Friday, June 29, 2007

Get Out Your Calculators Kids

So the NHL salary cap for the coming year is going to be $50.3 million. Wow. From 39 mill to over 50 in 2 years. Seems fishy for a league that has like, zero revenue.

I am too tired at the end of a Friday to figure out what this all means for the Habs. Maybe it means we actually could sign Brière? Oh, jeebus. One week of blogging about the Habs and we're like the francophone media already.

We'll hit the Excel spreadsheet over the weekend to get this all sorted out.

Goodbye Mr. and Mrs. Souray, Montreal Will Miss You

A kind reader sent along this video in response to our Angelica Bridges post on Wednesday. As you know by now, she's the wife / ex-wife / estranged wife / reconciled wife (seriously which is it?) of soon-to-be L.A. King Sheldon Souray. Apparently she is a singer as well as an actress/model (multi-talented!), and this is her pop group, Strawberry Blonde. Heh.

While there is no nudity per se (FHF has a no nudity policy, who knew?), there are definitely plenty of NSFW moments for the boys on a Friday afternoon. Goodbye, Sheldon and Angelica. Your surgically-repaired wrist firing cannons from the point and hot bod, respectively, will be missed.

The Morning Skate for Friday, June 29th

Bullet points for what you missed while having nightmares of Mats Sundin scoring in OT of a Game 7 against the Habs...
  • Panger's part two of the Hunt for Red First Line Center. Seriously East-coasters, you slept through this given Panger's West coast posting schedule. It's well worth scrolling down two inches to read it;
  • Your 2007 HOF class is Messier, Francis, McInnes, and Stevens. To see a Hartford Whaler go into the Hall for some reason makes me ferklempt;
  • RDS calls Brière's chances of signing with the Sabres "practically nil". Easy boys, HE'S NOT COMING;
  • Countdown to UFA period in hours - 41. Makes me think of, hmm, Brent Gilchrist?

I'm sure we'll have some more UFA thoughts and a special goodbye to Sheldon Souray, so check back in often. What else you gonna do, work?

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Looking out for Number One, Part Two

So welcome to the, um, "highly anticipated" second instalment of FHF's look at the Habs UFA options for a first or second line centre. Available players out of the Western Conference are on deck today. (What's the hockey equivalent of "on deck"? "Next off the bench"? ""At the Zamboni doors"? I'll have to think about that one.)

Robert Lang
Another guy I loved last summer. I was hoping Gainey could pull off an Aebischer/Zednik deal for him, but it looks obvious today why Kenny Holland wouldn't bite on a package like that. Anyhow, this year he's a UFA and by the looks of it Detroit is ready to cut him loose. Upside is he energizes AK27 and provides that famous "big body presence" up the middle which the Habs currently lack in spades. He'll be 37 this season, and his point totals are one the downside, but if he puts up40-50 points playing with Kovalev and can line up against other big centers, I still think he'd be a good option. Of course, as always in the New NHL, the bottom line is in dollars. I see another Jason Arnott scenario unfolding: some team is going to step up and open the vault because he's a proven scorer with size. So what if he's not putting up the same point totals; just look at Bobby Holik. Outside the obvious top end candidates like Briere and Gomez, he seems like the next best option.

Michal Handzus
He'll probably re-sign in Chicago and spend the season watching Samsonov skate laps around the edge of the offensive zone, which will somehow cause Tuomo Ruutu's wrist to break as Sammy breezes by him on th 15th lap. Handz brings allot of the same attributes as Lang, but younger and much, much better hair. I'm talking out-of-this-world, young Jagr in his prime hair. Hockey Player hair. Hair a hockey player would be proud of. I think what I'm saying is that I like his hair. Although I'm not sure there is enough Pantene Pro-V in the Province of Quebec for both Handzus and Maxim Lapierre.

Bryan Smolinski
How many teams does a player have to play for before he can be described as a "journeyman"? Smolinski's no Brent Ashton or Michel Petit, but he's been around about as much as say, a 17-year old Lindsay Lohan. Smolinski is at eight clubs right now, and I feel confident enough to officially call it: Bryan Smolinski is a journeyman. And Gainey ain't looking for no journeymen. (Complete this sentence: If ever there was a "journeyman" GM, it's...?? Anyone more than twice? I'm sure I've forgotten one but I don't think there are a plethora. Even in hockey, Marx was right: it's better to be in management. Although the title does apply to coaches, right Mike Keenan?)

Wes Walz
Some may argue he, too, is a journeyman. But here's a guy who made it to the NHL at the age of 30, and has become an integral part of the Wild franchise. He's an all round player with heart ... ok seriously, its just about the name. Come on, how can you not add a guy with a name like "Wes Walz". Weeesss Waaaalllzzzz. "Walz waltzes in and scores!" "What do the Habs forth line and a good Contractor have in common? Streit Walz." (Roll it around on your tongue a couple of time; you'll get it. I bet you'll like it, too.) Anyway, great name. A Wild name, though.

Pierre Turgeon
I just ate my tie. My own tie.

Petr Nedved
Only if its the 1995/96 version. Remember when he was good? Was that when he played for the Czech Republic? Or Canada? Or for the Czechs the second time? Seriously, how can the IIHF allow a player to be a international slut like that? (See how I passed up the "Eastern-European male Lindsay Lohan joke right there? Yeah, I' proud of me, too.) Pick a team, Petr. And here 's a nickel, buy an "e". I figure a nickel is enough in Prague, where he'll be playing next year.

Eric Lindros
In 2084, in a room alone are HF33 and his great-grandson:

Greatgrandson: "Great Grandpapa, tell us a story about when you were young."

SuperOldHF33: "Well, I do remember one story, in the summer of 2007, I was there, that warm summer afternoon in July, and I saw it all unfold before my eyes. They called it, 'The Lindros Riot'...."

Peter Forsberg
But no way. He's going somewhere comfy to rest his feet. I'd love to see Forsberg and Drury reunite with Sakic in Colorado for one last run. But only if they buy-out Theo. No Cup for you!

So post-July first FHF's going to look at what we got - or what options remain if he didn't. (Hint: Patrick Marleau)

Bruins to change jerseys; Still suck at everything else hockey-related

Big news out of Boston, where the hated B's and their skinflint owner have accidentally done something right by changing the horrible jerseys they have sported lately back to something resembling the "classic" (and by classic, I mean the Orr-Espo-O'Reilly-Cashman years, the era those lunchbucket carrying gorillas consider their golden age ... after all, they won 2 (2!) cups, lost in a huge upset to an even more thuggish Flyer team, and were on the wrong end of the most famous too-many-men penalty ever) Bruins togs.

You just know Jeremy Jacobs did it for the cash, and not the right reason, which is as follows:

The Bruins, an original six franchise, used to have a cool looking jersey. They saw dollar signs and changed it to something that looked like it was created using an ECHL jersey starter kit, then compounded the problem by introducing a mustard yellow third jersey with Smokey the Bear's severed head as the logo. Their jersey needed to be changed so that they weren't embarassing their Original Six brethren, all of whom have top ten jerseys style-wise . At least now they are only propping up the bottom of the standings, not the apparel sales too.

You just know whatever fans the B's have left will buy these things in droves. You know TD Banknorth Garden will still only be half-full, so Jeremy Jacobs will sell off Patrice Bergeron for 50 cents on the dollar. You know the Habs will still step on the Bruins necks all next year no matter what they're wearing. Tim Thomas could come out dressed like fucking Batman and he's still giving up at least 5 goals next time he visits the Bell Centre.

Sorry Hamilton, Looks Like You're Stuck In Leafs Nation

So it looks like Balls-Silly is not getting his wish. No matter how many crackberries you sell, you cannot escape the reach of Harold Ballard from beyond the grave.

TSN is reporting that the Preds have found a different buyer, who is expected to move them to Kansas City. Nothing seems firm yet, though, so you Hamiltonians can always hope. But it looks like my vintage Kansas City Scouts jersey might have some real value now.

It's too bad, sort of. I wonder what a Hamilton-Habs rivalry would have been like. Angry and bitter like any Habs-Canadian team rivalry? Or a love-fest based on a shared hatred of the Leafs? Looks like we'll never know.

The Morning Skate for Thursday, June 28th

Bullet points for what you missed while dreaming of the Molson Ex Zone girls dancing after a goal...
  • Daniel Brière and the Sabres have made "no progress" in contract talks. I love the way a story about nothing happening is the lead on Dream on, francophone media, he's not coming here;
  • Hall of Fame announcement to come to today. Messier's in, then it gets messy;
  • Martin Brodeur quits the NHL Competition Committee in protest of them not protecting goalies enough. Marty was upset they wouldn't let goalies slash players in their crease with impugnity;
  • HF10's debut was stellar. He'll put the rest of us to shame with actual writing skills;
  • UFA period hours countdown - 66. Just a magical number.

Keep checking back for more UFA previews as Canada Day/UFA Day draws near. And for those of you who hate hockey, I'm sure there'll be some hot chicks too. You know, that are related to hockey somehow.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Not Much Time Left To Post This Picture

So much talk around here about Sheldon Souray, so not enough talk about his hot wife / ex-wife / estranged wife, whatever. Anyway you slice it, she's hot.

Obviously she is the one second from the left. If you don't know, she is Angelica Bridges, and her IMDB profile is pretty D-list. But screw it, she's hot and was on Baywatch. And she's sort of married to a Hab, for a few days at least. Here's her official site. Rowr.

This picture won't make any sense when Sheldon signs with L.A. on Sunday, so I wanted to get it up now. I know there are three other hot hockey wives in the photo, but I wanted to focus on the estranged Mrs. Souray, because Panger loves the redheads.

We'll get to the others in the future. For some reason, I feel the FHF will be posting about HHWs (Hot Hockey Wives) a lot. Call me Kresgin.

First shift for HF10

So the problem becomes how do I make my (to quote HF29) "long awaited" world premiere? What in blazes do I talk about? Where do I fit in? I probably won't be as prolific as HF29, or as analytical and coherent as Panger76, nor will I spend as much time on my birthday with strippers as HF33. I'll probably be the one who writes most when he's angry, as if someone just showed me footage of Stan Jonathan pummeling Butch Bouchard or the Jets taking Shane Doan at number 7 with the Habs sitting at number 8, trying to talk themselves into Terry fucking Ryan.

That used to be every draft weekend, when Serge would invariably pick the biggest, slowest, stone-handedest draft eligible Seattle Thunderbird (Only Turner gets a pass, if for no other reason than the wallpapering he delivered to Jagr in the Habs-Pens series in 2001) or when Reggie would snap up the slow, smallish kid who went through French immersion and averaged a point a game in the WHL. (Matt Higgins, I'm looking in your direction ... good God man, Arron Asham scored 45 goals in the WHL one year. WTF were you doing out there, playing with a ringette stick?).

This year? I didn't even flinch when Espo slid by because I toe the FourHabsFans company line: Trust in Bob. It's like the analogy a college coach used to describe Notre Dame's hiring of Charlie Weis to replace Tyrone Willingham: Bob and Timmins replacing Reggie was like replacing mall cops with Navy Seals. If they get this offseason thing right by brainwashing Brian Rafalski into leaving Jersey, convincing Tampa that David Aebischer is their answer in goal for the low low price of Brad Richards, and Jurassic Park-cloning themselves a few of the numbers hanging from the rafters, I might need to listen Bob Cole, Harry Neale and Don Cherry fellate the Leafs all the way into 10th in the East just to get annoyed at something.

That being said, the new kid from Cretin-Derham better be more Chris Chelios than Brad Brown. All the best, Ryan McDonagh. We'll be watching ... and writing.

