Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Try this on your next breakaway...

Okay, this is from a shootout -- not a breakaway -- but it's a great example of leading the goalie one way and directing the puck the other way.

Actually, the thing that impresses me the most about this is Jurco's ability to stop the puck on a dime before performing his spin move and taking the shot. We do some drills involving drop passes in our clinic and let's just say that generally speaking, we're not nearly as good at stopping the puck as is this dude.

Several members of my team have had breakaways in our past few games but with mixed success. The problem is twofold: sometimes we're up against very talented D-men who can chase us down and we usually don't have a plan about what to do should we ever have a one-on-one against the goalie.

So one more thing to add to my to-do list -- work on one move that has at least a tiny chance of working. I'm kind of a lousy skater, stickhandler and shooter -- and even I ended up with a sort-of breakaway in a game last season that I blew when my grand idea was to skate straight at the goalie, wind-up to take a slapshot and then shoot it straight into his body.

How bad was my shot? I could have sworn the ref blew his whistle before the goalie even caught the puck. Yea, that bad.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Movie shoot looking for hockey players at audition in Panorama City

The good folks at the Valley Ice Center in Panorama City sent me this info about a movie that's having an open casting call. Apparently they're looking for players aged 13 to 25 for a trailer for a movie with the working title of "Best Hockey Trailer."

Here's the website with more info about the audition, which is Friday, Oct. 29. The premise of the movie is described only as "Karate Kid on ice." On the movie's Facebook page, the producers say they need 500,000 fans in order to get the movie made.

So, it sounds like they're trying to shoot a trailer first and see what kind of financial interest that drums up. I guess I'd rather see Karate Kid on Ice than, say, Karate Kid on miniature golf.

The movie folks are saying they intend to raise one million dollars for USA Hockey's One Goal program to introduce more youngsters to the sport. Hard to argue with that -- if they can pull it off.

As for the Valley Ice Center, check out their new website. They're one of the rinks in town with two sheets of ice, meaning they've got a lot of stick sessions. They also, to their great credit, support a hockey program for kids with special needs because, you know, everyone -- even middle age geezers like me -- deserves to play the most fun sport in the known universe.


Are you ready to skate 200 feet?

If you're playing hockey in Pasadena after September of next year, that's the distance you'll be skating when you have to chase someone down end-to-end.

After more than a decade of talking about it -- MORE THAN A FREAKING DECADE, PEOPLE -- the wise men and lady of the Pasadena City Council approved a 10-year, 2.5 percent loan to the Convention Center that will enable them to relocate the existing rink next door. Here's the short story from the Pasadena Star News, which smartly quotes a member of my team.

The new rink will be in the existing tent structure, which will have to be slightly lengthened. There will be locker rooms, party rooms, a skating store and, we're told, an all-around tidier atmosphere than the current rink which has character (it's in a converted ballroom) and is probably an incubator for several diseases that thrive among smelly hockey gear.

All this is good news, obviously. But think about it. After years of talking and studying and talking and pretending to be interested in the issue, the Council agreed to a chump change loan that won't cost them a single penny over the long haul. All to do something that would benefit their constituents, visitors to Pasadena and businesses that profit from being near the rink. Councilman Steve Madison gets credit for his support; the rest, as far as I was concerned, were just going through the motions.

Example: After my Wednesday night clinic, I usually motor over to the Whole Foods on the Arroyo Parkway. They've got a nice pig bar/buffet in which you pay $5.99 for a pound of food. I'm usually starving, so I feel up a box or two with mashed potatoes and pasta -- which are really awesomely tasty when mixed together.

Monday, September 27, 2010

New ice rink apparently approved for Pasadena

The Pasadena City Council voted Monday night to relocate and expand the city's lone ice rink, according to rink supporters' Facebook page.

No, that's not the best source -- but I had to work late and that's all the information I could get at this hour.

The new rink will be constructed in the existing tent structure on the grounds of the Pasadena Convention Center. It will be a 200-foot-long NHL regulation size rink, replacing the 150-foot rink that has been in the convention center's old ballroom since the mid-1970s.

