Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Sabres and Jets Starts The Trade Season

The Buffalo Sabres attempts at earning the number one overall pick became even more obvious and the Winnipeg Jets have found the solution to the Evander Kane distraction by arriving at a stunning trade in anticipation of the NHL Trade deadline season. It's sure to provide talk for days as the hockey world of analysts have been discussing the back story and setting up the drama. Kane wanted out of Manitoba and the Sabres wanted to get even worse than they are this year.
To Jets:
  1. Tyler Myers
  2. Drew Stafford
  3. Joel Armia
  4. Brendan Lemieux
  5. (Draft Pick)
To Sabres:
  1. Zach Bogosian
  2. Evander Kane
  3. Jason Kasdorf

The Winnipeg Jets have made the better of the deal as it stands right now. They've gobbled up two of the highly sought after defencemen before any other contending team has. Myers, having the potential to grow into the spotlight as one of the biggest defencemen after Chara, brings the Jets to a playoff push. They've currently fought for the 1st wild card position and increasing their defence with both Myers and forward Stafford. It gives them more depth on the roster and continues the turnover from the remaining Thrashers roster. The prospects work great to again add depth to the Jets minor league development system.

Now, Evander Kane is the other side of the coin and it's the part that gets the most attention - mainly because the drama surrounding the Kane career in Winnipeg. When Kane isn't on his social media accounts doing push-ups with stacks of cash on his back or suffering one injury after another (or also allegedly hiding more recent injuries), being late to team meetings and subsequently hazed by his teammates, or allegedly skipping out on dinner tabs, It was a clear thing that the controversial player had worn out his welcome and become a distraction to the Jets. It's almost like a karmic sense of justice that he goes to the worst team (statistically) in the NHL and forced to watch them from the press box. Kane does have scoring talent with 109 goals and 113 assists in 361 games.

On a side note, the Sabres had also made a deal to toss their goalie Jhonas Enroth to Dallas for Anders Lindback. It doesn't seem like this is that big of a deal other than Lindback has the edge as a big body listed as 6ft 6in. tall.

Friday, February 06, 2015

Save Our Otters with Hashtag #YouOtterStayHere

First, I would like to thank all of the Erie Community and bloggers who have already taken up the struggle to maintain the Otters team. I've told my audience a number of times just how much the city of Erie has been my home away from home. But now, as a hockey fan, I am to hold back the tide along with the thousands of Erie and junior hockey fans. I am keeping a close eye on the Otters situation and have seen them during their peak at their OHL Cup run of '02, to their lows of seasons with many losses, to the memories of the Pucks on Presque Isle event, to the current run with a great group of superstar development.

It would make the most sense of the Erie Community to come together and support this effort because they had just re-built up the Tullio Arena and found a great local sponsor in the Erie Insurance Company. Without the Otters as a lease tenant, the building will be risking financial troubles to pay back all of the renovation costs. True, the EIA does have the BayHawks and Explosion to fall back on, but the Otters are the more historic franchise and more likely has the main lease status.

The Erie Otters have also been a very cooperative part of the Erie SeaWolves. As I was an eye witness to the next-to-last season game they were in attendance at Jerry Uht Park. Since the first couple of NHL stars that the Erie Otters have developed, it's proof that the community should support a franchise that has paid off with those same players playing at the next professional level. What future players will see their number in the rafters or between the luxury boxes at EIA. Boyes, Rupp, Colaiacovo, to Brown, McKegg, et al to the sure #1 overall pick McDavid, we are all seeing the fruits of the Erie community.

What is frustrating enough is that the underlining situation can be pulled out from under the Erie community like a tablecloth at a dinner table. The ongoing legal battles with the current ownership has put the team in a delicate position. Lets all hope that Mr. Sherry Bassin can do the right thing and find other alternative owners that can keep the team in Erie who are also willing to pay a little more than top price. I'd step in, but I'd have to win the lottery first.

But the effort to get out the word is not without it's deepest challenges. Erie is a economically depressed region with the infrastructure going crumbling and unused. The stores that I used to go to with my family are no longer there, the dive bars I visited when my fellow college students up there aren't around, the beaches of Lake Erie have struggled as far as tourist attractions go.

If you are reading this.. then take up our struggle. There is plenty more hockey to be played. You can keep track of the team's progress at their rally Facebook page as well as using the twitter hashtag #YouOtterStayHere.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas 2014

Merry Christmas from Confessions of a Hockey Fanatic.

