Sunday, March 28, 2010

Wings Win A Crazy One, Improve Playoff Position

Last night the Red Wings played division rival Nashville in Tennessee and it was a wild one. The Wings won 1 - 0 but that doesn't tell the whole story. The game was actually won in a 11 round shootout after going 0 - 0 throughout regulation play and the overtime period. Crazy. The game was won by Niklas Kronwall on a fake and then slid the puck in the 5-hole. Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard was stellar in goal and really seems to have hit his stride...he's been on fire since the Olympic break.

With this win the Wings have now won 12 of their last 15 games. More importantly, with the win in Nashville the Wings have moved into the sixth playoff position in the Western Conference. Certainly an improved position from a few weeks ago when the Red Wings were struggling to even make the playoffs. I think it's fair to say that the Wings are playing their best hockey of the year and that getting back several of their injured players has really helped. I think a lot of the higher-seeded teams in the Western Conference are going to be looking warily at the Red Wings as the season comes to a close in a few short weeks.

Nice job Red Wings...deep down I knew you wouldn't let me down!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Height of Arrogance

The Hat Trick hasn't commented on political issues lately but I feel it is time to do so regarding the upcoming vote on health care reform and the recent discussions of the Democratic leadership regarding their legislative strategy. The Hat Trick can sum up in one word his feelings toward the Democratic leadership and Speaker Pelosi: appalled.

I want to make one thing clear to my readers: while I have some deep concerns regarding the current plan, as well as previous drafts of the health care legislation, the Hat Trick has pretty much kept quiet. This is because I do think there is a significant need for reform of our current system. The issues surrounding pre-existing conditions (insurance companies ability to deny coverage based on an applicants existing medical issue), inability of small business to pool together in groups to purchase insurance across state lines (such as labor unions and large corporations can do) and tort reform/cost of malpractice insurance for practitioners are serious issues that need to be addressed. However, I still remain concerned about the scope and impact of the current legislation before the House of Representatives and I'm not alone in that assessment based on a recent NBC-Wall Street Journal poll. This is why Speaker Nancy Pelosi is finding it very difficult to obtain the 216 votes she needs in the House of Representatives to pass the Senate-passed bill. She faces two challenges: strong opposition from moderate and conservative members of her caucus who fear electoral defeat in November if they support the legislation and opposition to the bill from ardent liberal in her caucus who state the legislation doesn't go far enough. Add in the fact that it appears not a single Republican in the 111th Congress (accounting for 178 votes) will support the bill and you can see the challenges in passing the legislation that the Speaker currently faces. A girl just can't get a break can she?

It would seem at this juncture the prudent move would be to step back and try and find a plan that will work and gain Republican votes.

This brings us to the current state of affairs. The Speaker now proposes to use a legislative technique called "reconciliation" to pass the health care bill in the House. The advantage to using reconciliation is that it would only require a majority vote in the Senate to pass the bill instead of overcoming a 60 member procedural vote to invoke cloture and stop a filibuster. The bad part about using reconciliation is that it was never intended to be used to pass this type of legislation. Rather, it was established in 1974 to allow Congress to address contentious budget resolutions without the threat of a filibuster. However, it has been used to pass other contentious types of legislation sponsored by both Republicans and Democrats. The current spin by Democrats on Capitol Hill is that only Republicans have abused the reconciliation process, which is not very truthful at all. While they point out that it was used eight times during the Reagan Administration (January 1981-January 1989) they fail to point out that the Democrats controlled the House during all eight years of the Reagan presidency and control of the entire Congress from 1987 to 1989 (and beyond until 1995). The bottom line is that both parties have abused the reconciliation process but each party has been adroit at defending their (ab)use of the process.

However, one of the big issues that concerns the Hat Trick is the impact that health care reform will have on the entire population, particularly with regard to cost. This makes the gimmicky use of reconciliation all the more appalling to me given the incredible impact this will have on the population and the economy.