Convention center officials are saying the new rink will be complete by next September when the lease ends for the current facility.

More details tomorrow if I can get them.


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Below is a breakdown of the origin of page views form the blog from the past month. I'm dying to know who is reading this and why in Trinidad and Tobago. Maybe you mis-typed the 'P' in Puckboy?

Anyhow, please leave a comment and tell us about hockey in the Carribean! - S.H.

United States
Trinidad and Tobago
South Korea
United Kingdom

Friday, September 24, 2010

Council to tackle Pasadena ice rink proposal on Monday

Looks like the Pasadena City Council is finally going to vote on building a full-size ice rink in the city at the Pasadena Convention Center. Here's the item on the agenda for Monday, Sept. 27: 
It is recommended that the City Council:
(1) Authorize the City Manager to issue a 10 year 2.5% annual interest bearing loan, not to exceed $1.5 million from City funds to the Pasadena Center Operating Company (PCOC), to be used for the ice rink relocation to the pavilion if the conditional use permit is granted; and
(2) Recognize and appropriate the expenditure of $1.5 million in PCOC Reserves for the ice rink relocation to the pavilion if the conditional use permit is granted. 
The staff report has some interesting tidbits. For one, it suggests the new rink will be there for 10 years and that the city will recover the full cost of the new rink. That's good because it has been proposed as a temporary structure until a permanent site for a rink could be found -- something that, quite frankly, looks hopeless. 

The report also suggests that regular users of the rink could get a $36 per month parking pass for the garage under the rink. That's not a bad deal for frequent skaters given that street parking in the area around the convention center can be scarce. 

We'll see how it goes Monday. After years of talking about a new rink, nothing is a sure thing when it comes to our friends on the City Council who wouldn't know a puck if it bonked them in the noggin.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Good drill for those looking for a healthy vomit

I went to a Kings practice in early 2009 and saw them run this drill -- I was just starting to skate and didn't really know what I was seeing. Courtesy Rich Hammond at L.A. Kings Insider:
– Dean Lombardi was a happy man this morning, because Murray brought out his favorite drill, the “pit” drill, in which Murray drags a net into a corner of the rink and has players battle 2-on-2 in tight quarters. “I run that drill at the end of the practice just so that the players can get some kind of physical contact under their belt,” Murray said. “I don’t want to let it run too long. I’m going with three reps per pair only. It’s very early, but we’re getting into the time when we have to start thinking about exhibition games, and that’s the kind of play that’s going to happen.”
The thing that impressed me about the drill was how physical it was: Kings defenseman Matt Greene and center Anze Kopitar were just checking the hell out of one another in front of the net. I remember thinking: these guys are teammates?

We do some one-on-ones and two-on-twos occasionally during our Wednesday night clinics and it's by far the most taxing drill we do. If you want to get in game shape, do these. And just be sure you are near a spot on the ice without plexiglass -- to prevent am embarassing pukage on the ice.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Is ice hockey participation way up?

A-ha! So here are the 2009 numbers from the National Sporting Goods Assn. on sports participation -- which shows a 60 percent increase in ice hockey participation over 2008, according to this report.

And here's the latest 10-year trends:

I have no idea why hockey participation numbers would surge 60 percent in one year. My best guess is that the survey the last few years either was flawed or incomplete. 

What remains interesting -- and as I wrote last year -- is that ice hockey still lags behind sports such as muzzle loading, paintball and kick boxing. All three of those, I might add, make hockey look like a downright intellectual pursuit. 

Muzzle loading is for dummies who can't get their thrills out of modern firearms, paintball is for those who wish they could shoot someone legally and kick boxing is for those who are already brain damaged and would like to become more so. 

If I missed the story, please email me or leave a comment if you know why hockey participation has increased. Don't get me wrong -- I'd love to see the sport expand so there are more opportunities for everyone to play. I just don't see the numbers exploding at my local rink in Pasadena, which by the way is threatened with closure because the dumb-ass City Council doesn't think many people like to skate or play hockey. 


