Archive for Around the League
With the NHL formally announcing its decision to expand into Las Vegas, Nevada for the 2017-2018 season, there has rightfully been much discussion of the direction the league is taking. Opinions have varied greatly on the viability or lack thereof of an NHL franchise in Sin City, so I thought I’d weigh in. After doing some research on the matter, I’ve decided that an NHL team in Las Vegas is a bad idea.
Now, to be clear, I’m not saying this is going to be an abject failure. I’m certainly not saying it would be on par with putting a hockey team in Atlanta (twice!). I’m just saying that if we were to re-examine this decision a decade from now, it’s probably one the league wishes they did not make. Here are my reasons Las Vegas expansion is a mistake…
Well the Rangers’ season is over, but there’s still plenty of good hockey to be viewed. Most eyes will be on that Washington/Pittsburgh series, as that may produce your eventual Cup winner, but don’t discount either series in the West. There’s a reason why that conference has won the majority of the recent Stanley Cups.
Here on the blog, we’ve previewed each of the four upcoming series, broken down by series and by each writer. Share yours in the comments and let us know how spot on / awful our predictions are.
Just a note: We wrote these after Wednesday night’s games because of the weird schedule. So, don’t think that the predictions are skewed by prior results.
Yesterday the NHL suspended Andrew Shaw one game, fined him $5,000, and mandated sensitivity training for his use of a homophobic slur during Game 4 of the Chicago Blackhawks/St. Louis Blues first round playoff matchup. With regards to the suspension, NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell said, “While Mr. Shaw was apologetic and remorseful for both the offensive comments and the inappropriate gesture directed at the on-ice officials, he must be held accountable for his actions. The emotion of the moment cannot and will not be a mitigating factor for the conduct that is expected of an NHL player.”
I wanted to address this incident because I did not want to remain silent and have that silence misconstrued as any kind of ambivalence or apathy. What Shaw said was unacceptable on a basic societal level, and more specifically within the context of our beloved game. Shaw’s transgression concerns all of us because the hockey community is something shared that we are all stewards of, and if anyone in our community is made to feel unsafe or unwelcome we are all in some way responsible. I’ve always found joy, meaning, and at times refuge in the great game of hockey, and it pains me to think that a love of hockey might be foreclosed for some because of the words or actions of another.
With Gary Bettman announcing that he hopes to have a decision on the league’s long-rumored expansion by June, and deputy commissioner Bill Daly commenting on the number of players existing teams could potentially lose in an expansion draft (one player if the league expands by one team, two players if the league expands by two), the NHL’s GMs spent the last day of their Florida meetings discussing the conditions and parameters of a potential expansion draft. The stated intent of the meeting was to make any potential expansion draft one of the deeper ones in league history, so as to make any expansion team competitive from the get-go.
The league’s rules for the expansion draft are as follows: first or second year pros would be exempt, and unsigned or drafted players would be exempt for two years after they were drafted. From there teams would be allowed to protect seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goaltender or simply eight skaters and one goaltender. Additionally, the combined salary for protected players would be required to be at least 25 percent of a team’s total payroll.
The Rangers aren’t alone in their battle to remain relevant as contenders – all around the league many of the clubs we’re used to seeing play deep into the spring are having major issues just like the Blueshirts.
Perhaps the most disappointing team of all this year is the Ducks, who thought they had attained an unstoppable mix of size and speed to go with a mobile young defense and multiple stellar options in goal. Instead, Ryan Getzlaf has two goals in 30 games and Anaheim sits just three points out of the cellar.
In the Eastern Conference, the Penguins’ blockbuster trade for Phil Kessel did nothing to help and the club fired coach Mike Johnston earlier this month. Pittsburgh’s decline has continued over several seasons and it’s at the point that there’s a reasonable case to be made for the Penguins to – gasp – trade one of Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin. Read More→
Ahh November, the second full month of hockey when everyone’s beginning to shake the dust off and come into their true 2015-16 form. It’s when teams are beginning to either warm up or fizzle out, when the teams you expect to be in first are and those that have started hot can really prove themselves. it’s when your Saturday fantasy teams are so packed that you definitely have to bench a guy who’s playing tonight — and flip out when they score some goals.
