Ronnie Shuker

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.

Re-training the Red Dragon for the 2018 Winter Olympics

Ronnie Shuker

It’s a rare for a country to take women’s hockey more seriously than men’s. Heck, it’s still a challenge to get some hockey-playing nations to take it seriously at all. But with its women’s team ranked a respectable 15th while its men’s team sits a distant 38th, China is getting serious about its national women’s program ahead of the next Winter Olympics and backing the team with some big-time money.

With the 2018 Games being held close to home in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the Chinese are demanding a strong showing from their women’s team. The field is wide-open behind perennial powerhouses Canada and the United States, and China is eyeing a shot at a bronze medal. The women finished seventh in 2010 but failed to qualify in 2014, and the country is pouring money into the program to get the team back in the mix on the international scene.

“Their training center was like the Vatican,” said Daniel Noble, a Toronto-based strength and conditioning coach. “That’s their job – to train all day. So it was a very cool environment to be in. It all comes from government funding. The dining hall is like a five-star restaurant. It’s unbelievable how they are treated. They get treated very, very well.” Read more

Numbers prove hockey has the most action per game

Ronnie Shuker
(Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images Sport)

Sports are like sex: the more action the better. And hockey has the most per game of the five major team sports.

Yes, even more than soccer, according to FIFA. At the 2014 World Cup, the average amount of time the ball was in play was only 57.6 minutes, under two-thirds the length of a game. (Discuss among yourselves how much of that actually constitutes “action.”)

Read more

Backchecking: Mike Krushelnyski

Ronnie Shuker
Mike Krushelnyski (Photo by B Bennett/Getty Images)Mike Krushelnyski (Photo by B Bennett/Getty Images)

Despite its recent run of success, Los Angeles wasn’t always a prime destination for NHLers. These days, it’s atop the list of preferred places to play for many free agents, but there once was a time when it was a league backwater that had won all of bupkis and had zero NHL neighbors.

So you can forgive former King Mike Krushelnyski for not wanting to go there when his lawyer called him Aug. 9, 1988.

“He said, ‘Are you sitting down?’ And I’m like, ‘Why?’ He goes, ‘You better sit down,’ Krushelnyski said. “There was some talk of trade prior to that, and I said, ‘I’ll go anywhere except L.A.’ ”

At the time, Krushelnyski, now 54, was on top of the hockey world, having won his third Stanley Cup with Edmonton and entering the peak of his career at 28 years old. ‘The Trade’ changed that. The Oilers shipped Wayne Gretzky along with Marty McSorley and Krushelnyski to the Kings for Jimmy Carson, Martin Gelinas, a trio of first-round picks and a whole heap of California cash.

“The press got the trade all wrong,” Krushelnyski jokes. “ ‘Gretz’ went for the three first-rounders, Marty went for Gelinas and I was the guy that went for the 15 million bucks. Let’s clarify that right now.” Read more

No pinching necessary for Brad Newman

Ronnie Shuker
Newman_644x428

Brad Newman sits on the bench, hoping for the tap on the shoulder he’s been dreaming about for 14 years. Just 24 hours earlier, he cried when his coach told him he’d be dressing him for the game.

The first period goes by and Newman still hasn’t had a shift. He’s so close to realizing his dream of playing pro hockey, but it’s a tight game late in the season, Feb. 1, against Asiago, the second-best team in the Italian League, and Cortina SG is in a fight to make the playoffs.

How Newman even got to this point was a miracle. At 36, he hadn’t played competitively since 1999-00, yet here he was in the lineup for Cortina SG after begging for a tryout and playing the role of Rudy Ruettiger at practice for months, with no guarantee he’d play.

Newman, who grew up in Chicago, was a nominal player at Bowling Green, where he had just two goals and four points in 40 games over four seasons. After graduating, he moved to Los Angeles and continued to play, but never anything higher than rec hockey for the next 13 years. Read more

Why it’s not cool to wear the jersey of a team that’s not playing

Ronnie Shuker
(Photo by Andrew Francis Wallace/Toronto Star)

Well that was easy. Simply push the “cool” button, then sit back and watch the fireworks.

Apparently, far too many fans care what one egghead editor ironically considers cool. For the few that caught the irony in the No. 1 hockey fan faux pas, a tip of the hat to you. For those that took the silliness much too seriously (“it’s not about fashion, it’s about coolness.” Really? That wasn’t a drop-dead giveaway?), feel free to lay the lack of clarity on the editor. As the saying goes, “in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is still king,” and he should have put it in braille.

