Monday, 30 August 2010

Offseason Recap-Southeast Division

Finishing up the Eastern Conference, here is a look at the Southeast Division. Expect a few teams other than the Capitals to make the playoff from the Southeast this season.

Washington Capitals - 1
Key Signings
7/2: G Dany Sabourin (BOS) 1 year
7/7: D Jeff Schultz (re-signed) 4 years
7/7: LW Kyle Greentree (CHI) 2 years
7/8: RW Eric Fehr (re-signed) 2 years
7/14: RW Brian Willsie (COL) 1 year
7/15: RW Andrew Gordon (re-signed) 1 year
7/15: D Patrick McNeill (re-signed) 1 year
7/27: LW Tomas Fleischmann (re-signed)
7/28: F D.J. King from STL for F Stefan Della Rouvere
D Milan Jurcina (NYI)
D Joe Corvo (CAR)
D Shaone Morrison (BUF)
C Brendan Morrison
G Jose Theodore
RW Scott Walker
C Eric Belanger
What To Expect
Not many changes were made this summer in Washington, a team that should once again take advantage of a weak division to help them finish on top of the conference. The Capitals have a great cast of support players to complement the likes of Alexander Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Mike Green and GM George McPhee spent the summer re-signing them. Major changes have all come in the form of subtractions, most notably veteran goalie Jose Theodore which will leave to door open for youngsters Semyon Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth to fight for the starting job. There really isn't much left to prove in the regular season, as the Capitals really need to focus all their attention to April and beyond.

Tampa Bay Lightning - 7
Key Signings
7/1: G Dan Ellis (NAS) 2 years
7/2: D Pavel Kubina (ATL) 2 years
7/5: D Brett Clark (COL) 2 years
7/6: RW Teddy Purcell (re-signed) 1 year
7/6: D Mike Lundin (re-signed) 1 year
7/15: C Blair Jones (re-signed)
7/16: C Paul Szczechura (re-signed) 1 year
7/16: C Nate Thompson (re-signed) 1 year
7/25: LW Chris Durno (COL) 1 year
7/29: D Mathieu Roy (CLB) 1 year
7/30: C Dominic Moore (MON) 2 years
8/11: LW Juraj Simek (re-signed) 1 year
8/17: LW Sean Bergenheim (NYI) 1 year
8/25: RW Steve Downie (re-signed) 2 years
8/25: D Randy Jones (LA) 1 year
7/1: 2nd round draft pick (2012) from PHI for D Andrej Meszaros
7/19: LW Simon Gagne from PHI for D Matt Walker and 4th round draft pick (2011)
8/16: G Cedrick Desjardins from MON for G Karri Ramo
8/27: F Alex Berry and F Stefano Giliati from TOR for D Matt Lashoff
LW Alex Tanguay (CAL)
G Antero Niittymaki (SJ)
D Kurtis Foster (EDM)
F Zenon Konopka (NYI)
D David Hale (OTT)
What To Expect
Rookie GM Steve Yzerman has had quite a summer in his first time away from Detroit. Stability in the front office combined with some key new faces should go a long way towards bringing Tampa Bay back into the playoff picture. The addition of Simon Gagne came relatively risk free, acquired for Matt Walker and with one year left on his contract. Should he stay healthy the Lightning will have two solid scoring lines. Dan Ellis will challenge Mike Smith for the starting job; the two former Stars should push each other and provide the team with solid goaltending. On defense Andrej Meszaros and Kurtis Foster are gone, replaced by Pavel Kubina, a member of their 2004 Stanley Cup team, and Brett Clark.

