Center of Attention

 

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For those of you late to the party, I spell like an American.  It just makes life easier, so deal with it.  I’m fully aware that center in this country is spelled centre.  But the childhood I remember was led by strong American influences like Zack Morris, Steven Q. Urkel, and Adam Banks so excuse me for being a very American Canadian!

 

Ok, so I’ve been intending to write this one for a while now.  Probably since the fall of 2011 when I started doing this site, but it took a guy who I have ridiculous respect for, Elliotte Friedman of HNIC, making some comments that I couldn’t believe he of all people made.  I basically have a man crush on Friedge….hell I call him Friedge like he’s my boy!  I just think the guy is so great at his job and so knowledgeable about hockey he puts most other journalists and broadcasters to complete shame with the job he does.  Needs to up his game when it comes to his suits, but that’s a different story.

 

So Friedman was co-hosting Prime Time Sports with Bob McCowan one day about 3 weeks ago.  Jim Hughson was on as their guest, and Friedman started talking to Hughson about Phil Kessel.  As the story goes, at Friedman’s Super Bowl party, his buddies who are mostly Leaf fans started throwing around the question of weather or not Kessel was a top 5 player in the game right now.  Friedman asked that to Hughson who said (paraphrasing) “maybe not top 5, but definitely top 10”.  Friedman agreed.  This STUNNED me that 2 guys with such great knowledge would say something like this.

 

I’m not saying that wingers can’t be great, but they are so few and far between.  It is rare that you find a winger who has a great overall game.  The biggest mistake even some of the smartest hockey fans will make about the game is in believing a sniper is automatically a great player.  I can’t stand the black and white response that some media members will give when speaking of 1 dimensional snipers “the toughest thing to do in hockey is score goals”.  True….but it’s far from the ONLY thing you should do!

 

phil-kessel-alex-ovechkinWhen it comes to guys like Alex Ovechkin and Kessel (currently 1-2 in league goal scoring), they’re great snipers sure, but this shouldn’t put them among the elite of the NHL.  What made Michael Jordan the greatest basketball player of all time wasn’t that he out scored everyone.  Kareem Abdul-Jabbar did that, and he rarely gets mentioned among the best NBA players of all time.  Carmelo Anthony is one of the top scorers in the NBA today, yet nobody who follows the NBA would put him in their top 10, because that’s all he does.  Why is this more obvious to NBA observers than NHL observers?

 

Meanwhile, centers prove over and over and over and over and over and over again that they’re VITAL to team success.  I believe being great down the middle is more vital than having a great blueline.  Look at the 09 Penguins.  One of the best teams who’ll ever see down the middle in the cap era, average blueline.  They won a Cup.  I’ve harped on the Oilers for years for wasting their time trying to fit Sam Gagner in as their 2nd line center when they desperately needed to bring in a veteran 2 way center with size to play behind Nugent-Hopkins, but they never have and by no coincidence they’ve hardly improved.  Sure they have had a bad blueline too, but when those D-men don’t get help defensively they’re on an island.  A team that has loaded up with centers and is pretty just as young as the Oilers….the Avalanche, have a terrible blueline as well.  Yet they’re going to the playoffs.  Great down the middle.

 

But I’ll try to keep this focus on just wingers vs centers.  Look at the Leafs this season.  Better yet, let’s look at the Leafs last summer.  I had buddies that I couldn’t say a good thing about Tyler Bozak to.  I thought the Leafs got a great deal for Bozak when they re-signed him.  He’s 6’1, he’s 195, he’s a RH shot, he’s good on draws, he plays 200 feet, he’s a damn good center!  They also added Dave Bolland at the draft, so they were solid down the middle coming into the season.  No legit number 1 guy, but 1-4 VERY solid.  And what happened when all 4 played?  The Leafs were awesome.  And what happened when Bozak and Bolland were out?  They were horrible.  And what happened once just Tyler Bozak came back?  They got back to being one of the best teams in the East.  See a trend?

 

Here’s another great example.  At the start of the 09-10 season, Daniel Sedin went down with I believe a broken ankle.  I honestly can’t recall what exactly the injury was, but he was out 6 weeks.  With no Daniel by his side, Henrik Sedin didn’t skip a beat and went on to win the Hart trophy that season.  What happened to the Canucks once Henrik went down this season?  They’ve been terrible as has Daniel.

 

1297476606402_ORIGINALSomething that bothers me a lot is when people talk about the Oilers (I always bring it back to the Oil, I apologize) and what they need to do with their 1st round pick in this year’s draft.  If taking Sam Reinhart gets brought up, 9 out of 10 Oiler fans and 99 out of 100 hockey fans will scream “trade the pick!  You can’t take ANOTHER forward!”  No…you can’t take another WINGER.  You absolutely can take a kid like Sam Reinhart, because you don’t have a kid like Sam Reinhart up front who will play a cerebral, 200 foot game.  You don’t have too many CENTERS.  They’ve really been unlucky in that when they’ve had those 3 1st overall picks, 2 of the times the winger was head and shoulders above any centers.  Actually getting back to Friedman for a minute, when he was on Tim and Sid yesterday and talking about Kesler trade talks and the Oilers being interested, he broke down all the reasons why the Oilers are desperate for a guy like him and how vital centers are to a team.

 

Scouts don’t value center enough in my opinion.  Centers should be treated in the NHL draft how QB’s are in the NFL draft.  Sure there might be more talented positional player on the board in the NFL draft, but if you don’t have a QB you need to get 1!  Well if you don’t have 2 or 3 GREAT centers in the NHL you need to get them!  And I don’t know how many times I have made this comparison, but wingers are to the NHL what WR’s are to the NFL.  It’s great to have a bunch of great ones, but without a great QB to get them the ball they’re pretty limited in the impact they can have on a game.

 

The center makes the winger, the winger RARELY ever makes the center.  A winger can make a center’s stats look better, like Bozak’s do playing with JVR and Kessel, or like Oiler fans saw from 06-08 when Horcoff would play with Hemsky, but these guys still need these centers who excel in all aspects of the game.  Otherwise they can’t do what they do best.

 

It’s not that all wingers don’t matter, but they’re really a dime a dozen for what they do.  You get the odd one who can have an incredible impact on the game.  Marian Hossa, Zach Parise, Daniel Alfredsson  in his prime, Jarome Iginla in his prime, but they’re few and far between.  And I’ll bring this back to Kessel and maybe more importantly Ovechkin who people are back to claiming he’s the best player in the NHL.  Would you take either guy over Sid?  Toews?  Datsyuk?  Getzlaf?  Kopitar?  Henrik Sedin?  Malkin?  Tavares?  Chara?  Doughty?  Weber?  Suter?  Without giving it much thought I just rattled off 12 guys who are WAY more valuable to a team than Ovechkin and Kessel, or any winger for that matter, and notice I didn’t touch Stamkos.  I want guys who make the other players they play with better, because it’s about a team winning, not about your superstar scoring more goals.

