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Tags: NHL

Reveille 7/7/14



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Good morning.

Here are several links from the past week that will make your post–Fourth of July Monday at the office a bit more bearable:

  • Via MLB Trade Rumors’ Jeff Todd: The trade deadline is more than three weeks away, but Billy Beane elected to set off his fireworks on the Fourth of July. Oakland acquired starting pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Cubs in exchange for its No. 1 prospect, shortstop Addison Russell, and two other highly rated youngsters, pitcher Dan Straily and minor-league outfielder Billy McKinney. David Schoenfield of ESPN’s SweetSpot believes the deal makes the A’s, the team with the best record in the bigs, favorites to win the World Series, while Mike Petriello of Fangraphs sees the deal as a win-win-win for the A’s, Cubs, and Rays, as the latter club “just saw two of the top available pitchers get moved while only one contender benefits, leaving the Mariners, Cardinals, Dodgers, Angels, Blue Jays and everyone else to fight for [David] Price.”

You can’t anticipate every eventuality when a new rule is put in place, but you can certainly move quickly to patch a hole. Major League Baseball needs to patch this hole immediately and acknowledge that the players can only act based on what they know at the time, so what is known at the time has to control. There needs to be an immediate tweak to the rule which goes something like this: if an umpire’s call on the field affects the subsequent decision-making of players on the same play, the call is not reviewable.

  • Troy Tulowitzki appears to want out of Colorado. The prized shortstop told Mike Riszka of the Denver Post: “I want to be somewhere where there’s a chance to be in the playoffs every single year.” Too bad, Troy: You are under contract with the Rockies through at least the 2020 season — there’s a team option for 2021 — and there’s no sign that the front office wants to deal away its franchise player.
  • Is the Red Sox–Yankees rivalry passé? According to Fire Brand of the American League’s Brett Cowett, it “is in a state of cryogenic sleep.” (Teddy Ballgame’s head sees what you did there, smart guy.)
  • Courtesy of Barry Petchesky of Deadspin, here’s news of leaked, sensitive information that we can’t pin on Edward Snowden (or so we think):

Two years ago, the Houston Astros constructed “Ground Control” — a built-from-scratch online database for the private use of the Astros front office. It is by all accounts a marvel, an easy-to-use interface giving executives instant access to player statistics, video, and communications with other front offices around baseball. All it needs, apparently, is a little better password protection.

Documents purportedly taken from Ground Control and showing 10 months’ worth of the Astros’ internal trade chatter have been posted online at Anonbin, a site where users can anonymously share hacked or leaked information. Found below, they contain the Astros front office’s communications regarding trade overtures to and from other teams, as well as negotiations—a few of which actually led to trades. You will find heavy efforts to get a big haul for Bud Norris at last year’s trade deadline (before settling for very little), pushes to acquire touted young talents like Dylan Bundy and Gregory Polanco, and even evidence the Astros rejected out of hand a blockbuster deal that could have brought them Giancarlo Stanton.

From a strict baseball perspective, all of this is really interesting just for the insight it offers into how baseball trades work on an operational level. As it turns out, it really isn’t too different from your fantasy league, with front office types kicking around ideas, making preposterous demands, gossiping, and discussing various contingencies.

  • According to the Baltimore Sun’s Eduardo A. Encina, John Lackey appears miffed that Nelson Cruz, who went 5-for-5 in Saturday evening’s game in Fenway Park, received an $8 million, one-year contract from the Orioles after serving, last season, a 50-game suspension related to performance-enhancing drugs, but wouldn’t get into specifics. Via MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli, Baltimore skipper Buck Showalter responded, ”We need to all make sure we check our own backyard before we start looking at someone else’s,” perhaps referring to David Ortiz, who reportedly failed MLB’s survey test for PED use back in 2003.
  • Run-scoring per game is more than one run lower than it was in 2000. Tyler Kepner of the New York Times believes that the decrease is a result of “stronger testing program for performance-enhancing drugs, more sophisticated analysis of hitters’ tendencies, a changing amateur scene, and, especially this season, a sharp increase in defensive shifts.”
  • The All-Star Game rosters were announced last night and may be found here. The 85th Midsummer Classic will take place at Target Field in Minneapolis on Tuesday evening, July 15th.
  • While many of us were busy remembering the 75th anniversary of Lou Gehrig’s farewell remarks, apparently another historic, Yankee-themed anniversary took place over the weekend. According to the Fox Sports production crew broadcasting Saturday evening’s Orioles–Red Sox game, Showalter was filmed in the Seinfeld episode “The Chaperone” on July 5, 1994; the Yankee skipper went along with George Costanza’s recommendation that the players embrace the breathability of all-cotton uniforms.

