For those keeping score at home there is some big hockey news coming out of Seattle. The NHL has opened up Expansion talks with Seattle most notably. They were they only City eligible to apply this season.
On December 7th an ownership group was notified that they’d be able apply. The team would likely cost upwards of $650 million dollars, and would begin playing in the 2020-21 season. This will be sad news for those residing in Quebec City, QC. Fans up there have been pushing for a Nordiques return since Atlanta relocated to Winnipeg.
Seattle is probably a lock to get in if I’m being honest. You aren’t getting approval to apply if you aren’t expected to be approved. Seattle has a hockey history that many are unaware of largely because they don’t have an NHL team. They have an arena in place as well (Key Arena).
As mentioned above there is a strong-ish hockey history in Seattle. They have the Spokane Chiefs and Seattle Thunderbirds, who play in Canada’s Western Hockey League (WHL). This league is Major Junior, where most players play to improve draft stock.
I think the market is perfect for the NHL’s next expansion team. It’s not like trying to expand into Arizona or Florida. The Seattle area is certainly a hockey hot bed, and despite what the NHL tells you, both the Florida Panthers and Arizona Coyotes are massive failures. They are failures in completely dead markets.
Hopefully, there will be news on this as we enter the new year. Generally it is a lengthy process. Vegas was 1-2 years in the making. Seattle has been granted access to step 1. Interested to see where it goes from here.
^ So far the two best jersey concepts I’ve seen for Seattle. Intriguing options to say the least.
In recent years, the NHL news has comprised of the McDavid vs Eichel and Matthews vs Laine. But with recent pressure from other professional sports league, the NHL has been faced with the negative press of the negative side effects of multiple concussions in a physical sport such as hockey.
The NHL response to this was to take steps to eliminate fighting all together from the game. The debate has been waged for years “Does fighting in hockey actually make the game safer?” In an article published by The Hockey News in November 2013, the players themselves think that fighting does in fact act as thermostat for the game. Columbus Blue Jackets enforcer, Jared Boll, was quoted in the article stating “I think you’d see more [cheapshots] by people being dumb on the ice and running around and knowing that they don’t have to face anyone or answer the bell if they do something stupid”.
Now by all means in my playing career I was not going to be the next Crosby or Ovechkin — so in order to try and peruse my dream I took up the role of being an enforcer. Was I worried about the consequences of getting punched in head repeatedly? Of course I was. If you aren’t then there are bigger questions. But what drove me to continue was seeing the impact my presence alone had not only on my teammates but the opposing team. I knew full well by going up to Canada to play Juniors that I would be fighting guys bigger and more experienced, but how one deals with fear is as personal as their choice of equipment.
Ask any skill player if they feel more comfortable playing on a team with an enforcer or one without. Hands down they will tell you they want that kind of player in the locker next to them. By having an enforcer, it allows the skill players to have more room on the ice than normal. Look at Gretzky, he had McSorley and Semenko. Without them there is no Great One. Enforcers are some of the hardest working and most loyal individuals you will ever meet. This is evident by our willingness to sacrifice ourselves for the good of others. If fighting is eliminated players’ careers will be cut much shorter than they are now.
Some major news coming out of the NHL yesterday. News broke that the New York Islanders will be returning to Nassau County, Long Island. It has been two years since they moved to the Barclays Center in disgusting Brooklyn.
It has been two disastrous years since moving from their longtime home, Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum out on Long Island.
Nassau Coliseum was completely run-down, and the county would not build the team a new stadium. In 2013, it was announced that the team would move to Brooklyn at the start of the 2016-17 season. It was a nightmare. The arena is built specifically for basketball, so hockey sight-lines are miserable.
The above pictures say it all. Brooklyn may help you reach a wider audience marketing wise, but they lost a major portion of their fan base. Watching the Isles play is strange at the Barclays. There is no atmosphere. It is a very cookie cutter environment, which is a shame. The Islanders’ old stadium was a fucking dump, but it had everything Barclay’s doesn’t. It has atmosphere and charm. Two elements that make a great arena.
The Isles are one of the proudest franchises in the NHL like it or not. Back in the 1980’s, they went on a run that won’t be repeated. They won four Stanley Cups in a row from 1980-84. They were known for having rabid fans looking to get out of the shadow of the New York Rangers.
A huge chunk of their history was ripped away the second the Islanders moved to Brooklyn. This move back will hopefully bring back one of the leagues most intense fan bases.
Now, this new barn will not have the same charm the Colisuem had (it was a complete fucking dump) but it’s a start. Congrats Isles fans!!!
Well, well, well folks. It has been quite a few weeks for the Boston Bruins. After rattling off 8 wins in 10 games to start December, The Bruins lost to both the Washington Capitals, and New York Rangers this past weekend. They lost to the Caps 5-3, and 3-2 in overtime to the Blueshirts. In both games, the Bruins played well enough to win. They just can’t seem to beat either team in the regular season.
