Saturday, August 29, 2009

Apologies and Updates. . .

First of all - sincere apologies for saying I was going to update NHTP and keep it better up to date this summer. That was such a simple idea and it just simply never came to be. Perhaps next summer I will be more attentive; but this one just got away from me, as I'm sure many of yours did with you.

Thus, I just made a few quick updates to the blog. I'm one of those people that hates any type of change, so even viewing the site with a new background will drive me crazy for a while. At least it's blue though, right? Leave a comment if you hate it - I'm trying to fight the urge to change it all back. ;)

Lastly, I have every intention of being more attentive come the actual season, which is fastly approaching!! =)

For the second season of NHTP, I'm looking to have a few more regular features, but I'll leave those to be a surprise. Plus the fact that I don't want to promise any specifics til I know how they'll work out.

Once I get back in the groove, please stay tuned for regular and random updates on the Rangers and the Coyotes.

And for more frequent updates please keep track of NHTProductions on Twitter. Again, not the plan but a MUCH more practical solution for someone trying to keep hold on their full time job in addition to their blog.

Enjoy the last month of the off-season everyone. Hockey is coming and I'm starting to get really, really excited for it!


Monday, August 10, 2009

Searching for Words. . .

Back last December, I wrote a post on Patrick Kane. Said that according to a recent Blackhawks broadcast Patrick Kane's mantra was:

-Be a good person.

-Take care of your family.

-Have fun.

I'm not going to lie. The news I got this morning made me sick. And the
feeling has followed me through the entire day with no signs of fading.

The news?

That a player I respected, a player I liked, and one of the handful of
players that I on this blog have used the word LOVE in reference to - well
today he became the lead character in a horrible story.

The worst of it - we don't know for sure what kind of genre this story
falls under.

Fiction or non-fiction.

In his short time with the NHL, I've always been quick to say good things about Kane because frankly, he did nothing to deem them untrue. More than that, he was the kind of player you wanted to root for.

Small. Young. Likeable. Talented. Very talented.

And he was...American.

I say that not because I root for players based on country of origin - I have made it clear here that, despite affinity for certain Czech players, I do not. It was just cool for me that he, in addition to all he was, happen to be American, because after the reign of Leetch, Richter, and Modano, the Americans I felt drawn to became fewer and far between.

So not only was it nice to have a young player be such a good story. It was just a little bonus to know that he was American too.

Now, this morning it came to light that the story he was writing may have changed - changed from a feel good tale of a young hockey player with promise, to an ill-inducing story of a player that may have to watch it all disappear.

Granted none of us have what I would call solid facts, and I outright refuse, until more information comes to light, to crucify a player I have grown so fond of. A lot in the reports seem odd and I am sure none of us know the whole story.

Only three people were in the cab yesterday morning. And, it seems perhaps likely that only one was sober. So we may never know.

But until we do get more information, I am not going to judge. They are, at this point, all merely allegations of potential crimes.

However, for sake of the reading communnity, let's say the story is true or
even partially true.

It's not the underage drinking that bothers me, because I'm know he is not the first nor will he be the last.

It's not the argument over 20 cents, because even though that's what everyone seems to be throwing around - that is such an insignificant part of the story. Seriously - substitute $2.00. Does that really make it better?

No, it's the violence that bothers me, the seemingly unnecessary violent acts. And it's the overall sad fact that it happened at all.

Again, if it did indeed go down the way described.

Then, of course, it's the sad realization for me and for countless others that the young, golden Blackhawk has a chip in his seemingly perfect perfection.

I'll be honest here; if the allegations are true, I do hope he is punished as is deemed fit.

But more importantly, I hope that everything is righted as much as it possibly can be.

I think we've all had moments of stupidity, at least one moment we can look back on with a measure of regret. A moment we look back and say - that was not my proudest.

Look, I had mine recently enough and I'm much older than Patrick Kane is.

I'm not defending - him or me. A bad moment, one slip in judgement - they all have consequences. And try as you might, you can't take them back.

