Monday, September 01, 2014

A word on our words

Well, it's almost time to get back at it so... a couple thoughts.

First off, I love Twitter. It's been a great addition to the hockey community the last few years, and it's opened doors for a lot of good writers, bloggers and fans to find an audience. For all the bad that you run into on there  and sure there's a lot of nonsense  there's been plenty of good.

Good ideas. Good people. Good debate.

Unfortunately, there's this misconception from some Leafs fans that that's not how it is. That I'm elitist – or biased or whatever – and have no interest in interacting on social media in a meaningful way.

Frankly, the opposite is true. I think the only reason I've got an absurd number of tweets (100k yikes) is because I'm in the middle of these conversations every day during the season, defending my ideas, challenging others' and generally enjoying talking about hockey.

I hear from colleagues all the time who brag about not only never responding to fans but also never even reading what they have to say, and I can't imagine doing this job that way.

There's far more positive that comes out of those connections than negative.

I also know for a fact that new additions to the landscape like Twitter have done a lot for my career.

Ten years ago, I was finishing j-school and started this (crappy) website to write about the NHL, back when doing so for a living was still a pipe dream. The support that this site, then the one at SB Nation, then the Twitter account, and then now the stories at The Globe and Mail got has meant a great deal, personally and professionally.

Working in the media in general has changed dramatically in the last two or three years, let alone the last 10. One of the biggest shifts is the audience now has a direct impact on content and who's providing it. By that I mean, increasingly, media outlets need to listen to their readers, embrace social media and adapt to a changing landscape, and I personally believe that's why people like Sean McIndoe and Tyler Dellow (and myself) have been successful.

That's a roundabout way of saying that I respect my audience a great deal. On a basic level, they're why we're here doing what we're doing, and I feel like at least some of them have been along for this ride for years.

There are a lot of problems in how the NHL is covered. Too many are too heavily indebted to sources, offering coverage favourable to friends and that vilifies enemies. Too many are only interested in how their stories can further their agendas or careers and don't mind bending the truth to accomplish that.

Some in the industry may hate me saying that, but it's true. I see it all the time.

But the thing is the audience is getting a bigger say than ever in who and what succeeds and fails, and it's an audience that is increasingly media savvy. They can see what I'm talking about. And they can decide what kind of sports coverage they want by following those worth following and reading those worth reading.

It'll have an impact. It already is.

It has with me. And that's why, as I said off the top, I love Twitter. It's a great tool, and it's a great connector, one that's helped shake the media from the "we speak, you listen" mentality it was mired in for too long.

That's where I'm coming from, even if you don't always agree with what I write.

So if you've had a bad experience with me on social media, it could have just been a bad day, for one or both of us. Or maybe it was the hundredth mocking tweet of the night. (It's hard to explain what it's like being barraged during games sometimes.)

But I'll keep trying to be as accommodating as possible, reading and responding to as many of them as possible, because, to me, this is a vital part of what we do.

Thanks.

And thankfully it's almost time for hockey.
.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

My most-read stories of 2013

I'm obviously a little late on this – it's almost June  but I wanted to start saving some links to decent stories I've done throughout the years, giving a reference point for me and anyone else to look back to. This doesn't happen on The Globe's site so I'll archive them here.

Here were the 10 most-read stories from last year, which included a lot of drama with the Leafs and around the league in the wake of the lockout:

1. The inside story of Crosby’s gruesome facial injury

Sid always moves the needle on the interweb. This story reminded me a lot of one I'd done a couple years earlier on extreme dental injuries in hockey, about as gruesome a subject as I've covered. (I stopped wearing only a visor when I play after writing it.) 


It's difficult getting medical information on a player like Crosby, who the Penguins were very careful about protecting from all the requests, but I thought this story did a decent job of breaking down how severe the damage really was. And my thanks to Marc Methot, who gave a great interview over the phone on short notice. It's amazing these injuries are considered routine in hockey. 


2. How Canadian hockey is becoming a game strictly for the rich

This was part of a large series about the income gap in Canada that The Globe did last year, one that has been nominated under the 'Project of the Year' category at the National Newspaper Awards. 


The hockey part of it was such a dense topic, you could easily write a book on it, and I had tons and tons of interviews and material I wasn't able to use. The cost of hockey is a much bigger problem than we think these days.

