Category Archives: NHL

Clint Malarchuk – Surviving The Worst Televised Sports Injury Ever

Many American professional sports can be brutal and very violent at times.  When most sports fans think of horrible sports injuries that were broadcast on American television they think of one particular injury.  That injury is the infamous Lawrence Taylor tackle on quarterback Joe Theisman in November of 1985 on Monday Night Football.  Theisman had his lower leg completely snapped in half and it was live for all of America to see.  There is an even worse sports injury that happened almost four years later.

On March 22,1989 the NHL match up between the St Louis Blues and the Buffalo Sabers began in Buffalo, NY.  Goal tending that night for the Sabers was the 8th year veteran Clint Malarchuk.  Nobody in the building had any idea what was about to happen, including Malarchuk.  During a fight for the puck at the net between Blues player Steve Tuttle and Sabers player Uwe Krupp both of them crashed into the goal.  When they did Tuttle’s skate caught Malarchuk in the throat.  Malarchuk immediately clutched his throat area.  Once every one of the Ice realized what was happening blood began pouring to the Ice from Malarchuk’s neck.  He was aided to by the referee and a few players.  The television broadcast went to a commercial break.  When they came back Malarchuk was being taken off of the ice.  Their were several pools of blood after he was taken into the back of the Arena.

Clint Malarchuk just seconds after his horrific injury. (Getty Images)

Clint Malarchuk just seconds after his horrific injury. (Getty Images)

One man was responsible for saving Clint Malarchuk’s life that night, team trainer Jim Pizzutelli.  Pizzutelli reached into Malarchuk’s neck and pinched off the bleeding until doctors could arrive.  It has been estimated that if the cut was just a little high on his neck he would have been dead by the time he received medical attention.  Malarchuk lost 1/3 of his entire blood supply and needed over 300 stitches to close the cut.

Clint Malarchuk would end up playing a few more season following his recovery.  During his seasons following this incident his play was never quite as good as it had been previous to the injury.  He would retire from Hockey 1996 and later found himself as a coach for a few NHL teams.

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Top 3 Moments in June “The Greatest Month In Sports”

It’s July and that means one thing the greatest month in sports is over, for this year at least. June has held a big place in sports for many years now.  I personally consider it to be the most memorable month in sports every year.  No one can forget the O.J. Simpson bronco chase in June of 1994. Other unforgettable images pop up as well.  Michael Jordan winning his championships with the Chicago Bulls and sealing his place on sports history.  The Stanley Cup classics with greats like Wayne Gretzky capturing the cup numerous times for the Edmonton Oilers in the 1980s. Numerous World Cup soccer competitions had their start in June and also brought many memorable moments with them.  Major League Baseball has some of its most exciting games matching up teams from the N.L. and A.L. in inter league play.  There have been so many great things that occurred during this month.  So I decided to give you my top 3 moments for this past month.  Let’s take a look…

#1- LEBRON JAMES WINS HIS FIRST NBA TITLE (June 21st, 2012)

Lebron James celebrates with the Miami Heat.
(Getty Images)

After 9 seasons in the NBA Lebron James showed the world that he was in fact a champion.  The Miami Heat defated the Oklahoma City Thunder and their young rising superstar Kevin Durant in 5 games to win the NBA Title.  This Miami Heat team was heavely favored going into the season to take the title.  They had some rough moments in their Eastern Conference Finals series against the Boston Celtics but they came out on top and advanced to their second NBA Finals in a row.  Lebron showed a level of play and maturity like we have never seen from him before.  Lebron can have a nice relating summer and pick up the pursuit of more NBA Titles in the fall.

#2- THE LOS ANGELES KINGS TAKE THE STANLEY CUP (June 11th, 2012)

The Kings shocked the world this year in the NHL Playoffs.
(Getty Images)

The surprising L.A. Kings won the Lord Stanley’s Cup in 6 games over the New Jersey Devils.  This Stanley Cup victory will never be forgotten by the hockey world or the sports world for that matter.  The city of L.A. needed this victory at a time when the Lakers and Clippers both were knocked out of the NBA Playoffs early.  The city of L.A. got red hot over the Kings outstanding postseason run.  Many casual fans that disappeared when Wayne Gretzky left the team for the Rangers in the late 90′s were back.  The American Hockey scene needed this victory as well.  This could spark excitement and push the sport even further in the American Culture.

