Friday, April 30, 2010

Tribute to HST: The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved

The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved is the title of an article written by Hunter S. Thompson that first appeared in the June edition of Scanlan's Monthly in 1970. It is a classic piece and was considered to be the birth of "Gonzo Journalism."

The article was not as much about the horse race as it was capturing the mood of the event, and its place in the world news and American society at that point in time. The article remains as relevant today as it was forty years ago.

The classic book, "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" was the first widespread publication in gonzo style but this article preceded it by a couple of years and brought together Thompson and British artist Ralph Steadman for the first time.

Johnny Depp's portrayal of Thompson in the movie version of Fear and Loathing in 1998 was stunning Depp's ability to capture the essence of the book. The movie, Buy The Ticket, Take The Ride was done after Thompson's death and is a good look back at his persona with those who knew him best, speaking about their friendship with Hunter.

I met Thompson briefly in early 1974 when he spoke at Peabody College in Nashville. He was well into his gonzo persona that evening and was fairly incoherent.

Thompson has long been my favorite writer due to the interesting slant that he put on every topic. I remember getting news of his suicidal death as if happened yesterday. I was sitting in the breakfast room at the La Quinta in Sedona, Arizona reading the newspaper and was basically rendered speechless. It was almost as if a family member had died.

In tribute to Hunter, Here is the complete text of the original article. It is widely available on the internet but this version came from here.


The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved
by Hunter S. Thompson

I got off the plane around midnight and no one spoke as I crossed the dark runway to the terminal. The air was thick and hot, like wandering into a steam bath. Inside, people hugged each other and shook hands...big grins and a whoop here and there: "By God! You old bastard! Good to see you, boy! Damn good...and I mean it!"

In the air-conditioned lounge I met a man from Houston who said his name was something or other--"but just call me Jimbo"--and he was here to get it on. "I'm ready for anything, by God! Anything at all. Yeah, what are you drinkin?" I ordered a Margarita with ice, but he wouldn't hear of it: "Naw, naw...what the hell kind of drink is that for Kentucky Derby time? What's wrong with you, boy?" He grinned and winked at the bartender. "Goddam, we gotta educate this boy. Get him some good whiskey..."

I shrugged. "Okay, a double Old Fitz on ice." Jimbo nodded his approval.

"Look." He tapped me on the arm to make sure I was listening. "I know this Derby crowd, I come here every year, and let me tell you one thing I've learned--this is no town to be giving people the impression you're some kind of faggot. Not in public, anyway. Shit, they'll roll you in a minute, knock you in the head and take every goddam cent you have."

I thanked him and fitted a Marlboro into my cigarette holder. "Say," he said, "you look like you might be in the horse I right?"

"No," I said. "I'm a photographer."

"Oh yeah?" He eyed my ragged leather bag with new interest. "Is that what you got there--cameras? Who you work for?"

"Playboy," I said.

He laughed. "Well, goddam! What are you gonna take pictures of--nekkid horses? Haw! I guess you'll be workin' pretty hard when they run the Kentucky Oaks. That's a race just for fillies." He was laughing wildly. "Hell yes! And they'll all be nekkid too!"

I shook my head and said nothing; just stared at him for a moment, trying to look grim. "There's going to be trouble," I said. "My assignment is to take pictures of the riot."

"What riot?"

I hesitated, twirling the ice in my drink. "At the track. On Derby Day. The Black Panthers." I stared at him again. "Don't you read the newspapers?"

The grin on his face had collapsed. "What the hell are you talkin' about?"

"Well...maybe I shouldn't be telling you..." I shrugged. "But hell, everybody else seems to know. The cops and the National Guard have been getting ready for six weeks. They have 20,000 troops on alert at Fort Knox. They've warned us--all the press and photographers--to wear helmets and special vests like flak jackets. We were told to expect shooting..."

"No!" he shouted; his hands flew up and hovered momentarily between us, as if to ward off the words he was hearing. Then he whacked his fist on the bar. "Those sons of bitches! God Almighty! The Kentucky Derby!" He kept shaking his head. "No! Jesus! That's almost too bad to believe!" Now he seemed to be sagging on the stool, and when he looked up his eyes were misty. "Why? Why here? Don't they respect anything?"

I shrugged again. "It's not just the Panthers. The FBI says busloads of white crazies are coming in from all over the country--to mix with the crowd and attack all at once, from every direction. They'll be dressed like everybody else. You know--coats and ties and all that. But when the trouble starts...well, that's why the cops are so worried."

He sat for a moment, looking hurt and confused and not quite able to digest all this terrible news. Then he cried out: "Oh...Jesus! What in the name of God is happening in this country? Where can you get away from it?"

"Not here," I said, picking up my bag. "Thanks for the drink...and good luck."

He grabbed my arm, urging me to have another, but I said I was overdue at the Press Club and hustled off to get my act together for the awful spectacle. At the airport newsstand I picked up a Courier-Journal and scanned the front page headlines: "Nixon Sends GI's into Cambodia to Hit Reds"... "B-52's Raid, then 20,000 GI's Advance 20 Miles"..."4,000 U.S. Troops Deployed Near Yale as Tension Grows Over Panther Protest." At the bottom of the page was a photo of Diane Crump, soon to become the first woman jockey ever to ride in the Kentucky Derby. The photographer had snapped her "stopping in the barn area to fondle her mount, Fathom." The rest of the paper was spotted with ugly war news and stories of "student unrest." There was no mention of any trouble brewing at university in Ohio called Kent State.

I went to the Hertz desk to pick up my car, but the moon-faced young swinger in charge said they didn't have any. "You can't rent one anywhere," he assured me. "Our Derby reservations have been booked for six weeks." I explained that my agent had confirmed a white Chrysler convertible for me that very afternoon but he shook his head. "Maybe we'll have a cancellation. Where are you staying?"

I shrugged. "Where's the Texas crowd staying? I want to be with my people."

He sighed. "My friend, you're in trouble. This town is flat full. Always is, for the Derby."

I leaned closer to him, half-whispering: "Look, I'm from Playboy. How would you like a job?"

He backed off quickly. "What? Come on, now. What kind of a job?"

"Never mind," I said. "You just blew it." I swept my bag off the counter and went to find a cab. The bag is a valuable prop in this kind of work; mine has a lot of baggage tags on it--SF, LA, NY, Lima, Rome, Bangkok, that sort of thing--and the most prominent tag of all is a very official, plastic-coated thing that says "Photog. Playboy Mag." I bought it from a pimp in Vail, Colorado, and he told me how to use it. "Never mention Playboy until you're sure they've seen this thing first," he said. "Then, when you see them notice it, that's the time to strike. They'll go belly up ever time. This thing is magic, I tell you. Pure magic."

Well...maybe so. I'd used it on the poor geek in the bar, and now humming along in a Yellow Cab toward town, I felt a little guilty about jangling the poor bugger's brains with that evil fantasy. But what the hell? Anybody who wanders around the world saying, "Hell yes, I'm from Texas," deserves whatever happens to him. And he had, after all, come here once again to make a nineteenth-century ass of himself in the midst of some jaded, atavistic freakout with nothing to recommend it except a very saleable "tradition." Early in our chat, Jimbo had told me that he hadn't missed a Derby since 1954. "The little lady won't come anymore," he said. "She grits her teeth and turns me loose for this one. And when I say 'loose' I do mean loose! I toss ten-dollar bills around like they were goin' out of style! Horses, whiskey, women...shit, there's women in this town that'll do anything for money."

Why not? Money is a good thing to have in these twisted times. Even Richard Nixon is hungry for it. Only a few days before the Derby he said, "If I had any money I'd invest it in the stock market." And the market, meanwhile, continued its grim slide.

The next day was heavy. With only thirty hours until post time I had no press credentials and--according to the sports editor of the Louisville Courier-Journal--no hope at all of getting any. Worse, I needed two sets: one for myself and another for Ralph Steadman, the English illustrator who was coming from London to do some Derby drawings. All I knew about him was that this was his first visit to the United States. And the more I pondered the fact, the more it gave me fear. How would he bear up under the heinous culture shock of being lifted out of London and plunged into the drunken mob scene at the Kentucky Derby? There was no way of knowing. Hopefully, he would arrive at least a day or so ahead, and give himself time to get acclimated. Maybe a few hours of peaceful sightseeing in the Bluegrass country around Lexington. My plan was to pick him up at the airport in the huge Pontiac Ballbuster I'd rented from a used-car salesman name Colonel Quick, then whisk him off to some peaceful setting that might remind him of England.

Colonel Quick had solved the car problem, and money (four times the normal rate) had bought two rooms in a scumbox on the outskirts of town. The only other kink was the task of convincing the moguls at Churchill Downs that Scanlan's was such a prestigious sporting journal that common sense compelled them to give us two sets of the best press tickets. This was not easily done. My first call to the publicity office resulted in total failure. The press handler was shocked at the idea that anyone would be stupid enough to apply for press credentials two days before the Derby. "Hell, you can't be serious," he said. "The deadline was two months ago. The press box is full; there's no more room...and what the hell is Scanlan's Monthly anyway?"

