Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

The Hat Trick wants to take a moment to wish all my readers a joyous and Happy New Year. May 2009 be a wonderful year for you.

The Hat Trick has taken a bit of a hiatus since the Election Day post...unfortunately the Hat Trick's day job became very hectic and stressful with the election results, post election Senate hysteria (Senate races in Minnesota and Georgia) and just general work-related issues resulting from the continued bad economy.

Unfortunately the Hat Trick also got his pink slip two weeks ago and had his last day today so two things might happen with regard to this blog...either daily, or multi-daily posts as I will have a lot of time on my hands or no posts at all as I work to find new employment. Only the future will tell...

Finally, on a happier note, the Hat Trick is VERY excited for the 2009 NHL Winter Classic featuring the Chicago Blackhawks hosting the Detroit Red Wings at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois (the former second home for Mrs. East Coast Wing during her 20s!). This will be the third year that a regular NHL game will be played outdoors (last year the Pittsburgh Penguins squared off against the Buffalo Sabres in Ralph Wilson Stadium during a snowstorm) and it has been a hit. I'm glad to see two Original Six teams get a chance to participate in this fun and innovative idea from the National Hockey League.

The game starts at 1:00 PM Eastern time so take a break from all of those bowl games and tune should be a great game after the Red Wings pounded the Blackhawks in Detroit last night (December 30)!

Regardless, have a safe and happy New Years Eve and the Hat Trick's best wishes to you all for 2009.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Hat Trick 2008 Election Predictions

The Hat Trick has been AWOL lately…unfortunately the Hat Trick’s day job has gotten in the way, plus some travel. Add in to that a little bit of political/election apathy and you pretty much have the whole story. However, since it is November 4 and Election Day, the Hat Trick feels he should probably comment on what is going on…

Bottom line is that Senator Obama’s days as a member of the United States Senate will quickly be coming to a close as he gets the promotion to the White House. I don’t think it will be a landslide, but a solid victory…nothing like the close elections of 2000 and 20004. At this juncture the Hat Trick feels that Senator Obama will turn Virginia and Colorado and possibly Florida. Finally, the Hat Trick thinks Ohio will also go his way, sealing the deal. Also, unlike 2004 (and especially unlike 2000!) we should know the winner fairly early in the evening…likely by 11:00pm if not sooner.

The Hat Trick has felt for a while that Senator Obama would be victorious so I have been more focused on what happens in the House and Senate races…as a lobbyist this is the arena that will impact me the most. For pro-business conservatives, like the Hat Trick, the future doesn’t look pretty. The Hat Trick predicts that Democrats will gain 30 seats in the House…bagging 34 Republican-held House seats and losing four of their own seats. The Hat Trick’s “Upset Surprise Special” will be Pennsylvania’s 12th District, home to Democratic Representative John Murtha, an outspoken critique of the Iraq War and a Member of Congress with some significant ethical lapses in his past, including involvement in the “Abscam” scandal in the late 1970s, among other glitches. In 2008 Murtha is in trouble by publicly stating that his congressional district is a racists area and would not vote for Senator Obama. His constituents were not pleased and has turned an easy race for re-election into a real challenge for Murtha. The Hat Trick thinks this is the “Upset Special” for this election.

The races in the Senate are somewhat murkier although the Hat Trick predicts a solid night for the Democrats but not quite enough to get to a filibuster-proof 60 votes. The Hat Trick predicts Democrats will win seven seats, bringing their total to 58 seats (56 Democrats and two Independents who caucus with the Democrats, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut). This is how the Hat Trick sees the shakeout of those seven Senate races:

Alaska – Senator Ted Stevens loses for the first time since his appointment to the Senate in 1968. A conviction on corruption charges last week in D.C. Federal Court did not help his re-election efforts.

Colorado – Open Senate with the retirement of Senator Wayne Allard, a Republican. A former red state turning purple, and possibly blue, Republicans nominate the most conservative candidate possible, alienating moderates in an election year not friendly to Republicans. Democrats nominate House Rep. Mark Udall of the Udall Family dynasty and will win handily.

New Hampshire - Senator John Sununu hasn't exactly electrified the Senate since his arrival in 2003. Changing trends in New Hampshire (both House seats went to the Democrats in 2006) plus being opposed by a popular former Democratic governor of the state will put the Senator into enforced retirement after one term.

New Mexico - See Colorado. Republicans nominate most conservative choice to run against a Udall (this time House Rep. Tom Udall). Results are the same...welcome to the Senate Tom Udall.

North Carolina - One would think that Senator Elizabeth Dole would be okay in North Carolina but that state is becoming more purple by the day. A large turnout of Black voters for Senator Obama are going to kill Dole's re-election hopes. Of course it never helps your re-election efforts to spend most of your time in your Watergate condo in Washington, DC with your husband, former Senator Bob Dole, instead of the state your actually represent.

Oregon - Moderate Senator Gordon Smith (a cousin of the Udall clan mentioned above) is just going to get bagged in a state trending to become "really, really blue" with the current hippy/progressive contingent in Portland these days. If Smith had a D instead of an R after his name he would be fine.

Virginia - See New Mexico and Colorado. A former Red State now trending Blue, Republicans nominated an unpopular, very conservative, former Governor to face popular, moderate/business friendly, former Governor. How do you think this is going to turn out? The irony is that Republicans had a moderate, very popular House member retiring (Rep. Tom Davis) who wanted to run for the Senate but was maneuvered out of the nomination by the conservative wing of the Virginia Republican Party in a state trending moderate in recent years. Good move guys!

Finally, the Hat Trick feels that Senator Norm Coleman in Minnesota will prevail in his race against former Saturday Night Live comedian Al Franken. If ultra-liberal, jokester Franken wins this seat then God help us all...

The Hat Trick may provide some further commentary as Election Day 2008 continues. Feel free to comment on the Hat Trick's predictions...and, as always, regardless of who you support, please go out and vote...even if it is "None of the Above." A lot of people in our past history died for our right to vote and it is important to exercise that right every single election.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

More Brilliance from the Kennedy’s…

You’ve got to love the Kennedy’s and their self-righteousness…as well as their ability to hold others accountable while conveniently forgetting some of their own family’s challenges over the years.

In today’s Washington Post, Robert Kennedy Jr. was quoted on Monday at the Politics and Prose bookstore in Washington, DC as stating that “That’s when the Republicans used to be good guys.” Kennedy was speaking to a group of children at the bookstore publicizing his new book on former slave Robert Smalls. Kennedy asked the group of children if they knew the political party of President Abraham Lincoln (not a leading question at all) and when they answered “Republican” he made his broad generalization on Republicans. Kennedy further stated to the Post that he had no qualms about the statement, feeling that the children were mature enough to make their own determinations.

Using the same logic we can only conclude that everyone with the last name of Kennedy is a liberal philandering, alcoholic, date-raping murderer…frankly I can barely type that sentence out because it is so ludicrous. Examples like Mr. Kennedy’s clearly illustrate the toxic ignorance that is a growing trend in today’s politics. It’s why both Congress and the Presidency have such low approval ratings. It’s why a good many people in this country cannot stomach the political scene and stay out, leaving an increasingly small pool of capable individuals running for office. In turn, this leaves our government in the hands of an ever increasing number of individuals who are not capable of statesmanship and drop into the gutter of partisan warfare. Liberals like Mr. Kennedy are flocking to Senator Obama, and will likely elect him President, because they feel he is an agent of change that our country desperately needs. Yet, by his ignorant statement and unwillingness to even consider how inappropriate it was to say that in front of a group of children, Mr. Kennedy descends into the very arena that they supposedly want to change.

