Tag Archives: National Hockey League

2012 ‘Hall of Fame’ Inductees – Shanahan Snubbed

The 2012 Hockey Hall of Fame class has been decided and joining the no-brainer, first-ballot Joe Sakic are Pavel Bure, Adam Oates and Mats Sundin. The biggest surprise of the nomination process, much to the chagrin of Red Wings Nation, was the omission of Brendan Shanahan. Shanahan is definitely Hall of Fame caliber and will certainly be voted in eventually so you have to wonder if this years neglect is a self-imposed Shanaban or if it’s continued sour grapes from the way Shanahan bullied his way out of playing for the Hartford Whalers franchise. Either way Shanny is going to have to wait at least a year before his 1354 regular season points and three Stanley Cup championships are heralded in the basement of Brookfield Place in Toronto.

Collectible Shanahan

Other first year eligible notables included Jeremy Roenick, Gary Roberts, Curtis Joseph and Claude “the Fraud” Lemieux. It’s no huge surprise to me that none of these guys had the collective support to make it in this year except of course Mats Sundin over Shanahan as a first-balloter. One extra thing to take into consideration, and what I expect tipped the scales for Sweden’s Sundin, is that this is the HOCKEY Hall of Fame and not the NHL Hall of Fame so therefore international experience and clout hold a little extra sway. Also the Hockey Hall of Fame is in Toronto and there’s no subtle coincidence that the honks voted in the long-time Maple Leaf Captain so quickly.

Bure and Oates made it out of the waiting line but some of the greats still waiting behind the velvet rope include Dave Andreychuk, Eric Lindros, Steve Larmer, Kevin Lowe, Tom Barrasso and Mike Richter. The most impressive of these stand byes is probably Dave Andreychuk who amassed an impressive 1338 points over 23 seasons in the NHL and topping it all of by helping Tampa Bay get a Stanley Cup Championship in 2004. I still maintain that because of the lockout Tampa was the 2-year reigning Stanley Cup Champion so therefore Dave actually has 2 (sort of) Stanley Cup victories. It also amazes me that Kevin Lowe who has more Stanley Cup rings than can fit on one hand is still not in the Hall and perhaps illustrates the bias against defensive defensemen as Lowe’s 431 career points aren’t blowing anyone away. He was a career +252 for goodness sakes though!

It’s not too surprising that it took a bit of a wait for Pavel Bure to make the Hall as he had a relatively short NHL career and never made it to the Stanley Cup Finals but he was an electric goal scorer who notched 437 goals in a mere 702 games also bagged one of the hottest model/”athletes” of his time in Anna Kournikova. She belongs on any Hall of Fame resume.

Adam Oates is famous for having perhaps the slickest pair of hands in the NHL and in his heyday averaged over an assist a game an impressively finished with 1079 assists in 1337 regular season games. Oates is another guy who never had his name etched on Lord Stanley’ cup but is having a hell of a week as he was not only inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame this week but was also named as the new Head Coach of the Washington Capitals.

A couple of other quick Hockey notes for the week: Another young Russian was at the head of the NHL Draft class as Edmonton continues to draft in the top spot and the Pittsburgh Penguins signed Sidney Crosby to a 12-year $104 million dollar deal. I realize that Sidney Crosby is perhaps the best player in the NHL when he is healthy but you’ve gotta wonder about this long-term contract after the horrendous concussion history Crosby has. You’ve got to look no farther than the Boston Bruin’s Marc Savard and Nathan Horton to see how quickly serious concussions can derail a talented players career. If this also means that the Penguins are considering parting ways with Evgeni Malkin, perhaps the second best player in the NHL, as John Buccigross has suggested then I think the Penguins are betting on the wrong horse face of the franchise or no.

Till next time Puckheads!

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2012 NHL All-Star Weekend: Cheers and Jeers

Right before the All-Star break Alex Ovechkin got nailed with a three-game Shannaban, and in a brilliant move he proclaimed himself “unworthy” of attending the NHL weekend of festivities. Whether Ove was really so upset about his suspension from a marginally bad check that he wanted to “stick it to the man”, or was relishing a five day rest from league responsibilities it was a well-played move by the mad Russian. So with that we start the “All-Star Cheers and Jeers” which since the host city is Ottawa Ontario this year we shall re-name them the “All-Star Beauty Eh? and Hosers” awards.

