Thursday, August 17, 2006

Randomization: 08/17/06

Kessel gone. First reported, I think, by Gopher blogger Hammy, and we know he has sources. It was picked up rather quickly by the usually reliable E.J. Hradek of ESPN the Magazine. So even without Sid's approval, I think it's safe to say that Gopher hockey star Phil Kessel is one-and-done at UMTC. Kessel is set to sign his entry-level contract with the Boston Bruins as soon as today (thanks for the birthday present, Phil).

Kessel's signing means that the WCHA has now lost 17 underclassmen this offseason. Chris Dilks, author of the Western College Hockey Blog, was ahead of the game about a month ago when he discussed the losses and what they mean to the WCHA. Chris listed the top returning scorers in the league, but his list has already been significantly altered because of two more departures that have happened since July 25.

As Chris points out, and my counting ability can confirm, only 20 of the league's top 50 scorers from last year return this year. None of the top ten are back, and any list of "top scorers" that includes the name "Dan Kronick" is probably the sign of a lack of depth, since 20 of Kronick's 23 points came over one weekend against UMD, or so it seemed.

The new top ten, removing all the guys who left school early and also those who exhausted their eligibility:

1. T.J. Oshie, North Dakota (11th last year)
2. Ryan Dingle, Denver (T-12th)
3. Travis Morin, Minnesota State (T-14th)
4. Andrew Gordon, St. Cloud State (T-16th)
T-5. Alex Goligoski, Minnesota (T-18th)
T-5. Jonathan Toews, North Dakota (T-18th)
7. Ryan Duncan, North Dakota (T-22nd)
8. Chad Rau, Colorado College (T-30th)
9. Ben Gordon, Minnesota (T-32nd)
10. Mason Raymond, UMD (35th)

One can only figure that this trend will continue over the years, as the new Collective Bargaining Agreement seems to encourage teams to sign their young players early. This heavy of a loss over a single offseason is probably a one-shot deal, because the new CBA didn't go into effect early enough last year to really have an impact on college hockey.

As for Kessel, I have no doubt the kid has a wealth of talent. However, I'm not absolutely certain that his game is ready for the NHL. He will certainly go in with a chip on his shoulder, because he went from "surefire #1 pick" to "falling down the board" before being taken fifth by the Bruins. I won't miss him, because he had the potential to catch fire and carry his team at any time, but on the other hand, his development probably would have been furthered with another year in college as opposed to turning pro early.

I bet Michelle Tafoya feels really stupid over this. On Monday night, during ESPN's broadcast of the Raiders-Vikings preseason game (you did know that ESPN's airing Monday Night Football, right?), sideline reporter Michelle Tafoya took some time to chronicle the rehabilitation and recovery of Vikings wide receiver Koren Robinson, who was run out of Seattle because of his drinking problems (he was suspended for four games in 2004, and he pleaded guilty to DUI in 2005 before getting cut). Robinson spent 28 days in a treatment facility last year after his DUI plea, and he ended up signing with the Vikings after he got out of rehab. Robinson had a Pro Bowl season, becoming the Vikings' best kick returner and most dangerous receiver. Minnesota signed him to a three-year deal in the offseason, and everything seemed great.

When Robinson ended up in a treatment facility again this summer, his agent told the media that he was taking "prevention classes". Robinson said he was not in treatment, but was simply trying to help himself stay sober.

Tafoya talked about Robinson's decision to go back for these "prevention classes", and the game announcers all praised Robinson for being proactive and trying to make himself a better person. The praise, in my opinion, was warranted. Robinson had endeared himself to his Vikings teammates, had a Pro Bowl season, and was set to become the Vikings' top receiver.

All seemed well until Tuesday night. I'll let the Minneapolis Star Tribune take it from here.

Robinson, 26, was arrested Tuesday night after a 15-mile chase down Hwy. 169 toward Mankato. He was charged with one count of felony fleeing and two counts of fourth-degree drunken driving, along with reckless driving, careless driving and driving after suspension.

St. Peter officers clocked him driving 104 miles per hour at 10:46 p.m.

