I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
Well, Wisconsin BlogPoller Bruce Ciskie took home the latest fabulous prize package by correctly deducing that "Oklahoma +4 Moving Company" meant... well, here's Bruce (ESPN Bruce, no pooftahs!):
Congrats to Bruce Ciskie from Proctor, Minn., who correctly answered that OU +4 was "Oklahoma's average margin of victory over Texas the last five years is four points lower than the number of days it's now taken the movers to deliver your stuff." For his genius, Bruce will receive a copy of the ESPN Sports Almanac; a Romain Sato Russian nesting doll; a Starter foam Bruinhead (donated by ESPN The Mag writer Eric Adelson); an official Fox 40 referee whistle (unused!) donated by my colleague The Skunk, and a special mystery prize plucked from some unsuspecting stooge in my office.
Allow myself to introduce the five progressively Mini-er-Mes lodged inside my body.
Bruce received the fabulous prize package. His reaction: sweet. But there's no mention of the mysterious, er, mystery prize snatched from the desk of an ESPN colleague. What could it be? Chris Berman's nickname-testing card?
Mike "Shot Through The" Hart "And You're To Blame, You Give Love A Bad Name (Bad Name)"? -XXX too long.
"Pope" Urban "Planning" Meyer? -XXX mixed metaphor.
Steve "Breaston" - XXX That's actually his name.
Stuart Scott's list of rejected catchphrases?
"Cool as the other side of the sun."
"Look at me! I'm pretending to be black!"
"Boom goes the DY-NO-MITE!"
Stephen A. Smith's fan mail?
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The mind boggles!
Just to clear up any confusion: Montoya is officially gone. I thought that this post said as much but a couple people have wondered why I didn't say anything about it. I'd just like to announce that it's not because I've crawled into the fetal position and sobbed. No, I'm saving that for Jack Johnson's departure.
Some good news on that front, though: Michael Spath says that he believes there's a "90% chance" Johnson plays for Michigan next year. That's speculation (though informed) on Spath's part. GBW is apparently putting someone on the hockey beat and in a post at USCHO he says:
I've been trying to get in contact with Jack since yesterday afternoon but we keep playing phone tag. We did chat for a quick second and he told me that the rumor that he would sign before his freshman year was nothing but a rumor.
So he'll probably be a Wolverine next year. Past that? Well... Michigan graduates no defensemen in 2006 but has recruited Chris Summers and Stephen Kampfer. If you do the math it says "Hurricanes."
Just to reinforce how much you desperately want to see Johnson in Maize & Blue:
After the Carolina Hurricanes drafted defenseman Jack Johnson No. 3 overall in the NHL draft Saturday a rival general manager stopped by to add another layer to Johnson's reputation as an intimidating body checker.
According to Hurricanes GM Jimmy Rutherford, the rival happened to ask another prospect what he feared most. It's a standard question used to help teams acquire a psychological profile of a potential draft pick.
"Usually the players say spiders or something like that," Rutherford said, laughing. "But when they asked this kid what he feared he said, 'Jack Johnson.'"
Lifted from this USA Today article. More on Gojira in the article, including a discussion of his ability to hip-check. The last hockey player anywhere I saw lay out a hip check was former Michigan defender Mike Roemensky, who was often erroneously called for tripping by The Incompetent Mike Wilkins when he broke it out.
Also, Johnson charged the mound once playing baseball to defend teammate Sydney Crosby. (Boston Fan in Michigan just went "rowr" to herself.)
It appears that this year's main candidate for a sickening, heart-rending early departure is Jack Johnson, who hasn't even shown up yet. Johnson was selected third in yesterday's NHL draft by the Carolina Hurricanes and he's going to be pressed to sign, like, right goddamn now:
Johnson had a Michigan tie on when he went to the podium to shake hands with the Carolina brass.
"I guess he can take that off," joked Rutherford. "We'll have discussions with him and his family and try to decide what is best for him. I would like to have the opportunity to talk to Jack about signing and getting started in Lowell because I think it would be a huge jump for him to play in the National Hockey League immediately."
Johnson said he would likely decide within the next week whether he'll go to college or turn pro.
"It won't be money," Johnson said. "It will be what I personally think is best for my development. I don't want to jump the gun too soon. I want to make sure I do the right thing. I'm pretty sure I'll have the right gut feeling. There is no rush."
So the Canes are definitely going to try to sign him. They'll offer the rookie cap. The only question is whether Johnson really wants to play for Michigan. No doubt Johnson will be talking to Aaron Ward and Danny Richmond, both ex-Michigan players currently with the Hurricanes. There's a snippet in the article regarding them:
Johnson has been skating recently in pickup games with Carolina defenseman Aaron Ward, who also attended the University of Michigan.
"I'll have some interesting conversations with him now, something to break the ice with," Johnson said. "I'm still kind of in awe of guys who play in the NHL so I kept my mouth shut and if he was open I always passed to him."
The Hurricanes also selected Michigan defenseman Danny Richmond with the 31st overall pick in 2003. Richmond could be ready to crack the Carolina defensive corps this season if he's gotten stronger in the offseason.
Strength was never Richmond's problem at Michigan. His problem was his general lack of interest in defense--a problem for a defenseman. I had heard that Richmond regretted his decision to leave Michigan for the OHL but he was clearly aiming to sign ASAP.
Neither Ward nor Richmond will really have much impact, though. Johnson probably knows exactly what he'll do right now. He just has to come to terms with it. He's been a future Wolverine for more than three years now. We'll find out in a week whether he ever ends up an actual Wolverine.
3. Jack Johnson - Carolina
25. Andrew Cogliano - Edmonton (SWEET.)
63. Jason Bailey - Anahiem
88. TJ Hensick - Colorado (egads!)
Rumblings that Carolina is trying to sign Johnson right now and that he may not show up at Michigan for even one year, which would be a Sad Panda event horrific in its extremity.
There's a moment every summer, usually in mid- to late July. Sometimes it's in early August. Basketball and hockey are over. Baseball slogs on interminably. The pounding heat has shut my brain off. Parts of my body I did not know existed are actually dripping on other parts, and I'm preoccupied with just how ridiculous and terrible summer is and there's no end in sight and just just just argh.
Then there is one morning in the high fifties. The air is crisp and implies things like falling leaves and pumpkins and perhaps a hayride for the faux-camping inclined. It hits me: football. Football is coming.
In a month or so I will get out of my car on the southern part of campus. I will walk past tailgaters at Elbel field, the band assembling in front of Revelli, the RVs in front of the stadium, and I will arrive at the designated tailgate spot. I'll see my brother for probably the first time since hockey season ended. My dad will be there. My uncle, my cousins.
Sausage will be consumed.
With an hour or so to go before the game, I'll ascend the steps in front of the stadium, find my seat, stand over it, and try to figure out a way to stop time, Bewitched-style, so that I can extend this moment of anticipation. Wrinkling the nose does not work; I don't think it's cute enough.
I knew this would happen, objectively. Time continues to pass at more or less the same rate unless I approach the speed of light, which--despite the opinions of local traffic cops--I have not. But it's that first morning that hints that summer's cruel grip is fading that makes the faint, faraway possibility of actual football simultaneously immediate and desperately far removed. It's only a month away; oh God, it's a month away.
And I call my friend up and have a conversation like this:
Hungry Armenian: FOOTBALL!
mgoblog: AAAH! FOOTBALL! FOOTBALL!!!!
Hungry Armenian: AAAH!!!
mgoblog: Football, man. Football.
Hungry Armenian: Yeah, football.
mgoblog: Seriously, man. Football. Goddamn football. Bye.
Hungry Armenian: Bye.