Ronnie Shuker is an associate editor with The Hockey News. He brought his philosophy and journalism graduate degrees to THN in 2011 and has been living the dream since. By day he mans his desk, crushing copy and weaving yarns for the magazine. By night he’s either at home or in the press box watching dump-truck loads of hockey.
Here’s an easy way for the NHL to make even more money: hold a post-season tournament for all non-playoff teams to determine the Stanley Cup of Hope.
The inspiration for the idea comes from the Kontinental League, which started the Nadezhda Cup (a.k.a. Cup of Hope) last season for teams that missed the playoffs. The, er, “winner” takes home around $600,000 and gets a top pick in the KHL draft.
It’s an out-there idea, for sure, and I’m not necessarily endorsing it, but let’s indulge it for a moment.
As I posted on Twitter Monday, I’m picking two series sweeps in Round 1. But there’s a chance two more go the minimum.
Sweeps are killjoys, though, so let’s hope for longer, and therefore much more exciting, series. But the possibility remains that at least one team, or more, will be on the links within a week.
Here are the most likely series sweeps in Round 1:
Parsing prognostications is always a fun yet humbling and (with some picks) humiliating experience.
I had a glance at my regular season predictions around American Thanksgiving, when teams traditionally take stock of where they think they’re at, and I was fairing pretty well. I had another peek at them during the Sochi Games, and I was looking a little better.
But the last month of the season hit my picks hard. For the most part, I was nearly bang-on for the majority of my predictions. My problem was that when I missed, I swung and missed like Pedro Cerrano on a curve ball.
According to at least one report, Paul Byron may avoid suspension after ending the NHL regular season on an ugly note.
There have been worse hits, for sure, but that shouldn’t lessen any disciplinary action he receives for his hit on Daniel Sedin Sunday evening.
That’s because an injury caused by a penalty should be the primary factor when determining a suspension.
You already know the name Bruce Bennett. If you’ve ever perused the pages of The Hockey News or clicked through THN.com, you’ve seen the name. It’s there in the fine print, crediting some of the most memorable photos in the history of hockey.
Bennett, 58, is an icon of ice imagery. He has photographed hockey for nearly 40 years, with an estimated 40,000-plus images printed in major newspapers and magazines around the world. He has seen his profession go from film to Photoshop, the darkroom to the digital era, while the game went from the old-time hockey of the 1970s to the new-school NHL of today. The players have gotten faster and his equipment more high tech, yet his eye for what makes a photo so indelible, and louder than the accompanying words, remains the same.
“When I cover a hockey game, I’m not just looking for a guy scoring a goal,” he says. “I want the whole picture: I want close-ups of faces, I want to see the tension in a player’s face – I want to see the competitiveness.”
With their 3-0 win over the suddenly slumping St. Louis Blues, the Dallas Stars are returning to the post-season, having eliminated the Phoenix Coyotes. It’ll be the franchise’s first playoff appearance since 2007-08 when ‘Big D’ made it to the Western Conference final before bowing out in six games to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings.
The 16 playoff teams are now set. All that’s to be decided now is positioning.
For the Stars, they could get any one of the Ducks, Avalanche or Blues in Round 1. They’re 2-1 against Anaheim, 1-3-1 versus Colorado and now 3-1-1 when facing St. Louis. Couple their success in Missouri with the Blues’ five-game losing streak, and the Stars might be hoping for first-round series against the Notes.
As the regular season winds down, so does the career of Ryan Smyth, who announced Friday that he’ll retire after his final game Saturday night in Edmonton against the Vancouver Canucks.
Smyth will leave the NHL the same way he came in: wearing an Edmonton Oilers jersey. As he should. Some in similar shoes hope to have an even better exit – like carrying Stanley out the door – while others will have to settle for less glamorous goodbyes if they leave. At 38, Smyth is the youngest on this list of greybeards who have to decide whether they should stay or go.
In the summer I whittled my possible Stanley Cup winners down to four teams for our annual Yearbook predictions: the St. Louis Blues (THN’s pick), Anaheim Ducks, Detroit Red Wings and New York Rangers. I was tempted to go with the Ducks for sentimental reasons (Teemu Selanne), but in the end I opted for sound hockey reasons, as well as some sweet symmetry, and went with the Rangers.