It was great to work with Karl Subban, who's a pretty remarkable man considering career as a principal in some of Toronto's troubled neighbourhoods and now on the charity side.  


3. Net losses: Why the world is passing Canada in goal

I worked off and on on this story for about three months, so it's near and dear to my heart. Going to Stockholm for four days was also a real thrill for a guy who's been a hockey nerd his entire life. Again, you could write a book on how goaltending is changing in hockey, and I had so much material that didn't ultimately get into the story. 


It's unfortunate this piece didn't get more consideration from the NNAs, but judging by the reader response, it was very well received. (A couple months after it came out, I was out for lunch one day with a high ranking sports exec who didn't otherwise know me. He said it was the best sports story he'd read in quite a while and that he had saved it to read again and again.) 

One of the problems I think with this piece making a bigger impact than it did was the fact that people still see Canadian goalies like Carey Price succeeding in the NHL, which is really besides the point. This is a story about development systems not Vezina trophies, and there's no question Canada's needs work in goal. After publication, I heard from a lot of goalies, including several former pros, who applauded us for writing it. 

The thing to keep in mind is that Sweden's improvements are very recent and haven't really hit North America yet. The concern over here should be that that's coming.  


4. New Leafs owners said to dislike Burke from get-go

One of the big questions when Brian Burke was let go suddenly at the beginning of last season was "why did it happen?" Working with Grant Robertson, from our business section, we tried to answer that as accurately as we could. 


In the end, it wasn't much more complicated than the fact new ownership really didn't like the guy or how he operated. Burke didn't impress them in meetings and didn't even appear to try to impress them.  


5. KHL declares war on NHL contracts

At a time when everyone was growing tired of hearing about the business side of the game, a little spat between the KHL and NHL was big news. Especially with Ilya Kovalchuk's situation. 



6. Leafs’ Nazem Kadri: One lucky man

This was one of the most controversial stories I've written to be honest. My editor had wanted an analytics-based take on an issue with the Leafs, and Kadri was such an obvious choice at the time. His on-ice shooting percentage was in the stratosphere, and he was one of the league's leading scorers in large part due to randomness. Without a doubt, you could predict he would fall off dramatically from his point-a-game pace the following season. 


I received a ton of hate mail when it was published, but the reality was, the numbers were right. The day this came out, Kadri had 17 goals and 40 points in 40 games. Since then, including the playoffs, he has 22 goals and 58 points in 93 games, or a 51-point pace in an 82-game season. And that's despite playing with Kessel at times and getting more minutes than when he had a point-a-game.

The lesson here is that point production is not 100 per cent skill based. Sometimes there's a lot of luck involved and that's what happened with Kadri. He's a good player; he's not that good.  


7. Burke out, Nonis in as Leafs GM

What started out as a normal day at practice turned into anything but back in January of 2013. I was pulling into the parking lot in my car when word started to filter out on sports radio that Burke had been fired, which made for a hectic couple of hours writing this piece quickly as we waited near players' cars for them to come out and speak. Then it was to the ACC to hear from Dave Nonis, who looked as shocked as the rest of us.



8. The problem with David Clarkson’s new contract

Again, this story was very controversial. The Leafs received almost universal praise in the press for their off-season, including for the Clarkson contract, which from an analytics perspective was a complete disaster. 


In hindsight, I wish I had been more negative about the signing from the beginning, but this piece does a good job of outlining how close to a decline Clarkson was. Even I didn't expect it to start happening immediately, however. 


9. Who’s on the block? The NHL’s top trade candidates

Everyone loves a trade story. It's why guys like Eklund are able to thrive (?). The fact most of these players have been moved shows that often the real, MSM-driven rumours out there have something to them. 



10. Could the Leafs really trade Jake Gardiner?

What happens with Jake Gardiner continues to be a huge story in Toronto – and that's with good reason. Do they finally work through the growing pains with their young players or continue to search for the quick fix? It's not so much about the one player as an organizational philosophy.  

.

Monday, January 13, 2014

We get letters...

Subject: Numbers Geek Go Away 
From: Gus Tserotas
To: James Mirtle

Any chance you could jump off a bridge and spare us your never-ending, totally boring, totally useless numbers crap?

Aside from some other numbers-geeks in the media, do you really think anyone who is a real hockey fan gives a damn about your fraudulent numbers?