Will we see any outrage over this statement beyond conservative circles? Will liberals and the media call out Mr. Kennedy and condemn his statement? I think the answer to that question is highly unlikely. Of course, if my statement above had been used to describe Mr. Kennedy’s family, or Mr. Obama's, I can only imagine the moral outrage that would come from it. Unfortunately for Republicans, that’s how it is in the current climate. How we combat it will help decide if the party can recover from what is almost-certain political annihilation on November 4.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Red Wings Visit the White House

The Detroit Red Wings visited with President Bush at the White House Tuesday to celebrate the Red Wing's 11th Stanley Cup victory this past June. President Bush had some nice comments to make about the Red Wings and included a particular poignant statement about Darren McCarty, noting his challenges with alcoholism and how he was worked hard to put his life back together and get back into the NHL. President Bush battled his own alcohol problems when he was younger so there is an interesting connection on this issue between the President and McCarty.

All in all a nice moment for the Red Wings and the President...and given the President's tremendous unpopularity probably one of the few light moments he has as his presidency winds down.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Culture of Corruption

In 2006 the then-Democratic minorities in the House of Representatives and the Senate ran on theme of a Republican "Culture of Corruption" in Congress. They weren't far off on labeling Republicans this way. The GOP had experienced an unusually high number of congressional scandals including the infamous Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal that sent now former Representative Bob Ney, an Ohio Republican, to jail. Other problems came up including a page scandal where former Representative Mark Foley, a Florida Republican, was discovered to have been texting high school pages that worked in the Capitol on some highly inappropriate subjects.

Now it looks like the tables have turned and the big question will be how will the Democratic leadership address this scandal involving, ironically, the lawmaker who replaced Representative Foley. It looks like Representative Tim Mahoney (D-FL) is being accused of paying a former staffer, and his mistress, about $121,000 to stay quiet about the affair. We'll see how this plays out but it is always fascinating to the Hat Trick how politicians always try and play the morality card for political gain and always (always!) get burned doing it. House Republicans impeaching former President Bill Clinton when both the Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA) and Appropriations Chairman (and incoming Speaker) Bob Livingston (R-LA) were involved in extramarital affairs. Current Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) promised that the House of Representatives, under her leadership, would run the most ethical Congress in history. She has already stumbled badly with many ethical lapses in her own caucus including Representative Bill Jefferson (D-LA) current trial on corruption charges. The Mahoney incident doesn't help matters and I think the Democratic leadership is going to have to come down hard on Mahoney, otherwise they will have proven they are no better compared with the Republicans they threw out of office in 2006.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Opening Night Final Thoughts

The Hat Trick is somewhat embarrassed to note that, after posting earlier tonight that the Hockey Night in Canada match-up between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens is always "a great match-up." Unfortunately for the Maple Leafs, they got pounded 6-1. To paraphrase Don Cherry on Hockey Night in Canada…that's not nice and Ron Wilson (the Maple Leaf's new head coach) will remember that. The Hat Trick stands corrected!

In one final thought, the Hat Trick notes that the fourth fight in the Canucks-Flames game has just taken place...good, old school hockey!

Opening Saturday Night in the NHL

The Hat Trick has been privileged in watching some good NHL hockey tonight, the first Saturday night of play in the 2008-2009 season. Already some good games have been played and some are currently ongong.

Of tremendous importance to the Hat Trick is the fact that the Red Wings won their first game of the season, defeating the Ottawa Senators 3-2. It was a close game up until the end, especially during the last minute of the third period when the Senators put an extra attacker on the ice (creating an "empty net" situation…in order to put the extra attacker on the ice you have to pull your team's goalie) and it went down to the buzzer. Ottawa is a though team in the Eastern Conference and I'm pleased that the Wings were able to come out on top. An added bonus for the Hat Trick is getting to hear the national anthem of both Canada and the United States sung so beautifully by the representative from the Canadian Armed Forces…they always perform the national anthems in such a magnificent way.

Other highlights of the night include:

  • The Washington Capitals put together a come-from-behind win against the Chicago Blackhawks, winning 4-2. The Hat Trick considers himself a secondary Capitals fan since it is the only way to get NHL hockey in the nation's capital. I like to see the Caps do well…they have a great arena to play in (the Verizon Center) and have a dedicated, yet small, following. The Hat Trick wishes the Caps well, however the Hat Trick always is loyal to the Red Wings when they play the Caps…which created some problems for the Hat Trick in 1998 when the Capitals matched up against the Red Wings for the Stanley Cup…and got swept by the Wings 4-0. Some of the Hat Trick's friends are still annoyed about that!
  • Republican Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska, dropped an honorary puck at the start of the Flyers-Rangers game today. Regardless of how you feel about Governor Palin, it's kind of nice to challenge baseball on the sports connection with politics in America. The Rangers won 4-3.
  • During the intermission between Game 1 and Game 2 on Hockey Night in Canada, Ron MacLean (mentioned in a previous post) had a segment with CBC News on the upcoming elections in Canada this coming Tuesday. Can you imagine that happening in the United States?
  • The Hat Trick currently is watching fun, scrappy, physical game between the Vancouver Canucks and the Calgary Flames on Hockey Night in Canada. Calgary is pummeling the Canucks 3-1 as the first period is winding down.
  • Most importantly...CBC broadcaster was sporting a great suit with a Mickey Mouse tie tonight...classic Don Cherry!

Needless to say, the Hat Trick is enjoying his hockey tonight. More to come on the NHL and the Detroit Red Wings…it allows the Hat Trick to avoid discussing the presidential election in which he is becoming increasingly weary!

Hockey Night in Canada

The Hat Trick is very excited that the NHL season has begun, even if the Red Wings lost their home opener against the Maple Leafs 3-2. As I blogged in an earlier post, there was a lot of emotion at the beginning of the game due to the raising of the banner commemorating Detroit's 11th Stanley Cup victory…plus the fact that the Stanley Cup was in "The House" that night. The Cup also went through some other amusing activities involving the aging rock group Def Leppard.

Tonight…Saturday night to be specific…is the first broadcast for the 2008-2009 hockey season of "Hockey Night In Canada", a staple of hockey for a boy growing up in Michigan. Hockey Night in Canada is produced by the Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC) and blows away most of the other hockey-related sports programming coming out of the United States…not a surprise given that hockey is the national pastime of Canada. Hockey Night in Canada began as a radio program in 1931, albeit with a different name. In 1952 the CBC began broadcasting Hockey Night in Canada on television, with the first color games being broadcast in 1966.

The format for Hockey Night in Canada (HNIC) is simple…they broadcast a game in the Eastern time zone, usual starting at 7:00pm. Since it is the Canadian Broadcast Corporation, the game always includes a Canadian team, and in many cases, the showcase game will include two Canadian teams playing each other…the Toronto Maple Leafs taking on the Montreal Canadiens is always a great match-up. Following the game in the East, a game in the West usually starts around 10:00pm in the East and, once again, features at least one Canadian team from the Mountain or Western time zone. The addition of the second game didn't begin until 1988 when Wayne Gretsky ("The Great One") began playing for the Los Angeles Kings and this allowed Canadian viewers to see more of him after his glory years with the Edmonton Oilers. The second game only took place when a Canadian team visited Los Angeles and didn't become a regular staple until 1995.

