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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 really wanted to see us spread out Detroit's defense last Sunday and pass the hell out of the ball. After MVP busted loose for 78 to the good on the first play of the season I told BERCICH "This is perfect, now they'll flood the box, we can go four-wide and move it via the pass."
That wasn't the case. We ran MVP up the middle, tried to get wide and used our bruising running game as the chief identity. After watching back the game yesterday I left thinking two things -- we should have spread them out more frequently and passed more and (b) CHRISTIAN PONDER still is too robotic for my liking.
The passes don't always have to be deep, although we had three hits of 20 yards or more and that's promising given we amassed just 22 of those last year. No, quick shots predicated on yards after the catch is what I was looking for. We know for the most part and especially with suspended JEROME FELTON we can line up and run successfully. We still are not sure we can pass consistently, and that needs to change.
I felt last week was the game to get that going because I am not interested in becoming pass-happy at Chicago Sunday. The Bears had just one sack against Cincy but our OL has not been cohesive since last season. This is a game we have to amass first downs via the run and stick them with winning pass plays when they least expect it.
We failed to generate a possession of more than four plays until the third quarter at Detroit. Obviously to win Sunday that has to change. Passing is important but going against PEANUT TILLMAN and TIM JENNINGS is markedly tougher than the HOUSTON-SLAY tandem we saw in the Motor City.
With Ponder and as I said on the radio show today the in-between scenario stuff with him is bugging me. Last season I liked his start, hated his middle and loved his finish. In watching back the Lions game it still appears he is overthinking things and given we ran way more than we passed at key times it's fair to wonder what the level of trust is they have in our quarterback.
If accurate the middling stuff will get us nowhere. I want Christian to have more control of things so we truly can learn if he belongs or doesn't. Maybe he's not a born leader? Maybe he needs guidance at all times? If that's the case we need a new 'slinger posthaste and one who is not afraid to take chances, get to the line and change plays and not be afraid of mistakes due to aggressive play.
We have to find a way to get the kid to slow down, calm down and lead the squad like good quarterbacks do. He needs to enter the huddle so in control MVP, Super Bowl winner GREG JENNINGS and others know he has things under control. For that to happen he cannot be afraid to take the reins of what should be a more explosive offense and let the bad boy rip. The huge MVP games will complement the passing game perfectly, and our play-action passing is supposed to be better than last year.
This is a huge game Sunday at Chicago and I expect the right offensive approach to be that of run-first and for the passing to be into single coverage and more accurate than it was at Detroit.