Monday, December 21, 2009

White Christmas

After many years and a few Christmas celebrations here in Washington, DC it looks like the Hat Trick will finally get to enjoy a White Christmas. The Hat Trick Family survived the “Blizzard of 2009” that dropped 16 inches of snow on the Washington, DC area beginning Friday night and lasting well into the night on Saturday. We are now in the process of digging out while also trying to finish preparations for Christmas. More importantly we are also doing our best to avoid the Washington drivers out there who simply don’t know how to drive in this kind of weather!

Unless an unprecedented amount of global warming takes place in the next three days it looks like we will have some snow on the ground for Christmas. This was the first real big snow for our son (very exciting for him!) and our dog has also taken a lot of joy out of the snowfall. Even the Hat Trick enjoyed getting some exercise on a sunny Sunday when I dug our car out of the drifts. Enjoy the photos as we quickly approach the biggest holiday of the year. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Thank You Harry Reid

Well folks it looks like the cat is finally out of the bag. According to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) you are a racist if you oppose health care reform. Yes, that’s correct. On Monday Senator Reid, in prepared remarks and not off the cuff, stated on the Senate floor that Republicans who opposed the health care bill currently being debated are akin to those who in the past who blocked the abolition of slavery, voting rights for women and the civil rights legislation of the mid-1960s.

Of course this is the genius that called President Bush a “loser” while conducting a civics lesson in a Nevada school room in 2005 so this isn’t exactly surprising. What is shocking to the Hat Trick is that Senator Reid is up for re-election in 2010 and faces a tight race…it’s not like Nevada is the bluest state out there. I can only imagine the moral outrage from the left and the media if a Republican had made that same statement.

It’s a shame that we can’t have an honest debate about one of the most massive pieces of legislation to ever come out of Congress. Just like it wasn’t right for Republicans to question ones patriotism if they opposed the Iraq War this is equally wrong. The Hat Trick isn’t sure where he stands on the current bill being debated…there are a lot of problems with it and the Republicans and Democrats who have raised these problems have a right to do so. In the same light Republicans needs to be careful about opposing everything because reform is needed in some very critical areas. Regardless, we need to have this debate…not be called out because Harry Reid wants everyone to march in tune to his agenda.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Hat Trick is Alive and Well

Greetings Hat Trick's been a while since my last post and I do apologize for not posting sooner. Fall 2009 has ended up being a busy time between the newest member of the Hat Trick family and my continued job hunt. With the holidays approaching and most organizations suspending hiring activities I'm hoping to have some more time to post on my favorite topics...Detroit Red Wings hockey, air travel and politics. There is a lot happening in Washington, DC these days and I hope to provide some insight.

In the meantime, thanks for sticking with the Hat Trick and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Massachusetts Power Grab

Ladies and Gentlemen...the political power grab is on in Massachusetts, under the guise of "reasonableness"...

The big news in the political world this week was the death of the "Liberal Lion" Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) from brain cancer. While not unexpected given the nature of the disease Kennedy's death comes at a bad time for President Obama and Democrats. Senator Kennedy was one of 60 Democrats in the Senate and 60 is the magic number to pass any type of legislation because a filibuster can only be stopped with 60 votes. A filibuster is a legislative tool to tie up a piece of legislation and cause it to not move forward in the legislative process. Because of the issues surrounding the debate on health care reform Senate Democrats desperately need every vote they can get to pass a bill which means obtaining a coalition of Senators (Democrats and Republicans) to reach the magic 60. Senator Kennedy was a solid vote for health care reform and his vote would have made Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-NV) slightly easier.

Unfortunately Kennedy's death has brought another conflict into the health care debate. Massachusetts election law requires that a vacancy in a congressional seat (House of Representatives or the Senate) must be filled through a special election that takes place 145 - 160 days after the vacancy. In the case of Kennedy's seat this would push back the date to fill the vacancy to mid-January 2010.

Massachusetts law with regard to congressional vacancies is very unusual. In most states the governor is authorized to appoint an individual to the seat immediately until a special election can take place, either at the next general election (common) or in a special election as prescribed by state law. Massachusetts law stipulates that the seat must remain vacant until the special election takes place; an interim appointee cannot hold the seat until the special election.

The reason for this unusual arrangement is due to a fairly recent change in the Massachusetts law. In 2004 the Massachusetts state legislature changed the election law by stripping the power of the governor to appoint an interim successor in the event of a vacancy. This was done for purely political reasons: the Governor of Massachusetts in 2004 was Republican Mitt Romney and the Democratic Candidate for President of the United States was Senator John Kerry. In the event that Senator Kerry defeated incumbent President George W. Bush, Massachusetts Democrats feared that Governor Romney would appoint a Republican to fill Senator Kerry's open seat when he ascended to the presidency. Massachusetts Democrats reasoned that they would have a better chance of retaining the seat in a statewide election in the very liberal state. Governor Romney vetoed the legislation but the veto was overturned by the Democratically-controlled state legislature and became law. Ironically it never became an issue as a result of President Bush's re-election however it is now returning to bite the Democrats back.

A week before his death Senator Kennedy sent a letter to the current Democratic Governor of Massachusetts, Devil Patrick, requesting that the law be changed back to the old system where the governor has the authority to appoint an interim successor. Ironically Kennedy supported the change in law back in 2004 when it benefited Democrats. Governor Patrick has publicly stated this is a "reasonable" request and it appears that the Democratic leaders in the state legislature are getting on board. Even Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is getting into the act, even though he is a senator from Nevada. Thank you Harry Reid. So it looks like the power grab is on...

During the last six years of the Bush Administration many liberals in the Washington, DC area liked to sport bumper stickers on their cars with the message: "If you aren't angry then you aren't paying attention" which was a protest to the policies of the Bush Administration by self-righteous liberals who felt it necessary to point out to the rest of us how bad our thinking was concerning the War on Terrorism, Iraq and civil liberty issues. Well I would challenge these same liberals with their own mantra: "If you aren't angry then you aren't paying attention." The rules are the rules and you can't continue to change them when it suits you politically. This is why people don't trust politicians and why there is so much anger and fear about the proposed health care reform. Democrats will reach a new level of hypocrisy if they go through with this. The Hat Trick isn't saying Republicans wouldn't do this is the table was reversed (Texas redistricting in 2003 comes to mind) but the bottom line is that it's wrong and sends the message that the rules don't matter, only political power. Liberals were incensed at the Texas redistricting 2003 yet feel the Massachusetts power grab is justified "because health care reform was so important to Ted Kennedy."

We'll see where this goes and a legal challenge is highly likely which could tie this issue up longer then it would take to fill the seat through a special election in January 2010. Regardless, the fact that it is being seriously discussed is offensive and people really need to start paying more attention.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

NHL Releases 2009-10 National TV Schedule

The NHL released its national television schedule on August 20 for the 2009-10 season. Thanks to the "Winging It In Motown" blog for dissecting when the Wings will be on a national broadcast.

Some interesting items:
  • The Red Wings and the Washington Capitals have the most games nationally televised with Boston and Pittsburgh coming in at 21 nationally televised games each.
  • The first Wings game that will be seen nationally is against the St. Louis Blues on October 2 on the Versus network.
  • Last game April 11, 2010 at the Chicago Blackhawks on NBC.
  • The following item is only interesting to the Hat Trick...the Wings will be seen nationally at the Columbus Blue Jackets on my birthday...December 28!

Even with lowered expectations for the Wings upcoming season the Hat Trick is happy to see that the Wings still hold fan attention for nationally televised games. The Hat Trick is also personally selfish for this since a cost-cutting measure became necessary and I cancelled by NHL Center Ice package which I had for the sole reason of seeing all the Red Wings games. Now if only the Hat Trick can figure out how to watch some of these games on CBC's Hockey Night in Canada and avoid the Versus/NBC crowd altogether!

Salary Cap Impacts Signings

It was an interesting week for Red Wings signings. Trying to generate some offense for the coming season after losing some offensive power with the departures of Hosa, Samuelsson and Hudler (largely due to salary cap issues) the Wings have signed former team members Jason Williams and Todd Bertuzzi to one year deals. Williams got dealt to the Blackhawks at the trading deadline in 2007 and spent the 2008-2009 as a free agent signing for the Atlanta Thrashers before being dealt to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Since playing for the Red Wings at the closing of the 2007 season Bertuzzi spent the past two seasons in Anaheim and Calgary.

We'll see if this helps the Wings situation but the Hat Trick is not hopeful...I think the days of the Wings dominating ended with the Game 7 loss to the Penguins in the Stanley Cup Finals. The loss of Hosa, Samuelsson and Hudler real have a real impact, especially with Hosa going to the resurging Chicago Blackhawks (under the leadership of General Manager Stan Bowman, Scotty's son, where Scotty is also a consultant). For Red Wings fans used to being one of the elite teams, we may have to adjust our expectations as the 2008-2009 season gets started.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Hat Tricks Doing Well

The newest member of the Hat Trick (and future Red Wings fan) family joined us on July 22, 2009. Our newest family member is a daughter and had a healthy delivery with Mom and "Peanut" doing well. Needless to say the whole family is happy and excited!

There certainly have been a lot of public policy issues, such as the health care debate, going on that the Hat Trick has been negligent in covering for my readers. However, with the Hat Tricks just trying to survive in this economy with my continued unemployment, I have not been able to develop the urge to comment. All I can say is that the Hat Trick has definitely experienced the challenges of health care reform personally with having to pay for COBRA coverage for the family. Even with the reduced payments due to the stimulus package it's still a big monthly payment that eats up a lot of the monthly unemployment insurance we receive. However, some of the ideas currently being debated in the Congress greatly concern the Hat Trick due to their long term ramifications for future generations. We'll see where the debate goes in September when the Congress returns from the August recess (where they are hearing a lot of backlash from constituents already!).

Best wishes to all my readers for a happy final month of the summer (and the 2009-2010 NHL season quickly approaching!).

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Special Day For the Hat Tricks

Today is a special day for the Hat Trick Family...the arrival of the newest Hat Trick! My baby daughter will be born around 10:00am EDT and I will begin a new journey of being a father to a little girl who will eventually date...crazy! Hopefully she will like hockey...

Saturday, July 18, 2009

NHL Releases 2009-2010 Schedule

The NHL released its 2009-2010 schedule this past week. The Wings will open the season in Stockholm, Sweden against the St. Louis Blues on Friday, October 2 for back-to-back games. The first game at the JLA will be Thursday, October 8 against the Chicago Blackhawks. The NHL season will officially start on Thursday, October 1 with four games.

The Wing's schedule is fairly basic and doesn’t have any excitement like the previous January 1 outdoor game at Wrigley Field in Chicago. One interesting change is that the Wings will play the Washington Capitals both at the JLA and at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC. This is unusual as they usually just play each once, either in DC or at the JLA. The Hat Trick is hoping he can gain employment by the Tuesday, January 19, 2010 game so he can see it in person!

Hard to believe we are talking about the 09-10 season already…didn’t Game Seven of the Stanley Cup Finals just finish?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Congratulations Stevie Y!

The Hat Trick is a bit late in this post but better late than never. Congratulations to Steve Yzerman, former Captain of the Detroit Red Wings (and the Hat Trick's favorite player!) on his selection to the 2009 NHL Hall of Fame Class. This is a well-deserved honor after Yzerman's amazing career, all with the Red Wings, that brought Detroit back to hockey greatness after years as a cellar dweller. Yzerman is joined in the 2009 Hall of Fame Class by Brett Hull, Luc Robitaille and Brian Leetch...ironically Hull and Robitaille were members of the 2002 Red Wings that won the Stanley Cup, Stevie Y's last cup as a player (he won another Stanley Cup in 2008 as a member of the Red Wings management).

Once again, congratulations Steve have more than earned this honor!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Farewell Northwest, Part I

The Hat Trick has been waxing nostalgic lately over something that is seemingly unimportant to the average person, yet it is an important moment in aviation history: the “departure” of Northwest Airlines.

As each day goes by, more of Northwest disappears as it is merged into Atlanta-based Delta Airlines following approval of a merger between the two airlines in October, 2008. The reasoning for the merger stemmed from aftershocks of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the economic downturn that followed, increased competition from Low Cost Carriers (LCCs) and, finally, the gas crisis. The justification for the merger was that to merge would ultimately save both companies. Both airlines had made a trip through Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings between 2005 and 2007 and were still financially shaky given the economic turmoil and high energy prices of recent years.

Delta argued that it was essential for economic survival yet the Hat Trick always is concerned about that argument because with the elimination of a major carrier, the monopolistic nature of airlines begins to take hold and in many cases the consumer suffers. The Hat Trick is aware that Northwest’s traditional hub cities (Detroit, Memphis and Minneapolis) are beginning to see the negative impact of Delta’s decisions which, in many cases, favor traditional Delta hub cities such as the super hub at Atlanta (ATL) plus Salt Lake City (SLC) and New York’s John F. Kennedy International (JFK)...anyone remember when JFK was New York International Airport, commonly referred to as Idlewild? This can be seen with the assignment of Northwest’s newer, and more popular, Airbus A-330 aircraft to former Delta trans-oceanic routes out of Atlanta and New York with Delta’s older and less popular Boeing 767-300s filling in out of Northwest cities, including routes from Portland, Oregon (PDX) to Tokyo (NRT) and Amsterdam (AMS) and the entire Detroit (DTW) to London-Heathrow (LHR) service, all previously served with the superior Airbus 330-200/300 aircraft.

Growing up in Detroit, and being an avid aviation enthusiast, the Hat Trick has always been aware of the history and impact the airline has had with the city, which includes some of the previous airlines that have merged into what is now Northwest Airlines. This blog entry will discuss the predecessor to the current Northwest Airlines, known as Northwest Orient. This entry will discuss the history of Northwest Orient up the merger with Republic Airlines in 1986 and the airline became known as Northwest Airlines, although in its corporate organization it had always been officially known as Northwest Airlines. Future posts will discuss the history of Republic Airlines, a company that was a very big part of what Northwest Airlines is today.


Northwest Airlines began operations as Northwest Airways in 1926 flying mail between Minneapolis, Minnesota and Chicago, Illinois. The company has always been headquartered in Minneapolis and has a very strong connection to the city. The movie Airport was filmed at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport in the late 1960s and you can see many “red tails” (Northwest’s planes are painted red and have been through most of its history) in the airport scenes of the film. The movie’s story, based on the book by Arthur Hailey, is set at a fictional Midwest airport (although modeled heavily after Chicago O’Hare International (ORD)) during a blizzard. Filming at MSP was supposed to assist with the feel of a snowy environment yet they had to bring in artificial snow until a real snowstorm produced more snow for filming.