That’s it. Have a walk-off week!

Tags: NHL

L.A.’s Mayor Garcetti Curses During Stanley Cup Event



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Via Mediaite, here’s Mayor Eric Garcetti speaking to Kings’ fans at the team’s Stanley Cup celebration:

“There are two rules in politics. They say never ever be pictured with a drink in your hand, and never swear. But this is a big f***ing day. Way to go, guys.” 

And then he toasted with a bottle of Bud Light. A real man-of-the people that Garcetti. 

Video here.

The official account for the Los Angeles Mayor’s office put out a more family-friendly version, however:

This might be the first time in social-media history where the Twitter version is less coarse than the public version.

 

Tags: NHL

Justin Bieber Desecrates Chicago Blackhawks Logo



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Oops. “Justin Bieber disrespects Chicago Blackhawks by stepping on logo”

 

 

Tags: NHL

Sports Nerd Alert: Statistical Analysis and Hockey Strategy



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There’s a really great paper that’s being presented at the MIT Sloan Sports Conference this year on “Using Zone Entry Data To Separate Offensive, Neutral, And Defensive Zone Performance” in hockey. After analyzing a season’s worth of in-game data, the authors discovered that there is an overlooked aspect to winning in hockey — carrying the puck across the blue line versus just dumping the puck in:

Neutral zone success involves more than getting extra zone entries; since carrying the puck across the blue line generates more than twice as many shots, scoring chances, and goals as dumping the puck in, gaining the zone with possession is a major driver of success.

Based on their data, teams should look into switching their tactical approaches. The authors also studied the rate at which certain players succeeded at bringing the puck up the ice without turning it over. They used the Flyers as one of their main teams for study, and if the numbers are right, I’m sorry Flyers fans, but why is Wayne Simmonds ever allowed to bring the puck up instead of Danny Briere?

Tags: NHL

Sports-Nerd Alert: Statistical Analysis and Hockey Strategy



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There’s a really great paper that’s being presented at the MIT Sloan Sports Conference this year on “Using Zone Entry Data To Separate Offensive, Neutral, And Defensive Zone Performance” in hockey. After analyzing a season’s worth of in-game data, the authors discovered that there is an overlooked aspect to winning in hockey — carrying the puck across the blue line versus just dumping the puck in:

Neutral zone success involves more than getting extra zone entries; since carrying the puck across the blue line generates more than twice as many shots, scoring chances, and goals as dumping the puck in, gaining the zone with possession is a major driver of success.

Based on their data, teams should look into switching their tactical approaches. The authors also studied the rate at which certain players succeeded at bringing the puck up the ice without turning it over. They used the Flyers as one of their main teams for study, and if the numbers are right: I’m sorry Flyers fans, but why is Wayne Simmonds ever allowed to bring the puck up instead of Danny Briere?

Tags: NHL

Flyers, Penguins, and the Harlem Shake



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We present from last night’s game, Nicklas Grossman’s goal appropriately set to the “Harlem Shake.”

Tags: NHL

New York Post: Islanders Will Move to Brooklyn



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David Seifman breaks the story:

Developer Bruce Ratner has scored a major goal by landing the Islanders ice hockey team for his Barclay’s arena in downtown Brooklyn, sources said.

The announcement was expected at a press conference this afternoon with Ratner, Mayor Bloomberg, Islanders owner Charles Wang, National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz.

If true, the Islanders would almost certainly begin playing on the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush starting in the 2015–16 season, as the club’s lease at the current digs in Nassau County doesn’t expire for another three years.

Oh, and for those of you living beyond the East River, please take note: Geographically speaking, Brooklyn is indeed located on Long Island. (Culturally speaking? Fuhgeddaboudit!)

More here.

Tags: NHL

An NHL Rivalry Renewed



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For those of you who are hockey fans this is not news, but the Devils and Rangers have renewed their rivalry in this year’s NHL playoffs and are currently in the middle of yet another classic series.

