Tuesday, February 22, 2011

"The moment is yours." - February 22, 1980 - Remembering the "Miracle on Ice"



Thirty-one years ago today, at the Lake Placid Olympics, an American ice hockey team made up of a combination of amateur and collegiate players took the ice against the Soviet Union's hockey juggernaut - and won a major victory en route to winning gold.

To set the stage where hockey was: the NHL was still dominated by Canadian players in 1980. The Colorado Avalanche were still the Quebec Nordiques, the Carolina Hurricanes were still the Hartford Whalers, the Phoenix Coyotes were still the Winnepeg Jets, all freshly admitted from the WHL to the NHL along with the Edmonton Oilers. The Calagary Flames were still playing as the Atlanta Flames, the Dallas Stars were still the Minnesota North Stars. There were no NHL franchises in Ottawa, Raleigh, Florida (Sunrise OR Tampa Bay), Columbus, Nashville, Anaheim, or San Jose. NHL divisions still had had names like Smythe, Norris, Adams and Patrick. Wayne Gretzky was playing his rookie year in the NHL. European players in the NHL were still few and far between; the only Russians who played were those who had defected.

The Soviet team was the favorite to win gold; they'd won it every year since 1964. Their team members were classified as amateurs for the Olympics - the IOC did not allow professional athletes to compete until 1986 - but they were essentially professional, having access to world-class training facilities and played in a top-end league in Russia. Soviet teams regularly beat NHL teams in exhibition games prior to the 1980 Olympics.

By contrast, U.S. ice hockey coach Herb Brooks held final team tryouts in Colorado Springs the summer before the Olympics. Only one player, Buzz Schneider, returned from the 1976 Olympic team. Of the final 20 on the Olympic roster, nine had played at the University of Minnesota (13 of the 20 players were born in Minnesota as well), and four had played for Boston University.

The American team was an underdog in every sense of the word going into the Olympics; but Brooks had been thorough in his preparations - his weeding-out process had included psychological testing. Brooks also knew that he had to get them on a united mindset, so he challenged them constantly. And, if the team couldn't beat other teams on skill alone, then he was going to emphasize what many pro hockey teams favor today, a "hybrid" style of conditioning, speed, and discipline.

To understand the importance of this win - and how sports can influence the national psyche - one must understand the politics of U.S.-Soviet relations in 1980.

Jimmy Carter was still President, and the resurging Cold War was leading to intensified relations between the two countries. As a way to protest the December 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, President Carter was still in the process of considering boycotting the 1980 Summer Olympics, which would be held in Moscow (this was when Summer and Winter Olympics still ran during the same year). International tensions ran high. The 1970s were marked by the Vietnam War, Watergate, unemployment, an energy crisis, and rampant inflation.

It was all this political backdrop that gave the U.S.-U.S.S.R hockey game so much weight, so much impact.

Consider, too, how much technology and information has changed in 31 years. In 1980, less than 20% of American homes had cable TV - and cable TV at the time was a far cry from the 500+ channel overload that it is today. There were 28 national networks in 1980, and less than 4% of U.S. homes owned a VCR.  The launch of MTV was still a year and a half away. BASIC was still a top computer programming language; and personal computers and the internet were still in the realm of science fiction for most people.

Under those circumstances, when the Olympics rolled around, it was a major TV event. Due to the popularity of the Games, other networks knew they could not compete for ratings, so the Olympics took center stage. And while most people thought they watched this famous game live, it was in fact on a three-hour tape delay, although most people didn't know the outcome of the game prior to watching it.

During a pre-Olympics exhibition game at Madison Square Garden, the Soviets had beaten the U.S. 10-3. The Russians were poised to capture yet another gold.

And then... the game happened. All of Brooks' coaching and mental preparation for his team fell into place, and despite the Soviets dominating most of the game, and being outshot 39-16, the amazing happened: the Americans won, 4-3. Al Michaels' final call of the game has gone down in international sports history alongside this incredible game:

"Eleven seconds. You got ten seconds, the countdown going on right now. Five seconds left in the game! Do you believe in miracles? Yes!"

The game wasn't the gold-medal round. The U.S. team still had to beat Finland, which they did, 4-2. But the U.S.-U.S.S.R. game was not only the most memorable of the 1980 Olympics, but one of the most amazing sports upsets in modern sports history. It was so impactful that Sports Illustrated's cover didn't even have any text to go along with its picture:


(image source: Wikipedia)

Thirteen members of that team went on to play in the NHL. Among them:

- Neal Broten, the first American player to tally 100 points in a season;
- Ken Morrow, who joined the NY Islanders after the Olympics and won a Stanley Cup that spring to become the first player to win Olympic gold and the Cup in the same year (only six players have done it to date, 3 of whom were on the 2010 Chicago Blackhawks);
- Mike Ramsey and Dave Christian, who would both play in 1,000+ career NHL games;
- Mark Johnson, who played for several teams in the NHL, and who won Olympic silver in 2010 as head coach of the U.S. women's ice hockey team.

The game gave great pride to Americans as a whole at at point when they needed it most, but also helped introduce a lot of people to hockey. Hockey was well-established in northern states, but to win such a major game on the international stage gave a huge boost to U.S. hockey.

USA Hockey has only been tracking player registration on a state-by-state basis since 1998-99. Hockey has become the second-fastest growing sport in the country, more than doubling its number of registered players between 1990 and 2010 (195,000 in 1990; 475,000+ now).

After the 1980 Olympics, the Soviet Union returned to gold in 1984 and 1988; and in 1992, the "Unified Team" won, consisting of team members hailing for 6 of the former 15 Soviet republics. Canada has regularly placed in the medal rounds since 1992, and have Finland, Sweden and the Czech Republic. The United Sates won silver in 2002.

This year's Olympics gave another strong boost to American hockey. Unlike 31 years ago, today's Olympic hockey teams are nearly fully composed of NHL players, so these games are truly the best-of-the-best competitions for hockey. Both Team Canada and Team USA were equally strong, although many gave Team Canada the home-ice advantage as motivation to bring home the gold.

During the preliminary rounds, Team USA beat Team Canada 5-3. In the Gold medal round, Team Canada beat Team USA 3-2 in dramatic overtime. Interestingly enough, women's hockey results also matched the men's - Canada gold, U.S. silver, and Finland bronze. Americans Ryan Miller (Buffalo Sabres) won MVP honors, and Brian Rafalski (Detroit Red Wings) won Top Defenseman; they were joined by Zach Parise (NJ Devils) on the Olympic All-Star team.

The 2010 Olympics gave a lot of recognition to American hockey - both men's and women's - and helped fuel a boost in interest in the sport over the past year.

Although it's been 31 years since that fateful game, interest in it has never fully faded. It stands as a saga, both for achieving the seemingly impossible, and to illustrate what hard work and preparation can reward you with. Al Michaels' game calls - produced on the spur of the moment in a wash of emotions - have become iconic.

Herb Brooks' fantastic motivational speech - recreated in the 2004 film Miracle - reached far beyond hockey as well.


"Great moments are born from great opportunity. And that's what you have here tonight, boys. That's what you've earned here, tonight. One game. If we played 'em ten times, they might win nine. But not this game. Not tonight. Tonight, we skate with 'em. Tonight, we stay with 'em, and we shut them down, because we can! Tonight, we are the greatest hockey team in the world. You were born to be hockey players—every one of ya. And you were meant to be here tonight. This is your time. Their time—is done. It's over. I'm sick and tired of hearin' about what a great hockey team the Soviets have. Screw 'em! This is your time!! Now go out there and take it!"

U.S. hockey continues to grow and thrive, in no small part thanks to the success of a team of American underdogs who won 4-3 over the Soviets one night in Lake Placid.

Sadly, Herb Brooks didn't live to see the recent success of American hockey. He died in a car accident in Minneapolis in August 2003 at the age of 66. Brooks was a tireless supporter of hockey, both its players and programs; a teacher, coach, innovator and an amazing motivator. 

Upon his passing, Ken Morrow stated, "When it came to hockey, [Brooks] was ahead of his time. All of his teams overachieved because Herbie understood how to get the best out of each player and make him part of a team. And like everyone who played for him, I became a better person because I played for Herb Brooks."

Monday, February 7, 2011

Chicago Pucks Cancer 2/6 update for #MOTB: representing 134 pledges, 27 teams, 91 players.

UPDATE 2/6: As mentioned in the post for the Chicago Pucks Cancer event, the challenge went out: inspired by the Columbus Blue Jackets' fans putting "Money on the board" (a time-honored sports tradition), how much could #MOTB pledges help raise for this event?


For more information about the event and how to donate, please visit either the Chicago Pucks Cancer website (PayPal donation button available on that site also), or the Chicago Pucks Cancer Facebook page. You can also follow them on Twitter at @ChiPucksCancer.

Well, the pledges have been rolling in, and here's the current updated list as we count down the final week to the Saturday 2/12 event! New pledges from this week highlighted in red.
  
Current tally:
136 pledges covering 29 teams and 91 players.


