Quick Hits

1) Bullshit alert. I’ve tried to justify it as many ways as possibly but regardless I still can’t believe NBA commisioner David Stern isn’t punishing the Miami Heat for sitting Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and Mario Chalmers  on Sunday at San Antonio. Early this season San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich sent home Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu GinobIli and Danny Green before their only game in Miami this season. Stern fined the Spurs $250,000 for the move but has yet to chastise the Heat in anyway. Seems pretty odd to me.

2) Had to work on sunday, so I missed Kevin Ware’s gruesome leg injury that is being described to me on Joe Theisman levels (I refuse to watch anything Joe Theisman-esque). Tough to see a guy go down like that at any time, let alone in the Elite 8. Was impressed to hear that even though he was down and out he told his teammates “don’t worry about me, go out and win this thing.” Hope he has a speedy recovery. 

3)The Pittsburgh Penguins have inserted an unreal amount of talent into their lineup but it took a huge blow over the weekend. As we saw during his concussion rehab, losing Sydney Crosby doesn’t leave the Pens in terrible shape but they will for sure feel the loss. They will be able to sustain the offensive production with a whole host of offensive weapons. Where Crosby will be missed most is in the face-off circle and the defensive zone. It will take a team effort to replace Syd in those areas.

4) I think the Northeast division has been one of the strongest in the NHL so far this season. The Boston Bruins dominance as of late has found a formidable foe in the Montreal Canadiens. Stiff competition has also been provided by the Toronto Maple Leafs with their rough play and newly found offensive prowess. The Ottawa Senators have masterfully navigated an insane amount of injuries and currently sit 3rd in the division. As it stands right now Montreal (51pts) is in first followed by Boston (48), Ottawa (44), Toronto (44) and lowly Buffalo (32) in last. The top four teams all currently occupy playoff spots and will all be a tough matchup for any team in a 7-game series.

5)The NHL trade deadline always brings about an insane amount of speculation so why shouldn’t I join in on the fun. I think the Vancouver Canucks end up holding on to both Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider. Though i don’t know what GM Mike Gillis is thinking I can’t imagine either goaltender has shown him that he is the franchise net minder. If the Canucks look to make a playoff push he is going to need one or the other to start playing better.

6) I think if Ryan Clowe gets dealt today that focus will quickly shift to Buffalo Sabres captain and winger Jason Pominville. Very good player and would be a great locker room presence anywhere in the NHL.

7) Great time of year for NFL speculation as well. Expect a mock draft from Halifax Sports Talk Soon!




Rich Ray

The Pittsburgh Penguins entered this season with a host of talent in their system that any NHL GM would kill for. Ray Shero has worked tirelessly for the past 6 years to build a team worthy of having Sydney Crosby as its franchise player. Since joining the Pens in 2006 he has made plenty of decisions that have led to the Penguins being one of the leagues elite franchises. 

Shero made trades early in his tenure that shaped the Penguins 2009 Stanley Cup winning roster. Since then he has made deals to move key parts of that team (Jordan Staal, Alex Goligoski) and brought in players that he believes will help sustain their dominance (James Neal, Matt Niskanen, Brandon Sutter). He’s paid the players that he feels deserve to stay in Pittsburgh, like Sydney Crosby (and his 12 year $104.4 million contract), James Neal, Paul Martin and Tyler Kennedy. Now his Pens are in first place in the Eastern Conference and cruising along a 12 game winning streak and he hasn’t once pretended to be satisfied.

This week, Shero dealt a good prospect and former 1st rd pick Joe Morrow for the Captain of the Dallas Stars, Brendan Morrow. I mean come on this is getting ridiculous the best team in the league just added a great professional and leader who has played with Crosby and Fleury for Canada for a NON-ROSTER PLAYER. Before I could even recover from my head exploding, Shero sent two 2nd RD picks to San Jose for Douglas Murray. Stop it Ray. This is just getting embarrassing. He is about as sure a lock for GM of the Year as Crosby is for the Hart Trophy.

As a Habs fan I’m kinda feeling like UFC Fighter Nick Diaz between the 3rd and 4th rounds of his fight with Georges St. Pierre. We’re doing really good and hanging in there but I still feel like this guy has something else up his sleeve that has long made him the best in the business. And then this: http://prohockeytalk.nbcsports.com/2013/03/26/report-despite-acquisitions-penguins-still-pursuing-iginla/

Oh sure Ray, add Jerome Iginla and make it 3 rock solid hockey players and seasoned Olympians in 1 week. Pretty soon the NHL’s Eastern Conference race might start to resemble that of the NBA’s Eastern Conference.

Here’s to hoping my Habs have a better shot than the Indiana Pacers.



Towson Axes two Men’s Teams in Gutless Fashion

Towson Axes two Men’s Teams in Gutless Fashion

Stumble across this story this morning (click title above) and couldn’t believe what I was reading. I’ve been heavily involved in University athletics for the past 7 years now and full well understand that it is a shifting landscape of popularity and relevance. Towson University is perfectly within their rights to terminate an athletic program for whatever reason they so choose and for that they should not be criticized. However, University president Maravene Loeschke should be fired for the way she has treated the teams players and staff. It must suck for Towson to be represented and run by someone who believes that armed police officers are needed when addressing students she’s disappointed, or that three quick minutes is enough to offer students whose collegiate sporting dreams were just crushed. Oh and of course “No questions, please”. A University president should have had more to offer these students and given them ample time to have their questions and concerns answered. Loeschke actions have truly proven to be an embarrassment to herself and to her own University. 

If this article by Keith Mills goes viral, I imagine Towson’s enrolment might drop for next September. Please give this one a read.



Kyrie Irving And The Death Of The Ghetto Superstar

Kyrie Irving And The Death Of The Ghetto Superstar

Had to reblog this article written by Khalid Salaam on The Shadow League. Really good article and I gotta say I enjoy the way he writes. Click the link above and give it a read. If you haven’t seen Kyrie Irving play yet this season I also suggest doing that. This kid owned the Rookie vs Sophomore game, won the 3 Point Contest, and dazzled in the NBA All Star game in back to back to back nights. Welcome to the limelight young man. 



Quick Thoughts

1) Very rough week for several NHL teams in the injury department. Something I expected to see in this shortened season was a spike in bumps and bruises type injuries with players playing more games each week. I, however, did no expect to see so many long term injuries. Evgeni Malkin, Dan Girardi, Craig Anderson, and Artem Anisimov were all hurt on accidental, hockey plays, while others haven’t been as (un)lucky. Cal Clutterbuck was obliterated by a greasy hit from Taylor Hall. Last night Max Pacioretty ran Ryan McDonagh from behind forcing him to leave the game. Marion Hossa took a UFC forearm to the head from Jannik Hansen. The NHLs list of injured players is quickly becoming the best looking roster in the NHL and it will soon begin to hurt many teams in the standings.

2) Sticking with the NHL, I’m really losing interest in John Tortorella. I’m way past caring about seeing him bitch and complain everytime he has to talk to the media. Can we give this fucking idiot a pass on all press conferences for the rest of the season? He sighs, whines, rolls his eyes and offers up a bullshit answer for every question. I saw a clip of a reporter asking him if he had any sympathy for the Senators after watching Craig Andersen get hurt on an accidental net crash by a Ranger player. Tortorella couldn’t simply say “it is unfortunate to see a player get hurt on a play like that but that happens in hockey.” but instead he had to offer up some asshole, non commital response and proceed to look pissed off. Get over it Tortorella, it’s your fucking job.

3) Was listening to the Backhand Shelf podcast the other day. Love the show, the guys have a good perspective on hockey and are pretty hilarious at the same time. I recommend checking it out if your looking for a good listen.

4)Been paying close attention to the NFL Scouting Combine this weekend. One thing that stands out so far is that this is going to be a very athletic draft year. On day one, 5 Offensive lineman ran sub 5 seconds in the 40 yd dash. Compare that to last year when only 2 O-lineman ran sub 5 seconds. The Quarterbacks, Wide Receivers and Runningbacks work out today for NFL scouts. Through the first few hours this morning all results are unofficial but 2 WR have run 4.25 40s, which is .01 away from the all time record. 

