Yearly Archives: 2012

Greetings from press row…

photoLast night, I took quite the tumble. Whilst carrying a bounty of Christmas presents downstairs to wrap, I slipped on the second stair and proceeded to hit my tailbone on every single step on the way down to the basement floor. In case you are wondering, yes, the presents are fine and all accounted for. I, on the other hand, I’m a little banged up. I tried riding it out, but as of 9am this morning, I am officially on the IR with an upper AND lower body injury. Since I don’t think the opposing teams are keeping tabs on me or my injuries, I can say that I cracked my tailbone and busted 3 ribs.

Holy buckets. That hurt.

Normally I walk around between periods, but seeing as I mistook the basement stairs for a sledding hill last night, this gives me ample time to put up a post over here on HGM about my displeasure about this evenings events.

Let me start of by saying I am a little perturbed. Scratch that. A lot perturbed. It is the first intermission of the Admirals vs. Bulldogs game here at the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee. It is the first and ONLY time this season that the Bulldogs grace us with their presence this regular season. Why is this of importance? Because I am a HUGE Mike Commodore fan. Mr. Commodore is currently on the roster for Hamilton, and so I put myself together enough to get to the arena because this was going to be my only chance to see him play.

Well guess what.

HE’S NOT PLAYING.

I saw him briefly as he ran up and down the stairs before the arena opened up. It gave me false hope that he and his flowing red locks (which really aren’t flowing right now…) would be playing in tonight’s fete. Instead, I was greeted by a sad roster that was missing #22 just before the game started.

There you have it folks. My Sunday evening rant on the fact that Mike Commodore isn’t playing. Back to the game, puck is about to drop on the second period. And in case you are wondering, the Ads are leading 1-0… Woo!

UPDATE:

I opened up my direct messages on twitter and suddenly, all was right with the world.

screen-capture

An open letter to Nyjer Morgan …

presidents-350 copyI know, you are probably all scratching your heads as to why I’d be a) writing an open letter even though I loathe when others write them, and b) writing an open letter to a Major League Baseball player. My friend TJ tagged me in a post on facebook about a way we could keep T-Plush in Milwaukee even though he won’t be back on the Brewers roster next season. It got me thinking, and on behalf of TJ and myself, I’d like to make a public plea to Mr. Morgan to trade in that baseball bat for a hockey stick.

Dear Mr. T-Plush, can I call you that? Perhaps Mr. Morgan would be more appropriate at the moment …

My name is Stephanie, and I am a hockey writer living in the great city of Milwaukee. I am deeply saddened to hear you will not be playing with the Brewers this coming season, but after a long weekend of pause and reflection, I’ve decided to come right out and make a public plea for you to stay in the Brew City and join the Milwaukee Admirals as a left winger.

Let us take a trip down memory lane. Remember when you watched the 1988 Olympics and it inspired you to put on a pair of skates and give ice hockey a shot? You made your way through the ranks to the play with the WHL Regina Pats? Yes it was only seven games… but still! Imagine if you would have followed your dreams to professional hockey stardom! You could’ve made it to the big show, your name could be on the cup! You could have single-handedly  prevented the NHL lockout, because I’m sure Slick Willie would’ve handled lockout negotiations better than the two yuc… well, we won’t get into that. This is supposed to be a spirited letter about keeping you in Milwaukee, not one that would cause me to throw my laptop out the window.

Speaking of Slick Willie, don’t you fret. We’ve got plenty of people who’d be more than happy to cat sit while you are away on road trips. Will that person be me? Absolutely not, as I am allergic to cats and I don’t think Slick Willie would appreciate someone in a hazmat suit trying to pet him.

