yankee hockey

NEXT YEAR IN ZION

As of tonight the playoffs are pretty much set (with the seven and eight spots in the West coming down to the final two games). Some teams deserved a spot but couldn’t find one, some teams couldn’t fight through the rough patches, and some teams apparently were brought into the league from the ECHL without any of our knowledge. The year is over for 14 teams, but that doesn’t mean those teams should be out of our minds. Let’s see what non-playoff teams have in store for the off-season leading into next season.

NY Islanders:

The Islanders are a team mired in mediocrity. It’s sad that a team that dominated the late seventies/early eighties is now the laughing stock of the league. What with a 15 year contract for DiPietro (how’s that going Mr. Wang?), along with years of teams consisting of youngsters without mentors, there’s not much to look forward to. If GM Garth Snow is smart he’ll forego the siren song of Tavares and go for big defensemen Hedman who they need more. With Kyle Okposo, Bill Guerin, and Mark Streit leading the scoring department, Richard Park leading the heart department, and Viktor Hedman leading the defense they sure to finish better then last next year.

Tampa Bay:

They had a hickup this year. This team is much better then it’s record. What they really need is defense. They may be better off trading their early pick for a load of big NHL ready defensemen. If they can shore up their back end then they’ll be back in the playoffs next year.

Colorado:

Everything in Colorado depends on what Sakic decides to do this off-season. It’s my belief that he wants one more full year and won’t let this year be his last. Still, a year lost to injury could convince an older player that it’s time to hang ’em up. Even with Sakic back, there’s not much Colorado can do to make it back to the post-season next year, unless there’s a cave in the Rockies where a goalie and a defense is hiding.

Atlanta:

Like Colorado, there’s not much they can do in Atlanta to make it to the post-season next year. This is a team that requires a couple of years of building before it gets back into the playoffs. It all starts at the draft where they need to be smart, not popular. They need a Rick Nash or Shea Webber like player, not another Kovalchyuk.

Los Angeles:

This    team    is    so   good. Too bad there are at least seven teams in the West who will still be better next year, so it will still be a battle for them to make it into the playoffs. Still, you gotta think they’ll fight for Anaheim for that spot all year with Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, and Jonathan Quick.

Phoenix:

Like LA, Phoenix is a very good team. They have a very strong defense, they’ll have an older Kyle Turris, and hopefully they’ll still have Shane Doan. I’m not sure what happened to Bryzgalov this year, but he could get it back next year. I think they’ll be fighting for the eighth spot.

Toronto:

It’s another rebuilding year in TO. Unfortunately they have nothing to build with., especially since they traded almost all of their tradeable players before the deadline this year and really only managed to replace their second round pick. We’ll see if Brian Burke can prove he didn’t just inherit a champion team in Anaheim.

Dallas:

Things are looking old in Dallas. They need to get young and they need to get young fast. I expect them to be amongst the busiest traders come draft day. Will Modano stay another year? Will Turco flop again next year? They’ll need to improve a lot to make it back to the post-season, I expect a couple of years of rebuilding.

Ottawa:

Ottawa is a weird one cause they can score a metric butt-load of goals, but somehow they couldn’t score more then the opposition. They need goaltending and a puck moving defensemen. They can probably get both through trades alone. With those two things in place they should be able to squeeze into one of the bottom three spots in the East.

Edmonton:

For years now Edmonton has been the whipping boy of the Northwest Division, and that’s not likely to change. Their number one goaltender ends this season at 39 years of age, their young players aren’t playing well enough, and their defense is error prone. What they really need in the off-season is a Michael Peca-type leader, the kind you used to have in Ryan Smyth. If they can address that need (instead of trying to poach some untested RFA again) then they have a good chance to improve in the standings.

Minnesota:

One of the teams that may still make it into the post-season, Minny doesn’t stand a chance. In the off-season they will lose their most gifted offensive talent in Marian Gaborik, not that he ever could reach his potential because of injuries. That leaves them with talented, but not nearly talented enough Mikko Koivu. The Wild do not have the firepower to get back into the post-season, nor will they be able to find it in one off-season. I see in their future, the NY Islanders.

Buffalo:

They really shouldn’t be on this list, but they are going to be playing golf this Spring instead of hockey so here they are. All they need is a full season from Tomas Vanek and Ryan Miller and they are good to go.