 

Centers simply have way more impact on a game than wingers do.  They’re expected to be puck distributors, they’re expected to be the 3rd defenseman, they’re expected to win draws, they just simply have so much more responsibility on the ice and there for when it comes to elite centers they just are simply better hockey players.  Name a team who has won a Cup building with wingers?  Name a team who has won a Cup without serious strength down the middle?  The odd team that does win without a number 1 center, are ridiculously strong down the middle like the 07 Ducks (McDonald, Getzlaf, Pahlsson) or the 2011 Bruins (Krejci, Bergeron, Kelly).

 

Kessel isn’t a top 10 player in the league, and this isn’t to rip on him or Leaf fans.  I was one of the few who said all along, the trade for Kessel wasn’t as bad as it was ever made out to be.  I picked the guy to win the Richard this season.  But having said that, even playing at his absolute best like he had been pre Olympics, I’m still taking Seguin…the center, and I’m still taking Hamilton…the D-man, and it’s still deal that will hurt the Leafs a ton moving forward.

 

Maybe this is more about 1 dimensional snipers than centers vs wingers.  But when you stop looking at things so black and white and add a little color to the picture it becomes pretty clear that centers are just way more vital in the game than wingers are.  So enough of the talk that Kessel is one of the top players in the league, or that Ovechkin is right there with Crosby.  They aren’t.  They are nowhere close.  No winger is.  It’s not like you don’t need good wingers to win, but when speaking about the best skaters in the game, they’re 3rd on the list and no high end winger should ever be put above a high end center.

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups

Avoid West Young Man

 

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There is still a long ways to go in this NBA season, and it’s shaping up to be one hell of a intriguing playoff!  For Canadian basketball fans, weather you’re a Raps fan or not I’m sure we would all agree that it is awesome to see them relevant again #IbelieveinMasai and while the East is down this season, it has two big time heavyweights on a collision course to meet up in the East final.  Of course one of those heavyweights are the Miami Heat, led by Lebron James….who happens to be a free agent this summer.  Nobody really has a feel for where he will end up.  But if I were him, I would be staying in the East.

 

Why?  I just hit on it in the opening paragraph.  The East is down, and looks like it’ll be staying down for a while.  The West is a GRIND.  And this guy is all about winning titles, which is why he took less money to hook up with Wade and Bosh in Miami.  So then why would you want to go through what the Western conference teams have to go through every year?

 

Oklahoma City, Houston, Golden State, Portland, the Clippers, the Suns are a good young team and loaded with picks in this great draft to get even better, the Spurs are about to fade but as long as Gregg Popovich remains the coach of the Spurs they’ll be a pain in the ass, and we all know that while the Lakers are down now they won’t be down for long.  So why go to the Clippers or Warriors or Lakers and have to go through 7 damn good teams just to get to the finals?

 

You have to stay in the East if you’re James.  I don’t know if he’ll stay with the Heat because they could be on their last legs (although nobody should rule out Wade taking a BIG pay cut to allow them to bring in more pieces, he is the key).  I think the theory of him going back to the Cavs is pretty much dead.  Chris Broussard of ESPN recently said that at the start of the season it was a coin flip on weather James would return to the Cavs or stay in Miami because of course at the start of the season the Cavs looked as though they had one of the best young teams in the league.  Kyrie Irving is still a great young player to play with, and perhaps if James could convince another free agent to sign there with him it would be possible.

 

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Leiweke and Ujiri are 2 big reasons why LBJ just may consider Toronto this offseason

Believe it or not, former Raptors coach and current FAN 590 regular Butch Carter believes that should James leave Miami that Toronto…yes TORONTO….would be right at the top of James list.  His reasoning for this is A) it is the closest city to Cleveland in the NBA, B) the Raps have built a great young team and C) Masai Ujiri is proving himself to be one of the best GM’s in the NBA.  Now Carter is an Ohio native, though I have no idea how strong his connections are to James.  Add to the reasons given above, MLSE now has Tim Leiweke running things and he has already proven what an amazing recruiter of elite talent he can be.  I don’t know shit about Euro football, but I do know that for a horrible franchise like Toronto FC to land Jermain Defoe and Michael Bradley it wasn’t just a bloody big deal….it was bloody impressive!  Having said all this….I wouldn’t hold my breath on this happening.  But it is intriguing.

 

New York is always a strong possibility for James.  It’s the media capital of North America, he could team with his buddy Carmelo Anthony, owner James Dolan has no problem being over the luxury tax, and if LBJ teamed with Melo they would have zero issue attracting free agents.  Of course they would have to clear some room to add James, but I’m sure they could get this done.  And New York is a basketball city first and foremost, I hear New York people working in the media say this all the time, so if he were to bring some titles to NYC who haven’t seen an NBA title now for 41 years he would elevate his brand even higher.  Also for many of the same reasons the Knicks are a possibility, so are the Brooklyn Nets.

 

Of course James is now chasing Michael.  He could win his 5th league MVP this season which would tie him with MJ, and should Miami win it all again this season he would be half way there.  So would he want to attempt to catch Jordan wearing the same uniform?  Well it might be the best fit.  Derrick Rose likely will never be the elite point guard he had become.  But I still believe he is going to be one of the best in the league once he gets back on the court.  The Bulls are currently the 4th seed in the East without Rose or a guy like James.  Tom Thibodeau is an elite head coach in this league, Joakim Noah is one of the top center’s in the league, and they’re one of the best run organizations in the league (unlike the Knicks).  Most believed this is where James would go in 2010 before Bosh signed in Miami.

 

Point is in all this, plenty of great spots for James to go in the East and it makes WAY more sense to stay in that conference.  No matter where the guy goes, it’ll instantly become one of the top places to play in the league.  If he is all about titles (and I really believe he is), there isn’t much point in entertaining the idea of playing in the Western conference.  Why bother going through the grind of Western conference playoffs when you can breeze through the first 2 rounds of the Eastern conference playoffs?  I would say that gives you a much better chance at winning titles, and if you keep winning titles then those whispers will get louder and louder that you might be the best of all time.

