September 15, 2019

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Dump & Chase

The ice... is in our drinks edition

Put down that frosty beverage and step away from the pool noodle: we interrupt this fine Manitoba summer to bring you a special edition of Dump & Chase, a segment that has, traditionally, required weekly space on the Free Press website during the NHL season.

Today, we break all the rules and serve up what we hope is perceived as a late-July treat for our most ardent readers. To the dozen or so of you, we offer heartfelt thanks for the continued support and adulation.

Quite frankly, we had fully intended to compile something fun and interactive during the off-season, however, we let things slip a little due to our busy schedules and really owe our boss, Steve Lyons, a debt of gratitude for prodding us to deliver.

What have we been up to? Kind of you to ask.

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Put down that frosty beverage and step away from the pool noodle: we interrupt this fine Manitoba summer to bring you a special edition of Dump & Chase, a segment that has, traditionally, required weekly space on the Free Press website during the NHL season.

Today, we break all the rules and serve up what we hope is perceived as a late-July treat for our most ardent readers. To the dozen or so of you, we offer heartfelt thanks for the continued support and adulation. 

Quite frankly, we had fully intended to compile something fun and interactive during the off-season, however, we let things slip a little due to our busy schedules and really owe our boss, Steve Lyons, a debt of gratitude for prodding us to deliver.

What have we been up to? Kind of you to ask.

Mike (a.k.a. Dump) has really been going hard with his busking this summer, putting many years of clarinet practice to good use. You can catch his act at the laundromat on Isabel Street between 7-11 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Trust us, there’s nothing like a reed instrumental of Breaking the Law by Judas Priest, and the swish of the washing machines in the background really adds something to the performance.

Meanwhile, Jay (a.k.a. Chase) just got back from South Korea — and we mean JUST, as in this morning — after spending nearly a month at a Buddhist temple where he was forbidden from uttering even a single word. He is finally breaking his silence here: “I am a changed man; changed, I tell you. Each day we had a 4:30 a.m. mountain hike, followed by a breakfast of rice pudding and tea and hours of mediation. In the late afternoon, we’d set out on another hike, return to the communal hall for a light supper and then retreat to our quarters in time for the 7 p.m. curfew. I shared a room with a heavy-set Peruvian man who snored incessantly. I barely slept. It’s like I’ve been awake for the last four weeks. I’m a zombie. I’m a d--- zombie. And I couldn’t say anything… couldn’t scream at him. I had to keep my mouth shut. But I wanted to take my walking stick and smash it over his…”

OK, Jay, OK. Bit of pent-up frustration there. Save that energy for writing a game story on deadline in Denver (Mountain time zone) with the Jets and Avs locked up 0-0 in overtime.

Anyway, it’s a treat for us to provide some content in the summer. We hope you enjoy the bonus edition of D&C and we’ll likely return with another edition in mid- to late-August.

PRE-GAME WARMUP

Let’s kick it off with a fun little game, courtesy of our Twitter friends over at the aptly-named GameTimeArt.

Naturally, because there’s not a whole lot going on in the hockey world right now, this thing quickly blew up and went viral, sending thousands of folks scurrying to look up their answers which they posted online, along with a prediction of their fate.

Including Mike.

(Yes, we’ll be here waiting for you when you come back, as we suspect you are now doing the very same thing!)


If you're at the point of craving a hockey fix, look no further than Da Beauty League. Based out of Minneapolis, this annual summer gathering involves NHL, AHL, ECHL and college players, primarily, who make the great state of Minnesota their summer home.

Mike went down to the Twin Cities last summer and did a feature on the league, which you can read HERE.

The action is now in full swing once again, and features a pair of Winnipeg Jets players in veteran defenceman Dustin Byfuglien and newly acquired blue-liner Neal Pionk, who made the highlight reel earlier this week.

What a beauty, eh?

FIRST PERIOD

This is turning into the summer of Gritty, and we’re perfectly fine with that.

Our favourite freakish furball has been on quite the journey, documenting his various stops along the way.

For example, Gritty found time for a cameo appearance in Stranger Things 3 (not really, but play along here)…

(By the way, Mike just finished the latest season of this wonderful Netflix show and can’t stop raving about it. Jay doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about).

Gritty has also been making plans to join the masses and storm Area 51 later this summer.

He’s also enjoyed the great outdoors.

And, perhaps most adorably, he got himself a new pet hermit crab recently…

Gritty is definitely living his best life.


Speaking of adventure, the Stanley Cup has been on a big one since being captured by the St. Louis Blues back in June.

As per tradition, every member of the winning team gets a day with the trophy. Most are subdued family and community affairs, such as the ones held by Brayden Schenn and Patrick Maroon.

But some visits take a turn for the bizarre. Some recent examples include:

Having toasted ravioli eaten out of it:

Becoming a giant margarita:

Becoming a giant cereal bowl: 

Becoming the newest home of Disneyland:

Partying on a pontoon:

We can only imagine what Stanley saw and did back when cameras and social media weren’t around to capture every moment. If only that old trophy could talk, oh the stories it would tell.

SECOND PERIOD

Yes, the dog days of summer are upon us, and most NHL general managers have generally taken care of business. Sure, some teams still have some key restricted free agents to get under contract, and there are still various salary-cap land mines that must be carefully navigated in the coming weeks. But for the most part, what you see is what you get with the rosters around the league, now that free-agent frenzy has slowed to a trickle.

With that being said, Dump & Chase have weighed in with their off-season power rankings, taking into account how each team is shaping up with still more than two months until the puck drops on the 2019-20 campaign.