In 1994, these two teams took part in what was perhaps the greatest playoff series in hockey history. In Game 6, the Rangers trailing three games to two, Rangers captain Mark Messier famously promised victory, like Joe Namath of the Jets in 1969. Messier’s bold prediction came true, and it happened in stunning fashion, with Messier scoring a hat trick in the third period to lift the Rangers to a 4–2 victory.

In Game 7, the Devils were trailing 2–1 but forced overtime, thanks to an equalizing goal from Valeri Zelepukin with just seven seconds remaining. In the second overtime, the Rangers finally ended the landmark series with a goal from Stephane Matteau.

Today is the 18th anniversary of that unforgettable Game 6 and, as then, the Rangers find themselves behind three games to two.

A lot has changed during these 18 years. The Devils have lifted Lord Stanley’s Cup three times and now play in one of the nicest arenas in the league. All the players are different with one notable exception in New Jersey goaltender Martin Broduer, who has earned himself the reputation of being the greatest player ever at his position. At 40, he is playing phenomenal hockey.

One thing that has not changed is that these teams still hate each other, and the rivalry is probably more intense than ever. The Devils and the Rangers are separated only by roughly 14 miles, and with the New York Islanders among the perennially worst teams in the league, the Devils have become the natural rival to the Rangers in the New York metropolitan area.

There is general animosity among the fans, the players, and the coaching staffs. Rangers coach John Tortorella and Devils coach Peter DeBoer have been critical of each other all season. In Game 4 on Monday, they began shouting at each other from their respective benches after a controversial moment when Ranger forward (and former Devil) Mike Rupp shoved Brodeur and a melee ensued.

Even if you’re not a hockey fan, Game 6 tonight is well worth checking out.

— Brian Sciaretta is a soccer writer for the New York Times’ Goal Blog and Yanks Abroad

Tags: NHL

John Tortorella and the Rangers



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In case you missed it, the New York Rangers beats the Washington Capitals this weekend in a tight game seven. John Tortorella, the Rangers’ coach, had an amusing moment in the final game:

 
John Tortorella is famous as a man of few words. Here’s a catchy remix of his brief answers at press conferences:
 

Tags: NHL

RE: Draft Day Hoax



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Mohamed Sanu was ulitmately picked by the team who had supposedly drafted him in the first round:

Mohamed Sanu getting the last laugh gave the second day of the NFL Draft a heartwarming angle.

Tormented by an anonymous prankster who tricked the Rutgers wide receiver into thinking he had been drafted by the Bengals in the first round Thursday, Sanu ended up going to Cincinnati after all last night.

The Bengals took Sanu with the 83rd overall pick as the league got through the second and third rounds at Radio City Music Hall, setting up this afternoon’s four-round finale.
 

Here’s hoping Sanu has a long and fruitful career. Success is the best revenge.

Tags: NHL

Taiwanese Animators: Are Hockey Fights too Violent?



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Enjoy:

Tags: NHL

LOST: Penguins Defense



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A suffering Penguins fan has posted this ad on Craigslist in Pittsburg:

The Penguins have given up 20 goals so far in their series with the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers currently lead the series three games to none.

Tags: NHL

Conn Smythe Trophy Winner Tim Thomas Stays Clear of White House Celebration



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Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo’s Puck Daddy blog defends Bruins’ star goalie Tim Thomas for refusing to join his teammates and President Obama to celebrate last year’s Stanley Cup triumph.

My take: Good on Thomas.

Good on Thomas for using this moment — where a professional sports team participates in what’s both an honor for its accomplishments and a political photo opportunity — to make a political statement of his own.

It’s the moment when Thomas will no doubt lose a lot of supporters, for sure, when they realize an athlete they celebrate has stark political differences than they have. He’s not the first nor the last athlete to choose not to visit the White House.

It’s a moment in which a professional athlete uses his fame, his influence for something he believes in, and does something that won’t be popular among fans or media. Sean Avery did the same thing: Potentially alienating his teammates by taking a political stand on gay marriage.

If he’s celebrated and Thomas is demonized, what does that say about our real tolerance of free speech? That it’s only free when we agree with it?

(And for the “separation of politics and hockey” crowd — that flies out the window when you agree to be a backdrop to a speech in an election year. Or any year.)

More here.