First of all, even if the formulas you are using are sound, the data you are inputting is completely fraudulent. There is a HUGE variance of stat interpretation throughout the NHL, to the point of being a joke.

Just recently Joe Bowen gave three or four examples of how incredibly inaccurate these numbers coming in are. We watched a Leaf/St. Louis game filled with giveaways only to learn the stats guy in that town could only account for 1 giveaway the entire game. One NHL team is at the top of the list in takeaways at home, and near the bottom on the road. Yeah, sure.

Aside from the fact that your never-ending numbers tweets and columns are totally boring for anyone not in the geek family, they are also complete after-the-fact, Monday morning quarterback, piles of meaningless nonsense. Wins and losses aren't the result of your stupid numbers. Your stupid numbers are the results of wins and losses. Analytics are for people who went to school and learned how to punctuate. Somehow they get a job in some newspaper's sports department because they don't mind working for a laughable salary. A suddenly they are hockey experts?

If your laughable theories were as good at predicting outcomes in advance as you constantly tell everyone they are, why aren't you down in Las Vegas making tons of money off your inside knowledge? In fact, why have a NHL season at all? Why don't you just tell us right now who will win it all?

I look forward to your answer on that, so I can invest my time watching something else.

Your analytic tweets are soooooo boring, and your non-analytic tweets are juvenile. I laughed so hard at your proof that you "didn't make up the Kadri and Gardner trade talks." So I checked out your proof.....Bob Mackenzie says he "thinks the Leafs might do a trade." Oh well then, if Bob thinks they might, the deal can only be hours away.

If your punctuation degree prevents you from knowing the game of hockey by simply watching it, can you spare us your "throw enough crap at the wall and some of it will stick" approach to reporting?

Tweeting fraudulent numbers all day long makes you a fraud as well. 

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

2013-14 NHL teams by height, weight and age

The usual annual stats compilation. These are based on opening night rosters.

I'll likely have more analysis on globesports.com at some point, too.

Teams Height Hrank Weight Wrank Age Arank
1 Anaheim 73.2 20 204.4 13 27.4 20
2 Boston 73.6 6 202.7 17 28.4 7
3 Buffalo 73.6 6 200.2 27 26.3 29
4 Calgary 72.7 28 199.9 28 27.8 13
5 Carolina 73.0 24 205.1 10 26.9 26
6 Chicago 73.4 13 203.0 16 28.2 8
7 Colorado 73.2 20 204.1 14 27.6 17
8 Columbus 73.3 16 206.2 7 26.3 29
9 Dallas 73.1 22 201.6 23 28.6 5
10 Detroit 72.9 26 202.0 20 29.5 2
11 Edmonton 73.4 13 203.6 15 27.8 13
12 Florida 73.6 6 200.3 26 28.9 3
13 Los Angeles 73.8 5 209.8 1 27.6 17
14 Minnesota 72.8 27 199.8 29 27.6 17
15 Montreal 72.2 30 201.7 22 28.1 9
16 Nashville 73.3 16 202.6 18 27.1 23
17 New Jersey 73.3 16 204.6 12 30.3 1
18 NY Islanders 73.0 24 199.3 30 27.1 23
19 NY Rangers 73.4 13 201.8 21 27.7 15
20 Ottawa 73.6 6 205.2 9 27.2 21
21 Philadelphia 73.5 10 201.3 24 28.1 9
22 Phoenix 73.9 4 206.8 6 28.1 9
23 Pittsburgh 73.1 22 202.1 19 28.9 3
24 San Jose 73.3 16 205.8 8 28.5 6
25 St. Louis 72.7 28 208.5 2 27.1 23
26 Tampa Bay 74.2 1 207.4 4 27.7 15
27 Toronto 74.0 2 205.1 10 26.7 27
28 Vancouver 73.5 10 201.2 25 27.9 12
29 Washington 73.5 10 207.7 3 27.2 21
30 Winnipeg 74.0 2 207.2 5 26.5 28
Averages 73.3 203.7 27.8

Monday, September 30, 2013

2013-14 NHL standings predictions

Well, these are always tough.

Doubly so when the league has a realignment that substantially changes how teams will make the playoffs.

But here are my best guesses as to how the NHL standings will shake out this year. Hate mail can be directed to the comments... which are moderated by the way.