AVALANCHE

Pledges for Duchene, Stastny

@cabeckham -  I will donate $10 if @Matt9Duchene's ASG team wins, $2 per goal and $50 for any hat trick he scores before 02.28.2011 [Starts at 19G, 25A time of pledge] - Tally so far: Duchene 1 G / team win in ASG

@cabeckham -  And whatever I donate to @ChiPucksCancer I will match for @H2Hockeytown2 - so @Matt9Duchene YSC and DCH donations rest on your shoulders!

@cabeckham - $5 #MOTB if the #Avs don't get shut out tonight and $20 if they come from behind to win it. Who's with me? (2/3) (Tally: Avs did not get shut out! But they didn't win.)

@crazygirlemy - $1 for every goal @Matt9Duchene or Paul Stastny scores, $10 for the winning team ... I've got  for  ... do YOU? - Tally: Statsny 1 G, 1 A; Duchene 1 G; Duchene's team won ($12)

BLACKHAWKS

Every member of the team is represented by at least one pledge!

@326BureauChief - Thru 2/12: $5 for each reg period with no GA; $20 total for shutout. Put #moneyontheboard for @ChiPucksCancer! #blackhawks [Starting with 1/25 vs Wild]
 
@bethanie_bhawks  - $1 for every Stalberg point until 02.12.2011. I will also donate $1 for every Blackhawks win starting tonight until 2/12.  [Starting at 26]

@bon1203 - How about an even $50, in honor of Pisani.

@cabeckham - I added to my #MOTB adopting the event's home team. $1/G, doubled up tonight. My pledge runs until 02.28.2011 :)   [starting 2/4 at 161]

@caitlinchris -  $5 for every Jack Skille goal from now until the end of Feb. $20 if he gets a hat trick. #inlieuofgoingtogames  Adjust my pledge to include Assists for Skille please. and the $20 for a hat trick is in addition to the money per goal.  [Starts at 7 G, 9 A, time of pledge]

@Ceeangi - Donating $5 to @chipuckscancer for every Marian Hossa goal till 2/12. [Starts at 11 time of pledge]

@CeeAngi - Mother matching my efforts - $5 for every Hossa goal [Starts at 11 time of pledge]

@ChiPucksCancer - BIG THANKS to @NKaeding @ceeangi for donating $40 each for the snow and @giventowail for donating $100 for the snow! #MOTB #Rockstar [While Marian Hossa is out @giventowail @nkaeding & @ceeangi will donate $2/inch of #Snossa! Awesome!! #Blackhawks #MOTB]

@Chisusie - I'll take it! $5 for every #blackhawks SHG #MOTB (2/1) [Start at 5]

@Danny2Good -  Ill donate $1 per point for Kaner (updated from $1 per asst) [Starts at 13G, 23A, 36 pts time of pledge] -

@ERuns -  $5 for every game Nick Boynton is a scratch.

@forksvschopstic - For every game Hendry isn't scratched, I will donate $1

@Forksvschopstic - Just read my boy, Hendry was scratched (2/1). Darn it. I will donate $10 out of sadness. #MOTB

@GeekMisconduct -  Just had an idea - in addition to $1 for every Blackhawks goal scored, I'll chip in $100 for every John Scott goal! [Starts at 0 time of pledge]

@GeekMisconduct - I'm donating $4 to @ChiPucksCancer - I don't care what the refs say: the #Blackhawks scored 4 tonight. #MOTB

@giventowail - I'm actually revising my contribution. $5/Hossa goal; $10/shutout W (+$2.50/goal). [Starts at 11 time of pledge]

@hawknut - OK, my  pledge for @ChiPucksCancer: Now 'til 2/12, $20/each @TheMURDERSAURUS goal, $10/each point, $1/each PIM. ($10 minimum donation). [Starts at 1 pt, 45 PIM] 

@Hjammered -  I will pledge $5/goal or $2/assist made by Troy Brouwer from now til end of February.  [Starts at 14G, 13A time of pledge]

@Hjammered - During Hawks vs. Canucks game (2/4) I'll double my #MOTB pledge for every Troy Brouwer goal or assist. C'mon Brouwer Power!   (Tally: Brouwer had 1 assist this game!)

@hockeenight -  make it $5-per-F-bomb. I'm in. - RT @ChiPucksCancer: Anyone brave enough to donate $1 per time Toews is caught on TV dropping F-bomb? Till 02.12.2011

@HockeyBroad -  In addition to what I've donated - $3 for every Jake Dowell or Bryan Bickell goal, assist or $1 for any PIM between now and 2/12 incl the PHX game. [Starts at 5G, 11A, 52 PIM time of pledge]

@icebaby20 -  Can I just give a flat rate of $10 for Marty Turco?  #iHeartGoalies

@jdidiana - I'll donate $1 for every goal my boy Duncs has! #blackhawks  [Starting at 3]

@kaboom23 - $1 for every Blackhawks goal until 02.12.2011 [Started at 152]

@kadiddly - just found out about the #MOTB (2/7) - $20 + $10/#Blackhawks win b/w now & 12 Feb. Extra $10/hat trick OR shutout #puckcancer

@KasiaCh -  Great. I'm doing $1 for each Hawks goal, and $2 for each Hossa goal. [Starts at 11 for Hossa, 152 for team time of pledge]

@keribo - How $1 MOTB for any Duncs goal/assist/shot blocked thru 2/12 game, including the All-Star Game [Starting at 25 A, 88 BS]

@LoriKaryl -  I will donate $5 for every point Sharpy gets (goals, assists, etc) btw now & 2.12.11, including ASG [Starts at 45 pts time of pledge] - Tally so far: 3 pts in ASG

@micahsussman -  I will put $1 for every blocked shot the Hjammer has, $5 for every game he has a positive +/- in February [Starts at 98 time of pledge]

@michelleabal - I’ll put  for Stalberg! I’ll donate $20 / goal or assist to @ChiPucksCancer for Viktor Stalberg from now until Feb 12th. And if for some reason there's no goals or assists, I'll donate a flat $75 to @ChiPucksCancer [Starts at 7G, 8A]

@MichSox -  Count me in! Double for audible. RT @ChiPucksCancer: Anyone brave enough to donate $1 per time Captain Serious is caught on tv mouthing a word that rhymes with 'puck'? Till 02.12.2011 

@MichSox  - Besides my Captain Serious F-Bomb donation, I will do another $1 donation for every Leddy assist to @ChiPucksCancer Get on it Leddy. Includes Rockford games. [Starting at 0]

@MichSox - I realized Leddy dosnt have many assist, I will also donate $1 for Toews assists, starting frm last gm. My Toews $1 per assist counts for the ASG also   [Starting at Toews 21 A] - Tally to date: 2 A in ASG ($2)

@MikeBradley27 -  Blackhawks have 7 games between now and Feb 12th. I'll donate $1 for every Hawks goal scored between now and then. [Starts at 152 time of pledge]

@NKaeding - Donating $5 to @chipuckscancer for every Marian Hossa goal till 2/12. [Starts at 11 time of pledge]

@One4theDagger - I am pledging $20 if any #Blackhawks player gets a Hat-trick & $5 for each goal from the Slovs.  

@OptiMissyPrime - $1 per goal until 02.12.2011 [Started at 152]

@palindrome713 - 25¢ for any J. Toews or N. Leddy assist. 50¢ for a Toews goal. $1 for Leddy's.   [Starts at Toews 17 G, 23 A; Leddy 1 G; Hall 16 G, 15 A]

@PeaceloveHawks -  I've got $5 for every point scored by Brent Seabrook between now and 2.12.11, $10 for points in Vancouver game on 2.04.11 [Starts at 3G, 23A, 26 pts time of pledge]

@PeaceloveHawks - On this World Cancer Day (2/4), doubling my pledge in memory of my sister Gloria. #MOTB (Tally: Seabrook scored 2 points vs Vancouver)

@RENYAtini -  I'm in! $1 for each goal by our resident hottie, Patrick Sharp. $20 if any Hawk scores a hattie by 2/12 [Starts at 25 time of pledge]

@RENYAtini - F*** it - i'm in! RT @hockeenight We're donating $5 to @ChiPucksCancer for every on-screen F-Bomb Toews drops until 2/12 - who's with us?

@SAMotherPucker - $1 for every Hawks goal 1/25-2/12, $5 for a hattie and/or shutout and $2 for every Hawks point in the ASG [Start at 152 G] - Tally so far: 8 pts in ASG

@sarahwalstra - Donating $2 for Brian Campbell G or A for all of February! [Starting 2G, 16A]

@Schwarziest - I'm in! I'll donate $10 to @ChiPucksCancer for every #Blackhawks win from 2/1 - 2/12.

@StacyLymber -  Feb 1-28 I'll donate $5 for each minute of ice time for Ryan Johnson and  $20 for each #Blackhawks shortie!  [Starting at 67:55 TOI]

@talkendo -  So, to recap, $5 for every .01 that Crawfords GAA goes down from 2.12 (calculate after the 2-12 game) Shutout? $10. If his GAA DOESN'T go down, I'll pop in $20, anyway.