#3- MATT CAIN’S PERFECT PERFORMANCE (June 13th, 2012)

The Giants Matt Cain pitching perfection.
(Getty Images)

On the 13th of June the San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Matt Cain threw baseball’s 22 perfect game ever.  This was the second perfect game this season, Phil Humber of the White Sox threw a perfect ball game in April against the Mariners in Seattle.  Matt Cain’s perfect game ended in a score of 10-0 against the Houston Astors.  Stat wise this could be considered one of the best perfect games ever.  Matt Cain struck out an impressive 14 batters during the game.  A feat which had only been done one time before when Sandy Koufax threw a perfect game in 1965.  The great game had a great moment at the end when Cain met his wife in the dugout to celebrate his history making performance with her.

The Kings Cup

The Kings Game 2 star Jeff Carter celebrates with hockey’s most prized trophy the Stanley Cup.
(Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Kings shocked the sports world during this NHL postseason.  At a time when NHL coverage on the news and sports channels usually takes a back seat to what is happening in the NBA’s postseason,  the Kings had all of the attention.  On Monday night the Kings won Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the New Jersey Devils. It was   their first Stanley Cup trophy in the franchises 45 year history.

It was an amazing year for the Kings who began the year with not very high expectations.  Some figured they could make the playoffs but no one had any idea what was about to occur when the season kicked off last Fall.

The Kings had an average regular season finishing with a record of 40 wins, 27 loses and 15overtime loses.  When April started and the final games before the post season were about to be played many thought the Kings would not even qualify for the playoffs.  Well they did but barely and got the placed in the playoffs as the 8th seed.  The Kings faced off against the 1st seeded Vancouver Canucks and shocked the hockey world by taking the series in 5 games.  It was their first time making it out of the first round since 2001.  The Kings then swept the 2nd seeded St. Louis Blues and the hockey world started to think, maybe these guys are for real.  It was confirmed when the Kings took game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Phoenix Coyotes by a score of 4-3 in overtime to advance into the Finals.  The Kings made history during this incredible playoff run by being the first 8th seeded team to beat both the 1st and 2nd seeded teams in the playoffs.

There were high expectations for the Kings by the time they made it to the Stanley Cup Finals.  They were so dominant and seemed to breeze through the first 3 rounds.  The Kings did not lose any road games during the first 3 rounds of the NHL postseason.  The Kings had about a week off before the Cup was to begin.  Some were worried they might lose the momentum they had built up in the previous month of play.  Momentum ended up not being a problem for the Kings in the Stanley Cup Finals.

The Stanley Cup Finals started on May 30th between the Kings and the Devils.  Game 1 took place in New Jersey and the sports world was on the edge of it seat to see if the Kings could keep up their incredible run and capture the cup.  The Kings took game 1 in overtime by a score of 2-1 with a goal from Anze Kopitar.  Game 2 was a similar story when both teams were tied 1-1 after 3 periods.  The Kings received a goal from Jeff Carter to win the game 2-1 over the Devils.

Games 3 and 4 took place in L.A. at the Staples Center.  The Kings would blow out the veteran goaltender Martin Brodeur and the Devils 4 goals to 0.  As game 4 approached it looked like the Kings would get the sweep and make NHL History not only for their playoff run but their Finals run as well.  With game 4 came disappointment came with a 3-1 lose as the series would then head back to New Jersey for game 5.

Game 5 was another disappointment with a close 2-1 lose.  But the good news was that the series was headed back to L.A. for game 6 and the Kings were only 1 win away from the Championship.