The first Beauty Eh? goes to Alex Ovechkin for continuing to be the hard-hitting, trash-talking, beautiful tennis star-dating, Russian superstar he ought to be, and the Hoser goes to the NHL for not sticking up for itself and forcing Alex to go to the All-Star game anyhow. Suspensions have been levied in the past to players who have decided to skip the festivities so why not now?

As a full disclosure I will have to admit that I have been working in Ft. Lauderdale all weekend so my attention to the festivities has been somewhat diverse. I didn’t watch the Selection show which is no big deal, I was able to lobby a local bar into turning a couple of TVs to the Skills competition and I was forced to watch an audio-free web feed of the All Star game on my computer as I was working. So the next Hoser award goes to me for missing all of the miced up segments and joshing around by the players as I was forced to watch muted broadcasts.

The next Beauty Eh? goes to whoever came up for the concept of the playground rules selection process for the All-Star teams. Daniel Alfredsson and Zdeno Chara were named captains by being representatives of the host city and defending Stanley Cup champions respectively and got to literally draft their teams from the players who were voted All-Stars. This means the potential for regular season teammates playing opposite one another without the North America vs. The World awkwardness.

First Pick – Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk

There wasn’t a strong Hoser candidate from the Draft Selection Show except that Chara took Kessel before Seguin and Alfredsson took all the Swedes and Senators, but I have  a separate Hockey score to settle so I will give an extra large Hoser award to the NHLPA for rejecting the NHL re-alignment program. Remember the NHL’s plan to change the conferences in a much more regionally friendly way? Well apparently the NHLPA shot that idea down and there isn’t enough negotiation time for next season so we won’t be seeing any re-alignment until 2013 at the earliest. [Boooo!]

The NHL All-Star Weekend continued Saturday night with the Skills competition, another pretty cool and diverse set of contests unique to the NHL. Let’s just give one big Beauty Eh? award to the Skills competition in general and mention the highlights. The fastest skater competition of course came down to young legs as rookie Carl Hagelin beat out rookie Colin Greening by less than one tenth of a second.

The Breakaway Challenge, the NHL’s version of the Slam Dunk contest, garnered Patrick Kane (above) a lot of attention for his Superman stylings, but I was more impressed that goaltender Brian Elliot didn’t allow any of the pieces of Kane’s exploding puck by him, and the creativity of Corey Perry’s “mini-stick” goal (right). Much like in the NBA though, the flashiest guy, Kane, got the fan vote.

The other big highlight of the Skills Competition was the Hardest Shot segment although new hockey stick technology have made the hardest shot a legal version of “corking the bat”. Zdeno Chara, as always, was dominant and set a new NHL high water mark with a 108.8 mph slapshot. I was most impressed however with Daniel Alfredsson who’s not only Swedish but also 39 years old and still was able to consistently shoot over 100 mph. It should also be mentioned that Chara has about 8 inches of torque height over Alfredsson.

Not amused.

The Hoser award for the Skills competition goes to the confusing scoring system and the bias towards individually scored points. I really enjoyed the Skills Challenge Relay which involved 32 different players showing their skills in shooting, passing (over barricades!), puck handling and speed, but the total segment was only worth the maximum of two points. So the competition that involves almost everyone is pretty much worthless when all of the head-to-head competitions were worth 5-6 points? Meh. The only other Hoser award goes to Patrick Kan’s hair which is twice as light on top than on the sides. If he’s not careful he’s going to wind up looking like Dr. Phil…

Moving on to the All-Star Game. Since I was watching the game on the web I was catching the CBC feed which involved the obligatory Don Cherry appearance. Although this has nothing to do with the All-Star game I am going to have to give a Beauty Eh? award to the genius who came up with the Don Cherry piano desk.

