Today, YKI welcomes guest columnist, KingJ77, our resident hockey expert (below first pic).
Those of you that watched the U.S. vs. Canada matchup last night were treated to PHENOMENAL hockey, even for the most casual of sports fans. From YKI’s perspective, Olympic Hockey is faster, more skilled and more ‘open’ (and thus inherently watchable) than it’s NHL cousin (neutral-zone trap, anybody). Also noting that there are five Kings on the Olympic squads, the local angle increases interest. . .but back to last night’s game – I arrived home from a Dogs game in the 2nd period and remained captivated throughout, despite a brief bout of shortness-of-breath during the frenetic final four minutes of the 3rd period.
Both teams were playing AMAZING, Ryan Miller is a stud, and Drew Doughty is no longer a secret. The pace was awesome, and all-time great Martin Brodeur was no match for the relentless U.S. attack, leading to his benching for the Canoodians’ subsequent matchup versus Germany. Ryan Kesler’s empty netter at the end was as spectacular as you can get. . .and to think, this was just a ‘seeding/bragging rights’ game. Imagine the medal round.
Oh yeah, also – the matchup was the MOST Watched program in Canadian Sports Television HISTORY.
Yesterday’s Team US victory was great and exciting. Ever since the tournament began, the media had its eye on a Russia v Canada gold medal matchup. Nobody in the media gave the US a chance….?
Everyone involved in the NHL knows exactly who the US is: a bunch of quality NHLers who can beat anyone. They may not have the skill of Russia or Canada…but they are the most physical team…and they do have legitimate scorers.
In fact, the most impressive aspect of the US team is not that they are 3-0…it’s that they were built like a real team. Every player on this team plays the exact same role as they do on their NHL teams. Nobody is playing out of position. For example, Rick Nash is an awesome offensive player who plays for the Columbus Blue Jackets. Young, big, strong, can score 40-50 goals, and occassionally bangs his big body. The key word is “ocassional.” Now look at Nash on Team Canada and he is their main physical force. He is playing away from his natural abilities and this is evident thus far. Canada however, is so freakin talented that they can overcome any of this.
Now, back to business…why has the US team been overlooked? Because of the following:
(1) The US media doesn’t know shit about hockey….and doesn’t care about hockey.
(2) The Miracle on Ice (1980). This game took place in a different era…almost like in a different dimension for a couple of reasons. (a) That team was comprised of a bunch of college players who defeated Russian professional hockey players (that was during the soviet union and cold war in which russians were not allowed to play in the NHL). (b) US hockey players sucked back then…but they are now on par with the best hockey players in the world. Thus, the media (and ignorant sports fans) is living in the past and believes the US is still that same underdog..although this couldn’t be further from the truth.
The ignornance of the US media can be dissected further as the following developments have been overlooked:
(1) The World Championships (World Cup). The World Cup is a tournament that occurs every 4-7 years (but the last was in 1998) in which professional NHL players represent their countries and play by NHL rules in North America. It is almost like the olympic tournament…except it is way better. The semifinals and finals are best of 3…fighting is allowed, NHL rules, intense, no bullshit Latvia skilled teams etc… Well, in 1998, guess who won? That’s right… the US beat Canada in the Championship round. The US had Brian Leetch, Brett Hull, Modano, Mike Richter, etc….that’s a freakin’ Hall of Fame lineup…for real. Nobody in the US media educates the masses by bringing this up.
(2) The Junior Tournaments in Canada are as important as March Madness in the US…except it is bigger in Canada. In fact, there are 2 tournaments (Under 16 and under 18). Guess who won both tournaments this year?….that’s right…the US cleaned up Canada in the finals both tournaments…almost setting off riots in the aftermath.
Well…hopefully you are starting to understand….
Kudos to Ramona Shelbourne on her new gig for EspnLosAngles.com, espousing on the inconsisent, difficult-to-read play of both the USC and UCLA hoops squads.
That said, folks back in the Tri-Valley of Eastern Washington are disappointed reading about the upstart Bruins defeating the Cougars, 74-62. Again, the continued scrappy play of Mustafa Abdul-Hamid provided a constant spark. The Bruins are now one game out of first place – and two games out of last – in the Pac-10 conference standings. The conference Champion will get a bid, but will that champ be the only team from the Pac-10 to make the tourney?
I’m telling you, how can you not harken back to this guy during times such as these:
Oh yeah, that’s right.
I will tell you this, however, Kevin O’Neill is doing a helluva job in obscurity (and sanctionville) after the implosion of last year’s Trojan squad. I’ll bet even this guy is proud:
Bytheway Dodger fans – have you checked out Dylan Hernandez’s Twitter yet?
