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What the Sedin twins can teach us

3/17/2009 - NHL

Shot of the Week

It's back. You know how it works: We present an NHL photo, and Bucci provides a caption. E-mail him your suggestions (include your name and hometown/state), and we will use the best ones and provide a new photo the following week.

LAST WEEK:

"Dude, O'Donnell put tomatoes in your helmet again." (Getty Images)

Your captions:

"I guess the gash isn't always Greener on the other side."
-- Liz Cohen (El Segundo, Calif.)

"If you were to remove this cage, I would eat your nose ... with some fava beans and a nice Chianti."
-- Tom Holder (Kilmartin, Ontario)

"That will buff right out."
-- Jeff Williams (White Bear Lake, Minn.)

"It was a tire iron, he was just defending himself!"
-- Scott Keith (Lansing, Mich.)

That is the most intimidating helmet I have ever seen.
-- Howard Freedland (Jupiter, Fla.)

THIS WEEK:

Martin Brodeur announces his retirement moments after seeing the NHL's new "bigger net." (Getty Images)

Our boy Pierre LeBrun, ESPN.com blogsmith, had this in his space this past weekend:

The Vancouver Canucks and the representative for the Sedin twins have agreed to shut down contract talks until after the season. Daniel and Henrik Sedin are set to become unrestricted free agents on July 1. We are told they remain "far apart" but don't want to distract the twins during the stretch run. They'll pick it up again after the season and hope there's enough time before July 1 to figure it out.

Meanwhile, The Vancouver Sun reports the Sedins' asking price is $7 million a year. Their agent, J.P. Barry, said the following. "We have been discussing the parameters of an extension since last summer. Nonetheless, we still have significant differences to resolve before I could say that we are even close to finalizing anything."

What can the Sedin twins teach us about:

A. The immediate economic future of the NHL;

B. The economic future of the NHL, for at least as long as the Sedin twins are in the NHL.

Why the Sedin twins? Well, as said above, they will be unrestricted free agents in the summer, and, this just in, there are two of them. (Thanks, tips.) It will be interesting to watch how the Sedins and J.P. (the J.P. stands for "Just Praying I can get commission on $14 million") value themselves and how other NHL general managers value the Sedins. This will be true for all of the summer's unrestricted and restricted free agents. The economic landscape of the world has changed, probably for a long time, and the immediate future looks murky.

First of all, the Sedin twins will turn 29 in September. Second, it looks as though the NHL will have about 35 30-plus goal scorers by the end of the season, and Daniel Sedin will be one of them. Henrik Sedin is a pass-first, rarely shoot center along the lines of Joe Thornton. (Henrik obviously is not as good as Thornton, but you get the picture.) Henrik has an excellent chance to finish among the top 10 in assists this season. The Canucks are 14-3-1 in their past 18 games. Daniel has goals in only three of those games and none in his past 10, but he has 13 assists in that span. Henrik is 6-11-17 in the same 18-game stretch (but had a four-point night and a three-point night). Daniel leads the Canucks in scoring; Henrik is second. Henrik also appears to have a slightly larger head than Daniel. These are all well-researched facts.

The Canucks, managed by Dave Nonis before this season, are in a good salary-cap position as they go forward with their player planning. Vancouver's highest-paid player next season will be Roberto Luongo ($6.7 million cap number). The Canucks' only contracts that extend four years into the future belong to Alexandre Burrows ($2 million) and Alexander Edler ($3.2 million); both are reasonable cap numbers. The Canucks, unlike many teams, will be able to take advantage of a falling cap number and, thus, adjusted salaries. If I were a Canucks fan, I would be pleased in that regard.

The NHL salary cap probably will drop as revenues fall next season, but it shouldn't fall too much because that money is in the bank. I suppose things still could change if the economy further deteriorates and that money is needed in other areas, such as saving franchises.

The NHL could buffer drops in revenues a bit by a new television deal that involves rights fees. (NBC's no-rights-fees agreement ends after this season.) Even if the NHL were to get, say, $100 million per season thanks to additional television-rights fees, that theoretically could give each franchise a little more than $3 million. That's enough for one Alexander Edler per team. Ken Campbell of The Hockey News reported back in January that the NHL believes there is "leverage to begin charging a national broadcaster for its product."

