Friday, April 30, 2010

Classy guy....

It's always been my contention - based on my years as a sportswriter, along with other interactions over time - that hockey players are the most down-to-earth people among professional athletes. I think it's partly because they don't make the astronomical salaries that players in other sports make - no one on the Wild is getting a third of Joe Mauer or Kevin Garnett-type money - and in part because many of them grow up in small Canadian (and Minnesota) towns, in an atmosphere that helps to keep them humble when they hit the big time.

I've seen numerous examples of it over the years; NHLers who take time to stop and chat with folks outside the Xcel Energy Center, or visit with people at local restaurants. For example, I know the Wild's Brent Burns has had members of the arena staff over to his house to see his collection of exotic pets.

Now comes another great example. Thursdy night the Washington Capitals suffered a heartbreaking Game 7 playoff loss. After winning the President's Trophy for the league's best regular-season record, the Caps took a 3-1 lead in their first-round playoff series against Montreal. Then Montreal goalie Jaroslav Halak got hot, and Montreal won three straight games to take the series, including a 2-1 win Thursday night in D.C.

After the game, a mother and daughter - two Capitals fans on their way home from the game - blew a tire on the Roosevelt Bridge. They called AAA, and were told they could have a long wait. Moments later, a vehicle pulled over and the driver got out to ask if he could help. The driver turned out to be Brooks Laich of the Capitals, still in his suit. Laich ended up changing the tire while talking hockey with these season-ticket holders. The entire story, including a photo of Laich changing the tire is here.

Somehow I don't think you'd ever hear a story like this involving LeBron James or Chad Ochocinco.

Monday, April 26, 2010


Here's a comedy bit from Saturday Night Live. It's pretty well done, not great, but okay, but what's more important is the subtext: When the lefties at NBC feel free to ridicule public employees like this, it means liberals are losing control of the institutions that make up their support and infrastructure.


UPDATE: Lost the link...Sorry

Thursday, April 22, 2010

One of the greatest goals ever....

Today is the seventh anniversary of the greatest goal in Wild history, Andrew Brunette's overtime game-winner in Game 7 of the 2003 Wild-Avalanche series.

I've written here and elsewhere about my admiration for Brunette, who scored 25 goals this year as a 36-year-old coming off knee surgery. He's a tireless worker who is willing to go behind the net and take abuse from opposing defensemen along the boards in order to set up a play. Just a terrific player and a good locker room guy who has been a great asset to the Wild.

As most of you will remember, 2003 was the first time the Wild made the playoffs, and the Avalanche were heavy favorites who won three of the first four games. But the Wild won Game 5 in Colorado, then evened the series in Game 6 on Richard Park's OT winner. The next night Brunette's goal gave the Wild their first playoff win ever. To me it will always be the greatest Wild goal ever, until the year some Wild player scores the Cup-winner.

Three somewhat forgotten facts about the goal:

1) It wouldn't have happened except that a minute or two before, Manny Fernandez made an incredible save on Rob Blake. Blake had blasted a low, hard slapshot just inside the post, but Fernandez made a full-split glove save to keep the game going.

2) The assist on the goal went to Sergei Zholtok, who made the slick drop pass to Bruno. Sergei was another hard-working guy that I had the privilege to meet once. He had a son that played for Eagan, and one night the kid's team was playing in Red Wing. I was helping coach a bantam team that had practice afterwards, and when I went downstairs to put my skates on, Sergei was sitting outside the locker room. We ended up having a nice chat about Russian hockey history....Tretiak, Kharlamov, Yukashev, etc....which Zholtok knew all about, even though he was Latvian. During the lockout year, Zholtok went to play in Russia, where he suffered a heart attack and died in the locker room. It's a tragic story, and the Wild has a nice display honoring Zholtok near Gate 3 at the X. It chokes me up every time I walk by.

3) It was the last moment of Patrick Roy's career. He retired, and Bruno is the last guy ever to score on him in the NHL.