Carolina Hurricanes - 8
Key Signings
7/1: LW Jonathan Matsumoto (PHI) 2 years, two way, $1.025 M/$210,000
7/5: G Justin Peters (re-signed) 2 years, two way, $1.05 M/$210,000
7/7: D Joe Corvo (WAS) 2 years, $4.5 M
7/7: D Casey Borer (re-signed) 1 year, two way, $500,000/$65,000
7/12: C Nick Dodge (re-signed) 1 year, two way, $500,000/$55,000
7/15: D Bryan Rodney (re-signed) 1 year, two way, $525,000/$105,000
7/20: D Brett Carson (re-signed) 1 year, two way, $500,000/$105,000
5/13: RW Jared Staal from PHO for 5th round draft pick (2010)
6/26: C Riley Nash from EDM for 2nd round draft pick (2010)
6/26: D Bobby Sanguinetti from NYR for 6th round draft pick (2010) and 2nd round draft pick (2011)
6/26: C Jonathan Matsumoto from PHI for 7th round draft pick (2010)
LW Ray Whitney (PHO)
C Rod Brind'Amour
G Manny Legace
D Brian Pothier
What To Expect
The Hurricanes are going to benefit, more than anything else this season, from a healthy lineup. Injuries and a slow start (that's putting it lightly) were what caused Carolina to miss the playoffs last season. Heart and soul leader Rod Brind'Amour has retired and offensive linchpin Ray Whitney moved on to Phoenix making this 100% Eric Staal's team. Joe Corvo is back with the team after being traded to Washington during last season's trade deadline.

Atlanta Thrashers - 12
Key Signings
7/1: G Chris Mason (STL)
7/7: LW Eric Boullton (re-signed)
7/22: G Ondrej Pavelec (re-signed) 2 years
7/28: LW Ben Eager (CHI)
7/29: LW Andrew Ladd (CHI) 1 year, $2.35 M
8/19: D Freddy Meyer (NYI) 1 year
8/23: RW Bryan Little (re-signed)
6/23: LW Dustin Byfuglien, D Brent Sopel, LW Ben Eager, and RW Akim Aliu from CHI for 24th overall draft pick (2010), 2nd round draft pick (2010), C Marty Reasoner, LW Jeremy Morin, and RW Joey Crabb
6/24: Future Considerations from SJ for D Mike Vernace, LW Brett Sterling, and 7th round draft pick (2010)
7/1: Andrew Ladd from CHI for D Ivan Vishnevsky and 2nd round draft pick (2011)
8/2: F Patrick Rissmiller and LW Donald Brashear from NYR for C Todd White
RW Colby Armstrong (TOR)
G Johan Hedberg (NJ)
D Pavel Kubina (TB)
LW Vyacheslav Kozlov
LW Clarke MacArthur (TOR)
What To Expect
Many GMs try to take the style of the former Stanley Cup winner, Atlanta GM Rick Dudley just takes the players from them. Four players from the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks are now members of the Thrashers. Defenseman Brent Sopel will take a spot in place of Pavel Kubina who bolted back to Tampa Bay. Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd, and Ben Eager combine to add depth throughout the forward lines. The signing of Chris Mason and the re-signing of Ondrej Pavelec should give the Thrashers stable goaltending, an upgrade over the injury plagued Kari Lehtonen who was traded to Dallas last season.

Florida Panthers - 14
Key Signings
7/2: Chris Higgins (CAL) 1 year
7/7: D Jason Garrison (re-signed) 2 years
7/7: D Nathan Paetsch (CLB) 1 year
8/3: D Mike Weaver (STL) 2 years
8/19: LW Andrew Peters (NJ) 1 year
6/22: D Dennis Wideman, 15th overall draft pick (2010), and 3rd round draft pick (2011) from BOS for RW Nathan Horton and C Gregory Campbell
6/25: RW Steve Bernier, RW Michael Grabner, and 1st round draft pick (2010) from VAN for D Keith Ballard and RW Victor Oreskovich
7/22: C Marty Reasoner from CHI for F Jeff Taffe
What To Expect
For a team that didn't lose anyone without a return, the Panthers did not get any better this season. Dennis Wideman replaces Keith Ballard and Chris Higgins replaces Nathan Horton, but otherwise the team remains largely the same. They will benefit from having David Booth on the ice, provided he keeps his head up when Mike Richards is around. Tomas Vokoun return as starting goalie, but he can only do so much. The rebuild continues.

