Monday, December 27, 2010

Exclusive: Dialog from Devils' 2010 Christmas party

Every year, GM Lou Lamoriello and Devils management hosts a Christmas party that the entire team is invited to. This year, unlike most of the past two decades, the Devils are not a playoff team and in no way looking back on 2010 with good memories. With that said, there were interesting conversations that took place during the party. Take a look:

*Location: Devils' practice facility, AmeriHealth Pavilion, next to Prudential Center

Lou Lamoriello: On behalf on the New Jersey Devils, I would like to welcome you to the annual Devils Christmas party! (*hears crash in background*) As you know, we are proud to be a part of this hockey team! (*hears another crash*) For some of you, this is your first Devils Christmas party, and for others, it may be your last (*hears another crash*)...What the HELL is that??

Martin Brodeur: umm, Lou, some of the players are slipping and falling. Why did you host the party here on the ice at our practice facility?

Lou Lamoriello: I think you know very well why (*turns to Ilya Kovalchuk*).

Ilya Kovalchuk: What, me???

Lou Lamoriello: When we got handed the $3 million fine by the league, we knew we would have some budget cuts to make. (*hears another noise, and a near-fight break out*) MARTY!

Martin Brodeur: What? (*all Devils defensemen laying down on the ice holding certain parts of their bodies in pain*) I didn't do anything...

Lou Lamoriello: Anyway, umm, I am now going to recite my annual Christmas speech to you guys! (*veterans roll eyes*)

It is my honor to be part of such a proud organization that has a rich history of winning at the highest level. As you know, this season is status quo and another season that we are en route to our pursuit of our fourth Stanley Cup championship. I have been a part of this organization for...umm, well a long time, and this is the most talented group of guys I've seen yet, and...

Martin Brodeur: LOU!!!

Lou Lamoriello: Yes, Marty?

Martin Brodeur: That's the same speech you've been reading to us since 2003.

Lou Lamoriello: It is? (*checks date*) (mumbles: December 25th, 2003.) Oh, you're right, how about that? Give me one second (*shuffles through papers*), Here we go!

Dear Mr. Commissioner Gettman, ahem, Brettman, umm, Bettman! That's it! I know you and I haven't really gotten along for the better part of our careers, but I have presented a unique proposal to you. As you know, we had a rough summer trying to sign Ilya Kovalchuk to a ridiculous contract I would never have signed had I not been forced to under the watchful eyes of my owner, Jeff Vanderbeek, but I wanted to know if you would give us a refund...a re-refund...oops.

Ilya Kovalchuk: Zat ees what you sink of me??

(*Chico Resch walks in*) Chico Resch: Hey guys, sorry I'm late, I was...well it's not like I was at the Islanders Christmas party or anything! What did I miss? (*slips on ice and falls*)

Mattias Tedenby (in Swedish): (*to Henrik Tallinder, Johan Hedberg and Jacob Josefson) I'm thinking we should get the hell out of here.

Henrik Tallinder: Yeah, good idea. I'll drive. (*four Swedish players sneak out back door*)

Stan Fischler (*walking in late*): Hey, everybody. Guess what? The Rangers just gave all their players these beaut-ee-ful sweaters, look at them (*holds up sweater with FISCHLER written on back*)!

Lou Lamoriello: Now, now, Stan, you know I banned you from being on air on TV because of your bad PR, let's not start now.

Stan Fischler: You did? Huh, I didn't realize that.

Chico Resch: Can you guys hurry up, I'm really hungry!

Martin Brodeur: That makes two of us!

Lou Lamoriello: Okay, calm down guys. You know what we have to do before we eat, right?

Anton Volchenkov: Let me guess, hit everyone as hard as you can!

Lou Lamoriello: Well, not exactly.

Anton Volchenkov: YESS!!! (*goes and hip-checks David Clarkson, then knocks Colin White into boards*)

Lou Lamoriello: Anton! (*Volchenkov stops and looks at Lou*) Now, I want to go in a line, starting with the captains, and state one thing you're thankful for this past season. Jamie, we start with you.

Jamie Langenbrunner: umm, it's the last year of my contract!

Lou Lamoriello: That's very nice. Jamie, you pick the next player.

Jamie Langenbrunner: umm, Greeney, go.

Andy Greene: I'm with Jamie. Last year of my contract.

Lou Lamoriello: That's awfully nice. How about we go to Patty. You've been quiet tonight.

Patrik Elias: I am thankful that I got to represent my country in the Olympics!

Lou Lamoriello: Very good, very good! Now...(*hears banging on facility door. Turns to see an angry John MacLean banging on the door*) how about we go to...Ilya!

Ilya Kovalchuk: I em thankful zat I get zis few days off to be with my family.

(*Lou hears MacLean still banging on the window.*) Lou Lamoriello: Can someone tell John that he's not coaching here anymore?

Jacques Lemaire: Let him in, it's alright with me.

Lou Lamoriello: Well it's not alright with ME!

Jacques Lemaire: Let the man in!

Lou Lamoriello: You know what, you're FIRED!

Jamie Langenbrunner: YES!!!

Jason Arnott (*to himself*): Why exactly did I want to come back here?

Jacques Lemaire: Fine, I never wanted to come back. (*storms out door*)

Lou Lamoriello: (*heads to door*) Come on in, Johnny! Guess what, you're our new coach!

John MacLean: Again??

Lou Lamoriello: Yeah, isn't that great?

John MacLean: Actually, I just wanted to show you guys what the Rangers are giving their alumni at their Christmas party (*holds up sweater similar to Fischler's*)

Lou Lamoriello: Yeah, we know. Okay, that's it. I'm coaching this team. (*John MacLean leaves*)

*At this point, most of the Devils players are sitting on the ice looking around for food.