One highlight of HNIC is without a doubt "Coach's Corner" with Don Cherry and Ron MacLean. Don Cherry is a unique guy…with some of the most interesting suits you can imagine. Don Cherry is a former coach of the Boston Bruins and provides tremendous color analysis to all the games going on in the NHL. Until I started watching Don Cherry on CBC I never knew that Canadians referred to former Red Wings Captain Steve Yzerman (who's #19 sweater the Hat Trick still wears proudly to Red Wings games) as "Stevie Y"…he was always "Yzerman" to the U.S. broadcast crews and to many Michiganders as "The Captain" reflecting Yzerman's ongoing leadership of the team as Red Wings captain. Frankly, I find the announcers from the CBC to be so much more interesting compared with announcers on Versus and NBC that broadcast NHL games. I guess it's the fact that it is the country's most popular sport compared with it's increasing decline in the United States. If you every get a chance to see a hockey game broadcast by CBC it is worth watching…and if you get to see Don Cherry then it is a bonus night indeed!

Hockey Night in Canada also has a hold on the Hat Trick for sentimental reasons. Growing up in Detroit in an era as cable was just becoming mainstream, your main TV choices were, like most other U.S. cities, the three major broadcast networks (this was before the advent of FOX) and generally two other independent stations featuring sit-com reruns…in the case of Detroit it was Channel 50 and Channel 20 with Channel 62 available but mostly focused on religious and local access programming (ironically Channel 62 is now the CBS affiliate in Detroit…how things change!). However, in Detroit you could also get Channel 9, the CBC affiliate from across the Detroit River in Windsor, Ontario. Generally one wouldn't generally watch Channel 9 except to get HNIC on Saturday night, especially when the Red Wings were playing a Canadian NHL team. Sometimes you would stay loyal to the home channel for the actual game but during intermission you immediately changed to Channel 9 so you could get the HNIC crew, especially Don Cherry. Lots of times in bars (the Hat Trick discovered this as he got older) they would show the CBC broadcast instead of the local broadcast. During the playoffs, when both CBC and U.S. stations were broadcasting the NHL playoffs I can't remember a time when Channel 9 wasn't on so we could get CBC. In one memorable example, the Hat Trick went to a local watering hole with the Hat Trick's best friend (since 6th grade, no less) to watch the NHL All Star game in January of 1996. This was during the time when FOX Sports had the broadcast rights to NHL games and used the All Star game to debut the "FOX Trak" which was a puck that had electronics within the puck that allowed viewers to track the puck. The idea was to make the NHL more "watchable" on television, a frequent complaint of some viewers of the game. Well, that cold night in Detroit the reaction to the "FOX Trak" was loud and vocal in this watering hole…"turn it off"…and Channel 9 was immediately put on to watching HNIC to broadcast the All Star game.

After looking back at all that I have written…I had planned a quick, short post when I first started writing…I realize that Hockey Night in Canada is one of the fond memories of childhood and growing up that I still can hold onto. While I've been in Washington, DC for many, many years I've never thought of myself as a local like many of my colleagues who have come to Washington from different parts of the country. The Hat Trick loves football, in addition to hockey, and yet cannot warm up to the Washington Redskins even though the 'Skins have a rich history and loyal following among Washingtonians…for my Detroit readers the Redskins is the top team in DC much like the Red Wings are the top team in Detroit. I guess that Hockey Night in Canada is a way for me to stay connected to what I still feel is my home and my roots…feelings I will probably never have for Washington. While you can never live in the past, sometimes having things that remind you of the past are good…they keep you grounded in where you came from which might help provide you direction in where you want to go. For the Hat Trick, Hockey Night in Canada provides some of those positive memories…keeping me grounded (hopefully) and reminding me of the past and the place and the people that I have come from in my life.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Thank You Jimmy Carter, Part II

It looks like former President Jimmy Carter continues to show how NOT to be Presidential. In his latest gaffe, the one-term President (1977 – 1981) placed the blame of the current financial crisis on the shoulders of sitting President George W. Bush blaming spending and the Bush tax cuts as the primary culprits of Wall Street's woes. Carter also notes that deregulation in the financial markets was a major problem that has created our current situation plus noting that eight years ago we had a stable, vibrant economy with a trade surplus.

That's all well and good but President Carter omits a few key points:

  1. The U.S. economy began to go experience trouble in 2000 with the "dot com" bust; President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, handed that problem over to President Bush in 2001. I would argue that the Bush tax cuts in 2001 helped the country avoid sliding into a deeper recession following the dot com bust and the September 11 attacks.
  2. He cites deregulation as a root cause in this issue. The Hat Trick wouldn't necessarily disagree yet I think his jumping on the "need for regulation" bandwagon is disingenuous at best given he is responsible for signing the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 into law which eventually allowed the rise of "low cost carriers" to rise, creating the flying environment of today that we know and love. Carter also fails to note that while many of the regulations that governed Wall Street firms were gutted by a Republican-controlled Congress in the late 1990s they were signed into law by President Clinton, not President Bush. To blame President Bush is preposterous.
  3. Let's talk about President Carter's economy between 1977 - 1981: inflation, inflation, inflation with a good amount of unemployment in there as well. To be lectured on the economy by Jimmy Carter is quite laughable indeed.

The Hat Trick feels strongly about the First Amendment but I find it so disappointing that former President Carter feels the need to be so un-presidential in his appraisals. Once again I think the chip on his shoulder is rearing it's ugly head. While it must not be pleasant for him to remember, there is a reason why he a.) had to fight a primary challenge within the Democratic Party from Senator Ted Kennedy and b.) Was not re-elected in the 1980 General Election against Ronald Reagan.

Whatever President Bush's failings are, and they are many (MANY!), Carter inserting himself into the financial chaos is not helpful, not Presidential and not a genuine display of the facts.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Governor Palin To Drop Puck Saturday

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, the Republican Vice Presidential nominee, will drop the puck at the Philadelphia Flyer's home opener against the New York Rangers this Saturday, October 11. Governor Palin, a self-described "Hockey Mom", has interestingly brought together the world of presidential politics and the National Hockey League together…which, as you can imagine, makes the Hat Trick very happy! Regardless if you like her or hate her, it's kind of nice to see some attention given to the NHL for a change as it gets so very little attention when competing with Major League Baseball, the National Football League and the National Basketball Association. Good luck to you Governor Palin and please give some thought to doing a "Gordie Howe Hat Trick" while you're on the ice…the uninitiated to this should check out my February 4 post for the explanation to this very special Hat Trick!

Finally, in an attempt to be bipartisan and include my liberal readers, I will make the first hockey/Governor Palin joke:

"It's a shame the Flyers game couldn't have been against the Ottawa Senators so she could get a little more foreign policy experience…"

Red Wings Defends Stanley Cup Starting Tonight

Tonight, October 9, the Detroit Red Wing commences the start of defending their Stanley Cup with a game against fellow "Original Six" team Toronto Maple Leafs. The game starts at 8:00pm EDT and will feature raising the banner celebrating the winning of their 18th Stanley Cup last June. Much of the team returns for the 2008-09 season with Forward Dallas Drake retiring (after winning his first Stanley Cup in June) and Goalie Dominik Hasek retiring for the second time in his career after a less than spectacular 2008 post-season. Yahoo Sports put together a nice write-up on Red Wings, noting that the team did not make any splashy free agent moves over the free agent period this summer with the exception of signing former Penguin Marian Hossa. This speaks a lot to the depth of the Red Wings with two dominant lines and a host of talented players as Yahoo Sports notes. Goalie Chris Osgood solidified his role as starting goalie after solid regular season in 2007-08 sharing duties with Dominik Hasek and then took over permanently after Hasek floundered in the first round of the playoffs against the Nashville Predators.

