Chicago Blackhawks\' Jonathan Toews right, tries to score against Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Mathieu Garon in the third period of an NHL hockey game in Chicago, Sunday, Dec. 26, 2010. Chicago won 4-1. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
Author: The Hockey News
Injury-prone Blackhawks lose forward Jonathan Toews for up to two weeks
Henrik Sedin is a single point away reaching the 1,000-point milestone and Daniel Sedin isn't too far behind. Points alone aren't enough to make a Hall of Famer, but for the Sedins, 1,000 points is another reason to give them the nod.
Henrik Sedin has a chance on Friday night to earn a place among some of the game’s greatest. Entering the outing against the Florida Panthers, the Canucks captain has 999 points to his name, sitting a mere point from one of the game’s biggest milestones — the 1,000-point plateau.
Given the way the past few seasons have gone in Vancouver, it’s taken a bit longer than most would have expected for Sedin to hit the 1,000-point mark, but when he finds the scoresheet for the next time, he’ll have entered into exclusive company. He’ll be the just the 85th player in the 100-year history of the league to earn 1,000 points, the fourth Swedish-born player to accomplish the feat and he’ll have done so having started his career during one of the most dreadful scoring eras the sport has ever seen.
In the months that follow Henrik’s 1,000th point, Daniel Sedin’s hunt for point No. 1,000 will begin. As it stands, he’s 33 points off the mark and there’s a fair chance he has to wait until the 2017-18 season to get there. But when he does — and when he follows Henrik as the fifth Swedish player to do so — it will be one of the toppers on what has been a Hall of Fame calibre career for both Daniel and Henrik.
There will invariably be arguments about whether the Sedins are deserving of the Hall of Fame, and part of the argument will be based in the fact the game isn’t purely about scoring alone. More than a dozen eligible players with 1,000-plus points aren’t in the Hall of Fame, which is proof positive that reaching the milestone isn’t all that makes a Hall of Famer.
There will also be those who aren’t sold on the Sedins given they don’t have a Stanley Cup to their name. Unfortunately, it seems those detractors who value Stanley Cups will never be silenced, as the Sedins are likely to end their careers without hoisting the Cup barring a move out of Vancouver. That doesn’t seem all that likely at this stage of their career. No Stanley Cup may be the lone lasting blemish on their careers, though, given they’ve won at nearly every level, including Olympic gold.
And while the sport’s greatest prize may elude them and it’s undeniable that points alone can’t earn a player their place in the Hall, it can’t be argued that when the Sedins were at the height of their Sedinery, they were near unstoppable. Sure, they were never the biggest stars or the faces of the game in a sport where Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby reigned supreme, but for a two-year period, it was hard to argue against the Sedins being the best the league had to offer.
When it comes to Henrik, 2009-10 was his peak. At 29, Henrik was right near the tail end of the prime of his career and part of a Canucks team that looked primed to make some noise in the post-season. He potted a career-best 29 goals and 112 points, but what made the dynamite season that much more special was Henrik proving he could keep up his scoring touch without Daniel, who fell injured and missed nearly 20 games. Henrik continued to score even with Daniel out of the lineup, and by season’s end, Henrik had captured the Art Ross Trophy, beating out both Crosby and Ovechkin, while also taking home the Hart Trophy as the league MVP.
Lest one have an advantage over the other, the following year it was Daniel’s turn to pace the league. The 2010-11 campaign was another remarkable one for the Canucks, and Daniel’s 41 goals and 104 points were enough to earn him both the Art Ross and what was still then known as the Lester B. Pearson Award as league MVP, as voted by the players.
It was a two-season window of Sedin dominance, but what more telling quality is there for greatness than being literally the best player in the league over the course of an entire season? As far as the Hall of Fame is concerned, there really isn’t one.
Mike Liut and former Canuck Markus Naslund are the only two players in league history to have won the Pearson, now named the Ted Lindsay Award, and not earn themselves a spot in the Hall of Fame, but neither Liut nor Naslund have the additional credentials or milestones. Three players who have won the Hart aren’t in the Hall of Fame, but the only post-expansion player to win the trophy without a nod to the Hall is Jose Theodore. What really seals the deal, though, is the Art Ross. The trophy has been handed out since the 1947-48 season, and over the nearly 70-year history of the award, there is not a single player to have taken it home and not earn themselves a place in the Hall of Fame.
