Posted in Sports

Hockey Talk: Kovalchuk, Neidermayer and their Legacy on the Devils and Maple Leafs.


You have probably heard by now that New Jersey Devils superstar forward Ilya Kovalchuk retired from the NHL 3 years into a 17-year, $102 million dollar contract, having received $23 million in salary – leaving $77 million on the table.  He went back home, to Russia, and is expected to sign with the KHL right away.

Turns out he loved playing in Russia so much during that ridiculous NHL lockout that he felt homesick upon his return.  Well done, NHL/PA.

What you may not know and is impressive if you toss it into a conversation with someone, is that the Devils paid quite a price for Kovalchuk.  First, they traded Johnny Oduya, Niclas Bergfors, Patrice Cormier, a 2nd-round pick and a 1st-round to the then Atlanta Thrashers for him at the 2010 trade deadline (The Devils did receive a 2nd-round pick and Anssi Salmela from the Thrashers at that time).

When Kovalchuk’s contract expired at the end of the 2009-2010 season, the Devils re-signed him to a 17-year $102 million contract which the league rejected because it was back-loaded and circumvented the NHL’s salary cap.  Then the NHL amended its Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) to disallow other organizations from utilizing this loophole.   The NHL punished the Devils who were forced to forfeit $3 million, a 3rd-round draft pick and a 1st-round draft pick.

So let’s do the math:  The Devils invested: Johnny Oduya, Niclas Bergfors, Patrice Cormier, a 2nd-round pick, two 1st-round picks, a 3rd-round pick, a $3 million fine, $23 million in salary and got in a large fight with Gary Bettman and the NHL over this.

It’s safe to say that this list was not worth it, considering that Kovalchuk retired with 12 years and $77 million remaining on his contract.

The Devils will now have a lot of salary cap space but if they knew this, would they have let forward David Clarkson become an unrestricted free agent?  Clarkson was signed by the Toronto Maple Leafs a few days ago at the start of the free agent signing season.  So now the Devils have to find 2 premier players instead of just one.

The Maple Leafs, on the other hand, must have felt a little nervous when signing Clarkson from the Devils given the fact that Scott Neidermayer was elected to the NHL Hockey Hall of Fame this week.

How do the 2 relate, you might be asking?

Well, the Leafs known for terrible trades and horrible drafting have made some pretty sketchy decisions, since 1967’s expansion, such as; sending Lanny McDonald to Colorado or Owen Nolan from San Jose, or trading goalie Tuukka Rask and keeping Justin Pogge, while getting Andrew Raycroft in return, or trading 2 high draft picks Vesa Toskala in 2007, but the one that hurts the most, in my opinion is this one.

On October 16th, 1989 the Toronto Maple Leafs traded their 1st round draft pick in the 1991 NHL entry draft to the New Jersey Devils for defenseman Tom Kurvers.  That pick turned out to be Scott Neidermayer.

The Maple Leafs were a terrible team and with the recent addition of Europeans were easy to play against in the rough, tough Norris division.  The coach, John Brophy, known for being tough himself insisted the team get tougher and that began with the laughable trade of speedy centre Russ Courtnal to the Montreal Canadiens for goon John Kordic (whom I met on the Toronto subway on the way to Wrestlemania 6 at the SkyDome.  Kordic since died from an overdose)

Known for being a coaching carousel, the Leafs fired Broph after a 10 game winless streak and replaced him with Leaf legend and former captain George Armstrong – which didn’t matter with a terrible team as the Leafs finished last in the Norris division.

Over the summer, GM Stellick was fired, and Armstrong was not asked to return.  Instead, the Leafs promoted their chief scout Floyd Smith to be the GM and they hired former New Jersey coach Doug Carpenter to run the team.

With Borje Salming and Chris Kotsopoulos leaving TO to sign with the Detroit Red Wings, and defenseman Rick Lanz deciding to play in Switzerland instead of Toronto, the team needed to add blueliners so they began with Rob Ramage, Al Iafrate, and they pushed along some young but unproven defensemen in Luke Richardson and Todd Gill.  The Leafs also added Brad (no helmet, can’t skate) Marsh and tough guy Brian Curran – whom I remember as always having a broken jaw from fighting.  Coach Carpenter knew the Devils well, and pointed to Tom Kurvers, who had already moved from the Canadiens to the Sabres and on to the Devils where as an offensive defenseman, managed 34 points during the 1987-88 season and 15 points in the playoffs.  The following year, Kurvers lead the Devils in points from the defense with 16 goals and 50 assists.

