The Leafs will play playoffs games in HD for the first time in franchise history.
"Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave”
A lot can change in two decades. 21 years ago the Soviet Union broke up and the United States was led by President George H. W. Bush. Microsoft released MS Dos 5.0 and Tim Berners-Lee introduced the web browser. It was also the year of Rodney King, Nirvana Nevermind and The Silence of the Lambs. Do you know what hasn’t changed in the past two decades? The Detroit Red Wings in the NHL playoffs.
For 21 consecutive years the Red Wings have earned a chance to compete in the playoffs. The pinnacle of consistency. The next-longest active streak in the NHL belongs to the Shark’s string of seven years. How about when compared to the other major sports. In the NBA the Spurs have been to the playoffs for the past 14 years. In the MLB the Phillies are tops with five years in a row. And in the NFL where parity is king the Baltimore Ravens own the longest streak with four trips to the post season.
It’s amazing to consider — 21 straight playoff berths. Detroit has been dominant. During this run the Red Wings have won 14 division titles, six Presidents’ Trophies, six conference championships and four Stanley Cups.
Earlier this week was the anniversary of the Miracle on Ice. It was February 22, 1980 when the scrappy USA team beat the USSR 4-3 in Lake Placid, New York. In 2010, the 30th anniversary of the event, Joe Posnanski wrote about some little known facts concerning the hockey game. Facts like how the game was not broadcast live, people viewing from their home were on a tape delay. Posnanski also uncovered some interesting tidbits about Al Michaels and his signature line:
"Do you believe in miracles? Yes!"
It was a perfect call. Goosebumps. It’s further heightened by the fact that it’s followed by a minute of crowd noise. The next thing Michaels says is, “No words necessary just pictures." Damn, he’s good. Here’s what’s interesting, we almost didn’t get this line. Michaels said that if he had thought of the line before the moment it happened he never would have used it. It was a spur of the moment thing, it just came out.
I’m not writing anything you haven’t read elsewhere. The world of sports as we know it cannot continue to travel on it’s current trajectory. Cannot and should not. How should we fix it? I don’t know, but we can all agree it mustn’t be ignored.
You can’t get away from the concussion discussion and debate. We have research teams like the ones at Boston University: Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy and reporters like the New York Times’ John Branch to thank for that. I’m pretty late to the game (I blame the holiday season) but John has assimilated Punched Out, The Life and Death of a Hockey Enforcer. It’s a fascinating three-part series on the life of Derek Boogaard, a 6’ 7” - 245 lb NHL enforcer.
Over six months, The New York Times examined the life and death of the professional hockey player Derek Boogaard, who rose to fame as one of the sport’s most feared fighters before dying at age 28 on May 13.
Just twenty-eight years old.
We normally post links like this on twitter and our facebook page but it just didn’t seem fitting. I’d like to say something like “I hope John Branch’s piece wins a journalistic award,” but in reality we hope it does much more than that. It’s going to be an impossible story to forget.
One the best parts of the new year is the NHL’s Winter Classic. As far as I’m concerned the novelty of hockey played outdoors in a baseball stadium will never stale. And if it snows, well, then it’s just that much better. Today’s Winter Classic venue was Philadelphia’s Citizen Bank Park. Everyone knows the dead serious level Philadelphia takes thier sports fandom. The Flyer’s Ilya Bryzgalov knew how pluck these fans’ heart strings by commissioning this spectacular piece of art which pays homage to Philly’s sports history.
The airbrush design was handled by Pennsylvania’s own Drummond Custom Airbrush. Franny Drummond was able to shoehorn Reggie White, Julius Erving, Mike Schmidt and Bobby Clarke. If you look hard enough you can also make out the old Veterans Stadium and the “HK” patch worn over the hearts on Phillies players in 2009 to honor the great play-by-play announcer, Harry Kalas. Right below the cage is the Philly Phanatic, which needed to be explained in detail to the Russian born Ilya Bryzgalov. Perhaps the finest detail is the pennant reading “Good Night and Good Hockey,” the signature phrase used by the Flyers announcer, Gene Hart. Well done.
The teddy bear toss (new to me) has catapulted into my personal top five list of coolest fan traditions.
