Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Hoggan hurdles second to go

As I was interviewing possible candidates for the fifth and final room in my apartment, one kid mentioned that he had a friend of a friend named Jeff Hoggan, who was trying out for the Bruins this season. This was not the selling point for my new roommate, one of the only people I did not interview in person because he was from Omaha, Nebraska. After all, there was a huge Sabres fan who needed a place...but he didn't drink, and every time we talked I felt less like I could watch the NHL full season package with him this year. Not that drinking is a requirement on my prospective candidate's resume, but I do find satisfaction in knowing that the person I will "shit, shave and shower" (as my father once said) in the same building with for at least a year might also find enjoyment in joining me at the bars for at least a Bruins game or 82.

So I did accept the Omaha native, Ryan Sullivan, a great guy. And it turns out his friend of a friend is Jeff Hoggan. It also turns out Jeff Hoggan REALLY is trying out for the Bruins, and not only that, he has earned his way through the first two cuts. I thought for sure he was gone after Monday's 12-cut reduction, but there he was still on the roster. I was surprised because if nothing else, I had never heard of him when RS mentioned it back on that first phone interview, and I had the full season NHL package last year. And more or less the last five or six years. But nobody is perfect.

Hoggan even turned up in the Globe article Hopefull Hoggan sticks to it today, so I got to learn a little more about the man. He is from Hope, British Columbia and believes that hard work and solid all-around play are both necessary to have success at any level. This is nothing shocking to hear but something you do want to here. A forth liner if he does make the team, Hoggan now has to beat out at least three of these guys to make the team I believe...Tenkrat-Mowers-Brookbank-Yan Stastny,-Petr Kalus...of those five guys and Hoggan, I think three will make up the fourth line. It seems to me that Mowers-Hoggan-? would be a solid trio...but I don't know too much about any of these guys.

I also just read that Hoggan will not be playing in tonight's game at Madison Square Garden. The starting fourth line will be Tenkrat-Mowers-Brookbank. That would mean Hoggan-Statsny-Kalus will probably start in the B's first home exhibition game at TD this Saturday. And, Jagr is not playing tonight for NY but will Saturday, thus making a trip to TD look like something worth while. I just have to find a way to snatch some cheap tickets.

I don't know what to take away from the TMB line starting tonight and the HSK line starting Saturday...but maybe the guys starting at home will be more pumped up.

If Hoggan makes the team, I think there might be a chance of RS and I scoring some tickets to a game or two. We might even score a North End dinner date with Hoggan and friends. Who knows. If I score anything I'll be happy. Maybe if Hoggan scores his second preseason goal on Saturday, that will solitify a fourth line spot.

I will definately be a little surprised if Hoggan makes the team. But what I am really shocked by is how many trading cards he already has out there. I might have to pick one up while they're still cheap. You never know.

Monday, September 11, 2006

It's called Bruins...

I can't get over this awful slogan the team adopted last season, especially after the way things panned out. Pride. Passion. Persistence. It’s called Bruins. The only “P” words I seemed to find resemblance with the organization last year are pathetic and pessimistic.

For the 2006-07 season, there is may be a new meaning for what it is to be a Bruin: criminal. With the implementation of a new program called “Be A Bruin,” designed by Brad Park and then accepted by Sinden and Chiarelli, anyone has the chance to tryout and fulfill the lifelong dream of skating the ice as a Bruin.

One of three to make the cut so far is former NHLer, and convicted rapist, Billy Tibbetts, who was skating on thin ice back in 1992. The now 31-year-old was found guilty of child rape. The victim, who was with Tibbits at a party and gave him oral sex, was about to turn 16. Tibbets, 17 at the time, thought she was older.

Now I don’t know the details of this case, but I would like to think that Tibbetts deserves a second chance if he indeed is a new man as he claims to be in the Globe article Tibbets to get his shot. No pun intended here.

As stated in the article, “If people work with him, he could be a No. 2 center in the NHL,” said Park. “He's as strong as a bull, and he will go through a wall for you. Hey, he's trying to resurrect something here, and I give him credit for that. He’d love to put it all behind him. He made a mistake, did his time, and it's time to move on.”

This statement, referring to Tibbetts as a potential No. 2 center, seems a bit farfetched. But hey, if Brad Park believes in him, I guess I should too.

Not to mention, there is a website dedicated to Tibbetts. That has to count for something, according to Steve, who created the site and can be seen above alongside one of his hockey heroes (Tibbetts), who apparently is in tip-top shape, NHL-ready shape.

It’s almost funny the article that currently sits atop the news section at the Boston Globe online, following Tibbetts invitation to "Be a Bruin."

Friday, September 08, 2006

No. 14 in the preseason rankings...?

