Time out


Dealing with some post-Turkey Day personal and business stuff…will resume normal posting on Wednesday (unless something really wacky happens).




Since the silly season for holiday shopping is just around the corner, I’m guessing that countless hockey fans have their favorite team’s new jersey on their wish list. Well, as one of the unfortunate few that already picked up the RBK Premiere (nice name for “replica”), here’s some words of advice. Unless you really dig the new colors or a new player on your team, don’t bother — it ain’t all it’s cracked up to me.

I suppose I should start with a disclaimer: I don’t have the budget to blow several hundred bucks on an authentic jersey, so I got a replica because of my Jeremy Roenick fanboy tendencies. Here’s a quick overview of just why the RBK jersey is a piece o’ CRP.

1) The design: How many out there actually LIKE the redesigns of their favorite team jerseys? From an unbiased aesthetic point of view, the only new jersey I like is the Caps jersey. Most of the Original Six stayed the same, so that’s not a reason to buy a new jersey — though, seriously, what’s up with reversing the Captain/Alternate position on the Red Wings jersey? Is that really necessary? Bottom line: most hockey fans, like myself, dislike the new designs and if you’re lucky enough to be on one of the teams with a design similar to the old one, there’s no need to buy it. Strike one.

2) The material: I’m sure the new RBK Premiere material simulates the weird stretchy fabric of the on-ice jerseys. You know, the jerseys you’ve seen tear in half during a fight. Well, if you like FEELING like you’re actually wearing a hockey jersey, you’re going to dislike this thin, flimsy, stretchy material on the replica, whatever it is. Perhaps in an alternate universe, this is some sort of fashion trend; in our universe, it just feels kinda funky and incapable of withstanding a load in the washer and/or dryer. Strike two.

3) Stitching, or lack thereof: I’d heard some gripes about how hardly any of the crests or lettering on the new jerseys are actually stitched. I was pleasantly surprised when I opened up my NHL.com shipping box and saw that the big Sharks crest on the front looked to be as high quality as any other replica jersey I’ve got (including old Sharks, Chicago, Team USA, and Tampa Bay). It’s stitched on and the actual crest is composed of threads, not a cheesy looking iron-on patch. Phew.

Well, then I take the damn thing out and the first thing I notice is the shoulder patches — or should I say, cheesy looking iron-on patch. Nice plasticy sheen to make it look like the damn thing could fall off after one trip to the washing machine. Feeling the interior of the jersey, it’s just confirmed my hunch — not a single stitch to hold the shoulder patches in place.

A few inches down, you get the arm numbering. Now, every single jersey I have — even the freakin’ ones that my beer league team plays in — has stitched on numbers. Why? Cause they don’t look like they’ll fall off when you wear the damn thing. Like the shoulder patches, the arm numbers are heat-transfered on, so they don’t really move with the fabric. In fact, the more pointy edges of the numbers (like the tip in the number 7) look like they might easily snag on something and peel right off.

Take everything I’ve just said and you can apply it to the numbering and name plate on the back. Not only does it feel cheap, it looks cheap — the letters and numbers all have that weird shiny feel that tells you it’s not quality material. Strike three, you’re out.

So there’s your buyer’s guide to new jerseys: they generally look bad, they feel crappy, and they aren’t put together all that well. My recommendation? Only buy a new jersey if:

1) You really, really, really, really like the new design.
2) There’s a new player on the team that you really like (like me).
3) You have waaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much money in your pocket.

If you’re on the fence, don’t do it. You’ll just take a close look at it and feel kinda irritated and bitter at the whole stupid notion of an “new and improved uniform system” (which, in layman’s terms, translates into “cash grab for greedy owners”).

If I have time over the holiday weekend, I’ll take some close-up pictures and post them on here, along with a comparison to some of the other jerseys I own, including the one I play in.

Oh, and a quick note on sizing: these new jerseys are definitely cut differently. I owned old ones in both medium and large; the medium was a little too small and the large was a little too big. A large of this new RBK jersey fits right inbetween the old medium and large, so basically, it’s a little smaller and a little tighter compared to the same size in the old cut.

Saw this little tidbit in Pierre Lebrun’s Sportsnet column earlier today:

Interestingly, with Hull’s blessing, Jackson sent a note around the league last week telling other GMs that he will be the point man for trade talks.

And with that note, 29 other GMs stocked away their shit-eating grins and gave a Homer Simpson-esque annoyed grunt as their dreams of fleecing the brash and impulsive Brett Hull (“Looking to rebuild that D, Brett? How about Andrei Zyuzin for, I don’t know, Brenden Morrow? That’s a fair trade. Zyuzin was a #2 overall pick, after all.”) went the way of the dodo. Well, 28 other GMs; Garth Snow probably just gave a little sigh and reminisced about when he was a rookie GM not so long ago.

Some of the NHL’s player movement rules are too convoluted for any normal human being to understand, so I may get this completely wrong. In any case, I’m assuming (and you know what happens when you assume) that a team can still trade for Ilya Bryzgalov’s rights while he’s on the waiver wire. If that’s true, then I think Brian Burke has just upped the ante. If, say, Pittsburgh knows that a team ahead of them on the waiver wire can claim Bryzgalov for free, they’ll have to ratchet up their trade bid for Burke. And since I’m guessing Burke doesn’t want to take in any salary right now, he’s aiming for high draft picks.

