Tuesday, June 28, 2011
The Winnepeg Jets

By Jordan Lalor

After a brief 15-year hiatus, the NHL has returned to Winnipeg, but is that a good thing?  If you ask someone from Winnipeg, they would say “Yes” with an ecstatic smile from ear to ear.  If you asked someone from Atlanta, you would probably hear a “Yes” too, because chances are they have no idea that it’s their hometown Thrashers who have relocated to central Canada.  The primary concern with this move is whether or not the NHL can redeem itself in a city where it had previously failed.  It didn’t work in Atlanta, which is now the only city to have lost two NHL franchises.  Hopefully Winnipeg won’t follow suit.    

The Thrashers were bad, but you can’t blame wins and losses for their lack of support.  Unlike the Thrashers, the original Atlanta Flames were actually successful.  They made the playoffs in six of their first eight seasons, yet people still didn’t go to the games.  Two decades later, with record setting lows, the attendance in Atlanta remained the third worst in the league.  Clearly not much had changed.  The worst part was that the Thrashers were an organization that genuinely cared for its players while the rest of the community forgot they existed.  They were like the rescue shelter of the NHL.  I’m surprised Thrashers ownership didn’t put out emotionally evoking commercials of their players with Sarah McLachlan singing “Arms of an Angel” in a desperate attempt to garner some support.

Now, lets move 1,600 miles North…

For you lucky fans in Winnipeg, don’t take it for granted this time around.  In 1996, the Jets didn’t just relocate to Glendale, AZ because the weather was better.  Hockey is a business; teams need to be supported with both the hearts and wallets of their fans.  True, the Jets couldn’t afford to stay in a Canadian city at a time when the Royal Mint might as well have been producing Monopoly money, but did you ever think that a lack of fan support was to blame?  That seems to be the common denominator with failed franchises.  Average attendance at Jets games fell to a measly 11,000 in their final season.  Where were you guys then?  With temperatures in Winnipeg reaching absolute zero, I certainly don’t blame anyone for wanting to watch the game from the comfort of their own home.  Unfortunately for the Jets, most of their fans opted to do just that.  My question is, why wouldn’t they go to the games? What else is there to do in Winnipeg anyways?  Nothing.  Trust me, I lived there.  But hey, sometimes you don’t know what you have until you lose it.  Winnipeg let the Jets go once, lets hope they learned their lesson. 

It’s nice that the Thrashers are moving back to Winnipeg so another Canadian city can actively express its carnal love for hockey.  That’s just fantastic, but what I can’t figure out is why anyone would want this particular Thrashers team. They were terrible.  I cringe whenever I get stuck with them as my random choice in NHL ’11.  The bottom line is, you can put a turd in a tuxedo, but it’s still a turd.  That’s precisely what the NHL has done here by relocating this team to Winnipeg. Fans in Winnipeg, enjoy watching hockey, just don’t expect to see the cup there anytime soon.  



0 Comments Posted at 12:00AM on 06/28/2011

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Saturday, June 18, 2011
Home Town Blog Post: Boston Bruins!

By Tim Doyle, Pure Hockey

If you are reading a hockey blog (which you are), then chances are you know what happened in the Stanley Cup Finals this season. The Boston Bruins, after a 39-year drought, won the Stanley Cup in Game 7 in Vancouver. It was meant to be. Too much had gone right this season for the Bruins to lose.  The revived fan base and buzz that was surrounding the Hub of Hockey just was not going to accept failure. In Game 6 of the Finals at the Garden, the noise level maxed out at 119 decibels when David Krejci scored a goal to put the Bruins up 5-1. From puck drop on, the noise level was constantly over 100 decibels- an astounding number considering that it according to NHL.com, hearing loss can result from a sustained noise level over 95 decibels.

