Category Archives: If you didn’t know now you know

All In.

crable

Remember that summer day three years ago when Notre Dame was supposed to be invincible and Michigan wasn’t supposed to win? Remember when we went down to Notre Dame as underdogs, having struggled through so many road-opening losses over the years that we were already forgetting how it felt to start 2-0 or 3-0? But what you may not remember is that feeling that we took for granted back then and which, someday, we will probably take for granted again.

I was sitting at an Ale House in Orlando, FL. Yes, I was drinking heavily. Yes, I was nervous. But why wouldn’t I be nervous? This was a rivalry game between two titans of college football,  both ranked, both undefeated and both ready to stake their early season claim to supremacy over the young 2006 season. It was everything that Michigan vs. Notre Dame was supposed to be.

The outcome of that game went in our favor. In a big, big way. But I know that nowhere during my euphoric high of beating the Irish did I ever think that our next two matchups would lack that one thing that most every game before them had contained: meaning.

You could argue that the 2007 game had lots of meaning for both teams. But let’s not kid ourselves here. Those two storied programs were the laughingstock of the college football world. Notre Dame rolling into the Big House with a highly touted freshman QB that had engineered two losses. Michigan coming off of THE HORROR and the ass kicking from the Oregon Ducks, both in our house. A combined record of 0-4. A national broadcast. It was pure humiliation and anyone who tells you otherwise is full of it. All that blowout win did for Michigan was get a win in the Big House and put another win between us and the #2 team in all-time victories. But it wasn’t the same.

Ask any Ohio State fan about last year’s drubbing of Michigan. It wasn’t as much fun as beating a good Michigan team. The luster wasn’t there. After 11 weeks of ridiculing the Wolverines and ripping them, finally getting the turn in the whipping line just didn’t feel right. Just like going down to ND with one of the worst teams in school history didn’t really do much for the Irish in the long run either. Did it even the score from the year before? Sure. Was it a game for the ages (or even the year, for that matter)? Absolutely not. It was a joke. A sham. A ghost of what it used to be.

Which is why today’s game is that much more important. After two years of mediocre matchups between these two giants, we finally get what we have been waiting for. Both teams undefeated again. Both teams with their own agendas. Both teams out to prove why they belong. It’s all the drama that was missing during the previous two matchups and all we can hope is that these teams know how to live up to the expectation that has been set in the previous 36 matchups.

Who’s going to win? Don’t really know. I can sure as hell tell you who I WANT to win, but that doesn’t mean it will happen. And quite frankly, it doesn’t really matter which team wins tomorrow*, as long as they both step up to the plate and embrace the rivalry by playing their hearts out and giving us an entertaining, physical and 100% competitive game.

You can bet that the Michigan Wolverines will be “All In” tomorrow. I encourage every fan of the maize and blue to do the same. Wear your maize shirt to the bar. Refuse to get “down in front” at the big house. Pace nervously in your friend’s living room. Just do whatever it takes.

All In. F**K the Irish. GO BLUE!!!

*Of course it matters who wins! It better damn well be Michigan!!!

1 Comment

Filed under If you didn't know now you know, Random Thoughts

Changes, they’re a comin’…

changes

I’ve had a few folks ask me about my slowdown in posting output this summer and if everything is OK on the home front. In short: yes, everything is cool. However, despite a slowdown in posting, I have been super busy putting together some new opportunities, which are far enough along now that I can finally tell you about them.

Changing Locations

As many of you know, I’ve been covering the Red Wings for Winging It In Motown for the past few months. WIM gave me an outlet to focus exclusively on the Wings, and the more I wrote for them, the more I enjoyed being able to cover one of my topic areas with such depth. Well, as we moved through the summer, the folks over at FanBall reached out to me, and told me that they had an opening for a Red Wings blogger on their team and would love for me to come on board. Naturally, I was torn because of my allegiance to WIM, but in the end, the ability to manage my own site while getting paid some cash to do it was enough to convince me to branch out and give it a go.