Esposito No Ribeiro

Habs fans do not want to see Mike Ribeiro in a Canadiens uniform ever again. The Lisbon Experiment did have its moments, but on far too many nights the kid looked like he was skating in sand, cocky and indifferent. Fans have taken to Guillaume Latendresse because he shows some of the passion they display in the stands. At least he looks like he cares.

So when given the opportunity to draft a young junior scoring phenom from Montreal, fans wonder whether or not they'll be in for Ribeiro Redux. Because if they don't want Ribeiro back, they sure as hell don't want a reincarnation of him. That may be what Montrealers feared with the prospect of the team drafting Angelo Esposito

I recently spoke to a good friend (JR) who has known Espo for a long time. He and other people in hockey have said that Espo has a work ethic. That leaves Mickey "for the love of god someone feed this poor child" Ribs behind in the dust right there. He laced the skates at the age of 3 on a figure skating platform. By the time he was 6, he was too deft on the ice to play with boys his age. He was bumped up and dominated amongst kids several years older than he was. He comes from a hard working family, with sound values. He's a quiet kid with a good sense of respect.

Pete Sampras began playing tennis against 10 year olds when he was 5 and only really started playing people his own age as a teenager. By the age of 16 he was beating grown men to the ground. When you dominate despite being behind in physical development, that means your skill level is so high that it serves to offset any shortcomings that your young age may deliver. That truth lies in the many home videos we've seen of today's stars as children pirouetting around their respective playing surfaces, dazzling the crowd.

So in the spirit of setting the record straight, let us not fall prey to easy temptations and cliche comparisons. It's too easy. Esposito is the young Montrealer, son of European immigrants, that lit it up in junior. In essence, these are the complexities that have fueled such parallels. We are all capable of much more, as knowledgeable hockey fans. Espo being about 20 pounds heavier than the Ribs (you can see the Ribs). Look there for starters. They are not the same.

Should the Habs have drafted the kid. Of course, the brass knew everything we've said about him here and then some. The city would welcome a hometown hero, but that alone is not enough. Montreal fans couldn't care less whether the guy that lifts the Cup is a Tremblay or a Somethingsomethingsomethingov. The enormous hole in the middle on one of the top 2 lines needs to be filled now. There is a flurry of second and third line forwards on this team. AE would probably not have made the team in the face of a few players that now have a year of pro hockey to add to their arsenal (speaking of which, Adios Thierry Henry!).

The two Tits brothers will have to renew a sibling rivalry because they will both be fighting for a spot. Grabovski can grab a place, so can Chipchura.

It seems many teams, for their own reasons passed on Espo. Throwing a #12 pick away simply because you need to refill the Québécois tank flies in the face of the hockey sense that Gainey and Montrealers at large have always admired and stood for.

The Morning Skate for Wednesday, June 27th

Bullet points for what you missed while dreaming of Kyle Turris' mom...
  • St. Patrick weighs in on Espo falling to 20 and the Habs not picking him. Obviously supports his boy. Go hit the parking lot, Paddy;
  • Habs extend qualifying offers to a bunch of players, including Ryder, Plekanec, and exiled-t0-Russia Alex Perezhogin;
  • Vinny Damphousse leaves the NHLPA to focus on his Scandinavian spa business. Saskin politics vs. massages from tall blonde women - tough choice;
  • Columbus blog German Village Media breaks down Simmons' NHL Draft diary better than we did, AND with random photos of hot chicks instead of our Larry Legend photo;
  • Panger brought you part one of the Tom Clancy thriller The Hunt for Red First Line Center;
  • We can now start counting down to the UFA period in hours instead of days - 88. Hmm, Lindros fits Panger's description of what we need in a 1st line center;
  • HF33 is back after being on IR with a lower-body injury, the NHL code for spending too much time in a strip club.

Be sure to check back in the coming days. With HF33 back on the ice, Panger readying part two of the thriller, and the long-awaited world premiere of HF10, it's sure to be busier than a newly-released Paris' social calendar.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Where Have You Been HF33?

I have come out of summer hibernation, summernation. Thanks to our legions of fans and our amazing manager for the incredible "Happy Bday HF 33 Concert" that you all made so special. I will never forget. Special thanks to Coldplay, ABC and Kriss Kross.

Also, a very special thanks to HF29 for his warm, warm wishes on this very blog site. Besides serving to extend pleasant birthday well wishes, I also believe the picture chosen was a subtle wink to the St-Jean festivities of the day before and to the prospect of SEPARATION that was so well illustrated by "Madame Gave Me the Butterflies".

Was HF33 upset with the No Espo Show? Do we believe the Habs will go UFA and make all well in city that will waltz to jazz in the next few days? Tomorrow all questions shall be answered. But for now, I must rest my little head on the bosom of peace and quiet.

Looking for the Next Gros Bill

The Habs biggest need come July 1 -and really for most of my lifetime, if not since Jean Beliveau retired IN 1971(!) - is a big, physical, talented first line center. Ideally, Koivu is a #2 centerman. Ideally, as in on a Stanley Cup contender.

So who’s out there for free this summer? Is there someone who a) has size and plays like it; b) is affordable and is willing sign in Montreal; and c) can play with Kovalev. (C) might be the biggest consideration, otherwise we’re wasting about $4.5 mill again this year. And if he has a decent set up man, AK27 can be a gunner again. So in theory one signing = 2 players. Unlike the Sammy signing which = (-23 combined).

Today FHF takes a look at potential UFA’s out of the Eastern Conference.

C Daniel Briere
And somewhere Yvon Pednault just had an orgasm. But makes sense to start at the top: obviously the “great” French Canadian talent most fans are clamouring for. But I don't think it's a good hockey fit. Didn't we have an albeit much crappier French Canadien Koivu clone recently? We need size and toughness. Sure he’s tough, but not physical. Plus we're talking huge cash, making it risky cap-wise . And I think if Briere is as smart in his contract choices as he is on the ice, he will avoid Montreal like Jacques Parizeau does a bath.

Scott Gomez
Soon to be former NJD = big talent, little body, big bucks. He’ll be out of our price range – and for that money, we need a player who’d be doing the throwing in a midget-tossing contest. .