Sources: Free Agent Trade Center, The Hockey News Yearbook

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Offseason Recap-Northeast Division

Continuing with the Eastern Conference, here is a look at the Northeast Division. I should be able to continue the Offseason Recaps once a day, with the possible exception of Wednesday as I have to drive back to school. Woo-hoo! (not)

Boston Bruins - 3
Key Signings
7/1: LW Daniel Paille (re-signed) 2 years
7/1: F Jeremy Reich (NYI) 1 year
7/9: D Mark Stuart (re-signed) 1 year
7/15: C Gregory Campbell (FLA) 2 years
7/30: RW Blake Wheeler (re-signed) 1 year, $2.2 M
6/22: RW Nathan Horton and C Gregory Campbell from FLA for D Dennis Wideman, 15th overall draft pick (2010), and 3rd round draft pick (2011)
6/26: D David Warsofsky from STL for C Vladimir Sabotka
RW Miroslav Satan
C Steve Begin
What To Expect
GM Peter Chiarelli didn't make too many moves this summer, opting instead to let the team benefit from a healthy core and experienced Tuukka Rask. The defense is largely the same except for the departure of Dennis Wideman who was shipped to Florida to bring in Nathan Horton. Horton brings 30 goal potential to the goal-starved Bruins and helps give them four solid forward lines. Marc Savard should be healthy after missing half of last season with a concussion and other various injuries. The Bruins are clearly a different team with him in the lineup.

Buffalo Sabres - 6
Key Signings
7/1: D Jordan Leopold (PIT) 3 years
7/2: C Cody McCormick (re-signed)
7/7: C Rob Niedermayer (NJ) 1 year
7/7: G Patrick Lalime (re-signed) 1 year
7/7: D Mike Weber (re-signed) 1 year
7/21: RW Patrick Kaleta (re-signed) 2 years
7/29: Tim Kennedy (re-signed) 1 year, $1 M
8/3: Shaone Morrison (WAS) 2 years
8/5: Marc-Andre Gragnani (re-signed) 1 year
8/26: Colin Stuart (CAL) 1 year
D Toni Lydman (ANA)
D Henrik Tallinder (NJ)
LW Raffi Torres
C Adam Mair
What To Expect
Not a whole lot has changed in Buffalo as most of GM Darcy Regier's moves were re-signings. Rob Niedermayer adds depth and toughness down the middle and Jordon Leopold was brought in to replace Henrik Tallinder who opted to go with the Devils. Unless Thomas Vanek regains his 40 goal form, they will once again live and die by Ryan Miller. Actually, come to think of it, they will anyway.

Montreal Canadiens - 9
Key Signings
7/1: G Alex Auld (NYR) 
7/13: RW Maxim Lapierre (re-signed) 1 year
7/13: Mathieu Carle (re-signed) 1 year
7/31: D Alexandre Picard (CAR) 1 year
6/17: C Lars Eller and RW Ian Schultz from STL for G Jaroslav Halak
6/29: C Dustin Boyd, G Dan Ellis, and future considerations from NAS for RW Sergei Kostitsyn and future considerations
8/16: G Karri Ramo from TB for G Cedrick Desjardins
C Dominik Moore (TB)
C Glen Metropolit 
D Marc-Andre Bergeron
What To Expect
Except for a surprising first place finish two seasons ago, they Canadiens are always a team  on the edge of the playoff race. GM Pierre Gauthier will fill holes from within the organization. The only major move was the trade of playoff hero Jaroslav Halak to St. Louis. That leaves Carey Price to finally live up to the expectations of being picked 5th overall in 2005. P.K. Subban showed plenty of potential in the playoffs last season and will get the chance to prove himself over the course of a full NHL season. He will most likely quarterback the powerplay, a position left available by the departure of Marc-Andre Bergeron. 

Ottawa Senators - 10
Key Signings
7/1: D Sergei Gonchar (PIT) 3 years, $16.5 M
7/1: C Jesse Winchester (re-signed)
7/13: D Derek Smith (re-signed) 1 year
7/21: LW Nick Foligno (re-signed) 2 years
7/29: C Peter Regin (re-signed) 2 years
7/30: D Chris Campoli (re-signed) 1 year
8/4: RW Francis Lessard (PHO) 1 year
8/4: D David Hale (TB) 1 year
6/25: D David Runbland from STL for 1st round draft pick (2010)
D Anton Volchenkov (NJ)
C Matt Cullen (MIN)
D Andy Sutton (ANA)
RW Jonathan Cheechoo
What To Expect
Standing pat seems to be the trend in the Northeast Division and GM Bryan Murray is no different. Unless Alexei Kovalev can revert to the form he showed in Montreal two seasons ago and Brian Elliot can continue his strong performance from last season while forgetting about the playoffs, this may be a long season in Canada's Capital. Defensive stalwart Anton Volchenkov is gone and was replaced by the aging Sergei Gonchar. He should help a powerplay that finished 20th overall last season but the shot blocking ability and physical intimidation provided by Volchenkov will be sorely missed. That will mean Elliot and Pascal Leclaire will have to be even sharper in goal.

