Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Roberto Luongo Named Captain Canuck

When I saw the headline, I thought it was a joke. When I saw the photo accompanying the story, I thought "Look at them laughing at their joke." But then I read the article and it didn't end with "Just kidding."

Yes, the Vancouver Canucks have apparently named Robert Luongo as their captain.

When was the last time a goaltender captained a team? I'm thinking it had to have been back in the 40's or 50's. I'd do the leg work to find this out but I don't care to.

This is just a bizarre move. I can understand that he is a team leader as is Martin Brodeur with New Jersey, as was Olaf Kolzig with Washington, and the list could go on and on.

But what's the point in announcing him as the captain? Maybe to add more pressure to being the Canucks goaltender?

Related Links

2nd Annual Avalanche Roundtable Coming Oct 1

Brace yourselves, for a historic tradition is about to continue.

For the second straight year, the annual Avalanche blogger roundtable will launch on October 1st. In other words, we go live tomorrow!

The Avalanche bloggers and podcasterse have been burning the midnight oil to answer all your important questions heading into opening night.

The format is a bit different this year. Rather than unveiling everything in one stop tomorrow, the festivities will start here in the morning with a question on rivalries. The train will then roll out of the station and stop at In the Cheap Seats tomorrow to see if the Avalanche have any holes to be plugged. 

It will keep steaming along, one stop per day, along the Avalanche blogosphere rail line.  It will then pull into the station at Jibblescribbits' site the morning of October 9th.*

Yep, we're leading you right into opening night so hold your breath, cause there's about to be a whole lot of hockey talk. And then there will be some actual hockey!

* I really didn't mean to go with a train metaphor there, it just happened. Sorry.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Team Ranker Ranks High on Time Wasting Scale

(Yahoo! Sports)
The new Team Ranker up on Yahoo! Sports is a great idea. It's also a great was to waste away your morning.

It pits two teams against each other and asks you a simple question: "Which team is better?" 

After you make a choice, you get to see the overall results from that particular matchup and are presented with a new matchup to vote on.

In other words, you could do this all day long and be the most productive worker in your building.

Once you finally decide to take a break, you can then see the rankings by going to the Team Ranker Results section. 

And, as of this writing, the user projected playoff matchups pit the Red Wings against the Avalanche. We just can't escape the bastards.

Quenneville Hired as Blackhawks Scout

A Darren Dreger blog post was how I found out former Avs coach Joel Quenneville had been hired as a scout for the Chicago Blackhawks.

It took a while for coach Q to find a new home even though there was a decent amount of turnover in the coaching roles. Although the media praised him as a Jack Adams contender this season, no team was willing to take a shot at him in a head coaching position.

He should be able to learn a lot from the Blackhawks organization now that Scotty Bowman has signed up with them. Best of luck to him in his new role.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Does the NHL Possibly Want People to Watch Hockey?

By gum, I think the NHL has started to realize that increasing the reach of your product and getting people engaged in it is the best way to attract and retain fans. The concept had completely escaped them for quite some time and it appears they could - and I stress "could" - be coming around.

NHL Expands Television Reach to Asia
In surprise news - at least to me - the NHL is set to announce a multi-year deal to distribute NHL games throughout a large portion of Asia, including India and China.

In one fell swoop the NHL has expanded the television reach of their product from 5% to 40% of the world. Those numbers are based on my rudimentary knowledge of world population, not data I got from an official source so don't quote me on it.

No matter how you slice it, a 700% increase in your viewership reach is cause to celebrate. If just 0.1% of those new potential viewers are fans, that's 2.5 million more eyes watching the true "beautiful game".

Centre Ice Online Expands to Europe
It was just a couple weeks back that I was reflecting on my "Why doesn't the NHL Want People to Watch Hockey?" post. A post which still gets traffic from people searching for solutions to their troubles with Centre Ice Online.

The reason being that I had started a post in a similar vein which was focused on why the NHL will send players halfway across the globe to kick off the season in Europe, yet won't alloww access to their Centre Ice Online offering to people outside of North America.

However, it turns out that Europeans are now able to subscribe to the service. I'm not sure why the question includes the Middle East but makes no mention of whether folks in the Middle East can subscribe or not. Maybe they think Europe is the Middle East??