I’d be completely remiss if I didn’t thank Christy, Casey and Joe over at WIM for the opportunity to work with them. It’s a fantastic blog with a fantastic group of writers, and my support for what they continue to do is absolutely unwavering. Hopefully, I’ll still be invited to the Christmas party.

With that said, I’m proud/excited/insert whatever adjective you like to present my new home for Red Wings content, Motown Wings. The folks over at FanBall have been awesome to work with in getting this set up, and have given me the opportunity to contribute to a larger sports blogging network, which has been a goal of mine since I started writing. I encourage all of you to check out the new site and let me know what you think and how I can make it better. It’s going to be a work in progress for the first couple of months, so bear with me. However, there’s alot of potential to work with, and I’m excited to head down that road. I hope you will join.

A New Endeavor

As if moving to a new blog wasn’t enough, I’ve also been busy working with my buddy Brian (@pioneerhall on twitter) to get an idea of his up and running. Later this week, we will be launching MGoTalk, a new Michigan football podcast where Brian and I chat all things Wolverines with former U of M players Jeff Del Verne and Jeremy Miller. We are currently in the process of getting the final logistics up and running, and we should have the first show ready to hit your ears sometime soon. I’m REALLY excited about this, and can’t wait to get some different POV’s on the football team, especially from a couple of guys who have been privileged enough to wear the winged helmet. Be sure to bookmark the site, as well as follow @MGoTalk on twitter, so that you can stay up-to-date on when a new show goes up as well as offer up ideas for all of us to talk about each week.

So yea, I’m staying busy and am really looking forward to these new opportunities. As always, your feedback is appreciated, so let it rip.

2 Comments

Filed under If you didn't know now you know

CCHA to Alabama-Huntsville: Denied

UAH

In what can be described as nothing short of a surprise, the Central Collegiate Hockey Association voted yesterday to deny Alabama-Huntsville’s application to become the 12th member of the CCHA in 2010, which would have made them the replacement for the WCHA bound Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks.

Already, the college hockey world is up-in-arms about the CCHA’s decision, which, admittedly, doesn’t make any sense at all on the surface. With UNO heading to the WCHA after this season, the CCHA finds themselves staring at an 11 team conference with an unbalanced schedule and a spot to fill. UAH, who is a member of the soon-to-be defunct College Hockey America, is the only team from that league who has yet to find a home in a new conference. On the surface, this looked like an easy match. But something obviously didn’t work for the CCHA, and now we have an incredibly awkward situation in which a school could potentially lose it’s hockey program after this season, while one of the premier conferences in the nation has a spot to fill.

Unfortunately, the CCHA isn’t doing themselves any favors with the way they have handled this announcement. Officially, all the league has said on the matter has come from an official announcement on the conference website:

“The league completed its due diligence of the application for membership submitted by the University of Alabama in Huntsville with careful consideration and discussion of various issues,” stated CCHA Commissioner Tom Anastos. “At this time we have chosen to maintain our membership at its current level.”

“The CCHA will remain focused on maintaining and strengthening our existing members to ensure the conference’s continued success and long-term viability,” Anastos added.

Not alot to go on from Anastos’ comments, which only serve to fuel the fire of college hockey fans who are upset at the prospect of watching another program disappear from the niche landscape that is the college game.

