Tag Archives: gomez

The Life and Times of Ryan Carter’s Moustache

About 11 months ago, giddy after the Devils OT win over the Rangers to move on to the Stanley Cup Finals, I decided that Ryan Carter’s moustache needed its own web site. The turning point for me was in Game 5, which I was forced to watch at the Sports Page in Mountain View, California (a dive bar that used to be a true dump before it was given the implicit upgrade of being near the Googleplex). Carter scored a monster goal and I tipped the bartender an integer multiple of the price of the Mountain Dew I used to wash down the remainder of my garlic fries as a thank-you for putting the game on just for my cheering pleasure. Carter’s playoff ‘stache was a statement, a symbol, a beacon of hope, and quite possibly an entire 11th grade English essay waiting to be written. In my case, it led me to stay up until 2am creating a web site in its honor.

Fast forward one foreshortened hockey season, and there is no playoff joy in New Jersey, no Devilish moustaches to rival that of our own mascot, nothing to do but jeer the Rangers and wish for hope to spring eternal in Boston. I’m retiring Carter’s stache-site, and present my attempts to write under a more amusing “nom de stache.” At this point, I’ll do anything for a hockey laugh.

Better Than A Beard (May 26, 2012)

Hi, I’m Ryan Carter’s moustache, and I’m going to the Stanely Cup Finals. Who needs a beard when you can rock the upper lip like me? I’m the most famous 16 hairs in hockey.

I’m the Frosty the Snowman of the hockey springtime: here now, down the drain only when the time is right.

My Favorite Moustaches (May 26, 2012)

Best moustache on the team: NJ Devil, by a longshot. I mean, our mascot has a porn moustache that’s nearly 3 feet wide. Clarkson might be second.

Best moustache in hockey: George Parros, Anaheim Ducks. Long before it was fashionable, and he does good charity work. Makes me proud. Certainly the most erudite stache on ice.

Best LA Kings moustache: Wil Wheaton, Kings fan, actor and writer. Love that guy (I’m a huge fan of Eureka and the Guild, okay? Need to watch something on those cross-country flights).

Fear, Stick, and Poke (May 26, 2012)

What I’m afraid of: high sticks (need to shave to get stitches in there, ask Zubbie), Gillette, Shick and Norelco products.

What fears me: Are you kidding? Henrik Lundqvist is going to have bad dreams about my hirsuite heft in front of him all summer long. 4th line on the ice, first on the upper lip.

Christmas in May (May 26, 2012)

Two of them, actually.

May is the best – for me, it’s that time of year when you’ve survived the first round of the playoffs, you know you’re not going to be some short-term, hair today-gone tomorrow affair, but the real deal. A playoff beard for those making a statement, or incapable of making more facial hair. Either way, when the rest of the world is cleaning up for the beach or graduation or whatever other warmer weather pursuits entertain, I’m looking to go public. Not like Facebook, of course.

Close runner-up: November. Exactly six months away. Start of hockey season, when normally I’d be in hibernation, forgotten on the other end of vacation, camps, and early season predictions by The Hockey News that are completely useless. November is the more formal name for Movember, the annual campaign to raise awareness for prostate and other men’s cancers.

For me, it’s like Christmas in June, because May is more like Christmas. Henrique said that last night on-ice? Rook steals all my lines.

Kovy the Krank (June 1, 2012)

Yeah, yeah, yeah, Kovy is just hilarious, sticking a tab of smelling salts right there in front of me. I’ve never been shoved into a urinal cake, but you get the idea. Pungent stuff. Harsh. Tangy. Kind of like Josefson’s gear. You spend your whole existence under Carter’s nose, you pick these things up.

The practical joker on this team was Gomez. Never played with him, but he thought he was pretty funny when he tried giving Patty a haircut. Look where that got him — Gomez has no hair now and scored one goal in what, a hundred games? Not that I’m wishing anything bad on Kovy, he’s a good guy, and he’s here for the duration, but these little stunts go both ways.

I’m getting Master Carter to replace Kovy’s pre-game playlist with the very best of Verka Serduchka:

Jump, jump indeed – what goes around the bench, Kovy…..

One At A Time (June 6, 2012)

One game at a time.

One shift at a time.

One shot at a time.

One facial hair at a time.

The difference in Game 4? Henrique decided that I’m the epitome of power, and trimmed up to match up. And he scored another game winner.

Even The Fans Voice thinks I’m funny.

