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The Blue and White Blog Game 4: Singing the HNIC Blues

Well I didn’t think this team would go 82-0-0. But that last game stung. High-scoring game, defensive lapses, soft-goals, bone-headed plays, letting rats get under their skin and beautiful offensive play wasted. That game checked all of the boxes for a typical Leafs loss. And why did it have to be against Montreal? I hate Montreal.

The Leafs are a team that is terrifying when firing on all cylinders and terrifying in a different way when the other team has momentum. Toronto seemingly gives up as many chances as it gets and that will catch up to you over a full season of hockey.

This week the Leafs have the Cup champion Blues, President’s Trophy winning Lightning and red hot Red Wings all on deck. Forget the back-up goalie, forget any youth or inexperience, forget the pressure to perform this year. Quit the excuses. A good week will do wonders to wash away the bitter taste Saturday night’s  loss against the Canadiens.

 

Tonight’s Game

This might be stupid to say about the reigning Stanley Cup champions, but this team is so good. The Blues are just so fast, physical and deep. Toronto is generally regarded as one of the deepest at the centre position but, with Brayden Schenn, Ryan O’Reilly, Tyler Bozak and Oskar Sundqvist down the middle,  St. Louis matches up very well.

While they have an established core of Tarasenko, O’Reilly, Schenn, Pitrangelo, Schwartz and Parayko, there’s plenty of youth coming up that can potentially extend St. Louis’ championship window. Robert Thomas, Jordan Binnington, Vince Dunn, Zach Sanford and a healthy Robbie Fabbri should take steps forward which will make this team even better. What a scary thought.

Players of Interest

Kasperi Kapanen

This guy needs to give us more. He’s been a fine penalty killer (stick throwing aside) and has shown a bit of sand paper. But it’s no secret that the Tavares-Marner line just hasn’t clicked the same way that it did when Hyman was on the left wing. Now the season is young and Kapanen is a natural right winger learning the ins and outs of the left side. But less than a week ago I was in a heated debate with my brother defending Kapanen over Hyman and the returns have not been promising.

I’m in the camp that thinks Hyman is a fourth liner at best and that Kapanen has some real jam. He’s one of the fastest players in the NHL and plays the game with a little chip on his shoulders. The biggest knock is his hands can’t catch up to his feet. I’m a big Kappy apologist but he simply needs to show a bit more.

Jordan Binnington

Anytime a rookie/young goalie gets hot in the playoffs I’m always interested to see how they follow it up. Binnington was an absolute animal in 32 regular season games and 26 playoff games last season. The Blues do not win the Stanley Cup last year without him.

But we’ve seen this song and dance before. Not every rookie goalie that wins the Cup ends up being Ken Dryden. Antti Niemi never quite replicated his Stanley Cup form after leaving Chicago. Matt Murray hasn’t been the dominant goalie people thought he’d be since Fleury left town. Playing 50+ regular season games and having enough gas in the tank for an extended playoff run is incredibly difficult. It will be interesting to see if Binnington is up to the task.

The Third Line

The Mikheyev-Kerfoot-Moore trio has been Toronto’s most effective unit on both ends of the ice so far. All three players have the offensive touch to potentially play up in the line-up and all three chase the puck like a dog on a bone. The speed and sand-paper makes them a tough match-up for other team’s third lines which is a huge advantage for Toronto. Let’s just hope Babs doesn’t get too excited and start force-feeding them 20+ minutes a night.

The Best Third Pairing in Hockey

I’m not talking about Sandin and Holl. St. Louis just has an embarrassment of riches that they can trot out Vince Dunn and Justin Faulk as their third pairing. The game just becomes increasingly tougher for the opposition when there’s not real weak match-up to pick on. Just take a look at this blueline:

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Simply unfair

Remember Those Leafs?

Tyler Bozak, Carl Gunnarson, Alex Steen

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The Leafs have been a bit of a feeder system for the Blues over the years.

The 2008 trade of Steen and Carlo Coliacovo for Lee Stempniak was a kick in the teeth. Steen has hit the 20 goal mark four times for the Blues (career-high 33 in 68 games in 2013-14) and has eclipsed 50 points five times. Stempniak had 24 total goals in 123 games over two mediocre seasons with the Leafs.

Gannarson made it to St. Louis by way of a trade for Roman Polak in 2014. Not a brutal trade but Gunnarson has been a steady top 4 defenseman for the Blues while Polak was a big pylon and the bane of my existence. Scratch that, it was a brutal trade.

