Saturday, 25 June 2011

NHL Awards and Draft

The Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup over a week ago, but the season has still been going strong. There were the NHL Awards, a few big trades and the draft. Let's start with the awards.

Here are the winners, along with who I had picked.
Award - Winner - My Pick
Norris - Nicklas Lidstrom - Shea Weber
Selke - Ryan Kesler - Ryan Kesler
Jack Adams - Dan Bylsma - Barry Trotz
Calder - Jeff Skinner - Jeff Skinner
GM - Mike Gillis - Steve Yzerman
Ted Lindsay - Daniel Sedin - Corey Perry
Masterton - Ian Laperriere - Ray Emery
Lady Byng - Martin St-Louis - Nicklas Lidstrom
Vezina - Tim Thomas - Tim Thomas
Hart - Corey Perry - Martin St-Louis
Messier Leadership - Zdeno Chara
Jennings - Roberto Luongo, Cory Schneider
Art Ross - Daniel Sedin
Rocket Richard - Corey Perry
King Clancey - Doug Weight

There are no really surprises here, other than Perry winning the Hart Trophy. While I wanted St-Louis to win, I wrote a post on that a while back, I expected it to go to Sedin. He was consistent all season while Perry got the majority of his points in the final quarter of the season and I think being there all season is more important than being there for the stretch run. Though that is not to say that wasn't important, because he was a huge reason the Ducks went on a last-season surge and were able to take hold of the fourth spot.

I was also surprised to see Laperriere win the Masterton Trophy since he didn't play at all this season. But I'm really happy he won it. If there is one person who is more dedicated to hockey more than anyone else, its Lappy. Why else would he get right back out every time he got hit with the puck or punched in the face. But he is more than a role player, he is a consumate professional and one of the best teammates in all of sports. Wayne Fish said of him in 2009 "You get a lot of P's with Ian Laperriere: Penalty-killer. Pest. Physical force. Perfect teammate." He was so loved in Philadelphia after just one season, his introduction led to one of the best moments of a thrill-a-game 2010 playoff run.

One final thought about the awards. Having random celebrities at the show is fine, but they should try to keep it more hockey related. Are there really that many people out there who like hockey and Real Housewives of Beverly Hills? It seems unlikely to me, so let's get someone who is capable of remembering the correct pronunciation of three names. Pronouncing Martin St-Louis' name Saint Lewis isn't the worst thing ever, but it shows they really weren't interested in being there. Even the host, Jay Mohr, wasn't perfect saying WHYzerman instead of EYEzerman when talking about Best GM nominee Stevie Y.

The Flyers shocked me a few days later, trading Jeff Carter and Mike Richards, two first-round picks from what is going to be one of the best draft classes ever. I thought they should get rid of Carter, but I never thought they would trade, or even be able to trade, Richards. I was upset over that, but the more I look at the return, the better the trades look. They now have top-rated prospect Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Voracek and three picks in the draft, including the eighth overall which they used to select Sean Couturier (Full draft results can be found here). These trades have caused a major stir in the forward unit so let's take a look at what the line could look like next season.

van Riemsdyk    Giroux    Voracek
    Hartnell        Briere       Leino
  Simmonds       Schenn    Versteeg
    Carcillo         Betts     Powe/Nodl

I was expecting Adam Larsson to go first overall to the Edmonton Oilers, but they went with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins allowing Larsson to be taken by the Devils in the fourth slot. This worked out great for the Devils as they now have a solid prospect to rebuild their defense around. It was a strength of theirs before the lockout, but has since been pulled apart, mainly through free agency and retirement, and the talent level now is nowhere near what it was. Larsson is certainly as good a start as any to become a dominate defensive team again.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

I'm Back!

Well, it's been a long time...49 days to be exact. I can't believe how much time has passed since I last posted. I was just starting to get really into it too, but due to the events at The Hockey News, I began writing for The Hockey Writers, so anything I would have written here I had to post there since I have been busy the past few weeks. Its a pretty good site, so check it out. You can see my work in my archive, along with a fellow intern with THN, Jeff Blay.

Around starting to work for THW, I finished my internship, played more hockey in one day than I ever have before and (very nearly) graduated. I drove over 1,100 miles in just over a week, including 800 miles in three days when I drove from Toronto to New Jersey on May 14 then to Massachusetts on May 16. Add another 1,200 going to a music festival in Maine and camping in Connecticut and I've been really busy.

I guess I'll start with the end of my internship. The final weeks were pretty fun. I finished my favorite story I have ever written of Zach Bennett, an 11-year-old from Albany who has had both his legs removed in surgery. The Charlotte Checkers, formerly the Albany River Rats, are now paying for his family to relocate to North Carolina so he can get better medical care and be close to his favorite team again. Look up the story, it is quite inspiring. It's a shame my internship is over, but the guys at THN were fantastic. I was rewarded with a few free lunches, a nice bag of gifts and a great evaluation (leading to an A for the semester). So once again, a huge thanks to Jason Kay and everyone else who works at THN; it really is a first class organization.

My last day of interning was one of the most exhausting of my life. I represented THN in the Business of Hockey Cup on May 13 at the Mastercard Center where the Maple Leafs practice which is a tournament between representatives of different hockey companies including TSN, The Hall of Fame and the CHL. The day featured eight 20-minute games as well as a skills competition. I tried my hand in the shooting accuracy, but that didn't go so well. I nailed the first shot, hitting the top-right corner, but then went zero for the next seven. Fortunately I wasn't the only person to hit one target, so it wasn't terrible. By far the most interesting part of the day though, was the first game we played. It was against the Buffalo Sabres and most of the THN guys had made it out to warm up while no one from the Sabres was out yet. The first guy skated out and after a few double takes, I noticed it was Rob Ray. Here's a little bit of what's on his resume.

Then I had my senior week back at Endicott which was pretty fun. I'm glad I got to see some people before leaving. While I had a great time in Toronto there were still some people I wish I could have seen. I finally got time to relax going to The Way Life Should Be music festival then camping the next weekend. I'm back in the swing of things, working 40 hours a week cleaning out old warehouses and doing some construction.

Enough about me, back to hockey.

Congratulations to the Bruins on winning the Stanley Cup. That was a tremendous group assembled by Peter Chiarelli who made a bold move building the team around Zdeno Chara and Tim Thomas. I don't think anyone has gone through a longer road to become a Cup champion than Thomas and it was great to watch him lift it (it was also funny how he had no idea what to do with the Conn Smythe Trophy). Mark Recchi went out on top and he will be in the Hall of Fame in three years. He never won any individual awards, was only a second team all-star once, in 1992 and he was an Olympian once (in 1998 when Canada finished fourth). The only downside to the celebration was Gary Bettman handing out the awards. They really need to take him out of the Stanley Cup presentation, to constant booing really puts a damper on the whole occasion.

I'll post again soon. Like I said you can read my stuff at The Hockey Writers, so check that out and follow me on Twitter.