Following World War II Northwest pioneered service between the United States and Asia when a Douglas DC-4 traveled from Minneapolis to Tokyo, Japan with multiple stops. With the expansion into Asia that remains to this day Northwest became known as Northwest Orient although officially the airline was still called Northwest Airlines. In 1949 Northwest Orient brought the Boeing 377 Stratrocruiser into its fleet and gained Fifth Freedom rights in 1952 (along with Pan American World Airways) to fly beyond Tokyo (NRT). In addition the fifth freedom rights allow Pan Am and Northwest Orient to pick up passengers in Tokyo. These rights exist today for both Northwest and United Airlines who bought Pan Am’s Pacific Division in 1985. As a result Tokyo is considered a hub for both airlines. A passenger traveling on Northwest from Detroit (DTW) to Singapore (SIN) can fly nonstop to Tokyo (NRT) and connect to another Northwest flight that continues on to (SIN).

In the early 1960’s Northwest Orient took deliveries of Boeing 707 and 720 aircraft for both international and domestic service. The company also obtained the Boeing 727-151 in the mid-1960s for domestic services. The early 1970s saw the arrival of wide body aircraft (larger aircraft with twin aisles) in the form of the Boeing 747 and McDonnell Douglas DC-10 that became a mainstay of Northwest’s fleet into the early 2000s. Northwest Orient also took delivery of larger Boeing 727-251 aircraft to supplement its domestic capacity. In 1985 Northwest Orient took deliver of the Boeing 757-200. By 1985, the company’s last year operating before merging with Republic Airlines, the airline had a fleet that included the Boeing 727 (100 and 200 series), Boeing 757 (delivered in 1985) and 747 (100 and 200 series) and the McDonnell Douglas DC-10-40. In addition to a heavy presence in Asia (hence the continued use of the “Orient” in the airline’s name) Northwest Orient had also expanded service to Europe with London (Gatwick), Frankfurt, Oslo, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Shannon and Dublin being served in 1985. Of those cities, only Frankfurt is currently served by Northwest Airlines as the London-Gatwick service has transferred to London Heathrow Airport.

An examination of the June 6, 1985 Northwest Orient timetable shows an interesting route structure that is very different from the Northwest route structure of 2009 with the exception of hub operations at Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport (MSP).

The timetable shows the Minneapolis hub in place but the route structure shows significantly less spokes compared with today. Also, in 1985 operations by regional airlines were just beginning and you can see in the timetable the first routes of Northwest Orient Airlink which was operated by Mesaba Airlines. Mesaba continues to be a Northwest Airlink carrier today and became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Northwest Airlines. Mesaba is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Delta Airlines as a result of the merger.

While MSP remained the main hub and corporate headquarters of the airline, Detroit could be considered a focus city of the airline. The June 6, 1985 timetable shows nonstop flights from DTW to the following cities:

From Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW):

Boston Logan (BOS) 4
Chicago O’Hare (ORD) 3
Cleveland Hopkins (CLE) 1
Grand Rapids, Michigan (GRR) 2
Los Angeles International (LAX) 2
Milwaukee-Mitchell Field (MKE) 4
Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP) 5 (2 DC-10 trips)
New York – John F. Kennedy (JFK) 1
Newark International (EWR) 5 (1 DC-10 trip)
Philadelphia International (PHL) 4 (1 DC-10 trip)
Phoenix – Sky Harbor International (PHX) 1
Seattle/Tacoma International (SEA) 1
Tampa/St. Petersburg International (TPA) 2
Washington National Airport (DCA) 6

Total Nonstop Frequencies: 41

All Northwest Orient operations at DTW were conducted in Concourse A of the now closed L.C. Smith terminal. This concourse was circular and had nine gates at the time for Northwest Orient’s operations.

Focus Cities:

Northwest Orient also had operations, some sizable, in several other Midwestern cities and an international gateway on the East Coast at both Boston Logan International Airport (London-Gatwick (LGW), Shannon, Ireland (SNN)) and New York John F. Kennedy International (Tokyo, Japan-Narita Airport (NRT), Copenhagen, Denmark (CPH), Oslo, Norway (OSL), Glasgow, Scotland (GLA), Shannon, Ireland (SNN)).

The West Coast international gateways included Los Angeles International (LAX), San Francisco International (SFO) and Seattle-Tacoma International (SEA). Nonstop service to Tokyo (NRT) was available from LAX, SFO and SEA. Seoul, South Korea (ICN) was also served nonstop from both LAX and SEA. Interestingly the only route that the 747 currently flies to NRT from these three cities is LAX; SFO and SEA have been downgraded to the Airbus 330-200 and might be downgraded again to the Boeing 767 given Delta’s desire to make significant aircraft assignment changes. Nonstop service to NRT was also available from Honolulu, Hawaii (HNL) and the carrier also served Osaka, Japan (OSK) from HNL.

Domestically, in addition to Detroit, Chicago O’Hare (ORD) and Cleveland Hopkins (CLE) had service to many locations and ORD also had nonstop service to NRT daily. The June 6, 1985 timetable shows the following schedule.

From Chicago - O’Hare International (ORD):

Billings, Montana (BIL) 1
Boston Logan (BOS) 2
Cleveland Hopkins (CLE) 3
Detroit Metropolitan (DTW) 3
Madison-Dane Country (MSN) 2
Miami International (MIA) 2
Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP) 9 (1 747 trip)
Rochester, Minnesota (RST) 1
Seattle/Tacoma International (SEA) 1 (1 DC-10 trip)
Seoul, South Korea (ICN) 1 (Fri., Sat., Sun. 747 service)
Tampa/St. Petersburg International (TPA) 2
Tokyo, Japan – Narita (NRT) 1 (Daily 747 service)
Washington National (DCA) 1

Total Nonstop Frequencies: 29

In addition to the above service Northwest Orient also served Chicago Midway Airport (MDW) with five nonstop flights to Minneapolis (MSP).

Comparing the above schedule with Northwest’s current operations out of ORD, you see a stark difference in the two. Currently Northwest only serves its three domestic hubs out of ORD: Detroit (DTW), Memphis (MEM), which became a hub city after the merger with Republic Airlines in 1986, and Minneapolis (MSP) with a combination of mainline and Northwest Jet Airlink (regional jets) operations. Of the mainline operations out of ORD, none are on wide body jets and the Tokyo flight was discontinued sometime in the mid to late 1990s.

In addition to ORD, Cleveland Hopkins International (CLE) also saw a good deal of service by Northwest Orient. At the time of the June 6, 1985 timetable, CLE was still a hub for United Airlines.

From Cleveland Hopkins International (CLE):

Boston Logan (BOS) 2
Chicago O’Hare (ORD) 3
Detroit Metropolitan (DTW) 1
Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP) 3
Tampa/St. Petersburg International (TPA) 1
Washington National (DCA) 3

Total Nonstop Frequencies: 13

A comparison of this schedule with the airline’s current shows an even more drastic cut. The airline currently serves its three domestic hubs of Detroit (DTW), Memphis (MEM) and Minneapolis (MSP) but only with Northwest Airlink aircraft: mainline Northwest has completely pulled out of CLE. This is in stark comparison to the above schedule which was served with Boeing 727 aircraft and, at one time, DC-10 service was available on one trip per day.