Pacific
1 Los Angeles 104 Playoffs!
2 San Jose 99 Playoffs!
3 Vancouver 95 Playoffs!
4 Phoenix 92 Playoffs!
5 Edmonton 92 Playoffs!
6 Anaheim 90
7 Calgary 70
Central
1 St. Louis 100 Playoffs!
2 Chicago 100 Playoffs!
3 Dallas 93 Playoffs!
4 Nashville 91
5 Winnipeg 89
6 Minnesota 87
7 Colorado 85
Atlantic
1 Detroit 104 Playoffs!
2 Ottawa 98 Playoffs!
3 Boston 97 Playoffs!
4 Montreal 96 Playoffs!
5 Toronto 89
6 Tampa Bay 85
7 Florida 81
8 Buffalo 72
Metro
1 Washington 98 Playoffs!
2 Pittsburgh 98 Playoffs!
3 NY Rangers 96 Playoffs!
4 New Jersey 90 Playoffs!
5 NY Islanders 89
6 Philadelphia 87
7 Carolina 87
8 Columbus 83

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

We get letters...

Subject: Wuss
From: dave.mercer@ssq.ca
To: James Mirtle

Go back and play with your Barbie dolls- Watch another sport where you will quit wetting yourself every time there is any action-Do you know how Belak died-really know? Or just conjecture-Rypien was a fighter not an enforcer you worm who sadly had pre-existing mental health issues- and who hasn’t OD on pills and booze accidentally. 

Nobody got hurt and you bonehead bloggers got allot to write up/make up as a result instead of your boring crap. 

Saps like you are just jealous as you have never been in a fight or stood up for what is right-by yourself and most surely and not a man. 

Dave Mercer
  .S

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

2013 NHL Awards picks

Putting together an awards ballot is always difficult, but with only the 48-game sample size, things were made much tougher this year.

How big is a big enough sample size? What do you do with Crosby and other players like Letang who were outstanding but injured for a few weeks?

After a few hours of consideration, here's what I ultimately came up with. Complaints can be directed to Dave Shoalts at The Globe and Mail:


(1) NHL Trophies

HART TROPHY ("to the player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team") 

1. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh
2. Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus
3. Jonathan Toews, Chicago
4. Alex Ovechkin, Washington
5. John Tavares, NY Islanders


NORRIS TROPHY ("to the defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position") 

1. Ryan Suter, Minnesota
2. Kris Letang, Pittsburgh
3. PK Subban, Montreal
4. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Phoenix
5. Dan Hamhuis, Vancouver


CALDER TROPHY ("to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition") 

(Note: An eligible player cannot have played more than 25 NHL games in any single preceding season nor in six or more games in each of any two preceding seasons. A player must not have attained his 26th birthday by Sept. 15 of the season in which he is eligible.)

1. Jonathan Huberdeau, Florida
2. Brandon Saad, Chicago
3. Jonas Brodin, Minnesota
4. Brenden Dillon, Dallas
5. Brendan Gallagher, Montreal 


LADY BYNG TROPHY ("to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability") 

1. Rob Scuderi, Los Angeles
2. Cody Franson, Toronto
3. Frans Nielsen, NY Islanders
4. Joe Pavelski, San Jose
5. Kris Letang, Pittsburgh


SELKE TROPHY ("to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game") 

1. Patrice Bergeron, Boston.
2. David Backes, St. Louis.
3. Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles.
4. Jonathan Toews, Chicago
5. Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit


(2) NHL All-Star Team

CENTER -- Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh. Jonathan Toews, Chicago. John Tavares, NY Islanders.

RIGHT WING -- Alex Ovechkin, Washington. Phil Kessel, Toronto. Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay.

LEFT WING -- Taylor Hall, Edmonton. Andrew Ladd, Winnipeg. Zach Parise, Minnesota.

DEFENSE -- Ryan Suter, Minnesota. Kris Letang, Pittsburgh. Dan Hamhuis, Vancouver.  Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Phoenix. PK Subban, Montreal. Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis.

GOALTENDER -- Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus. Henrik Lundqvist, NY Rangers. Jimmy Howard, Detroit.


(3) NHL All-Rookie Team

FORWARD -- Jonathan Huberdeau, Florida. Brandon Saad, Chicago. Brendan Gallagher, Montreal.

DEFENSE -- Brenden Dillon, Dallas.  Jonas Brodin, Minnesota. 

GOAL -- Jacob Markstrom, Florida. 

