Thursday, December 31, 2009

Watch this documentary on pond hockey

With the Winter Classic on tab tomorrrow in Boston, I thought it would be a good time to post this link to a feature-length documentary called "Pond Hockey."

The film is posted on Hulu and is described as chronicling the "the changing culture of hockey from the open ice to climate-controlled arenas."

I just started watching. It's great. The first part of the film involves the U.S. pond hockey championships, which are held in Minnesota. At the front end of the movie, there's some great footage of a game and a testimony to a pond hockey tradition -- the post-game bonfire.

After my Wednesday clinic last night, I was just talking to one of my classmates and we agreed how frustrating it often is to live in a warm climate and not be able to walk outside to the local park to practice hockey. Most of us on Wednesdays are at that stage where we just need to noodle around for hours to learn some of this stuff and that's hard to do given limited stick time hours locally.

Anyway, watch the movie. It's great. And Happy New Year and may all your hockey dreams come true next year.

--Steve Hymon

Vancouver Winter Games website sucks!

After working hard for 23 minutes this morning, I thought I deserved a well-earned break and decided to click over to the Vancouver Winter Olympics website to read through the rosters for the men's hockey tournament.

I might as well have gone into the backyard and grabbed one of Teddy the Dog's turds and rubbed it in my eyes. There's no way to say this delicately: the Winter Olympics hockey website is a hunk of doo-doo. Too much hunting and pecking to find the rosters and there was this little omission: the Canadian team, announced yesterday, wasn't yet posted on the site.

Is everyone's head frozen in Canada?

However, I did stumble upon a game posted on the website called Quatchi's Shootout Shutout, a game in which you play the goalie and try to stop shootout goals from each of the Winter Games' three stupid mascots.

That's a screenshot above of me playing and about to make another brilliant save. Or, at least, it should have been a brilliant save except for the fact that the Canadians must have the game wired to recognize when Americans are playing. I know this because every time it appeared I was going to block a shot, the puck somehow managed to skitter under my stick. I bet if I was some dirtbag from Winnipeg, I'd have a perfect record right now. Instead, I'm just an idiot from the 91106.

Go ahead and play. Your work will be waiting for you next year.

--Steve Hymon

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Doughty makes Canadian Olympic team

The big hockey news of the day was the naming of the Canadian men's hockey team that will be trying to bring home the gold medal for the home squad in Vancouver in February. And, to boot, it's a great day for local hockey -- Kings defenseman Drew Doughty made the cut, as did a trio from the Anaheim Ducks -- defenseman Scott Niedermayer and forwards Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.

Here's the full roster. The Sharks also placed four players: forwards Dany Heatley, Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton and defenseman Dan Boyle.

Sadly, the Kings' Ryan Smyth didn't make the team -- likely because he's coming off an injury that forced him to miss more than a month of play. 

Former Ducks player and current Flyer Chris Pronger got the nod and a goalie that both the Ducks and Kings know well -- the Canucks' Roberto Luongo -- will get to mind the net on his home ice in Vancouver. In other words, the West Coast will be well represented on Team Canada.

The U.S. team will be named during the Winter Classic on Friday in Boston. Three members of the Kings are said to be under consideration: foward and team captain Dustin Brown, defenseman Jack Johnson and goalie Jonathan Quick. Brown, by the way, his Doughty's teammate on the road.

Good coverage of the Doughty selection can be found at LAKingsInsider

My completely uninformed opinion about this: I thought Doughty played better last year than this season. There's no doubt he is very skilled, but he also seems badly out of position at times. About this, I know a little something: I'm often several country miles out of position.

In any event, all of this extremely excites Puck Boy. As cynical as we all sometimes can be about politics and such, there's still something to be said about playing for your country and the Olympic hockey tournament is the game's best chance to make a case for itself to millions of people around the world. And, if it ignites more interest in hockey locally, all the better.

--Steve Hymon

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

When children are the enemy

I occasionally partake in an early morning hockey clinic on Saturdays at the Pickwick ice rink in Burbank. Anywhere from six to 20 people may participate with a full range of skills on display -- in other words, from those who are good to those who skate as if they have a duck stuck in their hockey shorts.

