Friday, June 29, 2007

I-Pod, I-Phone now I-Puck ?????????

Jasper here.

Summer’s great but I sure miss hockey season. How about you guys out there? Ehh? Still walking with wood are ya?

Hey you guys, did ya go out and get your new I-Phone yet? Nah? Me neither.

Well its supposed to be one super-duper device that Apple expects to sell a humongousillion of over the next couple of years. I’m hearing that folks camped out at retail outlets to be first in line to get these versatile little puppies.

Ya gotta have one ya know.

Got your I-Pod, now ya gotta go out and get your I-Phone. I guess.

So what else has Apple been up to? I don’t want to leave you guys in the dark so let me give ya little bit of the scoop that I’ve been hearing in the back woods. I’ve got to tell ya up front that it ain’t no good though and I’ll explain my opinions latter on. Ehh?

What I hear is that they’ve partnered with the NHL, Versus (Comcast) and some of the professional hockey equipment manufacturers. They’ve developed a new product that they’re going to call the I-Puck.

Yup, the I-Puck and you heard it here first; right from Jasper’s mouth.

The rumor is that it’s not just a new puck but a new way to play hockey. It’s going to re-invent the game.

The features of the I-Puck (so far that I’ve heard):

1) Will look and feel just like the standard issue NHL puck.
2) Includes a rechargeable battery for operating all of the digital features that’s good for about one and half hours or including a safety factor – about one period of play. (If this little sucker drizzles down to the beer leagues then on one charge it should last about a game.)
3) Comes with a docking system via integral waterproof USB port that recharges the battery and is used to download game data, player stats and vitals, syncs to the game clock, etc, etc.
4) Built in wireless video system with five lenses on each surface (one aiming straight out and the others at ninety degrees with a upward view at about a thirty degree angle off of vertical) and eight around the perimeter circumference each positioned at every forty-five to aim straight out from the center.
5) Includes a GPS system of military quality accurate to one centimeter and an override system that detects the position of the boards, red line, blue lines and goal lines via a precision proximity detection system.

But that’s not all that is required for this system to work. The docking station has to be connected to redundant high-end Apple computers with all the required encrypted multi-channel wireless video inputs. Below the ice a special proximity detection wiring system, connected back to the computer, has to be installed with wires located on both edges of coloring of the aforementioned lines. The boards have to have a similar proximity wiring system included. The detection system has to be directionally fine tuned so as to detect the puck or a player passing across the space perfectly perpendicular up to thirty feet above the ice surface.

Smaller wireless sending units, I-Skates, will be manufactured into each players’ skates and an I-EQ system will be wired into sox, pants gloves, helmets and jerseys. Each stick and blade will have the I-Stick system integral to them. These smaller sub-systems are nothing more the RF senders that the I-Puck and the rink wired system will detect.

The gist of this whole system of course is that we’ll now get some new camera angles as we watch the NHL on Versus. (I’m guessing that there will be some fee arrangement for local coverage networks to buy into the new system.) Another feature, one that the NHL really likes, is that all line infractions, goals, some delay of game calls, and too many men on the ice calls will now be handled by the I-Puck system. Basically linesmen will no longer be needed on the ice. They will now sit in a new enclosed area off ice between the two benches and will only jump on the ice to break up fights or the usual pushing and shoving. Rather than whistles they will carry electrical stunners and the NHL figures that after one season all rough stuff will be eliminated. The system will accurately award all goals and assists weeding out illegal high stick deflections and kick-ins. I’m hearing that when a goal is scored it causes the red light to come on and automatic bull horn or whatever organ blasting that the arena has and then after a programmed delay announces the goal scorer and assists not requiring the ref to award these points or a goal judge to turn the light on.

The NHL and Versus think that this is a pretty sweet upgrade to our game of hockey. Apple thinks that they’ll make millions off of it and get new major marketing channels world wide from it usage. As usual and as similar to the I-Phone it comes with a two year contract with major penalties for early termination.


I think that this is bunch of crap. Sure maybe the new camera angles will be great and exciting but we’ve seen some of the ridiculous things that the TV networks have tried before to make our game “more viewer friendly.” So we’ll have to wait and see on this aspect of the I-Puck system.

But I’ll tell you guys that I’m really upset with this proximity detection system that calls infractions and awards goals and assists. Shit, the best part of watching a sporting event is being able to argue about the calls with your buddies, ehh. Ya know the comments, “It never crossed the line!” or “His stick wasn’t that damn high!” or “Pull your head out ref!” yadie, yadie, yadie. Hey and wait until the hackers figure out how to manipulate the system and really screw it up. Shit they probably won’t have to mess with the game’s entertainment value – I can just see all kinds of equipment delays as components malfunction over the course of a game. Delay for a broken pane of glass that’ll be nothing as compared to the “System Manager” calling time out because Crosby’s sending unit in his left skate quit working. Give – me – a – break!

And what do you guy’s think about eliminating goal judges and only using linesmen to break things up with stunners. That’s a bunch of horse pucky! Man we gotta bring back that old time hockey. I’m already so pissed off at the way that they’ve restricted so many of the defensive tactics that I was taught to use that I’m about ready to puke thinking about this stinking I-Puck. I gotta tell ya that when Don Cherry gets wind of this the shit is going to fly. The worst is - that damn two year contract.