Chris Drury
Hee-YUGE heart and a proven winner. Again, unlikely at best. Someone else is going to offer him max-cap type money, and it won't be Double G (George Gillette). Unless he can play soccer, too.

Alexei Yashin
I know I'm supposed to say emphatically no. I'm sure he wants to play in Montreal. And I’m sure he's really, really sorry and promises to work hard this time. And I’m sure he means it this time, not like last time. And the time before that. And the time before that.

He's a certain type of player: a skilled, puck-hogging, unmotivated, often self centred, usually heartless, essentially mercenary player - and don't we have one just like that model? Then again, maybe that means he’ll click with AK27. But isn’t that what was said about Miro Satan (he of the all time best NHL name), and that lasted half a season. Of course Satan in no Kovalev (chuckle).

But there's a chance, right? I mean, what if he really is a good guy off the ice? What if the contract weighed him down? He did put up points early in the season before he got hurt, so he's still got some left in the tank. And he says he'll play in Montreal, which unfortunately is now a consideration - just like the Expos had to deal with. (Slowly shakes his head at the thought of comparing the Expos and Canadiens.) It comes down to two things: options and money – obviously, it’s Kash-in' Yashin' we’re taking about! If the Habs can't land any kind of big name UFA, then Yashin looks more attractive, and if the price is right (around $2M or less)...

C Viktor Kozlov
I really liked this guy last summer, but no one seemed to listen to me. He's not a physical presence, but he's big, and he's got the skill to have played between AK27 and Sammy (yeah yeah, hindsight!). And then he went out and put up 25 goals and 51 points for the Isles. Remind me again who beat us out for the last playoff spot. Ohhh, The Islanders.

Wait. Seriously? They were in the playoffs?

The lesson, as always: why don't they ever listen to me when I'm right?

Mikael Nylander
Spent the last couple of seasons as Jaromir Jagr’s set up man, which has lead some to believe he’s overrated. And the stats support this: 10 more assists the last two years with Jags on his wing that his previous career high. Could he possibly recreate such productivity with Kovalev on his wing? Well, to paraphrase a certain 1988 Democratic VP candidate, “Sir, I know Jaromir Jagr, I’ve played with Jaromir Jagr. Mr. Kovalev, you are no Jaromir Jagr.” Will NY offer more cash to keep him feeding Jagr? I would bet yes. But they may go after Gomez or Briere, in which case Nyls may be available. Supposedly Calgary and Philly have interest if he doesn’t re-up. Still, doesn’t seem like a great fit. He’s not big or physical and he’ll be 35 in October. And he was a Whalers draft pick. And the Whalers still suck (even if they won a Cup).

Dainius Zubrus
Big, talented. 2nd Liner at best, though. Interesting, but again unlikely if only because this regime has already deemed him expendable, and I somehow doubt that Gainey’s mindset will have changed. Just like his expressions.

Mike Comrie
Talented but small, questionable heart - Kashin' Yashin syndrome as well.

Yanic Perreault
HF29 : "Next!"

Keith Tkachuk
Shift him to centre you say? He's a talented, big body presence (ohh, my first Maguire-ism) with a mean streak, you say? Big mouth and ego to go with it? Pass. Plus he’s established American hockey star and American teams will pay a premium to get him and his mouth. Bottom line: Not in Montreal, thank you very much. He looks like he enjoys the nightlife. And as cool as it would be to run into him at Club Downtown, his head would explode five separate times between Peel and Stanley alone.

Jozef Stumpel
An interesting option, although not much talk about him. Upside: 6’3”, 225 Lbs., 23 goalscorer last year and at least 50 points in the last four years he’s played 70 games. Downside: He’ll be 35 in training camp, and he’s not exactly known as a physical player. Still, I think it could work if there price were right. He might even fit with AK27.

NEXT UP: Western Conference UFA’s

Bowman to Leafs: "Fuck Off"

This story makes me happy in so many ways I can barely even post about it. Steve Simmons over at the Toronto Sun is reporting Scotty turned down a Leafs offer to work in their front office.

When a Habs legend like Bowman (alright, alright, Sabres/Habs/Wings legend), class all the way, spits in the face of the team we love to hate, it makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

This may be the happiest I've been since 1993.

We Steal From The Sports Guy, He Steals Right Back

Let's face it, any time you do any sort of humourous draft live-blogging or running diary, you'll be accused of stealing from Simmons. And we did TWO of them around here. But he always stuck to the NBA, sometimes the NFL. He gave up on hockey. So we were safe.

Not anymore. The SG did his own running diary of the NHL draft. We'll just say he stole it from us. And he really doesn't know hockey if he thinks McGuire was loud and boisterous. As I said in my live-ish draft blogging, McGuire was on valium that night. At least it's funny.

The Morning Skate for Tuesday, June 26th

Bullet points for what you missed while dreaming of the parade on the usual route...
  • The language debate of the draft rages on. The Gazette's Pat Hickey defends Bob, while the commentors are at each other's throats as usual;
  • The "Should we have drafted Esposito?" debate seems like it will rage 'til the end of time. Marc De Foy of Le Journal de Montréal is actually the voice of reason and is telling people to chill out;
  • Fuck the draft. It's over. Timmins and Bob know what they are doing, so let's move on to the UFA period, a mere 4-day work week away;
  • Finally, special thanks to HF29's work colleague and D.C.-based HF Wendell, who designed our awesome new header. Really brings out the Youpster's eye colour.

The FHF wil be checking in all week with UFA analysis and snark. The Habs' 15-year search for a first-line center drags on.

Monday, June 25, 2007

May All Your Cups Be Lord Stanley's

A Very Special Happy Birthday to our own HF33 who turns thirtysomething today. The FHF will be celebrating in its usual manner - strippers. I tried to find him a photo of a stripper jumping out of a cake wearing a Habs jersey, and then I actually found one, but I think it would have made him have a heart attack and die. And I don't think we could carry on as just the THF.

Will PK Subban Play on the PK?

