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.