It's been a real fun time being a hockey fan this year. There have been really significant gains in popularity and the transitions to a more skilled game. It's made for great hockey to watch and this year the rivalries are as strong as ever in the NHL.
I don't know if you have any Christmas hockey traditions or not, but here's my annual Christmas greeting.
I truly hope that in these times, the spirit of human generosity finds you tonight and throughout the next year.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Project For Awesome 2014 - USA Hockey Foundation "It Starts With A Stick"

For this giving season's featured charity video in the ongoing project #P4A Project for Awesome, I wanted to call to attention a little funding project initiative for USA Hockey. Their latest program to grow the game of hockey to future generations of kids as well as needier kids is called "It Starts with A Stick". Click on the links at the Project for Awesome 2014 page and the the official USA Hockey Foundation page can take you to a donation page. 
The USA Hockey Foundation’s goal is to get 12,000 sticks into the hands of the next generation of hockey stars during February’s Hockey Weekend Across America.

To do this, and to provide an opportunity for thousands of kids to fall in love with the game, we need to raise $150,000 in the month of December.
I, of course, have given several times to the project as a gift donation in my friends names. You can check out the video featured right here. Even though I don't really get into the specifics of the plan in the video - you can see them here in the blog.

Unfortunately, there is no PayPal link to help people who aren't as adept at giving credit card numbers or those who want the extra security that PayPal provides. I'll have to let them know in future projects.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving 2014

It's the time of year again where many school kids (mites) are out of their curriculum routine and on to the holiday vacation. Those who are serious about their hockey training take part in the annual tradition of traveling to Thanksgiving tournaments all over the States.

My favorite tournament in the States has got to be featured here as one of the oldest traditions on Confessions of a Hockey Fanatic. Sharing the creative logo of the The Pond Arena in Delaware, I hope that it fits in the holiday and the hockey theme at the same time. You can check out the rest of the scheduled tournaments at this link here as well as find information about registering your teams in time. 2014-15 Pond Tourney list.

Lets take a look at this year's logo:
The logo is still a cartoon anthropomorphic, but with a more detailed facial and neck features. But the pose is almost like the one they used last year. The colors are still in the familiar autumn shades. The font is different in that they put the year off into the corner, but used the text title to focus on. The leaves are a nice touch.

Who knows,.. maybe after years and years of promoting this thing, I'd actually play in it someday.

Monday, September 29, 2014

St. Michael's Day 2014

St. Michael's College in Colchester, VT
We no longer have St Michael's Majors to cheer for since their move to Mississauga and renamed the Steelheads. So, we begin again another year in the annual tradition of updating hockey fans of the St. Michael's College on this particular day. In future years, I would like to update this annual tradition and include other schools or other teams honoring St. Michael, but for now, I have only the Men's and Women's respective organizations to introduce to my readers.

St. Michael's College is a catholic liberal arts university in Vermont. According to their website, 25% of the student body are active varsity athletes while another 40% are in recreational programs. But, appropriate that according to 2,000 enrolled students according to their facebook page, that must mean it's a campus full of jocks. The sports team mascot is a Purple Knight (as seen in the upper left). They play their home games in Cairns Arena in Burlington, TV.

I've critiqued their jerseys before, and I'm still waiting to see if I could ever add one to my hockey sweater collection.

Men's Program

Courtesy: Saint Michael's College
The men's program is coming off of a great season last year by comparative standards. They found themselves competing for the New England 10 championship against University of New Hampshire, but fell short to lose 4-1. They "shocked the world" defeating the number 1 overall seeded team Stonehill to get there. That is something to be proud of considering they went 7-17-3 overall in the season. From the news website they went down to the wire only being down by a goal (2-1) with under a minute to play.

They are going to have to do something about their defense. Overall, they've been outscored on by their opponents with a 74-105 margin.

But as determined as they are on the ice to win, they have been developing great students as well off the ice. Back in March, they announced that 7 players achieved All-academic honors in the ECAC.

Their first game of the 2014-15 season is a rematch of last year's season finale to be played on on All Saint's Day Nov. 1st against Southern New Hampshire at home. Good luck, guys!

Women's Program

The women's team is struggling these past couple of years. Their final record last year was 3-19-4. Disappointing doesn't begin to describe that.One of the telling reasons is that they went
34-86 in goals for and goals against respectively. That's almost 40% more being scored on than scoring goals themselves and the biggest loss was 0-9 at Norwich on November 8th 2013.

When they aren't doing well on the ice, at least they are doing well in the classroom. St. Michael's College lead the ECAC East in All-Academic with 12 players. Which makes it 2 years in a row.

Courtesy: Saint Michael's College
But one of the better signs of a developing hockey program is not only the academic achievements, but also how well regarded the alumni are of it. Back in April, the Lady Purple Knights held a reunion game with 20 players returning to play. I think that takes a real commitment to the 6 seniors who also played in the game.