Florida:

Like Buffalo, they didn’t necessarily belong on this list. They will, however, next season if they can’t replace Jeremy Bouwmeester. This was their year and they just couldn’t pull it off. They’re going to need to get some tough defenders and some flashy forwards in the off-season.

There will be one more team to miss the playoffs, but at this point there are three tied at 88. Each of those teams has what it takes, for the most part, to make it. And all of those teams, for the most part, are primed to improve next season. Nashville found a great starting goaltender in Pekka Rinne. St Louis has an incredibly potent offense. And Anaheim… well if Niedermayer doesn’t retire and they keep Pronger there’s no reason to doubt they won’t be right back in the thick of things come 2010. The biggest question is who is in this year that will get left behind next year. Look out Montreal, at the end of the season all but ten of your contracts run out, and you barely squeezed in this year.

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LOOKING BACKWARDS

This weekend a illness floored your friendly neighborhood Yankee Hockey. It wasn’t too bad to keep me from watching the games, but my brains ability to function has been severely hampered. So today is going to be an easy one, I’m going to take a look at my early season predictions and see just how well I did (cause there is nothing like patting yourself on the back). With the season not exactly finished, some of the results may change, but I think I got it covered.

Western Conference

(preseason):

1. Detroit

2. San Jose

3. Calgary

4. Anaheim

5. Vancouver

6. St. Louis

7. Chicago

8. Edmonton

9. Los Angeles

10. Dallas

11. Columbus

12. Minnesota

13. Phoenix

14. Colorado

15. Nashville

(actual)

1. San Jose

2. Detroit

This particular battle has been going on all season long with Detroit and San Jose jockeying for position. I’m going to call this a win because, really, they’re like 1A/1B.

3. Calgary

This looks like it’s gonna stick, even though Vancouver made it super interesting (including beating them 4-1 last night to remain in the running for the third spot), but with two games left Calgary would have to lose more then Vancouver won and I’m not sure they will blow their last two games.

4. Chicago

I underestimated the goaltenders here. I knew the team was good, but I didn’t think Christobel Huet would play as good as he has, and I certainly never believed Khabibulin would return to form. They even threatened Detroit for a moment before falling back to earth.

5. Vancouver

Spot on!

6. Columbus

Good for Columbus. I’m glad they proved me wrong here. They can thank Steve Mason for that one, I think if they had stuck with Denis they may not have made it.

7. Anaheim

I’m actually a little surprised they’re even this high up after the season they have had. I guess when you have two Niedermayers, a Pronger, and a Selanne you can kind of tip-toe your way into the playoffs.

8. St Louis

Well, I was wrong about their position, and the play of Manny Legace, but I was right about their powerful offense.

9. Nashville

Look, I’d never heard of Pekka Rinne. Give me a break please.

10. Minnesota

You heard it here first folks. I’m the one who jumped off the Minnesota bandwagon this year while others put them as high as third in the conference. Of course Gaborik is going to get hurt, of course they aren’t going to score goals, so of course they are outta here!

11. Edmonton

Edmonton almost proved me right as the season wore down, but then they had to go and self destruct as they always do. They’re like the Mets of the NHL.

12. Dallas

You heard it here first again! Some “experts” even picked Dallas to win the cup this year. Thanks in part to Sean Avery, and in second part to Turco’s off year, Dallas will be playing golf this Spring.

13. Los Angeles

I really thought LA would be fighting for a spot at this time of the season. Still, they showed a lot of spunk and I look forward to putting them at number nine again next year. (Actually, this Jonathan Quick guy may move them up to eight).

14. Phoenix

15. Colorado

Phoenix almost made things interesting just after the All-Star break, but returned spiritual balance to the NHL again by falling down the standings like a comet. Colorado probably would have done much better had Stastny and Sakic not been out almost the entire year, but Budaij would have made sure they weren’t higher then 11 I’m sure.

All in all i’m rather proud of myself. Got about 30% right on, and the rest (except for a couple) were pretty close. What more could you expect from preseason predictions…. ok, expect for preseason predictions that are not paid for by a sports organization. Get off my back.

Eastern Conference

(preseason):

1. Pittsburgh

2. Montreal

3. Washington

4. NY Rangers

5. New Jersey

6. Ottawa

7. Philadelphia

8. Carolina

9. Boston

10. Tampa Bay

11. Buffalo

12. Florida

13. Toronto

14. NY Islanders

15. Atlanta

(actual)

1. Boston

Way to go Boston. Man I screwed up the East so bad.