And the FHF all-draft-all-the-time long weekend drags on. If I may say so myself (and let's face it I may, given my Blogger account and all), the sheer volume of draft posts around here is amazing. TWO as-it-happens draft reports? Sure my posts were just drunken snark, but Panger brought the snark and the analysis. Nice. On a totally unrelated note, the FHF will soon be having staff meetings to, you know, discuss who is doing what around here.

Anyway, the story for the Habs was D and Minnesota. 6 defensemen taken. 4 picks from the 11th Canadian province. Of course, I have no fucking clue who any of them are. We'll leave the anlysis to Panger. All I see is the handsome young gentleman you see above, PK Subban, aka The Subbanator. Apparently he can't play D at all, is really an offensive D, so I'm guessing he won't be on the PK at all. Just tragedy for headline writers.

Always a story around the Habs is the Quebecers. We did manage to grab Olivier Fortier from the Oceanic, but he's the only one. Of course, this is part of the larger story of the smallest number of Quebecers drafted ever. But one Québecois for the Habs will not satisfy the 110% crowd, talent evaluation be damned.

Cheer up francophone media, the free agent period is only 6 days away. Then you can really complain.

A final note - for those of you who think I only posted the picture above to show The Subbanator's, er, background, I only posted it because I still can't find a picture of Kyle Turris' mom.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

1st Annual PVR'ed NHL Entry Draft Running Diary PART THREE: #7-30

OK this is getting tedious so lets skip forward a bit. We're still waiting for some hot girlfriends, and it looks like AE is going to let us down. He and Chereponov are in the spotlight as the two high end skill players tumble down the stairs of the draft, for similar reasons - allegations of lack of heart. Somewhere Don Cherry has a huge grin on his redneck, backward thinking face.

And here we got: Montreal picks Ryan McDonagh....another American born recent high school grad, college bound D-man. AE must be crushed - although it may be the best thing for him hockey wise, and maybe personally. Well I guess Timmons and Gainey though he was more Daigle than Savard, but it'll be interesting to see how AE pans out - this is the kind of thing that 110% is going to absolutely beat to death if AE becomes a star even of the Simon Gagne magnitude (remember Eric Chouinard? Exactly.)

I though if they we going in the American D-man direction Nick Petrecki would be the pick. But Komisarek, Higgins and Fischer all panned out, so why go against success. Drafting these high school players clearly indicated they are willing to be patient with players who need to mature but have a high long-term upside potential. Or at least that is what we need to believe. Dung MacLean keeps calling him the sleeper of the draft, and he did pick Nash 1st overall, and that worked out.

Oh friction between P.Mac and Dung MacLean. I understand the Nicolai Zheredev to Montreal pre-deadline rumours. Dung has been harping on Nicky Zee all through the draft, and P.Mac was taking shots at Dung for over-emphasizing the difficulty in getting Russian players as Cherpanov continues to drop like Lindsay Lohan's skirt the afternoons she successfully auditions for a movie part.

And the Rangers land Cherepanov. First Marc Stall falls into Glen Sather's lap, now Cherepanov? Maybe the Rangers caught another break. Or will Cherpanov follow in the footsteps of Pavel Brendl?

And AE finally lands in Pittsburgh. Somehow I think that his disappointment with not landing with the Habs is tempered by his opportunity to play with Sid the Kid. The Pens have certainly settled on the skilled centre route: Crosby, Malkin, Stall, and now Esposito. With Fleury and big Ryan Whitney, they've got a solid bunch of talent who are not yet breaking the bank. If they can land a couple of big, skilled wingers and some more depth on defence they could be the closest thing to a dynasty in the New NHL. And its not like they'll have problems attracting UFA's to compliment their roster. Hmm, I think I'll end there, I think this could be its own post.

And Montreal completes the Craig Rivet trade by picking up Max Pacioretty Too bad Gainey didn't manage to extract another pick from the Sharks if Rivet resigned, but still a good trade considering we likely would have lost Rivet for nothing, as Komisarek has taken his place. Well obviously I'm happy whenever the Habs add another WOP. Lets hope he earns the recognition that Sergio Momesso never did. Yeah I know he helped win a Cup, but his stature in 80s Habs lore is grace more to his hometown background than to his impact on the ice.

Pacioretty sounds like another player in the Latendresse mould, but they now need to acquire some big centres to complement the size on the wings.

And the first hot girlfriend appears with Brendon Smith at #27. To say I was hoping for better is an understatment.

OK and that completes the 1st Annual PVR'ed NHL Entry Draft Running Diary.

NEXT: More analysis of the Habs picks and any more trades

1st Annual PVR'ed NHL Entry Draft Running Diary PART TWO: #1 thru #6

No surprise at #1 with Patrick Kane going number one. AS HF29 pointed out, the top two picks are American; although I'm not so convinced we need to bow down to our future hockey overlords south of the border quite yet (I don't see a Sidney Crosby among the Young Americans currently on the radar).

(While we're on the subject on the 1st pick, is there a worse run franchise in hockey that the Hawks? If you haven't read Net Worth by David Cruise and Alison Griffiths (as soon as HF29 shows me how to place links I'll get the link - HF29 update: here you go), pick it up. Bill Wirtz has killed that franchise. I think it's the Curse of Ted Lindsay in reverse: by accepting to be part of crushing the NHL's nascent players-union movement in the 50s, they accepted to take Lindsay off the hands of the Wings - but really it was a move to protect the league, and by extension, his own franchise. Plus he got one of the most celebrated, nastiest power forwards in the history of the game - although he never scored more than 22 goals in his 3 seasons with the Hawks. Plus, Wirtz is so cheap he didn't even pay for the name to be sewn onto the jersey of the Hawks 1st ever first overall pick.

You can imagine this conversation between Wirtz and Kane: "Here kid, keep this jersey clean and don't lose it - you only get one for free from the team. The away jersey is $230, just make the cheque out to "William Wirtz, Professional Corp." Cheap bastard.)