No, not the Bruins, although 14 actually seems about right...Anyways, I recently added a link to the blog "OddManRush" under the links section. I just came across the blog and found it very interesting, particularly the videos and songs and more so the post which featured a ranking of all of the NHL's arenas. The list of arenas begins with a shocking number one, and it isn't until number 14 that we come across the one and only TD Banknorth Garden. The list was compiled by the website's creaters, Andrew Kulyk and Peter Farrell. They wrote,

"Set atop the North Station and built next to the old Boston Gardens, streets around here are congested and the
mess from the "Big Dig" is taking years to clean up. Real nice New England Sports Museum rings the entire club
level concourse. Otherwise, about the most plain jane new facility we've seen.
Arc- 4.5, Food-6, Scbd-5.5, Ush-6, Fans-6, Loc-6, Bann-10, Ent-4, Conc-5, Bonus-7.5 Total: 60.5"

This is the evaluation given to the Boston Garden's replacement. I wonder what the Garden would have been rated? I guess the real question is, will the Big Dig finish in my Boston lifetime? I agree the Big Dig is an eyesore, but TD is located in a rich area. Nearby, the often unnoticed Paul Revere Park and the dam, the North End and Waterfront sections, Paul Revere's house. the oldest restaurant in America (Union Oyster House)...Ernesto's Pizza (sorry Regina's). There is obviously a lot of congestion in the area, especially with the Big Dig, but in no other city is there anywhere near the amount of beauty, and more importantly, history that is in walking distance from TD.

There's no better date, first or 500th, than a B's game, a walk through the North End, a stop for some dessert at Mike's Pastry and lastly a seat by the waterfront under the polluted but beautiful Boston skyline.

Two is better than one

Pierre Lebrun of the Canadian Press yesterday wrote an article titled Questions in net for better Bruins, question the Bruins' depth in goal. To me, there was one number that stood out to me in this article.

$1.73 million. That is the cost of both Hannu Toivonen and Tim Thomas.

In 20 games last season Toivonen,the 29th overall pick in the 2002 entry draft, went 9-5-0 with a 2.63 goals against average and a .914 save percentage.

Thomas boasted a 12-13 record in 38 appearences and a 2.77 goals against average to go along with a 9.17 save percentage. Not bad for someone considered until recently to be a career minor leaguer. Also not bad for under $1 mil a year.

And don't forget, we have that guy Tuuka Rask, who many if not all those in the hockey world believe to be the best netminder yet to play in the NHL. So if all goes horribly wrong this year with Toivonen and Thomas, there still is hope for the very near future.

The bottom line for Boston's situation in net this year: the combined 05-06 numbers of the two T's make for the best value and possibly the best pairing in the NHL nets. I am a firm believer that is always better to have two pretty good goaltenders than one great one and a bunch of scrubs. Or just a big question mark. See Ottawa, Toronto.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

An "A" for the B's

Well work has been slow in the sports information office as is so frequently the case. And when work is slow, I take to the web. And what better way to pass time than to read NHL previews everywhere I can find them. One in particular was interesting...on, the Bruins received an "A" grade for the success of their offseason on the Northeast Report Card. Here Allan Muir explains why the Bruins and new GM Peter Chiarelli were awarded an A, as the Sabres, Canadiens, Senators and received a B and the Leafs a C-.

Even more interesting is the comparison Muir makes between new Bruin Phil "Cocky" Kessel and T.O. It doesn't seem to be the best of comparisons (I don't think Kessel will ever be as much a nuisance to the Bruins as T.O. has been to any one of his former teams). However, I do welcome a player of such tremendous speed and skill who is also confident (maybe overly confident) in his game. I would love to see Kessel make the Bruins and earn a spot on the second line.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A New Era In Sport

In just over a month, the Boston Bruins will officially begin a new era in the NHL. This new era will also be that of my adult life, during which I will spend a good portion of my time watching, writing about and analyzing my favorite sport and team. I was not around for Bobby Orr, and I was just putting on my skates for the first time when Cam Neely was unlacing his for the last. But I have seen the Bruins take on Teemu Selanne and the Winnipeg Jets. I saw a young Chris Pronger develop with Hartford Whalers. Unfortunately, it was my younger brother's birthday when my dad got tickets to see Gretzky and the Rangers. I was starting to get attached to Jumbo Joe and Sammy, but with the lockout and several startling trades over the past two years, the Bruins and the entire NHL are new to me. With this blog, I want to create an environment for analysis and discussion of the Bruins and also of the happenings in and around the National Hockey League and the worldly sport of hockey.

The upcoming season will be the second under the new collective bargaining agreement. The success of the this league will be measured with more scrutiny than the first go-around. It is the second season for superstars Alexander Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby and Dion Phaneuf. It is the first full season for Boston without Joe Thorton and Sergei Samsonov since Jumbo Joe was selected first overall back in 1996. It is the first season that Zdeno Chara will lead the Black and Gold. Chara's prescence signifies more than just a big body but also a fresh start for one of the NHL's original six teams.

And starting today, it will be my first season as both a fan and blogger of the NHL, the Bruins and the world of hockey.