You guys, whaddya think about this? Ya for it or like me against it? Ehh?

Let me know – leave a comment here or email me at

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Hockey's Secret Society

Earlier this week I happened to be reading a news report on ABC News’ website. It was a startling article by Marcus Baram titled “Did Bush’s Grandfather Steal Geronimo’s Skull?”

Holy shit!

The article hints that our president’s grandfather might have dug up and stolen, the famous Indian, Geronimo’s skull and femur back in 1917 for Yale’s Skull and Bones society. And that these artifacts might still be on display in the Skull and Bones “Tomb”.

I’m telling you guys that this is just hitting too close to home for me. I had to reread the article a couple of times and each time it gave me goose bumps. This is some scary coinkie-dinkie, ehh?

I probably shouldn’t be revealing the following facts but I’m going to anyway out of good conscience. That’s something that living in the backwoods teaches ya – get away with something for as long as you can but when its time (and you’ll know when that is) then ya just better fess-up.

So here’s the story you guys:

I mentioned several times how the Outlaws are such a tight band of bros. Ehh? You know it, you believe and you can relate to it. I told ya last week how to be an Outlaw ya had to have a certain charisma or we didn’t want ya playin for us. Right? Ya know the type I’m talking about. Somebody that could play the game fair enough, keep up with the drinkin and partyin and would have your six if ya needed it in a fight. Ehh?

The forefathers of the team, me included, had enough correct insight, to usually pick the right characters. Usually a season would tell for sure. At the end of the first season each player was invited to join our secret Crossed Stick Society. Yep!

You’re doubting this? No way guys! I've download a copy of our business card at the start of this blog. So go back and take a look above at our puck decal and business card. See the crossed sticks on both? Not kidding guys. Hey and read that shit on the business card. Whacha think we’re really up to, huh? Sorry but I had to black out the phone number because that puppy is still classified information.

Yup, we’re into some real live clandestine activities and some of those activities oh so closely mirror the ABC News article it just about scares the heebie-jeebies out a me.

We have a place where we gather for our Crossed Stick Society meetings. It’s in the back room of what used to be Happy Jacks Good Time Saloon. The place hasn’t gone by that name now for over twenty years, so the common folks wouldn’t be able to find it if they tried. Even when it did go by that name it was such a shit ass hole in the wall that most would have avoided it anyway.

We keep some sacred hockey trinkets there behind a secret door inside of the beer cooler. It just looks like a patch in the galvanized wall but we know better. So what’s in there, in the Cooler? Ehh? It makes me smile to think.

We’ve got some typical stuff. A couple of old raggedy, bloody, smelly jerseys from retired players. Yup they really stink to high heaven and we usually pass them around for a quick sniff at the beginning of meetings like you’d pass around a joint to get the party going.

What else? Lets see, we’ve got the first league cup that we won and that we all drank out of on that glorious night. Hell, my old man even drank outta that keepsake. Never been washed. Nope, and we occasionally pass it around at the end of a meeting filled with brew if we’re sober enough to remember. We’ve got a few teeth that we’ve put in epoxy shells and we’ve got one massive tape ball that Ry-Ry put together once. We’ve got JP’s goalie stick that has a puck mouse hole in it that one of Jingle’s slap shots left. – unbelievable. I’ll have to sneak a picture of that someday to show you guys. I think we’ve got a couple of pair panties and the some of the sacred foil that Vigor used to use.

Yeah, but we’ve got some more valuable things that have been snuck or stolen. Keith, one of my earlier defensive partners, came to us from Joliet. He was a big Blackhawks fan and Denis Savard was his favorite player as a kid. His dad used to get him into a couple of home games every year. He managed to sneak into the Hawks’ dressing room during the game and hid out in toilet stall during intermission between periods. Denny plopped down in the next stall and proceeded to have a couple of smokes while taking a dump. Keith snagged those butts and gave them to the Crossed Sticks Society to be forever stored in the cooler. We keep them in a baggy with like a -- toe-tag attached.

We’ve got a non-descript piece of plywood. Doesn’t look very important but it was tossed from the ice of a St. Louis Blues game. I figure that it must have been an away game because of I can’t think of an Outlaw that ever hailed from St. Louis. And it isn’t a piece of a stick blade either. Much more important then that. It’s a piece of the improvised back and spine protector that Doug Gilmore used to keep from getting damaged from cross checks while he parked in the slot on the edge of the crease. I don’t know who recovered it but it apparently broke off during a horrendous little battle and the linesman picked it up and tried to throw it into the time keeper’s bench. It missed and landed over the glass at the feet of a unaware spectator. Our guy snagged it up.

We’ve got some body parts too. Gavin who came outta Detroit had heard from his older sister in 1973 that her boss a surgeon was going to remove a bone from Gordie Howe’s wrist. She was an attending nurse in the surgery and managed to steal that little bone by doing a bit of switch-o-rama. I can’t tell if its his scaphoid or his trapezium, not being a doctor and all, but it ain’t very big either. We keep it inside an empty Mickey’s Big Mouth. I think Gavin had to trade some smoke to get it from his sister. But we’ve got it now.

But our biggest trophy item that we have is very hush – hush. You guys can’t tell anybody about this. We’d probably get prosecuted for some sort of international crime for this jewel. So keep it below the collar if ya know what I mean.

