The first opening faceoff of the regular season is just a few days away, which brings me a small comfort as Sabathia struggles against the Tigers (as I type this…so many sighs…) Here’s a quick look at what we think is exciting about the Atlantic Division:
Let’s just put aside the fact that I had an actual rooting interest last night — everything that happened in baseball over the last 24 hours makes my brain scream this song:
As someone who has spent the last two weeks watching the Cardinals wait until the last inning to win or lose what seemed like 95% of their games, one of the most surreal things about last night was that St. Louis was the only team that got their game settled right out of the gate, batting around in the first inning and scoring five runs before recording a single out. Which left me free to enjoy the one day MLB.tv subscription I paid 3.99 for Tuesday night as a mostly impartial fan (possibly the best 4 bucks I’ve ever spent, even if I couldn’t get the Rays-Yankees because of blackout restrictions, and had to switch to the Phillies-Braves radio feeds for the latter innings because of too much traffic on the video feed (and my crappy bandwidth). At one point, I had three GTalk conversations going and was on the phone to my parents; 99.5 % of the discussion revolved around baseball (I did manage to discuss Christmas arrangements with my folks. I’m not totally obsessed.)
Given that this hasn’t exactly been the happiest of NHL offseasons, I feel a bit conflicted about being excited for the forthcoming 2011-12 season. With every that has happened since June, doesn’t it seem like a lifetime ago that the Bruins proudly hoisted their first Stanley Cup since the 1970s?
But let’s face it: I like to focus on the positive, such as the groundswell of support from Vancouver residents after the Stanley Cup riots, the return of the JETS, the sometimes hilarious trips with the Cup made by the Bruins, and the conversations that have opened up about mental illness (please, if you haven’t already, read Michael Landsberg’s touching column about his friend Wade Belak.)
Time to accentuate the positive with our NHL Preview. We begin today with the Northeast Division.
On a day when everyone voiced their displeasure over Facebook’s new changes, NHL unrestricted free agent Mike Modano used the platform to announce his retirement after 21 seasons. Obviously, sports reporters had little trouble finding his update in the new-style news feed.
Drafted by Minnesota in the 1988 NHL Draft, Modano spent most of his season with the (North) Stars in Minnesota and Dallas, where he won his only Stanley Cup in 1999. The seven-time All Star finished his career last year with the Detroit Red Wings, but was limited to just 15 points over 40 games on account of injuries. He was just one game shy of having played 1,500 NHL games.
Modano leaves behind an amazing legacy as the all-time top scoring U.S.-born player in goals and assists (561 and 813 respectively) and as a silver medalist for Team USA in the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. I always admired him for his quiet leadership and the fact that he chose to play for as long as he did in a non-traditional hockey market like Dallas.
Join me after the jump for a little tribute to Mike, complete with a musical salute from a band that also decided to “retire” today.
17 months ago, my sister bought me the sneakers pictured above as an early birthday gift. This all stemmed from a conversation we had about how I always wanted to run the CBCF Run for the Cure and tried to learn to run but never quite got past a couple of tries. She thought it might have been the shoes, so she treated me to those pricey Zoom Vomeros.
I took them for a trial 1K run in a subdivision near my place during an unusually warm April afternoon…and thought I was going to die. I wasn’t sure what possessed me to agree to this commitment: I was never considered athletic or even remotely coordinated. I was the classic Last Kid Picked On The Team and never played sports in high school or college. I even have a distinct memory of one of the snobby girls in 9th Grade making fun of how I ran around the bases in softball during phys ed. So knowing all of this, how did I ever expect to run a 5K?
17 months later, with a number of 5Ks under my belt, I am aiming for my first 10K. 2010 Bee’s head just exploded after reading that.