As far as the Angels are concerned, an unemotional goodbye is in order for strangely estranged Native Son Gary Matthews Jr., traded unceremoniously for Brian Stokes, another California kid. Matthews never really fit under Arte’s regime; always the fourth outfielder, sort of in a Juan Pierre-esque fashion – Matthews definitely is good enough to play centerfield wherever he wants, but his hitting just hasn’t been the same since the suspiciously successful 2006 year he had with the Rangers. The HGH accusations didn’t sit too well at home, nor with the Angels’ brass.
Also I keep saying it – don’t sleep on the Kings this year. NHL pundit Jason Sapir says they still may be too young, but with inspirational wins such as the 3-2 comeback over the Red Wings becoming commonplace, don’t be surprised if they ride young goalie Jonathan Quick to a deep run in the Playoffs. With five Olympians, the squad is immensely talented. And well coached. Even with the rift between negative18er Jack Johnson and stud GM Dean Lombardi, the Kings are playing well, and holding on to the seventh seed in the West.
Despite the spate of trouble recently, Tiger Woods celebrated (we assume) being named the AP’s Athlete of the Decade. 64 tournament wins (12 majors) will do that for a man. Lance Armstrong, Roger Federer, Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt, Tom Brady round out the Top Six.
UCLA Hoops is back. . .kind of: Rips New Mexico 100-68. Sylmar High grad Tyler Honeycutt has a breakout game with 14 points in his first extended minutes.
Bill Shaikin comes through again with a promise of “bombshells” in the May 24th trial date between the McCourts. Hopefully the Dodgers can acquire a player or two prior to that date. . .Jamie’s lawyer Dennis Wasser may have crossed a line or two by accusing Frank of having RAIDS: “recently acquired income deficiency syndrome.”
Kobe – broken finger and all – leads the Lakers to another win, this time vs. the Bulls, by scoring 42 points. Pau has only 7 shots, though, and is getting more discouraged by the DAY as he becomes a smaller part of the Lakers offense.
L.A. Kings are on TOP of the Western Conference – 2nd overall in the NHL – after another win yesterday, this time against the Oilers. With Quick in goal, they’re phenomenal.
UCLA football netted more All-Americans (3: Kai Forbath, Brian Price, Rahim Moore) than USC did (2: Taylor Mays, Jeff Byers). . .another sign that the momentum in the crosstown rivalry really is changing?
Now of course Gerhart has little-to-no-chance of victory, especially being out here on the West Coast. . .I won’t even get into the East Coast Bias. Same applies to Masoli, who wasn’t invited to the ceremony; all it took was one (albeit, horrible) game to start the season (Lagerrette Blount, anybody?) to remove him from having a shot at the trophy. . .and McCoy should have weighed in at #2 or #3 but to me, that clock-management at the end of the Nebraska game was unfathomable and unbecoming of a Heisman candidate.
I will say, the voting is going to be exciting this year with the wide-open field of candidates, so don’t be surprised if Suh (or even Tebow?!) wins the trophy just due to being named on so many ballots. Will be very interesting, much like this guy:
“you guys really think I want to coach here?”
and you really gotta read the comments by this guy, who bytheway has a legitimate argument for being the ‘most slept on’ Heisman candidate in eons.
Sticking with College Football, looks like UCLA’s season could keep getting better.
is the battle cry, as a Navy victory secures the Bruins a berth in the Eagle Bank Bowl, and yet another leg up on Pete Carroll’s rapidly declining Trojan Dynasty.
Congratulations to local hero Malcolm Smith of Oaks Christian in Westlake Village for winning the Gatorade National Football Player of the Year award. The touching part of the story is that Joe Mauer actually walked into his classroom to present the award, causing Smith to shed a tear.
Lastly, a belated shout to the L.A. Kings – one point out of first place after another rousing victory last night, this one in an eight-round shootout. My man Jason Sapir has been talking since last year about the Kings’ resurgence as an organization and it looks like Wayne Simmonds, Anze Kopitar, Jonathan Quick, Dustin Brown, et al, are really moving the team forward faster than initially anticipated.
That’s it fiends – have a great weekend.
Mike Bresnahan expounds upon Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and his dilemma to come forward with his Leukemia struggle
Kareem is intensely private, and a delicate matter such as this was handled sensitively. Here’s hoping Kareem can vanquish this foe.
Magic and Kobe Selected as top Guard duo in Los Angeles Lakers History, writes Broderick Turner
I wonder how Jerry West feels . . .
UCLA Hoops wins an exhibition, this time with a bit more ease than the preseason opener
Bruins defeat Humboldt State 74-57
Eric Gordon to miss six more games with a groin injury
and he’s my starting SG on the fantasy squad
Vin Scully will broadcast in 2010, then decide future
Vinny, stick around forever!
31st Annual Best in the West Prep Hoops Team announced
Bryce Jones and DeAndre Daniels from Woodland Hills Taft included