We’ve got one of Hobey Baker’s knee caps! Shhh …. keep it down. Don’t let anyone know. Ehh?

No, we didn’t dig it out of his grave back in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania where “most” of his remains rest, but it was one hell of an adventure how it ended up in the “Cooler”. We of the Crossed Stick Society keep this piece of Hobart Amory Hare Baker in a revered grape jelly jar submerged below some of Russia’s finest vodka.

For those of you that don’t know, Hobey Baker has an award named after him that the best collegiate hockey player wins each year. He was a phenomenal player at Princeton University in the early 1900’s. In my book – Hobey Baker was walking with wood. While at Princeton he was a member of the Ivy Club. History says that this was just an “eating” club but this story tends to indicate that it was similar to the Cross and Bones at Yale as a secret society. We tend to believe that it has its origination in Europe with ties to the Masons and Knights Templors or some other such secret and powerful secret organization. Some rumors of the Ivy Club hint that the boys were into some bare knuckle fisticuffs where much money was won and lost between the life-long members. Sounds like that fits well with a guy that’s buried in the state that the Flyer’s hail from.

Upon graduating from Princeton, Hobey began working for JP Morgan who we think had ties through his European education to this same Ivy Club. JP Morgan and his company were (and still is) a very powerful and wealthy institution.

World War I broke out and Hobey became a pilot and possibly shot down as many as three enemy planes before his own demise. He flew a Spad III that was painted Princeton’s colors – orange and black. I don’t know off the top of my head or not if he was shot down or crashed. But on December 21, 1918 he died near Toul, France, a town with medieval fortifications located on the Moselle River.

From here the official history gets a little dicey so we’ll pickup from Pittsie’s tale. Pittsie is an Outlaw from the 1990’s. He’s also a lawyer so I figure his story could be a little dicey too. I believe that he got his law degree from George Washington University and his folks (rich bastards on Edmonton oil or something) gave him an around the world trip as a graduation gift. About a year to see the sights and take it all in. Not bad ,ehh, for a puck head? It was a journey of heavy partying and he made many friends along the way.

He tells it that he spent about two weeks in Singapore, drinkin, eatin and waking up in places that he had no memory of getting to. He said that he had found a favorite little night spot that was mainly catering to the foreign crowd and partied his ass off there at the start of every evening. Where he ended up didn’t seem to matter. Ladies and liquor and good smoke is the way he described it. One night when he was getting pretty juiced up and boasting about his hockey abilities he was looped into some back and forth bull shit with a skinny little Frenchman named Xavier.

Xavier was down vacationing from a business venture in Vietnam that was being financed by J.P. Morgan. He said that he had also spent some time in Montreal working on diamond imports from South Africa. He was a fan of the Habs since then and he and Pittsie hit it off big time even though there must have been forty or so years difference in their ages.

They both scored some nukie that evening that they met but hooked up again the next night with a whole ‘nother load of shenanigans. So they get going on hockey again and Xavier says in his broken English, “You know the Hobey Baker, no?”

Pittsie a Canadian but wise in things American says “Oui, for fucking sure!”

Well they get talking about Hobie and Xavier lets on that his father and gang saw Hobie after he crashed in northeastern France during the first world war. “Oui., he was a liberator and his last words were “Viva la Club Ivy”. My father almost fainted upon hearing this.”

“His death then was quick but tragic after that and they helped to remove his remains from the orange and black plane and turn them over to the local authorities. That evening his dad’s gang went back to the wreck because of what Hobie had last said; hoping to find some relic or note pertaining to this secret society that they too were member’s of as passed down by there fathers and grandfathers. Not knowing what they’d find they were cautious so that the authorities wouldn’t see them there in the dark of night. They found nothing else except the bloody mess of Hobey’s crash. Some flesh and torn fabric was all they saw until the plane shifted from their combined weight and something fell. It was Hobey’s kneecap with a little flap of flesh. Feeling in awe of this man that they didn’t know and yet knowing he must be of their same secret society La Club Ivy they preserved and saved this chunk of soft tissue. They knew that someday someone will find meaning in it so they hid it away.”

Xavier told him that they hid it behind a loose cornerstone of a rampart on the northern wall of the fortification around Toul. The river was running high that night and it allowed them to reach this special stone by boat. As usual to movie stories that we’ve seen recently this stone was marked with the Masonic symbol.

Your thinking bullshit!!!!!!!!!

Pittsie was thinking it too. Just a drunken story, ehh. But Xavier says, No, monsieur, I’ve seen it too and placed things of value behind this same stone.”

Pittsie says, “Xavier,ya want another one?” And they party on for the night.

Before the end of his stay in Singapore Pittsie hooks up with some Ausy dude that joins him for much of the rest of the gift vacation. I can’t remember his name but I remember him well and skating with him a bit. He really sucked on the ice – beginner – but what the hey he seemed to appreciate the sport and that ain’t such a bad attitude. Ehh?

So you guys can guess what happens next in this story. They hook up with some honeys later on in Paris and the girls want to get out of town into the country. Pittsie on a whim asks them if they know where Toul is and if that is someplace they’d consider heading to. “Mais, oui! We’ll navigate.”

