Around the League - Nov 26, 2009

Jason Gregor
November 30 2009 09:15AM

***Some technical problems (four days of festivities at the Grey Cup, and misplacing my lap top) caused the delay it getting this posted, but here it is and the stats are all from Thursday, Nov 26 to remain consistent from week-to-week.***

Does the NHL have a double-standard when it comes to suspending players?

Why the hell does anyone even ask this question? Of course it does. So does the NFL, MLB, NBA and every other professional league, not to mention just about every workplace environment.

And the NHL will never change it, nor should they.

Fans want to see the star players; they don’t pay big bucks to see most 3rd and 4th line pluggers, excluding, maybe, the tough guy. The star players will be given the benefit of the doubt more often than not, but how often does it happen?

I am always hearing there is a double-standard, but is it that bad? Is there a long list of star players who have consistently avoided suspensions or been given mostly short-term raps on the knuckles?

The Human Rake, Chris Pronger, has been suspended more times (seven) than any other active player. His longest suspension was four games, and he is one of only three players who have been suspended twice in the same season; Claude Lemieux and Ville Nieminen are the others.

Most of his suspensions have been slashing or high stick infractions, excluding the elbow on Dean McCammond in the playoffs. He plays on the edge, and yes he is dirty, but that is what makes him successful, and I’d bet more fans pay to watch him play than they do a 5th or 6th D-man on his team. But it seems he is one of the few “Stars” who is a repeat offender.

How many other star players are consistently getting away with horrendous infractions?

Do you think Alex Ovechkin is that cheap? I just don’t see lots of star players who are constantly avoiding being suspended.

Here is a list of the longest suspensions in NHL history, courtesy of an article in the Vancouver Province:

  • 30 games — Chris Simon, New York Islanders, Dec. 19, 2007, for slamming his skate into the foot of Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jarkko Ruutu.
  • 25 games — Jesse Boulerice, Philadelphia, Oct. 12, 2007, for cross-checking Vancouver centre Ryan Kesler across the face in a game on Oct. 10.
  • 25 games — Chris Simon, New York Islanders, March 11, 2007, for the rest of the regular season (15 games) and playoffs for his two-handed stick attack to the face of New York Rangers forward Ryan Hollweg. Since Islanders played only five playoff games, suspension extended to first five games of 2007-08.
  • 23 games — Marty McSorley, Boston, Feb. 2000, for knocking out Vancouver's Donald Brashear with a stick-swinging hit. On Nov. 7, 2000, the suspension was extended by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to Feb. 20, 2001.
  • 23 games — Gordie Dwyer, Tampa Bay, Sept. 19, 2000, for abusing officials and coming out of the penalty box to fight in an exhibition game against Washington.
  • 21 games — Dale Hunter, Washington, May 1993, for a blindside check of Pierre Turgeon of the N.Y. Islanders after a goal in a playoff game.
  • 20 games — Steve Downie, Philadelphia, Sept. 28, 2007, for leaving his feet to deliver a deliberate hit to the head Ottawa forward Dean McAmmond in a pre-season game Sept. 25.
  • 20 games — Todd Bertuzzi, Vancouver, March 11, 2004, for his sucker-punch of Colorado forward Steve Moore on March 8. Bertuzzi's suspension was for 13 regular season games, plus playoffs. Bertuzzi was reinstated 17 months later, after the year-long lockout.
  • 20 games — Tom Lysiak, Chicago, Oct. 1983, for intentionally tripping a linesman.
  • 20 games — Brad May, Phoenix, Nov. 15, 2000, for hitting Columbus' Steve Heinze on the nose with his stick in a game on Nov. 11.
  • 16 games — Eddie Shore, Boston, 1933, for hitting Toronto's Ace Bailey over the head with his stick.
  • 15 games — (3 regular-season, 12 playoff games) Maurice Richard, Montreal, March 1955, for levelling linesman Cliff Thompson during a scuffle with Boston's Hal Laycoe.
  • 15 games — Wilf Paiement, Colorado, Oct. 1978, for swinging his stick and hitting Detroit's Dennis Polonich in the face.
  • 15 games — Dave Brown, Philadelphia, Nov. 1987, for cross-checking Tomas Sandstrom of the New York Rangers across the face and breaking his jaw.
  • 15 games — Tony Granato, Los Angeles, Feb. 1994, for slashing Pittsburgh's Neil Wilkinson.
  • 13 games (30 days) — Ted Green, Boston, Sept. 1969, for his stick-swinging incident with Wayne Maki of St. Louis. Green to serve after he was physically fit to play. Maki also received a 30-day suspension.
  • 13 games — Dave Manson, Chicago, Dec. 1989, after coming back onto the ice to rejoin a fight against Toronto. Manson received three games for diving onto linesman Ron Finn and 10 for coming back onto the ice to rejoin a fight.
  • 13 games — Andre Roy, Tampa Bay, for leaving the penalty box and physically abusing an official while trying to engage players in the New York Rangers penalty box in April, 2002.
  • 12 games — Ron Hextall, Philadelphia, 1989, for attacking Montreal defenceman Chris Chelios in a playoff game.
  • 12 games — David Shaw, N.Y. Rangers, Oct. 1988, for slashing Pittsburgh centre Mario Lemieux.
  • 12 games — Matt Johnson, Los Angeles, Nov. 1998, for punching New York Rangers defenceman Jeff Beukeboom in the head.
  • 12 games — Brantt Myhres, San Jose Sharks, Feb. 1999 for leaving the bench to attack Los Angeles' Mattias Norstrom.

