Archive for the ‘NHL’ category

Average Thoughts From An Average Fan 10-29-12

October 29, 2012

It pains me to have to write the following paragraph…

One of the worst experiences in sports is watching your arch rival win.  Last night I experienced this for the second time in three years as the San Francisco Giants swept the Detroit Tigers en route to becoming the 2012 World Series Champions.  Like many other Dodgers fans it made me sick watching the black and orange dancing around in a celebratory fashion in October.  Once in 2010 was bad enough but to have to experience it again just two years later was a big time punch to the gut for fans of the azul.

Ok.  Now that I’ve got the paragraph from the “biased fan” perspective out of my system.  It’s time to express my feelings from the “mature adult” perspective.  If the players on this team weren’t wearing San Francisco Giants laundry it’s likely I would’ve been openly rooting for them to win it all.  When you look at the Giants line up on paper you don’t see a list filled with household names and superstars from top to bottom.But that’s what makes their story so great.

These guys played a great team game and everybody bought in to the goal and made whatever sacrifices were necessary to achieve it.  Isn’t that the kind of behavior we all want to see out of our favorite teams?  Is that not the kind of values we teach our kids to not only carry with them in sports but in everyday life?

I tip my hat to the Giants.  They deserve every bit of the success they achieved this year.  (Please Baseball Gods, don’t make me ever have to write that again)

Hopefully some good can come out of the Giants success as far as LA fans are concerned and that  Dodgers management will be motivated even further to step their game up and get the Dodgers back to the top of baseball’s food chain where they belong.

Another year of “The Association”  is upon us…

As another year of professional basketball entertainment gets underway on October 30.  My predictions for the season can be found here.  If you root for the Lakers, Thunder or Heat you obviously have the most to be excited about as your teams are the overwhelming favorites to hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy at the end of the season.  If you have dreams of a championship and you root for one of the other 27 teams in the league then this year is likely going to be a complete and utter failure for you.

This past Sunday night on “The Average Joe Show NBA Preview Special” I had a moment of clarity about my view of the NBA.  The “one percent” have most of the wealth while the other 99% are fighting for what’s left.

The NBA is a lot like society.  In the history of the league there have been 63 champions.  The Boston Celtics (17), Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers (16)  have combined to win 33 championships.  That means either the Celtics or Lakers have won 52.4% of the time.

If you add in the Chicago Bulls (6) and San Antonio Spurs (4) that means those four teams have combined to win it all 68.3% of the time.  That’s four teams with more than 2/3 of all the championships in the history of the league.  Between 1987-1998 there were no “one and done” champion.  Every team went back to back or in the case of the Bulls “three-peated”.

If there’s any kind of “occupy” movement that should be going on, it should be in front of the NBA’s office.

I know a new season brings new hope and optimism each year but if you’re a fan of any team not named, Lakers, Celtics, Thunder or Heat you’re simply fooling yourself.

Do I think it’s the NBA’s goal to have such competitive imbalance?  Of course not.  But by making it a players league where the individuals, not teams are marketed along with not having a hard salary cap, the league is reaping what they’ve sowed.  It’s the big markets in one corner and everyone else in the other.

This is what the NBA’s commercials should be saying, “The NBA…It’s fantastic!  (Offer does not apply to Bucks, Kings, Bobcats, Hornets, Wizards or Raptors fans).

Once again I would like to thank Gary Bettman…

For proving that he is far and away the worst commissioner in all of professional sports.  A few days ago the league announced that all November games would be cancelled.  Now I just read that their annual “Winter Classic” out door game is expected to be cancelled in the coming days.

Way to go Gary!  Only under your leadership could a sport that I love lose an entire season due to a labor dispute and less than ten years later threaten to do it again.

It’s already bad enough that fan interest has declined and the TV deal is worse off than when you took over once upon a time but now you’re once again taking games from me.  Please step down and hand over the reigns to someone that knows what they’re doing.  Stop ruining a great game.