Last year Bozak left in a free agency shuffle that saw Toronto reel in John Tavares with JVR and Bozak moving on with no real room in Toronto’s budget. Boz Lightyear ended up winning a Cup right away with St. Louis which stung, but good on him. He was always miscast as a top line centre with Toronto but produced with Phil Kessel in spite of the haters.

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Final Thoughts

Saturday’s loss was the type of deflating loss that felt like it could pile on and develop into a bit of a slide. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that and Toronto shows a bit of a bounce-back at home tonight. On a brighter note here, watch some clips of Auston Matthews goals this season:

 

Jeez. I’ll need to hose myself off. On stir fry night no less.

Jersday Blog March 29, 2019

Back to back weeks I’ve posted this blog a day late. Sometimes life gets in the way even when jerseys are at stake. Last week I got caught up in March Madness. This week I had the flu.

The Round-Up

Roy Halladay Powder Blue Throwback Blue Jays Jersey

This puppy came in from China just in time for Opening Day. The Toronto Blue Jays Opening Day starter has been a real revolving door since they traded Halladay to the Phillies in 2010.

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What a wrecking crew. The fact that Doc pitched seven consecutive Opening Days is a testament to his longevity and dominance. He was truly the GOAT of Blue Jays pitchers. Read more

Jersday Blog March 14, 2019

The Round-Up

John Tavares Toronto Maple Leafs St. Pats

Any other week this would’ve won Jersey of the Week. This is by far the strongest field of submissions that I’ve had so  unfortunately it falls into the category of the “also ran”. If I was a complete Leafs homer I would’ve named it the winner, but I don’t let bias taint the jersey game. Big integrity move on my part.

For my money the Leafs have the best St. Patrick’s day set-up in sports. Every other team just falls back on the “make our regular jerseys green” play but the Leafs can just dust off the retro Toronto St. Pats out of the closet and print some money. Toronto St. Pat’s gear is on another tier with Boston Celtics and Notre Dame Fighting Irish apparel for St. Patty’s day outfits.

While we’re on the subject of St. Patrick’s Day, the viral video that my buddy took on St. Paddy’s Day two years ago ended up on Ellen this week. Shout out to Blake the man behind the camera. Shout out to the guy that got hit by the door. Apparently he was fine. Shout out to my hair cut seeing as the top of my head takes up 1/4 of the screen. Shout to Adam “Charlie Conway” Cooke.

Michigan Wolverines Baseball Starter Brand

You can tell that this puppy came straight from the thrift shop and it is fantastic. This jersey is pure grit. I’m always a big proponent of pinstripes on a baseball jersey and there is no exception here.

Go Blue.

Alex Pietrangelo St. Louis Blues 2008-2016 Alternate

The Original 6 teams get a lot of lip service in the “best jerseys in hockey” conversation. Everybody’s favourite looks seem the be the classics or the ugly 90’s throwbacks. The St. Louis Blues sneaky have one of the sharpest set-ups in hockey with some great names that you can throw on the back of the jerseys. Chris Pronger, Adam Oates, Wayne Gretzky, Brett Hull, Keith Tkachuk, Curtis Joseph, Vladimir Tarasenko. This Pietrangelo 3rd jersey hits the right notes.

Jordan Eberle Edmonton Oilers 2015-2017 Reebok Alternate

Remember when the Oilers traded Eberle for Ryan Strome? Remember when the Oilers traded the first round pick that would become Matthew Barzal for Griffin Reinhart? Remember when the Oilers traded Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson.

These trades are the result of Chiarelli making a deal with the devil to win 2015’s McDavid lottery. How in the world can you ice a team that currently sits 22nd in goals for per game in spite of McDavid’s 100 points in 66 games? What a mess. They have the best player in the world, all of those Stanley Cups, a new arena and sweet jerseys so at least they’re a hot mess.

Jamal Murray Denver Nuggets

The pride of Kitchener, Ontario. You know, growing up within a stone’s throw of KW, I know people that played against Jamal Murray in highschool. He’s lucky that Grand River High School didn’t make a trip down to the Falcon’s Nest in Fergus during my reign as chief towel waver and high fiver. He may not have made the NBA after I was through with him. I have derailed a few careers with my relentless “D What?” “Defense!” chants.