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups

 

Let’s Make a Deal

With the Olympics now just a memory, it is back to work and the NHL trade market is going to over heat!  Now sitting just a week away from the deadline.  Now what I am going to do here is find trades that would make sense for all parties involved, and I tried to stay away from the guys who I believe will just bring back a pick or two like Moulson, Cammalleri, McDonald, Hemsky, etc.  The ones that are like that involve bigger name guys.  I am trying to not only find the best fits, but also follow some of the hottest rumors while doing so.  Some of these teams have been rumored to of had discussions, others are more so what I believe are great trade partners.  Oiler fans, no Sam Gagner trade.  I would guess it happens at the draft.  If the Kings get St.Louis I honestly just don’t see a great fit for Gagner.  Obviously it can happen, but I couldn’t find a good deal.

 

To Tampa Bay: Dustin Brown

To Los Angeles: Martin St.Louis 

This started as a tweak to the rumored Sam Gagner deal, but now with it sounding like St.Louis will be on the move I believe the Kings, Blues, Penguins and Rangers will be hot after him.  He has a NTC, so I’m sure there could be more than just these teams after him, but I’m betting these are the only teams he will want to go to who would be interested.  As for the other big piece to this deal, Marty McSorley said a few weeks ago that he has heard Dustin Brown could be moved and McSorley played for Dean Lombardi in San Jose and of course has plenty of connections to the Kings organization.  Brown has that fat new contract kicking in next season and with the way he plays the Kings may want to move him now before he’s making close to 6 mil a season and becomes almost unmovable.  The Lightning get a power forward and a leader coming back, and the Kings get a high scoring forward which they really need.  I think it makes a ton of sense for both teams, although I’m not sure how the Kings would be for cap space.  According to cap geek, they should be fine to add 2 mil like they would here, but I don’t know for sure.

 

 

To St.Louis: Ryan Miller and Steve Ott

To Buffalo: Brian Elliott, Magnus Paajarvi, Jordan Schmaltz, and a 2014 1st round pick

This is a big one.  Miller is the big get but in thinking about things, Doug Armstrong had Ott in Dallas and while Hitch never coached him, he was there when they drafted Ott.  So he is a guy that would definitely fit for the Blues.  He also plays a lot like Ryan Callahan whom the TSN insiders claimed last night was coveted by the Blues.  But the focus has to be their goaltending.  They have got away with average goaltenders looking great in Hitchcock’s system, but that gets exposed in the playoffs.  Miller is a great goaltender who might look like the best in the league playing in that system.  It would be much like watching team Canada.  Any time a team got any kind of chance, Price made it look easy, and Miller would make it look easy playing behind this team.

 

Paajarvi has been a bust for the Blues much to my shock.  I really thought he would thrive playing for Hitchcock, but the kid still has ridiculous talent.  Schmaltz was the Blues 1st round pick in the 2012 draft, but they’re pretty set on the blueline both now and moving forward so they can afford to add him to a deal, and of course a 1st is valuable although this isn’t the greatest draft.  This is a good haul for the Sabres as both of these guys are UFA’s.  I know Darren Dreger mentioned Jake Allen as a possibility going to Buffalo in a Miller deal, but with Enroth and Hackett already with the Sabres that just doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, even though I do believe Allen is better than those 2 guys.  The Sabres rebuild shouldn’t be anywhere near as messy as the Oilers has been.  The East is weaker than the West, and they have been stockpiling assets for the last 2 or 3 years (and in the right positions) so there is a very nice base to build from.

 

To New Jersey: Tomas Vokoun and a 2015 2nd round pick

To Pittsburgh: Martin Brodeur

I got 2 spots for Brodeur, and basically it would be whoever doesn’t get Ryan Miller…St.Louis or Pittsburgh.  Maybe Tim Thomas factors into this as well, but let’s not forget what a distraction this guy became in Boston.  GM’s will not have forgotten that.  I feel like the Blues are in a better spot to pony up for Miller so they land him.  Meaning the Pens still need some insurance in goal.  Sure, Fleury has been great this season and has won a Cup, but it is scary how bad he has been in the last 2 playoffs.  Having one of his idols there not only as insurance but in a support role would be tremendous I believe.  The Devils basically do this move as a thank you to Brodeur for all his years of service to the organization.  If he doesn’t want to do it, they don’t do it.  But he has made some pretty strong indications that he would welcome a trade and one last kick at the can.

 

To Colorado: Ryan Callahan

To NY Rangers: P.A. Parenteau and a 2014 1st round pick

Man I’m shocked that things have gone this poorly in contract discussions between the Rangers and Callahan, but it really does seem like he will be moved.  I can’t see the Rangers/Lightning rumor happening mainly because it is in conference and the Lightning would need to get more and likely don’t want to give Callahan the 6 million per that he reportedly is looking for.  Now for the Avs, they’re for real, and they’re my sleeper pick for a team that will make some noise next week.  Parenteau has been rumored to possibly be on the move, and I don’t think it would break Joe Sakic’s heart to get out from under his deal.  The 1st might be an overpayment, and I wouldn’t give up my 1st if I were Sakic, but I believe he’ll be looking to do something big.  This would be big.  Leadership, grit, playoff experience, Callahan would give the Avs a lot of what they need heading into the playoffs.

 

To Tampa Bay: Thomas Vanek

To NY Islanders: Brett Connolly and a conditional 2014 2nd round pick (changes to a 1st if Tampa makes it past the 2nd round)

Not what they gave up for the guy.  But this is the type of return the Islanders are now starring at for Vanek.  Connolly hasn’t really worked out of the Lightning, I still to this day can’t understand what the thought process was behind picking such a 1 dimensional kid over Cam Fowler.  But Connolly still has huge upside and maybe if he got a chance to play with John Tavares (obviously not for the rest of this season) he would thrive.  He’s not a fit to play with Stamkos as they’re both snipers.  The best I believe the Islanders can get in terms of a draft pick would be a conditional 1st like I have it here.  Vanek did the Isles no favors in the Olympics, as he basically no showed for Austria.  But he is still an elite talent.  When he’s on, he not only is a 30-40 goal guy, but can get it done in all 3 zones.  The Lightning do this deal because even though they got Brown they still need more scoring.