In discussing these developments with some friends, I took some heat for suggesting that (despite not making them public), the CCHA may have some legitimate concerns which led to the denial of UAH’s application. While many college hockey fans thought that UAH’s bid was a foregone conclusion to be accepted, there were issues at play for the league that obviously raised concerns about the viability of UAH to succeed in gaining entrance. Among those mentioned at various times:

  • Lack of competition – Since legendary coach Doug Ross departed after the ‘06-‘07 campaign, the Chargers have gone a dismal 11-41-9 under coach Danton Cole. With the pairwise rankings rewarding matchups against better teams, UAH doesn’t even come close to replacing the traditionally “middle-of-the-pack” Nebraska-Omaha squad. Additionally, there has been much concern centered around the fact that UAH sits in an area that isn’t known for developing and housing quality recruits, as UAH is the only D1 college hockey program south of the Mason-Dixon line.
  • Low attendance – Despite having a facility that holds 6,600 fans, the Chargers only averaged 2,688 butts in seats for 10 home games last season. Granted, this number is comparable to the amount of fans teams like Bowling Green, Ferris State and Western Michigan draw per game, but the argument will be made that those teams are more centrally located within the conference, making it more conducive for travel, therefore negating the low attendance argument (more on this below.)
  • Commitment questions – Currently, there is no firm agreement in place with the Von Braun Center, and there are many in the Huntsville area who would like to see city money go someplace else other than to support a small hockey program. That said, the soon to be re-named Propst Center just received funds to undergo a $15 million dollar renovation, which SHOULD have assuaged facility concerns with the CCHA.
  • Travel – This one really doesn’t hold any water as teams are required to fly to Fairbanks, Alaska every season for a weekend series, as well as the fact that the difference in distance travelled to get to Omaha and Huntsville is practically negligible. However, with UNO averaging over 6,200 fans a game last season (6th best in the NCAA), CCHA officials had an easier time sending their squads on such trips. Drop that number by over 3,000 fans, and all of a sudden the conference isn’t a huge proponent of the long trip. Like I said, I don’t see this argument holding any credence whatsoever, but the CCHA brought it up and now they have to deal with the backlash.
  • The BGSU Conundrum – While having NOTHING directly to do with UAH’s bid, the CCHA has been dealing with the ongoing saga that is the Bowling Green hockey program’s bid to stay alive after next season. BGSU is in the midst of trying to cut expenditure all across the athletic program, and one of the teams that has been on the chopping block since day 1 is the hockey program. Despite claiming the ONLY national championship in school history, men’s ice hockey had it’s head in the guillotine for quite some time. However, the school recently approved $4 million in funds to help renovate the aging arena, signaling that the program might still have some signs of life in it. That said, there is still much work to be done to ensure the long-term success of BGSU hockey.What does this mean for UAH/CCHA? Well, if the CCHA brass know something we don’t about the fate of BGSU, it could have helped sway their vote against the Chargers. Voting in one team while having to watch another team fall off the board would still keep the CCHA stuck at the 11 team mark. So rather than saying “yes” to UAH right now, the league may have decided to let the BGSU saga play itself out this year, and see where they net out after the ‘09-‘10 campaign. As far as I know, there is nothing barring UAH from re-applying for admission after this season, although it would be tough to imagine them being happy about doing it if they had to given the CCHA’s current stance.

So here’s the thing:  I’m not hating on UAH.  I was hoping they would make it into the conference. I, like most every other fan out there, was hoping to see this team avoid a potential death sentence as the lone D1 independent. My point is simply that there have been concerns from day 1 about UAH’s bid, and that everyone who had gone ahead and added the Chargers to the ‘10-‘11 conference roster should have been prepared for some pushback from the CCHA. Let’s not forget that the conference is in a perennial fight to maintain supremacy with the likes of Hockey East and the WCHA, and that the CCHA is probably looking for a “lateral” replacement for UNO. Sadly, UAH is not an equal replacement and is clearly a step down from the Mavericks, which to me is the biggest reason the CCHA wasn’t willing to accept the Charger program with open arms. But that logic is part of the bigger problem across the board right now: college hockey lacks exposure and therefore new teams.

The real tragedy here is the fact that college hockey is such a niche sport that there isn’t much room for expansion or growth of the game. Because of that, there seems to be an overwhelming perception that all existing programs need to be looked out for and preserved if at all possible. Frankly, I fall into that camp. I NEVER want to see any program on the verge of dying go down that long and lonely road. But the UAH situation has raised alot of questions for me about  how a decision like the CCHA’s affects my relationship with the conference and team that I associate the most closely with, in terms of continued league success and high-level competition.