The future looks good for the Wings and I'm excited about the news season. I agree with Yahoo Sports that the biggest challenge for the Wings will be complacency…a"been there, done that" approach that could cause an upset with a hungrier team. The Wings have the pieces in place to repeat, which they did in 1998 after winning the Stanley Cup in 1997, so it has been accomplished in recent history. I think complacency has actually been a big problem for the team in recent history…we saw it at the end of several seasons, especially in 2002, 2003 and 2006 when they had a great regular season and then chocked in the playoffs. If they can keep their focus and avoid the complacency issues, plus remain health, I don't see why they can't repeat and win it all again in June 2009.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Hat Trick Returns!

The Hat Trick realizes he has been absent since my last post on September 20. Needless to say the day job has taken priority…and has kept me busy and spending quite a bit of time on Capitol Hill with energy and tax extenders legislation plus some work on the financial bailout. Congress has finally recessed to go home to get themselves re-elected which has cleared up some time for me…mostly to discover where my desk is under the mounds of paper!

A lot is going on in the political world and I will attempt to address some of the highlights in the next few days. In addition the NHL 2008 – 2009 season began last weekend with games in Prague and Stockholm…a great way to increase interest in the sport given the high number of European players that are in the NHL, including the Red Wings Captain Nick Lidstrom from Sweden!

Thanks for your patience as I get back in the swing of things!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Ritz Carlton

I just got back from a three day meeting at the Ritz Carlton in Arlington, Virginia. My organization’s annual Fall Board of Directors meeting took place at the Ritz and they like for the senior staff to stay at the hotel.

It’s nice to know that in an age when travel seems to have transcending into a low budget, low expectations environment that a hotel chain with a focus on service and class still exist. I’ve had the opportunity to stay at a few Ritz Carlton’s in Florida, California, Ohio and Louisiana through my business travel and I’ve rarely been disappointed. It sure beats the cattle call sensation that flying seems to invoke these days…and not even flying on Southwest.

Thank you Ritz Carlton for trying buck the trend into travel mediocrity!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

McCarty Returns to Red Wings

Nice to see the Red Wings re-sign Darren McCarty to a one-year deal. This can only help the Wings keep that edge on the ice as McCarty has always been a gritty player with talen to get the puck in the net. Great move Red Wings!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

NHL 2008-2009 Only 20 Days Away...

The Hat Trick is very happy that the NHL regular season begins in approximately 20 days. On Saturday, October 4, 2008 the NHL season begins with a game between the Tampa Bay Lightening and the New York Rangers in Prague, Czech Republic and the Pittsburgh, Penguins and the Ottawa Senators in Stockholm, Sweden. The same two teams will play each other again the next day, switching who is the home team and who is the visiting team.

Following a short break the regular season really gets down to business on Thursday, October 9 with four games including the Stanley Cup Champion Detroit Red Wings hosting the Toronto Maple Leafs at the “JLA” and a great match-up between two Original Six teams. For my readers who are not as well versed in all things Red Wings, the “JLA” stands for Joe Louis Arena, the home of the Red Wings and named after the famous boxer Joe Louis who was from Detroit.

Two highlights from the 2008-2009 schedule that the Hat Trick is particularly excited about is the games on January 1 and January 31, 2009. The New Year’s Day game is between the Red Wings and the Chicago Blackhawks and will take place outside in Wrigley Field, home of baseball’s Chicago Cubs. At this juncture the Hat Trick and Mrs. Hat Trick are scheduled to attend…even more special as Mrs. Hat Trick is from Chicago and a huge Cubs fan, having lived near Wrigley Field during her time in Chicago. This will be particularly helpful in finding watering holes to warm up before and after the game! The January 31 game is also exciting, at least for the Hat Trick, because it is the first time the Red Wings will return to Washington, DC to play the Washington Capitals in quite a few years. Even better is the timing of the game…a Saturday game with a 12:30 PM start. The Hat Trick is already making plans for that game…

Needless to say, the Hat Trick is pretty excited about the upcoming NHL season as well as the return of football and playoff baseball. From a sports standpoint, the Hat Trick’s favorite season is the fall because of the convergence of these three sports and the Hat Trick’s wide screen TV is put to the test during this time!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Chelios Returns For 25th Season!

It’s hard to believe it but Red Wings defensemen Chris Chelios is coming back for another year with the Red Wings! Chelios, who is 46, is the ironman of hockey…he spends his offseason following an intense workout regime in Malibu, California that has allowed him to continue his career at an age where it is almost unheard of to keep playing professional hockey. The 2008-2009 season will be Chelios’s 25th season playing professional hockey with previous stops with the Montreal Canadiens and the Chicago Blackhawks before joining the Red Wings in March 1999. As the linked AP story notes, Chris Chelios will become the second oldest player in the history of the NHL, behind another famous Red Wing: Gordie Howe

Once again the Red Wings stock up with young, fresh talent and some wise veterans that promises for another great hockey season as we defend the Stanley Cup again.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Thank You Jimmy Carter

It’s nice to see that former President Jimmy Carter is still staying in the news. During the Democratic National Convention in Denver Carter offered up his thoughts that Senator John McCain was “milking” his POW experiences during the Vietnam War.

I have to say I’m once again disappointed by the former President’s actions. I’m sure President Carter is a decent man but whenever he inserts himself into this type of partisan situation he shows an incredible lack of respect for the office he once held. A former President is certainly entitled to his own opinions and certainly is entitled to disagree with a sitting President or a candidate for the office. However, to drop down into a partisan arena best left to hired political consultants and party officials doesn’t show dignity to the office. I don’t know why he does it…is it some type of chip on his shoulder after being defeated by Ronald Reagan in 1980? Is he angry that many (including the Hat Trick) view his administration as having more failures then victories? It’s a little shocking that a fellow Naval Academy graduate would make such a derogatory about someone who spent SIX years in captivity and was repeatedly tortured in the process. Regardless of whether you agree or disagree on the issues this is something you shouldn’t touch. The Hat Trick certainly respects President Carter’s service to this country and wishes he would show the same respect to Senator McCain and the many other POWs from the Vietnam War.

You don’t see this type of behavior from former President George H.W. Bush who generally makes news with his several skydives to celebrate You also didn’t hear a lot about former President Gerald Ford except when it involved a golf course so apparently President Carter has not gotten the memo that you need to act a little more dignified in your post White House years. President Carter has done a lot of good things since he left office, noticeably on human rights issues with the Carter Center and his work with Habitat for Humanity. Unfortunately I think they get clouded over when he jumps into the political arena. It’s his choice but it certainly makes the Hat Trick have a lot less respect for the former President.

Analysis of McCain Running Mate Choice

The Hat Trick realizes he promised a post on his views of Governor Palin and Senator McCain choosing her to be his running mate. Unfortunately the Hat Trick’s day job got in the way…plus I also admit having a lot of mixed feelings about the pick. The Hat Trick sees this pick as both good and bad…the Governor did a fantastic job in her speech Wednesday night. She was poised, funny, serious and connected with the GOP delegates. She discussed energy issues and showed that she probably knows more about energy issues then Senators McCain, Biden and Obama. She also brings the GOP base vote together which is critical and has been a problematic area for Senator McCain given his maverick image and having gone against conservatives on many issues such as campaign finance reform and climate change. The Hat Trick thinks that having Palin could be critical in a state like Ohio: Senator John Kerry lost Ohio in 2004 because evangelical Christians came out and voted for President Bush in enough force to allow him to win Ohio and the election. If the 2008 contest comes down again to Ohio (although other states, noticeably Virginia, are in play this year) the excitement Governor Palin brings to the ticket could be the deciding factor in winning the state. An excited conservative base could really bring out the conservative vote in Ohio, plus potentially attracting some conservative Democratic support that went to Senator Clinton in the Democratic Primary. This could be enough to blunt Senator Obama’s excitement and get out the vote efforts with minority voters within the urban centers of the state (Cleveland, Columbus). Once again the presidential contest could come down to Ohio.