Toronto Maple Leafs - 13
Key Signings
7/1: RW Colby Armstrong (ATL) 3 years, $9 M
7/2: F Nikolai Kulemin (re-signed) 2 years
7/7: Brett Lebda (DET) 2 years
8/28: LW Clarke MacArthur 1 year
6/26: RW Mike Brown from ANA for 5th round draft pick (2010)
6/26: 2nd round draft pick (2010) from CHI for RW Jimmy Hayes
6/30: LW Kris Versteeg and LW Bill Sweatt from CHI for LW Viktor Stalberg, C Phillipe Paradis, and C Chris DiDomenico
8/27: D Matt Lashoff from TB for F Alex Berry and F Stefano Giliati
C Wayne Primeau
D Garnet Exelby
C Jamie Lundmark
What To Expect
The pieces are starting to fall into place for the Leafs as last season GM Brian Burke acquired sniper Phil Kessel up front, Dion Phaneuf to anchor the defense, and J.S. Giguere to tend goal along with "The Monster" Jonas Gustavsson. Depth defenseman Brett Lebda helps shore up a solid, physical defensive core that will be difficult to score against. Kris Versteeg, who helped bring Chicago back to glory, and Colby Armstrong, who provides plenty of sandpaper and 20 goal potential will certainly help out an offense that finished tied for 25th overall. However, they are still a few pieces away from contending for a playoff spot. Nazem Kadri, the 7th overall draft pick in 2009,  will be given every opportunity to make the team out of training camp this season, but the team still lacks a bona fide top line center.

Sources: Free Agent TradeCentre, The Hockey News Yearbook

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Offseason Recap-Atlantic Division

There is still plenty of work to be done this offseason, but here is what has happened so far. I will be doing this by division, with teams in order I think they will finish with projected conference ranks included as well. I will look at signings, trades, departures while providing as much contractual information as I could find. Let's begin, shall we?

Pittsburgh Penguins - 2
Key Signings
7/1: D Zbynek Michalek (PHO) 5 years, $20 M
7/1: D Paul Martin (NJ) 5 years, $25 M
7/2: F Ryan Craig (TB) 1 year, $500,000/
7/3: LW Brett Sterling (SJ) 1 year, $500,000/
7/7: D Andrew Hutchinson (DAL) 1 year, $500,000/
8/20: RW Aaron Asham (PHI) 1 year, $700,000
6/25: D Dan Hamhuis from PHI for 3rd round draft pick (2011)
D Sergei Gonchar (OTT)
D Jordan Leopold (BUF)
D Mark Eaton (NYI)
LW Alexei Ponikarovsky (LA)
LW Ruslan Fedotenko
RW Bill Guerin
What To Expect
Its not an easy task to replace one of the top offensive defenseman of this generation in Sergei Gonchar, but GM Ray Sherro did the best he could in signing Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek. Martin's underrated offensive skills should help Pittsburgh's transition game and Michalek will be a step up in the defensive zone. A team that was already weak on the wing lost Alexei Ponikarovsky, Ruslan Fedotenko, and Bill Guerin. The signing of Aaron Asham brings grit and defensive responsibility to their forward lines while providing time and space for the likes of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Jordan Staal.

New Jersey Devils - 4
Key Signings
6/30: RW David Clarkson (re-signed) 3 years, $8 M
7/1: D Henrik Tallinder (BUF) 4 years, $13.5 M
7/1: D Anton Volchenkov (OTT) 6 years, $25.5 M
7/1: G Johan Hedberg (ATL) 1 year
7/28: D Mark Fraser (re-signed) 1 year, $500,000
6/19: C Jason Arnott from NAS for RW Matt Halischuk and 2nd round draft pick (2011)
D Paul Martin (PIT)
C Rob Neidermayer (BUF)
LW Andrew Peters (FLA)
LW Jay Pandolfo
D Mike Mottau
C Dean McAmmond
G Yann Danis
What To Expect
The Devils probably aren't done this offseason, as they still have the Ilya Kovalchuk situation to deal with. With Paul Martin having signed with rival Pittsburgh and long-time grinder and fan-favorite Jay Pandolfo asking to leave, they have few, but important roles to fill. GM Lou Lamoriello brought in an old face in Jason Arnott who has already made his mark in Devils' history. Henrik Tallinder was brought in to replace Paul Martin and Anton Volchenkov gives the Devils the intimidating physical presence they haven't had since Scott Stevens retired.