I had the chance to meet Brunette a couple years later, when he was playing for the Avalanche. A mutual friend introduced us, and I said, "You scored one of the top 5 goals of my life." He seemed puzzled that it wasn't the greatest goal, and I said "A fellow named Eruzione scored a bigger one in Lake Placid." Later Brunette was kind enough to sign this photo for me, which now hangs in my office. Here's the goal:

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Reagan and James Dean

Enjoy this recently-unearthed clip of Ronald Reagan and James Dean, appearing together on GE Theater. Dean had not yet done "Rebel Without a Cause" and Reagan had not yet launched his political career. A fun interaction between two iconic figures.

Really cool pics

Again, sorry for the blogging blackout...just lots and lots of things going on. My apologies, and I'll try to keep things up to speed.

I'm fascinated by the Icelandic volcano (the name of which no non-Icelander seems to be able to pronounce). I read a description the other day that said the ash cloud was so big it had its own lighting bouncing around inside of it. I couldn't really imagine that, but then came this picture, in which you can actually see some of the lightning.
More super cool pictures can be seen here.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Amazing play...

The major league baseball season started over the weekend, and we already have a candidate for play of the year.

White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle sticks his foot out to stop a grounder up the middle, deflecting the ball into foul territory. He chases it down, then flips it with his glove, between his legs, right to the first baseman. I can't figure out how to embed the video from the MLB web site, so just click here to see the play.

Of course, as an umpire, one of the things I enjoy most is seeing the first base ump hustle to get into the proper position, and then get the call correct even though it's a bang-bang play.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

What is a "progressive?"

Ever since Michael Dukakis almost singlehandedly made "liberal" a label of derision, liberals have been trying to find something else to call themselves. A while ago they seemed to have settled on "progressive." When folks like Keith Olbermann and Rachel Madow go on the air to share the Democratic Party talking points, they refer to themselves and fellow leftists as "progressives."

Along comes Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, who became one of the stars of the health care reform debate by demonstrating his deep knowledge of the subject, and by standing up to the President during the "summit" meeting a few weeks ago. Ryan spoke in Oklahoma this week, and had a few words to say about being a "progressive." He makes some great points, and I'll just hand the floor over to him:

"The Democratic leaders of Congress and in the White House hold a view they call “Progressivism.” Progressivism began in Wisconsin, where I come from. It came into our schools from European universities under the spell of intellectuals such as Hegel and Weber, and the German leader Bismarck.

"The best known Wisconsin Progressive was actually a Republican, Robert LaFollette. Progressivism was a powerful strain in both political parties for many years. Theodore Roosevelt, a Republican, and Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat, both brought the Progressive movement to Washington. Early Progressives wanted to empower and engage the people. They fought for populist reforms like initiative and referendum, recalls, judicial elections, the breakup of monopoly corporations, and the elimination of vote buying and urban patronage.

"But Progressivism turned away from popular control toward central government planning. It lost most Americans and consumed itself in paternalism, arrogance, and snobbish condescension. “Fighting Bob” LaFollette, Teddy Roosevelt, and Woodrow Wilson would have scorned the self-proclaimed “Progressives” of our day for handing out bailout checks to giant corporations, corrupting the Congress to purchase votes for government controlled health care, and funneling billions in Jobs Stimulus money to local politicians to pay for make-work patronage. That’s not “Progressivism,” that’s what real Progressives fought against!"

Friday, April 2, 2010


It was a year ago this week that this blog sprang into existence. Thanks to everyone who drops by, especially those who leave comments. Much appreciated, and as the Wild season draws to a close, I promise the frequency of posting will increase.

First round of golf for the year today, and April 1 may be the earliest I've ever golfed in Minnesota. I'm a bit embarrassed by the 88, but it was inflated by an ugly 10 on one hole. I'm pretty sure that's the last 10 I'll have this season!