I can see both sides of the coin here. But the problem still remains that the CCHA won’t explain their logic, which is just going to continue to leave a bad taste in the mouth of fans everywhere. At this point, the league is getting blasted for their actions, so what further harm could possibly be done if they come out and say “Well, we just didn’t want UAH.” They’ll get blasted just the same way they are right now, but at least everyone will know that the CCHA sees themselves in the elitist light and we can all move forward from that accordingly. But if there’s something bigger going on here, the league owes it to fans of the game, and to the UAH program to disclose their logic.

Here’s to hoping the league does the right thing and tells us what’s going on in their heads. They’ve  already dropped the ball once in keeping UAH out. Let’s hope they don’t do it again.

5 Comments

Filed under If you didn't know now you know

Eaves inks a one year deal with Wings

eaves

TOTALLY late to the party, but the Red Wings finally got off the sidelines and landed a free agent when they signed forward Patrick Eaves to a one year deal yesterday. Mad props to George Malik over at MLive’s Snapshots who basically called this one on July 25th:

I look at someone like the player the B’s are buying out in Patrick Eaves, a 25-year-old who made $1.4 million last season and will receive a buyout of $933,333.34 spread out over the next four seasons (he had two years remaining on his contract), as someone that the Red Wings might take a stab at if he’s willing to play for a highly discounted rate. The 5’11," 190-lb. winger came into the league as a highly-heralded prospect for the Ottawa Senators, but he topped out at 20 goals during his first season and 34 points in his second, with his speed, skill, and forechecking producing very little since his trade to Carolina.

The Patrick Eaveses and Taylor Pyatts of the hockey world offer the kind of, "We’ll sign you to an entry-level deal if you do well in camp, and then we’ll see what you can do" punch that the Wings are looking for, with Dan Cleary serving as the best example of a player counted down and out of the NHL delivering on his promise, and Brent Sopel’s decision to turn down a contract from the Wings to head to Chicago and fade into the background as a non-playing millstone as the worst result.

Nicely done sir. However, since I never miss a chance to toot my own horn, I had a similar prediction over at WIM two days afterwards, albeit buried deep in the article.

I’d prefer to turn my attention to someone like Patrick Eaves or Taylor Pyatt, who both need to really prove that they belong at this level and would be willing to work through camp to land an entry level type deal, a la Dan Cleary.

Final move: Land Pyatt or Eaves to an entry-level deal worth between $500K and 750K.

Anyways, to the winner go the spoils and GJM upped me by two days. No hard feelings though, as I think all of us agree that this was the right move for the Wings. Here’s to hoping that Eaves pans out and gets it done next season.

Leave a comment

Filed under Hooray!, I (Kinda) See the Future (Maybe), If you didn't know now you know

Mike Grier a Red Wing? He’s “interested.”

grier

As I first reported over on Winging It, Mike Grier has “expressed interest” in returning to his hometown of Detroit as a member of the Wings. I contacted his agent, Jay Fee, today and here’s what he had to say about the status of Grier’s negotiations and Mike’s views on the Wings:

“Several teams have contacted me as they see Mike as a very solid asset and a plus for their organization. Detroit is a first class organization in which Mike has expressed interest.  I believe the Red Wings respect Mike as a player and true professional. We’ll have to see where it goes from here.”

Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Grier in Detroit, as he provides the grit the Wings need, while adding some scoring, all with the right price tag. Once this Jiri Hudler mess is over, the Wings can finally start filling some holes, and it sounds like Grier could be one of those pieces.

