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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Hockey Log: Sunday Edition

Granato breaks more ice at US Hall
Checklist not far from fulfillment

Cammi Granato’s fairly circumstantial integration hot streak has reached the rate where everyone just ought to clear the lanes and see how much more –and how much longer- it’ll take to whip the last puck home. After all, it is beyond self-evident that the PC and USA women’s all-time leading scorer won’t rest until at least someone of her gender fastens her goalposts to the moorings of every post-career honor attainable.

Granato will be included in the 2008 US Hockey Hall of Fame induction class, opposite former BC Eagle and Bruin Brian Leetch and NHL legends Brett Hull and Mike Richter, as was announced Tuesday. Ceremonies will be conducted over the weekend of October 10-11 in Denver.

Her inclusion in this class rounds out a high-scoring twelve-month period for the unremitting pioneer, highlighted by her share in the Lester Patrick Award last November and induction into the Quebec-based IIHF Hall of Fame in May. The only palpable establishment that she –and, for that matter, any member of her lady puck entourage- has yet to touch is the regal Toronto-based Hockey Hall of Fame.

And to think that all this started a good 20 months after she was plucked from the US Olympic roster and effectively packed away the skates, pads, and twigs. Since then, she has all but singlehandedly colonized women’s sects of one honorary hockey establishment after another –she was accompanied to the IIHF pantheon by Canadians Geraldine Heaney and Angela James.

So naturally, the rate of Granato’s revolutionary accolade consumption bolsters the stimulating question: do women have their long-craved tickets to Toronto on the horizon?

Granato’s latest bestowment comes but a month after she had expressly cited the lack of female pucksters in both the US Hall and the Hockey Hall of Fame.

As the women’s hockey advocacy website sheskateshard.com reported in a July 6 press release, Granato had alleged that women were only barred because the museums might “be diluted because there are so many more people going into the Hall of Fame.”

In other words, the pool of competition would suddenly be too deep to handle? If we’re following this right, that matches the chronic complaint from NHL anti-expansion activists who continue their outcry eight years after the league halted at 30 teams. Come what may, Granato’s rhetoric seems to insinuate this daft dilemma: hamper the opportunities of male candidates or continue to repulse female candidates altogether.

“Women belong in the Hockey Hall of Fame,” she would continue in the She Skates Hard statement. “It’s not just an NHL hall of fame. It’s international.”

Her pleas came a tad too late to perk up the committee at least for this year. The 2008 induction class had already been cemented in mid-June. But in the same online release, USA Hockey’s executive director Dave Ogrean admitted that, at his institution of reverence in Minnesota, coed enshrinement had been “a regular topic of discussion. I think it’s probably going to happen sooner or later.”

Well, a month later, it looks like it just did happen. As for the quintessential Hall of Fame, Granato technically packed in her playing career and the next class to be named will be for 2009, right when the conventional three-year waiting period will have run its course.

On top of that, a full decade has elapsed since Granato captained the Americans to the first Olympic gold medal ever distributed to a women’s hockey team at the 1998 Nagano Games. That same year, the Toronto museum opened its international-specific exhibit. Programs beyond North America are finally garnering authentic viability in international tournaments, as evidenced by Sweden’s overthrow of the Granato-less Amerks in Torino. The Women’s World Championships, a 1990 establishment and a secure annual occurrence (minus Olympic years) since 1997, just branched out to the U18 level last winter.

To be fair, there will be a hefty stable of watertight NHL alumni eligible for the 2009 class –Steve Yzerman, Dave Andreychuk, Hull, and Leetch spring to mind. But the overdue argument from the women’s side of the game is thickening by the minute. Granato may have a fighting chance in the immediate future, but a lack of consideration for her is hereby indefensible.

