Archive for January, 2010

Different eras spawn different athletes. The old grey bearded Grampas regaling everyone within earshot with their fond memories of who was the toughest, who was the fastest, and even the old “who was the greatest goalie of all time”.  Here are some facts for those of you to conjure in the comparison of Terry Sawchuck and Martin Brodeur. The only similarity that they had as people and as goalies is that they’re two of the greatest of all time while their styles and demeanor are at opposite ends of the spectrum. Checks and balances are made, and I will tell you at the end who I think was the better goalie.

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This is going to really piss off a lot of you. I can only give you my opinion as a former player and coach who was fortunate enough to call the NHL home for awhile.  As I write this statement my memory bank goes back to 4 or 5 elite of the elite. There are good players, great players and truly legendary. Then there are the hockey gods who stand above the rest like Greek gods.

Gordie Howe, Bobby Orr, Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux are in a reserved section for non mortals; Howe – because of his greatness and longevity. If I was going to start a franchise from scratch Bobby Orr would be my pick.

Gretzky was not the fastest, not the quickest, did not have the hardest shot, was actually somewhat weak, but that’s why he was the greatest player of my generation – he was a ghost on blades. You couldn’t stop him; he was like a master chess player, always 3 moves ahead.

Mario Lemieux was so skilled, so big and strong. When in the hockey playing mood, 66 was almost as good as 99 – almost. Funny, but I always thought he would rather be on the golf course than the frozen ice.

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I must admit right up front that I am not an impartial or unbiased spectator standing at the sidelines during the Michael Liambas debacle. Liambas is like a family member to our homestead, he played in Erie for the Otters with my youngest boy Ryan for a season. He is easily one of the most mature 19 year olds I have ever met and is always respectful and prideful regarding the game of hockey. I cannot think of too many athletes that have worked so hard to accomplish their goals in life. He literally is a self made hockey player.

When the phone rang at 11 o’clock on October 30th the voice on the other end of the phone was Michael Liambas. He was devastated, shaken, and worried about Ben Fanelli and his injuries that occurred that evening.

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Leaf nation is still scratching their collective scalps as Toronto Maple Leafs’ guru, Brian Burke the GM wheeler dealer and grand pooh bah of the long suffering franchise slipped this utterance in his” face the nation speech” last week.

Comparing the Leaf kennel to a tracked down zebra, and the 29 other GMs to vultures waiting for Mr. Burke to panic and trade more first rounders, he declared “this zebra is not dead yet”.  All this was done without the aid of a ventriloquist, or stand in and was done with a straight face, though slightly smug.

The zebra is 4 hooves up, and in the food chain the lions come first and the vultures second.

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”Small Potatoes ” that’s the name of the ESPN documentary about  the United States Football League, and the pompous egomaniac Donald Trump who with his own multi, mega millions was able to push, shove, scare and intimidate all the football owners of the upstart league into extinction. This was 1985 and” Mr Comb Over” ran roughshod over all the owners with the exception of one man, a Canadian, by the name of Johnny F Bassett. The Donald gave Johnny F. a wide berth at all times, he recognized very early, and very quickly , that this Canadian son loved a challenge. He would ”see” your million and ”raise”.

Funny, I always think of Mr Bassett as a hockey guy, and he was.

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