 

To Vancouver: Brandon Dubinsky, Marian Gaborik and Ryan Murray

To Columbus: Ryan Kesler, Alex Edler, and Chris Tanev

Pipe dream here for sure, but I like the fit.  Kesler is a former Buckeye, so not only would he be an upgrade down the middle for them on a pretty good deal, but that’s a pretty marketable guy for the Blue Jackets.  Add in Edler who is still young and has so much talent to be at least a top pairing guy despite having a rough couple of seasons after breaking out in 2012.  Dubinsky and Gaborik were with Torts in New York, and if I’m not mistaken Mike Gillis was Gaborik’s agent before taking the Canucks GM job in the summer of 08.  Now if the Canucks are giving up Kesler, they need to still get a 2nd line center, need to add some scoring, and need to add a heck of a young player.  I just think this is a pretty damn good fit for both sides.  Doubt anything like this happens, but this is more about looking for good trades, not predicting what actually goes down.  The cap shouldn’t be an issue in this deal, and while the Jackets get some valuable and keepable pieces for Gaborik, the Canucks probably would believe they could re-sign Gaborik for much cheaper or else put his cap space to good use in the offseason.

 

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups

A “Got’s to Go” Siutation

 

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Well now the debate will really begin.  The pressure will be on from a public point of view, it’ll be on from a Canadian point of view, and it’ll likely be on from a player point of view.  Do you or don’t you go to South Korea in 2018?  I understand the owners side of things.  Charles Wang had to watch his superstar go down for the rest of the season while wearing a team Canada uniform.  But of course this is only the owners 2nd greatest fear in terms of going to the Olympics.

 

The number 1 fear for them of course is money.  The Olympics don’t help the owners financially.  But they have to remember why they went to the Olympics in the first place.  It was intended to grow the game, and so they went to Japan in 1998.  At that time, the whole motto of Gary Bettman’s owners was to spend money to grow the game.  They were willing to go to the Olympics, spend millions to keep teams in markets like Phoenix, Miami, and Raleigh.  It wasn’t about the short term, it was about the long term.

 

We as Canadians hated it, but you are starting to see major signs that it has worked.  Slowly, but surely it has worked.  So what is wrong with trying to grow it in South Korea?  Will they?  It’s doubtful, we haven’t seen any signs that the game took in Japan (not to sterotype Asian countries, just that hockey isn’t anywhere close to the radar in either country).  But you never know.

 

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Nobody even remembers the last World Cup of Hockey in 2004. It will be a long time before it can establish itself

But what I DO in fact know is that a World Cup of hockey should happen, but it shouldn’t replace the Olympics….at least not yet.  Now why am I saying that?  Because hockey gets major attention in the United States when it is best on best in the Olympics.  Look at what happened when they played Russia.  The entire country was watching and T.J. Oshie instantly became a household name….and that was just a round robin game!

 

A World Cup of hockey will get nowhere near that same attention that the Olympics will, and it maybe never will.  But at least keep going to the Olympics while you establish the World Cup of hockey.  And if you’re going to have a World Cup of hockey, then you have to do it at mid season, in between the Olympics.  So that would mean that you do the first one in 2016.  So why then?  Well, it is a dead time of year on the sports calender.  Sure the NHL and NBA are normally going.  But the NFL is done, MLB hasn’t started up yet, and the NCAA tournament is still about a month away.  It is a perfect time to strike.  If you do it when you have done the Canada Cup’s and World Cup’s previously (early September) you are competing with both the NFL and college football.  You will not receive attention in the States.

 

Another factor I’m sure that will play into this is where the 2022 Olympic games end up going.  I recall 2006, and at that time it was said the NHL was only going to Torino Italy because they would for sure be going to Vancouver in 2010.  What happens if the 2022 games are awarded to Calgary (who are rumored to be considering bidding for the 2022 games)?  You’re going then.  So then why only pull out for 2018, which was the same logic as to why they went to Torino.

 

It’ll be intriguing to follow, and the NHL claims they will make their decision in 6 months.  I think they’ll end up feeling the pressure to go yet again, and it’ll muddy things up and in no way will they make a call in 6 months.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the comments from a bunch of the owners and talking about making a quick decision to not go is just a ploy by the NHL to try to get the I.O.C. to fork over some of the revenue in return for the NHL going, but that is just my theory.

 

Now, before I end this, I thought wouldn’t it be fun to take my first stab at what the team Canada roster would look like.  First of all, I’m going to guess that with Steve Yzerman already saying he isn’t going to come back to be Canada’s Executive Director, that Bob Nicholson wastes little time asking Joe Sakic to do it.  Also, I believe with Wayne Gretzky not involved with a team that he might be a candidate to come back to the job.  One more thought, although it would be extremely difficult to pull off….what if you allow the cook to buy the groceries?  Would they maybe consider offering the duel role of Executive Director and head coach to Mike Babcock?  Lots of options.  Here is what the team could look like….I hope your floor is clean because your jaw might hit it.

 

McDavid
McDavid could be a superstar by 2018, as could MacKinnon, and adding them to a healthy Tavares and Stamkos could make for the best team Canada ever in 2018

Tavares – Crosby – Stamkos

McDavid – Toews – MacKinnon

Hall – Nugent-Hopkins – Bergeron

Benn – Getzlaf – Perry

Duchene  Seguin

 

 

Other possible options:

Giroux/Couture/Johansen/S.Reinhart/Carter/M.Richards/E.Staal/Eberle/Drouin/Huberdeau

Scheifele/Skinner/Monahan/Lazar/Marchand/Perron

 

Keith – Doughty

Rielly – Weber

Bouwmeester – Pietrangelo

M.Staal – Subban

 

Other possible options: Vlasic/Letang/Alzner/Ryan Murray/Nurse/Hamilton/G.Reinhart/Morrissey/Morin/Gormley

 

Price

Bernier

Crawford

Other possible options: Holtby/Fleury/Ward/Allen

 

People can make fun of the hockey summit that was held after the 1998 Olympics, but we have benefited from it.  Won 5 straight Golds at the WJC, and EASILY could have been 7.  Sure we haven’t won it now in 5 years, but only 1 of those years did we have all hands on deck.  If we had all our guys and were on NHL ice every year, we would hardly ever lose.  3 out of 4 Golds now in hockey.  The year we didn’t win is pretty widely regarded as the most messed up season in NHL history due to the 2005 lockout and all the rule changes that took place in the 05-06 season.

 

NHL owners…go.  It can only help grow the game.  You just signed a 5.25 billion dollar TV deal.  Revenue’s are going through the freaking roof.  You have 4 years to budget for 2 weeks of dark rinks….which really is a lie because those 3 or 4 gates you don’t get in that time get made up for.  It’s not as if the NHL knocks 8 games off the schedule to do this.  If you’re serious about wanting to continually grow the game, then you’ll go.

