Wednesday, April 2, 2008

It's Mailbag Time!

I always love that writers on the web refer to their inboxes as "mailbags".

They are emails, not letters, and no bag is required. In my opinion the only person who should be able to use the term "mailbag" is David Letterman. And that is because the man probably actually owns some kind of burlap mail sack from the 40's.

But en lieu of figuring out a better term for "virtual sack which holds the opinions of others" I'm giving up.

As Todd Bertuzzi so famously quoted "It is what it is."

(By the way, I hate that quote! I hear it all the time, and the thing that gets me is that it barely makes any sense. It is what it is? What was it before it was what it is? Did it even exist? What the hell is "it" and "is" there a way to get people to stop saying that phrase? How about "IT IS"?)

Anyways, without further ado, here is the first DNP mailbag of, well, ever.

"D'Albey, you suck. Really. And so do the Avs."


Thanks Mike! If you can find an internet kiosk in that war torn 3rd world country you live in, please write me back after the Wings lose to the Sharks or Ducks in the playoffs again. That's right, your boys WILL be losing to a California team again this year.

"Tell me Hejduk isn't a totally different player now that Forsberg is back."

Denver, CO

I couldn't agree more, Greg. He has a hop in his step these days. In fact last night against Vancouver in the playoff clinching game, just before Pedro got whistled for setting a moving pick at the blue line, Forsberg dropped the puck to a wheeling Hejduk who I swear was sprinting at ONE THOUSAND MILES PER HOUR towards the net. That may have been more exciting for me than the goal Pedro scored later, even if it was a non-play.

It is the dawning of a new age for Milan Hejduk.

"Is this Joe's last season? He doesn't seem to be as fast as he used to be. I'll miss Joe when he's gone. He is my favorite Avs player ever!"

Jennifer S.
Westminster, CO.

Something tells me it might be Joe's last season IF the Avs bring home a Cup. He has lost a step, but he was also injured for a long time this year. So I can't be totally sure where he's at. He could be playing tentatively.

I do know that he still has excellent on ice vision and the best wrist shot in the game. In fact I believe Joe Sakic would have the best wrister in hockey if he were sitting in a recliner. Other than that I expect Joe to re-evaluate after the season and if he feels up to it, play one more year. I mean, next year Chris Chelios will be 73 years old, and he ain't quittin'!

Please keep in mind that Joe won't be euthanized after he retires. They don't do that to hockey players (I think). He'll still have a good 50 years of life ahead of him. Although I will ALWAYS wear my first-season Starter Sakic jersey to games.

"You have had the "Who will win the Northwest Division" poll up for over a month. Have you voted in it, and if so who did you vote for? I voted for the Avs."

Brad L.
Long Island, NY

Thanks for asking Brad, and thank YOU all 15 or so people who have voted. Maybe next poll we can double the amount of voters!

I actually did not vote in the poll. In fact the only poll I voted in was "Who would score the most goals post-All Star Break". I voted for Ovechkin because seriously, that guy was winning the Rocket Richard trophy hands down. It was a dumb poll on my part.

In my opinion (and it really isn't opinion so much as it is a statement of probability) Minnesota will win the Northwest. I've actually felt this way for about three weeks now. The Avs loss in OT the other day pretty much clinched it for the Wild.

Backstrom is playing strong and guys like Koivu are chipping in with Gaborik and Demitra, meaning the Wild are actually somewhat capable of scoring goals on top of some pretty stout defense.

The playoffs will be interesting if the standings remain the same. If the Avs play the Wild in the first round and Forsberg isn't healthy, I don't think Avs will be able to win enough games in Minnesota to advance. It really is ALL about Forsberg.

"What are you doing in the picture you have posted? Are you picking your forehead?"

One of my roommates.

No Dan, I'm rubbing my forehead in angst after watching the Avs give up a goal, but thanks for asking. You can now go back to watching Gossip Girl. Thanks for making me rub my forehead in angst again.

"Can you just admit that you want to be a Canadian?"

Denver, CO.

Jaime, just because I can do a wicked impression of Bob Hartley and I write about hockey doesn't mean I want to be a Canadian. Canada is a fine country but I'm fairly sure they would have me deported the minute I step into a Swiss Chalet and order in a lame Canadian accent. To me being a hockey fan is enough because it is like being a member of a fraternity of insanely obsessive funny people. But it doesn't sway me in my anger at Comedy Central for no longer showing Kids in the Hall.

"In general, there seems to be a growing concern over the “violence” in hockey and many seem to want more safeguards/rules in place to discourage “overly aggressive” play.

