We’ll let some marketing genius or anthropological intellectual explain to us the phenomenon that is the Toronto Maple Leafs. But somehow, a business that has consistently produced an inferior product for the better part of four decades, continues to succeed wildly at the cash register and in popularity polls.
The Leafs are the No. 1 NHL outfit in terms of franchise value as calculated by Forbes, they have the NHL’s highest ticket prices (average of $373 at resale), and it was announced by Twitter on the opening day of the 2014-15 season they rank first in number of followers on the social media platform.
It’s not every day The Hockey News makes an NHL player our special guest Editor-in-Chief for an issue of the magazine. In fact, in the 67-year-history of our esteemed publication, we’ve never done anything of the sort. And when we initially batted around the idea of asking an NHLer to take on the task this summer, there was really only one man we wanted for the job.
Ladies and gentlemen, THN’s staff presents to you our boss for the next edition (on newsstands and online in mid-October): Roberto Luongo.
That’s right – in addition to training and preparing for the start of his first full season as Panthers goalie since the 2005-06 campaign, Luongo has been hard at work with THN the past couple weeks crafting our next issue. We can’t give you all the details, of course, but the star goalie (a) set the agenda for the issue by choosing stories for our staff to work on; (b) wrote an editor’s notebook (sorry, regular Editor-in-Chief Jason Kay, you’re out of the mix this time) offered greater insight into the end of his time in Vancouver and the trade back to Florida; (c) conducted an excellent interview with another Quebec-born goalie of Italian heritage, Canadiens draft pick Zach Fucale; (d) answered reader questions in a special “Ask Roberto” mailbag; and (e) posed for an out-of-the-ordinary photo for the cover.
To say Luongo was thrilled for the opportunity was an understatement. Sure, he’s been spectacularly successful with his unofficial Twitter account, but this was something different and he embraced it fully. And maybe that’s because the Luongo of September, 2014 is a man at peace with himself after surviving an emotional rollercoaster late in his Canucks career. Read more
As you probably know by now, Jordan Subban scored the first pre-season goal of his career Tuesday night – and it was on his first shot too. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the story this morning.
The story was an unfortunate and insensitive caption on the photo of Subban celebrating with his teammates after he scored. The two websites that used it apologized for the slip up. Wednesday afternoon, Subban responded to the mistake. Read more
On Tuesday night, Vancouver Canucks prospect Jordan Subban scored his first NHL pre-season goal on the first shot of his first shift in the 2014 exhibition period. Pretty cool, right?
Unfortunately, when the Vancouver Sun ran a photo of the goal celebration, the racist caption below it became a bigger story than Subban’s big league tryout. Note the horribly offensive description in parenthesis. Read more
If you like a good scrap, you might find yourself a bit under siege lately in the hockey world. Regulations are tightening up, though the powers-that-be still maintain that organic fights, rather than staged bouts, are still part of the game. And even though enforcers such as Paul Bissonnette and Colton Orr appear to have uphill battles in returning to the NHL this season, there are still plenty of scrappers to watch. With a shout-out to hockeyfights.com as a research tool, here are the best:
Acquisitions: Dustin Jeffrey, Radim Vrbata, Ryan Miller, Bobby Sanguinetti, Linden Vey, Derek Dorsett, Luca Sbisa, Nick Bonino
Departures: David Booth, Jeremy Welsh, Benn Ferriero, Zac Dalpe, Jordan Schroeder, Mike Santorelli, Ryan Kesler, Jason Garrison
Top five fantasy players: Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, Radim Vrbata, Nick Bonino, Chris Higgins.
Boom, Bust and Bottom Line: The best, worst and most likely scenario
Boom: Ask a critic what “boom” should mean in Vancouver and they’ll tell you that’s the sound that comes after they blow up the Canucks roster. But new GM Jim Benning has no intention of doing that. It’s not rebuild or reload. Best word to use is “refinement.”
The additions of difference-makers Ryan Miller and Radim Vrbata are evidence the Canucks are in it for keeps this season. True, Ryan Kesler is gone, but the return they got in Nick Bonino and Luca Sbisa deepens a roster that was looking top-heavy. With the Sedin twins set to rebound from sub-par seasons, Vancouver is expecting to make the playoffs with its new resources. Read more
Pro hockey and doctoral studies don’t often go together for a player. And even when they do, it’s rare for them to mix mid-career.
As a forward with the Coventry Blaze and a PhD student at Coventry University, Russ Cowley is doing just that – juggling professional hockey in the British League along with his anticipated post-playing career in academia. He’s heading into his 15th season, and for the past five he’s been teaching sports management at his university. He’s earned two degrees, a bachelor in sports management and an MBA in international business, while continuing to play pro, and last season he entered the PhD program at his university to study consumer behavior in sports. So along with the usual physical rigors of training for a new season, Cowley has spent his summer doing a ton of mental lifting.
“It’s so much reading right now,” he said. “It’s just reading, reading, reading.”
Even the best players in the world can have slumps and it’s not fun when it happens to your favorite. But with every fresh campaign there is hope for renewal and as we approach the 2014-15 installment of NHL hockey, some players may be a little more eager than others, since last season was such a downer.
Here’s a look at 10 players who are primed for bounce-back seasons: