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Thursday, May 18, 2006

Conference Final Predictions

Round 1 and 2 Results
Dave: 6/12 and 0/12 right on
Joe: 5/12 and 1/12 right on
Barrelmaster: 6/12 and 1/12 right on

(2) Carolina Hurricanes vs (4) Buffalo Sabres

Dave: Buffalo didn't make it to the final four because of talent, they made it here with luck. There offense has overperformed due to weak goaltending from Esche/Nittymaki and Emery. The Carolina Hurricanes like the Tampa Bay Lightning have been under the radar all year because they play in the part of the world where nobody cares about hockey. Carolina has a strong offense led by Staal and verterans Doug Weight and Mark Recchi. They have a few key holdovers from their 2002 cup finalist season; Hedican and Wesley. Also, they have the edge in goaltending with Cam Ward who just crushed Martin Brodeur in 5 games. The one positive Buffalo has is Thomas Vanek. He's there most promising forward but he's been a healthy scratch or on the fourth line. If scoring dries up- Vanek will get more icetime. Carolina in 5 games.

Joe: Buffalo, I am a believer now. Buffalo in 6.

Barrelmaster: Buffalo in 7.

(6) Anaheim Ducks vs (8) Edmonton Oilers

Dave: This will be another tough series for the Oilers. They don't have a superstar centreman to worry about Datsyuk/Thornton, but have this playoffs best goalie. That lessens the role of Chris Pronger and will force Oilers scorers Samsonov, Smyth, and Hemsky to solve Bryzgalov. Anaheim also has a nice defense in front of Bryzgalov- Niedermayer and Beauchemin. Edmonton in 7 games.

Joe: The ducks have done horrible against the Oilers the past few years, they one every game this year, and Peca and Pronger love playing them. I think the Oilers will win Game one cause the ducks have been sitting for over a week. Edmonton in 5.

Barrelmaster: Anaheim in 7.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Next Liberal Leader shouldn't be a tourist

Canadians are consistenly recognized as the kindest most accepting people on the planet. We strive to have a good international image so we are treated with respect abroad and also be seen as warm friendly people living in one of the coldest climates on Earth. But the latest Liberal Leadership race has really illustrated just how extreme our openness is.

The Liberal Party has strived to become so inclusive that it's not looking for one of its own to lead them. Instead the Liberals are working hard this campaign for new Liberals. Some of these Liberals were NDP or Conservatives politicians a short time ago. Others aren't even federal politicans. (The last time the Liberals have chosen someone with no federal cabinet experience as their leader was the first Liberal Prime Minister Wilfred Laurier) And one has just moved back to Canada after a 30 year hiatus.

Canada is a country based on immigration and accepting people from every part of the globe but surely more than a commitment of a few months is needed to lead the Liberal Party of Canada. The Liberal brand was tarnished badly in Quebec where the Liberals dropped to the third party there and all there support retreated to Montreal. But outside Quebec the Liberals maintained most of their support and only suffered slight losses. That is why they elected over 100 MPs and are in a stronger position than the conservative party has ever been in opposition in the last 13 years.

If the Liberals are to recover they must embrace their strengths and not hide their failures. The liberal party had many strong ministers who fought hard for Canada and helped the Liberals win four straight governments. Programs such as the sponsorship program, the gun registry, and flip-flopping on scrapping the GST tarnished the Liberal party. But other key decisions such as not invading Iraq, supporting Kyoto, introducing the Clarity Act, altering how political parties are funded, the creation of a national childcare plan, and lastly balancing the budget are supporting by the majority of Canadians.

When the Progressive Conservative party collapsed they went through similar turmoil. Some wanted to radically transform the party and others wanted to highlight their sucesses. Nationalists like David Orchard attempted to seize the leadership of PC party but failed and Joe Clark even referred to Orchard as a tourist in the party. The PC Party before it merged with the alliance did rebuild their party by re-establishing themselves in Atlantic Canada and proudly advertising some of their strengths such as NAFTA. It is time for the Liberals to stop running for their record and embrace the positives.

