There is a lot of room for long-term optimism in Buffalo. Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart, Ryan O’Reilly and now Alex Nylander are all gems up front, while Rasmus Ristolainen looks like a solid No. 1 defenseman in the years to come. But the team is still in transition and there will be bumps in the short-term. One of those storylines involves fan favorite Zemgus Girgensons.
It’s Saturday evening in the Seoul suburb of Anyang, and life is proceeding apace. Couples are canoodling in the cafes, groups of older men are getting drunk at the barbecue restaurants and families are glued to that evening’s episode of I Have a Lover on Korean television.
Yet at Anyang Ice Arena, Goyang High1 have just upset Anyang Halla 4-2, finishing with a shorthanded empty-netter, six seconds before the end of the game. It’s High1’s first win in 10 games and Anyang’s first home loss in 18. It wasn’t supposed to happen his way, and the home fans are incandescent, screaming, booing and slagging off that cross-cultural punching bag, the referee.
So let’s say the SM Liiga in Finland, along with its players’ association, wanted to start a World Cup of Hockey of its own. And let’s say that in exchange for getting NHL and NHL Players’ Association approval and sanction, it was offering each of them $500,000 plus the ticket revenue from one pre-tournament game.
Suffice to say that after the negotiators from the NHL and NHLPA got back onto their chairs and recovered from their laughing fit, they’d probably walk out the door, never to be seen again.
But that’s exactly what’s happening, in reverse, in the 2016 World Cash Grab of Hockey™. The event is expected to generate about $130 million in revenues and $65 million in profits, which will be split 50/50 between the NHL and the players. The federations that have developed the players and will be allowing the World Cash Grab™ to use their logos and players, meanwhile, will be receiving a pittance.
It’s the Fourth of July in the United States, which means hot dogs, fireworks and Uncle Sam costumes. But we’re The Hockey News, so we’re going to concentrate on hockey. USA Hockey may not have as many gold medals or international titles as Canada or Russia, but there have been some pretty dramatic championships in America’s history. Here’s a look at the true patriots of the sport:
The Hockey Hall of Fame selection committee, you’d have to think, just can’t help itself. Try as it might, it is simply unable to resist the urge to act like an old boys’ network. Perhaps that has something to do with the fact that it’s made up of 18 white guys, the youngest of whom is 50 years old.
With a blank slate due to the fact that there were no first-time eligible players who were worthy of induction, the committee righted a wrong by finally inducting Eric Lindros seven years after one of the most dominant players of his generation was eligible. Sergei Makarov, a talented winger in the former Soviet Union and a vital cog on one of the most dominant teams in the history of the game. Another solid choice. Tough to argue the induction in the builders’ category with Pat Quinn, a career coach who didn’t win the Stanley Cup, but was the only coach in history lead a team to a World Cup, Olympic gold medal and World Junior Championship.
The TV commercial promoting the 2016 World Cup of Hockey asks the question: Who owns hockey?
Russian Evgeni Malkin of the Stanley Cup champion says, “There’s no question, Russia.”
The Sedin twins, Henrik and Daniel of Sweden, counter, “That’s easy, Sweden.”
American hockey players argue, “Three words: Miracle on Ice.”
Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask, a Finn, responds with, “Three names: Selanne, Kurri, Koivu.”
Finally, Canadians Jonathan Toews of the Blackhawks and Sidney Crosby of the Penguins conclude: “Canada didn’t just invent hockey, hockey invented Canada.”
That may be true Jon and Sid, but hockey no longer belongs to Canada, if it ever really did.
SAN JOSE – Perhaps Sidney Crosby will never score 100 points ever again. Then again, maybe he will. If you go by analytics, logic states that his numbers should begin declining at some point pretty soon. But he proved in the Stanley Cup final, and by winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP, that he’s about so much more than numbers.
“I think Sidney Crosby’s best hockey is ahead of him,” said Penguins assistant GM Bill Guerin.
Whoa there, cowboy. Best hockey ahead of him? Two Stanley Cups, two scoring championships, two Hart Trophies, a Conn Smythe, five 100-point seasons, two Olympic gold medals and a space waiting for his plaque in the Hockey Hall of Fame and his best hockey is still ahead of him? Well, if you consider that Crosby has essentially turned himself into a Selke Trophy candidate and that he’s altered his entire game a la Steve Yzerman, perhaps that’s not as outlandish as it sounds.
PITTSBURGH – Whether or not the NHL continues to participate in the Winter Olympics will come down to dollars, “many, many, many millions of dollars,” according to NHL commission Gary Bettman. When the most powerful man in hockey uses the word “many” three times, you know it’s a significant chunk of change.
In his annual state of the union address preceding the Stanley Cup final, Bettman said the International Olympic Committee’s and International Ice Hockey Federation’s decision to not pay the league’s biggest expenses – contract insurance, travel and accommodations for player’s families – is an “easy showstopper”.