Wednesday, July 30, 2008

2008 NHL Draft Class...Some Smart Cookies

In the midst of my July hockey-drought, I received a fun surprise when I arrived home from work yesterday. No, Ed McMahon wasn't waiting at my door with my fabulous Publisher's Clearing House award check (have you seen that poor guy lately, he could stand to win the prize himself)! But I did get my new issue of The Hockey News and did a little happy dance by the mailbox to celebrate.

Even though my magazine is sometimes slow as Christmas arriving, I really savor each issue and especially love the human-interest snippets where players reveal what they pack for a road trip, best tricks ever played on a room mate and the 2 Minutes in the Box feature. And of course all of the great insight and scoop that only Adam Proteau and friends can provide in the true spirit and history that makes up the great game of hockey.

This week's issue has a piece about the large percentage of new draft picks that will continue to wear visors into the NHL (as we all know, it's optional). The top three picks (Stamkos, Doughty and Bogosian) all told THN they expect to keep wearing a visor. I especially liked NY Ranger's prospect Michael Del Zotto's answer when asked if he'd be sporting a visor in the big dance. Del Zotto states "My mom wouldn't be too happy if I didn't wear one, that's for sure." Great answer Mikey - you just made us hockey moms proud!

The number of players wearing visors continues to increase in the league, which is a trend that makes hockey moms around North America pretty happy. Besides preventing potential career-ending injuries, they actually look pretty cool. Hey, if you want to brawl you're gonna take the whole helmet off anyway. Like I've said before, the visor thing works for Ovie - and he's the the coolest guy in the game!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Non-Hockey Related Injuries

Being a hockey mom of twins, it's my worst nightmare to imagine one of my guys laid out on the ice as a result of a monster hit. It happened to one of my best friend's sons (he's 13) at a tournament in the spring and was terrifying to watch as he lay on the ice for at least 2 minutes without moving. Happy to say he's okay but he did suffer a concussion, which we all know are all too common in the game of hockey. By the way, I hope that the Cap's Brian Pothier is on the road to recovery from his concussion last season. We miss you!

We have been very lucky so far, knock on wood, that we've avoided any major hockey-related injuries with my guys playing both house and travel leagues. So imagine my reaction when I almost had to take one of the boys to the emergency room last night to get checked out for a concussion as a result of: the WWF!?! Seriously, one of my guys loooves that garbage (yes, I called it garbage) and they were goofing off trying out the latest WWF moves when one of them got his head pounded into the floor. I had to watch him the rest of the night to make sure there was no passing out or nausea. At least if you get a hockey-related injury, you're injured for a reason! I tell them all the time that the reason you don't see any blood in those bogus WWF matches is BECAUSE THEY'RE FAKE! And you can't beat the fabulous acting on the part of those guys (and gals, I think?) - such amazing talent. There's one "diva" as they're called in the WWF that went to my college - I pray I don't look at my sorority's alumni page and see her there!

So yet another reason we need the NHL season to start soon - it gives my guys some real competition to watch that actually requires skill and talent. How many days til training camp again?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Hockey Mom Tribute to my Number One Fan

First let me start by saying that this post isn't really about hockey, per se. But I guess in way it is, because it's about the person from who I inherited my great love of sports.

As my readers and friends know, I recently returned from a week long vacation to Northwest Florida, near where I grew up. The trip was mostly for relaxation, but there was also a very bittersweet reason my siblings and I chose this destination. In the presence of one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen, we went to this beach to spread my mother's ashes in her final resting place - into the crystal blue Gulf of Mexico along the sugary white sands. A place she loved more than anything and a beach that holds more childhood memories than I can recount.

My mother, affectionately known as "Big Anita", died suddenly and completely unexpectedly at the young age of 64 two years ago in May. "Big Anita" wasn't dubbed "big" in reference at all to her size, but to her "big" spirit - and it was BIG and infectious.

Although she went to college in Indiana, she became one of the most rabid Florida State Seminole football fans I have ever known. Anita had season tickets for more than 10 years and sat in Doak Campbell Stadium through wind, rain or heat to see her beloved Seminoles play. If the game was televised, she painted her face with warpaint, put her Seminole flags throughout the house and answered the home phone "FSU Seminole Network!" Win or lose - her motto was always "your team is your team and you always stand behind your team." She actively served on the board of her local Seminole Booster Club, traveled to FSU Bowl games and rode around town in her red convertible VW bug with two enormous magnetic Seminole magnets on each car door every game weekend.