Also to blame in this matter is Donald Fehr.  You might remember him as the man who ran the Major League Baseball Players Association when they went on strike in 1994 ultimately resulting in the cancellation of the playoffs and World Series that year.

You’re bad for sports Donald Fehr and I can’t stand you!  Please go away and stop taking things that I enjoy away from me.

Thanks for stepping into the clubhouse!

Joe Pacheco

Co-host “The Average Joe Show”

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Average Thoughts From An Average Sports Fan 7-2-12

July 2, 2012

New Atlanta Hawks General Manager Danny Ferry should win the “GM Of The Year” award.  Yes, I know we’re in the middle of the off-season, but what this guy has accomplished in less than a week on the job is awe inspiring.

Today Ferry pulled the ultimate jedi mind trick when he convinced Brooklyn Nets General Manager Billy King to take on the remaining 4 years and nearly $90 million dollars left on Joe Johnson’s over paid contract.

Who care’s who the Hawks got in return.  The fact that they no longer need to pay Johnson like he’s Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, Kevin Durant or Derrick Rose  is reason enough for Ferry to douse himself in champagne like he just won a championship.

To top the day off, Ferry then pulls off his second jedi mind trick of the day by dumping draft bust extraordinare Marvin Williams on the Utah Jazz in exchange for point guard Devin Harris, a former all-star.  Williams and Harris make roughly the same amount of money but Harris is entering the final year of his deal while Williams still has two years remaining.

Taking on Joe Johnson’s contract is the type of decision making that GM’s should lose their job over.  If I was Mikhail Prokhorov I would call King into my office and break him off like I was Donald Trump in an episode of The Apprentice.

The NBA:  Where bad contracts happen.  For further proof of that please see the  Houston Rockets signing of Chicago Bulls Center Omer Asik to a three year, $25.1 million offer sheet.  Someone please tell me again why Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey is considered such a genius.  I’ll be sitting here patiently waiting for a worth while answer.

Is anyone else sick of Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard?  I’m completely over this guy constantly changing his mind.  First he wants to get traded.  Next he says he wants to stay in Orlando and even decides to use his player option to stay for another year.  Now he wants to go to the Nets and only the Nets.  Mr. Howard, you’re a grown man who is going to make more than $18 million next season.  Quit your whining, shut up and play basketball!  Enough of you already!  To borrow a line from a tweet I read, “people can say all they want about Lebron James but at least he made a decision.”

Nice to see the Dodgers finally score some runs and pick up a 8-3 victory on Sunday over the New York Mets.  Without Kemp and Ethier this everyday line up is downright awful.  I know several of those runs yesterday were gift wrapped by New York who was doing their best Bad News Bears imitation but after all the Dodgers have been though the last dozen or so games I will take it.

In other Dodger related thoughts, getting shutout all 27 innings of a three game series against the hated San Francisco Giants has to be the darkest day ever in the proud, rich history of Dodger baseball.  It’s one thing to get swept but far worse to get shutout in all three games by your hated rivals.  I know the Dodgers count on us fans for support but could you please support us by scoring one freaking run in a three game series against the Giants?

Now that I got that off my chest, I’m excited about this new Dodgers ownership and it’s great to see them involved in player signings and trade talks again after the whole McCourt debacle.  They recently had a deal in place for Houston Astros first baseman and outfielder Carlos Lee but Lee decided not to waive his no trade clause and I’m not disappointed in the least.

At 36 years old Lee only has 5 home runs and 29 RBI through 64 games played this season.  His power years are clearly behind him and if he doesn’t have that I don’t think he does the Dodgers any good.  Although they didn’t get what they wanted, I believe Magic and company will ultimately find the right guy and it will happen sooner rather than later.

Much to the dismay of my “The Average Joe Show” co-host Joe Arrigo, i’m going to just come right out and say that right now I think Mike Trout is better than Bryce Harper.  Both players are undoubtedly legit and going to be carrying the flag for major league baseball for the next decade but the stat’s don’t lie and other than triples, Trout’s numbers are better across the board.  I know Trout has the better line up protection but at the end of the day he still has to execute and so far he has and better than his rookie counterpart.