@The_FFF -  I'll donate $5 for every Dave Bolland point through 2/12, $20 per short-handed goal. #itsbollybitch [Starts at 23 pts, 0 SH time of pledge]

@The_FFF - Put me down for $10 for the TWO GOOD Bolland goals tonight (2/4). Horseshit call shouldn't interfere w/my #motb! 

@theannaenriquez - I'll donate $3 for every goal the Hawks score and $4 for every Burish goal scored when I see them on 2/11.   [Starting at 152 G for Hawks]

@TracyJean - I'm pledging $10 to @ChiPucksCancer for #Blackhawks goalies Turco and Crawford and #Stars goalies Lehtonen and Raycroft #MOTB

@xDontToewsMeBro - $50 for the Blackhawks

BLUE JACKETS

Pledges for Umberger, Vermette, Boll, Brassard, Russell

@acluxton - I'm donating $20 to @ChiPucksCancer for @yscbuzz in honor of Umbie's awesome hit on Seabrook!! #motb #cbj

@acluxton - Tomorrow (2/4) thru 2/12 I'll donate $5 for every goal Vermette scores, and $10 for every Boll 5/fighting for @chipuckscancer #cbj #motb @yscbuzz [starting at Vermette 11 G; Boll 134 PIM]

@acluxton - woot!! #MOTB!! My tally tonight is $5 but I think I'll make it $10 in honor of Boller's goal! So far $60 for @ChiPucksCancer #cbj

@Canadan82 - I'll donate $16 if Brassard scores, $10 if Russell scores, and $10 for a CBJ win tomorrow.. $20 if they win by 2+ #motb All going to #YSC (2/3) (Tally: CBJ won 3-0; neither player scored but Brassard had a penalty)

@Cujorulesdtown9: @acluxton Ill put in $5 for a #CBJ win (2/4) #motb (Tally: CBJ not only won but shut out DET on 2/4)

@powerplaygal  - I will donate $5 for every #CBJ win between now and 2/27.  [Started at 23]

BLUES

Pledges for Oshie, Berglund, Sobotka


@sarah_connors - I'll give $1 for every point scored by the #STLBlues' top line in the month of February. Oshie-Berglund-Sobotka.  [Starting at Oshie 11, Berglund 28, Sobotka 21]

BRUINS

Pledges so far for Lucic, Chara, Hamill, Bergeron, Marchand, Thomas, Kampfer, Krejci


@Hawgs38 - $1 for every Bergeron point, and $5 for every Marchand SHG [Starts at Bergeron 39; Marchand 4]

@NickTavares -  I'm donating $1 for every goal Milan Lucic and Zdeno Chara scores between now and Feb. 12 to @ChiPucksCancer. Thanks, @CeeAngi #Bruins [Starts at Chara 10G, Lucic 19G]

@palindrome713 - My 1st ever favorite hockey player was called up by the Bruins. So $1 for a goal & .50 for a assist from Zach Hamill.  [starting at 0 G, 0 A]

@wickedbruinsfan - #Bruins pledges: $5 for Tim Thomas shutout, $2 for @SteveKampfer47 goal, $1 for David Krejci point (from 2/1-2/28)  [Starting at Thomas 7 SO, Kampfer 4 G, Krejci 33 pts]

CANADIENS

@theactivestick -  Okay. I'll try my best to help get the word out in the #Habs camp, and I'll pledge $1 per Canadiens goal until 02.12.2011.  ... Updated later ... At this rate I might have to change my @ChiPucksCancer pledge to $1 per goal against the #Habs. Maybe I'll go with whichever is higher.  [Starts at 127 for; 148 against]

CANUCKS

Pledge for Kesler

@AreYouAnExpert - @VanCanucks I'm donating $5 for every February point Ryan Kesler scores to @ChiPucksCancer, so make sure he gets tons of points please! [Starting at 47 pts]

CAPITALS

Pledges for Green, Ovechkin

@KeepBradInBigD - Off-Twitter friend will donate $1 for every Ovechkin/Green goal including the All-Star game. [Starting at Ovechkin 19, Green 8] - Tally so far: Ovechkin 1 G in ASG

@RockTheRed852 - help get more Caps sponsored! I'm donating $1 for every Ovi/Green goal in February! [Starting at Ovechkin 19, Green 8]

COYOTES

Pledge for Yandle, Bissonnette


@hawkeyhaley - Better  idea, every minute of ice time @BizNasty2point0 has this year (2011), I'll give a dollar and my parents will match [Started at 98:33 as of 1/1]

@JimNeveau  - With @ChiPucksCancer's blessing, I will be donating $1 for every point Keith Yandle scores between now and February 28th.  [Started at 40, w/7G, 33A] -- To add a little extra $ to the cause, I'll also be donating $1 for every SOG and point Yandle gets in the ASG.  - Tally so far: 3 SOG in ASG

@cabeckham - If @BizNasty2point0 is in @capgeek's top ten before 2/12 - @talkendo and I are each donating $10 to @ChiPucksCancer. #MOTB


@talkendo - And if, at any point between now and 2/28, @BizNasty2point0 IS in the top ten, I'll put $10 to @ChiPucksCancer ! THAT'S #motb


DEVILS

Pledge for Zharkov


@The_FFF  - No  for NJD yet?? Okay, $5 for every point scored by Zharkov thru 2/12, $100 for a hat trick! #NJDevils [Starting at 2]

DUCKS

Pledge for Hiller

@briannecole -  I'll do a dollar per Ducks goal til 2.12. [Starts at 133 time of pledge]

@icebaby20 - #MMDM  $1/ea start Hiller until the date of event  [Starting at 46 GP for Hiller]

FLAMES

@sarahdmc - I've got $2 for every point the #Flames earn during the month of February, plus $10 for a win at the Heritage Classic. [Starting at 54 pts]

FLYERS

Pledges for Briere, Giroux


@FlyersGirl05 -  I'm changing my donation for @ChiPucksCancer in honor of the Flyers. I'll donate $1 for every goal they score (thanks @inaneenglish). [Starts at 168 time of pledge]

@FlyersGirl05 - Since it's the All-Star break, I'll keep my donations going to @ChiPucksCancer. I'll add $1 for every goal Briere or Giroux scores. - Tally: ASG 3 G ($3)

@jponah - For every goal scored by the #Flyers, I will donate $1 until 2/12/11. Including goals by Briere or Giroux during #ASG  [Starting at 173] - Tally so far: ASG 3 G

HURRICANES


Pledge for Ruutu

@geisha93 - Blackhawks #1 in my <3 but for TR! Put me down for Tuomo Ruutu. Hits, goals or assts from today (2/1) till 2-12 - $2 per. #MOTB #CPC [Starts at 12 G, 18 A, 199 hits]

ISLANDERS

Pledge for Grabner


@ReinaDeLaIsla - okay, so @ChiPucksCancer ... I think I've made a choice. I'll pledge $1 for every goal @grabs40 scores from now till 2/28. :) #isles  [Starts at 14]

KINGS

Pledges for Quick, Doughty

@icebaby20 - #MMDM for @ChiPucksCancer:  $1/ea start for Quick  until the date of event  [Start at 37 GS]

@LaurenWW - you got me for a dollar for every goal scored by the Kings during their "road" stretch... So until 2/24 [starting at 138 G]

@megums - I'm upping the ante on . Now $10 per Doughty goal AND $1 per #LAKings goal in February! Let's puck cancer! [Starts at Doughty 4 G, Kings 138 G]

@Motley_Su -  I'll join the fun. Since you have a Pens fan, i'll do the # LAKings - $1 per goal. $5 per shutout win btwn now and the event [Starts at 136 G time of pledge]

LIGHTNING


@HockeyBroad's mother - $10 in honor of 1st NHL game attended (12/28 TBL vs Bruins) & as cancer survivor

MAPLE LEAFS

@fergus30 - So until February 12th, I will donate $1 for each goal against the Leafs for @ChiPucksCancer. Thanks for the rec @theactivestick [Starting at 148]

OILERS

Pledge forDubnyk, Hall

@icebaby20 -   put me in for $1 EDM for every start Dubnyk gets between now and the event  [Started at 15 GS]

@palindrome713 - 25¢ for any T. Hall assist. 50¢ for  Hall goal.  [Starts at Hall 16 G, 15 A]

PANTHERS

@HockeyBroad's mother - $10 in honor of 2nd NHL game attended (upcoming 2/13 vs Sharks) & as cancer survivor

PENGUINS

Pledges for Cooke, Staal, Kenndy, Fleury, Crosby, Orpik


@buySAMadrink -  Will donate $1 each for every goal scored by Matt Cooke, Jordan Staal and Tyler Kennedy :) [Starts at 9 for Cooke, 3 for JStaal, 7 for Kennedy time of pledge]

@camio87 -  Feb. 1-28, I'll donate 10¢ for every Fleury save and $1 for every Crosby point (if he's not playing, then Jordan Staal). [Starts at 951 saves for Fleury, 66 pts for Crosby, 7 pts for Staal time of pledge]

@PensN_CWGAP_Meg -  I'll take a leaf out of the others' books and donate $1 to @ChiPucksCancer for every goal scored by the Penguins between now and the event! [Starts at 150 time of pledge]

@PensN_CWGAP_Meg  - I'm adding $2 for Fleury's shutout and any future shutouts between now and the event

@PensN_CWGAP_Meg - I will add $10 to my donation for every goal Brooks Orpik scores.

