Reports on Wednesday confirmed what many have thought. The Lightning’s super sniper Steven Stamkos will not be cleared to play for Canada at the Sochi Olympics. While that’s bad news for Steven, it’s good news for his teammate Marty St. Louis. St. Louis at age 38 is having a tremendous season with 25 goals, 29 assists. That’s good for 54 points in 56 games. St. Louis should be a first ballot Hall of Famer when he decides to hang up the skates.
Sharks centerman Joe Pavelski was honored as the NHL’s 3rd star for the month of January. Joe scored a league high 15 goals in 15 games. Pavs is having a remarkable season. It should be fun watching Pavelski as he swaps his teal for the red, white and blue of Team USA beginning next week in Russia. Look for solid production and leadership to be huge in any USA success.
Will this be that last time the NHL shuts down business for participation in the Olympic Winter Games? I think so. The NHL has been trading NHL sweaters in for home country ones since 1998. 2014 will mark the 5th time the NHL has joined in. There’s been some great hockey through the years but has the return been worth the cost to the NHL. Owners and the league had hoped that the NHL participation would expand new fan interest once that games have ended. However there’s little evidence that the leagues has achieved their goal. It has become clear that shutting down the league and compacting an 82-game season stresses the system too much for all the players. The NHL should rethink deep-sixing the Olympics and resurrecting the World Cup of hockey using the pre-season calendar window.
It’s a crying shame that Sharks super rookie Tomas Hertl has missed 21 games since his injury on a knee on knee collision with the Kings captain Dustin Brown on December 19th. It is unlikely Hertl will see any further action this season. In Hertl’s absence several NHL rookies are in the Calder conversation. Top among that group is the Avs freshman center Nathan McKinnon. In 56 games the 18-year old McKinnon has notched 20 goals, 22 assists good for a rookie best 42 points. Tampa Bay’s Tyler Johnson ranks 2nd in rookie scoring with 17-18—35 and a plus 14. To show what a great start Hertl had, his 15 goals still rank tied for third in rookie goal-getters with Calgary rookie Sean Monahan.
It’s nice to see Adam Burish back in the lineup. His energy, effort veteran leadership has made immediate impact on the Sharks game. Next up for a return is Raffi Torres.
One man often overlooked for his contribution is the Sharks #57 Tommy Wingels. Heading into the year Wingels was still seen as an NHL prospect. Solid 11-18-29 production and an OT game-winner this past Wednesday make it clear the prospect tag is no longer needed. On top of his stats, Tommy plays in such a way he is seen a pain in the neck to play against. There is no bigger compliment that to be hard to play against.
It’s hard not to be happy for The Columbus Blue Jackets and their long-suffering fans. The Jackets have moved to the Eastern Conference and so far that’s good news. Columbus sits in 3rd place of the Metro Division with at 29-23-4 record. Should Columbus continue their strong play that could be a dark horse heading into the playoffs.
Be sure to catch Olympic hockey beginning next week on the NBC family of channels. Good luck to the Sharks Patrick Marleau, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Joe Pavelski and Anti Niemi in their quest for Gold.