NHL Offline
I've also both applauded and bemoaned the NHL's online content offerings. The technology was very rudimentary and the look was very pre-2000 era. They didn't even roll out a real-time game tracker system until mid-last season!

Their YouTube highlights deal is laughable and the speed and completeness of the updates to their NHL.tv section has been spotty and suspect.

The stats pages are well-done - except for the absence of shirt charts - but having them auto-refresh during the game doesn't count as "live updating" in my book.

Overall, I would give them a C- on what they've offered to fans.

TSN Fills the Gap
TSN got on the ball and rolled out a live scoreboard feature* towards the end of last season. It was...ok.

But should networks be relied on to the fill the gap for the league? Not in my mind.

Stats, Stories and Recaps...Oh My!
And it appears some folks over at the NHL head offices have decided that they've had enough as well.

Not only are they set to launch a new version of NHL.com, but they will be rolling out the much anticipated NHL Game Center feature.

The feature rebrands NHL Centre Ice Online as Game Center Live and will also provides free real-time stats, a play-by-play game tracker known as "Ice Tracker". It will also include in-game highlights, live chat and radio broadcasts.

On the surface, it doesn't sound too different from the existing Scores section of their website. However if you watch the video on what will be provided, you can see the stats are more consumer-friendly and the ice tracker looks like an invaluable tool. Hopefully they will still provide access to the near-raw log files that stats junkies desire.

And if "in-game highlights" means highlights uploaded as the game is going on, well let's just say the my inner hockey nerd and the little tech geek inside me will be holding hands and dancing for joy.

Yahoo! for fantasy hockey?
At the same time, the NHL has also announced that they are partnering with Yahoo! to provide "the #1 fantasy games experience on the Internet".

Last year, our fantasy football league was done using CBS Sportsline but this year, we switched the Yahoo! which allows for more teams. I preferred the Sportsline offering.

However, if the description of what the NHL/Yahoo! partnership will provide is accurate, they just might come through on the claim that it will be #1 for fantasy sports.

The main benefit of this partnership is integrated video footage straight from the NHL which will be tied to each player. So you can track your players progress through the season and research for your next blockbuster trade using stats and video without needing to leave the site.

That is genius and, if properly implemented, will single-handedly bump it above any fantasy hockey offering I know of.

News.com picks up the story
The NHL has done enough with their new offering to get what I would almost call "mainstream" coverage from Cnet's news.com. I'm sure that caused a lot of back patting and cork popping in the NHL's marketing division.

The article contains one details that I didn't spot anywhere else. The Game Center Live feature will utilize Flash for the streaming video, doing away with Windows Media Player. A very savvy - if not obvious - move on their part.

The news.com article also contained some choice quotes from the NHL's senior VP of marketing, Perry Cooper. To summarize he informs us that NHL fans are tech savvy, are not "non-affluent", and don't necessarily cheer for the nearest team.

That's a lightbulb that needed to go off some time ago in the marketing department.

If this all gets pulled off properly they could launch themselves all the way to an A- report card.

"Illegal" Streams
There are of course other ways to catch games online, though not with any sort of service guarantee. One of the best ways to check out many live sporting events is via myp2p.eu.

If Yahoo! still streams games this year but requires you to be in the States, you can always get around that by using a free proxy server based in the States. Huge lists of proxies are easy to come by on the ol' Interweb.

Also, as noted by Jibble this morning, Justin.tv often has NHL game feeds.

*Note: I wouldn't have pimped my other, near non-existent blog but I couldn't find a release from TSN on the new feature. If anyone locates one, I'll gladly switch the link.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Avalanche Fall to Kings in 2008/09 Preseason Opener

The preseason is here and the regular season is now closer than ever! Obviously.

I'd have a bit more to say on this game than what is below, but I was busy working on a large, non-Avalanche related post which will go up around noon tomorrow. 

Tonight, the Avalanche took on the L.A. Kings at the Pepsi Center and were downed 4-3 in a shootout.

Peter Budaj started the game and let in one goal before being replaced by Jason Bacashihua at the start of the 3rd period.

DD pieced together the lines early and the RPM line was reunited while Sakic played alongside Tucker and Stewart.

Adam Foote, Brett Clark and John-Michael Liles were the veterans on D with Kevin Montgomery, Darcy Campbell and Michael Vernace getting some preseason action under their belts.