2. Washington

I was close! You gotta give me this one at least.

3. New Jersey

I don’t know why I ever doubted New Jersey. Even with Brodeur out most of the season they still kicked everyone’s butt. Actually… now that I think about it, it was after Brodeur went down that the butt-kicking really began.

4. Philadelphia

A very well played season from Philly. They really won me over with their defensive work this year.

5. Carolina

Well, I knew they’d make it to the post season at least. Man they’ve been hot lately.

6. Pittsburgh

Damnit Pittsburgh! If you won’t be kind enough to win the conference like I thought you would, at least be decent enough to miss the playoffs. I hate these guys.

7. Montreal

So what was last year? Some kind of tease? I wouldn’t be surprised if these guys were out of the playoffs by the end of the week.

8. NY Rangers

How is it that two of my top five are struggling to even make the playoffs. The Rangers, especially backstopped by Lundqvist are just too good to be barely holding on to eighth spot.

9. Florida

I knew Florida was going to be better then people expected… but this good? They deserve a playoff spot, if only to justify not trading Bouwmeester.

10. Buffalo

Losing Miller really hurt. They were better then their record presents. Next year boys, nest year.

11. Ottawa

You know, it’s teams like Ottawa that screwed up my predictions this year. They’re getting an angry letter.

12. Toronto

One off, dang! Well, with Burke as their GM they’ll be back here again next year.

13.  Atlanta

Atlanta really benefited from the absolutely horrible play of Tampa Bay and the Islanders. Otherwise they’d be right where I put them.

14. Tampa Bay

See what happens when you fire Barry Melrose?

15. NY Islanders

They’re only here cause they are desperate for Tavares.

So my Eastern Conference predictions were a little of, but hey, my Western Conference predictions were pretty good right? It’s nice to get a little West Coast bias for once.

Come back because in the coming weeks we’ll have a ton of playoff discussion, including who I think will win it all.

THE SEASON THAT WAS

Well folks, the end of the season is upon us, and the reason for the season is about to start, so what better time then now to look back on all the significant events that have transpired through 2008-2009 in the NHL.

Injuries Galore:

There are injuries every season, but has any season seen an IR list like this year? It started small with Erik Johnson of the Blues hurting his knee by getting his foot stuck between the brake and accelerator of a golf cart during spring training. The knee required surgery and he was out for the season. Then Burnaby Joe Sakic ended up hurting his back big time, missing a significant chunk of the season. And then, with his return on the horizon, he gets his hand stuck in a snow blower, requiring surgery to repair it. Sakic is hoping to play the last three games this season. I had believed that this would be his last season. I think now he’ll come back, he wants to end it on a full season. But the Avs trouble didn’t end there, their young star Paul Stastny ended up getting injured not once… but twice! The first time missing more then 20 games, the second time… well he’s still out. Mike Richards, he of post-season glory and expensive off-season contract, ended up breaking his wrist early in the season and missing a lot of games. Then, in his long anticipated first game back… he broke his other wrist, out for the rest of the season.

In the goalie category the league lost it’s two best goaltenders long term to injury. Martin Brodeur tore a tendon in his elbow and lost 16 weeks to injury, the longest period of time he’s been out in his career. On the other coast Roberto Luongo suffered a pulled groin muscle, and after reaggravating it a few weeks later trying to come back early, ended up missing more then two months. Will it hurt his Vezina chances? Maybe. And then Ryan Miller goes down at the most inopportune time, leaving Buffalo without a solid netminder, and out of the playoffs. And I think we’re all done talking about DiPietro and his injury problems. How’s that fifteen year contract going Long Island?

In the Sharks category… who hasn’t been injured? Their entire D-corps has been out at one point or another, their starting goaltender went down… hell, I’m surprised HP Pavillion hasn’t been placed on the IR. The worst of it has been happening recently. That’s what we call a case of BAD TIMING.

Record Breakers:

Brodeur came back into the spotlight by winning his 552 game, breaking Patrick Roy’s all-time record. I’m sure New Jersey was expecting to celebrate that earlier in the year, they should be glad they got to celebrate it at all. In Washington Mike Green managed not to just break the team goal scoring record for consecutive games… he managed to break the league record (for defensemen). Green is a phenomenal offensive player… will it be enough to garner him a Norris Trophy? Also in Washington, Alexander Ovechkin became the first player to score 50 goals three times in a Capitals uniform, further justifying his “Greatest-Player-In-The-Game” status.