These are desperate times for most NHL franchises, and any new revenue is gold. With that in mind, it likely would mean a new rights-fees television deal for next season and possibly staging something such as a second outdoor game in Canada if it is logistically possible. Maybe the Sedin twins would be part of a Canadian outdoor game, maybe they wouldn't.

The Sedin twins have been a great value for the Canucks at $3.75 million a year, a smart deal that then-GM Nonis made back in the summer of 2006. It would have been an even better deal if it were for six or seven years. The twins are due for a raise. How much? With the uncertain economy in the world and the NHL, that is becoming an increasingly mysterious game.

Do players sign short-team deals with the hope the economy will improve in the near future? Or do they take guaranteed, lower-salary-than-expected, long-term money? The theory behind doing that would be that the economy might never return to its former hyper/hedge funds level in the players' lifetimes as well as their understanding that they play in a violent game. The NHL game, thanks in part to advancements in surgical procedures, doesn't result in enough career-ending injuries for the average player to worry about, but professional hockey normally chips away at a player's health, especially as the years add up.

The smart NHL player will take a lower yearly salary in exchange for more guaranteed years. This is no time to be arrogant or to long for the economy from the past 10 years. Those green-salad days are over for most NHL players. Ticket prices will have to come down to keep most arenas full. The number of people who can afford five-digit season-ticket prices has dropped significantly. And even the people who can still somewhat afford them have lost so much wealth that they will look at country-club memberships and season-ticket packages as a way to make up for some of those losses.

If someone has lost $100,000 in his 401K in the past year, he can "make up" those losses within about five years by sacrificing the country-club membership ($10,000 of a country-club membership x 5 years = $50,000) and sacrificing his two $125 NHL season tickets ($250.00 x 41 games = $10,250; $10,250 x 5 years = $51,250). So, sacrificing the country-club membership and the season tickets for five years nets someone $100,000 in the blink of an eye. This is even more applicable for people who have children nearing their college years. This is why country clubs and sports teams are concerned. Country clubs are waiving initiation fees, and sports teams are reducing ticket prices.

The Sedins are at a good age to pick up a good deal. A five-year deal would keep them signed until age 33. The brothers said they will not separate and might accept a little less money to play on the same team. Even though they are different players from the same womb, they are worth roughly the same, so once again, they will earn identical salaries. Plus, if Daniel were to make more than Henrik, Henrik would head butt him with his huge melon and then go cry himself to sleep on his huge pillah. We can't have that.

Working against the Sedins are their playoff numbers:

  • Daniel: 5-13-18 and a minus-8 in 43 playoff games

  • Henrik: 10-10-20 and a minus-9 in 43 playoff games

    The Sedins' play in the playoffs this spring could, and probably should, affect how much they are paid. If I were representing the twins, I would try to get a seven-year deal from the Canucks with descending salary. It would give the Sedins a long stretch of guaranteed money and would help the Canucks' cap situation. If I were the Canucks, I would not give them more than $6 million a year. They are not superstar, elite players and are unproven playoff performers, but they are good.

    I think a deal like this is fair:

    2009-10: $6 million
    2010-11: $6 million
    2011-12: $6 million
    2012-13: $6 million
    2013-14: $5 million
    2014-15: $3 million
    2015-16: $3 million

    (J.P. Barry probably just threw up his Tim Hortons.)

    That's a seven-year, $35 million contract with a $5 million cap number. Now, if the Sedin twins tank in the playoffs again this spring, I can see how the Canucks could take $1 million off each year to bring the cap number down to $4 million. That would put Henrik's $5 million salary for the next four years at the same rate as Mike Ribeiro's, which is about right. And $5 million a year for the next four years makes Daniel a higher-paid player than Brenden Morrow. I don't think there is a GM who would trade Morrow for Daniel Sedin when Morrow is healthy. In last season's playoffs, Morrow had nine goals and 15 points in 19 games. Sedin has 10 goals in 43 career playoff games. In this economy, $28 million of guaranteed money is a fine income.

    With the Sedin twins at a $4 million cap number, the Canucks could get in on talks for Marian Hossa and Johan Franzen. Franzen would play great with the twins, no? Then, I would persuade Mats Sundin to sign a one-year deal at $2 million to play with Hossa, who might help him reach 600 goals. If the Canucks were to trade Sami Salo ($3.75 million salary in 2009-10 and $3.5 million in 2010-11) or Willie Mitchell ($3.5 million next season), they might be able to get in on Jay Bouwmeester.