My beloved Stanley Cup Champions (don’t think I’m not going to milk that for all it’s worth in the next year) Los Angeles Kings re-signed forward Dustin Penner to a one year, $3.25 million.  I know he was an important piece in the Kings run to their first ever championship but in the regular season he flat out sucked.  Let’s face it, Penner picked up his paycheck with a gun and ski mask.  I think $3.25 million is a bit much but I take solace in knowing that it’s just for one season.

Congrats to Spain for shutting out Italy 4-0 to take home the Euro Cup.  A great day for the Spaniards no doubt.  This American would be lying if I said I cared or watched even a minute of the tournament for that matter.  Call me in two years when the World Cup comes around because that’s the only soccer event that matters.

The NFL season is a little more than a month away with the Cardinals and Saints set to take each other on in the Hall of Fame Game on August 5.  In case there was any doubt, I am extremely excited about that.  Not for the pre-season games but to know that another football season is right around the corner.  I’m sorry but if you don’t like football you’re simply un-American.  Dare I say, even a communist.

Thanks for stepping into the clubhouse.

Listen to “The Average Joe Show” every Tuesday from 8 -9 PM Pacific on blogtalkradio.com/the-average-joe-show

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The Greatest Day Of My Sports Life

June 15, 2012

It was a day I had waited over 30 years for.  Year after year I had hope that this year would be the year.  My head knew when they had absolutely no chance, and it also knew when they had a good chance.  No matter what my head said my heart always believed there was a chance for a dream to come true.

Finally on June 11, 2012 my dream became a reality.  With a 6-1 defeat of the New Jersey Devils in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final, the Los Angeles Kings had finally reached the pinnacle of the hockey world.  They had become the Stanley Cup Champions!

The Los Angeles Kings aren’t just a team I root for, they are part of my DNA.  They are woven into the very fabric of who I am, not only as a sports fan but as a person.  They are my favorite team amongst all my favorite teams in each respective sport.

The Kings are another member of my family.  My father and uncle have been fans of the team since their inception in 1967, and they passed their passion for the Kings on to myself, my brother, and many of my cousins.

I first fell in love with the Kings when my father would take my brother and I to games at the Forum in the mid 1980’s back when guys like Marcel Dionne, Bernie Nicholls, Terry Ruskowski, Jim Fox, and Brian Engblom wore the not so attractive “Forum Blue and Gold” uniforms.

To say those teams weren’t very good was a understatement as they either didn’t make the playoffs or were bounced in the first round.  The Kings were definitely one of the worst franchises in the NHL.  While the results on the ice were lacking, the passion from the fans was not.  More so than when I went to Dodgers games or other sporting events, the loyalty from Kings fans was second to none, and I knew that I wanted to be part of it for the rest of my life.

Fast forward to the late 80’s and early 90’s.   Wayne Gretzky came to LA in a blockbuster trade, the uniforms changed to silver and black and for the arguably the first time in their history, the Kings were regarded as a respectable franchise.  Like all Kings fans I felt as though a Stanley Cup championship was inevitable.  With the greatest player in the world finally on our side instead of against us, how could a championship not be?

The 1993 season was magical.  With players like Luc Robitaille, Tomas Sandstrom, Tony Granato, Jari Kurri, Rob Blake and Kelly Hrudey playing alongside the “Great One” the Kings made a magical run all the way to the Stanley Cup Final where they faced the Montreal Canadiens.  After a 4-1 victory in Game One and a 2-1 lead with two minutes to go in Game Two, I was starting to taste the Cup.

Then the unthinkable happened.  Kings defenseman Marty McSorley was penalized for having an illegal curvature in his stick.  Montreal scored to tie the game on the ensuing power play and then won in overtime.  I felt like I had been punched in the stomach.  I felt like the Trix Rabbit when he was told that Trix were for kids.  Except this time the Hockey Gods had told me, “Silly Kings fan, the Stanley Cup is not for the sun and palm trees of Los Angeles.”