Those three vets will likely sit out next game with Ruslan Salei, Scott Hannan and Jordan Leopold dressing.

It appears that Adam Foote and Ian Laperierre will wear the A's this season for the Avs which is unsurprising.

The real surprise? That Sakic guy is still wearing the "C".

Video and Photos
The game recap at the official site already contains a post-game reaction from Darcy Tucker as well as a photo gallery from the game.

That's some quick updating and it ties in nicely with my upcoming post.

Related Links
ColoradoAvalanche.com Game Recap

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Budaj has the net all to himself

NHL.com has an article up on the ceding of power from Jose Theodore to Peter Budaj in the Avalanche net this year.

I did a double-take when I got to this line:

"We've been grooming him for this day," said Avalanche coach Tony Granato, now in his second stint in charge of the team.
I read it as:
We've been ignoring him to this day," said Avalanche coach Tony Granato, now in his second stint in charge of the team.
Freudian reading slip?

The season is 2 weeks and 2 days away and I assume you've all got your countdown clocks going. I should probably order Center Ice just to make sure they don't run out of subscriptions!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Avalanche Burgundy/White 2008/09 Game Results

In an unexpected twist, Team White trounced Team Burgundy in the Avalanche's annual Burgundy/White game. Team Burgundy essentially had the Avs entire 07/08 defensive squad on its side plus incumbent #1 Peter Budaj plus Joe Sakic yet they still got lit up for 9 goals. And they couldn't put a single puck past soon-to-be new whipping boy, Andrew Raycroft.

I expect that kind of performance from Jason Bacashihua but not Raycroft. Could this be the start of the career resurrection everyone's been waiting for? I think so.

It seems clear what the Avalanche need to do here. First, trade Sakic and Budaj for picks. It doesn't matter what picks, just stockpile them. Then ice a squad of rookies - clearly superior rookies - and build from the draft. Then "Cash" will back up Raycroft while Weiman waits in the wings. Seriously, I only added that last sentence for the alliteration at the end.

Ol' Davey Jones got on the board with a hat trick which keeps in line with Jori's comments that he might have found his scoring touch this offseason. The guy is a cult hero in the making. Last season he got close to cult status but every time he was at the peak, he got a bit gunshy and stepped away from the ledge. This year, it's cult hero or bust.

Jordan Leopold and Milan Hejduk each had 2 goals and 2 assists which, if you ask me, signals they are headed for 300+ point seasons this year. You heard it here first.

Ok, I'm tired and in a weird mood so off to bed. Don't forget, the preseason starts for the Avalanche on Wednesday against the Los Angeles Kings. Time for some revenge against Jack Johnson. Vendetta! Vendetta!

Related Links
Burgundy/White Box Score (PDF)
Avalanche's Leopold finally feeling healthy again (now they've gone and jinxed it)
A healthy Leopold strengthens Avs defence (all Leopold, all the time!)

Avalanche Burgundy/White Game - 2008/09 Edition

The Colorado Avalanche's annual Burgundy/White game happens tonight at the Air Force Academy. The official game roster is up and I'm baffled that on a roster of 42 players not one of them wears #7. And don't worry, Marek Svatos, Paul Stastny and Wojtek Wolski are being held out for precautionary reasons only. They'll be good to go once the season starts. (*knocks wood*)

Obviously I won't be attending but would love to hear from anyone who did. And if you're wavering on whether to go or not, remember that the event raises funds to benefit military families and the Colorado Avalanche Youth Hockey program.

So not only do you get to catch some hockey, but you get to benefit others - two of the greatest things in the world bundled into one entertaining package.

Me? I'll be watching the Leafs/Sabres preseason game on Sportsnet. I'm not happy about it but a hungry dog will eat whatever meat you put in front of him, right?

Related Links

Sunday, September 21, 2008

My Fantasy Draft Results

I just finished a 3-hour long live draft and I think this is the stiffest my back has been in a while. I'll give a breakdown of my team but first, some early-breaking news from Adrian Dater: Joel Quenneville has just been arrested on suspicion of DUI.

Initially, I was going to make a few silly jokes - it is late and I get in a weird mood once the moon is out. But I decided that it wasn't right to make jokes about a man out of a job who ends up getting busted for something that is insanely stupid yet done by a million people every day. Hopefully he picks it up from here.