I uttered a painful groan. "Didn't the London office call you? They're flying an artist over to do the paintings. Steadman. He's Irish. I think. Very famous over there. Yes. I just got in from the Coast. The San Francisco office told me we were all set."

He seemed interested, and even sympathetic, but there was nothing he could do. I flattered him with more gibberish, and finally he offered a compromise: he could get us two passes to the clubhouse grounds but the clubhouse itself and especially the press box were out of the question.

"That sounds a little weird," I said. "It's unacceptable. We must have access to everything. All of it. The spectacle, the people, the pageantry and certainly the race. You don't think we came all this way to watch the damn thing on television, do you? One way or another we'll get inside. Maybe we'll have to bribe a guard--or even Mace somebody." (I had picked up a spray can of Mace in a downtown drugstore for $5.98 and suddenly, in the midst of that phone talk, I was struck by the hideous possibilities of using it out at the track. Macing ushers at the narrow gates to the clubhouse inner sanctum, then slipping quickly inside, firing a huge load of Mace into the governor's box, just as the race starts. Or Macing helpless drunks in the clubhouse restroom, for their own good...)

By noon on Friday I was still without press credentials and still unable to locate Steadman. For all I knew he'd changed his mind and gone back to London. Finally, after giving up on Steadman and trying unsuccessfully to reach my man in the press office, I decided my only hope for credentials was to go out to the track and confront the man in person, with no warning--demanding only one pass now, instead of two, and talking very fast with a strange lilt in my voice, like a man trying hard to control some inner frenzy. On the way out, I stopped at the motel desk to cash a check. Then, as a useless afterthought, I asked if by any wild chance a Mr. Steadman had checked in.

The lady on the desk was about fifty years old and very peculiar-looking; when I mentioned Steadman's name she nodded, without looking up from whatever she was writing, and said in a low voice, "You bet he did." Then she favored me with a big smile. "Yes, indeed. Mr. Steadman just left for the racetrack. Is he a friend of yours?"

I shook my head. "I'm supposed to be working with him, but I don't even know what he looks like. Now, goddammit, I'll have to find him in the mob at the track."

She chuckled. "You won't have any trouble finding him. You could pick that man out of any crowd."

"Why?" I asked. "What's wrong with him? What does he look like?"

"Well..." she said, still grinning, "he's the funniest looking thing I've seen in a long time. He has this...ah...this growth all over his face. As a matter of fact it's all over his head." She nodded. "You'll know him when you see him; don't worry about that."

Creeping Jesus, I thought. That screws the press credentials. I had a vision of some nerve-rattling geek all covered with matted hair and string-warts showing up in the press office and demanding Scanlan's press packet. Well...what the hell? We could always load up on acid and spend the day roaming around the clubhouse grounds with bit sketch pads, laughing hysterically at the natives and swilling mint juleps so the cops wouldn't think we're abnormal. Perhaps even make the act pay; set up an easel with a big sign saying, "Let a Foreign Artist Paint Your Portrait, $10 Each. Do It NOW!"

I took the expressway out to the track, driving very fast and jumping the monster car back and forth between lanes, driving with a beer in one hand and my mind so muddled that I almost crushed a Volkswagen full of nuns when I swerved to catch the right exit. There was a slim chance, I thought, that I might be able to catch the ugly Britisher before he checked in.

But Steadman was already in the press box when I got there, a bearded young Englishman wearing a tweed coat and RAF sunglasses. There was nothing particularly odd about him. No facial veins or clumps of bristly warts. I told him about the motel woman's description and he seemed puzzled. "Don't let it bother you," I said. "Just keep in mind for the next few days that we're in Louisville, Kentucky. Not London. Not even New York. This is a weird place. You're lucky that mental defective at the motel didn't jerk a pistol out of the cash register and blow a big hole in you." I laughed, but he looked worried.

"Just pretend you're visiting a huge outdoor loony bin," I said. "If the inmates get out of control we'll soak them down with Mace." I showed him the can of "Chemical Billy," resisting the urge to fire it across the room at a rat-faced man typing diligently in the Associated Press section. We were standing at the bar, sipping the management's Scotch and congratulating each other on our sudden, unexplained luck in picking up two sets of fine press credentials. The lady at the desk had been very friendly to him, he said. "I just told her my name and she gave me the whole works."

By midafternoon we had everything under control. We had seats looking down on the finish line, color TV and a free bar in the press room, and a selection of passes that would take us anywhere from the clubhouse roof to the jockey room. The only thing we lacked was unlimited access to the clubhouse inner sanctum in sections "F&G"...and I felt we needed that, to see the whiskey gentry in action. The governor, a swinish neo-Nazi hack named Louis Nunn, would be in "G," along with Barry Goldwater and Colonel Sanders. I felt we'd be legal in a box in "G" where we could rest and sip juleps, soak up a bit of atmosphere and the Derby's special vibrations.

The bars and dining rooms are also in "F&G," and the clubhouse bars on Derby Day are a very special kind of scene. Along with the politicians, society belles and local captains of commerce, every half-mad dingbat who ever had any pretensions to anything at all within five hundred miles of Louisville will show up there to get strutting drunk and slap a lot of backs and generally make himself obvious. The Paddock bar is probably the best place in the track to sit and watch faces. Nobody minds being stared at; that's what they're in there for. Some people spend most of their time in the Paddock; they can hunker down at one of the many wooden tables, lean back in a comfortable chair and watch the ever-changing odds flash up and down on the big tote board outside the window. Black waiters in white serving jackets move through the crowd with trays of drinks, while the experts ponder their racing forms and the hunch bettors pick lucky numbers or scan the lineup for right-sounding names. There is a constant flow of traffic to and from the pari-mutuel windows outside in the wooden corridors. Then, as post time nears, the crowd thins out as people go back to their boxes.

Clearly, we were going to have to figure out some way to spend more time in the clubhouse tomorrow. But the "walkaround" press passes to F&G were only good for thirty minutes at a time, presumably to allow the newspaper types to rush in and out for photos or quick interviews, but to prevent drifters like Steadman and me from spending all day in the clubhouse, harassing the gentry and rifling the odd handbag or two while cruising around the boxes. Or Macing the governor. The time limit was no problem on Friday, but on Derby Day the walkaround passes would be in heavy demand. And since it took about ten minutes to get from the press box to the Paddock, and ten more minutes to get back, that didn't leave much time for serious people-watching. And unlike most of the others in the press box, we didn't give a hoot in hell what was happening on the track. We had come there to watch the real beasts perform.

Later Friday afternoon, we went out on the balcony of the press box and I tried to describe the difference between what we were seeing today and what would be happening tomorrow. This was the first time I'd been to a Derby in ten years, but before that, when I lived in Louisville, I used to go every year. Now, looking down from the press box, I pointed to the huge grassy meadow enclosed by the track. "That whole thing," I said, "will be jammed with people; fifty thousand or so, and most of them staggering drunk. It's a fantastic scene--thousands of people fainting, crying, copulating, trampling each other and fighting with broken whiskey bottles. We'll have to spend some time out there, but it's hard to move around, too many bodies."

"Is it safe out there?" Will we ever come back?"

"Sure," I said. "We'll just have to be careful not to step on anybody's stomach and start a fight." I shrugged. "Hell, this clubhouse scene right below us will be almost as bad as the infield. Thousands of raving, stumbling drunks, getting angrier and angrier as they lose more and more money. By midafternoon they'll be guzzling mint juleps with both hands and vomitting on each other between races. The whole place will be jammed with bodies, shoulder to shoulder. It's hard to move around. The aisles will be slick with vomit; people falling down and grabbing at your legs to keep from being stomped. Drunks pissing on themselves in the betting lines. Dropping handfuls of money and fighting to stoop over and pick it up." He looked so nervous that I laughed. "I'm just kidding," I said. "Don't worry. At the first hint of trouble I'll start pumping this 'Chemical Billy' into the crowd."

He had done a few good sketches, but so far we hadn't seen that special kind of face that I felt we would need for a lead drawing. It was a face I'd seen a thousand times at every Derby I'd ever been to. I saw it, in my head, as the mask of the whiskey gentry--a pretentious mix of booze, failed dreams and a terminal identity crisis; the inevitable result of too much inbreeding in a closed and ignorant culture. One of the key genetic rules in breeding dogs, horses or any other kind of thoroughbred is that close inbreeding tends to magnify the weak points in a bloodline as well as the strong points. In horse breeding, for instance, there is a definite risk in breeding two fast horses who are both a little crazy. The offspring will likely be very fast and also very crazy. So the trick in breeding thoroughbreds is to retain the good traits and filter out the bad. But the breeding of humans is not so wisely supervised, particularly in a narrow Southern society where the closest kind of inbreeding is not only stylish and acceptable, but far more convenient--to the parents--than setting their offspring free to find their own mates, for their own reasons and in their own ways. ("Goddam, did you hear about Smitty's daughter? She went crazy in Boston last week and married a nigger!")