Melrose, we hardly knew ye:

In the most celebrated coaching hire in decades (at least, if you work for ESPN), Barry Melrose started the year behind the bench in Tampa Bay. After trying to prove to both the fans and the players that old school, hard-working hockey is better then flash-and-dash hockey for about a week, he was fired and allowed to go back to hockey analysis where he really shines. Meanwhile new coach Rick Tocchet has managed to keep them in the Tavares hunt, apparently to management’s great satisfaction.

The trade that wasn’t:

For a year… A YEAR… all I heard about was how the Panthers were going to trade Jeremy Bouwmeester. Oh how the excitement built up as the trade deadline came close. Oh how the fans of teams in the hunt held their breath trying to imagine Bouwmeester on their blueline. What’s that? The Florida held onto him for their playoff run? And now they aren’t even in the top eight with only a few games left to play? And they’re going to lose him for nothing in the offseason? Way to go Florida… way to go.

Toronto institutes a “No Stanley Cup Ever” program:

Brian Burke, fresh off riding another GM’s players into the Stanley Cup, left Anaheim and moved over to Toronto where he immediately began to trade off players. The thing about Burke is, he hates prospects. Just ask Vancouver where his handy work left them hard pressed for the kind of young talent most other teams have in their line ups. Unfortunately for both Burke and Toronto, there isn’t a Stanley Cup winning team already in place for him to leech off of. You know what, as long as he can build a decent US Olympic team I’ll forgive him anything… not sure Leafs fans will though.

Wait a minute… penguins can’t fly!:

Oh, how much joy I had when I thought the Penguins were going to miss the post-season. Alas, you just can’t stop a team with Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby, no matter how much the rest of the team might try. Still, it is better for the league to have this team in the playoffs. Just please please please not another Stanley Cup appearance… I don’t think my delicate constitution could take that.

To celebrate, or not to celebrate:

Don Cherry stuck yet another foot in his mouth (how many does he have in there now… fourteen?) when he started complaining about Ovechkin’s exciting, over the top goal celebrations, and lauding Crosby’s stoic “Oh, did I just score? How intriguing.” nothing celebrations.  We all get that you enjoy things that blend into the background quietly Mr Cherry, especially your clothing (want some more examples). Look Grapes, anyone who watches Ovechkin score a goal… or a linemate for that matter, and doesn’t get excited for the game of hockey is either dead or a xenophobic loud mouth. And to think, because he’s on the CBC, Canadian citizens pay his salary.

Well, there’s been plenty more including a great Winter Classic, some incredible rookie sensations, a few veteran comebacks, and even a fight or two. But there is one event that we should not, ever, let slip past our notice this season.

Colleen Howe, Mrs Hockey, passed away at the age of 76. They say behind every good man is a great woman, and never was it more true then in this case. Mrs Hockey not only supported her husband emotionally, she supported him professionally too, acting as his manager. She was instrumental in getting hockey players the kinds of competitive contracts they have today. When she began as Gordie’s manager he was the third highest player on the team, despite being by far the best. Thanks to the negotiating skills of Colleen, the Red Wings were forced to give him the raise he deserved. She’s been honoured more times then I can list, and her death is likely the reason that the Hockey Hall of Fame will, from now on, be allowing women to be honoured. The passing of Mrs Howe is a sad and tragic event for anyone who loves hockey, and so it is with great regret that I make it the final moment of note this season.

REDISTRICTING

Posted in NY Islanders, Surprise of the Week by yankhockey on November 21, 2008

There are many aspects of the NHL that fans consider unfair: Bias towards the Leafs in Canadian media, size increases in goalie equipment, the instigator rule, the Western Conference travelling schedule… Oh wait, that last one really is unfair!

Every year we hear about how the teams in the West have to deal with a horrific travelling schedule, and how it affects their play. Not only that, every year some vaunted free agent refuses to sign in the West specifically because of the travel. Brendan Shanahan certainly won’t sign there even though there are teams who would love to have him on board, and it’s likely the reason Mats Sundin has yet to (and will not) sign with Vancouver. I’d love to call them stuck up prima donnas who need to shut up and play for who will pay them, but they’re right; the Western Conference travel is awful.