While we are on the topic of road trips, lets get started on the reasons why it’s cooler to play hockey than baseball (see what I did there? Cooler… ice… moving on). As an MLB player, you’re schedule consists of about 700 games packed into a teeeeeeeeeeeny tiny five month window (700 might be exaggerating just a bit, but seriously, you guys play a lot of games). In the AHL, you play 76 games, 38 at home and 38 on the road. Since the Admirals have played approximately 98% of this season on the road thus far (again, that’s a guesstimate) , you will be able to enjoy the luxury of playing on home ice repeatedly through March! When you do have to travel, you’ll be riding in style. Because seriously, who doesn’t love sitting on a coach bus full of hockey players for five and a half hours on the way back from the booming metropolis of Peoria, IL?

Did I mention some of the other perks of playing for the Admirals? Like the one about Nyjer Morgan slash T-Plush bobblehead night? Picture it, well actually no you don’t need to picture because I took the liberty of photoshopping a pair of bobbleheads for you. You’re welcome, by the way.

Sharks head coach Todd McClellan and NHL super star Joe Thorton both gave you good reviews when you skated with the team back in February. Since the NHL is locked out for god knows how long, you’ll have plenty of time to polish up those shootout skills that McClellan may have mentioned in his interview Mike Shumann…

You said it yourself, you like hockey better. So come, Mr. Plush, come back to the ice. I mean, c’mon, who really enjoys standing out in the 100 degree sun for 3 hours wondering if a fist-sized ball of leather is going to come anywhere in your vicinity. Not this gal. And if you STILL aren’t sold on making the switch, just look at these two pictures: look at the sullen face in this baseball photo… now look at this million dollar smile in this hockey photo.

I rest my case. See you at the rink.

Best Regards,

Stephanie Muraro

P.S – Admirals fans, hockey fans, brewers fans… ANY FANS – Sign the petition to Put T. Plush in an Admirals Uniform! Ban together and sway him to come back to the rink!

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Sign the petition at ipetitions.com

There is a whole world outside the NHL folks …

nhl-logo-stand-byAnother day, another rejected CBA, and of course, another day of people despising Gary Bettman. If I had to put my money on if the NHL will play this season, I’d put it on my money on “abso-freaking-lutely NO”. However, I must say, following tweets from the several fake “NHL Podium” twitter accounts was mildly entertaining between periods at the Admirals/Stars game.

Speaking of which, I have something to let you all in on. Come closer, I don’t want anyone to hear… but there is a whole world of hockey beyond the NHL and the best news? They don’t lockout every seven years. Don’t get me wrong, I love NHL hockey, and nothing puts a smile on my face like when Minnesota falls flat on their face and I can tell  Eric how awesome it is to be a Penguins fan. But at the end of the day, there is no need for fans to curl up into the fetal position in a dark closet … with their Gary Bettman voodoo doll … chanting some jibberish about him secretly being a KHL informant who is trying to take the National Hockey League down. Okay, maybe that is taking it a bit far, but I wouldn’t put it past those Canadian fans. They. Are. Pissed. Just look at this woman if you don’t believe me.

I did a series of “Get to know …” articles highlighting different leagues around Europe that out-of-work NHLers were flocking to earlier in the season, err … non-season … But the fact of the matter is is that their is a ton of great hockey still being played in North America.

Forewarning – I’m clearly biased on the topic of North American hockey seeing as my duty in life is the cover the American Hockey League, specifically the Milwaukee Admirals. The AHL is a great league, and I could count the number of times they’ve locked out even if I was a fish. Why? Because they’ve never locked out their players, hence, I don’t need fingers to count on. Teams are very much a part of their parent clubs organization, and it isn’t uncommon to see a player packing their bags in the locker room while I’m interviewing because they just got the call-up from Nashville. I’m sure the same goes for every other locker room in the AHL.

There is quite the list of NHLers that are playing in the AHL this season (here’s a list from TSN.ca). Aside from lockout contracts, many of the NHLs made stops in the AHL on their way to to top league. Ryan Miller, starting goaltender for the Buffalo Sabres, actually started out his pro career with the AHL Rochester Americans. He won the Baz Bastien Award for best goaltender in the league and was named to the AHL All-Star first team during the 2004-2005 season. Eric Staal, Dustin Brown and Zach Parise are a few other notable AHL alumni that are now taking the NHL by storm.

