Joel Quenneville responses Game 3

Blackhawks Community Ratings: CHI @ StL (10.9.13)

Mmmmmmmmm, pie.

I’m going to give an abbreviated breakdown of the community responses and their respective stats today. I’ll be grouping player by line or defensive pairing and then giving the aggregate rankings for each player while listing the line’s total stats instead of individuals. Again, thanks to everyone that has been participating. We’re going to try and keep on the ball with these, but the spread out nature of the schedule has made it a little difficult, and participation went down from the first time we did it so there’s not as much data to draw from. Again, all advanced stats are pulled from the Extra Skater advanced box, the standard stats from the NHL.com box and shift charts are now available and the sparkly new shiftchart.com.

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CPR Results - Lightning

That’s a Shame: Blackhawks Allow Late Goal, Fall 3-2 in St. Louis (Plus Community Player Ratings Voting)

 

(Chicago Tribune photo)

(Chicago Tribune photo)

Losing is never fun. Losing to the Blues and their meth-head fans is even worse. Then changing the channel to see the Cardinals win a playoff series 10 minutes later undoubtedly is the featured torture of the devil himself.

But let’s take a step back and realize a couple things. Firstly, three victories in October does not a Stanley Cup champion make, no matter what Blues fans would have you believe. And a Blackhawks loss in October in a game between two solid clubs that could have gone either way really shouldn’t have anyone losing control of their bowels.

For once, a matchup between the ‘Hawks and Blues was pretty riveting, exciting hockey. The Blackhawks opened things up right off the bat, shooting down the ice at every possession change and creating a number of odd-man rushes they just couldn’t get past Jaroslav Halak. If one of those chances are buried, the scope of the game changes and I might be writing about a victory.

St. Louis converted on their prime chance in the first, with Vladimir Tarasenko potting a neutral-zone turnover past Corey Crawford. But, in usual Blues fashion, a stupid hit-from-behind penalty by Maxim Lapierre allowed Patrick Kane to tie the game less than two minutes later.

David Backes redirected a Alex Pietrangelo’s shot to give the Blues a 2-1 lead, but, yet again, St. Louis committed a dipshit penalty immediately that wound up with Jonathan Toews tying the game, again less than two minutes after the Blues took the lead.

Brent Seabrook’s attempt to slip into the slot backfired, as Alex Steen converted a 3-on-1 with 20 seconds remaining, and that was all she wrote.

All in all, there wasn’t much to hate – other than of course the extended cast of Duck Dynasty that are Blues fans celebrating like they were just offered a lifetime supply tainted crack. Let me explain….

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Backes kissing dog

I Actually Like the St. Louis Blues

Backes kissing dog

I know there’s a lot of hate going around from Blackhawks fans towards the St. Louis Blues. Sure, it’s becoming a nice rivalry, but sheesh. I find it pretty astounding, actually. I really don’t mind them.

For instance, look at that picture up there of David Backes making out with Ryan Reaves, who is being held by the lovely Barret Jackman. It’s quite obvious how much they care about each other and support each other. They always have each others’ backs and have great chemistry, especially Jackman and goaltender Jaroslav Halak.

Jackman catches a lot of flak, but he’s actually a very classy individual. I remember that one time he tried to have a nice, calm, intelligent conversation with the Blackhawks bench last season. I’m sure he wasn’t complaining or acting like one of those cracked-out menopausal homeless women that sleep under the Arch whom he has sex with on a regular basis. He was simply trying to say, “Hello, how are you?” And look how he was treated:

And all that talk about how the Blues take cheap shots at people? Especially against the Blackhawks? C’mon. Backes is the epitome of a captain and great teammate. I remember that time when he simply tried to give Jonathan Toews a pat on the back for a job well done, and then Toews just flipped out for absolutely no reason. I mean, of course Backes is going to try to defend himself.

And who can say enough about their coach, Ken HitchcockDespite playing stout defense that by no means features a bunch of thugs on skates trying to make up for their lack of skill like everyone claims, he quite obviously has them all under control.

St. Louis is a high-end organization from top to bottom. They’re so very welcoming to everyone, especially Blackhawks fans. Sure, they have that new ticket policy to try and prevent ‘Hawks fans from getting tickets to games at that luxurious stadium of theirs, but can you blame them?