The Liberals need to elect a leader that enthusiastically supports the charter. The next Liberal Leader must support human rights domestically and internationally. That means the next leader must support the past Liberal record. Canadians a Liberals want a leader who supported the government's decision to oppose the Iraq war, and also opposed an offensive missile defense shield. Canada must also recognize our southern neighbour has become increasingly hostile to regions that threathen its dominance and it appears its abadoning international institutions (UN) that it helped create and is even willing to violate international law. (torture) The next leader must not be a John Kerry who the Conservatives can exploit as being a flip-flopper. In this area the next Liberal Leader must be uncompromising and should not be intimiated by any country violates international law.

This campaign will be fought and won on domestic issues. All of the candidates are trying to persude Canadians why they are the best candidate to beat Stephen Harper and lead Canada. For this position I want a Canadian firmly committed to Canada. I want my next Prime Minister to maintain a strong federation by resisting provincial pressures to decentralize power and recognize Canada's uniqueness and not try to mould it after another country. A strong leader who wants Canada to be a strong country, can unite the Liberals, unite the provinces, and squash the separtists.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Second Round NHL Predictions

First Round Results
Dave: 4/8 and 0/8 right on.
Joe: 4/8 and 1/8 right on.
Barrelmaster: 4/8 and 1/8 right on.

(1) Ottawa Senators vs (4) Buffalo Sabres

Dave: The senators are still without Hasek but Emery has been playing well. But will he be able to win another playoff series for the Senators? The Sabres don't have any glaring weaknesses but don't have any area where they have the edge over the Senators. With Havlat back the senators scoring is too lethal for the inexperienced Buffalo Sabres. Ottawa in 7 games.

Joe:
Buffalo in seven

Barrelmaster: Ottawa in 6.

(2) Carolina Hurricans vs (3) New Jersey Devils

Dave: New Jersey destroyed the New York Rangers with brilliant goaltending from Brodeur and a strong offensive game led by Elias. The Hurricanes came back to beat Montreal with surprising strong goaltending from their backup Cam Ward but can he maintain his game against a strong offensive team than Montreal. The Hurricans defense is too weak and I think it will be another short series for the devils. New Jersey in 5 games.

Joe:
New Jersey in five

Barrelmaster: Carolina in 7.

(5) San Jose Sharks vs (8) Edmonton Oilers

Dave: A very unlikely second round matchup. The 5th place team playing the 8th place shows just how much the NHL has changed in the Western Conference especially. The Oilers had a tougher time than the Sharks in the first round. San Jose played a Nashville Predators team without Tomas Vokoun and coasted by the Predators with little help from Thornton and Cheechoo. In the last playoffs Thornton was pointless and Joe Thornton seems to have dissapeared from the scoreboard once the playoffs started. The Oilers will be a tough opponent to beat. All 6 of their defenseman are experienced and led by former MVP Chris Pronger. Not to mention Roloson in net, the Oilers should have the edge because the sharks haven't played high tempo playoff hockey yet. Edmonton in 7 games.

Joe:
San Jose in seven

Barrelmaster: San Jose in 7.

(6) Anaheim Ducks vs (7) Colorado Avalanche

Dave: Very interesting series between two teams that crawled into the playoffs and now might win the conference. The Avalanche improved their goaltending with Theodore and Sakic is still going strong. But the ducks (like the sharks) were red hot entering the playoffs and just knocked off last season's Stanley Cup Finalist- the Calgary Flames. Anaheim is lead by Bryzgalov in goal, Selanne on offense, and Three time Stanley Cup Winner Scott Niedermayer. Anaheim in 7 games.

Joe:
Colorado in six

Barrelmaster: Anaheim in 7.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Ranking of Liberal Leadership Websites

This is the first Liberal Leadership race that will be run primarily on the web. Sure all the candidates will try to meet Liberals face-to-face but the web is the easiest (and cheapest) place to release policy statements and interact with Canadians. Here's my ranking of the best designed Liberal leadership sites.

1. Ken Dryden- I like the oversized "A Big Canada" Lettering and the site isn't too cluttered with the colours in red and white. The layout is great with Ken's picture on the right and rollover links on the leftside.