So after losing 4 of their first 5 games in the 1989-90 season the Leafs and Devils agreed on a trade with the Leafs getting Kurvers and the Devils getting the Leafs 1st round draft pick in the 1991 entry draft.

Kurvers finished second to Iafrate in defensive scoring that year with 15 goals and 37 assists, helping the Leafs make the playoffs and finish 3rd in the Norris Division, however, the Leafs lost to the St. Louis Blues in 5 games – if you are around my age you will remember the Sergio Momesso slapshot from just past centre ice that goalie Alan Bester let in.  That deflated the team and they were done in the series.

Toronto returned for the 1990-91 season with virtually the same roster, except Bester, who was demoted to Newmarket and was replaced by rookie Peter Ing. Unfortunately, the success of the previous season did not repeat itself. The Leafs again fell flat early in the season, going winless in the first seven games. After a win over Chicago, they lost another three games in a row and Carpenter was fired and replaced by former Vancouver and Winnipeg coach Tom Watt.

Watt was unable to pull Toronto out of their crash dive and by early November, the club was 2-15-1 and well on their way to finishing dead last in the league, which would have allowed them to draft the top prospect that year which was Oshawa General centre Eric Lindros.  But with that debacle looming, panic set in and GM Smith traded over half the Leaf roster to avoid finishing dead last.  Some of those trades included;

November 9, 1990 – Leafs trade John McIntyre to Los Angeles for Mike Krushelnyski

November 9, 1990 – Leafs trade Steve Bancroft (former 1st rounder) to Boston for Rob Cimetta

November 10, 1990 – Leafs trade Ed Olczyk and Mark Osborne to Winnipeg for Dave Ellett and Paul Fenton

November 17, 1990 – Leafs trade Scott Pearson (former 1st rounder) and their 1991 and 1992 second round picks to Quebec for Michel Petit, Lucien Deblois and Aaron Broten

December 17, 1990 – Leafs trade Lou Franceschetti and Brian Curran To Buffalo for Mike Foligno

In the end, the Leafs finished 11 points behind Quebec, with a 23-46-11 record, meaning Quebec drafted first (no draft lottery yet), while the expansion San Jose Sharks received the 2nd overall pick.  The New JerseyDevils drafted 3rd with the Leafs pick from the Kurvers trade.

So what about Kurvers?  Well he too was shipped out of Toronto, to the Vancouver Canucks for center Brian Bradley.   Kurvers was traded at the end of that season to the New York Islanders, where he averaged over 40 points a season in his final three NHL seasons before he retired.

Niedermayer became the only player to win a Memorial Cup, World Junior Championship, IIHF World Championship, Olympic gold medal, Stanley Cup and the World Cup.  He won the Norris Trophy for the best defenseman in the league in 2004, as well as helping the Devils win 3 Stanley Cups(1995, 2000 & 2003) and the Anaheim Ducks win one in 2007.  He also won 2 Olympic Gold Medals for Canada in 2002 and 2010.

So while I wish Kovalchuk success in Russia, and Neidermayer congratulations for being elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame, I also feel a little frustrated knowing he could have been a Leaf.

Of course my Maple Leaf cynicism also has me doubting that the team would have developed him in the manner the Devils did, or that he would have had a player with the skill set of Scott Stevens to help him along.

Or maybe, the Leafs don’t panic and pick up Kurvers and instead draft Eric Lindros 1st overall…

Sigh.  Say what you will New Jersey, but being a Toronto sports fan sucks!

Posted in Life, news

The Urban Daddy’s Top 10 News Stories of 2012


Penn State - Nittany Lions ...item 2.. Penn St...
Penn State Nittany Lions hit with unprecedented penalties

1.  Without hesitation has to be the Newtown, Connecticut mass school shootings.  It was senseless, disturbing and scary to think that someone could do this for fame or notoriety, or because of that much hate for another human being.  If this doesn’t lead to a ban in assault rifles, nothing will…

2. Superstorm Sandy which killed more than 70 people in the Caribbean, then moving north, with its high winds and high waters slammed into more than 800 miles of the eastern U.S. seaboard, killing at least 125 more people, and causing damage calculated at well over $60 billion — the second-costliest storm in U.S. history after 2005’s Hurricane Katrina. New York and New Jersey were the worst hit, with several hundred thousand homes and businesses damaged or destroyed – including the Jersey Shore…  Toronto also got hit hard making it the 3rd hurricane / tropical storm that we had the pleasure of being in over the past couple years.