Well, they would be if there wasn’t a LOCKOUT.

Bottom line – Before you start burning all of your NHL paraphernalia in a backyard bonfire, just remember that there is a ton of great hockey being played right now. There is a lot of NHL-caliber talent on AHL rosters, and if you don’t believe me, just take a look at press row at the BMO Bradley Center and see the overflow of NHL scouts and coaching staff crowding me into the corner of the table. Usually on a Wednesday night I have most of, if not, the entire row to myself on press row at the Admirals games. This past Wednesday I practically had my laptop on my lap since we were all wedged in like sardines in a can. There is a new feature on HGM called Twitter-quette (the tab is up on top just above the banner) and soon there will be a tab next to it listing all the AHL writers that are HGM approved (in other words, I like them… a lot).

Oh by the way. The NHL is locked out. Wasn’t sure if you knew or not, so I thought I’d just let you know.

Welcome Power Play Post Show listeners!

photoHey there hockey guys and gals! Thanks for stopping by to check out Hockey Gal Milwaukee in all its online glory! Last night I (that’s me, on the left, waving at you) had the honor of being on the Power Play Post Show with the legendary Bob Howard, where I fell flat on my face in hockey trivia but made up for it with making references to Don Cherry’s wardrobe. Below are some links to where you can find me on the interwebs, and please remember to subscribe to hockeygalmilwaukee.com as well as my coverage on examiner.com!

twitHockey Gal Milwaukee on Twitter

Hofaceckey Gal Milwaukee on Facebook

exmMilwaukee Admirals Examiner

pinNEW Hockey Gal Milwaukee on Pinterest

Thank you SO much again to Bob Howard and the PPPS for having me on the show and to all of you for coming to see what me and my website are all about! I love hearing from readers, so keep those comments, posts and tweets rolling in!

For my readers who need the link to the broadcast, click here!

And since you all stopped by, I will quickly update you on the NHL lockout situation.

 

 

 

 

See that blank space? Exactly.

Until the puck drops,
Stephanie

Black Friday hangover… how was your weekend?

For the Americans in the room, this past Thursday marked the day the pilgrims celebrated a harvest festival about 7 trillion years ago. Somehow pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock and throwing a party translates into stuff your face with turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and pumpkin pie til you pass out in the recliner, and then wake up at an ungodly hour to elbow your way through the rowdy crowds at the local mall. Giving thanks? You bet. I’m thankful I didn’t take an elbow to the head over a pair of earmuffs, or that I wasn’t hit with a cascading tower of boot boxes in the Boston Store shoe department like last year… or that I was a not a part of this hot mess

How does one tie thanksgiving to hockey? You’ll be hard-pressed to find a hockey fan thankful for anything on the NHL front, so instead I went to the next logical olive branch, if you will. Turkey anyone? Also, memo to the Minnesota Wild. In the current hockey climate, you may be better suited giving money to people to take your stuff rather than try to pass off a bargain-of-a-deal $15 mini helmet as special black friday bargain basement prices. Seriously.

Happy Thanksgiving folks!

2012 Top Seven Gifts for the Hockey Lover in Your Life

Ahh yes. Here we are again. I’ve set up shop at the Starbucks near my work, and have been refreshing some of the graphic content on all my hockey pages. Twitter was first in line for an update, and now today it was the sites turn. I find it hilarious that I am doing graphic design work before going to my day job as a graphic designer… Nothing like bangin’ away at Adobe creative suite for 11 hours!

And in today’s NHL news, wait … there is none. Moving on.

Every year, I do a much-anticipated post on “unique” gift (I use the term unique loosely) for that special hockey fan in your life. Instead of waking up at an ungodly hour to fight your way through crowds to fight over the last pair of $15 Ugg Boots until you are a bruised and bloodied mess, check out my list of the 2012 Seven Best (and by best I mean hilarious, lame and insane) Gifts for Hockey Fans.

