Missing In Action

I know, I know.  It’s been a while.  I’ve been away doing other things.  I wish I wrote more about the wild ride towards the end of the hockey season that had a few teams clamoring for the last 2 wildcard spots.  I’ve missed a ton of hockey action and then boom it’s playoff time!  I’ll try and be a little more involved from this point on.

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After The NHL Trade Deadline

Well the dust as finally settled after another frenzy of a trade deadline.  Once again there were winners, losers and some casual swaps this year.  Now that we’ve had some time to process the trades, let’s take a look at how some of the teams and players where affected.

The Winners:

Montreal Canadians

Montreal is already riding 2nd in the Atlantic division, has a strong team and is looking to parlay goaltenders Carey Price’s Olympic gold medal into a Stanley Cup win.  There only problem?  They don’t score many goals.  In fact at this time, they have just as many goals as they do goals against.  Thus bringing in Thomas Vanek from the Islanders might just be there missing piece of the puzzle.  Vanek, a gifted goal scorer might just be the rental player to help Montreal pick up their scoring game.  They didn’t have to give up too much to get him and if he ends up resigning in Montreal after this season, Montreal will be a true contender next season and this trade will have really paid off.

Florida Panthers

Florida has no chance on making the post season this year, but that didn’t stop them from laying down a top trade.  They already had a great goaltender in Tim Thomas, but instead of thinking about the present, the Panthers thought of the future and decided to acquire Roberto Luongo.  Luongo has been plagued by controversy in Vancouver for some time now and Floridia capitalized on that controversy by obtaining Loungo at rock bottom prices.  They now have a premier goalie for the next several years, didin’t put up much to get him and Vancouver will still be paying part of his monster salary.  A win for the Panthers and a big move forward in rebuilding their team into future contenders.

St. Louis

St. Louis pulled the trigger on a monster trade bringing in Buffalo cornerstone Ryan Miller.  Already in 1st place in the Western conference, St. Louis became a team to be reckoned with by bringing in an elite goaltender to round out their team.  This team was already on fire and Miller is going to put them over the top.

The Losers: 

Vancouver Canucks

Some teams became a bit stronger, some picked up draft picks to improve their future and some teams just filled in the missing gaps that their team needed.  Except Vancouver was the only team that fell apart after this trade deadline.  Last year Vancouver’s problem was having 2 of the best goalies in the NHL, now their problem is they have none.  As well they are still picking up some of the tab on Luongo’s salary.  Don’t be surprised if you find Canucks GM Mike Gillis looking for a new job next season.

Tit for Tat

Tampa Bay Lightening and New York Rangers

No-one seems like a winner or a loser in this trade that swapped Martin St. Louis and Ryan Callahan for each other.  Both players are highly skilled forwards and great players and on paper, no one benefits from this trade.  The only thing that seems to stand out from this deal is that St. Louis might have had some problems playing for Steve Yzerman’s Tampa Bay after St. Louis was initially snubbed by him on the Team Canada Olympic roster.  This is a morale trade and that’s it.

Of course there where lots of other trades that happened at this years deadline, but these were in my opinion the most important.  Now onto the last part of the season.  Let’s get these playoffs started!

 

Canada Wins Gold

Well Olympic hockey has come to an end and Canada has won gold.  It was a great game and I can’t believe they shut out the Swedes, but all in all it was an awesome game.

As for my predictions before the games started, I was pretty close.  This is how I thought it would work out:

Gold – Canada

Silver – Russia

Bronze – Sweden

4th – USA

So my 1st and 4th predictions did in fact come true and Sweden moved up a spot.  Glad to see 3 of my 4 predictions where pretty close.  I am shocked that Russia failed so hard.  They are usually a lot better in the Olympics.

Hope everyone enjoyed Olympic hockey.  Let’s hope we get to see it again in Korea in 4 years.

Is This The End of The NHL Olympic Hockey?

As it stood, Vancouver 2010 was the last time the NHL was “supposed” to be sending NHL players to the Olympics.  Sure, they are going to attend Sochi for this years Olympics, but only because top stars like Alexander Ovechkin and Evengi Malkin called out the NHL and said regardless of their decision, they would be attending the games in their homeland of Russia.  With enough Russian players playing in the NHL, they had no choice but to head to Sochi for 2014 or face a mass exodus of Russian born hockey players for 2 weeks.

