Archive for the ‘Southeast Division’ Category

Nobody is very fond of hearing about a condensed hockey season, unless of course they already lived through the agony of a cancelled year, which is what NHL fans were treated to in 2005.

After months of frustration that mounted from endless meetings that saw issues between the league and players’ association continually unresolved, the thought of  a 2013 season beginning in January was embraced.

And what a season it turned out to be. (more…)

The 2003 NHL Entry Draft, perceived as one of the best in league history, churned out a bundle of cornerstone players in the first round–a few were also snagged in round two. And to think, such a coveted collection of players was forced to be put on hold for one year due to the lock-out. That distinction should have went to the class of 1999.

Going No.1 overall, Marc-Andre Fleury was chosen to fill the void in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ net. Ask, and you shall receive. The 27-year-old has decently done what he’s supposed to–the Philadelphia Flyers beg to differ– after a rookie season that saw much trial-and-error experimenting within the club.

As the second player to have his name called, Eric Staal went straight to work with the Carolina Hurricanes by amassing 100 points as a sophomore and sparking the group towards a Stanley Cup. Florida picked up Nathan Horton and while he wasn’t exactly a leader, he wasn’t a bust either. Nikolai Zherdev, as talented as they come offensively, didn’t solidify his selection with the Columbus Blue Jackets. (more…)

Zero.

As of this moment, that is how many suspensions Matt Cooke and Steve Downie have served together this season. No, it is not a typo and there should not be a one added to it. Suggesting, prior to the regular season, that neither player would be forcefully withdrawn from a game or involved in a serious incident from October to April would be classified as a pipe dream.

Lo and behold, it is now a reality. Cooke and Downie, both of whom got their Ontario Hockey League start-up with the Windsor Spitfires, toned down their physicality and adjusted their playing styles. In contrast to some of their previous on-ice choices, they couldn’t have timed this one any better. (more…)

Some players, no matter how hard they try or how well they constantly perform, go through their careers as under-appreciated and overlooked athletes.  While the same superstars hog the spotlight year in and year out, their media attention is in stark contrast to others who silently finish their shifts on a positive note.

Take Kimmo Timonen for example, a defenseman for the Philadelphia Flyers who is lauded by teammates and opponents alike. It’s his 13th year in the National Hockey League and yet he is still somehow hidden from the microphones and televisions too routinely. Maybe it’s his 5-foot-10 frame that makes him hard to find in a crowded dressing room. Maybe the reporters want to interview those with last names that do not have to be double-checked for spelling. We can’t all have fancy, simple names like Mike Richards and Bobby Ryan.

Although he may not mind his underrated label, it is unjust for a hardy veteran to be so overshadowed by better-known players. Perhaps Zdeno Chara will have improved Timonen’s publicity after he was the first rearguard to be hand-picked by the Slovakian’s team in this year’s All-Star Fantasy Draft. But the Finn is merely one of many.

Then there is Ray Whitney. (more…)

Surprises aren’t appreciated by everyone; these people are insistent on being told if something is in the works behind their back. With the National Hockey League’s latest campaign coming upon us, it’s a chance to pour over the players who shattered their expectations—if they had some to begin with—and whose presence graced an organization. For someone to be included in this list, it had to be their career-year to date; that goes without saying.

Next, the leap in their maturation must be a significant one—we’re not exactly going to cram in individuals who raised their highest production by ten points. And the key words are the ‘regular season’, as the playoffs are not why we’re gathered here today. No disrespect is intended for Sean Bergenheim or Joel Ward, who fired all calibers of bullets round for round during the postseason.

If surprises aren’t to your liking, do not read past this point. (more…)

If the National Hockey League’s 1999 Entry Draft became a ship, it would be the Titanic. Leading role would go to Patrik Stefan as the protagonist, not Leonardo DiCaprio. The first round is our iceberg, and…well you get the idea.

There’s little doubt that this class played with the emotions of clubs, as there was so much promise from the talent pool, yet how much was solidified? Stefan, the first overall pick, garnered a huge amount of press attention for his shortcomings, and put the exclamation point on his career by blundering an empty net break-away.

For anyone who purchased his hockey cards in the hopes that they’d be worth a substantial amount of money in the future like myself, you might as well treat it as toilet paper because they are estimated to be that expensive today. (more…)