|Nancy Koenig has been an NHL.com contributor since 2000. She will share her thoughts regularly on NHL.com's Blog Central.
Devilish week for NJ and meI can relate well to the Devils this week, for I too have been traversing plot-twists filled with unexpected glitches, but sprinkled with enough positive moments to keep a sense of humor.
While New Jersey contended with the sudden resignation of head coach Larry Robinson and retirement of Vladimir Malakhov, I faced a computer crash, lost a tape containing multiple interviews not yet transcribed and ran into daily obstacles that varied in degrees of irritation and irony.
But as smiles were created when three Devils were named to Team USA's Olympic roster and Martin Brodeur was named to Team Canada, I wore an ear-to-ear grin for days after locating my tape. For those who like to point fun at the fact that I don't have TiVo or Hi-Def, know that I do actually possess a digital recorder. I just happen to prefer my big, bulky dinosaur of a mini tape recorder. What can I say, we've been places together.
I have breathed many sighs of relief since locating the tape, the last of the 50 or so I went through before locating the right one. Don't ask me how it got mixed in with that bunch. I'm just happy I don't have to admit to Phil that I lost all my work from Phoenix. In my state of dire panic, I did consider flying back out there and conducting the interviews again, pretending I'd never done so in the first place. Could I have convinced the Coyotes' kind and hospitable PR staff and players that they were suffering a simple case of déjà vu?
I'm glad it didn't come to that. My acting skills probably fall a bit short of NHL.com blogger Elisha Cuthbert's.
My computer story does not have as happy an ending, at least not yet. As I write courtesy of a notebook lent by a fabulous friend, my computer is still on the injured reserve list.
Email is my biggest issue. While I can check my webmail, I have lost all past correspondences and most email contacts, which is the sole reason I haven't returned any of your thought provoking, comical and inspiring emails lately. If the computer guru currently on the scene is able to salvage my hard drive, I promise a response in the near future.
I'll keep my fingers crossed. If it's any sign that my luck hasn't turned the corner yet, I am currently sidelined with a stomach virus or evil case of food poisoning. As I rarely fall ill, I have been quite a baby these past 24 hours. No, it really hasn't been my week but who am I to complain? While it has thwarted my plans to take in the Christmas spirit in Manhattan, the transit strike has had no other bearing on my life, whatsoever. My heartfelt sympathy extends to those of you who have had to deal with the mayhem of navigating your way through New York City this week.
My deepest sympathy also goes out to the Gretzky family and friends as they deal with their difficult loss.
For those currently facing hard times, I wish you peace this holiday season. For those experiencing joy, I wish you plenty more of it. And for those encountering a seemingly endless parade of unexpected challenges, like myself and the Devils, I wish you a sense of perspective.
Wherever you are, whatever you celebrate, have a safe, healthy and happy holiday.
Western visits are too rare!Hey NHL Powers That Be, I think it's time to rethink the Inter-conference Light schedule. Yes, I understand the reasoning behind the change and realize watching the same teams square off again and again and again is light years better than not getting to see any games at all. And sure, rivalries are always fun.
But were you paying attention this weekend? I was. Out of 18 games played, 15 were settled by one goal. Four were resolved in overtime. Four went to a shootout. That's what I call ridiculously entertaining hockey.
Granted, I am mostly going on what I've read, word of mouth, and highlights because I missed the majority of these games, including what could have been my first live shootout. If I were a betting woman, I would have placed every penny on the game between the Islanders and Oilers extending beyond overtime for the simple reason that I wasn't going to be there.
I have always made every effort possible to see Western Conference teams and that was back when their tours made more frequent stops in the tri-team area than every three years. Every three years! Even typing those words in sequence brings tears to my eyes. Factor in my fondness for the Oilers and naturally, I had every intention of getting to this game.
But I managed to get everything I needed for upcoming features at the morning skate and am in the process of moving (which I will never again make the mistake of doing during the NHL season, let alone this close to the holidays), so I just couldn't justify going for fun. I don't usually make practical decisions, so I was proud of myself for planning to game surf as I arranged furniture in my new apartment... until I got there and remembered my cable isn't going to be hooked up until the end of the month.
It was too late to reverse my decision, although I did attempt to envision the reactions of my kind-hearted helpers had I announced I was leaving them to do the work without me. I could hear my belongings whimpering with fear in my visualization so I accepted the fact that my night was going to be, gulp, hockey-free.
I also came to terms with the idea that I was going to miss another live shootout, and that was before the close of the first period.