3. Penn State – 2012 was quite the year for Penn State and its storied football program. In January, longtime coach Joe Paterno died, his legacy forever tarnished by the sex-abuse scandal involving his former assistant, Jerry Sandusky which he knew about and did not stop.  Sandusky was convicted of sexually abusing 10 boys, and sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison, which he still denied ever happened.  In July, the NCAA imposed severe sanctions, including $60 million in fines, a four-year postseason ban on football and a reduction in football scholarships.

4. Syria – What began in 2011 as an outbreak of peaceful protests escalated into full-scale civil war pitting the beleaguered regime of Bashar Assad against a disparate but increasingly potent rebel opposition.  The death toll at the turn of the calendar to 2013 exceeded 60,000.   The U.S. and many other nations were supporting the opposition, albeit wary of outcomes that might help Islamic extremists gain power in the region.

5.  The Olympics

6. The crash of the Italian cruise ship, the Costa Concordia and reports that the Captain crashed while trying to impress some woman watching him navigate through a rough stop, then fleeing the ship as it was going under.

7.  The jump from the Stratosphere…  So very cool to watch live online and on TV.

8.  The economy – still in a recession…

9.  The NHL Lockout

10. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s legal issues – being sued by a business owner with ties to left-wing council, then being removed from office (again from the left) over a conflict of interest which saw him use his position of Mayor to get his football team new jerseys…

 

Posted in family, Life

It’s nice to be back from summer vacation


Home sweet home.

I missed you home.  I missed you bed.  I missed you air-conditioning, especially after spending 2 1/2 weeks in a car and on a boat in the heat, with 3 very energetic children.

We had a wonderful time and a tiring time as the same time on our family vacation.  Read on to see how we survived and maybe you will find some ideas for a trip with your families.

Since I do not generally like to announce my impending vacations, I kept this one quiet but now I can spill the beans and talk about this trip and how we became friends with Irene.  Hurricane Irene that is.

At a very high level here was what we did;

Our trip began with a nice relaxing drive from Toronto to Rochester, NY in which we had to pull off the 401 (Canada’s busiest highway) so my 4-year-old son Stewie could pee. Sure I asked them to pee before we left and yes he was the one who didn’t need to, but while we were standing on the shoulder with cars zipping by, he took the longest pee ever recorded on the cement barrier separating the West-bound traffic from the East-bound traffic. It never ended. My wife started laughing, and then I did too.

As well, having all 3 kids in the same row of the car was… Interesting.  When they were not doing the WWE / UFC and trying to kill each other, they were quietly playing on their iPad‘s, watching the Cat in the Hat, or playing Angry Birds or Plants versus Zombies.

So we left beautiful sunny Toronto at 1:23pm and arrived in Rochester just past 8pm. We stayed at the Strathallen Hotel and it was awesome. There were some nice things to do close to the hotel, but we arrived late in the evening (kids bed-time is normally 7:30pm) and it rained SO much that there was immense flooding in the area we decided to grab a pizza and hit the sack. Of course the kids wouldn’t eat the pizza so they ate the fruit we packed and went to bed really late in the night, a pre-cursor of things to come. As well, a huge tree around the corner from the hotel uprooted, blocking off the road. Little did we know the rest of the damage.

Rochester looked like this:
http://youtu.be/TiwmY6Vn304

After it stopped raining, Rochester looked like this:
http://youtu.be/pNMpF1eFqhc

For our Rochester activity, we took in the Children’s Museum and it was fantastic! The kids loved it, there was so much to do there and we raced from display to display. We of course stopped in the middle to eat grapes and watch the pouring rain.

The 14th of August, our museum day, looked like this after the rain left:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPWuP_8FclE&NR=1

I’m pretty sure we caught the tail end of this mishap as we sat in the car and watched the police drain the water into the sewers under this bridge. The car had probably just left.

From Rochester we drove to Howes Caverns, NY and we stayed in the motel and went into the Caverns the next morning. It was very cool… Literally. My wife had to purchase a hoodie from the gift shop prior to the adventure. The 45-minute trip was fun, the tour guides were very knowledgeable and they get extra credit for the boat ride that they had to paddle the 20 of us through. All in all, it was totally worth it and the kids loved it.

Later that day we headed closer to New York and stayed at a horrid Super 8 motel in New Paltz, New York. It was small and gross and the only thing that saved it was the 24 hour coffee and the “breakfast” the next morning. Sure the coffee in the morning was just coloured water, but at night when I needed it, it was hot, wet and strong.