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups

Better Than Ever

 

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You’ll have to excuse me for the garbage that this piece could be.  It’s 8 AM MST as I’m writing this.  I was at my buddies wedding dance until 1:30 (congrats to my good friends Gene and Heather!) didn’t get home until 2:30, and was up basically at 5 so I’m operating on less than 3 hours sleep.  But it is so damn worth it!!

 

When the team was picked, I had my doubts.  I worried the brass didn’t give enough respect to how much speed was needed for the big ice.  It was pretty obvious that while they claimed speed was the number 1 factor in selections, size was at the top of their list as well.  I hated the fact that they were so concerned with taking a guy like Kunitz strictly because he plays with Crosby.  And just because we won doesn’t mean every pick was right.

 

But this was beyond impressive!  Hockey played on the big ice isn’t hockey, it’s ice soccer.  You have to win 1-0, 2-0, 2-1, etc.  The European teams play basically terrified of Canada and so they try to make us play on the outside the entire time and use ice that is useless.  Grapes showed a great example of this today when Drew Doughty chased a guy behind the net and gave the Swedes likely their best scoring chance of the game.  And it’s not just the big ice, it’s adapting to living in the Olympic village, being in a foreign country, I had Canada only winning Bronze not because they weren’t the best team on paper, but because there were just so many obstacles to overcome.

 

But our boys overcame everything and then some.  Mike Babcock and his coaching staff got this team to buy into such a disciplined game, it was unbelievable.  This is a team full of stars and superstars who are use to getting a ton of ice time and having their way offensively in the NHL.  How many times do you see it not just in hockey but in sports where the supremely talented team refuses to buy into a team concept and completely fails because it?  Not this crew.

 

BhKZ7SqCcAA7YuY They played amazing.  They stayed patient, and waited for their opportunities to cash in.  Crosby is maybe the best example of this.  Didn’t snipe until today, only 3 points on the tournament, but away from the puck and defensively he was awesome the entire time.  Same thing with Jonathan Toews.  During both Stanley Cup runs, Toews had scoring droughts.  Who cares?  This guy is incredible in all aspects of the game and will step up if he needs to step up.

 

Now to do a little bit of bragging….have to, I’m petty like that.  I was on Carey Price from day 1.  I never once thought he shouldn’t be our number 1 guy, and I have considered him an elite NHL goaltender for 3 or 4 years now.  But a lot of people did question that.  I’m not an idiot, I’m pretty certain we would have won with Luongo too, he’s great.  But Price is not only better, but he was perfectly suited for this team.  He keeps his focus, he is probably the most technically sound goaltender in hockey so he’s not a guy who’ll give up bad rebounds or weak goals, and I’m pretty certain he is clinically dead when he’s between the pipes.  He was my guy, I kept saying in all my Olympic projections leading up to this tournament that our goaltending was on par with everyone else and it was being drastically underrated.  As some of you read 11 days ago or so on this site, I was pretty damn adamant about him being the guy and I’m glad the coaching staff saw it the same way.  Not easy to leave the gold medal winner and a guy coming off a nice shutout on the bench, but it was the right move.

 

And what can you say about our blueline that hasn’t already been said?  When the Norris trophy winner is your 8th D-man….you’re pretty f***ing good!!  I just spoke about how great Price was, well he was the first guy to point out how easy playing behind that blueline was.  Weber and Doughty are just on a different level right now, and did anyone even notice Pietrangelo or Vlasic playing on this team?  That’s a good thing if you’re a D-man.

 

I could go on and on and on, but it’s now 8:30 and I need to go get some sleep so I’ll wrap this up.  Canada was dominate in the most uncomfortable setting they could be placed in.  We had a loss in Vancouver, and 2 other VERY close calls to win gold on home ice, on North American sized iced.  This time, we played everyone else’s game better than everyone else.  4 Golds in a row for the women, 3 out of 4 Golds for the men.  I think us pesky canucks just might be getting pretty good at this hockey thing.

 

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Oh No!!! It’s the Big Bad Americans!!!

Really not sure why Canada is even bothering showing up for this game today, the Americans are obviously unbeatable...
Really not sure why Canada is even bothering showing up for this game today, the Americans are obviously unbeatable…

 

That title brought to you buy the Canadian media.  This isn’t going to be much of an unbias post.  No, this is going to be much more of a rant than anything.  But it doesn’t lack insight…unlike the majority of the Canadian media who see something flashy from some other country and immediately scream “Canada is doomed!!!”  In fact, as I’m writing this I’m watching “hockey analyst”….Mike Johnson say “it’s gotta be the Americans” when asked who wins the game.

 

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T.J. Oshie will win this game for the Americans because as we all know it is a 60 minute, 1 player shootout

 

He’s right in his point, the Americans have been better in this tournament….statistically.  Although Canada has a better PP, better PK, and better G.A.A.  Anyway….which teams have they both played?  Oh that’s right, nobody.  In fact, there is only one thing you can go off of to judge how these teams will matchup.  The Russians played the Fins.  Finland won 3-1, who lost to Canada (and were dominated) 2-1 in OT.  Russia beats the Americans if it isn’t for a net being off by less than inches, and then lose in an epic team on team battle between….T.J. Oshie and Ilya Kovalchuk.  Soooooooo this makes the Americans BETTER?

 

 

 

I remember this same story going into the 98 Olympics (man I’m talking about 98 a lot this week!)  We had to build to beat the Americans, and the Americans were SO much better than Canada.  And “look out Canada” because the Americans were about to over take us in hockey both on the men’s and women’s side.  Well we just won our 4th straight Gold in women’s hockey, and the men have 2 of the last 3 Olympic Golds and put more players in the NHL now than we did in 1998.

 

Didn’t the media make this horrific mistake going into the Super Bowl?  I know I did!  Seattle was going to lose to Denver, no doubt.  How can you possibly stop the Broncos?  Sure the Seahawks have a good defense, but this is Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos!  Their offense is simply incredible and nobody will ever stop them!!!  Then the Seahawks humiliated them.

 

Everything the Americans have going for them, the Canadians have answer in WAVES.  Not just an answer, they have multiple answers.  If Weber and Keith aren’t working against the Kessel line, Babcock can just turn to Vlasic and Doughty, or Bouwmeester and Pietrangelo, all capable and all are at least as good as the Americans top pairing of McDonagh and Suter.  The Canadians 4th line center is Bergeron, who might be the Americans 1st line center.  If Price were in LA in 2012 he would have a ring and a Conn Smythe award, and the Kings wouldn’t have needed 6 games to win the Cup that season.