    It might too much to ask for all of that. Which brings us to this point: Would you "trade" the Sedin twins' negotiations and eventual contract cap number of about $5 million each for Hossa, Franzen and Bouwmeester? The Canucks probably could sign all three if they were to let the Sedins walk. In any economy, the Sedin twins are not, if the reported number is accurate, $7 million-a-year players. But, hey, you might as well ask.

    It's a different economic world right now, one that is more precarious than the pre-lockout "doom days" of the NHL. Players such as the Sedin twins should understand this and use their brains and hearts in terms of where they want to play and what kind of contract they want to sign. Things have changed since the summer of 2008. Listen, I'm all for putting the worker first. I love when players who are good people get big-money contracts because I know some will do great things with the money. I could see the Sedin twins doing great things with their scratch, such as giving gobs to charity and raising and educating their children to be societal contributors. Some who sign huge contracts will live way beyond their means, go to casinos, develop destructive habits that will haunt them and go through their money faster than Ray Ferraro at an all-you-can-eat chicken parm buffet. It can go either way.

    I'm just saying: Players, be careful. Do your homework. Try to think for yourselves. Agents are in the commission business. Be careful not to get too cocky. Be very careful.

    And Canucks fans? You're potentially sittin' pretty.

    Weekly Tribute to Jack Falla

    A college writing professor told me 35 years ago that the hardest part of any story is starting it. "Start it and you're half done," he said, and he was practically -- if not mathematically -- correct. The same professor also told me not to wait for inspiration before I write, but to begin writing and the inspiration would find me. It is the same with shoveling or any big job. Once I'm on the rink and snow is flying and clean ice is appearing and the battle is fairly joined, then my thoughts turn from the fatiguing weight of work undone to a preoccupation with vigorous prosecution of the war on my archenemy, snow.

    The Mother of All Mailbags

    John,

    My brother, Mark "Doc" Kelly, gave the main eulogy at Jack's funeral. They coached at the Rivers Country Day School together in the mid-'70s and became instantaneous best friends. AC/DC would have been acceptable to Jack, but he was much more of a Beach Boys-Brian Wilson aficionado. By the way, Jack's encyclopedic mind for old rock 'n' roll was truly extraordinary. He would not only recall James and Bobby Purify's "I'm Your Puppet," but could tell you the month (November), the year (1966) and where they hailed from (Tallahassee, Fla.).

    Shaun Kelly
    Greenwich, Conn.

    "You cannot hope to build a better world without improving the individuals. To that end, each of us must work for his own improvement and at the same time share a general responsibility for all humanity, our particular duty being to aid those to whom we think we can be most useful." -- Marie Curie


    Hey Booch,

    What's your take on the little football-style speeches the refs do these days after going upstairs to review a play? Personally, I think they should just stick to either pointing to center ice or flashing the "safe" signal.

    Dan T.
    Lake in the Hills, Ill.

    This is an excellent query on two levels.

    1. You are right; the simple point and "safe" call has much more of a theatrical result. It's like a silent movie.

    2. NHL referees are woefully inept in their explanation of on-ice interpretations. They sound like college sports anchors reading the news. (Boom goes the dynamite!) They all need to go to an Ed Hochuli camp for miked-up officials. Now, I understand that Ed, an NFL referee, made an erroneous call in a Denver Broncos-San Diego Chargers game last season, but that's not important right now. The man is a genius when it comes to explaining calls to the crowd and television viewers. He is the Edward R. Murrow of miked refs.

    Go to YouTube and check out some of these performances. One during an Atlanta Falcons game still mesmerizes me. It was flawless! It was like Richard Burton does "Hamlet" does intentional grounding. We could send NHL referees to a weeklong Hochuli camp during the summer. While there, referees also could enjoy the benefits of Hochuli's cutting-edge instruction in biceps and triceps training and arm waxing. There simply is no downside to this. Until this happens, NHL referees should just point or wave off.


    John,

    Thanks for taking the time to read this e-mail. I just finished reading this week's column. I could not agree with you more about radio announcers. In St. Louis, Chris Kerber has been doing Blues games for some time now, and I love listening to him. I live in Chicago, and every time I drive back to my hometown, I try to schedule it around a hockey game. The Blues have moved to KMOX and the signal reaches Chicago in the evenings.