Why would they want us unruly Blackhawks fans mingling with dedicated Blues fans like these:

No wonder they don’t want us idiot ‘Hawks fans there. The people of St. Louis are some of the smartest in the country:

get-a-brain-morans

I really don’t understand why Blackhawks fans are so hurtful and derogatory towards the fine people of St. Louis and their loveable Blues.

I mean, look at how much there is to like.

Blackhawks 2 – Lightning 3: Play 60

Our first Toews Face of the new campaign

Apologies for the late and likely abbreviated recap, but as much as I love hockey there were just way too many compelling things going on in the world of sports this evening for me to focus on the Hawks and Bolts tonight (jNWU not closing vs OSU, Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander dueling… also about 7 delicious pumpkin beers etc.). Anyways, let’s get to the hockey game from West Madison Street tonight.

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Brent Seabrook responses Game 1

Community Ratings Results: Blackhawks vs. Capitals (10.1.13)

Stick Tap to all of you

First of all, the whole staff here at CtA would like to thank everyone who participated in the Community Rankings. We really value your input and think this should be, at the very least, an interesting feature going forward. We’ll not only compile the results for this post, but we can also revisit them when we do previews for opponents later in the season.  I’m also personally compiling a spreadsheet of the stats, both advanced and standard, for each player from each game. While I’m still not sure exactly what I’m going to do with those, I’ve got a few ideas rolling around in my head.

All the stats below the players are derived from the NHL.com box score and ExtraSkater.com’s advanced box. If you would like more information on the advanced stats, I encourage you to visit ExtraSkater’s glossary or Arctic Ice Hockey. Right, let’s get to the results.

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Boxing-10.1.13-Capitals

Title Defense Begins: Boxing with Blackhawks (6) and Capitals (4), plus Community Player Ratings

Banner Night

Shot from Bartl’s seat at the United Center

It’s funny, really. For months, I had been looking forward to a new hockey season and anxiously awaiting the Blackhawks to begin their title defense and quest for a repeat. But the irony is that I had a difficult time letting go of last season and the memories that came with it.

As I watched the video montage on the ice, I couldn’t help but think of the not so distant past, sitting at a little dive bar in the Chicago suburbs, listening to my Dad say, “Good. Now score again, and break their fucking hearts,” after Bryan Bickell’s goal in Game 6 before Dave Bolland obliged 17 seconds later. I wasn’t thinking about the game that was going to be played minutes later and the reality that came with it.

It didn’t take long to get back into the mode of worrisome fan, though. The Blackhawks didn’t make it easy on themselves, but they came away with a 6-4 victory over Washington in Game 1 of their Stanley Cup title defense.

A couple quick things…

—  It’s the first game of a long season. Some of the play was sloppy and there are kinks to be worked out, and that’s likely what you’re going to see for a few more games.

— With that said, also don’t read too much into the Blackhawks sagging back on the penalty kill. While it was frustrating to see Mike Green stand in the middle of the ice and score a goal while also having one of his shots deflected in by Mikhail Grabovski, the ‘Hawks quite obviously were more concerned with preventing cross-ice passes while not over-committing to Green, Nicklas Backstrom, or Alex Ovechkin. Granted, Ovi scored and the Caps finished with three power-play goals, but that’s one tough unit. I wouldn’t expect to see the ‘Hawks employ that strategy very often.

— Along the same lines of not overreacting, let’s not start getting on our knees in front of Brandon Bollig because he scored a goal. I’m sure the MOAR BOLLIG! people are salivating right now, but maybe we should let things play out. Like, for instance, realizing that his offensive-zone penalty gave his goal right back 6 1/2 minutes later. I’m interested to see where he winds up in the Community Player Ratings.

Michal Handzus’ pass to Brandon Saad was beautiful.

— How about that new hybrid icing, eh? If I’m not mistaken, I don’t think there was a single icing call the entire game.

Braden Holtby played like dog shit. Thanks.

— Here is the first edition of Community Player ratings for you readers to share your opinions on how things went last night. I’d like to make a very important point: All of your responses are anonymous. We have no idea which person casts which vote. So, if you rate Bollig a 10, you won’t have to personally deal with any of us at CtA or any of your fellow readers chastising you.

We will leave the voting open for 24 hours, and then we will post the results Thursday to show how you collectively rated everyone’s performance. Happy voting! Boxing after the jump…

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Blackhawks vs. Capitals: Raise Your Glasses We’re Raising a Banner

For me, it doesn’t get much better than those Caps throwback sweaters

Puck Drop: 7:05 p.m. CST (with the banner, folks are saying 7:28 p.m.)