Just a thought. Like I said, I could be interpreting the waiver rule totally wrong and this may be impossible, but if my speculation is right, the timing makes sense as teams are currently figuring out that their goaltending may not be good enough. Off the top of my head, I could see Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Edmonton, Atlanta, Boston, Toronto, Washington, Detroit, Nashville, St. Louis, Colorado, Los Angeles, and Phoenix all at least giving it a thought.

Girl With A Puck (AKA Finny) has gone to great lengths to create a very detailed and researched response to a Detroit News column about how writer Chris McKosky is not a fan of the sports blogosphere. Some of the superstars featured in the article are Brian Burke, Ted Leonsis, Helene Elliot, and a bunch of your favorite hockey bloggers (sadly, none of my quotes made it in there). Check it out, it’s definitely worth reading, and it makes the one of the best delineations I’ve read between blogging and mainstream media so far.

(Note: This will be the only post I ever make about Jiri Tlusty unless, you know, he does something hockey-related)

Let’s see, dumb teenager takes stupid photos of self, sends it out to someone else and it eventually it gets posted online. And said dumb teenager happens to be in the Maple Leafs organization.

To the moral police going bonkers about this: Dumb people do stuff like this everyday thanks to the magic of the Internets. Society’s not falling apart. This isn’t a sign of the apocalypse. You really have much more important things to worry about. Get over it.

What the Hull?


(Apologies for the lame Hull pun)

Brett Hull? Leading an NHL franchise as General Manager? Get out of here. That’ll never happen. No one would ever want Hull’s opinions and attitude, and besides, Hull would never want such a role. This is the guy whose only work in the Dallas Stars’ front office was to be the “Ambassador of Fun” on TV commercials. That couldn’t ever happen, right?

Well, if you missed the news, don’t worry, you didn’t wake up in a parallel universe — yes, it actually happened: Dallas owner Tom Hicks has spoken, and the result is Brett Hull at the controls of the Stars, along with Doug Armstrong’s former assistant Les Jackson. Co-GMs, tied together like hockey’s newest Odd Couple to bring the Stars out of the doldrums.

This should be interesting. You know with Hull’s opinions — and willingness to speak them — GM discussions about rules and league processes will be interesting. In fact, I’d love to be a fly on the wall just to see how the old guard handles Hull’s style. And if Gary Bettman does something he doesn’t like, you can be sure Hull will speak his mind.

But that still doesn’t answer the following question: how the Hull did the former-86-goal scorer snag a GM job?

Hull gives you a known quantity in some respects. You’re getting a brash and opinionated talking head that was a great fit for network broadcasts just for his rants. As a general manager? Well, I’m just wondering what’s the point of all this. He’s got no experience, and he’s never given any indication that he wants to be in management. In fact, I always pictured Hull as one of those guys sitting on the golf course with a big cigar in his mouth, puffing and putting away for the rest of his days.

So how did this come about? Is it to give the team a new face? Is it to inject fresh opinions into a business atmosphere? Is it just because Tom Hicks just loves Hull so much?

Wayne Gretzky has been quoted over the past few years about how Hull’s an underrated thinker when it comes to hockey, and part of that makes sense — you have to be able to really understand what’s going on, who’s going where, and how the play’s going to unfold if you really want to get in the right place for a shot. But evaluating players, coaches, and strategy? That’s something a little different.

Maybe this is what Hull really wanted when he left a cushy network gig to work in the Stars’ front office as a special advisor. Usually, those types of roles are just a hodgepodge of outreach and opinion: do some community work, promote the game, and sit in on a few meetings when discussing critical decisions. This is far different; we’re talking about hands-on-the-wheel direction of an NHL franchise.

Now, it’s important to note that Hull’s position is Co-GM — he’s sharing the reins with now-promoted Assistant GM Les Jackson. Jackson’s been with the organization for years, and maybe that’s really the key to this selection. Jackson represents established thinking that’s seen the Stars through good and bad times while Hull’s an unknown commodity. Hull’s got his share of opinions, but he’s never had the power to execute any of them before, so what does this mean?

I’m thinking that this move isn’t just for PR purposes. It’s a chemistry experiment in mixing two extremes to see what happens. Like peanut butter and Reese’s Pieces or Run DMC and Aerosmith, you’ve got polar opposites working towards a common goal. I see two possibilities here:

1) Hicks loves Hull’s brash and opinionated way and wants that to power the Dallas Stars into the future. But, as a businessman, he knows that he’s got to have some substance under the hood, so he puts Jackson on equal footing to make sure that Hull’s got some balance in his decision-making.

2) Hicks trusts in his old guard but sees where it’s led them — a dull team waning at the box office and struggling to score goals. He wants to shake up his system without destroying it; thus, Jackson is given control, but Hull’s new vision and opinions are introduced to provide outside-the-box thinking.

Hicks himself may be brash and opinionated, but he’s also a hell of a businessman, and the second theory seems to make more sense. Use a familiar base for the core strategy, but add in a new, unpredictable element that can perhaps produce an unexpected benefit — and push everyone in the regime to start thinking in new ways to keep up with the injection of fresh ideas and opinions. It’s a calculated shake-up, designed to keep hold of the past while taking a new direction for the future. What will it produce? There’s no way to tell, but one thing’s for sure: the annual GM meetings are going to be a lot more interesting.