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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.
There were times earlier this year Tampa QB JOSH FREEMAN would short-hop a WR so badly DONOVAN MCNABB and TSUYOSHI NISHIOKA were impressed. Seriously, a guy who had thrown for more than 4,000 yards during a season and with three to go last year had 25 touchdowns and just eight interceptions was getting booed off the field. Josh Freeman, the man who looked like a MVP that Thursday night he killed us, was just terrible most of this season.
Then when things became pear-shaped between him and the hard-line HC GREG SCHIANO he basically was kicked off the team. The big, smiley, happy-go-lucky kid from K. State was told he no longer was wanted around the facility. That has to be eye-opening.
And now he's here on a one-year deal where he might not take a snap all year. Or he may debut on MNF at the New York Giants. Crazy stuff this QB spot with the Minnesota Vikings. I have some thoughts on our top three QBs and what this one-year move on the former first-rounder means for the now and future.
Freeman -- A very reliable source told me this evening Josh was very likable down Tampa way. He and the HC started having some differences last year and they became unbearable this season. Many quizzed behind the scenes within the Bucs covenant (equipment guys, staff, etc.) to a man all praised the kid for his work ethic and personality.
He's not a martyr in this Bucs deal by any stretch, though, and did miss the team photo this year and reportedly missed team busses for the season-opening game. Derision with the coach or not that stuff cannot happen. I was told Josh regrets some things on his side nearing the end of his Bucs runs and is more than elated to be here.
I always have been a fan of his physical make-up and the fact he can be at times an elite vertical-passing QB. Josh doesn't run, he slides away from pressure and keeps his eyes down the field. His inaccuracy this year, though, was embarrassing, and before he was benched was arguably the worst starting QB in the NFL.
I don't know when he will play here but we are getting a free look (no draft picks given to get him) at a former first-round selection THE GM loved coming out of college and a man entering a situation begging for somebody to step up and own the role week after week.
CHRISTIAN PONDER -- Christian needs to sit back and watch the game for a minute no matter what the status of his ribs are. He was mssing too many wide-open guys and not exploiting mismatches enough. Christian was playing too timidly and still is in the abyss where I/they cannot say whether he fits or doesn't.
I feel the Freeman acquisition helps the team amass assets at a position that has been hard to fill. Ponder will battle Freeman and maybe a draft pick next season for a starting role, but given CASSEL played well at Wembley and Freeman has been better than Christian I am niot sure how the former 12th-overall pick gets back on the field this year.
Cassel -- You absolutely start him against Carolina and roll with him until the bit runs dry. This is Matt's job to lose as far as I am concerned, and the Freeman signing should impact him none this year.
The future -- In Freeman, Ponder, Cassel and a draft pick next year we finally may be equipped to find a franchise guy who can dagger the position and never give it up. I would not be surprised if we draft a QB next year no matter how Cassel or Freeman play.
I am a fan of the move and hope to get to call games during which Josh Freeman redeems himself from a Tampa run that ended in sour fashion. He's big and very talented, and the hope is we are on the right side of him becoming consistently good because he has been an in-and-out guy all of his career. In a division full of rock-star QBs we are scrambling, and Josh Freeman gives us another crack at a franchise QB and one about whom we can be proud for years.