With the Terry Fox Run coming up this Sunday across Canada (shameless plug to sponsor me can be found here), I thought I’d share with you, dear readers, some advice on how I got over that hump and turned those best intentions into action and water blisters. These tips may not be for everyone, but they worked for me. And if they work for even one of you, then my purpose for this post will have been fulfilled. Just don’t blame me for your occasional spending sprees on cute workout gear. Continue reading
Former NHL enforcer Wade Belak was found dead in his Toronto condo Wednesday. He was 35. He is also the third NHL enforcer we’ve lost in the last four months. In May, Derek Boogaard of the New York Rangers died of an overdose of booze and pills, alone in his apartment in Minneapolis. A few weeks ago, Rick Rypien of the Winnipeg Jets, who lived with depression was found dead at his home in Crowsnest Pass, Alberta.
Belak spent time in Calgary, Florida, Toronto and Nashville. His busiest season was 2002-03 when he scored an NHL career high 9 points for the Leafs. But Belak wasn’t about lighting the lamp: he also logged in 196 penalty minutes that year. He retired this past season after he cleared waivers but wasn’t picked up by a club. He was forging a broadcasting career, was set to appear on CBC’s Battle of the Blades, and as my pal Amanda at Inside Smashville notes, had trained to be a volunteer firefighter in Tennesse.
It’s been a tough summer for NHL fans, but no question, it’s been a nightmare for the loved ones of these three athletes. It will be a while before we know why we lost Belak, and it’s easy make some semblance of a connection with his death and the loss of Boogaard and Rypien: three young men, all hockey tough guys, silently dealing with the mental game of being a professional athlete and living with injuries.
Regardless of what we learn in the coming days, I just hope for this: that we talk more openly about eliminating the stigma of mental illness and getting people – athletes included – the help and support they need. And “we” includes the NHLPA. The Canadian Mental Health Association cites that “one in every five Canadian adults under age 65 will have a mental health problem”. Assuming there are just under 1000 guys playing in the NHL, do the math: the odds are fairly good that there are a number of hockey players who live with mood or anxiety disorders, and may be abusing drugs or alcohol to self-medicate. Instead of being quick to judge these guys for having so much too soon, we need to show compassion.
We at Ladies… send our thoughts and prayers to Wade’s family.
UPDATE: In an interview with the CBC, Wade’s mother Lorraine confirmed that her son suffered from depression. The NHL and NHLPA released a joint statement Thursday in response to these recent off-ice deaths and have committed to “examining…the factors that may have contributed to these events, and to determining whether concrete steps can be taken to enhance player welfare and minimize the likelihood of such events taking place.”
Never mind Kate and William, or those rumours about Brangelina finally tying the knot. The Wedding We Care About here at Ladies… is that of our own Buffalita, who will be exchanging vows with the soon-to-be Mr. Buffalita next weekend.
Unfortunately, time, money and geography prevents us Ladies… from throwing her a proper bachelorette party, complete with wine, taco dip and game of washers (WHAT! A game of washers was completely acceptable at my baby shower! Maritimers know how to party, yo!)
So instead, we’re sending our best wishes in true Ladies… fashion with this series of posts dedicated to the Best Bride-to-be in NY State. Who needs a male *ahem* exotic dancer when you can run a series of photos of handsome athletes instead? (Besides, it eliminates that messy tipping…)
Let this song set the mood and join us after the jump to see who I picked for Part 1 of Buff’s Bachelorette.
News so fantastic, it had to announced in ALL CAPS without spaces between words and punctuated with THREE exclamation points: the stupid, stupid NFL lockout is officially OVER! Commence the planning of fantasy drafts and opening weekend tailgate spreads post haste.
Maybe next week, I won’t be settling into a new job while dealing with our annual family-wide summer barfing flu. See, I have just about enough time to tell you where the Stanley Cup is. It’s in the Czech Republic, chilling with David Krejci and Carolina’s new Hurricane Tomas Kaberle. I dunno – isn’t hanging with your former team’s Stanley Cup kind of like showing up on WCW Monday Nitro with the WWF Intercontinental Championship belt in your hand? But I digress.
So Kaberle brought the Cup to his hometown of Kladno, where he was presented a shield with the town’s coat of arms and a sword because “as the modern defender must be able to even attack”. Heh. And those guys in the Hello Piggy overalls? Are an actual band!