Where You Can Find It: NBC Sports Network (174 on Comcast, DirecTV 220, 1640 AT&T U-Verse)

Beat Writers & Bloggers for the Opposition: @kcarrera, @WashTimesMike, @russianmachine, @JapersRink

If Time on Ice gets itself together, I’ll post the CORSI/Fenwick link at game time.

You made it! We ALL made it!

With the lockout extending last season late into the summer our wait wasn’t quite as long this summer as previously, but I’m just as ready as the rest of you for hockey season to begin. Tonight on West Madison Street the Chicago Blackhawks will put 2013’s abbreviated campaign behind them by raising four new banners to the rafters before taking on the Washington Capitals. It’ll be a sweet taste of euphoria that reminds us just how high the highs can be in the NHL, but as I’m sure the players will relay to each other, that feeling must be short lived in order to focus on the task at hand. That task, being the 2013-14 NHL season.

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(Photo courtesy of Jostens)

Season Preview: Central Division? ConferenceIII? The Blackhawk Division?

We know how you feel, Bryan.

We know how you feel, Bryan.

We’ve finally arrived at the Division you all really need (want) to know all about: the plainest sounding goddamn division in the NEW AND IMPROVED NHL. We’re going to assume that you mostly know what’s going on with the Blackhawks. Jimmy Hayes, Ben Smith and the intriguing Joakim Nordstrom made the team while Jeremy Morin and Brandon Pirri find themselves back in Rockford yet again. Once can’t help but feel a little sorry for Morin and Pirri, in the weeks following the Stanley Cup, it seemed most people just assumed they’d both be Blackhawks this year. They’ll probably get a look at some point down the line, but it can’t bode very well for either of them that they’ve been passed over yet again.

Joel Quenneville has decided to keep eight defenseman to start the year. Mike Kostka beat out the now Vancouver Canuck Ryan Stanton for the last spot. Sheldon Brookbank is still around in the 7th slot.

That’s where the Blackhawks are at. What about the other teams in the Central?

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Season Preview: Atlantic Division

Going from Coast-To-Coast to the most confusing of the new Alignments, the Atlantic. That contains exactly none of the Old Atlantic Division teams (all in the Metropolitan Division). Also, teams from Ontario & Michigan, which  are land-locked (and in Detroit’s case over 600 miles from the Ocean). The Atlantic isn’t the first body of water you’d associate with Buffalo, either. Anyway, it’s a strange mix of old North Eastern teams with a couple of terrible Floridians from the South East and an escapee from Western time-zone tyranny in the Red Wings.

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Season Preview: Pacific Division

Let’s take a quick look at the Realigned Divisions, starting with the Westernmost, the excitingly-named “Pacific” (or “Pacific + Bits of the old NW”)

This looks like being a very hard-fought (if not especially exciting) Division: Four of the Seven teams made last year’s Post-Season, Anaheim finished Second in the Western Conference for the Regular Season and LA went to the Conference Final. Phoenix were on the Playoff Bubble and hope to be back there again. The less said about the Albertans the better.. and then there’s the Curious Case of the Canucks, of which more in a moment.

Battle Of California

The three Californian teams will all be spoken about as contenders this year. Anaheim, whose remarkable run last year was ended by a fairly heavy regression to the mean, traded away the permanently disgruntled Bobby Ryan, picking up a decent return from Ottawa in highly-rated young winger Jacob Silfverberg, 1st round pick Stefan Noesen & a 1st rounder next year. Teemu is, of course,back and Dustin Penner has crawled wheezing from LA to Orange County. Their Blue Line looks like a problem area, with Beauchemin dinged up, Sheldon Souray out for at least a couple of months and after that.. Mark Fistric? Luca Sbisa? Yuck. Luckily their cup runneth over in goal with Hiller in a contract year, Fasth building on his breakout season and that John Gibson hovering in the wings.

San Jose.. It’s hard to know what to make of the Sha-Arks, as ever. Thornton & Marleau are in the last years of their deals and not getting any younger. However, if Pavelski & Couture can repeat their form of last season that’s still a potent line up. Hell, maybe even Marty Havlat will stay healthy for longer than ten minutes? Sadly, they haven’t bothered with any defense again this year which means Antti Niemi will need to be on top form, again.

