Being an NHL player has its rewards, but also its dangers. And I’m not just talking about on-ice pitfalls. I refer to social media – which, as this issue’s editor-in-chief has shown, can be a wonderful place but can also create a massive public relations disaster. With that in mind, here are some tips to help NHLers navigate the tricky landscape of Twitter, Facebook and the social media world: Read more
SUNRISE, FLORIDA – For the grand majority of their 20 seasons of existence, the Florida Panthers have done little to instill a sense of confidence in their fan base. An average of two playoff appearances every tenth of a century tends to have that effect. A regularly changing ownership group doesn’t help much, either. But the franchise’s current powerbrokers know full well they can’t change that with hollow guarantees, PowerPoint presentations or slick ad campaigns.
The only thing that will fill their 19,250-seat arena on a nightly basis is what they’ve consistently lacked since their inaugural season in 1993-94: wins, and many of them. Read more
What constitutes true fanhood? The easy explanation is the eye and ear test. The loudest, most decked-out supporters come across as diehard fans – like those of the big, bad Boston Bruins.
To THN, however, fanhood is about faith above all else. It’s not just supporting your team when the going is easy. What about standing behind your team when the losses pile up and paying to watch it lose when it costs you an arm and a leg? The Bruins fill the TD Garden, but the last time they missed the playoffs – twice in the season-and-a-half following the Joe Thornton trade – they ranked near the bottom in attendance. On the other end, look at a team like Edmonton. Year after year, the Oilers struggle to progress in their “rebuild,” yet the fans keep coming, selling out Rexall Place and paying top dollar to watch a flailing operation.
It’s easy to make fun of fan bases that blindly support their struggling franchises, but isn’t that what true fanhood is, unconditional love? We set out to create a fan ranking system that rewards such a quality. The formula applies the past five completed NHL seasons. The final rankings were an aggregate score over each category. Perfect science my algorithm ain’t, but we believe we’ve concocted an objective system. We published the results in our Nov. 24 Fan Issue of THN.
The following legend breaks down the fan ranking criteria:
Like a lot of people who turn their lives around, Scott Darling experienced a dramatic epiphany. To be sure, his decision the morning of July 1, 2011, came much more quickly than the process it took to get him where he was – which was in a bed in his uncle’s home in Boca Raton with a pounding head and a guilty conscience. Out of options and out of hockey, he was helping out at his uncle’s memorabilia company and, aside from doing arm curls with a beer bottle, hadn’t worked out in months. Read more
A popular notion is the impact of Quebec on goaltending has diminished significantly. That’s not true, not at all. After all, almost a third of NHL teams – eight to be exact – employ Quebec-born goaltending coaches. The shocking, and blasphemous if you’re from La Belle Province, fact is that total represents double the number of goalies from Quebec who are actually playing in the NHL.
Not including Martin Brodeur, who may or may not find NHL employment, the NHL’s Quebec goaltending fraternity could easily hold its meetings in a Mini Cooper. There was a time, when Patrick Roy made goaltending cool and the position attracted the province’s best athletes, when half the league had a starter or backup goalie from Quebec on its roster. Of the 60 possible goaltenders in the NHL in 2014-15, that number will have likely dwindled to four: Chicago’s Corey Crawford, Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury, Toronto’s Jonathan Bernier and Florida’s Roberto Luongo.
If Ornskoldsvik wasn’t real, some hacky hockey scribe would have invented it anyway. The tiny Swedish town is a picturesque burgh of fewer than 30,000 people, situated on the water and home to some of the greatest hockey players the nation has ever produced, from Peter Forsberg to Markus Naslund. It’s also where two of the best current players in the NHL hail from in Daniel and Henrik Sedin. Every summer they go back to their hometown and decompress near the sea, where the boating is excellent and fellow NHLers such as Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman live nearby. But the first two weeks of this off-season’s vacation time were awful, as the clouds that followed the Sedins around during 2013-14 seemed to jump across from North America. Only in July did the skies clear in Ornskoldsvik. Now the twins are hoping their future in hockey will once again be beautiful as well. Read more
In Goddard State Park, R.I., a few hundred fans have gathered to reminisce about an American League team that played its last game nearly 40 years ago. They’ve brought books, pamphlets, jerseys, shirts, photos, hockey cards – anything alumni can sign.
And they’re not shy about pimping their paraphernalia: hats, DVDs, pens, mouse pads, shirts, license plate frames, pins, banners, golf shirts, gym bags, aprons, cookbooks, coffee mugs, ornaments, posters, lapel pins and even, yup, doggie hoodies. The island’s once-iconic Rhode Island Reds logo is everywhere.
By Marty Hastings
Like any NHL prospect, Tim Bozon spent his off-season training hard for 2014-15. This summer, however, the road to a new season has been particularly long for the 20-year-old third-round pick of the Montreal Canadiens.
After all, it wasn’t until June that he skated for the first time since falling ill in March and losing nearly a quarter of his bodyweight. His mother, Hélène, brought an iPad to the rink to film his return to the ice. “If you think about three months ago, when he was laying down like a dead boy,” she said, “if someone told you he could be on the ice in June, probably I would not believe them.” Read more