This past Saturday featured a full house, including some teen kids who were sickengingly skilled. After 45 minutes or so of chowing down on humble pie -- some of the drills I couldn't do; some of the drills I had no idea even what I was supposed to do -- it was time to scrimmage, which is always the most fun part of the clinic.

In this case, the coach who runs the clinic divied up the class into the really good teen kids and a few others who played on half the ice. The remaining 10 people consisted of five kids -- all about eight or nine, I'm guessing -- and five of us who happen to be north of 40 and who are relatively new to ice hockey.

At this point, you can probably guess the teams: kids versus adults with about 30 years of life experience between each opponent. It goes without saying that the kids were quite good -- they were fast, talented stickhandlers and competitive. Really competitive.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Can the NHL be saved by the NHL?

That's the theme of a good post at the NYT's Slap Shot blog. In Jeff Klein's view, the past decade was mostly a disaster until the first Winter Classic was staged on Jan. 1, 2008, in front of 71,000 people in the Buffalo Bills' stadium.

Give the piece a read. I'm curious what others think. As a relatively new pro hockey fan, I find the game terribly exciting but remain puzzled by several aspects -- the bland marketing, the absence from television, the often poor writing about it in the media, teams in odd locales, a season that goes on forever, etc.

Am I alone in these views? Or just seeing what other hockey fans see?

--Steve Hymon

photo: New York Times

Bruce always says it best

Hey Santa: Don't forget my new hockey gloves, tickets to the Kings-Capitols game and the pixie dust that will make me skate like a pro.

--Steve Hymon

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Need sustenance after hard game of hockey? Try my world-famous chili recipe!

After a hard couple of hours of skating poorly, making inept passes to the wrong team, getting beat by school girls, toppling over for no apparent reason and pulling the trigger on pathetically weak shots that dribble at the speed of a tortoise past their target (if they make it that far), I sure like to sit down to a hot meal.

Specifically, my own world famous Cincinnati chili. No, I didn't invent Cincy chili. I was only born there. But in my 23 years of living in the Queen City, I probably ate hundreds of gallons of the stuff and concocted my own recipe to capture the magic that is Cincinnati chili.

So, you are probably asking, what exactly is the big deal about Cincinnati chili?

Glad you asked!

Unlike that slop that snobbish Texans serve and call chili, Cincy chili utilizes beans. As all chili should. Cincy chili also is down-home enough to employ simple, tasty ground beef and is also far sweeter than the bland bowl of chewy meat some deranged Texan may serve you. The sweetness comes from a variety of secret spices, all of which are listed below.

In Cincinnati, there are a variety of chili parlors around town that serve chili over pasta. The chili is then topped with grated cheddar cheese and raw chopped onion. It is good any time of the day -- even breakfast, if you're drunk enough -- but is especially good when it's late at night, you're perhaps not 100% sober and it's become very clear that there's no way on God's green Earth you're getting laid that evening. It is still, after all, chili. And I'd hate to hear about any embarrasing backfires that can be attributed to a gorgeous bowl of my chili.

If you're ever passing through Cincy, btw, the best chili parlor is Skyline Chili. Gold Star can be found in the terminals at the Cincy airport, and it's not bad, but it ain't Skyline. 

How good is my chili?

Well, I made some once in the mid-1990s for a party and actually caught a dude eating it straight out of the pot in the kitchen. While that's completely disgusting, I was secretly complimented that the fat-ass slob found my chili so tasty that he couldn't wait to consume it in true Jabba the Hutt (see below) fashion. 

But enough of me complimenting my culinary skills. Let's have at it: 

1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 pound ground beef
1 can kidney beans
1 can black beans (optional)
at least 3 tbspn of chili powder (I prefer McCormicks or Gebhardts)
at least 2 bbspn of ground cumin
1 teaspn cinnamon
1 teaspn allspice
1 teaspn unsweetened chocolate
1 teaspn sugar
1 yellow or banana pepper, finely chopped
Tabasco sauce
Worcestershire sauce
1 big yellow onion, chopped
1 bag finely grated cheddar cheese