The worst part about the travelling in the West is it’s so damn easy to fix with a little maneuvering. What follows is my solution that requires only the slightest of adjustments to the way the Western Conference is set up. Let’s start the farthest West with the:

Pacific Division:

1. Anaheim

2. Los Angeles

3. Phoenix

4. San Jose

5. Vancouver

How easy was that? I agree that it’s nice to have all three Western Conference Canadian teams in one division so they play each other often, but how can you call the Pacific Division the Pacific Division without Vancouver and with Dallas. Last time I checked Dallas wasn’t even on the Western end of Texas. No need to worry about rivalries either. After their punch-you-in-the-jaw five game series against Vancouver, Anaheim would love to get their hands on the Canucks a few more times a year. And San Jose loves to play the Canucks cause every time I go to HP Pavillion to see them play the Nabokov puts up a goose egg (seriously, every time). And the Canucks finally don’t have to fly to Minnesota four times a year.

Mountain Division:

1. Calgary

2. Colorado

3. Dallas

4. Edmonton

5. Minnesota

Ok, I’ll have to work on the name a bit but the organization makes perfect sense. Dallas and Minnesota flying all over the damn country for inter-division games never made any sense. With this grouping you still get the awesome Battle of Alberta, you get Dallas and Minnesota clogging up the ice like my ex-roommate clogged up the shower eight times a year. And let’s not forget that Colorado and Dallas have never had the most friendly relationship so that should be fun to watch too. The best part is that the most any of them will have to travel is one measley time zone, and mostly they’ll be going North/South so that cuts back on travel time too.

Central Division:

1. Chicago

2. Columbus

3. Detroit

4. Nashville

5. St Louis

Already well grouped, so they can stay as they are.

And there you have it, I just solved a bunch of the problems with the travel conditions in the West. I even have an alternate solution for hockey fans that believe hockey only belongs in hockey markets.

Pacific: Anaheim, Los Angeles, San Jose, (Seattle or Portland), Vancouver

Mountain: Calgary, Colorado, Edmonton, Phoenix, Minnesota

Central: Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, St Louis

See, no more Nashville and it actually works even better! And I’m just some jerk sitting at home pretending to know a thing or two about hockey, not some powerful NHL exec with many illustrious degrees in business management and sports entertainment. Of course, Seattle and Portland are merely suggestions based on population and location. Hell, I’d love it if they could bring one here to Sacramento, but most people here wouldn’t know ice if it was floating in their lemonade, so we’re probably looking at the former two sites. I think both cities would support the team at least better then they do in Nashville, and both of those places also have more Canadian transplants then Nashville too so you already have a fanbase waiting to happen.

Both of these solutions are doable, though I admit moving Nashville to the West Coast is more radical. But I find it hard to believe that simply moving two teams into different divisions is such a daunting task that it isn’t worth the trouble to help teams like Vancouver and Dallas not have to travel half the distance of North America to play within their own division. I can say with absolute confidence that doing something so simple as putting names in different places will vastly improve the way hockey is played out West.

SURPRISE OF THE WEEK:

Well, it comes as no surprise to this writer that Dallas lost against Chicago on Thursday while wearing those absolutely awful third jerseys, and it’s no longer a surprise that Marty Turco is capable of allowing five goals, most of which should have been little problem for him. It was, however, a little surprising that the ‘Hawks were able to score a goal with less then a minute to go in each of the three periods of play. The real surprise this week is the play of Islander’s back-up goaltender Joey MacDonald who has had to step in for an injured DiPietro. After being more or less mediocre since taking over, in the last week MacDonald is 3-0, giving up only for goals and stopping 98 shots (including 38 in one game against Ottawa). The Islanders are a team looking for a hero, and MacDonald is showing he’s got the cape and tights to fill the role.

A WORD TO MY READERS:

This has been a very productive week at Yankee Hockey. The number of visitors I’ve had in the last week is more then a quarter of my total visitors. It makes me happy to see that so many people are reading my blog, and I’d like to take a moment to thank you all for showing up. I’d also like to encourage all of you to leave comments. It’s quite easy, you don’t even need to register with wordpress to do so, just a name and an opinion is all that is necessary. I even like contrary opinions because it is through discourse that new ideas are formed. So please, keep stopping by, I hope to continue to write new and interesting hockey stories for you all.