Monday, April 08, 2013

No, I'm not a Leafs fan

















Where to begin. 

Well, let's just say that the last thing on my mind when I set out to try and write about hockey for a living was being accused of being a fan or a homer or any of these various things. 

Let alone - as a guy from small town B.C. - a Leafs fan. 

But, here we are, what feels like a lifetime later, with Twitter allowing instant feedback on anything and everything you write and you end up getting the same nonsense again and again. 

I think part of it is just that the audience on social media is so young right now, and there's not an appreciation for the objective viewpoint that someone like Eric Duhatschek can bring on a team he has covered for decades like the Flames. 

Look at it from my perspective, though. For me, when I first thought about trying to do something as crazy as being a hockey writer - which I wasn't really sure was even possible, in the beginning - I tried to be realistic and set my expectations relatively low. 

Writing about hockey, any hockey, anywhere, sounded pretty good. 

Maybe I'd cover a junior team and ride on the bus from town to town? (After all, most of the sportswriting I grew up reading was the local beat guy in the Kamloops Daily News, the lifeline to the WHL team for anyone in the city.)  

Maybe I could go to the U.S. somewhere and cover the minor leagues? Or the next NHL expansion team in Kansas City? 

Maybe I'd just work my way up from there? 

<>

When you get to journalism school, you quickly realize that only a small fraction of graduates actually get work in the field, and becoming a sports-only writer seems like a bit of a pipe dream. You learn about how few papers there actually are across the country and how few writers are ever hired to cover anything, let alone with a focus on "fun" beats like hockey or movies or fashion or whatever. 

There were really only maybe a dozen English language papers covering the NHL for a long time in this country (the Jets have since added a couple more in Winnipeg) and each only has a few writers in its stable. 

Getting into that group of 40 or 45 guys seemed like such a remote possibility that, like most people, I was trying just to land any job coming out of school. That meant spending most of my time either interning or at the student paper trying to cover as many things as possible, even if writing about hockey was the goal. 

Without question, at that point, I would have taken any hockey-related job, anywhere, and I applied to dozens of different cities hoping to do so. 

Ultimately, the first place I was actually a sort of beat guy was in Bonnyville, Alberta, a thankless summer job that led me (with help from the world's most supportive mother) to buy a beat up K-car in Kamloops for $1,000, drive 12 hours straight and cover the Junior A team's off-season and training camp for a few months. 

After that, going to Columbus was hardly going to scare me off. 

Or anywhere else. 

It's funny (and obviously very fortunate) how it all worked out, as I was hired at The Globe as a part-time writer/editor working in both the news and sports departments, a four-to-midnight job that gave me a lot of spare time to work on this blog (and later for SB Nation) during the day. 

Over the years, the paper would hire more senior people for sportswriting jobs in Vancouver and Montreal, leading up to when the Leafs job came open about four years ago when Tim Wharnsby was hired by CBC. 

Any of those three gigs would have been dream jobs, obviously. 

A step up from Bonnyville, anyway. 

That it worked out to be Toronto was really a matter of timing more than anything, as by that point, I had enough experience (and was getting attention from elsewhere) that I was a much better candidate than previously. 

And what team I rooted for was obviously never one of the questions asked in the job interview. 

<>

That's probably a good thing, too, because that would have been a complicated one to answer. 

Other than the Blazers, at one point, it was actually the Sabres, as I wore this ratty old Buffalo hat for a few years and put up a Darren Puppa poster in my room during his brief heyday. (Yes, he had a heyday.)  

Before that, it was the Devils in the Sean Burke era, although I couldn't really tell you why. 

After that point, it was just easiest to join my old man and be a woebegone Canucks fan, as by far, they had the greatest number of games being televised once Hockey Night in Canada started having double headers every week beginning in 1995.  

That we could drive a few hours and go to an affordable NHL game didn't hurt, either, and when Vancouver began making the playoffs after an ugly four-year drought, we began going down for those games. 

(We paid what seemed like an ungodly sum of $185 each for single tickets scattered around the arena for one game of that particularly awful Canucks-Wild second round series.) 

But the thing was I was always happy to be able to watch as many teams as possible. The playoffs were always the best time of year, with game after game televised, beginning at 4 p.m. Pacific Time and stretching into late night overtimes, meaning there was a solid seven or eight hours of hockey every night. 

No matter who was playing (or winning), that was heaven. 

