October 31, 2007

Some of My Favorite Goalie Masks

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It was 48 years ago November 1st, that Jacques Plante donned the first goalie mask


While the National Hockey League will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Plante using the facemask in two years, it was actually Clint Benedict who was the first to use one in 1930. Benedict used his make-shift mask only twice, saying it affected his vision before ditching it. Plante decided he needed the protection when he took a shot off the face needing stitches. He came back with a mask that he practiced with. There in is the birth of the goalie mask.


Over the years, the goalie mask has evolved from just being a means of protecting its user, to very personal, with it's owner taking great pride in its' design. For every old school Jason Vorhees mask that was worn in the early days, there is one like John Vanbiesbrouck's, which featured tiny bee's flying around the New York city skyline. To honor the goalie mask, let's take a look at my top ten classic goalie masks. Disagree with my choices? Please share your own!


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#10: Curt Ridley, Vancouver Canucks, 1976-78


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#9: Gary "Cobra" Simmons, Cleveland Baron,1976-77


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#8 Gerry Desjardins, Buffalo Sabres, 1977-78


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#7 Dan Bouchard, Atlanta Flames, 1976-77


Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket#6 Andy Moog, Boston Bruins, 1987-93


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#5 Gary Bromley, Vancouver Canucks, 1980


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#4 Brian Hayward, San Jose Sharks, 1991-93


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#3 Jacques Plante, Montreal Canadiens, 1959


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#2 Gilles Gratton, New York Rangers, 1976-77


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Gerry Cheevers, Boston Bruins, 1975


"Cheevers' unusual stitch-pattern goaltender mask came after a puck hit him in the face during practice. Cheevers, never one to miss an opportunity to skip out of practice, went to the dressing room. Bruins coach Harry Sinden followed him to the dressing room, where he found Cheevers enjoying a beer and smoking a cigarette. Sinden told Cheevers, who wasn't injured, to get back on the ice. In jest, John Forestall, the team trainer, painted a stitch mark on his mask. Ever after, any time he was similarly struck, he would have a new stitch-mark painted on." (Wikipedia)


If you want to check out some other classic goalie masks, click on over to HockeyMasks.com, which sells custom masks which would look pretty damn cool in your adult hockey league.


Ballhype: hype it up!










October 29, 2007

Islanders to Partner With Memorabilia Giant Steiner Sports

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Are you a game-used hockey memorabilia collector? Are you an Islanders fan? Well, pretty soon you'll have the opportunity to purchase plenty of game-used equipment from the hockey team formerly known as the "Fishsticks". The Isles and Steiner Sports Memorabilia are going to be announcing a partnership pretty soon where fans can own Mike Sillinger's stick, or maybe Rick DiPietro's leg pads, or maybe even a lovely smelling glove used by Chris Simon.


In case you aren't into sports memorabilia, Steiner Sports is probably the biggest in the business and have brought game-used items directly to the customer. A few years back Steiner made a splash in the industry by signing an exclusive deal with the New York Yankees to sell game-used items from players as well as stadium artifacts. Since then, customers can purchase Derek Jeter's jersey (including dirt stains if he made a diving play or slide), collages featuring slices of a player's bat or infield dirt, authentic Yankee Stadium signs that could be seen around the concourses, and even the Opening Day bunting that is hung around the mezzanine levels, amongst other interesting collectibles.


Full Disclosure: I used to work for Steiner in another life for a couple of years, so I am very familiar with their game-used division


The game-used memorabilia industry has been growing over the years, so it makes sense for the Islanders to do a deal like this as it will give them another revenue stream as well as satisfying fan demand. When the Steiner deal was completed with the Yankees, there was years and years worth of items in the basement of Yankee Stadium to sort through, including game-used Thurman Munson pants. Apparently George Steinbrenner didn't like to throw things out. I have no idea how far back the Islanders game-used catalog will go, but it'd be cool for fans if they could get their hands on a Billy Smith stick (including ankle chop marks!), or maybe even a Ryan Smyth game-used jersey, which he didn't wear for long.


What fans can also expect are some very creative items to be available. I can imagine seeing some plexi-glass collages, game-used net plaques maybe some ice/puck combinations, blade/photo collages, or some nice pieces featuring just the numbers from a worn jersey. Not only does the Yankee-Steiner deal have memorabilia, it also includes some special VIP Cocktail Parties with players and on-field clinics, which would be very cool for any young Islanders fan to hit the ice with their favorite player and skate with them around Nassau Coliseum.


How much will the game-used stuff cost? Well, if look at the Yankee-Steiner items, you may be scared off by the price, but realize it's the Yankees, the crown-jewel of baseball merchandise sales and the major-league team with the most history. Prices for Islanders merchandise should be much more affordable, with lower name players probably coming dirt cheap. Depending on the amount of inventory Steiner Sports is acquiring, there could be special sales to dump items out of stock. Steiner is known for doing a "3 bats for $99" sale, featuring no-name players every once in a while, as well as a "bat lottery" where for a nominal fee for each entry you bought, you had the chance to win a bat from a lower-level player or someone like a Derek Jeter.