However, the 2018 Winter Games are being slated for South Korea and there is no deal in place at the moment to send NHL players to compete for Olympic gold in men’s hockey.  And I for one, don’t think there will be.

South Korea is not known for it’s hockey players.  I can’t think of a single player in the NHL whose heritage is Korean.  So the NHL will not be bullied into going to the 2018 games since only the fans will put pressure on the league.  NHL commissioner Gary Bettman barely bows down to his players and even less to it’s fans, so I doubt that would have any effect.  After all, the NHL HATES the Olympics.

But why does the NHL hate Olympic hockey?

Number 1 money.  As far as the NHL is concerned, it’s lost revenue.  Their players are playing for someone else and not making the NHL any money.  As well the league has to virtually shut down during the Olympics and cannot gain any revenue for over two weeks.

Another factor is injuries and insurance.  Even though the game isn’t as physical in the international realm or with the more open ice, injuries still happen.  Especially small injuries like groin pulls.  It happens every Olympics.  Some of the best players get injured and miss the last 20 games of the season or even worse the playoffs.  The leagues best players are represented in the Olympics and the best players are also at risk of injury.

Even though there is a risk and a loss of revenue, the NHL should think twice about not attending future Winter Olympics.  Right now Hockey is considered to be North America’s 4th largest sport.  The NHL is constantly trying to grow the game and revenues.  This can be witnessed by them starting the season with some teams playing in Europe or any of the outdoor style games.  You’d think that the Olympics would only raise interest in the game of hockey on an international level.

But it seems that Gary Bettman just doesn’t get it.  After all he is the man that’s been at the helm of the NHL for far too long and just doesn’t seem to understand what fans want.  Whether it’s trying to break into an American market that just doesn’t want a team or ignoring Canadian markets that do, Bettman only works for the team owners.  And the team owners do not want to see their players risk anything outside of their teams clubhouse.

Olympic hockey, I’ll enjoy you this year, because it might just be your last.

 

Countdown To Sochi Hockey

Sochi 2014

The countdown is on.  As the NHL winds down for a mid season break, everyone is starting to put focus on Olympic hockey.  Soon NHLers will be reuniting with their countrymen and hitting the ice in the quest for gold.

As it plays out right now, Canada is always a contender for the gold medal in Hockey, but with the Olympics being in Russia this year, you know guys like Pavel Datsyuck, Evgeni Malkin and Alexander Ovechkin are just chomping at the bit to bring the gold to home ice.  After all, if they don’t, I’m sure Putin will put the whole team into a Gulag somewhere in the outskirts of Siberia.

Gold is never guaranteed in the Olympics for any country (even Canada).  You never know which european country can make for an upset or if the Americans have another Miracle on Ice up their sleeves!  So who’s going to stand out at this years Olympics?  Let’s try and break it down.

In my opinion all great championship teams are built from the goaltender out.  Without a great goaltender, you automatically become a mediocre hockey team, no matter how much offence you produce.   So which Men’s Hockey team is comprised of the greatest goalies?  As much as I hate to admit it, I think team USA is bringing the best Goalie squad.  Here are my top 3 teams based on goaltenders.

1. Team USA – Jonathan Quick, Ryan Miller, Jimmy Howard – For so long Canadians (mostly Quebecers) have been the premiere goaltenders.  Not any more!

2. Team Finland – Tuukka Rask, Kari Lehtonen, Antti Niemi – Finland has always had slightly better than average goaltenders, but the addition of Tuukka Rask to the team kicks them up several notches.

3. Team Canada – Roberto Luongo, Carey Price, Mike Smith – Canada used to have the elite goaltenders, but they have all become older and the younger ones just don’t have what guys like Patrick Roy and Martin Brodeur had.  As well, Luongo is always iffy when it comes to high level hockey and can easily blow a game.

Defenceman

Your goaltender always needs a little help.  Guys to slow down the forwards and keep shots to the outside.  Without good defence, your goalie doesn’t stand a chanche.  So which teams have the better team in terms of defence?

1.  Team Canada – Jay Bouwmeester, Drew Doughty, Dan Hamhuis, Duncan Keith, Alex Pietrangelo, P.K. Subban, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Shea Weber – Big guys, punishing hits and explosive shots.  Team Canada stands out head and shoulders above the rest with this crew of defencemen.

2.  Team Sweden – Alexander Edler, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Jonathan Ericsson, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Erik Karlsson, Niklas Kronwall, Johnny Oduya, Henrik Tallinder – Guys like Karlsson, Kronwall and Oduya will set up a solid wall against anyone trying to score.

3.  Team USA – John Carlson, Justin Faulk, Cam Fowler, Paul Martin, Ryan McDonagh, Brooks Orpik, Kevin Shattenkirk, Ryan Suter – USA has a strong mix of defencemen.  Guys of all ages and each one brings a different element to the game.

Forwards

They say a good defence is a good offence.  You can’t win games without scoring goals and on the over sized Olympic hockey pad, their is more room for speed, creativity and getting yourself into open ice.  So which teams will take full advantage of this?

1.  Team Canada – Jamie Benn, Patrice Bergeron, Jeff Carter, Sidney Crosby, Matt Duchene, Ryan Getzlaf, Chris Kunitz, Patrick Marleau, Rick Nash, Corey Perry, Patrick Sharp, Steven Stamkos, John Tavares, Jonathan Toews – There is so much scoring ability on this team, it’s absurd.  So many gifted goal scorers where left off the roster, Team Canada could have easily sent over a second squad of players that could compete with this group.  The talent runs that deep!  Even though it’s unlikely Steven Stamkos will play, a replacement won’t be hard to find.

2.  Team Sweden – Daniel Alfredsson, Nicklas Backstrom, Patrik Berglund, Jimmie Ericsson, Loui Eriksson, Johan Franzen, Carl Hagelin, Marcus Kruger, Gabriel Landeskog, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Jakob Silfverberg, Alexander Steen, Henrik Zetterberg – The Sedin’s have grace, Alferdsson is a leader, Steen a gifted scorer and Zetterberg is one of the best players to shovel home garbage goals.

3.  Team Russia – Artem Anisimov, Pavel Datsyuk, Denis Kokarev, Ilya Kovalchuk, Nikolai Kulemin, Evgeni Malkin, Valeri Nichushkin, Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Popov, Alexander Radulov, Sergei Soin, Vladimir Tarasenko, Alexei Tereshenko, Viktor Tikhonov.  Guys like Datsyuk, Malkin, Kovalchuk and Ovechkin will give nightmares to goalies throughout the Olympics.  The squad is not as deep as others, but features some of the best forwards in the game today.

Thats my roundup.  When all is said and done, I think the Olympic podium for men’s hockey will consist of:

GOLD – Canada

Silver – Russia (Only because home ice is going to be a huge factor for these guys)

Bronze – Sweden

Loser of the Bronze medal game – Team USA

Those are my picks.  Love them or hate them, let’s see what happens in the next few weeks.

More Hockey Brawling

Well it seems that the hockey gods are a bit pissed off this month.  Maybe it’s all this cold weather that has everyone cranky!

This time, it was college hockey that brought us a huge brawl.  Saturday, Albany NY, played host to the Mayors Cup, a college hockey tournament.  Check out how it all ended between teams Union and RPI.

Yes, that’s right.  Even the coach wants a piece in this fight.  Check it out.  It’s a great watch.

 

Tortorella Gets 15 Day Suspension

Vancouver Canucks Coach John Tortorella

John Tortorella loses it on Calgary

Well it seems after John Tortorella met with Colin Campbell, it’s been decided that Tortorella would be suspended for 15 days after trying to confront Calgary coach Bob Hartley following the antics of their Saturday night game.

I understand the NHL wanting to crack down on this kind of behavior, but it seems silly that Bob Hartley gets off free, even though he instigated the whole mess to begin with.

But I guess that’s hockey.  Usually the aggressor walks away while whoever retaliates to a situation gets a penalty or suspension.

You never want to get a suspension in the NHL, but I think Tortorella did it for all the right reasons and by the end of it, hopefully the Vancouver Canucks are going to become even more of a “Team” knowing that their coach is %110 behind them.