Game 6 brought an incredible blow out victory.  The Kings goaltender Johnathan Quick was named the series MVP for his great play during the Finals.  Quick also had a great postseason overall winning 16 games and only losing 4 over the month and a half playoff season. The Kings defeated the Devils 6-1 and sealed their place in NHL History as one of the most surprising champions to have ever come out of the NHL postseason.

This Stanley Cup victory will never be forgotten by the hockey world or the sports world for that matter.  The city of L.A. needed this victory at a time when the Lakers and Clippers both were knocked out of the NBA Playoffs early.  The city of L.A. got red hot over the Kings outstanding postseason run.  Many casual fans that disappeared when Wayne Gretzky left the team for the Rangers in the late 90’s were back.  The American Hockey scene needed this victory as well.  This could spark excitement and push the sport even further in the American Culture.

The Kings are as they proved a very talented and young team that could dominate the NHL for years to come.  I know that many fans will be waiting for next season to see if the Kings return to their 2012 playoff form.  But until then we should acknowledge how great of a team this was and how much of a story book playoff run this 2011-2012 Kings team had.  Long live the Kings!

NHL History That May Go Unseen By Many

The L.A. Kings and the New Jersey Devils in the Stanley Cup Finals
(Getty Images)

The L.A. Kings are charging through the Stanley Cup Finals this week.  The Kings are up on the New Jersey Devils by 3 games.  The Kings have the chance to sweep the Devils in game 4 on Wednesday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA.  If the Kings win the Stanley Cup they will be known as one of the greatest playoff teams in the history of the sport.  It has been an improbable run for the Kings but they have shown everyone what they can do on the ice during this post season.  A sweep would make the 2011-2012 Kings story and legacy even greater.  The unfortunate thing about game 4 is that many fans will not be able to watch the broadcast and will miss seeing NHL history made on live television.

Game 4 of the Cup will be aired on the NBC Sports Network (NBCS).  NBCS is in far fewer homes than most cable networks.  The first 2 games of the Stanley Cup aired on the main NBC Network, if needed games 5, 6 and 7 will also be on the Network channel.  Due to scheduling issues games 3 and 4 were relegated to the fledgeling sports network.

Late last year the NHL signed a 10 year deal with NBC.  It was a good deal for many reasons.  It will bring more nationally televised games to the American audience.  Weekly hockey nights air during the season.  The playoffs also receive great coverage between the NBC family of networks.  The down side is what we are witnessing this week.  One of the most important games of the series for both teams will largely go unseen.

This television deal is however a lot better than what was previously in place for the NHL.  Most of the games were televised on VS. which this year became NBCS.  The problem the NHL had on the VS. Network was that many fans did not get the channel in their homes.  Even though there has been a name change there has not been a big increase in homes that receive the channel.  At least the NHL does get a lot of games on National TV now via the main NBC Network.

The NHL had better television deals in the past that catered to the national audience.  During the 90’s the NHL had a deal with FOX and covered the NHL and the Stanley Cup Finals very well.  Probably the best deal they have ever had in the US was with ESPN.  Even though ESPN is a cable network, it has a very wide reach and many people have access to the channel.  The NHL also received a lot more coverage on the networks flagship show Sportscenter.  The NHL’s relationship ended after the 2003-2004 season.  ESPN has cut a lot of hockey coverage in the past few years.  Hockey has seen a drop in popularity in the US due to the way the television coverage has been in the last 7 years.

I understand that television deals are a very complicated thing.  Their however is no reason why the Stanley Cup finals should not be carried in it entirety on the NBC Network.  The NHL needs to get this situation changed so it no longer happens.  The early parts of the NHL Playoffs can and should be on all the networks under the NBC umbrella, not the Stanley Cup Finals.  It is a great tradition with a even greater history and should be treated as such.

If you get NBCS in your home, I suggest you watch and enjoy the greatness of the Stanley Cup Finals and the story of a great Kings team.  If you don’t get NBCS there is only one thing you can do,  Wait for the highlights.