So off they go and it rains all of the two or so hour drive and continues raining through the night. The next day they wander around town while Pittsie is scoping out the river. He lets the Ausy guy in on his plan. “We go up river to Nancy and rent a sports boat for the day. Get the girls drunk so that they don’t really know what’s going on and see if we can find this loose stone in one of the north ramparts. With the rain last night the river will be high and we might get lucky.”

So off they went on their little adventure and several hours later had success by finding the right cornerstone. It was bigger and heavier then they expected but with some expert maneuvering of the boat and a little juggling they were able to reach inside the opening. Their were many strange things inside including a jeweled watch still attached to a wrist and gloved hand, some guns, leather wrapped documents and of course Hobie’s kneecap wrapped in an orange and black wool scarf. They took the kneecap – scarf and all and left one of the girl’s panties and bras in its place. What a kick – these guys were nuts-o!

Pittsie brought Hobies’ kneecap back to the states. He was sweating bullets going through customs fearing that they’d thoroughly search his luggage. Went smooth though. He kept it until he became an Outlaw and joined our Crossed Stick Society realizing how special this would be for us. It is one of our most treasured items and I hope you guys never tell anyone about it. I’d hate for his relatives to come asking for it back so that he can move on to hockey heaven or some other such bullshit claim. Its in our possession and as we all know from out lawyer friends like Pittsie – possession is nine-tenths of the law.

Jasper here – just crackin my ass for your pleasure. Later dudes and dudettes.

Remember: Skate Hard!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Greek God - Chris Chelios

Here you have one of the best defensemen of all time. I rave about him often. Flat out right – the dude is one of my heroes. He’s 45 years old and just signed for another year with Detroit.


He’s about three weeks older then Bronzy, my youngest brother. Bronzi’s still playing the game too. They’re both walking with wood – which is saying a lot. Though I never made it to the NHL (neither did Bronzy) at 49 – still skating – damn right. Ehh?

But Chelios, I mean what can I say guys. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I forgot to mention that he was born in Chicago. I think that makes him a US citizen. Hey it does doesn’t it? And when he was fifteen his family moved to Poway, a small town in the hills near San Diego. I think that makes Poway a famous town, ehh? The bass fishermen will tell ya different about what makes Poway famous.

Chris played junior hockey for the Moose Jaw Canucks and had a couple of college seasons with the Wisconsin Badgers. Now if Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan and the whole state of Wisconsin aren’t a couple of great places to be in the back woods then I don’t know shit.

You know he’s the oldest active player right now. He’s also got more penalty minutes then any active player. Give Sean Avery a few more seasons and that will change. Doesn’t he just play the best damn style of old time hockey? Yep, Sean walks with wood too.

Maybe those of you don’t know but Chelios was drafted in the second round (40th overall) by the Montreal Canadians in 1981. Take a look at some of the other greats from that draft: Al McInnis, John Vanbiesbrouck, Grant Fuhr, Ronny Francis, Bobby Carpenter, Mike Vernon, and Dale Howerchuk. Great players all of them! Ehh? But where are they today. Betcha don’t know this, but Kirk McCaskill, a pitcher for the Angels in the mid ‘80’s, was also in Chelios’ draft. He was picked 64th overall.

Back before Chris started playing Juniors he lived with his folks in Southern California. Well if you guys remember Gavin (Being Gavin) from one of my earlier tales; he got to play in a tournament with Chris. It must have been an open age group arrangement because Gavin was in his twenties at the time a Chris couldn’t have been sixteen yet. Gavin said that Chelios was a super star even then – just amazing or some shit as that. The tournament was being held at a mountain resort, maybe Squaw Valley, I don’t know for sure. But they all got to ski and Gavin said that Chelios didn’t know shit about how to do it. But that didn’t stop him none, no way. Gavin said that from the top of the slope Chris just went balls to the wall straight down. No slaloming or nothing. Just hauling ass – get outta my way fearlessness. Kinda like he plays hockey even today. He doesn’t back down from nothing.

Chris represented the US in four different Olympics – 1984, 1998, 2002 and 2006. He was the captain of the latter two and won a Silver Medal in 2002 at Salt Lake City. He’s also played in two World Cups, three Canada Cups, a whole bunch of NHL All Star games or whatever was played in place of it in several years.

After being with the Canadians he was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks in the summer of 1990. Earlier in the season he had shared co-captaincy with Guy Carbonneau in Montreal. Pretty damn impressive for an American kid in that cultured French Canadian city. Again in Chicago he was the captain from 1995 through 1999. Late in the season of ’99 he was traded to Detroit, where I now cheer him on.

Twenty-four seasons in the NHL and signed on for one more. Shitski that’s great. Detroit has been good to him too. In 2002 he won the Norris Trophy for the third time. He lead the league in plus/minus with an extremely impressive PLUS 40. Take that to the bank, ehh!

So what else did he do in the 2001/2002 season? Lets see he won the silver medal in the Olympics. He was a first team All Star. He and his Redwing buddies beat the Hurricanes for the Stanley Cup. That was the second time they engraved his name on Lord Stanley’s revered trophy. He had thirty-nine points in the regular season and fourteen in the playoffs. Not bad for a kid that was forty years old. You know, you ought to be impressed. I sure the fuck am.