1. NEXT QUESTION T-shirt by Tarnation! Sports – Nothing says “Happy Holidays” quite like Rangers coach John Tortorella and his infamous “next question” press conferences. To take your gift to the next level of awesome, burn a cd of DJ Steve Porters Next Question remix. It really is the gift that keeps on giving…. Next Question tee, tarnationsports.com, $19.99

2. Photo Hockey Bobblehead by bobbleheadawards.com – Really? This gift definitely falls under the subheading of “lame”, but hey, perhaps you have someone special that would just love to wake up to your bobbling face on Christmas morning. For just $9.95, a lucky soul can get a bobblehead with the face of your choosing. BUT WAIT, if you have 12-35 friends and family members that you need to get gifts for, take advantage of quantity pricing at just $8.96 a pop! Imagine it, 35 Steff Muraro bobbleheads under the tree! Photo Hockey Bobble Head, bobbleheadawards.com, $9.95

3. Krefeld Pinguine Fanhut - As a graphic designer, I appreciate the diverse world of sports team logos. The logo for Krefeld Pinguine of the DEL takes the cake for most awesome and wins the award for most 1970′s-inspirted logo ever. How can the hockey fan in your life not love this little pinguine wearing skates that look more like elf shoes that a pair of Reeboks. One of the skates even appears to be equipped with an ice pick. My favorite gift from the teams online store? This giant plush top hat. Not only is it amazing, but it’ll draw a few giggles when you show up to the Bradley Center wearing it. If not giggles, definitely a few groans and shouts from the people behind you telling you DOWN IN FRONT…

4. The Hockey Shirt - Our economy may be tanking, but that doesn’t mean you can’t bring out something fancy to attend a hockey game! Glassbangers.com offers a lovely replacement for the traditional $200 hockey jersey. And the fact that it is black makes it a much classier choice than some silly Minnesota Wild jersey… The Hockey Shirt, glassbangers.com, $19.95

5. WTF T-Shirt – Glassbangers.com has another absolute gem for sale, but this one is much more appropriate in regards to the current fiddling around the NHL and NHLPA are doing. What better way to bring a family together than a mutual distaste for the lock out. WTF T-Shirt, glassbangers.com, $19.95

6. LOOK AND FEEL Canadian Breath Spray – Okay, this isn’t hockey related, but I couldn’t bear to leave this off the list. I can’t think of a witty comment that would do such a fine product justice… so I’ll just let the link speak for itself… Look and Feel Canadian Breath Spray, perpetualkid.com, $5.99

7. Hockey GLOW Adult Matching Footed Pajamas – Last, but CERTAINLY not least are these hot-of-the runway footed jam jams. Your family and friends will keep warm while watching reruns of the 1998 Stanley Cup finals for the umpteenth time in these uber fashionable adult onesies! And why confine such style to the couch? I suggest wearing them to a hockey game to really impress the folks in your section. An outfit like that? That’s dedication my friend. Hockey Glow Adult Matching Footed Pajamas, snugasabug.com, $69.95

Got a gift that is worthy of making an appearance on the list? Let’s hear it!

Hockey Gorp: Nov. 11th, 2012 edition

Since I last posted on October 15th, three things have happened regarding the NHL lockout:

1.

2.

3.

See how those are blank? I don’t think I need to expand on that any further. Moving on …

First and foremost, I need take a moment and ask everyone to check out Milwaukee Admirals defenseman Anthony Bitetto’s page on fundly.com. The 22-year old Island Park, New York native set up a donation site for his hometown of Island Park, which was absolutely devastated by Hurricane Sandy. According to his site, Island Park, as well as the rest of Nassau County, was hit with extreme flooding, large debris that has caused incredible damage to homes and businesses, contamination, power outages, falling power lines that have started several severe fires, as well as the complete demolishing of Island Park’s Fire Station. Long Island’s  News Channel 12 posted a video showing the extent of the damage, which you can download here or by linking on the link of Bitetto’s page. You can make donations of $10 and up, so I urge you to visit the link and help their crippled town.