Philadelphia Flyers - 5
Key Signings
6/30: G Michael Leighton (re-signed) 2 years, $3.1 M
7/1: Braydon Coburn (re-signed) 2 years, $6.4 M
7/1: Sean O'Donnell (LA) 1 year, $1 M
7/1: LW Jody Shelley (NYR)
7/9: Nikolai Zherdev (KHL) 1 year
7/13: Dan Carcillo (re-signed) 1 year
7/22: Darroll Powe (re-signed) 1 year, $700,000
7/22: David Laliberte (re-signed)
6/19: D Dan Hanhuis and 7th round draft pick (2011) from NAS for D Ryan Parent
6/25: 3rd round draft pick (2011) from PIT for D Dan Hamhuis
6/26: 7th round draft pick (2010) from CAR for F Jonathan Matsumoto
7/1: D Andrej Meszaros from TB for 2nd round pick (2012)
7/19: D Matt Walker and 4th round draft pick (2011) from TB for LW Simon Gagne
G Ray Emery
D Lukas Krajicek
RW Aaron Asham (PIT)
What To Expect
GM Paul Holmgren didn't waste time committing to Michael Leighton as the number one goalie, signing him the day before free agency started. With the team thats in front of them, Leighton and Brian Boucher probably won't have to steal many games for Philadelphia. Sean O'Donnell and Andrej Meszaros create a much improved third defensive pairing over last year when coach Peter Laviolette was wary about giving time to the combination of Ryan Parent, Oskars Bartulis, and Lukas Krajicek. Not much has changed on the forward line where Philadelphia is among the deepest in the league. Longest tenured Flyer Simon Gagne was traded for salary cap reasons and replaced by Nikolai Zherdev who spent last season with Mytishchi Atlant of the KHL.

New York Rangers - 11
Key Signings
7/1: Erik Christensen (re-signed)
7/1: Martin Biron (NYI) 2 years, $1.8 M
7/1: LW Derek Boogaard (MIN) 4 years, $6.4 M
7/1: C Vinny Prospal (re-signed) 1 year
7/2: F Brandon Prust (re-signed)
7/9: D Dan Girardi (re-signed)
7/12: RW Jeremy Williams (re-signed)
7/27: Alexander Frolov (LA)
5/25: D Jyri Niemi from NYI for 6th round draft pick (2010)
6/26: 6th round draft pick (2010) and 2nd round draft pick (2011) from CAR for D Bobby Sanguinetti
7/9: D Steve Eminger from ANA for LW Aaron Voros and LW Ryan Hillier
7/19: D Matt McCue from ANA for LW Thomas Zaborsky
8/2: F Todd White from ATL for F Patrick Rissmiller and F Donald Brashear
G Alex Auld (MON)
LW Jody Shelley (PHI)
C Olli Jokinen (CAL)
F P.A. Parenteau (NYI)
C Jamie Lundmark (NAS)
What To Expect
Not a whole lot has changed for the Rangers as GM Glen Sather has had an unusually quiet offseason. Martin Biron is a proven goalie but won't see much ice time behind Henrik Lundqvist who will likely reach 70 games played for the fifth consecutive season. Other than depth defenseman Steve Eminger being brought in, not much has changed on the back end. Alexander Frolov will try to find his niche in New York and take some of the offensive pressure off of Marian Gaborik. Letting Olli Jokinen go falls under the addition through subtraction category.

