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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.
Many things from last season have to improve for the Vikings to go to the Super Bowl. Some things have to improve to beat Green Bay and win the division. I cannot properly analyze Chicago's season until I get a feel for what the new coaching staff offers, but the Packers are beatable in this division.
Getting to Super Bowl in a freaking stacked conference with Seattle, San Francisco, ARODG, RG3, MATT RYAN, Bucs and Panthers jumping up, ELI, BREES, etc. is a stern challenge. For us to do it here are a few things that have to take place to have a chip, chair and chance (PONDER not included much here because he's the big talker next week when training camp commences):
Health. Yep, it's cliched and means something for all teams, but Green Bay lost like 10 starters a few years ago and housed the crown. One of the guys to emerge for the less-desiable colors that year was our new LB DESMOND BISHOP. Desmond had a crucial FR in that SB win and, overall, a terrific game.
Our OL has a chance to be one of the best in the league but we cannot afford injuries. We need to keep our strengths healthy for the balance of the season and not go long patches with nagging injuries to key guys.
JARED ALLEN needs to stay healthy this year. For us to get to the Super Bowl we need DL upticks that include at least 17 sacks from Jared, nine or more from BRIAN ROBISON, six or more from EVERSON GRIFFEN and six or more from KEVIN WILLIAMS and SHARRIF FLOYD combined.
Batter that QB and put some balls in the hands of the secondary. CHRIS COOK still is sans an interception in his career, XAVIER RHODES is a rookie and JOSH ROBINSON is trying the inside for the first time in his career.
Another thing I'd like to see happen to give us a better chance at making the Mission: Meadowlands is HARRISON SMITH playing so well he merits Pro Bowl cred around the league. He scored twice last year and is a very sure tackler. He has a true chance this year to become even more of a safety showing up on the highlight shows.
JEROME SIMPSON needs to make defenses pay. With GREG JENNINGS, CORDARRELLE PATTERSON, KYLE RUDOLPH and ADRIAN, Simpson will see double coverage a handful of times max this year. As a third or fourth option in this offense he could be lethal.
The season before his foot came up bunk (last year) he was a quality complement to AJ GREEN in Cincinnati, and I championed his cause this offseason and begged on the radio for the team to re-sign him.
Jerome will have mediocre players on him all season and Christian needs to make teams pay. Catch the guy guarding him peeking in the backfield, execute a double move and score. Jerome will score at least four TDs this year.
Finally, Greg Jennings being patient with Ponder and working closely with him will help, too. That, too, goes for MATT CASSEL, who worked with CAPTAIN COOL. These veterans need to raise this young man and put him on a season his TD-INT ratio is close to 3-to-1, keep him poised in the pocket and help the game come more naturally to him.
I am so bleeping excited for Minnesota Vikings training camp and the preseason games. First radio show from the exclusive perch in 'FANkato a week from today. That's where we begin crafting the dream.