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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.
Vikings' GM RICK SPIELMAN was in studio yesterday and for the most part was patentedly evasive. There is no true upside for him or the team for him to divulge the exact plan, but in reading between the cliched lines here's what I think of our offseason approach/plan:
PHIL LOADHOLT -- It seems to me re-signing the starting RT is priority numero uno. And they need to get it done before free agency because Phil's the kind of guy who could go early. Not sure what it will take to keep him here -- $14 million promised? -- but having him and KALIL as bookending tackles gives us one of the better tandems in the game.
Phil is an elite run blocker and his pass protection jumped up last year. I asked a Vikings' source whether Phil would be the type to get all fat and happy with new money and said insider said "No chance. He's the last guy I'd worry about with stuff like that." Phil likes the team, likes living in Minnesota and needs to stay.
We may need a new starting left guard but it seems they are quite secure with the rest of the line, and BRANDON FUSCO finished the season extremely well. After playing four years as a D-II center, the affable kid from Slippery Rock has found his feet in the NFL at RG and will start next year.
PERCY HARVIN -- Still don't totally know what to think about this. I am not completely secure with the way Rick answered questions about the game-changer yesterday. Something has gone wrong between Harvin and the team but it may be fixable.
To wit, when I asked him about CHRISTIAN PONDER he steadfastly proclaimed "Christian is our starting quarterback." He didn't stamp my Percy question regarding his 2013 inclusion with the same conviction. If somehow Percy has jettisoned his team ways he needs to go. I love Percy Harvin's on-field game but if he has a bleep-you attitude towards the HC or team he has to leave, and I think we could house multiple picks for him, and that includes a first-round selection.
If they keep Percy, entering the final year of his rookie deal, they'd have to give him new money. If they keep him up to training camp and don't give him a new deal I believe he will hold out and will not budge until week 10 of the 2013 campaign.
I support whatever Rick does with this because he knows more about the inner-workings of the deal than we do, but drafting a quality WR at 23, re-signing JEROME SIMPSON and bringing back Harvin would help our passing game. But, again, if Percy Harvin no longer wants to be here he has to be dealt.
LINEBACKER -- I don't see both ERIN HENDERSON and JASPER BRINKLEY returning but do believe one will be back. They both are free agents and I have been told second-year guy /.is ready to play more minutes.
Jasper didn't finish the season very well and I felt Erin played okay this year. The belief is they'll let both test free agency to see if there is a market for them and will bring one back.
THE DRAFT -- My guess is the Vikings will address WR, DL and DB through the first three rounds. With all the juniors entering the draft there are defensive studs to be had all over the place. Wouldn't be surprised if they go WR at 23 and load up on DL after that. We need some help at DT given KEVIN WILLIAMS is at the end and the tackle spot next to him was a rotation.
If I were drafting for the team right now I'd hone in on Louisiana Tech WR QUINTON PATTON at 23 if available. He was one of the stars during Senior Bowl practice week, and is exactly the kind of outside guy we need. As mentioned/written I would like the team to re-up with Simpson, who was hampered by a lef/foot injury most of the year, can be had for little money and will be dramatically better than last season.