Saturday, May 24, 2008

Chelios makes a case to resurrect an old TV series

He was out of the lineup on Saturday for Game One of the Stanley Cup Final, but Detroit Red Wings owe much of its success in getting to this point to Chris Chelios.

It seems unlikely for a professional career in any sport to stem over 24 seasons, especially hockey. Chelios is an anomaly. Maybe he isn’t even human. He’s Lee Majors reincarnated: the Six Million Dollar Man cyborg.

In fact, in the last couple of seasons, Chelios looks to be in the best shape of his career, probably in better shape than half the players in the National Hockey League.

What’s his secret? His personal trainer, T. R. Goodman, has crafted a fitness regime that focuses on Chelios’ muscular endurance, strength, and high performance. In other words, this cocktail of exercises has seemingly transformed the three-time Norris Trophy winner and 11-time All Star into an athletic wonder.

It would appear the Wings’ D-man has more than a couple of seasons left. He has even admitted having an eye on playing to age 50. He only has four years to go. That said, in January 2008, Chelios became the second oldest player in National Hockey League history, second only to Gordie Howe. So when you think about it, four more seasons doesn’t seem a very big stretch. Heck, Chelios is even older than his coach Mike Babcock. He’s living proof that age is only a number.

When you have a man like this on your team, he can’t help but inspire the rest of the players, just by sheer work ethic, grit, and determination. Anyone who has played 1,616 regular season games plus 260 playoff games, including one Stanley Cup, and captained three U.S. Olympic teams has to garner the respect of his teammates and anyone who watches the game.

Chris Chelios was listed as a finalist for the Masterton Trophy, which will be presented at the NHL Awards on June 12. If the trophy goes to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey, who else could possibly rank ahead of this man? Yes, he’s taken his shots on the ice from time to time, but there is no question to his dedication. And if there is anything we can all learn from Chelios is he rewrote the meaning of perseverance.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Dan Dawson pulls his team to the NLL final

The crowning touch for this year’s National Lacrosse League season is one 6’5” forward by the name of Dan Dawson.

The six-year pro says, “Portland is not a one-man team. We’re not going to win games unless we have a total team effort.”

That may be true, but you could say the Lumberjax have made their way to the Champions Cup final solely on the back of its superstar. The team’s scoring leader set a franchise and career-high seven goals and five assists in Portland’s first ever playoff game May 4 against the heavily favored San Jose.

After mowing over the Stealth 18-16, Portland faced the Calgary Roughnecks at home May 10, and once again, Dawson led the play for another victory: 16-12. He had five points in the first quarter alone (three goals, two assists) and finished the game with five goals and five assists. In two games, he has bettered his career playoff high 10 goals and five assists in 2005 with Arizona.

But Dawson will also insist it wasn’t just his performance that excelled his team to the final. Certainly he had help from the likes of Ryan Powell (four goals) and others.

The Lumberjax won many of the battles along the board and Powell out-muscled the Calgary defense to score at least two of his goals.

Calgary Roughnecks’ captain Tracey Kelusky summed up his team’s efforts. “We didn’t take the flow to them, and as a result, they dictated. I don’t know if we had that sense of urgency.”

In the second quarter, Matt Disher came to the bench after facing 10 shots, allowing four goals against, and six saves in lieu of Dallas Eliuk.

Dawson commented on Eliuk’s performance coming off the bench, “He showed why he’s one of the greatest goaltenders in the league.”

At the other end, Pat Campbell came in to replace Steve “Chugger” Dietrick in goal after two Ryan Powell goals in the fourth. Dietrick had faced 47 shots by then, made 33 saves, and allowed 14 goals against, but it was the last four goals that haunted him.

“Those last four goals were brutal and cost us the game.”

The stage is now set for Portland to make NLL history and faces the Buffalo Bandits in the final. It’s likely Dawson will add significantly to his point total, cementing his position as one of the more exciting players to watch in 2009.