Archive for September, 2010

Challenge more than met.

Posted in Montreal Canadiens, NHL on September 30, 2010 by Scott Schmidt

The following is the results from what we hope to be the first of many blog ‘challenges’ where we all focus on one specific Habs topic to show our varying thoughts, as well as our undeniable genius as budding GM/coaches… 😉

A massive thanks goes out to everyone who participated, the response was more than I could have hoped! A special thanks to Kamal Panesar (@KamalPanesar), who blogs Habs for Habs Addict and Hockey Buzz for his added promotion of this challenge and to Steve Farnham (@stevofarnham) for indirectly inspiring me to pose the challenge in the first place.

We had tons of participation and tons of great ideas! We even had some go outside the box and bring in outside talent – my fault for not specifying otherwise – which only added to the great selection of ideas from fellow bloggers. So without wasting anymore of your time, here they are (mine is the first post after this one titled Zero need to rush). Enjoy all!

Who’s your starting 12?

Hey my name is Will (@heymynameiswill)

Bleu, Blanc, Rouge (@emann_222)

Habs Addict (@KamalPanesar)

Willey (guest on Habs Addict)

RobertPTome (@robertptome)

Habs Rants (@Cathie_AK27)

Hab it Her Way (@HabItHerWay

Czechtacular (@czechtacular)

Tyg (Guest on Habs Addict) (@Tygerlylly) Follow her personal blog here: Tyger by the Tail

Oh Habby Days (@guccipucciprada)

Cowhide and Rubber (@kyleroussel)

Habs Laughs (@HabsLaughs)

Lyse (From All Habs) (@touteparpillee)

George Prax (From The Checking Line) (@GeorgePrax)

ED of the Atrux Collective (@TheAbraxasCo)

*Newly Added – Don’t Miss*

All Habs Picks from their writing staff, including Steve Farnham, Lyse, Erica, Rick Stephens

Cokeaddict (@cokeaddict)

Habs and Hockey (@SeriousFan09)

Check back later as well for late straggler entries, of which I know at least two. Great work all!

If you’re not up here already, feel free to leave a comment below with your own starting 12! Go Habs Go!

Zero need to rush.

Posted in Montreal Canadiens, NHL on September 29, 2010 by Scott Schmidt

Ok so I’m not going to waste time with a big introduction here, as this ‘challenge’ has attracted a fair amount of interest and we all have a lot of reading to do.

I asked the blogging world ­of the Montreal Canadiéns to all write a piece on the exact same topic, post them as well as submit them to me, and I would put them up on this site for quick access. Of course, I urge all who participated to link either my post with the links or the individual blogs by themselves to their own sites, because the entire idea here is to hear each other’s opinions and have a chance to discuss them.

The topic: Name YOUR starting 12 Habs forwards for game one on Oct. 7 in Toronto. Include two players wearing suits and anyone considered a ‘bubble’ player who you choose to send to Hamilton or elsewhere. Include line combinations and an explanation for why your choices were your choices.

So without further small talk, here is what Shmitzy Says the Habs would look like opening night if my opinion actually mattered one iota:

First off a Tweet to me yesterday stuck in my head when making this decision, which was, “Look at how many players have had great camps and wound up doing nothing.” That is so true, I thought. So what I have decided to do for opening night is not make any real decisions at all.

My lineup:

Line 1 — Andrei Kostitsyn, Thomas Plekanec, Mike Cammalleri

Line 2 — Benoit Pouliot, Scott Gomez, Brian Gionta

Line 3 — Tom Pyatt, Lars Eller, Maxime Lapierre

Line 4 — Travis Moen, Dustin Boyd, Ryan White

Press Box — Jeff Halpern, Max Pacioretty

To Hamilton — Ben Maxwell

To Waivers — Mathieu Darche

OK so there it is, and now since I can feel the disagreement in your voices all the way over here, I offer my explanation.

My decision involving the first two lines wasn’t so much who played together as it was which of them would get top billing. I went with the Plekanec line for a couple of reasons.

