While the 2012 NHL Lockout is underway, every Friday will be known as “Flashback Friday.” On this day of the week, a classic installment of PUCK YOU! will be released for your enjoyment.
Welcome to Project Wonderboy/Wonderpod Online’s 2010 -2011 NHL season discussion. We got this out a little later than initially planned as the regular season is just underway. However, it is still extremely early into the schedule… anything can happen. This is every team’s chance to succeed or miserably fail. As per usual, this is a panel for the fans (not the stat crunchers, journalists, or over analytical editorialists). It’s for the fans, by the fans. We’re biased around these parts. Let’s get to it, shall we?
Note: This is a repost that originally appeared at Project Wonderboy in October 2010. We will be releasing brand new episodes of PUCK YOU! throughout the season here at Wonderpodonline.com. As a result, it makes sense to reintroduce the first installment of the 2010-2011 NHL season for your perusal.
The only signficant change to our format for this season is that G has stepped down from the neutral moderator role and will be chiming in as a fellow panelist. Speaking of which….
Time to meet this season’s panel… with more depth… and image sharpness for that matter.
Question 1: This is more of an introductory section. We would like each panelist to tell us who their favorite team is, about involvement in fantasy pools/drafts, and what they look forward to seeing their team do this season.
Bruce McGee: My team is of course the Detroit Red Wings. I have been following the Wings since the early 90’s after reading and in depth article about Stevie Y. Kind of hilarious to a point when we do in fact have teams out here on the left coast of the US. As to fantasy and hockey pools, never really gotten involved in that aspect of fandom. I watch as many games as I can through out the season and try to get to one Sharks game when they are playing the Wings. I probably should give a fantasy league a try some year just of the hell of it.
G: The Edmonton Oilers is my team. I’m involved in two fantasy leagues this season, both on Yahoo! and both are fantasy leagues. Phocas is in one of them and Al Creed and Armchair MVP are in the other. I think I’ve seen just about everything I can from a sports team in the Oilers. From growing up watching the best player of all time lead my team to four Stanley Cup Championships, and then the team winning one in spite of trading him away to L.A.. I’ve watched them on the verge of bankruptcy and making the playoffs, as well as spending up to the cap and being the absolute worst in the league. Hell, this is a team that lost game 7 in the Stanley Cup finals on my freaking birthday in 2006. On the same token, I am geared up for a new season in which it seems that things can only get better for my team. Even if they don’t make the playoffs.
Armchair MVP: My team is the Calgary Flames, basically the realistic expectation heading into the season is somewhere from 7th to 10th, right on the playoff bubble, so it should be an interesting year. I am in one hockey pool, however, my team is off to a terrible start, so hopefully that turns itself around soon.
Al Creed:If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m a HUGE fan of the Flyers. Been a fan since 1995. I’m involved in the Hockey Pool [Armchair MVP] is running
ThinkSoJoE: I’m a diehard Sabres fan, born and raised in Western New York. I have a personal bias against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and to a lesser extent, the Boston Bruins, mostly because I can’t stand Sidney Crosby or Zdeno Chara. That said, I’m also a guy who likes to give credit where it’s due, so while I may rant about Crosby, Chara, or more often than not, Sean Avery, I’ve got no issues about praising them if they do something spectacular.
What a move! But should “moves” make the difference as to whether or not a team makes the post-season?
Question 2: During the off season, the NHL altered the impact that shoot-outs will have on the standings of the regular season. Here is more information on the proposal. And, the proposal was ratified (more information here). Basically, this means that if there is a tie between two teams headed into the post-season, the tiebreakers will be a based on a combination of regulation time and overtime victories, with shootout wins excluded. What are your thoughts on these changes?
Bruce McGee: I watched probably a half dozen shoot-out games last year and they were entertaining. That said I never have liked the concept of OTL and the half point for shoot out games as far the a teams record goes. I am well aware its a long time tradition in hockey, but I would rather see any game played until there is a clear cut winner and loser. I am not sure a shoot out really provides that in a team sport such as hockey. So in essence I like the rules tweak and hope they do more with it after this season.
ThinkSoJoE: It makes sense, I suppose. Hockey is indeed a team sport, though I’m torn on this issue. A great individual player that can score every time in a shootout is still scoring for his team, despite doing it on his own. I think it’s too early to tell how much of an effect this will have. This question should be asked again at the end of the season.
Armchair MVP: I love this change. I think it will force teams to play ofr the win in overtime, rather than being able to sit back and take their chances if they have a shootout specialist or two in the lineup. Ultimately, I think it makes what is almost a completely different game itself, less relevant to the standings of the real hockey we know and love.
Al Creed: Personally, I don’t care enough to have an opinion, one way or the other. That may change, though, depending on how the Flyers do this season…
Does this open a Pandora’s box for potentially questioning the variation of types of play counting in regards to O.T. versus regular play, for example? One might argue O.T. wins have sudden death, which is different that regular time that allow for comebacks, thus changing the psychology and frame of mind of the competitors and team dynamic.