In the Cup clinching Game 7, the Bruins got a TV rating of just over 43, which is the highest rated hockey game in Boston since the records started being kept in 1991. Comparatively speaking, that is around the average rating a Patriots football game does, and is higher than any Celtics NBA Finals game during their past two Finals appearances. Here’s a quick list of things the Bruins have pulled off as both individuals and as a team this postseason that prove the fact that hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup was destiny:

1.    The Bruins are the first team in NHL history to win 3 Game 7’s in one postseason (Only other professional sports team to do so- the 1988 Lakers)
2.    Of all of those Game 7’s, they did not allow a single goal (1-0 win over Montreal, 1-0 win over Tampa Bay, 4-0 win over Vancouver)
3.    For the first time in team history, they won a series after falling behind 2-0 in games (First Round vs. Montreal and Stanley Cup Finals vs. Vancouver)
4.    First team in NHL history to win a 7-game series without scoring a single power play goal (First Round vs. Montreal)
5.    The Bruins are only the fourth team in NHL history to win Game 7 of the Finals on the road- it was also the Bruins first ever Stanley Cup Game 7
6.    Mark Recchi at 43 years old, with a goal in Game 3, is now the oldest player to record a goal Stanley Cup Finals
7.    Tim Thomas set records for both saves in a single postseason with 798 and most saves in a Stanley Cup Final with 238
8.    Tim Thomas also became the oldest Conn Smyth Trophy winner at age 37
9.    Brad Marchand set a Bruins playoff record by scoring 11 goals in the postseason. That is good for second all time behind Dino Ciccarelli in 1981.
10.    The Bruins outscored the Canucks 23-8
11.    The Bruins tied a Stanley Cup Final record by scoring 8 goals in Game 3
12.    8 goals is also the number of goals the Canucks scored for THE ENTIRE SERIES (the Bruins on the other hand pumped in 23 goals)
13.    The Sedin twins, the past two NHL scoring champions, were held to a combined 5 points in 7 games and both were a minus-4 in Game 7
14.    The Stanley Cup Finals saw more misconducts handed out than any Finals series prior
15.    After losing the first two home playoff games to Montreal, the Bruins finished the postseason on an 10-1 tear at the Garden

We sure like those apples!



0 Comments Posted at 12:00AM on 06/18/2011

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Thursday, June 16, 2011
Pure Hockey Interview: David Steckel, New Jersey Devils

In the latest version of the Pure Hockey Interview, we run New Jersey Devils forward David Steckel through the rapid-fire questions we've been asking many other NHL players. Steckel kicked off his career in 2005-2006 with the Washington Capitals, where he stayed for six seasons before being moved to the New Jersey Devils in the Jason Arnott deal during the 2010-2011 season. Steckel is a face-off specialist and terrific penalty killer, born in Wisconsin. And away we go.....


1. The people who play professional sports very often get cast as the people who truly "have it made." Good money, playing a game for a living, etc etc. I always think there's more to the story, though. The travel must get old pretty quick, for example. What's the most difficult or trying thing for you as a professional athlete?

I think the most difficult thing about being a professional athlete is being away from your family.  I mean the travel does wear on you, but you grow accustomed to it.  It's when you come home from a long road trip for one or two days and then leave again for four.  Now that I have a little girl I think it will be even tougher.

2. Could you tell us what your favorite or most meaningful goal was (one that was scored by you)?

It was my OT game winner against the Penguins in Game 6 of the 09' playoffs.

3. The Devils have been so good for so long, so it must be odd for you and the organization to have missed out on the playoffs. Have you watched any of the playoffs as a fan or does it sting so much that you focus on other things?

I definitely watch as many games as I can.  It's hard not too when you play against and know so many guys in them.  Plus, it makes you strive harder in the offseason so you're being the one watched next year.

4. With that said, the Devils put together a historic run in the second half of the season. Obviously it gives you hope for 2011-12, but can you describe what it was like for you to experience such a dominating run of games like that?

Those kind of runs don't happen often, so to be a part of that was special.  And like you said, when we translate that confidence and winning mentality into next year, it will be even more gratifying.

5. What is the last thing you laughed really hard at?

The entire movie, The Hangover, for the 20th time.

6. The move of the Thrashers to Winnipeg seems really exciting. There’s no danger of the Devils moving, but how do you think you would feel if you had to move from not just a different climate, but to an entirely different country?