Their first game of the new season starts on "All Hallows Eve" October 31st 2014 at home against the University of New England. Good luck, ladies.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

NHL 15 Review: Taking The Step Back in Next Gen Tech

EA Sports NHL 15
Note: This review is based from the PS4 experience.

Now that I've had some significant time in to successfully experiencing everything that EA Sports NHL 15 produced and has to offer, I feel comfortable enough to give it a fair enough review. I didn't want to join in with the knee-jerk reaction and slam it the way most of the hockey fan gamers seem to have reacted. But the critical review this game needs is crucial to the sport, the video game itself, and a glaring indictment towards the direction the video game and next generation technology is headed.

I was able to download the free preview before the game came out and "spoil" my surprise of being a first-time user. I wanted to acclimate myself to the PS4 controls and look for other things to anticipate for the review you're reading now. The free preview download time took a while, but once it was done, I was pleased at the cosmetic changes as well as the higher resolution to detail the game developers provided. It only allowed me to choose the NY Ranger or LA Kings with the only options to having home or away jerseys.

So, now that the longer I played, the more and more broken heart'd I had become with NHL 15 where so much expectation and hype was replaced with disappointment and frustration.

EA Sports knows we hockey gamers are going to buy this game. $59.99 in their pocket is a sure thing with no motivation to pleasing all of the fans all of the time. In this case, I'm going to have to say that EA's first attempt at the next generation technology is going to have to get a mulligan and hope they have learned from their mistakes with this edition.

The Good

The improved PS4 technology with frame rates, response times, social media integration, suggests that you CAN indeed polish a turd. The introduction screen blasts people with the potential of higher definition and more fluid movements of the players. They succeed in putting a fine gloss on every single little detail of every single facet of the real-live game experience. I am certainly glad that EA Sports does want to produce a totally reproduction of an actual game. I believe that we've gotten it here in NHL 15. The next generation frame rates completely improved the motion capture of each player as well as sculpting their facial likenesses in the game. As a veteran franchise gamer back from the NHL 98 days, I appreciate the time and detail that goes into getting the look and accuracy that the hockey fans demand. I remember the flat faces, the cloned create-a-player, and the other early stages of the technology that now looks extremely outdated by comparison.

That's about it. There is really not much else good about this game. Mostly because of how much they put in to the game's polish, they discontinued or removed a lot of favorite aspects of earlier games I wished were still there. You'll read about them in....

... The BAD

Let's begin with what they felt they needed to take out of the game or what they had to discontinue. Gone is the Tournament mode play, the ladies Angie, Haley, and Cammi, the winter classic mode, the winter classic jerseys (WAS and CHI) don't have their most recent classic jerseys up despite them being already unveiled this summer, the hockey legends of Mario and Wayne et al, the

Everything is focused around the HUT or "Hockey Ultimate Team", so if you don't participate in HUT that for whatever reason, you are being phased out and demographics (and social media) ignored.

But if HUT and other online games are your thing, then continue paying again and again for Playstaion Plus access as the online settings only work as long as the user's subscription is up to date.

No matter how many rules you put in place for competitive play in games, there will always be an outnumbered faction of ass-holes that will exploit those rules to gain the advantage. I'm referring to the way that everyone on-line plays the game in HUT or random pairing online versus mode. What you will find are the constant poke-checkers who will perpetually tap the buttons to poke the puck away from you so many times it spoils the experience for you. If it's not a poke check, then it's the constant divers that will always get in your way and spoil the authenticity of any real life defensive strategy. I've complained about this for many many times on twitter, but I don't think they hear me.

The Ugly!

NBC has been worked into the game telecast production lending their branding to become even closer to a truly authentic game broadcast. Gone are the CAN-con content of  Jim Hughson's familiar voice and instead presents pre-game analysis from Doc Emrik and Ed Olczyk in pre-recorded videos. I think the change brings a real fresh presentation and allows for more fans to get used to the NBC branded broadcast as it's the exclusive American rights holder.

I think it's going to backfire on the bigger picture here and really cut into the Canadian sales market. They don't want to be subjected to the American branded broadcast and the American announcers no matter how familiar they are. I haven't seen the demographics as to how many are sold in each country, but I bet that the Burnaby, BC based developers have more of a loyal Canadian fan base to fleece.

In conclusion, the NHL 15 product is far below the expectations of it's loyal fan base and will have certainly destroyed a lot of good will that it had built up with the previous games. I hope that EA Sports will have read up on all the harsh (and tempered blogs like this one) criticism and fix things for NHL 16, because.. well.. they already know that they have our money again next year.