New York Islanders - 15
Key Signings
7/2: D Mark Eaton (PIT)
7/2: D Milan Jurcina (WAS)
7/2: P.A. Parenteau (NYR)
7/2: F Zenon Konopka (TB)
7/15: C Robbie Schremp (re-signed)
7/15: D Dustin Kohn (re-signed)
7/27: LW Matt Moulson (re-signed) 1 year, $2.45 M
8/3: LW Jon Sim (re-signed) 1 year
8/18: C Andy Hilbert (MIN) 1 year
6/25: 6th round draft pick (2010) from NYR for D Jyri Niemi
7/30: D James Wisniewski from ANA for 3rd round draft pick (2011)
G Martin Biron (NYR)
LW Jeff Tambellini (VAN)
LW Sean Bergenheim (TB)
D Freddy Meyer (ATL)
What To Expect
Neither New York team had busy offseasons as GM Garth Snow is either content to let the young players develop or New York is simply not an attractive place for free agents. They added toughness in the form of Zenon Konopka and P.A. Parenteau will be given a chance to see what he can do on the forward lines. Mark Eaton, Milan Jurcina, and James Wisniewski all help the defense but they simply won't be enough to lift the Islanders out of the conference basement.

Sources: free agency tradecentre

Monday, 23 August 2010

Rule Changes, A Historic Draft, and Boy, Does Asham Love the Atlantic Division

I would like to post a few times a week. However I've been busy moving and finishing up my summer classes. It hasn't been a busy week but there still have been some important events.
  • A host of potential rules changed were reviewed at the research and development camp held by Brendan Shanahan, who is now the NHL's Vice President of Hockey and Business Development. NHL brass is getting innovative with their ideas for the game, combining old rules and new ideas. Here are a few they looked at. 
    • I really like the idea of players having to serve a full two minute penalty. It seems odd that the NHL was once trying to curb offence, but now they are swinging the other way its about time this rule was reinstated. 
    • Hybrid icing, in which the referee can call icing when the players reach the faceoff circle if the defending player is the first to get there. This is just common sense and should have been thought of, and implemented, years ago. Then there would be even fewer unnecessary injuries, such as the one to Kurtis Foster.
    • Wider bluelines and a shallower net would increase the size of the offensive zones, giving players more room to work with. They also looked at having once faceoff circle in each zone, directly in front of the goalie. I really can't see that affecting the game too much but an idea is an idea and at least it shows they are thinking creatively and are willing to try something new.
    • Here is a wrap-up of the development camp, brought to you by The Hockey News.
  • It has been an historic year for women's hockey in 2010. Earlier in the year, women were inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame for the first time and now, for the first time ever, a draft was set up for the Canadian Women's Hockey League. If they really want to gain recognition however, they need to expand their program and begin drafting European players as well. the talent level of women's hockey suffers a huge drop off after Canada and the United States. When I went to the Olympics I saw Switzerland play against Russia and the Gold Medal game between Canada and the United States and I have to say it was like going from beer leagues to the NHL. The other six teams in the tournament really weren't close to their level of play. There is only one chance every four years for women's hockey to gain worldwide attention and more even competition would go a long way in giving those women the attention and credit they deserve. 
  • The Pittsburgh Penguins have signed Arron Asham to a one year deal making the Penguins the fourth team in the Atlantic Division he has played for since the 2002-03 season. Having already spent four seasons with the Islanders, one with New Jersey and the last two with Philadelphia, I wonder how badly Glen Sather will need a checking forward next season. The only thing I can think of that comes close to this is Pat Lafontaine having spent his entire career in without ever having to change his license plate.
  • Finally, the World Hockey Summit is starting this week in Toronto. Over 300 of the world's hockey leaders and experts will discuss, among other things, changes to the game and how to grow it in places where there is not much awareness or support for the game.
That's all for now. I'll post as often as I can and try to update the Twitter feed every day. Within the next few weeks I'll start posting offseason recaps of all the teams. Only 28 more days till the puck drops.

    Tuesday, 17 August 2010

    Classic Rivalries and Next Season's Final

    I'm starting to think that Gary Bettman has a time machine and knows who is going to the Stanley Cup final before the season begins. He gives little hints just to mess with us.

    With the announcement of this season's Winter Classic, it became official that the Washington Capitals would visit the Pittsburgh Penguins for this year's version of the widely popular event. Washington now joins Pittsburgh (2008), Detroit (2009), and Philadelphia (2010) as visiting teams in the Winter Classic. Each of those teams went on to represent their respective conferences in the Stanley Cup Final.