Leave a comment

Filed under I (Kinda) See the Future (Maybe), If you didn't know now you know

The Truth about Hossa’s Shoulder “Injury”

kronwallhossa

In case you couldn’t tell from the above picture, Niklas Kronwall has added another victim to his hit parade. Yes, I know this looks like a harmless celebration between two teammates. However, I doubt you are aware of  what Kron was actually saying to former teammate Marian Hossa. Fret not, oh faithful readers. A full transcript is below:

  • Kron: Nice shot.
  • Hossa: MONEY!!!
  • Kron: Listen d-bag, I know you think you are something special, but if you decide to cut and run after this season, there will be hell to pay.
  • Hossa: MORE SUITS!!!
  • Kron: Dude, are you even listening to me? You don’t mess around with Detroit fans. This is a proud hockey town and these fans expect you to stand by your statement that you want to come back next year. Got that?
  • Hossa: MORE TRASHY BLONDES!!!
  • Kron: You are such an ass. I am totally onto your game and I know what you are going to do. You are going to hold out on us, stringing us along with false promises of “loyalty”, and then dash off to a division rival like Chicago or something, lugging your life partner Kopecky with you. I can see it in your eyes. I am Kronwall and I see your soul…
  • Hossa: Don’t talk about Tomas like that! You don’t know what we have together! He stood up for me after Francois Beauchemin called me a weak piece of euro-trash who couldn’t deliver in the playoffs! I am indebted to him eternally for his valor!
  • Kron: He got KTFO out dude. He’s a pansy. Just like you. You know what happens to pansies? Especially ones that ditch for more money? No? Here, let the Kronwall enlighten you…

Next shift:

kronwalled

  • Kron: KRONWALLED!!!
  • Hossa: *Gulp* Is he dead?
  • Kron: No, Havlat is simply a pawn in the greater mission of educating you of the fate that awaits a traitor. Therefore, I have spared his life. However, he will be relegated to the fields of Minnesota, never to set foot in this city as a Blackhawk again. His spot is likely to be filled by someone just as cowardly and meek, someone who will also surely feel the wrath of the Kronwall.
  • Hossa: How could you possibly know that?
  • Kron: Because I am the Kronwall. I feed on the fear of men. My destruction is legendary. And should you be the one chosen to fill that weakling’s spot in the Chicago lineup, your destiny will align with those who have faced my wrath before you.
  • Hossa: But what about all of that money? I have to support Tomas…er, my family!
  • Kron: Do what you must, Marian. In parting, I give you these words of wisdom: Don’t f**k with me.
  • Hossa: Oh I don’t know what to do!!!
  • Kron: The lords of hockey have already made it known to the Kronwall that we will open JLA next season against the ‘Hawks. Might I suggest a shoulder injury? Perhaps a rotator cuff “tear”? It would require surgery, you would still get paid, and you could avoid the wrath of the Kron.
  • Hossa: Now that you mention it, my shoulder has been a little sore recently…
  • Kron: Exactly.

There you have it, folks. Hey Chicago: Enjoy watching that multi-million dollar investment start the season sitting  in the stands in an ugly ass suit with some blonde that serves about as much purpose as Tomas Kopecky in a fight (or on the ice, for that matter.) Hey, if Kopecky doesn’t pan out in the lineup for you guys, at least you know Hossa will have someone to spoon with keep him company while he recovers.

2 Comments

Filed under If you didn't know now you know

Jeebus Does Not Approve of This Shirt. “Hockey Jeebus” Does.

cupshirt1

cupshirt2

(Courtesy of www.ThePensBlog.com, Designed by Steven S.)

The folks over at ThePensBlog have issued their own shirt to commemorate their Stanley Cup win this year.

First, let me just say that it’s a pretty neat looking shirt. I like the concept.

But holy hell is it funny to see it say “Satan” on there. I know, I know: it’s “Shuh-Tan.” But a spade is a spade in my book, and when I see it, all I can do is giggle. Kinda like when Satan had the Yahoo! fantasy ID number of 666 this season.

C’mon, I gotta find humor somewhere, right?

Wait a second…

Which one do they mean?

Leave a comment

Filed under If you didn't know now you know