Posts tagged ‘Saku Koivu’

November 26, 2008

Sidney Crosby is a Tool: SHR!’s View of the NHL

by Chelsea

With the Dallas Stars slumped in a 6-10-4 hole at the bottom of the league, we at SHR! felt it was time to stop being so introspective. We’ve picked, prodded, and yelled at everyone from the players to the owner, and now it’s time to move on (at least until the next game). Team bias aside, here’s how we feel about some other players across the league this season.

Note: All the links go to images, videos, and articles that we felt illustrated our feelings best. So please, don’t hesitate with the clicking. 
 

Sidney Crosby
First overall draft pick in 2005. Winner of the Art Ross Trophy, the Lester B. Pearson Award, and the Hart Memorial Trophy. 21 years old and captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Led his team to the Stanley Cup Finals last season, and failed (despite his best efforts) to grow any semblance of a beard through the entire run. Also, he’s a total tool. In a meeting with a pair of original Penguins season ticket holders, Crosby responded to the couple’s enthusiasm with monotonous ‘Oh’s and ‘Okay’s. A 9-year-old can do your spinny move, Crosby. It doesn’t make you special or make up for the absolute lack of personality. Your own team’s fans call you “Cindy” for a reason.
 

Evgeni Malkin
Basically a slightly older, Russian, less dynamic version of Crosby. Since we’ve already determined that Crosby’s a tool, that means Malkin is too. Pity. He’s first in the league for assists right now, but sitting under that kind of stifling shadow, he’ll always be at the bottom of our books (especially when it comes to Russian players). Should he ever escape Sid and the Pens, we’ll be on the lookout for the much-anticipated reveal of his personality. Until then, though, no thanks.   
 

Alexander Ovechkin
Now here’s a Russian player we can get behind. Sure, he’s got aesthetics of a Cro-Magnon, but behind all that scruff is a highly-skilled someone with a real love of the sport. Known for exuberant goal celebrations, a goofy grin, incredible scoring ability, and a seemingly never-ending list of quirks, Ovechkin is credited with bringing much-needed personality and talent into the NHL. He was first overall in his draft year (2004) and, thanks to the lockout, ended up debuting versus Sidney Crosby, effectively stealing the Calder Memorial Trophy with a stunning 52 goal/106 point season. Really though, we mostly love him because he makes us laugh just about every time he gets in front of a camera or near a reporter. 


Alexander Semin
The “other” Alex is generally overshadowed by Alex Ovechkin, but we found that there’s a lot to like about this guy aside from his partner-in-crime. We first picked him up on our radar when this interview came out with him calling Crosby “nothing special”. Now, them’s fighting words. While the rest of the league took offense, we sat back and had a good laugh. The best part? Semin was sharing the top spot in league points with Malkin up until his injury, with 27 points in 16 games. Crosby, meanwhile, still only has 25 points in 20 games. Like Ovechkin, though, his obvious talent isn’t the main draw to us at SHR. We love him because, despite being here for 2 full years (5 if you include up to his first as a Capital) and obviously understanding English, he still insists on doing interviews in Russian using a translator. Or because he’s always laughing at seemingly nothing. Or because he does things like this during games. He’s infectious.

 

Brooks Laich (and Mike Green)
While he might not be as good of a goal scorer as Ovechkin (12 points in 21 games), Laich claims to challenge him in the “ladies man” department. We may not necessarily agree with that, but we will agree that he’s a funny and well-spoken guy. Green is included because he shares the spotlight with Laich in some fun adventures with Caps Cribs. In the end, Laich won out because (okay, not ALL bias aside) he’s from Saskatchewan and so is Brenden Morrow, and he unsurprisingly reminds us a little bit of our beloved captain. 


Jason Arnott
An ex-Star, he proved to be a major pain in the derriere so far this season. Captaining the Nashville Predators, he got two goals and one assist in the only time he’s played us in 08-09. We lost that game 3-1. From our understanding, he was that kind of ache for Stars fans even when he was a Star, his antics making him more trouble than he was worth. Still, he’s earned his spot as captain for his new team, and we were openly alarmed the night he suffered a neck strain on a frightful collision that left him motionless on the ice for over five minutes. Glad he’s alright, and looking forward to despising him again come our match-up in December.
 

Jordan Tootoo
We respectfully dislike Arnott, because he’s got the potential to put us in some statistical pain. We just outright hate Tootoo, because he’s got the potential to put us in some unnecessarily excessive physical pain. His nicknames range from “Tutu” to “Toots” and they all remind us of how he likes to suckerpunch people with his gloves on. We think words like “vile,” “scum,” and “cowardly” describe him best. He’s been accused of biting people, running injured players, diving, faking innocence, and otherwise shaming the sport. We might be holding a grudge, but rightfully so. This man has no and has earned no respect. 
 