I’m sure you recall most of those and those that were before your time you’ve probably read or heard about. They were all warranted. I understand why the NHL gives the stars, who don’t have a lengthy track record, more leeway than the grinders and pluggers. And I don’t see any reason why it needs to change.

Player need to wake up

Cheap shots and concussions have become the hot topic amongst fans, media and even the players. It is an issue that needs to be looked at, but I think we need to define what is considered a legitimate cheap shot?

When a guy is forechecking at top speed and the D-man turns his back to him at the last second, is that a cheap shot? I have more sympathy for those types of plays than I do compared to what Michael Handzus did to Ales Hemsky on Wednesday.

Hemsky never turned his back at the last moment, nor was this a split second reaction by Handzus. Hemsky had control of the puck for a few seconds and Handzus, deliberately gave him a shot in the numbers that launched Hemsky into the boards. I’ve seen hits that would be considered cheaper, but this type of hit is preventable.

When Hemsky is in that position he trusts the defender not to hit him in the numbers. A play like that happens 50 times a game, and often the puck carrier doesn’t get hit like that.

We can yell and scream all we want that the league needs to change the rules, or enforce the ones they have, but the players are ultimately responsible.

The NHLPA needs to find a leader, and when they do let’s hope the new guy convinces them that they need police themselves, by showing smarts and respect on the ice.

Ice women of the week

The Hawks are one of the most entertaining teams on the ice, and I wonder if it has anything to do with this crew? I bet most of you would like to see if you could last a few rounds with these boxing beauties!

Random thoughts

Why are so many Oiler fans saying this team should tank it and get a lottery pick? Only Anaheim, Toronto, Carolina and Minnesota are worse. The Oilers don’t have to tank it; they are already in the mix for a lottery pick.

Is it just me or has Roberto Luongo been average all season long? The Canucks need him to start playing better if they want make the playoffs. I’ve only watched about ten Canucks games, and I’ve yet to see him steal a game. He hasn’t looked like a guy who many felt would be the starter for Team Canada at the Olympics.

Mike Green has 12 points in his last eight games, and after a slow start he now leads all defensemen in scoring with 25 points. After 31 goals in only 68 games last season, Green only has three this year. Green really wants to make the Olympic team and has tried to be more responsible in his own end, but has he improved enough? I don’t think so, but Green is the best offensive-minded defenseman in the league right now.

James van Riemsdyk has 18 points in 19 games. He is averaging 13:41 of icetime, compared to the 18:42 that John Tavares plays. Tavares only has two more points, and he has played six more games. The 2nd overall pick in 2007 is having a great rookie campaign and it looks like van Riemsdyk made the right decision to play two years in college rather than just one.

Here we sit eight weeks into the season and no coach has been fired yet. Who will be first? Many think Paul Maurice might get the axe if the Hurricanes continue to flounder, but he’s only been behind the bench for 83 games this time around. Would Brian Burke give his American buddy, Ron Wilson, his walking papers? Doubtful.

Pat Quinn isn’t going anywhere. Peter Deboer is in his second season while Todd Richards hasn’t coached 30 games. Randy Carlyle is a hard ass, and some of his players have grown weary of his antics, but his GM, Bob Murray, said players would be moved before Carlyle gets fired. If the Flyers don’t get going soon, John Stevens could be the first coaching casualty. Twenty of the 30 coaches are in their first or second season with their team, so the options are limited, but rarely do we get to Christmas without one coach getting fired.

Leader through the week

Here are the top ten in pts, goals, assists and other stats.

