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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.
June is a sneaky-good sports month with the Stanley Cup and NBA Finals coming to fruition, the Twins desperately attempting to stay relavent (four wins in a row), the Vikings conducting mandatory mini-camp and the NBA Draft.
Nine-to-Noon needs to settle into a player we want the Wolves to draft at the nine spot, and it's probably time to move from VICTOR OLADIPO to something more realistic. I ain't tripping; I'd very much like FLIPNOSIS to find his way to the IU shooting guard, giving us with THE SPANISH KID the best defensive backcourt in team lore. Oladipo on this team would solidify many things, but I expect him to be long gone by the time nine rolls around.
I guess we could package something -- nine and DERRICK WILLIAMS? -- to get up to get him, but I liked how Williams finished the season and am putting him on a much better year next year. We have seen the bottom with Derrick Williams, so let's keep him, grow him and win with him.
With the belief they will re-up with PEK all of my focus is on the two-guard spot and how we can scratch a cliched itch we have had arond here for far too long. Our PG is upper-echelon, so let's move on a two guard to complement his skills. I am not as high on OJ MAYO as some others because I don't like his across-the-board game. He can score but is streaky, doesn't pass or rebound, nails some threes and is inconsistent. I'd rather draft the spot than move on Mayo.
SHABAZZ MUHAMMED, the UCLA guy, is a terrific scorer and at 6-foot-6 either is too small to play SF or a tad too long and slow for the two-guard spot. Kid can be a wonderful scoring machine, though, and my people tell me his ball-handling skills will flourish at the next level.
But being checked by quicker, smaller two guards may fluster his routes to the hoop, so in my NBA-loving heart of hearts he'd be a good three for most teams. There are some things you can do with him at the two -- post up defenders -- but I am looking for a better defensive player with more quick-twitch to his game.
CJ MCCOLLOM from, gulp, Lehigh is the answer. Yep, the old Patriot League. Only three guys have played in the NBA from the Patriot League the last 20 years, and only one was good -- THE ADMIRAL, Navy. That doesn't mean McCollom can't buck the trend, and after talking to a source and reading stuff about him feel he's perfect for what we want and do.
He's a "tweener," meaning he plays PG and SG but is an awesome scorer who can pass the ball. He's fast and thirves in an up-tempo game -- Run with the Wolves still the slogan? -- and might be the correction to a certain problem we created a few years ago when skipping "tweener" STEPH CURRY for JONNY FLYNN. Steph is a "1 1/2" for the GSW and has developed into one of the game's most cold-blooded performers when the glass ankle isn't freaking out. And he hails from Davidson, which can't be much better than Lehigh.
McCollom is off a foot injury, too, but my guy said it will in no way hamper his NBA Draft stock, and he looks like a top-12 player. Let's just tag him at nine and roll with a dynamic backcourt, convince AK47 to return, get K. LOVE up to speed, healthy and to play some defense and re-sign Pek. That team will make the playoffs next year and would give us the best backcourt since SPRE and SAM roamed the Cornfields. That tandem led us to the WCF, and since they left the well has beend dry.
Fix it, Flip, by drafting CJ McCollom with the nine spot.