Zach Parise: Lou, can we please get some food here?

Lou Lamoriello: Players on IR eat last, you should know that. Oh, actually, you've never been on IR. I got that idea from Garth Snow. He makes Rick DiPietro eat last every year!

Zach Parise: (*turns to Zajac*) He thinks I'm re-signing here for nothing, too. Why don't you ask for a trade. I'll sign wherever you go.

Travis Zajac: Sure thing. My agent and I were looking at houses in Denver.

Zach Parise: Hmm, that would be fun. Paul Stastny is a good American.

Travis Zajac: Or we could go to LA.

Zach Parise: Even better!

Lou Lamoriello: Okay, rookies eat first! (*looks around*) Hey, where'd the rookies go? Where's Tedenby? Where's Josefson?

Martin Brodeur (*turns to rest of team*): This could get ugly. (*Anton Volchenkov lightly punches White in back again*)

Chris Pronger (*walks in*): Hey guys (*shoves large piece of steak in his mouth*), what's up?

Zach Parise: Oh no! (*hides*)

Chris Pronger: The, uh, food over at the Flyers Christmas party...really good stuff!!

Martin Brodeur: Really??

Chris Pronger: Sure is! Nieds and I just left there.

Lou Lamoriello: Scott Niedermayer?

Chris Pronger: Yeah! Practically the whole Canadian Olympic team was there!

Martin Brodeur: Wait, why didn't they call me?

Chris Pronger: Well, you know...anyway, I'll see you later, guys! (*stuffs more food into mouth and leaves*)

Martin Brodeur: Lou, where's the food?

Lou Lamoriello: (*checks watch*) Don't worry, everything is status quo! (*turns to Jeff Vanderbeek*) Dammit, we're not retiring Niedermayer's number!

Jeff Vanderbeek: Please, Lou, please! I need to sell out at least one more game this year!

Lou Lamoriello: Fine. (*takes out phone and dials number*) Hi, Jacques? Yeah, you're hired again. (*hangs up*)

Sean Avery (*enters room in new modeling clothes*): Hey, do you guys know where Stan Fischler went? He left right before his turn at the karaoke came!

Stan Fischler: Here we go! (*runs for exit and leaves*)

Sean Avery: Oh, okay, haven't seen him? It's okay, we'll find him! (*waves at Martin Brodeur*) Oh, by the way, did you know if I was on the Devils, I'd be 4th in points! 4th!!! AND I lead the league in penalty minutes! (*Leaves*)

Lou Lamoriello: Anyway, that's all the time we have for tonight, thanks for coming and we'll see you at practice on the 26th!

Martin Brodeur: Ugh... (*looks outside and sees Gary Bettman drive by and waves at Marty*) I swear I saw Sidney Crosby in that car...

Chico Resch
: I'm going back to the Islanders party, I'm starving!

Ilya Kovalchuk: I miss zee Thrashers!

Lou Lamoriello (*picks up phone*): Oh, just got invited to board of governors Christmas party! See ya, guys! If any alumni come, they're welcome to the food.

Chico Resch (*turns around*): Food???

Friday, December 24, 2010

What should the New Jersey Devils get for Christmas?

Well, we know what a lot of players have been asking Santa Claus for this Christmas, and that's a trade out of New Jersey. Many won't say it publicly, but why would they? This is 2010 (almost 2011) and the media is pointless if you're trying to get anything out of players...then again, so was ex-Devils coach John MacLean...

Anyway, here's my list of Christmas gifts I would be handing out to the Devils today and tomorrow. Hope you enjoy.

Pierre-Luc LeBlond - I'll start with PL3, whose NHL season lasted less than two games after he got ejected from the Washington game on the season's second night and was suspended, placed on waivers and never to be heard from again.
His gift: more bus tickets, because he'll sure need them.

Zach Parise - Reports this morning say he could be done for the year, but seriously, it doesn't matter at this point. He's got restricted free agency looming, and this guy needs to stay. He's the captain of this team next season.
His gift[s]: First, a Ruslan Fedetenko bobblehead, because he says on the side, he truly hates him. Second, I would give him a brand new Sharpie, a red one, so he can sign his name on a new contract with the Devils.

Jason Arnott - Jason Arnott deserves better than this. His former team, the Nashville Predators is having a great season, and his new/old team is in the basement of the league. Arnott, however, leads the Devils in goals. That doesn't mean anything, considering he's the only Devil on pace for 25 goals right now.
His gift
: a lollypop. Lollypops make everything better. Maybe a new shotgun. He's a hunter. Just keep him out of the locker room with it...for many reasons.

Colin White - I could be crazy here, but Colin White has probably been the Devils' best defenseman game in and game out this year. Still, he's one of many that could be shipped out by March.
His gift: A vacation to either Colorado, Toronto, Tampa Bay, or another city that could be a good trade destination.

Johan Hedberg - Johan "Moose" Hedberg has been a bright spot this season, but you wouldn't know that because he never gets played anymore. His 3.07 goals against average is misleading, but it's still better than the Devils' starting goalie. Is there a goalie controversy in New Jersey?
His gift: a warrior helmet. He wasn't supposed to keep losing AFTER he left Atlanta...

Mattias Tedenby - He and fellow Swede Hedberg have been shining stars in the demise of the Devils this year. Former first rounder has shown why he should have been drafted higher.
His gift: Fake teeth, because he needs them, and keys to the city.

