Rick Nash of the Columbus Blue Jackets scores a goal against Tomas Vokoun of the Florida Panthers during the 56th NHL All-Star Game. (Dave Sandford/Getty Images)
If it’s Friday (or Tuesday), I must be mail-bagging. Thanks once again for your submissions.
What does the “250 Pittsburgh” patch on this year's Penguins jerseys stand for?
Joerg Hayden, Villach, Austria
The patch denotes Pittsburgh’s 250th birthday. Legend has it Chris Chelios still has his program and ticket stub from the inaugural festivities.
Rick Nash scores a hat trick at the All-Star Game, while Eric Staal scores two goals and an assist and is named MVP of the game. I can reason that Staal set up the game-winner for the winning team, but Nash had two goals and two assists for last year's game, in which the Western Conference won, but got no MVP consideration then, either.
Much like the Pascal Leclaire All-Star snub, is this a case of bias against Columbus (not a Canadian team) or lack of respect for a former perennial doormat? What's more upsetting is that no one (writers, Versus analysts) has even questioned Nash’s omission, nor is anyone upset that, once again, the true MVP for the game was not selected.
Keep up the great work. In closing - Hitch Rules!
Ed Cmar, Columbus, Ohio
You must have missed my colleague Ken Campbell’s recap of the MVP controversy. He wrote:
“Then there was the matter of the panel of hockey writers picking the wrong guy to be the MVP. The night should have belonged to Nash, who is rounding into a complete player in Columbus under Ken Hitchcock.”
There you go – at least one writer outside of Ohio (make that two; I’m with you and Ken here, as well) understands that Nash was robbed in Atlanta.
I highly doubt there was any intentional effort to deny Nash the MVP. You’ve got to remember, hockey writers can be just as slow to recognize the facts as anybody. For example, it’s taken me nearly 10 years and thousands of emails from readers to see why I’m a lily-livered, pinko commie skirt-wearer who hates the game and all associated with it.
What I’m saying is, give it a year or so. If the Blue Jackets start winning playoff games this spring, and Nash is instrumental in those wins, he’ll get his due.
Which team do you think will make the biggest splash at the trade deadline? Also, do you see a Detroit/Ottawa Stanley Cup Final?
Matthew Krivoshein, Beauval, Sask.
We’ll get to more trade questions in the next three weeks, but for now, I’ll say that I expect Western Conference teams to be active buyers, and Eastern Conference teams to be sellers. Just a hunch.
Unfortunately, I’m not quite prepared to offer a Cup Final prediction. Still, I believe history shows that the best regular season teams from each conference rarely wind up facing off in June. Last year, the Sabres and Red Wings were tops, yet neither made it out of the conference final.
As they say, that’s why they play the games.
One last bit on the All-Star Game – I thought it was actually very entertaining and a great showcase of skills. The NHL says over and over they want to use it to promote the game’s stars (obviously) so then what does Mike Emerick (who is a very good announcer) do on Versus? He often doesn't describe the action on the ice.
It’s one rambling conversation after another, talking about all manners of hockey. That really detracts from an exciting game. “Hey I watched this hockey game last night with all these great players, though I don't know who many of them are – the announcer didn't tell me what was going on along the way!"
Very frustrating and really counterproductive! I know the NHL doesn't control what Versus does on air, but somebody needs to send a memo! Any thoughts on that?
Dennis Hudson, Burlington, Va.
You’re partially correct – technically, the NHL can’t control the way Versus broadcasts games.
However, you can bet veteran TV executive John Shannon, the league’s Sr. vice-president of broadcasting, works closely with the network to shape the tone and layout of the broadcasts. And one of the league’s broadcasting goals in the last few years is to get announcers to tell great stories and pass along engaging anecdotes during games.
There’s certainly an argument to be made for abandoning that approach in favor of a strict play-by-play style, but seeing as Versus just posted improved ratings for NHL games, I don’t believe the league and/or network is on the verge of changing.
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