Apparently, it’s also the time that the rumor mill gets started and hot takes heat up. Last week, trade rumors came about for two forwards from the West, one of whom made Rangers twitter a complete nut house and pretty unbearable in general. Yes, more unbearable than usual. Read More→
With hockey returning in only three (!!!) days, fans have a lot to rejoice about. If you follow teams outside of Rangerstown, you know that there is a lot to look for this upcoming season that will make things interesting. Let’s check out what to watch for outside of the Garden.
Rookie Mania: ever heard of this guy Connor McDavid? Of course you have! There is a lot of hype surrounding the 18 year old center, and with good reason. With 120 points in 47 games played last year with the Erie Otters, plus another 49 in 20 playoff games, there’s a lot of hype to live up to. Will he or won’t he? NHL players expect that he will.
As has been speculated for a few weeks, the NHL has officially announced a seven year partnership with adidas to be the official outfitter for the NHL. adidias is the parent company of Reebok, and the deal is rumored to have doubled the revenue made by the NHL from the previous deal.
This puts the NHL in line for potentially radical changes to their jerseys, with advertisements being the most rumored change.
Slowly but surely the oh-so-long hockey-less summer is coming to an end. Traverse City is around the corner, prospects are back in action and news is starting to filter through. Without further delay, let’s hit up Around the League one more time.
It’s the time of the year when we start to hear about try-out offers for veterans ahead of training camps. One that could offer some intrigue is the Blues inviting Scottie Upshall to camp. Upshall has flirted with 20 goals on a few occasions and at 31 could be a decent short term fill-in for the injured Patrick Berglund.
Prediction time: The Rangers will have three centers break fifty points. Kevin Hayes will build on his fine rookie year and scrape past the half-ton.
Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello has been ‘cleared for the new season’. With the time Zuke has had to heal I’m sure most people will not see this as a surprise but regardless, it’s good to hear. Zuccarello has become an increasingly integral part of the Rangers. His importance will only increase as the Rangers have gotten younger up front and have lost Marty St Louis.
New Jersey Devil veteran defenseman Bryce Salvador has retired after a solid 14 year career. Injuries robbed Salvador of almost all of his final year in the NHL.
The Pittsburgh Penguins continue to ‘search’ for new owners. Really, this franchise hasn’t deserved to be littered with legendary talent like Lemieux, Jagr and Crosby because it’s only been kept in the city by hook or by crook over the years. Multiple ownership, finance and arena issues; the Pens have never been a model of stability despite being in a strong sports market and boasting a regularly high quality on-ice product.
Last year: 45-26-11, second in the Metro Division. Eliminated by the Rangers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Key additions: Justin Williams, TJ Oshie
Key subtractions: Mike Green, Troy Brouwer, Joel Ward, Eric Fehr, Tim Gleason
Offense: The Capitals usually high-flying offense added shootout guru Oshie and Mr. Game Seven Williams this summer, giving Washington the most talent up front its had during the Ovechkin era. The two veterans will give coach Barry Trotz all kinds of options, but the biggest reason for excitement is the continued growth of forwards Evgeny Kuznetsov and Andre Burakovsky. Kuznetsov seized control of the No. 2 center role as the season progressed and looks poised to become an opposing coach’s nightmare after focusing matchups on Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. 20-year-old Burakovsky demonstrated flashes of his explosiveness against the Blueshirts in the playoffs, and has the luxury of being brought along slowly thanks to Washington’s impressive depth. The Capitals did lose 59 goals with the departures of mainstays Brouwer, Ward and Fehr, but Washington shouldn’t have any difficulty replacing that production with increased roles for younger players and the aforementioned Oshie and Williams. And don’t forget about 2014 first-round pick Jakub Vrana, who could hit the ground in the NHL with two feet running.