Meanwhile, in a certain smog-choked hellhole, the Kings are already being picked by many as this year’s Champions. They have changed little on their roster, save shipping off Dustin Penner to Anaheim and taking Gorilla Salad off the Hawks’ hands in return for some magic beans. There’s little doubt that, if they play to their strengths, they are one of the best teams in the League. Their big weakness is their Ent-Like defense with Willie Mitchell & Robin Regehr lumbering around behind Drew Doughty.  They continue to praise Slaya Voynov to the heavens, but from what I’ve seen the kid still has a great deal to learn about play in his own end. (Hell of a shot, though). And Jon Quick is Jon Quick.

Dead Men Walking

Phoenix finally resolved their ownership issue and future location for once and all five years. They will be hoping for a return to the post season after missing out last year. They can keep on hoping. Their only “major” addition has been Mike Ribeiro, for four years at $22.5 M which, were it not for Toronto & Philly, would likely be the laughing-stock deal of the summer. Ribeiro was at a Point-Per-Game last year, for the first time since 2007-08. He was also on the Caps PP with Ovechkin and Backstrom. Good luck with Radim Vrbata, Mike. Shane Doan is another year older and slower and more elbow-y. The rest of the Yotes are made up of the usual collection of pluggers and plodders. One feels that, unless Mike Smith has one of his “Outlier” years, this will be a tough season for the Desert Dogs.

Edmonton re-upped Jordan Eberle (for way too much money) and RNH (see above, though more justifiable in the Nuge’s case). These sort of shenanigans now mean that the Oilers have less Cap Room than the reigning Champions. Sam Gagner’s fresh new broken jaw will sideline him indefinitely so they had better be praying that Hall, RNH, Yakupov et al can stay healthier than they have been in recent seasons. Not that it will do Edmonton any good: they have no defense or Goaltending and will be aiming at the Draft Lottery again. As for Calgary… Just close the door and walk away, sadly shaking your head. Full-on Tank Mode for the Flames with Jay Feaster likely to be out of a job by Christmas and Brian Burke embarking on a long-overdue rebuild.

Diving For Dear Life

That leaves us with the ever-beloved Canucks and, for me, the most interesting storyline in this Division: namely, is this the year the Nucks miss the Playoffs? I would hazard a guess that it could be: we all know about the Presidents’ Trophies and exaggerated seedings won by beating up on a piss-weak NW Division. Last year we saw the Wild make a much better fight of it and the Nucks swept out of the 1st Round. This year they are going to be fighting hard with the formidable trio of Californians for the three automatic spots and they may well find themselves lacking.

What they’ve mostly got this summer is older. The Sedins are starting to show their age (although still a force to be reckoned with) Ryan Kesler and David Booth can’t stay healthy, they still think Kevin Bieksa is a top-pairing D-man, Luongo’s mind may well have been snapped by the goings on and they’ve got noted Locker-Room-Unifier John Tortorella behind the bench. There’s still plenty of threat there if it all comes together. If not, I believe the Canucks may well find themselves on the outside looking in when the Post-season starts, which will cost Mike Gillis his job and instigate a crisis in Vancouver where they have no Cap-Space or Prospects.

While we all stand back and chuckle, of course

NEW: Chicago Blackhawks Community Ratings for 2013-2014 Season

Oh, hello there.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything on this here website. In fact it was probably the pep talk before Game 4 against Detroit in the Western Conference Semi-Finals. Baseball kinda takes over my life after hockey so you’ll have to excuse me for not being around much (read: at all). However! I had been looking around these here internets for something to give our readership base (that’s you!) a bit more ownership heading into the upcoming season. Comment sections are nice but not everyone feels comfortable putting their name on something. So, with that, I introduce you to the following idea.

We’re going to be introducing Community Ratings this season which allows you, the reader, to rate each and every player after each game (or weekly, we’re not sure yet). The system will be powered by Google Drive and I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank the guys over at Black Heart Gold Pants for helping me out with this, especially RossWB.  They’ve been doing this for football, which is actually considerably more difficult because there’s so many players. The idea originated with some footie blogs over on SBNation that do it for soccer games. It’s a bit easier to pull off with that sport since there’s only 14 players maximum they’d need to rate.

For our purposes we’re going to give you the ability to rate the players, the mustache and the special teams units. After you do so, I’ll gather the responses and upload them into Excel to produce some nice charts and graphs that show how everyone feels. If you’re lucky, maybe even a pie chart (mmmmmmm, pie). It’s a work in progress so if you have any ideas on other things we can add to this, please pass them along. You can leave them in the comments, tweet at me, the blog or e-mail us. Below is what we’ve got so far and it’s pretty self-explanatory. So take a look-see and give us your feedback.

