When the Boston Bruins qualified for the Stanley Cup final in 2011, I managed to purchase tickets for Games 3 and 4 for Wayne McDonald. He’s my brother-in-law, but not in that “worthless brother-in-law” sort of way. Good guy, accountant in Sudbury, does my taxes every year. And he’s a lover of everything Bruins. I’ll never forget him outside the TD Garden that June night before Game 3, acting like a little kid. “Except for when I got married and my kids were born, this is the best day of my life!” he said.
I mention this story because I paid for the tickets. Figured it was appropriate payback for all those years of doing my taxes for nothing. But with the B’s looking primed to go to the Cup for the third time in four years, I’m beginning to wonder who’s getting the better of this deal.
It’s easy to pick a team to win the Stanley Cup when it’s coming off a 12-game winning streak, the way the Bruins did in March. But there’s more to it than that. The Bruins are the class of the East and will have an easier road to the final than say, about, oh, any one of the eight teams in the West. In the past five years, the Bruins have averaged more than 15 playoff games a year and lead the league with 78 games in that span.
(Editor’s Note: In our Playoff Preview edition of the THN magazine, we asked the question, “Who Would You Take” if you were a GM and were building a team from scratch to win in the playoffs? Most said Sidney Crosby, but three THN writers had another opinion. Below you’ll read why Adam Proteau would build his team around Jonathan Toews. Also check out Rory Boylen’s column on Steve Stamkos and Ryan Kennedy’s on Drew Doughty)
There’s currently one NHL captain who has two Cup rings and a pair of Olympic golds. It’s not Sidney Crosby. It’s not Henrik Zetterberg. It’s not Ryan Getzlaf, Steven Stamkos, Henrik Sedin or Alex Ovechkin. It’s Jonathan Toews of Chicago, the first guy I’d pick to give my team a shot at winning hockey’s ultimate prize.
Readers of my work know I come by my Toews crush honestly. I’ve never claimed he’s the sport’s best scorer or flashiest presence. But add up all the things he does at an astonishingly high level, and you have a sum far greater than its already-great parts.
When listing all Toews does right, it’s tough to know where to begin. He’s the epitome of consistency: he’s produced offense at a near point-per-game pace (440 points in 484 games) and he almost had the third 30-goal season of his seven-year career this season. He creates space for his teammates and unselfishly dishes off the puck, but he can easily pick a corner or rip a wrist shot past a goalie if the situation calls for it.
There’s not a brand of hockey Toews hasn’t excelled at. If you want to skate, he’ll skate with you. If you want to grind, he’s good on that level as well. And his international resume is impeccable: world under-17 gold medal? Check. World juniors gold? Check. World Championship gold? Check. Olympic gold? Double-check. When people talk about developing a winning pedigree, the standard by which all others are being judged has been set by Toews.
(Editor’s Note: In our Playoff Preview edition of the THN magazine, we asked the question, “Who Would You Take” if you were a GM and were building a team from scratch to win in the playoffs? Most said Sidney Crosby, but three THN writers had another opinion. Below you’ll read why Rory Boylen would build his team around Steve Stamkos. Also check out Adam Proteau’s column on Jonathan Toews and Ryan Kennedy’s on Drew Doughty)
So we’ve been tasked to choose one player to start building a playoff team around and the obvious names of Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews of course were quickly scooped up. But given Crosby’s past concussion issues, which could come up again without notice, and the fact Toews isn’t the supreme scorer on his team, there is reason to choose someone else first overall.
My preference is 24-year-old super sniper Steven Stamkos, even though he’s only been to the post-season once. That’s not a knock on him – Tampa Bay has had blueline and goalie issues through most of his career.
Stamkos is the most complete, elite goal-scorer in the NHL today and he’s kept up a torrid pace after 2013 Art Ross winner Martin St-Louis was traded to New York at the deadline. If it wasn’t for an unfortunate accident that broke his leg, Stamkos would have played a front-and-center role for Canada at the Olympics. He was considered as much a lock as Crosby and Toews were. Read more
(Editor’s Note: In our Playoff Preview edition of the THN magazine, we asked the question, “Who Would You Take” if you were a GM and were building a team from scratch to win in the playoffs? Most said Sidney Crosby, but three THN writers had another opinion. Below you’ll read why Ryan Kennedy would build his team around Drew Doughty. Also check out Rory Boylen’s column on Steve Stamkos and Adam Proteau’s on Jonathan Toews)
In a very short period of time, Drew Doughty has become one of the best and most well-rounded defensemen in the world. Never mind the fact he was Canada’s best player at the Sochi Olympics, never mind the fact he has a Stanley Cup championship ring and another gold medal from 2010 to go along with that triumph, just look at the visceral evidence.
