Bleacher Report Article

I thought would link everyone to my first article for Bleacher Report. I just got selected for the opportunity to write for them earlier this week. My first article is about the Caps, their shootout win against the Canadiens, and what it means for their playoff chances.

Check out the article here:

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1127159-caps-shootout-win-does-it-mean-playoffs-in-the-future

Advertisements

NHL ’13 Cover Vote

6

Brace yourselves hockey fans. A bracket is heating up. No, I am not talking about March Madness, I am talking about EA Sports’ fan vote for the NHL ’13 cover. This is the first year fans will be able to vote for who they think should be on the cover of the much awaited game. In the past, cover-players have been announced as a surprise to NHL fans. Previous cover-players include: Alexander Ovechkin (’07), Eric Staal (’08), Dion Phaneuf (’09), Pat Kane (’10), Jonathan Toews (’11), and Steven Stamkos (’12). At http://www.nhl.com/covervote, fans are able to choose between two candidates given for each team. The two candidates from each team are pre-selected. Fans are allowed to vote up to 10 times a day for either every teams’ players or just one player if they so choose. After April 11th, players will re-enter a new bracket of choices based on who ‘won’ their category. Most of the selections of players seem fairly obvious, highlighting the key players from this year’s season.

Here are photos of the first round choices:

Twitter is taking a big role in the NHL ’13 cover discussion. Using the hashtag #NHL13Cover, the NHL is maintaining an active conversation about who should win. Players are tweeting and asking fans and followers to vote for them. Some of the players are joking around about making the decision about which teammate to vote for. See NY Rangers’ Brad Prust’s tweets from this morning: 

Is there anyone you think deserves the cover the most? Any teams that have the wrong players as choices? Do you think players tweets that ask for votes will actually make a difference?

NHL Awards Preview, Norris Trophy

2

In Las Vegas, on June 20, 2012 the newest NHL awardees will be crowned. Various trophies will be awarded to both players and coaches throughout the league. Although there is still a decent amount of hockey left before June, here are some of my predictions for who could be winning the prestigious James Norris Memorial Trophy (for greatest all-around defenseman) and why.

  • Last years winner: Nicklas Lidstrom (Detroit Red Wings)- Could Lidstrom win again? Probably not. I would argue that this was not Lidstrom’s year. Although he is always a solid defenseman, and one of the best to  play the game, I don’t think he will take it this year (although its never wise to count him out, he has won it 7 times). He is getting older and with an injury to his right ankle, Lidstrom missed 11 games in a row in March. This has given him a solid set back to winning the title for the second year in a row.Other defenseman are making more of a splash this year with their power and offensive-strength. Here is one of Lidstrom’s better plays from earlier this year: 
  • Front-runner: Shea Weber (Nashville Predators). Benefits of Weber: He is on track for career-best offensive numbers (only two points away from his final regular season point total from last year when he was the runner-up for the Norris). Weber is a major leader for the Predators team as Captain. He is also highest scoring defenseman on the Preds and plays a solid average of 25 minutes of ice-time per game.  And we all know Weber has a ridiculous slap shot (we saw just how fast during the NHL All-star Skills Competition when he shot over 104 miles per hour and gave Chara a run for his money).
  • Front runner: Erik Karlsson (Ottawa Senators). On the other hand, Karlsson is having a break out year. Karlsson has already surpassed his point totals from last season, and has the 2nd highest point total on the Senators. He is young and is proving that he might be the d-man to watch for in upcoming years. Although Karlsson’s +/- isn’t quite as good as Lidstrom or Weber, he is still a serious contender because of his point totals. Karlsson is currently sitting at a staggering 73 points.To put this in perspective: when looking at point totals this season, Karlsson is the only defenseman in the top 80. This is even more impressive because Karlsson is number 11 (right in between Jordan Eberle and Henrik Sedin). Even though Karlsson has all those points, Weber still has a good chance of coming away with the win. Being a goal-scorer doesn’t necessarily win you the Norris. Here is a nice set-up for a Spezza goal made by Karlsson earlier this season: 
  • Other potential candidates: Zdeno Chara (Boston Bruins), Ryan Suter (Nashville Predators)

Agree/disagree? Anyone think Letang has a chance even though he was out with injuries for so long?

Staged Fights, Should the NHLPA Allow It?

