As I awake before sunrise Friday, and read the guest blog by Cynar, I feel motivated enough to write my own. I took the whole day off to chase Mr. Titleist around with my kids, have a Father & Son lunch with my Godfather before son gets lost in the land of Wicki, and write this Siouxper guest blog. Two out of three is a pretty good average don’t you think?
I didn’t know what to write about. Should I pick one of my three trips to MSG and reminisce of meeting up with Boneheads and Blogfathers, or touch base on how excited I am for a boy named Sioux to get a real shot at making my favorite team. Pimp and I share the same passion, for the same team, just not the same player. I was in the garage smoking a MonteKristo the other night putting up a new TV, getting ready for this season of the garage poker tour. The first thing I wanted to watch is the GOLD MEDAL game that the USA won over Canada. It was the year when Kristo, KREIDER & Stepan played together. For a minute there I thought I was dreaming, but it’s on my DVD, so I KNOW I’m not going mad. It really did happen.
Once upon a time a Sioux Captain played for the Rangers, but did you know it was the last time they won the Stanley Cup? The year they traded James Patrick. Patrick was a first-round draft pick in ’81, ninth overall. He played 10 years for the Rangers. He’s the reason I started watching the Rangers, then along came THE CAPTIAN, THE GREAT ONE, and then Matt Cullen. Our home town Stanley Cup champion. It wasn’t until then I got sucked into the Bonehead nation, and everything that bleeds blue.
The passion for the game starts—no surprise to all of you—the year of the Hrkac (pronounced Hur-cus) Circus! My freshman year of college was the year of Eddie “the Eagle” Belfour, Tony Hrkac, & Bobby Joyce. Hrkac set an NCAA record of 114 points, in 40 games. That record will never be broken. The thing that amazed me was the “flow” of their game. Never had I seen such speed and tape-to-tape passes, it was pure grace on ice. That and 6,600 fans screaming you couldn’t hear the person next to you—it was that loud in the old Ralph. Later in their careers they won the Stanley Cup in ’99 playing for Dallas. Belfour brought the Cup back to the Ralph. One of three players that have done so, but he was the first. Mike Commadore was the second, in ’06 when he won it in Carolina, and Greene this year. It was pure joy to see a guy bring it back, very low key no big party. Just visited the place he went to as a college kid. Your favorite hangout 10 miles north of town, your favorite place to eat breakfast, and the last stop after the bars close. Then let the rest of Sioux nation get a chance to take their picture with the cup. You really don’t see that very often. Who takes the cup back to their college team?
So I write this blog as I send my kid off to college. You hope the kids learned enough to fly once you kick them out of the nest. You can only give them roots and wings, eventually they have to make it on their own. It is with that same passion I cheer for the boys that are lucky enough to get to play on the college level. We are pretty spoiled here when it comes to watching college hockey. Before Ralph Engelstad passed away he built a $100M hockey arena, so HIS hockey team could recruit the best of the best. It’s not uncommon for the Sioux to have 10 drafted NHL players, all drafted at 18. Very seldom will a kid come right out of high school and play for the Sioux. The last one to do it was Brock Nelson, he was just a stick, maybe 165 pounds. Now for this kid to play with 19-21 year olds that are 30 pounds heavier seemed a little unfair. Until you get a chance to watch him play, nobody could hit him. All he had to do was pass it to his wing man, and that guy was Kristo … and he would score.
Each year we lose a TOP player, and normally it’s after two or three years depending on the player, and the team that drafted him. This year it was Grimaldi, he was the point champion last year. You may remember him as the player of the gme in the gold medal game in Russia, against Sweden. Five-foot-six, a hundred and nothing, was simply pure joy to watch him steal the show on the ice. You find yourself “rooting” for the little guy. The Zucc of the Sioux, all that talent trapped in that little body. Can he be the next Marty St. Louis? I really, really think so. How many years until he gets his shot to play for the “worst” team in the NHL? We shall see, the Panthers need scoring, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets a few games this year. Let’s face it Florida isn’t as deep as the Rangers.
If we go back one more year, the players to graduate to the NHL were Kristo and Knight. Due to the NHL “lockout” year, why would a junior jump ship and play for an NHL team that isn’t playing? Kristo lead his AHL team in goals, was tied for seventh in goals for all rookie AHL players, as a prospect for the Rangers that would be the “next step”, this year we will see if he get to take the next one. Knight is in the same boat, he is also in line to win the third-line center, very much like Miller is for the Rangers.
Brock Nelson was the player that flew the coop the year before. He was the one that should have stayed another year just to put on more weight. You would think, but he signed his entry level deal the same year as THE KREIDER, and went on to lead his AHL team in points from start to finish. I know he’s not on OUR favorite team, but he could have an outstanding year if he slots next to Tavares on the top line. If not he is the No. 2 center on that team.
Frattin was the point leader before Nelson, he had success with the AHL Marlies team. Before graduation to the Leafs, he was dealt to the Kings for a goalie, and is back with Toronto this year. He will start on the second or third line.
Oshie’s team is going to be seriously tough with Stastny down the middle. They will give Toews team a run for their money, with Richards helping Kane score more goals. I think he will—all he has to do is pass him the puck. Parise’s team gets Vanek, and that team is stocked with talent and, all of a sudden, who falls out of the playoff in the west? The Kings probably not, Greene gets four more years with Gaborik, and I really doubt if any team is deeper than the Kings. Zajack will center Jagr for another year, I’m sure the old man will put up another 70 points. How? Not a clue. And Stafford will finish out the year in Buffalo, and be traded at the deadline to a contending team.
And it all started in college … not that long ago.
This really is going to be one of the best years in hockey! Never before have so many teams looked as if they’ve improved their roster. The Rangers are one of those teams! They just signed the top college kid. It’s going to be a SIOUXPER year, I can see THE KREIDER teaching Hayes the ropes. The future is bright, my MonteKristo fills the room with an aroma that only breeds success, and the whiskey in my tea is running low.
Have a Siouxper Day.
Photos courtesy of Sioux.