Michael Rand started RandBall with hopes that he could convince the world to love jumpsuits as much as he does. So far, he's only succeeded in using the word "redacted" a lot. He welcomes suggestions, news tips, links of pure genius, and pictures of pets in Halloween costumes here, though he already knows he will regret that last part.

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Posts about NHL news

A school in Canada where all the curriculum centers (centres?) on hockey

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated: June 4, 2013 - 12:23 PM

This link is about a week old, but it comes courtesy of commenter Fasolamatt. This would only happen in Canada, of course -- an entire school building academic curriculum around the sport of hockey. Oh, and the district in Nova Scotia is in Sidney Crosby's hometown. Oh, and here is what the principal said: "In Canada, if you're going to pick a vehicle to have a cross-curricular program of study, hockey has to be it because that is our passion," principal Debbie Roswell said.

Genius? Disturbing? Both?

You decide. Here's the video from CBC:

 

 

Afternoon talker: Gomez, Ortiz and other Minnesota sports regrets

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated: May 28, 2013 - 3:37 PM

Small sample sizes being what they are, it's not quite fair yet to include Carlos Gomez in the list of players Minnesota sports fans will inevitably complain about for years to come because we used to have him and now he's so much better somewhere else. Go-Go has 11 homers, including two on Monday against the Twins, while doing all his usual Gomez things on defense and the base paths. Maybe he's finally on his way to becoming the player the Twins hoped they were getting in the Johan Santana trade.

Only now he plays for the Brewers.

Near the forefront of the loves we lost list has to be David Ortiz, the slugger who had some decent early seasons in Minnesota and then became one of the best sluggers of the past decade with the Red Sox.

Nick Leddy and that gruesome Cam Barker trade also comes to mind. Leddy is logging major minutes for the Blackhawks and looks like a long-term puck-moving defenseman. Leddy hurt extra bad because he is a local kid.

Wolves fans of a certain ilk will always be haunted by Brandon Roy/Randy Foye, while others STILL lament how Ray Allen, albeit briefly, was one of us.

Rich Gannon fought for playing time with the Vikings; in Oakland, he was an NFL MVP.

As a diversion from complaining about the weather ... we ask for your other great Minnesota sports regrets -- players who went on to stardom after failing to stick or last here -- in the comments.

Toronto is very sad today

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated: May 14, 2013 - 1:01 PM

How do you react as a player or a fan when a team blows a 4-1 lead in the third period of a playoff Game 7?

Well, you get sad. And mad. And everything in between.

And what if the final two goals to tie the score in regulation came in the final 2 minutes ... and what if this all happened to Toronto, perhaps the most hockey-proud city in the world?

Extra sad. Extra mad.

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul won’t soon forget Monday night’s game against the Boston Bruins.

A day after his team’s stunning Game 7 collapse, Lupul took to Twitter to vent his frustration.

“That hockey game will haunt me until the day I die,” he tweeted Tuesday afternoon.

Also:

The unshaven faces of sadness and disappointment walked through and around the Maple Leafs dressing room, their expressions of shock saying more than their words could muster.

It was that difficult. It was that challenging. It was, in so many ways, that sad for the Maple Leafs.

It was only the first round, and yet still we imagine this is comparable to what Vikings fans have felt in gut-punch NFC title games. If you see someone in a Leafs jersey, go easy. Maybe offer a hug.

Friday (Next step for major men's pro teams: winning in the playoffs) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated: May 10, 2013 - 10:12 AM

 

As Minnesota's four major men's pro sports teams hit rock bottom as a collective in 2011 -- none of them made the playoffs, and none were particularly close in the end -- we wondered which would be the next of the bunch to make the playoffs.

 

Now that we are into May of 2013, the times are better. The Vikings and Wild have made the playoffs since that query. The Timberwolves at least have the makings of a nucleus that could challenge for a spot. The Twins have already moved the needle from hopeless to functional and are a few more prospects and Oswaldo Arcia blasts away from being downright intriguing.

As such, we revisit the question with the bar set higher: What will be the next of the four to WIN a playoff series (or, in the Vikings' case, a game)?