Somehow, all of this weirdness makes me appreciate Tomas Kaberle a little more. Glad to see the guy had some fun with this, since it’s hard to imagine he’ll have an opportunity like this again. NHL.com has some movies and more on their Summer with Stanley 2011 blog. Of course, not to be outdone, Zdeno Chara has rented a freaking castle for his day with the Cup on Friday in Slovakia. I’m guessing normal structures in his home country simply cannot accommodate a man of that kind of towering stature. That, or he’s planning a hell of a kegger.
We hope you enjoyed your holiday weekend! I’m still unpacking and cleaning up gear from the Great Island Campout of 2011, in which I did not end up on Princess Kate Watch and did not get to celebrate Brad Richards signing with the Maple Leafs.
And tonight? It’s warm! Summer warm! Finally! Also building heat is Team USA, who defeated Columbia 3-0 yesterday in Women’s World Cup action in Germany. The win clinches them a spot in the quarter finals. They face Sweden tomorrow at 2:45 ET.
Back to hockey for a minute… Continue reading
My post this week was originally supposed to be about the NHL Draft until Tuesday when I learned that JESUS LORD DOUG GILMOUR IS GOING TO THE HOCKEY HALL OF FAME!!!
You’re damn right that deserves to be written in all caps. Doug Gilmour is one of the biggest reasons I became a Leafs fan, although I admit that even when I was still hanging on to my childhood affection for the Canadiens, I already had a crush on Killer. What sane girl didn’t? And for that matter, what sane guy? Because there is no platonic man love like the love of a Leafs fan for Dougie Gilmour. Just ask Don Cherry once you get past the jump.
I know I’m supposed to let go my puritan ways and appreciate the “fun” and “excitement” that is interleague baseball. Yet after 14 years of interleague, I still find it weird. Not fascinatingly weird. Just uncomfortably weird. Is it just me?
My reasons are painfully obvious, but here they are for the record. Continue reading
I hope you realize that we are better than this.
I signed off from our Stanley Cup Game 7 liveblog after glancing at a burning vehicle on the CBC and went to bed not even considering for a moment that actions would escalate the way they did.
As a Canadian, I was horrified, shocked, disgusted, angry. But mostly, I felt sorry for the friends I know who live in that beautiful city. Because as embarrassed and upset as most Canadians were, those emotions paled compared to how British Columbians were feeling.
I was also upset at the blame being place on Vancouver’s police. Really, if you want to place the blame on anyone, how about starting with the neanderthals who actually created this mess.
Thursday morning should have been all about celebrating a team that hoisted the Cup for the first time in nearly 40 years. Instead, it was focused on violence, looting, and a provocative photo of a couple locked in an embrace on the ground while surrounded by riot police.
Forget that. Nothing makes me prouder as a Canadian, hockey fan and human being to see images like this. Sure, it speaks to the power of social media. But let’s give credit where credit is due: these are good souls who have stepped up to help a city heal.
We can draw lessons from these smiling faces in Canucks and Bruins sweaters, armed with plastic bags and latex gloves. We can also learn from British Columbians like Betty Fox, who carried on her son Terry’s legacy and raised important funds for cancer research through activities such as the annual Terry Fox Run held throughout Canada. Betty passed away on Friday after suffering from complications from diabetes and arthritis. Reports say she was in her early 70s.
Hurtful actions and tragedy can be overcome through simple acts of generosity and kindness. Canadians all knew of Betty and were touched and inspired by her commitment to carry on the fight against cancer in her son’s memory. We can also be proud of and be inspired by those faces on the streets of downtown Vancouver, whose names we may not know but whose actions speak louder than words.
This is what being Canadian is all about.
Enjoy, Bruins fans. You deserve this.
Game 7 is on! The Cup’s here, Games Mistress and Lady Bee are here, all that’s left is for you to join us by clicking here.
Just a quick hit to give you something to read between periods tonight.
Know how I always talk about the East Coast’s love for all things Boston? Here’s an article from the Globe and Mail that backs up my point, but only to a certain extent. See, what I got out of this was a) Bruins fans in the Maritimes consist of old guys who are missing their own teeth and b) the Maritimes consist solely of Nova Scotia…oh, wait, they threw PEI a bone. So this story drove me crazy all day. Yeah, I know it’s customary for Canadians in my part of the country to kvetch about how the rest of Canada views us. When national publications talk East Coast, they’re really just talking about Halifax (so we think). And the national CBC is even worse, as when they talk about the East, it seems to end at the Quebec border. Grrr.