Brothers In Arms (And Lips And Hair) (June 7, 2012)

As a player, or at least part of a player for part of the season, I’m not supposed to “make friends” with the media. Unbiased communications and independent thought and transparency and other SAT words (hey, I know the SAT, I went to Minnesota State Mankato, or at least Ryan did and I made the rare appearance at a frat party…).

But I just love Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record. He’s frank and funny and frankly funny most of the time. I wouldn’t mind having a locker stall next to his. If he could skate, that is. He’s like a rare combination of John Scalzi and, well, Bob Woodward. And he most definitely appreciates the finer strands of facial hair.

Must-read post-game commentary on Henrique following me to moustache-ville. Then again, if someone said highlighting your hair would bring luck, Henrique would do that too and then go score another big goal. Oh wait, that was Elias like five years ago. Both good guys, both came up big last night.

What I need to know is: Why isn’t anyone interviewing NJ Devil about his ‘stache? Right — he can’t talk, he’s the mascot. Like those body puppets in Disneyland but with a totally bad-ass attitude and cheerleaders who follow him around (so totally not LA it’s laughable). He started this whole thing in 1999, the year the Devils decided he needed to look more like Tom Selleck and less like a normal mascot.

Not Buying It (June 7, 2012)

Not hockey related. Mostly not.

A very hip Euro-bud (not Patty, Sykie, Zubie or anyone else wearing horns, k?) pointed me at a goatee shaving template. People are that spastic?

Then I thought about all of those Rangers fans leaving the Garden during the playoffs, and it kind of made sense — if you’re drunk enough, I guess a little plastic screen to keep you from looking like you were the subject of a frat prank is useful. And it probably prevents some folks from accidentally shaving off their noses, although the way the Garden smells, being nasally challenged might be a suitable win.

I Am Not Afraid (June 9, 2012)

I have no fear (mostly because I have no glands to generate whatever hormones are associated with fear, being made of hair, that is). But I have no fear of ending up in the wastebasket in my bathroom, or washed down the drain with some Barbasol. I am a bigger stache than that. Lo, though I skate through the San Fernando valley of overpaid acting talent and bad officiating, I fear not, because Gionta is with me (and he’s way bushier).

But seriously, the way people are carrying on about the 3-1 games advantage you’d think we were Napoleon planning to invade the KHL. The “1% chance of winning after 3-0” and “9% chance after 3-1” deficits are historical averages, not representative of a game played in the here and now. You can’t even look at it like a series of coin flips, hoping it comes up heads four times in a row. Coin flips are independent, the next doesn’t care about the results of the last (except in some weird sci-fi stuff that Zubie reads on trips to Canada, but that’s another story).

Successive hockey games are dependent trials. You win one, get the other guys off their stride, playing your way, making adjustments, and you improve your chances of winning the next. So if it’s 3-1, then it’s 3-2, guess what? 3-3 looks a lot more reasonable. One game, one period, one shift, one shot at a time.

Want to be afraid? If this series goes the distance, Game 7 will be made into the newest Hollywood horror flick called “Wednesday the 14th”. If Goon got to production, so can this one. I, of course, will have a cameo playing myself. Don’t tell Ryan that means I’m sticking around for the off-season. He’ll be afraid (and itchy).

Down The Drain (June 15, 2012)

“Ignominy” is such a great SAT word. Really is. And I even had a new definition for it: ending up in an interceptor pipe in Southern California, getting washed out with the sewage, loose hair and bad movie ideas that spring from the Hollywood Hills. Sigh. It was a great run, and I’m proud of my teammates for what we accomplished, as well as for truly appreciating the beauty of the singular stache when the playoff beard seems overdone.

To the fans: thank you for cheering until the last horn. For those of you (especially the ladies) who sported moustaches, I’ll only repeat what my mom said: Don’t do that to your face or you’ll look like that for the rest of your life. But stache-bearing fans are always welcome at our games. To Kevin Clark, the best arena announcer of any sport, I know my name doesn’t give you much to work with unlike a Zubrus or that eye-chart Kovulchuk, but thanks for belting me out with the pride and energy you bring to every day of your job.

July 1st I’m a free agent, but that’s a business for agents and laywers and GMs and other non-mustacioed people. I think this team has another deep run in it, and there’s nothing I would love more than to re-appear, Tony Blundetto like, on a moist April day in Newark. For now, kids, get those beach bodies in shape, forget about (hockey) life for just a little while, and don’t forget to wave those towels.