Numerical shuffles
The PC men recently posted their numerical roster for the 2008-09 season, unveiling a few exchanges, two curious and surely temporary splits, and a few eccentricities –i.e. a few new guys who will be skating around with football-like numerals on their back. Freshmen Andy Balysky, penciled in as a left winger, will don #33 while defensemen Bryce Aneloski and Danny New will assume 44 and 55 respectively. The highest digit any skaters went in the past two seasons was #29, worn by rising Matt Tommasiello and, for the moment, fellow Cranston resident and soon-to-be rookie goaltender Justin Gates. Meanwhile, incoming forward Rob Maloney is slated to wear #18, despite evidence that Paul Golden, who played a taxi role as a freshman last season, still lays claim to it.

Additionally, rising sophomore forward Jordan Kremyr has converted his digits to 12 and will hand his old #20 identity over to Chad Johnson. Three other rookies are inheriting numbers from recent graduates -5 going from Marc Bastarache to fellow backliner David Brown, 17 being passed down from Trevor Ludwig to Matt Bergland, and Jon Rheault’s freed #21 falling on the back and sleeves of Shawn Tingley.

The Friars’ active roster currently amounts to a total of 31 bodies after the deletion of Matt Johnson, who had initially planned a belated, abbreviated PC career after transferring from Division-III Norwich.

CCHA sanctions the shootout; anybody else?
So, the CCHA is the first Division I conference to accept its freedom of choice and usher in the shootout, which will be practiced precisely as it is in the NHL with three skaters apiece stepping up in the event of a 65-minute tie. Inevitably, eyes out here on the coast are bound to dilate a little more as Hockey East fans wait out a formal yay or nay ruling from Commissioner Joe Bertagna as well as his predecessor Robert DeGregorio. DeGregorio, the current chief of the Atlantic Hockey offices, infamously toyed with the shootout in Hockey East from 1994-96 with results equating the USA’s reception to the Metric Conversion Act. That homemade format, which offered five points for all regulation wins, three for shootout wins, and two for regulation ties, allowed Boston University to set the literally unbreakable record of 90 conference points in 1995-96. Provided no one goes there again and instead follows the straightforward two-points-for-all-wins format, there will be no complaints beyond those of the typical purists.

Quick Feeds: The online edition of The Hockey News has been exhibiting a logo ranking contest for each professional and collegiate league. When Hockey East had its turn Wednesday, the Skating Friar came in fifth, with the brief evaluation recalling 2003-04 when, “The locals love this skating friar so much that a one-year switch to an updated version led to a quick return to the original.”…Former Friar Brittany Nelson, who transferred to Vermont last summer, is now one of three newly anointed Catamount captains heading into her junior year, opposite classmate Chelsea Furlani and Sarah Smiddy, one of only three rostered UVM seniors…The forward-thinking Boston College Eagles received their league-high third verbal commitment for 2010 or later from rising Phillips Andover senior Chris Kreider, joining him with Kenny Ryan and KJ Tiefenwerth as Jerry York’s other tentative, long-term arrivals. Right now, Hockey East programs have a cumulative eight recorded verbal commitments for 2010 or 2011…New Hampshire goaltender Kayley Herman, Boston University defender Amanda Shaw, and Unh forward Courtney Birchard stoodd amongst the twelve US collegians remaining on the Canadian women’s U22 Red team, opposite Dominque Thibault (Connecticut) and Jenn Wakefield (UNH) of the White team, all fostering at Toronto’s York University in preparation for this week’s series with Team USA. Birchard assisted on the Reds clinching goal in Wednesday’s intrasquad scrimmage…Larry Mahoney of the Bangor Daily News cites this series of Maine alumni as feasible candidates to replenish Tim Whitehead’s suddenly empty cabinet: Bob Corkum; Jim Montgomery, who worked for one year with Paul Pooley and Jeff Jackson at Notre Dame before shuffling back east to the RPI bench; Scott Pellerin, NHL vet, brief Bruin in 2001-02, and currently an assistant with the AHL’s Manchester Monarchs.

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