While Jay Cutler was probably moping around about losing out on Kristin Cavallari(As opposed to just his regular moping), Jonathan Toews shows up to Wrigley with a smoke on his arm. Shot across Jay Cutler’s bow for sure.
Toews’ girlfriend is Gabrielle Valasquez I guess. Never heard of her, but she is really hot. I would never be able to talk to that girl. Having said that…I don’t think she is hot enough for Toews. Jonathan Toews is a stud. Captain+Chicago+Stanley Cup+Conn Smythe+Gold Medal+Olympics MVP+Movie Star Good Looks=That he should be wheeling Doutzen Krous or some A-list chick.
PS: Toews owns Chicago. Best athlete in the city and shows up in the summer to Wrigley wearing Bears hat. That sentence got me hard. Hockey season can’t get here fast enough. Gas up the party trolleys.
PPS: UPDATE, just found out that Doutzen Kroes had a baby so looks like Toews probably already met her…or at least made eye contact with her. Pretty sure that’s all it takes for him.
follow me @windycitisports
Can we just fast forward to October? The summer sports scene is brutal now that the NHL and NBA are done. Baseball just isn’t doing it for me these days. Maybe because Chicago is like a black-hole of baseball talent. Is it me or was baseball better when guys were roided up? The Blackhawks schedule is out for 2011-12 and these are games that I won’t be putting on StubHub.
Saturday October 15th vs Boston Stanley Cup champs roll into town very early in the season. Marchand and Seguin will probably still be hung over and worn out from all of their paternity hearings. Great chance for the Hawks to announce their presence with authority as they begin to reclaim what is rightfully theirs. Thanks for beating Vancouver and everything, but I hope they did those engravings in pencil…
Sunday November 6th vs Vancouver There is NOBODY I love beating more than Vancouver. Hopefully Luongo will be in net so I can dance to Chelsea’s Dagger all night. The Hawks nail Luongo, nail him right in his mind.
Friday December 2nd vs Islanders The Islanders are my darkhorse team to make the playoffs this year. They have a good thing going with Tavares, Grabner, Okposo, etc. They are an entertaining team to watch. Hawks better put on the foil for that game because the Islanders aren’t shy about throwing down. The game should have lots of talents and some fireworks.
Wednesday December 21st vs Montreal I love a good Original 6 match-up and the fact The Habs don’t come to the UC every year disappoints me. Both teams can really skate and it will be a battle of French-Canadian goalies.
Friday December 30th vs Detroit The crowds for the games over Christmas break are usually extra rowdy. College kids come home and drink and get a little excited. “De-Troit Sucks” will be said so loud that they could probably hear it in Michigan. Couple that with this being a Friday and right before New Year’s Eve and this might be the best party game of the season.
Monday January 2nd vs Edmonton Similar to the Islanders, the Edmonton Oilers are an exciting young team. Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle are great entertainment. Should be a high scoring game.
Wednesday January 18th vs Buffalo Shockingly, at least to me, the Buffalo Sabre fans travel about as good as any fan base in the league. They are kinda cute in a way. Trying to get their little chants going whilethe Blackhawks are smashing their faces in all over the ice. The Sabres are kinda soft in my opinion, but their fans are good people. I always enjoy hanging with them at the West End before hand.
Friday March 9th vs New York Rangers Chicago vs New York, always a good rivalry. The Rangers have a nice young core of guys that I’d like to see in person like Steppan and Dubinsky, and also plenty of guys to hate like Sean Avery and Marian Gaborik.
Sunday March 11th vs Los Angeles This could be a big match up in terms of seeding for the playoffs. I feel like LA may finally take the next and win the Pacific division so the Blackhawks could need a few points to lock down the number 1 seed. LA also plays hard and fast. Going to be a good show.
Sunday March 18th vs Washington This could really go either way. Saint Patrick’s Day…on a saturday followed by what will probably end up being like a noon start for the Blackhawks game. I am thinking that maybe I just won’t sleep and keep the party going through the end of the game. Hannge Uppe basement until 4am. Try to find some other party until like 6am. Head over to Nookies on Wells for an omelette bigger than my head. Take a shower, throw the Hawks sweater on and start heading towards Madison. If I fail at sprinting that marathon…there’s a real good chance I miss this game entirely. Ovechkin will be a blur regardless.
So I got into a discussion with a couple of people on the old twitter machine about NHL realignment now that the Winnipeg Jets are on their way back(side note: if True North calls them something besides the Jets that would be so stupid. The fans are Jets, and once you’re a jet you’re a Jet all the way). The discussion spiraled out of control into some discussion about the overall strength of the NHL. The guys on twitter want the NHL to contract a couple of teams, where as I think the NHL should expand. The game is growing. More and more kids are playing. Just signed a big TV deal. More teams=more fans=more money=a better league. It’s just so simple. Here is what I am proposing to “fix/enhance” the NHL.