I think it would feel like you are getting traded, except with your entire team.  I think there would be an adjustment period in the beginning, but like any good thing you settle down and get into a rhythm.

7. Who is the toughest player you know? I don't mean fighting, I mean what teammate or player you know is THE guy who would get hit by a truck in the afternoon and be in the lineup that night?

Quintin Laing.

8. Since we're a gear store, we have to ask a few gear questions. There are lots of NHL players who are VERY particular about their gear. How do you approach it? Are you more the type who just sticks with one set of pads until they're absolutely dead? Or do you always like trying different stuff or the hot new stuff?

I am usually a guy that sticks with equipment until the trainers tell me it's just not safe anymore.  I am always open to trying new equipment, but at the same time it better feel great and quick.

9. What stick, glove and skates do you currently use?

I use Easton sticks and gloves,  Bauer skates.

10. How do you think gear has evolved since you played as a child?

It's definitely gotten stronger, but lighter and a little more bulky.

11. Can you describe one specific memory (amusing, reflective, whatever) of your first NHL game that you will never forget?

I took a face-off against Peter Forsberg (Philly), was in shock and awe that I was lining up opposite him and don't even think I got my stick down to the ice before the draw was snapped back and they were heading up the ice. 



0 Comments Posted at 12:00AM on 06/16/2011

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Daniel Sedin's Game 7 Guarantee: Rational or Ridiculous?

Daniel Sedin's Game 7 Guarantee: Rational or Ridiculous?
By Jordan Lalor

Move over Nostradamus there’s a new prophet in town.  After failing to clinch the Cup Monday night in Boston, Daniel Sedin boldly guaranteed victory tonight in Vancouver.  Hearing Daniel Sedin speak is a rarity.  His monotone voice makes it difficult to tell whether he’s speaking with confidence or trepidation.  Either way, his words after Game 6 left no room for interpretation.  “We’re going to win Game 7,” he said.

 Fortunately for the mainstream media, there has been no shortage of theatrics in this year’s Stanley Cup final.  Being from Massachusetts, I have the privilege of listening to 98.5 “The Sports Hub” as I make my daily commute between Needham and Franklin.  While I find the hosts of the various radio shows relatively informative, I can’t help but cringe my teeth when I hear, “Hi [insert name here], you’re on the air.” From the repercussions of the Horton hit, to the vast discrepancy in home and away play, there is always someone eager to call in and give their analytic opinion over the airwaves.  As much as I hate it, I always find myself listening.

The general consensus from around the Bay State seems to be that buried underneath Daniel Sedin’s tranquil, reserved exterior lies a pompous, arrogant, and pretentious attitude that has finally emerged in the face of adversity.  Indeed, the Canucks have said their fair share of boneheaded things lately, but I don’t think Sedin’s comment falls into that category.  I know I'm going take a lot of heat for defending Daniel Sedin here, but from a hockey standpoint it makes total sense. Allow me to explain…

For better or worse, Roberto Luongo has become the antagonist in this soap opera of a Stanley Cup Final.  Undoubtedly, his play has been the single most influential factor throughout the first six games.  If he plays well, the Canucks win, if he plays poorly, they lose.  The discrepancy between his play in Vancouver and Boston has been very uncharacteristic of the award winning goaltender.  Not only that but he can’t seem to keep his mouth shut off the ice.  After allowing 8 goals in Game 3 and 4 goals in game 4, Luongo rebounded with a shutout in Game 5 and seemed to be back on track.  Why he made those comments regarding Tim Thomas following a terrific Game 5 performance is beyond me.  We all know how that turned out. 

Clearly the mental aspect of the game has begun to take its toll on the Vancouver goaltender.  If he couldn’t handle the pressure and criticism going into Game 6, how on earth is he supposed rebound for the biggest game of his life?  Will he put aside his personal anguish and miraculously rise to the occasion?  His teammates better hope so.  I'm sure Luongo understands there is no Game 8 to redeem himself if he lets in 4 softies in the first period (again).  His inconsistent play is making everybody nervous, including Daniel Sedin.