2. Scott Brison- It looks similar to Dyden's site. He has a great colour scheme and a mission statement and a great picture on the front page.

3. Carolyn Bennett- Despite not being one of the front runners she has a website that sticks out from the rest. Her layout is simple with an agenda book on her desk containing the various links for her website. It's unique but should have a rollover and being an unknown- she needs her picture on the main page.

4. Bob Rae- Nice simply designed website. Bob has a nice rollover for the top header that has the Liberal logo under the headers. His main weakness is his mission statement's font is too small and lengthy.

5. Joe Volpe- I like the top header that rotates the images and the left sidebar is well designed. But the page is 3 pages long which is three times longer than most of his competitors.

6. Michael Ignatieff- The rotating images for the banner and the layout are excellent. But could they have found a better picture of Ignatieff.

7. Maurizio Bevilacqua- The last two columns are well designed like Dryden's and Brison's websites. But I don't like the flag waving because it's a bit disorientating because you can't stop it moving to read his short mission statement.

8. Martha Hall Findlay- Despite being the first candidate to put her hat in the ring her website his short on content. Her issues page looks like it was designed just on Word. But I look the front page and the news headlines could be placed in their seperate section.

9. Gerard Kennedy- The quick moving ticker is hard to read and should be replaced by a rotating text ticker that doesn't move left to right. Also there isn't a single rollover to highlight something on the main page is clickable.

10. Stephane Dion- Despite being a pundit favourite and seen as a possible compromise candidate if their is a deadlock Dion's site is horrible. His newsroom section hasn't been updated in 3 weeks and there are only a few links to click on. Also if he is running the Liberal party why are his site colours purple and white.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Conservatives accept US trade dominance

Today, Stephen Harper abandoned one his favourite campaign slogans-

"If you do a serious crime, you’re going to do serious time".


When the americans broke the law, Harper caved and lowered the penalties against the US government for breaking the law. NAFTA and the WTO were uncompromising in their support for the Canadian position in the softwood lumber trade war. But Stephen Harper was more appeasing. Canada won the court rulings and the conservatives negotiated a less favourable for Canadians.

For starters, Canada will not get interest on the $5 billion of illegal fees that the US charged on Canadian softwood lumber companies. We won't even get the base amount back. Instead, the conservatives settled for 78%. That means the conservatives accept the US case that Canadians should be penalized for following trade law. Instead of paying $5 billion to the US government, we are paying $1 billion now to the US. Also, on the day the loonie rose to record heights, the amount Canadian companies will be repaid at the a more favourable currency rate for the Americans. What a proud day for Canada!

But it doesn't end there. The conservatives have agreed to collect an export tax on Canadian lumber if its price is too low. Trade law says we don't have to appease the americans but Stephen Harper has his secret agenda to fullfill. It's a good day for David Orchard to launch his leadership bid. Why should we continue have free trade with the US when the violate trade laws and Canada is punished 22% on our exports for abiding by the law?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

First Round NHL Predictions

The first Stanley Cup playoffs in 2 years is finally here. Below are Dave and Joe's
picks. Also as an added bonus, the DaColbert Code (Randomly picked), after Stephen Colbert's flawless oscar predictions is also making a prediction for each matchup.

(1) Detroit Red Wings vs. (8) Edmonton Oilers

David: I am not afraid to pick the best team to win in this series. The Oilers may be an 8th place team but late season additions of Samsonov and Roloson make the Oilers are strong team.

The Red Wings are unsure of who will start in goal and their leading scorer (Datsyuk) is unavailable for the first game. The Oilers also have greatly improved their defense with Pronger and Spacek playing for the first time in the playoffs for the Oilers. The Red Wings defense has lived up to expectations, led by Lidstrom who led all defense in points. The big weakness for the Oilers is offense. Datsyuk, Lang, and Zetterberg are more potent than any of the Oilers forwards but most of the wings key forwards have not lived up to expectations. Edmonton in 7 games

Joe: Well all the sportscasters have basically been saying that the Wings will sweep this one, they are too good, etc. Well as we all know, most sportscasters are not that sharp and are too chicken to pick underdogs. I think the Oilers will push them to the limit, but the Wings will be able to go through to the next round. Although if the Oilers can pull of the upset, it wouldn't surprise me. The Wings haven't played that well against the Oilers the past few years, and
looking at the past 10-15 years, it seems when the Wings have an awesome season, they seem to stumble in the playoffs, compared to when they finish middle of the pack and win it all. This will be a tough series, espically since the Oilers have literally no pressure on them. Detroit in 7 games

DaColbert Code: Since the last playoffs, let's look at the price of two products. Wings and Oil. Edmonton will win.