In addition to the focus city services at ORD and CLE, the June 6, 1985 timetable also shows some other interesting routings:

• Nonstop service from Dallas/Ft. Worth International (DFW) to Minneapolis (MSP), Omaha, Nebraska (OMA) and San Francisco International (SFO).

The OMA and SFO service was operated once a day and the SFO trip, Northwest Orient #27, was operated by a Boeing 747 and continued to Tokyo (NRT).

• Minneapolis (MSP) did not have nonstop service to Tokyo (NRT); one-stop service was available on Northwest Orient #7 that stopped in Seattle (SEA) on its way to Tokyo (NRT). Flight Seven had a long itinerary and included the following stops:

City Pair/Aircraft:
Philadelphia (PHL) – Detroit (DTW) DC-10
Detroit (DTW) – Minneapolis (MSP) DC-10
Minneapolis (MSP) - Seattle (SEA) 747
Seattle (SEA) - Tokyo (NRT) 747
Tokyo (NRT) – Manila (MNL) 747 – Fridays
Tokyo (NRT) – Hong Kong (HKG) 747 – Wednesdays
Tokyo (NRT) – Osaka (KIX) 747 – Mondays
Osaka (KIK) – Okinawa (OKA) 747 – Mondays

That would be a long trip if you flew between Philadelphia (PHL) and Okinawa (OKA) on a Monday! You would depart PHL on a Sunday at 7:20 a.m. and five stops later (and two aircraft) arrive in OKA at 9:45 p.m. Monday night.

• The company had an interesting Florida operation. They operated one to two flights a day between Florida cities and the Midwest including ORD, MSP, DTW, CLE, MKE, and BOS. In addition they also had intrastate service to major Florida airport: For example the June 6, 1985 schedule out of Tampa International (TPA) shows the following intra-Florida flights:

From Tampa International (TPA):
Fort Myers (RSW) 2
Ft. Lauderdale (FLL) 2
Miami (MIA) 1 (DC-10)
Orlando (MCO) 2
West Palm Beach (PBI) 2

For the most part Southwest Airlines dominates these routes today.

• Northwest Orient also had an interesting presence in Montana. The June 6, 1985 timetable also shows quite a few intrastate flights within Montana that allowed the airline to connect these cities with MSP through a one-stop flight through Billings. In addition, Spokane, Washington (GEG) was connected to both Great Falls (GTF) and Missoula (MSO).

Northwest Orient Airlink:

In 1984 Northwest Orient joined other airlines in generating a marketing agreement with a commuter airline to brand same-airline service from smaller communities that would connect in with the major carrier’s network at various airports, usually their hub cities. US Air had first started this concept when they were Allegheny Airlines, naming their commuter network Allegheny Commuter. In the early to mid 1980s every major carrier copied this model and the traveling public began to see Delta Connection, United Express, Piedmont Commuter, Republic Express and others.

In the case of Northwest Orient they joined forces with Mesaba Airlines, a commuter airline (the term used now is “regional airline”) that offered service in Minnesota, Iowa, North and South Dakota using a fleet of Beechcraft 99 and Fokker 27 turboprop aircraft.

The routes generally focused on connecting cities in these states with MSP but did provide some intrastate service, particularly in South Dakota.

Detroit first saw Airlink service in 1986 when an agreement with Fischer Brothers Aviation out of Galion, Ohio was put together. Fischer Brothers was a small operation with nine planes (three Saab-Fairchild 340s, three Dornier 228s and three CASA 212s) and had formerly run as an Allegheny Commuter affiliate in the 1970s and 1980s. The Airlink service out of DTW added capacity to CLE, Flint, Michigan (FNT), Lansing, Michigan (LAN), Traverse City, Michigan (TVC) and one-stop service from DTW to Mansfield, Ohio via Cleveland (American Express Sky Guide, June 1986). In addition to the service at DTW, the Fischer Brothers Airlink flights also provided nonstop service between Detroit City Airport (DET) and Cleveland Burke Lakefront Airport (BKL), competing with a Delta Connection/Comair Saab-Fairchild 340 that served that same route.

Fischer Brothers Aviation continued as an Airlink affiliate when Northwest Orient and Republic Airlines merged in October 1986. The Hat Trick remembers having only one flight on a Fischer Brothers Airlink flight, a short hop between DTW and CLE in February, 1987 in a CASA 212 Aviocar turboprop…and remembers it to be a very bumpy ride due to high winter winds on approach to CLE!
Eventually the company was purchased by the first Midway Airlines that re-branded the company Midway Connection. Mesaba Airlines still serves as a major component of the Airlink network and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Northwest Airlines, now Delta.

The Hat Trick’s First Northwest Orient Flight:

The Hat Trick’s first Northwest Orient flight (that he has a memory of!) was in April 1985 between DTW and Newark International Airport (EWR). The equipment was a Boeing 727-200 and I was traveling with my father on a business trip to New York City…very exciting stuff for an awkward 13 year old with a love of flying! I don’t have the boarding passes or any other information so I’m going only on memory. However, I do remember that the flight left in the evening, probably after 8:00pm and we took an express bus from EWR to the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan before a cab to the Hilton New York on Sixth Avenue.

The return trip was on a McDonnell Douglas DC-10, my first ride in a Northwest Orient DC-10 (and my last before they merged with Republic Airlines and became Northwest). My second Northwest Orient trip was on July 20, 1985 aboard flight #256 between DTW and CLE. According to the boarding pass I sat in seat 12-F and departed from DTW’s Concourse A, Gate 9.

The Hat Trick's final Northwest Orient flight (before the merger)

was on November 7, 1985 and was also flight #256 to CLE, departing from the same Gate 9 and also a Boeing 727-200. On this trip I sat in seat 7-F. The return trip home on November 10, 1985 was on a Republic Airlines Boeing 727-200, flight #771, which continued on to Los Angeles International (LAX). Total roundtrip fare was $78.00. Currently the roundtrip airfare is around $250 for an advanced purchase fare.

Merger With Republic Airlines: End of an Era

Northwest Orient merged with Republic Airlines on October 1, 1986 ending many years of service under the Northwest Orient name. The merger also began a massive transformation for the airline into a new operational structure that, in some ways, would take the company away from its operational roots. In other ways, however, the company of today (pre-Delta merger) remains similar to that of Northwest Orient. This is seen most vividly in the Asian operations and especially with the Tokyo hub. Even some of the flight numbers used in the Northwest Orient days (Flight #1 LAX-NRT, Flight #27 SFO-NRT) is stilled used today.

Northwest Orient was an interesting airline and had an interesting domestic route structure that is so different from today’s airlines. However the airline’s Pacific route structure has many similarities including using Tokyo (NRT) as a hub to bring in passengers from key cities in the United States and then have them connect to other aircraft traveling to major Asian cities. Gone are the nonstops to Tokyo from Chicago, New York JFK that have been replaced by Detroit (DTW), Minneapolis (MSP) and Portland, Oregon (PDX). Other changes include the aircraft that the carrier flew: none of the original Boeing 727-100/200s, McDonnell Douglas DC-10s and Boeing 747-100/200s from the June 6, 1985 timetable is with the fleet as they have all been retired due to age. Only the Boeing 757-200 aircraft are still with the company and they are likely to be retired soon with the merger with Delta.

