David Steckel was the latest American to be added to the Maple Leafs roster. (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)
The NHL season is in full swing and your questions are coming in as steadily as ever. Thanks for your curiosities. Here’s this week’s mailbag.
Hey Adam, I loved the fact you picked the Preds to finish ninth this year and Columbus as the eighth place team. I didn’t need an 0-3-1 Columbus start to laugh at you, but having the benefit of hindsight on my side, seriously, what were you thinking? GO PREDS!
Ross McBride, Des Moines, Iowa
Congratulations - you’re this year’s winner of the Incredibly Premature Gloater Award. If you believe the Predators are a playoff lock and the Blue Jackets are lottery bound after five percent of the regular season, I’m afraid I have to turn the “what were you thinking?” question around on you.
Now, there certainly are enough things to dislike about Columbus’ start to the year. Steve Mason is looking as charitable toward opposition shooters as he has the past two seasons; marquee acquisition Jeff Carter has posted three assists, but no goals with his new team; and the defense corps – well, let’s just say when you’re missing the suspended James Wisniewski as much as the Jackets are, it isn’t a positive comment on the rest of the group. But there was ample reason to think the Jackets had enough talent, at least on paper, to contend for a lower playoff seed in the West.
Columbus still has time to salvage its season, but it won’t be easy. The Jackets’ next five games come against three teams: two against Dallas, two against the Red Wings, and one against the sad-sack Sens. If the Jackets don’t come away with at least two wins – and a couple “loser points” in the other games – they’re going to face a long battle all season long to stay in contention. If that happens, bring your gloater’s grin back at that time.
Hi Adam. With the recent trade to acquire David Steckel, it seems as though Leafs GM Brian Burke is trying to accumulate American born players. I count seven players on the roster, not to mention the coaching staff and front office! Are the Leafs really Canada's team?
Dean Crites, Caledonia, Ont.
I raised this suggestion with Burke before the season began and I’m still nursing the third-degree burns I suffered from his reaction. But I found his anger understandable.
First of all, the Leafs have 14 players on the roster who are Canadian. Coach Ron Wilson is a dual citizen. Assistant coach Rob Zettler is a Canuck, as are management members Claude Loiselle, Dave Poulin, Dave Nonis and Rick Dudley. So, in summary, a majority of players and management types are Canadian. The notion of an Americanization of the Buds is factually incorrect.
However, for argument’s sake, let’s say the grand majority of Toronto’s roster was American, Russian or another nationality. If a Leafs team comprised of non-Canadians won the Stanley Cup, do you think Blue & White fans would turn up their noses and reject it? Not a chance. I’m always bummed out by fans who feel they have to win with a certain kind of team, be it in the terms you describe, or in Montreal, for example, where some Canadiens fans need French-Canadian players to be on the Habs roster.
Hockey is a global game. We don’t need to tie down its appeal or growth because of dividers trying to cast aspersions on people of a particular nationality.
Hey Adam, what’s with so few games to start the season? Here we are a full week into the new season and most teams have only played a couple games. A busy night seems to be three games and teams go three or four days between contests. All the excitement of a new start quickly fades as there are fewer stories to follow and less highlight reel goals to discuss. Thanks.
Francois Levesque, Moncton N.B.
I hate the uneven schedule as much as anyone. I’ve already made clear my loathing for the length of the useless pre-season, but these extended respites are almost as bad.
As longtime NHL hockey man Tom Thompson wrote for THN.com recently, the league’s schedule is lighter earlier in the year so as to not go head-to-head with Major League Baseball’s playoffs or the NFL. But this slow start, combined with the pre-season, is the reason the NHL playoffs drag into mid-June now. That, in my mind at least, is worse than any other scenario.
Of course, with multipurpose arenas the rule and not the exception, there always will be some scheduling issues faced by NHL teams. I just think the season is tough enough on players as it is – and even though it would mean a more compressed schedule, starting the season earlier and taking less time to complete it would give fans and players more off-season breathing room.
Adam, this may not be a question, but please make a poll for the NHL to see how much the real fans absolutely do not want those lame ugly looking numbers on the front of their helmets! Why are they there – so that media can tell who’s who better? Are you kidding me? This is almost as terrible as when Americans needed a streak on the puck because they couldn't tell where it was. I wish they'd stop messing with our game!
Mitch Wood, Battleford, Sask.
Sorry, but I don’t share your indignation. Unless the numbers have the ability to jump off the front of helmets and either obstruct play or leap into the stands and pummel fans, I don’t see what the big deal is.
Yes, the numbers are there for play-by-play types to more easily identify players, but they’re also there for the same purpose as far as officials go. If your favorite player were in a scrum and got sucker-punched from inside of a mass of twisted-up arms and legs, would you not want the officials to have a better chance of seeing who did it? I know I would.
In any case, this isn’t the Fox Glowing Puck fiasco. Not even close. I’d bet the majority of fans either didn’t know those numbers were there until someone pointed it out to them – and even if they did, they’ll have forgotten about it by New Year’s Day. Tempest in a teapot, my friend.