Tuesday, June 20, 2006

This Week's Hazies

Hey Peeps and anyone else checking in. A special "Hey" goes out to Hazel Mae.

For those of you who haven't been here before - The Hazies take a look back at some of the more notable performances from the past week. The winners are awarded a Hazie and have the title of "Hazel's Hero" bestowed upon them. While Hazel hasn't officially OK'd the nominees - we'd like to think she would give her trademark smile and the thumbs up.

This week's awards are going to focus a little more on team achievements rather than just individual performances - mainly due to the fact that I spent the better part of last week watching the World Cup, and the weekend up in the mountains where we only turned on the television to watch Portugal vs Iran.

Reluctantly, I have to give it up to the Carolina Hurricanes. The Hurricanes were definitely one of the surprise teams of the new NHL - and are now the poster boys for Gary Bettman's NHL. The Canes were a great story this year - rising from the depths of the NHL to hoist the Cup...the 2006 version of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

While they were definitely the beneficiaries of some great luck (major injuries to 3 of the 4 teams they beat), they made it through the grind that is the NHL playoffs - they did it with a relatively unknown goalie, Cam Ward. A nice side story to this one was seeing Rod Brind'Amour and Justin Williams win the Stanley Cup - two very good players who were banished to hockey's wasteland by none other that Flyers' GM Bob Clarke.

You had to know I couldn't end the hockey season without taking one last shot at Clarke.

The Edmonton Oilers deserve a lot of credit for their playoff run. They came in as the number 8 seed in the Western Conference, with all sorts of questions about their goaltending, questions about some of their forwards (notably Michael Peca), and questions about whether or not they could muster enough offence to compete - they answer their critics and the doubters (yours truly included) to come within inches of winning the Stanley Cup, in a year when many thought they wouldn't even make the playoffs.

The Oilers are the epitome of what makes hockey such a great sport - enthusiasm, heart, grit, determination, perseverance in the face of adversity. They brought hockey fans from coast to coast together - to rally for the cause of a small market Canadian team. Bravo to the Oilers.

I think Hazel would definitely agree on this one.

The World Cup always has some surprises, and this year's tournament is no different.

Germany did the expected, winning Group A; but few expected them to steamroll their way through the group (yours truly included). The Germans dismantled the opposition in the opening round of the tournament and deserve some credit for the way in which they advanced to the round of 16. One player that deserves special mention, and an individual Hazie Award, is striker Miroslav Klose who scored 4 goals in the opening round - an for a bit of irony, Klose was born in Poland.

Ecuador came into the tournament with few expectations - Poland was expected to finish second to Germany and advance to the round of 16. Ecuador started the tournament off by shocking Poland and then beating Costa Rica to secure their passage. Veteran striker Augustin Delgado who struggled through the first round with a bad back gets special mention, and a Hazie.

Argentina is showing the world why "football" is referred to as The Beautiful Game. The Argentines came into the tournament as one of the favourites, but their recent performances had some wondering whether they could find their form from their South American qualifying stage. They have found their game in a big way, outscoring the oppostion by a count of 8 - 1 in their first two games...and in the driver's seat to win the group. Special mention has to go to striker Hernan Crespo who had a tough year at Chelsea, but has served notice that he can be a special player.

Portugal has put the disappointment of the last World Cup behind them and won the first two games of their group stage to advance to the round of 16. The Seleccao das Quinas have not lost a game since Euro 2004 (I don't want to talk about it) - and look poised to make a long run at the title. Special mention goes to the old man of the team - Luis Figo, who has silenced doubters by showing he is far from being washed up and can be an impact player at the elite level. The Captain has put the team on his back and created a number of scoring chances for his team...his last kick at the can has been special up to this point.

Spain has started the tournament with two impressive wins, and have served notice that they intend to shake the tag of "underachievers". Spanish coach Luis Aragones made a bold move in starting the tournament with the country's most famous striker, Raul, on the bench in favour of youngsters Fernando Torres and David Villa. Special mention goes to Fernando Torres who has scored three goals in his first two games - solidifying himself as the team's first choice striker. Raul also gets a Hazie - he was put in the difficult position of sitting and watching his team take the pitch; he handled it with class and waited for his chance, scoring the tying goal against Tunisia yesterday.

That's about it for the World Cup - though games over the next few days may result in mid-week Hazies being awarded.

Have a great one peeps - back with more tomorrow.

Hazel, I hope things are groovy in your world.

Song of the Night on Hazelspeeps - at the outset of the World Cup, I said the songs of the day/night would be all about Portugal - in honour of the boys in red and green. But one of the peeps admonished me for not putting forth "Spanish Bombs" by The Clash for Spain's performance to open the tournament. There - done! (I love that song). But for tonight...a song for the game tomorrow against Mexico.

Oxala (I wish) - Marisza

Peesth Out...Buh Bye!


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