To say that TSN's recently fired executive du jour, Doug "As a GM it's more like Dung" MacLean, doesn't live up to the expectations of his predecessors Brian Burke and Pierre "P.Mac" Maguire is like says Columbus doesn't live up to Montreal as a hockey market. He just said that the Flyers acquired Kimo-Timo and "so-and-so". Not quite outstanding, but funny - probably a mid-70s on the Bills Simmons Unintentional Comedy Scale.

Hello again, Mrs. Turris. So Kyle Turris has Joe-Sakic like upside. We'll see. The Yotes have had a bunch of early 1st rounders but none have jumped up and grabbed a roster spot yet, so we;ll see how their record stacks up next to teams like Quebec, Pittsburgh and Ottawa that stacked a solid nucleus through early 1st rounders.

Lombardi goes off the charts for Thomas Hockey, who wants to be like Scott Neidermayer. We'll see; I guess Peter Forsberg was a surprise at #6 and look how that panned out. But He's a Seattle Thunderbirds, so there are Bilodeau/Vallis parallels.

Don't like the Caps new "retro" jerseys. I like the Eagle version better, although P.Mac described them as "postal-worker uniforms". Isn't that a good image though - they're intimidating cause you never know when one might snap. Alzner played with the Hitmen this year.

There also appears to be a major Canadian inferiority complex. Big deal, the first 2 picks are Americans. Dave Gagner, Sam Gagner's father, is making a big deal about how happy Sam is to go to a Canadian city. I guess he's not a big Pronger fan.

Edmonton is obviously hoping Gagner can be another Doug Weight, or maybe Paul Kariya. Supposedly he has awesome hands.

NEXT:" Part 3, #7-?

1st Annual PVR'ed NHL Entry Draft Running Diary PART ONE: Pre-draft coverage

OK so it looks like HF29 and I had similar ideas, which is probably a good thing. So here it is, a running diary of the highlights of the NHL Enrty Draft that I skipped though via God's Gift to Couchpotatoes, PVR. Unlike HF29, I in fact do have a life and something to do on Friday night OK truthfully it was a work golf tournament, and I hate golf. I would have much rather watched the drft live, but alas, the blog doesn't pay the bills!

(BTW, in case it wasn't clear, HF 29 = Habs Fan29, but that's too long to write out every time I have to correct his mistakes.)

TSN intro, compulsory parents/highlights montage. Oh HF29, I agree with your MILF assessment on Mrs. Turris.Can't wait to check out the hot girlfriends when they show the players in the crowd being picked. What are the odds on AE having a harem with him?

OK a couple of trades: Vokoun to FLA for picks? Damn, Balls-sillie is trying to gut the Preds to ensure we can exercise that escape clause in the lease (while its fortuitous for us here at FHF, it sucks for hockey that there is no way to go through an event like this and not talk legalese!). I give the edge to FLA considering they give up essentially what it took to get Roloson: for the 17th pick. Meanwhile, the Panthers give up a#58 (2nd Round) this year, a conditional 2nd rounder next year plus a 1st Rounder next year, which they are getting will be in the low to mid 20s - while the Preds obviously hope for a top-15 pick. Presumably that conditional 2nd pick depends when in the 1st rounder falls. An extra 2nd rounder (or even 2) is more than worth the difference between Vokoun and Roloson.

Clearly Jacques Martin is turning this into his type of team: built on solid defence, and that starts in net. Plus Vokoun is the best goalie Martin has had (besides Luongo, who he only had for a season).
**Cats take Keaton Ellerby with their first pick, so more defence for Martin.

Vesa "Vesy" Toskala and Mark "Ma" Bell to the Laughs for picks. And no wonder the Laughs are so old. But they do get quality, underrated and not ancient players in return. Toskala is young in goalie years (30) and is a huge upgrade in nets, no matter the "goalie tandem" talk from JFJ. Raycroft sucks, and I and other Habs fans constantly remind him whenever Raycraft is in our building. And I like Bell a lot, I think he'll be useful, and therefore an upgrade, on one of Sundin's wings.

Breaking News: I think Bobby MacKenzie is going to have an orgasm (not over the content, but that he gets to break the news): Balls-sillie is out as Preds owner. Oh SNAP: Leopold says he is waiting for a "binding agreement", which is law-smith speak for "pony up the dough or I'm going to K.C."

OK part 2: the 1st pick thru #7

All Hail Our American Overlords

The first two picks are American. The Habs have two picks, both American. A record-tying 10 Americans in the first round. Thank God we still rule curling.

We'll see how the rest of the draft plays out. I'm off to the land of 56k modems for a couple of days so we'll see if any of the other FHF checks in. If not, I'll be back with a recap of the always-exciting 7th round later on in the weekend. Bonne fête nationale everyone. HF29 out.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Live-ish Draft Blogging 6 - The 22nd Pick FINALLY and We're Out

Maybe some day the FHF will all live-ish blog the whole weekend of a draft, but for one HF, 2 hours of live-ish draft blogging is enough. Yeesh. There's 2 hours I'm not getting back.

Trevor Timmons congratulates the Bulldogs. The Habs 2nd pick of the round is... Max Pacioretty. Everyone happy. Panger said we should trust Timmons, so I'll go with that.

And the story tomorrow will be Esposito playing with Pens. If he does turn into a good one, you think Pittsburgh will build an arena with that team??? Anyway, we'll figure it out over the weekend. I'm out.

Live-ish Draft Blogging 5 - Habs AND McGuire (My Head May Expolde)

Unfortunately McGuire only up to 70% Valium levels as he analyzes the Habs pick so his entertainment value is minimal. Calls Espo and Cherepanov the "sliders" of the draft (duh) and praises McDonagh. But he still says someone will "steal" one of the 2 sliders any pick now.

Live-ish Draft Blogging 4 - Habs, FINALLY

1:30 in and here's Bob on stage FINALLY. I really hate drafts. The same thanks to Columbus and everything else every other GM has said. And... Trevor Timmins announces... Ryan McDonagh? With Esposito still available? Just, weird. Cherepanov still available too? Anyway, another U.S D. TSN guys like him. Another Komisarek?