From New Paltz, we headed into Brooklyn, New York where we had rented a floor in an old brownstone through http://www.airbandb.com. What an amazing experience. Not far from where Jay-Z grew up, we were on the top floor of this historic building in a pretty interesting area. We parked the car in front of the building and left it there for 3 days until we had to move it for the street cleaning.
An aside: Do you know how hard it was to find cottage cheese or plain yogurt in Brooklyn? I mean why spend $5.99 on yogurt when you can buy a prepared dish full of preservatives and salt for $1.99. That was one horrible realization for us. Might be a reason for rising obesity rates in Americans…

From our headquarters in Brooklyn, we hit the subways and headed into the City. Navigating the subway was easy enough but lifting the stroller up and down the stairs, not so fun. That and the subway staff couldn’t give a rat’s ass whether you had directions or not, or if you paid or not. They often chatted with each other instead of tending to the people around or they mumbled their responses back to everyone. The announcements were inaudible. These guys could learn something from the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) who had dramatically improved the clarity of their announcements, especially when calling out stations. But all that aside, we were really worried about Berry who hates subways, and the first trip we took she was held by her mummy, head down on her shoulders and very scared. But as we travelled, she really started to enjoy the subway trips, and eventually she came around. Whenever someone looked at her, she would point to herself and say, “Berry”, then wave and say hi. She had quite the audience and considering how friendly New Yorkers are, each trip was a lot of fun. She had plenty of new-found friends to keep her company and give her attention and we had one less frightened child with us.

We hit the City every day and visited a bunch of must see shops, like; M&M store, Lego store, FAO Shwartz (kids played on the giant piano there), Disney store, bead shops and TD Bank which has no ties to the Canadian TD Bank… Very odd there.  We walked to Canal Street and bought Cherries, raw peanuts and strawberries from the vendors, we bought a Hello Kitty backpack for Berry and Angry Birds t-shirts for the boys. We took a cruise of the skyline and saw the Statue of Liberty and the new and old Twin Towers locations. We walked up down and sideways the City, my step count for the Global Corporate Challenge was in the 40,000’s almost every day. We ate Dim Sum in Chinatown and found yogurt in Manhattan. We took in a unique Chinese candy store and had the kids pictures taken with New York’s finest. It was a hot, tiring, but really fun experience. We had very little rain, usually in the evenings and the apartment we rented had air conditioning and Netflicks so the kids were kept cool and they watched Phineas and Fern, Dora and Diego and other kids shows to bide their time from their 6am wake up’s.

By Saturday – a week later – we had said goodbye to Brooklyn and we drove to the pier in Manhattan where we parked for only $21/day so we could hop onto the Norwegian Cruise Ship, the Jewel, for a week long cruise.  The Jewel is identical to the Pearl which we had been on before, however this time with 3 kids we needed 2 staterooms and we had adjoining cabins with the ocean views (we were concerned about having balcony’s). Each room had a bunk bed and a pull out, but we ended up sticking the 3 kids in one room and we hung out in the other.

The cruise was good, the kids camp was okay (although for the life of me I never understand why they won’t: 1) change the kids – not an issue this time around, the boys are 4 and 6, but was a huge problem on the Pearl when Stewie was left standing in the corner soaking wet because they would not ask him if he needed to pee and he forgot, and they didn’t want him sitting and getting the floor wet. 2) Why the kids are inside all the time. 3) Why the kids watch movies in the camp. I don’t pay all that money for my boys to cruise so they can watch TV.  I can turn up the heat at home and we can do that here.

Anyways, we had Berry with us for the trip and that was fine as she was too young for the kiddie camp.  As a family, we all ate together, we swam, we walked the ship endless amounts of time and we walked up and down the stairs instead of taking the elevator from the 5th floor, to the buffet on the 12th floor whenever possible and that includes Berry.

Speaking of Berry, she stole the show this cruise with her knowledge of her body parts in Tagalog, with all the Filipino staff calling out for her to perform – which she obliged to do – and the other staff asking for a wave and a smile. Since this ship was also a Nickelodeon ship, and my daughter loves Dora the Explorer, this doubled her fun. “Berry see Dora… Yeh-hey” was her cry. She was one very happy camper. Linus on the other had was miserable. He had bumps on his tongue and refused to eat anything healthy, sticking to the starches – bread, pasta, crackers, cereal and it took him 4 days to get something with vitamins and nutrients in his body before he could have any treats – which turned out to be the night of the chocolate buffet.

