Posts Tagged ‘NHL’

Jay Feaster’s Playoff-Bound Calgary Flames?

October 9th, 2011

As I sat watching the Calgary Flames home opener against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night, I kept asking myself what the hell Jay Feaster was talking about. Context: Earlier this summer Feaster was quoted saying his Flames will make the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Several. Times.

“We’ll make the playoffs this year”
Jay Feaster, Calgary Flames General Manager | Source

Yeah, for realz.

Look, no one’s putting a gun to the man’s head. Maybe Feaster is trying to light a fire under the asses of the entire Flames roster. Or maybe he truly believes what he’s saying. Frankly it doesn’t matter. He’s wrong.

» Read more: Jay Feaster’s Playoff-Bound Calgary Flames?

Can We Start Talking About Hockey Again?

September 28th, 2011

Ladies and gentlemen, this is a rant.

In the latest of what seems like the most trivial NHL pre-season ever, news surfaced Monday night that Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds called New York Rangers pest Sean Avery a derogatory name following an on ice scuffle. Yes folks, one young man called a slightly older young man a bad word. I’m still gathering myself.

In case you didn’t click the link above, Simmonds allegedly called Avery a “Faggot.”

I’m not one to make assumptions, but I’m pretty sure it’s the first time something like this has ever happened.

» Read more: Can We Start Talking About Hockey Again?

Making Hockey Safer Means Introducing Body Contact Earlier

August 28th, 2011

Of course when you go months without anything interesting happening in hockey, news and stories are bound to be rough. The only thing to really talk about, as far as hockey stories go, is concussions. Unfortunately. I’ve even fallen into that trap. And not that I want Stayclassy.net to turn into a concussion blog, but after reading about Hockey Canada’s desires in this TSN article, I needed to weigh in. Again.

The TL;DR (too long; didn’t read) version of the link above states Hockey Canada’s desire to see more non-contact minor hockey leagues developed. I see why Hockey Canada wants this. It makes sense. I get that some kids (and/or adults) aren’t interested in rough, body contact sports. But the reality is this: you won’t ever eliminate body contact and aggressive plays from hockey, especially in competitive/top leagues around the country.

In its simplest form, I believe there are two reasons why players sustain concussions in hockey:

1.  The player making the hit does something wrong.
2.  The player getting hit does something wrong.

I’d estimate that roughly 40-50% of concussions are the fault of the player getting hit. Yes, nearly half of the time it’s the fault of the player getting hit. Too often we see players putting themselves in vulnerable positions. Even in the NHL. I don’t think the players means to do this, but they do and it’s alarming.

» Read more: Making Hockey Safer Means Introducing Body Contact Earlier

Crosby’s Concussion Luxury Makes You Wonder

August 24th, 2011

Sidney Crosby’s health has been in the news a lot recently. More than he’d like it to be, I’m sure. Some news outlets have him missing the start of the 2011-2012 season (due to his ongoing concussion troubles), while others expect to see him play in the Pittsburgh Penguin’s season opener come early October.

Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh PenguinsThe truth is, who the hell knows? I doubt even Crosby himself truly does.

Full disclosure: I’ve never had a concussion. I don’t think.

While it’s refreshing to hear everyone associated with the Nonchalant Headshot League putting Crosby’s health ahead of the needs of the Penguins or the league, it’s kind of a given. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great, but if we’re being honest, the league can’t afford to screw this up. Not this one. This is the highest profile concussion the league has ever had. (In a morbidly ironic way, this injury was sustained in the highest profile regular season game last year too. Talk about bad timing.) The NHL needs to treat this one properly, but to their credit, the Penguins have done just that, and the league has followed suit.

That’s the thing. We’re talking about Sidney Crosby, the world’s best hockey player. Not some “replaceable” third line grinder. (I say replaceable respectfully, of course. But there will always be other capable players waiting for their chance to prove themselves.)

From a public perception standpoint, the league can’t tread carefully enough. Crosby is the league’s top ambassador and biggest asset. As much as he means to the Penguins, he means more to the game itself. If he needs to take a year to recover, so be it. Give him the full year. Even then there’s no guarantees he’ll be any better than he was last week. Crappy. But at least Crosby’s fortunate enough to have that luxury.

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The NHL’s CBA Works Against Player Development

July 14th, 2011

The newly amended Collective Bargaining Agreement following the NHL’s 2004-2005 lockout created a number of significant changes to the NHL; some foreseeable and some not.

The biggest impact from the CBA is the hard salary cap and the significance now placed on talented prospects and rookies.

The economic reality of today’s NHL makes young and talented players (that’s the polite way of saying “cheap but effective players”) an extremely valuable commodity. Common place knowledge now, but GM’s like Jim Rutherford and Bryan Murray figured this out years ago.

While the salary cap limits the amount a team can pay players, it certainly has no bearing on the number of scouts, coaches, and development professionals an organization can employ. I’ve never understood why big market teams don’t invest more in their player personal departments and development programs (the Toronto Maple Leafs being one of the few exceptions).

If I were running a hockey team, I’d be putting my players on custom development programs with my best trainers, scouts, coaches etc… the moment after I drafted them. Seriously – right after the photo on the podium, I’d show my newly drafted prospects a treadmill backstage with their name on it. Then I’d have them board a flight to my team’s gym and practice facility for the rest of the summer.

But wait! You can’t do that.