 

But hey, why let the facts get in the way of a good story?  In 2010  it was the big, bad, Russians!  “You can’t stop the Russians offense!!!”  We did…well that’s not right…we completely curb stomped them.  And it seems like any time the Canadian media starts up with “we should be terrified of the _________’s” our boys more than hear that chatter and shut some mouths in a hurry.

 

Could the Americans win this game today?  Of course!  I picked Canada to win Bronze, we didn’t even medal the 2 previous times we played over seas.  But should the Americans beat us?  Hell no!  And they won’t.  Canada will shut down their “amazing” offense, and will score because the Americans won’t play not to lose against us and have 6 guys playing goal.  And this is all coming from a guy who has looked to be unbias and looked to be the voice of reason this whole time.  And I feel like I’m being this way still, I’m just more pissed off about things right now!  Canada will win this game 4-0.

 

Will they win gold?  I don’t know.  But they’ll win this game.  And if by some chance the Americans pull it off, well guess what?  It’s an upset, tip of the hat because they do have a good team, and we’re still miles ahead of them in hockey.  That’s not trying to piss on anything the Americans accomplish at all, but it is trying to piss on the fear mongers in the Canadian media.  Shut up already.

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups

These Women Sacked Up!

 

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I’m no expert on Women’s hockey.  I mean I know who most of the players are for Team Canada, and quite of few of the American players too.  But I don’t watch many of the games, and especially in non Olympic years.  But in Olympic years I start paying attention, and when the Olympics get here I’m a HUGE fan.  Never though did I expect to see one of the best performances in Canadian hockey history like I did yesterday.

 

That’s right.  This is up there with 72, 87, 2010, and 2002.  As a good friend of mine who let’s just say KNOWS HIS SH*T said to me yesterday, “I would also put the World Junior semi’s in 09 up there, but yes it is in that class”.  Point is, it was incredible.  And made more incredible because of how it went down.  Coming into these Olympics the US had pulled away from Canada a bit.  We couldn’t beat them, they were quicker, and they were deeper.  And sure Canada won in the round robin which was a huge confidence booster, but the Americans were still pretty big favourites (Canadian spelling for this one!)

 

Shannon Szabados was the reason Canada even had a chance to comeback in this one.  She was absolutely incredible, specifically in the 1st where the Americans dominated the play, yet she held them scoreless and made several key saves throughout the game, and then stepped up huge again in OT.  Despite her brilliance, Canada was still down 2.  While they were putting pucks on net, they weren’t really generating much offensively.  But the tougher things got, the better they played.  3:30 to go, still down 2 and when Jenner sniped (getting a friendly bounce) and you knew it was far from done.  I didn’t celebrate much when Jenner scored, all I did was say to myself “game on!”  That it was!

 

After avoiding what would have been a disaster with just over a minute left when Catherine Ward had the linesman take her out allowing an American attempt at the empty net.  As was said all over twitter, that goal post was Canada’s best friend.  And then, Marie-Philip Poulin stepped up.  Now to give you an example of how little I know about our women’s team, I was saying a lot during this tournament “wasn’t that Poulin girl being touted as the Crosby of women’s hockey?”  I couldn’t figure out why she had seemingly disappeared (being too stupid to know that she was hurt much of the season and still not near 100%).  Well much like Sid in 2010, and much like…well…herself in 2010….Marie-Philip Poulin stepped up HUGE for Canada!  She became a national hero.

 

And what a job by Kevin Dineen.  Man, if you’re going to fail in life, fail up, and that’s what he did.  This guy did a great job with a garbage roster in Florida in 2012.  Before that, he was the hottest coaching prospect in the AHL with Portland.  So we shouldn’t be shocked.  But this team was an absolute mess when he walked through those doors just 2 months ago.  And they don’t win without him.  The way he ran that bench was incredible, and was very much so the equalizer for Canada.

 

As for the Americans, they choked….again.  It’s brutal to say, especially when these women truly are amature athletes.  But it’s just the fact of the matter.  They had beat Canada 8 in a row going into the Gold medal game in 2002, at home, with as bias of a ref as I personally have ever seen in a hockey game.  And they STILL couldn’t beat Canada.  In 06, they choked against a far less talented Sweden team in the semi’s and had to settle for Bronze.  2010 they had been the better team yet again leading up to the tournament, and sure Canada had a huge home ice advantage in that Gold medal game, but the Americans really didn’t put up much of a fight in that game.  And this was the worst choke of them all.  These teams are too evenly matched for Canada to have won 4 straight Golds.  But in sports you just see it all the time…sometimes, teams just can’t win the big games.

 

I’m sure glad Canada is on the other end of that.  And a win like this will only enhance women’s hockey in this country.  It was incredible to see the emotion that this game brought out in us.  It wasn’t just me.  A guy I work with who really couldn’t give a damn about hockey was asking me all about it after work today, and when I told him I was watching it on my phone he was ticked I didn’t tell him so he could watch too.  Tim and Sid were not only hilarious on their show while watching the game today, but were as into it as anyone would be for the men’s game in 2010.  You all certainly seen the shots from around the country when Poulin scored, it was amazing to see.

 

They were underdogs, they were all but finished, and they were as clutch as any team you will ever see.  You always hear about “Canadian heart” and I’m sure I’m not the only one who sometimes rolls his eyes at how much that gets used, but that is exactly what won this hockey game.  Congrats to our women’s team on their 4th straight Gold…I’m sure just like for the rest of the country, this one tastes just a little bit sweeter!

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups

No Longer the Soviet Union

 

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It was the story of the day yesterday, though I in no way (despite picking them to rise up and win gold) found it to be an upset.  I mean, the Fins were the higher ranked team entering the game!  Regardless, the Russians were bounced in the Quarter finals.  And while I picked the Russians to win gold, believing that they would be so much more motivated than other nations to win, I said it in my preview that they were a very flawed team.  They lack anything of a decent blueline, and while they have a lot of flash up front, they really lacked depth and 200 foot ability (200 mile ability I guess on this ice) even though it wasn’t defensive play that cost them.  The Russians simply put, are nowhere near what they used to be.

 

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What the great Soviet teams and players used to be is a far cry from what Russian teams and players are today

What they used to be was the Soviet Union.  And they were cold, stoic, robotic, whatever you want to call them, but they were incredible.  It isn’t as if in 72 it was all about having their way with an unprepared and out of shape group of Canadians, they proved that they were our equals as a hockey playing nation.  They proved that in 81 when they turned Mike Liut from possible future hall of famer to journeyman goaltender (did you know that Liut was the runner up to Wayne Gretzky for the 1981 Hart trophy?)  And then again in 87 where they didn’t win, but combined with Canada to give hockey fans maybe the 3 greatest games ever played.  And they were the ultimate team.  Now sure, they played a lot together.  The USSR national team was basically made up of players who played for CSKA Moscow (Central Red Army), but they had players who played at both ends of the ice, they had a tremendous defense, they had great playmakers, they could put together a great hockey team.  They were highly skilled, but they knew how to play the game.