(2) Dallas Stars vs. (7) Colorado Avalanche

Dave: I concur with Joe that the Avalanche team is a much weaker team than 2 years ago (no Forsberg or Foote) But they surprised me and made the playoffs. The Avalanche's offense is better but a depleted defense and an unsettled goaltending situation makes the Avs vulnerable. Dallas in 7 games

Joe: A few years ago this would be a semi-final matchup, but the times have changed. Dallas has been very quietly been playing great this year, while Colorado have been pretty average looking. Dallas have great goaltending, and a very deep squad. Colorado have question marks in goal, and not near the depth they once had, Dallas in a breeze. Dallas in 5 games

DaColbert Code: Colorado reminds most of Americans of snow and ice. Dallas reminds people of dessert and heat. Colorado will win.

(3) Calgary Flames vs. (6) Anaheim Ducks

Dave: The Flames are in for a tough first round better. But the best team in the west should be able to defeat the Ducks. Kipper is the top goalie in the league and Iginla has been averaging close to a point a game since the Olympics. But, it will be a long series because Selanne has been red hot. Calgary in 7 games

Joe: Well in the last playoffs, at the beginning, I picked the Flames to go to the finals, no really I am serious! This time I am not so nice to them. The only thing keeping them going is Kipper. Iginla is basically their only offence, so a desecent defensive team can stick to him like glue. No question the Flames can keep goals out of the net, but can they score. The Ducks on the other hand have quietly ran up the table to the sixth spot, and with no one really picking them, I think an upset is in the making here. Anaheim in 6 games

DaColbert Code: Let's compare the two regions to their political affiliations. Calgary votes conservative. California is a blue state. Then look at what horses one during the last federal elections. Calgary will win.

(4) Nashville Predators vs. (5) San Jose Sharks

David: Vokoun is injured. The only reason why the Predators have a chance is their defense which is led by two strong europeans, Timmonen and Zidlicky. Thornton and Cheechoo should score a bundle against Nashville's replacement goaltenders. San Jose in 6 games.

Joe: Well ever since Joe Thornton has put on a Sharks uniform, they are around 30 games over .500. They along with the Devils are the hottest teams in the league going into the playoffs. Joe has set Cheechoo on fire, helping him get the Art Ross this year. Nashville looked like a dark-horse team until Vokoun went down for the season. This will be a good tough series, but with Vokoun going down I think the Preds will have to look to next year. San Jose in 6 games

DaColbert Code: Nashville is known for country music. Country music is usually about losing something. Like a hockey team that lost their goalie to a blot clot and is facing the league's leading point (Thornton) and goal scorer (Cheechoo). But there are no country songs about hockey. Nashville will win.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

(1) Ottawa Senators vs. (8) Tampa Bay Lighting

David: The Senators won first place in the East but Hasek is iffy. The Lightning's goaltenders are dreadfull but most of the offense is still intact from the last Stanley Cup championship. Ottawa in 7 games

Joe: Boy a tough one to call. The Sens have been slumping the past few weeks, but so have Tampa. If the Sens matched up against the Habs, I would have picked the upset, but with both teams having goalie trouble, I think the Sens are just too good and deep compared to the Lighting. I dont think this will be a grinder series, but there maybe a 7-6 game here and there. Ottawa in 5 games

DaColbert Code: First vs Eight matchup is David vs Goliath matchup. David beat Goliath. Zdeno Chara is 6'9" and Martin St. Louis is 5'8". Tampa Bay will win.