However, the Hat Trick really is concerned about Governor Palin’s lack of experience in national governance. One of the biggest critiques against Senator Obama is relative lack of experience with having served just under four years in the United States Senate. The argument that Palin has “executive experience” resonates with the Hat Trick but the Hat Trick is a lobbyist and political junkie…the average voter may not be as impressed with the difference…or even care…or even understand the difference. Senator McCain will be the oldest person to begin his Presidency if he wins and it is relevant to ask if Palin can take over if Senator McCain dies. A colleague of the Hat Trick thinks that Senator McCain will never finish his presidency…the Hat Trick isn’t so sure of that after watching Senator McCain’s 96 year old mother at the GOP convention but you never know. Ultimately the Hat Trick is going to associate his views with that of syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer who sums up his (and my) concerns over the pick in his column yesterday.

Time will tell if Governor Palin can handle the arena of national politics. Her start looks good but it’s a long campaign and she will have to debate Senator Joe Biden in October, a politician with tremendous experience on the national scene. While the Hat Trick is always favorable of giving someone a chance to prove themselves, the stakes are so high in this case that the experience level, or lack of with Palin, is going to cause some skittishness in the coming weeks.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Palin Appears to Be VP Pick

Update: CNN and AP reporting that McCain’s pick is indeed Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. The Hat Trick isn’t sure yet on how he feels about the pick…she is a reformer that is attempting to clean up Alaska politics after the Senator Stevens indictment and the ongoing ethics investigation into Representative Don Young. She is also young…44 years old which connects well with Obama’s youth and she is a Washington outsider…unlike Obama, Biden and McCain. The Hat Trick likes the fact that she is a governor having made that notation in an earlier post. However, the Hat Trick is concerned about her lack of experience given the age of Senator McCain.

A colleague of the Hat Trick who is active in Republican politics made the following observation five minutes ago in a cryptic e-mail: “Nightmare for Obama. Game changer.” If this VP pick holds true the Hat Trick will take a closer look…he can see good as well as danger with the pick.

Pawlenty Confirmed Out of VP Race

It looks like the Hat Trick was wrong again...CNN confirming that Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty will not be McCain's VP pick.

The Hat Trick has been pretty off in the 2008 elections having predicted (though I did not blog on it) that Virginia Governor Tim Kaine would be Obama's running mate. However, the Hat Trick can take comfort in correctly predicting Senator John Kerry's running mate in 2004 (before blogs no less!)...former North Carolina Senator John Edwards. How times have changed for Mr. Edwards!

Alaska Governor Palin to be McCain's VP Pick?

CNBC is reporting that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is McCain’s pick as his running mate. Quite the dark horse candidate if this story holds true…

Pawlenty Out as VP Pick?

CNN reporting that Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota has indicated he is not traveling to Dayton, Ohio today to join Senator McCain in unveiling his vice presidential pick. This could mean my pick is wrong, or just a ruse...Senator Joe Biden strongly denied that he was Senator Obama's pick right up until he became Obama's running mate!

The same story is reporting that former Pennsylvania Governor and Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge is a strong possibility. It also seems that former Governor Mitt Romney and Senator Joe Lieberman also still being considered although the conservative base of the Republican Party will struggle with the liberal on everything except foreign policy Lieberman. Ridge is a pro-choice Republican which will also upset conservatives but is generally conservative on other issues. One dark horse candidate getting some attention is Alaska Governor Sarah Palin…the same CNN story noted the arrival of a private jet arriving late last night at an airport near Dayton.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

McCain Poised to Name Running Mate

It looks like Senator John McCain is in position to name his running mate soon, possibly with a leak by 6:00pm EDT and confirmation at 8:00pm EDT tonight. Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, Former Governors Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania and Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and Senator Joe Lieberman, the 2000 Democratic Vice Presidential candidate are the leading contenders. It’s possible that a dark horse candidate could emerge as well, especially with McCain’s love of being a maverick.

Based on the information I’m looking at and some of the outcomes of the Biden pick for Senator Obama, I’m predicting that Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty will be chosen. Pawlenty has been a loyal McCain supporter, even during the dark days of the Summer of 2007 when McCain’s campaign was on life support. Pawlenty doesn’t have the baggage that Ridge and Lieberman bring with social conservatives (both are pro-choice on abortion) and he seems better poised to identify with blue collar workers compared with the wealthy former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. Governor Pawlenty is also an outsider to Washington, an issue that Democratic Vice Presidential pick Joe Biden has contended with since last weekend. While I think Romney might be the better choice I think Pawlenty will get the nod.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Senator Biden Analysis

Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) is an interesting choice by Senator Barack Obama as his running mate on the Democratic ticket in 2008. Biden brings an impressive resume to the ticket, particularly in the area of foreign affairs as he serves as Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations in the United States Senate. This helps to alleviate some of the experience issues that Senator Obama has since he is currently serving in his FIRST term in the Senate compared with Senator Biden who is serving in his sixth term in the Senate. That said Biden’s experience in the Senate could potentially harm the Obama campaign. Senator Obama has campaigned as an outsider, the opposite of the Bush administration. He has attempted to portray himself as an agent of change and his four years in the Senate is a benefit to his cause and that he can “fix Washington.” Yet Biden is the epitome of an inside Washington politician, a fixture in Democratic circles in the nation’s capital. He arrived in the Senate in January 1973 and has been there ever since; a total of 35 years and counting. Does this mean that the Obama campaign fears that Senator McCain’s attacks on their candidate’s inexperience are sticking? This could have impacted the decision to go with Senator Biden as a running mate.

Senator Biden will definitely be combative and isn’t afraid to get into combative match against Republicans. Biden also brings more depth as the vice presidential nominee not seen since Senator Joe Lieberman, an Independent from Connecticut was on the Democratic ticket with Vice President Al Gore in 2000. Ironically Senator Lieberman is a staunch supporter of Republican Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee and has been discussed as a potential running mate for McCain. Biden also is likely to be more attractive to Democratic primary voters who supported Senator Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary…a wound that still needs to be healed in Democratic circles. One other asset that Biden brings to the ticket is some credibility to foreign affairs and the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq having voted in support of both wars and has consistently voted for the appropriations bills to fund both military operations, something that both Senators Clinton and Obama have consistently not supported (although Senator Clinton did support the military strikes in Afghanistan and Iraq).

The major disadvantage in my mind to Biden is the fact that three members of the United States Senate are now on the major party tickets for President and Vice President. Of these three senators, Obama, Biden and McCain have spent their entire careers in the legislative body: Obama in the Illinois state house before his election to the Senate, Biden in the Senate and McCain in the House of Representatives and Senate. It concerns me when candidates for major office have minimal to no experience in the executive branch of government (Governor, Vice President). I think serving in this executive role is extremely helpful to a President and recent political history shows. Since the 1930s with the birth of the modern presidency, Presidents who were successfully elected to second terms in office include Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Roosevelt, Reagan, Clinton and Bush all served in the governor’s mansions of their respective states. Except for Roosevelt, all served more than one term in office; Roosevelt served one term as Governor of New York before his election to the presidency, yet he also served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy in the Wilson Administration. Nixon served as Vice President for eight years and Eisenhower served as Commander of the Allied Forces in World War II…these positions all required extensive executive management skills that provided them with experience upon assuming the presidency. While it’s not a certainty that a President will not be successful coming from the Senate and not having previously served as a governor or other executive manager, I find it preferable given the dynamics of the Senate. President Truman came directly from the Senate, becoming President after Roosevelt’s death within six weeks of his inauguration to the Vice Presidency.