My beloved Kings eventually lost the series in five games, losing game’s 3 and 4 in overtime.  Despite the disappointment, I felt like the Kings had arrived on the scene and would be a cup contender for years to come.  Little did I know…

In between there were many more years of disappointment filled with no trips to the playoffs or first round exits on the rare occasion they got to the postseason.  It was like reliving the mid 80’s all over again.  I never stopped rooting with every ounce of my being, but like many Kings fans I would sometimes ask, “Is it ever going to happen?  Am I ever going to watch my team skate with the Stanley Cup?”

Fast forward 19 years to the 2011-2012 NHL season and I can now finally answer the word “YES!!!!”  to that question.  Not only did it happen, but it happened in one of the most unlikely yet dominant postseason runs in the history of the NHL.

The Kings went 16-4 en route to their first ever Stanley Cup championship defeating the top three seeds in the Western Conference, and in the Finals they defeated a team in New Jersey that had won three Stanley Cups since 1995 with a future hall of fame goaltender in Martin Brodeur.

Not only did they win hockey’s ultimate prize, but they did it in the truest sense of the word team.  17 different players scored at least one goal along the way.  Conn Smythe winner Jonathan Quick set playoff records by having a goals against average of 1.41 and a save percentage of .946.

As the final minutes were winding down, I thought about all the years of disappointment that were now erased.  No longer will I be haunted by Kings teams with really good players who underachieved.   No longer will I be bitter about McSorley’s curved stick and the disappointment of 1993.  No longer will I feel inferior to fans that have experienced the glory of watching their team skate with the greatest trophy in all of sports.

As I watched the final minutes of the game I thought about my parents taking me to games as a kid.  I called my father to share the moment with him.  I thanked him for making me a hockey fan and I told him I loved him.  I called my brother and one of my cousins just to say, “I can’t believe it finally happened.  The Kings are the champs!”

I yelled in pure joy several times as I saw the streamers come down from the rafters.  I clapped until my hands were sore as Captain Dustin Brown lifted the Stanley Cup high above his head in the most triumphant moment in franchise history.  This was the moment I had dreamed about coming to life right before my very eyes and let me tell you, it felt better than I could have ever imagined.

Watching the Kings win the Stanley Cup was the greatest day of my life as a sports fan.  Better than the numerous Laker championships I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy.  Better than the underdog Dodgers winning it all in 1988.  Better than anything in sports.

Kings radio announcer Nick Nickson said in the closing seconds of the Cup clinching game, “The long wait is over.  After 45 years the Kings can wear their crown.  The Los Angeles Kings have won the Stanley Cup!”

Thank you Kings for letting me share in the moment of your crowning achievement.  It’s a moment that will live with me for the rest of my life.

Thanks for stepping into the clubhouse

Follow me on twitter @joesclubhouse

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Next Stop The Second Round

April 23, 2012

The roller coaster which has been the 2011-2012 Los Angeles Kings season continued Sunday night in a series clinching 2-1 overtime victory over the top seeded Vancouver Canucks.

Jarrett Stoll’s game winner at 4:27 of the extra period propelled the eighth seeded Kings into the second round for the first time since the 2001 season where they will face the second seeded St. Louis Blues.

This series saw all the ingredients which had contributed to the Kings season long success. Strong play by goaltender Jonathan Quick, solid defense, aggressive forechecking, physical play and timely offensive contributions from several lines. In short it was a total team effort.

What makes this victory so satisfying is the Kings have not been without their share of adversity. Since being eliminated by the San Jose Sharks in the first round of the 2011 playoffs Los Angeles has endured the firing of head coach Terry Murray, fans calling for the head of General Manager Dean Lombardi after two controversial trades and a flat out terrible offensive showing that saw the Kings at or near the bottom of the league in the goals scored department all season long.

To cap things off the Kings final two games of the regular season against the San Jose Sharks saw them blow leads in both games resulting in the loss of a division title, a fall in the playoff standings from three to eight and a first round match with the Vancouver Canucks who finished the regular season 16 points better than Los Angeles.

