NHL Lockout Is Over!

NHL Lockout Is Over!.


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NHL Lockout Is Over!

    Now that the NHL is moving from meeting rooms back to the ice, we can finally give our 2013 season preview. The Devils, Flyers and Rangers all enjoyed  successful 2011-2012 campaigns with the Devils going all the way to the Stanley Cup finals(it seems like ages ago, doesn’t it?).  Moving forward towards the new season that should start on Jan 19th, we will give our predictions for our 3 local teams.

   For the Flyers, it all comes down to, you guessed it…GOALTENDING, Flyer fans have been saying this ever since the days of Ron Hextall. The Flyers have one of the game’s best players in Claude Giroux. Along with Danny Briere, Scott Hartnell and role players like Wayne Simmons and  Sean Couturier, the Flyers have a very impressive roster and in my mind, one of the best coaches in the NHL. They should not have any problem scoring goals and they will win their share of games. Again, it all comes down to IIya Bryzgalov and if he is able to raise his game. The Flyers rolled over their Pennsylvania rivals from Pittsburgh in the first round of the playoffs but were drastically outplayed by the Devils and the ageless Marty Brodeur. Our prediction is the Flyers should exceed the 100 point mark and if they get good goaltending, will be a force in the playoffs.

   The NY Rangers enjoyed their best regular season since 1994 and added power forward Rick Nash to their already deep line-up. The Rangers have the league’s best goalie in Henrik Lundqvist. The Rangers have a good mix of youth and veteran leadership. The Rangers bug-a-boo last season was scoring goals…specifially scoring on the power play. Rick Nash as well as a healthy Marion Gaborik should help the Rangers solve their lack of goal scoring. The Rangers had the best record in the Eastern Conference and were just 2 wins shy of going to the finals. The addition of Nash along with the continued improvement of Chris Kreider and Ryan Mcdonaugh should catapult the Rangers to the elite level of the NHL and we see no reason why the Rangers can’t take that next step in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

   The NJ Devils enter the 2013 season as the defending Eastern Conference champions. Out of our 3 teams, the Devils are the team least likely to repeat last year’s success. Team captian Zach Parise bolted the organization that drafted him to sign with the Minnesota Wild. The legend, Martin Brodeur is back for another season but he will be turning 41 in early May and one must ask how much more the NHL’s all-time winningist goaltender has to give. The Devils still have good players like Ilya Kovalchuk, ol’ reliable Patrik Elias and  Adam Henrique but it will be difficult for the Devils to make the playoffs and defend their crown.

   The NHL season is expected to be 48 games. It is expected to start within the next couple of weeks. Those of us who love hockey and root for these 3 teams are pumped up and the anticipation of spring success for one of these teams is quite possible. Last year, the Rangers swept the season series from the Flyers. How great would it be if these 2 squared off for the right to play for the cup next June? Whether you root for the Flyers, Rangers or Devils…you don’t agree on much…but we call ALL agree that we’re happy hockey’s back and as they say in the trade…DROP THE PUCK!!

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FIrst Move of Many


   As expected, Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum was given his walking papers as the first casualty of the Jets 2012 disaster of a season. Tony Sporano should be next while it appears Rex Ryan gets one more year. Obviously it is way too early for anyone to know who will go or stay player-wise. Every Jets fan alive wants Mark Sanchez gone but I would not be surprised if he is still on the roster when training camp begins next summer. There are several, key decisions that must be made starting right now to turn the Jets around in 2013    1-Shore up the offensive line.
It does not matter who the QB or running backs are, unless the men up front are doing their job, the Jets offense will continue to look inept at best
2-Re-sign La Ron Landry
Landry was one of the few off season acquisitions that worked. The hulking safety brought a level of intimidation to the Jets secondary that they have not had in years. 3-Hire Norv Turner
The Jets cannot screw this up. They need to bring in a coordinator that brings immediate respect to the unit. They need someone who will have the undivided attention of everyone member of the offense. Turner is a brilliant offensive mind who helped Troy Aikman and Philip Rivers become great QB
4-Trade down in the draft
The Jets currently own the 9th pick in next April’s draft. Since there aren’t any no-brainer QB available in this draft, it would behoove whoever the Jets GM is to trade down and accumulate as many picks in the first 3 rounds as possible. The Jets need help on the offensive line as well as depth at  WR and speed at the LB position. This draft seems to be top-heavy with front seven players and plenty of teams who draft after the Jets need help in that area. I would not like to go down past 20 but I would explore the option of trading down because the Jets need a lot of help and they need it now
5-Look in to trading Revis.
Let me be clear, I would not give Revis away but the holdout king is entering the final year of his contract and we all know he will demand the sun, moon and stars. If he hits the open market after next season, he will go to the highest bidder. He will not give the Jets any discount. He and his agents will create a bidding war the likes the NFL has never seen and since the Jets have severe cap problems, they simply will not be able to match most other offers. Coming off a torn ACL, it would be hard to trade Revis and get anything substantial in return but the new Jets GM must put this on his to-do off season list.
The NFL is a league in which immediate improvements can be made. The Colts went from 2-14 to 11-5 and the Vikings went from 3-13 to 10-6 and the Redskins went from 5-11 to 10-6. The Jets have talent. The Jets are not a complete mess like the Chiefs or Jaguars. The Jets CAN get back in to the tick of things in 2013 IF the right decisions are made. Many, many changes need to be made both on the field and in the locker room. This will be Rex’s last chance to prove he is ” the right man for the job”    As a Jets fan, I lick my wounds from this season and begin the healing process. I look forward to seeing who the new GM will be and I cannot wait until we see how he handles Sanchez, Tebow and all the other big decisions. Will the Jets trade down in the draft like I suggested or will they trade up and try and draft Geno Smith…the projected #1 overall pick?  There’s a lot of what ifs going in to 2013 but one thing if for certain, the Jets must get this right, period!