Andy Greene - Well, the past two seasons have been a roller coaster for Greene. He's had career years both ways, one good, one horrible. His personal goal should be to not finish the year at a -20 rating.
His gift: A new head coach, maybe a guy like Jacques Lemaire...oh well isn't he in luck?

Jamie Langenbrunner - Ah, yes, oh captain my captain. A year ago, he was coming off of his best offensive season ever and en route to captaincy for the U.S. Olympic hockey team. This year, he's come back down to Earth in a big way.
His gift: A box of tissues and a Jacques Lemaire bobblehead. Maybe a can of paint too. Lemaire and Langenbrunner don't exactly see eye-to-eye, and it's not because one is really short, either.

Patrik Elias - Still leads his team in points. All-time. Actually this year and all-time.
His gift
: Diapers. Not because he's a crybaby, he's not, but because his wife recently gave birth.

Martin Brodeur - The winningest goalie of all-time is approaching George Hainsworth's record for most all-time losses. For this season, anyway, he might break the single-season loss record for a goalie. He's not getting old at all, though.
His gift: Bigger pads. Much bigger pads and maybe a couch. He'll need them for the beer league he'll be in shortly. Maybe he could also use a head start on that 401K?

Ilya Kovalchuk - Oh, boy, where do we start with Kovy? Maybe the new year will bring new luck to Kovalchuk. One can only hope, at least.
His gift: a copy of NHL 11. He can play as himself and learn how to score again.

Lou Lamoriello - The past six months or so have been a humbling experience for Lou. Usuaully, if Lou wants something, Lou gets it. Nothing has been easy for him lately.
His gift: A Staples Easy Button and/or a "Mulligan" button.

John MacLean - Finally, we get to John MacLean, the former coach of this team. His tenure was an absolute nightmare, but luckily for everyone, it is over.
His gift: a brown paper bag and a check from the unemployment agency.

Any other NJ Devil either deserves coal or nothing. Seriously, what would you give them?

Maybe the team needs a ladder or something, because they all fell head first into the basement.

*Happy holidays, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year's to all readers. Be sure to follow Down Goes Avery so you never miss a post! Also, remember to follow me on Twitter (@DownGoesAvery). Next post will be close to or past New Year's.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Most bizarre things thrown onto the ice during a hockey game

As you may or may not know, Toronto Maple Leafs fans are quite creative. What would most fans do when their team struggles or loses? Actually, most people would do nothing, some would do what I do, and complain on a blog, and some would even go as far as updating their Facebook or Twitter accounts. I was at game 7 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals between the Devils and Hurricanes in 2008, the year the 'Canes came back and knocked the Devils out of the playoffs. Beer bottles, towels, even jerseys were thrown to the ice in frustration.

There have been many unique ceremonials objects tossed to the ice that pertain to certain events. Hats are thrown to the ice when a player scores his third goal of a game, octopi are thrown to the ice in Detroit during the playoffs (8 wins used to win the Cup, now it is twice that, hence the eight legs of the octopus), and even once, Wings fans threw beef onto the ice. Who would forget the Florida Panthers fans throwing mice onto the ice during the mid-1990s after Scott Mellenby killed a rat in the Panthers' locker room. A Flyers fan even threw a smoke bomb onto the ice in Philadelphia in a game against the Devils a couple years ago. Also, former Devils coach Robbie Ftorek even threw the home team's bench onto the ice. An online campaign led Phoenix Coyotes fans to throwing rubber snakes onto the ice.

But all of those people may have been topped recently. A Toronto Maple Leafs fan threw...waffles onto the ice as he was disgusted with his team's performance during a 6-3 loss to the Atlanta Thrashers. Waffles. Really?!

- First of all, who brings waffles to a hockey game? Is the ACC's restaurant really that bad?

- The fan is now in jail. I want to know something, how many people were injured by this waffle tossing? How is this more violent than hats? You don't see arena staff encouraging fans to throw hats onto the ice...

- If Toronto had played Philly that night, one must wonder if Chris Pronger would have eaten the waffles. Come to think of it, I'm kinda surprised Big Buff resisted.

- The Leafs banned the fan from the arena. One must wonder if this had happened on Long Island, if the fan would have been rewarded with free season tickets. After all, the Isles are desperate to sell tickets.

- I think the ACC should have free waffle night.

- Aren't Leaf fans used to losing by now? I guess they still weren't used to losing to Atlanta.

- The ACC should really work on arena security. If they're so concerned about fans bringing in waffles, maybe pancakes, or even french toast could be next. Oh wait, french toast is only in Montreal. Quebec is French, Ontario is Italian.

- Devils fans should have thrown doughnuts onto the ice after...well, you know when.

- Where was Phil Kessel? He shoots everything in sight on the ice, while Plaxico Burress shoots himself off the field.

- Okay, that last one was pretty bad.

- I have a better idea than waffles. Throw pucks onto the ice during play and see if the Leafs can score with two pucks at once. Probably not, but it's an idea.

- If Gary Bettman was the GM of the Leafs, he probably would have fined the fan $3 million and two draft picks in his fantasy league.

- If this fan likes waffles so much, is he a Toronto Maple Syrups fan?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Chris Pronger's broken foot has him out 4-6 weeks. The do's and don't's of celebrating his absence.

Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger is injured. Badly. He's out 4-6 weeks with a broken foot. Now before we all jump up and down to celebrate, look through this guide for tips of how to celebrate, but don't overdo it.

DO NOT take your team's zamboni out and do burnouts in the streets, especially in silly customes. Trust me, it's not worth the publicity you'll get. Or maybe it is. You'd have to ask Don Wadell that question.

