As most people know, I got my start ‘yammering’ about the Canes at Hockeybuzz where I still write today. As serendipity would have it, I actually started covering the team right at the beginning of the 2006 playoffs. What timing huh? There is actually a fairly interesting blog-length story behind all of that, but that is for another day.
Most of what I write is what I call ‘disposable’ content in the sense that it has a shelf life of a couple days. I have also been told many times that my writing is disposable even before being read except the words were not as diplomatic as ‘disposable.’ A game preview is really only useful about until the game starts. Post-game reports are good for a couple days or basically until the next game. Some of my summer armchair GM articles in May, might actually be good for a few months. But on rare occasion, I write something that could actually be useful or at least worth reading much later. That is obviously subject to personal opinion and mine is biased obviously, but I am taking the liberty to put forward a few of my blogs from over the years that have some entertainment value (IMHO) years later.
In case it is not obvious the numbered title lines are clickable links to the original posts on Hockeybuzz.
To this day, I do not understand how Chad LaRose went from being an everyman’s hero to a player who is much more polarizing with mixed reviews depending on who you ask. He started his NHL as a huge underdog, made it and in the process became loved pretty much unanimously by the Hurricanes fan base. This much is fact. Somewhere along the way he was elevated too many times into 1st and 2nd line duties that were probably above his skill level. I think what happened was that he became a symbol for the Hurricanes not being good enough, and in the process gained a negative vibe. But I do not think it was his fault, and this blog took my best shot at clearing his good name and restoring his image as a lovable underdog.
One of my favorite things to do as a pretend hockey analyst/writer is to play the role of GM. Who should the Canes sign or trade for? Who will the GM actually sign or trade for? Etc. Over the years, I have laid out dozens of plans that would surely have made the Canes a perennial Stanley Cup favorite. The vast majority of those never come to fruition, but just like a blind squirrel occasionally bumps into a nut, I have actually nailed a few things over time. I called one of Erik Cole’s returns and a few other things. But the read above is truly classic if you look at the chronology. At almost exactly midnight during a slow night in July, I wrote a blog saying that the Canes should sign Semin. I went on a crazy rant that said that GMs were underestimating the risk of term (I believe it was Parise and Suter who were signed to like 22-year contracts that summer) relative to any risk contained in a 1-year contract. I went on to say that Canes GM Jim Rutherford should take the risk on Semin. I remember exactly nothing in terms of rumors or any suggestion that this might happen. So I posted this at midnight and then watched the usually derogatory comments roll in starting almost immediately — until 3pm the next day – only 15 hours later – when the Carolina Hurricanes signed Alexander Semin. The longer-term situation obviously became very mixed, but he was incredibly good and well worth the risk in that initial 1-year deal. And out of all of the people who declared me an idiot, how many said ‘oops’ or ‘sorry’ or similar? I think it was 1-2 out of all of the comments and the HB messages and emails even (those only roll in for the extreme situations). It was sad commentary on accountability in anonymous type online forums, but at least on that day karma kicked on my side.
His story is still playing out and hopefully will move to Raleigh full-time pretty soon. Sergey Tolchinsky had yet another phenomenal July in Raleigh with a couple crazy good highlight reel goals in prospect camp this July. But his original story from July 2013 was even better. As a person who LOVES underdog stories, his is 1 of my all-time favorites despite the fact that it happened in exhibition games not real ones. He ultimately became a big story that summer and since then, but I wrote this fairly in the process of that happening.
Most of what I write comes at things from the angle of pretend hockey analyst – who played well, who didn’t, who should play on which line, how can the team improve, who should be traded, who shouldn’t, etc. I try to be fair, respectful and unbiased, but even if I do that successfully there can still be an air of callousness in this. But I have a high level of respect for hockey players, the commitment and often sacrifice that they make to get where they are and also an appreciation for times when hockey players are quite simply great human beings. The Canes have been blessed with so many great people over the years, and I think it has had a positive effect on the team and community’s culture. Many of these stories are great stories about heroes who were also great people, but one story that stands out is one of character in the face of adversity and something less than the fun hero plan. Zach Boychuk is still fighting for his spot as a regular NHLer and more chances to be a hero, but a couple years back he won me as a fan for his character, maturity and positive attitude as a person. To this day, I pull for Zach Boychuk to break the Canes roster and stay, and I will as long as he is in our organization. But at the same time, I feel confident saying that regardless of if the rest of his hockey career is more AHL and less NHL that he will be successful in life both in hockey and beyond (likely as a digital marketing/social media VP some day?)
I hope at least a few people enjoy these and will therefore acknowledge that not everything I write is ‘disposable.’ 🙂