On to the draft. It started at 6:30 and ended at almost on the dot of 9:30. Let me tell you, that's a long and painful amount of time to be sitting there drafting players.

I ended up with what I feel is a solid team. I was worried I'd be at the bottom of the barrel given it was my first time drafting in such a deep league - 2o teams with 20 players per team - but there were some no-shows on auto-draft who have brutal teams.

The Girou-X Factor roster:
C - Joe Sakic (Round 3)
C - Brad Richards (Round 4)
C - Paul Gaustad (Round 13)
LW - Mike Cammalleri (Round 5)
LW - Kristian Huselius (Round 7)
RW - J.P. Dumont (Round 8)
RW - Marek Svatos (Round 11)
D - Dan Boyle (Round 2)
D - Ed Jovanovski (Round 6)
D - Duncan Keith (Round 9)
D - Johnny Oduya (Round 12)
F - Jere Lehtinen (Round 14)
F - Brett Mclean (Round 15)
Util -Ruslan Salei (Round 16)
G - Henrik Lundqvist (Round 1)
G - Josh Harding (Round 10)
BN - Nigel Dawes (Round 17)
BN - Ian Laperriere (Round 18)
BN - Kurtis Foster (Round 19)
BN - T.J. Oshie (Round 20)

I was picking 14th in the odd numbered rounds and 7th in the even numbers rounds which was a decent position. Sure, Crosvechkin or MalCavalier would have been nice but it's such a long wait from pick #1 to pick #40 that your depth will suffer. At least, that's what I told myself.

Two things pop out immediately from that roster. First, I have a lot of Western Conference players and second, I have a lot of Avalanche players. I've even got an ex-Avalanche for pete's sake!

"You're crazy!", you  might say. But I'll respond with: "Go with what you know." And since this was my first draft, I figured I could manage it better by not trying to speculate on players I was unfamiliar with.

Round-by-round Analysis

Round 1: Grabbing Lundqvist in the first round was a no-brainer with the 14th pick. I had him ranked in my top 10 so to have him still sitting there gave me initial hope that I was a genious. And trepidation that everybody else knew something I didn't.

Round 2: Picking Boyle in the second round as my top-D will likely raise some eyebrows. However he should flourish in San Jose. He'll turn around his +/- from last season and spend a ton of time on the powerplay. He was also high on my list but not on everyone else's. Again: genius or idiot?

Round 3: I really wanted Paul Stastny and didn't expect him to go before my 3rd-round pick but I was wrong and Mirtle snagged him two picks before me. So I improvised and snagged Sakic before anybody else could grab him. It was a long way between the third and fourth round picks for me and although Sakic was ranked low by Yahoo!, I'm sure there were others who know he will put up 80 points this year.

Round 4: the top centers were slimming out and - again - I had Richards ranked fairly high. He was there so I took him. I have my fingers crossed that he has a big year in Dallas and the -29 was due to playing for Tampa Bay.

Round 5: Mike Cammalleri was staring me in the face saying "You need left wingers". If he plays on the top line with Iginla, he could be good for 70+ points. I'm really happy with this pick.

Round 6: I believe was my first faux pas. I don't think I should have taken Jovocop as he's getting up there in years and could be a +/- liability.

Round 7: I wanted to shore up the left wing and as Smyth had gone a round earlier, Huselius was next on the list. If he ends up on a line with Nash, look out.

Round 8: Can you believe Dumont was still around after nearly 15o picks? As someone said during the draft, someone has to score for Nashville. I think Dumont will have an excellent season and getting him in the 8th round may have been my first steal.

Round 9: I wanted a solid D who puts up points and plays well in his own end as I was getting worried on my +/- projection. Keith fit that bill to a "T". The Hawks should be a solid team this year and Keith will be a stable force on their back end. He might lose a bit of production due to Campbell coming in but what can you do.

Round 10: I needed a backup goaltender and Harding was the best of what was left. It sounds like Minnesota could be leaning towards Harding for their future which could mean more starts for him. And when he does start, he tends to get results.

Addendum: I've already got a trade offer on Keith and Harding.

Round 11: what can I say? I love the Svats-machine and have my fingers crossed for an injury-free year. If he stays healthy, he'll put up 30 goals again. He was so close last year!