One of the reasons that I’m glad Chelios resigned with Detroit is that if they make the playoffs again this year and he stays healthy, he’ll only need to play in two of the games to become the all time leader in playoff games played. Something, ehh?

So what will he do when he does decide to retire. I know he owns a couple of restaurants in Michigan, but those are just investments. I know that cuz of family and friends he summers often in Southern California. Kinda like a snowbird ehh? No way, he heads there to work out with some of the other supreme players in the league.

Maybe he’ll open up a restaurant in San Diego, LA or Orange County. His dad owned some classy joints for many years I hear. Or maybe he’ll show up in some pickup games with his brother Steve.

Steve’s an OK guy too. Shuffled around the minor leagues a bit; never getting to the big show like Chris. But damn if he isn’t the spittin image of Chris. Same Greek nose and olive skin. Just not quite as tall and shoots left instead of right as Chris does. Steve had a little bit of time playing in a beach roller hockey league that got some TV time. That was some crazy shit – I thought it might have a chance of making it big time. Yeah so much for this old fart’s opinions of things.

I remember playing in a tournament against a team that had Steve Chelios playing with them. Just a few things I recall about that event.
One – I thought it was Chris when he came in the rink.
Two – Steve dresses like an absolute hobo both on and off the ice. Must be the bachelor beach boy attitude or something. (Yep, a life I wish I coulda lived if it wasn’t my calling to the back woods.)
Three – Steve’s got a playing attitude like Chris’.
Four – I think we (Orange County Outlaws) got kicked out of the tournament after the first or second game because of our feistiness off ice after the game while still in the rink. I’m pretty sure that one of my defensive partners was throwing chairs and tables around out in the public area or snack bar.

Damn if we haven’t been kicked out of bunches of places. To be an Outlaw you had to be rowdy. You had to have a certain charisma to be allowed to have our logo on your jersey. We always proclaimed that if we couldn’t win on the ice then we’d win in the bar.

I guess that’s the difference between being a hack like me and being the Greek God Chelios. Chris put his priorities on the game, I put it on the party. Hooyah!!!

Hey guys that about wraps it up for another week. Skate hard, like Chelios and keep walking with wood my friends.

Jasper here pinching off another one.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Arguments for California Hockey

Jasper here folks. Howdy!

I’ve been kinda bored to the point of wonderment here now that the Stanley Cup Finals are over. For those of you that are debilitated to the point of being only spectators now, suck it up. The withdrawls are tough but remember you’ve only got about five months until the season starts up again. Hang in there with me and we’ll make it through this slow time.

Well, I sure wanted to see Buffalo versus Detroit in the finals. Those of you that follow my shit know that already. I admire the play of Chris Chelios and the determination of Chris Drury. Both of those boys will be walking with wood until the day they die I figure. Ehh, ya agree with me? But ya got to hand it to the Ducks and Senators. They eliminated all comers to get to the final. Each team is very well qualified with great goal tending, great management, great forwards, great fans, great owners and great defense.

Here then is my complement to the Ducks as they now can hoist the cherished cup – HURRAH, HURRAH, HURRAH !!!!

Way to go Teemu! You come into the league and score seventy-six goals as a rookie in 1992/1993– leading all and now you finally get to have your Finnish name engraved on Lord Stanley’s gift to the world of hockey. Put that baby in the passenger seat of your Ferrari, ehh!

My fellow puckheads, what do you think that this is going to do to California hockey?

When Gretsky came to the Kings, the state or more specifically Southern California saw a major increase in the interest of hockey. New rinks were built and those that couldn’t get on the ice started playing roller hockey. How many of you guys out there got your first hockey stick for Christmas during Gretsky’s time with the Kings? I mean Cali boys and girls.

So what’s this going to do now with the Stanley Cup being won by a Cali team? Sure the Ducks came close a couple of seasons ago and the Kings went to the finals with Montreal in the early ‘90’s and the Sharks have been real contenders the last few years, but this is the absolute best.

Just a bit of hypocrisy from me now.

Come on guys this is the Stanley Cup. The most revered trophy in all of sports! Get a little excited! Ain’t happening, ehh?

I just saw a news report on the Ducks web site that said 15,000 fans showed up to celebrate the team’s accomplishment. Shit guys, my old Outlaws could draw that many to a beer bust. Sad, sad, sad …..

If the Redwings or Sabres had won, you could bet that an easy 60,000 would show up to celebrate.

This is weak and it’s sure going to make my following supposition look flawed. But what the hell – this is supposed to be hockey humor, right? Yup! I’m going to get at it and publish this BS ‘fore the sun goes down. I’ve got to do some fishing and shit tomorrow so I want to get this off my chest so as not to waste a good day tomorrow.

There are about sixty-eight major or minor league professional sports teams in California. Besides the three NHL franchises there are five Major League Baseball teams, three NFL teams (missing from LA – very, very strange), four NBA teams, some soccer teams, indoor football, baseball farm teams and four ECHL franchises.

The Ducks, Kings and Sharks in the NHL and the Fresno Falcons, Bakersfield Condors, Stockton Thunder and Long Beach Ice Dogs make up the hockey entry in this group of professional sports teams. The Ice Dogs might not make it through the summer. We’ll have to wait and see.