Do you like this? Do you not like this? What could we do better? Scale back on? Let us know.

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Your 2013-14 Season Preview.. Interactive Edition

 

Season Previews are like Assholes: Sports Blogs are full of them (you sure about this? .ed).

Nailing your colours to the mast as to how teams and players are likely to perform over the coming year is a risky business and leaves one open to the mockery of your peers when, inevitably, the Hockey Gods make sure that all your confident predictions go horribly wrong.

Therefore, we here at Cheer the Anthem have decided to skip this potential public shaming and would much rather that you do it instead: here is a comprehensive preview of all the other 29 teams in the League. All you have to do is fill in the blanks and you’re on the Path to Hockey Guru Status/Hiding Under A Rock .

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Euro-Weenies

North American Hockey fans seldom pay much attention to the various European leagues and when they do it’s usually as “The place that all those awesome Finnish goalies come from” or “Jesus God, those jerseys are ugly” or “Somewhere that Don Cherry REALLY hates”.  The events on the larger ice really don’t factor much in the tumult of an NHL season.

This year, however, is slightly different and the eyes of Hawks fans will be turning to Europe more often, for reasons that I’ll get to in a moment.

Being of the European Persuasion myself, I’m going to contribute a weekly wrap-up of events from a selected few Teams and Leagues over this side of the pond that may be of interest to Blackhawks fans (and some just for my own entertainment.. humour me)

SM Liiga / Jokerit (Finland)

This one is pretty obvious: there’s a certain Hawks prospect playing there who has created the sort of giddy anticipation last seen when Patrick Kane was drafted. We’ll be keeping a close eye on how Teuvo Teravanien is developing and hopefully providing more awesome “Highlight Videos With Crazed Finnish Callers” for your titillation. Another subplot is the fact that this is the famous old club’s last year in the SM Liiga before they jump ship to the KHL next season.

Slovak Extraliga /HC Dukla Trencin (Slovakia)

This is, of course, an Olympic year and Slovakia are in the USA’s group for the First Round. While no-one expects the Slovaks to cause an upset against the US or Russia, they are a potential landmine and should not be taken lightly. Their best players (and Tomas Kopecky) are mostly in North America or playing for Bratislava, who moved to the KHL last year, but we’ll keep an eye on any developments coming out of Slovakia. Dukla Trencin is the club that rocked the cradle of the Hossa brothers, the aforementioned Tomokop and the late Pavol Demitra (whom their arena is named for). Trencin is also the hometown of Zdeno Chara and Marian Gaborik.

Elite Ice Hockey League/Belfast Giants (Britain)

Shameless Homerism here: we’ll take a look at Ireland’s only Pro Hockey team as they compete in the British League. The Giants have had an extremely traumatic time off the ice over the last couple of years (of which more on another day) so we’ll follow them and see how the club is picking itself back up off the floor.

 Championnat De France Div 1/ Mulhouse Scorpions (France)

This one is personal: I have a weird affection for this happy-go-lucky bunch of schmucks who won promotion to the French Top Division, La Ligue Magnus last year, only to get kicked in by all comers, finish second-last and get relegated back down (yes, they have Promotion/Relegation in France.. damn Eurotrash!). Last time they were in this Division they won it, so I’ll be taking a look at their travails and hopefully give you an idea of Hockey in the real backwaters of Europe.

 

We’ll be kicking this off with some quick profiles of the teams, the leagues and the key players to keep an eye on.  If I can find time in between constructing my shrine to Teuvo, that is.

More soon.

 

 

Corey Crawford Re-Signs for 6 Years, $36 Million

Corey Crawford was expected to be the subject of much speculation during the forthcoming Season: his current contract (Cap Hit of $2.6 Million) was due to expire next summer, leaving him a Unrestricted Free Agent. The Hawks fanbase was wondering if he would be traded now that his value is at its peak, re-upped, and if so, for how long and for how much in light of some of the blockbuster and/or boneheaded deals given to goalies lately.

Instead Stan Bowman gave an added fillip to Crawford’s Day withe Cup by re-signing him to a 6-year deal worth $36 Million ($6M per year)

Bowman has thus far shown no willingness to overpay for Goaltending and Crawfords deal is closer to the 6yr/$31.8m extension signed between Jimmy Howard and the Wings or Mike Smith’s 6yr/$34.2 than the Tuuka Rask contract (8yr/$56m) .Obviously this is being made with the anticipation of a considerable rise in the Salary Cap in 2014/15. Crawford is now making some Elite-Money.

