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We celebrate the 1983 Wayzata Club Hockey Team and one of its stars, Jonny "The Mouse" Mikkelson, who once told me "Our team was so good the varsity wouldn't play us." When asked why he didn't play varsity Mouse said, "Too little." Cutest ever. So, we salute the greatest Club Hockey Team ever, a squad so vaunted even Jim Craig's Miracle team wanted nothing to do with it. Trottier, Bossy, Gretzky, Messier ... dead! Long live the 1983 Wayzata Club Hockey team!
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“If respect for the guy between you and the boards isn’t enough to stop you from running him, maybe what will be is the fear of the retribution that is sure to follow.” –Bobby Orr
This is an excerpt from the great Bobby Orr’s book, the chapter on fighting in hockey. I am not writing about actual fighting in hockey, but violence in hockey. If your worst enemy was standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon, would you push him over the edge?
No. Even if you hate somebody, you more than likely respect them enough as a human being not to push them down a cliff. I am disappointed in the lack of respect of players in hockey, mainly the NHL. There have been some recent cheap-shots in the NHL resulting in fines and suspensions. Even though it didn’t result in an injury (or so we think right now, who knows if it will re-surface), but the one that pisses me off the most is the James Neal kneeing incident at Boston against Brad Marchand. http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nhl-puck-daddy/james-neal-gets-nhl-phone-hearing-bit-joke-211433123--nhl.html Neal’s quote was “I haven’t seen the replay of anything. I hit him in the head with my leg or my knee or my shin. He’s already going down. I guess I need to try to avoid him,” said Neal.
This is bush league. James Neal is a very good hockey player, but should have gotten 20 games for this, not 5. (I say this even though he’s on my fantasy hockey team) In the same game, Bruin thug Shawn Thornton slew-footed Penguins Brooks Orpik, then kept beating his head into the ice causing the stretcher to come out.
There are other incidents being looked at by the league, but these d-bags need to start respecting their opponents. You can hate them all you want, but you NEED to respect them. They are your peers. I recently heard Doc Emrick talking about player respect, and hope this message gets through. With the newer equipment technology, players are feeling invincible. In a sport that sometimes needs to be policed by the players, the police need to know what they’re doing. Even in the wake of the nationally known tragedy of the Jack Jablonski hit, you still see players hitting players from behind into the boards. I remember when I was young, the normal penalties were tripping, hooking, elbowing, charging……etc… The one penalty that you rarely saw, and when you did it was a major penalty, was boarding. I reffed hockey for 8 years, and “boarding” was the cardinal sin. A major penalty. Now, boarding is a 2-minute minor. WHY?
I will also say on the other side, players need to do a better job avoiding these hits. Don’t stand 3 feet from the boards with your head down. When you ride a motorcycle on the freeway, you have to expect every car to potentially cut you off. You need to ride defensively. Same as being on the ice. You have to keep your head up, be aware of what’s going on, be aware that anybody at any time can run you into the boards. Play aggressive but play defensive.
Watch Zach Parise play. When he’s near the boards, he’s ready to be hit. He prepares for it. These cheap, near the boards incidents occur not only in the NHL, but at the youth level as well. Kids don’t start checking until the bantam level, which I think is too late. Junior High-aged kids get to check for the first time? Trouble!
I have gone in many directions here, but the bottom line is the players need to respect other players. There’s a reason why players shake hands after games, it’s to show respect. Players need to quit playing and acting so reckless and respect the great game of hockey. I HATE having to write negative things about my favorite sport, but felt a need to at this time.
Quite honestly it was a magical day at M&T Bank Stadium. Sure, Our Favorite Team lost a spinetingler, but many fans are happy because we gained 2014 draft-selecting cred, and the 29-26 loss was as thrilling as it gets.
The day was "magical" in that the snow that fell on Baltimore during pregame warmups enhanced the atmosphere, everybody was jacked up to slide around in it, it was fun throwing snowballs at objects as the guys warmed up and the fans were energized by the elements. Cool, cool day.
The stadium is of the older-school variety these days but still is top-notch, and the Ravens despite a fair amout of turnover still perform with the heart of a true champion. Some teams we play on the road bug me for various reasons, but I always have had immense respect for JOHN HARBAUGH, JOE FLACCO, JACOBY JONES, TERRELL SUGGS, HALOTI NGATA and the Super Bowl 47 champs. Fun day today, no doubt.
The day, too, was magical in that the teams provided those watching/listening one of the greatest quarters of football in NFL lore by combining for 42 points during the final frame. Much to analyze #92Noon tomorrow, but there are a few things that stick out around 1:30 in the morning, and I'd like to share:
-- CORDARRELLE PATTERSON has entered Rookie of the Year status. His vision in open field and tight quarters is as good as I have seen in sometime. It's PERCY-like in that he sees defenders coming from all angles and most times is taking the right path to positivity.