Los Angeles King Advance to The Stanley Cup Finals

The L.A. Kings are on their way to the Stanley Cup Finals.  Its their first time since 1993 when NHL Legend Wayne Gretzky played for the Kings.  The Kings have never won the Stanley Cup and are more than ready to capture it this year.

The Kings had an average regular season finishing with a record of 40 wins, 27 loses and 15overtime loses.  When April started and the final games before the post season were about to be played many thought the Kings would not even qualify for the playoffs.  Well they did but barely and got the placed in the playoffs as the 8th seed.  The Kings faced off against the 1st seeded Vancouver Canucks and shocked the hockey world by taking the series in 5 games.  It was their first time making it out of the first round since 2001.  The Kings then swept the 2nd seeded St. Louis Blues and the hockey world started to think, maybe these guys are for real.  Last night it was confirmed when the Kings took game 5 against the Phoenix Coyotes by a score of 4-3 in overtime to advance into the Finals.  The Kings made history during this incredible playoff run by being the first 8th seeded team to beat both the 1st and 2nd seeded teams in the playoffs.

The Kings star through this playoff season has been their American born Right Wing Dustin Brown.  Brown scored 7 goal, 9 assists and had 3 game winning goals in the playoffs.  He has been their leader and the rest of the team has followed with incredible play.  If he keeps it up he will definitely take the MVP trophy in the Stanley Cup.

The Kings must wait now to find out their opponent.  The New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils are still battling it out in the Eastern Conference Finals.  The Ranger and the Devils are set to play Game 7 tonight in New York.  I have a feeling that the Rangers will take the game and advance to their first Finals since 1994.  We will find out really soon.

L.A. Kings fan holding a sign that says it all.
(Getty Images)

The Kings have really sparked interest in Los Angeles for Hockey.  The city has had their loyal fans but the casual fans left when Gretzky went to play for the Rangers in the late 1990s.  The L.A. Sports Scene is really different this summer with the Lakers and the Clippers already out of the NBA Playoffs.  The city of Los Angeles needs the Kings right now.  This is the perfect opportunity for the Kings to brighten up the city with Hockey excitement.

I feel this is a Kings team that is destined to win the Cup this year.  I did not think so going into the playoffs but I have seen the playoff greatness.  This would be one of the most surprising NHL Playoff runs we have ever seen if they can capture the cup.  We could be calling it the “King’s Cup”  in just a matter of a couple of weeks.

Bring Back The Smart Puck!

RIP "Smart Puck" 1996-1999

The NHL playoffs have been heating up and the first round has almost come to a close.  I have been able to watch some of the action in the last couple of weeks, and I have really enjoyed the coverage.  But there is something missing from the television coverage, the “Smart Puck”.

It was a brilliant creation of The Fox Network.  It was debuted on FOX during their coverage of the 1996 NHL All Star game.  It was used by FOX until 1999 when their  contract with the league expired.  It allowed the fan to keep better track of the hockey puck.  The puck had integrated electronics to track its position on screen.  During normal play the puck would glow blue, when hit hard the puck would turn red and streak across the screen.

The Smart Puck received mixed reactions.  The hard core fans did not like the concept, many believed it took away from the game and hurt its tradition.  Almost all of the casual fans loved it.  For many of the casual fans up to that point they could not track the puck well and became disinterested.  It brought a lot of attention to the FOX broadcasts and made fans feel more involved.  It probably even boosted ratings for a while.

Oh how I miss the glowing puck.  I say bring the Smart Puck back!  I understand that it was a concept developed and owned by FOX, but it should be used still today at whatever the cost to the current broadcasting companies all over the world. Don’t get me wrong I still really like watching hockey, especially the playoffs.  The Smart Puck helped me keep better track of what was going on during the game.  It is hard at times to track the puck when you are watching on television.  You usually have to just watch were the players are looking or where the groups of players go.  Not as fun as watching with technology on the ice.

Football still has the digital first down marker after over a decade.  No complaints from fans there.  There should have been none by this development either.  For now and probably forever we will be watching hockey without this awesome glowing object flying around the screen.  Rest in peace FOX’s Smart Puck.