So the face I was trying to find in Churchill Downs that weekend was a symbol, in my own mind, of the whole doomed atavistic culture that makes the Kentucky Derby what it is. On our way back to the motel after Friday's races I warned Steadman about some of the other problems we'd have to cope with. Neither of us had brought any strange illegal drugs, so we would have to get by on booze. "You should keep in mind," I said, "that almost everybody you talk to from now on will be drunk. People who seem very pleasant at first might suddenly swing at you for no reason at all." He nodded, staring straight ahead. He seemed to be getting a little numb and I tried to cheer him up by inviting to dinner that night, with my brother.

Back at the motel we talked for awhile about America, the South, England--just relaxing a bit before dinner. There was no way either of us could have known, at the time, that it would be the last normal conversation we would have. From that point on, the weekend became a vicious, drunken nightmare. We both went completely to pieces. The main problem was my prior attachment to Louisville, which naturally led to meetings with old friends, relatives, etc., many of whom were in the process of falling apart, going mad, plotting divorces, cracking up under the strain of terrible debts or recovering from bad accidents. Right in the middle of the whole frenzied Derby action, a member of my own family had to be institutionalized. This added a certain amount of strain to the situation, and since poor Steadman had no choice but to take whatever came his way, he was subjected to shock after shock.

Another problem was his habit of sketching people he met in the various social situations I dragged him into--then giving them the sketches. The results were always unfortunate. I warned him several times about letting the subjects see his foul renderings, but for some perverse reason he kept doing it. Consequently, he was regarded with fear and loathing by nearly everyone who'd seen or even heard about his work. He couldn't understand it. "It's sort of a joke," he kept saying. "Why, in England it's quite normal. People don't take offense. They understand that I'm just putting them on a bit."

"Fuck England," I said. "This is Middle America. These people regard what you're doing to them as a brutal, bilious insult. Look what happened last night. I thought my brother was going to tear your head off."

Steadman shook his head sadly. "But I liked him. He struck me as a very decent, straightforward sort."

"Look, Ralph," I said. "Let's not kid ourselves. That was a very horrible drawing you gave him. It was the face of a monster. It got on his nerves very badly." I shrugged. "Why in hell do you think we left the restaurant so fast?"

"I thought it was because of the Mace," he said.

"What Mace?"

He grinned. "When you shot it at the headwaiter, don't you remember?"

"Hell, that was nothing," I said. "I missed him...and we were leaving, anyway."

"But it got all over us," he said. "The room was full of that damn gas. Your brother was sneezing and his wife was crying. My eyes hurt for two hours. I couldn't see to draw when we got back to the motel."

"That's right," I said. "The stuff got on her leg, didn't it?"

"She was angry," he said.

"Yeah...well, okay...Let's just figure we fucked up about equally on that one," I said. "But from now on let's try to be careful when we're around people I know. You won't sketch them and I won't Mace them. We'll just try to relax and get drunk."

"Right," he said. "We'll go native."
It was Saturday morning, the day of the Big Race, and we were having breakfast in a plastic hamburger palace called the Fish-Meat Village. Our rooms were just across the road in the Brown Suburban Hotel. They had a dining room, but the food was so bad that we couldn't handle it anymore. The waitresses seemed to be suffering from shin splints; they moved around very slowly, moaning and cursing the "darkies" in the kitchen.

Steadman liked the Fish-Meat place because it had fish and chips. I preferred the "French toast," which was really pancake batter, fried to the proper thickness and then chopped out with a sort of cookie cutter to resemble pieces of toast.

Beyond drink and lack of sleep, our only real problem at that point was the question of access to the clubhouse. Finally, we decided to go ahead and steal two passes, if necessary, rather than miss that part of the action. This was the last coherent decision we were able to make for the next forty-eight hours. From that point on--almost from the very moment we started out to the track--we lost all control of events and spent the rest of the weekend churning around in a sea of drunken horrors. My notes and recollections from Derby Day are somewhat scrambled.

But now, looking at the big red notebook I carried all through that scene, I see more or less what happened. The book itself is somewhat mangled and bent; some of the pages are torn, others are shriveled and stained by what appears to be whiskey, but taken as a whole, with sporadic memory flashes, the notes seem to tell the story. To wit:
Rain all nite until dawn. No sleep. Christ, here we go, a nightmare of mud and madness...But no. By noon the sun burns through--perfect day, not even humid.

Steadman is now worried about fire. Somebody told him about the clubhouse catching on fire two years ago. Could it happen again? Horrible. Trapped in the press box. Holocaust. A hundred thousand people fighting to get out. Drunks screaming in the flames and the mud, crazed horses running wild. Blind in the smoke. Grandstand collapsing into the flames with us on the roof. Poor Ralph is about to crack. Drinking heavily, into the Haig & Haig.

Out to the track in a cab, avoid that terrible parking in people's front yards, $25 each, toothless old men on the street with big signs: PARK HERE, flagging cars in the yard. "That's fine, boy, never mind the tulips." Wild hair on his head, straight up like a clump of reeds. Sidewalks full of people all moving in the same direction, towards Churchill Downs. Kids hauling coolers and blankets, teenyboppers in tight pink shorts, many dudes in white felt hats with leopard-skin bands, cops waving traffic along.

The mob was thick for many blocks around the track; very slow going in the crowd, very hot. On the way to the press box elevator, just inside the clubhouse, we came on a row of soldiers all carrying long white riot sticks. About two platoons, with helmets. A man walking next to us said they were waiting for the governor and his party. Steadman eyed them nervously. "Why do they have those clubs?"

"Black Panthers," I said. Then I remembered good old "Jimbo" at the airport and I wondered what he was thinking right now. Probably very nervous; the place was teeming with cops and soldiers. We pressed on through the crowd, through many gates, past the paddock where the jockeys bring the horses out and parade around for a while before each race so the bettors can get a good look. Five million dollars will be bet today. Many winners, more losers. What the hell. The press gate was jammed up with people trying to get in, shouting at the guards, waving strange press badges: Chicago Sporting Times, Pittsburgh Police Athletic League...they were all turned away. "Move on, fella, make way for the working press." We shoved through the crowd and into the elevator, then quickly up to the free bar. Why not? Get it on. Very hot today, not feeling well, must be this rotten climate. The press box was cool and airy, plenty of room to walk around and balcony seats for watching the race or looking down at the crowd. We got a betting sheet and went outside.

Pink faces with a stylish Southern sag, old Ivy styles, seersucker coats and button
down collars. "Mayblossom Senility" (Steadman's phrase)...burnt out early or maybe just not much to burn in the first place. Not much energy in the faces, not much curiosity. Suffering in silence, nowhere to go after thirty in this life, just hang on and humor the children. Let the young enjoy themselves while they can. Why not?

The grim reaper comes early in this league...banshees on the lawn at night, screaming out there beside that little iron nigger in jockey clothes. Maybe he's the one who's screaming. Bad DT's and too many snarls at the bridge club. Going down with the stock market. Oh Jesus, the kid has wrecked the new car, wrapped it around the big stone pillar at the bottom of the driveway. Broken leg? Twisted eye? Send him off to Yale, they can cure anything up there.

Yale? Did you see today's paper? New Haven is under siege. Yale is swarming with Black Panthers...I tell you, Colonel, the world has gone mad, stone mad. Why, they tell me a goddam woman jockey might ride in the Derby today.

I left Steadman sketching in the Paddock bar and went off to place our bets on the fourth race. When I came back he was staring intently at a group of young men around a table not far away. "Jesus, look at the corruption in that face!" he whispered. "Look at the madness, the fear, the greed!" I looked, then quickly turned my back on the table he was sketching. The face he'd picked out to draw was the face of an old friend of mine, a prep school football star in the good old days with a sleek red Chevy convertible and a very quick hand, it was said, with the snaps of a 32 B brassiere. They called him "Cat Man."

But now, a dozen years later, I wouldn't have recognized him anywhere but here, where I should have expected to find him, in the Paddock bar on Derby Day...fat slanted eyes and a pimp's smile, blue silk suit and his friends looking like crooked bank tellers on a binge... Steadman wanted to see some Kentucky Colonels, but he wasn't sure what they looked like. I told him to go back to the clubhouse men's rooms and look for men in white linen suits vomitting in the urinals. "They'll usually have large brown whiskey stains on the front of their suits," I said. "But watch the shoes, that's the tip-off. Most of them manage to avoid vomitting on their own clothes, but they never miss their shoes."

In a box not far from ours was Colonel Anna Friedman Goldman, Chairman and Keeper of the Great Seal of the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels. Not all the 76 million or so Kentucky Colonels could make it to the Derby this year, but many had kept the faith, and several days prior to the Derby they gathered for their annual dinner at the Seelbach Hotel.

The Derby, the actual race, was scheduled for late afternoon, and as the magic hour approached I suggested to Steadman that we should probably spend some time in the infield, that boiling sea of people across the track from the clubhouse. He seemed a little nervous about it, but since none of the awful things I'd warned him about had happened so far--no race riots, firestorms or savage drunken attacks--he shrugged and said, "Right, let's do it."

