Tuesday, February 5, 2008

NHL All Star Game Splits the Season

By Whitney Alen

Hockey fans know that, once the NHL All Star Game is here, the NHL season is halfway through. This year, the NHL All Star game occurs at Philips Arena in Atlanta, on January 26. NHL stars, old and new, will take to the ice, signaling the split of the season. Hockey greats from all across the League will strut their stuff, providing NHL fans with probably the most exciting event of the season, apart from the Stanley Cup Championships. Especially interesting about this year's NHL All Star Game is the reunion of Manny Legace and Chris Osgood, who will be teammates once again after many years. Coaches John Paddock in the Eastern Conference and Mike Babcock for the Western Conference will battle it out this year in Atlanta.

Unfortunately, hockey does not have the brand popularity that MLB, MBA and the NFL have (especially outside the local markets). The lockout in 2005 put a major dampening on the reputation of the sport and it is slowly making its comeback to local stations. Hockey fans in todays market rely on special broadcasting in order to follow their teams. Broadcasting like NHL Center Ice and Hockey Night in Canada are quickly becoming the main resource around the league. NHL.com is the leader for online stats and news while "Hockey Magazine" leads the way in print (if you can find it in your area).

NHL Center Ice is one of the best ways for the NHL fan to track the season from the All Star game through the finals. This package includes as many as 40 action packed games each week, in addition to certain games from the Stanley Cup Playoffs. As the players approach the playoffs, it becomes increasingly important not just to cheer for your team but to also cheer against those who are in your way. As many as 12 games each week will be broadcast in mind shattering HD which should add some fuel to the fire. NHL Center Ice also features dual feeds for many games. This means that you not only get the broadcast from the home team, but also the broadcast from the away team. This is especially cool for fans that don't live in the area of their favorite NHL team, and otherwise wouldn't have access to the hometown commentary and broadcasting features.

The NHL Network is also available in HD, provides 24 hour coverage, 7 days a week. This is a new broadcating channel that is currently only available to subscribers of DIRECTV. The NHL Network features live games, highlight shows every day, the latest and fastest breaking news from the world of hockey, as well as exclusive programs you can only find on the NHL Network.

Every NHL fan that doesn't already have NHL Center Ice after the All Star Game is going to be missing out on the best games of the season. As the playoff run heats up, so does the skill and passion of each team fighting for those final spots.

Whitney Alen is a Direct TV expert and has over 10 years experience in the satellite TV industry.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Challenging Game of Hockey

by Urther Queen

Considering the country's love affair with the game most people would be surprised to learn that hockey is not the national sport of Canada. Many people in Canada eat, sleep, and breathe hockey. The roots of hockey are in Ireland, back when it was called Hurley, but hockey is defiantly a Canadian sport. Due to its infectious nature, hockey has caught on all over the world. It became very popular throughout Canada, especially the East coast in the 1800s.

In 1917, a league was formed to guide the play among professional hockey teams. This league, the National Hockey League (NHL) originally consisted of five teams. But the numbers quickly grew and by the end of the century there would be 30 teams from all over Canada and the USA. For many fans, hockey is serious business.

While the US teams have dominated the hockey playoffs, called the Stanley Cup, in recent years, the sport still has a bigger following in Canada. Hockey Night in Canada is quite an event in many households and sports bars. Several teams in Canada have fallen by the wayside in the past several years such as the Winnipeg Jets and the Quebec Nordiques. This is an unfortunate cause of the high player salaries.

Hockey stars are able to demand high salaries for their game. In part, this is what leads some of the top players to teams in the US. Some Canadian teams find it challenging to keep their homegrown players thanks to high salary demands. This is one of the issues in the 2004 NHL dispute that resulted a curtailed season.

Hockey is a very violent game and unfortunately, violence is very common in the little leagues. Spectators love to watch the opposing team get crushed against the boards. Many people wonder what this is teaching young fans. Aggressive play is not being tolerated in many leagues whereas others have banned this type contact all together. The NHL however, has not started anything of this kind.

These days' parents have become a bit too passionate at little league hockey games. There is an increasing number of fights between parents and verbal and physical abuse against referees and coaches. This has prompted many people to stay away from the sport or putting their children in after school hockey programs. The thought of knowing that the parents care more about who wins than the kids do is frightening. Regardless of this hockey will always be a popular game in North America.

No matter what happens though, hockey will always be a popular game in North America. Europe enjoys much success in the hockey world as well. Recent world championships have highlighted little known places such as Belarus. Anywhere you can find frozen ponds in the winter are the perfect place for a little ice hockey. This isn't always the case though, look at the Los Angeles Kings!