While I may be overthinking this, there is some merit to my slippery slope argument. I have no problems in general with amending rules to improve the game. The lockout year forced the league’s hand to address the slow pace of clutch and grab hockey where teams played for the tie. Now in post-lockout hockey, one might argue some teams have been playing for the shootout. True or not, I suppose it is better to adjust the rules in this situation to encourage teams to just play normal hockey. I am not a hater of the shootout. I agree with the change, however, in that it displays a certain controlled aspect of the game, but not the game itself. Thus, let it stick.
I’m sure that was a surprise to the fans sitting rinkside, and even more so for Kevin Weekes who almost got ran over. Speaking of surprises…
Question 3: Who’s your surprise team for the 2010-11 NHL season?
ThinkSoJoE: It’s impossible to pick a surprise team, because in this league, any team can surprise you any given year. Remember the 1996 Florida Panthers??? Let’s throw some more rats!
Armchair MVP: I learned something recently. The Nashville Predators have been in the playoffs 5 of the last 6 seasons. They always seem to be a team that plays close games, most of them in low-scoring fashion, which is what many experts say is what fans should expect to see in the playoffs. Surprisingly, in those 5 playoff appearances, playing the way they do, Nashville has come away with a grand total of zero series wins. Maybe that changes this season.
G:I think the New York Islanders and the St. Louis Blues will make the playoffs this year. These teams are generally forgotten, but both possess a ton of young talent that is waiting to explode… yet they seem to be pigeon-holed into the land of forgotten teams. Especially up here in Canada where we focus on the Original Six and the other Canadian teams for the most part.
Al Creed: Since July, when the Toronto Maple Leafs stocked up on gritty talent, I’ve said that if they cannot make the Playoffs this season, sell the team to Richmond, VA; if they can’t make it this season, they have NO HOPE.
Bruce McGee: Hahahahahaha considering were actually going to post this 10-15 games in to the season I feel like I am cheating, but I had my eye on the Nashville Predators going in to the season so I will stick with them. That said it could come as some surprise if the Chicago Blackhawks don’t make it back to the finals this year I suppose.
They play Shane McMahon’s theme song everytime he scores in New Jersey
Question 4: What’s your stand on the Ilya Kovalchuk contract ordeal? All and any factors can be considered, from manipulating the rules of the current bargaining agreement, to the fines/penalties dealt to NJ/to the Devils being forced to play less than 23 skaters to stay under the cap.
ThinkSoJoE: Before I left my house earlier tonight, I heard that the Devils played just 9 forwards in their game against the Penguins (on 10/11) due to cap issues, and I had actually completely forgotten about the whole Kovalchuk controversy. I hope for New Jersey’s sake that Kovalchuk can stay healthy over the course of the 15 seasons they’ve got him locked up for, and I hope they feel that it’s worth having to be at such a disadvantage after losing 3 million bucks in cap space to have him. He’s a tremendous hockey player, but it’s a bit ridiculous to think he’s still going to be viable in 2024.
Al Creed: It was only a matter of time until the NHL did something about this. I know the Flyers have a few “Retirement” Contracts themselves, but it’s still something that I side with the NHL on. Anything over 5-6 years is excessive. And, really, the only reason these giant contracts exist, is because these star calibre players still expect the six figures their predecessors got last decade, and the only way for clubs to accommodate this is to sign them for 10-15 years and spread the money out that way.
Bruce McGee: Oh boy the cap swerving Ilya Kovalchuk contract. While I am not sure what happened was really fair to him or the Devils it was going to happen eventually. Other contracts like Marion Hossa’s started the cap cirumventing mess and it was only going to get worse until the league stepped in and stopped it. finally Boss Gary and the NHL clown car front office made the call. Granted they about had to as Kovalchuk was going to be receiving millions when he was playing shuffle board in the old folks home denture league FFS. The one thing that concerns me about the whole mess is what is it going to do when its time to negotiate a new CBA. The NHL and it’s players can not afford another lock out. Hopefully the whole crazy contract circus doesn’t rear its ugly head when its CBA time and it kills the league as a by product
I think that the deal was very clevely put together, but a very bad idea. I wouldn’t want to sign anyone for this long, regardless of who it is. I’m pretty much singularly minded on this principle in all professional sports.
As for being forced to dress less than 23 skaters is a punishment in itself, and justifies the means. If the Devil’s management are going to try and work around the system by overspending, they should be forced to accept the consequences. The point being, your overpaid players better be good enough to make up for it. And, they better have a lot of stamina, because everyone is going to get double shifted during each game. I do not feel bad for anyone other than diehard New Jersey fans… the ones who will stick it out through this ordeal. We lost a full season of hockey due to a number of reasons, and overspending was one of them. To solve this problem, the NHL implemented a cap system. Lou Lamoriello helped create these cap rules, so I have to give it to him for manipulating within system in place. On the same token, if you want to overspend, you should reap the rewards of your actions.