The B’s just cannot find a way to beat either team. After winning quite a few in a row, things seemed to be cooling down. Not with this years Bruins teams. They did not fold, or enter a rut like many a Claude Julien Coached team. This past week the Bruins got back-to-back wins at the expense of the Columbus Blue Jackets, and Buffalo Sabres.
Monday night saw Metropolitan Division foe Blue Jackets enter TD Garden. From the very second the puck dropped, the Bruins were all over the Jackets. Red hot right winger Brad Marchand opened up the scoring, shoveling home Patrice Bergeron’s slick feed. After 1 period it was 1-0 B’s.
The second period saw the Bruins continue to hound the Jackets. Veteran Center David Backes added his third goal of his young season, and rookie of the year candidate Charlie McAvoy notched his 5th goal of the season. McAvoy would later collect an assist, and take part in his first NHL fight. It was a Gordie Howe hat-trick at TD Garden!
Leading 3-0 earlier in the third period Columbus finally got on the board. Josh Anders potted his 13th of the year to make it 3-1. That’s when this young Bruins team turned it on. They drove the nails into the proverbial coffin. Rookie standout Danton Heinen scored his 8th goal of the year. Torey Krug blasted home his 5th shortly after. Patrice Bergeron and Jake Debrusk notched goals each to make it 7-1. Columbus would get a garbage time goal from Seth Jones before the game had ended. 7-2 final.
Last night was a little bit different for the up and coming Bruins. They traveled up to Buffalo to meet the dreadful Sabres. It was the Bruins second game in two nights with young legs it shouldn’t be too much to handle the Sabres.
There was a bit of a revenge factor, as the Bruins had blown a 3-1 lead at home to the Sabres earlier this season. This time the Sabres were shut down by a man named Dobby. Bruins backup Goaltender Anton Khudobin played the back end of this back-to-back stretch. He would not disappoint. For most of the first, and second period Buffalo was flying. They clearly had more energy than the youthful B’s. Never fear, as for the first time in years the Bruins have a solid backup who can win them some games. Dobby stopped 31 shots on 31 attempts. He was flawless, keeping the Bruins on life-support. Finally, mid-way through the second period, Jake Debrusk notched his 8th goal of the season to open up the scoring.
Dobby and the Bruins defense would hang tough in the 3rd, surviving the Sabre’s onslaught. 4th liner Tim Schaller, and David Backes both netted empty net goals to seal the game.
The Bruins finish off their three games in four nights stretch on Thursday when the Winnipeg Jets come to TD Garden. It is finally looking like the past few seasons of mediocrity are paying off for the Bruins. Young guys are playing massive roles on this team night in night out. Each game there is a new guy. One steady constant though, my man Butchy!
Bear with me for a minute while I explain the point of this blog will yah? If you’re reside in the Boston area like myself, theres a lot of pole smoking for Boston Celtics Head Coach Brad Stevens. Rightfully so, he’s done a fantastic job with the Celtics over his tenure. He is consistently praised for being a brilliant mind, and coaching up players to exceed expectations. Now, lets all take the green schlong out of our mouths for a second, and take a look at the job Bruce Cassidy has done with the Boston Bruins.
Almost a year ago the Bruins were treading water. Their long tenured coach Claude Julien had won a cup here, and been to another finals appearance two years later. They had an oldish roster that still, on paper, should be making the playoffs. In February of 2017 the team had stalled. It was Juliens 10th year at the helm, and the message had gone stale. The Bruins were on the outside of the playoffs, and played un-inspiring hockey on a nighty basis. On Super Bowl Monday Don Sweeney finally announced that Claude Julien had been fired, and Bruce Cassidy would be named interim head coach. Cassidy had been head coach of the Bruins top minor league affiliate Providence Bruins, and was only promoted to Bruins assistant in 2016. The Bruins got killed for their decision. How could they do their Stanley Cup winning coach dirty? Well, it was the best decision the organization ever made. At the time of the coaching change the Bruins were on pace for 80 or so points. 80 certainly is not going to get you into the playoffs in todays NHL. Hell, they had missed with 97, and 96 points consecutively.