Despite all this the players never stopped believing in themselves or the philosophies of current head coach Darryl Sutter. They showed determination, heart, grit and toughness in the dispatching of Vancouver in five games.
The tone for all of the above traits was set by the play of Kings captain Dustin Brown. Throughout the series he proved why he wears the “C”. Whether it was two shorthanded goals in game two or his message sending hit on Henrik Sedin in game three, Brown never backed down from the physical play while showing the heart of a leader. Hard to believe the Kings reportedly considered trading Brown earlier this season.

Brown lead the charge offensively while goaltender Jonathan Quick continued his season long all-star level play. Quick made big save after big save and turned the tide in the game five clincher when he stopped Daniel Sedin on a second period breakaway to keep the Kings within one goal. Quick finished the series with a record of 4-1, a goals against average of 1.59 and a save percentage of .953.

I have rooted for Kings my entire life. I wasn’t alive when Rogie Vachon was making his name in Kings history. I do however remember goaltenders like Markus Mattsson, Kelly Hrudey, Glenn Healey, Felix Potvin and Dan Cloutier. If I say nothing else with more sincerity about the Los Angeles Kings than what I’m about to write next it’s this…”I thank the hockey gods daily for Jonathan Quick!” Let me repeat this, “I thank the hockey gods daily for Jonathan Quick!!!”

Without his play the King season would have been a epic disaster. He won 35 games this year. The Kings scored the second fewest goals of any team in the NHL this season. Imagine how many Quck could have won if the Kings finished in the middle of the standings or higher.

Because of Quick and the defensive play in front of him Los Angeles has proved it can compete with any team remaining in the postseason. The only question is can the offense score enough?

Don’t get me wrong, I want a Stanley Cup for the Kings more than anything. That being said, my definition for success for this years team was an appearance in the second round. After two first round exits the previous two years preceded by a decade of no postseason hockey I felt that was a reasonable goal given the talent of the team along with recent accomplishments.

For this fan the 2011-2012 season is a success regardless of what happens from here on out. Starting this weekend and who knows for how long, the Kings are playing with house money.

But let’s not stop there, let’s continue to dream and think big in Tinseltown. A championship CAN be won here. A June parade down Figueroa to celebrate the accomplishments of a hockey team IS possible. A first round elimination of the team with the best regular season record was a crowning achievement but a Stanley Cup would be the ultimate jewel in the crown.

Thanks for stepping into the clubhouse.

Follow me on twitter @joesclubhouse

Ramblings Of A Sports Fanatic

March 1, 2012

Thank the good lord for someone like Jeremy Lin and the wave of  “Linsanity” that follows in his wake for rescuing what was a flat-out hideous NBA season (at least from an offensive stand point).  I think his story is great from being drafted out of Harvard to having been cut by not one but two NBA teams before getting a chance to play due to injuries in New York.  I love to root for guys like this.  Like his NFL counter part Tim Tebow, he is just a good person.  I don’t care about the deficiencies in their respective games.  So what if Lin commits a few turnovers or if Tebow’s mechanics need a little work?  These guys make the games they participate in more exciting and they commit awesome acts of kindness to those who’s lives they come across.  Why should I not root for guy’s like that?

Is it just me or is Carmelo Anthony the Stephon Marbury of today’s NBA?  Marbury was a really good individual talent who could not make his abilities translate into better team results.  Teams routinely got better after he left.  Denver has become a better team since they traded Anthony to the Knicks.  New York is 18-18 this season.  They’re 6-4 without Anthony in the line up including the “Birth of Linsanity” stretch in which they went 6-1 in that time with Anthony sidelined.   If you’re doing the math at home New York is 12-14 in game’s in which Anthony’s played.  Smells an awful lot like a Marbury effect if you ask me.