Goals:
Nineteen: Marian Gaborik (four this week)
Eighteen: Dany Heatley
Seventeen: Alex Ovechkin
Sixteen: Jarome Iginla (four this week)
Fifteen: Steven Stamkos and Ryan Malone
Fourteen: Anze Kopitar, Patrick Marleau and Rick Nash
Thirteen: Corey Perry, Dustin Penner, Ilya Kovalchuk, Henrik Sedin and Zach Parise

Assists:
26: Joe Thornton (six this week)
23: Brad Richards (seven this week)
22: Ryan Getzlaf, Tomas Kaberle and Mike Green
Twenty: Martin St. Louis
Nineteen: Nicklas Backstrom, Tomas Plekanec, Nik Antropov and Kopitar
***Antropov scored his first two goals of the season this week to go with 19 assists.

Points:
33: Thornton (seven points this week), Gaborik (six this week) and Kopitar (one)
30: Brad Richards (eight points this week)
29: Heatley and Perry
28: Parise
27: Ovechkin, Marleau and Nash
26: Penner, Stamkos and Getzlaf
***Rick Nash is the only player in the top twenty who is a minus player, sitting at -7***

Plus/Minus:
+18: Matt Carle (leads for second straight week)
+17: Parise
+13: Chris Pronger and Brent Seabrook
+12: Jonathon Toews, Travis Zajac, Duncan Keith and Ryan O’Reilly
+11: Alex Goligoski, Christian Ehrhoff, Pavel Kubina, Ovechkin and Antropov
*** Rod Brind’Amour still leads for the Green Jacket with an atrocious -18. Rick Nash is -11, and along with Kaberle (-3) and St. Louis (-8) are in the top 30 in scoring with a minus rating.***

PP Goals:
Nine: Heatley
Eight: Gaborik
Six: Stamkos, Kovalchuk, Milan Hejduk and Scott Hartnell
Five: Ryan Smyth, Raffi Torres, Andrew Brunette, Teemu Selanne, Loui Eriksson, Brooks Laich, Mike Richard, Rich Peverley and Mike Fisher.
***Interesting to note that half of Heatley’s goals have come on the PP, while Ovechkin’s and Iginla only have four PP goals.***

Hits:
94: Ryan Callahan and Stephane Robidas (Had 28 hits this week. Wow.)
90: Chris Neil
79: Dustin Brown and Matt Greene
78: Scott Nichol
77: Cal Clutterbuck
75: Ryan Malone
74: David Backes, Matt Cooke and Douglas Murray

Shots:
104: Ovechkin (leads for eigth straight week, with two weeks not playing.)
99: Parise
96: Jeff Carter
95: Henrik Zetterberg (19 shots this week)
92: Sidney Crosby
90: Radim Vrbata and Nash
86: Michael Cammalleri
85: Dustin Brown
83: Penner
***Gaborik scored four goals this week on only eight shots***

Final Point

If you've never been to a Grey Cup, I suggest you partake next year. The attitude amongst CFL fans throughout Grey Cup week is awesome. Every one is friendly and just looking for a good time. And if the Alouettes don't win on Sunday they will join the ranks of the Buffalo Bills and Atlanta Braves as choke artists.

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#51 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
November 30 2009, 01:12PM
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@rubbertrout

I was only wondering where he went because I wanted to point out that he's slipped from 60-something in the draft last week to 200-something (a mere 40ish points ahead of me). It's only a matter of time now.

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#52 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
November 30 2009, 01:15PM
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@RossCreekNation

I'd do it. One of our issues is we have too many guys that get knocked around to easily, well Dubinsky has some size and would also ease the load of Horcoff's shoulders.

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#53 BarryS
November 30 2009, 01:19PM
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Frankels wrote:

It always amazes me what low standards men have when considering a girl attractive - those ice girls are nasty.

I fear you have been misguided in your upbringing, only two areas most men are interested in in a woman and neither is the face and both areas are not usually on direct display.

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#54 Ogden Brother
November 30 2009, 01:26PM
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Frankels wrote:

It always amazes me what low standards men have when considering a girl attractive - those ice girls are nasty.

It amazes me how many internet turds their are that will pretend to turn thier nose up to women of that caliber.

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#55 BarryS
November 30 2009, 01:27PM
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Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach wrote:

I'd do it. One of our issues is we have too many guys that get knocked around to easily, well Dubinsky has some size and would also ease the load of Horcoff's shoulders.