1. Empty the can of crushed tomatoes into a big chili pot and put on simmer.
2. Open a beer and begin drinking.
3. Add the chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, allspice, chocolate and pepper. Mindlessly stir for a couple of minutes.
4. Add a few splashes of Tabasco sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Mindlessly stir some more.
5. Add the sugar. More mindless stirring.
6. If you don't already have some Bruce pounding on the stereo, now would be a good time to turn it up. See suggested mix below.
7. Dice the big yellow onion. Cry like the baby you are.
8. Toss a splash of olive oil in a skillet and cook that onion for about five minutes, until translucent.
9. Add the ground beef (or turkey or whatever meat-like product floats your boat). Cook until brown, drain the beef and the onion and add to the chili pot.
10. Stir for a few minutes. This is the most important stir, so give it some elbow grease.
11. Cover the chili pot, leaving it to simmer for 45 minutes. No peeking!
12. At the end of 45 minutes -- by now you should be on beer #2 -- uncover the chili pot. Breathe it in. Stir!
13. Let it simmer uncovered for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally. Keep drinking.
14. remove chili pot from heat.
15. cook some spaghetti or rice. Put some spaghetti or rice in individual bowls and then pour some chili over the top and then a big handful of cheddar cheese on top of that. Dig in with your fork and mix it all up.
16. Get out the television trays and find something fairly mindless to watch. Works particularly well with football and hockey. Works extremely well, too, with "30 Rock," "Dumb and Dumber," "Office Space," "Old School" and, most of all, "Blades of Glory." I also plan to be eating my chili while watching the NHL's Winter Classic from Fenway Park on New Year's Day.
IT'S A MATHEMATICAL FACT: If you need twice the amount of chili described above, simply double the ingredients! Cool!

More chili variations and other advice after the jump. Don't stop reading now!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Better than lunch

I used to think reading a newspaper and eating a 123,000 calorie burrito was a good time at lunch.

But that approach only made me a big fat-ass slob journalist. In fact, I have now officially renounced that approach: I only get the burrito if I exercise and earn it and I don't waste my time with the newspaper; hell I've got an iPhone. It's better.

Today was one of those days in which I got enough done to squeeze in a noontime skate. I was first on the ice -- a lovely feeling I must say -- although my backward crossovers still leave a little something to be desired.

I'm trying to improve my defense. And that means being able to explode off the blue line back into my own zone going backwards. I've got the backwards part down, it's the explode part I'm struggling with -- that first big c-cut, a reverse crossover or two and then the ability to stay in front of the dude with the puck.

Quite frankly, my backward skating has bothered me all afternoon. And I will likely eat at me tonight. That's the way the furniture is arranged in my noggin these days.

--Steve Hymon

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

I want one for my yard!!!!

Here's another find from Flickr. This dude -- Cruztaker -- built a backyard rink. He has a whole set of photos at this link. It looks like he lives near Lake Erie.

Man I would kill for one of these. At my adult hockey clinic last night, a couple of us were lamenting our skating. If we could only get an hour in a day....just maybe we wouldn't topple over every time we had to change direction or the puck wasn't exactly where it should be or the wind blew.

Of course, the problem with living in Pasadena is that the temperatures rarely fall below the freezing mark, although we do get a few mornings each winter in the high 30s.

In any event, I will dream of this rink tonight. Damn.

The dude on the left is my new hero

Chico for Vezina
Originally uploaded by johnnytreehouse
What can I say? I have a soft spot for the overzealous among us. This is why I try to spend a few minutes here and there cruising the hockey pics on Flickr.


Originally uploaded by icookie

This is a shot from a European hockey league that I also found on Flickr. All sorts of interesting things happening. The shooter is showing good form, the goalie is apparently making a nice save despite covering the wrong side of the net and you can see a defenseman trying to shove a potential shooter out of the way.

Plus, it's overall a great photograph.

That had to hurt

Here's a nice shot I saw on Flickr this morning. I think it's from a junior league game in the Puget Sound area. In any case, it sure looks like No. 23's face is headed in the wrong direction.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Deranged cookie should play hockey

Saw this Gingerbread Man at Schats bakery in Bishop after skiing at Mammoth today. Don't you think the little dude looks a little too happy for someone about to be eaten alive and run through a few thousand miles of intestines with God knows what else?