Some interesting stats on hockey participation

Just found this short FAQ on the National Sporting Goods Assn. website. This is an excerpt -- visit the site to read the whole thing:
Frequently Asked Questions about Hockey

Is hockey primarily a youth sport?

In 2009, the largest single age group playing hockey was 35-44 year olds, followed by 12-17 year olds.

How expensive is hockey?

Approximately 85% of all hockey players come from households with income of $50K or more.  Almost 30% come from households with $100K or more incomes.

Do girls/women play hockey?

Definitely.  And their numbers are on the rise.  In 2009, femals represented more than 27% of all hockey players.  In 1987, only 7.5% of the hockey players were female.  Almost half of the female hockey players in 2009 were of the pee-wee variety, 7-11 year olds.
I need to dig around to find some more detailed numbers, but it strikes me as kind of weird that there are more middle-age adults playing the sport than kids. If I was in the ice rink or hockey business, that would concern me.


Monday, September 20, 2010

Pasadena City Council: these guys seriously need their skates sharpened -- by which I mean brains, not skates!

And by "skates sharpened," I don't mean "skates." It's a metaphor!

Anyway, here's a spot of news. Remember last month when the City Council said they would discuss and vote on building a new temporary ice rink at their Sept. 20 meeting?

Well, surprise surprise...the item isn't on the Council's agenda for tonight's meeting and a representative for Councilman Steve Madison told me the details of the proposal are still being discussed. Madison, by the way, is the good guy on the City Council who supports keeping ice skating in Pasadena.

Attentive Puck Boy readers already know the basics. The current shrimpy rink loses its lease next fall with the Pasadena Convention Center. Unless the rink is moved next door to a tent structure -- as proposed -- ice skating could vanish from Pasadena.

Even the tent structure is not a permanent solution. It's seen as a holding spot until the Council "drops its nuts" -- as Jets coach Rex Ryan likes to say -- and decides to plunge some money into a new permanent rink. They had that chance last year but didn't take the plunge because of money and location concerns, the Council's go-to excuses.

Here's the city minutes from last month's Council meeting for those who need a summary of the conversation among Council members and the public. Of course, it's a summary written by city staff, so it's worded kind of generously in my view.

For example, nowhere does it include the sentence "And then the City Council took a useless vote to continue the conversation at a later date as a feeble attempt to fool the public that they were doing something when in fact they were doing nothing because most of them secretly despise the thought of children having fun while ice skating."

Or maybe some of them don't believe skating belongs in a place where the thermometer regularly rises above 80 degrees (note: it gets warm in Canada, too!). Or maybe some of them had a bad public skate experience when they were younger. I remember falling on my head on the ice when I was five at a birthday party for a friend at the Cincinnati Gardens. Didn't prejudice me!

The lack of action is a serious concern and I am starting to fear the worst. More soon...


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Deserve's got nothing to do with it: my first goal

In the spirit of there being no "I" in T-E-A-M ...

In my dreams last night, my first goal in an organized hockey game went something like this: I scoop up the puck at our own goal line, skate six laps around the rink while making each player on the other team miss several times each, then stop at the rink office to chat up the cute rink girls.

After growing weary of their adulation, I take the puck back to the bench, stop again for a tasty vanilla latte with whole milk and cut loose with a cannon of a 100-foot wrister that deftly pinballs off three defenders before drilling a hole in the goalie -- by which I mean tunneling through his pads and internal organs -- and landing with a 'thonk' in the net.

In reality, it went down like this on Sunday: One of my teammates carried the puck deep into the other team's zone and took a shot that bounced off the goalie. The goalie subsequently flubbed catching the rebound. As it happened, I just happened to be standing just outside the crease minding my own bees wax and suddenly there's a puck bouncing around in front of me. I thought I heard a whistle but just to be safe tapped it across the goal line -- tap being a charitable word -- and got the goal.

I don't even remember skating to the goal line. Honest to God, I have no fucking idea how I ended up there.

There's also this: I was sitting in what passes for a locker room before the game talking to the goalie for the team we were playing. He was telling me he had left his bag outside and it had gotten soaked or a cat had pissed on it -- something to that effect -- when I noticed a giant cricket jumping around in his bag. I actually mentioned it to him in an unusual display of pre-game courtesy and even joked that I hoped the cricket would start hopping around inside his pants at an inopportune moment.