» Read more: The NHL’s CBA Works Against Player Development

Dany Heatley’s Decline Reminds Us We’re All Human

July 4th, 2011

Michael Russo from the Star Tribune wrote a terrific article earlier concerning Dany Heatley, his trade to the Minnesota Wild, and his time with the San Jose Sharks.

As fans it’s easy to get caught up in liking/disliking athletes. Dany Heatley’s “heal turn” in the summer of 2009 represents that better than virtually any other example I can think of.  His departure from Ottawa was well documented here, and by pretty much every other blog and sports outlet in North America.

As Russo points out, Heatley’s time in San Jose will largely be viewed as failure. The Sharks didn’t win any Stanley Cups and twice lost in the Western Conference finals (both times fairly convincingly too). Heatley’s playoff numbers aren’t amazing either. In fact, the former 50-goal scorer managed just 22 points in 32 games over his two post-seasons with the Sharks. Frankly, those stats are somewhat flattering too. Only five of Heatley’s 22 points were goals.

Disappointing stats? Absolutely, but it’s not that simple. While it’s clear the new NHL – the way the game is played, the younger and faster players, and the new rules – don’t bode well for Heatley and his style, he’s still an elite goal scorer at this level. Consecutive injury plagued seasons have certainly played a significant role in Heatley’s decline. From torn groins to broken hands, Heatley has probably seen more trainers and medical rooms in the last two years than most nurses.

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A Bit Too Much Faith?

June 26th, 2011

Much has been made of the two blockbuster trades made on Thursday that saw the Philadelphia Flyers send captain Mike Richards and sniper Jeff Carter to Los Angeles and Columbus, respectively.

The return? Youth and potential.

Jakub Voracek, Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn, a future 2nd round draft pick (from Los Angeles), and the 8th and 68th overall picks in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft (both from Columbus).

That’s a whole lot of unproven potential, although I’ll acknowledge Schenn is about as close to a slam dunk as a 19-year old prospect can be.

The Flyers change of direction, moving towards youth and the future, is an interesting one, but perhaps one that puts too much faith in their organization.

» Read more: A Bit Too Much Faith?

2011 Stanley Cup Final Predications

June 1st, 2011

As we get ready for the start of game one of the Stanley Cup finals, I thought it’d be wise to drop in my predictions. I know I haven’t done any predictions for the 2011 playoffs like I have for previous years, mostly because it’s been a crapshoot this year, but I’m weighing in now. Here we go.

2011 Stanley Cup Finals logoWhile these two teams are closer than a lot of people are willing to admit, I think there are two key areas (that everyone else hasn’t already mentioned) that separate the Vancouver Canucks from the Boston Bruins.

Top Lines
There’s no doubt that the Bruins have some terrific offensive depth. It’s a large reason why they are in the Stanley Cup finals. However, their top line of Lucic – Krejci – Horton isn’t quite a top line. It’s more of a strong second line and it pales in comparison to the D. Sedin – H. Sedin – Burrows line of Vancouver. It’s not even a debate. When you break down the Bruins second line of Marchand – Bergeron – Recchi, it’s solid, but no better than the Canucks second line of Raymond – Kesler – Higgins. Boston are rocking a 2a and 2b type set up for lines. Sure, it’s good enough to get you through the East, but not the Western Conference champs in Vancouver.

» Read more: 2011 Stanley Cup Final Predications

NHL.com Is Pretty Damn Accurate

May 25th, 2011

It wasn’t pretty, but none of that matters. Kevin Bieksa’s overtime goal on Tuesday night put the Vancouver Canucks into the 2011 Stanley Cup finals. It’s an incredible achievement for the NHL’s top regular season team, although Bieksa was quick to point out the goal was a bit of a “duck.”

For anyone who missed it, the puck took a crazy bounce off a glass partition known as a stanchion. No player on the ice knew where the puck had bounced to, except Bieksa, who took the quickest shot possible to beat San Jose Sharks goalie Antti Niemi. Although the shot beat Niemi, the “duck” comment came from Bieksa in a post-game interview admitting he fanned on the slapshot.

What makes the unique goal even more incredible, however, is the accuracy of NHL.com’s game stats. In fact, I was so blown away how precise the stats were, I had to take a screenshot. Check it out:

(Click here for a hi-res image)

In all seriousness, congrats to the Vancouver Canucks. Boston or Tampa: you have your work cut out for you now.

Stay classy, Vancouver Canucks. Stanley Cup finalists.

Please Shut Up, Bob

May 14th, 2011

Hockey Canada President Bob Nicholson bitched and moaned on Friday after Canada was eliminated by Russia at the 2011 World Hockey Championships earlier this week. Nicholson’s comments – saying the results are “totally unacceptable” – are fueled by the fact that Canada hasn’t won a single medal in the last two tournaments.

Bob Nicholson, President of Hockey Canada

Nicholson also took a shot at several young Canadian players who declined playing in the tournament for reasons that were a “little lame.” Thanks, Bob. That was very insightful. Here’s another gem of a quote from Nicholson:

“This team was good enough to win, but with one or two more players (it could have been different). You know what, Hockey Canada and Canada have been pretty good to those players through the under-18, the juniors and an Olympics Games. I thought they would have thought about that before refusing to come this year.”

Is this guy freaking kidding me? That has to be the most ridiculous and obnoxious thing I’ve read in weeks. In my opinion, that’s worse than anything Jeremy Roenick said over the last few days. Let’s break down several reasons why Nicholson’s comments are so absurd:

» Read more: Please Shut Up, Bob