@PensN_CWGAP_Meg - I'll throw in $10 for Been's goalie fight because it was possibly the greatest thing I've seen in my life. #MOTB (awaiting confirmation on who 'Been'  is?; think Pens vs NYI?)

@PensU_Nicole -  okay @buySAMadrink and I will donate $1 each for every goal scored by Matt Cooke, Jordan Staal and Tyler Kennedy :) [Starts at 9 for Cooke, 3 for JStaal, 7 for Kennedy time of pledge]

PREDATORS

Pledge for Weber, Hornqvist. Suter, Goc, Rinne, Lindback


@trebek14 - I will pledge $2 for every point Shea Weber and Patric Hornqvist register in February. #Preds  [Starts at Weber 30, Hornqvist 27]

@One4theDagger - For tonight (2/3), any point by Suter, Hornqvist or Goc I'll donate $1, Rinne/Lindback shutout $10 Go #Preds  (Tally: 1 G by Goc)

@One4theDagger
- I'm at $36 to @ChiPucksCancer, I will give $1 tonight (2/5) for any Goc, Suter, Hornqvist or Weber goal.... Go #Preds #MOTB  (Tally Weber 1 G. [Also Suter 2 A; Goc 1 A])

RANGERS

Pledge for Gaborik, Avery, Prust

@KaeferinChicago - Inspired by http://tinyurl.com/482z6ao - $1 for every Sean Avery point or PIM thru 2/13 - double on 2/7 vs. Red Wings #MOTB [started 2/4 at 20 pts, 151 PIM]


@kaboom23 - I got another $1 in for @ChiPucksCancer with the Prust goal in the first period! #NYR #MOTB

@theannaenriquez -  I'll donate $1 for every goal scored by @MGaborik10 and $10 for any #NYR hat trick from now til March 1.  [Starts at 16G for Gaborik time of pledge]

RED WINGS

@fvsports -  I will go .50 for every new follower, up to $100. --- plus he also added, Ok, we are always up for helping a good cause. If you can promise my #RedWings win the Cup I will donate $1,000.

@saraneuie -  Stealing from @inaneenglish, $1 for every Red Wing goal between now and the event, $2 for a Wings shorty [Starts at 161 G, 3 SHG time of pledge]

SABRES

Pledges for Ennis, Myers, Miller


@qutaishat - I pledged $1/Ennis goal, $1/Myers assist, and $2/ Miller 30+ save game until 2/28.   [Starting at Ellis 0 G, Myers 15 A, Miller games starting 1/27]

SENATORS

None listed for this team yet

SHARKS

Pledges for Couture, Heatley, Thorton, Marleau, Niemi, Setoguchi

@meryddian - $1 per Setoguchi goal btwn 1/26 and 2/12 [Starts at 9]

@OhMySwed3 -  I'll join as well. $1 per goal scored by Logan Couture, Dany Heatley, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau scored now and between the event [Starts at Couture 22, Heatley 18, Thorton 13, Marleau 18 G time of pledge]

@The_FFF - Cool! Throwing my hat into that ring too: $25 for any Niemi shutout thru 2/12, $10 for any game where he allows 2 or fewer G

STARS

Pledges for Richards, Burish, Benn, Eriksson, Neal, Lehtonen, Raycroft

@KeepBradInBigD - I'll donate $1 for ever Loui Eriksson point in February & $5 per point in the All-Star Game! And for good measure I'll donate $2 for every James Neal goal through the end of February! [Starting at Eriksson 49 pts; Neal 20 G]

@kmk1486 -  I will donate $2 for every Brad Richards point the rest of the year! [Starts at 57 time of pledge]

@kmk1486 -  I'll also donate $1 for every Adam Burish blocked shot the rest of the season! [Starts at 61 time of pledge]

@taylordbaird -  In the month of February, $10 for every Jamie Benn point (goal or assist) and $50 if he scores a hat-trick. [Starts at 33 pts - 13G, 20A time of pledge]

@taylordbaird - Putting more #MOTB - $50 if Stars' Lehtonen gets a shutout in the month of February. He's due for one!! I believe! :)

@theannaenriquez - I'll donate $4 for every Burish goal scored when I see them on 2/11.

@TracyJean - I'm pledging $10 to @ChiPucksCancer for #Blackhawks goalies Turco and Crawford and #Stars goalies Lehtonen and Raycroft #MOTB

THRASHERS


Pledge for Pavelec

@inaneenglish -  I'm pledging $1 to @ChiPucksCancer for every goal the Thrashers score between now and the event. What are you doing? [Starts at 148 time of pledge]

@inaneenglish - Since the Thrashers scored only 1 goal last night, I'm putting an extra $5 on the board for Pavelec's shutout.

@j_barty_party -  For every goal over 60, I will match it $2 for every dollar! How's that? #Thrashers fight cancer w/ drive to playoffs!

WILD


Pledges for Barker, Theodore, Havlat, Burns

@brigid22 -  I'll put up $1 for every Cam Barker goal, assist and penalty minute from 2/1/11 to 2/28/11   #mnwild [Starting at 1G, 4A, 20 PIM]

@icebaby20 -  final pledge!  $1/start Jose Theodore MIN-now to event  [Start at 17 GS for Theodore]

@JosieMist - I'll pledge $1 for every Havlat Goal until 2/28/11   [Starting at 14 G]

@ReynoldsSBN - $4 for Every Wild win until the event, $1 per Brent Burns goal. Minimum of $20 should neither happen.  for @EliseButler [Starting at 14 G]


NHL / GENERAL / ALL-STAR GAME ONLY / MISCELLANEOUS

@AngelJacoby - My teams seem covered & I'm a goalie girl, so $1 per shutout in Feb - any team.

@ChiPucksCancer - BIG THANKS to @NKaeding @ceeangi for donating $40 each for the snow and @giventowail for donating $100 for the snow! #MOTB #Rockstar [While Marian Hossa is out @giventowail @nkaeding & @ceeangi will donate $2/inch of #Snossa! Awesome!! #Blackhawks #MOTB]

@FvSports - $0.50 for every new follower for next week, up to $100

@GeekMisconduct -  I'm donating $10 to @ChiPucksCancer for Toews' inclusion on yesterday's winning relay team.   Today in ASG: $5 for every #Blackhawks players' goal(s), $1 for assists & $50 if any Hawks wins ASG MVP  - Tally: 2 G, 6 A, 1 MVP ($66)

@One4theDagger - ASG -  I got $10 if Team Lidstrom wins, and $20 if any current #Blackhawks player gets MVP, $5 if it is Byfuglien - Tally: Lidstrom won, Sharp got MVP ($30)

@crazygirlemy - okay. $1 for each goal scored by @Matt9Duchene or Pauly at the #ASG, $10 if the team either of them plays for wins! - Tally: 2 G; Duchene's team won ($12)

@RachelPolner -  Ok i'm in $1 each avs goal $2 shortie $5 each goal Matt Duchene scores in @nhl ASG up to let's say $50?  - Tally: Statsny 1 G, 1 A; Duchene 1 G ($7)

@Nimijneb18 -  I'm in for the same as @RachelPolner - Tally: Statsny 1 G, 1 A; Duchene 1 G ($7)

@RachelPolner - if Matt or Paulie or Shatty win any of the superskills, I'll also throw in $5 - Tally: Duchene won his round in speed skate, and his squad won in lefties round of Skills Challenge Relay ($5)

@ReinaDeLaIsla - Okay, since Grabner won an event tonight... I think I'll add an extra $3 to the cause :) 

@SAMotherPucker - Because Sharpie is MVP I will throw in $6 extra to @ChiPucksCancer ($6)

Countdown to the event: 12 5 days! 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

How Raleigh became a hockey market, and how the Carolina Hurricanes set the new bar for NHL ASG weekends


2011 All-Star Game opening ceremony, Raleigh, NC
photo used courtesy of Jamie Kellner on Flickr


The hockey world landed in Raleigh last weekend, and hockey media across the league seemed to be surprised to find out that not only has the North Carolina capital become a hockey town, but a pretty enthusiastic one at that.

To anybody who's a sports fan and known anything about the Triangle (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill) area, this shouldn't be a surprise at all.

The Hurricanes came to town in time for the 1997-98 season, when the team formerly known as the Hartford Whalers was moved by its owner, Peter Karmanos, to Raleigh. Nearly 15 years after the move, fans of the Whalers remain as fervent as ever, hoping to one day see a new NHL version of the Whale once again play in Hartford. The recent renaming of the Hartford Wolfpack to the Connecticut Whale was meant to appeal to those fans, but it's not quite the same.

Raleigh at the time could hardly be called a "hockey town", although it wasn't as alien a sports arrival as ice hockey was to cities like Tampa Bay, Miami or Phoenix. Raleigh was at the time already home to the IceCaps, a NJ Devils affiliated ECHL team which played in Dorton Arena on the NC state fairgrounds to a regularly-full building. Raleigh's booming population in the mid-1990s was almost 30% composed of people who had migrated from other parts of the country - notably, plenty of people from New England and the midwest: hockey markets.

