THE FAR SIDE OF THE POND: Hockey Tidbits and Giblets are the Stuffing of My Mind

By:
11/24/2009 4:00 PM - By Chad Huebner

--Dude—

Yeah?

--Write something!—

What?

--Anything! It’s been what, a month or so?—

Yeah, but I’ve been busy and no one wants to hear me rave about “My Beloved Blackhawks” for the 581st time.

--I DON’T CARE! WRITE SOMETHING!!!—

Yes folks, that was an actual conversation. . . in my head.

I guess my mind knows what it’s talking about, so while I don’t have any specific topic to talk about, I’ll talk about a whole bunch of stuff. Call it a mish-mosh. Even better, and just in time for “Thanksgiving, America Style”, call it a succotash (a dish usually made up of corn, with beans and other veggies, possibly served at the very first Thanksgiving ever. . . and you’re bored, I can tell). So here I go. . .

. . . Nice to see ESPN.com finally giving the ‘Hawks some props with a No. 1 ranking in their weekly NHL Power Rankings. Not that the ‘Hawks really need such validation for their fine recent play. Well, I guess I do since I brought it up. . .

. . . Sunday night’s game against the Vancouver Canucks was Antti Niemi’s time to shine in goal, and he didn’t disappoint, producing a 30-shot shutout effort (his second shutout of the season) in the ‘Hawks 1-0 win. Watching him in his first pro game of the year against the Florida Panthers in Finland, I thought that while he did get the 3-0 win, that his defensemen were playing one of the greatest games I’ve seen them play in a long time. The game in Vancouver proved otherwise. He can be the real deal in the NHL as an everyday starter. . .

. . . And is it a wonder that Finland has produced yet another fine goalie? Miika Kiprusoff (though he didn’t look too good against the ‘Hawks recently-har har. . . darn it, I mentioned the ‘Hawks again), Nicklas Backstrom, Pekka Rinne, etc etc etc. So Finland produces goalies, Sweden produces defensive forwards, and I guess the Canadians produce great indie bands. Nothing against that. . .

. . . Here are the teams I like to see play when I’m not watching You-Know-Who:

--Pittsburgh Penguins. Perhaps it’s because I also like watching the NFL Steelers as well. Or maybe it’s just because they’re still a darn, good team with all the injuries. That, and they were bad for so long when the likes up Mario and Jaromir went away.

--New Jersey Devils. Mostly I like watching them because I want to figure out how the heck have they been this good, this long? Star players constantly leave, yet they manage to stock themselves with youngsters that can play right away. Hey, could the ‘Hawks “borrow” Lou Lamoriello for a few weeks, see what he can do for us?

--Toronto Maple Leafs. Yeah, they’re bad, but I wanted to pick a Canadian team, especially when they play at home, just to see how they do hockey up North. I couldn’t bring myself to pick any of the Canadian Northwest teams, especially since the ‘Hawks play against them so much, it’s hard to like any of them. If the ‘Hawks can turn things around, surely there’s some speck of hope for this Original Six team?

--Los Angeles Kings. “So you couldn’t pick one of the teams from the Canadian Northwest, but you could pick a team from the west that also plays the ‘Hawks a bunch of times?” Well, yeah, because it’s my frakking column! Before I like any of the Chicago-based teams, I like the Los Angeles-based teams. Perhaps because the Kings had such unique unis at that time? Not really sure otherwise. Again, the Kings are another team languishing in the doldrums that deserve some greatness that doesn’t come from Edmonton, or any other Canadian city. And if the Kings could upset the Red Wings in the playoffs again, that would be perfect. . .

. . . I’m getting tired of the “We’re All Fans” promo spots from Versus. I don’t want to see what a bald guy would look like with spiked hair, I just don’t. Versus should just stick to showing a ton of hockey games before they lose another satellite provider. You know, hockey does exist on days beside Monday and Tuesday. . .

. . . Another legend from my time of watching hockey retires as Brendan Shanahan finally hangs them up. Liked “Shanny” when he played for everybody BUT the Red Wings. He was one of the many skilled players on that team that destroyed my ‘Hawks year after year. If there was some way I could sandblast the Detroit part out of his career stats on his future Hall of Fame plaque, I would. . .

. . . Time to introduce a new segment from The Far Side of the Pond, and that’s “The Hockey Book I’m Currently Reading.” (Title still a work in progress.) The hockey book I’m currently reading is called “Once Upon a Whoopee: A Town, A Team, A Song , A Dream,” by Ed Grisamore and Bill Buckley. It’s a very quick read (132 pages), but it’s chock full of funny stories about the short-lived Macon Whoopees of the 1973-74 season. Any team that manages to incorporate sex into its name without offending even the Bible Belt where the team played in (Macon, Georgia) gets a nod in my book. . .

. . . This year’s rookie candidate, John Tavares, is certainly playing outstanding hockey for the long-suffering New York Islanders. (They really won four Stanley Cups? And all in a row?) Just don’t forget that Steven Stamkos, who could’ve won the Calder last year, is having a great sophomore campaign (15G, 9A). You almost wish there was an award for second-year players, something called the. . . umm, well, I’m drawing a blank. Sooooo. . . hey, devoted readers! Send in your suggestions for the naming of a second-year award in the NHL to the e-mail address listed below. Best one wins. . . umm, my endearing respect?. . .

. . . Message to all major networks who broadcast NHL games: During the Olympics, could you try to find it in your cold, black hearts and broadcast some minor league games? I’m fortunate to have Comcast as my cable company, so I can receive every Chicago Wolves game, but I’d like to see more from other teams. I’m curious to see how the Rockford IceHogs are doing. How goes it for the Abbotsford Heat (B.C.), one of two new teams in the NHL? Are the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL as good as their name? Do the Colorado Eagles actually dominate the CHL? I know, dear readers, that these are all scintillating questions. . .

. . . Peter Forsberg, why oh why do we still care about you? Do you actually believe you could be the final piece in someone’s playoff puzzle? Stay in Sweden, and you’ll still be royalty in the eyes of those who root for the Tre Kronor. . .

. . . Speaking of the Olympics, who besides me wants them to start now? RIGHT NOW. . .

. . . Speaking of the speaking of the Olympics, could the NHL do a worse job scheduling games? Having five days off like the ‘Hawks did between games last month is ludicrous. If anything, you’d want a five-day respite towards the end of the season. Yes, venues are tough to schedule when the season is compressed around the Olympics, but there should’ve been more forethought into the scheduling process. The NHL must like to see its star players, who play the regular season and the Olympics, gassed when it comes to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Nothing like punishing the best for playing against the best, right Commish?. . .

Okay, brain, I’m done.

--Well, that’s good. Just don’t let this lapse between columns happen again!—

I won’t. And brain?

--Yes?—

Thanks for being so insane.

--My pleasure. To everyone this applies to: Happy Thanksgiving! GOBBLE! GOBBLE! GOBBLE!--

Remember; e-mail me at chadhuebner1972@yahoo.com for anything on your mind. Best responses and/or questions will be answered publicly.



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