NHL Center Ice Package: I’m Sold

I broke down and ordered the NHL Center Ice package tonight. It was actually a Facebook conversation with a co-worker that convinced me it was worth the $172 for the next six months, or as he put it, less than the cost of going to two games. My interest started with a sincere interest in seeing Mike Cammalleri, Brian Gionta and Scott Gomez take on the Bruins tonight. What I got was a lingering taste of the seven-plus years Mrs. Snowman and I spent in the Boston suburbs, channeling NESN on a 17-inch TV. It’s still NESN carrying the Bruins home game, but it’s in HD — a little bit of old school Boston sports mixed with geographic diversity. Given that all of the out of market games are redirections of local coverage, I’m looking forward to getting to know the broadcast voices of the Lightning, Canadiens, Ducks, Hawks and perhaps the Flyers, as I follow some brand name as well as lesser-known but fun to watch players (Halpern, Powe and Parros, along with Madden, Toews, Gomez, Cammalleri and Gionta).

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Ou Sonts Les Habitants?

OK, my French is horrendous, my high school French teacher wants to rescind the award that she gave me upon graduation for “excellence in studies” and L’Academie Francaise is going to put a contract out on my tongue. Quelle frommage.

I don’t get the hockey writer’s negative sentiment about the Canadiens this season. Sure, goaltending is a question mark, but as Scott Clemmenson showed last season, scoring goals and playing as a team outweighs having a Vezina in the cabinet. Their top line of Gomez, Cammalleri and Gionta is far from the biggest in the NHL but it’s going to put up a lot of goals. If nothing else, they win the diversity award for having a Jewish guy with an Italian surname (yes, Cammalleri is a menorah man) and a Latino turning Francophone.

I think the Bruins-Canadiens games are going to return to the all-out, end to end, blood lust grudge matches of years ago. And those games may end up deciding who wins the Northeast Conference. I’m not a hockey writer, nor do I play one on TV or even on this blog, but I think the conventional wisdom is neither when it comes to the Habs this year.

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Organic vs Inorganic Growth

The Hockey News has a great video interview with Mike Cammalleri, newest Canadien and likely linemate of Gionta and Gomez. He addresses his performance in Calgary as a function of having Iginla on his line, what life will be like on the under-six-foot line, and how the Canadiens will find their identity. The Habs are a different team this year, growing inorganically: Gainey went shopping and brought home a mole of free agents.

Closer to home, the Devils haven’t done much on the buying front. They’re going to (have to) grow organically, based on player development and draft picks. Tom Guilitti rates the Devils prospects at this summer’s rookie camp, and I get the feeling that it might take a season or two for this strategy to pay off. Signing Zajac to a 4-year deal was a strong step; rather than having to negotiate again in a season or two (arbitration decisions cover at most two years), he’s locked up in the middle for the near term. But I still have questions about who will be skating with Elias, and who’s minding the blueline.

But I’ll also go out on a limb: I don’t think the Devils have signed any spectacular free agents this decade. They’ve made some outstanding trades: Lagenbrunner, Friesen, and Mogilny (back in 2000; he was instrumental in winning the Cup that year). Have trades become passe due to the salary cap, since GMs are forced to discount the skills they’ll receive by current and future costs of keeping those players? If so, the smarter move is to remain well under the cap at the beginning of the season, and pick up single piece parts along the way as the value equation changes. Again, I think of the Mogilny trade in 2000.

I’ll go even further: it’s hard to find evidence of big free agent signings radically changing a team’s trajectory over the course of an entire season. One or two players may add a critical leadership or skill element – Sergei Gonchar in Pittsburgh or Cammalleri in Calgary last season. But look at Gomez in New York, or even Briere in Philadelphia – success on those teams was driven more by goaltending and young prospects than by marquee players picked up on the open market. Any free agent signing has to first pass the financial sniff test, but more important is the smell of the resulting team chemistry. Ask your neighborhood beaker-head: bad inorganic chemistry really stinks (think rotten eggs).

Free Agency Bubble in Montreal

Imagine this scenario: you buy a big house, because the market is hot and you had a good year over the past twelve months. And a year or two later, your income is down, the overall housing market is down, and you’re saddled with those mortgage and tax payments, and start looking for places to scrimp. Sound familiar? I think Bob Gainey is going to be in that position next year. The NHL’s salary cap barely budged this year, but it’s an historical measure — it reflects last year’s financials, not the coming year’s anticipated revenue streams. As Lou has pointed out, and others have weighed in, next year’s NHL salary cap is likely to be lower. I know I’m paying 55% of what I paid the last two seasons for my 09-10 Devils season ticket share. Multiply that across the league, mix thoroughly with an ugly economy, and spin with the spinning of free agency that has made player jersey replicas a bad short-term investment, and cap economics becomes a bin-packing problem of the first order next year.

