February 23, 2012

Professional hockey players always say the right things, but do they believe them?

This is what professional hockey players take for granted. All of it. Look at the huge smiles on these guys' faces on the ice. Fans - and the media, to some extent - are the difference between a recreation league hockey game and a professional hockey game.

Obviously, they play because they love the game - since they get nothing else out of it. But to be appreciated adds a whole 'nother dimension to things. They're not getting paid; they're just being cheered on. Cheering fans turns a regular guys' night out playing hockey in an empty rink into their Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final.

So who are you playing for?

February 15, 2012

If he had really wanted to leave, he would have - a long time ago

Vincent Lecavalier Should Be A Hab, Not A Has-Been

It's a nice photoshop job with the jersey, don't you think? Though, I don't agree with the "has-been" part of the title. I think this guy is really stretching with that.

At first, these sorts of things annoyed me. Then, I got to the point where they just made me roll my eyes. Now, it makes me laugh. How delusional can one fan base be? I mean, seriously.

It's obviously a case of wanting what they can't have - on top of the fact that Vinny Lecavalier's one of the best French Canadian players in the NHL right now. But, c'mon. The guy had his chance to escape the ever despised so-called "Sun Belt" team that drafted him and...he signed up for 11 more years.

Yep, he really wants to go play in Montreal, can't you tell? He just jumped at that chance to become a Hab. Because, you know, he's a Canadiens' fan himself. Or so I've been told repeatedly by many Montreal hockey fans.

So, we'll just gloss over the fact that he was a Steve Yzerman fan growing up - therefore likely was a Red Wings fan. And we'll just flat-out ignore that Yzerman's now his GM. Oh, and we'll also gloss over the fact that his dad's rumored to be a Bobby Orr fan - thus, likely a Boston Bruins fan, which are one of the Habs' traditional rivals.

We'll also flat-out ignore that he's embedded himself into Tampa. His parents live there, his sister and her family lives there, and probably his kids were born there. He's invested much of his own money into charities and a medical treatment center - that is named after him, actually. He obviously hates the place, right?

You add all the up, and naturally he's dying to go play in Montreal.

Despite all of that, I actually don't see him finishing his career in Tampa. I don't see him going to play in Montreal, of course - I'd sort of expect him to avoid that place like the plague, at this point. But the fact of the matter is, once his career takes a definite downturn, and once Yzerman's set up the organization to his liking by drafting and producing players from within, he won't be needed.

Basically, once Steven Stamkos was drafted, Vinny's days in a Lightning uniform were numbered. And the fact that Stamkos has been playing extremely well from the outset, once Vinny's production falls off due to his age, that'll be it for him. That's just how the NHL world works.

The 500-lb gorilla in the room is his contract, of course. But in the end, that won't matter to a desperate team. Not even his no-movement clause will matter. No one wants to stay with a team that's asked them to waive those things. Who wants to work in a place where they're not wanted?

With the NHL's Collective Bargaining Agreement coming up this summer, his contract could become a moot point, anyways. There are a number of crazy contracts in the NHL that a few teams really regret now and would like for them to go away. So I wouldn't be surprised if they come up with some way for that to happen. Whether that's unpenalized/bonus buyouts or renegotiation of standing contracts, it's hard to say. But it seems logical that they'll figure something out with that.

So I see Lecavalier ending up in the Western Conference at some point. Calgary, Colorado, Vancouver, (if they get a team) Seattle, or on the way outside, San Jose. Pretty much the entire opposite corner of the NHL geographically from Tampa. He'll probably leave about the same time that Marty St. Louis retires - if he's not bought out because of the next CBA.

But I cannot see him ever playing for Montreal - no matter how badly their fan base wants him to.

February 7, 2012

Hockey Quotes

"We know that hockey is where we live, where we can best overcome pain. Life is just a place where we spend time between games." -Fred Shero

February 6, 2012

The NHL in Seattle is really about bringing the NBA back

Seattle sports-arena talks well under way, documents show
While many observers consider an NHL team, as well as concerts and entertainment events, to be a crucial component for the financial success of a new arena, the documents obtained by The Times focus on basketball.
Progress being made to acquire NBA, NHL teams
Obviously much still needs to be worked out, but an announcement of an arena plan and the opportunity to bring the NBA and NHL to Seattle could come as early as April, and this is no April Fools' joke.
Make no mistake; Seattle wants a basketball team first. Hockey might be nice, but they're still very upset over getting the Sonics stolen from them. So whenever anyone in the area talks about a new arena in Seattle, it's almost always about the NBA, not the NHL.

The bottom line is that NHL wants professional hockey in Seattle far more than Seattle wants professional hockey in Seattle.

It's a fact that I've known for years, but no one else seems to get it. I guess it's because they see that whole Vancouver/Seattle rivalry - which may or may not happen. I mean, Tampa Bay and Florida, while a comparable distance apart from Seattle and Vancouver if you include the border crossing issues, have almost no rivalry to speak of. Geographic proximity does not a rivalry make.

Sports in Seattle is always a risky proposal. The recreational focus of the area are the outdoors, not professional sports. If a team sucks, then people aren't going to bother going to pay to see them. They'll watch on TV or go out snowboarding or fishing or something.

The Seattle Thunderbirds, the WHL team that's been there since the 1970s, always had the hardest time getting people to games. Everyone knew about them, of course, but WHL hockey has always been more of an occasional event than a way of life. At least, while they were playing in Seattle. Now that they're in Kent in their own arena, I'm not sure if that's still the case.

The Everett Silvertips haven't even been around for 10 years, but they're a very successful WHL team. However, they're also not in Seattle and they had almost instant success when they opened shop. Kind of hard to not like a team that breaks 10 WHL records and making it to the WHL Final in its first season of operation, you know?

Besides, major junior fans are a special breed. Even with the NHL in town, they'll always prefer watching their major junior team over the NHL team. NHL fans are a completely different crowd of people from major junior fans, so there's really no telling how the fan base would be if Seattle gets an NHL team. Though, having seen the state of hockey in the area, I'm not exactly optimistic; I seriously suspect that they're going to be a very fickle crowd.

So with a potentially new team in Seattle, I was asked speculatively by John about going to head up that new blog for SB Nation. I totally expect that I'll be asked to run it for them; if they don't ask, I'd be completely surprised. Which means, of course, that I'd have to be dumping the Lightning to write about them.

In all honesty, I'm not sure that I could since I'm on the East Coast. I mean, regular game times would start at 10 or 10:30 pm my time. That three-hour time difference would be a killer. And trying to find local writers would be a bitch; obviously, I couldn't do it on my own from the very start.

I've already sent out some feelers to others about it. I couldn't run it on my own - that's obvious - but I could do something similar to what I'm doing now with John. So, we'll see how this pans out. I'd definitely like to be a part of it, but it may turn out that I'd be splitting time between the Lightning and this potential Seattle team, in the end.

First, we have to see if Phoenix ends up moving to Seattle, which we should know about in a few months. And then...we'll see about the rest. Not just the blog, but the potential arena as well.