HOCKEY: APPLY DIRECTLY TO THE FOREHEAD

Posted in Carolina, NY Islanders, Philadelphia, Players, Surprise of the Week, Vancouver by yankhockey on October 30, 2008

Before you read this post, watch this video of Doug Weight hitting Brandon Sutter:

This hit has caused a lot of discussion about the role of checking in the game of hockey. This hit was a frightening moment for everyone, both on the ice and watching the game. However scary it was, though, it was still a clean hit. It’s hard to call any blow to the head clean, and I don’t mean to support high hits. It’s clean because according to the rules of hockey, no illegal action occurred during that hit. The puck was within reach of Sutter, and he was reaching for it, and Weight neither left his feet nor lifted his elbows. The reason this hit occurred the way it did was because Sutter was reaching forward for the puck and had his head down, and if there is one thing that every hockey player must learn, it’s keep your head up or this will happen.

Hockey is played by large men standing on thin blades on ice. Anyone who has had the misfortune of driving on a cold morning after a snow fall can tell you that if you’re going one direction on ice, you’re going to keep going in that direction. That these kinds of hits don’t happen more often is a testament the skill on skates that these players have. But all the skill in the world can’t change the fact that skating with speed on ice is far from a controllable act. That’s part of the reason hockey is so exciting. Hockey is taking something chaotic, ice, and tries to make something controlled out of it. When you are watching a player fly down the rink at full speed the entire time you’re thinking to yourself “Can he stop in time? Can he turn away from the boards?” And when you see that two men are about to collide you feel a rush of adrenalin because you know just how frightening and exciting it can be.

This is why many people complain that hockey is too violent (well, that and the fighting). I consider that very hypocritical since the most watched game in the States is football, a game no one calls too violent even when necks are broken, because they understand that the violence is inherit in the game. Hockey is the same way, and like football you cannot take unfortunate events like these as standard.

Every time there is an incident like this, people begin to call for penalties on hits to the head, regardless of whether the hit is clean or not. This just can’t happen, you can’t penalize people for accidents. Look at Doug Weight during the clip above; he’s not happy with what he did, he didn’t intend to hurt anyone. It sucks blaming the victim for the hit, but Sutter should never have had his head down like that, and there is no way for Weight to change his direction… he’s on ice! Would you call a 15 yard penalty because a safety breaks a receiver’s ankle on a hit? Of course not, it was unintentional and more importantly it’s a part of the game that all the players are fully aware of. Every time a hockey player steps on the ice they know that all kinds of things could happen to them. They could take a puck to the eye, a skate to the throat, a stick to the jaw… the list of things that could go wrong is very long. A hit like Weight’s on Sutter is not like Todd Bertuzzi’s on Steve Moore which was certainly meant to injure. Weight’s hit was an unhappy accident where someone got hurt.

No one likes to see anyone get hurt on the ice, and most players would never think of trying to knock someone unconscious. You can’t call a penalty on a hit just because it’s to the head. If the player leaves his feet yes, or uses his stick sure, but not for what is obviously unintentional contact. The excitement of hockey is also the cause of plays like this, the uncertainty of playing a fast game on ice. If players are afraid to play hard just in case they will be penalized then hockey will lose it’s edge.

SURPRISE OF THE WEEK:

How about the Rangers letting  Brendan Shannahan walk away? They just couldn’t make room for him on their staff. That’s good news for a lot of teams looking for some veterans and some scoring. Shannahan is still an excellent player, and absolutely one of the better leaders that a team can ice. I think he’s definitely got one more good year in him, one more year the Rangers probably could have used. This may be something that comes back to bite them. Looking to the future I see Vancouver being the most likely destination. They have a ton of cap space available and can beat any other offers, and they are in desperate need of both veterans leadership and a top six forward. There may be some issue where he doesn’t want to come out West, so if not in Vancouver I could see him in the Southeast, or if the Flyers could make enough room Philadelphia.

AH FISH STICKS

Posted in Boston, NY Islanders, third jersey, What Going Right by yankhockey on October 29, 2008
Bill Guerin models the Islanders new third jersey

Bill Guerin models the Islanders' new third jersey

If I was the type of guy to use emoticons, I’d have a a teary-eyed face in the title of this post. Why New York? Why no Gordon’s Fisherman?

Actually, I’m more then alright with what came out of Long Island on Monday when the Islanders unveiled their new third jersey. Despite some talk about this being a “completely new jersey”, it’s basically the blue uniform they wore when they won four Stanley Cups, except with the Reebok Edge rounded hemline. Actually, and I wonder whether the jersey will sit like this, or if this is just how Bill Guerin likes to wear it, this jersey seems to sit tighter across the chest and shoulders like we were told the Edge was supposed to. I happen to like that look, it’s reminiscent of the sweaters of old which always look great. Forgive my aside for a moment, I just think the billowing, Olympic swimming pool sized jerseys that have been around since the late 80s just don’t say hockey to me, they sit more like basketball jerseys. Hell, if I had my way they’d all be wearing knitted wool sweaters again!