Not to be a Debbie Downer, but the next morsel of gorp isn’t on a positive note either. Former Hobey Baker winner/Wisconsin Badger stand-out/Milwaukee Admirals forward Blake Geoffrion also needs your support. Thoughts and prayers are in order for the 24-year old Hamilton Bulldogs center, as he was severely injured in Friday nights contest against the Syracuse Crunch at the Bell Centre, home of their parent club Montreal Canadiens.

Geoffrion took a nasty (but clean) hit from Crunch defenseman Jean-Phillipe (J.P.) Cote just 12 minutes into the first period of the contest, but skated off the ice under his own power even after making contact with Cote’s skate. Immediately after leaving the ice, a bloodied Geoffrion was rushed to a Montreal-area hospital to undergo emergency surgery for a depressed skull fracture. According to Dave Stubbs of the Montreal Gazette, Geoffrion remains in intensive care (correction – as of an hour ago he has reportedly been moved), but is expected to make a full recovery. The reason Cote’s skate made contact was because Geoffrion lost his helmet sometime during the play, this according to Habs beat writer Marc Antoine Godin.

The game garnered the biggest crowd the Bulldogs have ever drawn, as 18,582 fans packed the Bell Centre for their first taste of hockey since April, as the team failed to qualify for the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs. The Crunch went on to win 4-1, however, I’m sure it’s a game both teams wish to forget. Here’s to a speedy and successful recovery for the Admiral fan favorite.

Speaking of injuries, let’s chat about everyone’s favorite IR goaltender, Rick DiPietro. Reports surfaced this week that the 31-year old injury-prone goaltender for the New York Islanders has once again injured his groin while playing on a lockout contract in Germany. He’s currently tending net for the Germany 2 SC Riessersee squad whilst the NHL is l—– o– (I already hit my one reference limit, so you’ll have to fill in the blanks…) Since being signed to a monumental contract that will keep him with the Islanders through 2073 (maybe that’s a stretch …), he has injured himself regularly, so much in fact that there is a list of the reasons behind all 176 games he missed leading up to the post on February 4th of 2011. I’m positive that there is much to add following this post, as I am confident that there is a paper cut or hangnail that has put him on the IR at some point since…

Shockingly enough, DiPietro is saying that no, he is actually not injured this time! It’s only November 11th, but I think we are witnessing a Festivus miracle folks because he is quoted as saying that the reports are “not true at all” and “I’m feeling really good… and I am looking forward to the next game.” In other news, reports are coming out of Europe that DiPietro injured himself after chipping a tooth on a delicious piece of Laugenbrezel.

Now that I have officially depressed every reader of this blog with news of Hurricane Sandy devastation, depressed skull fracture surgery and the fact that you can’t make a DiPietro injury joke at this time… I feel like I need round this article out with a couple laughs. And now, for some hilarious hockey signs:

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Well played, hockey fans, well played…

Get to know… the rest of Europe (Part Two)

Here we are, yet again, writing about leagues that are serving as temporary homes to hundreds of NHL lockout players. I thought that perhaps the NHL and NHLPA had a top secret meeting over cookies and milk while I was asleep, but alas, it appears we still have no NHL hockey. In light of that depressing fact, let’s continue our tour across the pond and take a look at the rest of the leagues unemployed NHLers have flocked to.

National League B (Switzerland)

Countries with NLB teams: Switzerland (11)

2012 Champion: SC Langenthal

Year Founded: 1943

Season Structure: Similar to NLA, season ends with a best-of-seven relegation tournament.

Current NHLers on lockout contracts with NLB: Patric Hornqvist (Red Ice)

Polish Hockey SuperLeague (Poland) – Polska Liga Hokejowa

Countries with PHSL teams: Poland (8)

2012 Champion: KH Sanok

Year Founded: First medal was awarded back in 1927, however, I believe the league has undergone several name changes and reorganizations since. The current SuperLeague started in 1955.