<>

So I think the most accurate thing to say is that I was always just a fan of the NHL and the game, going way back to when we were collecting stacks of beat up hockey cards and playing games with them at recess. 

As a kid in a small town in what felt like the middle of nowhere, it always seemed as though the NHL was this amazing faraway fantasy world, a league where the best of the Blazers would graduate to and get their faces on their own cards for us to collect. 

One day Mark Recchi was right in front of us, in the frigid, 2,000-seat barn where they always won, a local kid scoring goals and having his name announced overhead. 

The next he was playing with Mario Lemieux. 

Some of the other kids were reading comic books by that point, but these were the superheroes for my group of friends, and we'd play street hockey while pretending to be the most obscure-but-good players we could think of. 

"I'm Todd Elik! I'm Russ Courtnall! Here comes Patrik Sundstrom!" 

Just like in the NHL, there'd be a random hero every game. 

<>

It never seemed to matter what team you cheered for. That was just fluid, changing by the day, depending on the players, the rivalries and what was at stake in the games going on inside on TV and in the backyard. 

In some strange way, the small-market, underdog teams were always more fascinating than the favourites, too. 

Maybe that's not how most hockey fans grew up. But I think when you live in a true junior hockey city, there's a lot more of that than people think, with the local team being everyone's obvious "favourite" and the big leagues an entirely different animal that you can watch on Saturday nights on TV. 

Even among the kids that did have an NHL team, it was usually a wide spread who they went with, with the Red Wings, Oilers and Penguins earning a lot of converts at the expense of the Canucks simply because of their success. 

So, now, all these years later, when you're getting these insults from fans over being biased for certain teams over others, they seem pretty darn silly. None of the reporters I know well on the beat are ever rooting for more than the chance to write a good story, to do the job properly and give their readers (and their boss) something worthwhile. 

Many would have a similar reaction to the Leafs winning the Stanley Cup tomorrow as if the Blue Jackets did. 

Now, sure, those lines may be more blurred for those working more closely with the league or teams, but hockey writers in general aren't "fans." Many, like me, are from other cities, or have favourite teams in other sports, or any number of different outlets. 

Others who did grow up rooting for the team they now cover have long since left that behind, in part because once you walk around behind the curtain for a while, being a fan makes less and less sense. 

(This is an aside, but if we're really going to talk about bias and the media, tie it to those who are too indebted to their sources and trading favourable coverage for information. Not fandom.)  

<>

In any event, this is all just a really long-winded way of saying, "no, I'm not a Leafs fan." In fact, I don't really have a favourite team at all, and I haven't for a long time. 

I'm just glad there are games on every night, and I get to watch and write about them as part of what I do.


Saturday, January 19, 2013

2013 NHL standings and trophies predictions

Eastern Conference
1 NYR
2 BOS
3 WSH
4 PIT
5 BUF
6 CAR
7 PHI
8 NJD
9 MTL
10 TB
11 OTT
12 TOR
13 WPG
14 FLA
15 NYI


Western Conference
1 LAK
2 DET
3 VAN
4 STL
5 CHI
6 SJ
7 COL
8 ANA
9 PHX
10 NSH
11 CGY
12 MIN
13 EDM
14 DAL
15 CBJ

Hart: Evgeni Malkin  
Art Ross: Claude Giroux
Richard: Evgeni Malkin
Vezina: Henrik Lundqvist
Calder: Mikael Granlund
Norris: Alex Pietrangelo
Selke: David Backes
Jack Adams: Kirk Muller