So since the first hockey fan faux pas was so much fun, perhaps the second will be just as enjoyable. Read more

Why the New York Rangers will beat the Los Angeles Kings

Ronnie Shuker
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images Sport)

Good thing the NHL is still going to play the games. Given what appears to be near unanimity in the hockey world that the winner of the Western Conference final would be de facto Stanley Cup champion, it seems the only reason to play the actual final is to see which city will have the most celebrity sightings.

From coast-to-coast, fans and pundits are so sure Los Angeles will win this series over New York that they’re predicting the Kings to sweep the Rangers in three games. And that’s only if the NHL doesn’t step in after two and apply the mercy rule.

Heck, even at The Hockey News only a lone egghead editor, along with a graphic designer, is picking the New York Rangers to win the Stanley Cup. The others have all caught L.A. fever, too. Read more

Team success and individual instability for Mike Richards

(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NHL)

Take a look at Mike Richards’ résumé:

Memorial Cup, Kitchener Rangers, 2003
World Junior Championship gold, Team Canada, 2005
Calder Cup, Philadelphia Phantoms, 2005
Winter Olympics gold, Team Canada, 2010
Prince of Wales Trophy, Philadelphia Flyers, 2010
Clarence Campbell Bowl, Los Angeles Kings, 2012
Stanley Cup, Los Angeles Kings, 2012

There’s more:

Read more

Why it’s not cool to wear the jersey of a player who’s younger

Ronnie Shuker
(Photo by Dave Sandford/NHL)

It’s this editor’s proudest moment in three years at The Hockey News.

The email was in response to his “Fan Faux Pas” article in the May 26, 2014 edition of the magazine:

Ronnie Shuker writes that “wearing the jersey of a player who is younger than you” is the No. 1 hockey fan fashion faux pas (Inside Hockey, May 26). So fans over the age of 45 should not wear a jersey with a current player’s name on the back? How moronically ageist is that? A senior Blackhawks fan who grew up watching Stan Mikita and Pierre Pilote shouldn’t rock Jonathan Toews’ No. 19? I wonder if that young punk whippersnapper Shuker will feel the same way when he gets up there in age?
Hart Stoffman, Lake Echo, N.S.

“Whippersnapper”? That’s all kinds of awesome.

Stoffman wasn’t the only fan that took issue with the list, particularly No. 1. Many voiced their views via Twitter, so much so that the debate calls for context and rationale.

First, a disclaimer (from the original article): “fans can do, wear, say, shout, scream or yell whatever the heck they want, short of verbal or physical violence. They’ve paid their money, and the M.O. of any sports zealot should be to cut loose and have fun.”

Now the claim: it’s not that fans can’t wear a jersey of a player that’s younger – it’s just not cool to do so.

Yeah, not at all cool, in any way whatsoever, for a middle-aged fan to wear, say, a Jonathan Toews jersey. (Players’ parents are exempt.) When it comes to being a fan, there’s a fine line between support and idolatry. Wearing the jersey of a team is support, wearing the jersey of a player 20 years younger is idolatry.

It’s not that idols are a bad thing. It’s that they’re child’s play.

Really, idols are for children.

As a kid, said editor’s were Steve Yzerman and Wendel Clark. As he grew older, however, he grew out of them. Case in point: he rode an elevator up to the press box at the Air Canada Centre with Yzerman once last season. Twenty-five years ago he would have been wide-eyed and tongue-tied at the sight of ‘Stevie Y.’ Now Yzerman is just the GM of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

So what are fans in their mid-40s and older supposed to do? It’s a fair question, but there’s an easy answer: wear their team’s jersey without a player’s name on the back. That’s where allegiances should lie anyway. Players move on, through trades, free agency and retirement, but real fans stick with their team. Recall that well-worn hockey cliché: “play for the crest on the front, not the name on the back.” Substitute “cheer” for “play” and the same goes for fans.

That said, if a fan really must have a name on the back, at least wear the jersey of a player who’s older. If that means wearing one of a retired player, so be it. To Hoffman’s point above, legends like Stan Mikita and Pierre Pilote would be fine names for Chicago fans to have on a Blackhawks jersey.

After all, it’s not about fashion, it’s about coolness.

As offered to fans in the original article, “Feel free to tweet your agreement, disagreement or hair-raising hostility to this list at @THNRonnieShuker.”

Ronnie Shuker is an associate editor at The Hockey News and a regular contributor to the thn.com Post-To-Post blog. Follow him on Twitter at @THNRonnieShuker.

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