His 79-yard catch-and-run on third-and-10 in the fourth quarter was his second receiving TD of the year, he ran one in from 33 against the Bears and has two kick-return TDs. Guys like EDDIE LACY, GIO BERNARD and KEENAN ALLEN got the jump on Patterson in that they played markedly more earlier in the season, but Cordarrelle is charging at the R.O.Y. Award late and might get to the winner's circle with a few more TDs.
-- The 37-yard PI call on ROBERT BLANTON was a bad call, it came on first-and-20 and helped the Ravens close on a TD to DENNIS PITTA. It also gave Baltimore the lead with like six minutes to go.
I in no way am blaming the refs for the Vikings loss today but it was a flat out bad day for PETE MORELLI and his staff. The GREENWAY PI late I thought should have been a no call -- it, too, led to a Ravens TD -- but the TOBY GERHART fumble not being overturned in the first quarter was a terrible decision.
The thing that bugged me throughout the game was the refs kept spotting the ball in the wrong place. I have no idea how such a remedial task could not be executed accurately no matter the conditions. There were times one official would indicate incomplete pass and another was signaling catch. They were inconsistent all day and I hope both teams send in a bunch of plays to the NFL to set the record straight.
-- Injuries. I am not counting on ADRIAN PETERSON, XAVIER RHODES and maybe BRANDON FUSCO or KYLE RUDOLPH for the rest of the year. Adrian and Xavier are two of the most important pieces to the 2014 equation, and they left with ankle injuries. No need to rush them from 3-9-and-1 and just three games to go.
Rudolph is very important to the mix and I don't get any inclination his return is on the horizon. Just shut down those guys and try again next season.
-- Gerhart, again, made himself some free-agency money, and I really hope we re-sign him before the season ends. As always when given a fair chance Toby looks the part, and his 41-yard TD run was (a) a brilliant call by the OC out of the shotgun and on first down and (b) he trucked S JAMES IHEDIGBO, who was pestering us all day.
-- MATT CASSEL, a man who has the right to be the ultimate martyr during this season of QB discontent, went for 265-2-0. He wasn't sacked and that's noteworthy because the Ravens entered the game top five in the NFL in sacks and we had allowed 11 the previous two games.
Matt handled the pocket with poise and drove the ball down the field. He handled the champs like a veteran and should be very proud of his performance. Our QB situation into next year is a tricky figure because PONDER is entering the final year of his deal, Cassel is the best QB on the roster and jibes well with GREG JENNINGS and JOSH FREEMAN has enough equity to his past performances to wonder if we'll move on him and keep him around for training camp.
My gut indicates Cassel will opt out because he isn't happy with the way things operated this year, Ponder stays because he was drafted by the team and might serve as a back-up and Freeman is out. I still feel the team will use it's first- or second-round pick on a QB, and the two on whom I am focusing as of right now are Fresno State's DEREK CARR and Eastern Illinois' JIMMY GAROPPOLLO.
Yes, I know we need defensive help and there could be as many as six new starters on defense next season. Yes, I realize we blew another game late on defense, just like at Chicago, versus Cleveland, at Dallas and at Green Bay, which ended in a tie when we lost a 16-point lead late at Lambeau.
Still, this team needs to solve it's QB quandry to do anything at a high level in this league, and finding a star via the draft may be the answer.
Philly is here next week, and the Eagles are all out to win their division. This will be the Eagles first game indoors this season, and on a fast track these Birds will be flying. I am worried due to injuries and the emotions exerted during this Baltimore loss the Vikings may be in some trouble next game, and 3-10-and-1 may be in the cards.
This has been a very strange season full of disappointment and heartbreak, and there will be much change to the look next season. Today was "magical" in that the atmosphere was terrific and the game was exciting , but at the end of the deal I like everybody else with whom I work with this team wanted to win the game, and it didn't happen. Again.
Champions Week commences tonight for three of our local -- favorite?! -- sports teams, and the hope is to sweep the card and dagger those with ring cred.
THE WILD -- Speedy 'Hawks are in town tonght and KANE, TOEWS and KEITH all are going great guns. No pesky BRYAN BICKELL due to injury, but Eden Prarie's NICK LEDDY has played every game, and with three goals he'll be looking to add to that with friends and family in the crowd.
The Speedy 'Hawks -- the champs -- just took a regulation loss at home to Dallas but prior to that were the hottest team in the game, having won six consecutive (five in regulation) and 11 of the previous 13. They beat us here, 5-1, in late October, two nights after we went to the Den of a Champion and beat them by two.
The Wild are not exactly lighting the lamp at a record pace but do seem to have correctoed some things after THEEEE CAPTAIN smacked one in at Colorado Saturday night with three seconds left to earn a much needed point. Then they clamped down defensively against Philly here Monday and won in shutout fashion. Cool.
Should be an intense game and one the Wild can win.