Add two more teams bringing the total to 32. I propose that the two new cities should be Seattle and Quebec City.
- Seattle is a major US Market with corporations like Boeing, Apple, and Starbucks that would be able to support a team financially.
- The NBA packed up and left so hockey would be the only show in town
- The WHL team does well in Seattle
- It would be a nice geographical rival for the Vancouver Canucks
- It’s a great sports town. Even the MLS team gets 18K fans a game
- Building a new state-of-the-art stadium
- It was always a great hockey market and many of the reasons why they had to leave before have been resolved(exchange rate, salary cap, venue)
- It would just be sweet, who are we kidding. Great colors, great rivalry with Montreal, and I love the odd occasion where the only broadcast they have for the Canadiens is the french feed on NHL Center-Ice. I don’t speak a word of french, but I find it entertaining and having a second french team would make that situation far more likely.
Some of these cities just aren’t working. Phoenix is a mess and Miami is the worst sports town in America. Time to just cut bait and find new cities for those clubs. The Islanders need a new venue too and they should really just move to Brooklyn and share that brand new building with the Nets. Brooklyn is kind of an island, right? Name still works. For relocation cities, I would say Southern Ontario and Houston. Houston is an enormous market with big money and some hockey history.
In this scenario the NHL would have two more teams and 4 new cities. I propose 4 divisions of eight. Naming the divisions after the four greatest hockey players in history; Orr, Lemieux, Howe, and Gretzky. The divisions would be as follows:
- Quebec City
- Southern Ontario
- New Jersey
- New York Rangers
- New York Islanders
- Tampa Bay
- Saint Louis
- San Jose
- Los Angeles
84 games with a somewhat balanced schedule. Each team plays 4 games against their division (7×4=28), 3 games against the other division in your conference (3×8=24). The teams would just alternate years where one team has the extra home game. Then a home and home against every team in the other conference (2×16=32). Pretty sure that is a total of 84 games(28+24+32=84). Everyone plays everyone and I don’t have to wait 3 years to see Crosby come through Chicago only to be out with a concussion.
Rivalries are born in the playoffs. I want to create scenarios to make rivalries happen more often. The top 4 teams in each division make the playoffs. For the playoffs, I would like there to be essentially four mini conferences. Top seed plays the 4th seed and no re-seeding. Teams would have to beat their division rivals in the playoffs to get to the Eastern or Western Conference Finals.
This is pretty much genius and how Gary Bettman should play it. Somebody forward this to him please.
follow me @windycitisports
Call it Karma, a higher power, or whatever you want, but clearly there is a God…and he is a sports fan. The NHL and NBA Finals proved this beyond a doubt. Two teams who cried, flopped, took cheap shots, and were led by fraudulent superstars made it all the way the championship series before God stepped in and said enough is enough. The Universe wouldn’t allow teams like the Miami Heat and the Vancouver Canucks to win a championship. There were times these series where I thought I was watching the sequels to “Angels in the Outfield”. Dirk’s improbable shots going in. Thomas’s improbable saves. It was amazing. The Bruins and the Mavericks saved America.
These Finals showed the world two “superstars” who have no class and no character. Lebron James and Roberto Luongo. So similar in so many ways. Epic failures define their careers. Former captains who just completely and utterly failed their teams, their cities, and themselves on the biggest stages possible. They are basically the same person. They are…LuBrongo. I’d love Lubrongo to become like an urban dictionary definition of an epic failure.
follow me @windycitisports
Often times people get caught up in the moment and proclaim that whatever is now is best. “Lebron James is the greatest of all-time”, “Green Bay Packers are on the verge of a dynasty”, “Dirk Nowitzki is the 2nd best Power Forward of all time”, etc. Hyperbole dominates our world in the 24 hour news cycle…so I figured I’d join in. I am not going to say that Tim Thomas is the best goalie of all time, but he did just have the greatest season of all time.
Heading into this season it wasn’t even clear that Tim Thomas would be the Boston Bruins full-time starter in net. He had suffered a hip injury in the previous season and lost his job to a bright young prospect, Tuuka Rask. Tim Thomas is a fighter. He rebounded from his injury and turned in a spectacular regular season.
Regular Season Stats
- Record: 35-11-9
- Shutouts: 9
- Goals Against Average: 2.00
- Save Percentage: .938
Those numbers are historically good. His save % mark of .938 is the greatest ever. What is even more impressive is that the Bruins gave up a ton of shots during the regular season. He is a slam dunk for the Vezina Trophy, and really should have been given serious Hart Trophy consideration. He was clearly the MVP of the Bruins during the regular season.