The Sedins will likely never capture Stanley Cups even if they are traded. In today’s environment, a team that has the cap space to acquire the two veterans likely wouldn’t have many other stars around for the near-40-year-old twins to move the needle. They’ll also likely never find themselves among the league’s top 25 in scoring, or maybe even top 50, again, and the next few years of their career might be spent as complimentary pieces on a rebuilding squad.
But what they’ve done both as a duo and as individuals in the years leading up to such a grand milestone have made them surefire Hall of Famers. The 1,000th point will stand as just another check on the list.
The Oilers are very likely bound for the playoffs for the first time in a decade, and former No. 1 overall pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will be crucial to their success.
Without a doubt, the resurgence of the Edmonton Oilers this year is being driven by Connor McDavid. The sophomore phenom is in position to win the Art Ross or the Hart or both, while his team is firmly locked in a playoff position for the first time in more than a decade.
I feel at this point we're past talking about if the Oilers will make the post-season and can move on to what they will do once they arrive there. Because as great as McDavid has been for the offense, the Oilers will need balance. And that’s where Ryan Nugent-Hopkins comes in.
Remember the Nuge? He’s not exactly obscure, being a No. 1 overall pick overall. But like fellow Edmonton lifer and linemate Jordan Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins has toiled in Alberta for years without playoff hockey. That’s about to change and for a player who has largely been out of the limelight for some time, Nugent-Hopkins will be crucial to Edmonton’s long-term success this season.
Right now, Nugent-Hopkins is below his usual career offensive clip, but the Oilers are also winning a lot more and have a healthy McDavid in the lineup ahead of him.
“Every team in the league has two or three scoring lines now, it seems,” Nugent-Hopkins said. “Obviously Connor’s a great player and I want to produce offensively as well, but I have to be a 200-foot player and grow my defensive game.”
Nugent-Hopkins is a decent possession player and is better on faceoffs than McDavid, though neither is great. The Nuge can take on tough defensive assignments and that will be important going forward, unless the Oilers bolster their forward corps with a trade for another responsible center.
It’s interesting to see where Nugent-Hopkins is at this point in his career. He was the top prospect in the 2011 draft, though it wasn’t a fever year in that regards – while Adam Larsson and Gabriel Landeskog were also thought of highly, the best players to date from that class are probably Johnny Gaudreau (104th overall), Nikita Kucherov (58th) and Mark Scheifele (seventh).
Nugent-Hopkins was seen as a slight player with incredible vision who may have needed one more year of junior before hitting the big time, but he bucked those predictions and went straight to Edmonton, earning All-Rookie Team honors in the process.
Unfortunately, in the center’s six NHL seasons, he has already had six coaches with the Oilers. That’s one of several factors that have kept Edmonton out of the playoff picture and undoubtedly hurt the development of some players (Nail Yakupov comes to mind). But with Todd McLellan now in his second year with the squad, Edmonton has a coach who has seen a fair share of playoff games and owns a Stanley Cup ring from his days as an assistant coach in Detroit.
“He’s been great,” Nugent-Hopkins said. “He’s definitely an experienced guy, being in San Jose for a lot of years. He brought that to us – we were a younger team and we still are. He keeps us accountable and definitely teaches us, so it’s good.”
The next step will be the most fun and the most daunting. All of a sudden, there are expectations for the Oilers outside of Northern Alberta. We all want to see how this team will handle playoff hockey and while McDavid is the head, he can’t be expected to go it alone. Cam Talbot must be great in net and the defense will have to hold up. If Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle can be that secondary scoring threat while also playing sound 200-foot hockey, the Oilers will be more than just a nice story in the post-season.
In applications to the Canadian Intellectual Property Office, the CHL describes itself as "professional." That might prove crucial in deciding if a class-action lawsuit can proceed.
When the Canadian Hockey League tries to convince the courts that its players are amateur athletes and not paid professionals, and therefore don’t deserve minimum wage, it may want to consult its own application for trademark with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office.
First, the news. None of this will be decided for another couple of weeks, Feb. 7 to be exact. That’s the day a Calgary judge will make a couple of crucial decisions. The first one will be whether the CHL will be granted a sealing order over all financial records, some of which the CHL made public media last week. The hearing for that was supposed to be held Tuesday, but has been pushed to Feb. 7, the same day the judge will decided if the plaintiffs have grounds to proceed with a class-action lawsuit.