Armchair MVP: I don’t mind the penalties that were handed out to the Devils for this contract saga, just because Lou Lamoriello always sems to find a new loophole to exploit in the CBA. I doubt it will deter him from being creative in the future, but it does send a message to the rest of the league that the NHL is starting to get serious about enforcing the rules of the CBA. Either that, or Bettman got Colin Campbell to pull a punishment out of a hat, as he does with every other form of discipline. Let’s hope it’s the former.
Being one of the most talented enforcers (who could also play) of all time brings with it consequences on one’s health. R.I.P. Bob Probert.
Question 5: Over the off season, we lost hockey legend Bob Probert. His brain has been donated for research in relation to sports injuries to the head, specifically concussions. The ever controversial hit-to-the-head issue is once again impossible to ignore as we start the 2010 – 2011 season, as notable players such as Marc Savard of the Boston Bruins is slated to possibly miss an entire season to post concusion syndrome due to returning too early. Ian Laperriere will also lose significant time for also returning to play with Philadelphia in the post season. He is slated to miss the entire season with post-concussion symptoms. Even this early into the season, Laperriere is just one of a number of players on the shelf due to head trauma. Many hockey pundits have been pushing for the NHL to employ independent neurologists to assess a player’s status prior to returning to active play in such scenarios, what do you think about all of this?
I’m all for professional sports evolving with new medical research available to us. There seems to be a conservative, tough-it-out attitude that goes with the territory. I can understand the argument for players who receive multiple millions of dollars to play, that this is the risk they take to play in the big leagues. I understand that point of view. However, when we have youth training and playing a game like hockey taking such risks, it seems pretty stupid not to consider their health. Realistically, very few kids playing hockey make it to the big leagues. And it’s this majority of players I am concerned about. There is no reason to get your bell rung when you will not be playing in the NHL, KHL, or at least the AHL.
I think that it would be in both the league and the NHLPA’s best interest to employ an impartial third party specialist in some capacity. They should be responsible to both groups, but not affiliated to any particular team. Considering that it would be impossible to eliminate the fact that some players will lie in order to play, and say they are ok, it’s not a perfect solution. But I think it would be a step in the right direction.
Armchair MVP: I think employing independent neurologists is a great idea. I’ll use the NFL as an example, among the battery of tests a player must complete before returning to the field, is a consultation with an independent neurologist. Both games have a lot of contact associated with them, and a lot of potential for dirty hits that result in head injuries, so I think this is a necessary step for the NHL to take, to help their players in the long run.
ThinkSoJoE: I haven’t seen it yet, and in fact I’m going to look it up as soon as I finish up with this edition of PUCK YOU!, but Jason Pominville of the Sabres was apparently hit from behind in the game earlier tonight against the Blackhawks, and sent head first into the glass. He’s suffered a concussion, so this is actually relevant to me as a Sabres fan at the moment.
There’s been a lot of research going into the long term effects of concussions on the brain, and it’s a very important issue for the health of not only professional athletes, but every day people as well. I’ve got no issue with this research being done, this is how we learn things. Kudos to the family of Bob Probert for donating his brain to this noble cause.
Do I think the National Hockey League should employ independent neurologists to determine if a player is ready to return to active play? Absolutely. Any player’s long term health is absolutely more important than anything he is going to do on the ice. He’s worth more with the potential to come back 100% than he is coming back at 75% and risking more damage.
Of course, the problem in the NHL is that we have to eliminate hits to the head. Then this issue will be less prevalent.
Al Creed: In the name of players’ health, this is a good idea. It’s always good to have a second opinion, and when a player’s career is on the line (like, for instance, Ian LaPerrierre), you can never be too careful.
Bruce McGee: I hate talking concussions and thats coming from someone who has had at least three. (that I know about) I think What it boils down to ultimatly is making sure once a player has been concussed that they are 100% recovered before they are allowed to play again. Because you can make all the anti head shot rules you want and they will still happen. Much like the NFL, the NHL is bodies smashing into bodies at high speed. Eventually your brain bucket is going to take a pounding. So I am all for using an independent panel of neuroligists and doctors to clear any player who has suffered any kind of concussion. Making rules to attempt to avoid head shots is fine, but it won’t solve the problem completely so having some kind of post injury routine in place is a must.
HEY KIDS! Ever wondered who pays the most for a beer, hotdog, soft drink, cap, program, parking or for tickets? Team Marketing Dot Com released a report for October 2010 that breaks down these numbers for you. Check out your favorite team’s arena prices to compare this data. Keep in mind that the US and Canadian dollar were almost at parity throughout the month, so this data is pretty consistent.
Happy Halloween! To whoever carved this picture floating around the internet, kudos!
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