I’m sure there are some Crow-Hating Meatballs out there tearing out their hair and howling into their Tapout shirts as their dream of Ryan Miller in the Indianhead fades. Thus far, however, the general mood seems to be one of cautious optimism. There are some concerns over the length of the contract and that Crawford will be 35 at its end however, it would be very un-Bowman-like for the contract to be an untradeable monster and there is always going to be some GM willing to pay whatever it takes to get a Stanley Cup winning Goalie on to their roster.

Personally I like it, yes, it’s a lot of money and years but when you look at some of the other contracts that have been handed out in recent years, especially to Goalies, it looks perfectly reasonable. I also have an inclination to trust Stan Bowman’s judgement in these things: he’s hardly put a foot wrong in his dealings.

This is going to be a high-pressure year for Crawford: he is now the undisputed #1 (which he was last season, too despite the “WE WANT DAT EMORY GUY” crowd), he won’t be “Playing for a Deal”, instead he will have to justify his considerable price-tag while the well-regarded Antti Raanta hones his game in the AHL.

We all saw plenty of signs of an increasingly confident, aggressive and strong-willed Crawford last season (and not even Pat Kane believes that he didn’t deserve the Conn Smythe). With Chicago looking to repeat and with every team in the league gunning for them, he’s going to need every bit of that strength.

 

 

 

 

downgoesbrown_book

In Praise Of: Sean McIndoe

 

There are very few writers in the Hockey world that need absolutely no introduction, but Sean McIndoe, better known as Down Goes Brown, is certainly one of them. (And if you don’t know who Down Goes Brown is, stop reading this now, go here , start at the start and come back when you’re finished)

He’s unfailingly perceptive and hilarious and I (and anyone else who attempts to make jokes about Hockey) owe him an enormous debt of gratitude and tremendous respect.

What he is also, though, is one hell of a writer.

Recently, Ryan Lambert of Puck Daddy asked, on Twitter, for advice on websites to read in order to help ease a newbie friend into the game.  Slak, of Hockee Night and Magnificent Beard reknown, suggested Down Goes Brown which, after I thought about it, made perfect sense. Despite all the in-jokes and McIndoe’s encylopaedic knowledge of the game, he writes with utter clarity and provides enough context for the more arcane references to reward anyone who follows up the links and does a little research on their own.

I remember, from when I was, myself, wet behind the ears, tracking down old articles and YouTube clips in order to understand jokes about Toronto 4th Liners from the mid-90s.  Which was a good thing, I guess..

This year has seen McIndoe writing for Grantland (while still maintaining the quality at the  Down Goes Brown site) These articles have been less surreal than the DGB material but have managed to be interesting, informative and downright hilarious, written in the same spirit of gentle mockery and sharp observation that have been his trademark.

The weekly NHL Grab Bag series was worth reading for the “Awesome and/or Horrific Old YouTube Clip of the Week” section alone (now there’s an education for newcomers!) not to mention the usual head shaking over “What Has Done Cherry Gone And Done Now?” and “The Week’s Most Depressing CapGeek Page” (how it wasn’t Philly every week I’ll never know)

Sean McIndoe manages to be almost universally adored (Chris Pronger was unavailable for comment) right across the notoriously cantankerous and fractious Hockey fanbase, no mean feat. This is, in my opinion, due entirely to the fact that he writes with genuine warmth and affection for this game and those who play it, watch it and even administrate it (just about). His jokes can be cutting, accurate and merciless but they are never nasty or needless and even when he is sticking it to people like Kerry Fraser or Gary Bettman, there is a smile behind the barbs.

Nowhere was this genuine feel for Hockey more apparent than the Grantland article he published on May 30 this year, entitled Absence of Malice. Don’t look for any jokes, there are none in this article about serious accidental injuries caused on the rink. It is an extraordinary piece of writing and, to my mind, this year’s equivalent of the NY Times series on Derek Boogaard in late 2011 in its unflinching yet empathetic look at the very human frailty and vulnerability behind this most physical and dangerous of sports.