I was unable to find information on the season structure that was in English, so if the day comes where I decide to get started on the Polish edition of Rosetta Stone, I’ll revisit this topic and blow your mind with my vast knowledge of the Polish vernacular. To make up for this missing piece of info, I’ll give you a fun fact about Polish hockey. There is no 1936 champion in Polish Hockey. Why? Because of climate conditions. I’m going to go out on a limb and say this is definitely evidence of global warming (I’m lookin’ at you, Al Gore).

Current NHLers on lockout contracts with PHSL: Wojtek Wolski (KH Sanok)

Tipsport Extraliga (Czech Republic)

Countries with Tipsport Extraliga teams: Czech Republic (14)

2012 Champions: HC Pardubice

Year Founded: 1993

Season Structure: League participates in relegation with second-tier Czech league First National Hockey League.

Current NHLers on lockout contracts with Tipsport Extraliga: Milan Jurcina (KLH Chomutov), David Krejci (HC Pardubice), Michal Rozsival (HC Pizen), Tuukka Rask (HC Plzen)

Mestis Finland2 (Finland)

Countries with Mestis teams: Finland (12)

2012 Champion: Vaasan Sport

Year Founded: 2000

Season Structure: Since 2009, the last place SM-liiga team plays the first place Mestis team in a best-of-seven relegation tournament. KalPa is the last team to have been promoted to SM-liiga after the 2004-2005 season.

NHLers on lockout contracts with Mestis teams: Tommy Wingels (KooKoo, yes, that is really the name of the team)

Tipsport Extraliga (Slovakia)

No, that is not a typo, this Slovakian league has the same name as the Czech Republic league. Who would have thought it would be so difficult to come up with a different name! Seriously!

Countries with Tipsport Extraliga Slovakia teams: Slovakia (10)

2012 Champion: HC Slovan Bratislava

Year Founded: 1993 (after the league split off from the Czech version of Tipsport Extraliga)

Regular season games: 57

Interesting fact about the Slovakian Tipsport Extraliga … there is a team called Team Slovakia U20 in the league. “Orange”, as the team is called, is the U20 team for Slovakia and only play in Tipsport Extraliga to prepare for the IIHF World U20 Championships. According to our good friends over at wikipedia, the team only plays games on Fridays and Sundays. I generally don’t like using wikipedia as a source of tried and true information, however, until I get through the 3rd CD of Slovakian Rosetta Stone, I won’t be able to site any information from the actual Slovakian hockey websites (I know this comes as a shocker, but I don’t speak any Eastern European languages). Imagine the USA U20 team playing a couple games a week with the NHL. This by far is the weirdest concept I’ve come across as I’ve researched these leagues.

Current NHLers on lockout contracts with Tipsport Extraliga: Tomas Tatar (SHK 37 Piestany)

Sadly, I believe Mr. Tatar is the final export in the Get to know… series. What have we learned in this informative collection of articles?

  • 1. Poland does in fact have its own hockey league! Impressive!
  • 2. Switzerland’s NLA team SC Bern is the most attended hockey club in all of Europe.
  • 3. This picture is awesome.

Hopefully you learned a little more than a cow wearing a flag hat, but in any case, you should be able to participate in light lockout conversation about players in Europe without scratching your head. When someone asks “I’ll probably have to look this up, but is Danny Briere playing anywhere during the lockout?” Now you can leap out of your seat and exclaim “He’s playing in Germany with the DEL Eisbaren Berlin alongside Flyers teammate Claude Giroux!” Your friends will then hoist you above their heads and praise you for your wealth of hockey knowledge while chanting WE ARE NOT WORTHY.