Now, the context. The crucial question here is whether junior hockey players are amateurs or pros. Part of that answer might be contained in the CHL’s trademark application to the Canadian Intellectual Property Office, a document that is being used as part of another lawsuit in which the CHL is involved involving a trademark issue. The trademark was last renewed in 2014.
Here’s a list of all the goods to which the CHL applied to be able to trademark: Coffee mugs, shot glasses, drinking glasses, flat glass, water bottles, bubble gum, bubble gum cards, trading cards, hockey cards, buttons, caps, hats, gloves, hockey pucks, sponge pucks, picture pucks, jackets, mitts, pennants, scarves, shirts, jerseys, sleep wear, stickers, bumper stickers, toques, vests, running shoes, jean shirts, t-shirts, neon t-shirts, shirts, muscle shirts, crew neck shirts, cut off sleeve shirts, sweat pants, sweat shorts, bunny jackets, v-neck sweaters, shorts, hockey t-shirts, sweaters, pants, jackets, tank tops, badges, sew-on crests, stick-on crests, hockey sticks, goalie sticks, hockey uniforms, hockey jerseys, hockey pants, hockey gloves, socks, dolls, toy figures, cardboard collector board, board games, opera glasses (binoculars), sunglasses, paper weight holders, cartoon comic books, magazines, greeting cards, autograph sets, lithographs, posters, sports bags, wallets, rod hockey games, towels, adhesive bandages, first aid kits, bulletin boards, calculators, clocks, lamp shades, calendars, embroidered picture frames, magnets, neck warmers, oil dip stick cleaners, playing cards, stained glass window ornaments, sun visor radios, sweat bands, vinyl stickers, wood plaques, wristbands, infants’ and children’s short sets, leisure suits, shots, sweat shirts, turtlenecks, belts, buckles, coasters, ear muffs, flags, inexpensive jewelry, namely lapel pins, stick pins, pendants, charms, earrings, rings, tie racks, cuff links, leather bracelets, key fobs/key chains, foam fingers, noise makers, place mats, towels, watches, phone cards, hip pouches, knapsacks, license plate frames, miniature bells, money clips, spoons, pens, pencils, bottle cap openers, soap (namely deodorant soap, skin soap, toilet soap and liquid soaps for hand, face and body), game of hockey played with cards, radio earphones, videos, video games, arcade and pinball machines, snack foods (namely ice cream, hot dogs, soft drinks, hamburgers, candy and popcorn).
Wow, that’s thorough. Because you never know when every man in the world is going to lose his mind and begin using leisure suits as a fashion statement. As thorough as it was, though, under the Services portion of the application, the CHL is responsible for, “(1) Operation of a hockey league and entertainment services through participation in professional and amateur ice hockey contests, and promotion and benefit thereof…”
Hmmm. Professional and amateur ice hockey contests? Not exactly sure what that means, but you’d have to think the word professional gives you an idea of what the CHL thinks of its players. I mean, the word is right there, isn’t it? Professionals are not amateurs.
Another area that would go a long way to making a distinction would be whether or not the players receive earning statements such as T4 slips. Well, there’s where the picture gets murky. It seems players did receive them in the past, but in the past few years the standard player contract has been altered to reflect that players are being “reimbursed” or paid an “allowance” to offset their expenses of playing junior hockey. But according to one agent who is also a lawyer, the semantics might not matter.
“This isn’t the first time the issue has been raised,” said Anton Thun, who has represented OHL players for about 25 years. “The definition is something that is relevant, but I would say it would go by however it would be defined by the Employee Standards Act. And part of the problem is, the employment laws might be different if you play for the Erie Otters or the Flint Firebirds than they would be if you play in Ontario.”
The good thing is, there’s only two more weeks of sleeps before we might start getting some answers to these questions.
-How far can the Oilers go in the playoffs?
-The Senators just won't go away
-The Lightning just won't get hot
-Former NHLer Jamie McLennan on the Blues and Rangers goaltending woes
-Claude Julien's future in Boston
-What are the NHL's taboo subjects?
-Was he a Ranger?