National Hockey League teams have been selling game-used memorabilia for a while now, mainly through their team stores and charity auctions. It's the first I believe, between a team and a memorabilia company (if I'm wrong, please let me know!). Knowing some of the products that Steiner creates with its' game-used product, I can assure Islander fans that they will not be disappointed and will have the chance to own some very cool items, many, one-of-a-kind.


Ballhype: hype it up!

NHL "I Pledge" Promo

NHL's "Is This the Year" Promo

October 28, 2007

Puttin' On the Foil - A Weekly NHL Recap 10/28

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It's almost November and that means we're about one month into the season. Teams are already racking up the injuries and struggling to put a decent product out on the ice. It's soon to be crunch time for general managers and coaches. Now is the time that is there aren't results, someone will be getting the ax. Bob Hartley felt the pressure in Atlanta. Who will feel the pressure next? Tom Renney? Michel Therrien? Wayne Gretzky? Points you drop in October are points that can affect you from playing hockey in late April. Let's check out the past week in the National Hockey League


MONOLOGUE


We're nearing the end of the first month of the NHL season and youth is being served. The league is a youth-driven product right now. Look at the players you're watching on a nightly basis have an impact on their teams: Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Mike Cammalleri, Paul Stastny, Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards, Pascal Leclaire, and Erik Staal are just some of the names that are not Sidney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin. While most other sports teams rely on veterans, it's hockey that's relying on youth. With players entering the league as young at 17, they learn on the job and on most teams, have the ability to lead at an early age.


Where would Chicago be without Kane and Toews right now? Would Pittsburgh even be staying in the Steel City without Sidney Crosby? We're seeing a large influx of not just youth, but talented young players entering the league on a yearly basis that are having major impacts with their clubs. The "new" NHL is suiting many of these players well as the focus has shifted to fast skilled players as opposed to hunking mammoths (see 2005-06 Philadelphia Flyers).


As hockey fans, we should all be excited because we will be able to watch the current crop of young stars grow up over the next 15-20 years. We'll see them succeed, fail, break records, and eventually, be replaced by another group of youthful, skilled players.


NEWS AND NOTES


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After an emotional departure from Edmonton last spring, Ryan Smyth returned on Tuesday night, this time as a member of the Colorado Avalanche. The Oilers had a nice video tribute to "Captain Canada" before the game, which of course opened the water works for Smyth. He did receive a nice ovation from the crowd showing there is no love lost between the two sides. More importantly, the Avs won the game 4-2.


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The Washington Capitals this week helped secured some of their future "signing Alexander Semin to a two-year extension." The forward will be paid $9.2 million over the length of the contact which will expire in 2010. The 23 year old scored 38 goals last season and is really going to give Alex Ovechkin and Glen Hanlon another scoring option to help the growing Capitals.


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After the ugly hit from behind yesterday, Patrice Bergeron was released from the hospital today after suffering a broken nose and concussion. Luckily, it wasn't as worse as it looked. Despite the other two Philadelphia ugly hits of late, it was clearly not intentional and Randy Jones was very effected by the play.


""Words really can't express the way that I feel right now," Jones said. "I am very apologetic for the hit and what I did. It was not intentional. It is something that I have never done before and it is not part of my character. I am extremely sorry. I hope he does ok and everything works out for him. I wish him nothing but the best in his recovery."


Jones will probably face a suspension, but I would predict nothing like we've seen given to Jesse Boulerice or Steve Downie. I would say maybe 8-10 games would suffice and hopefully hammer into the heads of players that they need to stop with the hits from behind along the board, not to mention making players also realize they should keep their heads on a swivel when facing the boards.


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Darius Kasparaitis is going to be the next Russian player to head home to play. Kaspar has been playing with the Hartford Wolf Pack, the Ranger minor-league club, all season after clearing waivers. The Rangers have told him that they will not bring him on board and will not block his move to play for SKA St. Petersburg of the Russian Elite League.


AROUND THE BLOG WORLD


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We get an update o the RBK-Edge jersey disaster from James Mirtle who reports that RBK will provide a new jersey to any player who requests it. After complaints of pools of sweat in their gloves and skates as well as the material tearing easily, this who new jersey thing is blowing up in the NHL and RBK's face. You would think more testing would have gone into this, no? Sounds like both sides were a little too eager to get the product into circulation and to begin the cash grab.


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On Frozen Blog points out a recent Washington Times article giving a thumbs up to the relationship between bloggers and Capitals. It's definitely a great thing what owner Ted Leonsis has started down there and it's obvious that bloggers are gaining more and more real estate in the media world.


