the Pittsburgh Steelers on December 19th – I don’t see them being beaten by any of  the teams on their schedule. Sure, Larry Fitzgerald may get a touchdown or 2 and Ray Rice might break their “No Rushing TD’s” streak but all-in-all this is a team that could win a first round playoff BYE along with the Green Bay Packers.

My predictions (for now) for the beginning of the 2011-2012 NFC playoffs:

Green Bay Packers 15-1 (North) – BYE

San Francisco 49ers 13-3 (West) – BYE

New Orleans Saints 11-5 (South)

New York Giants 10-6 (East)

Atlanta Falcons 10-6 (South)

Chicago Bears 10-6 (North)

<- My guess is the Bears will finish over Detroit only because the Bears have an easier schedule & a hurt Jahvid Best can’t compete with the likes of a  healthy Matt Forte ->

I’m not saying the 9ers will tear through the Packers if they come to face them in the NFC playoffs, but they will at least have the opportunity to play them for the greatest single championship game in American sports.

The (True) Inconvenient Truth

Posted: November 10, 2011 in Chatter, Chirpping

NHL Conferences: Shaken Not Stirred

Posted: November 4, 2011 in Chatter, Hockey

For anyone who is unaware; over the summer of 2011 the NHL hockey team, Atlanta Thrashers, were forced to fold due to financial troubles and move their team. Where did they move? They packed up and moved operations up North to Winnipeg, Manitoba.  To give everyone a little information on our “newly” founded hockey town we will learn that it is in fact not new to the NHL at all.  The Jets of Winnipeg were previously part of the WHA from 1972-1979 , after which they joined the NHL in 1979.  In 1995 the team was sold to Jerry Colangelo (previous owner of every Arizona based sports team other than the Cardinals)  and moved to Phoenix where they would be renamed the Coyotes. They have been there since the start of the 1996-97 season.

Although now with a different name, look, and city, The Coyotes continue to honor their heritage of past greats such as Bobby Hull and keep his number (9) retired.

Has Winnipeg welcomed back these impostor “dirty birds from the South” you may wonder? Not only have they welcomed the new franchise into their city but they answered with selling out every home game for the 2011-2012 season and having a waiting list of a few thousand people. (Oh, all of this before the team even confirmed what their name would be let alone played a game.)  How many sports still have waiting lists I wonder? Thanks to the PSL, that has gone down substantially in other sports. The only problem, the NHL Jets have the smallest hockey arena in the league holding only 15,000 fans.  Either way, they’re grateful to have hockey back in their cold, windy city.

(FUN FACT: “Winnie the Pooh” was named after this Canadian city by Lieutenant Harry Colebourn who purchased a bear for $20 in 1914.)

This brings me to my debate about shaking up the conferences.  The Jets are current in the SOUTHEAST division. As in the South East corner of the USA. It may not be totally crazy considering they used to be in Atlanta, Georgia, but lets take a look-see at the NHL cities map:

A map of the 2011-2012 NHL cities throughout North America

If you know your geology, Winnipeg is located North of Minnesota and North Dakota, in Canada of course. A VERY long distance away from ATL and their current division which consists of both Florida teams – the Panthers and Lightning, the Carolina Hurricanes and the Washington Capitals of D.C.  So, to even things out and to change things for the future I think they should reorganize the divisions. There are currently 30 teams in the NHL broken up over 6 divisions and 2 conferences.

In the Eastern Conference, we have the previously mentioned Southeast division, along with the Atlantic division: NY Islanders, NY Rangers, NJ Devils, Philly Flyers & Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Northeast division: Boston Bruins, Buffalo (NY) Sabres and the 3 Eastern Canadian teams, Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators, and the Montreal “Le Habitants” Canadians.

For the Western Conference there is the Central division: Chicago Blackhawks, Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues,  & Columbus Ohio Blue Jackets.

Northwest division: Minnesota Wild, Colorado Avalanche, and all 3 Western Canadian teams, Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers & Calgary Flames.

Finally, the Pacific division:  LA Kings, Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks, Dallas Stars and the Phoenix Coyotes.

As in many sports, the Eastern conference teams are packed very tight together. Even having to push teams in the Eastern time zone out west just to balance things out. (Sorry Ohio).  So I’ve come up with a 4 division plan to possibly redraw some of these conference lines and shake things up a bit: Eastern, Atlantic, Central & Western divisions.

Atlantic Division: (Eastern Conference)

Boston Bruins

NY Rangers

NY Islanders

NJ Devils

Washington Capitals

Carolina Hurricanes

Tampa Bay Lightning

Florida Panthers

Eastern Division: (Eastern Conference)

Montreal Canadians

Ottawa Senators

Toronto Maple Leafs

Buffalo Sabres

Philadelphia Flyers

Pittsburgh Penguins

Columbus Blue Jackets

Central Division: (Western Conference)

Detroit Red Wings

Chicago Blackhawks

Nashville Predators

St. Louis Blues

Winnipeg Jets

Minnesota Wild

Dallas Stars

Pacific Division: (Western Conference)

Vancouver Canucks

Edmonton Oilers

Calgary Flames

San Jose Sharks

Anaheim Ducks

LA Kings

Phoenix Coyotes

Colorado Avalanche

Now,  I know that this leaves the divisions with a 7-8-7-8 pattern, but the way the current NHL playoff system is setup is that the top 8/15 from the East and the top 8/15 from the West make the playoffs. With the 1st of each division automatically getting the 1,2, or 3 spots for the conference.  Splitting the conferences into 2 divisions makes it so that if you finish in first, you get the first seed and the benefit of facing the 4th place team in your division. Which means of course, team 2 plays team 3 to go on to the division title, then playing a conference title to see who represents their North American hemisphere for the chance to play for the greatest trophy in all of sports, Lord Stanley’s Cup.

This will make divisions all that much more important without disrupting the 8 contenders from each conference duking it out in April. The way it’s setup now, if a team in a tough division is behind the overall division leader taking 2nd even with the same amount of points, the highest they can finish in their conference is 4th!  Then they have to battle their way out of the basement playing any random team in their conference instead of  being required to represent their own division first.  I know it’s a bit confusing now but I think it will put more emphasis on winning divisional games, as it is in baseball. Which all Americans love, right? Yes!

Anyway, if you read through this and have an opinion, please share it below. I’ll be getting my skate on tonight playing some ice hockey in Westchester.

The Opening Face-Off

Posted: November 3, 2011 in Uncategorized

Inspired by wife, “Jellybean” Justine, I’ve come to create a blog of my own. Bare with me as I go through the developmental (learning) process to get everything setup and fully operational. (If I’ve learned anything from the Islanders, it’s to say just that.)

In the meantime, if you like narwhals or don’t and want to, take a peek at Stop Me if You’ve Heard This One and see what real writing looks like while I tinker with fonts, pictures, polls and survey’s.