Hockey remains one of the favorite games in North American cities and many fans hope to enjoy hockey during the 2004/2005 NHL season. But even without the pros, there are farm teams and minor leagues teams playing hockey, so hockey fans can still get their hockey fix. If you are curious to see what all the fuss is over, check out a game at your local hockey arena and you'll feel the excitement in the air - and on the ice. No wonder hockey is so popular!

Urther Queen is the owner of UQ Hockey, the best place on the internet for information about hockey, For questions or comments about this article why not visit: http://www.uqhockey.com/articles

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Sidney Crosby VS Wayne Gretzky

By Phil Tremblay

Some fans of the game may say that comparing Sidney Crosby and the Great One, Wayne Gretzky is like comparing apples and oranges. Of Course there is only one Gretzky, and most die hard fans of his will attest to that. Although it is hard to argue the fact that Sidney Crosby, who has already broken a club record previously set by the great Mario Lemieux, is a player to be watched. Barring any professional injuries, he is bound to go the distance.

While it might be said that the game has changed considerably over the past few decades, it is interesting nonetheless to compare Sidney Crosby and Wayne Gretzky's performance at the start of their NHL career at the age of 18.

Sidney Crosby's 2005-2006 NHL debut season consisted of 81 games with a record breaking 39 goals and 63 assists for a total of 102 points.

Similarly Wayne Gretzky's NHL debut at the age of 18 during the 1979-1980 season consisted of 79 games with 51 goals, 86 assists for a total of 137 points.

Regardless of how the game might have changed, Wayne Gretzky's NHL debuts were undeniably more impressive than those of Sidney Crosby's. Although Gretzky's NHL playing days are over, Sidney Crosby has almost another 15 years to truly make his mark in the NHL and at the pace at which he is headed many analysts believe that his total career points will by far surpass those of Gretzky.

Gretzky's first Stanley Cup Championship came only 4 years after he began playing in the NHL. During his 1983-1984 season Wayne Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers took home the cup after defeating the Edmonton Oilers. An exploit the young Sidney Crosby has to accomplish. As captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins he has lead the team to playoffs, only to be defeated within the first rounds. Crosby still has a few years left to beat or match Gretzky's Stanley Cup victory.

Since the start of Sidney Crosby's career, similarities were made between the two in terms of their attitude towards the refs. Both were considered to be whiners and constantly complained to the refs about unjust penalties.

From amazing hockey talents to a whiny attitude and destined for NHL glory, Sidney Crosby and Wayne Gretzky might just be the two most similar players in the history of the NHL. While Gretzky may be considered The Great One, Crosby is right behind is at his heels and at this point only time will tell.

Phil is the owner of the Sidney Crosby Fan site http://www.sidneycrosbyfansite.com

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Choosing the Best Ice Hockey Gear

By Cindy Teruya

There are many types of ice hockey gear available. To choose the best ice hockey gear, the buyer first needs to know what basic gear he or she needs. Then the buyer can determine the best type of ice hockey equipment to use. Ice hockey gear can be divided into two main categories - protective gear and playing equipment.

Protective gear is one of the most important types. Protective gear helps keep the player safe in what is one of the most intense contact sports in existence. Protective hockey gear starts with a good helmet. The helmet needs to allow free movement and vision, while also providing good protection against all types of hits or falls. Some helmets also have face cages, to keep the face from danger, and additional shields.

Other protective gear includes the padding and the shin guards. Padding is needed for several key areas and includes various body pads, shoulder pads, elbow pads, and gloves. Pad style is largely a matter of preference. Padding that is too thick can inhibit skating, while padding that is too thin may not prevent injuries.

Other types of necessary gear are the skates and the stick. Skates are one of the most important pieces of gear. Skates are available in many different styles. The style skate chosen may depend on the position of the player, as well as the player's own skating ability. When sizing skates, buyers should be sure to try them on with the full amount of socks that they will wear, in order to ensure proper sizing. The standard width is also called "D" width. Wider widths are "E" or "EE".

Those that want to find more information about ice hockey equipment can visit HockeyMonkey

Hockey Monkey is an online retailer specializing in ice hockey gear. Customers can buy all the ice hockey paraphernalia they want, ranging from sticks to pads. A hockey player that wants the best equipment should shop at http://www.hockeymonkey.com

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Get Acquainted With the New Jersey Devils Hockey Team

By Cassaundra Flores

The New Jersey Devils hockey team has traveled a long way from its humble origins to become one of the most popular ice hockey teams in the country. The New Jersey Devils Hockey Club, then called the Kansas Scouts, which was formed in 1974 as a result of the NHL expansions has seen a whole lot of ups and downs, name and ownership changes to last any decent hockey team more than two lifetimes.

