Posted on: October 12, 2012 8:03 pm

World Hockey Association Anyone?

There are those who may remember when the NHL actually had competition in the form of the WHA.  There are a lot of knowledgeable hockey people out there who remember way more about this league than I do.  The only reason I have a smidgen of a recollection at all is because the Winnipeg Jets originated there and won the Avco Cup three times in 1976, 1977, & 1979 (i was 6, 7 & 9 yrs old). 
The WHA was also the league where Wayne Gretzky cut his teeth as a professional hockey player. 
The league became relevant and a threat to the NHL when it managed to successfully challenge the reserve clause which bound players to their NHL teams even without a valid contract, and allowed players in both leagues greater freedom of movement.  The Jets did what was unthinkable during that period and signed Bobby Hull to a 10 year $2.75 million contract.  An absolutely absurd and unheard of professional hockey contract at the time and it earned Hull the nickname of "The Golden Jet."  

No doubt you see where I am going with this.  The NHLPA's only real leg to stand on is to create an environment where the NHL isn't the only alternative.  Sure the KHL exists, but most players from North America and many from Europe don't really consider it a permanent career choice....yet.  The KHL could conceivable create a rival NA league that could upset the balance of power, particularly if it teamed up with the NHLPA and every other potential owner who has been snubbed by Bettman and the league (Hello Jim Balsille). 

Granted, the KHL is still in its infancy and something of this scale is impossible to get off the ground quickly and would be scoffed at by many including the NHL.  However, if the Bettman and league continue to be reckless with their demands they will eventually find themselves fighting to retain the best players in the world. 

Thoughts from the Left Coast
Category: NBA
Posted on: September 29, 2011 10:47 pm

NHL Needs to look in Nasty Mirror.

If I remember correctly, the Canucks were #1 in power play goals last year.  The Twins and Burrows draw a lot of penalties and every time the opposing team took them, chances were good the Sedin or Kesler lines made them pay.   The Canucks ate up the opposition in the regular season for this exact reason.  We don't need an enforcer on the Sedins line, we need the NHL and referees to call infractions in the playoffs like they do during the regular season.   A headshot in the regular season is still a headshot in the playoffs, so why aren't the other "liberties" that we witnessed in the playoffs called as well?  A hack is a hack, and a punch is a punch.  Letting those things go maintains an uneven playing field and gives a team like Boston a blatant advantage.  The NHL needs to decide whether they want us watch the Broadstreet Bullies or the kind of electric hockey that we get to see during the Olympics where that crap isn't tolerated.  I was fortunate enough to watch a total of 7 games during the Canucks playoff run (including games 2 & 7 of the finals) as well as 3 games during the Olympics.  There was no lack of physicallity during the Canada vs Russia quarter-finals, and there was no bulls$!%% either. 

Thoughts from the Left Coast
Magic 8-Ball

Category: NHL
Tags: Canucks
Posted on: January 22, 2011 1:27 pm

Nabby Voted Onto the Island!

Here's a post from the Detroit Free Press.  "Contrary to speculation that a team that claims a player can turn around and trade him to the team that originally wanted the player, that’s not quite so easy. Holland said the Islanders would have to put Nabokov on waivers, giving any other team that might have put in a claim for him first dibs."

So it looks like Nabby will have to report to the Island if he wants to play in the NHL this year.  For the Red Wings, at the end of the day this development keeps Nabby out of the Western Conference.  Who knows?  Perhaps this was Ken Holland's original intent from the start.  A nice chess move either way. 

Thoughts from the Left Coast
Magic 8 Ball

Category: NHL
Posted on: January 1, 2011 1:02 pm

Dbl Headed Goalie Gorgons

You know of what I speak.  They are the bain of Fantasy Hockey Squads everywhere.  They are the constantly rotating, (will it be #1A or #1B today?), goalie tandems that manage to shred the best intentions of Fantasy GMs and suck up valuable roster and reserve spots to boot.   

Dan Ellis vs Mike Smith
Ondrej Pavelec vs Chris Mason
Antti Neimi vs Antero Nittymaki
Sergei Bobrovsky vs Brian Boucher and Michael Leighton
Marty Turco vs Corey Crawford

Case in point, I recently traded Marty Turco and some spare parts for Steve Mason & Mathieu Garon etc.  I went into it with my eyes wide open knowing that they were sharing the starting role and hoped to see one of them become dominant.  Then as luck would have it, last Saturday coach Scott Arneil and the Columbus Dispatch annoited Garon the starter after some very poor outings by Mason.  A comparison of the YTD stats confirmed the view and I placed Garon into my starting roster with confidence, licking my chops at the four game schedule during the week ahead.  Then the Double Headed Monster struck.  Garon managed to lose badly on Sunday, prompting the Jackets to give Mason the 1st start of the following week.  It's been three starts for three wins for him since. This scenario repeats ad naseum because as everyone who has experience dealing with this knows, Mason will soil the sheets the moment I put him back in.  Flashing back to this year's draft in my fantasy hockey league, I remember toying with the idea of picking up Carey Price instead of Turco in the 1st round. 
The logic went that without Halak to threaten his status, Price would have to man up and actually be the #1 netminder he was projected to be.  Alas something in my brain jolted my mouse to pick Turco instead, and we can all see how well that has worked out. 
I think the Jackets and both goalies would benefit immensely if the one or the other were traded away.  Like the Canadiens and Price, the team and the goalie would respond to a stable and consistent environment. 