Tags: NHL

Shocker: Philly Fans Attack Rangers Fan after the Winter Classic



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The Rangers fan, Neal Auricchio Jr., is a cop in Woodbrigde, NJ and a Marine who served two tours in Iraq. The suspects are still at large:

Tags: NHL

Dale Hunter: Never Forget



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The Capitals fired head coach Bruce Boudreau this morning and replaced him with Dale Hunter. Yup, this Dale Hunter. I suspect that Islanders fans — well, the few who remain — have never forgotten.

Tags: NHL

Caps Off to a Fast Start



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With a convincing 3-0 win over the Florida Panthers last night, the Washington Capitals are off to their first 5-0-0 start in franchise history. Certainly some of that can be attributed to playing four of those games at home, but there are early signs that Coach Boudreau’s renewed emphasis on fundamental hockey is already paying off:

  • Since the lockout, Washington has never had a giveaway/takeaway ratio under 1.0, but so far the Caps lead the league in takeaways with 68 and boast a giveaway/takeaway ratio of less than 0.5, which is also a league best.
  • Through five games, the Caps have been shorthanded only 16 times. That puts them at sixth best in the league, which is impressive for a squad that has not finished in the top 12 in that department since the lockout. 
  • The long experiment of using Ovechkin at the point during power plays is finally over, with immediate results. The Caps boast a 29 percent scoring rate with the man advantage so far this year — well above their subpar 17.5 percent performance of last year — and have scored on three of their last five power plays.

Something will have to give. Their next two opponents, Philadelphia and Detroit, are also off to near-perfect starts. But if the Caps can keep the streak alive through the weekend, expect the foliage donned by D.C. sports fans to make the seasonal change from burgundy and gold to red, red, and red a little early this year.

Tags: NHL

Did Flyers Fans Live Up to the Philly Stereotype?



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The city whose fans threw snowballs at Santa now takes to booing players of opposing hockey teams who take part in an anti-cancer public service announcement. As the linked article suggests, it might be a tad unfair to expect Flyer fans to totally overlook the on-ice transgressions of Sidney Crosby, Ryan Miller, and Jonathan Toews, even if they are speaking on behalf of a worthy cause.

Now if they had heckled Ray Romano . . .

Tags: NHL

NHL Players Killed in Russian Plane Crash



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Tragic:

Ex-NY NHL players die in crash

Alexander Vasyunov, who played 18 games for the New Jersey Devils last season, was among the hockey players with New York ties who were killed in a plane crash in Russia on Wednesday, Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello confirmed to ESPNNewYork.com.

Vasyunov was 23.

“I don’t think anybody can prepare for something like this,” Lamoriello said. “It’s just devastating news. Words can’t express my personal feelings.”

A Czech embassy official has also confirmed the deaths of Karel Rachunek and Josef Vasicek, Czech players who were aboard the plane. Rachunek played for the Devils and New York Rangers, and Vasicek last played in the NHL for the New York Islanders.

Vasyunov left the Devils in the offseason to sign with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). The KHL team was flying to Minsk, the capital of Belarus, to take on Dimamo Minsk on Thursdsay night in their season opener. But the plane carrying the team crashed into a river bank while taking off in western Russia, killing at least 43 and leaving two others injured, officials said, according to the Associated Press.

“I can’t say enough about him as a young man,” Lamoriello said of Vasyunov. “He certainly had talent. His whole career was in front of him.”

Vasyunov compiled one goal and four assists for the Devils last season. A left winger, he was selected by the team in the second round (No. 58 overall) of the 2006 NHL draft.

Rachunek, a defenseman, appeared in 47 games with New Jersey in 2007-08, compiling four goals and nine assists. He also played with the Rangers in parts of the 2003-04 and 2006-07 seasons, compiling seven goals and 23 assists in 78 games.

The rest here.

Tags: NHL

Now That’s a Bar Tab



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The Boston Bruins spent $156,000 boozing it up to celebrate their Stanley Cup win.

I was actually at a wedding in the same hotel in NYC on the night the New York Rangers were celebrating their Stanley Cup win in 1994. I’ve never seen a drunker group of athletes in my life. At one point, hotel security reported that the players had started chanting, “bring us the bride!”

The bride went unharmed. But, man, hockey players like to celebrate their wins.

Tags: NHL

There Are Few Things More Gloriously Atavistic...



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…than bearded hockey players hoisting the Stanley Cup over their heads and grunting and yelling. Congrats to the Boston Bruins…

Tags: NHL

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