Dennis Rodman Chicago Bulls 

I believe it is fair to assume that Dennis Rodman is the only person on this planet to date Madonna, brunch with Kim Jong Un and lead the NBA in rebounds per game for seven straight seasons. This guy was/is legitimately a complete psychopath. Hell of a basketball player though.

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Christian Laettner Duke Blue Devils

March Madness is just around the corner so this jersey is perfect. Everybody hates Christian Laettner! This guy was the original Duke villain that blazed the trail for the likes of Grayson Allen and JJ Reddick. This guy was known for stomping on your hearts with big shots and… literally stomping on people.

Hate him if you will, but sports needs villains and Christian Laettner was one of the best college players of all-time and one of the biggest tools. Also, Christian Laettner also holds the rare distinction as the worst player on the 1992 Dream Team. The US men’s Olympic team was only going to take one college player and Chuck Daly and his coaching staff (Coach K) the Duke phenom over LSU’s Shaquille O’Neal (ever heard of him?). Unbelievable.

Jersey of the Week

Claude Giroux Berlin Polar Bears

I was ready to hand jersey of the week to Christian Laettner until this one hit my timeline. This is the first Deutsche Eishockey Liga jersey we’ve seen and it’s a beauty. During the 2012-13 NHL lockout Giroux racked up 19 points in 9 games with the Polar Bears on a team that also featured Flyers teammate Danny Briere. Any jersey of a North American All-Star on an overseas team’s jersey is a contender for Jersey of the Week. If someone hits me with a Davos HC Joe Thornton jersey that will be an automatic win.

Jersey of the Week Scoreboard:

1. @Acooksy19: 5
T2. @beamerr9: 2
T2. @wilsondrew17: 2
T3. @jefftrahan13: 1
T3. @phillydip4: 1

The Weekly Jersey Dump

 

These jerseys are kind of awesome. The overall look would look better with white pants but the jerseys themselves are a huge look.

 

Even the Raptors practice jerseys are hot. I’ll take a Spicy P Siakam OVO practice jersey please.

These are the perfect kind of ugly. This hits the Shane Doan-Randy Johnson sweet spot.

Whoever greenlit this must be a “fun” math teacher. Quit trying to make pi day happen. You can’t make me care about math.

 

 

Burning jerseys is so passe. I like that people are starting to get more creative in disgruntled jersey destruction.

Oof. As someone that owns a Colby Rasmus, Luke Schenn and Cory Joseph jersey this tweet hits home.

Jersday Blog February 7, 2019

The Round-Up

Mitch Marner Toronto Maple Leafs Jersey

Now that Matthews is locked up the question on every Leaf fans mind has to be: “do we have enough room for Jake Gardiner?”

Kidding aside, I’m not concerned on whether or not Marner will sign. Dubas already spent half a year fighting Nylander tooth and nail. There is just no reality where Nylander is a Leaf and Marner isn’t.

Now Auston Mathews’ five year $58,170,000 will be a negotiation point but, regardless of how unreal Marn Dog has been, I can’t see him signing for more than the franchise center. For comparison’s sake here’s every RW contract over $6mil over the past five years.

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I’m torn on what I want a Mitch Marner contract to look like. If they signed him to the same Matthews deal like the Blackhawks did with Toews-Kane in 2014, that means Matthews, Nylander and Marner will all be UFAs in the same summer. But anything with more term would be more expensive for every UFA season the Leafs buy him for.

Either way, buckle up.

Pierre-Luc Dubois Columbus Blue Jackets Jersey

What a pick. What a jersey. I’m a big fan of Columbus’ current digs and Dubois looks like the number 1 center Jarmo Kekalainen promised. I was personally skeptical that they took Dubois over Jesse Puljujarvi but that doubt was quickly put to rest. Check this shit out:

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Take another L Chiarelli

Paul Pierce Boston Celtics Alternate Jersey

Here’s my power ranking of Boston Celtics in order of jersability (the amount of heat radiating from a jersey):
1. Larry Legend
2. Paul “The Truth” Pierce
3. KG
4. Bill Russell
5. Brian Scalabrine
6. Ray Allen
7. Kevin McHale
8. Glen “Big Baby” Davis
9. Rajon Rondo
10. Tony Allen
11. Kris Humphries
12. Isaiah Thomas
13. Gerald Green
14. Kendrick Perkins
15. Jared Sullinger
16. Dominique Wilkins
17. Shaq
18. Darko Milicic
19. Popeye Jones
20. Kyrie Irving

Jersey of the Week

Shane McMahon WWE

Here comes the money!