The discussion in the mid-1990s was also whether or not Raleigh would be capable of supporting a major sports team - MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL. Charlotte was already home to the NBA's Hornets (who eventually moved to New Orleans); the NFL's Carolina Panthers, which had just launched in 1995, was also based in Charlotte. The Panthers had financed their stadium through Permanent Seat Licenses (PSLs), club seats and luxury boxes, leaving no tax burden for North Carolina citizens to shoulder, showing just how hungry Carolina was for major league sports.

The Triangle area is one of the great hotbeds of collegiate sports, being home to some of the top sports schools in the South: UNC Chapel Hill, Duke, NCSU. An hour's drive takes you to Wake Forest (Winston-Salem) - in all, four schools in the highly competitive Atlantic Conference Division I within an hour's drive of each other with 91 NCAA championships split between them. Basketball and football are huge in the Carolinas, and due to the lack of many pro sports teams being within short distances, collegiate sports are THE big thing in the area. In the early 90s, the only pro sports in the area was the A-league (now AAA) Durham Bulls, a baseball team, best known for the role it played in the 1988 film Bull Durham.

I moved to Raleigh in 1993. Coming from New England, I was utterly unprepared for the sports mania I would find in the city. Even people who didn't attend UNC or Duke or Wake Forest or NCSU pick their favorite schools. (My choice was UNC, because I had considered going to J-school at Chapel Hill.) A few months after moving there, a friend asked for a ride to an NCSU football game after work. I obliged, and was amazed at the scene when we pulled into the parking lot: wall-to-wall serious tailgating, across acres and acres of parking lot. I'd never witnessed anything like it; I still can't think of any other tailgating I've been to which could match what I saw, and occasionaly participated in, during nearly four years of living in Carolina.

Judging by the near-manic levels of enthusiasm locals have for their sports, it doesn't surprise me than Hurricane fans came to be known as "Caniacs". Tailgating isn't just a sports tradition here; it's part of a way of life.


With the local built-in football fanbase, the Panthers arrival was met with fervent enthusiasm before the team even had their own stadium to play in. There was more than a bit of disappointment that the Panthers choose to play in Charlottle, three hours away, instead of making a home somewhere in the Triangle area.

I moved back to Connecticut not too long before it was announced that the Hartford Whalers would be moving to Carolina. As a fan of the Whalers for some 17 years, it felt crushing. Sure, the Whalers were perennial underdogs, rarely making the playoffs and never being home to a player of epic star power like Wayne Gretzky or Mario Lemieux. But the Hartford fan base was dedicated in a way that fans of clubs like the Chicago Cubs or the Toronto Maple Leafs can understand: even if they keep losing all the time, they were our losers. The team owner had promised to keep the team in Hartford through at least 1998, but moved the team early. It felt bizarre to see the team go; the fans were crushed, and the players shared their sorrow. Some Whalers fans shifted their fandom to the Hurricanes; others chose new teams to support, feeling betrayed by the owner moving their team across the country.

The Hurricanes had no arena in their home city when they first moved there. The IceCaps' Dorton Arena only sat 5,100 and was in no way going to handle NHL hockey. So while their new arena was built, the Canes played their first two new-home seasons at the Greensboro Coliseum, 90 minutes from Raleigh. During its tenure as the Hurricanes' arena, GC was the highest-capacity NHL arena, seating 21,000. (The Hurricanes moved into their new home, the 18,176-seat Entertainment & Sports Arena (now the RBC Center), for the 1999-2000 season - playing the first game of any sport on the arena's opening night, October 29, 1999.)

And we've already discussed what die-hard loyalists the locals are to their team: when the Hurricanes displaced the short-lived AHL team the Carolina Monarchs, the Greensboro fans were reluctant to support a losing team. And, like the Blackhawks suffering under Bill Wirtz, the Hurricanes didn't get much air time - TV or radio; in fact, what few broadcasts they had were often pre-empted by collegiate sports. The team averaged just 9,086 per game in their first season in Carolina, and 8,188 for their second.

When fan favorite Ron Francis returned to the club in the 1998-99 season, he helped lead the Hurricanes to their first championship of the new Southeast Division - taking the division lead away from the Chicago Blackhawks and never giving it up again for the rest of the season. Their playoff run was stopped by the Boston Bruins in the conference quarterfinals, but a standard was set: the Hurricanes would make it to the playoffs three times between 1999 and 2002 - including making it to the Final round in 2002, where they lost to the Detroit Red Wings 1-4. Those seasons marked Raleigh as a hockey market: one where good players would come to play and have a hope to be winners. Game attendance leapt to over 12,400; they've averaged 15,535 for the past 8 years.

The season after the lockout, the Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup in 2006 - the first in franchise history, including the team's history as the Whalers, in a thrilling 4-3 series win over the Edmonton Oilers. For Hartford fans, it was a somewhat bittersweet moment: it had taken moving and rebranding the team to make them into a winning team.

But with the Cup's arrival in Raleigh, it made something clear: it was possible to have a successful, popular team in a southern market.

When Raleigh was first selected to host the 2011 All-Star Game, it was met through the league with a bit of grumbling. How would Raleigh, an "untraditional" hockey market, be as hosts? The 2011 All-Star Game would mark the first time since the 1986 that Hartford or Raleigh would host the ASG. Could Carolina pull it off successfully?

Naysayers had underestimated the pride of Carolina fans - and the club. The Hurricanes are just one of four Eastern Conference teams that made it to the EC Finals three times between 2000-2010, the other teams being New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh. Carolina has - with relatively little fanfare - been a consistently solid team in a receptive market.

Yes, it certainly helps that the Hurricanes are the biggest game in town as far as pro sports go. The arena, being located adjacent to NCSU's campus and used by NCSU teams, is also a place that local sports fans are accustomed to visiting. Among the "untraditional" markets - LA, San Jose, Anaheim, Phoenix, Nashville, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Florida, Dallas, Carolina - the Hurricanes are middle of the pack as far as average attendance this year goes: a solid 15,695 average home attendance (83.8% capacity). If their building sold out every game, they'd be competing with the Penguins (18,228/100.8%) and Kings (18,061/97.6%) for attendance.

The transition from the Whalers into the Hurricanes was not a smooth one, but the Hurricanes benefitted from a strong club history. While they completely rebranded the team in North Carolina, including the colors, they continue to honor their history by including Whaler colors in their farm team uniforms, most notably, the Florida Everblades. A number of Whalers played for Carolina, including Kevin Dineen, who captained the team its first two years; then Ron Francis returned to the club to take on the "C". Rod Brind'Amour - who, like Dineen and Francis, spent time playing for the Flyers and other clubs - was the main face of the team for the past 10 seasons. Like Francis and Dineen before him, he also wore the "C" for Carolina and captained the team to its Stanley Cup win. The team is honoring Brind'Amour on February 18th when they retire his jersey number (17) before the CAR-PHL game. Francis and Brind'Amour remain involved with the team's coaching staff and front office respectively. It was wonderful to see these two gems of the Whalers/Hurricane club history honored as part of the opening ceremonies:


Carolina has also benefitted by the quirk of their market. Raleigh's population has more than doubled in the past 15 years - many of those people coming from other parts of the country where hockey is popular. Their team is a true reflection of that, with players from four Canadian provinces, Minnesota, New York, Washington state, Illinois, Finland, Russia, and the Czech Republic.

Not surprising, then, that the team's Captain is a transplant, too. Eric Staal, 26, is from Thunder Bay, Ontario - the oldest of the four Staal brothers in the NHL/in the NHL system. Brother Jordan plays for the Penguins; Marc plays for the Rangers; and Jared is currently with the Hurricanes' affiliate ECHL team, the Florida Everblades. Staal was selected 2nd overall in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft by the Hurricanes, and re-signed for a 3-year contract in 2006. To cement his long-term loyalty to the team that drafted him, Staal re-signed with the Hurricanes nearly a full year earlier than his contract was due to expire - and a 7-year deal, which means he'll be with the Canes through 2015. Staal's career has thus far been noteworthy: four All-Star appearances, including being named to the Captaincy of one of this year's teams; a Stanley cup; Olympic Gold; and World Ice Hockey Gold, making him a member of the Triple Gold Club. Four years ago, he took home All-Star Game MVP honors.


But to watch Staal during this year's All-Star festivities, he was such a great ambassador for Carolina hockey that you'd think he was NC born-n-raised. He clearly loves his team and his adopted hometown, and will probably be a Hurricane for his career.

And what isn't there to love about Raleigh? The wetaher is fantastic, it's a lovely city, the locals - transplants or new arrivals - are courteous and friendly, and it has a booming restaurant scene. Raleigh has been prominent on a lot of "Top 10" lists during the past 10 years, being named as a great place to live and do business by sources such as Forbes, MSNBC and Money magazine. I only left Raleigh due to work - given the opportunity to move back to the area, I doubt I'd hesitate - the city is so welcoming and laid-back, a perfect blend of North and South, that no matter where in the country you came from, you feel like you've always lived there.