To get there we had to pass through many gates, each one a step down in status, then through a tunnel under the track. Emerging from the tunnel was such a culture shock that it took us a while to adjust. "God almighty!" Steadman muttered. "This is a...Jesus!" He plunged ahead with his tiny camera, stepping over bodies, and I followed, trying to take notes.
Total chaos, no way to see the race, not even the track...nobody cares. Big lines at the outdoor betting windows, then stand back to watch winning numbers flash on the big board, like a giant bingo game.

Old blacks arguing about bets; "Hold on there, I'll handle this" (waving pint of whiskey, fistful of dollar bills); girl riding piggyback, T-shirt says, "Stolen from Fort Lauderdale Jail." Thousands of teen-agers, group singing "Let the Sun Shine In," ten soldires guarding the American flag and a huge fat drunk wearing a blue football jersey (No. 80) reeling around with quart of beer in hand.

No booze sold out here, too bathrooms either. Muscle Beach...Woodstock...many cops with riot sticks, but no sign of a riot. Far across the track the clubhouse looks like a postcard from the Kentucky Derby.
We went back to the clubhouse to watch the big race. When the crowd stood to face the flag and sing "My Old Kentucky Home," Steadman faced the crowd and sketched frantically. Somewhere up in the boxes a voice screeched, "Turn around, you hairy freak!" The race itself was only two minutes long, and even from our super-status seats and using 12-power glasses, there was no way to see what really happened to our horses. Holy Land, Ralph's choice, stumbled and lost his jockey in the final turn. Mine, Silent Screen, had the lead coming into the stretch but faded to fifth at the finish. The winner was a 16-1 shot named Dust Commander.

Moments after the race was over, the crowd surged wildly for the exits, rushing for cabs and busses. The next day's Courier told of violence in the parking lot; people were punched and trampled, pockets were picked, children lost, bottles hurled. But we missed all this, having retired to the press box for a bit of post-race drinking. By this time we were both half-crazy from too much whiskey, sun fatigue, culture shock, lack of sleep and general dissolution. We hung around the press box long enough to watch a mass interview with the winning owner, a dapper little man named Lehmann who said he had just flown into Louisville that morning from Nepal, where he'd "bagged a record tiger." The sportswriters murmured their admiration and a waiter filled Lehmann's glass with Chivas Regal. He had just won $127,000 with a horse that cost him $6,500 two years ago. His occupation, he said, was "retired contractor." And then he added, with a big grin, "I just retired."

The rest of the day blurs into madness. The rest of that night too. And all the next day and night. Such horrible things occurred that I can't bring myself even to think about them now, much less put them down in print. I was lucky to get out at all. One of my clearest memories of that vicious time is Ralph being attacked by one of my old friends in the billiard room of the Pendennis Club in downtown Louisville on Saturday night. The man had ripped his own shirt open to the waist before deciding that Ralph was after his wife. No blows were struck, but the emotional effects were massive. Then, as a sort of final horror, Steadman put his fiendish pen to work and tried to patch things up by doing a little sketch of the girl he'd been accused of hustling. That finished us in the Pedennis

Sometime around ten-thirty Monday morning I was awakened by a scratching sound at my door. I leaned out of bed and pulled the curtain back just far enough to see Steadman outside. "What the fuck do you want?" I shouted.

"What about having breakfast?" he said.

I lunged out of bed and tried to open the door, but it caught on the night-chain and banged shut again. I couldn't cope with the chain! The thing wouldn't come out of the track--so I ripped it out of the wall with a vicious jerk on the door. Ralph didn't blink. "Bad luck," he muttered.

I could barely see him. My eyes were swollen almost shut and the sudden burst of sunlight through the door left me stunned and helpless like a sick mole. Steadman was mumbling about sickness and terrible heat; I fell back on the bed and tried to focus on him as he moved around the room in a very distracted way for a few moments, then suddenly darted over to the beer bucket and seized a Colt .45. "Christ," I said. "You're getting out of control." He nodded and ripped the cap off, taking a long drink. "You know, this is really awful," he said finally. "I must get out of this place..." he shook his head nervously. "The plane leaves at three-thirty, but I don't know if I'll make it."

I barely heard him. My eyes had finally opened enough for me to foucs on the mirror across the room and I was stunned at the shock of recognition. For a confused instant I thought that Ralph had brought somebody with him--a model for that one special face we'd been looking for. There he was, by God--a puffy, drink-ravaged, disease-ridden an awful cartoon version of an old snapshot in some once-proud mother's family photo album. It was the face we'd been looking for--and it was, of course, my own. Horrible, horrible...

"Maybe I should sleep a while longer," I said. "Why don't you go on over to the Fish-Meat place and eat some of those rotten fish and chips? Then come back and get me around noon. I feel too near death to hit the streets at this hour."

He shook his head. " think I'll go back upstairs and work on those drawings for a while." He leaned down to fetch two more cans out of the beer bucket. "I tried to work earlier," he said, "but my hands kept trembling...It's teddible, teddible." "You've got to stop this drinking," I said.

He nodded. "I know. This is no good, no good at all. But for some reason it makes me feel better..."

"Not for long," I said. "You'll probably collapse into some kind of hysterical DT's tonight--probably just about the time you get off the plane at Kennedy. They'll zip you up in a straightjacket and drag you down to the Tombs, then beat you on the kidneys with big sticks until you straighten out."

He shrugged and wandered out, pulling the door shut behind him. I went back to bed for another hour or so, and later--after the daily grapefruit juice run to the Nite Owl Food Mart--we had our last meal at Fish-Meat Village: a fine lunch of dough and butcher's offal, fried in heavy grease.

By this time Ralph wouldn't order coffee; he kept asking for more water. "It's the only thing they have that's fit for human consumption," he explained. Then, with an hour or so to kill before he had to catch the plane, we spread his drawings out on the table and pondered them for a while, wondering if he'd caught the proper spirit of the thing...but we couldn't make up our minds. His hands were shaking so badly that he had trouble holding the paper, and my vision was so blurred that I could barely see what he'd drawn. "Shit," I said. "We both look worse than anything you've drawn here."

He smiled. "You know--I've been thinking about that," he said. "We came down here to see this teddible scene: people all pissed out of their minds and vomitting on themselves and all that...and now, you know what? It's us..."

Huge Pontiac Ballbuster blowing through traffic on the expressway.

A radio news bulletin says the National Guard is massacring students at Kent State and Nixon is still bombing Cambodia. The journalist is driving, ignoring his passenger who is now nearly naked after taking off most of his clothing, which he holds out the window, trying to wind-wash the Mace out of it. His eyes are bright red and his face and chest are soaked with beer he's been using to rinse the awful chemical off his flesh. The front of his woolen trousers is soaked with vomit; his body is racked with fits of coughing and wild chocking sobs. The journalist rams the big car through traffic and into a spot in front of the terminal, then he reaches over to open the door on the passenger's side and shoves the Englishman out, snarling: "Bug off, you worthless faggot! You twisted pigfucker! [Crazed laughter.] If I weren't sick I'd kick your ass all the way to Bowling Green--you scumsucking foreign geek. Mace is too good for you...We can do without your kind in Kentucky."

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

Glennon Questions Arnott's Return as Captain

As the Predator's post season presser wore down yesterday, I asked Barry Trotz to follow up on some comments he made on NHL Live on Wednesday about the "young leadership group" and Jason Arnott as Captain.

The Tennessean's John Glennon picked up on the discussion immediately and has a post today that provides the complete transcript of Trotz's answer.

To see the visual of the Question and Answer, look at the following clip beginning at 2:22.

Read John's post for his thoughts but here is the transcript of Trotz's answer pulled from the Tennessean.

``When we had the team that got tur­ned over a little bit (in 2007) and had a lot of young pla­yers and a cou­ple of older guys, Jason was the guy who had the big voice in the room and felt that he could take up that lea­dership role. It pro­bably wasn’t exactly something that … It doesn’t come natu­rally to him. But he’s grown in that area and wor­ked hard at doing the right things more often, and the last two years he’s done a decent job.

``Some guys … I’ve tal­ked with Steve Yzer­man with Team Canada, and when he was made cap­tain at Detroit, he was uncom­for­ta­ble for a num­ber of years. It takes time. It’s something that … There are very few guys that you can just say, `Hey, put a C on and you’re the cap­tain.’ Some guys are com­for­ta­ble with it. Jason, I would say, has become fairly com­for­ta­ble with it. But at the same time, there are still areas that … Every cap­tain or lea­der leads in cer­tain ways. You talk to peo­ple in Detroit and they say Nick Lids­trom leads on the ice. When he does talk, every­body is lis­te­ning. So every­body leads in their own way and you have to be com­for­ta­ble with it.

``It’s no dif­fe­rent than if you’re put in an ele­va­ted posi­tion in the lineup. You have to learn to be com­for­ta­ble with it. Lea­dership (is something) we look at every year and we basi­cally go by it every year. As I say, I’m ree­va­lua­ting everything on our hoc­key team because I know we can be better.’’