The question to be asked first, has he had all his shots, what is his injury history, can he skate with upright skates, does he have a glass jaw, a glass ego, is he a team guy or a me first guy, can he shoot, is he overpaid, oh, yah, can he actually play hockey?

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#56 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
November 30 2009, 01:29PM
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BarryS wrote:

The question to be asked first, has he had all his shots, what is his injury history, can he skate with upright skates, does he have a glass jaw, a glass ego, is he a team guy or a me first guy, can he shoot, is he overpaid, oh, yah, can he actually play hockey?

How quick can we get him in for shoulder surgery?

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#57 RossCreekNation
November 30 2009, 01:33PM
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@rubbertrout

Thanks 'trout :-)

You might be seeing ALOT more of me at the Nations. Some ~INTENSE~ negotiating going on here.

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#58 RossCreekNation
November 30 2009, 01:35PM
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Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things wrote:

I was only wondering where he went because I wanted to point out that he's slipped from 60-something in the draft last week to 200-something (a mere 40ish points ahead of me). It's only a matter of time now.

GASP!!

You mean a) you didn't really care where I was, and b) I fell 200 spots in the draft in a week.

AAAHHHHHH!!!

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#59 RossCreekNation
November 30 2009, 01:42PM
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@ Harlie @ Dan the Man

I did say the E word. I try and use caution when using that word. I usually check out what he has to say for entertainment purposes. The Cogliano & Grebeshkov for Eric Staal one almost made me laugh til my stomach ruptured. But this one makes some sense (whether he dreamed this one up or actually has gotten word that its out there). Once in a while he something worth while. As HE himself says, these are rumoured talks, not rumoured deals.

Robin, speaking of validation, is there anything here?

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#60 Harlie
November 30 2009, 01:48PM
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@RossCreekNation

no worries...i check that clown's site every now and then too.

*runs to the bathroom Dumb and Dumber style*

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#61 RossCreekNation
November 30 2009, 01:49PM
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@bingofuel

Does this help?

LG KEYBO 9100

Mobile Browser 6.2.3.9 (LG9100/1.0) Universal Edition

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#62 bingofuel
November 30 2009, 02:12PM
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@RossCreekNation

Thanks dude! I'll let Citizen Alpha know!

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#65 Ogden Brother
November 30 2009, 02:22PM
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RossCreekNation wrote:

Thanks 'trout :-)

You might be seeing ALOT more of me at the Nations. Some ~INTENSE~ negotiating going on here.

New Flames blogger coming aboard?

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#66 Bucknuck
November 30 2009, 02:25PM
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The Rebar! I used to go there all the time... before it got trendy. I met my wife there many years ago. We went and talked at the Breadstick Cafe all night after the bar closed. Good times.

Anyway... back to hockey. I am not so sure that this isn't a transition year. It would be interesting to see what Tambellini might do if the Oil were clearly sellers at the deadline. I hope that they are still in the hunt then, but if not there could be some good moves for our future.

And the fact that Gags and Cogs are not going gangbusters might not be terrible for the long term viability of the Oil. Their contracts are coming for renewal, and if they can be signed on the cheap then that would be great.

I don't think the Oil should intentionally tank, but I do see that some good might come out of it if the Oilers are in the bottom five.

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#67 Rick
November 30 2009, 02:45PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

What I think got missed with that suggestion is that if a star player got fined, that fine goes on his record as supplimental discipline and would count against his track record the next time...or should if we are to believe what the league says.

That is an interesting point, and I don't see a problem with it if it goes on their record.

My original point was do we constantly see STARS get away with horrendous infractions. I don't recall that many, so that's why I think it is overhyped that the STARS get way more preferential treatment. When they do commit a suspendable hit, they get leeway, but it doesn't seem to happen very often was my point.

Horrendous, no I wouldn't say so.

But I would say that they get away with alot of borderline infractions because they "don't have a track record" for dirty play. Or so we are told by the league.

I think one of the incidents you guys were talking about last week was Iginla's play on Souray and you guys reached the conclusion that it was wreckless and may have warrented supplimental dicipline but Iginla's track record was pretty clean so it really isn't that much of an injustice that he got away with it.

I wonder how many times a guy like Iginla gets away with a borderline play because his record is pretty clean? I also wonder what his record would look like if they kept track of all the borderline or wreckless plays that went unpunished and as such contributed to his official clean record.

For crying out loud Ovechkin technically has a clean record right now and it's tough to argue that is fair. When the time comes that he get's suspended, it will be a token one and one of the reasons "why" will be that he is a first time offender.