That’s seven or maybe only six pro hockey teams for over 36 million residents. Spread that out that’s a little over 5 million residents per team. Minnesota’s got one NHL team for a little over 5 million total residents so that sounds about right, ehh? Sure but Minnesota’s got college hockey and high school hockey too.

As a low level comparison let’s look at my home state of South Dakota. Its got a whopping population of 782,000 folks. No NHL team. The Sioux Falls Stampede tier I junior hockey team playing in the USHL suits up for home games at the Sioux Falls Arena. Shit the whole state only has about thirteen ice rinks. That averages out to about one rink for every 60,150 residents.

And the state of South Dakota has around 184 or so high schools. This is an average of one high school for every 4250 residents or looking at high schools to rinks you’ll note about 0.07 rinks per high school.

Gee whiz kids, lets compare that to California. There are over 1500 high schools in California. That’s over 24,000 residents for every high school. California unfortunately only has around ninety rinks. This means that there are only about 0.06 rinks per high school. Or looking at it compared to the overall population of the state there is one ice rink for every 414,290 residents.

You’d think that California with three NHL teams would fare better then South Dakota that has none; but no that’s just not the case. California has worse representation all the way around.

Now let’s go back and look at Minnesota again. Minnesota has over 460 high schools. They have approximately one high school for every 11,160 residents. Now your thinking, “OK Jasper how many rinks does Minnesota have?” Yup, they’ve got a bunch. Over 500 rinks in this fine state. It works out to about 1.1 rink per high school. Shit howdy, that’s impressive!

I’m telling you guys my brain is just sizzling thinking about all of this. Sure hope the numbers don’t confuse none of ya. But it just brings up some other points for discussion.

Lets turn California into a hockey state. Think about it. Thirty-six million residents with over fifteen hundred high schools to develop into hockey hot beds. In the future when the NHL breaks down where the players hail from it will be California, USA (less Cali), Canada, and Europe. Hell folks, California’s got three million people more then all of Canada. We sure the shit could turn out some hockey stars if we could get this thing rolling.

OK, lets say we don’t need a rink at every high school but lets say that every school district had a rink. Or at least every city with a population of over 50,000 had a rink. If this was the case California would more then double the number of rinks it has. But some of these cities are much larger then 50,000. Seventeen are greater then 200,000 with San Diego having over a million and LA with over three million. These of course would require more. Think about it folks – full blown hockey programs at your local high school. Sure you’d still have your youth club programs, but at high school you’d have a choice of staying in it or joining the school program.

Those of you adults that are out there playing now could become coaches, officials, team boosters, and most of all fans. And guess what? Ehh? These teams would become feeders to junior hockey, college hockey and maybe even NHL drafts.

Sure ice rinks aren’t cheap. Depending on the negotiated contract and amenities a rink would cost between $3 million and $7.5 million in California. Because Minnesota gets a little cooler (requiring different refrigeration equipment for winter operation only) then most of California and that labor rates are lower there you’d expect them to be paying around $2.3 million to maybe $6.4 million for the equivalent rink. But they’ve spent it on five hundred some rinks, right? Why can’t California manage the same shit on say only about half that many rinks? Ehh?

So again I’m playing the numbers here. California builds another 160 rinks or so for somewhere in the $500 million to $1.2 billion range. Samueli the Ducks owner is worth what $2 billion or something? Ehh? That’s a lot a fucking money! Doesn’t he give a lot to charities or something? Well this would be just as good a deal. He’d be investing in the Ducks future. Maybe we could get the Anshutz and Roski Kings team to kick in some bucks too. Why not Compton of the Sharks while we’re at it. Hell why not all the owners of the California high tech companies to kick in some big bucks. I mean come on guys – what’s more important – being able to program a computer or winning the Stanley Cup?

So like I said my poor little pea brain is sizzling. Why stop here? Ehh? Lets put a rink in every kid’s backyard. I had a patch of ice to skate on in South Dakota when I was little squirt (well it was in the next door neighbor’s back yard) and had a neighborhood pond to skate on while in junior and senior high that was only two houses away, even though both schools had two outdoor rinks each.

All of you puckheads are now thinking “Jasper you’re really nuts. That just won’t work in California.” Well, yup I agree. Natural ice would never happen in Cali. But who’s to say that small refrigeration units couldn’t be developed that froze over all those damn swimming pools that they have in California. They aren’t even using these in the winter when the honeys go under cover. Those high tech guys that Samueli knows could come up with an economical design – you know make an insulated skin cover with expansion pads around the perimeter then freeze three or four inches over the top. Provide a insulation blanket to reduce melting when not in use. Power the damn thing with solar cells or something creating a dang fangled “green product”. Too small for the big guys I’m thinking except on those Hollywood sized pools but this shit would be perfect for the little tikes to practice on. Crap, make it convertible, if ya don’t have a pool then just lay this pup out on top of the yard. Oh yeah, and don’t forget that you could resurface this ice with the Zamboomba I talked about in an earlier blog.

Maybe I’ve got my fool head up in the clouds. I don’t know. Could we see a doubling of rinks in California because of the Ducks winning the cup? Could we see California developing high school hockey programs because of the 2006/2007 Ducks? Could portable backyard ice surfaces hit the home improvement market because the owner of the Stanley Cup winning team is a tech geek? I don’t know.

What do all you guys think?