In closing, my brother and I were wandering around a board game store at the local mall, and we came across a game called “Ticket to Ride India”. Normally I wouldn’t be tripping over myself to get my hands on it, however, there is a sweet picture of something that has truly been the mascot for this series. I’ll let the picture speak for itself…

Get to know… the rest of Europe (Part One)

I was hoping that I’d never reach this post, and that a new CBA would rid the earth of this horrific event known as the NHL lockout…

Unfortunately, we are still in a lockout and Gary Bettman is still the commissioner of our beloved NHL. Before you start emailing me, facebooking me, tweeting to me or sending smoke signals my way, I understand that Count Bettman isn’t the sole reason that the league is locked out, however, I blame him for everything in life. Poor economy? Bettman’s fault. It’s raining outside and now my hair is frizzy? Bettman’s fault. I ran out of waffles so now I will starve on my way to work? Definitely Bettman’s fault.

I digress. In the past few weeks, we’ve covered a multitude of European leagues that are serving as a temporary home for our beloved out-of-work NHLers, including NLA (Switzerland), SM-liiga (Finland), KHL (Mother Russia), Elitserien/Allsvenskan (Sweden) and DEL (Germany). If you missed any of the articles on these leagues, click on the links attached to the league name above and it’ll take you straight to the post.

Those are just a handful of pro leagues that exist in Europe, as there are well over 25 pro leagues in the region. I chose a few of the more popular leagues that have lockout players, but there are other leagues that have a couple players as well. To conclude this riveting series on European hockey leagues, I thought I’d do a “Get to know…” gorp. A trail mix, if you will, of leagues that home a player or two on a lockout contract. When you have a half a jar of peanuts, 3 boxes of raisins, a half eaten bag of m&ms and 36 pretzel rods, throw it all together and you have a delicious treat, right? So here is a tasty snack of all the other leagues that have NHLers at the moment.

Erste Bank Eishockey Liga (Austria)

Countries with EBEL teams: Hungary (1), Czech Republic (1), Slovenia (1), Croatia (1), Austria (8)

2012 Champions: Black Wings Linz

Year Founded: 1923

Current NHLers on lockout contracts with EBEL: Tyler Myers (Klagenfurter AC), Thomas Vanek (Graz 99ers), Bryan Bickell (Orli Znojmo), Michael Grabner (Villacher SV), Corey Potter (Vienna Capitals), Andreas Nodl (HC Innsbruck), Dustin Jeffrey (Medvescak Zagreb)

Eredivisie (Netherlands)

Countries with Eredivisie teams: The Netherlands (6), Belgium (1)

2012 Champion: Eaters Geleen

Year Founded: 1945

Number of regular season games played: 36 (with a best-of-five semi-finals, then best-of-five championship)

Current NHLers on lockout contracts with Eredivisie: Dale Weiss (Tilburg Trappers)

Get Ligaen (Norway)

Countries with Get Ligaen teams: Norway (10)

2012 Champion: Stavanger Oilers

Year Founded: 1935

Number of regular season games: 48 (plus relegation)

Current NHLers on lockout contracts with Get Ligaen: Deryk Engelland (Rosenborg IHK Elite), Jack Skille (Rosenborg IHK Elite)

Serie A (Italy)

Countries with Serie A teams: Italy (10)

2012 Champion: Asiago

Year Founded: 1924

Season structure: Season divided into three parts, first part is a regular season where each team plays against every other team in the league four times. Second part is a round-robin to determine who moves on to the third part, which is their playoffs.

Current NHLers on lockout contracts with Serie A: Ben Guite (Val Pusteria Brunico)

On a side note, if I were an out-of-work NHLer, I would totally sign with HC Broncos Sterzing-Vipiteno. Why? They play at the Disco Arena! I picture ice that lights up like the floor on Saturday Night Fever, the jumbotron being replaced by a giant disco ball, and the Bee Gees as linesmen (with bell bottom ref pants and heeled skates of course).

