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Ask Adam - Sept. 21

Adam Proteau
By:
The Hockey News
News

Ask Adam - Sept. 21

Adam Proteau
By:

Once again, thanks for the steady stream of Ask Adam questions. There seems to be more and more of them coming in and though I've tried to get my editor to rename this feature “Briefly Ask Adam,” it looks like we're stuck with the original. Onto the show:

Great stuff Adam, love it all.

I'm a new fan in Houston, Texas – just these past few years – and I've been fortunate enough to attend several NHL games during that time in Calgary, Washington, Boston and Detroit, while traveling on business.

Also, I have followed games on "Center Ice" over the past two seasons, as well as XM Satellite Radio, but miss live action. Nevertheless, all of these experiences, along with The Hockey News, have really set the hook and exponentially increased my knowledge and appreciation of the game, if only by distance learning.

As you know, Houston has an AHL team (the Aeros – the Minnesota Wild's affiliate) and I'm tempted to commit to season tickets. Here's my question: What quality of play can I expect from the AHL in comparison to all of the other opportunities to view or hear NHL play? I'm willing to go to 15-20 AHL games a season, but are the associated expenses worth it?

Appreciate your advice and experience.

Thanks, Bill Skidmore

Bill,

Obviously, the talent level in the American League significantly lags behind that seen in the NHL. The AHL game is slower, far more physical and you don't see nearly as much in the way of pretty passes or deft puckhandling as you would with the game's best players.

Nevertheless, I've covered the Toronto Marlies for the past two seasons – and though there certainly were nights of boredom intense enough to make me pine for a New Jersey Devils “entertainment” experience, for the most part, I quite enjoyed the AHL product.

One of the best benefits of following the AHL is the true sense you develop of a player's career trajectory over the years. If he does go on to play in the NHL – and, with more than 80 per cent of NHLers spending time in the American League during their playing days, that's an awfully large number – you'll have a better appreciation of his journey to the Big Show.

If he doesn't? Well, you'll have your own, localized memories many fans in non-NHL markets rightfully are proud to cherish.

Adam,

As always, great work covering the NHL. I am wondering why predictions and forecasts tend to differ through The Hockey News's platforms.

For example, in the 2007-08 Yearbook, I believe the Wild is ranked higher than the Canucks. But in your recent diagnostic of the Northwest Division, it's the other way around.

Adam Peeler

Adam,

Appreciate the kind words. The reason for the discrepancies is easily explained. When it comes to the difference between our Yearbook and Fantasy Poolbook, each has a different printing deadline; as such, the composition of the teams can differ and thus cause us to tweak our overall rankings/predictions.

My personal picks, meanwhile, are exactly that. I toss in my two cents when we make our predictions as a magazine, but The Hockey News' choices are arrived at by consensus – or, at least, the closest we can get to a consensus. With the wide-open nature of the NHL these days, that's no simple accomplishment.

Adam,

I have recently been following the NHLPA's trials and tribulations; their public comments regarding Ted Saskin and now the reaction to the Mark Bell situation. I have also read Bob McKenzie's blog on TSN.ca regarding how he feels this is a throwback to the old days of the PA vs. Gary Bettman.

My question is this: Do we see a fight looming again when the next CBA comes up over the salary cap? Are the players posturing and preparing to basically say "no" to a salary cap of any kind and are they prepared to hunker down for a long and lengthy battle again? Because, if so, I can assure you right now, I will cancel my season tickets to my hockey team (Sharks) at the end of this season rather then watch this fight again.

I personally see Chris Chelios, Eric Lindros and all the others getting ready for a fight again over a cap and refusing to settle for any cap at all even though the players are back to making huge bucks again and lo and behold the season ticket prices for the fans are going right back up.

Thank you, Tony R.

Tony,

As much as a certain segment of the players – that would be the veteran stars heading to camp on tryout deals, as well as lower and middle-class NHLers who've had their salaries squeezed – are unhappy with the current labor agreement, it would be tantamount to professional suicide for them to re-open the CBA when they have the opportunity after the 2008-09 season.

There is a group of players – and, just as importantly, player agents – who would love to return to the days where Bob Goodenow's patented combination of fear and loathing made everybody filthy, stinkin' rich. But in talking to other, more rational agents, I get the sense many also realize the league and PA need to work together if the game is going to prosper.

It will be up to those progressive-minded players and agents, as well as the new NHLPA executive director, to convince the Goodenowians among them that their ancient, crusty philosophy has no place in a sport still recovering from their last, massive collective error in judgment. And to answer your question, I think cooler heads will prevail and we'll have uninterrupted NHL hockey until at least 2011.

Adam,

When is the NHL going to mandate full facemasks? Face and eye injuries would be eliminated in addition to five-minute penalties. It's good enough for the NFL and college hockey.

If the players union had any regard for its members, they would be insisting on it.

Rand L.

Rand,

Couldn't agree more, although I think you'll see mandatory half-visors long before full masks become a standard part of every player's equipment.

But it's not only the players' union that isn't showing regard for its members. When you consider one of the most pressing topics at the league's most recent Board of Governors meetings wasn't players' overall workplace safety, but expansion, for crying out loud, that should tell you all you need to know about the owners' priorities. They want to shove as many players into the workplace as possible, but couldn't care less about what happens to them once they're out there.

Both the owners and players have to realize in a hurry that workplace safety issues (i.e. fighting, visors, hits to the head, rock-hard shoulder pads, etc.) should top their respective agendas. I'd say it'll take a catastrophic injury to one of the players for things to change, but Steve Moore's career was ended more than three years ago; so I guess it'll take a catastrophic injury to one of the game's superstars for things to change. Even then, I'm not so certain.

Ask Adam appears Fridays only on The Hockey News.com. To send us your question or comment, click HERE.

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Ask Adam - Sept. 21