Local pride for the market was on full display during All-Star Weekend. The passionate Carolina fan base - the Caniacs - turned out in maximum tailgating force, showing off the best their city had to offer. It was a three-day party, and it combined perfectly with the new format that the NHL designed for the All-Star game.

There are plenty of people who're willing to complain about the new All-Star format, but honestly, I'm not one of them. The new draft re-invigorated not only fan interest, but more importantly, player interest in the game. Half the players going were playing in their first All-Star Game. The NHL's biggest star, Sidney Crosby, was sidelined with a concussion, so despite being the league leader in votes, did not attend the game, which meant that the league had to spread their attention away from the stereotypical "Sid vs Ovie" angle -- and that was good for the league as a whole, giving a lot of players who might have otherwise been overshadowed the chance to shine.

Staal not only was a good ambassador both for Raleigh and the NHL, but it finally gave him some well-deserved spotlight. And it was fitting that the ASG itself opened with a montage of kids "picking sticks" for a pickup hockey game; the Draft ended up being very similar in feel. Staal admitted to wanting to take care of "his boys" first and foremost: teammates, family, and guys like Patrick Sharp, also a Thunder Bay native, and one of the players the Staals played with in youth leagues and now practice with during summer breaks. While "Team Staal" - red jerseys - was stacked to cater to the home crowd, the teams were still pretty evenly balanced. Nearly every team that had sent 2 or more players to the ASG saw teammates split up - especially, to everybody's delight, Daniel and Henrik Sedin.

The All-Star Game is a high-speed, no-hitting scorefest that is less about pure NHL-style hockey and far more about showing off the prowess of the top stars of the league. The D-men best suited for the ASG game are two-way players like Duncan Keith and Zdeno Chara; they can get in on the scoring and really aren't going to do their full defense style - nobody is going to play in a manner in the ASG which will risk themselves getting hurt and taking themselves out of any part of the run to the playoffs. Despite that, somebody seems to have forgotten to inform Patrick Sharp of that, as he helped Team Staal barrel out quickly to a 3-0 lead. The teams swapped goals frequently, but it was Team Lidstrom that came away with a 1-goal win and a cumulative score total (21) that was higher than the age of some of the players who took part in the game.

The undeniable highlight of the weekend is the Super Skills night. The speed races are always popular, and the hardest shot usually attracts the most attention. This year was no exception. To the delight of fans across the league, there was the first-ever goalie race. Tim Thomas took on Cam Ward, and if he hadn't had a bit of a wipeout behind one net, chances are good he could've won this one:


Also among the highlights: Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara setting a new record (and breaking his own) on the Hardest Shot competition:


It's undeniable that the All-Star Game is a vehicle for the NHL to parade the crème de la crème of league talent before a crowd that is half sponsors, half hometown fans (generally mostly season ticket holders). Everybody gets to schmooze and party; the players don't have to take the game all that seriously (and won't, because they don't want to chance hurting themselves); and, if the league has gotten the right mix of players to attend, we get to see some of what we perhaps crave most out of our players: personality.

Alex Ovechkin is well-aware the spotlight is on him; he didn't fail to deliver. After a downright comedic turn in the hardest shot competition - broken stick, shots not registering - Ovechkin spotted Patrick Kane filming his final shot with a Flip cam from the ice. So he skated over and delivered this gem:


It would be nice to see more Super Skills events. They're some of the most entertaining events in the weekend. Maybe next year add a 4-man speed race on top of the single matchups. Definitely add more opportunities for goalies to have a bit of fun. (Marc-Andre Fleury doing jumping jacks in goal on the breakaway competition was a hoot, reminding viewers of the personality he'd revealed in 24/7). Perhaps add another sniper-shot accuracy event with moving targets. Make whistles louder, apparently.

It'd also be enjoyable to see the rookie game return - getting to see a few of them compete in the Super Skills was hardly enough of a taste of the future superstars of the league.

Some fans disagreed with the red carpet walk for the game being televised, and while there were definitely some "holy cow" moments (Jeremy Roenick asking Byfuglien to rap? Wrong ex-Blackhawk, there, JR), it was mostly fun, as the hockey players got to strut their stuff. Those guys spend their season swaddled in multiple layers of gear, nothing wrong with the red carpet event. It allowed fan girls a bit of an opportunity to swoon; the players got to show off some personality and sense of style (Hugo Boss seemed to be the most popular with players). Fans at the red carpet event got the chance to meet some of their favorite players, however fleetingly.

The whole point of the All-Star Game is to have fun, be it players, fans or sponsors. The players get to mix it up on the ice with other players they'd rarely if ever find as their teammates otherwise. Rivals put it all aside and share lines. (I'm sure there were fans of both the Flyers and Blackhawks watching in surprise as Patrick Sharp was broadly smiling as he talked about how much chemistry and fun he had sharing a line with Claude Giroux.) Coaches get to coach (as much as they're going to in a game full of the league's top stars) players they normally play against, and maybe some of the players get that enjoyment of playing for a few days under a coach they wouldn't mind playing for during a regular season.

Was the event perfect? Well, aside from the glaring error of Blackhawk Patrick Sharp apparently being traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets (and then later being unable to pronounce his last name when announced as MVP), any problems weren't readily visible to the casual NHL viewer. Kudos to the Hurricanes and NHL media/event teams for running the event well.

Carolina brought the party this year. It showed everybody - not just hockey fans - that they are able to host a top-notch, high-profile sporting event with class and style. The local fans did themselves proud, turning out to celebrate the game and the players. Media members across the board gushed about the warm welcome, local hospitality, great food, good service, and a great weekend. It was a giant win for Raleigh, not only from a tourism standpoint, but from a hockey standpoint as well. If the Stanley Cup win wasn't good enough to do it, then this year's All-Star Game cemented Raleigh's place as a hockey town.

Raleigh, as host city, has now set the bar high for All-Star Games. Next year, Ottawa has the tough task of following this one up and making it even better. (How many people will be tailgating in the parking lot of Scotiabank Place in the depths of January? Not a lot, I'd wager.)

Additionally, Raleigh has proven everything that Gary Bettman could've hoped for in an expansion team. Despite the unpopularity of moving the team at the time, and a rough start to their existance in Carolina, the club has thrived in an "unconventional" market. They unintentionally set a blueprint that new markets will hope to employ: successful early years; recognizable players on the roster from the start; solid brand identity; engaged and loyal fan base; and - dare new teams dream - a Stanley Cup within the first 10 years of the franchise. Most of all, the club's culture, coaches, and fan dedication all combine to the kind of market that any player would be proud to call home.

Congratulations, Carolina. Thanks for a weekend that was fun even to watch on TV. Looking forward to making a long-overdue trip down to Raleigh to soak in some Southern hospitality next season!


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Updated #MOTB for @ChiPucksCancer event

As mentioned in the post for the Chicago Pucks Cancer event, the challenge went out: inspired by the Columbus Blue Jackets' fans putting "Money on the board" (a time-honored sports tradition), how much could #MOTB pledges help raise for this event?


For more information about the event and how to donate, please visit either the Chicago Pucks Cancer website (PayPal donation button available on that site also), or the Chicago Pucks Cancer Facebook page. You can also follow them on Twitter at @ChiPucksCancer.

Well, the pledges have been rolling in, and here's the current updated list as February begins.
 
Current tally:
105 106 pledges covering 26 teams & 62 63 players


AVALANCHE

Pledges for Duchene

@cabeckham -  I will donate $10 if @Matt9Duchene's ASG team wins, $2 per goal and $50 for any hat trick he scores before 02.28.2011 [Starts at 19G, 25A time of pledge] - Tally so far: Duchene 1 G / team win in ASG

@cabeckham -  And whatever I donate to @ChiPucksCancer I will match for @H2Hockeytown2 - so @Matt9Duchene YSC and DCH donations rest on your shoulders!

@crazygirlemy - $1 for every goal @Matt9Duchene or Paul Stastny scores, $10 for the winning team ... I've got  for  ... do YOU? - Tally: Statsny 1 G, 1 A; Duchene 1 G; Duchene's team won ($12)

BLACKHAWKS

Every member of the team is represented by at least one pledge!


@326BureauChief - Thru 2/12: $5 for each reg period with no GA; $20 total for shutout. Put #moneyontheboard for @ChiPucksCancer! #blackhawks [Starting with 1/25 vs Wild]

@bethanie_bhawks  - $1 for every Stalberg point until 02.12.2011. I will also donate $1 for every Blackhawks win starting tonight until 2/12.  [Starting at 26]

@bon1203 - How about an even $50, in honor of Pisani.

@caitlinchris -  $5 for every Jack Skille goal from now until the end of Feb. $20 if he gets a hat trick. #inlieuofgoingtogames  Adjust my pledge to include Assists for Skille please. and the $20 for a hat trick is in addition to the money per goal.  [Starts at 7 G, 9 A, time of pledge]

@Ceeangi - Donating $5 to @chipuckscancer for every Marian Hossa goal till 2/12. [Starts at 11 time of pledge]

@CeeAngi - Mother matching my efforts - $5 for every Hossa goal [Starts at 11 time of pledge]

@Danny2Good -  Ill donate $1 per point for Kaner (updated from $1 per asst) [Starts at 13G, 23A, 36 pts time of pledge] -

@ERuns -  $5 for every game Nick Boynton is a scratch.