If you have a WWE jersey you’re definitely more inclined to start wrastling people when you’re drunk. RKO’s, throwing people through tables, Stone Cold beer shower and yelling “suck my dick”. There’s definitely a type.

I’m personally not a big wrestling guy but I respect the art of the sport. Back when I used to play Smackdown Vs. Raw on PS2 I was a big Rey Mysterio and Big Show guy. The 619 into The Showstopper Slam was the ultimate tag team.

The Weekly News Dump

This guy sucks

Shooting straight from the hip, Oakland, Detroit, Colorado, Royals and White Sox brought the heat. Just when I think I have enough hats I get roped back in.

Zut alore… Who cares

These Stadium Series jerseys stink out loud

The Jersday Blog January 3, 2019

The Round-Up

Boston Bruins Winter Classic Jersey

I can’t get over how nice these jerseys are. I’m a sucker for outdoor games but missed this year’s for driving home from my cottage for four hours. If anyone on Redstone Lake in Haliburton took a peak at the lake on New Years Eve they would’ve been treated to a real outdoor game. Matt Duchene must’ve heard the Waind brothers were tearing up some outdoor puck on the lake and hurried back to Ottawa.

Tremaine Edmunds Buffalo Bills Jersey

The 16th overall pick in 2018, Edmunds was one of the lone bright spots for the Bills in 2018. The rookie linebacker finished off the season strong and ended up locking down December’s Defensive Rookie of the Month.

There aren’t a tonne of guys worth getting a jersey of in Bills Mafia these days. LeSean McCoy is now a dangerous combination of washed-up and controversial and there’s really no other impactful playmakers. This leaves a handful of young guys like Shaq Lawson, Edmunds and Josh Allen who I’d be willing to shell out some jersey money on.

Khalil Mack Chicago Bears Jersey

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This jersey gets the blood pumping. The Bears are an absolute wagon this year and Mack’s the one pulling it. While you can’t credit Mack for all of Chicago’s turnaround, he certainly deserves his fair share of praise. With Trubisky in year two of a four year contract, the Bears have a window to surround a QB on a rookie contract with an elite supporting cast. Call it the anti-Packers model or the bizarro Jaguars reality where Bortles (bless his soul) doesn’t completely wet the bed. Regardless of where the Bears end up, Chicago fans should be pumped that they get a front row seat to the game’s best pass-rusher. Smell ya Jon Gruden.

Deanna Nolan Tulsa Shock Jersey

Credit to my brother for the off-the-board jersey selection. As he recalls it, he saw this WNBA jersey at a thrift shop for $10 and “had to pop on it.” A quick Wikipedia look tells me that apparently Deanna Nolan was actually pretty good.

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Well I’ll be.

Jersey of the Week

Dirk Nowitzki Dallas Mavericks Adidas Hard Court Classic Jersey

Pour one out for the lanky German. As Dirk’s career winds down I can’t help but get choked up. Dirk and Vince are the only two players left who have been in the league since I’ve started watching hoops. Every fadeaway I hit in beer pong or in the driveway will be in the name of Dirk.

This era of Mavs jerseys are easily their best. Way better than the blue and grey on navy blue that they’ve been rocking for the past 15ish years. Check out this picture:

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Yup that’s the good stuff.

Jersey Dump

I don’t know how accurate this list could be. I’m not seeing Tyrod Taylor, Blake Bortles or Kyle Williams.

What a weird turn the Antonio Brown saga made. No Le’Veon Bell, soon to be no Brown and Big Ben is a couple years away from retirement. The Steelers are (finally) almost done.

Huge fan of this logo. Almost bought one of these bad boys on a hat a couple of years ago only to back out to save money… Only to buy 3 hats a month later.

These Winter Classics jerseys were some of the best of any of the games. Right up there with 2011’s Pittsburgh blues and Washington’s star-spangled throwbacks.

I once wore a hoodie under my baseball jersey while playing in a game in -5 degree celsius weather. That’s Canada for you. I was a combination of visionary and complete duster.

I respect the move.

The Big Aristotle puts asses in the seats.

TBH these two don’t look that alike. Maybe if enough people say that I look like Boban Marjanovic he’ll give me a game-worn jersey.