    Adam Welp
    Chicago

    Hey Bucci,

    My family lived south of Edmonton, close enough to Calgary, that back in the days of clear AM signals (which in Alberta lasted until about the mid-'90s), we could get both the Oilers and Flames games. My favorite has always been Rod Phillips. Rod has called the Oilers since 1973; they've never had another regular play-by-play man in 30 seasons. His "HE SCOOOOOOOOOOOORES" still sends shivers up my spine.

    During a particularly heated moment, the Oilers were hemmed in their own end and couldn't clear. Rod got more and more excited, to the point that you could imagine him standing up in his seat, and finally yelled "SOMEBODY GET IT THE HELL OUT OF THERE!" It was the closest I'd heard to a bad swear on the radio at the time, and it was a bit jarring.

    Brian
    Toronto

    John,

    Your column about listening to hockey games on the radio has prompted me to voice my extreme displeasure with the lack of radio coverage my beloved Columbus Blue Jackets get. I live in Xenia, Ohio, which is less than 60 miles from Nationwide Arena, yet I cannot get ANY radio station that carries the Jackets' games. Their flagship station, 1460 The Fan, can be heard only within 10 miles of Columbus. On my way home from games, I listen to the postgame show, but once I get more than 10 miles outside the city, the station goes fuzzy. At home, I can't even get a sniff of the game on the radio.

    Your good friend Aaron Portzline has noticed this also. On his way home from covering road games, he has noticed you can't get a Jackets game on the radio if you're outside the city of Columbus. With the Jackets holding down sixth place in the West, they sure make it hard to hear the team play if you don't live close by. Thankfully, most games are on TV, but there is a nostalgic joy in catching a game on the radio, which I have yet to enjoy with the Blue Jackets.

    Daniel Jenkins

    I recently reintroduced myself to satellite radio. If you love sports and music, your life will improve with satellite radio. I guarantee it.

    John,

    OK, I admit that I'm a Devils fan. OK, I understand that it's not good for the league to hype up a rival team to the Rangers because the New York media is sacred. And OK, I'm probably a homer. But where is the love for Doc Emrick? Is he not the most objective local play-by-play announcer? I don't see any difference in his national broadcasts from his local ones.

    Chris Diercksen

    My love and respect for Mike Emrick has been so rampant and consistent throughout my eight-year career as an ESPN.com blogsmith that Doc has taken out a restraining order against me.

    Bucci,

    I couldn't agree more with you about local announcers. I have the NHL Center Ice package and love watching games from other markets just to hear how their announcers call the game. I have a few that I prefer, but in my heart, I will always want my hockey to be called by Sam Rosen. I love his "It's a power-play goal!" and how can you ever forget "And this one will last a lifetime!" How about a little love for the guy?

    Keith
    Franklin Lakes, N.J.

    Sam Rosen is a Hall of Fame broadcaster and a sweetheart of a person. You can't get a better voice for a broadcaster. It sings. His voice has authority and warmth.

    As expected, the announcer column brought a large number of responses, and passionate ones. And the Joe Buck hate also poured in. Joe Buck has a tremendous feel for the game of baseball. This comes from watching hundreds of games a year as a kid. Most things that you truly understand in life come from childhood. I like Buck's simple, authoritative calls in baseball. He doesn't talk too much, and in big games, he lets the pictures and sounds fill the space. I think Fox does a tremendous job covering baseball. The baseball team I watch has a dreadful play-by-play announcer who has no ability to make a big call. Announcers matter.


    John,

    My father inherited his father's 1977 Buick LeSabre after he died in 1989.

    As a child, I remember riding with him to visit his widowed mother and to hockey games and practices. The car ran so smooth -- like Mike Gartner's stride. We would often listen to our beloved Canadiens in French in that car. I remember not being able to follow the announcers word for word, but I could tell by the excitement in their voices and by the players' names if there was a good scoring chance. "Et le but!" is the best phrase in all of sports. I am giddy when I see the RDS feeds of the Habs on NHL Center Ice.