All that said, I’m eager to see how things play out avec les habitants. They picked up a $7M+ contract on Gomez (5′ 11″), added $6M a year for Cammalleri (5′ 9″) and another $5M for Gionta (5′ 7″), plus equally large deals on Spacek and Gill. That means the starting five skaters will soak up about half of the salary cap, and Montreal will skate one of the shortest and most likely most expensive per linear foot top lines in the NHL. I’m not dinging any of the players; I think they all got good deals or are sticking to deals that allowed them to be traded (viz, Gomez, pay attention, Heatley).

I’m going to miss Brian Gionta – scrappy, well-spoken, creative, and a role model for hard work on and off the ice. I think Gomez might thrive in Montreal, away from what was effectively a “stick it, Lou” move to the Rangers, and Cammalleri showed he changes longitude and latitude well and with outstanding production. But I keep reflecting on the 1997 Marlins – brought together to win a championship, and then scattered by financial and market forces. I hope the free agency bubble floats Montreal in the next season, because Gainey has just taken out a big mortgage on their future.

Torts Law in New York

So the Rangers decide that the remedy for having a weak farm system (Voros was a Devils development, not theirs), a pathetic blue line and management that let Jagr and Shanahan walk is to fire the coach. Makes sense. What better way to send a message to the players that if you’re not living up to (someone’s) expectations, you’re expendable. Seriously, I don’t quite get this. True, the Rangers are running like my old roommate’s 1978 Datsun (in hunter green and rust) during a Boston winter, but every team goes through rough patches. For the Rangers, the patches have come together in a quilt of horrendous hockey, but that’s a detail, right?

Want to really shake up the Blueshirts? Trade Gomez.

His non-trade clause is the inverse of the norm, naming three teams he won’t go to each year; so basically there are at least 26 takers for the 12-goal wonder. Despite being paid near the league’s upper bound on salary, he has a dozen goals this year, and only earned his first power play goal in February. He’d played close to an entire working day of power play time before putting one in the net with the man advantage. And yes, Gomez is a pivot and supposed to be making plays, but that would imply there’s a finisher somewhere on the ice to pick up the G to his A. Markus Naslund (only slightly younger than yours truly here) is the team leader with 18 goals. So Gomez is only 6 behind, but 18 goals? 60 games in? That’s a goal every other week.

So put together a nice package for Gomez, pick up a young player who can skate and finish, and let’s see what kind of Torts Law New York can make of that.

Six Things In Six Games

Six game road trip, big change in perspective. Lots can happen in a hockey work week:

1. Riding atop the Atlantic Division is such a sweet thing. I’m looking at the Hockey News’ 08-09 conference predictions with the entire division minus the Islanders ahead of the Devils. Predictions are made to be broken.

2. Shanahan still has “it”, whatever “it” may be. He gives hope to over-40 hockey heads everywhere. Two years ago, I called him a nudnik, but maybe he was just looking for better team chemistry? I yelled “dangle” so loudly that The Bubba put down the Rock Band drum sticks. It qualifies as an event.

3. If Shanahan continues to score at this pace, he’ll have more goals on the season than Gomez by about Valentine’s Day. With just one goal, Shanahan is now 300% more cost efficient than Gomez (8 goals for $10M versus 1 goal for $400K, your spreadsheet mileage may vary).

4. Travis Zajac is horribly under-rated. Everyone said “huh” when the Devils drafted him.

5. Speaking of draft oddities, how badly are the Islanders kicking themselves for passing over Parise? JP Parise (like, his father) played for the Islanders, and was respected, revered and remunerated for being a killer of Ranger dreams.

6. Patrik Elias is on Twitter, and it’s really him. A bunch of the other puck heads on Twitter trusted, then verified, but the Snowman has unnamed sources. Meanwhile, no tweets from Elias in ages. Maybe Lou found out? Something tells me Lou would tweet in all caps. Just a thought.

Not making the list: Salvador’s stomach credited with Nashville goal; Who needs shutouts when you’re winning games; We miss Pandolfo but he is a Team Player; Mike Cammalleri gives Calgary hope and consistency (actually, that may be tomorrow’s list).

Fantasy Counter-Indicator

Minor disclaimer: Just got back from vacation, after a wickedly rough December, which is why the blog has been quiet and my loud Devils thoughts have remained unvoiced. But lots of time in airports, airplanes and transit gave me reason to catch up on The Hockey News back issues, and spurred me to capture some of not so quiet thoughts that resulted.