Personally, I’m concerned that an increase in rules will neuter this sport and put in on par with figure skating. Hockey is cage-fighting with sticks. It’s what we’ve come to love about the sport (or at least what I love about it) and there never seems to be enough fighting. Do you think more rules can actually improve this sport or should the whiney, overly-cautious, wannabe puckheads just shut the *&%# up and let them play? And remember, soccer has become a “sport” where taking a dive is considered a good play. Seriously. WTF is up with that?!?!?"

Denver, CO.

Truly, I think as a culture we are becoming soft and paranoid.

The NHL wants to be able to market the game to the casual viewer and there is nothing that throws up the red flag higher to the NHL marketers than when there is some kind of scary injury caused by fighting. Because they don't want to lose that ever important "family dollar".

As Bill Hicks would say, "that's an important dollar".

To me the idea that fighting will go away is nonsense. The stars of the game must be protected, and no amount of rules are going to change the fact that there are players on every team whose goal is to nullify the opposing team's star players by any means necessary.

I'm tired of reading columnists who rant against fighting and state that it should be banned. Anyone who brings up the notion that ADULTS in hockey should be banned from fighting is ignorant of the nature of the game, and really, ignorant of history.

That the US could be fighting a major war every 20 years and then have it's citizenry turn around and impose rules on how people should behave in order to "protect the children" is absolute hypocrisy. I'm sick of this nanny state political crap. I didn't grow up wearing a helmet everywhere, and neither will my kids.

If you don't want to expose your children to the dangers of reality then don't have children. Period. Otherwise please feel free to go ahead and cart them in a van to knitting practice where they can make themselves an ignorantly plush, bouncy, and soft world where nothing ever hurts them...right until they get back to school and have to deal with a bully, whom they might have to fight.

The day that the dive becomes a respected method of play in hockey is the day that I stop watching hockey.

And I'm not alone in that opinion.

(If you would like to ask me a question please feel free to email it to, and I might include it in the next mailbag. Thanks!)

Monday, March 31, 2008

Springtime in Bloomington

There was a time a few years back when I lived in Minnesota for a summer with my Dad. It was ridiculously hot, and humid, and I worked construction. Fun times.

Minnesota is my Pop's home state and I have many a relative living in the Twin Cities area, with more than a few people from my clan of farmers and hammer swingers hailing from a little town named Mora. I'd gone to visit the old timers a few times as a kid. They are good, honest, hard working people, who are slow to anger and have a sharp wit. Which was a good thing for my brother, sister and I, or we'd still be picking rocks from the field out back of my grandma's house.

These are the people who single handedly brought Garrison Keillor and A Prairie Home Companion to prominence by listening every week on the radio. My family listened too, on NPR in Colorado during dinner time.

I thought about ol' Garrison for a minute yesterday as the first half of the Avs-Wild game was without video due to technical difficulties. So I was treated to a bit of "old time" hockey as I cleaned up around the house. It is easy to get caught up in high definition hockey and forget that up until maybe 25 years ago a vast majority of fans still listened to the games on radio. I have to admit, it was kind of nice listening to Mike Haynes in his natural element again.

It is easy to forget that radio broadcasters have a lot more work to do than the average tv color man. They must describe the action with enough imagery, imagination and colorful vocabulary to keep the listener informed, all as the action is happening in front of them.

With Mike Haynes, who is always colored as a "homer" by non-Avs fans, his radio broadcasts before the lockout on 950 The Fan were more performances than descriptions of the game. Every year as spring time and the playoffs rolled around, my friends and I would often find ourselves playing basketball, volleyball or softball in the evenings with somebody's car radio cranked so we could hear Haynes and his co-pilot Norm Jones loudly, and emphatically, over-emphasize every big play of the game.

From listening to the gang on 950 my imagination would run wild and I could almost see the action. In fact, my favorite moment as an Avs fan happened as I was speeding home to catch the Avs-Hawks Conference Semis in their first season in Denver. It happened when I was about a mile away from home, and Chris Simon dropped the gloves and hammered Bob Probert. I pulled over the car, and just listened. It was then that I knew the Avs were winning the Cup.

I miss listening to Haynes and Jones on the radio. They were a good team. Fortunately for most Avs fans, Haynes moved to television about a month into the post-lockout season. For me, I got a hour of "old school" Mike Haynes on a blacked out tv on a Sunday afternoon.

And it was good, even if the Avs ended up losing in overtime.

(A special kudos go out to Alanah and the gang at Kukla's Korner for listing the DNP on their site, as well as all the other ringers and comment-posters who have supported the page since it's official premiere on January 1, 2008. As Garrison Keillor would say, you all get a big pan of Powdermilk Biscuits!)