Bundesliga (Germany 2) (Germany)

Countries with Bundesliga teams: Germany (13)

2012 Champion: Landshut Cannibals

Year Founded: 1973

Current NHLers on lockout contracts with Bundesliga: Adam Hall (Ravensburg Towerstars), Jonathan Bernier (Heilbronner Falken), Rick DiPietro (SC Riessersee), Matt D’Agostini (SC Riessersee), T.J. Galiardi (Bietigheim Steelers)

Elite Ice Hockey League (United Kingdom)

Countries with EIHL teams: England (4), Scotland (4), Northern Ireland (1), Wales (1)

2012 Champion: Belfast Giants

Year Founded: 2003

Current NHLers on lockout contracts with EIHL: Matt Beleskey (Coventry Blaze), Tom Sestito (Sheffield Steelers), Drew Miller (Braehead Clan), Anthony Stewart (Nottingham Panthers)

This should get you started for the time being. In the next couple days, I’ll post part two of our lockout league trail mix. There are a lot of onesie twosie leagues, and if this post gets any longer, I’d have to put a warning to pack a lunch at the beginning of the article. Enjoy your Sunday folks!

Get to know… DEL (Germany)

Ah yes, the league of my people! Well, some of my people… Muraro clearly is not a German name…In any case, this league has my favorite collection of awesome 90′s inspired logos in all of the hockey world. I mean seriously, a scorpion wearing a goalie mask, a rooster holding a hockey stick, and this Penguin (I think we can all agree that its awesomeness self-explanatory).

Let’s take a look at the league that is currently home to NHL stars Daniel Briere, Claude Giroux and former Nashville Predator Marcel Goc, Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL):

Countries with DEL teams: Germany (14)

2012 Champions: Eisbaren Berlin

Year founded: 1995

Number of regular season games: 52

The DEL has taken part in relegation on and off through its existence, but right now, there are no promotions or demotions between DEL and 2nd Bundesliga (think AHL). The league is currently closed because the cooperative between DEL and DEB (Deutscher Eishockey-Bund or German Ice Hockey Federation) expired in April of 2011. According to Martin Merk’s article on the Interational Ice Hockey Federations website, the agreement is a peace treaty between the two leagues:

The co-operation contract serves as a peace treaty that integrates and regulates the league’s place into the rest of the German hockey landscape. It gives the top league access to the player pool from lower leagues and youth clubs, to referees and international transfers while the league contributes money to the DEB.

It’s an interesting article, and I highly suggest you make it your next stop after hockeygalmilwaukee.com. It’s very interesting to see how the leagues operate and how much emphasis the country puts on its national team. They’ve made a name for themselves on the world circuit, partly due to keeping teams on their toes with fear of relegation. I find the system of relegation incredibly interesting, perhaps because it is the polar opposite of how the NHL and AHL conduct business. It keeps talent with talent, so the best players and squads play against other high-ranked players and teams. Relegation even included the league below (Oberliga), so I’m pretty sure that if the NHL relegation, the Columbus Blue Jackets would be in the ECHL by now.

Who better to get an opinion from than British hockey correspondent and good friend Anthony Russell (follow him on twitter at @84arussell). As most of you know, Anthony has a fantastic blog that covers the English Premier Ice Hockey League’s Basingstoke Bison. Banners On The Wall covers the Bison as well as the rest of the EPIHL, and lucky for me, he is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to German hockey.

The long and short of it is that Germany did away with relegation to ultimately benefit the national team. Anthony describes Germany’s prior relegation system as a cross between North American and Scandanavian franchise structures:

“Criteria need to be met to come into the league. It’s not a case of buy a franchise. You need to have the money, junior programme in place and a recent good competitive record.”

The changes Germany made in regards to number of foreign players and putting emphasis on creating developmental systems along with franchises have clearly worked in their favor. Germany finished 4th place in the 2010 World Championships, marking their best finish since 1953 when they won silver in Switzerland. On a side note, former NHLer Uwe Krupp has been the teams head coach since 2005.

Gosh… I feel like this post is lacking humor. There are no mention of saunas (or pictures of native cows with flag hats for that matter), so I’m going to wrap this up with some other fun facts about Germany to finish getting you through your morning coffee:

And last, but certainly not least, Germany may not be into sauna sitting, but they are into this strange sport. Seriously?