DO host a bonfire and burn a Flyers jersey. It's just ceremonial.

DO slam a guy into the milk shelf at the supermarket. You would be making Pronger proud.

DO NOT tell Paul Holmgren to trade his first round draft pick to get Tomas Kaberle for two reasons: a) Philly hasn't had a first rounder for the past two years and b) Toronto didn't have a first rounder last year and won't have one in 2011, either.

DO call your best prospects up when you face the Flyers. They're safe now.

DO NOT worry, Pronger's salary isn't going anywhere. He's over 35.

DO NOT leave anything where Pronger could see it should you be in the same room as Chris. He might steal it or even throw it at you. That's never happened before, but I feel it's possible. Or maybe he did...

DO check the garbage cans when you leave a room with Pronger in it. Apparently that's where he puts the stuff he steals, not that there's any reason to believe he would do that.

If you're planning to honor Pronger, all you have to do is go to the front of the net and wave at the goalie...with your back turned towards him. After all, Pronger did this to honor Sean Avery.

*If you need any other advice, just tweet to Gary Bettman. He and Chris are really tight.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ilya Kovalchuk's impact on the Devils...and Thrashers

Well, there you have it (2009-10a represents the teams' winning percentage before the Ilya Kovalchuk trade, and 2009-10b represents the records post Kovy). The Devils have taken a turn for the worst since the trade, or at least the graph above would indicate so. The Devils are also the ONLY team in the NHL with fewer than 2.00 goals per game (currently at 1.76 GPG), with 51 goals for in 29 games played. The 29th place team offensively are the Islanders, who sit at 2.11 goals per game. The Devils are also tied for 28th in the NHL in powerplay goals (13), but are last with just 33 5-on-5 goals for.

It doesn't get too much prettier defensively, either. The Devils are allowing 3.00 goals per game against, with is outrageous for a Devils team. That 3.00 mark ranks 26th-best in the 30-team NHL. Considering the Devils rank tied for 8th with a penalty kill of 84.3%, you can assume most of those 87 goals that the Devils have allowed have been even strength goals. It gets better. The Devils have allowed the 8th fewest shots per game (28.9), and the Devils save percentage as a team is .896. In the 2nd period this season, the Devils are being outscored 41-18, and the 1st and 3rd periods aren't terribly better.

What does all this mean? Well, let's just say when you rank lower than the New York Islanders, Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers in all of those categories, it is quite alarming. The problem is, the Devils are spending more money than those teams and have...let's put it nicely, more TALENT than those teams. The Devils are 8-19-2. That's horrible for any team, let alone a team that was power ranked 6th in TSN's pre-season rankings.

Why are the Devils the laughest stock of the NHL this season? It can't be to get a top draft pick, partially due to the fact that if the Devils were to rebuild, they would surrender a draft pick for Kovalchuk now, and besides, the 2011 NHL draft does not appear to be very strong.

I blame Lou Lamoriello, honestly. He signed Volchenkov and Tallinder, traded for Arnott and brought Kovalchuk back over the off-season, but this is still a very inexperienced defensive group, and yes, injuries have plagued this team, but they looked flat from day one. They weren't winning with Parise, granted he wasn't 100% at all this season. Was signing Kovalchuk really the best thing to do for this team when the defense lacked a true number one, puck-moving, scoring defenseman? Every winner has one. Lidstrom, Keith, Gonchar, Pronger, etc. Those teams win. Successful teams are also build down the middle, and the Devils are weak at center. Travis Zajac had a good year with Parise, but he is not a legitimate #1 offensive center. He is not a natural playmaker, and he has no chemistry with Ilya Kovalchuk. Jason Arnott is big and strong and has played well to an extent, but he isn't the answer, at least long-term. Sure, there are prospects. Josefson, Henrique, MacIntyre, etc. are all talented, but the Devils lack a consistent #1 center. Hell, I'll take Antione Vermette over any center this team has.

Bad goaltending, lackluster defense, salary cap problems, absolutely unacceptable offensive woes and a rookie coach has added to up to disaster of a recipe for the Devils this year, and doing nothing accomplishes nothing. It doesn't guarantee a first overall draft pick and it doesn't help either starting a rebuilding process or trying to salvage this season. Lou is doing what Lou does best...nothing, but he has to start doing something, now.

As I type this, Brian Rolston is waived, which accomplishes NOTHING. His salary stays on the books unless some other GM is out of his mind and claims him. Maybe Lou is trying to get him claimed on re-entry, but I doubt it. Just beautiful. What a season...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Closed door conversation between Lou Lamoriello and John MacLean

There has been a lot of tension around the New Jersey Devils this season, and rightfully so. As I write this, the team is 8-18-2, 18 points and last in the NHL in points. Oh no, wait, the Islanders are still listed as an "NHL team." Still, they're 29th in the league, and no matter what reasons or excuses you find, it doesn't seem to bother GM Lou Lamoriello the way it should. Take a look:

John MacLean: Good morning, Lou, can I have a quick word with you?

Lou Lamoriello: Ah, hurry up, I'm on my way to Whole Foods to buy some new organic jelly. I hear it washes off walls reeeally well.

JM: (*gulp*) I just wanted to go over the waiver move you made today...

LL: Oh, yes, it's pretty simple, actually. I sent Stephen Gionta and Olivier Magnan-Grenier to the AHL, but I'm going to trade them. I was simming a season on GM Mode on NHL 11 and both players appeared on the Islanders, so I chose "best lines," and believe it or not, both players were top line/pairing players. I'd figure I'll call my buddy, Garth Snow, and we'll work out a deal.

