Archive for May, 2008

Now We’re Talkin’

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

Got to see my first ever player signing! It was a madhouse. Just like a draft or something, with a few hundred people and tons of media. I had to give someone important a surprise, hard shove from behind just to get a good seat (sorry Grapes).

For real though, Scorpions captain Vladimir Hartinger was introduced, seated, and presented his contract. He signed his name, slipped into a Scorpions jersey and addressed the crowd. It looked just like a tee-tiny NHL draft event.

So there it is – Hartinger is the first player to (re)sign with the Scorpions for the 2008-09 season. Good news for the New Mexico team and fans as well. Awesome offensive defenseman and great guy.

One of the things Vladi told the crowd is that, “The team has given me everything i’ve ever asked for.” Made me remember that i interviewed first year Scorps coach Randy Murphy while he was a player, just before he left for that stint in Elmira. Now’s my chance to use that interview to ‘splain a little about what “everything i ask for” means.

You see, in the Double-A minors, salaries aren’t all that. So players can actually negotiate for other various things, like visits home for Christmas and such. I’ll dig up that interview and post it next time around.

2008 CHL Defenseman of the Year, Vladimir Hartinger All this talk about Hartinger makes me wonder if you’re thinking what i think you’re thinking. Like, if i bumped into Vladi, did i finally do an interview or what?!

Why yes i did! Full disclosure: i actually told him i’d look at my original list of questions and email him a few, then save the rest for a longer interview when the new season kicks up. But just to tide you over until then, making good on what you surely thought was a bogus promise, at long last (drum roll please), here’s a brief Q&A with a CHL/Scorpions superduperstar defenseman!

[Don’t be confused. IE stands for Inside Edge, the official name of this blog.]

IE: You had such a great season. Any idea what made a difference –  just getting better with age?
Hartinger: “The coaching of Randy Murphy has had a big impact on my game – and also getting better with age.”

IE: Which was your favorite CHL team to play this past season? Least favorite team? Why?

Hartinger: “My favorite team was Arizona. I believe I had a total of 28 points in 16 games against them.”

“Least favorite would be Laredo. They play very hard and their forwards finish all their checks.”

IE: What’s your prediction for the NHL playoffs? Which team do you want to win the Cup?

Hartinger: “I think Detroit will win. I also cheer for them. They have a really good team. Great forwards, really good D-men and good goaltending in Osgood.”

IE: Any big summer plans so far?

Hartinger: “I’m really looking forward to seeing my family. I have not been able to visit them in the past 4 years. Also, my brother’s wedding will be a lot of fun.”

Crossover

On to hockey/cycling… Vladi is from Sternberk in the Czech Republic. I mentioned to him that in the research i’d done for the interview, i noticed cycling is pretty popular in that area. He shared that his dad had a bicycle shop (or two?) when Vladi was a kid. And get this:

Vladi knows what the Giro d’Italia is – so you have no excuse not to!

Of course, he’s from somewhere other than the US. Vladi says when he was a kid, they always had the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France bike races on TV and his family would watch.

Not to leave you hanging with your newfound love of cycling – here’s some Giro reading.

Timbits

Scorpions sparkplug Konrad Reeder will be playing in Europe for the upcoming season. That’s the Frederikshavn White Hawks of the Danish Hockey League, if you wanna track his success. NM Fans are gonna miss him.

Real Men Wear Pink

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

Arizona in 4 eh? Holy Moly. (That’s what my buddy from Texas says. Of course, she pronounces it Howl-lee Mowl-lee!)

Whoda thunk? Scorpions head coach Randy Murphy, whose team ended its season against the Dogs, knew what Arizona had going for it. Murphy says he predicted AZ in 6. As far as i know, that’s about as close a guess of the outcome as anyone came.

So we’re on to the NHL playoffs. I think most of us are predicting the Red Wings have it in the bag. Murphy, who was busy guest bartending for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network at a local Irish Pub in Albuquerque this past Saturday, is predicting as much, but said he’d like to see Pittsburgh win the Cup.

Murphy says, “It would make a good story, after last season [rebounded from a gawdawful season the year before to make it to the playoffs, but eliminated in the first round; had to cope with the uncertainty surrounding the possible sale and relocation of the team]. It’d be fun, since they’re such a young team. And their stars are playing so well.”