I hope that if the alleged is true that this was an isolated incident. It'd be harder for me to argue for him if it was not. But I can argue we all have a moment, perhaps not as disturbing as this, but a moment nonetheless that we did something out of character. In Kane's case what has been a moral and upstanding character, as much as we have seen him.

Of course, I hope more than anything that it isn't true at all. That it was a misunderstanding blown way out of proportion.

A young kid's rise to the top merely slowed by one mis-step, and not a young kid's rise haulted completely by a fall.

So, again, until we all get all the facts straight, and until this becomes crimes instead of alleged, I am going to sit tight. I'm going to sit tight and try to make the sick feeling I have had all day go away.

I'm going to try to believe the smart, young, and talented kid whose mantra was -

-Be a good person.

-Take care of your family.

-Have fun.

I'm going to try hard to believe he still exists.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

How I Learned to Stop Hating and Love Jeremy Roenick. . .

I will be more than honest in saying I never was much of a Jeremy Roenick, aka JR, fan. Not inthe beginning when I had yet to really follow hockey and not when I did and he was just another Flyer I found want to dislike.

But somewhere in there it changed.

If I remember correctly, it was an interview he gave during the summer of 2007, on the XM network, where he talked, among other things, about his recent t-shirt venture.

That interview sparked my interest and I made note of the company he worked to found.

Now that warmed me.

But what "got" me was his comment about interviews. And how he always said what he wanted (umm, well, duh) and how he encouraged players in the league to do the same. To laugh during their interviews. To smile. To share a piece of themselves with the fans.

If I never agreed with another word he spoke I agreed with him there. So many players played right into the cookie cutter mold. Saying the PC comment with no reaction, no inkling of having a personality or a sense of individuality, of humor.

JR never did that.

Hell, he had his jaw broken by one-time Ranger Bobo Miranov and he still wanted to give an interview with his jaw wired shut.

That's commitment to the game. (Or something).

As annoying as that sometimes was, in retrospect, I appreciate fully what a trendsetter Jeremy Roenick was. Not afraid of going against the grain or saying the un-popular answer.

In what quickly and regrettably became a world of cliche answers and playing by the book, I suddenly appreciated Roenicks candidness. Whatever uncertainty I had before faded by the fact that he was one of the only ones that would dare speak out against the common opinion.

And I loved him for that, even if only that.

As he announced his retirement Roenick said that he'd regret not having won a Cup but that he'd never regret anything he said.

I love that it was part of his closing remarks. I love that is who he is.

I may have never been a fan of Roenicks on the ice , although I cheered him with the Sharks because I wanted to cheer for the guy who went against the norm and the guy who cleaned up his life for the game.

And yet in spite of any initial dislike, a great part of me is sad that he is gone from the game we all love.

Sad because he really had so much to give and so much to say, and sad because I, for so long, was just another person who didn't want to hear it.

For honestly it was not so much even what he was saying, but rather that he had the guts to say it at all.

And that is what I will appreciate and that is what, when all is said and done, I will remember.

So thank you to Jeremy Roenick. Thank you to the guy who never feared saying what he truly felt. The guy who stood up and spoke up when all those others couldn't or, more than likely, wouldn't.

To JR I say: thank you. Thank you for never being cookie cutter.

For those who still have mixed opinions, a good article on his retirement at Canoe Sports.

As a kid growing up in New England, Roenick would watch the Hartford Whalers work out.

"I'd lean my head over the glass and watch these guys," Roenick said. "Once, when I was seven years old, Gordie Howe got a bunch of snow on his stick, skated over and dumped it on my head. I thought that was the coolest thing and I've always carried that with me.

"He skated around a little more, then looked at me and winked. For three seconds it was just me and Gordie Howe. That small amount of gratitude resonated my whole life. It was a gift to me and when I reached the NHL, I made sure to acknowledge the fans."

Great stuff.

**It's amazing how part of the world came down when Twitter did. I felt handicapped not being able to say the few things I wanted to express. How quickly that world has become a catch-all for hockey.**