Erik Johnson had 39 points in 79 games for St. Louis last season and was the first overall pick in the 2006 NHL draft. (Photo by Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images)
Hey all. Hope you’re unlike me and enjoying the nutrition-free sporting Slurpee that is pre-season hockey. Meanwhile, you should prepare for some structural changes at THN.com in the coming weeks. Nothing too drastic; more like some streamlining of duties and (imitating Saturday Night Live’s Darrell Hammond imitating Arnold Schwarzenegger) things of that nature.
Until then, the latest batch of submissions of questions.
Hello Adam. I am a relatively new hockey fan who is trying to decide on a favorite team that is not based on location. I would like to choose a team that would not make me a frontrunner, last-place loser, or ninth-place for the past-how-many-years fan. In other words, I would like to hear your suggestions for exciting teams on the rise that deserve my never-ending support. Can you help me? I want to enjoy the fascinating sport of hockey.
Mikey Donnell, St. John’s, Newfoundland
Glad you’re part of the hockey community. Well-phrased question. My two suggestions are both Western Conference-based: The St. Louis Blues and Los Angeles Kings.
Both those teams have some phenomenal young talents. Both have never won a Stanley Cup, so you’d be attaching yourself to fans who have been starving for one. And both have the potential to be serious Cup contenders for at least the next five years.
Of course, both teams also could take a step sideways or backward this season. But if you’re serious about becoming a fan of one team for the long haul, you ought to brace yourself for the potential, agonizing downside.
Hey Adam. Do you think Dion Phaneuf is going to have a big impact in Toronto?
Mark Saville, Lindsay, Ont.
Phaneuf already has had a big impact in Toronto – if not on the ice (although that can be debated and I’d argue he has), then certainly off of it.
That’s no fault of his own, because when the Maple Leafs choose to make you their captain as Toronto did with him this summer, all of your twists, tactics and tumbles are going to be scrutinized, magnified and, quite often, exaggerated to a degree found in few other NHL cities.
But to hear him talk about it – still no easy task, despite his apparently newfound willingness to throw clichés at reporters – Phaneuf welcomes that challenge. He’ll have an impact, alright – either as the guy who turned around his career and Toronto’s trajectory, or as another in a lengthy line of expensive Leafs gambles that crapped out.
Hello Adam. With the NHL hinting at possible franchises in Kansas City and Las Vegas, do you think they would consider a team in Seattle or Portland? If they did, they would be giving the Vancouver Canucks a nearby rival. Thanks for your time!
Timothy Bacon, Queensbury, N.Y.
Maybe it’s me, but I haven’t heard many of those whispers about K.C. and Vegas in the past few months. Instead, much of the talk has focused on potential teams in Quebec City and Winnipeg.
That might be due to the wobbly U.S. economy (and the comparatively strong Canadian economy and currency). But the longer the unstable situation in Phoenix remains unstable, the greater the likelihood that franchise boxes up its belongings and heads elsewhere.
The empty Sprint Center in Kansas City (and its ties to Kings owner Philip Anschutz’s financial empire) will still keep that city in the conversation as to where the Coyotes eventually go. But the rise to prominence of the two former Canadian NHL cities has hurt its chances of being the most ready and willing to house one.
And that means a fantastic place such as Seattle probably gets pushed further down the list.
Adam Proteau, co-author of the book The Top 60 Since 1967, is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears regularly, his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.
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