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News, Notes and Hockey Insights - 10/30/2012

by Frank Albin / San Jose Sharks


"Hockey ABCs"

A-Will Atlanta ever get another chance at an NHL franchise? Sorry to our friends down south, but the answer is no. The expansion Flames were there in the mid 70's but ended up in Calgary, then 2 decades later the expansion Thrashers vacated the ATL for Winnipeg. Maybe the key word here is expansion. The Atlanta fans never had a competitive team to cheer for.

B-Brooklyn is the new address for the New York Islanders. The Isles building in Uniondale has seen its best days. For long-time sports fans, it's great to see that teams (the Isles and the NBA Net) are moving back into the NYC borough.

C-Columbus may finally be on the right track. With the signing of John Davidson they've made quite a statement. JD was an NHL goaltender who made his way to the broadcast booth. He is regarded as one of the greatest Color men in the history of hockey broadcasting. A few years back Davidson accepted a job as President and GM of the Blues. Under his guidance St Louis has become a contender. It will be interesting how he does in Columbus.

D-Detroit's dynasty may be crumbling. After 2 decades of Cup contention the Red Wings could miss the playoffs. Battling a tough Central division and answering question at several positions may be crucial this coming season.

E-Energy! Unlike some of the other major league sports in North America, wins and losses are the residue of hard work. As the coaches like to say, "Will can beat skill almost every night."

F-Fans give their home team a real edge. Take for example the World Champion San Francisco Giants. In the post-series interviews many of the players thanked the fans for their support. Every team wants their building/stadium to be tough on the visitors. Loud like the Giants fans, San Jose may be the loudest in hockey.

G-Golf in May is never a good thing...for hockey players.

H-Hartford's fans took it hard when the Whalers moved to Carolina some 16 years ago. Since then the Hurricanes have won a Cup and have built a strong following. Today Hartford supports the AHL Connecticut Whale, farm team of the NY Rangers.

I-Ice conditions are always a factor in seeing a good game. The NHL works hard to find ways to make the ice consistently better. I'm told Edmonton has the best ice and the Rangers at MSG the worst.

J-June is the month hockey players want to be at their best. While the grass is green again and kids are looking forward to their summer, hockey fans know it's Cup time.

K-Kansas City has a new arena which draws world-class entertainment to that great city, but it needs professional sports to keep it up and running. KC has had NHL and NBA teams in the but the basketball Kings moved to Sacramento and the NHL Scouts to Denver then New Jersey. Football is tops in that town. Will either of the winter games try to make it there?

L-London, Ontario is quietly the crucible of NHL talent...just to name a few...Eric Lindros, Joe Thornton, Drew Doughty, Logan Couture, Walt McKechnie, Don Luce, Craig Simpson and the list goes on.

M-Minnesota made lots of noise in the free-agent market this summer. But spending money doesn't always translate into wins. Yankees...are you listening?

N-New Rule or old rule? I say eliminate the trapezoid area behind the net. I don't believe it has increased offense as many thought it would.

O-Outdoors is where hockey was born. There's nothing quite like playing the game outdoors on a naturally frozen pond. The Winter Classic has been a huge success. But how about more teams and playing a little tournament each year?

P-Pavelski is one good hockey player. Former coach Ron Wilson called him the Swiss Army Knife player. Good offensively and defensively, strong in the face-off circle, impact guy on the powerplay and the penalty kill. Just approaching his prime, he may have his best hockey ahead of him.

Q-Questions are everywhere these days.

R-Mike Ricci may be the most popular player in Sharks history. Fans admired how hard he played each and every shift. While not always the most talented player, his blue-collar attitude made him easy to cheer for. Just the other day TV play by play man Randy Hahn reminded me of a game in Dallas where Mike was cut in the face 3 different times, and all in the first period. After the third cut Mike went to the bench and sat Scott Thornton. All they could do was laugh. That's a hockey player!

S-Seattle may be the NHL's next market. With news of a new sports arena, the city hopes to replace their NBA Sonics and bring an NHL team to the Emerald City. This move could provide the league with some more rivalries. Seattle vs Vancouver is a natural and I believe the other west coast teams would do likewise.

T-Tips are generally given by the players to the equipment and medical staffs following the last game of the season. The Sharks staff is the hardest working and most co-operative group in the NHL.

U-U2 is often the players' choice in the dressing room before and after the games. I've see the Sharks go from heavy metal to alternative rock and now Hip Hop. These kids...

V-Victory is the reason we all do this. Professional sports is about making memories. Wins equal memories Memories you share with friends and family that last a lifetime.

W-Doug Wilson is one of the classiest guys I've ever been around. His calm yet passionate manner rub off on the team he's built. Success does not come by accident.

X-Xpansion or relocation could be in the NHL near future. Factions from Quebec City, Suburban Toronto, Kansas City and the aforementioned, Seattle are all taking steps to secure their own NHL team. Time will tell.

Y-Because I say so.

Z-Zones. The great ones of the game find ways to excel in all three zones. Captain Joe Thornton is a great example. He was able to put up big offensive numbers, but it wasn't until he made a full commitment to in all three zone that long-time hockey men recognized Joe as a true NHL star."

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