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A case for Umberger

R.J. Umberger is making a case for himself to have a spot on the U.S. Olympic team next year. He has 25 goals and 43 points in 75 games this season. (Getty Images)

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R.J. Umberger is making a case for himself to have a spot on the U.S. Olympic team next year. He has 25 goals and 43 points in 75 games this season. (Getty Images)

Was I the only one who did a double-take after reading that 420 (!!!) NHLers had agreed to “go green” this year?

Olympic athlete watchdog Dick Pound isn’t going to be pleased by this at all. What’s next – Cheech, Chong, Dave Chappelle and the reunited members of Phish co-hosting the NHL awards in Las Vegas?

On a serious tip – here’s the mailbag. Enjoy your weekend.

Hey Adam,

What's keeping you up at night? Do you have any questions you want to ask the fans about the game? Maybe we know something you do not that is interesting information to you?

Tyson Van Osch, Lucknow, Ont.


Hey Tyson,

At long, long last – the roles are reversed and I get to drop some q-bombs. Here’s what I’ve got for you:

1. Why do AA readers not take a moment or two to check through the archives before submitting their question? If I get one more inquiry as to why the Red Wings put the ‘C’ and ‘A’ on what traditionally is the opposite side of team jerseys, I’m going to dress up in Civil War gear and attend a Blue Jackets playoff game lose what’s left of my mind.

2. Boxers, briefs, or commando?

3. Are different NHL fan bases and marketing departments going to work with each other prior to the playoffs and ensure each assembled throng in the post-season will be wearing different colors en masse? I don’t think I’m alone in not wanting to see four different “seas” of red and eight separate “white-outs.”

Collaboration – it isn’t just for rap music and “accessory after the fact” charges anymore!

4. Was Question No. 2 too personal?

Adam,

Why isn't R.J. Umberger getting any mention as a possible member of Team USA for the 2010 Winter Olympics? He would be a quality two-way forward for the Americans and he is among the top-10 U.S.-born goal-scorers in the NHL this season.

Dusty Sloan, Columbus, Ohio


Dusty,

I think Umberger is going to be on the American team in Vancouver, as part of a pretty strong forward corps that includes Zach Parise, Patrick Kane, Ryan Kesler and Dustin Brown.

Ask yourself who team GM Brian Burke would select instead of Umberger. Jason Blake? George Parros? Dan LaCouture? I don’t think so, definitely not, and hell no. Umberger is in.

Adam,

What's with all the hype surrounding Magnus Pääjärvi-Svensson? Nicklas Backstrom had 26 points in fewer games (46) than Pääjärvi-Svensson, who only had 17 points in 50 games.

Can you please explain? Thanks.

Julian, Burnaby, B.C.


Julian,

Mark Seidel, our resident scouting guru here at THN.com, currently has Pääjärvi-Svensson ranked as the sixth-best prospect in the upcoming NHL draft. He’s not nearly as hyped as John Tavares or Victor Hedman; unless there’s an underground movement afoot to push him up the charts, that’s likely where he’ll land once the draft goes down.

Pääjärvi-Svensson may not live up to the hype, but he wouldn’t be the first or last player to experience that fate. And what do you think the draft is all about, anyway? Hype is the only thing that sustains fans and writers from withering away in rounds two through seven.

Adam,

All year the NHL acts like what Sean Avery said was so wrong, when it amounted to more or less, bar-level trash talking. Then you look at Steve Downie. The guy got ANOTHER 20-game suspension (this time for hitting a ref with his stick) and is still allowed to come back after it's served and play pro hockey.

What a joke. This is Downie’s third double-digit suspension in two years. That guy should be run out of the sport and never be allowed to play in the NHL or American League again. But no, the stupid league focuses on Avery for the better part of a year because he has a big mouth.

How dumb is the NHL? Seriously, it's an honest question. The NHL is like the hot girl in high school that nobody notices or realizes is hot because she dresses bad and wears glasses. Stop being so frumpy, clean yourself up and let everyone realize you’re hot.

The best sport in the world is barely noticed in the U.S. because the top of the league is run by idiots.

Jim Mauceri, New York


Jim,

I don’t know that I’d call them idiots. Rather, I think they’re simply too comfortable leaning on certain traditions of the game – traditions that other sports correctly recognize as detrimental to the continued growth and prosperity of their endeavors – and too reticent to address the underlying themes of the NHL that consistently reveal themselves as utterly logic-deficient.

And while you’re right to identify Downie as perhaps the loosest cannon in any hockey arena these days, bear in mind he is a product of the culture of the North American game, the same way Todd Bertuzzi was, the same way Marty McSorley was, the same way Chris Simon was. If his coaches and managers really wanted him to play a different style, the switch would have happened long ago.

For real change to occur in hockey, its gatekeepers need a great deal of bravery in taking on the game’s sacred cows.

Unfortunately, those gatekeepers have adopted an extremely Hindu-like approach to those cows. Let’s hope some soul out there eventually finds a way to lead them to the abattoir.

Ask Adam appears Fridays on TheHockeyNews.com. Proteau also answers readers' question in every issue of The Hockey News magazine and on The Hockey News Radio Show every Friday from 3-4 p.m. EST on XM Radio channel 204. To send us your question or comment, click HERE.

Adam Proteau is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Mondays, his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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