Round 12: Johnny Oduya. It's a 007-type name, isn't it? "Hi, I'm Johnny. Johnny Oduya." The guy puts up points (6G, 20A) and was a +27 last year. For a fourth defenceman in the 12th round, I'm happy with that pick.

Round 13: It was at this point that I noticed the West bias and thought I should try and take two East players in a row to get some balance. I needed to fill in my third center spot and Gaustad was kicking around. He's a checking line center but he can also put up points and PIMs. He was about the best of what was left for centers.

Round 14: I was surprised to find Jere Lehtinen still available and snagged him within seconds. His season was shortened last year but he put up 37 points in 48 games, 19 of those on the powerplay. Dallas should be a top team in the league this year and Lehtinen should play a big role with them.

Round 15: Brettzky! A former Avalanche makes an appearance in the crew. Again, it's on the basis that someone in Florida has to score with Jokinen gone - and Horton having been picked a half dozen rounds ago. McLean went on a roll at the end of last season and could put up 40 points if he plays on one of the top lines.

Round 16: I felt this was a steal. I had my eye on Salei for a while but for some reason I felt I could wait on him. Thankfully I took him in the 16th because as soon as I did, 3 people piped up that he was next on their list. Salei will get time on the PP - if Granato knows what's good for him! - and will be a great backup D-man. Heck, he could move into my top-4.

Round 17: I've been a Nigel Dawes fan since his time with the Canadian World Junior team and this could be his breakout year.

Round 18: I felt weak in the PIM department and as Lappy gets a ton of those while kicking in the occasional point, he felt like the perfect fit. Heck, even if he isn't, I'm still happy to have him on my team. 

Round 19: I thought Foster was ready to go. Apparently I was wrong and he won't be back until December. Oh well, once he's back, he should put up some points PP points on the backend for the Wild. And as Mirtle had once again snagged someone just before I picked them - Claude Giroux - I was flustered. I really wanted my namesake on the team!

Round 20: I figured I should take a flyer on a rookie. And as someone had snagged Okposo a couple picks before I wanted him in the middle rounds, Oshie became next on my list. He could be huge, he could be a bust or he could be mediocre. Now that's some great analysis!

Any fantasy experts care to weigh in on my choices?

Avalanche Projected to Rack Up 17 Wins in 08/09

I signed up to be in a fantasy hockey draft this year run by James Mirtle. I'm not a big fantasy nut but I figured it would be a good way to get me to concentrate on the statistics side of the game.

So I'm busy ranking players on Yahoo! along with my fresh new copy of The Hockey News Ultimate Fantasy Pool Guide and various other Internet resources. It's entertaining yet frustrating at the same time.

I've got to admit, it's taking a lot more thinking than I expected. When's the right time to draft a defenceman? Does a goaltender who gets 30 wins rank higher than a forward who puts up 70 points? When do you grab a scoring pest like Daniel Carcillo? It's making my head spin.

But as I was looking through the goaltender rankings, I noticed something that really boggled my mind. Almost to the point that I declared all fantasy projections null and void.

The magazine gives an overview of each team and then proceeds to list every player, alphabetically, along with their projected stats. For goaltenders, this includes wins, GAA, SP and SO numbers. It's all based on last seasons numbers with an eye to where that player now ranks in the organization. Or so I thought.

For the Avalanche's incumbent #1 goaltender, Peter Budaj, he is projected to rack up a - wait for it - a mind boggling, incredulous, astonishing - wait for it again - ten (10) wins this season. That's right, 10 bloody wins.

The following goaltenders are all ranked to get the same or slightly higher amount of wins as Budaj: Craig Anderson, Alex Auld, Brent Johnson, Patrick Lalime, Michael Leighton, Frederik Norrena and Tobias Stephen.

Solid group of backups right there, eh?

Now, that's not the end of my flabbergastedness. See, I could forgive them if they had some inside knowledge and pegged Raycroft to take over the #1 role with a projected 30 win season. So I jump over to to the "R"s, take a deep breath and open my eyes to...7 wins.

The math on that isn't difficult. The Hockey News is projecting the Avalanche to win 17 games this season. That's about 20% of their games. That would put them on track for maybe a 40-point season with a couple of OTL's tossed in.

"Is that even possible?", I asked myself. When was the last time a team finished with less than 20 wins? Heck, Los Angeles and Tampa Bay got in the W column 30 times last season.