According to the police report, the officers lost track of him despite pursuit speeds of more than 120 miles per hour. Mankato police finally stopped Robinson's 2003 BMW about two blocks from the Vikings' dormitory at Minnesota State, Mankato.
It's a mess for the Vikings. Owner Zygi Wilf has mandated improved character and accountability from the players, as he's tired of Whizzinator/Love Boat-type embarrassments. This won't sit well, and one can expect Robinson to be gone soon. He'll either be released by the Vikings, suspended by the league, or both (because of his earlier league suspension, he faces a one-year ban this time around). And his career may be in jeopardy, because the odds of a team signing a player with Robinson's risks are pretty low, no matter the high level of talent involved.

Addition to the main Blog page...As you can see, I've re-inserted the BlogPoll on the right-hand side of the main page. You all know what the BlogPoll is by now. The preseason poll came out yesterday. You can check out more about the BlogPoll by clicking the link to your right on the bottom of the top ten. That box will automatically update every week when the poll is updated.

Throughout the season, I'll be posting my ballot here, along with game previews, recaps, and other college football stuff. We will also be hosting a roundtable soon.

The stupidity of the media, part 379. Every time I read a story like the one Hammy penned breaking the Kessel news, I am thankful for the internet. It's a place where information can flow freely, without the constraints of editors or deadlines.

Then, there's, a website so despicable that I won't link it here. If you really want to go there, you can go there. You don't need my help, and it's bad enough I'm giving them publicity with my 13 readers.

The site found a report yesterday on Twin Cities TV station KSTP's website. That report said that Packers QB Brett Favre was going to have a press conference Wednesday at 11:30am, and they didn't know what he was going to announce.

Hysteria followed, as some less intelligent media types began to speculate that Favre was going to retire. Of course, they failed to ignore a few relevant facts:

1. Favre took part in a full practice on Tuesday night, a practice that concluded some 15 hours before this scheduled press conference.

2. Favre has had a regular media session on Wednesdays during football season for about a decade now.

Eventually, PFT's report was amended to say that retirement talk was a "false alarm". Truthfully, there was no alarm at all.

And it's websites like this one that sully the reputation of the internet as a legitimate news entity. I'm not here to say that it is absolutely legitimate as a news outlet, but the internet has exceptional value these days. Blogs have done a lot to keep the "mainstream media" honest (think about the Reuters Photoshop scandal, first broken by a blog), and blogs have become part of the mainstream media.

(You need to look no further for an example of that than many newspaper sites, which have set up blogs for at least some of their writers. The St. Paul Pioneer Press has a "blog" set up to cover Vikings training camp, as does the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The Green Bay Press Gazette has two Blogger sites set up for reporting on Packers training camp (if you don't believe me, click here and here.)

KSTP is not without fault here, either. They didn't do any substantive research before reporting something completely meaningless, and it started a chain of speculation that was completely unnecessary. If they had made one phone call, they could have figured out that Favre has press conferences every Wednesday during football season, and that he has for a while.

If you remember, back in April, a similar firestorm erupted when Favre held a media session in Mississippi in conjunction with his annual charity golf tournament. As discussed here, Favre's press conference about nothing but a charity golf tournament in Tunica, Mississippi, really ticked off the mainstream sports media.

They were furious, probably because they flew to Tunica, Mississippi, for absolutely nothing newsworthy. The claim was that "Brett Favre called a press conference to announce that he hadn't made a decision". This absolute falsehood was perpetrated by more than one nationally prominent analyst, and that analyst should have been beaten with a brick for not doing any research on the topic.

Favre called a press conference, an annual press conference to discuss his annual charity event, and it was turned into a "retirement or non-retirement" announcement by the media. When they didn't get what they felt had been advertised, the media turned on Favre, calling him selfish and claiming he was "holding the Packers hostage" without offering any evidence to back up that ridiculous assertion.

With that in mind, PFT may have done the internet a disservice, but the mainstream media does itself a disservice every day. For further evidence of that, check out how much time and bandwidth has been spent by the networks and websites covering the arrest of Jon-Benet Ramsey's killer. Ask yourself a valuable question: If Jon-Benet Ramsey's parents hadn't been millionaires that pushed her into child-beauty pageants, would anyone have cared about this story from the get-go? And how is this a bigger story than the events in the Middle East?

News? Yeah, if you'd like to call it that.

(How's that for a ramble-fest?)


Chris said...

Dammit. I picked the wrong week to go on vacation.

Goon said...

Losing Kessel bring the Goofers back to the rest of the league.

Now I think any team in the big five, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Denver, C.C., UND could win the league title.