It does appear that the groundwork may be in the process of being laid for a move to home-grown leadership at some point in the future.

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

Predators Post Season Press Conference and Friday Round-Up

Yesterday's post season press conference with David Poile and Barry Trotz was a good statement about the pair's thoughts on the past season and what they are thinking moving forward through the summer and into next year.

The following three sets of videos are lengthy (about 40 min total) but are worth watching if you are a fan to look for any nuances or intonations that you may see as the two talk.

Some key points included:

  • Unhappiness with the special teams and a vow to fix it (no matter what it takes)
  • Continued attempts to retain Dan Hamhuis
  • Possibility of re-signing Bouillon and Grebeskov
  • Getting better at faceoffs and shot blocking and improved defense in general
  • Increased pressure on David Legwand to produce at least 20 goals
  • More consistency across the board

David Poile Opening Comments

Barry Trotz Opening Comments

Barry Trotz and David Poile Q and A

Last Night's game...

Last night's game between the Wings and Sharks got the second round off to a quick start. It is great that there was no break between the first and second round. The Wings fell behind 3-0 but came back and kept it a one goal game for a large part of the game before losing 4-3.

Tonight's Action...

Montreal visits Pittsburgh tonight at 6:00 CDT on Versus to get the Eastern Conference match started. It will be interesting to see if Montreal's success will carry over or if they will be tired from the first round.

In Pred Nation...

We had stories yesterday about the Wade Belak signing and about the OHL naming Ryan Ellis and Taylor Beck to their second team all-stars.

John Glennon has a good deal of information from yesterday's press conference. Bryan Mullen also discussed the issue with the special teams.

David Boclair focuses on Dan Ellis' desire to test the free agent market in order to get a number one goalie slot.

Mark Willoughby has his weekly My View posting with several hot topics from the non-hockey world.

From @predsradio: This just in: Joel Ward will throw out the first pitch at the Nashville Sounds game on Friday night. I'm not quite ready to make the jump to the Sounds just yet.

With the sad news of the end of Ads Short Shifts comes a best of piece.

I was a guest during the second half of the RLD Radio show yesterday alonge with Ryan, Anthony Curotolo and Chris Wassel discussing the second round of the playoffs. The first half houre is a good conversation with Craig Custance.

Mark at the View from 111 had the same number of correct picks in the first round as I did. I feel better now. He also has his second round picks which match mine. Not good.

Kelly at Preds Fanantic hates Chicago even more than she used to.

Paul McCann reviews his first round picks.

Josh C at Bleacher Report has a case for Dan Hamhuis moving on.

Defending Big D covets Dan Hamhuis.

Around the NHL...

The Hart Trophy finalists were revealed on Thursday with no surprizes. Sidney Crosby, Henrik Sedin and Alexander Ovechkin were revealed as the top three. Many wanted to see a goalie involved but it did not happen.

PHT gets the ball rolling with a summer long series of Ovechkin bashing. After the Russian debacle at the Olympics and the lack of heart in the series against Montreal, there is definitely a fire to throw gas on as to Ovie's status as the "worlds greatest player." I'm learning to appreciate Sidney Crosby more and more as time goes on.

I actually found someone with worse first round picks than me. Thanks to PHT's Brandon Worley for making me feel better.

From @mckennaconor: The city is hockey crazy. Here is one of the "calmer" videos taken last night on Ste-Catherine

VFMS has a preview of the Nuck-Hawks series with a face off between @mozy19 and @hawksnut.

Ted Leonsis congratulates the Habs at Ted's Take. This is a very nice gesture that had to be hard for him to write.

I'm not sure this Team USA is going to be very competitive at the World Championships. It looks like lots of folks skipping it after the Olympics.

Here's a great story about Brooks Laich changing a stranger's tire after the Cap's game seven loss.

From the Rink has a two part round-table story about hockey women. Several ladies we know participated. Here's Part one and Part two.

A rarity from @bigpapicp: Each seed is represented in the Stanley Cup quarters: SJ (1), Chi (2), Van (3), Pgh (4), Det (5), Bos (6), Pha (7), Mtl (8).

Intent to Blow had a really off piece about Ryan Miller's knitting. For some reason, they have a following among knitters per their analytics. Maybe this will bring the knitters into the light of day. They also have a post about the Coyotes name change to a a person who's name I will never mention in this space.

Chris Nadeau has the lead in The Hockey Zen's chicken dinner race.

Here is a horribly sad story from Adrian Dater about his dog that was attacked in his yard. Our condolences to the Dater family.

Here's a great video produced by the NHL for the Winter Classic featuring clips of the Boston - Philadelphia rivalry with tht music of the Dropkick Murphys.

Odds and Ends...

This seems like a neat BB app even though it has a fee involved. It will convert business cards to a contact entry for 10 cents per card.

Sports By Brooks has an incredible story about the number of affairs Tiger Woods was involved in. I frankly don't care about Tiger one way or the other but I am amazed at the coverage of this.

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

Thursday, April 29, 2010

OHL Names Pred's Prospects Ellis and Beck to All-Star Team

The Ontario Hockey League named Pred's Prospects Ryan Ellis and Taylor Beck to the leagues post-season all-star team today.

Ellis was a first team selection last season but his numbers are down a bit this season. He was the first pick for the Preds in last summer's entry draft. He had 12 goals and 49 assists in 48 games and was an impressive +39 for the season.

His Windsor Spitfires are currently in the OHL finals against the Barrie Colts and hoping to return to the Memorial Cup for a repeat of last year's championship. In 16 playoff games, Ellis has 3 goals and 25 assists.

Beck is a 19 year old right winger for the Guelph Storm who had 39 goals and 54 assists in 61 games during the regular season. He added 3 goals and 3 assists in five playoff games.

Here is the official release from the OHL...

OHL Announces 2009-10 All-Star Teams

Toronto, ON – The Ontario Hockey League today announced the All-Star teams for the 2009-10 OHL regular season.

The Bobby Orr Trophy winners the Barrie Colts lead the way with four players represented along with Head Coach Marty Williamson who was named coach of the third team. Bryan Cameron is listed on the first team at right wing for the second straight year, with defenceman and runner-up for the Max Kaminsky Trophy Nick Crawford also appearing on the first team. Luke Pither is a third team centre, and defenceman Alex Pietrangelo was named a third team all-star for the fourth straight season.

The Wayne Gretzky Trophy winners the Windsor Spitfires along with the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors are each represented three times. Taylor Hall was named a first team left winger for the second straight season, with Ryan Ellis named to the second team at defence, and Greg Nemisz appears on the third team at right wing. Ellis was named to the first team last year, and Nemisz was a second team all-star last season. For the Majors, the OHL’s Goaltender of the Year Chris Carrozzi was named to the first team, with defenceman Cameron Gaunce named to the second team for the second straight season. Head Coach Dave Cameron is also on the second team.

Joining Hall, Cameron, Crawford, and Carrozzi on the first all-star team is Red Tilson Trophy Winner Tyler Seguin of the Plymouth Whalers at centre, Max Kaminsky Trophy winner Jacob Muzzin of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds on defence, and winner of the Matt Leyden Trophy as OHL Coach of the Year Dale Hunter of the London Knights.

The OHL All-Star Teams were selected by the OHL’s General Managers. Players were voted on by position and received five points for a first place vote, three for a second place vote, and one for a third.

2009-10 OHL All-Star Teams (voting points in brackets):

First Team:

Centre – Tyler Seguin, Plymouth Whalers (85)
Left Wing – Taylor Hall, Windsor Spitfires (93)
Right Wing – Bryan Cameron, Barrie Colts (67)
Defence – Jacob Muzzin, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (79)
Defence – Nick Crawford, Barrie Colts (63)
Goaltender – Chris Carrozzi, Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors (59)
Coach – Dale Hunter, London Knights (47)

Second Team:

Centre – Nazem Kadri, London Knights (39)
Left Wing – Jeremy Morin, Kitchener Rangers (40)
Right Wing – Taylor Beck, Guelph Storm (41)
Defence – Cameron Gaunce, Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors (51)
Defence – Ryan Ellis, Windsor Spitfires (47)
Goaltender – Matt Hackett, Plymouth Whalers (48)
Coach – Dave Cameron, Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors (39)

Third Team:

Centre – Luke Pither, Barrie Colts (33)
Left Wing – Chris MacKinnon, Kitchener Rangers (19)
Right Wing – Greg Nemisz, Windsor Spitfires (28)
Defence – Alex Pietrangelo, Barrie Colts (23)
Defence – Shawn Lalonde, Belleville Bulls (21)
Goaltender – Patrick Killeen, Brampton Battalion (27)
Coach – Marty Williamson, Barrie Colts (36)

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

Wade Belak Re-Signed by the Predators

Wade Belak was re-signed by the Preds for next season. This was announced at the afternoon post-season presser at the Bridgestone Arena.

This was probably not the move that Predator fans were holding their breath waiting to hear but each move puts one more piece of the puzzle together for the 2010-2011 season.

