Carpe diem

By JESSE LIEBMAN

Because we are food for worms lads. Because, believe it or not, each and every one of us in this room is one day going to stop breathing, turn cold, and die. […] Carpe. Carpe Diem. Seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary.

–John Keating, portrayed by Robin Williams in “Dead Poets Society.”

By now you’ve likely heard the tragic news of beloved actor Robin Williams’ passing. His death has prompted many of us to think: about his demons, his comedic talents and his legacy that he leaves to pop culture.

One of his more oft-quoted and cited works is his performance in “Dead Poets Society.”

As Williams’ character intimated, we are all living on borrowed time.

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Finding peace in a violent sport

By JESSE LIEBMAN

It is hard for me to reconcile what has transpired over the last several weeks in Israel and the West Bank, a continuation of centuries of violence and hardship in the region.

In many ways, I’ve turned a blind eye to it. It is difficult for me to fathom how and why innocent people on both sides are mercilessly and needlessly killed each day; it is difficult to see why there should be sides at all.

There was a time when politics and the notion of resolving conflict appealed to me. I was young and naive; in many ways, I still am.

When I was younger, I wanted to be a politician or an ambassador; someone with power and a means of effecting change for a greater good. As I grew older, that gradually gave way to a desire to become a journalist; to cast light on truth in darkness and call attention to change where it was needed.

Eventually, I grew disillusioned with that career path as well.

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Serenity now or: why I’m not devastated by last night

By JESSE LIEBMAN

Photo: Getty Images.

Photo: Getty Images.

After all was said and done, the New York Rangers couldn’t overcome the finesse and center depth of the Los Angeles Kings last night.

When the chips were down, the Rangers were unable to conjure up the critical goal to keep their season alive, and it bit them in the end.

Nevertheless, this was a hard-fought five-game series that left both parties bruised and beaten, although the Rangers’ ego may also be wounded.

Still, this was a year any Rangers fan can appreciate. New York’s regular season journey was just as intriguing and critical to its postseason run.

Oddly enough, after last night’s series-clinching goal from Alec Martinez, a fellow Rangers fan tried to reconcile his disappointment with the statement that the Rangers had no business reaching the final round of the playoffs in the first place.

There’s a problem with that statement.

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Getting back on track

By JESSE LIEBMAN

The premise for this piece was simple: I needed to start writing again.

I’ve always had a respect for storytellers. The ability to weave a masterpiece into a single sentence is truly an under-appreciated art.

It was inevitable that my various hobbies and training would lead me to telling stories as well.

What makes a good story? I’ll let you know when I have my audience hanging on my every word. But for now, I’ll settle for using hockey as the backdrop; I wouldn’t have it any other way. Sure, I could be talking ad nauseam in regard to a library’s worth of topics — subjects that have caught my attention over the years that warrant more than a casual interest — but hockey’s always been present, even if it wasn’t at the forefront.

If there is a certainty to the storytelling — and to a greater extent, the human condition — it is this: the less said, the better. At least, that’s the direction my storytelling has taken these days, now that my work is done from behind a microphone, and not a keyboard. No one wants to hear me ramble on in the midst of the play, interjecting opinion. They want the truth.

Make no mistake, the whole point of me using this blog was to give all hockey-related musings a platform; now I have one that’s more tangible. Granted, said platform is far limited in scope than a desk in front of a camera connecting me to a national audience. Baby steps, people.

In any case, it would seem that the purpose for this medium has been fulfilled.

Don’t count on it. I’m here to stay.

“The Kid” remains a Tweet-less bird

By JESSE LIEBMAN

Does a penguin squawk, chirp or Tweet? Or is it simply mute?

Since arriving to the NHL as a much-hyped teenager, Sidney Crosby has done virtually everything that has been asked and expected of him: as an athlete, a figurehead and a national icon for the sport — he has a scoring title, a MVP award, a Stanley Cup ring and an Olympic gold medal.

Yet there remains one summit The Kid has yet to conquer: social media. Unlike many of his hockey-playing peers and high profile athletes in other sports, Crosby does not use social networking tools such as Facebook and Twitter.

Whereas some athletes may use their social media pages to harp on hot-button societal issues, espouse their political beliefs or offer a glimpse into the mind of a total narcissist, Crosby has remained a non-participant in that arena.

It seems almost inconceivable that in this day and age of social media and trending news topics that an athlete of Crosby’s notoriety would be capable of shrouding much of their personal life in secrecy. Yet Crosby has managed to do just that — his image in the public eye having been meticulously crafted by himself, the Penguins, the NHL, his agent Pat Brisson and the folks at Creative Artists Agency — and the details of his private life are more secret than some Pentagon memos. Read the full post »

Draft Preview: Identifying metro teams’ needs

By: JESSE LIEBMAN

If we are to buy into the media hype, the 2013 NHL Draft, set for Sunday at 3 p.m. EST at the Prudential Center, is shaping up to be one for the ages.

Not only is the current draft prospect crop expected to be the deepest talent pool since the much-heralded class of 2003, but a number of current NHL players including Tyler Seguin and Kris Letang are reportedly in play as trade pieces leading up to the draft.