Cassidy came in and immediately the team showed a change on the ice. They played free, creative, and fast. Those three attributes are absolutely imperative in todays NHL. All of the good teams are young, and fast. Claude refused to change his ways. His young skill players had a tough time dealing with Claude, because he would enforce a strict defensive system. As soon as his fat ass was sent packing the team sprung to life. It wasn’t short lived either, Cassidy lead the B’s to the playoffs for the first time in 3 years. Injuries derailed the hopes of a run, but Cassidy’s Bruins busted their balls. All but 1 game in the 6 game series went to overtime. The Senators would make it to within 1 goal from the Stanley Cup Finals. They lost to the Penguins in game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
What has Butchy done this season you ask? Well, it’s still very early, but the Bruins currently sit in third in the Atlantic Division. So what? Considering what the Bruins have had to deal with this season, it’s a goddamn miracle. From the very get-go the B’s have had a rash of injuries. Not only are they injured, they’re icing a minor league outfit. Take a look at a list of Bruins players that have missed time this year:
David Backes (Notice that’s your top 4 centers. Theres 4 total on the team).
Matt Beleskey (doesn’t really count he sucks anyway)
Peter Cehlarik (Just when he was creating chemistry with Krejci)
All of these guys haven’t been out at the same time, but at some point their spot has been filled by a call-up. Bruce Cassidy continues to keep the Bruins competitive despite so many injuries. They refuse to wilt to the city of Boston not caring about them (record low viewership), and the media asking them to tank/pack it in for the year. Cassidy has inserted young players that bust their ass night in night out. Some of the young kids are a real bright spot for the Bruins, and it is exciting. Danton Heinen has emerged as quality winger that can play on your third line, or first. Anders Bjork has been a dangerous offensive weapon when healthy, and showed great chemistry with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron. Brandon Carlo is continuing to develop into a top 4 shut down defenseman. He won’t wow you with offensive stats, but the guy is becoming a rock in his own end. Calm with the puck, good skating for a guy his size, and has a bit of nasty in his game. When healthy, Peter Chelarik has shown that he and his Czech buddies Krejci, and Pastrnak have fantastic chemistry. Chelarik’s passing vision is amazing. He fits so well with Krejci, who likes to slow the game down, and make plays passing the puck.
Cassidy inserted AHL journeyman Jordan Swarz when they had no centers left, and Swarz filled in admirably. The guy hadn’t sniffed the NHL in his career until this season. Hell, an uncle of mine plays in a fucking mens league with Swarz. That’s how depleted this team is.
Perhaps the most controversial decision he’s made was benching 7 million dollar man Tuukka Rask. Rask has been underperforming so far this season, so Cassidy turned to journeyman Anton Khudobin between the pipes. Dobby went out, and won four in a row. The team overall has won 5 of 6 games. They survived arguably the toughest test in the NHL, the California Gauntlet. The B’s dropped the first game of the trip to the Anaheim Ducks. Things looked bleak. Brad Marchand, and Anders Bjork were sent home due to injury. The boys bounced back with massive wins over the LA Kings, and San Jose Sharks. They then took down the New Jersey Devils in a shootout shortly after. The Devils were the Eastern Conference’s best team at the time. The Bruins then took care of the two time defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins, and most recently took down the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning are currently the best team in hockey.
Cassidy has groomed arguably the Bruins best prospect since Raymond Bourque. Charlie McAvoy is the B’s best player at age 19. It’s not even close.
#NHLBruins stat of week: 10 of top 11 individual time-on-ice performances by rookies this season belong to Charlie McAvoy, including his individual game high of 29:47 (10/28 vs LAK). He is averaging 23:42 TOI per game. No other rookie is averaging more than 20 minutes per game.
The kid is the real deal. I can’t imagine a prospect showing the kind of ability Chaz has consistently. The Bruins have had some highly touted prospects too. Joe Thornton, Tyler Seguin, Phil Kessel, or Douglas Hamilton ring a bell? None, I repeat none of those names had the impact year one quite like McAvoy. He wows you passing the puck, has a rocket shot, can skate around you, and best of all he’ll line you up and take your head off. Chaz is a staple on the Bruins top d pair. Credit to Cassidy for letting the reigns off the kid. Claude Julien would have a tough time giving Mac the freedom Butchy does.
(Skip to the 10 min mark for McAcoy) Bottom line here is, Bruce Cassidy is doing a fantastic job with the Bruins. It’s a shame no one gives him any credit. The team is a complete shit-show, yet they’d have home ice in round 1 if the season ended today. The Bruins still have an uphill battle to get into the playoffs, but considering the circumstances I am more than content with where they’re at. They’re young, and there’s going to be stretches of rough play, but with Cassidy at the helm I have complete faith this young team will be a cup contender in two seasons.
The Nashville Predators took game 4 of the 2017 Stanley Cup Finals, evening the series at two games a piece on home ice in the Music City. On what will go down as one of the biggest home ice advantages in recent memory, the Predators have completely changed the tune of the series. After losing games 1 and 2 on the road, the Preds have stormed back, winning games 3 and 4 by a combined score of 9-2. Bridgestone Arena has been absolutely rocking, and it seems as though this momentum will carry with them on the road in Pitt.