Comments on Twitter seem mixed with the announcement but It is a good deal for Wade and the Preds. The bottom line is that the Preds need an enforcer and the price for Belak is right. He also brings a lot to the dressing room, the community, and the TV broadcasts. Hopefully, he will do another night at Zanies too since I missed the first one.

I know that I have complained about the nature of the fights that Belak has participated in during the season but that is more commentary on heavyweight bouts between enforcers that Belak specifically.

So as long as an enforcer is still a part of the NHL, this move makes sense.

Here is the official release from the Predators...


Nashville, Tenn. (April 29, 2010) – Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the club has signed forward Wade Belak to a one-year, $575,000 contract.

Belak, 33 (7/3/76), suited up for 39 Predators games in 2009-10, posting a pair of assists and 58 penalty minutes. Since being acquired on American Thanksgiving 2008, the Saskatoon, Sask., has racked up four assists and 112 penalty minutes in 77 games with Nashville. Quebec’s first choice (12th overall) in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft, Belak has played in 534 career NHL games for five teams (Colorado, Calgary, Toronto, Florida and Nashville) since 1996-97, notching 33 points (8g-25a) and 1,245 penalty minutes.

The 6-5, 222-pounder also co-hosts the Blackstone Hockey Night radio show on 104.5 The Zone during the season, and has also gained popularity for his “Wade’s World” segment on Nashville’s FOX Sports Tennessee broadcasts.

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

Our Second Round Predictions: Do Not Head to Vegas With These

After looking back at our first round predictions, I'm not real sure why we continue to embarrass ourselves with comments and prognostications of future events.

Pittsburgh was my only correct pick in the first round games in the East, while in the West I only got Vancouver and San Jose correct giving me a stellar 3-5 record.

Jackson did slightly better going 4-4 since he had the benefit of picking Boston as a winner in the East and matching my other picks.

So with that in mind, for better or worse, here are our picks for the second round.

Buddy's Picks

Eastern Conference

(4) Pittsburgh Penguins vs (8) Montreal Canadians - Montreal was the surprise team of the first round. You have to wonder if their win was more of them being solid or Washington playing a marginal game as a result of clinching early. The Pens played well enough to win but did not really dazzle anyone in the first round. I am going to have to go with the deeper team that has the recent playoff success in a long hard fought series. Pittsburgh in seven.

(6) Boston Bruins vs (7) Philadelphia Flyers – This is a hard series to figure since both teams did not get into the playoffs until the last weekend of the season. They also each upset much better teams in round one for totally different reasons. The interesting thing is that no matter who wins, there will be a Cinderella team in the Eastern Conference finals. I may be wrong, but I'm going to go with superior goaltending and take the Bruins. If Boucher continues his playoff magic, I will be wrong again. Boston in seven.

Western Conference

(1) San Jose Sharks vs (5) Detroit Red Wings – Detroit toyed with Phoenix for six games before they actually showed up and became the Wings that everyone loves to hate in their game seven demolition of the Coyotes. San Jose did break their curse and got out of the first round against a fairly weak Colorado team. The Wings are hitting their stride and will finish off the Sharks in a short series, posibly winning the first two games in San Jose this weekend. Detroit in five.

(2) Chicago Blackhawks vs (3) Vancouver Canucks – The Predators stood toe to to with the Hawks up until the last 14 seconds of game five when Chicago proved themselves to be a team of destiny. Vancouver played well in the first round in disposing of a quality L.A. Kings team that will be in the playoffs for years to come. This series features the two most high powered offenses left in the playoffs. It will be a long series where home ice advantage will reign. Blackhawks in seven.

Jackson's Picks

Eastern Conference

(4) Pittsburgh Penguins vs (8) Montreal Canadiens - As I’m sure everyone is now aware of, Montreal is not to be taken lightly. Montreal played a strong, solid, tight game in the first round and if they can continue that, they just might come out with another upset in this series. I’m not sold on that idea though. Pittsburgh has another deep team that can make it to the finals again. Pittsburgh in six.

(6) Boston Bruins vs (7) Philadelphia Flyers – How often do you see the sixth and seventh seed meet up in the second round? This will be a very physical series for both teams, a lot of hitting and just all around gritty play. I took Boston to upset the Sabres in the first round and I’m not going to stop in the semis. Boston in six.

Western Conference

(1) San Jose Sharks vs (5) Detroit Red Wings – Detroit showed everyone, again, why they are one of the most dominant teams in hockey today coming off their game seven win in Phoenix. But San Jose showed that weren’t messing around either. Of course, it is tradition for them to screw up right about now, but I’m not seeing it this year. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Joe Thornton is going to have the biggest series of his career so far, this series. San Jose in six.

(2) Chicago Blackhawks vs (3) Vancouver Canucks – After struggling a bit during the first round, the Hawks got their playoff legs back and are back in business. But the Canucks aren’t going out easily. This is the match up the players in Vancouver wanted. The Canucks want revenge and that’s what they’re going to get. Canucks in six.

So there you go. You may want to head to Vegas and go the other way.

More Later...

Buddy and Jackson Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

What Will The Preds Players Do This Summer and Thursday Thoughts

Thursday was a big day in Pred Land. Barry Trotz finally got the recognition that he deserved for guiding the Predators to their success over the last 12 years with a nomination as one of the three finalists for the Jack Adams Award that will be given on June 23 at the Pearl Theater at The Palms in Las Vegas.

The Predator's players showed up at the Bridgestone Arena last night for final meetings and locker clean out. Barry Trotz appeared to be in good spirits as he received congratulations from all on the award nomination.

As the players prepared to head out for the summer they were available for questions. We took a little different approach and asked some questions that fans might find interesting. We will publish a series of videos over the next few days that we hope you find enjoyable.

The first video is about their plans for summer vacation.

Jerred Smithson, Dustin Boyd, Cal O'Reilly, Nick Spaling, Marty Erat, Dan Ellis, Marcel Goc, Cody Franson, Pekka Rinne, Ryan Suter, Shea Weber and Steve Sullivan speak.

Preds at the World Championships...

Another topic of conversation was about a few of the Predators playing in the World Championships that start on May 7 and run through the 23 at several sites in Germany.

Though not officially announced Pekka Rinne will play for Finland, Denis Grebeshkov will play for Russia, and Marcel Goc, Alexander Sulzer, and Robert Dietrich will play for Germany. Marty Erat said that he was undecided and waiting on results from his post season physical exam before making a decision to play. Dan Hamhuis rejected Team Canada's invitation to participate.

Here are a few comments about the upcoming tournament.

Marcel Goc, Marty Erat, Pekka Rinne, and Shea Weber speak.

First Round Finale...

In one of the bigger upsets in recent years, the eighth-seeded Montreal Canadians upset the Washington Capitals in game seven 2-1 to send the President Cup winner packing. This upset was a double whammy for the US television networks who not only lost a big attraction in Alexander Ovechkin, but now have two Canadian teams in the final eight,

Quick Start to the Second Round...

In somewhat of a surprise move, the second round series between the Detroit Red Wings and San Jose Sharks will begin tonight at the HP Pavilion (Versus 8:00 CDT). Game two in the series will not be until Sunday due to a conflict with concerts by The Eagles on Friday and Saturday nights.

The complete second round schedule was announced last night after the Caps-Habs game. Montreal will have little time off as they will play at Pittsburgh on Friday night. On Saturday, Philadelphia will travel to Boston for the 11:30 CDT NBC game while Vancouver will open in Chicago in the nightcap.

Jackson and I will look at our first round results and make our picks for the second round later today.

In Pred Nation...

John Glennon has notes from last night's locker clean out that includes Dan Hamhuis being nominated for the King Clancy Award which is given for outstanding contributions to the community. He also had a discussion with J P Dumont on his lack of playing time this season.

Jim Diamond goes into more detail about Patric Hornqvist's broken hand that was kept under a veil of secrecy for the last two weeks.

David Boclair also discusses injuries down the stretch that are just now coming to light.

Mark Willoughby looks back at what could have been for the Preds this season and also looks at Barry Trotz's Jack Adams nomination.

Forechecker has the top ten moments of this year's Predator season. He also has more detail about Dan Hamhuis' King Clancy nomination.

Jeremy at Section 303 discusses the Barry Trotz nomination for the Jack Adams award.

Paul McCann had the first leak of the Barry Trotz as a Jack Adams nominee along with a few season ending thoughts.

Horrible news out of Milwaukee... Our friends at Short Shifts are retiring from blogging the Admirals. Best wishes to Eric and Ryan who have been good friends of POTG.

From @dchesnokov: Predators' Martin Erat will play for Czech Republic in this year's Worlds. Hanzal, Vrbata, Prucha & Michalek also invited.

Rachel Addison has put together a playlist of songs heard at Predator games to help you make it through the long off season. I'm sure she would be happy to take further suggestions.

Around the NHL...

The NHL and IIHF have come together for the Molson Canadian World Hockey Summit which will be held in Toronto August 23 to 26. International competition and transfer agreements will be discussed among a variety of topics.