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Ciao, Jersey Shore

   This past Thursday was the final episode of the show that forever changed the culture of tweens, teens, and  20-somethings who love to fist-pump and wear designer jogging suits. The “Jersey Shore” wrapped up its 6 season run with the usual suspects doing the usual debauchery. From Seaside to Miami to Italy and back to Seaside, Vinny, Sammi, Ronni, Jenny, Mike, Snookie, Pauly and Deena danced and drank their way in to the hearts of millions of people all over the world.

   Those of us who live on the Jersey Shore and those of Italian decent felt wronged by the stereotypical actions of the 8 member cast. Not everyone from New Jersey fist-pumps and not every Italian wears jumpsuits. Like ’em or hate ’em, the cast of the Jersey Shore was a pop culture phenomenon that changed so many aspects of pop culture. Catch Phrases like GTL, DTF, Cabs are Here, Come at me Bro and Yeah Buddy are now part of the American vernacular. Fashion trends like graphic T-shirts and Pauly D hair styles have swept across the landscape. I would not be surprised in the least if new moms have named their daughter’s Snookie…that is how big this show about 8 party people drinking and “smushing” has become.


   I will admit to watching the show. It was, at times, entertaining and let’s face it seeing many of my local hangouts on TV was pretty cool. The show had many detractors and understandably so but there’s one fact that cannot be denied and that is this show about nothing made millions and millions of dollars for many local businesses in the Seaside area and when parts of New Jersey do well…all of New Jersey does well.

   In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, the iconic Seaside boardwalk was destroyed. Thanks to the Jersey Shore TV show, MTV has helped with the reconstruction of the area and should be able to get Seaside back to its pre-hurricane glory. Those who consider themselves to be intellectuals cannot stand people like the Jersey Shore cast who do nothing but party and cause a ruckus. Fact is, if not for the show, MTV(and the cat themselves who use their celebrity to bring in money and resources) would never have been there to help with the recovery. As annoying as you may find Snookie and the bunch, some good has come out of that show. Next Summer, when the Seaside boardwalk re-opens for business, you can bet your bottom dollar the whole cast will be there to dedicate the grand re-opening and all those local businesses ruined by Sandy will be BACK IN BLACK

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Gun Control

   In the wake of the unthinkable massacre at the Sandy Hook elementary school last Friday, new debates on gun control have taken over the air waves. Everything in this country, ultimately, turns in to a political debate. It makes the executives at Fox News and CNN happy as their ratings grow, but these debates take away from the focus of what the real problems are.

   This isn’t Global Warming or the tax code, this effects  the well-being and safety of every single American! It does not matter what your age, gender, color, race or bank account is…random acts of violence knows no boundaries. These tragedies can occur without warning or reason. Just like acts of terrorism, it is impossible to stop every potential act. However, it is possible to make these acts as difficult as possible to perform.

   After 9/11, the government created the TSA. The TSA’s sole responsibility was to make sure no one ever boards as U.S. plane with anything resembling a weapon. Those who travel by plane know how annoying it is to stand in security lines and have to dis-robe before they enter the metal detector. As bothersome as it is, the necessity far outweighs the annoyance.