Stanley Cup: St. Louis
Eastern finalist: Pittsburgh
Conn Smythe: Jaroslav Halak

Friday, January 18, 2013

2013 NHL teams by weight, height and age

Based on data from teams' opening rosters on Jan. 18 


Weight Height Age
Wrank Hrank Arank
Anaheim 203.3 73.1 27.6
17 18 22
Boston 200.0 72.9 28.5
26 21 11
Buffalo 203.1 73.3 27.7
19 13 19
Calgary 195.5 72.8 28.3
30 23 14
Carolina 200.5 73.1 27.3
24 18 26
Chicago 203.0 72.3 27.7
20 29 19
Colorado 205.9 73.1 27.8
8 18 16
Columbus 204.5 73.3 26.9
12 13 30
Dallas 197.2 72.4 28.8
29 28 5
Detroit 201.2 72.6 29.6
22 26 3
Edmonton 203.8 73.5 27.6
16 8 22
Florida 201.2 73.5 29.7
22 8 1
Los Angeles 209.7 73.3 27.3
2 13 26
Minnesota 199.7 72.7 27.5
27 24 25
Montreal 197.3 72.1 27.8
28 30 16
Nashville 205.4 73.3 28.2
10 13 15
New Jersey 204.5 72.9 29.7
12 21 1
NY Islanders 200.3 72.7 28.7
25 24 8
NY Rangers 206.1 73.7 28.6
7 6 10
Ottawa 206.8 73.9 27.6
5 3 22
Philadelphia 202.7 73.8 27.8
21 5 16
Phoenix 204.2 73.4 28.8
14 11 5
Pittsburgh 203.3 73.3 28.5
17 13 11
San Jose 210.7 74.0 28.7
1 1 8
St. Louis 205.8 72.6 27.7
9 26 19
Tampa Bay 206.2 73.7 28.8
6 6 5
Toronto 204.8 73.5 27.3
11 8 26
Vancouver 204.0 73.4 28.9
15 11 4
Washington 208.0 73.9 28.4
3 3 13
Winnipeg 207.3 74.0 27.3
4 1 26
Average 203.5 73.2 28.2



Monday, August 13, 2012

My stories from the 2012 Olympics

Olympic Stadium: Where I lived

Incredibly nice to be home. On the couch. Half asleep.

Normally when I travel for work, the trips all all quick hops - five days here, five days there, in and out to New York or Philadelphia or wherever for a hockey game or three. 

The Olympics? Wow. 

A little more than three weeks away in a different country, one I had never been to before, and where you're working every single day. (Some days for 14 or more hours a day.)

Great assignment. Tough assignment. 

Here's a collection of some of the stories I wrote over there, as much for my benefit for looking back on as anything. I mostly only covered track and field, kayak and canoe, rowing and a little volleyball and weightlifting.

I don't plan on updating this blog very often, but this seemed like a find place to store a few of these links (my favourites are in bold):

Previews: Pundits project Canada to win 17 to 22 medals
Previews: Can Canadian rowers continue to set the pace?
Previews: 10 Canadian Olympians to follow on Twitter
Day 1: The biggest names among the 2012 flag bearers
Day 2: Royal watching is an unofficial sport
Day 3: Women’s eight crew makes a statement
Day 4: The long road Canada’s beach volleyballers took to the Games
Day 5: Christine Girard ends women's weightlifting podium jinx
Day 6: Atmosphere, setting and skin: Beach volleyball one hot ticket
Day 7: High hopes rest on huge shoulders of Dylan Armstrong
Day 7: How a Soviet hammer champ pushed Armstrong to the top
Day 7: How Own the Podium changed everything for Canada
Day 8: Armstrong falls short of podium in men’s Olympic shot put
Day 9: Even without podium, shot put on map thanks to Armstrong
Day 9: Canada’s Jessica Zelinka misses the podium in heptathlon
Day 10: Oldershaw moving out of van Koeverden’s shadow
Day 10: Will this be Adam Van Koeverden’s last paddle?
Day 10: Canadian Justyn Warner bows out in 100-metre semis
Day 11: Even without a win, Pistorius makes real impact
Day 11: Three Canadians through in 100-metre women's hurdles
Day 12: Kayaking siblings compete with dad in mind
Day 13: Canada’s Mark Oldershaw wins canoe bronze
Day 14: Damian Warner finishes fifth in Olympic decathlon
Day 15: Canadian men’s 4x100 relay is running for respect
Day 16: Canadian men's relay team goes from bronze to heartache
Day 17: The stories behind the 18 Canadian Olympic medals
Looking back: There's no shame in celebrating bronze

Thanks to those who followed along during my time in London. I'm now off for a few weeks in order to get ready for an NHL season that may not even exist.

Have a great August.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

My new home: On Facebook

For the kind, lost souls that are still coming here...

I've got one of those Facebook pages that all the kids are talking about, and updating it seems to be a breeze. For now the plan will be to post any new articles I'm working on both there and Twitter, at least until I set up a new website that can do something similar.

I'd like to get back to blogging on a far more regular basis, probably at The Globe's website, and that might be something we look at figuring out for next fall. This year was a big adjustment just in terms of just switching over to the paper side of things and the travel involved, but hopefully will get back to some bloggy content as well.


