Saturday, September 25, 2010

Technology Doesn't Always Cooperate

It would have been the most awesome film clip. The vantage point was perfect -- could not have been better. The match was great, and the outcome -- a belt.

I was tasked with the job of videotaping my friend Ra'am Dante's wrestling match tonight. I filmed his walk through the back of the hotel to the curtain. Then I filmed his entrance into the ring. I moved over to a seat right outside the ring where the lighting was good and the wrestlers were practically on top of me, and that's when the camera crapped out.

We missed all the good stuff. Pretty much the whole bout, the signature move, the belt presentation, and the lead-in to the next grudge match when another wrestler grabbed the microphone and called Ra'am out.

Stuff happens, and instead of preparing for it, I left my backup camera at home.

Unfortunately, this happens all the time.

I remember a conversation with my friend Peter Maher for my first book (Inside the NHL Dream), where he talked about the perfect interview with a goaltender on game day -- a rarity in the NHL. After finishing up the interview, he realized his tape recorder didn't record. It's not like you can do the interview all over again. Even if you could, the subject would never be as candid or answer the questions the same way.

Funny, I did the same thing with a goaltender. It was Curtis Joseph, actually. He was awesome, and after I realized I had hit the play button instead of the record button.

Then there's the tape record over the perfect interview you haven't had the chance to transcribe or download yet.

I'm sure everyone at one time or another has experienced a technology outage at the most inopportune time when you can't get that moment back and you missed documenting a piece of your history.

Beat yourself up all you want, but it happens to the best of us. And it will probably happen again. It's like karma. It's how technology rolls.

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, September 20, 2010

Just Ducky

March 1, 1993.

That was the day NHL beat writers questioned the sanity of the announcement: the Mighty Ducks are coming to Anaheim. Even with the Mickey Mouse empire behind them, as one headline attested, "NHL expansion on hold till next goofy rich guy."

Fast forward to playoffs 2003. With only two playoff seasons to their name (1997, 1999), the Ducks looked ever so mighty, mowing through Detroit, Dallas, and Minnesota before forcing the New Jersey Devils to a game seven in the Stanley Cup final. Mike Babcock had just taken over head coaching duties for the season. The team finished as the seventh seed in the Western Conference. G Jean-Sebastien Giguere tied a league record for most consecutive shutouts (3) and earned himself the Conn Smythe Trophy, even though the Devils won the Cup

Mike Babcock addresses the Ducks in December 2006

As November neared a close in 2006, the Ducks had their best start ever and sat first overall. They out shot their opponents by roughly 15 shots, averaging the third highest in the league. The Ducks defense had the most points by a league defense. The team ranked second in power play percentage and earned a standings point in each of their first 16 gamesthe longest streak to start a season.

RW Teemu Selanne banked his 500th career goal on November 22, 2006 at Colorado, scored points in nine of ten games, and led his club in points. He also tied a franchise record for both assists and points (5) when he chalked up five assists on November 19, 2006 versus Phoenix (tied D Dmitri Mironov12/12/97 versus Washington).

Captain Scott Niedermayer ranked fourth on the points scale for defensemen and was second on the club and sixth overall in the league for ice time. He was also the fan favorite in the All Star vote, leading the Western Conference balloting—well over 18,000 votes ahead of Detroit D Nicklas Lidstrom. Ducks D Chris Pronger was third in the ballot, first for points for defensemen, second in the league's plus/minus, and fourth in overall league assists.

Meanwhile, Giguere topped the league in wins and was tied for first in shutouts, while RW Dustin Penner was second in rookie scoring.

Then came the 2007 playoffs.

After winning the Pacific Division title, the Ducks eliminated Minnesota, Vancouver, and Detroit before heading to the Stanley Cup final to face the Ottawa, and beat the Senators in five games.

Yes, the team has struggled to make the playoffs since then, but the Ducks have certainly had the last laugh over the 1993 headlines. It's not a stretch to think that another future headline might read "Stanley Cup contender."

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Tony Amonte and the Personal Impact of Trades

It was 2006 when Tony Amonte was playing for the Calgary Flames. I was able to pull him aside and ask him about what it was like to be traded. Not about his role with his new team or what he thinks of the new city. What was the impact on his family?

"It’s a double-edged sword. The first one is really the one that catches you off guard. You really don’t know it’s coming. You don’t know what to expect. You don’t know how to act. The way you have to look at it is there’s a team that really wants you bad."

While fans know that players must report to their new city as soon as possible, nobody thinks about the logistics behind that.

"It’s brutal. Especially if you’re a single guy. You’ve got to pack up and leave right away. You’ve got to find friends to let the movers in and let the movers pick up your crap. If you’re married, fortunately you’ll have a wife you can leave behind and she has to do all the work, unfortunately. That’s the worst part about being traded is the move – upload and moving your stuff across the country. Your car is over there and everything else. As far as the trade itself goes, it’s usually pretty smooth. You get the call. You’re on the next plane out. You leave everything. Fortunately for most guys, they’ve got great friends, great wives, and people who will look after their stuff and take care of some issues for them while they’re gone."

Even if they hadn't played with someone before, through from past tournaments, all star games, and player association functions, many players do know a lot of players on other teams. It's still an adjustment. The room has a different chemistry and when you first arrive, you don't really know where you fit in. 

It's nice when one of the vets steps up to the plate.

"Guys know, especially in the middle of the season, when the new guy comes on the team, take him in, make sure you talk to him as much as you can, get to know the guy, dinners, if the guy needs anything while he’s in town. If he needs a rental car, you can hopefully set him up with some people. Whatever the guy needs to just make him comfortable. When you get to a city, you want to feel comfortable. You don’t want to feel like you’re all alone and sitting in a hotel every night. Guys will invite you out to dinner, go here, just do things and keep busy."

Labels: , , , , , ,