The first being, no matter who led the team in goals last season and who gets paid the highest salary on the team, Cammalleri is my best sniper and Plekanec is my best all-around forward. The second is that Kostitsyn played himself out of my doghouse in the preseason, while my question mark on line 2 didn’t come close.

Which brings me to the second line. Clearly everyone who writes for this ‘challenge’ is going to pair Gomez and Gionta together but who they put on left wing will most definitely cause some debate. Benoit Pouliot most certainly did NOT earn a spot on the second line with his play in preseason, however – right or wrong – he didn’t get a raise in the offseason just so we could cut him loose based on exhibition play.

Besides, if I start cutting players who were ‘penciled in’ to certain positions during the summer, some fans might begin nagging me to exercise that power in goal…

Anyway, Pouliot gets a handful of games – five-10 depending on our record – to get his game going. If my mini experiment doesn’t work, he goes to waivers then. But at this point I still maintain the former fourth-overall pick has the skill set. He just needs the mindset.

My third line was also a no-brainer for me. Since I already decided to continue Pouliot’s evaluation into some games of meaning, I had to find a spot for my new budding star, Lars Eller. I believe Eller is going to be great and will in all likelihood be in the top-six by game 11 due to the Pouliot Plan, but until that happens he gets to play with a couple of sparkplugs, staying somewhat out of the limelight. The biggest NHL hurdle rookies tend to struggle with is the speed of the game. Playing with Pyatt and Lapierre would be like trying to run beside two fighter jets; I think he’d acclimatize fairly quickly.

As for my fourth line and press box dwellers, much like the case with Pouliot, training camp isn’t over for most of these guys. In an 82-game season, I am going to need more than 12 forwards anyway and so on one hand, I’d like to look at as many as I can for as long as I can. On the other hand, like the aforementioned quote from Twitter, a good camp does not a superstar make, so I want to see more of what guys like Ryan White and Max Pacioretty can do against top talent – when it counts – before I commit to them.

I platoon my bottom six for a good 10 games and take a real good look at all of them. So guys in the press box today — like Halpern and Pacioretty — are going to play in the next game, while two others sit, and so on. And I do it knowing the argument about how not playing every game makes it hard to be good consistently and blah, blah, blah… We’re talking about 10 games, not half a season. They’ll be fine.

If the young guys don’t pan out, they go back to the minors to develop and I get some role-playing veterans to sit in the press box. For any older player who doesn’t earn his spot on the ice, it’s either the press box or the waiver wire for them.

As for my cuts, Maxwell was the odd man out in my opinion because he plays centre and as shocked as I am to say it about the Habs, the boys are all set at centre for a while. I’m not giving up on him yet though – unless he asks for a trade – because I want the depth in my back pocket in case something happens to one of the roster players.

Darche hits waivers but I want to quickly say how great he played last year and how hard he worked. And I know I’m likely going to need a veteran to sit in the press box without complaint – which he’d no doubt do – but I have absolutely no place to put him for at least a month and it’s just not fair to him to drag him along and ignore him.

So there you have it. Like I said, I decided to take the decision part out of it and keep my options open. This way, if my lineup doesn’t work, I can make all the same decisions then that I could be making now. No real harm, no real foul.

But if it works, I have a very deep roster, with a ton of youth. And if guys like Jeff Halpern – who I’m not at all saying isn’t good – end up feeling left out, then I’m simply alienating a guy who has no chance of playing here next year anyway.

I think I’ll be able to pick up the pieces and move on. 😉

Thanks for reading, I’m looking forward to reading what you all chose as well!

A challenge to Habs bloggers…

Posted in Montreal Canadiens, NHL on September 28, 2010 by Scott Schmidt

OK here’s what I want you to do. This afternoon, into the evening, I was involved in quite a discussion about the situation with forwards on the Montreal Canadiéns heading into the upcoming season and figure it’s something we should all have our say on.

There is no denying with how the preseason has played out that at least a couple of players who are either signed to one-way deals or played well enough to deserve a spot, are going to Hamilton or worse.

