Sunday, June 26, 2005

Roenick goes off - and couldn't be more wrong

In case you haven't already done so, please click on this link to read Jeremy Roenick's recent comments about the CBA negotiations and the future of hockey.

Now that you've done that, here are my thoughts:

I wish I could look like an idiot, get screwed over by my boss and be called names by the press and public. If having all that "hardship" still leads to my being a multi-milloinaire that can retire at 37 and never worry about money again...I'll take it in a heartbeat.

The players will never get it, at least not the ones like JR that have made millions for so long that they've forgotten what it's like to live check-to-check and to not be able to afford everything your little heart desires. When's the last time anyone reading this played golf at a private club for free? Never? Yeah, me either. Yet that's precisely where JR was and that's precisely what he was doing when he went off on this tirade.

To say the players are getting screwed in this new CBA is like saying the drummer for Coldplay is getting screwed because he gets the last pick of the groupies. In both cases, you're still getting what the average Joe, and the people that ultimately pay your salary, can only dream of getting. Be thankful that you never have to worry about where your next meal is coming from, whether or not there will be a roof over your head that night or whether or not you will be able to afford the medicine for your family. Take a step back and realize just how badly some people in this country, not to mention the rest of the world, have it and shut the f*ck up about having to "settle" for a $38 million cap on a 25 man roster.

I like Roenick a lot and have always thought he was one of the good guys in the NHL. I still do. But these comments, no matter who makes them, irritate me.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Mighty Ducks sale approved: Samueli's take control

For the first time in history, the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim do not belong to Disney. The NHL's board of governors approved the sale of the team to Henry and Susan Samueli yesterday in an unanimous vote.

LA Times story on the sale

First of all, I will say that I am thrilled with this. The Samueli's are self-made billionaires that are from Southern California, they own the Pond and they have already expressed a commitment to keep the team in Anaheim. To have owners that answer to themselves and not stockholders is fantastic, and I am very excited about the future of this organization under the Samueli's leadership.

Secondly, I feel I must address the end of the Disney era. Disney is the sole reason that there even is a Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, and for that I will be forever thankful. Without them I would never have gotten to go to the Ducks playoff game against the Coyotes in 1997 with my dad, I would never have gotten to go crazy at a Stanley Cup Finals game with my wife and I would never have gotten to be the hockey fan that I am today. I became a Mighty Ducks fan the day the team was announced, but since that coincided with my move to Fresno for college, I did not get to follow the team on a day to day basis until 1997. By then, Teemu Selanne and Paul Kariya were torching the league on a nightly basis while Guy Hebert stood tall in net. Again, for that I have Disney to thank.

However, not all of Disney's ownership was good. They turned the team into a punchline as soon as they named them after the movies. Now, I have never had a problem with the name, (Red Wings has never exactly been a great name and if they were an expansion team right now people would ridicule that name to no end), but I could see where other people viewed it as a joke. Then there are the things that Disney did early on, with Tinkerbell on the scoreboard after every Ducks goal, etc. Embarassing. They were trying to make it like a Disneyland attraction instead of making it like a hockey game. They stopped that stuff early on, but the damage was already done to a lot of fans.

Then there were the stockholders. These are people that, because they are one of millions of people who own stock in the company, feel they have a right to tell the company what to do. They pressured Disney to keep the budget low for the Mighty Ducks, which made the product suffer, which lowered attendance, which made them lower the payroll even more. Disney also refused to ever hire anyone with any real hockey background until they hired Bryan Murray to be their coach. Before that is was a series of people that had no experience at the NHL level - aka cheap labor. Murray coached the team well and then took over as GM and built a confernce champion in just one year. Amazing what having proven NHL people running things can do, eh Disney!

In the end, I am grateful to Disney for bringing NHL hockey to Anaheim and to Orange County. The Mighty Ducks have given me a great deal of joy over the years, and they are the reason for that, so thank you. But at the same time, it was time for a change and a fresh start. With the Samueli's owning the team now, and with Brian Burke on the verge of being named the GM, the future of the Mighty Ducks is very bright and I am as excited as I've ever been about the team. I really think the Mighty Ducks are going to become one of the elite teams in the NHL and I am thrilled to be a part of it.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Ducks to announce Burke as GM

As has been rumored on this blog and all over the web, Brian Burke is expected to be the next General Manager of the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. The official announcement is rumored to be taking place on Monday, June 20th, which will be the same press conference that announces Henry & Susan Samueli as the new owners of the team.

Burke is the former GM of the Vancouver Canucks and Hartford Whalers (any chance to mention the Whale is worth taking) and reportedly is getting a four or five year contract for around $1 million per year. He was also the vice-president and director of hockey operations for the NHL during the mid 1990's.

I cannot tell you how excited I am about the future of the Mighty Ducks. I like physical hockey and Burke's teams have always had a physical edge. I know now that the Ducks will soon have that same edge. Burke is also a great quote and a good GM at getting value for the money. He worked with a tight budget in Vancouver but still put together teams that won Division titles, made the playoffs consistently and even a few 100-point years. If he can do the same in Anaheim, I'll be delighted.

