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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.
I hate this time of the year. I loved this time of the year the last two years when the football team won nine and lost 23 because it was mentally taxing, we rarely won, 2010 had the most distractions in the history of the team and, quite honestly, at times it became difficult to machinate on the product because the games didn't matter.
This year was different, though. This year's Vikings were not expected to do much, started swiftly, regressed to the proverbial mean middle of the year and finished full of fire. I swear, when we handled St. Louis and CHRISTIAN ran in for that gritty-and-game TD, then when we went to to Houston and blasted one of the game's better outfits and came home and closed out the dream of making the postseason by beating Green Bay, I felt we were a win at Lambeau from at least going to the NFC Championship game.
Then I caught wind Ponder's inclusion in the game last night was very much in question. Breaking-news hounds went to texting and calling me for nuggets and should know by now I don't share. I didn't respond because it's almost like I didn't want to believe we actually were going to be sans our starting QB for the first playoff game since 2009.
I know losing Ponder isn't exactly like operating without BRADY, RODGERS, BREES, ELI, PEYTON or FAVRE, but he was playing with zest and zeal and finally had become a true leader of an offense that was run-first, pass-maybe. I wanted Christian to finish what ADRIAN started, and it wasn't meant to be. The inside of his right arm still was badly bruised from the MORGAN BURNETT helmet-to-arm shot he took a week ago, and it was clear to anybody in the know he couldn't have gutted it out.
So, here comes JOE WEBB, the trick from UAB. Joe never really stood a chance of leading this team to a win, I knew it into the game but fooled myself into believing we might find a way to shock the football world.
Then I saw his first short-hop pass to JENKINS when Michael was open by GB's five and I knew it was going to be a tall order. When he badly overthrew JEROME SIMPSON middle of the field when Simpson streaked by SAM SHIELDS I then knew it was curtains on the season, and Green Bay was advancing and we weren't.
He really had little chance to succeed. Seriously, he was a 57 percent guy into the game with twice the picks as TDs and hadn't thrown a pass in a game since New Year's Day, 2012. His training camp and preseason were bad, and that's the last memory I had of the 2012 Joe Webb. I thanked him for the effort after the game and went around the locker room and thanked most players for their hard work and kindness to me all year.
Adrian Peterson hugged me and thanked me for the big calls. BLAIR WALSH said he can't wait for next year and guaranteed we'd be better. RICK SPIELMAN gave me a hug and had nothing to say. He did a wonderful job with the draft and gave us plenty off which to build. JOHN CARLSON looked mentally fatigued and I told him given his preseason injuries " he never had a chance this year." The Litchfield native didn't disagree.
Great group these 2012 Minnesota Vikings. I tweeted it's the kindest and sweetest bunch I had been around during my 11 years calling games for the team. I meant it. The 2009 team had rock-star appeal and is the best with whom I have worked, but that thing stopped and started with Brett Favre. We killed teams. TARVARIS JACKSON mopped up like a long reliever for a superstar baseball team. That team had some unstoppable to it.
The playoff-bound 2004 team worked on a RED MCCOMBS shoestring budget and was a wild, street-ball-appeal unit that played of the emotion of HC MIKE TICE. The 2008 division-winning team was good-not-great and was one of several CHILDRESS-led teams that lacked personality but found a way to get things done.
This one had to work extra hard for everything it achieved. To fight back from 6-and-6 and win out to make the playoffs capped the greatest turnaround in franchise lore. Ponder went from reliable to skittish to wonderful. Then, boom, he was gone. Couldn't get back on the field where he had his last terrible game. Couldn't make good on the bad pick to Burnett early third quarter December 2nd that cost us a legit chance at an 11-and-5 year. Instead, he was relegated to motivating and assisting his back up, and that must have been tough to absorb.
I am bred to work and raise kids, and I pour everything I have into those things. Even though 30 hours a week of work drops off and the joy of the children will increase, I really wanted this thing to keep going. Maybe I'll spend more offseason time at Winter Park with the studs at the Vikings Entertainment Network and sitting in the cafeteria learning what will go into the 2013 plan?
For now, today is my 47th birthday and I'll put the pain, emptiness and disdain of the season ending aside until I 'Montage Monday with BRIAN MICKNIGHT'S "One Last Cry." To quote RICK PITINO -- "It was a nice run."