THE WOLVES -- Saturday the champion Heat is here, and the Wolves are looking to snap a losing streak. Minnesota will represent well in this one due to several practices during an elongated stretch of off time, and even though the Heat is one of the best three teams in the game it did take an ugly home loss recently to bump-and-grind Detroit.
Miami can be vulnerable to three-point shots, and that's what we do when our best two scorers LOVE and MARTIN are hot. Love is shooting like 37 percent the last few games. Miami will offer a quality showing but realizes we can put up 50 in a quarter if you sleep on the slumping Wolves. I bet we score a bunch this game and close on a little upset. Target Center will dig this game and atmosphere.
THE VIKINGS -- The champion Ravens are 6-and-6 and are closing a three-game home stand during which they have gone 2-and-0. Baltimore throws the ball 54 percent of the time and RAY RICE runs for fewer than three YPC.
Baltimore is a very tough place to win, the fans are empassioned and JOHN HARBAUGH has his boys ramping up quite nicely for the postseason. Thing is, though, Baltimore is in the Wildcard meatgrinder and two games behind Cincy in its division. The Ravens desperately need a win against us Sunday and we enter the game having run for nearly 500 yards the last two games.
That's the real shame of the 3-8-and-1 for the Vikings -- LESLIE has the running game battering players late in the year when minds and bodies are tired, but we are too far back to make the playoffs.
Tough predicting a Vikings win outdoors on the road, but this will be a close, fun, high-scoring game. If they have problems with ADRIAN, CASSEL will throw it to JENNINGS all over the field. Also, I expect rookie WR CORDARRELLE PATTERSON to continue to improve, which means he'll get many chances at Baltimore and most likely will score again. Think I'll make him my "one-hit wonder" tomorrow at Buffalo Wild Wings Crystal.
Stud QB MARCUS MARIOTA just announced he is bypassing the 2014 NFL Draft and will stay at Oregon for a final year. Good for him, recognizing he needs another year to become better prepared to compete in the big show, and good for him not tripping over the fact he may have been the top selection in the draft. I was told today by a NFL source it's best he stayed another year if he wanted to jump into the league and started right away.
This QB draft is the deepest in quite sometime, but, of course, around here we have known that for months because of signal-calling uncertainty with the Vikings. My newest take is CHRISTIAN PONDER absolutely will be on the team next year, MATT CASSEL probably will leave and JOSH FREEMAN most likely will not be around.
Mariota opting to stay in college means (a) instead of four QBs probably going in the top 10 three most likely will be taken or (b) teams will overdraft and reach for a guy to make sure they get him. As of now I see BRIDGEWATER, JOHNNY FOOTBALL and, maybe, DEREK CARR cracking the top 10. The Vikings very well might be in a position to get one, or they'll hit defense hard and move on one early round two. Who knows at this point, right?
And as we head into the Ravens game Sunday HC LESLIE FRAZIER tomorrow most likely will announce who the starting QB for the game will be. He has been using Ponder, Cassel saved the show against the Bears and still nothing on/from Freeman. I truly felt Freeman might play in that Bears game, and with Ponder overcoming a concussion and Cassel most likely not in the mix next season this could be a Freeman game. Probably not, though, as there still are no indicators the team is interested in seeing him play.
Into the final four games of the year, here are a few things for which I am looking from Our Favorite Team:
-- Continued aggressive play from DB ROBERT BLANTON from the "slot." He has done wonderfully against JORDY NELSON and BRANDON MARSHALL the last two weeks and has been a slice of serendipity for the woebegone defense. Blanton, a physical, confident sort, has manned the "nickle" two of the last three games, and over the last trio we lead the league in third-down defense (23 percent). He absolutely has something to do with that.
-- Continued development from rookie CB XAVIER RHODES, who bats away passes when it seem he has been beaten. His arms are so long, and his physical ability is starting to mesh with his timing and instincts.
-- A burst from DL EVERSON GRIFFEN, who has had a down year and is not mashing the stats sheet during a contract year. I want Everson to show the bosses he's capable of changing games through the final quarter of the season and in doing so earning a right to be back here next year.
-- More chances for TE CHASE FORD. The 'Cane is fast and runs good routes. He may be a liability in the running game, but that's why we have RHETT ELLISON. Chase has a flair to him I like and the physical skills to make the team next year and help.
-- Continued chances for CORDARRELLE PATTERSON. The kid is full of swerve and only is getting better. Let's sweep with him, let's unfurl some double moves down the field and let's fade to him in the back corners of the end zone. He's playing a ton these days and will be a starter next season along with GREG JENNINGS and either JARIUS WRIGHT of offseason-move du jour.
-- More risk taking from 3-8-and-1. Onside kicks, a fake punt, a fake field goals and two-point conversion tries after TDs. Each team we play the rest of the way is battling for postseason berths or playoff positioning; let's give them much about which to think and in doing so will make it fun for our fan base.