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.
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.
It’s understandable if Garth Snow, GM of the New York Islanders, hasn’t been following these playoffs. Not only would he have to watch Thomas Vanek star with the Montreal Canadiens, he’d also have see Nino Niederreiter shine for the Minnesota Wild.
Each used to be an Islander. Both were traded by Snow. Neither brought much in return.
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.
Right above the urinal in the washroom of the Norfolk Admirals dressing room. That’s where coach Jon Cooper placed The Hockey News’ American League predictions from our Oct. 17, 2011, issue before the start of 2011-12. We had Norfolk finishing 13th in the Eastern Conference. They ended up finishing first overall and cruising to the Calder Cup championship in a record-shattering season thanks to a remarkable run of 28 conescutive victories.
“Everybody had to stand and stare at it every day, so you can thank yourselves for being part of the motivation for our streak,” Cooper joked. “As soon as I saw it, I brought it in and said, ‘Look at where the biggest hockey magazine has put you guys.’ ”
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.
As the calendar rolled into May, only 180 or so NHLers on eight teams were left standing after Round 1 concluded last night. The rest? They’re either on the links perfecting their golf game, or on the beach soaking up some sun, right?
Sure, the guys who were eliminated Wednesday will likely jet off soon for some well-earned R ’n’ R. But for those whose season ended mid-April, May means the start of off-season workouts to prepare for training camp.
Yeah, you read that right. The 2013-14 season isn’t even over, and players are already preparing for 2014-15.