Five summer book suggestions any hockey fan will love

Adam Proteau
Bob Probert (B Bennett/Getty Images)

It’s the middle of the summer and you’re a hockey fan jonesing for some puck talk to get you through to the fall. Unless you’re an NHL development camp obsessive, it’s not going to be easy. But there is a way to immerse your mind in hockey at this time of year. It’s through an ancient, time-honored method called “book-learnin’”. There’s never any shortage of quality hockey books worth reading, but here’s a short list of a few that ought to be at or near the top of your list:

The Game, by Ken Dryden. Still the hockey book by which all other hockey books should be judged, Dryden’s masterpiece makes clear that the Hall of Fame goalie was an even better writer than he was an athlete. It teems with incredibly insightful hockey observations and exquisite use of the language, and is an absolute must-read for any fan. Read more

Dmitry Kulikov re-signs with Florida, but his Panthers career may still end before his contract does

Adam Proteau
Dmitry Kulikov (Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Panthers signed defenseman Dmitry Kulikov to a three-year, $13-million contract Friday, finishing one of the final pieces of team business for GM Dale Tallon this summer. (Only fellow restricted free agent Jimmy Hayes still needs a new contract.) But given the trade rumors that surrounded Kulikov and that franchise’s history of consistent and widespread roster turnover, his long-term future in Florida hardly is secure.

This isn’t a personal slight against Kulikov. As noted on THN.com a couple weeks ago, many veterans never finish the contracts they sign. Kulikov is just 23, but in his four NHL seasons with Florida there’s been an underlying sense of dissatisfaction with him. Although his possession numbers are solid and he logged the second-most time-on-ice (21:41) of any Panther last year, he hasn’t been a standout at either end of the ice in the way some people believe a first round draft pick should. And the specter of him going home to play in the Kontinental League has complicated matters, despite his consistent denials. All those factors combined to create the sense Kulikov could be an ex-Panther at any moment.

Florida’s new commitment to him allays some of those fears, but the pressure on the Panthers and their boosted payroll to make the playoffs means that few of their players – other than those Tallon has bestowed with virtually untradeable deals (hello, Willie Mitchell!) – will be safe if the team struggles. Read more

NHL logo rankings No. 26: Tampa Bay Lightning

Rory Boylen
lightning

The Tampa Bay Lightning have been around since 1992-93 and have had different variations on their logo, but their current look is the only one that doesn’t have lettering on it.

I’ve got to be honest – when seven THN staffers sat around debating and ranking these logos, I was voting for the Lightning to go a little higher than 26. Usually – though not always – I’m not a fan of logos that have the team’s name in it, so I have to give Tampa Bay credit for dropping the text from their look. The blue lightning bolt and circle may look plain to some, but to my eyes, it’s the most refined look Tampa Bay has had in its 20-plus year history.

But when it came to ranking all 30 NHL logos, Tampa Bay didn’t get much love from most of the seven staffers. It’s plain and it doesn’t grab the attention of everyone. So here we are, with the Lightning ranked at 26, just ahead of the Vancouver Canucks.

Think you can design a logo for Tampa Bay that would make our judges reconsider such a low ranking? Get your creative juices flowing and, using whichever color scheme you want, come up with a new look for Tampa Bay and submit it to editorial@thehockeynews.com. At the conclusion of our logo rankings, we’ll share our favorite reader re-designs. And if you enjoyed coming up with a new look for Tampa Bay, try your hand at the other NHL logos too.

HISTORY OF LIGHTNING LOGO
The original Tampa Bay Lightning look was a design put together by Phil Esposito and colleagues Mel Lowell and Henry Paul. From the Lightning’s website:

Together with colleagues Mel Lowell and Henry Paul, Esposito began sketching out designs for what would eventually become the Tampa Bay Lightning logo.

“I literally would go home at night, and sit in my office and draw pictures of lightning bolts on notebook paper,” Esposito said. “And remember, I am no artist. But all of us would come in the next day and sit down with each other to compare what we had come up with. And let me tell you, between the three of us, there was a lot to look at.”

…Initially, Esposito had just settled on a silver lightning bolt with the word “Tampa” across the top. Lowell and Paul then altered it slightly to include the circular backdrop on which it is emblazoned, which still is incorporated in today’s logo, unveiled in the spring of 2011.

Perhaps the most key contribution, however, came from long-time Tampa sports journalist and pioneer Tom McEwen, who advised Esposito to include the word “Bay” as well, signifying a union between Tampa and its neighboring communities.

“Tom told me it had to say “Tampa Bay” no matter what, and that, honestly, was the best decision I could have made at the time,” Esposito said. “There was such a great divide between Tampa, Clearwater, and St. Petersburg that I could not believe. So I thought, yes, in order to be successful, we have to unite.”

lightning1

Read more

Milan Lucic on ‘pins’ and needles preparing for 2014-15

Ken Campbell
Lucic

The wrist injury Milan Lucic suffered in Game 7 of the Boston Bruins second-round playoff series against the Montreal Canadiens is healing quite nicely, thank you very much. But the ignominy he and the Bruins suffered in that same game, well, that’s taking a little longer to wear off.

Shortly after the Bruins lost Game 7 of that series on home ice and were bounced from the playoffs, Lucic underwent surgery to repair the wrist, which he said later got jammed in the first period of that game. Doctors just recently removed the pins and while Lucic has been able to do some lower-body training so far, he has not been able to do any lifting. He hopes to start very soon now that the pins are out of the wrist and it’s on its way to healing fully. Read more

Ever wanted to be an NHL mascot or anthem singer? Apply to the Calgary Flames

Rory Boylen
Harvey the Hound

Have you ever watched a professional sports mascot do his thing and think “well I could do better than that”?

Have you ever heard a rendition of the national anthem that you didn’t particularly like, laughed at a singer for flubbing the lyrics, or slipping and falling to the ice?

(Feel bad for the lady; still going to watch the video.)

Well, it’s time to put your money where your mouth is.

The Calgary Flames have a couple job openings within the organization. First, the team is looking for someone to sing the Canadian and American national anthems at Calgary Flames, Hitmen and lacrosse’s Roughneck games (plus other performances as requested) for the upcoming season.

From the job posting on Workopolis: Read more

The NHL’s in-game entertainment experience is broken. Here’s how to fix it

Adam Proteau
Goalie Race (STEVE RUSSELL/TORONTO STAR)

The off-season is when NHL teams examine their rosters and look to improve. But as we know, there’s more to every franchise’s business dealings than the players themselves. There’s also the matter of the in-arena experience for fans who spend big money on tickets. While some teams are better at it than others, there’s lots of room for improvement in the way paying customers are entertained 41 nights per season. Here are three easy ways to do that:

1. Enough of the same old song. At the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, the same songs often are played not just game after game, but in the exact same circumstances every night. (I’m not talking about a team’s “goal song”. That’s fine.) While there are hundreds, if not a few thousand people on any given night who may only attend one or two games a year, there are many more who are season-ticketholders in attendance every night. It’s indefensible to subject them to a near-identical, cookie-cutter in-game experience, but that’s the reality in many rinks.

Instead of leaning on songs everyone has heard numerous times before, teams could either branch out and use a wide variety of music – or hire a live band that could inject some personality into the mix and react to what happens during the game with different song choices. Same goes for intermission entertainment: NBA teams have brought in retro bands to engage crowds before:

and there’s no reason NHL teams can’t do the same. It sure beats the goalie race, which may be the lamest thing ever seen in pro hockey:

Read more

Would the Maple Leafs be even more valuable if they were actually good?

Ken Campbell
Leaf fan

When Forbes magazine came out with its 50 most valuable sports franchises Wednesday, it had just one NHL team on it. You know the one. It plays in The Center of the Hockey Universe™.

Yes, once again the Toronto Maple Leafs are ranked as the most valuable franchise in the NHL at $1.15 billion. That put the Leafs No. 26 on the list with a worth less than half of the No. 1 team, Real Madrid, but ahead of such iconic sports franchises as the Pittsburgh Steelers, Boston Celtics and Chelsea.

It’s important to note that the franchise value was based on solely on the value of the hockey team and its share of non-hockey revenue generated at the Air Canada Centre. Two years ago, 80 percent of the entire Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment empire – which includes the Toronto Raptors, Toronto FC and Marlies – was sold for $1.32 billion, which would have pegged its overall value at about $1.65 billion at the time. Read more

NHL logo rankings No. 27: Vancouver Canucks

Rory Boylen
canuckslogo

The Vancouver Canucks have had a few primary logos in franchise history – and we think the current look isn’t very good.

Why? Because in 1995 the Canucks came under control of Orca Bay Sports and Entertainment and though the name was changed to Canucks Sports and Entertainment in 2008, it’s the same thing. And in 1997, the Canucks changed their color and logo away from the streaking skate to the current whale, which could also stand for the ownership company. So this logo promoted the ownership as much as it did the hockey team. Major turn off for us.

But at least with Vancouver being a coastal city the whale jumping up out of the water makes sense. And, of course, the “C” stands for Canucks. So while we aren’t fans of the Canucks logo, it isn’t the worst because a) it’s a logo, unlike Washington’s look, and b) it does make sense for the city.

But we like some of their alternate logos better.

Think you can design an improved logo for the Canucks? As we’ve done with Carolina, Colorado and Washington, we’re opening it up to you, the reader, to get creative and come up with your own design for the Vancouver Canucks. Use whichever color scheme you want, whether it’s the current combination, the old yellow, orange and black, or some other variation, and send it in to editorial@thehockeynews.com. After we’ve finished rolling out all 30 NHL logo rankings, we’ll pick the best redesigns for each team and share them on the blog.

(All logos below are from Chris Creamer’s website.)



North Vancouver’s Joe Borovich
hit the nail on the head with his Stink-in-Rink design for the very first Vancouver Canucks NHL logo. The blue and green color combination connect well and the stick that breaks up the oval makes the logo into a “C” formation for Canucks. Vancouver enjoyed its first success with this logo, finishing atop the Smythe Division in 1974-75, although they were bounced in Round 1 of the playoffs.

This one was so good the team throws back to it often today. The Canucks’ colors and look have changed a few times over the years, but none are better than the original. Here’s hoping the Canucks go back to this look full-time someday. Hey, they’d move up in our rankings.

canucks1

The black, gold and orange (later yellow and red) color scheme was introduced in 1978-79 and though the skate blade was the main logo, the awful, awful jerseys hid it on the shoulder. Rememeber the Flying V? Yikes. Read more