9

Regardless of your stance on NHL fighting, this video is pretty shocking. I have a couple of quick points I would like to address regarding this multi-fight madness:

  1. There should be clear-cut line between fights to change the momentum of the game and staged fights to beat the living hell out of the other team (aka fights off the face-off). Isn’t player safety more important than a fight about starting lineups and angry coaches before the game has even started?
  2. If you are going to put a defenseman in the circle for the face-off, you are looking for trouble.
  3. Ryan Carter is quite the bleeder.
  4. Fights should not occur before anything in the game happens. Those coaches should be punished for that type of staged chaos. And Tortorella should be ashamed for yelling curses at DeBoer from the bench, real classy John.
  5. This is not the first time these two teams have gone at it within the first couple seconds of the hockey game. It has actually happened twice already in the past year (December 2011 and February 2012). Shouldn’t something be done to stop this trend?
  6. This kind of fighting is not ‘part of the game’. The NHL isn’t MMA fighting and there should not be mindless bashing-in of skulls without cause. Pierre Lebrun of ESPN said this about the fight:

NHL nixes pre-season games in Europe

3

According to the NHL, this upcoming season will be the first season since 2007 to not have preseason games in Europe. The reason for this change stems from the logistics associated with the NHL’s expiring Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). The CBA remains in effect until September 15, 2012 which is right at the beginning of when the preseason should start.

Sports Business Journal wrote this week, “Sources said that the NHL was ‘willing to schedule them, but an agreement couldn’t be reached with the NHLPA over how cancellation costs would be handled in the event of a work stoppage.'” So, because of a potential lockout teams can’t promote the sport to fans abroad? In my opinion, this is a horrible situation for the NHL. Deals need to be worked out, but the importance of these games is clearly being overlooked. At the NHL GM meeting, GMs accepted that games could not be scheduled and the CBA could be tabled. Instead they should have scheduled the games, and cut their losses if cancellations occurred (which they most likely wouldn’t anyway). The GMs also could have taken a look at the CBA to try to figure it out before the summer ends. Commissioner Gary Bettman actually said he doesn’t know when talks about the CBA will start, “Ask the union. We’ve been ready. But I’m not concerned. There’s lots of time.” Sure, lots of time, but at the expense of the European preseason.

I recently went to London and met with executives from both NFL UK and NBA International. Both the NFL and the NBA are doing everything in their power to grow their brands in Europe and get an increasingly International fan base. The NBA is doing pretty well, because basketball is such a global sport. They are growing on a grassroots level, and utilizing social media to gain fans. The NFL faces challenges from rugby fans who doubt the amount of padding used, but the the NFL is still bringing an American football game to London each year. They also are attempting to bring an NFL team to the UK for good. On the other hand, NHL games aren’t even played on TV in England. There is no deal with the networks that allow for them to be played. (Sidenote: this is not the case everywhere in Europe, it varies by country). In the UK they play AHL hockey games on TV. Do you really expect to get new hockey fans from watching the AHL?

The NHL needs to get into the arena of global sports. It is exciting, it is not like anything else (no competition like football has with rugby or baseball has with cricket), and it has prominence in countries spanning the globe (US, Russia, Czech Republic, Sweden…etc). But the first step to attaining this goal was to grow the NHL fan-base in countries that already have a love of hockey. NHL players need to get into their arenas, interact with their fans, and boost the NHL brand. Without these pre-season games, it is a huge step back for the NHL and for global hockey.

Even I could do better than Jeremy Roenick’s game analysis

6

Dear Jeremy Roenick,

You should not be allowed on television to discuss NHL hockey. Yes, you may know a lot about the game and the players, you might appeal to an American audience who really has no one to piggy back on now that Pat Kane is playing so badly, and you might be a great announcer for the Blackhawks or the Flyers, but you should not be talking about the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Not only are you incredibly biased in your hatred for the Penguins, you have even made Mike Milbury come out and speak highly of the Pens (another fairly shocking occurrence) in order to give some truth to pre/mid and post game shows. See last night’s tweets:

Last night, you argued that a clear head-hit against Letang was legal and it was actually the Penguins’ defenseman’s fault for not knowing how to ‘properly take a hit’. I am not saying to take the hits out of hockey, or going soft, but this was clearly a dangerous hit to the head. I can’t say I was upset when Mike Milbury started to shoo you off the show. See that video here: 

Jeremy, you are still too vested in the game. I can understand caring about your team, but to be a good analyst you should not be so biased. It is like watching a current player trying to talk about the opposition and why they aren’t as good as the home team. I can say this Jeremy because you cried when the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2009/2010 season. You need to step away from the game for a second and try to think about your current role representing the NHL. I mean, you were sad when Oduya announced he would wear ’27’ for the Blackhawks this year. Here is what you said on twitter that day, “Really???? Nothing against oduya… But seriously??? Not really happy about that at all. Gotta be honest” So Jeremy, what I have to say to that is: get over yourself, you aren’t playing hockey anymore.

Another time we saw your bias come out shining was during the past winter Olympics. When everyone was disucssing the Ovechkin vs. Crosby showdown, you took it to another level. See that video here:  The first thing you said on the comparison was, “How can you compare Ovechkin with Sidney Crosby”.Well, Jeremy- here is how, they were going into the Olympics with the same amount of goals in the lead. Both teams were strong, and if I remember correctly, Sidney Crosby scored the game winning goal in the Olympics for Canada to win the gold. Can you say that about Ovechkin?

You should reconsider the way you speak about hockey and try to separate yourself from your playing days. It is annoying to watch, and incredibly biased.

Sincerely,

FiveforBoarding