    When I turned 16, my father passed down the LeSabre to me. It was my first car, and the car I learned to drive with. I took a lot of heat from my friends who had nicer, more popular cars -- just like how hockey and hockey fans in general take a lot of heat from mainstream sports media in the USA. When I got a little older and moved away to college, I passed the LeSabre back to my father in favor of a more reliable vehicle. He drove that thing until 2001, when it finally did not pass inspection because the frame and floorboards had been rusted out. The car still had a powerful motor and tremendous heart, but its body failed it. Kinda reminds me of Gary Roberts' career. Your article made me realize the parallels between this car and the game of hockey.

    Thanks,
    Casey Barcomb

    Use a Beavis voice as you say the following: "LeSabres rule."

    Hi John,

    Great column. A close friend who is also as car nut suggests your dad look at Buick Lucernes next time. He even referred to it as the "spiritual successor" to the LeSabre.

    Cheers,
    Kelsey

    I'm getting verklempt. Talk among yourselves. I will give you a topic: bad calls made by ref Bruce Hood. Discuss!

    "The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerant uncertainty: not knowing what comes next." -- Ursula Le Guin


    Hi John,

    In last week's mailbag, you mentioned that "If Pekka Rinne were to marry Michael Peca's sister and chose to take her last name instead of her taking his last name, he would be Pekka Peca." Did you realize that if former NHL defenseman Jeff Beukeboom were to marry U.S. downhill skier Picabo Street, she would be Picabo Beukeboom?

    Jane

    Toledo, Ohio

    I love you Jane. I really love you.


    Hello Mr. Buccigross,

    If you were starting an NHL franchise with five players from this year's rookie class, whom would you choose? There are players like [Steve] Mason, [Kris] Versteeg, [Blake] Wheeler, etc., who have had great seasons, but are they better bets going forward than the likes of [Steven] Stamkos, [Kyle] Turris, [Kyle] Okposo, etc.? Thanks for your help!

    Mick Ciallela
    Valhalla, N.Y.

    That's a great question, Mick. It's important to differentiate short-term production with long-term production. It's also important to understand how mysterious forecasting young players can be. I did the play-by-play of the NCAA Northeast Regional in March 2008 in Worcester, Mass. (I'll be doing it again this year in Manchester, N.H.) Blake Wheeler was there with Minnesota, and although he was playing a little out of position at center and wasn't playing with the likes of David Krejci, he did not display enough to make one think he would be an impact NHL player just a few months later. He must have trained like a mad man in the summer. Training, as well as natural growth, can enable young players to jump quickly.

    So, let's break this down into two groups. First, this season's all-rookie team, and then, whom I would take in the next 10 years. I will take just three forwards as opposed to centers/wingers, two defensemen and a goalie.

    All-Rookie Team
    G -- Steve Mason
    F -- Kris Versteeg
    F -- Blake Wheeler
    F -- Bobby Ryan
    D -- Drew Doughty
    D -- Zach Bogosian

    10-Year Rookie Team
    G -- Steve Mason
    F -- Steven Stamkos
    F -- Blake Wheeler
    F -- Bobby Ryan
    D -- Drew Doughty
    D -- Zach Bogosian

    This was very difficult. Going in, I thought I was going to take Patrik Berglund of St. Louis on both teams. He would be one of the rocks at center who helps make a team good for a long time. It was hard keeping James Neal off the list. He is fun to watch, especially how fast he is from the blue line in. He reminds me of David Booth of the Panthers in that way.

    I like Wheeler's hands and ability to play through contact. If he were a fighter, he would approach Cam Neely legend status after 10 years. With more ice time, he should score 30-40 goals for much of the next 10 years. Ryan has had some jaw-dropping goals this season. He has size and hands, as well. Stamkos will be a major star. He has a Steve Yzerman aura about him.


    Bucci,

    Our boys are back. "No Line on the Horizon" gets better with each listen, so take your time. Favorite track is "Magnificent." Next time you play this song, think of your family and how blessed and fortunate we all REALLY are in today's world. I get goose bumps every time I listen. I personally rank this song up there with "Where The Streets Have No Name." All in all, a great CD. Worth the wait.

    Jim

    I'm still processing the new U2 CD. I haven't felt any "Joshua Tree" goose bumps yet.


    Bucci,

    Here is my question, and I am seeking your interpretation.