The airline that Delta now inherits is very different from the one that bore the name Northwest Orient but that name is from another time in the history of aviation, long gone but somewhat missed (at least by the Hat Trick) in the current environment.

Stayed tuned for future posts on both Republic Airlines and Northwest Airlines (1986-2009).

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Cup Is Not To Be…This Year

Unfortunately for Red Wings fans across the world, the Stanley Cup will not be coming back to Detroit following the 2008-2009 season. The Wings lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins 2 – 1 in a game that featured many, many “almosts” as the Wings just could not score against Fleury. It’s tough to lose it in Game Seven but I know I speak for many Red Wings fans in that I’m glad they made it this far.

A more detailed series analysis will follow once the Hat Trick has digested the loss…and removed himself from the comfortable fetal position he is now enjoying…

Friday, June 12, 2009

Game 7 Is On!!! Let's Go Red Wings!!!

It looks like the Hat Trick has been sidelined with the Stanley Cup Finals…and, happily, some job interviews…so it looks like I need to catch up!

As predicted by the Hat Trick at the beginning of the Stanley Cup Finals, the Wings-Pens series is going to Game Seven tonight at the JLA. After the first two games with Detroit up 2 – 0 you wouldn’t have thought we would be here, but we are. The Pens have played well, much like they did in taking the Washington Capitals to Game Seven in the semifinals. Add in to that some help from the Zebras (the six men on the ice for 25 seconds in Game Three and the lack of a Penguins penalty until halfway through the THIRD period of Game Six…thank you Zebras) and you have a Game Seven. Should be interesting…

The Hat Trick has seen enough Game Sevens in his time to pretty much understand that two things will happen like this:

1. It will either be a close, tight game that could go into overtime (or multiple overtimes) until one team gets a bad bounce with a final score something like 3 – 2.

2. Or it will be an epic blowout, over in the first period, similar to what the Penguins did to the Capitals in 2009 and what the Red Wings did to the Colorado Avalanche in Game Seven of the Western Conference Finals in 2002…they eventually went on to win the Stanley Cup.

The Hat Trick is hoping for a good, tight game, but isn’t sure his nerves can handle it so maybe a blowout (by the Wings, of course) might be better. Regardless, tensions will run high in Pittsburgh and Detroit.

On paper the Wings would seem to have the advantage in skill players and playoff experience with many members of the current team having been on the 2002 and 2008 Stanley Cup teams (and a few were even with the Wings for 1997 and 1998). But the Penguins got some momentum in Game Six and the Wings looked flat. If the Wings continue that type of play then the Penguins will hoist their third Stanley Cup. If they play like they did in Game Five, where they destroyed the Penguins 5 – 0, then it looks good for Detroit. Only time will tell and the time is in a few hours from now…

Best Game Five Quote:

Compliments of Mrs. East Coast Wing following the second period when the Penguins spent most of the time in the penalty box: “They need to rename the penalty box ‘The Igloo…’”

Thank you Mrs. East Coast Wing!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Game 2 Starts in 10 Minutes!

The Hat Trick is eagerly ready for Game 2 after the strong finish by the Wings last night in a Game 1 win. Pittsburgh needs to win tonight if they have any significant hope of winning the almost always have to win at least one game on enemy ice to have a legitimate shot at the title. We'll see what happens...the Penguins have some young players which helps them in a back to back game situation but the Wings showed last night that they are up to that challenge.

Let's just hope the Zebras don't try and call this one like last night...some bad officiating all the way around!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Wings Win Game 1!!!

Great win by the Wings, 3 - 1 final against the Pens at the JLA. It could have been 4 - 1 if not for some stellar defense by the Pens in the final minutes of the game with an empty net. The Wings really turned it on in the third period and Chris Osgood continued to be strong in goal. Great win after a very short rest period (compared with what the Penguins got) after putting the Blackhawks away in the Western Conference Finals.

While the Hat Trick is not going to get involved in the controversy over the back-to-back games being schedule in the Stanley Cup Finals, I am concerned that Game 2 tomorrow night is going to be tiring for the Wings and a real challenge. However, if the Penguins are going to be a serious team in this series they need to leave Detroit with a win, otherwise it is generally over. The Pens have showed they are a better team compared with last year so tomorrow should be interesting...improved experience and youth from the Penguins with the experience of the Red Wings.

A few more thoughts...
  • Once again it's nice that both teams in the Stanley Cup Finals are from the Eastern Time Zone. The Hat Trick is so tired of the Detroit Red Wings (and Columbus for that matter) being considered a Western Conference team given both teams play in the Eastern Time Zone. More on this in a later post...
  • How about that stand by Ozzie against Malkin? Amazing...
  • It's always nice when your fourth line can deliver a goal. Congratulations to Justin Abdelkader for scoring his first NHL playoff goal. Nice to see a Michigan State players and Muskegon native do well for the Wings!
  • Wouldn't it be nice for the Red Wings fans outside of the Detroit metropolitan area (like the Hat Trick!) if we could tune into CBC for the games? The quality of the announcing is superior and you get Don Cherry! How the Hat Trick hates listening to the NBC crew...
  • Why does everyone say the Wings don't play physical? They looked pretty physical to the Hat Trick tonight.

Final Thought:

The win tonight also provides a poignant moment for Red Wings fans and residents of Detroit, as well as the State of Michigan. With the Chrysler Corporation in bankruptcy and the Chapter 11 filing of General Motors imminent it is nice to see some joy in Michigan this late May night. The Hat Trick wishes all affected by this situation the best as we move through these difficult times.

Game 1 - Second Intermission

As predicted, we have a close game on our hands with a 2 - 1 Red Wing lead. The Hat Trick has a few observations:

  • Osgood has been excellent in goal - some of his teammates need to buy him a bottle of his favorite for pulling them out of the abyss.
  • How come is took the Zebras until 6:16 in the Second Intermission to actually call a penalty on the Pens? I don't want to be that guy that always complains about the officiating but there were plenty of calls the Zebras could have made and didn't...yet the Wings went on the defense twice before the Zebras called a Pens penalty...and Matt Cooke got away with what should have been another Pens penalty.

Third period starting now...we'll see how it goes.

Game 1 Begins

The Red Wings begin the defense of their Stanley Cup tonight at 8:00pm in a remtch against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins bring an entirely different team to the finals this year compared with last year. They have that Stanley Cup playoff experience that they didn't have last year plus they have been very succesful going through the Eastern Conference to get to the Finals. The Red Wings bring what they do best...confidence, skill and teamwork in defending the Cup, their first opportunity to defend their champtionships since the '97 - '98 season.

The Hat Trick feels confident that the Wings will do well and win again but this isn't going to be like last year. Prediction: Wings in Seven, all very close, challenging games.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Red Wings Are Stanley Cup Finals Bound!

The re-match is on as the Red Wings will face the Pittsburgh Penguins for the second straight year after beating the Chicago Blackhawks in overtime. It was a tight game and the Wings definitley looked a little slow and tired at times but did pull it off. The loss of several key players including Captain Nick Lidstrom didn't help. The Wings go on to face a Penguins team that, unlike last year, now has that vital playoff experience that is needed to win the Cup. Add in a relatively easy Eastern Conference series against the Hartford Carolina Hurricanes...and this is going to be nothing like last year when the Wings essentailly ran over the Penguinis to win their 11th Stanley Cup.