The Ducks are for sure walking with wood! Samueli’s sporting some too. Southern California, especially, and California as whole – ya better be ready for some growth in your residents’ interest in hockey. How ya gonna handle it, ehh?

Jasper here – signing out. Skate hard guys! Do a little fishing now and try to stay away from the golf courses – they’re filled with losers.

Friday, June 1, 2007


Slapshot’s Paul Newman or ????

Last Monday, May 25th, Paul Newman announced that he was retiring from acting. He cited his reasons being that he was having memory loss and couldn’t act with the exceptional ability that he had been able to for so many years. Most of us that are reading this (myself included as the humble writer) here at Jasper Wheats’ hockey humor blog remember Mr. Newman best in the 1977 movie Slapshot.

I’ve enjoyed watching many other movies that Paul Newman was in such as The Hustler, Hud, Cool Hand Luke, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and The Sting. One of his more recent and one of my favorite movies of all time that he was in along with Tom Hanks was Road to Perdition. He has been a superb actor since the 1950’s. His departure from the industry will surely be noted by others and I’m sure that his peers will honor him with some sort of lifetime achievement award in the near future. He deserves it. Yup!

Paul Newman walks with wood folks! There ain’t no doubt about it.

He’s been involved with auto racing for many years now and started a salad dressing company that I believe his daughter currently runs. Heck, he’s been married to Joanne Woodward for how many years now? That’s lasting power folks! That’s something to praise in a man that’s worked in a industry that just seems to destroy marriages with vigor.

What a classic movie Slapshot was! It’s oft referred to as having a cult following. I couldn’t agree more. Paul played the part of player/coach Reggie “Reg” Dunlop of the Johnstown Chiefs. The Chiefs were having financial difficulties. The players were having relationship issues. And the team was on the verge of success with a winning season and heading into the finals. I’ve just got so many memories from that film – the infamous Hanson Brothers with their glasses and foiled knuckles, the on ice strip tease, the fights and the dirty play. All for good drama and great hockey humor.

Lots of those guys in Slapshot were real actors that knew how to play hockey. Others were hockey players that got bit parts. I got to play against quite a few of them two different times in my career as my Outlaws played against the Celebrity Allstars, once for a charity event and once if my memory serves me right for a TV show. Those are stories for another time, but I do remember drinking in the bar after one of those games with Jerry Houser. Jerry played the part of Dave “Killer” Carlson and some of you might remember him in other movies like Summer of ’42. I busted up Houser’s elbow pretty good in the game and he was showing off how swollen it was and that he needed more beer to deaden the pain.

Yup, don’t we all?????????
Newman was the binding force for the Chiefs. He believed in them and made up shit all the time to get them motivated. I’ve been there and done that, for sure!

Ehh? You guys are wondering where the humor is this week. Well, maybe there ain’t going to be too much. Maybe this week it’s just about reminiscing the good times. Maybe it’s taking me back to days gone past – days I miss. Shit I’m just a stinky old fart. Now days, for me, it seems like the most difficult part of hockey is trying to find the top outside hole in my left skate when I’m trying to lace up. Ain’t that a bitch though?

I can remember a game many years ago now – can’t remember the name of the team we were playing against though. Might have been the Maroons, can’t say for sure. Can’t tell ya if we won or loss either. It ain’t important to my story, ya know.

I got cross checked from behind by Saul Swanke. Hell of a hockey player, hard ass with a killer slap shot. Story goes that when he was kid his dad used to give him shit (I mean big time shit – beatings, ya gotta walk home kid – that kinda shit) if he didn’t play well. It apparently inspired him because he really was a good player. He had a sweet girl named Sharon. Kept her on a leash. They broke up later and she’s now married to one of Bronzie’s and my friends. Get Christmas cards from her and her hubby every year now.

Saul used to take faceoffs against Jingles regularly. Lot of pushing and shoving. Both of them tough as nails. Each of em respecting the other though. Saul never knew the origination of the nickname “Jingles” and would call him Bo Jangles instead. Jingles liked to dance and can’t say that Saul ever had his dance card filled either. There was always one more tussle to toss in these guys. Good stuff, ehh?

So anyway, Saul hits me hard from behind almost directly across the ice from our bench. I go down with my right hand out, not able to tuck anything in, and snapped my humerus (upper arm bone) into three pieces. Colin had seen what happened and skated over to the bench yelling “Jasper broke his arm.”

My folks had been at the game and my mom asked me later how did Colin know so quickly that my arm was broken. I had to tell her that as I got into a sitting position against the far boards that my right arm just sort of flopped about. Pretty damn obvious if you ask me. Shit howdy mom! Bless her soul now. Ehh?

Dad drove me over to the hospital and they had an orthopedic surgeon start working on the break. Awfully damn sure that they cut my jersey, shoulder pads and tee-shirt off of me that night. The doc kept shooting me full of zylocaine every minute or so while he tried to stabilize the break.

He wanted to operate on me and screw the bones back together. I was obstinate to no end having some major fear of surgery at that time. I’d had surgery before but just recently a friend of friend had gone in to have pins removed from his ankle and went into a coma during surgery. Uh ahh! No sirree, they weren’t going to put me under. Just keep pumping me full of that hot shit cuz this thing is killing me.

