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.
Imagine if Francesco Aquilini had chosen the other guy. He would have saved himself millions and avoided a huge public relations headache. Oh yeah, and the New York Rangers wouldn’t be anywhere near where they are today, three wins away from the Stanley Cup final.
Funny how a dumb move by one team can turn out so brilliantly for another.
The beauty of the Los Angeles Kings is that they bring together two opposing parts of the hockey world. These two factions have spent the better part of the past three years bantering back and forth, mostly via Twitter, about the merit and demerit of advanced statistics. Now they have a case study they can agree upon.
The dyed-in-the-wool geriatrics embrace the Kings for their throwback, defense-first, physical style of play backed by brilliant goaltending. They’re big, mean, nasty, iron-willed and brass-cojoned, and the old guard loves them for it.
The four-eyed number-needling geeks adore them, too, and rightfully so. After all, the Kings are the poster boys for the advanced stats revolution, particularly Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams who, along with Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins, are the only players to be top 10 in Corsi close each of the past three seasons.
Boxing and hockey are No. 1 and 2, respectively, on my list of favorite sports. What I love most about both is the honor among competitors. They beat the heck out of each other for 12 rounds or a seven-game series and then shake hands or embrace afterward. Boxers and hockey players win with honor and lose with dignity.
Well, most of the time anyway.
Notice any players missing in the playoffs? Don’t sweat it if you don’t, because no one else has either. They disappear around this time every year, and few fans seem to care because they’re too busy watching the real season when only the real players are left playing.
Heck, even the barbarian blowhards have hardly made a headline about the absence of the sledgehammered, stone-handed, slower-than-sludge fighters that (regrettably) make their appearance in the regular season, only to disappear (thankfully) in the playoffs.
In a recent interview for an article on even-up calls, former NHL referee Kerry Fraser reminisced about his legion of run-ins with players and coaches – from Jarome Iginla to Scotty Bowman to even Wayne Gretzky.
During our conversation, Fraser recalled a colorful encounter with The Great One, when Gretzky decided to try to dive his way to a much-needed Oilers power play.
They’re the last-minute Larrys of the Stanley Cup playoffs year after year – the college kids with PhDs in procrastination yet so whip-smart that they can cram study before the final exam and pull out an ‘A.’
Problem is, though, they’re supposed to be the NHL’s professors, the grizzled veterans of the league – post-season shrewd and crunch-time wise from their vast playoff experience the past three years. In short, the Boston Bruins should know better than to play around with “procrastination.”
All right. Don’t overthink this. It’s almost as easy as giving out the Art Ross Trophy.
Patrick Roy is the obvious, slam-dunk, no-brainer award winner of the Jack Adams Trophy. Mike Babcock and Jon Cooper take a bow, since you’re both worthy of being finalists, but take a step back behind Roy as you do, because he’s the rightful winner in 2014.
There’s a curious coincidence when it comes to cash and Rick Nash. When the money stops flowing, so does his production.
Come playoff time, when players play for glory instead of green (aside from the occasional, obscure post-season bonus), the New York Rangers’ most expensive regular season asset of $7.8 million scores at the pace of a minimum wage NHLer.