The Wings have until Saturday to get rested, get ready and get the mental focus needed to beat the Penguins. It's liekly going to be a though series and they need to take it seriously if they want to repeat like they did in '97 and '98.

Getting Ready For Game 5!

The Hat Trick is's 3 - 1 against the Blackhawks and the Wings can win it all and head to a back-to-back match-up with the Pittsburgh Penguins. As far as the Hat Trick is concerned, the Wings have dominated this series even if they did lose a game. Here's the recap...

Game 2 - Wings win a close game that goes into overtime...good, solid win, go 2 - 0.

Game 3 - Appeared to be a major Wings loss, down 3 - 0 in the second period only to come back, tie it 3 - 3 and go to overtime. Lose in overtime on a bad puck bounce. A win for the Blackhawks but a token victory at can you expect to compete for the Stanley Cup when you let a team come back like that?

Game 4 - Wings destroy the Blackhawks 6 -1 without Captain Nick Lidstrom. Enough said.

Game 5 - We'll see what happens...hopefully the Wings can be like the Penguins and put the desperate 'Hawks away and move on to the Stanly Cup Finals.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Game 1 - Good Win For Wings

The Wings fared well in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals with a 5 - 2 win over the Blackhawks. The game was pretty tight throughout the first and second periods until the Wings pulled away with a 4 -2 lead in the third period and an empty-netter to finish the 'Hawks off with a 5 - 2 final score.

While this is a good start, the Hat Trick definitely disagrees with many of the pundits who are already willing to crown the Wings as the Western Conference Champions. There is still a lot of hockey to play and the Blackhawks didn't get to the Finals by accident. Game 2 tonight should be interesting to say the least.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Wings - Blackhawks Drop the Puck

The Wings and Blackhawks just dropped the puck on Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals at the JLA. Should be a great series...memories of the Western Conference Finals between these two teams back in 1995!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Red Wings Advance to Western Conference Finals

The Red Wings were victorious Thursday night in Game Seven against the Anaheim Ducks, winning 3 -4. Unfortunately the Hat Trick missed a good part of the game, including the end, due to a thunderstorm and the vagaries of Direct TV…of which the Hat Trick is very disappointed but that is another rant. The Wings will face fellow Original Six team, the Chicago Blackhawks, for the right to go to the Stanley Cup finals. Game One of that series begins tomorrow at 3:00pm EDT.

Needless to say the Hat Trick is pleased that the Wings seem to not experiencing a major case of “Stanley Cup Hangover” and managed to hang on playing a tough Anaheim team that had knocked off the number one seed (and President’s Cup winner) San Jose Sharks in the first round of the playoffs. I’m also happy about the Chicago series because it means there is only a 45 minute flight between the two cities…no need to haul out to the West Coast. Hopefully the Wings can continue to hang on when playing a young and inexperienced, yet hungry, Blackhawk team. Finally, it was important that the Wings persevere after getting hosed by the Zebras in Game Three (see previous post).

The Hat Trick was also sad to see the Washington Capitals destroyed in their Game Seven appearance, 6 – 2. Finally, the Hat Trick was dismayed that the Boston Bruins fell to the Hartford Whalers…err…I mean Carolina Hurricanes…in Game Seven of that series. Apparently being the number one seed did not work out well for either the Sharks or the Bruins in 2009. The Hat Trick was really hoping for an Original Six match-up in the Finals but it is not to be this year.

Final 2009 Playoffs Trivia note: Five of the Original Six teams made the playoffs this year! The only team to miss the playoffs was the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Wings Are Down and the Hat Trick=Not Pleased

After dropping Game 2 in triple overtime on Sunday, the Wings dropped Game 3 in Anaheim in a pathetic game featuring some of the worst officiating the Hat Trick has ever seen and it very well could have cost the Wings the game. With less than a minute left in the third period, Marian Hossa scored the game-tying goal only to have it called back because referee Brad Watson blew is whistle and called the play dead because he was out of position and lost site of the puck. Unfortunatley for Watson, video of the play clearly shows the puck crossing the goal line before the whistle blew. Check out the video from the Puck Daddy blog on Yahoo.

Word to the NHL...this is the playoffs and you need to have competent offials out on the ice. Call it sour grapes from a Red Wings fan...and maybe we woudln't have won the game...but we definitely didn't get the chance to even try due to the massive screw-up (the video doesn't lie) by the Zebras.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Duck's Brown Escapes Suspension

The NHL opted to not suspend Ducks Forward Mike Brown for his hit on Jiri Hudler in Game 1 of the Ducks-Red Wings series. Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle has maintained that it was a clean hit and it looks like the league agrees with him even if several Wing's players have been vocal on it not being a clean hit. Expect lots of boos for Brown today (Sunday) when Game 2 starts at 2:00pm at the JLA.

Congratulations to Wings Defenseman Chris Chelios who appeared in his 261st postseason game and his 24th year in the playoffs. Chelios continues to defy his own age with positive contributions even if he has had less ice time in recent years. Chelios was picked up by the Red Wings at the trade deadline of the 1999 season and was expected to only spend a year or two in Detroit. Ten years later he is still going strong and the big question from the Hat Trick is: Will this guy ever retire? Hopefully not soon...

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Wings Take Game 1 Against Ducks

The Wings took Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Semifinals last night, beating the Anaheim Ducks 3 – 2 at home in the JLA. It was a tough and close game from the start but the Wings managed to pull off the victory with a goal by Wings Captain Nick Lidstrom (his second of the night) with 49.1 seconds left in the third period, avoiding a sudden death overtime situation. The Anaheim Ducks just came off of a brutal seven game series against the President’s Cup champions San Jose Sharks…and the Hat Trick has been real concerned about having to play the Ducks after they splayed the best team in the NHL regular season in the first round of the playoffs. While this first victory is important it’s going to be a long series in my opinion and won’t be a sweep like what happened against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Game 2 is set for Sunday, May 3 at 2:00pm EDT.

In other exciting news from the game Ducks forward Mike Brown was ejected for a hit on Jiri Hudler, causing Hudler to leave the game but eventually return. Brown was ejected from the game and could face a suspension although Duck’s head coach Randy Carlyle claims it wasn’t a dirty hit. During the post game press conference he was a little chippy when asked about the ejection. We’ll see what the league says, likely later today.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Hat Trick is Back!

The Hat Trick apologizes for the long hiatus between posts but the job search has taken on top priority these days. Compared to others in this wretched economy I’m doing okay and have steadily been interviewing for jobs but have not yet had success in obtaining a position. A lot had to do with the competition out there…lot of unemployed lobbyists…although I have come in second on several occasions. So, in addition to working towards finding openings I’m also working on my interviewing skills to make certain I come in first the next time!

Hopefully I can get on a regular schedule for posting as there is a lot of topics I want to talk about…Red Wings, Stanley Cup playoffs, the Obama Administration’s attack on YOUR first amendment rights and the continual changes going on in the airline industry…many topics to cover and can’t do it all in one post!

