This hellish nightmare of an offseason for hockey fans just keeps on making us sadder and sadder. Just in the past week and change, in addition to Derek Boogaard and Rick Rypien earlier this summer, we've lost Wade Belak and 36 members of the KHL's Lokomotiv squad including former players and coaches like Brad McCrimmon, Karlis Skrastins, Pavol Demitra, Alexander Karpotsev, Ruslain Salei, and Josef Vasicek amongst others.
It seems like every week, another punch to the gut happens. I know for other diehard hockey fans like Burke, this feels like a bad dream that won't end. Those of you familiar with the Marshall football plane crash that was made into a movie will know the effects this will have. The KHL is the 2nd biggest hockey league in the world. Yes, it's a ways off from the NHL, but it houses a ton of NHL castoffs, young locals, and guys that would rather be close to home and be superstars at a lower level (Diaz, if you will). Basically the Strikeforce to the NHL's UFC. It's a miracle something of this magnitude really hasn't happened since Marshall. But nonetheless, it's devestating from every single aspect. Just soul-crushing.
But when it's all said and done, what you, the casual fan, or the non-fan will hear the most about are the deaths of Boogaard, Belak, and Rypien. Three NHLers (Belak just retired this year, so all played in 2010), that more often than not, dropped the gloves. I'm asking you, begging you, please don't believe the talking heads. Rypien was mentally unstable and had a host of issues. He was a guy my age who was troubled and felt he wanted out. But Boogaard and Belak were different. Yes, Derek had his problems with the pill bottle, but the "analyists" who've never even watched a full hockey game in their lives will tell you that because these men fought on a hockey rink that they were monsters that made their bed that they're lying in.
If anybody knows hockey and knows hockey players, the most conistantly generous, kind, and charitable players are whom? The "enforcers". I've been blessed as a Pittsburgh fan to have such legitimate sweethearts like Eric Godard, Steve McKenna, Paul Bissonnette, and Mike Rupp play in my arena in the last few years. Godard and Rupp have been repeatedly honored and awarded for their charity work and "player's player" status, McKenna is coaching in Australia and trying to build an Australian hockey program, and Biz, since you're probably following him on Twitter, is a self-deprecating class clown that's one of the most affable guys out there. Guys like Georges Laraque, George Parros (who played hockey at Princeton), Colton Orr, and Krys Barch are extremely friendly, approachable guys who are just happy to be living their dream. Oftentimes, they're HUGE family guys. Boogaard and Belak were the same way. Beloved isn't even a strong enough word for what Boogaard and Belak were by their teammates.
These guys weren't monsters. They were hockey players who kept order to keep a job so they could provide for their families. I'm just asking you guys to keep an objective mind. A man like Wade Belak had far more fights than goals, but he was just that. A man with a family.
Friday September 9
4:00pm Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Weigh-ins (HDNet)
6:30pm Gala de boxe Pro-Am (Gofightlive.com $9.99)
7:00pm Best of Diego Corrales (ESPN Classic)
8:00pm Dyah Davis vs. Francisco Sierra (FSN)
8:30pm 24/7 Mayweather vs. Ortiz (HBO2)
8:30pm Ring Of Combat 37 (Gofightlive.com $9.99)
8:30pm Anthony Dirrell vs. Kevin Engel (ESPN 3D)
9:00pm UFC Unleashed (Spike TV)
9:00pm Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Weigh-ins (HDNet)
9:00pm Shark Fights 16 (Fuel TV)
10:00pm Shark Fights 18 (Fuel TV)