BD Gallof has more on the Casino idea on the Island.

Nashville's Amy Dawson is featured in a story at Hockey Independent on female hockey fans.

ESPN is doing a poll on hockey. Go here to rep your team.

Matt Reitz has an analysis of past President's Trophy winners to try to find evidence of a curse. He way want to ask the Caps about it if he needs more evidence.

Intent To Blow has the story of Roberto Luongo being tired of getting Booed by the home crowd.

Stay Classy also has a humorous piece with the NHL yearbook.

Odds and Ends...

I found a new BB app that is really cool and does sever things well even in the backwoods of Tennessee. It is called Poynt and can be found at the BB App World. In a single app you can find people, businesses, restaurants, movies, and the lowest gas prices. It's a location based app so whatever category you choose, the results will be the places in your area no matter what city you are in.

Even folks in Tennessee don't know what to do with these cow parts.

Hell froze over and I missed it. The Boy Scouts are now giving a video game badge.

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Stanley Cup Playoffs Second Round Schedule Announced

The National Hockey League announced the complete second round schedule for this year's Stanley Cup playoffs after the Habs-Caps game was decided.

Here is the release from the NHL...

2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs Semifinals Schedule

The conference semifinals will begin Thursday, April 29, with the Sharks and Red Wings starting things off in San Jose.

The Penguins will play the Canadiens Friday. The matchup was determined after Montreal's 2-1 Game 7 win over Washington on Wednesday.

The final two series begin Saturday when the Philadelphia Flyers travel to Boston and the Blackhawks host the Canucks.

Here is the full schedule for the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs Semifinals:



#4 vs. #8

Friday, April 30 at Pittsburgh, 7:00 p.m. CBC, RDS, VERSUS
Sunday, May 2 at Pittsburgh, 2:00 p.m. NBC, CBC, RDS
Tuesday, May 4 at Montreal, 7:00 p.m. CBC, RDS, VERSUS
Thursday, May 6 at Montreal, 7:00 p.m. CBC, RDS, VERSUS
*Saturday, May 8 at Pittsburgh, 7:00 p.m. CBC, RDS, VERSUS
*Monday, May 10 at Montreal, 7:00 p.m. CBC, RDS, VERSUS
*Wednesday, May 12 at Pittsburgh, TBD CBC, RDS, VERSUS


#6 vs. #7

Saturday, May 1 at Boston, 12:30 p.m. NBC, TSN
Monday, May 3 at Boston, 7:00 p.m. TSN, VERSUS
Wednesday, May 5 at Philadelphia, 7:00 p.m. TSN, VERSUS
Friday, May 7 at Philadelphia, 7:00 p.m. TSN, VERSUS
*Monday, May 10 at Boston, 7:00 p.m. TSN, VERSUS
*Wednesday, May 12 at Philadelphia, TBD TSN, VERSUS
*Friday, May 14 at Boston, 7:00 p.m. TSN, VERSUS



#1 vs. #5

Thursday, April 29 at San Jose, 9:00 p.m. TSN, VERSUS
Sunday, May 2 at San Jose, 8:00 p.m. TSN, VERSUS
Tuesday, May 4 at Detroit, 7:30 p.m. TSN, VERSUS
Thursday, May 6 at Detroit, 7:30 p.m. TSN, VERSUS
*Saturday, May 8 at San Jose, 10:30 p.m. TSN, VERSUS
*Monday, May 10 at Detroit, 7:30 p.m. TSN, VERSUS
*Wednesday, May 12 at San Jose, TBD TSN, VERSUS


#2 vs. #3

Saturday, May 1 at Chicago, 8:00 p.m. CBC, VERSUS
Monday, May 3 at Chicago, 9:00 p.m. CBC, VERSUS
Wednesday, May 5 at Vancouver, 9:30 p.m. CBC, VERSUS
Friday, May 7 at Vancouver, 9:30 p.m. CBC, VERSUS
*Sunday, May 9 at Chicago, 8:00 p.m. CBC, VERSUS
*Tuesday, May 11 at Vancouver, 9:30 p.m. CBC, VERSUS
*Thursday, May 13 at Chicago, 8:00 p.m. CBC, VERSUS

- * denotes if necessary

- All Times Eastern

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Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

Barry Trotz Finally Recognized For His Accomplishments

The only coach that the Nashville Predators have ever known finally has been recognized for 12 years of pulling rabbits out of his hat to consistently exceed everyone's expectations with the limited talent that he has had on a yearly basis.

Trotz is one of three finalists for the Jack Adams Award given to the coach who has "contributed the most to his team's success." Dave Tippett of Phoenix and Joe Sacco of Colorado also received nominations. The winner will be announced June 23 at the NHL Awards show at the Palms in Las Vegas.

Trotz has been deserving of consideration for several years. Even with Pred’s recent playoff loss, it should be satisfying for Trotz, the organization, and the fans to see Barry on the national stage as a top three coach.

Speaking on NHL Live today after the announcement, Trotz said, "I was a little surprised by the nomination. All three finalists have great assistants and staffs."

Trotz commented on the series with Chicago, he said "This team had the mindset for an upset. Our team has matured and had the ability to go further. Our young leadership group matured and is ready to move forward. Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, Pekka Rinne, they were all key"

Trotz discussed the issues with the Predator’s power play, "We were stubborn in making changes. On the power play you have four portals of opportunity and we did not execute on them."

On Pekka Rinne, "Pekka is emerging into a top end goaltender. His being able to recover from situations has really been key. In game five and in game six with the odd goal he was able to come back and in the past, he may not have been able to."

On Jason Arnott as captain, " Jason has matured and done a good job but still has some areas that he needs to work on as anyone would in a situation that he's not completely comfortable with."

Looking to off season changes, Trotz listed keeping Dan Hamhuis, improvement on face offs, and finding additional offense as key goals.

When asked who would be the eventual cup winner, Trotz would not commit to a specific team but said that the winner would come from the west.

Here is the full release from the National Hockey League...



NEW YORK (April 28, 2010) -- Joe Sacco of the Colorado Avalanche, Dave Tippett of the Phoenix Coyotes and Barry Trotz of the Nashville Predators are the three finalists for the 2009-10 Jack Adams Award, presented to the head coach who has "contributed the most to his team's success," the National Hockey League announced today.

Members of the NHL Broadcasters' Association submitted ballots for the Jack Adams Award at the conclusion of the regular season, with the top three vote-getters designated as finalists. The winner will be announced Wednesday, June 23, during the 2010 NHL Awards that will be broadcast live from the Pearl Concert Theater inside the Palms Hotel Las Vegas on VERSUS in the United States and on CBC in Canada.

Following are the finalists for the Jack Adams Award, in alphabetical order:

Joe Sacco, Colorado Avalanche

In his first NHL season behind the bench, Sacco guided the rookie-laden Avalanche to a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 43-30-9 record just one year after the club finished last in the Western Conference. The Avalanche became the first Western Conference team to make the playoffs after finishing last in the conference the previous year since the current alignment was introduced in 2000-01. The club opened the season on a 10-1-2 run and went on to post a 26-point gain over its total from 2008-09 (69 to 95), second in the NHL to the Phoenix Coyotes' 28-point increase.

Dave Tippett, Phoenix Coyotes

Hired less than a week before the start of the regular season, Tippett led the Coyotes to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2002 by posting a 50-27-5 record for 107 points. The club posted an NHL-best 28-point gain over its 2008-09 total, edging Colorado's 26-point improvement, and set franchise records for wins and points in a season, home wins (29) and longest home winning streak (10 games, Nov. 21 to Dec. 29). The Coyotes ranked third in the NHL in team defense (2.39 goals/game), up from 24th in 2008-09 (3.04), and were sixth in the League in penalty killing (84.5%).

Barry Trotz, Nashville Predators

Trotz guided the Predators to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the fifth time in the past six seasons with a 47-29-6 record for 100 points, placing third behind 2009 Western Conference Finalists Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings in the tough Central Division. The club played its best hockey down the stretch, posting the NHL's fourth-best record after the Olympic break (14-6-1). Trotz coached his 900th NHL game, all with Nashville, on Apr. 3 at Detroit, joining Al Arbour (N.Y. Islanders), Billy Reay (Chicago), Lindy Ruff (Buffalo), Jack Adams (Detroit) and Toe Blake (Montreal) as the only coaches to reach the milestone with one team.


The award was presented by the NHL Broadcasters' Association in 1974 in honor of the late Jack Adams, longtime coach and general manager of the Detroit Red Wings.

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

Wings Roll into Second Round and Wednesday Wrap-Up

Thanks to Conor McKenna at The Team 990 in Montreal for having me on The Playoff Push again last night to wrap up the Preds-Hawks series.

The Detroit Red Wings rolled over the Phoenix Coyotes 6-1 in game seven at Arena last night in Glendale. That put an end to the Yote's unbelievable run this year that was movie script worth material.

Even thought the Coyotes were the higher seed, they had underdog status against the long mighty Red Wings. After toying with Phoenix for six games, the Detroit team that everyone expected to see showed up and played an almost perfect road game.