Post Season Stats
- Record: 16-9 (emphasis on the 16 because that is all that really matters)
- Shutouts: 4
- Goals Against Average: 1.98
- Save Percentage: .940
Tim Thomas’s post season is perhaps more remarkable than his regular season. Thomas played a ton of games during the regular season, and I sure thought that perhaps his 37 year-old body would wear down during the grind of the playoffs. That never happened. Then just when you thought Tim Thomas couldn’t play any better, he took his game to another level and dominated the Stanley Cup Finals. He hit was clearly in the heads of the Canucks. Vancouver lost their minds. They complained about being out of his crease. Bieksa had the nerve to call him “leaky” after game 4. Luongo told the world that Thomas sucks and that he is better after game 5. Thomas even nailed one of the Sedin Sisters and almost fought Burrows. The guy did everything and completely deserved the Conn Smythe. Nobody else was really in the discussion.
The numbers don’t lie, but they don’t tell the whole story either. Thomas is a hockey player. He is confident, aggressive, a battler, a leader, a class act, humble, clutch, and easily the most entertaining goaltender I have ever witnessed. Hats off to Thomas on the greatest season ever by a goalie.
follow me @windycitisports
Before the Stanley Cup Finals Started I gave the Citizens four Locks of the Century. In those bets, I went 3-1. Let’s recap:
More Total Points
Before the series I said: “Burrows sucks. I don’t know how else to put it. The guy rides on the skirts of the Sedin Sisters and get points almost by default. Chara will be smashing them in the face all series long and I don’t see that line being a big factor. Kesler will be skating against the Krejci line most likely which means Bergeron will have plenty of space to score. Bergeron is without a doubt getting more points than Burrows.”
I am not even all that proud of this one to be honest. Burrows sucks and is completely gutless, and now everyone knows it. He had 3 points in the series, all of which game in game 2…a game for which he should have been suspended. So in my mind he really had 0 points. Complete non-factor. Bergeron, meanwhile was one of the Bruins better players and leaders in the series. He is a terrific hockey player. He has great character, plays two-way hockey and does all the little things right. By my count he finished with 5 points, and his performance in Game 7 will go down in Boston folklore. I think Bergeron will be thought of much like Dave Roberts, David Ortiz, Teddy Brushci, Ty Law, etc. Maybe not the best player on the team, but a guy who had spectacular moments that will be remembered forever. Its a little ironic that perhaps the 3rd goal of Game 7 which completely locked up the Cup appeared to go off the hand that Burrows bit. Karma is a bitch. Play with some class next time, asshole.
More Total Points
Before the series I said: “I am really confused by this one as well. Chara will most likely be parked in front of the net on the Bruins powerplay which will give him more opportunities to score than normal. He is also good in the transition game and should pick up a few assists when he isn’t murdering the Sedins.”
Again, picking an underdog that never should have been an underdog is nothing to write home about…but its nothing to sneeze at either. Erhoff finished the series with a grand total of…drum roll please…1 pt. Erhoff’s performance was…err–off. 1 pt in the series and a +/- rating of minus 7 for the series. Way to step up in the Stanley Cup Finals, real solid performance. Meanwhile, when Chara wasn’t smashing Thelma and Louise’s faces in, he was contributing on offense as well. He didn’t spend as much time in front of the net like I thought he would, but he still managed to chip in 4 points and was a +5 for the series. Great performance by an elite defenseman and a strong leader.
More Total Points
Before the series I said: “Ryder is good for a one big game a series, but he doesn’t get the minutes required for him to out score Bergeron for an entire series. It also wouldn’t surprise me if Seguin takes a few shifts from Ryder as well. Take Bergeron.”
Well if I was going to miss on one bet, I am glad it was the one involving two Bruins players. Full disclosure, I have never been a big Michael Ryder fan, but I have to give credit where credit is due. Ryder played a terrific series and finished with 6 points to Bergeron’s 5 points. Ryder used his size and great shot to be a very effective player for the Bruins. They probably couldn’t have won the Cup without him. Props to Ryder.
Exact Series Pick
Bruins in 7
Before the series I said: “My heart says Bruins, my head says Canucks, and my balls say Bruins. Usually when my balls and heart agree it’s a recipe for disaster…but I don’t care. Bruins in 7. Suck it Canada.”
I am quite proud of this one. The Bruins were big underdogs in the series. Vancouver had home ice advantage, had just come off an easy series against a soft San Jose team, had the best record, Vezina finalist in net, Hart Trophy Finalist, Selke Trophy finalist blah blah blah…I didn’t care. All of those awards are for the regular season, and they didn’t have a Conn Smythe Trophy candidate on the roster. Something deep down inside told me that the Bruins had enough sand to win this series and I have never been happier with a winning pick in my life. As Barry Melrose said last night on SportsCenter, it was will over skill. The Bruins simply had too much heart, pride, grit, and character to lose to this gutless Canucks team. This was a classic series and good won out over evil.
follow me @windycitisports