 

So is it just because they became a democratic country in 1991?  Honestly, that likely has something to do with it.  Is it coaching?  Other than Tikhnov, name another Russian coach? (and no Mike Keenan and Dave King don’t count) But I believe it is far from the only problem.  One thing that I can’t help but notice is the style most of their top guys play.  They play like a guy who came on the scene in North America during the 1991 World Juinor’s in Saskatoon.  He then went onto play for the Vancouver Canucks.  Yes, maybe one of the best things to happen to Russian hockey, has also been one of the worst.  Pavel Bure.

 

Not identical by any means, but Kovalchuk, Ovechkin, Malkin, Radulov, Semin, etc all have a lot of Bure in their games.  Maybe more than any other former Russian player.  Then you have the younger generation of Russian players who have now grown up watching Ovechkin, and how could you not love him if you are a kid growing up in Russia?  He’s fun, energetic, scores goals at will, he is maybe the most entertaining hockey player on the planet.  Of course people confuse things like eye pleasing and entertaining with “best”.  He’s far from the best despite what some people will tell you.  He is one of the two best snipers.

 

And so kids like Tarasenko, Kuznetsov, Yakupov and Nichushkin grow up wanting to play this same way.  Who is the one impact player the Russians have, or have coming, who plays more the “Soviet” way?  Pavel Datsyuk, born in 1978.  He was the only guy this team had who plays a complete game.  All those snipers are great, but if they aren’t surrounded with guys who can play a complete game to compliment them, they become useless much like they did in this tournament.  They are a football team loaded with WR’s and they don’t have a QB, o-line, or defense.

 

It may sound like a stupid comparison, but I’m going to make it anyway.  This kind of reminds me of the way Canadian hockey was in 1998.  Now of course looking back 16 years later (to the day actually), we were the best.  We simply ran into a guy who when he was in his prime was maybe the best goaltender of all time…and he was right in the middle of that prime.  We also had awful luck of having Lemieux retire the year prior, Karyia out with a concussion, and Joe Sakic was hurt during the tournament.  What would have been our 3 highest skilled guys.

 

But even so, we weren’t producing much skill.  We were pretty much only producing these power forwards who had little skill, tough/stay at home D-men, we were all about playing “the Canadian way” and grew up with Grapes telling us to do so.  We were also victims in a way of Eric Lindros the same way I believe the Russians have become a victims of Pavel Bure.  Everyone got so excited as to what Lindros could be that we were developing guys to either match up with him, or be the next Lindros.

 

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Bure was great in Nagano, but he was surrounded by the right kind of players and the Russians played as a team

In 1998 for the Russians however, they had their best finish in any best on best tournament since becoming Russia.  That team had players like Khabibulin, Mogilny, Larionov, Fetisov, Slava Kozlov, Tverdovsky, Malakhov and Zubov all stay back in North America because of political or personal reasons at the time.  They still won Silver.  They were STILL solid on all 4 lines, still had 3 really solid D pairings, and good (not great) goaltending.  And they had players who knew there roles.  Sure Bure was electric, but Fedorov was an elite 2 way center, say what you want about Yashin but at that time he was solid defensively and an elite playmaker, and I could go on and on and on.  But the point is, they didn’t just have 8 elite guys that played the same way.  They could put a legitimate team together, and were a serious threat.  I think up until yesterday, this is how much of the hockey world still thought of the Russians.  But they haven’t been what that team was for a long time now.

 

The Bure idolizing is just a theory of course and while I truly believe it has been part of the issue, I’m positive there are many different issues with Russian hockey.  There has to be a happy medium.  It used to be that these guys wouldn’t show any emotion at all (of course mainly due to communism).  Now, it is all most of them want to do is snipe, celly, repeat.  They need to get back to developing D-men, developing 200 foot forwards.  Get some of the pride back in playing tremendous defensive hockey and combining the offensive flair with the defensive play like Pavel Datsyuk does.  This is the country who deemed Bob Gainey the best player in the world in the 1970’s because of how great his defensive game was.

 

I would be an idiot to sit here and tell you I have the answers to what ails them.  I have no clue how they develop their players or anything about their program.  So I can’t speak to that, but I have noticed that they are basically only developing one type of player anymore and that has to stop.  If you can develop all world talent like Malkin, Ovechkin, and Kovalchuk then you’re doing SOMETHING right.  They just need to get back to teaching their kids to play a complete game, and a team game.  Until that happens, the Russians will be on the outside looking in when it comes to these best on best competitions.

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups

Soups Diary – Feb. 19th, 1998

 

Wow, how cool is this?!?  NHL players in the Olympics!!!  NOW we will see who the best country is.  No more will we be heartbroken in shootouts like 94!  And we CRUSHED the Americans who were the only team that could have beat us.  The World Cup was just a fluke win for them.  So it’ll be us and the Russians in the final after we kill Czechslovakia tomorrow or whatever they’re called these days.

 

The Czechs are terrible!  Half their roster isn’t even in the NHL!  Like who the heck is Milan Hejduk?!  That guy is never coming close to the NHL I’ll tell you that!  Sure they have Jagr, and he’s having a good year, but he’s just lived off Lemieux.  You watch, Jagr won’t be anything without Mario.  And yeah Hasek is pretty good.  But he’s not Roy, and 1 player can’t beat you.  We have so much size and are so tough that they won’t be able to walk by the end of the game.  That’s what wins in hockey, playing the Canadian way!  Just size and grit, you don’t need anything else.  I.  AM.  CANADIAN!!!

 

So it’ll be us and the Russians who don’t even have Mogilny or Khabibulin.  We owe the Russians payback for the men’s figure skating.  Stojoko should have won the Gold in that, you should get points for skating hurt!  Like how is that not factored in?!  But at least Ross Rebagliati got his Gold medal back, although it is just horrible that he smokes marijuana.  He seemed like such a clean cut snowboarder from B.C.  I never would have guessed he would ever smoke weed, pretty shocking stuff.