In case you’re unaware of this annual rite, fans bring stuffed animals to the game and throw them on the ice when the home team scores its first goal. (Delay of game penalties have no home here.) The toys are collected and donated to local charity.
Seriously, seeing the teddy bears fly when the goal is scored is one of the best unique sights in hockey.
/via Puck Daddy
So many mustaches, so little time. We are already into the month of Movember or as our ancestors used to call it, November. If you aren’t familiar with Movember you should take a few minutes to get acquainted with their gentlemanly website. And just in case you’re in a rush here is a small sound bite from their FAQ section.
Movember is the month formerly known as November, where men and women across the globe join together to raise awareness and funds for men’s health issues. Men grow a Mo (moustache) for 30 days to become a walking, talking billboards, for our men’s health causes - specifically cancers affecting men.
Jonas Hiller of the Anaheim Ducks is a Man Bro in full support of Movember. Last year he was already owner of the NHL’s coolest no nonsense goalie mask but this Movember he’s stepped it up. His new cage features photos of his teammates with superimposed staches. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Mustache Tuesday, the dude is a man bro.
29 years ago today the club that is now known as the Devils settled in the state of New Jersey. To this day they remain the most underrated team name in all of American sports.
The franchise was officially named in 1982 by fan voting. The runner-up names were Blades, Meadowlanders, and the Americans. Let us thank our lucky stars that fan balloting wasn’t fixed and none of these names were chosen. The name Devils might seem weak but there’s history here.
There’s a piece of a 1.1 million acre forest system in southern New Jersey that is named the Pine Barrens. It’s the place where Paulie and Christopher took that dead Russian to in The Sopranos, except he wasn’t dead yet. It’s one of the best (if not the best) episodes of the series but what The Sopranos didn’t delve into is how the Pine Barrens are said to be haunted by the Jersey Devil.
As legend has it the Jersey Devil was born human to “Mother Leeds”. It was her 13th child and after birth it changed form and flew to the surrounding pines. When I was younger we would take family trips in the summer to my grandparent’s place on the Jersey shore. On our way we would drive through the Pine Barrens. My grandfather would warn me to watch out for the Jersey Devil because if it took me into the Pine Barrens I would never find my way back out.
So there you have it. A hockey team named after a legendary creature that inhabits the unbelievably huge stretch of state woods that people are said to enter and never return. Pretty cool right? I feel like you could never do that today. Which is why we have team names like the Oklahoma City Thunder.
It’s the coolest trophy in all of sports. Hands down. I’ll listen to arguments about the boxing World Heavyweight Championship Boxing Belt and the Heisman Trophy but that’s all I’ll do. I’ll just listen. There’s no swaying me. The Stanley Cup is the best sports trophy by a wide margin.
A new Stanley Cup is not made every year. It’s a trophy that the champion team keeps until the following one is crowned. The names of past winners (players, coaches and management) are engraved on the chalice. It travels the world, goes on late night talk shows and gets held out of hotel windows. It’s been to the White House, strip clubs, churches and more strip clubs. It’s been to the bottom of Mario Lemieux’s swimming pool. It’s used for drinking champagne and drinking cheap beer. It’s baptized children, fed dogs and held BBQ. It’s been beat up, dinged, dented, hugged and kissed.
And everywhere it goes it leaves a story.
Here’s your Stanley Cup Final stat of the night. Game four of this series was Bobby Orr Night at TD Garden. Bobby Orr wore number four on his sweater and the Bruins wound up beating the Canucks 4-0.
Game three just happened to be Cam Neely night, who wore number eight. The Bruins cruised by the Canucks with a massive 8-1 victory. Tonight is Milt Schmidt night. Do you know what number he wore? 15. Yup, fifteen. And after only one period Boston leads 4-0. If history is any indication it’s going to be a long night for Vancouver.
Ladies and gentlemen, now it’s a series. And almost as important, there is finally some real animosity in this thing. Here’s Bruisin’ Brad Marchand celebrating in high-res.
Bruins fans, follow up last night’s 8-1 domination by grabbing this excellent "We Want The Cup" shirt from Bottom Line Apparel. A crucial Game 4 hangs in the balance.
A Chitwood & Hobbs Field Report