   Other than Tim McVeigh’s Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, most every other massacre is perpetrated with the use of a gun or guns. One must ask why guns are the weapon of choice to commit these heinous crimes. The answer is simple…it’s very easy and quick to kill with a gun. Building a bomb takes time and money. First, the would-be killer needs to learn how to make a bomb. Then they need to buy the bomb-making materials. Then they need build the actual bomb. Then they need to figure out a way to get the bomb inside the potential killing field. Then they need to find the best place to put the bomb to kill as many people as possible. Then they need to set the bomb off and hope it explodes. There is no guarantee a bomb will explode especially for  a novice bomb maker.

   We live in a remote-control society. Count how many remotes you have in your home and you’ll know what I mean. Killing with a gun is tantamount to killing with via remote control…standing there pressing a button is all you have to do. It’s easy, it’s quick, it takes minimal effort and gets maximum results and that it what our society is all about.

   Gun enthusiast are making the most head-scratching excuses saying what happened last Friday had nothing to do with guns and everything to do with mental illness. if Adam Lanza did not have access to his mother’s guns, would he still have murdered all those innocent people? I find it extraordinarily hard to believe that he could have done just as much damage with a knife and as stated earlier, building a bomb is not the easiest thing to do. He took his mother’s guns because they were there and killing with a gun is too easy…that is why it is the weapon of choice for these murderers.

   Mental illness is an epidemic that is spreading like a bad virus.  Combine that with our kid’s mind’s that are saturated with violence you have a very scary formula that creates these types of massacres. Everything must be done to try and prevent this from happening…EVERYTHING!!! Stronger gun laws and a ban on all assault weapons WILL make it harder to commit these crimes. Again, if Lanza did not have access to his mother’s guns, what would he have done? Would he have tried to buy illegal guns? Maybe, and maybe he would have bought illegal guns from an undercover agent who could have prevented this from happening. This isn’t about the government taking away people’s guns, this is about protecting our most innocent of of people….our children!

   If making guns harder to obtain prevents just one of these senseless acts of violence then it is worth it. How anyone can think other wise is beyond me. If a person truly feels that President Obama is trying to take away their guns and turn us in to the old Soviet Union then pack your bags and get out. There’s about 200 other countries around the world to live in. This is not a political issue folks! This is not left-wing right-wing. This is about protecting our citizens and doing everything to prevent this.  Some say teachers should be armed with guns of their own. Let me ask this, if someone walks in to a classroom with weapon already drawn and, presumably, the teacher’s weapon is in their draw or holster, what do you think will happen? The teacher would be killed before they had a chance to retrieve their weapon. What’s next, arm each student?

   What happened last Friday makes me sick to my stomach. The subsequent debates make me angry. People are so brainwashed in this country that they actually believe they need to own gun(s) to protect themselves against the government. Even though the vast majority of gun owners are level-headed people, too many guns fall in to the wrong hands. Everything and I mean everything must be done to prevent this from happening. Just like with the TSA following 9/11 and airport security, if it prevents just one senseless act then it is worth it.

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JBJ & The Boss

    Last night at New York’s Madison Square Garden, a who’s who in the music world donated their time to the relief fund from Super storm Sandy that devastated the NY/NJ area. From the Stones to the Who to Eric Clapton to Billy Joel, it was quite an impressive line up for the 12/12/12 concert.

   The show was opened by none other than “The Boss” Bruce Springsteen. He was joined by New Jersey’s other rock-n-legend Jon Bon Jovi. The 2 joined forces for Springsteen’s anthem “Born To Run”. Later on in the evening when Bon Jovi took the stage, Bruce returned the favor by banging out “You Can’t Go Home”

   For reasons that are beyond me, there is a rivalry between the fan bases of these two rock-n-roll and New Jersey icons. Both are worldwide superstars who make sure everyone knows where they came from. Both play a different but very successful brand of rock-n-roll. Both are humble and are always there for good causes. Yet, somehow, fans of Bruce can’t stand Bon Jovi and vice verse.

   As a ProudNewJerseyan, I got chills and goose bumps when I saw Jon and Bruce in a duet for the ages. They may not look alike and their respective song catalogs may not sound alike but these 2 Jersey boys can rock with the best of ’em. There is no reason for their fan bases to dislike each other. As rock fans…as New Jerseyans…as Americans….the time has far past that people come together for a common good. Whether you’re fan of their music or not, I really feel the people of New Jersey should feel as proud as I felt last night. 

   I am not sure if these 2 legends have ever joined forces like that. If that was the first time, then it was certainly a long time coming. They sounded phenomenal, they looked great and, most importantly, they helped raise money for the families still devastated from the storm. Good job fellas, thanks for, again, making us proud to be from New Jersey!

