It's less than a week before the trade deadline and I've grown tired of talking (and writing) about it. Let's get on with it already!
The biggest fish in the trading pool, Peter Forsberg, is gone. The Flyers ended months of speculation by sending the Swedish star to the Predators last Thursday. After the immediate rush of excitement surrounding the Forsberg deal, I spied the rest of the available lot and noticed it wasn't a real attractive group.
Yeah, I'm still keeping an eye on the St. Louis three: Keith Tkachuk, Bill Guerin and Eric Brewer. I also admit I'm a little curious to see whether any GM would roll the dice on Todd Bertuzzi's surgically repaired back and how usually conservative Sabres GM Darcy Regier will react to the rash of injuries that have ripped through his roster like a cold wind off Lake Erie.
After that, I get the feeling this deadline day will be a lot like last year's. We'll see a lot of depth-type players get traded. The salary cap, CBA provisions and revised scheduling of the trade deadline itself have combined to make it very difficult for teams to pull off important deals. Now, it's like a game of musical chairs with "American Idol" rejects. Will any of them really make a difference? Who knows. I don't think any team is going to land its Butch Goring in the next couple of days.
So, instead of speculating about the coming deals or waxing over the proposed change to the instigator rule (who cares!), I decided to give a short list of things I like about our great game. It's a quirky list from a quirky guy. There is no order. Just 10 things I enjoy about the game and my job covering it.
If you haven't seen a hockey game on HDNet, you're missing something. Even after watching thousands of games on TV, I find myself mesmerized by the coverage on Mark Cuban's hi-def cable channel. I believe the picture is far superior to the HD broadcasts from any of the local cable outlets. The angles seem steeper, and if this makes any sense, the view seems crisper than watching it live. (If you have an opinion about the HDNet broadcasts, please drop me an e-mail and let me know what you think.)
Ducks' jersey numbers
I love what the Ducks have done to the back of their jerseys. The numbers are big and bold. That means they're easy to read, whether you're at the game or watching it on TV. That makes it easier to follow. I think that's a good thing.
I hear Cheli wants to play into his 50s. I love hearing that. At 45, Chelios is just a year younger than me. That makes me feel good. It also makes me feel like getting that ankle surgery I need and getting back on the ice myself. Good luck in the playoffs, No. 24.
There seems to be a move within the league to tinker with the longtime tradition of having a goal judge behind each net. At the All-Star Game in Dallas, the league moved the judges from their usual seat behind the net to a spot in the press box, hundreds of feet away from the net. From that distance, it becomes a guessing game. Why not just leave them alone? It's a nice tradition. It helps fans in the building (who don't always have a great view of one net or the other) know when a goal has been scored. And, the goal judges take a lot of pride in their jobs. There must be something else to worry about, right?
Forsberg has left Philadelphia, but (thankfully) Lauren Hart is still there. The Flyers' terrific anthem singer has a great voice. I've been fortunate enough to see her sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" and "God Bless America" several times during my various ventures to Philly. She's something special. She's someone the Flyers should never trade!
Continental Airlines Arena press box
When the arena was built in the early 1980s, designers forgot to put in a press box. So, they constructed a press area at center ice in the lower bowl of the building. It's a great place to watch a game. In just about every other building in the league, the press box sits on the top ring on the facility, a good distance from the action. Sadly (for us in the media), the Devils are moving to a new building in the fall. I don't imagine they'd forget a second time, would they?
Night after night, in some pretty far-reaching locales around the globe, pro and amateur scouts are eyeballing talent for NHL clubs. Scouts don't get a lot of public recognition for their work, but it's critical to any organization's success. If you want to really learn about the game, corner one of these guys over a beer. Believe me, there's a lot to learn.
When I was a kid, the announcers called a backhand shot, "the lost art." I don't know what that makes it now. I don't see too many guys using the backhand these days, and that's too bad. It can be a very effective shot. In recent shootouts, I've seen Lightning sniper Martin St. Louis dust it off and give it a try. It's nice to see someone still knows how to do it.
In the hockey media, there are few things better than a hot dog in the media room at the Bell Centre in Montreal. I don't know why they're so good. Is it the bun? I guess those fabled ghosts just know how to make a good dog.
When you live in the Northeast, you can get to a lot of games. When the schedule works just right, you can hit two games in the same day. I'll be turning that trick Saturday, when I check out the Habs-Isles matinee, followed by the Blue Jackets-Rangers game in the evening. Let's play two!