Steve Mason is a good bet to win the Calder Trophy after leading the Blue Jackets to their first playoff berth. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)
Earlier this season, I offered to take on some wagers from our fine readers. The concept was pretty simple, really: We, the sports media, get roasted all the time for our pre-season prognostications and are labeled “so-called experts” when said predictions fail to come to fruition.
Naturally, unforeseen factors come into play between September and April, dramatically shifting the sporting landscape. To wit: Dallas loses Brenden Morrow and Sergei Zubov for almost the entire season, while Sean Avery and Marty Turco tear the team apart early through shenanigans and soft goaltending. All of a sudden, the Stars go from Stanley Cup contenders to bottom-feeders and a new playoff spot opens up in the West.
But I digress. Without further ado, the results of my first-ever wagers with you, the people.
I predict Sidney Crosby will get 130 points this year.â€¨- Peter, via BlackBerry
Final result? Sid the Kid ends the season with 103 points (if only you were allowed to reverse digits). And no, missing five games didn’t make a difference. As I noted originally, it’s just really difficult to put up those kinds of numbers these days; the game is much more sophisticated and even the worst teams have the intelligence and skill to shut out the best teams on any given night.
The Blue Jackets will make the post-season for the first time in franchise history.â€¨- Matthew Carulli
The one – the one – wager I lost through this column. Congratulations, Matthew, you bested me on this bet and your THN swag pack is in the mail. But if I may indulge in sour grapes for a second, let me take you back to Nov. 3, 2008. That was the date of my original column and a time when Columbus ran a battery of Fredrik Norrena and Dan LaCosta in goal, while a young man named Steve Mason was still resting an injured knee, still waiting for his first action in an NHL net. So there.
Steven Stamkos wakes up in time for the playoffs and helps Tampa advance a round in the post-season.â€¨- Shawn Daly
Well, Stammer did play better once the Barry Melrose Debacle was mercifully ended, but the youngster doesn’t play on the blueline, which is where Tampa Bay really suffered this season. With the Southeast getting better, don’t expect this wager to come through in 2010, either.
Carey Price wins the Conn Smythe Trophy.â€¨- Justin Dickie
I suppose this one’s still up in the air, as Montreal is in the playoffs and Carey Price is the starting goaltender right now, but let’s just say I’m not sweating it. After one game, Price isn’t even the best goalie in his series.
By mid-season, there will be whispers of another possible work stoppage. By the end of the season, the owners and players will be saying if things do not change in the next CBA, there will be a work stoppage. By 2011, the NHL will cease to be. - Dan Doughty
I said it back in November and I’ll say it again; here’s the wager I most hope I’m right about. The clincher came earlier this season (after the wager) when the Players’ Association exercised its option to extend the current collective bargaining agreement, thus assuring relative labor peace until 2012. And amidst all the financial chaos in the world right now, the fact the NHL is receiving kudos over other leagues (the NBA and NFL, for example) is a positive step. Most importantly, there haven’t been any whispers about a work stoppage.
So in the end, I lost one, won three and most likely took a fourth. Not bad, eh? Let’s do it again next year.
Ryan Kennedy is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey's Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Mondays and Wednesdays, his column - The Straight Edge - every Friday, and his features, The Hot List and Prep Watch appears Tuesdays and Thursdays.
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