So I did a bit of digging - not too much as it is Sunday and I don't want to work too hard - and found a couple teams who had finished with less than 20 wins in recent history.

The Tampa Bay Lightning missed the mark a few times in the late 90's, as did Atlanta, and Ottawa and San Jose barely managed to barely crack double digits a couple times in the early 90's.

We can even go a bit more recent and note that Philadelphia only had 22 wins in the '06/07 season while Pittsburgh achieved that same mark in '05/06 after having racked up 23 wins in '03/04. The projected superpower Chicago blackhawks just slipped in to the 20-win category in '03/04 as well. So it's not entirely unfeasable.

However it is entirely unreasonable to think a team which had 44 wins last season won't even get 50% of those numbers the next season with a similar roster.

Initially, I thought I'd let it slide. "They're just projecting individual stats, not team stats", I said. But for goaltenders, the win stats are a projection of the team stats. And they've failed miserably with the Avalanche 'tenders.

But I'll keep chugging along making sure to take every number I see with a grain of salt. It looks like The Hockey News won't be my saviour and I'll have to don my thinking cap during the 3-hour draft tonight. And I suppose I'll have to bear the brunt of the blame if I come in last in the pool. But it's all in fun and I hope it improves the quality of my analysis on this site.

Oh, and Jose Theodore? 38 wins.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Paul Stastny Injured During Avalanche Training Camp

My heart skipped a beat at Jori's last twit:
"Blue wins 3-2, but Stastny was injured"

I asked her just how injured she thought he was and  she said it didn't look good.

Now Dater has a blog post up mentioning Stastny left the ice with a sagging shoulder, clearly in pain after a collision during scrimmage.

If Stastny goes down for an extended time - and if the injury bug starts striking again - then the pundits will be right. The Avalanche will be battling it out in the bottom of the conference.

What a way to start the weekend.

UPDATE: Jori alerted me that the team is reporting Stastny just has a contusion and should be fine. I guess now I have to come through on all those promises I offered up to the Big Guy. 

Related Links

Colorado Avalanche Training Camp Kicks Off

Can you smell that? It's the sweet, sweet scent of training camps all across the nation kicking into gear. Your very own Colorado Avalanche began their camp this morning, just three short days after the rookie camp concluded.

All the rookies apparently stuck around for day one of training camp, making for a pretty sizeable roster. In fact, Jori reported they had three teams scrimmaging today due to the size.

Get all your early-breaking Avalanche training camp news via Jori's twitter and blog. And try not to be too jealous that she gets to watch it all unfold ;)

If you're the twitting type - and who isn't - you can also follow Adrian Dater as well as myself. If you follow Adrian, you'll get early notification of all his Avalanche articles and blog posts. If you follow me, you'll get early  notification of all my posts as well as random twits about various things that don't really matter. So if you had to choose just one of us, I think it's an easy choice.

Junior League Jumble
The one thing that came to mind was that this is always a rough time for junior hockey. They're just getting their season into gear while some of their best talent is off at training camps.

This was amply reinforced last night as I watched most of an 8-2 beatdown of the Saskatoon Blades at the hands of the Prince Albert Raiders. The Raiders have zero players off at training camps while the Blades are missing six including starting goaltender Braden Holtby (Washington Capitals) and team foundation Colton Gillies (Minnesota Wild).

Luckily I'm a Swift Current Broncos fan so it didn't hurt too much. But nobody wants to see P.A. win. Not even people from P.A.

Related Links

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Avalanche Clips Abound...But Good Luck Finding Them

Hot on the heels of my renewed optimism for fresh Avalanche content on the Avalanche.nhl.tv portal, the main Colorado Avalanche site has put up two stories which link to four new video clips.

I clicked the first one, Granato talking about team direction heading into training camp, and then went looking for the others while that was loading. I looked...and looked...and looked. I never found them.

From what I can tell, the only way to get to them is from their direct links in the website articles. If I'm corrrect, and not simply missing an obvious link somewhere, that is just terrible, terrible design.

I should be able to get to all the content within the player window and not have to jump back and forth between the website and the popup page.

Here's a compilation of the links to the new clips. Hopefully they'll be accessible from within the player at some point.

