Yesterday I went with a couple of friends to watch part of a cricket match. It was a rec league, and my friend knew some of the players, so I had the chance to learn the rules from a couple of people who actually knew what they were talking about.
I’m proud to say that I think I finally understand how cricket works. Mostly. It has to do with wearing white clothing and yelling “Howzat!?” every now and then. And hugging, apparently. Sometimes people run back and forth.
Now, Canada Day is cool and all, but I have to confess that I get more excited about NHL free agency. Player movement is always interesting, especially for someone like me: I’m a fan of just about every team in the NHL, and I love to see teams get better and try out new roster situations. In general, I think the offseason is a really optimistic time, and I love being optimistic about sports.
I’m primarily a Canucks fan, and my team has a lot to look forward to, with an offensive core in their prime and a handful of young forwards ready to prove themselves. The Sedins get better every single year; Kesler and Burrows are really coming into their own as Top 6 guys; Mason Raymond had a breakout year and, I think, has the ability to be even better; Mikael Samuelsson showed what he can do in an offensive system last year. Cody Hodgson should make the team this year, and Jordan Schroeder has an opportunity as well, though if we go for a more checking-oriented third line there may be less room for young playmakers.
We also have, essentially, five Top 4 defensemen going into next season. The addition of Keith Ballard, along with Sami Salo, Alex Edler, Christian Ehrhoff, and Kevin Bieksa, makes a really strong, deep blue line crew, backed up by Aaron Rome and Shane O’Brien. I still think we need a high-level shutdown guy to play with Edler or Ballard against the opposing top line, but we have lots of cap space for that if we can attract Volchenkov or maybe Hamhuis. It may be necessary to move out Bieksa to really get a Number 1 d-man, but even with the players we have now, I think we’re in solid shape.
In general free agency, Kovalchuk is the biggest question, I think. I hope he doesn’t go to the KHL: the Russian league is overpaying its players and suffering for it, and I don’t think adding a Kovalchuk-level salary to one of their teams would help that situation. I’ve heard that LA is a possibility for Kovalchuk, which I’d be really interested in. The Kings have a pretty good young core that should continue to get better; Kopitar and Kovalchuk would make a lethal combo, and Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson should continue to improve. (The question, of course, is whether they’ll improve enough to make up for the Kings’ weak goaltending… But maybe the Kings will sign Nabokov or Turco!)
Tampa Bay is another team that I think has a lot to look forward to. They keep loading up on good young players, and with Yzerman in charge, maybe they’ll start supporting those players properly and build a positive atmosphere and culture around their team again. Whether they decide to ship out Lecavalier’s massive salary or not, Stamkos, Downie, and Hedman give them an attractive future.
I can’t wait to see what Brian Burke does to get himself more media attention this summer. He’s going to end up with a first-line center, one way or another, I think, but the Maple Leafs will miss the playoffs next season and make them in 2012.
Edmonton is going to suck for two more years, but Steve Tambellini is a good GM. They’ll be a better franchise three years from now.
All in all, I’m really looking forward to July 1 and the week or so afterwards, and beyond that, October can’t come soon enough!
I’m giving blood. Like right now. Seriously. As this gets posted, blood is running out of my arm and into a bag.
And I’m not even crying.
This is my second time. I should do it more, but a combination of laziness and irrationality generally conspire to keep my hemoglobin safe at home. I’m only here this time because my sister is starting a new running clinic to train for a half-marathon or some other form of craziness, and she asked me if I wanted to take her time slot.
I just finished reading The Sum of All Fears, by Tom Clancy. I’ve been reading a few of those, recently; I guess I’ve been on a spy thriller kick for a while, and ever since 24 ended I’ve had to turn elsewhere for my fix.
I read The Hunt For Red October first, then Patriot Games (which actually comes before Red October, in terms of series continuity), then The Cardinal of the Kremlin, and now The Sum of All Fears. I skipped Clear and Present Danger because a) I’ve read it before, and b) I don’t own a copy at the moment. I had to try to remember what the plot of that one was, for the sake of continuity, but there were enough clues scattered throughout Sum to remind me, luckily.
Of the four sequential Clancy novels I’ve just read, Sum is by far the largest and the most politically ambitious. Each of the novels has delivered great intrigue and action, but Sum does a fantastic job of tying a series of decisions, personalities, and accidents together into a plausible and very scary climax. He doesn’t pull his punches, either (which is one of the similarities I’ve noticed between Clancy and 24, outside of 24’s really disappointing final few episodes).
At over 900 pages, it’s not a quick read, but it’s a worthwhile one if you’re a fan of the genre.
But now that I’m finished, I have choose whether to continue with the series–Debt of Honor is on my shelf–or take a break and read something else for a while. Feel free to help me out:
What novel should I read next?
Emma - Jane Austen (0%, 0 Votes)
Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck (42%, 5 Votes)
The Day It Rained Forever - Ray Bradbury (25%, 3 Votes)