The Jersday Blog December 6, 2018

The Jersey Round-Up

Brock Badgers Basketball Jersey

Last year the Badger’s mens basketball team was second in the OUA and first in the Western Conference with a record of 21-3 which was good enough to qualify for the USports championship as the seventh seed in Canada. This year’s team is 7-4 and the word on the street is the team looks noticeably worse.

Some would say the difference this year is the fact that face of the program Dani Elgadi graduated to play pro basketball in Germany. Others would point to the fact that unofficial season ticket-holders Adam and I haven’t been to a game since last season. It’s tough to say which is the reason.

Mats Sundin Quebec Nodiques Jersey

Zut alors what a jersey. Pour one out for the Nordiques team that never was. When the Nordiques got bounced to Colorado in 1995, they were the smallest market in the NHL and the second smallest market to Green Bay of the Big 4 Leagues. The unfortunate part is the team was on the upswing and won North East Division with a 30-13-5 record in the lockout shortened 1994-95 season. The following year the Avalanche won the 1996 Cup with this beauty of a roster:

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Imagine how much crazier this roster would’ve been had the Nordiques not traded a 22 year-old Mats Sundin for 1 season of Wendel Clark?

Teemu Selanne Winnipeg Jets Jersey

The Finnish Flash. 76 goals and 132 points as rookie. Teemu was a sick sick puppy. While he may have played more seasons as a Duck and won a Cup in Anaheim, Winnipeg is where it all started. While I’m a big fan of the Winnipeg Jets revamped look, their old look is an absolute classic.

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Throwback to better days

Aaron Sanchez Toronto Blue Jays Jersey

Troy Tulowitzki Toronto Blue Jays Jersey

It was just over three years ago that the Blue Jays traded for the best shortstop in the game, 22 year-old Aaron Sanchez was throwing bullets from the bullpen and the Blue Jays were the hottest team in baseball heading into the 2013 playoffs.

Here’s my defense of the Tulowitzki purchase: Tulo was my favourite non-Blue Jay before the trade, he had been one of the best shortstops in baseball and the Jays shop at the Rogers Center was sold out of Donaldson, Bautista, and Encarnacion. Right from the get go Tulo has been a let down and now he gets paid a lot of money to chill on the DL. As long as I have money in my bank account I’ll continue to buy bad jerseys.

As for Sanchez, when he doesn’t have blister issues, has shown the ability of an ace. He’s shown some command issues and might traded for prospects that better fit the Blue Jays timeline. But when he’s on, he has one of the best fastball curveball combos out there.

The Jays might be kind of crappy right now but at least we’ve had a few good seasons in the last 2 decades.

Drew Bledsoe Buffalo Bills Black Reebok Jersey

“The guy before Brady”. The four-time Pro Bowler has become a footnote in the story of the Bellichick era. If he didn’t have a net worth estimated at $48 million I’d actually feel bad that Bledsoe got cucked by Tom Brady.

This gem of a jersey screams early 2000’s. While I love the Bufflo Bills colour scheme and would puke if this were their current jerseys, ugly throwbacks always play. This is some very nice tailgate attire.

Boston Bruins Classic Dark and 1995/96 – 2005/06 Alternate Bear Jerseys

As much as I hate the Bruins I also hate how much I like their jerseys. The jersey on the left was their main jersey in the 80’s up until 95. This jersey was worn by legends like Ray Bourque, Cam Neely and Happy Gilmore.

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As for the Pooh Bear Jersey, as I’ve said above, ugly throwback jerseys always play. I’d rock a Jumbo Joe Thornton Pooh Bear jersey in a heart beat. Bruins hate aside they have some clean looks.

Jersey Dump

Drake doesn’t wear nobodies. This bodes well for RJ “the real Maple Jordan” Barrett.

Very cool.

Nike>Under Armour any day of the week.

#freeBortles

I kind of want a Jerry Garcia Grateful Dead jersey now.

Didn’t realize Jrue had two brothers.

Best of Seattle Concept Jerseys

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Bench Life Jersey Thursdays October 18th, 2018

This is the third weekly instalment of my “Jersey Thursdays” blog series. Last week we had some nice jersey submissions and an impromptu Rance Mulliniks scouting report. With this week being the start of the NBA regular season I took a more NBA-centred approach to this blog. The readership is starting to go up for these blogs but it seems like the audience participation has been limited to guys that write for this site. That being said, I’m just going to lower my pad level and keep moving the chains.

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