Henrik Lundqvist
Twin of Stars forward Joel Lundqvist, Henrik is the goaltender for the New York Rangers. While we may not care much for that team, Lundqvist stands alone as our favored Eastern goalie. He currently sports a .926 sv%, good for seventh best in the league, and a GAA (2.09) that’s good for fifth best. When his team needs a big player, he makes big saves, and when he can’t do that, he doesn’t throw a fit when he gets pulled from the game. He’s a class act with style that should make Sean Avery jealous, but… well, he doesn’t appear to take himself too seriously. 


Martin Brodeur
A good part of why we like Lundqvist is that he’s escaped the kind of snobbery that seems to drip off other Eastern goalies, particularly Brodeur. He could be the best netminder ever to set foot on ice, or the worst, and it wouldn’t matter to us with an attitude like that. When someone in the league does something he doesn’t like (see Avery, arm-waving), he gripes about it until the rules are changed in his favor. And when other goaltenders began exploiting equipment size rules, Brodeur stubbornly insisted on wearing the old, smaller sizes. Good for him, but then he turned around and complained that other goalies had an unfair advantage. Wait, what? His game wasn’t even suffering from this “injustice”, and he still forced another rule change about it. Its amazing that there’s still a goalie trapezoid, all things considered.
 

Patrick Kane (and Jonathon Toews)
Neither of them appear to have hit puberty yet, but they both do their best to carry the Blackhawks on their shoulders in an unfortunate Crosby-like trend. Since when are a pair of 20-year-olds responsible enough to lead a professional hockey team? 
Also like Sidney Crosby, Kane can’t grow a beard. He said here that he wasn’t going to shave, but we saw him in Dallas 10 days later and can attest to the fact that his facial hair was still MIA. When it comes to the ‘Hawks, we’d rather see more of the pranksters, Adam Burish and Patrick Sharp, and less of the pranked. 


Chris Chelios (and the Red Wings)
If schooling the Stars and the Penguins in last year’s playoffs wasn’t enough proof, the Red Wings walked off with the Stanley Cup and the respect of the entire league. Their skill level, style of play, and ability to win has brought us to this conclusion: the Wings are animatronic hockey players. A good example of this is Chris Chelios, who has been functioning in the NHL for longer than players like Crosby or Ovechkin have been alive. We reckon that he’s due for an oil change soon. We’re not sure where Detroit picked up such sophisticated technology (the same place they get their dead octopuses, maybe?), but we’ll bet that they’re powered with Energizer batteries. 


Braydon Coburn
Rolled out of bed, got misdirected by a hurricane, wandered through a prison, and finally made it to the Flyer’s headshot photoshoot. At least, that’s what it looks like. At 6’5” and 220 lbs, we still think Coburn is probably the least-scary giant hockey monster we’ve ever not actually met. We credit this commercial for giving us that opinion, as he brought a surprising amount of natural charisma to make for a very endearing thirty seconds. Hockey commercials are usually funny because of the awful acting. This one was funny for just the opposite. 


Ryan Malone
Joining Coburn in the ranks of people we like because of their hockey commercials is Ryan Malone. To be honest, we don’t care if he DID take more money and fled his hometown to stink it up with the Lightning. He’s got better stats than Steven Stamkos right now, anyway. Besides, after seeing this, we suspect he was sick of being the only person with an outgoing personality on his team. Is it possible that a losing Lightning still beats a winning Penguins when rated on fun and humor? We hope so. 

 

Saku Koivu (and Mikko Koivu
A pair of Finnish hockey brothers, separated by nine years and a thousand miles, the Koivus are as charming as they come. Saku has been with the Canadiens since they drafted him in 1993, while Mikko has been for Minnesota since they drafted him in 2001. With both of them currently captaining their respective teams, it’s pretty unlikely that they’ll ever play on the same side in an NHL match-up. Older brother Saku gets the upperhand for us because of his battle with cancer, and our respect for him having overcome it. 

 

Marc Savard
There were a lot of Bruins competing for this spot, including Milan Lucic and Zdeno Chara. Savard got it because of his antics in the game in which they played the Stars. Once again, bias aside, this was really our first impression of Bruins gameplay, and it left us with a bitter taste in our mouths. We fully understand how grating Avery must have been for him, but that gave Savard no excuse to push him into the fetal position and punch him in the head. We wouldn’t even wish that kind of circus on our rivals, which is why we hope the likes of Savard never becomes part of the Stars. 


Eric Staal (and Jordan and Marc and Jared)
Oh, the Staal brothers. Eric and Jordan already have hat tricks this season, and Marc… has only gotten four points in 24 games this season. That’s alright, though. Jared’s still stuck in the minors. We might not be fans of them as individuals per se, but as a group, they’re definitely fun to watch. Maybe we have a harder time loving them as individuals because it’s so hard to tell them apart when they aren’t wearing the colors of their respective teams. We’re even willing to excuse this little incident, because the mental image of hockey superstars wandering drunk on a highway harassing motorists is kind of funny. 

 

That’s all for our SCiaT: SVotN. Feel free to comment and add on to our conclusions, or remind us of heroes and villains that we may have left off the list.