For example, ask Washington Capitals star Nicklas Backstrom how he felt when his 6-foot-1, 213-pound frame was hoisted into the air by a Doughty hit in a recent tilt, then unceremoniously dropped from a fair height. Simply put, the Los Angeles Kings’ blueliner can hurt the opposition in every manner possible and that’s why I would want him as the headline player on my team if I were shooting for a title.
At just 24, Doughty has already racked up an array of championships that has him looking like a nastier version of Scott Niedermayer, who is now employed just down the road in Anaheim. The fact Doughty played for a mediocre Guelph team in junior means he’ll never have the Memorial Cup Niedermayer earned in Kamloops, but the young Kings star did get his World Junior Championship gold medal in 2008 and it’s only a matter of time before Doughty’s name is etched into the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenseman. Read more
You already know the name Bruce Bennett. If you’ve ever perused the pages of The Hockey News or clicked through THN.com, you’ve seen the name. It’s there in the fine print, crediting some of the most memorable photos in the history of hockey.
Bennett, 58, is an icon of ice imagery. He has photographed hockey for nearly 40 years, with an estimated 40,000-plus images printed in major newspapers and magazines around the world. He has seen his profession go from film to Photoshop, the darkroom to the digital era, while the game went from the old-time hockey of the 1970s to the new-school NHL of today. The players have gotten faster and his equipment more high tech, yet his eye for what makes a photo so indelible, and louder than the accompanying words, remains the same.
“When I cover a hockey game, I’m not just looking for a guy scoring a goal,” he says. “I want the whole picture: I want close-ups of faces, I want to see the tension in a player’s face – I want to see the competitiveness.”
When the legendary Marx Brothers comedy team was drawing laughs on Broadway in 1926, the New York Rangers were about to launch their first NHL season. And, strangely enough, there was a connection.
In their musical Cocoanuts, Chico Marx, while checking Florida real estate, turns to his brother Groucho and says, “Maybe it’s the house next door.” To which Groucho replies, “There is no house next door.” Chico: “That’s OK, boss, we’ll build one.”
When Johnny Bruno walked out of the theater showing Cocoanuts, the skit gave him an idea. Bruno happened to be press agent for the just-minted Rangers and he was worried about putting people in seats. The Blueshirts debut was coming exactly one year after the New York Americans had become Gotham’s first big-league hockey club. What’s more, the Amerks had already become a hit. Bruno needed something to grab attention away from the star-spangled rivals. But how?
It’s almost perfection on a plate. For hockey players, so much of what the body needs is in a single food.
“Salmon is a great choice,” said trainer Ben Prentiss. “It’s high in protein, has DHA – which supports your brain – it serves as an anti-inflammatory, and it’s one of the best things for burning body fat. It’s pretty much the perfect food. ”
Prentiss is a strength and conditioning coach who has trained NHLers such as Martin St-Louis, Max Pacioretty, Matt Moulson and James van Riemsdyk. He’s all business when it comes to workouts for his players in the off-season and no nonsense when it comes to their nutrition programs.
“They eat whatever I tell them to eat,” Prentiss said. “As a strength coach, I’m not worried about making delicious dishes for the guys. I’m more concerned about what it’s doing for them. A perfect dish would be wild salmon with quinoa and kale or salmon with brown rice pasta.”
By Brian O’Neill
It was supposed to be one night only. Instead, it has lasted 16 years and counting.
Since 1997, Two Man Advantage, a band from Long Island, N.Y., has been fusing lyrics about hockey with its punk rock style. It’s a unique combination that extends even into its live performances. The band has its own jerseys, with its Two Man Advantage logo emblazoned on the front, and the members wear various pieces of hockey equipment and refer to parts of their sets as “periods.” Even encores are hockey-inspired.
“Sometimes the audience will call for an overtime,” said Jeffrey ‘Captain’ Kaplan, one of the band’s guitarists and a New York Islanders fan. “They’ll start chanting – ‘O-ver-time! O-ver-time!’ – to get us back to play a couple more.”