    With the Pens' addition of Guerin and Kunitz and the grit that they brought, it became evident shortly after they arrived that the Pens no longer used sandpaper. Last year's run to the Cup finals was done with a combination of skill and grit. In the offseason, the Pens lost more grit than skill, and that lack of grit was evident this season prior to the trade deadline. So my question is this: What was GM Ray Shero thinking? Did he think that allowing the grit to leave and bringing in players who theoretically had more skill would put the Pens over the top?

    Lee Saylor

    The Penguins are back among the Eastern Conference elite as a result of the acquisitions of Chris Kunitz and Bill Guerin and the return of Sergei Gonchar. The turnover of forwards also meant it would take some time to develop roles.

    Yes, the Penguins lost grit during the offseason; but, more importantly, they lost size skill in Ryan Malone and Marian Hossa. They are big players. Malone is good around the net, and Hossa is good everywhere. The Penguins, although improved, are not as dangerous as they were last season.

    Another reason for the Penguins' recent good play has been Jordan Staal. He is 4-4-8 in his past nine games. Remember, Staal is just 20 years old. Like most 20-year-olds, he will be a bit inconsistent. He will finish this season with a career best in points. The Penguins have done an amazing job, I think, in developing Staal. He isn't shouldered with the limelight of Sidney Crosby and, now, Evgeni Malkin. He is young and inconsistent, but the Penguins give him plenty of ice time and responsibility to learn and grow.

    Keep in mind that when Eric Staal was 20, he was playing in the AHL during the NHL lockout in 2004-05. He then turned 21 and had his breakout 100-point season. The Hurricanes center has now settled into being a 35-40-75 guy on average. Jordan will turn 21 in September, and I think he will settle into his body, get more explosive and leaner with another summer of training and probably develop into a 35-40-75 guy like his brother. What also holds Staal back a bit in the statistics department is he doesn't get huge amounts of power-play time because of Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. If Staal continues to develop into the postseason, he'll only makes the Penguins more dangerous because he'll have the luxury of working against nonchecking lines and defensemen down on the depth chart.


    John,

    Let me start by saying I am a COMPLETE homer for the Blue Jackets. I was excited to see hockey come to Columbus and now I am very excited to see playoff hockey come to Columbus. Did you witness any of the Jackets/Bruins game [Tuesday] night? What a game. The fans were WAY into it and the team responded by playing arguably the best hockey game in Nationwide Arena (as one local columnist put it). Do you think the Jackets can stay the course and make the playoffs with 15 games left? If so, do you see them making any noise in the playoffs?

    Tom Rubadue
    Columbus, Ohio

    It looks pretty good for the Jackets. They have 36 wins and a little cushion and can almost "tie" their way into the playoffs. Just think, if the Blue Jackets were to play all of their final 12 games in scoreless ties through regulation and were to win half of them in overtime or a shootout, they would finish the year with 96 points. That would get them in.

    I have to admit that until a week or so ago I thought Columbus would fall short. But then the Blue Jackets beat Detroit, Boston, Pittsburgh and Chicago in succession! That stretch should define their season. They still have work to do. They'll play Chicago and pesky St. Louis three times each and Nashville twice. It looks good for the 614. If they make it, I'm going to Columbus to write about the experience.


    Mr. Buccigross,

    My name is Jeremy Pellek, and I'm a senior at Bowling Green State University. In light of these tough economic times, BGSU is experiencing a $6-10 million budget shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year. As a result, numerous options are being explored for ways to balance the budget, one of which sadly being the cutting of the varsity hockey program.

    As I'm sure you know, BG won the NCAA championship in 1984, which is still currently the university's only such title and probably will be for a very long time. BGSU is full of passionate hockey fans, students and community alike who would be devastated to see the program dismantled. While things on the ice haven't been as productive as the past, the tradition and history of the program should not be compromised in this matter.

    With such names as Jerry York, Ron Mason, Rob Blake, Ken Morrow, Nelson Emerson, Dave Ellett, George McPhee and many others attending the school for hockey, we feel it's important to reach out to the media in this regard. With your familiarization to the area by attending Heidelberg, and being an avid hockey fan, I and the many other supporters of BGSU hockey hope you can mention this in your weekly column.

    Sincerely,
    Jeremy Pellek and BGSU Hockey supporters

    A move like this would be gutting to those who experienced hockey at Bowling Green State, a terrific little college town in northwest Ohio.