The NHL All-Star Game was the standard high scoring affair you would expect from what is essentially a pick up pond game with the best players in the world. Let’s give a Beauty Eh? award to all the goaltenders who come out to get a good natured drubbing. At the very least maybe facing such a high number of shootout opportunities allows the goalies to pick up on some of the super stars tendencies which may give them an edge next time a game goes beyond overtime this year. Marion Gaborik got a well deserved MVP award for his hat-trick plus an assist performance and Chara (+7) and Alfredsson (2 goals) both performed admirably as their teams Captains. Gabby also gets extra props for his nod to Anisimov’s “shoot the goalie” celebration that was chronicled on HBO’s 24/7 series earlier this year, which followed scoring his first goal on teammate Henrick Lundqvist.

Not much to complain about when it comes to the All-Star Game. You get what you expect: a lot of passing, a lot of scoring and no defense. I will have to give one big Hoser award to the All-Star jersey’s however. On the whole the jerseys weren’t too bad, but I couldn’t help but be super annoyed by the giant numbers directly under the collar on the front side of the sweater. Give the fans a little credit. The NHL has been ramping up player recognition by adding shoulder numbers and numbers on the top of the helmets but those chest numbers last night were just plain obnoxious. I was much more impressed with the jersey that Drake wore for his performance between periods.

One final Hoser award to hand out and we’ll conclude this years NHL All-Star Weekend review. I just looked up the location of the 2013 All-Star game and it’s going to be in lovely Columbus Ohio. Oh. Well. Let’s just hope for Jackets fans that Columbus is still playing in Ohio next year.

NHL: The Stars Re-Align…Along with 29 Other Teams

The NHL Board of Governors officially approved league re-alignment earlier this month paring the current six divisions down to four larger ones based more closely on the geographic location of the teams. The new-look NHL will include two eight-team “Western Conference” divisions and two seven-team “Eastern Conference” divisions breaking down as follows:

The “Wild Wild West” Division: Anaheim, Calgary, Colorado, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose and Vancouver.

The “Middle America” Division: Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis and Winnipeg.

The “Northeast and Florida” Division: Boston, Buffalo, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay and Toronto.

The “Subway” Division: Carolina, New Jersey, NY Islanders, NY Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Washington.

Essentially this re-alignment was made to appease bitchy fans of Detroit, Dallas and Columbus who incessantly complain about staying up late to watch games that are out of their time zone. While the travel schedules will indeed be more appealing to the teams, they will nonetheless be punished with visits to lovely Winnipeg 2-3 times a year. The unbalanced divisions does give some legs to the rumors that Commandant Bettman will finally allow the Coyotes to leave Phoenix though. If the Yotes moved to Quebec City it would re-balance the “East”, but imagine the confusion a new Nordiques franchise could impose on a casual Hockey fan…

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NHL Goalie Loves ‘The Evil Dead’ – Steve Mason’s Tribute Mask

Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Steve Mason seems to be a bit of a horror fan.  He has released some images of his new mask on Twitter. His new mask on one side, has the Ohio state flag, which is pretty bad ass for a flag given its cool shape.

On the other side of the helmet though are the ghosts of the civil war, which ties in with the name Blue Jackets and the Columbus third jersey which has a Civil War canon on it.

Continue reading NHL Goalie Loves ‘The Evil Dead’ – Steve Mason’s Tribute Mask

The 2011 NHL Awards – Who Won and Who Deserved To…

So the NHL awards took place tonight, finally putting the 2010-2011 to bed. Let’s take a look at those who won, and those that should have been winners:

Norris Trophy (Best Defenseman)

Nominees: Zdeno Chara – Boston Bruins, Nicklas Lidstrom – Detroit Red Wings, and Shea Weber – Nashville Predators.

Winner: Nicholas Lidstrom, Detroit
Should’ve Been: Shea Weber, Nashville

While the Lidstrom win, his 7th, is not surprising, I think Weber was the correct choice. Weber finished The season with 16 goals, 32 assists, +7, and 211 hits. Weber, along with Pekka Rinne, is the reason behind Nashville’s successful season and playoff run.

Continue reading The 2011 NHL Awards – Who Won and Who Deserved To…