So we saw Dora, Diego, Sponge Bob, Patrick Starr and 2 other guys – Chum Chum and Fan Boy if I remember correctly at the character breakfast and at other events for the kids.  It got to the point that the Nickelodeon crew would point out Berry to the characters and she would get hugs and high fives.  She loved them and they loved her.  She had a blast.

Our had 3 scheduled stops; Port Canaveral Florida, their private beach and Nassau in the Bahamas.

We stayed on the boat and swam on the Florida day, taking an hour in the afternoon to taxi into Cocoa Beach to buy bottled water and to play on the beach. Our $24.00 case of water was cheaper than the ships $4.50 a liter water. It was a good buy even if we had to shlep the leftover bottles with us back off the ship. I’ll never forget my wife’s comment to me as we were packing them up; “Start drinking!”

Also in Florida, we walked around Ron Jon’s – which was identified to us as being a tourist destination – it was very cool in there and super hot and humid in Florida so that worked for us. Taking Berry into the ocean for her first time was a lot of fun. We walked to the beach and dipped in our toes, but because it was so hot and the water was sooo nice the 5 of us ended up soaking wet, the boys essentially jumped into the water fully dressed. That was a ton of fun until walking back when they started complaining about being wet, tired and full of sand.

It was also in Florida where we got more information on Hurricane Irene. It was really coming.

From that point I started with my Hurricane Helms sayings… “Stand back, there’s a hurricane coming!” I had the kids doing it too. It fit.

The following day on the Great Stirrup Cay expedition we met a couple couples, both from the NY/NJ area, and we hit it off with a couple from NJ who had kids around the same ages as our boys. We hung out with them the rest of the trip. It made it more fun for us because of the adult conversation and it gave us an opportunity to keep our kids up late and hang out as families.

A side note from the NCL private beach was that Linus got stung in the inner thigh by a jellyfish. He was complaining of an itchy rash on his leg and it looked really ugly, but when I saw an older teen complaining about the same thing, I asked the lifeguard and he said, “oh yeah! There are jelly fish and they sting!”. Thanks buddy. So we went to the dive hut and they sprayed it with vinegar which stung a LOT.  Linus crumpled to the floor crying and the woman there said in a very monotone delivery; “I won’t kid you, the vinegar stings worse than the bite, but it will get better”.  No shit.  Really.

10 minutes later he had completely forgotten about it.

Another highlight of this beach was the outdoor buffet and our 4-year-old eating machine, Stewie, who ate 2 giant hamburgers at 11am topped with lettuce, tomatoes and onions.  These were big hamburgers, not the small thin ones. 

We never did make it to Nassau as a result of Hurricane Irene scheduled to be there the same day as us, so the ship turned and booted it for Washington where we stayed for 2 days in the middle of the ocean.

We came into Manhattan and everyone got booted off the ship earlier so the Jewel could take the next group into the ocean before the storm hit.  We got into our car and headed out to visit my wife’s uncle and then to New Jersey to hang out with her cousin. 

While in Jersey we were west enough that the hurricane hit at night when we were sleeping and the following day there was a lot of wind, but we were not in any danger.  The kids LOVED staying inside and playing on their iPads with their cousins and playing with toys and eating treats they would not get at home.  I was watching the clouds fly by in the sky, I took a walk in the storm (and got soaked), my wife went to Target to shop for school supplies, and the kids had the blast.

We hung out for an additional day and left the next morning at 8am, arriving in Toronto at 10:30pm after stopping at every rest station and to shop.

A fun, yet tiring vacation. 

Would we do it again?  Sure.  If there was a way to seperate the kids, it would be better.  Or maybe a shield like they have in cabs.  Watching Berry using the back of his fist to backhand smack Linus every now and then was funny – it’s what she saw them doing, but the mouth fart noise that Stewie taught her… So NOT cool.

I love NY!

Posted in news

It’s nice to have goals


Have you heard about the New Jersey woman who, at 500+ pounds was the largest ever woman to give birth, and now wants to get to 1000lbs?

Turns out her 150lbs husband likes his women SUPERSIZED!

I’m not sure if she’s just trying to promote her website where people pay to watch her bathe and eat or if she’s just really fucked up and this is a cry for help. Call Dr. Phil!!!

But seriously, read the article below and tell me what you think;

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/7440938/Donna-Simpson-woman-who-wants-to-be-worlds-fattest.html

I hope her husband has a ton of life insurance on her because at this rate she wont last much longer and he’ll need it to care for their child once mommy has exploded…