Finally, it will be interesting to see how the Biden choice impacts McCain’s decision on a running mate. Of the names being listed already for the GOP, McCain seems to be leaning against asking a Senate colleague to be his running mate with the exception of Senator Lieberman. Time will tell on this point, as well as how Senator Biden will turn out as a running mate. Will he be a strength for Democrats like Al Gore was in 1992 as Bill Clinton’s running mate or Joe Lieberman to Al Gore in 2000? Or will the opposite occur and Biden end up being less than helpful similar to John Edwards in 2004? I think overall he will do okay, assuming he avoids some of his famous gaffes and focuses on his strengths. Regardless, with the polls tightening up between McCain and Obama, performance will be immensely important as we move into the general election.

Senator Biden Confirmed as Democratic VP Pick

CNN confirmed at 12:51 A.M. via text message the pick of Senator Biden to be the vice presidential nominee on the 2008 Democratic ticket.

The Associated Press issued a story at 3:25 EDT Saturday morning confirming Senator Biden as the pick to be Senator Obama's running mate on the 2008 Democratic ticket.

Analysis of the pick to come in a few hours...

Sen. Biden Likely to be Obama's Running Mate

At 10:50pm EDT tonight (Friday, August 22) ABC News reported that a Secret Service unit has been dispatched to Delaware in order to protect Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a former Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a two-time Presidential candidate in 1988 and 2008. Senator Biden has been talked about as a potential Vice Presidential candidate and it looks like he is going to be the one. I’ll offer some more in-depth analysis once the announcement is official. Needless to say it looks like the speculation on the Democratic vice Presidential nominee can now rest for us political junkies.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Sunday Evening at LAX

Last Sunday found me on a three hour delay at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) returning from a business trip. The bad news was that the new arrival time into Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) was now 3:30 A.M. Monday morning instead of the originally scheduled midnight arrival. However, the good news is that there was a flight control problem with our original aircraft to Dulles and I’m always happy when they find out about that kind of problem on the ground! Delays are never fun but they happen so I try to take it in stride…of course it didn’t hurt that my upgrade to first class was confirmed and the new equipment was the same aircraft so no concerns about losing my seat in first class. With three hours to kill I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to do something I’ve wanted to do for years: visit the LAX “Theme Building.”

The Theme Building is located in the center of the LAX surrounded by the seven terminal buildings. The Theme Building is “retro futuristic” having first been designed and buildt in 1961. According to Wikipedia the apartment house in the cartoon “The Jetsons” is designed after the LAX Theme Building. Just from reading this you might not be able to visualize what the building looks like, yet you will likely recognize it once you see it in person or in a television show or movie. In fact, it has been seen in many television shows and movies that include a Los Angeles airport seen…a few that come to mind include the James Bond films Moonraker and Diamonds Are Forever. According to Wikipedia it also appears in the graphics of the video game Grand Theft Auto III.

The Theme Building has a restaurant located in the center of the structure and offers a view of the terminal area and runways. The restaurant is called “Encounters” and opened in 1997. I enjoyed a very dry Beefeater Martini and watched the action near Terminals One and Two, including the departure of a KLM 747-400 and a British Airways 747-400. I was disappointed to learn that the Theme Building also had at one time an observation deck that was ultimately closed after the September 11 terrorist attacks and has remained closed ever since. You can see from the photos I took that the building is undergoing renovation right now so it doesn't look as good as it usually does. However the view from the bar isn't bad if you like commercial airliners!
This might not seem like the most exciting visit for the average traveler, but I enjoyed myself immensely. Much like seeing the Concorde in person or riding in the upper deck of a 747 for the first time, this early evening drink in the Theme Building was, for me, another item to check off my list of aviation experiences.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Riding the Amtrak Acela

Well, I’m trying to get back into the habit of writing more regularly on the Hat Trick after my absence during the Stanley Cup playoffs (Let’s Go Red Wings!). Also, in keeping with the theme of a “hat trick”…I have realized that I need to do give more attention to my other topic areas, travel and politics. As much as I would like to, you can’t talk about hockey ALL the time!

I’m currently writing from a business class seat on Amtrak’s Acela service, somewhere between Washington, DC and Philadelphia. I’m heading up to Philly for a business meeting and decided it was time to take the train again as it has been a while. Needless to say, I forgot how civilized riding the train can be!

For those not familiar, AMTRAK operates a significant schedule of trains in the “Northeast Corridor” between Washington, DC, New York and Boston (including Baltimore, Wilmington, Delaware, Philadelphia and Newark). The most popular service for the business traveler is the Acela train, which is a high speed train that operates between the main cities in the Northeast Corridor plus a few other selected stops. The train is all business class with one first class car. Business is pretty nice with comfortable seats and power plugs at ever seat so you don’t wear down your laptop battery. There is also a “quiet car” where cell phone conversations are forbidden!

Today was great because you can arrive 20 minutes before departure, grab a good seat and not have to deal with the TSA and security lines at the airport. Trains also can travel in rain and thunderstorms, unlike airliners, and you don’t have that jammed in feeling that I encounter quite a bit when I fly. Taking the train is a little bit of civilization in an increasing uncivilized travel world. AMTRAK certainly has its problems, but they seem minimal right now as I zip past cars on I-95 knowing that I will pull into Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station in about 20 minutes, and be at my downtown hotel 10 minutes after that!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Red Wings Win the Stanley Cup!

It’s amazing what happens when you don’t blog for a while! And little did I realize that when I started this blog would I get to write about the Detroit Red Wings (Let’s Go Red Wing!) winning their 11 Stanley Cup!!! Needless to say I’m pretty stoked.

This spring has been exceptionally busy with lots of travel and work, plus trying to fit in Red Wings game in-between. I have to admit that I went into the playoffs cautiously optimistic on the Wing’s chances. They played very well during the regular season (except for that loss to the Blue Jackets in March that I witnessed up close and personal!), winning the President’s Cup again. Having home ice advantage throughout the playoffs was huge as the Wings played very well, losing only three (3!) games on home ice. Another key to bringing Lord Stanley home to Hockeytown was the amount of travel, or lack of, during the playoffs. Unlike the 2007 playoffs when the Wings had to fly Red Bird One across the country multiple times, 2008 proved quite different on the wear and tear. With a first round opponent in Nashville, the Wings only had to deal with a one hour time change and a quick flight to Nashville. The second round against the Avalanche required the longest amount of travel, but only incurred a two hour time change and few miles traveled compared with going to the West Coast in 2007 to play the San Jose Sharks in the same round. An added bonus was the 4-0 sweep of the hated Avs! Finally the Western Conference finals against the Dallas Stars allowed less travel and only a one hour time change to adjust to as opposed to 2007 when the Wings, having beaten the Sharks, had to play the Anaheim Ducks in the Western Conference Finals. I think this was a big help for the Wings although it reignites my irritation that both the Red Wings and the Blue Jackets are in the Western Conference even though they both reside in the Eastern Time Zone!!!