I will quickly cover my favorite topic, the Detroit Red Wings. On Thursday night the Wings swept the Columbus Blue Jackets in Columbus, final score 6 – 5. Unlike the previous games, the Blue Jackets really gave it to the Wings and hung in there until the last minute when a bench minor was called against the Blue Jackets for to many men on the ice. This led to a power play goal and the Columbus faithful were incensed leading them to through bottles and other garbage onto the ice. The Hat Trick understands the frustration they feel but the penalty was pretty blatant and I disagree with some analysts that the Zebras were being “picky.” Maybe I would feel differently if I were a Blue Jackets fan. Regardless, the Wings closed out the series and now can rest until the rest of the series wrap up.

On a final note about the Wings and this game…with the win Thursday night Detroit became the first team since 2002 to advance in the playoffs the year after winning the Stanley Cup. The Hat Trick finds this a good omen as we head into round two. Let’s Go Red Wings!

Sunday, March 1, 2009


That's about all you can say. The Wings got pounded last night by Nashville in a 8 - 0 rout...the most points allowed since giving up seven to the Pittsburgh Penguins in November. Ty Conklin got run out of goal and Chris Osgood took over but the offense couldn't get moving. Granted, it was their third game of the week and second game in a row after a win in Detroit against the Kings but you would still expect some level of offense with all the talent on the Red Wings. It looks like the team has a little soul searching to do before flying to St. Louis or a Tuesday game against the Blues and then on to Colorado to face the Avs Wednesday night.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

US Airways Does Away With Beverage Charges

This week US Airways released a statement that they are stopping their policy of charging for beverages, including soda, coffee and water, effective March 1. Never popular with passengers or cabin crew, US Airways decided to stop the practice noting that none of the other major airlines followed suit.

The Hat Trick applauds this decision as I feel that the "nickle and diming" of the American air traveler has gotten to an almost preposterous place. Of course it could always get worse...Ryanair, a major European "no-frills" airline, indicated this week they are considering eliminating free use of toilets on aircraft and charging a pound (about $1.43) to use the facility...don't get any ideas US Airways!

Wings Getting Pasted...

Just put Baby East Coast Wing to bed only to discover that the Wings are down 5 - 0 against the Nashville Predators in the first intermission. Kind of hard to come back from that, even with two more periods to play...looks like the Wings are a little hungover after Wednesday's decisive win against San Jose and a victory last night at the JLA against the struggling Los Angeles Kings.

Wings Pound Sharks

The Hat Trick is happy, if belated, to report that Wednesday's "Big Game" against the Sharks at the JLA was all Wings, all Night. The Wings skated to a decisive 4 - 1 win over the Western Conference leaders...a great way to end the season series with them...the next time they meet could be in the playoffs. Henrick Zetterberg played exceptionally well and scored twice; Ty Conklin was solid in goal. The Wings looked solid in both offense and defense and showed they can handle the Sharks.

The other potential drama of the evening didn't really pan out as Claude Lemieux only played about five minutes in the entire game although he was booed loudly and often during the night!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Wings - Sharks, Draper - Lemieux

The Hat Trick has been a little busy lately with job search activity so hopefully my readers have not been that sad! Update from the last post…the Wings ended up losing against the Blue Jackets and have gone on a 2 – 2 -1 streak since which included a 5 -2 loss last Saturday against the Minnesota Wild. The only positive in that game was seeing Red Wings Goalie Jimmy Howard play, a former University of Maine player (and the alma mater of Mrs. Hat Trick!).

Tonight the Wings host the San Jose Sharks at the JLA (Joe Louis Arena, home of the Detroit Red Wings) with game time at 7:30pm EST. This is a big game for several reasons. The Sharks currently have the #1 seed in the Western Conference with a five point lead so it is important for the Wings to win this remaining game and they have had trouble handling the Sharks this season, having lost two of the past three games.

Adding to the drama will be the return of Claude Lemieux to Detroit after a long hiatus. Lemieux is best known for injuring Chris Draper in the 1996 playoffs between the Wings and the Colorado Avalanche in which Lemieux caused Draper facial injury after a real cheap shot. The result in 1997 was a huge brawl at the JLA between the Wings and Avs featuring Darren McCarty pounding Claude before cheering fans and then a massive fight between players, including both goal tenders going at it. Detroit went on to destroy the Avs in the playoffs and won their first Cup since the 1950s. Several clips of the brawl are caught on You Tube including this one:

Lemieux is back in the league after retiring and Chris Draper is still a Red Wing so tonight has some added drama and should be a good game to watch.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Wings Down 1 - 0

Update: Looks like the Wings are down 1 – 0 after a goal by Left Winger Raffi Torres at the end of the first period. Ironically no penalties in the period…lets hope the Wings can get on the board in the second when the Hat Trick can watch it live after putting Baby Hat Trick to bed…

Wings at Blue Jackets

The Hat Trick is happy to see that the Red Wings have returned to their winning ways after a disastrous slump that included a 4 – 2 loss to the Washington Capitals on January 31. Tonight the Wings face the division rival Columbus Blue Jackets in Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio with a six game winning streak in place. This is a big improvement over the five game losing streak they compiled in January although the Hat Trick didn’t panic this year (unlike last winter during the six game losing streak the Wings endured) because things worked out pretty well for the Wings last year (for the non-hockey fan readers…the Red Wings won the Stanley Cup). Tonight Detroit will be looking for a win in a season high seventh game consecutive win streak.

Columbus also has a lot on the line tonight as they are working hard to get into the top eight in the Western Conference standings, guaranteeing them a playoff spot. Currently outside the top eight, the Blue Jackets are only two points behind the Dallas Stars and Minnesota Wild who are tired for the eight spot in the Western Conference.

Should be a good game between division rivals…hopefully the Red Wings can avoid any Friday the 13th curses and get that seventh win!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Wings Lose 4 -2

The third period killed the Wings when Alexander Ovechkin scored two goals that put the Capitals ahead 4-2. The Wings never recovered. This puts Detroit on a five game losing streak and also signifies that the days of the Wings coming into the Caps rink and cleaning up are over. Ovechkin’s goals were extremely impressive and the Caps played a solid game for all three periods. While the Hat Trick wishes that his Wings had come out on top I am glad to see the Caps have such good success. If they keep playing the way they are they should go deep in the Eastern Conference playoffs this spring.

Wings-Caps Tied After Two Periods

Caps go up by one on a nice goal by Mike Green but Wings come right back with a power play goal by Johan Franzen. Second period is now complete with a tie game at two apiece. Looks like the whole game is going to be tight…

Wings-Caps Series Update

Update from Washington Capitals announcer Joe Beninati (sometimes seen doing play-by-play on Versus) just reported that the last time the Caps beat the Wings in Washington was Halloween 2000 so it’s been a while for the Caps.

Wings-Caps Tied After One Period

It looks like we’ve got a game…end of the first period with a 1-1 score. The Wings scored first with a goal by Ville Leino (first NHL career goal) but the Caps followed up with a nice goal by Viktor Kozlov.

Looks like we are going to have a good game…only wish I could be there in person!

Red Wings In the Hat Trick's Backyard

The Hat Trick is sitting down to watch the Red Wings play the hometown Capitals this afternoon. Attending the game in person was not an option due to my soon-to-be unemployment status so will have to be content with seeing the game on the widescreen.