She was a sight to behold and when she walked into a room, everyone knew Big Anita was there, with her contagious laugh and beaming enthusiasm. Her upbeat spirit pervaded every area of her life and she never met a stranger. Her funeral service brought together FSU fans, rivals and folks from all walks of life - in fact there were two different women there who'd never even met her but had heard of her from her involvement in one of her many activities and they just felt they had to be was so incredibly moving to witness.

I have come to inherit my mom's passion for sports, starting with the Seminoles and now my love for the Washington Capitals and the NHL. She was gone before my boys started playing hockey, but every game they play I think how much she would have loved this game too.
She would have gotten the biggest kick out of going to a Caps game and would have walked out of the store at Verizon Center with every Capitals car magnet, t-shirt and bobblehead ever made!

So I wanted to pay tribute to my amazing mom, who I miss terribly every day, for passing on her love of the "game" along with her incredible strength and spirit...I only hope that I can leave half the legacy that she's left behind and I hope I've made her proud.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Yet Another Nifty Use of Lord Stanley's Cup!

Of course hockey moms are all about multi-tasking and multi-purpose gadgets to make our hectic lives easier. So what's proved to be a more multi-purpose sports award than Lord Stanley's Cup?

As the Cup makes its way around Sweden with the champion Detroit Red Wings, Tomas Holmstrom has discovered yet another use for the legendary hardware. He's lending it to a cousin to be baptized in - now that's a cool way to make use of the Stanley Cup!

Can't wait to see how the next guy's going to top that one....

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Washington Mystics Coach Reacts to WBNA Brawl

Mystics interim coach, Jessie Kenlaw, voiced her disapointment over the WNBA fight in a statement released by the Washington Post: "I was really quite surprised," said Kenlaw, who is in her ninth year as an WNBA coach, most as an assistant. "I've never witnessed something like that before. I don't think there's an excuse for it, and I don't think we should tolerate it at all. That's not what the WNBA is all about and that's not something I'm going to promote."

Hockey Mom is in total agreement. These elite female athletes are role models for so many young women who are always battling to get above the "glass ceiling" in the sports arena and to see these incredibly talented women react like common street fighters was disheartening, to say the least.

Kudos to Coach Kenlaw for sharing her stance that WBNA players are truly above that kind of spectacle and there should be a no-tolerance policy for such antics on behalf of these smart and gifted female athletes and role models. Go Mystics!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I Went to A WNBA Fight and A Game Broke Out...

As all of us hockey fans know, this is a very slooow time of year for hockey. For Caps fans, we're all awaiting results of Shaone Morrison's arbitration hearing tomorrow but other than that, it's slim pickings until September.

So I wanted to dish about the ladies' brawl that took place at a WNBA game this week between the Los Angeles Sparks and Detroit Shock. This video is spreading across the internet like wildfire; check it out:

Hockey fans see this kind of stuff all the time - what makes it such an interesting case study for a Dr. Phil episode is that these are female athletes. Though I certainly don't advocate fighting in women's basketball, I can understand how the gals' emotions can run just as high as mens' in the heat of competition (I am a hockey mom after all). However, I was very surprised at the level of involvement in this meelee by former Olympian and WBNA vet Lisa Leslie, who's always been one of my favorite female athletes. It will be interesting to see what kind of fines and/or suspensions get doled out in the aftermath of this free for all.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Back from the Beach - Early Hockey Morning

I'm back from a relaxing vacation in Destin, Florida and literally hit the ground running this morning. First day back to reality and I have to get up at 5 something a.m. to take the boys to the rink before work! Funny thing though, how much I miss the rink. Really!

For someone who was never exposed to the game prior to three years ago (one Cap's training camp at the Ashburn Ice House and I've been a goner ever since) - I love being at the rink. I even get a kick out of watching other kids (besides my own) play or go through drills. This morning was a power skating session with Cold Rush Hockey. The younger guys are on the ice before the twins and she has them skating backward full-speed around these huge zamboni tires. I can just grab a coffee and watch that stuff for hours - I get really stoked when they go to stick-handling camp! Plus, the rink was a much welcome refuge from the 97 degree heat in NoVa this morning. Geez, I come back from Florida and I think the jet stream went haywire when I was gone!