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The NHL Lockout

I’d like to do an NHL season preview for our 3 teams…the Devils, Flyers and Rangers. As we know, the NHL is not open for business as the owners have locked out the players…again!  Last season was very succesful for those 3 teams. Each of the 3 had 100+ points in the regular season with the Rangers finishing tops in the Eastern conference. The Flyers won their battle of Pennsylvania against the Penguins. The Rangers won two thrilling seven game series and of course, our home town boys(Devils) went all the way to the Stanley Cup finals.

All 3 teams would love to bring last year’s momentum in to this season but it’s not looking good for the season to begin on time, or even begin at all.  The NHL and NHLPA met in Manhattan yesterday. After just 2 hours of “negotiating”, talks broke down as neither side was willing to give an inch on the core economic issues. The owners want to roll back salaries as they did in 2005 and the players refuse any settlement that includes another set of salary roll backs. Can you say stalemate?

In any negotiating session, each side must be willing to compromise. Egos and stubbornness are preventing either side from doing what’s right. They know what to do. They know what will get a deal done, they just refuse to do it. Both sides are equally to blame for this nonsense. Even if the players accept roll backs, they will still make absurd amounts of money. Even if the NHL opens for business under the old agreement, the league stands to make billions. Don’t be fooled folks, this labor impasse has nothing to do with money and everything to do with grandstanding.

As a hockey fan, I am outraged! As a tax-paying New Jerseyan, I am apathetic. No NHL hockey will hurt our economy but only minimally. We will find other forms of entertainment to spend our money on. The NHL’s loss is the cinema’s and theatre’s gain. If the NHL and NHLPA feel the fans will come back en masse whenever this lockout ends, they are sadly mistaken.  Fans of all teams are fed up! In 5 years when the NHL is struggling to sell tickets and gain exposure and player’s salaries have decreased, they will have no one to blame but themselves.

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The “real” NFL refs are back! They will return tonight to officiate the Browns Ravens game in Baltimore. The entire football world will breathe a collective sigh of relief as those “dastardly” scab refs are sent packing. When the actual NFL referees take the field tonight, they will, I’m sure, receive a standing ovation. My goodness, the hypocrisy!
Out of all the officials in any sport, the NFL refs are by far the most maligned. We’ve seen them blow scores of games with ridiculously bad calls. NFL fans have been screaming for full-time officials almost as loud as we scream DEFENSE at our respective stadiums. When word came about that the “real” refs were being locked out and scab refs were being used, most football fans were insouciant to this news. We felt the scabs refs could not be much worse than the “real” refs.
After 3 weeks of football, enough mistakes were made that the NFL could no longer ignore the public outcry to get a deal done with the NFLRA and kick the scabs to the curb. I’m sorry folks but I do not think these scabs did a worse job than the official officials and I certainly do not think the call to end the Packers Seahawks game was the “worst call ever made”. It is disgustingly hypocritical for NFL fans to welcome back the “real” refs with open arms.
Having said that, I offer this hypothesis…the NFL orchestrated this lockout to change public opinion for its referees. These scabs refs really did not do a bad job, relatively speaking. We’ve been complaining about the officiating in the NFL, seemingly forever. When the “real” refs begin tonight and this weekend, I guarantee there will be calls that will infuriate fans. I also guarantee most will say, “they’re still better than the scabs”. If the NFL was trying to change the perception of its officials(and I think there’s a real chance of this), they did a good job of it because now all NFL fans will cherish these “real” refs like a lost boyfriend or girlfriend that who recently got back together with them.
There should never be any labor strife in any sports league that produces billions in annual revenue. However, much to our chagrin as fans,constantly, one league or another has problems(or so they say) negotiating with their unions. The NHL and NHLPA are supposed to convene tomorrow to resume their labor battle. I would not be surprised in the least to see some sort of “progress” come out of those talks. Reason being, a deal must get done very soon to make sure the NHL season starts on time. They did not have to make a deal last week or last month or last year. Now that they have to make a deal, we’ll see if either side budges and seriously negotiates.
These arrogant sports leagues think, no matter what happens, the fans will always come back from any work stoppage. It’s going to get to a point where fans will turn their backs and find other forms of entertainment. If that happens, these millionaires and billionaires will have no one to blame but themselves.

