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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Well It's Official, Farewell To Billy G.

(This came from somewhere on SBNation Pittsburgh and I can only assume from Pensburgh since they are the only ones cool enough to do something like this.)

No more "My Dad Rocks, #13" signs in Pittsburgh.  The Penguins announced or at least, were rumored to have announced or....Okay, it is being reported (how's that?)...Nope, it's official.  Bill Guerin's services for the upcoming 2010-11 season are no longer needed.  I knew this was probably going to be the result for one of my all around favorite players and I think I saw the writing on the wall when they signed Arron Asham a few days ago.  Granted, Asham is more of a brawler by nature, or at least gets flagged as a bit on the "goonish" side but he has the skills to fill in as a top line winger.

The biggest point in bringing Guerin back was the salary cap.  There is no questioning his leadership and playmaking abilities.  There was never a question of his skill level or his on ice presence.  The only issue was the almighty dollar and in the end, that is what wins out.  With just over $59M to work with, the Pens were out of cap space after signing "high profile" D-men Michalek and Martin to replace the loss of Gonchar.  With only about $1.7M left, there wasn't much room for Billy G and his $2M contract.  Guerin already took a pay cut in order to stay with the team for the 2009-10 season and despite being vocal on the issue of staying in Pittsburgh for one more year, was understandibly not willing to take another cut to stay again this year. 

So what do the Pens lose?  In his short, but meaningful time with the Penguins, Guerin brought the veteran leadership to the team that had been lacking up until the second half of the 2008-09 season.  The locker room was always a tense environment up until Terrible Therrien was fired and Guerin brought a little levity to the room which was just what the team needed. 

Guerin put up 5 goals in 17 games after the trade deadline but his real contribution was in the playoffs.  Playing on the top line with Crosby, he was able to help propel the team through the playoffs, scoring seven goals and 15 points in 24 games.  11 of his 39 playoff goals game during his stay with the Pens and he now has another Cup to show for his efforts.  Career-wise, he is a +400 goal scorer in in 1,263 regular-season games.

At 39 years old, I don't think he is finished in the NHL.  There are still plenty of teams that could use his services.  The most widely speculated place for him to land seems to be Boston, where he played once before.  Wherever he goes, though, I will always be a fan.  I will also continue my quest for collecting every Billy G. card in existence (well at least one of each).  It is a daunting task, to say the least.

Thanks for the memories, Billy G.  Your services, your leadership, and your attitude toward the game will greatly be missed.

Video of Bill Guerin celebrating the Cup victory with his children.

2010-11 NHL TV Schedule -or- Another Reason To Move To Canada

The NHL released its TV broadcast schedule for the upcoming 2010-11 season on Wednesday.  For those of us in the US waiting for the big return of the NHL to nightly TV viewing, we are still going to have to wait.  However, there is some good news.  We are getting closer.

VS. has picked up a total of 78 regular season games, which is a baker's dozen more than they had last season.  They have 53 exclusive broadcasts with an additional 25 games slotted as "bonus coverage".  I'm not sure if either of these are included in that total but VS. will broadcast the All Star Game as well as the Heritage Classic between the Canadiens and Flames.  They also have featured a game per night on the final week of the season leading up to the playoffs.  October 7th is the first broadcast with five games total on the schedule and three of them on in a row. 

In sports terms, this is the contract year for VS.  They have every opportunity to boost thier chances for a renewal for next year or go down in flames trying.  I think if the network has any chance to survive in the stable of Comcast networks, they have to come out of this season with a win.  No one is going to keep tuning in for Bull Riding, Indy Car Racing, and the occasional MMA fight alone.

As for everyone's favorite network, NBC, their season begins on January 1st with the Winter Classic.  This years WC game is being hosted at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh and pits the Penguins against their conference rivals the Capitals.  Basically it is Gary Bettman's wet dream with Ovechkin vs. Crosby facing each other on the "most watched" hockey game of the year.  Break out the napkins. 

NBC will keep their coverage going throughout the rest of the season with the game of the week featured every Sunday until the playoffs, including the "Let's Copy Canada" day, otherwise known as Hockey Day In America on February 20th.  The controversy here is whether or not coverage will be regionalized.  Last year it wasn't and most of America was forced to watch either the force-fed network coverage or nothing at all.  In looking at the schedule, it appears like the same old teams we have grown accustomed to on NBC are back with little to no changes.  At this point, there are a dozen or so teams without a spot on the schedule and, as pointed out by some other media outlets, the flex scheduling options are so piss-poor that there are clearly going to be more than just the initial 12 without games. 

Of course for our Canadian brethern, they get the royal treatment.  TSN and TSN2 will air 124 games while CBC and Hockey Night In Canada have 87 games (is that a tribute to their gold medal hero?)  As usual, RDS will show all Canadiens games.

As for the flagship network station, the NHL Network has 75 games scheduled in the US and another 31 in Canada.  This is more than have ever have and now that they are available in HD for most carriers, I am excited.  Of the three networks in the US that broadcast games, their announcers and color grind my gears the least.  More details on the upcoming season of TV viewing can be obtained over at the official NHL site.

Again, the increased coverage can be nothing but good for the game of hockey.  More exposure means more advertising, meaning more revenue and the occasional conversion of a fan or two doesn't hurt either. 

42 Days and counting.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Guess Who Legally Became An Adult Over the Weekend???

The Pittsburgh Pirates streak of losing seasons!!!!! 

Hooray, Beer!!!

There was an interesting write up in the Post-Gazette by beat reporter Dejan Kovacevic that recapped the history making night against the Mets.  The best quote...

             "Three more years, and it could drink away some of the pain." 


As far as streaks go, it is now the longest in baseball history...wait, did I say baseball?  I meant to say in any of the top four sports in North America.  To compound matters, the Pirates are now the only team in baseball with four 10-game losing pitchers and another that was demoted at 9 loses (Charlie Morton).  All these events in the wake of the Pirates "releasing of the books" for the last year's finances saying they made a $5 million profit!!  Sadly, that is less than both 2008 and 2007.

I am not going to get into the ridiculousness of baseball finances but will simply point to the pillar of all things spending related and that is the NY Yankees organization. Bottom line??  If you want a winner, you have to pay a winner.  At this point, there is really no reason for the Pirates to increase their payroll.  They are so bad, the only thing they would do is become mediocre.  My solution is to sit on the money, wait till some of these young prospects develop, try to compete with the sub par teams, then spend the money so they can at least rise above .500. 

So now the streak is old enough to buy tobacco, adopt a child, get married/divorced without parents consent, start a 401K in their own name, and operate the compactor at their minimum wage job.  I can't wait to see who the streak votes for in November now that it can legally vote.  My vote goes for new ownership.