Every time a veteran player who’s been around long enough to have been a part of NHL '94 retires - or signs in Europe - the kid in me throws his Sega Genesis controller to the ground in frustration.
You remember NHL '94, of course. The hockey video game of all hockey video games (OK, so there is some argument for Ice Hockey and Blades of Steel, as well). It made all us young fans glue ourselves to the TV set, battling friends for the championship of the world and bragging rights that would carry over into the schoolyard.
It was the game that introduced a lot of us to the sporting video game world and also made us attached to the players we recognized from watching NHL games and ones who's names just seemed funny at a young age.
Teppo Numminen, Jyrki Lumme, Johan Garpenlov...
There were a few close calls this summer, some teary-eyed goodbyes and still a few hanging chads. For instance, Brendan Shanahan, then of the Blues, Joe Sakic, then of the Nordiques and Teemu Selanne, then of the Jets are all teetering on the edge of video game history. Jeremy Roenick, then of the Blackhawks, and Gary Roberts, then of the Flames, both, thankfully, came back when each could just have easily rode off into the sunset.
And even though the rumors started in mid-season and the chances of a return became increasingly dim, I didn't want to believe Pittsburgh's mulleted wonder would disappear.
The one who's name resembled and often got twisted into a combination of a breakfast condiment and a rock superstar, "Jammy Jagger" is one of the most recognizable and memorable players from this Paleolithic age of sports video gaming.
Whether you’ll remember him for his early-‘90s hair styling, his shifty stickhandling, his lackluster effort when the motivation wasn’t there, or the fact Don Cherry once commented he looked like Mario’s little sister, “Jammy” will be missed when October rolls around and reality sets in.
Where’s that reset button…
ALL ROADS LEAD TO THE NHL
So the president of the new Continental League in Russia, Alexander Medvedev, is demanding the Blue Jackets compensate Nikita Filatov’s club CSKA Moscow $500,000 if they want to bring him to North America next year.
Never mind Filatov has no contract with the team. Never mind he has made it clear his desire and goal is to play on this side of the ocean next year. And never mind there is no transfer agreement in place that would indeed have provided some sort of compensation.
It’s no wonder some of the Russians don’t want to go home to play if this is how they get treated when they wish to chase their dreams after a contractual obligation has lapsed.
The chances of this league challenging the NHL one day are slim for many reasons. But if they are serious about reaching that peak they should be thinking more long-term now and not burn bridges that young players such as Filatov could, possibly, find their way back over.
Like Rome, the NHL’s dominance wasn’t built over night. And also like Rome, the NHL is now in a shaky period of over-extension and becoming too expensive for its own good. Though it’s an extreme long shot to ever dethrone such a power, the Continental League should be chipping away and thinking in baby steps and not giant leaps.
Rory Boylen is THN.com's web content specialist. His blog appears Thursdays.
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