Case in point, that of course starts with another disclaimer. I am not a fantasy hockey player, nor do I play one on TV, nor does anyone have me in their asthma league fantasy team (sorry if that one made you puke a bit). But I think I now have the perfect counter-indicator for fantasy players: The Hockey News. It’s not quite as bad as the Sports Illustrated cover curse but it’s up there.

Marty Brodeur on the cover early this year: I didn’t even finish the issue before Marty was clutching his torn tendon. That was the early warning indicator for me, the beacon that perhaps THN was so out of phase that it could be the anti-news source.

Here’s the latest: December 1 issue, page 8, the bi-weekly “plus/minus” roundup of who’s on the wax and wane on the icy plane — and you could have made serious ground up in your league by shorting the printed word. On the plus side: plaudits for Roberto Luongo, who then began fighting off injury as well. On the minus side: cross-bow shot at Patrik Elias, asking how he turned into “only” a 20-goal scorer post lockout. No sooner did the ink dry on this one than Patrik ran up a 10 game point streak and is bumping up against 20 goals before the halfway point in the season (to be precise: 17 goals in 37 games, putting him tied for 17th in the league). Perhaps they meant “top 20 goal scorer” and not just “20 goal scorer”?

It’s not so much the lack of timeliness in reporting here; it’s the complete lack of journalistic effort. “Do the work,” as critic-owner Mark Cuban would say. Elias missed the first half of the first post-lockout season recovering from a bout with Hepatitis A; last season he played more center than left wing and was involved in enough line combinations that you needed a periodic table of the Sutter elements to figure it out. Hard to score goals when you aren’t sure if you’re play making, checking, shooting or figuring out a new coach and system. If you want to make this section interesting, how about offering some insight into your comments, so perhaps those of us who actually follow the sport (and the players mentioned) can grasp some of the underlying rhyme even if it’s lacking in reason?

If THN wants to pick on someone’s lagging production in front of the net, how about Gomez? THN would no sooner pick on the Rangers and their staff than it would endorse George Parros as a good role model.

1980 Over My Shoulder

I’ve been looking for a bit of writing inspiration lately — blogging has been slow, I haven’t had the energy or creativity to devote to working on the hockey book, and work has been, well, more than a job. Perhaps it was the rainy day today, or perhaps it was the fact that I got the urge to clean up my office (it happens, usually once every 3 or 4 months). About two years ago I managed to find an autographed 1980 Olympic Men’s Hockey Team jersey, with silver autographs of gold medal winners, all save the late Herb Brooks. There was a fairly large set of them released around the 25th anniversary of the Miracle on Ice, and one ended up in my jersey collection. I finally had it framed for my birthday this year (thanks to my mother in law) and it quite simply looks nicer than the motley collection of Devils swag on my “jersey wall.” As much as I like my BC jersey with Gionta’s handwriting, the Jay Pandolfo jersey I won in a raffle, the Patrik Elias jersey with a really funny autograph (before he got serious about signing his name) and a Scott Gomez/Jamie Langenbrunner dueling penmanship sample, they just didn’t “feel” right.

The Talking Heads’ David Byrne once said that art is something you should rotate, something you should like, not permanently mount on your wall as if it’s part of the building. I think jerseys fit that profile even more tightly than paintings or posters; jerseys each tell a story, have a life or a background, give you a snapshot of time and space. Give or take a few years, the Miracle on Ice marked the first third of my life; becoming a father to a son who would later help me rekindle my passion for hockey marked the second third. There’s a nice symmetry in that, and perhaps the backwards looking perspective will get me motivated to work on the next big forward looking projects.

Sometimes you need to change your focus, and that’s what I did in hanging the 1980 sweater over my left shoulder.

Bye-Bye, Rangers

Today I experienced the delight ususally reserved for watching Duke basketball lose to North Carolina. The Rangers were out-gunned, out-hit and out-hustled for all but about 3 minutes of today’s Game 5, and they got bounced by the Penguins. It’s becoming increasingly easy to cheer for the Penguins, as they generate excitement rather than controversy. Who wants to hear about Jagr’s future in the NHL, Gomez’s monster contract that took the Rangers no further than he took the Devils, Sean Avery’s spleen venting, or listen to the Rangers whine about penalties? Another trade deadline deal – the one that brought Hossa from Atlanta to Pittsburgh – looks briliant, as Hossa gets the game and series-winning goal. Shades of Patrik Elias with that one. The Monday morning question is just how much the New York media will pick this series apart, looking to lay blame in which the guy supposedly in his career twilight (Jagr) outshone the recent imports (Gomez and Drury) when it counted.

I’m cheering for the Penguins in the Battle of Pennsylvania, and they could take either Dallas or Detroit.