So, for all I know, I got a goal because the goalie was distracted by a cricket trying to give him an in-game hummer.

But a goal is a goal and as anyone who plays hockey knows, Clint Eastwood's got it right: sometimes deserve's got nothing to do with it. You do everything right and things go wrong. You do everything wrong -- and I spent most of yesterday's game doing just that (more on that later this week) -- and something goes right. Twelve players suited up for us yesterday and I think it's fair to say 11 of them deserved that goal more than I did. I can't explain, but I'll take it.

As cliche as this sounds, the best part of the day is that my team won. We won our last game of the spring season and our first game of the fall season. We've still got a long way to go in terms of figuring out the game, but after a brutal 11-game losing streak, there's progress, which is simply very awesome for a bunch of dudes mostly over 40 and who are mostly new to the game. The goal this season is to make sure everyone gets their first goal.

And the cost of adding a 'first goal' to my staple of drinking stories? In terms of time, it has been 19 months since my first skating lesson. In terms of money, I've probably spent about $2,000 in skating lessons, hockey clinics, stick-times, league fees, public skates and equipment.

Even without a garbage goal, it's been worth every cent.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Back to the grind

You have to love hockey. It never ends. One season begins practically before the previous one has ended.

My team -- with mostly the same cast as last season -- gets a fresh start with our opener later today. Our last game was July 18 and we won 3 to 2 -- it was our first win in 12 tries and it also clinched the bronze medal in our league.

Like I said, you have to love hockey.

Wish I could I remember much about the game, other than the general awesomeness it felt to finally win one after some close calls. The details are mostly gone. Here's what I do recall:

•We did a nice job of hustling to kill penalties. And our goalie made some nice saves on slapshots from the point. 

•One of our defenseman took a slapshot off the nutters in the final two minutes to help preserve the win.

•We actually passed the puck and made good things happen.

I took a couple weeks off from skating in August for travel and such and give my Chronically Aching Groin a little break (as in break, I mean hauling around a heavy backpack in the Sierra). Here's the thing: when you're not all that good to begin with, a couple of weeks off is plenty of time to allow the moss to grow. I've made a couple of passes in recent weeks that were so wildly off my mark that I wanted to just hand in my gear and sign up for tennis lessons.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Pasadena City Council to hockey players: you are a lower breed and we don't need you, want you or care about you!

That's the kind of headline you get after Puck Boy imbibes a large coffee on an empty stomach at Peets, ruminating about why elected officials in GeezerTown are in such an un-hurry to secure a future for ice skating and hockey here.

Attentive readers of this blog -- which, btw, is henceforth emerging from its summer hibernation -- already know the basic story. In 2009, the Pasadena City Council balked at building a new ice rink with two sheets of ice, citing concerns over cost and location. 

Then, in July of this year, the Council again balked at relocating the current rink next door to an existing tent structure, citing concerns over....cost and location.

Councilman Steve Madison is clearly for preserving ice skating in Pasadena, but I can't say the same about the rest of the Council who clearly have issues with anything having to do with...COST AND LOCATION. Those are their go-to keywords for wishing the issue would just go away.

In case you were the curious sort, the cost of building an entirely new rink in eastern Pasadena was nearly $20 million. Some of that would have been repaid to the city through revenues generated by the rink. The cost of relocating the rink to the tent structure is a $1.5-million loan to be repaid to the city over 10 years. 

In the meantime, a member of my hockey team spotted this intriguing little story in the Star News about a proposed $171-million renovation of the Rose Bowl. My favorite sentence:
The new press box, which will take a few years to construct, is expected to have six levels and include broadcast media rooms, suites and premium club seats, concession stands and an underground kitchen. 
So there you go. The city is willing to invest in premium club seats for corporate fat cats and a new kitchen for sportswriters who may starve to death over the course of a three-hour contest. But when it comes to investing in a sport actually played by city residents, the Council basically couldn't give two hairy poops about a sport played by its own residents.