@forksvschopstic - For every game Hendry isn't scratched, I will donate $1

@GeekMisconduct -  Just had an idea - in addition to $1 for every Blackhawks goal scored, I'll chip in $100 for every John Scott goal! [Starts at 0 time of pledge]

@giventowail - I'm actually revising my contribution. $5/Hossa goal; $10/shutout W (+$2.50/goal). [Starts at 11 time of pledge]

@hawknut - OK, my  pledge for @ChiPucksCancer: Now 'til 2/12, $20/each @TheMURDERSAURUS goal, $10/each point, $1/each PIM. ($10 minimum donation). [Starts at 1 pt, 45 PIM] 

@Hjammered -  I will pledge $5/goal or $2/assist made by Troy Brouwer from now til end of February.  [Starts at 14G, 13A time of pledge]

@hockeenight -  make it $5-per-F-bomb. I'm in. - RT @ChiPucksCancer: Anyone brave enough to donate $1 per time Toews is caught on TV dropping F-bomb? Till 02.12.2011

@HockeyBroad -  In addition to what I've donated - $3 for every Jake Dowell or Bryan Bickell goal, assist or $1 for any PIM between now and 2/12 incl the PHX game. [Starts at 5G, 11A, 52 PIM time of pledge]

@icebaby20 -  Can I just give a flat rate of $10 for Marty Turco?  #iHeartGoalies

@jdidiana - I'll donate $1 for every goal my boy Duncs has! #blackhawks  [Starting at 3]

@kaboom23 - $1 for every Blackhawks goal until 02.12.2011 [Started at 152]

@KasiaCh -  Great. I'm doing $1 for each Hawks goal, and $2 for each Hossa goal. [Starts at 11 for Hossa, 152 for team time of pledge]

@keribo - How $1 MOTB for any Duncs goal/assist/shot blocked thru 2/12 game, including the All-Star Game [Starting at 25 A, 88 BS]

@LoriKaryl -  I will donate $5 for every point Sharpy gets (goals, assists, etc) btw now & 2.12.11, including ASG [Starts at 45 pts time of pledge] - Tally so far: 3 pts in ASG

@micahsussman -  I will put $1 for every blocked shot the Hjammer has, $5 for every game he has a positive +/- in February [Starts at 98 time of pledge]

@michelleabal - I’ll put  for Stalberg! I’ll donate $20 / goal or assist to @ChiPucksCancer for Viktor Stalberg from now until Feb 12th. And if for some reason there's no goals or assists, I'll donate a flat $75 to @ChiPucksCancer [Starts at 7G, 8A time o

@MichSox -  Count me in! Double for audible. RT @ChiPucksCancer: Anyone brave enough to donate $1 per time Captain Serious is caught on tv mouthing a word that rhymes with 'puck'? Till 02.12.2011 - Tally 1 audible F-bomb during the ASG!

@MichSox  - Besides my Captain Serious F-Bomb donation, I will do another $1 donation for every Leddy assist to @ChiPucksCancer Get on it Leddy. Includes Rockford games. [Starting at 0]

@MichSox - I realized Leddy dosnt have many assist, I will also donate $1 for Toews assists, starting frm last gm. My Toews $1 per assist counts for the ASG also   [Starting at Toews 21 A] - Tally to date: 2 A in ASG ($2)

@MikeBradley27 -  Blackhawks have 7 games between now and Feb 12th. I'll donate $1 for every Hawks goal scored between now and then. [Starts at 152 time of pledge]

@NKaeding - Donating $5 to @chipuckscancer for every Marian Hossa goal till 2/12. [Starts at 11 time of pledge]

@One4theDagger - I am pledging $20 if any #Blackhawks player gets a Hat-trick & $5 for each goal from the Slovs.  

@OptiMissyPrime - $1 per goal until 02.12.2011 [Started at 152]

@palindrome713 - 25¢ for any J. Toews or N. Leddy assist. 50¢ for a Toews goal. $1 for Leddy's.   [Starts at Toews 17 G, 23 A; Leddy 1 G; Hall 16 G, 15 A]

@PeaceloveHawks -  I've got $5 for every point scored by Brent Seabrook between now and 2.12.11, $10 for points in Vancouver game on 2.04.11 [Starts at 3G, 23A, 26 pts time of pledge]

@RENYAtini -  I'm in! $1 for each goal by our resident hottie, Patrick Sharp. $20 if any Hawk scores a hattie by 2/12 [Starts at 25 time of pledge]

@RENYAtini - F*** it - i'm in! RT @hockeenight We're donating $5 to @ChiPucksCancer for every on-screen F-Bomb Toews drops until 2/12 - who's with us?

@SAMotherPucker - $1 for every Hawks goal 1/25-2/12, $5 for a hattie and/or shutout and $2 for every Hawks point in the ASG [Start at 152 G] - Tally so far: 8 pts in ASG

@sarahwalstra - Donating $2 for Brian Campbell G or A for all of February! [Starting 2G, 16A]

@Schwarziest - I'm in! I'll donate $10 to @ChiPucksCancer for every #Blackhawks win from 2/1 - 2/12.

@StacyLymber -  Feb 1-28 I'll donate $5 for each minute of ice time for Ryan Johnson and  $20 for each #Blackhawks shortie!  [Starting at 67:55 TOI]

@talkendo -  So, to recap, $5 for every .01 that Crawfords GAA goes down from 2.12 (calculate after the 2-12 game) Shutout? $10. If his GAA DOESN'T go down, I'll pop in $20, anyway.

@The_FFF -  I'll donate $5 for every Dave Bolland point through 2/12, $20 per short-handed goal. #itsbollybitch [Starts at 23 pts, 0 SH time of pledge]

@theannaenriquez - I'll donate $3 for every goal the Hawks score and $4 for every Burish goal scored when I see them on 2/11.   [Starting at 152 G for Hawks]

@xDontToewsMeBro - $50 for the Blackhawks

BLUE JACKETS

@powerplaygal  - I will donate $5 for every #CBJ win between now and 2/27.  [Started at 23]

BLUES

Pledges for Oshie, Berglund, Sobotka


@sarah_connors - I'll give $1 for every point scored by the #STLBlues' top line in the month of February. Oshie-Berglund-Sobotka.  [Starting at Oshie 11, Berglund 28, Sobotka 21]

BRUINS

Pledges so far for Lucic, Chara


@Hawgs38 - $1 for every Bergeron point, and $5 for every Marchand SHG [Starts at Bergeron 39; Marchand 4]

@NickTavares -  I'm donating $1 for every goal Milan Lucic and Zdeno Chara scores between now and Feb. 12 to @ChiPucksCancer. Thanks, @CeeAngi #Bruins [Starts at Chara 10G, Lucic 19G]

@wickedbruinsfan - #Bruins pledges: $5 for Tim Thomas shutout, $2 for @SteveKampfer47 goal, $1 for David Krejci point (from 2/1-2/28)  [Starting at Thomas 7 SO, Kampfer 4 G, Krejci 33 pts]

CANADIENS

@theactivestick -  Okay. I'll try my best to help get the word out in the #Habs camp, and I'll pledge $1 per Canadiens goal until 02.12.2011.  ... Updated later ... At this rate I might have to change my @ChiPucksCancer pledge to $1 per goal against the #Habs. Maybe I'll go with whichever is higher.  [Starts at 127 for; 148 against]

CANUCKS

Pledge for Kesler

@AreYouAnExpert - @VanCanucks I'm donating $5 for every February point Ryan Kesler scores to @ChiPucksCancer, so make sure he gets tons of points please! [Starting at 47 pts]

CAPITALS

Pledges for Green, Ovechkin

@KeepBradInBigD - Off-Twitter friend will donate $1 for every Ovechkin/Green goal including the All-Star game. [Starting at Ovechkin 19, Green 8] - Tally so far: Ovechkin 1 G in ASG

@RockTheRed852 - help get more Caps sponsored! I'm donating $1 for every Ovi/Green goal in February! [Starting at Ovechkin 19, Green 8]

COYOTES

Pledge for Yandle, Bissonnette


@hawkeyhaley - Better  idea, every minute of ice time @BizNasty2point0 has this year (2011), I'll give a dollar and my parents will match [Started at 98:33 as of 1/1]

@JimNeveau  - With @ChiPucksCancer's blessing, I will be donating $1 for every point Keith Yandle scores between now and February 28th.  [Started at 33, w/7G, 33A] -- To add a little extra $ to the cause, I'll also be donating $1 for every SOG and point Yandle gets in the ASG.  - Tally so far: 3 SOG in ASG

DEVILS

Pledge for Zharkov


@The_FFF  - No  for NJD yet?? Okay, $5 for every point scored by Zharkov thru 2/12, $100 for a hat trick! #NJDevils [Starting at 2]

DUCKS

@briannecole -  I'll do a dollar per Ducks goal til 2.12. [Starts at 133 time of pledge]

@icebaby20 - #MMDM  $1/ea start Hiller until the date of event  [Starting at 46 GP for Hiller]