    Bucci,

    My men's team, The Ice Mullets, play this week for their third consecutive league championship (see pub below). During our first playoff run, I put together a locker-room mix of high-energy songs mixed with some classic Jeanneret calls and Jim Mora "PLAYOFFS?" rants to get the guys going and have gradually added to it over time.

    Given the eclectic mix of characters that comprise the Mullets -- doctors, lawyers, salesmen, metal heads and even a Civil War re-enactor (Confederate) -- I've had to select the tunes carefully to please many palates.

    The Mullet Mix presently includes, but is not limited to:

    Tragically Hip: "Lonely End of the Rink"
    54-40: "Radio Love Song"
    Warrant: "Cherry Pie"
    Ozzy: "Crazy Train"
    Stones: "Street Fightin' Man"
    Papa Roach: "Last Resort"
    Lynyrd Skynyrd: "Saturday Night Special" (for the Rebel)
    Guns N' Roses: "Welcome to the Jungle" (of course)
    ZZ Top: "La Grange"
    Cypress Hill: "(Rock) Superstar"

    Anyway, given your renowned taste in music, I'd be honored to add a selection of your choosing to the mix to get the guys primed for our next game.

    Bob Gallivan
    Buffalo, N.Y.

    "Vicarious" by Tool is a must. "Big Jack" by AC/DC is great, especially if you have a guy named Jack on the team. I have a son named Jack, and we would crank that song on the way to the rink on game days. Also, try "Start a War" or "Blackened Sunrise" by Viking Skull.

    Hi John,

    Being the connoisseur of music that I know you are, you should check out a band named Frightened Rabbit. Get the album "Midnight Organ Fight." It is quite possibly my favorite album ever. I hope you enjoy it. I've been reading your column religiously for over three years now. Thank you so much for writing it.

    Dan

    Thank you so much for reading it. I'm behind on the e-mails by about 400 right now. I try to respond to them all to personally thank all of you. That pesky TV job keeps getting in the way.

    YouTube Frightened Rabbit and listen. Frightened Rabbit are an indie rock band from Selkirk, Scotland. People who only like Viking Skull will not approve. Those of us who like all music -- Nat King Cole, Elvis Costello, R.E.M., Toby Keith, Smokey Robinson, Ben Folds, Bruce Hornsby, RUN-DMC, KRS-One, Tim McGraw and, yes, a little Viking Skull -- will like Frightened Rabbit and will probably by the "Midnight Organ Flight" CD.


    Bucci,

    I just got done reading "Jonesy" and man was it good. It would be an awesome read for anyone who remotely is a fan of hockey. Speaking of Jonesy, what are your thoughts on the new and improved slim Jonesy? He dropped those pounds quicker than Pearl Jam dropped drummers in the '90s. It's the talk of the town in the Philly sports shows.

    Jim
    Philly

    I saw Keith for the first time since the summer and was shocked at his weight loss. He is starting to look like Carson Daly. Fifteen more pounds and he will look like an Olsen twin.

    Hockey Fact: Most career points by an NHL goalie: Tom Barrasso (48).


    Bucci,

    I work in a large office building in downtown Chicago. Yesterday, as I was heading out on an errand, I turned the corner after getting off the elevator and -- BAM! -- there it was, literally less than two feet from my face ... the Q-Stache! There was no doubt about whether it was the genuine article since I could feel it peer into my soul and let me know that I was weaker than it. As a Blues fan living in Chicago, I could tell the Q-Stache sensed this, so I quickly scurried along my way, glad to have survived the close encounter.

    Dave R.
    Chicago

    That's not weakness on your part, Dave. That's wisdom. Well played, my brutha, well played.


    Bucci,

    I grew up listening to Mike Lange. He made the game informative and entertaining. With the power of the Internet (and a few of his CDs), my son Hudson Eli Gefsky (born March 3, 2009) will also be a Mike Lange fan. He also likes Phish (Trey once said during a concert "I often have vivid dreams of playing hockey like Mario Lemieux" on 11/24/95 at the Civic Arena) and the Foo Fighters. Watch out Sid the Kid!

    Beej Gefsky
    Los Angeles (formerly of the 'burgh)

    It should shrink in the wash. The shirt, I mean.

    John Buccigross' e-mail address -- for questions, comments or crosschecks -- is john.buccigross@espn.com.

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