Which brings me to my next purchase, the DVD New England Hockey: Life at the Rink, which is available through Snag Films (one of Ted Leonsis's latest ventures). This site has an array of different sports films and I am always looking for hockey documentaries that examine the realities of the dedication it takes on the part of the parents and the players to play this great game at all skill levels.

I'm slowly getting back in the swing of things and eagerly listening for any fun and exciting hockey news. I was kind of sad to hear of Ted Nolan's (NY Islanders) firing; kind of bogus to fire a guy this late in the off-season. I hope he's able to land on his feet with a decent coaching gig somewhere. Plus, he has a fabulous hockey mullet - it may even rival the Melrose mullet.

Off to sleep - am still recovering from the early morning wake up call of a dedicated hockey mom!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Yo Vinnie! And Huh, Cheerleaders?

As my readers know, I am enjoying a fabulous vacation on Florida's beautiful Gulf Coast but I had to hijack my brother-in-law's laptop due to the total lack of anything hockey-related in these here parts of the South! I just heard about Vincent Lecavalier's "Crosby-esque" contract for 11-years, $85 million! Yo Vinny, looks like the Caps will be seeing you for a long time to come....

And cheers to GMGM for signing Gordo (Boyd Gordon), though HM wishes it were more than a one-year contract. He has a lot to contribute to the team and I look forward to seeing him back next season.

And no, say it ain't so Ted! Ice dancers, cheerleaders, spirit girls? I've always taken pride in the fact that the Caps were one of the few teams in the Southeast Division that didn't have such a spectacle. Note that some of the teams that have "spirit girls" (AKA Hooter's rejects on ice skates) are still trying to establish themselves as "serious" hockey markets. Example: Atlanta Thrashers, Nashville Predators, Florida Panthers...

I would rather pay more for a beer at the concession stand (or as one fan commented on another blog - get the napkins sponsored!) than be distracted while trying to explain the difference between real and silicon to my adolescent sons. When we're there to watch hockey for crying out loud! I will stick to my long-held opinion that cheerleaders have no place in ice hockey. And before you jump to conclusions, Hockey Mom was a serious ballet student in her younger days and tried out for the dance squad (on a dare) for the Florida State Golden Girls basketball dance squad. So I have nothing personally against the "dancers" themselves - I just don't think hockey is the proper "arena" so to speak. And just because you "love the Capitals" doesn't mean you know anything about the sport...

Sorry for the rant folks, but I just wanted to voice my opinion. I guess we'll hear a lot of different opinions on this subject; I'll be curious to hear the consensus.

Back to the beach - I have an ice-cold Corona calling my name! Ciao for now!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Welcome to Washington Jose!

So the Cap's new goalie, Jose Theodore, is slated to arrive at their practice facility any minute to be introduced to the media. Hockey Mom wanted to send her own personal welcome to our new netminder on behalf of all the fans in my acquaintance. We're all looking forward to seeing the newest member of the team at Training Camp. I'm also hoping that the team can lock up Mo (Shaone Morrison) and one of my faves, Boyd Gordon.

In the meantime, here's a glimpse of one of Theodore's glamorous saves as a member of the Colorado Avalanche:

So hopefully the Caps will have a few more signings before we leave for the white sands of the Gulf Coast tomorrow. If so, I'll hear about it from my guys on XM's Hockey This Morning or Power Play (satellite radio is one of the greatest inventions ever - especially on a 16-hour drive!) Am looking forward to a week of sun and sand and one less week that the drywall on my garage crumbles as a result of kids shooting pucks at it! Seriously, I'm afraid one day I'm going to be sitting at my computer (which lies on the other side of the garage wall) and the whole wall is just going to fall down! We had a net but of course they'd rather shoot at the wall - go figure.

So bon voyage and welcome home Jose!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Yeah Baby - Fedorov and Laich Sign!

Fabulous news for Caps fans -

Sergei Fedorov has signed a one-year $4 million contract with Caps, and fan fave Brooks Laich has also come to as-of-yet undisclosed terms with the team.