Due to an extremely dismal performance in the first two years of their inception, winning only 27 out of 160 games, the team moved to Colorado in 1976 with the aim of making a fresh start altogether and was re-christened the Colorado Rockies. However, while the team's performance definitely improved in Colorado over what it was earlier, it was still nothing much to write home about. The final move came when the team was bought by New Jersey shipping tycoon John McMullen and shifted to New Jersey. The team had now moved amidst the tigers, and had to contend with the Philadelphia Flyers, the New York rangers and the three time Stanley Cup Winners, New York Islanders, who were all baying for the blood of the new team to join the tri-state hockey circuit of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

The Devils have displayed a particular style of playing and have always been known as a defense first rather than offense first team. The team places an emphasis on speed and alacrity and have patented their own style of run and gun ice hockey. Today, the team is one of the most popular in the country, with a number of Stanley Cup trophies and Atlantic Division titles under their belt. While the club faces almost all of the country's professional ice hockey teams as a member of the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference of the NHL (National Hockey League), its arch rivals are still the neighboring teams of the New York Rangers and the Philadelphia Flyers.

Some of the most popular players of the New Jersey Devils hockey team till date have been Patrik Elias, John Madden and Brian Gionta, who have been responsible for taking the team from strength to strength. Other popular players, especially among the younger lot are Travis Zajac and Zach Parise.

The New Jersey Devils hockey team, which has been playing their home games in the Continental Airlines Arena ever since their move to the city of New Jersey in 1982, will be switching stadiums in October 2007, when they are slated to play their first game at the Prudential Center in Newark, which will be the home ground for the team henceforth. The Center, which was under construction for some years, will finally host the New Jersey hockey team's inaugural match against the Ottawa Senators, with whom they played their last home game in their old stadium.

Article written by Cassaundra Flores, owner of http://www.skyfireproducts.com. Please check out these links
NHL Hockey Shop and Sports Page

Thursday, January 3, 2008

A Brief Overview Of The Game Of Ice Hockey

By Gregg Hall

The game of ice hockey can get fierce and dangerous because you can get checked across the ice and even get into a fight and the refs allow it. Ice hockey is unlike any other winter sport. You glide across the ice on a pair of ice skates and try to hit a black puck that is heavy into a net.

Men and women play ice hockey along with teens and kids. Even though it is a hard and tough sport you can still play it without getting hurt all the time even though you are bound to get into a fight or get hurt. They have pro ice hockey for both men and women and it gets competitive especially if you are good and you get checked then the whole team might come out on the ice and fight.

Professional ice hockey is basically the most violent sport on the face of the earth. If you get into a fight in hockey they let you keep going until the fight goes to the ground. They even let you take off your gloves and helmets and actually duke it out even though you are on a pair of ice skates you can still take a beating and give a good beating as well.

For each penalty the get placed in the penalty box or something like that. I am not familiar with hockey but my cousin played hockey for about half of his life since he was about 5 till he was about 16. He was on all the travel teams and almost went pro but instead wanting to become a doctor.

So with these penalties and your best teammate in the box the team will have time to do a power play and score and remember that in ice hockey the score doesn't really reach over 5 points in a game much so if the teams get tied it can end up to be a brawl not a good ending. Especially if the teams are tied then someone checks another player for no reason and that causes them to lose the game. There will always be fights in hockey and there always have been fights in hockey.

The game is usually played in 3 periods each lasting 20 minutes long. If the teams are tied they do go into overtime just like any other game but first one to score wins. There are 2 goalies and they protect the nets in which both teams are trying to score in. the goalies are the most depended on as they protect the goal so if they get disrespected and checked by a forward there is going to be a fight no doubt about it. All you do is sit and wait for the fight to break out then you just watch in aw as it goes on without a ref stepping in and calling the game unless the whole teams get on the ice then it's a team fight and they will both get fines and stuff for their actions.

Gregg Hall is an author living with his 18 year old son in Jensen Beach, Florida. Find more about hockey as well as sports equipment at http://www.nsearch.com

Monday, December 31, 2007

Must See Hockey

by J Square Humboldt

I think I've just seen another miracle on ice ...

The National Hockey League is back on one of the major American broadcast networks. Some would call that a miracle in itself, but I'm taking higher ground. Specifically, I'm referring to the quality of the broadcast. It's one of the best-produced sports programs I've seen.

Kudos to NBC Sports!

America is a difficult market for hockey. It may be the world's fastest team sport and it may encompass many attributes of skill and strength that should appeal to the American fan, but many regions in the USA have little or no local influence or infrastructure of any significance for the sport. That means any national broadcast package must overcome a series of complex perception issues, not the least of which is in attracting casual sports fans to even try viewing it. Some wags contend that the only real NHL fans are only found in their arenas --- explaining why the capacity percentages for NHL games are higher than in any other sport --- but, as a fan myself, I consider that a lazy observation.