Luckily for Luongo, his thoughtless comments have taken a back seat to Sedin’s guarantee that the Canucks will hoist Lord’s Stanley Cup tonight in Vancouver.  We’ll never know for sure, but I would like to think that Daniel Sedin’s comment represented self-sacrifice to the mainstream media in an altruistic attempt to vindicate his goaltender from the scrutiny and mental stress that has plagued his performances throughout the series.  You don’t buy it?  Maybe you think that Sedin’s comment was said to motivate his team.  To that I say, it’s Game freakin’ 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, if you need motivation there’s something wrong with you, seriously.  Or, Maybe you think that his prediction just further epitomized a Canucks organization that has acted more like individuals than as a cohesive group.  And to that I say, so what!

Look at this way, if they win, he will be canonized as a saint in the city of Vancouver.  He will be revered for his courage and leadership at a time when his team needed it most.  He will be…the man.  Ok, but what if they lose?  If Vancouver loses tonight, I can’t picture anybody turning around with tears and saying “But you promised!!!“ like a 5 year old who’s parents had to postpone a trip to Chuck-E-Cheese’s.  If Vancouver loses tonight there’ll be bigger things for fans to worry about than a nullified guarantee.  How about the fact that Sedin twins were nonexistent in the finals, Luongo couldn’t stop a beach ball in Boston, and their power play operated at a 3% success rate.
 
Even if Daniel Sedin’s intention was to liberate Roberto Luongo from the depths of media hell and deliver him to salvation alongside Lord Stanley, there exists a personal benefit for the 30 year-old Swed.  This one small comment has given Daniel Sedin an opportunity to solidify his place in NHL history.  Such predictions are nothing new to sports, or hockey.  Remember when Mark Messier did it in the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals?  “We will win tonight,” he said.  And what happened?  Not only did they win 3-2, Messier a hat trick! Had Messier and Rangers lost, he probably would have had to deal with a few postgame questions before the New York media switched their attention back to the Yankees.  We always remember when someone was right, but are quick to forget when someone was wrong.  That sounds like a small price to pay for a chance at sports immortality.



0 Comments Posted at 12:00AM on 06/15/2011

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Thursday, June 09, 2011
Thoughts on the Nathan Horton Hit

By Jeff Copetas, VP of Marketing/E-Commerce

I consider myself pretty darn lucky to be working at a hockey company. As a lifelong hockey player and on skates since the age of four, I could have never really predicted I'd be working for a growing, successful hockey equipment retailer as a CAREER! I will admit, it's a good gig. I've also been lucky because this is the first year I decided to get season tickets for the Bruins. Oh, I can't afford to be there every single game and I most definitely don't have time to, so I split them with some friends, family and surfers of Craigslist. But for these playoffs, I've been to every game with the exception of Game 2 of the first round. Regardless of how these Cup Finals end, it's been one of the best playoff rides I've ever witnessed and being able to be THERE for it has been a thrill. But I don't take it for granted.

I'm just getting around now to fully comprehending the Aaron Rome hit on Nathan Horton a few nights ago. We can go back-and-forth for a good long time on the actual hit, but I do truly believe it was a legitimate hockey hit. Right when it happened, I remember thinking to myself that it wasn't a Rule 48 hit (apparently the NHL agreed) but it was nasty and it was clearly late. Was it dirty? That's a purely subjective issue. To hear the players who know Rome talk about him, he's not *that type* player. Even players from the Bruins who know him supported that notion, so you have to give him the benefit of the doubt that the result of the hit wasn't his intention.

Look, I've played a lot of hockey. I understand that sometimes you have literally a split second to decide what to do. In this case, Rome's decision was simply the wrong one. Horribly wrong. He deserved to be suspended, without question. Four games? Again, subjective. My thinking is that the NHL saw a golden opportunity on its largest, gleaming silver stage to correct its spotty history of discipline and by golly, they did it and they were very public about it. To me, they have clearly made an example out of Rome, who is for all intents and purposes a journeyman, 5 or 6 defenseman. One has to ask - if it was Horton who put the hit on Rome, would the suspension have been four games? Think about it.