What I’d like to do is all write our own pieces on who WE would take as our starting 12 forwards for opening night. This is what YOU would do, not what you think will happen.

Your piece should include line combinations for those 12, as well as two names who will be in the press box. You will no doubt be cutting a few players from your roster, which will need explanation so make sure you also say why your bubble players are either in or out.

Deadline will be 4 p.m. ET on Thursday. Post to your own websites obviously but if you send me your link on Twitter, I will post it on this blog as well. That goes for those in my blogroll too, as I’ll post them in the content section as well.

Anyway, it’s been a great debate today already and I know you all have an opinion, so we want to hear it.

Tweet me if you have any other questions @shmitzysays. We’ll be discussing them Thursday night and beyond.

Do it. 😉

It’s not that you’re wrong. It’s that you’re not right.

Posted in Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens, NHL on September 27, 2010 by Scott Schmidt

Let’s talk about booing.

I tried desperately to avoid this because it’s just been talked to death since the Montreal Canadiéns played their first exhibition game last week. I SHOULD be writing my tribute to Uncle Sam I promised my sister and brother in law after our recent trip to California. But after the ticket-holding rejects who contain their boos like an 18-year-old boy contains his wad received journalistic backing from the Montreal Gazette’s Jack Todd today, I simply have to weigh in.

I wouldn't sit down either if I had the hottest seat in the league.

Todd’s argument – like most out there – essentially revolved around a fan’s right to boo because they have paid “through the nose” to get their seats. Truthfully, he makes a great case; they absolutely pay through at least some hole in their body to be there and once they get there, freedom of speech gives them all kinds of rights.

Meanwhile, a fellow blogger  – The Active Stick – made a great argument in retort to that a few days ago (before Todd’s piece) by defending the true fan’s right to not be incessantly annoyed by a small band of idiots while they are trying to enjoy their own paid-through-an-orifice ticket.

She too is totally right. The idiots are bothersome and it’s not fair to the rest of us.

So in a dispute where both sides are right, where does that leave us? To me, that leaves the side with the best ability to display logic beyond what is deemed correct as the victor.

So here’s my logic:

There are two versions of thought regarding the Habs’ goaltending situation – there are variations and subcategories but they all basically stem from two places.

The first is that Halak is about to be a superstar and not only did the Habs keep a bust instead, they also pulled the trigger too early to get full market value for the parting hero.

The second is that business in the 2010 NHL simply takes decision making to a level well beyond what most fans comprehend and one of the two goalies had to go. When it was deemed Halak would cost too much, he was shipped out for a player EVERY scout in hockey would agree is close to being a top-six forward already. The team was able to make this choice because the kid waiting in the wings to take over between the pipes has the potential to be as good as anyone alive.

There are entire blogs one could add to each of those sides but the gist is all there: Either Halak is great and Price sucks. Or it all works out and the world is sunshine and roses.

And while both sides have some compelling arguments to make, I can assure not one person from either contingent can say for sure which way this will all go. So even though it’s clear which side of the fence I reside on, I am not going to tell anyone not to boo No. 31.

I just want to ask those fans why they would rather see the team they claim to love lose games and be embarrassed in the media? You see, I may not be able to prove yet that my side is right – only the future can do that – but I don’t need to direct you to too many informational websites to get confirmation that constant booing and heckling affects athletes in a negative way.

For the dummies: the only results booing will get is further bad play.

That’s not to say every athlete who gets booed by his own fans is affected by it, I’m just saying I bet you can’t show me a single documented case where fans hating their own player so much that they’ll boo him in the freakin’ preseason has made that player better or helped lead the team to success.

So yes, you have all the rights in the world to boo and heckle whoever you want once you’ve purchased a ticket. Just tell me why you choose to not only aid the opposition by sabotaging your own players but actually pay good, hard-earned money to do it.

Would you rather they lose just so you can be right? Would it make you feel better if Carey ends up the next Dan Blackburn? Does it fix your problems if Halak wins the Cup in St. Louis? Because if the answer is yes to any of that, let me remind you the money you’re spending in tickets aren’t like taxes. You don’t HAVE to part ways with it.

