Jonas Gustavsson stops Erik Christensen on a close scoring chance. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Well, that was a pretty impressive first night of NHL action, no? As I mentioned on my Twitter feed, this is the part of the calendar where you realize why summer is seriously overrated.
Also overrated: a week without typically passionate questions from hockey fans. (And remember, if you don’t see your question answered online, check out The Hockey News magazine – and THN Radio every Friday from 3-4 p.m. Eastern on XM Home Ice 204 – because that’s where I’ll also address your submissions.) So let’s get to it.
Hi Adam. As useful and affordable as Marc-Andre Bergeron was for Montreal last year, why have the Canadiens decided not to keep him and how do you think his departure will affect the Habs' power play this year? Thank you.
With 34 points in 60 games last year, Bergeron showed he deserves to be in an NHL lineup. But here’s one number that might explain why he isn’t back in Montreal this season: minus-12.
That was Bergeron’s plus-minus rating in the playoffs for the Canadiens last spring. Nobody else on the team was worse than a minus-6. So yes, he’ll likely be missed on the Habs’ power play – especially with Andrei Markov out of the lineup – but on the other hand, I’d imagine Montreal GM Pierre Gauthier believes his defense corps is more defense-minded without Bergeron.
Hey Adam. Thanks for being one of my favorite hockey writers. I hear a lot from different hockey media people about their causes and concerns about the game. What issue or problem with hockey is the one that bothers you the most? Thanks again.
Billy McFarlane, Toronto
Interesting question and one that’s tough for me to answer, as I think there are a number of areas of hockey deserving of urgent attention and action. Some of those areas include the North American game’s stubborn dependence on the revenge culture, plummeting participation rates in certain European countries and the affordability of either watching NHL hockey or simply playing the sport at the amateur level.
But the biggest concern I have is how hockey is going to face rapidly shifting demographics in North America. You don’t have to live in an urban metropolis to know that people from across the planet are taking up residence here – and a majority of them (a) haven’t grown up with the game, making it difficult for their children to appreciate hockey the way we all do; and (b) don’t have the kind of disposable income required to be active on the hockey scene.
Dealing with that problem won’t be solved by one particular action or edict. It’s going to take efforts from hockey federations, governments, equipment manufacturers and others to adequately handle the changes that aren’t coming, but rather, are already underway.
Hello, Mr. Proteau. As much as I'm looking forward to the upcoming Winter Classic involving the Caps and the Pens, I'm left wondering why isn't there talk about a Leafs vs. Rangers outdoor game? They're the only remaining Original Six teams that have yet to participate in one. What gives?
Felipe Ordenana, Toronto
Hello, Mr. Ordenana,
I’m sure the NHL would love to have both the Maple Leafs and Rangers involved in an outdoor game; the problem is mainly one of venue.
Where would you hold the event in Toronto? The Skydome (a.k.a. Rogers Centre) sounds like a possibility, until you realize that opening the retractable roof of the stadium could be a problem in the mid-winter climate. BMO Field (home of Major League Soccer’s Toronto Football Club) might work, but the crowds there would be much smaller than they’ve been in Edmonton, Buffalo, Chicago or Boston.
And where would you play in Manhattan? As a proud former NYC resident, I’d love to see a game in Central Park, but the logistics of such a setting would be enormous. The New Meadowlands Stadium seems like another possibility, but that venue is in New Jersey.
See what I’m getting at? It’s easy to say Toronto and New York should get an outdoor game, but practically speaking, it’s not quite that easy.
Dear Adam, I am curious: When was The Hockey News magazine founded and by whom? I am a true diehard Montreal Canadiens fan and have been a fan of your magazine for many years.
Colin Chartier, Ste-Anne, Man.
Thanks for reading THN. Our publication was founded in 1947 by the duo of W.V. Cote and Ken McKenzie. Ken became our longest-serving publisher and editor in chief; he passed away in 2003 at age 79, but his vision and voice live on through our archives and efforts today.
Adam, everyone is talking about getting a hockey team in Quebec City or Hamilton and even though I’m not opposed to it, I'm wondering why don't they try to get teams in the prairies like Manitoba or Saskatchewan, or even in the east like Nova Scotia or New Brunswick?
Eric Post, Arnprior, Ont.
There’s no doubt fan support in every corner of Canada would be equal to or greater than the sum total of enthusiasm we see for hockey in certain American towns.
But what smaller Canadian cities don’t have in abundance is the kind of corporate base that’s needed to fill luxury boxes in arenas, as well as other forms of corporate sponsorship that help NHLers make the money they do.
That may change at some point down the line, but for now, that’s all the reason the NHL needs to look elsewhere for potential future franchise locations.
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 Thursdays and his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays.
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