Bob with Duthie explaining the pick. Saying McDonagh was his choice all along. Bob saying Espo was "on their list" but not at 12.

Let the arguing begin.

Live-ish Draft Blogging 3 - McGuire

McGuire makes his first appearance of the night. He must be splitting time with Versus. But he's on Valium or something. He's calmly, rationally, discussing picks. Where's the scary MONSTER???

8:27 update - 2nd appearance has his valium level at 80%. A bit louder, but still not himself.

Live-ish Draft Blogging 2

Kyle Turris' mom (I guess), except for bad teeth, is a quality MILF.

Live-ish Draft Blogging

So I drank at work, I drank after work, now I'm drinking at home. I've got snide comments to make, and I've got a place to make 'em.

First, I'll hold off on the snide to give some props to the Columbus crowd. They actually seem into it. And their level of booing would make MSG fans proud. They would barely let Buttman speak. Awesome.

Kane goes first. Not much of a surprise imho. The surprise was the two hot chicks in his posse. One of them sort of looked like him, so I'm guessing sisters. Mmm, sisters.

Gonna be a MONSTER night on TSN

Hopefully by the time McGuire starts screaming I'll be good and drunk. Or stoned. Hopefully both, so I can just shut out his screaming. I think this may be an old picture btw - is Domi even there any more? I generally can't stand hockey on TSN, RDS is marginally better. We all know hockey broadcasting achieved perfection with Gallivan and Irvin in powder blue CBC suits; everything else is 3rd rate.

So who's watching the draft? If I have nothing better to do, sure what the fuck I'll watch it, with plenty of booze on hand. But I'm not one of those draft crazies who lives for it. Plus it's a Friday night. I do have a life. Well, not really. So I guess I'll be watching. Possible live-blogging of the Habs pick as it happens! That'll be my first drunken post. Can't wait.

For those who will be watching, be sure to check out the hysterical guys over at The Sports Hernia with their Essential Viewing Tips for the NHL Draft. It's targetted to our American hockey fan neighbours (all 8 of 'em), but still worth the read.

Draft night in Columbus! I wish I was there. Bring it on.

Angelo = Alexandre?

OK, OK before the hate mail flows in, I'm not saying that Angelo Esposito is going to be a bust of the magnitude of Alexandre "Do my legs look sexy in this nurse's outfit" Daigle. Most importantly, I've only ever seen A.E. play in last year's Memorial Cup final, where he was good - but he also had Alex Radulov on his wing. You know, the guy who ripped it up in limited ice time with Nashville, skill to burn, nose for the net, obviously some edge to his game (playoff suspensions??!!??).

But I'm seeing scary parallels here. They both dominated junior basically on talent alone, but the knock on both was/is their heart. A.E. is 6'1 180; Daigle was 6' 185 in his last year of junior (although he played at 200 wussy pounds). They have both been in the spotlight (at least in Quebec) since they were 15-16 - and yes, I understand that scouts have been looking at A.E. for so long they are looking for weaknesses. Maybe this works for players like Kyle Turris who was playing in a relatively obscure league, but have they not been scouting other players for years? Pat Kane plays in the OHL and is almost one year older than all the other players in the draft, so scouts had plenty of time to scout him, and his value has skyrocketed this season - cause he stepped up when it mattered.

But here's the kicker for me: how can a player on a team coached but the obsessively competitive Patrick Roy not be competitive himself? And if you look at the history of highly-rated players who dropped at the last minute, for every Zach Parise there is a Patrick Stefan or a (ugh) Brent Bilodeau. And Habs fans shouldn't forget that Sergei Samsonov was thought to be a #1 overall at one point.

That being said, Trevor Timmons is the best evaluator of talent for the Habs since Sam Pollock. Just compare our pre-Timmons drafts (David Wilke, Terry Ryan etc) to our more recent (Chipchura, Price). So if Gainey can swing the right deal and Timmons wants A.E., remember the FHF mantra: Trust in Gainey (and Timmins).

Think Faster Bob, You've Only Got About 12 Hours Left

This man looks contemplative. Or constipated. It's a fine line. Either way, he better come up with something quick.

Yes, the glitz and glamour that is the NHL entry draft begins at 7:00 P.M. tonight (prime time on a Friday, in Columbus - the definition of glitz and glamour). And the stars are aligned for the Habs to do... something? Bob's sitting on 2 first rounders (12 and 22) and there's deals to be had. Or not. What do I know? Player personnel and trades and drafts are Panger's domain around here, I just complain about the sucking.

So is there a Sutter in the Habs' future? Does Esposito drop to 12? Do we only want him 'cause he's from Montreal? Man, Phil Esposito would be neat; we could use 76 goals in a season.

We'll see which of the FHF checks in before 7 to give us some sort of analysis. Undoubtedly I'll just complain about the Habs' picks after they're made.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

See What You're Missing Now, Lou?

So it's official. Claude Julien is back in the Adams division. Yeah, I still call it the Adams division. You got a problem with that Buttman?

I always liked him as a Habs coach. He got the shaft by being burdened with a team that sucked beyond all recognition and then quit on him. And last season he clearly must have slept with a relative of Lou Lamoriello to get screwed like he did. So I'm rooting for him, as much as any Habs fan can root for someone associated with the Broons.

The Habs, Soccer...and Strippers, but Who's on First?

In that order of affection, yes.

I have never watched a Habs game at a strip club. That would be a bit too much for the senses. I'll take a good game on TV over a lap dance from a girl named "Cristelle" who is trying to pay for her law degree. Sure, our exorbitant $1500 tuition fees require students to go to such lenghts. This is the city where tuition hikes occur at a slower pace than a Barry Richter end to end rush.

The FHF are slowly gearing up for Euro 2008, with qualifying games already scattered throughout the spring and summer. If Greece pulls off another upset, you read it here first, I'm going to throw myself off someplace high.