The Lakers are absolutely doing the right thing by rejecting a reported trade offer from Minnesota that would send them small forward Michael Beasley in exchange for the highest of one of their two first round picks in the 2012 draft.  As it stands right now LA is already over the salary cap and doesn’t need to add more to the payroll.  Now if you can get Beasley in exchange for a player or two either with or without a draft pick, that’s a different story.  First priority for the Lakers should be a point guard.  They’re getting used and abused at that position on a nightly basis.

As  Los Angeles Kings fan, I have mixed emotions on the recent trade that brought them forward Jeff Carter and sent defenseman Jack Johnson to Columbus along with a first round pick in either 2012 or 2013.  I’m excited that Carter is part of the team and I hope that he and Mike Richards can rekindle the magic they had together in Philadelphia in which the Flyers made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals.  The Kings had to do something to help their anemic offense so I support the move from that perspective.  I just hate that Jack Johnson had to be the sacrificial lamb.

I’m not from Sacramento and likely am never going to be a Sacramento Kings fan nor have any emotional involvement with the team.  On that note, I thought it was absolutely wonderful that both the Maloofs and the city came to an agreement on building the team a new arena in the downtown area which will keep the Kings in California’s capital city.  There is arguably no NBA city who loves their team more than the fans of Sacramento love their Kings.  Had they relocated a grave injustice would’ve been committed.

What’s up with Dwayne Wade’s foul on Kobe Bryant in the all-star game last weekend?  Hello Mr Wade, it’s a freaking exhibition game!  Not the playoffs or even regular season and unlike that stupid clause in Major League Baseball’s all-star game, home court in the finals was not being decided.

This weekend when Miami visits the Lakers I would send either Matt Barnes or Metta World Peace to and “take care of business” with Mr. Wade.  Preferably World Peace because he has played so bad all season his potential ejection for a flagrant foul would be doing the Lakers a favor.

I don’t know about the rest of you but I really miss football.

I still can’t believe that Juan Pablo Montoya crashed into one of those trucks that dry the track on a yellow flag during the Daytona 500.  That’s an incident that even Hollywood couldn’t make up.

Thanks for stepping into the clubhouse.

Follow me on twitter @joesclubhouse

http://www.joesclubhouse.com

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Thank You New York Giants And Other Thoughts…

January 24, 2012

I don’t know about the rest of you, but the first thing I need to do is thank Kyle Williams and the New York Giants from saving me from a nightmare Super Bowl scenario.  Thanks to Williams second punt return snafu leading to a New York game winning field goal in overtime I now have a team to root for in the Super Bowl.

A big thumbs down goes to Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Lee Evans and kicker Billy Cundiff.  Because of Evans inability to hold on to a touchdown pass and Cundiff’s best Ray Finkle imitation I have to watch perhaps my least favorite team in the NFL, the New England Patriots gets a shot at yet another championship.

I would’ve liked to have seen New York and Baltimore in the Super Bowl.  Had that been the case all I would’ve been rooting for is a good game.  But I guess having a good guy/bad guy scenario works just as well.  At least it wasn’t the Patriots against the 49ers.  That scenario would’ve been a nightmare for this Raider fan.  Had been that situation I probably would’ve been rooting for New England because at least their gloating would have been taking place three times zones away.  Since I live in central California the prospect of seeing a gloating San Francisco fan on a near daily basis would’ve been too much to handle.

“Who’s got it worse than us?” – Sincerely, Kyle Williams, Lee Evans and Billy Cundiff

All in all I’m happy the NBA is back but frankly it’s painful to watch.  A couple of weeks ago the Bulls and Raptors play to a 77-64 final.  A few nights later the Mavericks and Lakers try to set the game back even further with a 73-70 final.  Last night the Magic single-handedly sent the game back to the Naismith era by scoring only 56 points in a game.

I know the shortened schedule is the reason for some bizarre happenings and some less than top quality performances but the three examples I just mentioned are inexcusable.  Isn’t there any way to fine these teams a games pay?  Clearly they didn’t show up on those respective nights.