Here at Two Minutes for Blogging, we will present to you the best-case scenario that we anticipate playing out for each metro area team on Sunday when each team is called to the podium for the first time.

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By the numbers: Chara a candidate for compliance buyout

By: JESSE LIEBMAN

Disclaimer: I do not — I repeat, *do not* — think that Zdeno Chara will ultimately be bought out this offseason, so avoid jumping from the Tobin and breathe with me, Bruins fans.

Hockey players can be a funny bunch. They aren’t shy about showing some skin, as evidenced by Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara posing in ESPN’s 2009 edition of “The Body Issue.” Conversely, one thing many hockey players bristle at showing is their age.

Chara’s age — he turned 36 in March, by the way — was on full display Saturday night in Chicago at United Center, as the Blackhawks at times made him look less like the behemoth who shut down the likes of the Sedin twins and Ryan Kesler in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, and more like a lumbering golem.

Since the 2002-03 season, Chara has been considered among the elite of NHL defensemen, culminating with a Norris Trophy win as the league’s top D-man in 2008-09. But as with every professional athlete, there comes a time when a player’s skills wane; one must wonder if we were watching the beginning of the end of Chara’s sure-to-be Hall of Fame career.

To wit: Chara has been on the ice for nine of Chicago’s 14 goals during the Finals, and was on the ice for every Blackhawks score in Game 5.

More importantly, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli was watching as well. And with Boston heading into a summer of relative financial uncertainty, one must also wonder if Chiarelli has been considering the possibility of buying out the contract of his No. 1 blueliner.

In many ways, it’s almost ludicrous to even suggest that Chara could so easily be cast aside by management. Mention Chara, and the glowing reviews flood in. He is the Paul Bunyan of the NHL, his stature and feats reaching mythological proportions. But as entertaining as a tall tale may be, the truth is Boston’s window of opportunity to contend for a Stanley Cup in subsequent seasons may shrink if they don’t take advantage of a unique opportunity. Read the full post »

By the numbers: Tortorella’s gambit pays off

By JESSE LIEBMAN

No one could really say they were surprised Thursday morning when the news broke that New York Rangers head coach John Tortorella had made the decision to scratch his long-time protege, Brad Richards, for Game 4 against the Boston Bruins that evening, with New York facing elimination on home ice.

Richards, despite once tallying seven game-winning playoff goals in 2004 under Tortorella’s leadership en route to a Conn Smythe Trophy and Stanley Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning, had only managed one goal in 10 games during the 2013 postseason, and saw his ice time whittled away in the Eastern Conference semifinals, from 12:57 in Game 1 to a paltry 8:10 in Game 3, effectively seeing his role reduced to that of a fourth-liner.

Still, it was hard to fathom that Richards, he of the $6.667 million, nine-year contract, would be resigned to a view from the press box for Thursday’s contest. The move to many smacked of desperation from Tortorella.

And yet somehow, Tortorella’s move worked. With Kris Newbury and Michael Haley taking Richards’ and Aaron Asham’s spot in the Rangers lineup, New York prevailed in overtime by a 4-3 score off a redirected goal from Chris Kreider.

Perhaps the writing was on the wall for Tortorella, that his protégé could not be expected to carry the Rangers to victory.

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Vezina Trophy highlights flaw in NHL awards

By JESSE LIEBMAN

Any time an award or some form of recognition is handed out, it will no doubt inspire agreement, discussion, discourse and debate.

So it should be no surprise that this season’s NHL awards will see its fare share of applause and criticism.

Of note was the announcement from the league on Wednesday that Sergei Bobrovsky, Henrik Lundqvist and Antti Niemi are the finalists for the Vezina Trophy, recognizing  “the goalkeeper adjudged to be the best at his position.”

Aside from the historical significance of this year’s Vezina crop (this is the first time that all three finalists were born and trained in Europe, a commentary on the international growth of the NHL), there’s plenty of intrigue surrounding the announcement of the winner.

Will Lundqvist take home his second straight? Will Bobrovsky emerge as the victor in spite of his team missing the playoffs? Could Niemi possibly steal some votes for his stellar play down the stretch? And how on earth did the Bruins’ Tuukka Rask fail to make the cut?

These are all valid questions to ponder, but they aren’t the focus of this piece.

I have always viewed the Vezina Trophy with a curious fascination; not because of who has received it, but rather how a decision on the recipient is determined each year.

Of the major NHL hardware handed out at the conclusion of the season, the Vezina is a unique specimen. Read the full post »

Playoff Hockey: Despite loss, Islanders embark on new era

By JUSTIN DEMARCO 

IMG_3269The New York Islanders’ season may have ended on Saturday night when defenseman Brooks Orpik scored the overtime and series clinching goal in Game 6 for the Pittsburgh Penguins, but I left Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum excited for the beginning of a new era in Islanders hockey.

For this first time in 11 years, I saw the Isles win a playoff game at home.

For the first time in 11 years, I believed the Isles could actually make a run at the Stanley Cup.

For the first time in 11 years, I was truly proud to be an Islanders fan.

Not many people, myself included, had high hopes for this team in 2013. But somehow the management, players and coaching staff found a way to make the Old Barn rock again in May.

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