10:00pm Best of Dream (HDNet)
10:10pm UFC Unleashed (Spike TV)
11:00pm Hector Sanchez vs. Mauricio Herrera/Felix Cora Jr. vs. Lateef Kayode (Showtime)
11:20pm UFC Unleashed (Spike TV)
11:30pm Best of MFC 26 (HDNet)
Saturday September 10
12:00am Shark Fights 16 (Fuel TV)
12:00am 24/7 Mayweather vs. Ortiz (HBO)
12:00am Floyd Mayweather vs. Shane Mosley (HBO2)
12:00am Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Weigh-ins (HDNet)
12:45am Andre Berto vs. Victor Ortiz (HB02)
1:00am Best of Dream (HDNet)
1:00am Shark Fights 18 (Fuel TV)
2:30am Best of MFC 26 (HDNet)
2:30am Hector Sanchez vs. Mauricio Herrera/Felix Cora Jr. vs. Lateef Kayode (Showtime Extreme)
3:00am Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Weigh-ins (HDNet)
4:00am Best of Dream (HDNet)
5:30am Best of MFC 26 (HDNet)
9:30am John Molina Jr. vs. Rob Frankel (ESPN 3D)
10:45am Faceoff With Max Kellerman: Mayweather vs. Ortiz (HBO)
11:00am 24/7 Mayweather vs. Ortiz (HBO)
11:30am Floyd Mayweather vs. Shane Mosley (HBO2)
12:30pm Andre Berto vs. Victor Ortiz (HB02)
4:00pm BAMMA 7 (bamma.com $10)
4:00pm Best of Dream (HDNet)
4:45pm Tomasz Adamek vs. Vitali Klitschko/Ola Afolabi vs. Pawel Kolodziej (HBO)
5:30pm Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Weigh-ins (HDNet)
5:30pm Francisco Sierra vs. Jesus Gonzales (ESPN 3D)
6:00pm Gleason's Gym Amateur Boxing (Goflghtlive.com FREE)
6:30pm Frank White vs. Jason Douglas/Julius Bunda vs. Stuart McLellan (Gofightlive.com $9.99)
7:00pm Bellator 49 Prelims (Spike TV)
8:00pm Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Semifinals Undercard (HDNet)
9:00pm Bellator 49 (MTV2)
9:45pm Faceoff With Max Kellerman: Mayweather vs. Ortiz (HBO)
10:00pm 24/7 Mayweather vs. Ortiz (HBO)
10:00pm Shark Fights 16 (Fuel TV)
10:30pm Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Semifinals (Showtime)
10:30pm Tomasz Adamek vs. Vitali Klitschko/Daniel Ponce de Leon vs. Yuriorkis Gamboa (HBO)
11:00pm Bellator 49 (MTV2)
11:30pm MMAthletics (FSN)
Sunday September 11
12:45am 24/7 Mayweather vs. Ortiz (HBO)
1:00am WEC WrekCage (Versus)
1:30am Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Semifinals (Showtime Extreme)
2:00am Shark Fights 18 (Fuel TV)
3:45am Faceoff With Max Kellerman: Mayweather vs. Ortiz (HBO)
6:00am Dyah Davis vs. Francisco Sierra (FSN)
7:30am Derrick Findley vs. Fernando Guerrero (ESPN 3D)
11:15am Tomasz Adamek vs. Vitali Klitschko/Daniel Ponce de Leon vs. Yuriorkis Gamboa (HBO)
1:30pm 24/7 Mayweather vs. Ortiz (HBO)
4:30pm Tomasz Adamek vs. Vitali Klitschko/Daniel Ponce de Leon vs. Yuriorkis Gamboa (HBO2)
5:30pm MMAthletics (FSN)
6:15pm Faceoff With Max Kellerman: Mayweather vs. Ortiz (HBO)
6:30pm MMAthletics (FSN)
10:00pm Mayweather vs. Ortiz: Starpower! (FSN)
11:30pm MMAthletics (FSN)
11:45pm 24/7 Mayweather vs. Ortiz (HBO)
Under the Radar: Names that aren't on American broadcasted shows this week.
Holly Holm vs. Jan Finney (Fresquez Productions: Clash in the Cage, September 9, Route 66 Casino, Albuquerque, New Mexico)
Deividas Taurosevicious vs. Billy Vaughan (Ring of Combat 37, September 9, Tropicana Resort and Casino, Atlantic City, New Jersey)
Charles Bennett vs. Lafayette Barela (KOTC: Rising Sun, September 10, Buffalo Thunder Casino, Santa Fe, New Mexico)
Chris Horodecki vs. Brad Cardinal (Freedom Fight: For Honor And Pride, September 10, Sudbury Community Arena, Sudbury, Ontario)
Rob Kimmons vs. Chuck Parmelee (Shark Fights 19, September 10, Independence Events Center, Independence, Missouri)
Breidis Prescott vs. Paul McCloskey (September 10, Odyssey Arena, Belfast, Northern Illinois)
Best Viewing Options: Someone who had to watch Notre Dame lose for six hours on Saturday attempts to regroup.
