"Ready, Set, Go!
The NHL is season has gone from zero to sixty in the blink of an eye. The 17-day Olympic break put the playoff race into the deep freeze. But now the scramble for playoff positioning is in full swing. For the Sharks it won't be easy. The men in teal have 23 games remaining, 12 at home and 11 on the road. Sprinkle in just 18 off days. That's 23 games in 41 days. The good news is the Sharks have avoided serious injury all season and they possess a lot of young legs. For the Sharks the playoffs are now. They'll need to rattle off a winning streak starting tomorrow in Anaheim. There's no more room for error.
Congrats go to Team Sweden for their impressive run for Olympic gold. They play the game right. They play hard, smart and clean. And to a man they are class individuals who treat the game and their opponents with respect. I can only imagine the pride and excitiment in their homeland.
To Go or Not to Go?
There's been a lot of post-Olympic discussion regarding the NHL's participation in the winter games. Some pine for the all-amateur tournament. Let it go. We're now in the 21st century. Sure the NHL could carry on with this tournament under a different title, ala the World Cup of Hockey. The hockey would be just as good, maybe even better on the smaller North American rink. But who would watch a World Cup? You, me and other dedicated NHL fans? Sure. But that might be it. The Olympics provide the ultimate stage for hockey. The audience exposed to the game and its players during the Olympics is significantly larger and of a broader demographic.
There are some logistical problems. Shutting down the league is not a perfect situation. Players are asked to travel and play with little time for rest, or practice with their national teams. Maybe the answer is to shift hockey to the summer games. It works for basketball and the NBA.
The judgment as to whether hockey should stay or go grow must wait at least another 20 years. The foundation is being built for future NHL expansion to Europe. And another new generation of young hockey fans and young hockey players are dreaming the Olympic dream after Torino. NHL, please don't leave the Olympics.
A Great Hire
Word that the NHL has hired John Shannon as their new vice-president of broadcasting is good news for all hockey fans. Shannon's resume is impressive. He's help to build Hockey Night in Canada as the gold standard of hockey broadcasting. He helped get Leafs TV off the ground. That's the Toronto cable station that is 24/7 Maple Leafs Hockey. He also has experience at the local level as producer / director of Minnesota North Stars broadcasts. John will be a fantastic resource to the networks and to the locals. He is universally respected in the industry. But it's his passion for the game that will be most valued in his new role with the NHL.
Alex the Great
This year's crop NHL rookies may be the best ever. The freshmen have made a huge impact around the league. But after seeing this video (link below) there is no question as to who should win rookie of the year honors. This guy is a talent for the ages...already.
Win or Lose
The new rules this season have opened up the game considerably. The 2-line pass has helped to create better flow and more scoring chances. Restricting where the goalie can play the puck has also worked. Even the shootout, despite hesitation from purists, has been a rousing success. Now let's take it up a notch. Please, please take away the single point for losing in overtime or in shootout. It's muddied the playoff race, and it rewards mediocrity. Make it 2 points for a win, zero, nothing, nada for a loss...the end."