It’s a profoundly affecting and thought-provoking piece and a clear demonstration that, behind the jokes and the fun, there is a serious and clear-eyed observer of the game. It hardly seems fair that one man can excel at both things, but I’m sure there isn’t anyone out there who begrudges him this.  Instead we all look forward to whatever Sean McIndoe , or his crazed alter-ego Down Goes Brown have planned for us next.

 

You can read Down Goes Brown at www.downgoesbrown.com, Sean McIndoe at www.grantland.com and you should absolutely, positively buy his book, The Best Of Down Goes Brown, details here

 

 

 

 

 

 

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At the Convention..

 

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Frame 2   Frame 3

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Meanwhile, In St Louis..

Ah, the Blackhawks Convention! That wonderful time of the year when Rocky Wirtz notices that he hasn’t received a dumptruck full of money from Hawks fans in, like, months and yells at McDonough to do something about it.

Love it, Loathe it or just find it mildly amusing to watch Q&As degenerate into bickering, rude questions and autograph requests, it remains a firm part of the Blackhawks calendar. What you may not have realised is that our neighbours in Missouri have their own equivalent.

It’s on a much smaller scale, more poorly attended, a lot more pointless and plainly saddled with a crippling inferiority complex, so is therefore completely bound up in St Louis’ very identity.

This year has seen a change of venue, from a vacant lot behind a cheque-cashing store, to a luxury hotel. This has clearly been done in a bid to attract the attention of the Hockey World to this celebration of everything Blues Hockey. They even sent out invites to the Media, one of which made its way to us here at Cheer The Anthem

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Coming Next Season

Well, it’s been a few weeks since we’ve posted anything here, hasn’t it? Now, you may be thinking that that’s because we’re a bunch of lazy gits who can’t be arsed writing about the very tiny amount that is happening in the Hockey World right now.

You couldn’t be more wrong.

In fact, we have been slaving away on all the cool new features that we are going to implement on Cheer The Anthem next year. After the Jump there’s a sneak preview of what you can look forward to on your favourite they’re ok i guess I don’t completely hate everything they do Blackhawks site in the coming Season.

Enjoy! More >

Chris Chelios: First Ballot Hall of Famer

This is quick because there’s work to be done, but former Blackhawks defenseman Chris Chelios was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame this afternoon along with Scott Niedermayer and Brendan Shanahan. There was no immediate word on whether or not Craig Janney would attend to honor Shanahan.

There is a good case to be made for Chelios being the best US born hockey player of all-time and a better one for being the best defenseman to ever don the Indian Head sweater. It didn’t end the right way here in Chicago, but he was the heart and soul of a lot of Blackhawks teams that many of us lived and died with.

Sure, he scored numerous big goals (including two consecutive playoff OT winners against Vancouver) as a Blackhawk, but the clip above is probably still my fondest Chelios memory. I was at that game and vividly remember him fighting off the linesman and tearing Adam Burt away from Brian Noonan so he alone could pummel him. Just a spectacular performance. He was assessed 37 PIM during this altercation and subsequently suspended four games for abusing the linesman. The Hawks lost the game 6-2.

Anyway, let the great #7 retirement debate begin so we can get it over with. It’s not coming out of circulation anytime soon.

Bulin The Heather: Hawks Free Agency

if “Khabibulous” doesn’t already exist, I’ma (c) it now

“Free Agency Frenzy” is officially upon us and this year has seen some truly surprising, astounding and bloody stupid signings. I’ll address some of those in another post, once I’m through alternately “Laughing my ass off /Weeping about why, exactly, we had to lose half a Season?”

For now, I’ll confine myself to the moves made by the Hawks once Free Agency started and “What It All Means”

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Godspeed, Dave. A Tribute to #36

 

We knew it was coming. We knew it made sense. Hell, at some point this year we’d probably loudly demanded it. But when it happened it still felt like a well-aimed stick handle in the ribs.

Dave Bolland was traded to the Leafs on Draft day and our lives are a little duller because of it.

Michael Frolik was traded too, and I think that, in a pure Hockey sense,  the loss of him will hurt the Hawks more than losing Bolland. But this is all about Dave, because, whatever else he was or wasn’t while wearing a Hawks jersey, he was nothing short of an inspiration when it came to making up jokes.

My first real attempt at writing a humourous Hockey piece was a FanPost on the old SCH about goal celebrations.. and Bolland was both the inspiration and the cornerstone of the entire bit.  It was just after a game against the Ducks, where having already had a goal waved off, Bolland scored on an absolute laserbeam and celebrated in true Dave Bolland-Style: a quick flip of his arms and then an angry death-stare. I pretty much constructed the rest of the piece around that.