I think it's probably justice better served to fine him for the border line stuff (and not so borderline), establish his track record (even as a double standard) but have the history established so that if/when he does something that really is bad, there is ample justification to throw the book at him.

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#68 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
November 30 2009, 02:55PM
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Rick wrote:

Horrendous, no I wouldn't say so.

But I would say that they get away with alot of borderline infractions because they "don't have a track record" for dirty play. Or so we are told by the league.

I think one of the incidents you guys were talking about last week was Iginla's play on Souray and you guys reached the conclusion that it was wreckless and may have warrented supplimental dicipline but Iginla's track record was pretty clean so it really isn't that much of an injustice that he got away with it.

I wonder how many times a guy like Iginla gets away with a borderline play because his record is pretty clean? I also wonder what his record would look like if they kept track of all the borderline or wreckless plays that went unpunished and as such contributed to his official clean record.

For crying out loud Ovechkin technically has a clean record right now and it's tough to argue that is fair. When the time comes that he get's suspended, it will be a token one and one of the reasons "why" will be that he is a first time offender.

I think it's probably justice better served to fine him for the border line stuff (and not so borderline), establish his track record (even as a double standard) but have the history established so that if/when he does something that really is bad, there is ample justification to throw the book at him.

On paper, what you're saying makes a lot of sense. If you don't take action on the basis that someone has a clean track record, they get their first time freebie repeatedly and indefinitely.

Common sense should apply here, though. When you look at Jarome Iginla, in your example, can you honestly say that you see him making dangerous irresponsible plays night-in and night-out? Is he out there to hurt people? If the answer is yes, the penalty should be severe. If you demonstrate through your actions on the ice that you are dangerous to the health of other players, they should take every action to correct your behaviour.

With Jarome Iginla, though, the answer is no. He's not a danger to others through his actions on this ice. It's not just that the league hasn't punished him, it's that you'd be hard-pressed to find an example of dangerous, irresponsible play when you're searching his name on YouTube.

The example that I'd like to provide is one that I know well - punishment for bad driving.

If you get 1 speeding ticket after 35 years of clean driving history, you pay a fine. If you get that same speeding ticket to cap off a year of one ticket per week, your drivers license might be suspended. It's the same act, but your history of behaviour comes into play and influences the decision for additional punishment.

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#69 Rick
November 30 2009, 03:26PM
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@Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

I wasn't suggesting that Iginla is dangerous and irresponsible night in and night out, I was just saying that he is considered a clean player and even after a dirty play he is still considered a clean player. If anything, the infrequency of his controversial moments speaks largely of the problem. Borderline incidents tend to get forgotten over time, even more so when there are significant gaps between incidents. But they probably shouldn't be.

Perhaps a better example, and in keeping with the Flames, would be Robyn Regher. He is considered a "hard nosed" player but not a dirty one. Is there an Oilers fan out there that can't point to a number of questionable hits by Regher on Hemsky that suggests otherwise, despite his clean official record?

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#70 rubbertrout
November 30 2009, 04:45PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

YOu really need to get a sense of humour. And posting I'm back, when all a person has to do it write a post and we can see their name is asking for some sort of validation don't you think??

~Oh yeah I must have forgotten. Most of Robin's replies are merely good natured jocularity without a hint of malice or taking himself too seriously. My bad.~

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#71 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
November 30 2009, 05:01PM
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RossCreekNation wrote:

Thanks 'trout :-)

You might be seeing ALOT more of me at the Nations. Some ~INTENSE~ negotiating going on here.

negotiations for a guy who cant afford/ doesnt want TSN2????

f*** my life

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#72 Shaun Doe
November 30 2009, 11:44PM
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Hey Jason Gregor, I am just curious if your position on Ovechkin has changed in light of todays on ice incident. I'm not saying he is dirty here I just thought it was ironic that this all happened so shortly after your original post. What I do think is that Ovechkin is going to be the end of his own career. The guy plays almost too hard for his own good.

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#73 Shaun Doe
November 30 2009, 11:48PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Please, resist the urge to announce you're leaving/you're back/thinking of leaving/thinking of coming back/too heartbroken to keep cheering for the Oilers/too pissed off to cheer for the Oilers/coming back after being too heartbroken/pissed off to cheer for the Oilers etc et etc.

It's nothing more than a desperate plea for validation that belongs at that other website, not here. You're back? Fine. Gone? OK.

This post reminds me of that SNL skit with Adam Sandler about the Areosmith greatest hits album featuring: Cryin', Amazing, Crazy, Amaza-crazy, Crazy Cryin', and Janie's got a gun 'cause she's crazy amazing cryin', etc

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