Archives For NHL

It was July 1, 2008 and Radim Vrbata was just coming off of a career year in Phoenix.  His 56 points in 76 games played — 27 goals and 29 assists — were career bests, his role on the team was that of a top-liner, and he was in line for a healthy raise from the highest bidder.  Soon, Tampa Bay would come calling, and Vrbata would be out of the desert and off to Florida.

Then Tampa Bay general manager Jay Feaster signed Vrbata for three seasons at a total value of $9 million.  For a player that hadn’t had a permanent NHL home for more than two seasons, it was looking like Vrbata had a place to settle in for the foreseeable future.  As the season got underway, however, it was clear that something wasn’t quite right with the Czech winger.

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For those that are casual hockey fans, the name John Scott might not mean a thing.

He’s a tough-guy, an enforcer, and at 6’8″ and 270 pounds, he’s built for it.  Often enforcers aren’t glory guys, but instead fan favourites.  They’re the guys who go to war for you, who stand up for the meaning of your team’s name and logo, and they will bleed for you if they have to.  They’re normal guys elevated to hero status.

Or they used to, because in Chicago, John Scott has taken on a brand new meaning.

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Calgary Flaming Out

December 2, 2011 — Leave a comment

Ken Holland, the incredible general manager of the Detroit Red Wings, has often said you can truly tell what a team is and who they will be for the balance of the season by the December break.

If Calgary’s own GM Jay Feaster feels the same way, he best hope the Flames play turns around drastically in the four weeks leading up to the holiday season.

With the season now nearly a month and a half old, Cow Town’s big club are already looking to be burning more like ambers than the Flames of several years passed.  The pieces are still there — Iggy, Kipper, Sarich, Giordano, and Bouwmeester — but the results aren’t.

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On Fighting

December 1, 2011 — Leave a comment

Since I have been a fan of the game, I have been a fan of fighting.

We learned of it from video games, from Don Cherry’s Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em tapes, and from watching the warriors on the ice. It was part of the game, it was part of the violence, it was part of what made it the toughest game on earth in a fans eyes. There was nothing like it in any other sport, and maybe that is part of what drew us to it as fans.

Weeks back — nearly three to be exact — Ken Dryden lent his vast knowledge of the game, and knowledge in general, to the project that Bill Simmons et al have taken up over at Grantland. The article is not only a great piece of writing, something we have come to expect from Dryden, but astonishing in its ability to bring to light the issues we face today from someone who was present during expansion-era NHL play. While many of the “old school”-ers from years passed would be reluctant to speak out on the issue, often chalking up the rough play to, “the way the game is,” Dryden faces the issues head on and takes a stand voicing the need for change.

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Since the inception of the salary cap, talk has always surrounded the inability to keep together the dynasty.  In Boston, it’s looking like we could be on the verge of seeing something special.

Personally, I’ve never been one to jump the gun.  When the Bruins were dominating the League throughout November, I wondered often how long it could really last.  When they finished the month without a regulation loss, I didn’t think it was a mirage, but maybe the result of one of those incredible hot streaks we see teams go on throughout the season year in and year out.  Then December came, and the Bruins continued to win.

It’s January 9th.  The Boston Bruins record is 27-10-1. Since the end of an October that saw every hockey fan scratching their head as to what was “wrong” in Boston, the Bruins have gone 24-3-1.

That’s good, right?

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It was announced on Thursday that the landscape for National Hockey League media is changing — and in the best way possible.

NBC, along with Ross Greenburg, have teamed up with the NHL and have created NHL Original Productions, a venture that will produce a wide array of long and short hockey based programming.

Greenburg, a 51-time Emmy Award winner, teaming with the NHL gives fans hope that more programming similar to HBO’s 24/7: Road to the Winter Classic and Broad Street Bullies will continue to see the light of day.  In getting Greenburg to work with NHL Original Productions is an absolute steal for the league, as his work on each production for the NHL to this point has been of the highest calibre.

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It is a night Mark Howe, Ed Belfour, Doug Gilmour, and Joe Nieuwendyk will never forget — the night they will be enshrined amongst hockey legends in the Hall of Fame.

Between the four, the list of accolades reads longer than most would expect.  Five Stanley Cups, a Conn Smythe, a Selke, two Calders, two Vezinas, four Jennings, and an unprecedented fifteen All-Star game appearances.  This class is nothing to scoff at, and you can believe when they read the list of awards shared amongst these men there will be some with widened eyes.

Through all of this, however, there seems to be something missing.

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House of Payne

November 7, 2011 — Leave a comment

In St. Louis all signs were pointing to the beginning of something great. The pieces were in place; Halak in goal, Oshie, Backes, Steen, and Stewart up front, Shattenkirk, Pietrangelo, and Jackman on the backend. It was a team with high hopes coming into this season, and fact of the matter is they weren’t getting it done.

For some, it was a shocking move. It came out of nowhere in the middle of a Sunday evening, and the new hire was seemingly pried from his obvious destination.

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Polite, soft spoken, and cliched.

If you were to describe an NHL bench boss, or any player for that matter, those would be the three words that you would most likely use.  Coaching styles and methodology aside, these guys are cookie cutter professionals.  They say the right things, they do the right things, and you can almost pinpoint what they are going to say before they say it.

Tough loss?

“We need to be better,” the Coach says, “They beat us to pucks.  We need to work on our PP/PK.  We need to be more accountable for our mistakes, shake off this loss, and move on and focus on the next game.”

Big win?

“The guys played well, they were moving their legs, getting to the tough areas,” says Coach of the Anytown Anybodies.

So why are we so quick to jump down the throats of our big personalities? Continue Reading…

If I told you in July that, at the quarter mark of the season, we would be looking at a division leading Florida Panthers squad, you would probably laugh me out of the room.  But that’s exactly what we have.

And should we really be surprised?  In 2005-06, Dale Tallon took over as the General Manager of the Chicago Blackhawks, a team toiling on the verge of obscurity.  In 2009-10, the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup.  He wasn’t on the ice, he wasn’t in the press box, he wasn’t even in the arena.  No, the architect of the Stanley Cup winning Chicago Blackhawks — their first such victory since 1961 and the days of Mikita and Hull — was watching from his new post in South Florida.  Dale Tallon was the new General Manager of the Florida Panthers.

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