Video Clips

Re-launch of Avalanche TV

I love sports that provide additional coverage on the Web. It's the best way to reach your fan base and it's just plain dumb to not take advantage of it. You don't have to pay for airtime or fight to get your content scheduled in at the right time. The Web is always there. It never sleeps. It never breathes. It never stops.

The NHL has been a little sketchy with their online coverage in the past. Sure, they've had the fans.nhl.com blog community for a while and finally rolled out Center Ice Online a couple years back. I'll give them some points on those two. I won't give them points on the YouTube highlights deal though. Game highlights that are more than a day old are irrelevant except for archival purposes.

Hockey is a sport that can only be truly appreciated by watching it. Unlike baseball, you can't just look at a scoresheet and know how the game went down. So unless you provide quick access to game highlights, you're really missing the boat on covering the needs of your fans. And if you aren't bookending that with pre- and post-game coverage, you're leaving your fans to drown.

When the NHL launched the NHL.tv portal last year, I was happy but not blown away. The coverage, at least for the Avalanche, was spotty at best. The pre-game videos would be uploaded a day after the game ended or there would be no post-game reactions. Sometimes they didn't even have game highlights. I wanted it to be a go-to place but, for myself, it failed in that regard.

I've got my hopes up again this year though as they've revamped their look once more. But looks are one thing and substance is a whole different hockey rink. Can they put up enough fresh content to keep fans coming back for more?

To kick things off, there is a "Best of Avalanche TV" clip up to go along with a slew of new The Hockey Show clips. 

Will this be the start of something truly wonderful? We've already got a slew of reading material online but who doesn't like staring at talking heads for entertainment? And when it's on my schedule, not someone else's, it's all the better. That's why I got a PVR. The networks don't own my time anymore. My PVR does.

Oh, and don't try to watch the video using Chrome. The video appears to load but it never starts playing. I'll blame Google for that one since they get free rides on a lot of other spotty decisions.*

*Please don't shut my blog down.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Massage or Hockey?

I went for a massage last night and once it was done, I decided I'd book another one a month in advance. If I don't, I tend not to go until I'm past the point of no return and what should be a relaxing massage ends up being a sadistic torture ride.

If we head forward a full month from yesterday, that would bring us to Thursday, October 9th. I like to get my massages in the evening after work is done and 7:30 was available. "Sure," I said, "October 9th is fine. See you at 7:30."

I headed home, went for a long walk and enjoyed a nice fall night. But when it came time to go to bed, something felt terribly wrong. I couldn't put my finger on it but my brain just wouldn't let me comfortably rest. I was up every hour on the hour, tossing and turning while I tried to quiet my mind.

When I finally dragged myself out of bed this morning, I instantly had the epiphany I'd been waiting for all night. October 9th is opening night for the Avalanche!

That's right, we're less than a month away from a brand new season of hockey and no massage will keep me from planting my butt firmly on my couch, laptop scorching my legs, while I yell at the TV for the Wings/Leafs game to end quickly.

Who needs a massage to relax?

Monday, September 8, 2008

Is it time for hockey yet?

Yes, I'm still alive and well. I haven't posted anything since Joe Sakic re-signed with the Avs and for that, I apologize.

Shortly after the signing, I was in such a good mood that I went out and bought a new toy and that usurped a lot of my time. Well, that plus I do have a job where my employers expect me to contribute. How unreasonable is that?!

However with rookie and training camps about to get fired up, I'm feeling the burn. The jets have ignited - no, not those Jets - and I'm almost in full-on hockey mode - much to the chagrin of my better half.

Today, Greg Wyshnyski over at Puck Daddy has put up his season preview of the Colorado Avalanche. I'll be giving that a good read once I get home tonight but if you don't follow Puck Daddy - and you really should - check it out yourself, if only for the studly Joe Sakic photo he found.

Also, Jibble is having a good debate with thedoctor over the love-it-or-hate-it idea of shootouts deciding games. I'm siding with Jib on this one. I have no problem with ties and don't believe points should be aswered based on an individual skills competition.

Oh, and don't forget that NHL 2K9 and NHL '09 are coming out soon. Actually if memory serves, both are due out tomorrow.

And nothing gets you excited about about hockey like firing up a video game, creating your own player and setting him on kill-and-destroy mode against Dion Phaneuf.

Do they have that mode yet?