But I actually believe all this booing – and bitching and whining – is just the thick passion of certain people, who can’t stop horribly butchering it with hatred. I believe the whole lot of you would be the first voices lost singing Olé Olé Olé during Price’s first win, defending it by saying you “love” your team. So if you love your team, as you’d all claim to do, and you want to help them and not hurt them, the next time you’re overwhelmed with the urge to boo in the Bell Centre, maybe try this instead:

Stop. Sit down. Remove your shoe. Remove your sock. Roll up your sock. Jam your mouth as full as you can with your sock. Gag on your sock.

(I said I wouldn’t tell you not to boo, I didn’t say I wouldn’t suggest an alternative.)

Price’s shaky play right now is almost certainly due to a lack of confidence. So while the games don’t mean anything whatsoever, why not try instilling some into him? Don’t worry you can all still unjustly crucify the kid once the season has started.

I still say it. But with more of a whisper.

Posted in CFL, Saskatchewan Roughriders on September 24, 2010 by Scott Schmidt

I feel compelled to write.

It’s likely I should be choosing the growing pile of paid assignments I have to do today but I don’t feel very local-country-western-star-headlines-Oktoberfest or junior-varsity-football-team-looks-to-be-competitive-this-season at this moment so I’m going to post.

I’m told summer is over – even though it’s warmer outside right now than I remember any day this whole year – and I’m noticing other bloggers throwing up posts nearly everyday, so I figure I better join the brigade or be forgotten forever.

That, and someone said I was illiterate. Of course, he also said I was a punk, who needed to learn some manners and admit when I’m wrong, but if I wrote every time I was offered that advice, I’d have no time to be a punk with no manners who always has to be right.

Anyway, it’s been an interesting couple of months for the sporting world since I last wrote a regular blog and there is so much I could potentially talk about.

Off the bat I probably owe some sort of explanation for my last blog, which all but guaranteed something like 16-2 for the Saskatchewan Roughriders and an automatic birth in the Grey Cup. I’m not completely backing off my early predictions (I still think they are better than Calgary, DK) but I definitely need to acknowledge the aspects of the game I clearly never took into account.

First of all, it’s no stretch to admit the Riders have the worst special teams one could possibly assemble. The return game is worse than embarrassing and the coverage team is so terrible, the coaching staff will apparently attempt a freakin’ punt to win a game before risking what might happen if Luca Congi misses from 35 yards out.

Which brings me to the team’s biggest problem. Even before the latest gaff, my pop and I had this coaching staff pegged as a serious hindrance. With nothing really against Ken Miller, who has done nothing but win and can unify a room like I’ve never seen, his support crew doesn’t look so up to the challenge and – worst of all –they seem to be able to sway the boss toward the wrong side of the sanity line.

Special teams coordinator Jim Daley was obviously in Miller’s ear about trying the game-winning punt after the head coach had originally sent out the field goal unit.

Miller, as respectable and team oriented as he is, took responsibility for what was his call took to make. But if you ask me, when the camera showed his first reaction to the shanked punt, his facial expression was teeming with why-the-crap-did-I-just-let-that-go-down and holy-smokes-are-folks-gonna-be-pissed.

He says he’d make that call again in a heartbeat. I bet he’s lying.

But I’m not falling off the bandwagon, I still say they can catch Calgary and finish first. They have the Stamps once more at home and Calgary still has two dates with Montreal, while the Riders’ most difficult matchups are supposedly behind them.

This all goes straight to hell, of course, if they don’t learn to win on the road pretty quick, opportunities of which are upcoming in back-to-back away games in Hamilton and Toronto. If the team can’t figure out how to flex its talent against a couple of .500-ish teams, who sport mediocre-to-awful offences, then all bets are off.

But talent-wise, the Riders are just too potent a team to keep losing games they ought to win. As silly as it sounds since they’re already at four losses, I think they still have a shot to win 13 games.

I also think the Montreal Canadiéns are an obvious playoff team so I wouldn’t read much into what I have to say…

A post on that to come…