Here are this week’s letters, most in reference to last week’s CTN Opening Faceoff on the Heavenly Heels team that would be the opponents for the Heavenly Hockey Heroes CTN named two weeks ago.
As you can see, there was quite a wide variety of opinion about who should be on which team and some keen disapproval of players left off both squads.
Why no mention of any members of the various incarnations of the famous “Grind Line” for your Heavenly Heels team? Those are some guys who could shut down finesse players. If a player has more heart, respect or love of the game than Kris Draper, I’d like to meet that guy. If a player gives more effort per shift than Kirk Maltby, I’d be downright shocked. If a player ever worked harder or hit harder than Joey Kocur, his name is Bob Probert. Who looked out more for his teammates than Darren McCarty? And who is scrappier than Mike Peca? Why no mention of these grind guys, CTN?
-- Travis, Ypsilanti, Mich.
Fine points, Travis. Draper, Maltby, McCarty and Peca all are great players who exhibit the work ethic and passion that blue-collar fans of the sport appreciate. But to CTN, none are about breaking hearts. They go about doing their jobs and doing them well, that’s all. Now, Probert is a different story. Here is a man who made other players literally quake in their skates. Fans loved to hate the big heavyweight as he toured the NHL, dispatching all pretenders to the throne. He easily could have been on the Heels team. But in the end, the team does reflect CTN’s hockey-viewing bias. And as a young adult – during Probert’s heyday, CTN did not see as much of “Probie” as Red Wings and Western Conference fans might have. For that reason, he did not beat out heavyweights like Clarke Gillies and Chris Nilan that CTN was much more familiar with.
For as much as I can appreciate that you would include Nicklas (Lidstrom) on both sides of the ice, surely your current drugs must be failing you in that there is no Forsberg on either squad. And, yes, I certainly appreciate the inclusion of Tretiak (better than either Roy or Brodeur, I’m afraid) and Pelle (I quit “admiring” the day he died, a 15-year-old in physics class hearing it in the halls, bad day). Good luck in adjusting your dosage.
Patric, that tells you just how good Lidstrom is that he made both the Heroes and Heels. The scary thing is that Lidstrom is such a fitness freak that he could handle duty for both teams without breaking a sweat. He is like a professional hockey version of the designated quarterback employed in pick-up football games as a kid. But that was a clear mistake on CTN’s part. CTN thought Lidstrom didn’t make the final cut on the Heroes team, when, in fact, he did. So he did not need to be on Heels team. I guess I would replace Lidstrom on the Heels team with Scott Niedermayer, a player CTN always has enjoyed watching and who is in the same class as Lidstrom. As for Forsberg, he was/is a great player, but he doesn’t make the cut in this game for CTN. CTN admires Forsberg’s unique mix of skill and guts, but doesn’t feel the passion for “Foppa” that is held for the other players on the list. And as we have stressed already, this is CTN’s Shinny with the Stars show, not yours or anyone else’s. Now I am off to hit up my meds. CTN sure hopes they bump up the Thorazine this time around.
Hello, my name is Dana and I just read your article on NHL.com about the dream team in Heaven that you'd like to see. While all of your picks were strong choices, I'm shocked that there's no Gordie Howe, no Steve Yzerman, and no Sakic/Forsberg. Any reason?
Hello, Dana. Welcome to CTN. CTN is glad you thought its picks were strong and would be happy to answer your inquiries. Gordie Howe was on the Hockey Heroes team CTN picked a week previous to the Heels team. So that takes care of that. I answered the Forsberg question in another letter above. And I’m afraid that Yzerman and Sakic fall into that same general category as Forsberg. Both were great players and stood out for their talent on the ice. But neither has that over-the-top personality that in large part is the calling cards of these teams. Is Steve Yzerman better than Clark Gillies? Of course. But CTN admits he would rather watch Clark Gillies square off with Terry O’Reilly or score a goal by bulling his way through a few players to bang home a rebound than to watch the artistic goals – and assists – that are the calling cards of both Mr. Sakic and Mr. Yzerman. As CTN has said many times in the last two weeks, these teams are a matter of personal preference. Do you like your game with a little chirping, a little face-washing and a little post-whistle jousting, or do you like a more east-west, tic-tac-toe passing, gentlemanly game. There is no wrong answer. But the players one gravitates to are going to be a reflection of the style of play they prefer. And CTN likes a little jam, a little sandpaper and a little gravel to go along with his serving of pucks.
Quick question regarding Marc-Andre Fleury: We noticed that he has the initials E.F.G.T. on his mask. Any idea what it stands for? It’s been bugging my wife and I for a while now.
-- Shawn L. Oberst
According to Dave Molinari, the fine hockey writer from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the EFGT sequence of letters are the first initials of his late grandparents -- Estelle, Francois, Gaston and Therese. Thanks for the question.
I have to be honest with you, while I liked your picks for both teams, I think I would be more inclined to cheer for the Heels. My judgment likely is clouded by the fact that “St. Patrick” (Roy) is on the Heels. I did notice you went with the Roy from the Canadiens days, as opposed to the Avalanche. Any particular reason? Also, I’m curious to know if Sean Avery was close to making either squad? Seems any team of stars needs a good pest and I don't think you can deny that Avery is one of the best at that job. I mean, I've never even met him and I sort of want to punch him. Oh, and when you pick Chris Chelios for a team you need to be more specific as to the age; the guy has been playing longer than I have been alive.
Keep up the good work,
-- Tyler Moyes, Cambridge, Ont.
Tyler, great to hear from you again, buddy. Long time, no talk. CTN clearly has done the job if you are thinking about rooting for the Heels. That is the point here: That the games would be entertaining and competitive. CTN picked Roy as a Hab and not an Av because CTN grew up in the Boston area and lived with too many heartbreaks caused by Roy. But there is no doubt St. Patrick caused a few tears for opposing fans during his time in the Mile High City. As for Avery, he was not close to making either team. He would never make the Heroes team because CTN never has had a personal affinity for him. As for the Heels team, there are a few agitators that rank ahead of Avery. CTN thinks he picked three in Claude Lemieux, Ken Linseman and Esa Tikkanen. Also, Theo Fleury, who did not make the cut, would also make the cut before Avery.