I will agree that, more often than not, one has to actually attend a hockey game to become a fan. Therein lies the problem with most of its television broadcast packages in the USA. To date, they have not accurately captured the essence of the game, which would offer new viewers a reason to become fans. For example, only baseball can rival hockey in aural effervescence --- the sounds of sticks clapping the ice or shooting the puck, of hardened steel blades cutting ice, of the puck pinging off goal posts, of humanity crashing into each other and/or the sideboards --- and usually, that means you have to be there to truly absorb the experience. Once you do, the odds are strong that you'll be hooked on hockey, too.

This is a factor that American television networks never seemed to fathom. At least, until now. NBC's geeks have found a way to mike the rink so the sizzle of hockey's sounds are finely captured and the production crew has made sure that this audio element be made prominent throughout the game. The effect was absolutely visceral.

NBC's broadcasters have a dual challenge in describing the action so as not to insult the intelligence of avid hockey fans while doing so in a manner that won't confuse viewers new to the game. They accomplished it with aplomb, literally talking to two audiences simultaneously and seamlessly, using what's becoming a lost art in American sportscasting: selecting their terms judiciously and sparingly.

Meanwhile, the studio broadcasters worked from a bright-but-subtle, well-designed set and deployed the same discipline. The anchor, former Philadelphia Flyer goalie Bill Clement, is often reduced to a shill when he hosts the NHL's cable package on OLN. However, on NBC, he was excellently understated, allowing his analysts to be themselves rather than talking heads and giving each discussion point only the time it needed, letting each message sell itself to each viewer. It will be interesting to see if NBC keeps that set outside, at the skating rink adjacent to their New York headquarters. It's the ultimate visual aid, of course, and Clement's obvious effortless abilities on it not only allows him to more smoothly elaborate an aspect of the game, by inference the new viewer can identify with skating as an activity available to everyone.

I never thought I'd see the day when an American video production of a hockey game was actually better than its Canadian counterpart, but NBC did it. Comparatively speaking, hockey broadcasts in Europe are basic and banal, but those countries are more attuned to the game and actually seem to prefer that sort of presentation. The Canadians are rightfully viewed as being state-of-the-art when it comes to televising hockey. Any true fan will confirm that Hockey Night in Canada is a Saturday night rite of respect to a game that, on many occasions, can count 25% of that nation's population among its audience.

And yet, the NBC production was crisper, often with more unique but very useful camera angles that provided perfect sightlines to the puck and any action around it. They integrated graphics into the action that far exceeded anything I've seen anywhere else. Some simple additions, such as drop-downs logging the shift time of a particular player, aid an avid fan's awareness of unfolding team strategy while also enlightening the new viewer as to how quickly player changes occur and why. Better yet, the graphics were never obtrusive, allowing viewers to check them at their discretion (as opposed to 'demanding' their attention by 'scrolling' data while action is occurring).

It's hard to believe this came from the network that, 30 years ago, gave us the late, unlamented Peter Puck. That was the cartoon character NBC invented during their first, unsuccessful attempt to broadcast hockey. The last feature hockey needed then, or now, is a reversion to kids' programing in the midst of a sportscast that wants to be taken more seriously by the adult American market.

It's also good to see technology deployed in more refined terms. That wasn't always the case. When they had the national broadcast package, Fox Network's attempt to follow the puck with a ridiculous 'virtual tracking path' --- derisively termed the 'sperm' puck, as that's the image it resembled --- overshadowed the action, and combined with its morphing robot graphics presenting scores, hockey was trivialized to serving as a backdrop for ersatz video games. New viewers only remembered effects, and avid fans got tired of trying to look past all that to see if a real game happened to be in progress.

Many experts have thought that the advent of HDTV would be a boon to hockey, as the wider screen would enable more action to be portrayed. Perhaps NBC is preparing for that imminent change in broadcast standards. If so, they deserve high praise for their foresight and higher praise for their preparations. They're making the experts look good with their predictions.

And speaking of preparations, the NHL is surely an early benefactor of NBC being the American outlet for the Winter Olympics, of which the hockey tournament is a major feature. The network is no doubt honing its cast and crew for that coverage, too. Given what they've already shown, hockey fans in America will be scanning their listings for NBC as opposed to any other available alternative, and sports fans in general will have no better opportunity to finally see why hockey is worth their attention.

During the 1980 Winter Games, in Lake Placid, when the USA's team of collegians shocked the Russian juggernaut of professionals in the Upset of All Time, broadcaster Al Michaels uttered his famous, "Do you believe in miracles? Yes!"

It's taken 25 years, but we can believe again. Only this time, it's the coverage. NBC has gone for hockey gold and we're the winners.

J Square Humboldt is the featured columnist at Longer Life's website, which provides information designed to improve the quality of living. He's at http://longerlifegroup.com/cyberiter.html