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November 10, 2008

Mr. Monday: Mike Ribeiro

by Chelsea

Centering the Dallas Stars top line, Mike Ribeiro flew through our SHR +/- with +21 in only three games (granted, we kinda skipped over the two nasty road losses…). After a stellar performance against the New York Islanders in which he claimed four assists and a goal for a five-point night, he now leads the team in assists with 13 in 14 games.

He’s put up points in 8 of those 14 games and is 9th in the league for assists. 

Also, he’s got a heck of a new headshot for the 08-09 season.

 

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He's gonna eat your soul. 😦

Ribeiro started his NHL career 1998 as a second round draft pick by Montreal, his hometown. However, it wasn’t until the 03-04 season that he was given the chance to play a full season. That year, he played 81 games and had 65 points. He’d only play one more full season with the Canadiens (a 51-point season) before he was traded to Dallas.

For someone playing for the team he grew up watching, Ribeiro did not have a particularly positive legacy. He was known more for his playoff performance, in which he extremely over-exaggerated an injury (think flailing around on the ice) only to get caught grinning and laughing about it on the bench, than his ability to set up plays. 

He supposedly also had trouble getting along with fellow Hab Saku Koivu, reportedly having a rivalry for top centering spot before he was traded to the Stars. He also frustrated Canadiens management with his attitude and tendency to lose his momentum come playoffs time. When the Stars offered defenseman Janne Niinimaa for Ribeiro and a 2008 draft pick, Montreal pulled the trigger, and Ribeiro was headed to Texas.

Ribeiro shined almost immediately as a Star. He played 81 games in his first season and put up another 59 points. Ex-GM Doug Armstrong was quoted as saying, 

 “I think somewhere on the airline flight from Montreal to Dallas it clicked in, because he’s played hard and he’s performed well.

Though he’s maintained his eccentric style (both on and off the ice), Ribeiro managed to leave the poor attitude behind him in Canada. Stars management opened their arms and embraced Ribeiro as the player he is, instead of trying to fit him into a mold of what they felt he should be. As a result, his more positive attributes became apparent where they hadn’t before. Instead of being known as a “diver”, Ribeiro was being seen as someone who could snake the puck through any amount of bodies, who could put the puck in the net, and who could set up his teammates for success.

It certainly didn’t hurt that he found instant chemistry with Stars captain Brenden Morrow. Ribeiro maneuvers the puck to the net, and Morrow puts it in. It was a perfect match that showed clearly in numbers; for both, last season was a career high, with Ribeiro getting 56 assists and 83 points in the regular season alone, and Morrow with 32 goals and 74 points. 

However, no matter which team he plays on, Ribeiro never fails to provide us with classic playoff moments. In the third round 07-08 playoffs, Ribs had a little confrontation with Detroit netminder Chris Osgood. After Osgood attempted to shove the end of his goalie stick up Ribeiro’s nose as he skated by, our feisty forward responded with a baseball-style swing into Osgood’s chest. Red Wings fans called for his head, and Stars fans argued that it was only payback. In the end, the NHL did not penalize him besides fining both parties for an undisclosed amount. 

Last year was also Ribeiro’s first to play in the NHL All-Star game.

He’s also on the ballot for this year’s game. 

There’s a lot to like about Mike Ribeiro, to be sure. His style of play has been described as “painfully creative”, and to us at SHR he resembles a cat playing with a mouse when he’s got the puck. He’s patient, a wizard when it comes to setting up plays for his linemates. He’s got an attitude that’s earned him a reputation among fans as a “hockey gangsta”, with the fashion sense to match (he showed up after practice in a slouchy, sparkly zebra-print shirt one day). When asked “Player or Playa?”, Ribs says “… Playa.”, with a grin. 

I couldn’t do a Mike Ribeiro piece without giving you this clip, known as the Ribbons Dance.

Of course, WordPress hates custom html so I can’t embed the clip because it isn’t on Youtube. Basically. So, here’s the link to it instead: Ribbons Dance. Skip ahead to 2:22 for it. 

Ribeiro inked a five-year contract with the Stars in January, so be prepared for much more of his highlight reel moments in black and gold.

On a more personal note, Ribeiro is a Portuguese French Canadian. His father played soccer professionally in Portugal and his mother quit her job to be a full-time parent and hockey mom for him. He’s got a family of his own; a wife, Tamara, and three kids, Mikael, Noah, and Viktoria. 

After his trade to Dallas, he said this in an article from NHL.com:

“My wife and kids and I are closer than ever,” Ribeiro said. “There are no outside distractions. I feel more focused … maybe more responsible for our life as a family than I ever have. Maybe that’s made me more mature, more accountable on the ice.”

So…

He might be scrawny, crazy, and painfully creative, but he’s an relentless player whose high skill level practically bleeds out onto the ice. Not to mention he’s one of the most amusing players to watch during a game.

 

He loves his Stars.

He loves his Stars.