So the Caps now have 3 returning players who also led Team Russia (OV, Semin and Fedorov, of course) to gold in the IIHF World Championshp - not too shabby! Outside of his phenomenal career with former teams, including Stanley Cup wins with the Detroit Red Wings, Feds has stepped in as a leader among the young players in the Capital's locker room. Hockey Mom is stoked to hear the news of both signings - though I hope $4 million doesn't prove too steep in the end as I'd like to see others including Boyd Gordon and David Steckel back.

I also heard this morning on Hockey This Morning that former Ottawa Senators hothead Ray Emery is going to play in the Russian Continental Hockey League. Looks like there's several poster boys for bad behavior heading that way, including Chris Simon. How's that for a change of scenery?

So just a quick news flash - things are looking good so far. How many days until training camp...HM can't wait!

Monday, July 7, 2008

MVP - The Must-Miss Hockey Drama

I have a confession to make. I not only watched one episode of MVP, the hockey-themed drama on Soapnet, I got sucked into the marathon and watched three. It was like a train wreck, but for some reason (probably boredom), I couldn't look away. During those three episodes, I saw absolutely no on-ice action but did glimpse the following: lots of guys with tight abs parading around in their skivvies, coke-snorting and prescription drug abuse, puck bunnies at every corner wearing next to nothing and waiting for their next "victim" and a drunken head coach. Puh-lease people, at least give us a little hockey or something to make it more real! Because the acting is not exactly what I'd deem Oscar-quality...

If I were to have a soap based on my life, it would probably be a combination of Julia Louis Dreyfus's New Adventures of the Old Christine and the PG-13/Pee Wee hockey version (were there such a thing) of the classic Slapshot. In any case, it would probably make for more humorous and interesting viewing than can only hope.

In other happenings today, the NHL has threatened Edmonton Oiler's GM Kevin Lowe and Anaheim Duck's GM Brian Burke with stiff fines should they choose to continue their verbal slugfest in the public arena via the media. I'm not sure whether I agree with the League stepping in, but hey guys, enough already!

I have to admit, the spars they come up with are somewhat amusing, albeit childish. Some of the insults that have been hurled towards each other sound a lot like the garbage I hear from my two in the back seat driving back from practice! So we'll see if these two GMs can keep their lips zipped or if they end up in timeout...does anyone know when these two teams play each other next year? Now that's a real-life not-to-be-missed drama!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Good Bye to Matt Cooke...Off to Pens' Land

As you've probably heard by now, Cap's forward Matt Cooke, is headed to play in Pittsburgh to replace in-your-face agitator Jarko Ruutu. Jeez, Matt, we hardly got to know ya...but we all know that the Caps only have so much room under the salary cap and unfortunately the team can't retain every player. I really enjoyed seeing Matt play last year and wish him the best (though that'll be weird seeing him with Sid and friends!). Matt will have to pull double duty as pesky tormentor, as the Penguins also lost their notorious enforcer Georges Laraque to the Montreal Canadiens (for you hockey newbies, an enforcer is the guy who's role is to drop the gloves and take on anyone who has overstepped their boundaries, taken liberties with key players or broken "the code" during the course of the game). As for Jarko Ruutu, I've heard it said that he may share the ice with a fellow Ottawa Senator also known for pushing the limits to the extreme, Chris Neil.

As for the Capitals, fan favorites Brooks Laich and Shaone Morrison have filed for arbitration, a process that is explained in detail here. Boyd Gordon and Eric Fehr have not yet come to contract ageement with the team either. We are still in wait and see mode to see if Sergei Fedorov resigns as well. Hockey Mom is keeping her fingers crossed that all five are signed soon!

Hockey Mom will be taking a break from my blog the week of July 12 - July 19 and heading down to the beautiful beaches of Florida's Gulf Coast (very near where I grew up and went to college). There is no hockey nor anything that resembles ice in these parts which makes it even more amazing that I've acquired such an undying passion for the game. So I will be in total withdrawal and will have to miss the Capital's Fan Fest and Development Camp. But I'll be chilling on a beautiful beach with an adult beverage and enjoying what's left of summer. Fall will be here before you know it and I'm planning to be in the stands at Kettler for the first day of Cap's Training Camp!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Fourth and Thank You...