So here’s a footnote to that Globe article. New Brunswick is home to two Bruins greats: Don Sweeney, who spent the better part of 15 seasons with Boston, and Willie O’Ree, who broke the NHL colour barrier. For the record, I know far more Bruins fans out here than actual Canucks fans (apologies to those cheering them on because they’re the last Canadian team standing).
And many of them are women.
Here’s something to make you smile, speaking of Boston: one kid honouring his uncle’s memory with an assist from the Red Sox. I can’t hate on them when they agree to do stuff like this.
This is from a few days ago, but Star Wars fans will enjoy this tale from our pal Andrew Bucholtz at Sporting Madness.
And now back to some seriousness: keep Nathan Horton in your thoughts, OK? God, I hate seeing anyone being carried off on a stretcher.
Hope you had an enjoyable holiday weekend! Let’s get this part out of the way first: CALLED IT!
Talk about a region that is simply torn when it comes to hockey loyalty. On the one hand, this part of Canada is crawling with longtime Bruins fans, thrilled to see the team in the Final for the first time in over two decades (it’s another geographic thing. See Red Sox, Boston.) On the other hand, a Canadian team is thisclose once again to hoisting the Cup, and that means the bandwagon is making room. Vancouver fans have waited nearly as long to get back to the Final: 1994, to be exact.
I’m also torn. It’s the Great Battle of My Hockey Boyfriends: Kesler vs. Thomas! And I realize I am crushing on two American-born players. Whatevs. This is going to be a fun series. It all begins Wednesday (here‘s the sched. Being on Atlantic time, I am grateful for all the 8pm Eastern starts. No need for me to mainline coffee the following morning unless we get subjected to OT.)
To celebrate, I pulled together a playlist featuring great bands from both great cities. So put some beers on ice, dig out your fave retro sweater and crank up the laptop speaker after the jump.
Since it’s been all of five months since we did a post on Kevin Durant, we thought it was time for another montage of the Thunder’s forward. Never mind, of course, that he led Oklahoma City to a Game 7 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies Sunday with a stellar postseason offensive performance (39 points!) The team will return to the West final for the first time in 15 years when they were the celebrated Seattle (Super)Sonics. It won’t be an easy task, mind you: they’re facing the Mavs. But aren’t you glad to see a West final that doesn’t include Kobe for a change?
More Durant deliciousness and your Monday music fix after the jump.
Round Two of the PLAYOFFS THAT SEEM TO NEVER END is well underway (and might I add that I am proud that I was 5 for 8 in my playoff picks?) Several series kept us at the edge of our seats by going the distance to Game 7. And let’s not forget the games that spilled into overtime (yes, please take your regular season shootout and shove it, NHL!) Here’s a look at a few guys that seemed to be in the right place at the right time. Always remember: good things happen when you go to the net.
For those of you who observed Easter this weekend, we hope you had a wonderful time with family and friends and avoided eating your weight in ham and chocolate (um, unlike me.) Here’s a quick look at what you may have missed over your three-or-four day weekend.
It’s the Monday of a four-day work week for me. Don’t those Mondays seem like the very longest of Mondays? Ugh. And for that reason, I wish I had this post up for you sooner. Forgive me. How about I make it up to you with not one, but three Mr. Mondays!
Let’s start with a belated Happy Patriots’ Day to the good residents of my geographical neighbours in Maine, and further on in Massachusetts. The Red Sox celebrated the day by beating up on the Toronto Blue Jays 9-1. It was like the War of 1812 except, um, not really. At all.
But hey, how about Jed Lowrie who had four hits including a two-run homer! I haven’t done the research, but at .516/.545/.774, is it safe to say that Jed is off to his Best Start Ever? It’s just a shame he’s Scutaro’s backup. The win is Boston’s third in a row, so maybe we’re finally seeing the team we were warned about all along.
See who else made our Monday after the jump.