Yesterday, when this news hit the wire, I couldn't stop smiling. I really have a feeling that the Mighty Ducks are about to enter a golden age. Everything is coming into place for them - new billionaire owners who also own the building so there is no threat of moving the team and they are motivated to sell tickets - a new GM that is a proven commodity and one that will bring media and public attention to the team - a new CBA that will ensure that the Mighty Ducks are on equal footing with the rest of the league - a slew of prospects like Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Joffrey Lupul and Ilya Bryzgalov that are ready to make their mark in the NHL - a great coach like Mike Babcock to bring it all together on the ice. I truly believe that the Mighty Ducks will become the team to beat in the Pacific Division very soon, and that they will be Stanley Cup contenders for years to come.

I hope to have an interview with Brian Burke soon after he is announced as the new GM, so please check back often for updates on that.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Ducks expected to hire Burke as GM

According to Bob McKenzie of TSN.ca, the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim are now negotiating with Brian Burke in hopes of reaching a deal to name Burke the next GM. Burke is allegedly the only candidate for the job right now and the expectation from both sides is that the negotiations will go smoothly and that Burke will get the job as soon as the Samueli's purchase of the team is approved.

This is great news for me as a Mighty Ducks fan. Burke is a guy that is a legitimate hockey person. The Mighty Ducks have only had that once before, and that was when Bryan Murray was running the show. Murray got the team to the Stanley Cup Finals in his first season as GM and then signed the biggest FA in the league in Sergei Fedorov to follow it up. By hiring a guy like Burke the Mighty Ducks are taking a big step to not only becoming a legitimate team in hockey, but a legitimate contender.

Burke is a guy that tells it like it is and he has a great personality for Southern California sports. His sometimes outrageous quotes will fit in very well with the press here and will get the Mighty Ducks a lot of extra coverage. But beyond that, he's proven that he knows how to put together a good hockey team.

As GM of the Vancouver Canucks, Burke "turned a sad sack hockey club into a strong team with plenty of potential and doing it all while working within a reasonable budget" accoring to Jeff Patterson of Straight.com in Vacouver. Does that sound familiar? He's being hired to do the same kind of thing here in Anaheim, and I believe he'll be able to do it.

The Mighty Ducks will almost assuredly take on a different look under Burke, and it should be a very entertaining one. Here's what Burke had to say at his farewell press conference in Vancouver: "I like the commitment the team has made to an entertaining style. We are not in the hockey business; we are in the entertainment business. We have played a style that has been pleasing not only to our fans but to fans around the NHL."

When I think of the Canucks teams under Burke, I think of teams that had all the elements. Toughness, snipers, aggression, skill and work ethic. I think of guys like Todd Bertuzzi, Donald Brashear, the Sedin twins and Markus Naslund. He put together teams that could play a variety of styles and which could play and entertaining style. With a better goalie, he probably would have won a lot more playoff series - especially if he didn't have to play Colorado so often.

Finally, to quote Jeff Patterson again: "Burke made hockey matter again in this city, and for that, Vancouver owes him a huge debt of gratitude." Burke will now try to make hockey matter in Anaheim, and I believe he will succeed.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Have Ducks hired a GM?

According to the Orlando Sentinel, former Orlando Magic GM John Weisbrod has been hired as GM of an NHL team. While the identity of the team is not known, Weisbrod was rumored to be a candidate for the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim GM position.

Weisbrod was named the Magic GM in March of 2004 after serving as GM of the Orlando Solar Bears of the IHL. He's known for being a no-nonsense kind of guy and expecting his players and staff to be the same. When he left the Magic it was said he did so to "pursue an opportunity in hockey." According to the Sentinel, that opportunity was with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. Check back soon for any more details.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Are you ready for some hockey?

Let me start this off by saying, no, I am not sitting in on the negotiations. No, I am not an NHL player, nor an owner of an NHL team, nor an agent for an NHL player. I also do not know any of those people on a personal basis. However, I have talked to people that work for NHL teams and who have spoken to NHL players, and they have told me:

THE LOCKOUT WILL END AS SOON AS TOMORROW!

Here's what I've heard. The NHL and NHLPA have basically agreed on how the deal will look. They still need to finalize everything and make sure that there are no loopholes for either side as well as finalize the numbers and specifics. But, they agreed to a framework last week and Bob Goodenow wanted to see if the players and agents were actually behind it. So, he leaked the info to Larry Brooks of the New York Post. Larry wrote the article and Bob waited for the calls of outrage to come from players and agents. Only problem was, the calls never came. So, the deal proceeded forward. Now the two sides are meeting today to wrap up the revenue reporting and financial end of the deal and then tomorrow (Thursday) will be a long session with Bettman and Goodenow there to finalize everything. They should at least have the majority of the work done tomorrow night, if not everything done. The actual announcement (aka press conference) won't come until the lawyers have picked through everything, checked for spelling errors and made sure that everything is covered, and that could be a few more days. However, you should start hearing from legitimate media sources within the next 36 hours that a deal has been made.

Happy times are (almost) here again, hockey fans!