It was well received, hell, even made its way into the Committed Indian. Which gave me the confidence to keep going (for good or ill).  I quickly discovered that including a “David Bolland Is A Psycho” joke was a sure-fire winner, as that meme had been running for quite a while and never got old.  I have an entire folder, in the deep recesses of the Amstrad CPC where I do my photoshops, that’s just called “Bolland”.

When the Trade happened I realised that I’d not done anything on Dave this year, which made me sad. His recent decline and near-invisibility contributed to that, I guess. Because he’s been exactly the same strange, wild-eyed, pale, sweating, monotone-voiced weirdo that he’s always been in interviews. That shaved-head look was horrible (and therefore fitting). The F-Bomb dropped on CBC. And last, but by no means least, the celebration after scoring the Cup-Winning Goal: a classic “Shake off your gloves and look very angry”.

Good luck, Dave. I hope you have fun in Toronto. With you gone and Kaner behaving himself, looks like I’m going to have to find another source of cheap laughs.

And, to end on a Hockey note, this is one of my favourite Blackhawks memories, as Bolland returned from injury with the Hawks staring down the barrel against Vancouver.

 

So long, David Bolland. We’ll not see your like again unless we work on Psych Profiling for the FBI.

 

 

CupWin

Thank You, Blackhawks

CupWin

Bartl, fiance Nichole and Pops following the Game 6 victory… between many rounds of beers.

“Now break their hearts. Score again, and break their fucking hearts.”

I wasn’t deep into celebrating Bryan Bickell’s tying goal with 1 minute, 16 seconds remaining, when my father uttered those words with such conviction that I actually became frightened. He clapped a few times, raised his hands, then went right back into business mode.

“Do it again and break their fucking hearts.”

See, my dad isn’t one to offer up such passion when it comes to sports. He knew his only son’s sanity rode on the outcome of the Stanley Cup Final, and that’s really the only reason he came to peace with his inevitable hangover and joined me at a local establishment.

It’s also the only reason he cared at all. The Blackhawks winning the Stanley Cup doesn’t enhance his life any, but it brings such joy to his kid that his enthusiasm shot past obligation and into a genuine state of jubilation. He just couldn’t help himself.

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I Love This Team: Your 2013 Stanley Cup Champions, the Chicago Blackhawks

CT hawks-bruins55.JPG

You’re not going to get much more than this from me tonight. I’m celebrating until my body won’t let me celebrate anymore.

It’s almost fitting Dave Bolland,  who we have ragged on time and time again, scored the goal that would give the Blackhawks a 3-2 win and the team’s second Cup in four seasons.

It marked the perfect moment for a team that seemed to have a mantra of, “Don’t quit on us. We won’t let you down.” We were all guilty of quitting on this team at one point or another, and they all put their middle fingers in the air and proved that they weren’t going to give up on themselves, no matter what we thought.

You’ll get more details from us tomorrow, but enjoy this for now. How amazing is this?

Mostly, I’m so proud to share this site with Nakis, Adam and Mighty Mike, who have been instrumental in helping provide you readers with great insight. They’ve been even better “internet friends.” What  a season, and you’ll be hearing from us plenty over the next couple of months as the offseason is right around the corner.

I’m still trying to soak this all in. Unbelievable.

GO ‘HAWKS!

 

 

The Wine Cooler: Episode 7 – One. More. Win

Wine Cooler

The Blackhawks head into Game 6 with a chance to hoist the Stanley Cup for the second time in four seasons. That would be a nice middle finger to the Massholes that have deemed Boston, “Championship City.”

Bartl and Nakis discuss that, the injuries to Patrice Bergeron and Jonathan Toews, the Chara Effect – or non-effect – and how Corey Crawford is a world-class goaltender and meatheads just need to accept that because DAT EMERY GUY AINT GONE PLAY NO MOOR AND DATS JUS DA END OF DA CONVERSATION, MY FRENTS!

We pack a nice show into the 30 minutes BlogTalkRadio allots us free of charge. Enjoy.

Listen to internet radio with The Wine Cooler on BlogTalkRadio

One. Bruins 1 Hawks 3 (series 3-2 Hawks)

 

Here we are then.

This crazed head-rush of a season has finally brought us to the very threshold of the Promised Land. The Chicago Blackhawks are 60 minutes away from fulfilling all the promise and wiping away the pains of the last three years.

 

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