As much as I would love to see the Fishsticks jersey again (cause really, I love ugly things), this is a good direction to take for the Islanders. Like many teams in the expansion era of the NHL, the Islanders have had more then their fair share of bad jerseys. Also, like many expansion teams, their first jersey was their best. Those first sweaters were created before sports team logos and colors had to be louder and busier then the next team’s.  I’ve already gone over what I think about new logos versus the classic ones, so I won’t get into it here, except to say that in hockey, a simple logo works much better. Their current jersey design is actually very nice, I like the Cup stripes, I like the shoulders, I like the colors, but going back to a design more reminiscent of their original is a great idea.

I hope marketers from other teams are paying attention because this is how you do a third jersey. No flash, no gimmicks, real hockey. This is a sweater that players will want to wear on the ice, and better yet, fans will want to wear in the seats.

There really isn’t anything to critique here, and in this case that’s a good thing. The only thing I’d like to see is the Cup stripes. I really like that addition they made on the Edge jerseys and I think it would look pretty awesome on this one as well. However, you can’t fault them for wanting to create something more historically accurate. You wouldn’t know it looking at today’s team, but the Islanders were the powerhouse team of  the early eighties, and this is pretty much the jersey the wore. As much as I’d like to see players writing in embarrassment in the fish sticks jersey again… I have absolutely no complaints about this jersey.

WHAT’S GOING RIGHT:

It took a little while to get going. After a shut-out on opening night, there really hasn’t been much in the way of goaltending prowess until the last week or so. It’s nice to see goaltenders start to keep pucks out of the net again, not that I don’t like scoring, but there’s something exciting about not scoring too. But how about Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins going two straight without letting a puck into the net. Not just two, two plus one overtime. Not just two plus one overtime, two plus one overtime in two days facing 59 shots over all. In those two games his team scored a total of two goals. I think it’s safe to say that without Thomas Boston could be considered to be struggling right now. I’m guessing he’s going to be one of the three stars of the week. What’s also nice out of Boston is that apparently Phil Kessel read that I didn’t think I would lead his team in scoring, cause somethings got this kid going right now. I’m glad Boston fans can watch this kid work all year, cause he’s a real hockey treat.

EASTERN CONFERENCE PREDICTIONS 08-09

Posted in NY Islanders, predictions by amanoidopera on October 8, 2008

14: New York Islanders

This team will be good again. I can feel it in my bones. I want to put them in the playoffs, but they just won’t let me. They’ve made so many, for lack of a better term, goofy actions over the years that it’s hard to say when they’ll right the ship. But it’s coming Atlantic, it’s coming. My suggestion: bring back the Gordon’s Fisherman jersey, bring back the Fishsticks!

The Forwards:

Kyle Okposo is going to be one helluva shot in the arm for this team. Finally Bill Guerin and Trent Hunter won’t feel like they have to score all the goals for the team. Jeff Tambelini will continue to make people wonder why he can’t score in the NHL. And will someone please give Richard Park some respect for playing hard every game and scoring more then anyone expects him to.

The Defense:

Brendan Witt is the best thing you’ll see on the Islanders’ blueline this year. They really need to get younger and bigger on defense if they want to stop people from scoring goals. It must be tough to attract good players when you are the other New York team.

The Goaltending:

Rick “Signed For Ever and a Day” DiPietro is still a great goaltender. He just can’t get any support, from anyone, ever. Except of course for the front office which love him, and will be loving him until 2056 when his contract is finally up. He’s got what it takes though, he stops pucks, he stays healthy, he plays hard every game. He’s still human though. If the Islanders expect him to win some games they’re going to have to keep the puck away from the opposing team from time to time.

The Fans:

As I said, this is the other New York team. And like all the other New York teams (Jets, Mets) they attract a different type of fan. Islanders fans aren’t like Rangers fans. These aren’t fair weather fans, they’re fans for life. And they’ll pass it down generation after generation even when global warming makes it so hockey can’t be played at all and the Islanders are a water polo team… wearing Gordon’s Fisherman jerseys.

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