If this wasn't bad enough the Democrats want to take it one step further. Speaker Pelosi is evaluating using a legislative device called "Deem and Pass" which would set up a scenario where the unpopular Senate-passed package would be "deemed passed" after the House passes a package of modifications to the bill. The theory behind this is that the politically vulnerable Democrats could claim they never voted for the unpopular Senate package. Seriously? Where do we get these people? It's no wonder that the American population has such a low opinion of Congress and of politics. This is a great example of petulant politics where the Democrats are unhappy that they American people have the audacity to question their legislation so now they are going to try and "gimmick" it through instead. Absolutely pathetic.

I'm not saying the Republicans wouldn't have tried the same thing but the fact is that it's the Democrats that are doing this to avoid a legislation showdown. The Hat Trick is pretty frustrated by this...the bottom line is if you feel this legislation is the right thing for the country then take the vote and let the chips fall. Stop the stupidity and stop the shady deals and legislative gimmicks.

Congress: It's time to man up and take a stand.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Wings Step It Up!

Last night the Wings did indeed step it up and won a decisive 3 - 2 victory against the Calgary Flames. With the win the Wings were able to add to their hold on the eighth seed in the playoff lineup against Calgary and to pull within one point of the seventh seeded Nashville Predators.

Great job Red Wings!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Wings Need to Step It Up

If the playoffs began today the Detroit Red Wings would be playing golf instead of playoff hockey. How times have changed. The Wings, as my readers well know, went to the Stanley Cup Finals last year (for the second year in a row) and lost in seven games to the Penguins. In 2008 the Wings won their most recent Stanley Cup. Now they would not get in if the playoffs started today...crazy.

Free agency really hammered the Wings in the offseason with a lot of talent in the 2008 and 2009 teams not being resigned due to salary cap issues. Goaltending has also been a problem. Injuries have been a BIG problem throughout the season. Another issue is that the Chicago Blackhawks have really developed in a caliber hockey team and the Wings have to play the Blackhawks a lot due to being division rivals. So a lot of things are going on that impact where the Wings now find themselves.

However, all is not lost. The Wing are hanging on in the ninth spot in the Western Conference rankings (the top eight make the playoffs) so they need to win as many games as possible and hope that the Calgary Flames lose a couple themselves. The 4 - 2 loss to the Flames on March 9 was not what the Wings needed to do. There is still a lot of time left in the regular season to right the ship and slip into the playoffs in the eighth seed...and a dangerous eighth seed the Wings could be!

The last time the Red Wings didn't make the playoffs: the '89-'90 season when the Hat Trick was a senior in high school. That makes you think how good Wings fans have had it all these years.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Back From Florida

The East Coast Wing's have returned from their Florida jaunt and are back in the swing of things...or the rat race as may be the case. It was good to get away from all the snow and snowstorms, as well as get away from the depressing reality of my continued unemployment. I got to experience two more job rejections while in the Sunshine State and am definitely having some significant anxiety about what the future might hold, both for my family and my career. I'm back at the job application game but it definitely is getting harder and harder to stay motivated. At least I'm not alone as the February unemployment rate stayed at 9.7%.

On a happier note I did get to have a fabulous visit with an old buddy from my College of Wooster days who lives in West Palm Beach. It was great to get away, drink a few beers and, most importantly, go out for a great day of fishing in the Florida sun. The weather was fantastic and I was able to catch dinner for the next night. My friend knows what he's doing in a fishing boat and we had a great time. He wrote up a trip report that describes what we fished for and the conditions. It can be found through this link. Thanks pal for a great trip!

Finally, in keeping with another theme of this blog (ice hockey), the Hat Trick wants to congratulate the Men's and Women's U.S. Ice Hockey teams for winning silver at the Vancouver Winter Games. While a gold medal would have been nice, both teams played with grit and determination and they should be proud of their achievements. The Men's team in particular really took it to Team Canada, staying in the game for all three periods and forcing an overtime with a goal to tie things up in the last minute of play although losing in overtime to Sidney Crosby. Congratulations Team USA...we are all very proud of you.

That's it for the Hat Trick for now...I'll be sure to pontificate on the political situation in another post real soon.