Another huge key to the win was the play of goalie Chris Osgood. Run out of Detroit after the 2001 season for not being reliable, Osgood came in during the first round against the Nashville Predators (ironically when Dominik Hasek struggled) and was rock solid the remainder of the playoffs. I was very impressed with his play…especially in the first two games of the Stanley Cup Finals when Osgood was solid and shutout the Penguins by a total score of 7-0. Bravo Osgood!

Finally, I would like to comment on the Penguin fans and the class they showed during the finals. They were behind their team 110% throughout the finals, even when the Pens were a little shaky in Games 1 and 2. “Lets Go Pens” was a chant heard often and loudly even when things did not look good for their team. I am continually disgusted by Colorado Avalanche fans that are apparently only original enough to come up with “Red Wings Suck” and the Penguin fans sure showed how classy they are by not going down that road and just focusing on their team. Bravo to the Penguins…I think they have a bright future in the NHL and are in the same position as the Red Wings were in 1995 and 1996 when we had to lose (swept by the Devils in the Stanley Cup finals in 1995 and knocked out in the Western Conference Finals by the Avalanche in 1996) before they could win. I’m happy that the Red Wings won again but know that the Penguins will be here for a long time to come.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Happy Birthday Gordie

Detroit Red Wing legend Gordie Howe turns 80 today and the Red Wings paid tribute to him during their Sunday game against the Nashville Predators. The Wings won 1-0 in OT and, depending on the outcome of the San Jose Sharks game tonight, will wrap up the President’s Cup with the most wins in a season.

Gordie Howe has been a legend in Detroit ever since his first season with the Red Wings in 1946-47 and ended with the 1970-1971 season. Howe went on to play with World Hockey Association (WHA) teams in Houston (Aeros) and then the New England Whalers. Howe played again in the NHL when the WHA merged with the NHL in 1979 and the New England Whalers became an NHL team…now known as the Carolina Hurricanes.

For me, Gordie Howe is a great reminder of how great the NHL used to be and one of the big reasons I can only root for the Red Wings. The NHL has such a rich history and yet has seen such a decline in recent years with many people in this country thinking the game is “a fight where a hockey game started.” While fighting is part of the game the focus on this by those that don’t know the game well is incredibly shortsighted. Many times I wish I could have witnessed games in the ‘40s and ‘50s at the Olympia Stadium in Detroit…no helmets and facemasks and watching the exploits of the “Production Line.” Alas that isn’t to be…but I can still appreciate the past through players like Gordie Howe.

Happy Birthday Gordie!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Grind Line Returns

With Darren McCarty’s return to the lineup last night, Red Wing head coach Mike Babcock decided to reunite the Grind Line with Darren McCarty, Kris Draper and Kirk Maltby. The Red Wing faithful at Joe Louis Arena (“The JLA”) showed their happiness by giving McCarty a 30 second ovation. Unfortunately the Wings lost to the Blues 4-3. Still, it was a nice moment for Hockeytown and its fans.

Friday, March 28, 2008

McCarty’s Back!

It will be nice to see Darren McCarty back in a Red Wings jersey tonight after playing the last two years for the Calgary Flames. McCarty was one of members of the infamous “grind line” for Detroit during the Stanley Cup runs in 1997, 1998 and 2002 and a very scrappy player. McCarty might be best remembered by Wings fans for getting retribution against Claude Lemieux in 1997 after his hit on fellow grind line player (and friend) in the 1996 playoffs. Having McCarty back will seem like old times!

The Red Eye...

Right now I’m sitting in the Red Carpet Club at Chicago O’Hare Airport at 4:50am CDT, just having gotten off United #126 from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). I used to think a “red-eye” was a pretty miserable experience when I was in my twenties…now at 36 I think it’s even worse. Crowded and cramped was my experience, even in an Economy Plus seat with three extra inches of legroom but alas my upgrade did not clear (even used miles for a better shot)! My seatmate arrived after the aircraft door had closed, giving me a false sense of hope that the middle seat in the center three seat section of the Boeing 767-300 would be free but that was not the case. Unfortunately he wasn’t a great seat mate…kept his light on even though he was watching the movie and felt the need to click his pen multiple times every few minutes…not fun. But, I guess you can’t hope for much when you are stuck in an aluminum tube in the middle of the night.

This trip ended up being pretty brutal. I’m currently flying PHX-LAX-ORD-TYS and then driving to one of our plants 70 minutes from Knoxville as a U.S. Senator is interested in touring the facility and the federal lobbyist must be there! After the tour I drive up to the Tri Cities Airport for TRI-CLT-DCA and home…a very crazy trip I will admit. Unfortunately I had to be at our Spring Board Meeting on Thursday and then leave for this trip so the timing couldn’t be helped. At least it gets me a few more segments to re-qualify! And I suppose an added bonus is that I’ve never seen the Red Carpet Club so empty before.

I have to admit I don’t understand people that will subject themselves to the red-eye on purpose. For people like me, it was a business decision as there weren’t any other options so it had to be done. I guess for spring breakers, of which there were a lot of them on the plane, the cost is worth the inconvenience. As I sit here all groggy and bleary-eyed I can’t imagine wanting to pay that price on purpose…

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Fatal Attraction

I couldn’t help but think Tuesday night as the election returns came in from Texas and Ohio of how much Senator Clinton reminds me of the Glenn Close character in the ‘80s movie “Fatal Attraction”…she just won’t die (politically speaking)! The Obama campaign had better watch out and keep all of their rabbit’s safe as the Clinton campaign will play to win as we start to get down the final stretch of primaries. The blood is already starting to spread as the Clinton and Obama campaigns start trading a lot of fire over tax returns, “monsters” and experience for the job. Of course it wouldn’t be a race without a little touch of “victim hood” from the Clintons as Howard Wolfson from the Clinton campaign compared Senator Obama to Ken Starr. You have to hand it to the Clintons…they have no shame!

I wasn’t terribly surprised by the results Tuesday, especially Ohio. Senator Clinton is still very popular with the union crowd and unions still play a big part in Ohio Democratic politics. I also think that Senator Clinton will do well in Pennsylvania, a state similar to Ohio in its demographics and political makeup.

One thing for sure is that it can only help John McCain who can now focus on raising money for the general election. The fact that there might be a real delegate fight within the Democrat’s ranks could create more trouble for them…a Clinton move to grab the “super delegates” could really question the fairness of the process if Obama ends up winning a majority of votes. Add in the possibility of having to redo primaries in Michigan and Florida and you have a recipe for some real drama within the Democratic ranks.

As a political junkie, I love every minute of it!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Red Wings Slump Continues

Watching the Wings 3-2 loss last night against the San Jose Sharks was just downright depressing. With last night’s result, the Red Wings have won only one (one!!!) game in their last eleven games…ugh. As the Associated Press notes, the Red Wings haven’t had a slump this bad since the fall of 1989 when they had a 12 game losing streak.

The AP story pretty much covers the whole situation…injuries continue to be a problem with many of veterans including Captain Nicklas Lidstrom, Dan Cleary and Chris Chelios out of the lineup…even the long-serving Red Wings television announcer (and former Detroit Red Wing) Mickey Redmond has been out of the broadcast booth recovering from surgery.