What direction are the Habs going in? It's too early to speculate. The Yashin rumors are nothing but and unless he signs, I wouldn't read much into it. I don't know that he is the igniting flame that must be lit under Kovalev's tremendously lazy culo but I don't see it as the passionate mix that brings the chalice of love home. We saw what Anaheim did. It takes grit and selflessness; Kovy and "Museum Donor Boy" don't come to mind all that quickly. Now if MDB wants to sign here for coffee and change, that's another story. I'll even buy the coffee, keep the change.

The Draft is upon us, then comes July 1, talk to me a week later, when most of the UFA's will have been snatched up. If the Habs are in the mix, if they are part of the conversation then there is hope. One thing is absolutely certain, this team needs to fill the hole in the middle on that second line. Some say that gap has been filled for the last 10 years because that's all Saku Koivu has been good for. I disagree. But if that is true, and most believe it to be so, then who's on first? Mike "For the love of God someone feed this poor child" Ribeiro was not the answer. Plekanec is maturing into a great two-way forward but he needs to become the face of the 3rd line, the back bone of any team with depth and the ability to come up with that important goal. Higgins converted to center? He is going to be a beauty, but the answer is develop him into the natural player he is at his natural position, on the wing. I keep on replaying in my mind that gorgeous goal he scored in the last game against the Leafs and wonder what is to come.

This team needs a center, who can plug and play on lines 1 and 2 and who can provide the punch that will desperately be needed once the canon's launched by Sheldon St-Laurent will have been silenced. (i'm already in prep-grieving mode). Maybe MDB is the answer. Since he never seemed to care about the game, and neither did Kovy, maybe 2 negatives turn into a posi....ahh forget it....

Soccer, Strippers... and the Habs

So when the FHF started this thing we were emailing each other and talking about what we should do, who should be in charge, what rules should we have, etc. But screw that, we said, do what you want, no one is in charge, no one edits, fuck rules. On second thought we decided to have one rule - every post should be about the Habs. That is the whole point of FHF after all.

But the cries went up - what if we want to talk about soccer? (a favourite topic for 2 of us) What if we want to talk about strippers? (a favourite topic for all of us). I said, just relate it to the Habs and you're fine. They said, how do we do that?

Here you go - just put it in a post title and you're done.

I always think about the Habs when I talk with my friend J about soccer and his beloved Liverpool FC. He is fanatical about them in the truest sense of that word. Few sports and/or teams inspire the type of loyalty, craziness, and passion like that. The Habs are in that class. We live and die by every game, every goal, every moment.

As for strippers, nothing in sports goes better with strippers than hockey (well except maybe Pacman Jones). Habs players are routinely seen at Chez Paree or Wanda's. Opposing players always say they love coming to Montreal for the "nightlife." And did you know that if you have your hockey ticket stub at Club Downtown after a game, you get a free beer? Uh, not that I know that.

Rest assured, the FHF will troll the Montreal strip clubs during the season looking for hockey players to report back to our three readers. It's a dirty job, but well, you know, we'll do it for you.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Bye Bye Sheldon

If there was any question whether "Boomer" Souray would return to the Habs fold despite the allure of joining his smoking hot wife (are they divorced or not?) and little children in Cali, was answered when Kimo Timonen (or Kimo-Timo to his friends) pulled out pictures of Paul Holmgren drunk in the company of several strippers and blackmailed the Flyers for $6.3/year for 6 (!) years.

OK, I have no evidence for blackmail, but $6.3 (!) over 6 years?? That puts Souray's ballpark at $6M minimum - and there is no way Gainey can pay his number 2 (or three) D-man (Souray) more than his number 1 (Markov).

Besides, as much as I love Souray and his point shot, I don't love Souray and his, um, lack of defensive accumen (see Spezza, Jason). And what are the chances of a repeat of last year's stats? Or is it more likely that someone shells out big bucks a la $6M per year on a long term contract and he returns to his pre-2006/07 stats, meaning he is trade bait (or a buy-out candidate) within 2 years.

Wouldn't it be more productive to sign a second tier UFA like Tom Pressing, or maybe go after Scott Hannan or Brad Stuart (although that may cost as much as Souray)?

NEXT: To Draft Angelo Or NOT To Draft Angelo

Souray or not Souray? That is The Question

The age old debate that has raged over the last season hovered around the pending Markov Souray UFA dilemma. Who would the Habs keep if they had the chance to sign one? Would they be able to sign them both?

Everyone with any pull in the matter has said the right things. Souray favored Montreal. Gainey wanted them both. Markov wanted to stay and after several seasons with the Habs issued a statement through a translator stating: "I like Montreal, Montreal is good". This astounding vote of Shakespearean confidence prompted Gainey to offer his Russian roubleback the largest contract in Canadiens history. Yes. Andrei Markov is the beneficiary of the richest contract ever offered to a Montreal Canadien. Why that irks me, I don't know. Maybe because it makes no sense whatsoever, yes that would be a good start.

Sheldon, my love, you one trick pony you, St-Laurent will never be the same. I will miss the frequent attempts to LOCATE the puck on the REPLAY of your bombs. I never could. You said you wanted to stay, but of course while you could have broken the bank here, you will certainly raise a Chase Manhattan roof elsewhere.

Did the Habs do the right thing? If you like the glitz, then the answer is Nyet. If you like the elegance of certainty and grace, then all I can say is добро пожаловать домой, Andrei. (Gonna have to work for that one.)

Why We Are Habs Fans Even Though They Suck

Sure the Habs suck now. But we are still fans, and will be 'til death. Why? We all may differ on our reasons. Mine is history. The Habs are the greatest, most storied franchise in all of sports (fuck off, Yankee fans). Enjoy.

Friday's Draft

The NHL draft is Friday. We have a mantra among the FHF - trust in Gainey, trust in Gainey. But how can you trust someone being belittled by a giant fuzzy orange thing???

Maybe the Youpster can play center.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Habs Suck

No really. They do. Read this blog and find out why.