They put me in a half cast (splint) with a bunch of elastic wrap and admitted me to the hospital. The next day folks at work were told what happened and my boss figured that I was pulling some shit because nobody, I mean nobody gets admitted to the hospital for a broken arm. So I had to explain the whole deal.

The bone was in three pieces, ehh. Looking back now, surgery with the screws would have been the best choice. But no, I couldn’t do that. Instead they put me in a hanging-arm-cast. The cast had a rope embedded in it out near my wrist that slung around my neck. The cast itself was huge with all kinds of extra plaster to add weight. The cast acted like traction and pulled down on my arm keeping the bones aligned. I had to sleep sitting up for four weeks until the bones had knit enough so that they could put me in a fiberglass cast for the last two weeks or so. The doc would cut a little bit away from the original cast right over the break each week as I went in to see him. By doing so it corrected the way my arm hung and resulted in a fairly close correct realignment. He said that if he’d a done the surgery he couldn’t have guaranteed as good a job. Patted himself on the back didn’t he?

I’ll tell ya I went pretty nuts while that arm healed. I lived alone in an old trailer at the time. Damn if that pup didn’t have a leaky roof and if we didn’t get one hell of a storm one night. I’m sleeping in a recliner (yup – that’s sitting up) and I wake up. Pretty normal cuz the arm would throb every night and I’d have to pace around after taking some good pain medication waiting for it to kick in. Except tonight I’m getting dripped on. And that wasn’t the only place dripping. I get out some pots and in the worst place slide my big cooler underneath. Later I’ve got to dump these utensils – what a pain that was with one arm.

There are a few other things that are a pain in the ass to take care of with only one functioning arm. I won’t get into that but I’ll tell ya you sure end up knowing who your friends are.

So I had the joneses real bad for hockey. If someone would come pick me up I’d go watch the boys play. I remember one game that I was at where damn near a bench clearing brawl cut loose. There was as much crap going on off the ice as there was on. The rink didn’t have proper benches nor penalty boxes. If ya had a penalty then you went and stood next to the scorekeepers shelf off ice. I just happened to be standing right there when this shit started and an opposing player in the box started going at with our player in the box. I grabbed the opponent around the neck with my good arm completely forgetting about my broken arm. I actually pulled him away off the rubber mat up on to some steps. Screw his edges, ehh! I guess I’m lucky that he didn’t fight back against me and only wanted at my team mate.

But crap a rammy if I didn’t want to play. Ya live it. Ya breath it. I had to have it.

Somewhere along the way I recall that the doctor said I could start doing some normal stuff a couple of weeks after getting out of the final cast. I figured that that meant being able to play hockey. Damn right, ehh?

I didn’t figure that I was ready to skate with the Outlaws right away because that was a might physical, but there was Sunday morning pickup that I could do. A lot of the same guys that I played with or against would be there but it would be just for fun and not as much contact.

I suited up and it was kind a hushed in the dressing room. Most of the guys were going to skate off their hangovers – morning hockey for adults is waaaaay different then night hockey.

I got out on the ice and warmed up before sides were chosen. I can’t say who was picking for the other side but Lance picked me.

Lance was a big ox of a dude. Always had been an opponent, he played center and would park just outside the crease. Was a bitch trying to move him. We’d been in a little fisticuff years earlier and there wasn’t much good blood between us or him and the Outlaws. He and Jingles would go at it regularly and every chance in a competitive game he tried to take out Woody – hated his guts. Ehh?

It was just pickup, so what the heck, I wouldn’t have to worry about him tearing my arm apart if we were on the same team.

The second or third season I was with the Outlaws, Lance’s brother Terry had been my defensive partner. Damn good skater. Not as big as Lance and maybe a bit more sane. They had come from Boston and Lance was one heck of a Bruins fan. He was bud’s with Phil Esposito and would party with him anytime the Bruins were in town. It doesn’t matter how bad ass you are – hockey players are tight.

Lance was one of those guys that you could say made Slapshot a cult film. Back in the day he’d watch it over and over again. His teammates nicknamed him Reggie for Paul Newman’s character from the movie. It stuck. All of us in the league eventually called him Reggie. To this day if you yell Reggie when he’s in a crowd he’ll respond. Crazy yeah, he was a fanatic of the movie. He even had a Johnstown Chiefs jersey that he’d gotten all bloodied up.

So here we are back at that first session of Sunday pickup after getting out of the cast. I’m just a little nervous worrying what if I fall or what if I get hit hard and re-break my dabgone humerus again. But crap I’ve got the joneses and I’ve gotta skate.

I’m off in never-never land worrying and Reggie yells, “Hey everybody, listen up! Wheats just got out of his cast and if anybody hits him ya gotta answer to me. So back off and give him a little room this morning.”

I couldn’t believe it. Reggie saying that shit! Nah, never in a million years!

He did though. Ain’t making this up. He did. An arch enemy for years and years gives me some respect.

From that day on Reggie, in my book, was walking with wood.

I haven’t seen him for a few years now but Bronzie and Jingles skate against him every once in while. It’s not the same as the old days. No longer enemies, but respected opponents, friends even -- that party together in the bar and even at their kid’s birthday parties.

Hockey memories – they are the best! Hockey friends – ya can’t live without them – can ya?

Skate hard guys!

Jasper here – walking with wood until the next time.