See, it's taken me a long time to warm up to the idea of a game coming down to a slow motion, D-free breakaway and I'm getting there, due to how NHL fans have responded, but I suspect I'm going to have to be totally on board before I get to witness one without the assistance of my television or computer. I believe live shootouts are evading me in a karma-like manner for not initially jumping to their support. The Catch-22 remains that I may not be entirely converted without experiencing one in person.
That said, I may just opt to embrace the shootout second-hand if this entry invites a slew of e-mails from fans who have fallen in love with the idea, or those who were already used to it from international hockey, the AHL, ECHL, etc. Although, try as you may West Coasters, you will never convince me that watching games at 4 p.m. is as much fun as viewing them at midnight, even if you are wearing t-shirts to games in December. Keep those e-mails coming though; it truly is a pleasure to hear from such dedicated fans all over the world as well as those in my backyard who I have probably smiled at as we passed one another in the concourse.
And be sure to read all the other blogs on NHL.com; we certainly do have an eclectic and entertaining bunch here and it is getting more random by the moment. Robbie Merrill from Godsmack? Wow, I'm lucky I got in on the ground floor!
I feel like I'm forgetting something here. Oh yes, I was going to write about the magnificent Glendale Arena. I never should have mentioned that; by doing so the idea has transformed itself from a desire to a bullet on my to-do list, just like moving.
But really, who am I to complain? I'm going to be living on the beach and still have three NHL teams I can consider local. And you need look no further than the upcoming schedule to identify the reason for the smile on my face. Welcome, Northwest Division! I only wish we saw more of you.
Late is great!
I'm always grateful for the opportunity to watch NHL hockey after midnight and can't imagine living on the West Coast, where games hosted here in the East air in the early evening. What would I do without late-night games?
Granted, I'd get a lot more writing accomplished. Because, unlike beat reporters who can bang out stories at live games, I can't even construct a paragraph if there's so much as a televised one in the background. Not even if it's a game I'm not remotely interested in. Like gravity, the pull is irresistible and I don't even notice myself making the transition from my desk to what must be the most comfortable chair on earth.
So Phil, next time you notice I haven't blogged in awhile, feel free to send me to Australia, where we have unfortunately established I would be without NHL distractions. Or Poland, where NHL.com fan Edyta has to gather with friends at 4 a.m. just to listen to our internet broadcasts, due to the lack of TV coverage. Gareth from Britain advised me of the same fate of his nation, but wrote again a few days later to announce a reversal of fortune -- they have been promised live games on Wednesdays, starting in January. Finally, some good news on this front!
I wasn't terribly optimistic about Tuesday's Sharks/Thrashers game on OLN; while my inter-conference thirst is likely insatiable in today's NHL, this matchup seemed akin to giving an ounce or two of water to someone who just ran a marathon. No offense to either team, but this has been a lopsided pairing (5-0-2-1 in favor of the Sharks entering this game) and both teams have been struggling.
The streaking Mighty Ducks and Southeast-leading Hurricanes sounded like a better idea until I remembered that strange dream I had about Joe Thornton being traded to the Sharks. ... Oh wait, that was Bs GM Mike O'Connell's dream, wasn't it?
Center Ice beckoned, but recalling that the Sharks-Thrashers games was going to be Thornton's teal debut at the Shark Tank, I gave OLN the nod. How did they know to show this one? They must have psychics picking some of the games over there.
While I am sorry I missed Kevyn Adams' second hat trick of the season and his career (goals four, five and six of the year for Adams) as he led the Hurricanes to victory, I'm glad I opted to watch the city of San Jose embrace their new Thornton (Scott's cousin). You get the feeling something special is starting to happen there, with the trade sparking three wins in a row, Joe collecting a pair of points in each of his first three games and the fans bearing smirks on their faces that beg the question, "What 10-game losing streak?"
It also turned out to be a much better game than I'd expected, although the Sharks still own the Thrashers.
Speaking of fun games, or at least finishes, what's up with our Finnish correspondent getting to witness that crazy shootout at his first-ever game at MSG? It may be tough to catch a disappointing game at the Garden this year, but that was just dumb luck. Good for you, Risto!
I don't see any reason I wouldn't have been at that game myself (my brother and 12-year-old nephew were in attendance), had I not instead been sitting in Glendale Arena that night. Trust me, I'm not complaining! I caught a highly entertaining game between the Coyotes and Canucks. Phoenix itself is amazing and I could gush all night about that arena. But I'll save that for my next entry.
There don't appear to be any late games on Sunday. Maybe I'll see you then.