But all that is not the point. You can go north-south on these issues until the cows come home. The issue is that when it happened, I saw a 26 year kid splayed out on the ice, not really moving. What really got me was the arm, sticking straight up in the air like a dime-store mannequin who just got tossed in the dumpster. I had access to a TV, so my eyes immediately darted to it for the coverage and the replays. That wasn't any better - Horton's eyes were on the space shuttle. His breathing....crazy weird. Suddenly I wasn't hungry or thirsty anymore and my stomach literally turned. A 26 year old kid with eight paramedics working pretty feverishly around him. My mind started racing. Is he paralyzed? Stiffened limbs is a sign. Is he going to die? He's 26 for goodness sake!

As you might imagine, the building subdued itself pretty quick after the incident and it took a while (ahem, a few goals) for the crowd to really get back into it. All well and good. But years from now when I look back on this playoff run and this particular game, I will remember the feeling of fright and sympathy. I will remember the arm sticking up. The eyes. But I probably won't remember who scored in the game. Though that Marchand goal was pretty awesome.....(see bottom)

So it all comes back to appreciating what you have. If there's anything that came out of that game for me, it's never taking for granted that I can physically walk into an arena and watch a hockey  game. Or show up for work every day, think, use my brain and function. I mean, what else is there? Great to see Horton is going to be ok.

 



1 Comments Posted at 12:00AM on 06/09/2011

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Thursday, June 02, 2011
Customizing Hockey Skates

By Jon Stone, Director of Store Operations

One of the best things about working at Pure Hockey is, well, working at a hockey store! It is never a bad or boring time when you are interacting with hockey people and are around hockey equipment all day.  As an added bonus, we recently had a chance to travel up to Canada and meet with three equipment manufacturers - Reebok/CCM, Easton, and Bauer – to pick their brains concerning manufacturing and customizing skates.  Our stores are loaded with employees who are hockey players and who love the sport.  More importantly, our store managers have years of hockey and retail experience and each have a unique knowledge of how to address issues concerning the fit of your hockey skate.


A small group of four store managers and our equipment buyer headed north of the border for three days in May to work with the heads of the skate design, production, and pro departments at the offices of hockey's top vendors.  We had an opportunity to tour the custom/pro stock factories, view some of the Research and Distribution processes and talk with the actual people who build the skates that your favorite NHL players and other professional hockey players wear.  The purpose of our trip was to understand how the skate manufacturing gurus solved foot/skate issues for professional hockey players and how we could incorporate some of what they do at the retail level.  We were able to ask representatives from Easton, Bauer, and Reebok/CCM how they deal with pronation and supination issues, the use of lifts in skates, and ways to combat lace bite.  We discussed ways to properly measure an athlete’s foot, ways to increase the volume of a boot, and what NHL guys are the biggest prima donnas when it comes to their skates (I’ll never tell……).

We talked about dealing with and fixing arch pain and the correct heating process to fit or customize a skate.  We learned that there are over 30 different tongues you can choose from when ordering a Bauer custom skate and also which 3 or 4 are the most popular and should be carried at store level.  While our focus was on skates, we also had a chance to talk custom pro stock gloves with Easton, spent some time checking out the testing that happens to protective equipment before it is safe to use, and had our fill of chicken in a box, Tim Horton’s, and Molson X.

The invaluable knowledge we gained on this trip will now be shared with all the store managers, to be used to help you – our customers!  In the coming months we will be even better equipped to fit you for a custom skate, relieve a fit problem with your retail boot, and help you to be a better hockey player. We will be launching programs where you can set up a time for a custom skate fitting with one of our “skate experts” if you have an issue with your foot or skating and we will be incorporating more equipment repair work and skate customization detail at many of our locations.

This is one of MANY customer service enhancements you will see at Pure Hockey in the coming months. Stay tuned for more soon!

 


1 Comments Posted at 12:00AM on 06/02/2011

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