Hall of Fame just can’t help being an old boys’ network, can it?

Sergei Makarov (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

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.

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Hockey is no longer Canada’s game — and that’s a good thing

Mike Brophy
Jonathan Toews (Photo by Robert Beck /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)

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.

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Sidney Crosby channels his inner Steve Yzerman to win Conn Smythe

Sidney Crosby (Getty Images)

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.

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Somebody outside the box is going to have to save NHL Olympic participation

Ken Campbell
Crosby raises his arms in triumph after his lone goal of the tournament puts Canada ahead 2-0 (Getty Images)

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”.

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Vlasic will have his plate full with a steady diet of Crosby

Cro-Vlas

PITTSBURGH – It’s become fairly commonplace for San Jose Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic to be staring into the eyes of the best players in the world. And after getting a steady diet of Vladimir Tarasenko in the Western Conference final, Vlasic is preparing to renew a battle with Sidney Crosby that dates back more than a decade to their days in the Quebec League.

When the puck drops for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final tonight, expect to see an awful lot of Vlasic on the ice at the same time as Crosby. It will be more difficult for the Sharks to get the matchups they want in the first two games, but not impossible. And Vlasic is ready to see a lot of No. 87 for the Pittsburgh Penguins over the next couple of weeks.

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World Cup Power Rankings: Take a wild guess who’s No. 1

Sidney Crosby  (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)

Now that the rosters for the World Cash Grab of Hockey™ have been finalized, we can now set about to devoting our energies to predicting everything that’s going to happen. After all, the tournament is only four months away and time is of the essence.

With that said, here’s our stab at World Cup of Hockey Power Rankings. Remember, these are Power Rankings and have no bearing on how a team will finish, so stop it with the hate mail and nasty tweets just because your team didn’t do well in this little exercise. That goes double for all you Team Europe fans out there, all three of you.

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Massive Russian doping scandal at 2014 Olympics allegedly included ‘entire women’s hockey team’

Jared Clinton
Yekaterina Smolentseva celebrates with goaltender Anna Prugova (Martin Rose/Getty Images)

Every player on Russia’s women’s hockey team at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi was reportedly part of large-scale Russian doping program that included “at least 15 medal winners,” according to the New York Times.

In a shocking report published Thursday morning, Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, who ran Russia’s anti-doping laboratory during the 2014 Olympics, told the Times’ Rebecca R. Ruiz and Michael Schwirtz of a doping operation that saw as many as 100 potentially positive urine samples destroyed and replaced with clean samples. None of the athletes involved in the reported doping program were caught.

According to the Times, the athletes who were part of the program took a “cocktail of three anabolic steroids — metenolone, trenbolone and oxandrolone.” The mixture allowed the athletes to recover quicker and perform better over the course of a gruelling Olympic schedule, Dr. Rodchenkov told the Times, and the drugs were dissolved into alcohol to both speed up the absorption and “shorten the detection window.” Read more

IIHF president says ’60 percent’ chance NHL not going to Olympics

Jared Clinton
Rene Fasel (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

IIHF president Rene Fasel has already said the financial hurdles standing between the NHL and International Olympic Committee could make the league think twice about sending its players to the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, but it may shock some to learn Fasel doesn’t even think there’s a 50-50 chance the two will reach an agreement that sees the game’s brightest stars play at the upcoming Winter Olympics.

In an interview with The Associated Press’ James Ellingworth, Fasel said he thinks a 50-50 chance is “very positive” and believes it’s more like a “60 percent (chance) that (the NHL) are not coming” to the 2018 games. The NHL has remained tightlipped and non-committal about participation in PyeongChang, but their decision may be coming sooner rather than later, according to Fasel.

While the league has been hesitant to announce a firm deadline for deciding on their potential participation in the games, Fasel told Ellingworth the NHL will likely come to a decision by the end of 2016 for scheduling purposes. However, the league waited until seven months before the 2014 Olympics to confirm they would send players to Sochi, so that doesn’t rule out the NHL coming to a final decision in early 2017. Read more