(2) Carolina Hurricanes vs. (7) Montreal Canadiens

David: Montreal might be this year's Calgary Flames. They made the playoffs with a goalie who came from no where and have a few forwards who could inflict some damage. (Koivu and Kovalev) The Hurricans suprised everybody with Staal's breakout year and added Weight and Recchi to their team too. But their defense is thin and might cost them in low scoring games while playing against the league's hottest goaltender. Montreal in 6 games.

Joe: This is another tough one to call. The Hurricanes have been playing well this year, except for the last little bit of the season they have been average. They have a deeper team then the Habs, but the have some big question marks in goal. While the Habs are trying to decide who will be in goal, even though we all know it will be Huet. This is another one of those series where even though looking on paper Carolina should walk through, I just have a gut feeling an upset is in the making. Montreal in 7 games

DaColbert Code: Cristobal Huet is from France. France's most famed sporting event is the Tour du France. Lance Armstrong is the most celebrated champion of that cycling champion. He beat cancer just like Saku Koivu. Montreal will win.

(3) New Jersey Devils vs. (6) New York Rangers

David: New Jersey became red hot when their GM took coaching duties and scared the shit out of the devils as he wanted to take a closer look at his team and decide who should get rid of. Mogilny was sent to the minors but the rest of them was kept intact. It paid as the Devils resurrected a failed season. Too bad their playing a resurrected Jagr and have to score on the goalie who won Gold in Turin. NY Rangers in 7 games

Joe: Well the Devils went from fighting for a playoff spot to division champs. What the hell happened? They look great, and Brodeur looks like he did when he won 3 cups. The Rangers on the other hand look like they have fallen off the horse, but they should not be taken lightly. The thing that will make this a great series to watch and a tough grinding one is that its a subway series. It may not be as good as the 1994 semi-finals in which the Rangers went on to win, but
it should be one of the better ones. New Jersey in 6 games (I put green in the name because I want them to go back to their old jerseys)

DaColbert Code: New York vs New Jersey is a sibling rivalry. In sibling rivalries big brother always wins. Like Martin BROdeur. New Jersey will win.

(4) Buffalo Sabres vs. (5) Philidelphia Flyers

Dave: I picked the Sabres to finnish last place because they have no visible big name players. They made the playoffs with no clear star forward and Ryan Miller just got his first shutout this season in the last game he played. The Sabres are a hard working team with no gapping holes. 6 players scored more than 20 goals. But the biggest upside for the Sabres is their opponent. Primeau and Kim Jonsson are injured. Forsberg, Gagne, and Pitkanen are playing injured. Also it's the flyers, so you have no idea who their goalie. Buffalo in 7 games

Joe: Does this series have defence and hitting written all over it. Well even in the new NHL it maybe like that. Buffalo had a great over-achieving year, and I still dont know how. The Flyers were a lot of peoples early season favourites to win the cup. Everytime I hear sportscasters talk about them, they always just say how they are no good this year. Well they are a good team, and I think Buffalo is a little too young and green to beat them. They just have to keep up
the good work. Philadelphia in 5 games

DaColbert Code: Maxim Afinogenov a Russian led the team in points. And the Greatest Russian Leader of All-Time- Peter The Great, as in Peter Forsberg. Philadephia will win.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Ralph Goes out Kicking and Screaming

Ralph's exit speech and the way he answered questions was diplomatic and gracefull.

But the timing could be worse for his party. His exit speech was mere hours before Stephen Harper's first throne speech. Was he trying to steal the spotlight or wanted to go out quietly with little fanfare? (One theory for Klein's low support at the convention is the federal conservatives are still mad at Ralph for saying they couldn't win)

Also he's going to officially announce his resignation in September. Why not resign during the summer so the party can have a september convention and the new leader will lead a november fall session. Ralph's timing forced the leader to be elected right before Christmas and forces him/her to hold their first session in the spring.

So Alberta has a lame duck premier whose own party wants him to leave and in revenge he is forcing their new leader to start governing one year from now.

The PC party is divided over Ralph's future, they are about to go through a rocky leadership race (with one candidate that is not even sitting in their caucus), and no major decisions likely will be made in the next year. The opposition is licking their lips.