That’s what i’m sayin’.

I know – i keep talking about a transition to cycling but i want it to be intriguing, so here’s a little piece about a pro cyclist who used to be a hockey player. Really! I’m always saying cycling is the perfect cross-training sport for hockey players. Good for the knees.

Grab your seats kiddos – here we go…!

For those of you who haven’t checked the Events list on my website, the Giro d’Italia is in full swing. It’s the first of the three European Grand Tours: they last three weeks (stage races, rather than a single day) and tour a country. Even those of you living in caves have heard of the Tour de France, right? The Giro is just like the Tour, but it travels through Italy instead of France. The third Grand Tour is the Vuelta a Espana, which races through Spain in September.

Without even trying, you’ve just learned to say “Tour of [insert Country]” in three languages!

Why do i care about all this, you ask? Why does anyone care about a sports event that involves extreme physical challenge, endurance, pain, victory, beautiful countryside, wicked crashes – for you people who can’t get enough of that stuff, and something completely different from the usual team sports dynamics. Hello.

So far, a significant factor of this year’s Giro is that an American, Christian Vande Velde, wore the leader’s (pink) jersey (just like the yellow one of the Tour de France) for only the second time in the history of the race.

The last time was way, way back, in the 20th Century (1988).

Day 2 leader Franco Pellizotti, Giro d'Italia 2008Unfortunately, Vande Velde lost his lead the following day by one second in a sprint for the finish line at the end of 207 km (a whopping 128 US miles – sitting on a bike). Italian Franco Pellizotti is your new man in pink.

Side note: for those of you already jonesing, if you click on the Vande Velde link above, there’s an (albeit sad) reference to (wait for it…) ice hockey!!!

Another Giro tidbit of interest for Americans is that American Time Trial Champion, Dave Zabriskie, crashed out on the second day (Sunday). Apparently, he tangled with a railroad crossing gate or some such thing, and fractured a vertebrae. It’s impossible to see those obstacles with your nose on the wheel of the guy in front of you.

Poor dude is gonna suffer like labor every time he sneezes or coughs for the next couple weeks. Big shame. Z-Dog is one of the riotous characters in cycling who you wanna listen to, unless you’ve decided the porn stache and soul patch say it all…. On his website, be sure to check out Zabriskie’s Point.

Final Countdown

Friday, May 2nd, 2008

Phew! That was a close one. Thank goodness i switched to “pres”uming, regarding the Arizona vs. Laredo series. (See previous post) Guess that makes a “pres” outta “u” and “me.” Wha?

Though i was wrong, i can’t say i’m surprised. A sizable bird once told me that Arizona would be the new Colaredo (get it?).

I swear last night I had a dream that i passed Albuquerque Journal writer James Yodice as i was rushing to leave the building, and threw out to him, “You said Colorado in 6, right? Sounds good to me.” Checking back to Rajan’s blog, sure as shootin’ i’d read (but not consciously remembered) that Yodice predicted Colorado in 6.

But it still wouldn’t surprise me one bit if Arizona took it all. Sooner or later, someone different has to. I still wish it was someone really different. More dreaming….

I’m gonna say it and you can’t stop me: a big congrats to CHL referees Croft, Floru and Lemelin, not to mention the four linesmen, for being chosen to work the final games. May their playoff experiences be career-enhancing.

Switching Gears

I’ve mentioned i’ll be covering a little bit of cycling once the hockey season is over. In preparation for the transition, all you folks who just dropped your bite of hoagie in your lap – “Cycling?!” – need to check out this whopper of a Spring Classic: during the Paris-Roubaix race, pro cyclists ride (somewhat modified) road bikes over sections of cobblestones that can only be described as brutal, the vibrations of which make your eye balls spin like the 1960s and your bum feel like a mixed drink – shaken, not stirred. If it rains, odds are you’ll be ass over elbows at least once before you hit the finish which, by the way, is in a velodrome. Either way, it’s crashes, flat tires, broken wheels, head winds….

Give Blood. Ride Roubaix. Forget the glowing glory of the Stanley Cup, the winner of this race gets, that’s right, a huge freaking rock as a trophy (you can tell by the way they handle it, it’s real). Yeah! That’s what i’m talkin’ ’bout!