Thoughts from the Left Coast
Magic 8Ball
Category: NHL
Posted on: October 4, 2010 9:57 pm

Mighty Mo Ships Out - Now a hated Flame.

Mighty Mo a victim and a beneficiary of the numbers game.  Many of the Vancouver faithful were pulling for Brendan Morrison to make the most of his tryout contract with the Canucks after Washington decided not to resign him.  Sentiment aside, I for one am glad he got a shot somewhere else.  As much as we enjoyed (and perhaps underappreciated ) his play with the West Coast Express during 2001 -2005, the reality is that the Canucks are deep down the middle.  There's no doubt Mo possess's a skill set and experience that any team could use, but somehow the fit and the chemistry with the current Canuck roster just wasn't there.  It's ironic (and in my opinion unfortunate) that he lands on Calgary's roster, a team whose rivalry with Vancouver has been on-going for a decade.  The dearth of healthy centers there has given him an opportunity to show the league, and perhaps himself, that he can still play and contribute at the NHL level.  It will not be fun watching him play with a Flames crest on his jersey, then again it shouldn't take away too much of the joy I will receive when we snuff them out of the playoffs again. 
Category: NHL
Tags: Canucks
Posted on: August 21, 2010 7:56 pm

Can the Canucks make it to the dance?

Burrows will have his work cut out for him as he rehabs his shoulder and possible won't be effective until midseason.  There's even a chance that he won't get back onto the 1st unit if Samuelsson gels with the twins like he did during portions of last season.  Raymond needs to kick up his consistancy big time so that he, Kesler and Burrows/Samuelsson can be considered a legit threat.  Manny, Hogdson and who for the third?  Jannick Hanssen?  Like his tenacity.  Reminds me a little of Burrows from a few years back.  Speed, lack of hands and a great no quit attitude.  D now has internal competition and this could work to raise everybody's game on the blue line, a plus. 
Lu still has a chip on his shoulder.  Has to get it knocked off in a way that let's him become the elite goaltender he can be on a consistent basis & during the playoffs.  Playing Schneider more than ten games just might give him the extra juice (and rest) that he needs to do that. 

Magic 8-ball
Category: NHL
Tags: Canucks
Posted on: July 26, 2010 8:13 pm
Edited on: July 26, 2010 8:14 pm

The Table is Set for Six, what.

The Canucks Defence & Goaltending are secure, but what isn't so reassuring is the glaring drop off after Vancouver's 2nd line.  Vancouver now have a a couple of of six packs signed, but will they add up to the dirty dozen needed to compete in the post season?  

Top Fuel Six-pack

1st line:   Burrows/Samuelson + Sedin + Sedin

2nd line:  Burrows/Samuelson + Kesler + Raymond

Bottom feeders

3rd line:  Hansen + Hodgson + Malhotra

4th line:  Glass + Rypien/Perrault + Hordichuk/Bolduc

Malhotra is definitely an upgrade over Kyle Wellwood, but he's going to need a great 1st NHL season from 1st round pick Cody Hodgson and a significant step up in development from Jannick Hansen to help this line have any real utility be it as a shutdown unit or an outside scoring threat.  The 4th liners, with the possible exception of Rypien, is unremarkable and will be hard pressed to compete with their 4th line peers in this league and heartily exposed during any mis-match situation. 

Which brings us back to the salary cap situation and the fate of one Kevin Bieksa.  While I personally would hate to see Kevin go, a package of Bieksa and Cory Schneider could effectively kill two birds with one stone.  Dump salary and receive in return a couple decent 3rd & 4th line players who can believe that there is an opportunity to do something about the 40 year (since team inception) drought that this city and its fans have endured. 

Thoughts from the Left Coast
Magic 8-Ball

Category: NHL
Posted on: July 26, 2010 12:05 am

Sami's Swan Song?

For the record I think this guy's worth every bit of his salary,...when he's healthy.  If only we could get him to agree to a pay for play deal!  Solid D, good size & strength to handle the other side's soldiers in front of the net, simple but effective 1st pass out of the defensive zone, and one of the best shots from the point in the league when he uses it.  However, this situation has the makings of a Sami Salo Swan Song.  His rehab will be a long one I think, and that will be just fine with the Canuck's organization.  With the additions of Ballard and Hamhuis to a defensive roster already sporting the likes of Erhoff, Edler and Bieksa, (good thing they didn't trade him too quickly) the Nucks will have enuff quality & quantity on the back end so as not to miss Salo very much.  They'll also have the luxury (knock on wood) of not needing to plan for any of Sami's future injuries during the 1st half of the season.  Mike Gillis' job will be a little more interesting when/if he comes back, but he shouldn't find it too difficult to find a trading partner for a Bieksa & Schneider package, or whomever they decide to send away for a couple of quality bottom six forwards that the team desparately needs to fill out a playoff competitive roster. 

Thoughts from the Left Coast
Category: NHL
Tags: Canucks
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