Hockey Mom wants to wish everyone a happy Independence Day and say thanks for our freedom, especially to those in the armed forces who are far away from home protecting our freedom every day! Even when the media forecasts doom and gloom and we're paying $4+ a gallon for gas, this is still an amazing country to live in and we all sometimes tend to forget the many rights that we have that don't exist in countries around the world.

For example, the freedom of speech is one that we probably all take for granted. This freedom allows me to express my views on the sport I love, along other various asundry topics, and in some way allows me to fulfill at least a portion of my dream. Anyone who's known me since my 20's knows I've long had a dream of a career in sports journalism or sports marketing. But things don't always go as one plans: people get married and follow their spouse's careers, have children (thank God!), marriages end, parents pass away and so eventually those dreams fall by the wayside for now and you roll with the punches and enact Plan B. I am thankful to have a job that I enjoy, my children, my friends and family and the freedom of speech to blog about two of my greatest passions: my kids (and their involvement in the world's coolest sport) and the NHL (especially the team of our great nation's capitol - our own Washington Caps)! We all know that millions of others don't have the freedom to express their individual views in many nations around the world so this is truly a day to celebrate.

But while I'm giving thanks, back to hockey for now. All you die-hard fans already know about this blog, but wanted to share with my hockey newbie pals. One of the other things I love is Puck Daddy's blog. This guy is hilarious and provides such a unique perspective, with a fabulous sense of humor. Yesterday's post included Sean Avery's workout regimen. So check it out! Speaking of super-pest Sean Avery and his eccentric ways, I wonder how his black nail polish is going to go over in his new home, Dallas? Note to self Sean, I think the Texas gals probably prefer hot pink so take note when you go for your next "man"icure!

So Happy Fourth everyone and see ya next week!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Shame on You, Huet....

I'm sorry but I'm still fuming over Christobal Huet's decision to string the Caps along up until July 1, get the offer he was seeking and then say "thanks but no thanks" and high-tail it to Chicago (who by the way, just signed former Sabres, former Sharks fab d-man Brian Campbell). Believe me, I understand that this is a business but Huet could have handled this situation in an entirely different fashion instead of hinting to the media that he wanted to stay in Washington. Have fun duking it out with Khabibulin in Chicago, Chris!

Of course the other news of note was the signing of the Caps long-time netminder and local hero Olaf Kolzig with the Tampa Bay Lightning (who are spending money like Ivana Trump at Saks Fifth Avenue!). All I can say is it will be a strange sight to say the least to see Olie in the opposing net at Verizon Center. Being a huge Olie fan, I wish him all the best...even if it has to be with a Southeast division rival.

So we should welcome Jose Theodore with open arms and hope that any future signings (Laich, Gordo and Fedorov, please - plus maybe some more veteran defensive help in front of the net) ensures that the team will be a major Cup contender next season.

For now, hockey mom needs to crack open a cold one and take a deep breath....

Trade Wheels Start Spinning Faster....

Wow...if you haven't heard, the Capitals were not able to come to an agreement with goalie Christobal Huet and have signed former Colorado Avalanche goalie Jose Theodore to a 2-year contract. I for one am fairly bummed out by this news, nothing against Theodore. Huet seemed to me to be the best fit for the team although none of us will know what really went on behind closed doors. Plus I really enjoyed shouting "hip, hip, huet" with the legions of other Caps fans rocking the red. Today just got a lot more interesting.....

My Favorite Color Is.....Green

As you've all probably heard, the Caps have signed a 4-year deal with defenseman Mike Green, ensuring that we get to witness more goal-scoring finesse from #52 next season!

As today marks the start of the free agency period, Caps fans are still waiting to see when other key players including Christobal Huet, Brooks Laich, Gordo (Boyd Gordon) and possibly Sergei Fedorov will get locked up (with a new contract, not jail - that's reserved for some of the thug-wannabes in the NBA and NFL, e.g. Pacman Jones). On a side note, as a new hockey fan and an active hockey mom, one of the other things I love about the NHL is that the players are fantastic role models. You don't hear about them involved in criminal activity or steriod investigations and these days, that's a rarity in professional sports! Now I am a big NFL fan and also follow some of the NBA players, but we all know that there are lots of bad apples in both leagues who have no business in professional sports. Like it or not, as a professional athlete you become a role model for young people by default.

So we'll wait to see how this day unfolds and keep our ears to the ground for any new Caps' signings along with news from around the league...