Some bad luck is also to blame. As one of the Shark’s goals came immediately after hitting the protective webbing behind the goal…a play that should have been whistled dead immediately and the goal not allowed. Unfortunately the officials didn’t get it right and allowed the goal, which ended up being the game winner. I generally don’t have any complaints about officiating in the NHL…frankly they usually get it right most of the time. However, it is frustrating when they got it so wrong and it potentially ended up costing the Wings a game…or even a much needed point if they could have forced the game into overtime. I guess these are the breaks a team on the slump has to go through. The Red Wings still have a three point lead over the Dallas Stars in the Western Conference which is something to build on but they need to get healthy and get back on track as the playoffs will be here before we know it.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Pucks and Politics

Well, it’s been a little longer then I had anticipated for my second post. Unfortunately the day job has really cramped my blogging style the past few weeks with no let up in site…although one bonus is that a lot of my work has resulted in a lot of travel so that has been good, both for my interesting flying and my desire (Mrs. East Coast Wing would say obsession) with keeping my elite status with my airline of choice, United!

A lot is happening now in the world of pucks and politics that deserves attention. In the puck “arena” my Detroit Red Wings are experiencing a really rough patch with a 1-6-1 record going into tonight’s game against the Vancouver Cannucks. Injuries have contributed to the losing streak and the cumulative effect is that the Wings have tremendously reduced their chances of winning the most games ever in a season, ironically set by the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings with 62 wins in the regular season. The Wings still hold 89 points, the best in the league, and firmly command the Western Conference’s Central Division so they certainly are still in good shape. However, it does shake my confidence a bit although if they are going to have a slump then I want it to happen now, and not in the playoffs as has been their practice the last few years!

Politics and especially the race for the Democratic and Republican nominations have really taken off. Since my first post we have seen the impact of the Super Tuesday primaries that made Senator John McCain the essential nominee for the Republicans and wiped out the campaign of former Senator John Edwards of North Carolina. The more surprising result of Super Tuesday is the intense battle currently going on between Senators Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Barrack Obama (D-IL) for the Democratic nomination. As late as last November I was giving remarks at a trade association meeting and told the audience to “get ready for President Clinton II.” Needless to say, I and many others did not see Obama’s surge. I’m pretty happy about the current status of the Democrats…I feel that Senator Clinton approached the primaries as if she was automatically going to be named prom queen for the Democrats. The fact that she now is in a very difficult fight for the nomination, and one she may very well lose, appeals to the political junkie in me. Add in a very intense dislike of the Clintons and I find myself very happy at what is going on with the Democrats. I definitely do not find myself very excited about Arizona Senator John McCain for the Republicans and did not vote for him in my state’s primary. We’ll see what kind of progress he makes with patching up his differences with conservatives as we get into the general election but I, for one, am not excited about McCain as a president. While many will pontificate on the various issues impacting the presidential race, one thing we do know is that a member of the United States Senate will become President in less than a year!

Monday, February 4, 2008

First Post!

Welcome to East Coast Wing’s Hat Trick, my blog dedicated to the three topics I’m very interested in: ice hockey (primarily Detroit Red Wings hockey), politics and travel, especially air travel. I hope that you enjoy my pontifications on these wide ranging, and I admit, diverse topics. The idea for this blog first came together in the Spring of 2007 during the NHL playoffs however it has taken a little longer then anticipated to pull it together…the arrival of Baby East Coast Wing in June put the breaks on this project until now!

For those readers who might not be familiar with what a “Hatrick” is I will explain. In the game of ice hockey if a player scores three goals in one game then it is called a hat trick. For Detroit Red Wings fans, a “Gordie Howe Hat trick” is a saying that means Detroit Red Wing player Gordie Howe would get a goal, an assist and a fight in one game for his very scrappy, yet effective, play. In actuality, Howe only ever had one of these in his career!

Growing up in Detroit, Michigan sealed my interest in ice hockey and I am very loyal, died-in-the-wool Detroit Red Wings fan…Let’s Go Red Wings! I will admit that it’s been pretty easy to be a Red Wings fan the last 15 years since they have always made the playoffs and also have won the Stanley Cup three times in 1997, 1998 and 2002. However, the 1970s and 1980s were extremely bleak years for the Red Wings with consistent last place finishes in many, many seasons. Sometimes it was necessary to turn the Detroit Free Press Sports section upside down to see what it was like to be in first place. Life for the Red Wings improved dramatically when the team was purchased by the Illitch family, the founders of Little Caesars pizza. Probably the biggest challenge of being a Red Wings fan is the years when they play so well during the regular season and then choking in the playoffs…Wings fans have seen this many times, most noticeably in 1996 and in 2003. My hockey interest also extends to college hockey and I especially like to follow the progress of U of M…which you might assume means the University of Michigan but your wrong. I’m actually a big fan of the “other” U of M…the University of Maine Black Bears . Why you might ask? Very easy…Mrs. East Coast Wing is a U of M graduate and was a student when they last won the NCAA championship.

My second interest is politics. I’ve always been interested in government, the history of politics in America and the world and in elections. This interest has extended to my professional life as I currently work as a lobbyist in Washington, DC. It can be challenging sometimes but it has been an interesting job and has allowed me to have some fun experiences including meeting and shaking hands with two Presidents…not bad for a kid from Michigan! My own political views are primarily conservative so you will see a lot of discussion here geared to that political persuasion. However, I do like to think of myself as a “Thinking Conservative” and I would rather have a discussion with a “Thinking Liberal” as opposed to a knee-jerk conservative or liberal…unfortunately we get a lot of those in Washington, DC. I hope that my readers from both sides of the political spectrum will feel comfortable posting a response to political issue…just remember my one rule: You can agree to disagree but please don’t be disagreeable…this blog was not designed to be a partisan battlefield. For political junkies there are a lot of good sites out there, both on the right and the left…or even just reporting on what is going on in Congress. For conservatives, National Review is a great site, as is the Weekly Standard. For my liberal readers looking to hear a forum geared to your viewpoint you may want to check out ABC News, NBC News, CBS News, CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Miami Herald, or any other newspaper or news outlet in America! Just kidding…although this is always a big topic of discussion in conservative communities but we’ll leave that for another day. In all seriousness my liberal readers might enjoy this site!

Finally, my other interest is travel, especially air travel. I have always loved to travel having made my first trip when I was three months old and the love affair has continued to this day. I’m actually writing this first post aboard a United airlines 757 somewhere between Washington and Chicago O’Hare International (love Channel 9!) For some reason I’ve particularly liked commercial air transportation when most airplane enthusiasts enjoy military aircraft, especially fighter jets. Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of military aircraft as well and thoroughly enjoy the 20 minute version of Top Gun (watch all the aircraft scenes and then fast forward through the excruciating love story…unless you watch with a date then you do have to stop for the beach volleyball segment!) but for some reason commercial aviation really caught my interest at an early age. According to my parents I announced at age four that I wanted to be a commercial airline pilot when I grew up. That dream didn’t happen, although sometimes I still think I should have pursued it, but that is in the past. One of my favorite pass times is to sit in Gravelly Point, a park at the end of the main runway at Washington Reagan National Airport, and watch the planes land or takeoff, depending on the wind. I also remain very interested in airlines and especially the history of airlines, routes and how hub cities have changed. I have a fairly extensive collection of airline and airport memorabilia that I never grow bored of reading airline timetables from 1985. I used to think I was alone in my airline interests but in 2003 I found a web site called Flyertalk that has a large community of people just like me. It’s also a great site for just regular business travelers and covers a lot of areas including airlines, hotels and rental car companies to name just a few, airport security and many, many, many other topics related to travel.

I’m going to close off for now since I’ve already written quite a bit…I promise future posts won’t be quite this extensive! I welcome your comments so please don’t hesitate to post one, regardless of if you agree or disagree with my content.

Thanks for reading!

East Coast Wing