This is a bit of a dare-we-dream proposition, considering that from the time immediately after Randy Moss' disgusting act at Lambeau until this very moment -- a span of more than eight calendar years -- the Vikings' playoff victory following the 2009 season is the only example of postseason advancement among the four. But why shouldn't we dream big? Let's set some percentages:

Vikings: 40 percent. A 10-win team added a batch of talent through the draft, found a receiver in Greg Jennings and a functional backup QB who can start if needed in Matt Cassel. A return trip to the postseason is not a lock, but you don't have to squint too much to see it, either. And once there, the NFL is the easiest to advance since it's a one-game proposition. Get a couple of bounces, and the Vikings are the winner.

Wild: 35 percent. Cornerstone players like Zach Parise and Ryan Suter aren't going anywhere for a LONG time, while more young reinforcements are on the way to join the likes of Charlie Coyle, Jonas Brodin and Jason Zucker. A lot of new components were pulled together in a slapdash 48-game season. Minnesota faltered in the final month, or it would have won the division and had a much better chance of advancing. But at least the Wild made the playoffs. Still, there are questions galore. Will Mike Yeo and Chuck Fletcher be back? What will the Wild do at the goalie spot? And will they thrive playing in a tougher realigned division next season? That said, more than half the NHL teams make the playoffs, and seeding often means little once you get there -- unless you have to play a team like Chicago. The Wild took a step this year and could very well take another next year.

Twins: 15 percent. It's probably not happening this year, even with the team's improvement. Even 2014 might be early. But if the Wild and Vikings don't win soon, the Twins will be primed to make a push starting in 2015.

Wolves: 10 percent. Even if the Wolves get the shooting guard they so desperately need ... and get a fully healthy and engaged Kevin Love back ... the West is loaded and could remain that way for a while. Five teams won at least 56 games in the West this year. The Wolves should set their sights on a return to .500 and then start wondering about the playoffs and next steps.

Your thoughts, please, in the comments. But please: Limit this to the four teams mentioned. Of course the Lynx have a great chance of advancing this year. Other pro teams here have won playoff games in the eight-year span as well. But for our purposes, we are dealing with the Wild, Vikings, Twins and Wolves.

Wednesday (Wild starting to feel Heatley's absence) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated: May 8, 2013 - 8:42 AM

 

During the first three games of the Wild-Blackhawks series, we watched from the comfort of the couch. That changed in Game 4, with NHL enthusiast Rocket in town. It was time to pay up and see our first live playoff hockey game in a decade.

 

What we saw was ghastly at times. The Wild's first line, determined but often overmatched in this series, gave up two turnovers (one by Mikko Koivu, the other by Zach Parise) that led to the first to Chicago goals. The Wild's goaltending situation is something we have never seen, with the starter and top backup injured within four games. We also saw what has been evident throughout: Chicago is the more skilled team by a couple of lengths, if not more.

To make up for that, the Wild has either played a tight defensive game (Game 1 overtime loss in which they were a crossbar away from victory) or a very good and physical overall game (Game 3 overtime victory) to make this series competitive.

Game 4, one which often lacked flow or much of a spark beyond the first 10 minutes, was one in which another truth became evident: as frustrating as he can be, Dany Heatley is sorely missed in this lineup. Game 4 begged for his natural goal-scoring ability. Parise, at his best, is a relentless worker and gifted player, but he is no sniper. Neither is Koivu. The Wild, in this matchup and with this lineup, need effort goals and good bounces. What they needed Wednesday, particularly during six fruitless power plays, was someone who could find a corner of the net and hit it.

Heatley was injured in early April, missing the stretch run of the regular season and the playoffs. He had 11 goals in 36 games before that -- not exactly prolific, but it was tied for third on the team at the time. Minnesota scored one or zero goals in half of its final 12 games without Heatley. In the playoffs, Minnesota has six goals in four games, including Tuesday's shutout loss.

Heatley's presence most likely wouldn't have been the difference between winning and losing this series, so let's not call this an excuse. It would be foolish to believe that given just how good the Blackhawks are. But he would have helped -- particularly last night.

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