    There's also the error engraved into the Prince of Wales Trophy recently that had the Capitals listed as the winner of the Eastern Conference this past season. He probably assumed the Capitals would go to the Final last season, hence all the speculation of Boston hosting the Capitals before a sudden switch to Philadelphia. The shocking combination of Washington's first round loss coupled with Philly's run to the Final gave plenty of people a shock last season but it seems as though Bettman's got it right this year. Now let's see what Alex Ovechkin can do once the calendar shifts to April.

    Speaking of the Winter Classic, I have a few suggestions for all future games. First, if the game is scheduled to start at 1:00, then start the game at 1:00. one of the reasons for this game in the first place was to attract non-hockey fans to the sport using a combination of intrigue and wonderment , albeit for a regular season game. The hour or so of pregame festivities if fine for those at the game, but if I'm a casual sports fan I'm thinking "When is this going to start? Screw it I'll just watch a bowl game." People waving flags, drumming, and marching is all well and good, but that can start at 12:00 can't it? Besides the Dropkick Murphys, was there really anything worth delaying the game for?

    Spread out the games.I don't just mean other parts of the country besides the North East, but other teams as well. Counting the Heritage Classics, the Penguins and Montreal Canadiens will have played twice each in six games. The kinks have been largely worked out, now its time to spread the wealth. Heck, just for laughs, the NHL can pit the Tampa Bay Lightning against the Florida Panthers.

    An increase in rivalries could go a long way towards garnering even more hype for the game. Chicago vs. Detroit was the right idea, now let's get more teams that hate each other. Montreal has the richest history of any team in the game, something they couldn't have accomplished without making a few enemies, namely Boston and Toronto. However, the best matchups they can get are Edmonton and Calgary, two teams with good histories in their own right, but neither has much to do with Montreal. The game in Calgary is an excellent chance to introduce many unknowing hockey fans south of the border to the Battle of Alberta. A showing of the Battle of Ontario would also give Toronto fans something to cheer about for the first time since the lockout.

    With pond hockey championships taking place in Minnesota every year, why not introduce the Winter Classic there as well, with Colorado as the visiting team. Dallas would be fun too with their North Stars history. An all New York Classic would also be of major interest, especially if played at Yankees or Meadowlands stadium. (Meadowlands may have better sight lines but that would only add to New York teams taking over New Jersey) Rangers fans still show distaste towards Denis Potvin, even though its been over 20 years since his retirement. Once the Islanders improve, the bad blood running between those teams would offer fans, diehard and casual, an opportunity to watch a great game.

    Sunday, 15 August 2010

    Welcome to Garbage Goals

    OK, I'm not exactly sure who will be reading this, if anyone or where even to begin, so I guess I'll just start with a little introduction.

    My name is Tim. I'm 21 and from New Jersey. I go to Endicott College in Massachusetts. Other than occasional posts on class blogs, I've never done this before. My plan is to create a blog to talk about hockey. Original, I know. But what can I say, it's something I want to do when I get out of school, so why not get used to it now. Hopefully I'll be able to post once a day as soon as I figure this whole thing out. I really had no idea there were so many options in setting up a blog. I also want to connect my Twitter or Delicious account to provide links to interesting stories.

    As I said, I want to write about hockey for a living. I am working towards a degree in Contemporary Journalism at Endicott College. During my schooling, I have interned at Managed Care First Report, a medical journal, and The Home News Tribune, a local newspaper, both located in New Jersey. I have worked at the former the previous two summers. And just for good measure, I have also completed a minor in Creative Writing.

    I have been going to hockey games since I was five and have now seen games in Philadelphia, New Jersey, New York (Rangers), Ottawa, Buffalo, Boston, Pittsburgh, Chicago, and Vancouver. I had quite an epic year watching hockey this season; I went to the Winter Classic, Olympic Games, and the Stanley Cup Final. As far as I know, the only other people to do that besides me and my Dad are Mike Richards, Chris Pronger, Kimmo Timonen, and Oskars Bartulis.

    Other than hockey, my interests are reading, watching movies, tattoos, and playing pool. But for the most part, yeah, its all about hockey. Well, I'm off to fiddle around with the settings of this blog and hopefully I can post again later tonight or tomorrow.