1. Tomasz Adamek vs. Vitali Klitschko: I'm not one for hyperbole. Seriously, I'm not, unless it's in jest. This is the most important heavyweight boxing match in a decade. We talk about GSP or Silva cleaning out a division, even though there are potential contenders on the way, but you don't understand. This is IT. Wladimir disposed of Thomas Haye, and Tomasz Adamek is the last possible worthy contender to take down a Klitschko. Georges has Diaz, Condit, Fitch again, maybe Penn, and Rory on the way up. Anderson still has unfinished business with Chael, Stann, and maybe Leben or Munoz in an awkward bout. This is it for Wladimir and Vitaly. Tomasz Adamek is the last true challenger that will emerge for years. There are contenders on the way, but they won't be ready for a few years. This is it. If Tomasz takes this in his native Poland, it will boost the Heavyweight division for years to come. If he loses, it effectively dies. No pressure.
2. Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix: The depth of the card is fantastic, but it lacks the importance of #1. However, HDNet broadcasting the undercard makes a great card even better.
3. Bellator 49: Welterweights! Let's see Ben Saunders attempt to replace someone's skull with his knee again this season and Hornbuckle keep being the early-90s Buffalo Bills of the Bellator welterweight divison.
4. Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Semifinals Undercard: Just a fantastic undercard here. Rafael Cavalcante vs. Yoel Romero, Marcos Rogerio de Lima vs. Mike Kyle, Evangelisa Santos vs. Jordan Mein, Alexis Davis vs. Amanda Nunes. This could be the main card for many Strikeforce cards.
5. Daniel Ponce de Leon vs. Yuriorkis Gamboa: Even though it's "technically" on the Klitschko-Adamek undercard, it's actually its own headliner. This fight is for the #2 featherweight in the world spot and an eventual fight against Orlando Salido. These two are gonna put on a damned entertaining scrap at 125lbs and demand your attention.
6. BAMMA 7: Despite losing Escudero, this is still a pretty fun card. Nate Marquardt will be in attendance, so you have to assume something might go down announcement-wise. Marquardt-Daley? Marquardt-Trigg? Marquardt-Watson? Maybe Ninja comes out of retirement? We shall see.
7. 24/7 Mayweather vs. Ortiz: Always worth a view, especially to hear Floyd talk about his father. Yowza.
8. Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Semifinals Weigh-Ins: The lads from Inside MMA will be covering this. Giving Josh Barnett and Bas Rutten live mics could only turn out awesomely.
9. Bellator 49 Prelims: Get used to it, amigos. This should be very interesting.
t10. Best of Dream: HDNet is obviously getting everyone's pallet whetted before their live Dream 17 broadcast (BE NIGHT CREW!), so this is worth a look.
t10. Ring of Combat 37: Everyone's favorite Jersey promotion is broadcasting live. Not really star-heavy, but ROC has produced dozens of awesome fighters.
t10. Best of Diego Corrales: In his brief 29-year old life, Diego put together some amazing fights. His wars against Jose Castillo and Joel Casamayor are stuff of legends. He battled Mayweather and Clottey to their limits and was the best American Super Featherweight ever and one of the best American Lightweights ever.
BV Loses You Money: A man that wanted to take Utah State's points but decided not to continues to kick himself in the taint for your pleasure.
Last Weekend's Hangover:
If you put down $100 on each of my predictions last week, you'd have today:
BV Lost You: N/A
On the Year: -$270
Sergei Kharitonov +240 Josh Barnett
Tomasz Adamek +500 Viltali Klitschko
Rafael Cavalcante -170 Yoel Romero
Mike Kyle -170 Marcos Rogerio de Lima
Amanda Nunes -280 Alexis Davis
Your YouTube Finale: A gentleman who enjoys the sweet taste of vodka with tomato juice, Tabasco, worcestershire, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and a celery stalk at noon on a college football Saturday attempts to give you that same buzz.
Bas Rutten involved in Grocery Store Melee (via TokyoFiveJeans)