UPDATE Here's the new address for the Facebook page: facebook.com/JamesMirtle. Plan is to keep it updated pretty regularly, with an eye to creating something like what journalist Nicholas Kristof has built here (obviously on a much smaller scale).   

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Where you can find my writing

Just a very brief history of where my archived material is:

December, 2004, to October, 2008: Blogger
October, 2008, to January, 2010: From The Rink
October, 2009, to present: The Globe and Mail

I've also started posting links to my writing on both Twitter and Facebook regularly, but don't currently have a set website where original material appears. That may come in the future.
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Thursday, April 08, 2010

Who has Hart this season?


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Monday, March 29, 2010

NHL statement on latest Winnipeg rumours

Bill Daly, Deputy Commissioner of the National Hockey League, today released the following statement:

"In response to the many inquiries we have received in light of the story in the Phoenix Business Journal this morning, we would like to make clear that at this point in time the National Hockey League has no "deal" in place to move the Coyotes' franchise to Winnipeg -- or to any other city for that matter -- in the event a transaction cannot be timely consummated in Glendale. Our focus continues to be on completing a transaction with local ownership that is committed to operating the team in Glendale. Based on the communications and information we are receiving on a regular basis, the stakeholders involved continue to express a high level of confidence that that can be successfully achieved. We will not focus on completing arrangements for one or more alternative option(s) until such time as it may become necessary.

"With respect to Winnipeg and Messrs. Chipman and Thomson, we have had ongoing discussions over time regarding their potential interest in owning an NHL franchise (as we have had with a number of other individuals and cities around North America) and potentially bringing an NHL franchise back to Winnipeg. It remains an intriguing possibility and one we would consider given appropriate circumstances, but there is nothing new to report on that front at this time."
>> league release

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

McGinn's wild ride: 14 callups, 14 demotions

There's no end-of-season award in the NHL for most air miles accrued, but if there was, San Jose Sharks winger Jamie McGinn would win in a landslide.

In only his second NHL season, McGinn has skated in 44 games, missing 22 while in the minors with the American Hockey League's Worcester Sharks. Along the way he's been demoted and recalled a stunning and league-leading 14 times, making for more cross-country flights between California and Massachusetts than he can recall.
And I have more on this story at Globe on Hockey.
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Friday, March 12, 2010

Roberts helps Stamkos's rise

It ultimately came in a losing cause, but it was Stamkos who snapped home the game’s first goal and later added an assist, showcasing his impressive new-found physique and earning the game’s second star.

The problem was – as has been the case on too many nights this season with Tampa – Stamkos’s teammates let him down. And the Leafs own young sniper, Phil Kessel, capped a wild overtime with his 23rd goal of the season to give Toronto a 4-3 win.

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Assistant GM Jeff Jackson on leaving the Leafs

“Coming back to the Leafs, four years ago, was pretty cool,” Jackson said. “It was an honour to be drafted by them, it was great to work for them. It’s one of the toughest sports markets in the world, so it was kind of a baptism by fire on the management side.

“In a lot of respects, it’s been a rough four years because of the inability to have success. I was hoping I’d be part of a winning team here because when it happens, it’s going to be a great place to be. So, it is a hard thing to be leaving, but it’s just the right time.”

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Meet the Caputis

A barber with a salon just north of Toronto, Caputi grew up in the city, cutting his son’s hair and coaching his hockey teams. What he never dreamed of was watching Luca, now 21, skate with the Toronto Maple Leafs – the NHL team both had cheered for their entire lives.

As diehard a fan as they come, Caputi said he still thinks about the Leafs’ playoff run, 17 years ago, and that fateful missed high-sticking call on Los Angeles Kings star Wayne Gretzky. “We bleed blue,” he said.

Last night, Luca Caputi gave his father another Leafs memory – one his old man will likely be recalling the rest of his years.

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Monday, March 08, 2010

Players still split on headshot rule

Most players around the league said Monday they want to see hits like the one Penguins winger Matt Cooke laid on Savard penalized – and even suspended. But beyond that, there's little consensus on what, if any, rule changes are needed to prevent similar checks.

Some say all hits to the head should be outlawed. Others scream sacrilege at the thought.

Another group altogether attempts to avoid saying much at all.

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