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So I’m sure you all heard the big hockey news yesterday that the Toronto Maple Leafs are still looking for consistent goaltending. Oh, and the lockout ended as well. Gotta do this:
Lockout update, Day 114 - there is still a hockey is back!
Now that NHL hockey will be returning sometime in the next couple of weeks (probably January 19), the question is, will fans be doing the same? There was plenty of buzz on social media Sunday about the return of hockey and most of it was positive, however, there were some negative comments as well. Many fans are disillusioned with both sides involved in the process and are imposing their own boycotts or “lockouts” if you will. Some will not watch again until the playoffs, and others may have found different activities to occupy their time during the lockout.
It will be up to the NHL to get them back with a goodwill gesture, and let’s face it, the league owes fans a little something at this point. One idea that I have been preaching since this fiasco started, and Toronto Sun columnist Steve Simmons mentioned it on TSN Sunday morning as well, is to give everyone the NHL Center Ice television package for free. It makes sense for a couple of reasons. First, it’s probably relatively easy to do since the first month is usually a free preview for everyone anyway. Second, it should increase viewers for the product, which helps the NHL as well.
Regardless of what happens, the league needs to do something at this point. Let’s see what you’re made of NHL.
The Vancouver Canucks will be hitting the ice shortly, but don’t expect pesky center Ryan Kesler to be joining them anytime soon. TSN.ca is reporting that there is still no timetable for his return. Kesler had surgery on both his shoulder and wrist this past summer, and his recovery hasn’t gone as quickly as anticipated. He has been rehabbing with the Canucks’ medical staff during the lockout and therefore was one of the few players still getting paid.
Ken Campbell of The Hockey News thinks it’s time for Gary Bettman to step down. What say you folks?
There was an interesting piece from The Toronto Star last week by Bob Mitchell on how the lockout could affect the Toronto Marlies. The Marlies are currently tied for first in the Western Conference, but figure to lose several key players to the Maple Leafs now that the lockout has ended. I’m sure there are many other AHL teams, as well as some European squads that are in the same boat.
Mike Heika is reporting that the Dallas Stars will have a significantly new uniform design in 2013-14. They will be sporting a new logo and the dominant colour will be green. It feels like the Stars haven’t had the same uniform for more than a few consecutive seasons since they moved to Dallas.
Tim Thomas appears content to continue his plan of not playing hockey for the foreseeable future. I wonder how long that will last.
Brace yourself for some shocking news. Carlo Colaiacovo may not be ready for the start of the season after injuring his shoulder at the Spengler Cup, reports Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press. With the loss of Nicklas Lidstrom, the Red Wings are obviously not as deep on the blueline anymore. Colaiacovo wasn’t a major signing in the off-season, but he figured to be an important piece of a Wings defense core that will now have to get it done by committee.
Edmonton's Ryan Jones apparently suffered an eye injury and is sidelined for three or four weeks. Information on that one is still coming in, but it's one more roster spot open for the likes of Magnus Paajarvi and Teemu Hartikainen.
Concussion news about young sophomore defensemen. First the good - John Moore has been cleared to resume skating (per Aaron Portzline). Now the bad - Jake Gardiner is still experiencing symptoms (per Jonas Siegel).
According to Elliotte Friedman it is almost certain that the season will be 48 games long. Speculation is that the trade deadline will be on April 5. The midseason weekend (for your midseason draft, if you have one) will be March 9.
Scary stuff - Evgeni Malkin tallied 65 points in 37 KHL games.
Reported on Twitter by Carolina beatwriter Chip Alexander - he spoke to Coach Kirk Muller, who said that the injury to Tuomo Ruutu means that the Staal brothers will be split up, and rather than be on the same line they will center the top two lines. Hasn't even played a game yet for his new team and Jordan is already getting pushed down into the lineup...
Other Twitter news - New Jersey beatwriter Tom Gulitti spoke to Martin Brodeur, who was quite clear on the fact that he fully intends to play both years of his contract.
Defenseman Alex Petrovic, a Florida prospect, was having a horrible AHL season. But look at this - he has five points in his last seven games and is plus-9 in that span.
Here’s something from NBC ProHockeyTalk on what young prospects, like Dougie Hamilton, figure to get a look from their teams at the upcoming training camps. I couldn’t find anything that indicated if this season will still use the nine game mark as a qualification for a year of eligibility or not, but whatever number teams are allowed, expect them to take full advantage of it. Some organizations could go in the other direction as well and simply opt to leave players in junior because of such a shortened season.
Although the schedules haven’t been made up yet, there will almost certainly be no out of conference play in 2012-13. While more games inside the division and conference are great for creating and furthering rivalries, having every team play each other at least once is a big selling point for the game. Western Conference teams won’t have the good fortune of seeing their squad go up against the likes of Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, and Steven Stamkos. While the East won’t have the opportunity to square off against the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings. This certainly won’t do anything for the growth of the game, especially in non-traditional hockey markets. Perhaps the question shouldn’t be how many fans is the NHL going to lose because of the lockout, but rather how many did they fail to gain by not riding the momentum of last season?
Signing P.K. Subban is a priority for GM Marc Bergevin now that the lockout has ended says the Canadian Press. Subban is a restricted free agent and it will be interesting to see how Montreal deals with that. Currently they have 23 players under contract that equates to a cap hit of $63.9 million. This season the cap is pro-rated at $70.2 million, but in 2013-14 it falls back to $64.3 million. Teams signing players now will have to keep that in mind.
Good to see in this piece from the Orange County Register that the Anaheim Ducks, and more importantly Teemu Selanne, are excited to get back out on the ice. It would have been a shame to see Selanne’s career come to an end thanks to a lockout.
Sean Leahy answers seven questions that will be posed now that the NHL is resuming shortly.
Congratulations to the United States for capturing the Gold Medal at the World Junior Hockey Championship. Defeating both the Canadians and Swedes on their way to the title was no easy task. Goaltender John Gibson was named tournament MVP for making plenty of timely saves throughout the competition. He has been rock solid with the Kitchener Rangers in 2012-13 as well with a .929 save percentage, and with Gibson, the Ducks look to be solid between the pipes for years to come.
While many in this country are disappointed with how the Canadians performed at the tournament, and so they should be, far too often we just gloss over other outstanding performances at the WJHC. The Americans effort at this year’s competition is something that shouldn’t be overlooked.
In case you are on the fence about returning as a fan, hopefully this pushes you back towards the side of hockey.
Shame on you Zidlicky.
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