Sports are like sex: the more action the better. And hockey has the most per game of the five major team sports.
Yes, even more than soccer, according to FIFA. At the 2014 World Cup, the average amount of time the ball was in play was only 57.6 minutes, under two-thirds the length of a game. (Discuss among yourselves how much of that actually constitutes “action.”)
Six months ago, Nicklas Backstrom was gearing up for the gold medal game at the Olympics. Sweden was about to take on Canada for all the marbles in Sochi. Heading into the final, Backstrom had four points – all assists – in five games.
But a few hours before the puck dropped, the IOC announced Backstrom was ineligible to play. They said the 26-year-old had tested positive for pseudoephedrine in a drug test he took a week earlier. The positive was believed to come from the allergy medication that Backstrom had been taking for seven years and prescribed by team doctors. Needless to say, the Swedes weren’t pleased with the way it was handled.
Canada won the game 3-0, but because of his suspension, Backstrom didn’t receive his silver medal with the rest of the Swedish team afterwards. It wasn’t until early March that the IOC decided the one-game suspension was punishment enough and that he could receive his medal.
Today, he finally got it. Backstrom received his medal prior to a Swedish League game between Brynas and Djurgarden. Read more
Around this time of year when we all get antsy for hockey to get going, one of the most popular topics of conversation centers around which coach will be the first to get fired. Randy Carlyle and Paul MacLean look to be the early frontrunners in that department.
And with the average lifespan of a coach running at about 2.4 years, why wouldn’t they be in peril? Carlyle is approaching that with the Toronto Maple Leafs and MacLean has already exceeded that in Ottawa, having been there for the past three seasons. After two seasons in which he could do no wrong, MacLean was blamed for everything from his handling of the Senators goaltenders to how clueless his team was in its own end last season. Read more
There are so many great photos in NHL history it’s hard to pick just one as your favorite. They come from iconic moments, in random game action, interactions with the crowd and more. Below are some of my favorite hockey photos of all-time with a brief description. Do you share my taste? If not, link to or share some of your favorite photos.
Heading into the 1969-70 season, Bobby Orr had a Calder and two Norris Trophies already and he’d win the Art Ross, Hart, Norris and Conn Smythe Trophies that season. Whew. His Bruins faced the St. Louis Blues in the Stanley Cup final, a team that reached its third Cup final in a row, but had yet to win a game there (the ’67 expansion teams took a while to become competitive). The Bruins swept the Blues in 1970, but the series was capped off in dramatic fashion. Orr scored 40 seconds into overtime to lead the Bruins to victory after taking a pass from Derek Sanderson in the corner. It was Boston’s first Cup since 1941 and they’d win another two years later.
In the photo, Orr is flying through the air like Superman after he was lifted off his feet by St. Louis defenseman Noel Picard. Read more
It’s not the pre-season, but it’s the pre-pre-season. That means assessing each team’s chances for 2014-15 and beyond, looking their rosters up and down and even checking out their salary cap situation.
When we peruse the contracts on capgeek.com, our eyes bug out of our head from time to time. “They paid how much for how long for that guy? I forgot about that.” Some deals have cumbersome cap hits, others absurdly long terms for players past their primes, and many have no-trade clauses. The perfect storm of bad contracts contains all three, and some of my picks for the league’s 10 worst deals fit that description.
We’ll start with No. 10.
The New Jersey Devils have been a haven for veterans in the past few years and GM Lou Lamoriello has been very good about giving older players one last chance at NHL glory. Petr Sykora landed himself a spot on the 2011-12 squad after a tryout and ended up sixth in team scoring. Martin Havlat was brought in this summer to reboot a career that had stalled in San Jose, while news is trickling out that Tomas Kaberle, who played last season in the Czech Republic with Kladno, has been offered a tryout.
Oh, and Scott Gomez is getting a tryout too.
NHL expansion is once again being speculated about after Vancouver Province columnist Tony Gallagher wrote expanding to Las Vegas was a “done deal.” If it’s not speculation about Sin City, it’s about Seattle, or Quebec City or a second team in the Greater Toronto Area. With a 16-14 imbalance between the Eastern and Western conferences, the need for two new teams, or one relocated team is obvious. The sense is that something, in the relatively near future, will change the current alignment.
While nothing is imminent, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Where are the potential destinations for NHL expansion or relocation? Let’s have a quick rundown.
1. Las Vegas
Aside from the obvious concerns over having a team in a gambling haven, Vegas is an untapped professional sports market. If the NHL does expand there in the next few years, it would be the first into the city. How big of a fan base the team would have and how much long-term interest there would be in a hockey team are legitimate concerns for fans of a league that has cancelled one and a half seasons in the past 10 years to “save” struggling franchises. In Las Vegas, there are plenty of entertainment options that go well beyond the sphere of sport, so how well would a losing team draw fans? Read more
The NHL has gone a full 14 years without adding a single expansion team, which is the longest period without growth since the league ballooned from six to 12 teams in 1967. The business of hockey is stronger than it has ever been and hockey’s global reach has ensured that the league would be less watered down by adding teams than it has in the past.
So, yes, the NHL is ripe for expansion. That’s probably why a published report that the NHL is going to add four teams by 2017 was met with such enthusiasm. To follow some accounts, expansion to Las Vegas is a “done deal” despite the fact there is no ownership group in place yet and the league will have new teams in Las Vegas, Quebec City, Toronto and Seattle by the time it blows out the 100 candles on its birthday cake. Read more