 

Speaking of shocking stuff, Mike Tyson is in the WWF!  That is so cool!  I know it’s all fake, but I’m pretty sure that stuff between him and Stone Cold was real!  I hope he goes after Vince McMahon again, I still think he is the scum of the earth for screwing over Bret.  Oh well, with the way WCW kicks their ass in the ratings every week I’m sure it is only a matter of time before the WWF folds and WCW will own everything then!

 

Pumped for the Jays this season too!  Jose Canseco signed with them, that is so cool!!  I love Canseco, don’t know how the guy is so awesome, just amazing genetics I guess.  If he can get back to being his old self and hit 40 home runs that would be amazing (he actually did that in 98, I was right about this…)  And just imagine if Clemens has another season like last year!  That guy sure was pissed at the Red Sox for letting him go, but man he worked so hard and it just proves that if you work hard enough at something you can go from being a washed up pitcher to unhittable again in your mid 3o’s.

 

As for me, I’m still pretty down about my hoop dreams having to die.  But hockey is going good.  Knocked off Elk Point and Lac La Biche so now we just need to beat Bonnyville to go to provincials.  School isn’t going too good though, I didn’t hand in my 300 word essay on time in L.A. so Mr. Jones made me stay in and write it at lunch time.  That’s soooooo stupid!  Like I’ll ever write anything 300 words long!  He’s such an idiot.

 

Well, I guess mom says I have to go to bed.  She gets cranky when I’m chatting on ICQ cause it ties up the phone line.  Well get used to it because that’s how you get on the internet MOM!

 

E-mail me at undercut69@geocities.com

White, out!

 

I’ve been wanting to write this piece for a couple of years now, but never had enough to write about.  Not that this one will be upwards of 2,000 words or anything, but I can make it long enough and make it look like an actual respectable piece of writing….for me anyway…

 

So the NHL has been looking at ways in recent years to make life more difficult for goaltenders.  And they’re talking about all these different things they could do.  How it is so difficult to downsize their gear I have no clue.  It is not a protection issue, they’re all plenty protected.  I believe the issue with goaltenders is some of them are worried that if some real restrictions come in on things like blocker, glove and pad size that their numbers will significantly decrease.

 

But the PA should be fighting for the best interest of the players, and the best interest of the players is to have the most entertaining brand you can put on the ice so revenues go way up and in that salaries would go way up.  If it is easier to score, it’ll limit how much teams can sit back and there for make a more entertaining game.  Why are 60 out of 700 plus players running the show on this?

 

Anyway, so goaltenders fight tooth and nail on ANYTHING the league tries to do to lessen the gear.  The one thing that the league could do which goaltenders likely wouldn’t have any argument for is restricting the mainly white equipment.  However, this is completely lost on the league.  How?  I have no clue, other than it’s the NHL and they’re terrified to make any changes to their game in the interest of entertainment.

 

But what could the goaltenders say?  That wouldn’t be a safety concern.  I don’t know that it would help a ton, but it would help.  You do notice a difference when goaltenders wear white gear and when they wear dark stuff.  It obviously doesn’t make them bigger, but they look bigger.  It also blends in with the mesh making it more difficult to see how much net a shooter has to work with.

 

At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, I really believe these guys are being told by their organizations that they have to wear white.  If there is one thing I’ve figured out about goaltenders over the years is that they’re a pretty stylish bunch.  Look at what most of them do for the outdoor games.  They get new gear, and none of it is plain old white.  It seems to me like the shackles are taken off for those one off’s.  Not everyone does it (goaltenders hate breaking in new gear), but a lot of them do.

 

The Florida Panthers are the only team as far as I can tell who might not have this rule.  Tim Thomas this season has pads that are mainly red.  Scott Clemmenson a few years ago had the same thing going on.  Jonas Hiller might not have restrictions in Anaheim, and he especially didn’t in the outdoor game when he wore his orange Koho’s.  But for the large majority, I really believe organizations are telling these guys that they have to wear white.  And maybe for most goaltenders, they don’t have to be told.  They probably want to wear white to get that edge.

 

Marc+Andre+Fleury+Toronto+Maple+Leafs+v+Pittsburgh+O682v1u3iU8x MAFIn doing research for this piece, I stumbled across an article from the Toronto Star last March that did a WAY better job than I ever could.  I wanted to find the article from the Pittsburgh Gazette which told the story of how Marc-Andre Fleury was specifically told to switch from his yellow pads, to white pads and how his numbers got dramatically better.  They give you that, and a whole lot more:

www.thestar.com/sports/hockey/2013/03/05/do_white_pads_give_goaltenders_an_unfair_advantage.html

Now, whether you just read that or not I don’t know, but if you didn’t they do in fact point out that Kay Whitmore from the NHL has taken notice of this issue, but that it’s not on the table.  HOW?!?!?!  Are you THAT dumb???  I would love to hear ONE good reason why the NHL, who claim they are always looking at ways to increase scoring and put a more entertaining product on the ice for it’s fans, would avoid doing anything about this….ONE.  

 

I can understand it for minor hockey or for that matter anyone who has to purchase their own gear.  Different teams means different colors and white will go with all the different uniforms.  You want to have gear that goes with the uniforms and kids can’t be changing their gear every year to keep up with whatever team they play on next.

 

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But for multi millionaire’s who likely don’t have to pay for their gear, this is insane.  It takes personality right out of the game.  At the risk of sounding like a dinosaur, I was raised on goaltenders like Felix Potvin, Ed Belfour, Patrick Roy, Bill Ranford, Curtis Joseph, Tevor Kidd, Damian Rhodes, Kelly Hrudy, and on and on and on who were goaltenders who at least on the ice had a ton of personality.  And they were goaltenders who made saves, not just blocked shots.  Don’t get me wrong, I fully understand that the style of how you play the position has changed dramatically from those days, I get that.  But the personality can still be there.  You could tell Cujo apart from all the other goaltenders.

 

4_Braden_HoltbyNHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Chicago Blackhawksuntitled-10-2

Today, when they put on their stuff, if they all had on the same jersey you can’t tell one from another!  Optically it’s terrible.  And I just can’t for the life of me figure out why the NHL wouldn’t be looking to change this?  If goaltenders have more personailty, then they’re more marketable.  If white gear does help (and obviously it does when everyone is wearing it), then get rid of it if you actually want to try to find way’s to increase scoring.  Otherwise, quit telling everyone that you want to increase scoring.

 

Might not seem like a big deal, and might not do much of anything to increase scoring in the NHL.  But it can’t  hurt in anyway.  Manufacturers want this rule changed, I’m sure skaters would like this rule change, there is no safety reason to not do it, yet the league….as always…just can’t seem to get something that should be so simple and easy, correct.

 

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