FLAMES

@sarahdmc - I've got $2 for every point the #Flames earn during the month of February, plus $10 for a win at the Heritage Classic. [Starting at 54 pts]

FLYERS

Pledges for Briere, Giroux


@FlyersGirl05 -  I'm changing my donation for @ChiPucksCancer in honor of the Flyers. I'll donate $1 for every goal they score (thanks @inaneenglish). [Starts at 168 time of pledge]

@FlyersGirl05 - Since it's the All-Star break, I'll keep my donations going to @ChiPucksCancer. I'll add $1 for every goal Briere or Giroux scores. - Tally: ASG 3 G ($3)

@jponah - For every goal scored by the #Flyers, I will donate $1 until 2/12/11. Including goals by Briere or Giroux during #ASG  [Starting at 173] - Tally so far: ASG 3 G

HURRICANES


None listed for this team yet

ISLANDERS

Pledge for Grabner


@ReinaDeLaIsla - okay, so @ChiPucksCancer ... I think I've made a choice. I'll pledge $1 for every goal @grabs40 scores from now till 2/28. :) #isles  [Starts at 14]

KINGS

@icebaby20 - #MMDM for @ChiPucksCancer:  $1/ea start for Quick  until the date of event  [Start at 37 GS]

@LaurenWW - you got me for a dollar for every goal scored by the Kings during their "road" stretch... So until 2/24 [starting at 138 G]

@megums - I'm upping the ante on . Now $10 per Doughty goal AND $1 per #LAKings goal in February! Let's puck cancer! [Starts at Doughty 4 G, Kings 138 G]

@Motley_Su -  I'll join the fun. Since you have a Pens fan, i'll do the # LAKings - $1 per goal. $5 per shutout win btwn now and the event [Starts at 136 G time of pledge]

LIGHTNING


None listed for this team yet

MAPLE LEAFS

@fergus30 - So until February 12th, I will donate $1 for each goal against the Leafs for @ChiPucksCancer. Thanks for the rec @theactivestick [Starting at 148]

OILERS

Pledge forDubnyk

@icebaby20 -   put me in for $1 EDM for every start Dubnyk gets between now and the event  [Started at 15 GS]

@palindrome713 - 25¢ for any T. Hall assist. 50¢ for  Hall goal.  [Starts at Hall 16 G, 15 A]

PANTHERS

None listed for this team yet

PENGUINS

Pledges for Cooke, Staal, Kenndy, Fleury, Crosby, Orpik


@buySAMadrink -  Will donate $1 each for every goal scored by Matt Cooke, Jordan Staal and Tyler Kennedy :) [Starts at 9 for Cooke, 3 for JStaal, 7 for Kennedy time of pledge]

@camio87 -  Feb. 1-28, I'll donate 10¢ for every Fleury save and $1 for every Crosby point (if he's not playing, then Jordan Staal). [Starts at 951 saves for Fleury, 66 pts for Crosby, 7 pts for Staal time of pledge]

@PensN_CWGAP_Meg -  I'll take a leaf out of the others' books and donate $1 to @ChiPucksCancer for every goal scored by the Penguins between now and the event! [Starts at 150 time of pledge]

@PensN_CWGAP_Meg  - I'm adding $2 for Fleury's shutout and any future shutouts between now and the event

@PensN_CWGAP_Meg - I will add $10 to my donation for every goal Brooks Orpik scores.

@PensU_Nicole -  okay @buySAMadrink and I will donate $1 each for every goal scored by Matt Cooke, Jordan Staal and Tyler Kennedy :) [Starts at 9 for Cooke, 3 for JStaal, 7 for Kennedy time of pledge]

PREDATORS

Pledge for Weber, Hornqvist


@trebek14 - I will pledge $2 for every point Shea Weber and Patric Hornqvist register in February. #Preds  [Starts at Weber 30, Hornqvist 27]

RANGERS

Pledge for Gaborik


@theannaenriquez -  I'll donate $1 for every goal scored by @MGaborik10 and $10 for any #NYR hat trick from now til March 1.  [Starts at 16G for Gaborik time of pledge]

RED WINGS

@fvsports -  I will go .50 for every new follower, up to $100. --- plus he also added, Ok, we are always up for helping a good cause. If you can promise my #RedWings win the Cup I will donate $1,000.

@saraneuie -  Stealing from @inaneenglish, $1 for every Red Wing goal between now and the event, $2 for a Wings shorty [Starts at 161 G, 3 SHG time of pledge]

SABRES

Pledges for Ennis, Myers, Miller


@qutaishat - I pledged $1/Ennis goal, $1/Myers assist, and $2/ Miller 30+ save game until 2/28.   [Starting at Ellis 0 G, Myers 15 A, Miller games starting 1/27]

SENATORS

None listed for this team yet

SHARKS

Pledges for Couture, Heatley, Thorton, Marleau, Niemi, Setoguchi

@meryddian - $1 per Setoguchi goal btwn 1/26 & 2/12 [Starts at 9]

@OhMySwed3 -  I'll join as well. $1 per goal scored by Logan Couture, Dany Heatley, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau scored now and between the event [Starts at Couture 22, Heatley 18, Thorton 13, Marleau 18 G time of pledge]

@The_FFF - Cool! Throwing my hat into that ring too: $25 for any Niemi shutout thru 2/12, $10 for any game where he allows 2 or fewer G

STARS

Pledges for Richards, Burish, Benn, Eriksson, Neal, Lehtonen

@KeepBradInBigD - I'll donate $1 for ever Loui Eriksson point in February & $5 per point in the All-Star Game! And for good measure I'll donate $2 for every James Neal goal through the end of February! [Starting at Eriksson 49 pts; Neal 20 G]

@kmk1486 -  I will donate $2 for every Brad Richards point the rest of the year! [Starts at 57 time of pledge]

@kmk1486 -  I'll also donate $1 for every Adam Burish blocked shot the rest of the season! [Starts at 61 time of pledge]

@taylordbaird -  In the month of February, $10 for every Jamie Benn point (goal or assist) and $50 if he scores a hat-trick. [Starts at 33 pts - 13G, 20A time of pledge]

@taylordbaird - Putting more #MOTB - $50 if Stars' Lehtonen gets a shutout in the month of February. He's due for one!! I believe! :)

@theannaenriquez - I'll donate $4 for every Burish goal scored when I see them on 2/11. 

THRASHERS

@inaneenglish -  I'm pledging $1 to @ChiPucksCancer for every goal the Thrashers score between now and the event. What are you doing? [Starts at 148 time of pledge]

@inaneenglish - Since the Thrashers scored only 1 goal last night, I'm putting an extra $5 on the board for Pavelec's shutout.

@j_barty_party -  For every goal over 60, I will match it $2 for every dollar! How's that? #Thrashers fight cancer w/ drive to playoffs!

WILD

@brigid22 -  I'll put up $1 for every Cam Barker goal, assist and penalty minute from 2/1/11 to 2/28/11   #mnwild [Starting at 1G, 4A, 20 PIM]

@icebaby20 -  final pledge!  $1/start Jose Theodore MIN-now to event  [Start at 17 GS for Theodore]

@JosieMist - I'll pledge $1for every Havlat Goal until 2/28/11   [Starting at 14 G]

@ReynoldsSBN - $4 for Every Wild win until the event, $1 per Brent Burns goal. Minimum of $20 should neither happen.  for @EliseButler [Starting at 14 G]


NHL / GENERAL / ALL-STAR GAME ONLY

@FvSports - $0.50 for every new follower for next week, up to $100

@GeekMisconduct -  I'm donating $10 to @ChiPucksCancer for Toews' inclusion on yesterday's winning relay team.   Today in ASG: $5 for every #Blackhawks players' goal(s), $1 for assists & $50 if any Hawks wins ASG MVP  - Tally: 2 G, 6 A, 1 MVP ($66)

@One4theDagger - ASG -  I got $10 if Team Lidstrom wins, and $20 if any current #Blackhawks player gets MVP, $5 if it is Byfuglien - Tally: Lidstrom won, Sharp got MVP ($30)

@crazygirlemy - okay. $1 for each goal scored by @Matt9Duchene or Pauly at the #ASG, $10 if the team either of them plays for wins! - Tally: 2 G; Duchene's team won ($12)

@RachelPolner -  Ok i'm in $1 each avs goal $2 shortie $5 each goal Matt Duchene scores in @nhl ASG up to let's say $50?  - Tally: Statsny 1 G, 1 A; Duchene 1 G ($7)

@Nimijneb18 -  I'm in for the same as @RachelPolner - Tally: Statsny 1 G, 1 A; Duchene 1 G ($7)

@RachelPolner - if Matt or Paulie or Shatty win any of the superskills, I'll also throw in $5 - Tally: Duchene won his round in speed skate, and his squad won in lefties round of Skills Challenge Relay ($5)

@ReinaDeLaIsla - Okay, since Grabner won an event tonight... I think I'll add an extra $3 to the cause :) 

@SAMotherPucker - Because Sharpie is MVP I will throw in $6 extra to @ChiPucksCancer ($6)

Countdown to the event: 12 days!