5) The biggest news from the combine so far has sadly been the Manti Te’o hoax phenomenon. Yesterday Te’o held a 36 question press conference where he had to defend his personal life for 20 of them. I understand the interest in this story but I really believe that it has received  its share of attention and we should move on. At the end of the day the person truly hurt most by this is Te’o. He is the one who looks like the idiot with the made up girlfriend. People may not like the fact that he deceived everyone even after he found out about the hoax but in my opinion he was being the ultimate teammate by hiding it until after the BCS National Championship. I just hope that the teams that interview him give him a chance to talk football X’s and O’s instead of a story should already be an afterthought. 

6) Not a NASCAR fan by any means, but I will definitely be checking in on the Daytona 500 tonight to see if Danica Patrick can make some history  by becoming to first woman to win NASCAR’s version of the Super Bowl.

7) Max Pacioretty has a hearing today with Sherriff Shanny to discuss his hit from behind on Ryan McDonagh last night. I’m a Habs fan and truly feel he should be suspended for atleast 2 games for this one. McDonagh had hit Patches from behind earlier in the game and it seemed to me that Pacioretty had a little revenge on his mind when he made the hit. 

8) Lebron James and the Miami Heat have been on an absolute tear as of late. They will certainly be the #1 seed heading into this years playoffs but that doesn’t mean they will have an easy road through the Eastern Conference. I look at the Indianan Pacers as a team that could give LBJ and company some trouble. Roy Hibbert and David West will create size problems inside for the Heat while the Pacers have the ability to use multiple defenders on Lebron throughout the series with Danny Granger and Paul George.

9) The San Antonio Spurs look to be the best team in the NBA’s Western Conference right now but could also have a tough time in the playoffs. With an aging roster and playoff games becoming a lot tougher, the Spurs might not have the ability to play at such a high level long enough to sustain a playoff run. They remind me of the New England Patriots who, in recent seasons, have dominated the regular season but haven’t quite had the finish in the playoffs. 

10) A lot of NHL and NBA on today so I’ve got my afternoon set. A few games i’m looking forward to seeing are:

Detroit Red Wings vs Vancouver Canucks: 2 great Western conference teams. Should provide a good, physical duel.

Chicago Blackhawks vs Columbus Blue Jackets: Columbus is fucking terrible and they sure don’t deserve to be watched on TV. I’m picking this game solely because I want to see how long Chicago can keep winning.

Tampa Bay Lightning vs Pittsburgh Penguins: Even with Evgeni Malkin not in the lineup this game bolsters an insane amount of scoring power and some pretty lacklustre goaltending. Sometimes its fun to catch a game where the red light could get burnt out.

Oklahoma City Thunder vs Chicago Bulls: Really the only NBA matchup of the day with 2 good basketball teams.



Why The Sloan Conference Is The Super Bowl Of Sports Analytics

Why The Sloan Conference Is The Super Bowl Of Sports Analytics

Loved this read on Forbes.com by Zach Slaton. Before this I knew that the world of sports analytics was growing but to hear of a conference of that size happening once a year clearly shows this is here to stay. As Slaton mentions, Moneyball introduced us to the world of analytics in Baseball but it is not becoming a trend across the sports world. 

Enjoy the read.


Halifax’s Fucale stealing some of the draft spotlight

Halifax’s Fucale stealing some of the draft spotlight

Click the title above to read a great story on NHL.com by Mike G. Morreale about Halifax Mooseheads star goalie Zachary Fucale. The number 1 rated goalie heading into this years NHL entry draft seems to have a good grasp on the difficult road that lies ahead. Morreale’s story showed me that Fucale seems wise beyond his years and is aware that being the best 17 yr old goalie doesn’t necessarily translate into NHL success. This kid will be a prized possesion for any NHL GM lucky enough to have the chance to draft him.

Enjoy the read.