After a 10-8 start that includes a 1-6 road record I completely overestimated the Lakers ability to contend for a title.  No team with that bad of a road record can expect to be playing for anything worth while this season except for a higher draft pick.

I can’t figure out if it’s the team needing time to adjust to a new offensive scheme or the team not having the right player personnel to properly execute the new scheme.  One thing I do know is that a team with Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum should not be this painful to watch on the offensive end.  With the way Bryant is jacking up shots, I feel like I’m watching the 2005-2006 or 2006-2007 Lakers and I don’t understand why.  This team is way more talented than those that featured such legendary never was’ as Kwame Brown and Smush Parker.

How about the Detroit Tigers coming out of nowhere to sign first baseman Prince Fielder?  The deal is for nine years and worth $214 million.  How’s that for protection for Miguel Cabrera who is a top two or three hitter in his own right?  Along with what the Angels and Yankees have done this off-season, the race for the AL Pennant is down to three teams despite pitchers and catchers not reporting for a little less than a month from now.

Today the Raiders hired former Broncos Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen as their new head coach. For Oakland this was the first head coach to be hired with a defensive background since John Madden in the late 60’s.  I don’t know much about Allen but I was a fan of the hiring General Manager Reggie McKenzie so “In Reggie I Trust”.

I’ve been a Los Angeles Kings fan for my entire life and I never ever thought I would see the day that a Kings goaltender would make an all-star team.  So a big congratulations goes to Jonathan Quick for his outstanding season thus far.  Without the outstanding play of Quick, Los Angeles General Manager Dean Lombardi would be standing in the unemployment right along side former head coach Terry Murray.

Thanks for stepping into the clubhouse.

Follow me on twitter @joesclubhouse

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Silver On The Scoreboard, Gold In Our Hearts

March 2, 2010

For two weeks the U.S. Men’s Hockey Team took our nation on a magic journey.  Led by the  magnificent play of goaltender Ryan Miller, forward Zach Parise and defenseman Brian Rafalski they came within one win of capturing the gold medal.

Although the NHL season resumed last night with one game between the Detroit Red Wings and the Colorado Avalanche, the full schedule of games resumes this evening.  Before their accomplishments fade too far into the rear view mirror, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on how special their achievements were in capturing the silver medal.

Coming into the Olympics, many people picked the U.S. to finish in the neighborhood of fourth or fifth.  While there were many talented players that comprised the roster, not many felt that talent compared with the likes of Canada, Russia or Sweden.

Although the U.S. did not play Russia or Sweden, they fought with the heart of a champion and defeated every team they played along the way to earning a spot in the gold medal game, including Canada in the preliminary rounds.  For those who watched the Americans 5-3 win over their Canadian rivals a little over a week ago, the U.S. was outplayed in just about every aspect of the game besides on the scoreboard.  It was at that moment I truly believed the Americans could capture gold.  They showed the character of champions which was to find a way to win a game they probably shouldn’t have.

With every Miller save or a big goal, the U.S. made us believe more and more that anything was possible including a gold medal.  This team refused to listen to the critics who didn’t give them much of a chance and never stopped showing the heart of a champion.

That was never more evident when amidst a frenzied largely pro-Canadian crowd that could taste victory, Parise scored with 24 seconds remaining in the game to tie the score 2-2, send the game into overtime and send a shock wave throughout Vancouver and all of Canada.  Although Sidney Crosby became a Canadian hero with the overtime goal that gave Canada the gold medal, the U.S. and its fans could hang their head up high and be proud of the heart their team showed on the way to earning the silver medal.

As my beloved L.A. Kings resume their NHL schedule tonight in Dallas against the Stars, I’ll go back to dreaming of a moment that will one day be filled with Stanley Cup glory.  The American hockey fan will once again be divided amongst the allegiances for their respective teams.  As we watch our teams fight to become champions, let us not forget that for two weeks, we were all fans of one team.  A team that had character, heart and a belief in itself to win gold.  Thank you for the ride U.S. Men’s hockey and for showing all of us what a beautiful sport hockey can be.