Saturday, September 24, 2011

Conference Confusion

For starters, I want to stress that there are too many articles and posts these days regarding the business of hockey.  Too much about head shots, concussions, realignment, CBA, etc.  So this is why this post will be short and to the point.

For the life of me I can't understand why the league can't simply flip conferences for Winnipeg and Detroit?  If anyone has ever travelled across the US or Canada, it doesn't take long to realize that Winnipeg is much further West than Detroit.  From Toronto we can go to Detroit and home in the same day by car; try doing the same for Winnipeg.  It is a simple flip that the NHL will have to discuss for two years before pulling the trigger.  For all the progressive moves the NHL is trying to make these days, such as the promotion of Shanny, they are still dinosaurs compared to other leagues.  Another reason why we need to say goodbye to Gary. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sad Summer

Well, training camp is nearing for most NHL teams and it gives us a chance to reflect on the tragic summer that's leaving a wake. 

  • Three former NHL enforcers passed for various reasons, all somewhat related to apparent suicides
  • 43 killed in a Russian plane crash
  • The NHL's best forward, Sidney Crosby, is still sidelined by a nagging concussion
I could go on about the tragedy of the 3 enforcers' deaths and how it could have been avoided but I think it's been written about enough.  However, there are two points that resonate with me.  The first is that I am shocked that I actually agree with Tie Domi on an issue: the fact that all three players were enforcers is irrelevant and mere coincidence.  I think that the real issue is lack of emotional and psychological support for the players after retirement.  That brings me to the second point: the death of Wade Belak.  I didn't personally know Wade but he had such charisma that he made us feel like we did.  I just feel that at some point we're going to find out that there's more to the story.  I just don't feel that all is revealed.  Nothing adds up to him killing himself.  Yes, he was depressed.  Yes, he was on medication.  I just don't see him taking it that far.

When the Russian plane crashed I received a text from TSN mobile and I couldn't believe what I was reading.  I can't even imagine how these guys felt when the plane was going down.  We have all been on a flight that there's turbulence and it runs through your head that it could go down, but deep inside you know you're safe.  The terror that would be felt if it actually went down is unimaginable.  These families will be thinking of that image for the rest of their lives.  So sad.

The Sidney Crosby ordeal is reminiscent of a young Eric Lindros ready to claim his spot as the best player in the NHL until a freight train called Scott Stevens changed all that. The shame of Crosby is that he is much more of an ambassador of the league than Lindros ever was and Sid is a class act.  That is taking nothing away from Lindros but it is saying much for what Sid means to the NHL at a time when we are seeing an emergence of a new generation of stars.  Sid should be front and center.

Hopefully, the worst is behind us and the best is yet to come.  Here's looking forward to a great season.

Monday, April 25, 2011

A "C" for Nash?

Rick Nash yesterday was awarded the "C" for Canada's entry in the World Championships.  As I pointed out in my previous post on Roberto Luongo, what has Nash done other than have good stats in the regular season?  From all accounts, he is a tremendous individual and team player.  But he's not a winner.  He is a star that has character and every GM in the league would love to have on their roster.  But that still doesn't make him a winner.  Nash has 6 regular seasons under his belt, with a whopping 4 playoff games played, all of which are losses.  So how does he deserve to "lead" a Canadian team to victory when he hasn't done so in 6 seasons with Columbus?

In my opinion, Rick Nash should have forgoed signing with Blue Jackets last time around and tried being a second liner on another team that had a core.  Then he could have experienced what it was like to win and earned that "C".  Look at how a guy like Stamkos gets to develop with Tampa Bay.  One day once Vinnie's ludicrous contract runs out (or he's traded), Stamkos can grab that "C" and have earned it and led a team based on his own merit.  Stamkos already has more goals, games, and victories in the playoffs than Nash.

Anyway, I know I got off topic a little, but Canada and Colombus aren't so different in that they threw around the "C" for the wrong reasons.  A Captain has to have enough experience to show his mates what it takes to ride the rough waters.  It's pretty hard to support Nash when he hasn't even stepped on the boat yet.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Soft Spot For Sabres

So here's a quick history of my alliances.  I grew a Canucks fan because I grew up in Calgary as a kid and everyone around me was a Flames naturally I had to be different.  After I finally settled in Toronto about 15 years ago, I couldn't help but shift my alliance.  So here I am a suffering Leafs fan and nothing to show for it.  Maybe that's why I'm taking a little pleasure in watching Lou struggle, but that's for another post.

As a Leafs fan, I detest the Habs and the Sens.  I should also want to see the Flyers give a pounding to the Sabres but for some reason I find myself rooting the other way.  I think I have a soft spot for Sabres fans.  They are loyal despite never winning a Cup, they live and breathe their sports teams and are unapologetic for it.  There is something admirable about that. 

I'd like to see the Sabres move on for at least another round.  They are good team and I actually picked some of them in my playoff pool.  Are they a Cup team?  I don't think so but they'll try their hardest to change that.  They could surprise a few teams as they are the Flyers.  And don't forget, they finished the season off hot and didn't even let teams like the Leafs get a sniff. 

So let the Bruins take care of the Habs, but if they meet the Sabres in the second I'll be quietly rooting for our cross-border neighbours.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Coyotes on the Move?

Are the Coyotes on the move?  And more importantly, does anyone outside of Phoenix and Gary Bettman really care?  In fact does anyone other than the Coyotes' few loyal fans care?  I know these are a lot of questions but I think the answers are fairly obvious.

According to ESPN's attendance stats the Phoenix Coyotes ranked 29th in the league in 2010-2011, behind only the lowly New York Islanders.  The Yotes averaged only 12,208 fans per game, not to mention their low regional TV ratings.  I think the fact that anyone shows up for a game means that there are loyal fans, all sports teams have them, but there just aren't enough.  And I for one feel sorry for the few loyal fans that they do have because they're the ones that get screwed.

Now for the inevitable move.  I have to ask, why Winnipeg?  Even the Yotes goalie, franchise player, and soon to be UFA Ilya Bryzgalov says that he won't be back if it means going to Winnipeg.  He'd rather go back to Russia!  How is Winnipeg going to attract free agents?  We all know what the players and Chris Pronger's wife thinks of living in Edmonton and at least they have the mountains a few hours away. 

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against Winnipeg.  In fact, I'm sure the 15,000 seat MTS Centre is a beautiful facility.  When they fill that arena to capacity they will move up the attendance rankings to 24th, just ahead of the New Jersey Devils.

So call me sceptical, but I feel the Coyotes are on the move but it likely pains Bettman to see them move to Winnipeg.  He wants to keep any US TV ratings he can to cover all regions.  This writer thinks that a move to the Peg will simply be a move out of desperation because there is no other logical destination.  But hey, at least they will be 5 spots higher in attendance.

Luongo Proving He's Overrated

Roberto Luongo is proving what I predicted years ago: he is grossly overrated.  He's among a short list of goalies who are Hall of Fame calibre in the regular season but can't step it up when he's needed most.  He's been saved by the posts at the beginning of this series and he knows it, and it's killing his confidence. 

Now many Luongo lovers will point to the Gold Medal at the Vancouver Olympics as proof that he can win on a big stage.  I'll counter that with proposing that there were about 3-4 other Canadian goalies that could have pulled that off with the team we iced in Vancouver.  I say, just go back to his non-playoff days in Florida where he stopped more shots per season and was among the elite.  However, he couldn't pull a Beezer and get that team the dance either.  He's the goalie equivalent of Jay Boumeester. 

I look forward to your comments on this but I'm guessing his supporters will be silenced if Chicago somehow steals this series, which is starting to seem more likely with each passing game.