JM: Wait, didn't you say Garth Snow helped you with the Kovalchuk contract? Wasn't it something about how to turn a player into a huge bust with a massive contract?

LL: (becomes uneasy) No, of course not. We just like golf, that's all.

JM: Anyway, can I ask why you chose to send those players down today?

LL: Well, I was watching practice and I saw Ilya Kovalchuk blocking shots. This angered me, because he should be half way up the neutral zone. Then I realized who was shooting. First it was Magnan, then it was Stephen. That explains why Ilya was able to block the shots.

JM: Actually, sir, I've been trying to get Kovy to play defensively and be a part of our team system.

LL: (falls off chair laughing) You think I signed this guy for 15 years so he could be into some stupid defensive system? (spits coffee onto large stack of papers to his left)

JM: What are those papers?

LL: Oh, that's my essay I wrote, it's 100 reasons why YOUR team should trade for Brian Rolston. I sent it to every GM.

JM: Any takers?

LL: Well, I got one in the mail and it sounded appealing to me.

JM: ...

LL: Oh by the way, you're fired. I'm coaching this team now.

JM: ...

LL: Oh, and check these out! (reaches into box in corner of office and pulls out a t-shirt) It's my "REFUND" shirt campaign! I'm giving them away to every fan at the Detroit game Saturday night. I mean, half the people won't get it since it'll be half Detroit fans anyway because I have absolutely no idea how to properly market my team, but for half the arena, it will be great! What color should the shirts be?

JM: ...

LL: Before I completely fire you, I need to explain something to the players...

JM: LOU!!! What does "refund" mean?

LL: Hold on. (pulls out oversized dictionary)

JM: No! I mean why are you giving everyone "REFUND" shirts?

LL: Oh, simple question, why didn't you just ask??? The "REFUND" is a petition to Gary Bettman to get Kovalchuk to pay me my $100 million back. I tried "MULLIGAN," to have another shot at this season, but the marketing department didn't like that idea.

JM: Don't you think that's a bit too...

LL: Ah, wait, Johnny! You wait and see! This will be the second most worn shirt in New Jersey for the next...well, however long I decide to run the campaign.

JM: What's the most worn shirt?

LL: (pulls out another shirt)

JM: "Fire MacLean?"

LL: Oh, about that. I'm not really interested in coaching. You're back hired. (picks up coffee and box of "REFUND" t-shirts and leaves office)

JM: Noooo!!!!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The BHL (Bettman Hockey League) on NHL 11

As you may or may not know by now, I know a lot of things about Gary Bettman that most people do not know. In fact, I know things about Gary Bettman that not even Gary Bettman knows. For instance, he nearly missed a meeting in New York City in 2007 because he was in a suburb playing tennis and going to Starbucks (this is, in fact, factual). But, let's take a look at his NHL 11 starting lineup and come to conclusions from it.

G - Marc-Andre Fleury - Bettman's goaltender is Fleury. This is not terribly surprising, as you will see a strong trend of Pittsburgh Penguins throughout his roster.

C - Sidney Crosby - Again, no real surprise here. What is particularly interesting about this is that he seems to have edited Crosby to a 99 overall. He also called EA Sports and asked why they don't allow 100 overall, and the technician simply said, "cry baby."

LW - Sean Avery - Bettman must have been looking for a character player that plays physical and with an edge. Good thing he didn't pick Chris Pronger. Oh, wait...

RW - David Booth - He didn't want to have to suspend anyone for knocking Booth out, especially someone on his own team, because after all, it doesn't take much to knock Booth out. Interestingly enough, Bettman has changed Booth's name to "Colin Campbell."

D - Kris Letang - Bettman still calls Letang the "best defenseman in hockey."

D - Chris Pronger - There is only one logical explanation one can draw from this decision: Pronger is the easiest player to knock out Alex Ovechkin.

Other game trends/modifications I noticed:
- Bettman has also made a few modifications to some players in the league. For example, he has dropped Ilya Kovalchuk's "puck control" to a 50, just in case the game gets to a shootout.
- He has reduced Alex Ovechkin to a 50 overall, making it easier for Pronger to level him.
- Bettman has also added a characteristic to Mike Mottau's profile that reads "how to look absolutely confused in front of your own net and then turn the puck over when it comes to you." Mottau is a 99 on that characteristic. Not sure if that's good or bad, though.
- Keith Ballard has a frequency to slam his stick on the post whenever he goaltender allows easy rebound goals on breakaways.
- There is a mercy rule at Joe Louis arena. Once the home team scores 7 goals, it is automatically over, no matter what the actual score is.
- Matt Cooke seems to be magnetically attracted to Marc Savard whenever Pittsburgh plays Boston, and usually, the feed after the game reads "Bruins forward Marc Savard will miss 6-8 months with a concussion."
- Phil Kessel can only be traded out of Toronto if 2 first round draft picks from terrible teams are offered. Usually, only the Islanders and Oilers are eligible.
- The Montreal Canadiens have been moved to Hawaii. This is a sure way to expand the NHL into new and exciting markets. Fans on the game always boo the team, though, possibly due to the fact that they are still named the "Canadiens."
- Scott Stevens is the head coach of the Devils, and whenever the Devils go into Philadelphia, Eric Lindros elbows him in the jaw before the game.
- EA Sports forgot to remove Don Koharski as a referee, and whenever he goes to New Jersey, if you listen closely, you can hear fans chanting "Have another doughnut."
- There's a glitch that if you shoot at Michael Leighton from the left side under the circle in the Stanley Cup finals, it almost always scores.
- Sidney Crosby always scores on Ryan Miller, but only when he plays for the Canadian national team.
- The Colorado Avalanche's goal horn will make you deaf if you can still here after the announcers scream.
- You don't have to, but you have the option of listening to the national anthem in Chicago. The only thing you'll hear is 20,000 voices that sound like they're at a Jonas Brothers concert.
- During intermissions in Washington, Mike Green always drives a Zamboni into the Geico sign in the boards.
- Sidney Crosby's playoff beard grows noticeably after every period in the playoffs.
- Anytime Steven Stamkos fires a one-timer, it is automatically called back for being played with a high stick.
- The only player Derek Boogard is not capable of knocking out in one punch is Sidney Crosby. It takes two for him.
- Eric Staal always scores on Martin Brodeur, but only within a minute of his team tying a game 7 of a playoff series inside of two minutes to go.
- Glen Sather always overpays mediocre free agents, usually veterans in their upper 40s.
- Before he moved the Habs to Hawaii, every time the Canadiens went off-side, there's a storm of "boos."

These are just a few of the many things I have found interesting about Bettman's copy of NHL 11. Of course, he scribbled "the BHL" on his cover, but other than that, everything seems normal. Sometimes.

Oh, one more thing: I stole that Devil graphic from here:

Just in! Ilya Kovalchuk returns salary to Lou Lamoriello

(*note: I have blacked out Kovalchuk's address for his personel well-being.)

Well, there you have it. Kovalchuk wrote a check for $100 million to Lou Lamoriello this morning, obviously, since I gathered the top secret picture of it less than two hours ago. What is unclear about all of this is whether or not Lou will continue to allow Ilya to play. What is clear is that if he does, he'll be the cheapest player in NHL history, as he will cost the team absolutely nothing. His $6.67 million cap hit will likely remain pending league review. Now, I jumped right into action and I called Gary Bettman this morning to see if this violated any Collective Bargaining Agreement rules. Here's what he told me via phone:

"To answer your question, the player would be penalized severely for an illegal transaction of money. I mean, we're probably going to have to suspend him once we review the situation. The New Jersey Devils have kind of been in a tough situation since the summer, and the penalties they have already faced are rather unfortunate, because everyone knows the level of respect I have for Lou Lamoriello and Scott Stevens and all of the guys that quite honestly, I'm scared of that work for that organization...we will probably hand out the harshest penalties possible sometime next week, but hey, that guy is stuck on their roster for 15 years. 15 years! Do you know how many times I will have locked the league out in 15 years? The average salary will probably be fourteen bucks in 15 years at this rate!"

Bettman would not comment on why he plans to lock the league out.

I am taking a few things out of what has unfolded today:

- Lou Lamoriello needs to buy himself a new yacht.
- The Devils are still stuck with Kovalchuk for 15 years.
- $100 million is a lot for a simple apology to your general manager.
- Does this make the Devils the most valuable team in the NHL?
- Does Ilya's no-trade clause go away?

Other than that, I think it was a kind gesture by Mr. Kovalchuk to relieve management of his salary. I think a lot of players (*Scott Gomez*) can learn from what Ilya did today, and hopefully this will make the NHL a much better league.

However, there is one problem will all of this. Upon studying the check closer, I found something that may make this process a little more difficult:

So, now what?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The "Sean Avery" rule, why Chris Pronger got it all wrong

How dare Chris Pronger get penalized for the "Sean Avery" rule?! Now, we know Pronger is the all-time leader in unsportsmanlike penalties (actually, statistically speaking, I am wrong, but who cares about stats, anyway?!), but he took things a bit too far when he actually did a pretty good Avery imitation. However, he did it wrong. Here's what I mean:

- First of all, in order to act like a complete idiot and complete the "Sean Avery" rule, you have to face the goaltender you are trying to make try to kill you...if that made any sense at all. If you have your back turned towards the goalie, you simply look like you're waving to him and you're also in danger of being run over by the goalie. Advice to Pronger: face the goalie and get in his face. Really.

- Secondly, you have to wave your stick in the air. Now, Pronger's stick is kind of like magnetically forced into the ice, but it doesn't matter, you have to raise your stick and block the goalie's vision. If you don't, it'll look like you're acting like a forward trying to deflect the puck into the net or prepare yourself for a secondary scoring chance. Since we know this is clearly not the case in this scenario, it means Pronger is an idiot. Advice to Pronger: once you have properly turned to face the goalie, get your hockey stick up in the goaltender's face. Don't be scared of him, just remember, if the goalie grabs your stick, break it, and you'll draw a penalty.

- The third thing I didn't like was that Chris Pronger was hardly even in front of the net. His positioning was absolutely terrible. In order to fully appreciate what Sean Avery did, you have to get in the goalie's face and skate into the blue crease. Warning: you may get called for goalie interference, but since you're such an idiot already, it really doesn't matter. Advice to Pronger: get into the crease take the cross-check. You've injured enough guys where you could probably handle a few checks yourself.

However, I feel that I am being a bit harsh on Mr. Pronger here. After all, he wasn't obvious with the way he gestured Miikka Kiprusoff. There's no way Avery could ever get away with what he did then in today's NHL, which raises the question: why is Avery still in the NHL? Chris Pronger will always have his size, which allows him to bulldoze other players at his will, which is nice for him, because it keeps guys like Pronger in the league and getting paid quite well while doing so.


Now, since I was on the subject of dirty hits, Sidney Crosby has received a lot of criticism for his "dirty play" against the New York Rangers, and specifically Ryan Callahan. I had two initial reactions to this: a) if any player NOT named Crosby had committed such evil, would we even care? b) It's against the Rangers, so everyone should applaud Crosby. But, of course, to be politically correct, I suppose I must agree with everyone else and come to realize that Crosby is a dirty player. Considering that Alex Ovechkin has already been deemed evil by many fans, I guess that means Steven Stamkos should be the face of the NHL and an ambassador to sports fans across America. Now, if I could only remember the name of the team he played for...I think it's Tampa. Tampa Bay...Rays???


Okay, quick rant about the new All-Star game format. It's pretty obvious what Gary Bettman is doing. He challenged Colin Campbell to a 2-on-2 fantasy hockey league and Bettman naturally selected Crosby and Campbell chose Ovechkin. Campbell and Ovechkin have had many heart-to-heart talks about suspensions in the past, so they know each other, and well, I don't need to explain Crosby and Bettman's relationship. Oh, shoot, that didn't come out right...

Bettman and Campbell are simply going to brainwash the two stars into picking the players they have in their 2-on-2 leagues and probably made serious bets on who wins. If Bettman's team wins, he gets to lock the NHL out again, but if Campbell wins, Campbell gets to lock the NHL out again. They may have forgotten that the Collective Bargaining Agreement doesn't expire until after NEXT season, however it is Gary Bettman we're talking about.

Let's put this topic to rest at this: I could think of a better way to burn millions of bucks and have absolutely nobody watch three hours of TV. Except I would save hockey fans of the humiliation by posting a blank, black screen for that time.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

My sitdown with Gary Bettman - VERY revealing

In 2007, when the NHL was having disputes with the NHL player's association, Gary Bettman had scheduled a meeting in New York city, and people thought there could potentially be another lockout. Well, a friend of mine (true story) spotted Bettman at a local Starbucks in a New Jersey suburb the morning of the meetings on his way to a tennis match. Since I figured I would find him at Starbucks again Saturday, I asked the NHL commissioner to sit down with me and discuss some topics.

Down Goes Avery: Thank you, Mr. Bettman, for taking the time to sit down with me.

Gary Bettman: No problem. It was either sitting with you or drinking my coffee alone.

DGA: So, Mr. Bettman, what can you tell me about the state of the NHL right now?

GB: Well, it's funny, we've gotten to the point where Americans have started to follow Pittsburgh, Washington and Chicago, they're all exciting young hockey teams, and we're excited about our on-ice product right now. It seems like the perfect time call up the boys at ESPN and put those guys on a network people have actually heard of.

DGA: So you're scrapping Versus?

GB: Absolutely. That whole blackout thing was a publicity stunt I got away with to lure in ESPN.

DGA: What do you have to say about Colin Campbell and the referees?

GB: We evaluate every single referee after every game, and as long as he tells me that the Penguins are his favorite team not named "Toronto Maple Leafs," he's fine. It's people who like the Flyers or Devils that I have a problem with.

DGA: Why is that, Mr. Bettman?

GB: Well, it's quite simple. Those teams have been ruining hockey for years. The Flyers, for example, have been known to have, how do you say this nicely, gritty players on their team. An example of this is Eric Lindros, and when Scott Stevens wrecked Lindros, it made it easy for me. Lindros got hurt and I could have punished Stevens...

DGA: Why didn't you?

GB: I was tanning in Florida that week. When I heard about the incident, I flew up to Philly, but it was too late.

DGA: So, what about the Devils?

GB: Well, the Devils always played a neutral zone trap, and what that means is...

DGA: Mr. Bettman, I know what the trap is.

GB: Oh, of course, you actually watch hockey, I forgot that there actually are Americans outside of D.C., Pittsburgh and Chicago that care. Basically, the Devils ruined hockey. So we placed a trapezoid behind the net, and if you think about it, that's perfect. The trapezoid. Devils play the trap, we put in a trapezoid (laughs). And some people asked me what would happen if the Devils signed Kovalchuk, and I chuckled.

DGA: You're not a Kovalchuk fan, are you?

GB: He's not good for hockey. He's ruining hockey. He's not the kind of player we love at the commissioner's office.

DGA: But why, Mr. Bettman? The Devils threw away their defensive system and signed a superstar?

GB: Yes, but they cheated.

DGA: You didn't really think that was illegal, do you?

GB: We didn't like the contract, so we went after Lou Lamoriello and we won. Contracts like that are ruining hockey.

DGA: Okay, anyway, changing subjects, the collective bargaining agreement. Where is that process right now?

GB: I don't know! I guess we'll talk about that maybe the day before we lock the league out again.

DGA: Hasn't the player's association called you yet?

GB: I blocked them from my phone. They are ruining hockey.

DGA: So hockey fans should expect another lockout?

GB: What else would you expect? We have no alternative. Through my experience, you can't just give in to the demands of the player's association. We're not trying to ruin hockey, after all.

DGA: Yes, but wouldn't it benefit everyone if there was hockey instead of a lockout?

GB: No, not really. The good teams will make money, and then once we come back, we can award a first overall pick.

DGA: Speaking of that first overall pick, what happened in 2005 after that lockout?

GB: Well, a lot of people think I fixed the draft to amuse myself. That is completely untrue.

DGA: So what actually happened?

GB: I fixed the draft. But I had some friends that were depressed about the financial situation in Pittsburgh. I thought to myself, why would I want a first overall pick, especially a player like Sidney Crosby, to go to California? So I called up Mario [Lemieux], and we worked out a deal that the Penguins would get Crosby if I gave them the first overall pick. Hey listen, Anaheim still got a good player, and they won a Stanley Cup before Pittsburgh did.

DGA: Moving on, what has been the most rewarding day for you as commissioner?

GB: The day Scott Stevens retired.

DGA: Why?

GB: I was scared to death of him. Every time I had to give him the Stanley Cup, I was scared he would level me. But trust me, if he did, I would have made sure he got suspended. It's guys like Stevens that were ruining hockey.

DGA: Why would it matter, if you were giving him the Cup, the season was over.

GB: I could have extended the series.

DGA: Good thing that didn't happen. So what can we expect from you in the future?

GB: Well, after the next lockout, we are planning to make some changes. The league is exciting right now, and we're going to make some changes, and while we're not sure what they will be, you can bet Lou Lamoriello isn't going to like them.

DGA: So, if any other commissioner were in control of the NHL, how many Cups do you think the Devils would have by now?

GB: Eight, nine, maybe more. But they're done. Lou might think that his tricks with Kovalchuk intimidate me, but hey, you don't mess with me. I'll burn you every time. Those guys were ruining hockey.

DGA: Mr. Bettman, I want to let you know that you have ruined my hockey life over the past seven years or so, and I wish you the worst in the future.

GB: Thank you. It really moves me when fans can appriciate my work.

* The commissioner told me that if I published this interview, I would be fined $3 million plus a first round draft pick. Since I didn't know what that means since that clearly has never happened to a team I follow, I shrugged my shoulder and said "fine."

Saturday, November 20, 2010

NHL News and Notes - 11/20/10

Welcome to the official DEBUT of Down Goes Avery. My goal is to give you insight into the world of hockey, and there's no covering up. If you leave this blog thinking "wow, this guy just gave me more insight than Pierre McGuire!" then I've done my job. Since that is virtually impossible, hopefully you'll leave having laughed...a little.

- Don Cherry is still whining about the U.S. beating Canada in the World Juniors this past January. It is true that the U.S. actually dressed most of their top prospects for the tournament, but it's also true that Canada dressed a captain who is best known for elbowing a guy in the head and pleading guilty in court for assaulting him...Patrice Cormier.

- Rumors leaked this morning that Colin Campbell's e-mail account was hacked into. Well, I looked into this and it turns out that this was in fact true, after all, as commissioner Gary Bettman said, Campbell "takes his job seriously," Right, Mr. Bettman, you know all about taking jobs seriously. As it turns out, Gary Bettman hacked into Campbell's account. What's funny is that every e-mail ended in "haha" or "2012 lockout."

- Pat Burns, who coached Montreal, Toronto and Boston before winning a Stanley Cup with the New Jersey Devils in 2003, passed away yesterday at age 58. Ex-Maple Leaf Gaye Stewart passed as well, Stewart won the 1942 and 1947 Stanley Cup with Toronto. That's not supposed to be sarcastic, either.

- Mike Moore recently scored his first NHL goal for the San Jose Sharks. Congratulations dude, with one more goal, you'll tie Martin Brodeur on the all-time goal list.

- According to E.J. Hradek, there have been 25 hat tricks this year, the most at this point in a season since 1993. Solution to this crisis: teams should stop pulling their goalies while trailing late in the game. Trust me, we'll have three hat tricks the rest of the year if teams do that. Maybe four.

- Alexander Burmistrov scored a pretty goal against the Capitals last night, making Thrasher fan[s] miss Ilya Kovalchuk even less. Think about it, Evander Kane and Niclas Bergfors have as many or more goals than Kovalchuk this season, and Burmistrov has 3. Look out, Ilya, you have competition. What would have made Burmistrov's goal more exciting is if the Thrashers allowed their usual four goals per game. Burmistrov's goal would have been the game-winning goal.

- Speaking of the Devils, watching Anton Volchenkov forecheck the other night in Toronto was quite amusing. I mean what's next: Volchenkov scoring? I'm sure Volchenkov thought coach John MacLean was asking him to actually finish a check, and forecheck was just a funny word for it.

- The Dallas Stars are struggling to put people in the seats. Right now they're 26th in the league with a mere 13,861 fans per game, which is 13,561 miserable Cowboy fans that need a better way to spend their nights, and 100 season ticket holders for the Stars, give or take 25.

- Martin Brodeur is still complaining about the trapezoid.

- Leafs GM Brian Burke was seen scouting Caps LW Alexander Semin, raising speculation that Burke was ready to hand over his 2011 first round draft pick to acquire Semin. Oh wait...that's right. Never mind.

- The Calgary Flames scored 7 goals against the Chicago Blackhawks. That's no typo. Good thing they weren't playing the Tampa Bay Lightning, or they would have lost, just ask the Flyers.

- Devils captain Jamie Langenbrunner was asked about the passing of Pat Burns. His response "hold on, I need to find a response from my guide to what a captain should say when an announcer says something to me." That explains a lot.

- The Islanders are winless in 11 games now, which means after a one year scare, the Islanders are back to being the league's most pathetic team, which suits them because of the building they play in.

- Alex Ovechkin has a lousy 10 goals this year. With Steven Stamkos at 19 goals already, it's the farthest back Ovechkin has been from the leader in goals in his career. In his rookie season, he finished four goals behind Jonathan Cheechoo's 56 goals in 2005-06. Where's Cheechoo these days? Actually, he's in Worcester in the AHL, and he's averaging a point per game (5/10/15 in 15 games this season), and he's playing against some very wealthy, notable players such as Sheldon Souray and Wade Redden.

- Derek Boogaard broke his 233-game goal-less streak with a goal against the Washington Capitals recently, but he's working on a new streak. He's at 2 already.

Well, that's all for the first post. It's a work in progress, obviously.