The Wings have been in a bit of a slide lately having last their last four games…two before the All-Star break and two after the game. I’m hoping they can stop the skid against the Caps today but that could be a tall order. While recent game history shows the Wings have handled the Caps pretty well (and the Hat Trick has had the privilege to view many of those games here in DC) the Caps are a much better team…Washington currently is leading the Southeast Division and is in third place in points total in the NHL’s Eastern Conference. As a result the Wings are going to have their hands full during this game…hopefully it will be a good one and not like Thursday night’s loss to the Dallas Stars in the JLA where the Wings had to climb out of a big hole and weren’t able to get it done. We’ll see if they can do any better against the Caps this afternoon.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Shanahan, Part II

Some additional information, compliments of, on how Shanny stayed in shape before joining the New Jersey Devils this month...not what you would normally expect!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Nice to See Shanahan Back

Just watched former Red Wing (and Ranger, Blues, Whaler and drafted by the Devils) player Brendan Shanahan score after signing with the New Jersey Devils in January. Shanahan was an integral part of the Red Wing's Stanley Cup runs in 1997, 1998 and 2002 and was sorry to see him not signed by a team after last season. While he is reaching the end of his career it's good to see some of these old Wings still playing.

Wings Lose to Blue Jackets

The Hat Trick just watched the Red Wings lose to the Columbus Blue Jackets in overtime...not a pretty game. The Wings looked rusty, especially without team captain Nick Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuck who are serving their one game suspensions for not attending the All-Star game festivities in Montreal. The fact that we lost Henrik Zetterberg in the first period to back spasms didn't the fact that the Blue Jackets are having a good year and working hard to make sure they make the playoffs this year...a very realistic possibility for the team.

No need to panic at this point but hoping the Wings get back into form before they visit Washington, DC this Saturday to play the Washington Capitals (who also lost tonight in overtime). The Hat Trick isn't sure if he is going to attend the Wings/Caps game or soon-to-be unemployment status makes purchasing hockey tickets a little difficult. Now if one of the Hat Trick's colleagues can come through with free tickets..well, that's a different matter entirely!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

All-Star Game Tonight

The Hat Trick is spending a quiet Sunday at home today and looking forward to the NHL All- Star game tonight at 6:00pm…live from Montreal, Canada. The All-Star game is always a good time for me…the skills competition is great and all the talent on the ice during the actual game is truly impressive. The format for this year’s game is Eastern Conference v. Western Conference which is an improvement over the old format that had a North America team v. a World team. We should see a lot of offense tonight and it is great that the game is in Montreal, celebrating the Canadiens 100th year anniversary.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Congratulations President Obama

The Hat Trick wants to congratulate President Obama on his inauguration and wish him the best of luck as he undertakes some very difficult challenges. While the Hat Trick did not vote for President Obama in the election, I have hopes for him and his presidency. My main concerns in not voting for him centered on his relative lack of experience for the job (four years in the United States Senate) and some of the positions he has supported in those four years in the Senate. The Hat Trick continues to smile at the attacks that Alaska Governor Palin withstood in the general election on her lack of experience yet the glossing over of President Obama’s experience level…clearly the mainstream media had their agenda as well.

Regardless, I hope he does well and has success. One thing is certain…this country has taken a large step in the process of rectifying our historical past with regard to slavery and segregation. Clearly the time has come for a Black American to become President of the United States and hopefully this will go a long way to correct some of the wrongs of the past. In that respect the Hat Trick is hopeful.

On Location

The Hat Trick is going on location to Florida for a few days to get out of the winter cold and, more importantly, crowds that have infiltrated Washington, DC to celebrate the inauguration of President-elect Barrack Obama. With impending unemployment, the East Coast Wing’s felt a little R & R was in order and, luckily, an invitation was extended from the in-laws to come down to Sarasota…this post is actually being written on the plane.

The airline of choice for this trip is US Airways due to the fact that it was cheap ($358 roundtrip for everyone) and easy as we secured seats on US Airway’s non-stop service between Washington National (a short ten minute drive from home) and Fort Myers…non-stops are key when traveling with East Coast Wing Junior.

Flying US Airways is always interesting as the airline continues to plummet in its service levels. US Airways was the first mainline carrier to begin charging for checked baggage and the first to charge for beverages on the plane…and not just alcohol…but soda (pop to my Midwestern readers), coffee, tea and even water. The reasoning for all of these charges that came last summer was to “recap revenue lost to the high price of oil and to remain competitive in a difficult climate.” The irony in this statement is that oil has dropped to about $35 a barrel as of yesterday but for some reason the charges are still in effect…interesting. The baggage fees on US Airways run $15 for the first bag and $25 for the second. The East Coast Wing’s were exempt from the baggage fees as I have Star Alliance Gold status with US Airway’s partner United Airlines so the three pieces we checked were not charged…but it would have cost us $130 roundtrip if I did not have status. So on top of the price of your ticket there are many “ad-ons” which can drive up the cost of a trip.

This is how many European budget carriers operate but US Airways is the first to take it to this level in the United States. Most other major air carriers in this country have followed the lead of US Airways and are charging fees for checked luggage…some allow the first bag to be checked free of charge, some charge for the first bag, and all do not charge for their customers who have elite status with the airline. Interestingly, Southwest Airlines has chosen not to charge baggage fees or fees for beverages in-flight. Southwest, once known (somewhat unfairly) as the “Greyhound of the Air” has initiated a very aggressive advertising campaign to point this out to consumers and it appears to have gotten a lot of attention (thank you You Tube!).

The Hat Trick isn’t sure what to make of all of this…I have sympathy for the airlines in this difficult economy but I also get frustrated with the “nickel and diming” of consumers that is becoming common in this culture. Case in point by blaming the need to charge for drinks when oil is expensive but not stopping the practice when oil drops to its lowest price in over ten years. The Hat Trick is no doubt naive but this is how I feel…not that US Airway’s management is concerned about my views!

Regardless, US Airways is getting my family to Florida and that is the important thing. It may not be pretty but it gets the job done! Hopefully there will be some more time to blog under the Florida sun…

NHL Winter Classic

The Hat Trick is a little late in getting this post out on the NHL Winter Classic…but better late than never!

Needless to say the Hat Trick enjoyed the Winter Classic immensely. Not only was the Hat Trick’s Stanley Cup Champion Detroit Red Wings playing but they came from behind and won big against the Chicago Blackhawks, one of the NHL’s oldest rivalries. The game was fantastic and it was crazy to see Wrigley Field with an ice rink in the middle of the park…but the stands were packed with fans just like a Cubs game. Mrs. East Coast Wing, a former Chicagoan, enjoyed it as well and could even see her old building from some of the television shots.

The Hat Trick is a BIG proponent of the NHL continuing this game format. The game received some of the highest television ratings for ice hockey ever and it was a nice diversion from all of the college bowl game mania that takes place on New Year’s Day. There are so many good rivalries and venues available across the country for this kinds of game…Fenway Park in Boston, Yankee Stadium in New York, Mile High (INVESCO) in Denver, Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Heinz Field in Pittsburgh or even go to a neutral city like Cleveland, Ohio and play the game in Cleveland Browns Stadium, right on cold and windy Lake Erie!

It’s great to see hockey make a comeback after the strike year and the Hat Trick thinks that the NHL has found a great format to bring more fans into the fold. The Hat Trick plans to watch every year, even if the Red Wings aren’t in the game, although it sure was a nice way to start the New Year with a big Red Wing’s win in a big game. Since I’m sure Commissioner Gary Bettman is a Hat Trick reader we will be hearing about the next Winter Classic location very soon…