I mean this is one creepy cookie.

And then it occurred to me: this cookie must play hockey. More specifically, this cookie must have been a goalie -- that's where I recognize that expression.

Getting slammed across neck with a teammate's stick...being digested alive....yep, the only thing missing on this dude is hockey shorts and a shock jock.

--Steve Hymon

Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, December 14, 2009

Closing time on Mammoth Mountain

What a difference a day makes. Sunday was snowy, cold, very windy and with poor visibility and only four lifts open.

Monday? Bluebird day with mostly light winds and the top of the mountain was open. The snow was a bit on the heavy side, but who is Puck Boy to complain?

After all, it beats sitting in the cube farm indoors all day.

And tonight brings a treat: Slocums, my fave Mammoth eatery. If you go, do try the Slocums salad with its candied walnuts and red onions. Mmmmmmmmmmm.

--Steve Hymon

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Dump-a-thon in Mammoth

There was at least one foot of new snow on the ground upon arrival in Mammoth at 6 pm Saturday and it has snowed another foot since then--it's almost 11 o'clock.

And it's still dumping like there is no tomorrow.

--Steve Hymon

Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Is this the Eastern Sierra or Fargo?

This is what it presently looks like just north of Bishop--40 miles from Mammoth and 3,000 feet lower than the ski resort. We ran into snow 15 miles south of Big Pine.

I've been coming to Mammoth for 15 years and had never seen that much snow that far south on 395 in the Owens Valley. The forecast is for two to three feet of snow tonight in Mammoth--on top of whatever they got pummeled with today.

I've got my skates in the cartop carrier and to be honest I'm getting wood just thinking about a ski-skate day. Mammoth has a nice outdoor rink and I am praying it's snowing for ice time.

Btw, I literally dreamed I was practicing backwards crossovers last night. There is probably something deeply wrong with me.

--Steve Hymon

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Hey Dustin Brown: that was sweet. Now do it again tomorrow night!

I got home from my weekly adult hockey clinic tonight to catch the end of the Kings game. In overtime against the division-leading Sharks, Kings winger Dustin Brown decided he was not going to be denied. Holding onto the puck, he pulled a sweet spin move and then nailed a shot between the legs of the Sharks' goalie.

I loved it. One of the things I'm slowly learning in hockey is there are times you simply have to decide 'the puck is mine and if you try to take it, I will put a hand grenade in your shorts.' Or something like that. You just simply refuse to surrender the puck or at least die trying.

Brown, by the way, had a tough game previous to his overtime score. He missed a key scoring chance in the third period and landed in the penalty box with about five minutes to go, nearly costing the Kings the game. But then he played OT like a man possessed and the Kings got the two points and are in fourth place in the western conference.

I hope it carries over to tomorrow night against Phoenix, which is sixth in the conference. I'll be there and ready to see a Kings win after another hard day of blogging for the government.

Friday, December 4, 2009

You call that a Christmas tree? At least they have a rink

You can call me a traditionalist. You can call me Jewish (I am). You may even call me a dweller of a semi-arid environment that naturally was mostly tree-less until settlers came along.

But I do know a good Christmas tree when I see one. And I do know that this tree -- erected this week at L.A. Live outside Staples Center -- is not a good one. If I'm not mistaken, it's not even a tree. It's the kind of thing you may find in a closet at the utility company.

On the plus side, L.A. Live has also erected a tiny ice rink. There's another rink down the street at Pershing Square. Both are small. But so is the rink in Pasadena that will never be replaced because some members of the Pasadena City Council despise children and want to ensure they end up on the streets, making money only by whoring themselves and gobbling up prolific amounts of crack, spunk and God-knows-what-else.

On a more cheery note, the Kings beat Ottawa last night for their third win in a row. They couldn't score on a 5-on-3 for more than two minutes, but that's only a trifle detail.

Back to the tree. A friend of mine reviewing this post has suggested that it appears to have escaped from NASA. I recently read that many parts of the U.S. are having a glut of Christmas trees. Would it really have been that hard to find a real big tree and chop it down?

--Steve Hymon