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A week can't go by without an update on the Nashville Predators situation and On The Forecheck has all the up-to-date details. It appears as there could be some hope that things will get resolved and the team will remain in Nashville...then again, we heard a lot of things over the summer, so let's not jump to conclusions just yet.


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The gang over at Melt Your Face Off explains to us how Mats Sundin would have scored a goal if hockey had suddenly become soccer.


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Barry Melrose Rocks gives us yet another reason to realize that Dan Le Batard 1) is a jerkoff and 2) should stick to sports that are not hockey.


LET'S GO TO THE VIDEOTAPE!


Highlights of last night's wild Penguins-Canadiens game which featured Pittsburgh coming back from 3-0 down and then an eight round shootout to decide it.



A tribute to the legendary Maurice Richard who, on October 19th, 1957, become the first player to score his 500th goal in the National Hockey League.


This week's "Coach's Corner" featuring Don Cherry and Ron McLean from Hockey Night in Canada



PLAYER OF THE WEEK


Rod Brind'Amour finished his week in style notching a hat-trick in an 8-3 victory over the Islanders on Saturday night. The Hurricanes captain had 5 goals, 4 assists, and was a +5 during four games this week.


UPCOMING GAME OF INTEREST


Pittsburgh Penguins at New York Islanders, Saturday, November 3rd, 7:00 p.m. EST


It will be a special day inside the Nassau Coliseum on Saturday night. The coach that led their team to four consecutive Stanley Cups will return for just one game, his 1500th in the NHL. Over the summer, Isles coach Ted Nolan extended the invitation to Al Arbour who had retired after the 1993-94 season. On Friday, the Hall of Fame coach will sign a one-day contract and lead the team against Sidney Crosby the following night.


I will be attendance during the game and while I won't be rooting for the Islanders, I will however give Arbour a nice ovation. I had the opportunity to work with Arbour a few years back in previous job, and I couldn't have liked the man more. He was very engaging, charming and told some of the funniest stories that I won't share here. It was quite a thrill for me to spend so much time with a legendary coach and see how much his players loved him (I also had worked with Bobby Nystrom and Kenny Morrow, who still called him coach). Congratulations to Mr. Arbour and this honor is well deserved and it truly is a wonderful gesture on the part of Ted Nolan.


GRATUITOUS PITTSBURGH PENGUINS RELATED AWESOMENESS


In honor of Darius Kasparaitis leaving North America for Russia, here is his greatest NHL moment in my opinion...scoring the game-winning goal in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Buffalo Sabres in 2001.


I'll check ya out next week!

October 25, 2007

Do Not Fight Zdeno Chara

This is why you don't drop the gloves with giant hockey players.
Let's also not forget that Jonathan Toews and Phil Kessel exchanged pretty goals.


Ray Emery Versus Commercial



Technorati Profile

NHL Network US October-November Schedule

The NHL today announced its first batch of games that will appear on the NHL Network in the US beginning this Friday, October 26th. Buffalo and Florida (ooooh!) kick off the action tomorrow night and Dallas and Pittsburgh will end the first portion of live-games on November 30th. The NHL Network US is planning to broadcast 50 regular-season games and is currently available on many cable providers across the country. Unfortunately for me, I have Direct TV and it is yet to be found there.

Rumor has it that it's supposed to premier at the end of the month...well, we're at the end of the month. I was able to catch a half-hour of On the Fly, their version of NHL 2Night at my girlfriend's house who has Cablevision. I really enjoyed the way they do the highlight packages, which are just like Fox Soccer Channel's English Premier League highlight show. No anchors talking over the coverage, just the play-by-play man and lengthier highlights. On the Fly also has live look-ins at current games and last night I was able to see a goal in the Calgary-Minnesota game.


October/November 2007 NHL Network U.S. Game Telecast Schedule


Friday, October 26 Buffalo @ Florida 7:30 ET 4:30 PT


Wednesday, October 31 Columbus @ Los Angeles 10:30 ET/7:30 PT



Wednesday, November 7 Nashville @ Detroit 7:30 ET/4:30 PT


Friday, November 9 Toronto @ Buffalo 7:30 ET/4:30 PT


Wednesday, November 14 Edmonton @ Vancouver 10:00 ET/7:00 PT


Friday, November 16 Montreal @ Buffalo 7:30 ET/4:30 PT


Sunday, November 18 Detroit @ Columbus 5:00 ET/2:00 PT


Wednesday, November 21 New Jersey @ Pittsburgh 7:30 ET/4:30 PT


Friday, November 30 Dallas @ Pittsburgh 7:30 ET/4:30 PT



I'm eagerly awaiting the NHL Network US launch on Direct TV. Just flipping through the programming grid and the upcoming classic games, documentaries, and highlight shows, I'm pretty sure I might never leave my house again and that my TiVo will be on overdrive pretty soon.

Ballhype: hype it up!