As usual, Mike and Jay composed their own separate lists, then put them together to come up with a cumulative ranking, which you see below:

  1. Tampa Bay Lightning
  2. St. Louis Blues
  3. Toronto Maple Leafs
  4. Boston Bruins
  1. Washington Capitals
  2. Nashville Predators
  3. Vegas Golden Knights
  4. Colorado Avalanche
  5. Calgary Flames
  1. Pittsburgh Penguins
  2. San Jose Sharks
  1. Winnipeg Jets
  1. Dallas Stars
  2. New York Rangers
  3. New York Islanders
  4. Carolina Hurricanes
  5. Florida Panthers
  6. New Jersey Devils
  7. Chicago Blackhawks
  1. Montreal Canadiens
  2. Arizona Coyotes
  3. Philadelphia Flyers
  4. Edmonton Oilers
  1. Buffalo Sabres
  2. Columbus Blue Jackets
  3. Minnesota Wild
  1. Vancouver Canucks
  2. Anaheim Ducks
  3. Detroit Red Wings
  4. Los Angeles Kings
  5. Ottawa Senators

What do you make of our list? Do we have your favourite team too high? Too low? Are we out of our minds? Let us know in the comments below. 

THIRD PERIOD

Has there been an off-season player move more discussed, dissected and derided than the swap of Milan Lucic for James Neal?

The NHL’s Alberta cousins dropped a bombshell last week when it was announced the grossly overpaid and underperforming Lucic had been dealt from the Edmonton Oilers to the Flames for fellow forward James Neal, a total bust in his only season in Calgary.

The big, bruising Lucic regressed badly in three seasons in the City of Champions, scoring 23 goals in 2016-17, just 10 a year later and then a measly six during the ’18-'19 campaign. That’s a 39-goal output, despite cashing in US$18 million during that time. Neal, meanwhile, fired just seven goals in his first year of a five-year, US$28.75 million deal in Edmonton. Both clubs are banking on a change of scenery sparking the aging wingers.

The trade really caught the hockey world by surprise, and the Twitterverse  continues to react nearly six days later. Here’s just a few of our absolute faves. Overwhelmingly, folks believe the Flames got fleeced.

Lots of comedians out there!


Speaking of trades, the always funny Steve Dangle had this take the other day on the difference between big moves in the NHL compared to what we see in the NBA.

He’s not wrong.

For additional context, his tweet came hours after Toronto re-acquired forward David Clarkson, who has a career-ending injury, in what was essentially a paperwork deal meant to gain maximum benefit from the salary cap.

Be still our beating hearts.

OVERTIME

We’re all about predictions around here. So how about forecasting what the opening-night lineup of the Jets is going to look like?

Mike and Jay have done just that, taking a long gaze into the crystal ball and coming up with the following fearless forecasts. We skipped the goaltenders, since Connor Hellebuyck and Laurent Brossoit are the obvious one-two punch, barring injury.

MIKE:

Kyle Connor-Mark Scheifele-Patrik Laine
Nikolaj Ehlers-Bryan Little-Blake Wheeler
Kristian Vesalainen-Andrew Copp-Jack Roslovic
Mathieu Perreault-Adam Lowry-Mason Appleton

Josh Morrissey-Neal Pionk
Nathan Beaulieu-Dustin Byfuglien
Dmitry Kulikov-Sami Niku

Extra: Mark Letestu, Tucker Poolman, Anthony Bitetto


JAY:

Nikolaj Ehlers-Mark Scheifele-Blake Wheeler
Kyle Connor-Andrew Copp-Patrik Laine
Kristian Vesalainen-Bryan Little-Jack Roslovic
Mathieu Perreault-Adam Lowry-Mason Appleton 

Josh Morrissey-Neil Pionk
Nathan Beaulieu-Dustin Byfuglien
Dmitri Kulikov-Tucker Poolman

Extra: Mark Letestu, Sami Niku, Anthony Bitetto

Which lineup do you prefer? And yes, neither of the above is certainly an option. If so, let’s see your best shot at what things may look like come Oct. 3 at Madison Square Garden when the Jets open against the New York Rangers. 

SHOOTOUT

The legend of Phil Kessel continues to grow. Now, the enigmatic two-time Stanley Cup champion is attracting the attention of Twitter for simply selling his 8,000-square-foot Pittsburgh-area mansion, on the market for a mere US$2.1 million.

Be sure to take the 3D tour on Realtor.com of the massive home, which still looks to be somewhat furnished — unless Kessel has already shipped much of his belongings to the desert after being dealt to the Arizona Coyotes earlier this summer.

Some of our favourite corners of the house include:

The loneliest theatre room in the world:

His wine / Irish cream cellar:

His office:

His art exhibit:

Even more bizarre than the room with nothing but a giant teddy bear or the kitchen cupboard with snacks meant for toddlers…

…is the fact that Kessel's one-chair movie theatre has a poster of the movie Glitter hanging in it, an entirely forgettable flick starring singer Mariah Carey, signed by the diva herself.

There’s a suggestion out there the quirky Kessel staged some of the rooms for the real-estate listing as a bit of a joke. You be the judge. 

 


 

Finally, a tip of the ol' cap to Columbus forward Cam Atkinson, who wasn't going to let the fact he was playing mini-sticks against his baby boy stop him from not only scoring, but rubbing it in his face.

 

That's the kind of playoff intensity we love around here!

 


 

Got a suggestion for a future edition of Dump & Chase? Let us know about it. mike.mcintyre@freepress.mb.ca and jason.bell@freepress.mb.ca And: follow Dump & Chase on Twitter. Mike is @mikemcintyrewpg, while Jason can be found @WFPJasonBell

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