Matt Larkin is an associate editor at The Hockey News. He's been part of the THN team since 2011, but he's been married to hockey since he got beat up for collecting NHL sticker books in the mid-1980s. If you like strong opinions on the game itself, fantasy hockey tips and a hefty dose of pop culture in your readings, he's your man. And yes, the eyebrows are real.
Nothing beats the best-on-best excitement of the Olympics. But, hey, World Cup organizers for 2016 deserve credit for tabling something interesting. The new tournament would be self-serving for the NHL, as it would collect the revenue it doesn’t receive from the IIHF’s Winter Games. But it’s more than that. The proposed format creates an intriguing fantasy-draft scenario that would be fun for the fans.
The World Cup would give us the six staple nations: Canada, USA, Russia, Sweden, Finland and the Czech Republic. Rounding out an eight-team pool would be two All-Star squads. One would draw from the remaining pool of nations, including Slovakia, Germany, Austria and
Kopitarville Slovenia. The other remains shrouded in mystery but could be comprised of the best young players in the game.
The Toronto Sun’s Mike Zeisberger took a brief crack at a proposed all-star roster a couple weeks ago. I tip my hat to him as I attempt to take the idea further. Let’s focus on the concrete idea: the Euro squad. How would this team look as a 25-man roster? And could it compete with the big dogs?
Don’t you love it when a perfect comparison delivers itself to you on a plate?
Credit to a Reddit user named ‘Nuppa Nuppa’ for pointing this out. Alex Ovechkin played his 702nd career game this past Saturday in Toronto. In doing so, he equalled Pavel Bure’s total. So arguably the two greatest pure goal scorers of the last 25 years sat at precisely the same sample size before Ovie reached 703 games Tuesday. Lo and behold, they were just three goals apart.
Bure: 702 games, 437 goals, 779 points
Ovechkin: 702 games, 434 goals, 835 points
Those numbers leap off the page, get down on their knees and beg us to ask: who is better? ‘The Russian Rocket’ or ‘Alexander the GR8′?
Let’s break it down.
So you’re mired in the basement of your hockey pool standings. Your dad, your boss and your friggin’ 10-year-old niece ridicule you endlessly. Don’t take your ball and go home. Fight back.
I’m here to (hopefully) help. I’ve collected your excellent Twitter questions over the last few days, and I’ll answer as many as I can below. You’re welcome for the good advice / Sorry for the bad advice.
It was no surprise when Connor McDavid cracked Canada’s World Junior Championship selection camp roster, announced yesterday. It was even less surprising when Jack Eichel made the U.S. camp roster. Both are viewed as neck-and-neck to go first overall in the 2015 NHL draft, and if McDavid could make his nation’s squad with a broken hand, a healthy Eichel was a lock. Especially with the way he’s torn up the NCAA ranks as a freshman with Boston University.
Fuelled by the U.S. National Team Development Program’s perpetual harvest of great prospects, the Yankees are borderline co-favorites in this year’s tournament. Their 30-man camp roster includes 24 players drafted to NHL teams. The complete list:
Hide ya’ kids. Hide ya’ wife. Well, don’t. But hide any Philadelphia Flyer not playing on the first line, as he’s not safe.
The Philadelphia Flyers are synonymous with the term rollercoaster. We’re used to drama there. Coaches get fired early in seasons, as we’ve seen in recent years with Ken Hitchcock, John Stevens and Peter Laviolette. Goalies turn in a good season here and there – right, Brian Boucher, Roman Cechmanek, Robert Esche and Ilya Bryzgalov? – only to turn into pumpkins and get run out of town. Star players get shipped out at the drop of the hat, as we’ve seen with the likes of Jeff Carter and Mike Richards.
But even by Flyer standards, what’s happening in Philadelphia right now is downright strange. Jakub Voracek continues to light up the scoresheet with help from linemates Claude Giroux and Brayden Schenn. But the rest of the Flyers’ forward lines have produced two goals in their last nine games, eight of which the team has lost.
In a stunning twist, owner Ed Snider isn’t mincing words about the scoring drought.
“I’ve never seen anything like it in all the years I’ve been in hockey,” he told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Even when we were an expansion team, somebody chipped in here and there.”
It’s funny how the Phil Kessel trade produces the same cycle of debate, year after year.
Tyler Seguin gets hot, Bruins fans taunt Maple Leafs fans for the trade that sent Boston the pick that became Seguin No. 2 overall in 2010.
Phil Kessel gets hot, Leafs fans smugly remind Bruins fans Kessel is among the game’s pre-eminent goal scorers and thus was worth every asset surrendered.
Bruins fans remind Leaf fans to include Dougie Hamilton in the discussion. Leaf fans fall awkwardly silent.
Enough already. There’s nothing more to say. Kessel is a truly elite sniper, albeit an inconsistent one, and the Leafs paid dearly to get him. In the end they got a player who may end up their all-time leading goal scorer in exchange for what were unknown commodities – draft picks – at the time. Seguin is every bit the star he was supposed to be on draft day, and Hamilton has the makings of a franchise defenseman. Every major player in the trade is excellent at hockey. We get it.
And besides, there’s one significant detail that makes the entire “THANK YOU KESSEL!” debate moot: Tyler Seguin doesn’t play for Boston anymore. It’s time we turned our attention to the trade that made him a Dallas Star. And it’s time for Stars fans to rachet up their “THANK YOU ERIKSSON!” chants.
Connor McDavid, hoping to rapidly recover from his broken hand sustained in a Nov. 11 fight, headlines Canada’s world junior selection camp roster for the 2015 tournament. The 29-player group includes 27 players already drafted to NHL teams. The complete list:
That sound you hear? A ticket being punched. Martin St-Louis hit a statistical benchmark Friday that should cement his place in the Hall of Fame.
It seems silly to assign that much importance to St-Louis’ 1,000th point. Would we really look at his career differently if he finished with 999? Probably not, but joining the 1,000 club might knock down an invisible gate for anyone questioning his Hall candidacy. Here’s the goal St-Louis potted for the Rangers in Friday’s Thanksgiving matinee against Philadelphia. It’s not highlight-reel material, but it’s beautiful positioning by St-Louis, who bangs in a rebound: