The Val-d’Or Foreurs had only been in the Quebec League two years when a young goaltender named Roberto Luongo moved up from Montreal for the 1995-96 season. By his third year in the small mining town, Luongo hoisted a championship trophy.
“We won in four straight against Rimouski, and the fourth game was at home,” Luongo said. “It was just craziness. It was unreal. The city was going nuts. You can’t top that as the best moment there.” Read more
One thing everyone can
agree about in the fighting debate: fisticuffs aren’t gone yet. Hockey is certainly trending that way, but fights still happen for now. So when they do, which team is most heavily armed to win a battle royale on a nightly basis? We set out to crown the best overall tough-guy team in the NHL.
Our data source was hockeyfights.com, which has documented decades of information. Players earn wins, losses and draws based on fan votes. With the help of our dedicated interns, Craig Hagerman and Namish Modi, we compiled the career record of every player who’s played a game this season, through the second week of November. Fights that didn’t have any votes were deemed no contest, as the sample size was large enough for us to throw them out. We included regular season scraps but also pre-season and post-season ones, because fights are fights, no matter when they happen. Even if you’re a star player shaking off summer rust, you don’t ease up in the pre-season when you’re protecting your own face.
We then summed the total records of the players on each active NHL roster to produce an aggregate record, which was converted to a points percentage. We awarded two points for a win and one point for a draw. At this stage in the calculations, we realized our overall team rankings skewed too heavily toward winning fights and not enough toward experience. Which enforcer would you fear more: a guy with two fights and two wins or a guy with 100 wins and 60 losses? So we multiplied our team points percentages by their players’ total number of fights to create a final score that combined fight proficiency with fight frequency.
We believe the rankings on the pages to follow accurately reflect the NHL’s glove-dropping hierarchy. The likes of San Jose and Boston are loaded with pugilists and finished high, whereas last-place Detroit throws punches as often as Gandhi did.
By the simple act of reading this column, you’ve confirmed yourself to be a hockey fan. And you probably want to be the best hockey fan you can be, right? Of course you do. This is why you’re going want to heed the advice on being a better hockey fan I’m about to lay out for you in the words that follow these ones.
Right off the hop, I want to speak directly to each and every one of you fans who is compelled to pound on the glass at ice level whenever the play or a camera is in your vicinity. And here’s what I want to say: Stop doing that. There’s no need for it. You’re not affecting the play or the players, other than to make them embarrassed for you. When I watch you banging your fists and palms, it makes me think only one of two things could be going on: some voice inside your head has convinced you that you’re trapped behind the glass and you’re desperately attempting to “escape”; or you’re proudly demonstrating to the world your brain still has the ability to control your arm movements. Either way, this doesn’t reflect well on you or fans in general.
It also doesn’t reflect well on you or any fan if you’ve stooped to doing The Wave. Read more
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.