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The Darrelle Revis Injury

   You’d think the NFL is forcing the Jets to forfeit the rest of their schedule. Yes, losing Revis a huge blow but let’s have a reality check here, shall we? The cornerback is the least important position on the entire defensive side. The cornerback is a one-dimensional position. They have very little impact on the running game nor do they blitz the QB. The corner’s job is to cover the receiver and make sure he does not catch the ball. That’s the gist of his job description. Like I said, very one-dimensional. Revis does his job as well, if not better than anyone at his position in the NFL but his unfortunate injury is hardly the end of the world.
   Even if Revis does his job and eliminates the offense’s top receiving threat, it means nothing if the rest of the defense plays poorly. Case in point, the 2009 AFC Championship game. Revis shut down Colts star wideout Reggie Wayne but, then Colts QB Peyton Manning picked apart the rest of the Jets defense. Revis did his job but it meant very little in the overall big picture. A dominant defensive lineman like Reggie White can change the outcome of a game all by himself. He can stop the run and make the QB’s live a living hell. A great linebacker like Lawrence Taylor or Ray Lewis can do the same. Heck, even a great safety like Ronnie Lott or Ed Reed can impact a game in a number of ways. A cornerback can only effect a game in one way and that is to guard his receiver. I am not belittling Revis or his ability. He is a remarkable football player. But, as anyone who has watched the Jets knows, the Jets defense has been brutal with him the past 2+ seasons. If a dominant lineman, linebacker or safety does his job, it has a direct impact on the game. If a dominant corner does his job, it does not have a direct impact on the game as we saw in the 2009 AFC title game.
   The Jets defense, as well as their defensive head coach, must find ways to pressure the QB. If they do not, it will not matter who plays corner. Moving forward, the onus is squarely on Rex Ryan. He needs to prove he can have a dominant defense without the likes of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed and Darrelle Revis. Kyle Wilson, the Jets 2009 1st round draft pick, will take Revis’ place in the starting lineup. It’s time for him to step up and prove he was worthy of such a high draft position. This Jets defense has many problems…they’re slow, they do not put pressure on the QB and they have trouble tackling. Darrelle Revis will not help these issues.
   Sometimes an injury like this can galvanize a unit. Let’s see if the players come out with the #24 written on their shoes or socks or helmets. Rex could turn this in to a “win for Revis” scenario. If the Jets do not pick up their intensity on defense and sharpen their focus on offense, this team simply will not win many games.

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Donald Fehr and the NHLPA

Ok, time time to take my poison pen to the players…

As the NHL lockout carries on, seemingly in anonymity, the best NHL players are leaving for Europe to play in various leagues across the Atlantic. Many of them did the same thing in 2004 during the lockout to end all lockouts so it comes to no surprise the likes of Thornton, Nash, Ovechkin and Kovalchuk are taking their talents to these inferior but profitable leagues.

I certainly cannot blame them for trying to earn a living. After all, they are being locked out and they have bills to pay and mouths to feed. They are taking roster spots from current players on those European teams. We could debate the merits of that but I’d rather go after the NHLPA in other ways.   This lockout needs to be settled. Actually, it needed to be settled before it started. We can blame Gary Bettman and the owners all we want but Donald Fehr and his lieutenants are slowing down the process like Derek Stepan trying lead an odd-man rush. They are not committed to getting a deal done. Rather, they(meaning Fehr and his people) are trying to match the owner’s bluff. Fehr is saying to his counterparts on the owner’s side, “you cannot rape me like you raped the last head of the NHLPA”. Fehr is committed to one thing and one thing only… protecting his reputation of a bull who makes billionaire sports team owners get down on their knees and beg for mercy.

Gary Bettman claims the league, as a whole, is losing money and they need to revise the current economic system to help the teams who are losing and make the league stronger. Even though, revenues are at record highs, player costs are as well and Bettman wants the players to give back percentages of the money they will earn during the length of the agreement. Whether Bettman’s numbers are legit or whether it’s clever accounting, Fehr has to understand that salaries are out of control and there has to be a way to slow them down.

As I said regarding Bettman in a previous blog, Fehr is a highly educated, well paid man whose sole responsibility is to make sure the players he represents get a fair deal. As soon as the players lose their first game check, Fehr has failed them. Fehr(as does Bettman) needs to come up with a plan that’s meets the owners demands and is fair for his NHLPA. He has not done that nor is he even trying to. A lockout should have been avoided at all costs. Instead, the only thing the 2 sides have agreed on is they feel bad for Snooki’s newborn son when he grows up realises who his mommy is.

The NHL lockout is a disgrace and on so many levels. If one regular season game is cancelled because of this, Fehr and Bettman must be fired. They know what to do, they just refuse to do it. It’s become a high powered game of chicken and the people who are suffering are those who make their living because an NHL team is on their town.  No one knows when or how this will end but one thing’s for sure, Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr should be relieved of their respective duties and be replaced by people who are committed to compromise

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