How can a weekend recovering from the flu be your best weekend ever? When you spend it on the couch with your hubby diamond surfing through the MLB Extra Innings free preview. Yankees game only on at 5? Let’s see how the Pirates are doing in Chicago! Painful to watch? Let’s see how Melky Cabrera looks in baby blues! Wait, can we go back to Texas again? Because that was awesome.
Honestly, I’d get nothing done if I had the baseball package for my dish.
Anyway, it’s another busy Monday. Here are some quick links to get you through the day:
Tonight: UConn. Butler. No, none of us picked these guys in the Championship. But kudos to unofficial winner CuteSports! [NCAA]
Tomorrow night, Notre Dame faces Texas A&M for the women’s basketball title. Skylar Diggins had 28 points last night as her Fightin’ Irish downed the Connecticut Huskies 72-63, ending their run for a third straight championship. [ESPN]
You guys, Aramis Ramirez needs a hug. [Onion Sports Network]
Guess who’s first in the AL East as of this afternoon? The Orioles! Guess who’s last? Here’s a hint. I’m told THEY’RE THE BEST TEAM ON PAPER!! [It's early.]
Move away from the panic button and have an excellent week!
High socks. Eye black. Dusty mounds. Cliff Lee. Baseball is back for reals, and we at Ladies… couldn’t be happier. Many of us have spent the last few days figuring out how to weasel out of whatever we’re going to be up to at the time our respective favorite teams are playing. Me? TWO HOUR MEETING when Mike Mussina throws the ceremonial first pitch at Yankee Stadium. How am I supposed to sneak my phone in to listen to the game? ARGH! (although Games Mistress told me there was lots of rain expected in New York Thursday, so I may get my wish after all.)
It’s Opening Day for these Ladies… faves. Let’s see what they’re up to today:
It’s Monday. How are your brackets looking? Like hell? Thought so.
First of all, a warm welcome to our special guest Ladies… Bracket Brawl participants: Melissa_thistle, Courknee35, Big10Bias and fellow Canuck/friend of the blog Andrew Bucholtz (you will go read his blog The 55-Yard Line now, won’t you?) Our current leader isn’t in our Ladies… group – due to technical difficulties, we had to create another group on ESPN.com so one gal could get her picks in. That gal is Buffalita, leading the pack with 460 points and picking Ohio State to win it all. CuteSports and Raven round out the Top 3 at 440 and 430 points respectively. Any hopes I had of repeating last year’s surprise success have been flushed down the proverbial toilet. I blame Butler.
Best of luck heading into Thursday! Sweet Sixteen will be hopefully be sweet for some of you.
So what else is going on? Continue reading
I love hockey. But the events of this past season are seriously testing my loyalty to this sport. Put it this way: there is a reason why I have grown to love baseball more in recent years.
I’ve been watching NHL hockey since Gretzky wore an Oilers jersey. Ugly, filthy hits have existed for years. But is it just me, or are they increasing? Continue reading
We’re taking their annual blogging break to recharge our batteries. But don’t worry, we’ll be back in a week with all the fun that March has to offer: MLB Spring Training, NHL and NBA playoff position jockeying, and of course, March Madness (including our annual Bracket Challenge where I will defend my title as Unexpected Champ. I’m the Canadian. How does that even happen?)
Enjoy the next seven days!
The timing was almost perfect: I took today off to recover from an arduous 11 hours of traveling from Ottawa to my East Coast home on Sunday to make up for a canceled direct flight on Friday (Mother Nature has been particularly bitchy to New Brunswickers this year. I swear, we have at least one snowstorm a week.) The hubby and I were all set to brew some coffee, snuggle on the couch and consume hours of TSN Tradecentre 2011 (the annual wall-to-wall coverage of the NHL Trade Deadline, for those of you unfamiliar.)
But not surprisingly, another snowstorm dumped 15 centimetres (at least) in our driveway and the kids stayed home from school. *sigh* So much for Date Day.
Trade Deadline Day was disruptive for some of our favorite players as well. Here’s a look at some of the notables who wound up with a new zip/postal code today, as well as a few who surprisingly managed to stay put.