Congrats to all our Coyote friends for a great season and condolences on the playoff loss.

The Wing's victory sets up a second round match with San Jose which will be a very competitive series. Chicago and Vancouver will meet in the other Western Conference simi-final in a renewal of last year's bloody battle.

Tonight's First Round Finale...

Montreal has held Washington at bay all the way up to game seven which happens tonight at 6:00 CDT on Versus. Fans in Pittsburgh and Boston are pulling for the Caps in order to set up a second round match between the Pens and Bruins which should have plenty of bad blood with the return of Marc Savard.

The Eastern Conference second round matches will not be determined until this game is decided. Boston, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are waiting for news of their opponent as well as to when the series will begin.

In Pred Nation...

John Glennon has an analysis of what may happen in the offseason at the Tennessean.

David Climer beats the drum about the Preds needing more offense.

Jim Diamond has the story of Shea Weber being honored by his peers in a poll at SI.

David Boclair looks at Jason Arnott and the other playoff no shows.

Ryan Lambert does the Pred's eulogy for Puck Daddy. I took it as a tongue in cheek piece that did a good job of covering every stereotype possible about hockey in Nashville. There's no point in being upset as he was preaching what the Canadian choir wanted to hear.

Jeremy at Section 303 took exception to Lambert's story and fired off a rebuttal. Here's another rebuttal from @cragcoolsprings a guy from Calgary calling Nashville a hick town is like a baptist calling a Mormon uptight.

Patton Fuqua also jumps in at Section 303 with a toast to the Preds.

Forechecker didn't let the dirt settle on the grave before jumping in to free agency questions. Dirk also reports that he well rested Denis Gerbeshkov will play for Russia in the World Championships next month.

Mike Chen interviews Dirk in a much nicer Post Mortem of the Preds season at From the Rink.

Paul McCann wraps up the season at Hockey Buzz. Paul's Slapshot Radio will continue onward in the ususal Wednesday night slot as the playoffs continue.

Teresa Walker puts a bow on the Pred's season at USA Today.

The Preds loss to Chicago in game six set all kings of viewing records in the Windy City as reported by @stevelepore: As impressive as the Caps ratings are, CSN Chicago drew a 9.2 rating for Game 6 last night, a new record, and a ridonkulous number. That game peaked at a 12.6

Around the NHL...

The finalist for the NHL Foundation Player award were announced on Tuesday. Either Dustin Brown, Mike Green or Ryan Miller will be on stage at the NHL Awards in June accepting the award that goes to the player that "embodies the core values of the NHL -- commitment, perseverance and teamwork -- to enrich the lives of people in his community".

Here's a new twist in the Lighthouse Project saga with a potential casino deal with the Shinnecock Nation (not related to Pred Nation).

Habs prospect P K Subban played in his first NHL playoff game on Monday. It was a wild day for the rookie.

Steve Lapore analyzes the realities of success by the Habs and Yotes for the TV mavens. he also has the latest on the new HBO movie, Broad Street Bullies which premieres on May 4.

From @reporterchris: As rumored for a while, it looks like the NHLPA's MVP award will be renamed after Ted Lindsay.

From the Rink has a piece on the Worst Hockey Fans in Canada. It's probably not who you would expect.

More recognition for our friends at @IntentToBlow: We got linked by the BBC! Ok well their user forums. But screw it. Intent to Blow - as seen on the BBC.

Odds and Ends...

For those of you on Foresquare, have you ever wondered how many badges there are and what they look like? Here is what is supposed to be a complete listing with pictures of each including the new WSJ specialty badges.

Did you know there was a "secret" language in social media so parents won't understand what their kids are saying? This is a really lame article.

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Thanks To All and Tuesday Tidbits

Another season of Predator hockey has come to an end and we are left to wonder "what if" several things had happened differently along the way. That will be a story for another day.

At this point I would like to thank several folks that have been instrumental in growing POTG during the past season. Thanks to Kevin Wilson and Tim Darling and the Predators for taking a chance and giving us full credentials so that we can bring you, the readers, a look at the Preds from the inner sanctum of the Bridgestone Arena.

We would also like to than the Predator's coaches and players for giving 100% and being "resilient" and overachieving throughout the year. You kept it interesting every day.

Most of all, we would like to thank our readers and listeners for making it all worthwhile to do what we do. We do it for the love of the game and we appreciate all the encouraging words, Tweets, and fellowship at the games. If it wasn't for y'all it would be like a tree falling in a people-less forest.

I'm sure there are others I should have thanked so please forgive me in my sleep deprived state if I have a glaring omission.

Stay with us during the off season and we will report in daily with the latest Predator news, Playoff coverage, and other stuff from the world of hockey. Our POTG Radio show will return to our regular schedule with interesting hockey related guests from all across North America. In June, we will attend the NHL Awards and Entry Draft and will have first hand reports for your enjoyment and edification.

Programming Note...

I will return to Montreal's Team 990 tonight at 9:25 CDT for a segment to put the wraps on the Pred's postseason. Thanks to Connor McKenna for another opportunity to rep the "non-traditional market" to the Montreal hockey Mecca.

Preds-Hawks Game Six Round-Up...

Here is our game story from last night with postgame interviews.

John Glennon has the game story, notes column and postgame ponderings at the Tennessean. Bryan Mullen also has a story. Joe Biddle made a rare appearance in the Pred's dressing room and filed this account.

Jim Diamond reports for the Examiner.

David Boclair checks in with his game story at The City Paper.

In the blog world posts come from Brandon Felder, The View From 111, Forechecker, See Puck City, What the Puck, and Fanhouse.

Btandon Worley reviews the freak play that will be remembered as the poster child for game six.

The Chicago view of the game can be found at the Chicago Sun Times, Daily Herald, and the Chicago Tribune.

Other Monday Games...

The Buffalo Sabres season also came to an abrupt end at the hands of the Boston Bruins in a 4-3 loss. This was expected to be a long series, but most folks felt that Ryan Miller would lead his team to the second round. In the end, they lost the battle of special teams and will now head to the golf course.

The Montreal Canadians extended their Series with Washington to a game seven match on Wednesday with a convincing 4-1 victory. Of all the Eastern Conference match-ups, this one appeared to be the one destined for a quick resolution. Steve Stirling at Intent to Blow appears to have a scoop on why the Caps always have to go to game seven.

Tonight's Match...

In a series that has been everything that it was expected to be, the Detroit Red Wings will try to make one last stand in the desert when they play the Coyotes in the only game on the schedule tonight at 8 p.m. CDT. on Versus. It is the first game seven of this year's postseason. Chris Wassel adds perspective to the game seven match.

In Pred Nation...

The Milwaukee Admirals fell just short in their game seven bid to move to the second round in a 2-1 loss to Chicago last night. Short Shifts has the story.

Ryan at the RLD called out Jason Arnott before last night's game. It must have worked as Arnie scored a pair.

Dan Hamhuis was still bitter at Monday's morning skate over the Hossa hit. Barry Trotz also had a plan for last night's power play. It worked to an extent since they finally got a power play goal.

XM Home Ice recounts their Pred-Hawks predictions. Thanks to Boomer for believing.

A little late since the game was last night, but Jeremy at Section 303 had everything you needed for the game including an update to the chant list. Several folks from out of town have asked me about this in the past so here it is. It was great to see all the "We Believe" signs around the arena during warm-ups and throughout the game. Thanks to Jeremy and Codey for doing that (and to Mark Willoughby for 250 copies that he handed out before the game).

Around the NHL...

Jacques Lemaire retired as the Devils coach but will remain in the organization. It is hard to say who might be the replacement at this point. Adrian Dater points the finger at Lou Lamoriello at Versus. Michelle Kenneth adds perspective.

The Masterdon Finalists were announced on Monday. Kurtis Foster, Jed Ortmeyer and Jose Theodore were the top three. I'm happy for ex-Pred Jed but I would think Jose is a lock on this one.

With four coaching vacancies, Mirtle makes a list of 14 possible candidates that includes Brent Peterson.

Intent to Blow has inside news about Hossa'a hit in game five extending Chicago's cup curse.

Carlos poses the question "Is it ever OK to root against your favorite team" at VFMS. He also looks at what to offer Kovalchuk at Speak of the Devils. Matt Reitz also has a fresh post this morning paying homage to the real hockey guys in the writing business.

From @stevelepore: NBC's coverage of Predators-Blackhawks drew a 1.3 this Saturday, even with last week. Coyotes-Red Wings also drew a 1.3, down from last wk. You wonder how much higher it could have been if it had not been pre-empted for weather by WSMV.

Media Week also has good news on NHL ratings for the year.

Odds and Ends...

I have to ask... Since Toronto is having trouble with attendance at baseball games, should we do something really snotty and say that Canada doesn't deserve a baseball team? I can't do that because that would be as crappy as what is said about Nashville not deserving a hockey team.

If you want your head to hurt from all the information that is actually embedded in a 140 character Tweet then read this article.

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass