Thursday, August 14, 2008

What 30 Teams Are Thinking About In August - Western Conference

Contrary to popular belief, not every team is thinking about Mats Sundin at the moment.

This is the worst time of the year for hockey fans. Besides waiting for a few stars to decide their futures, there's nothing going on as far as the NHL goes. (Unless you count the KHL, and lets be serious, who does?) Yet, for all thirty teams, there's something to think about in regards to the upcoming season.

Anaheim Ducks - Why are we affiliated with a team named the Chops?

“We wanted to give Iowa a team that they feel is their own,” said the 29-year-old Schlegel, who also owns the Texas Tornado of the NAHL and the Tacoma Rainiers (Seattle Mariners AAA affiliate) of the Pacific Coast League. “When we really thought about it, one of the things that Iowa is very proud of is they are the No. 1 exporter in the country of pork.”
The Chops

Well it's certainly unique, but it's a good thing that a team like Tampa Bay didn't use the Chops' logic. Otherwise, we may be looking at the 2004 Stanley Cup champions, the Tampa Bay Citrus Fruits.

Calgary Flames - Will Todd Bertuzzi continue to prove he's worthless?

Avalanche fans still haven't forgotten what Todd Bertuzzi did to Steve Moore and it's nice to see that Bertuzzi has become irrelevant in the NHL these days.

After regisitering 71 points during the season after the lockout, Bertuzzi was traded to Florida where he played just seven games before being shipped off to Detroit. After playing just eight games with the Wings, Bertuzzi continued solidifying his journeyman status by signing in Anaheim last season. After a 40 point performance in the regular season, Bertuzzi had just two assists in a first round loss to Dallas.

Now, Bertuzzi has signed in Calgary, a team that will be counting on him to perform. (Not likely, Flames fans.)

Chicago Blackhawks - Will this be the most disappointing season ever?

Having not made the playoffs since 2002, the Blackhawks have reason to be excited for the first time in over half a decade. Led by youngsters Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, Chicago made a huge splash this summer by signing Brian Campbell and Christobel Huet.

In addition, this will be the first season ever that fans will be able to watch all 82 games on TV. Chicago's attendance numbers are expected to go way up this season as well. Oh, and did I mention,

Representatives from the National Hockey League, the Chicago Cubs, the Chicago Blackhawks, the Detroit Red Wings and the National Hockey Players' Association gathered this morning atop the third-base dugout of Wrigley Field, the
Cubs’ historic home, to talk about the upcoming NHL Winter Classic 2009.
'09 Winter Classic

Anything less than a playoff berth will be disaster for this team and could set them back a long way. Chicago, a city which has to be getting used to losers, needs a team besides the Cubs and Bears to lean on.

Colorado Avalanche - Will Joe Sakic Retire?

If you're reading this blog, you're undoubtedly a hockey fan and that means you know that Joe Sakic is considering retirement.

Actually, I take that back.
This guy didn't.

I could use this space to reference numerous opinions around the hockey world, but lets face it, no one really knows what's going on. (No matter how many "E" sources they may have.)

My gut says that he's coming back, but if he's not, Avalanche fans may be in for a long season.

Columbus Blue Jackets - Who will watch us play?

Ranked 28th in attendance last year , the Blue Jackets remained the only team in the NHL to have never made the playoffs. This season doesn't look much better as the Jackets will probably be relying on newcomer R.J. Umberger to center their top line. Umberger was solid last year as a third-line player, (50 points in 74 games) but he's not the guy whose going to get the most out of Columbus's only star, Rick Nash.

However, this writer seems to strongly disagree,

But I like the roster shakeup that they have done in Columbus and this could be a great year for them. But the West is tough and they have their work cut out for them. I pick them second in the division though.
That being said, expect attendance to stay near the bottom and for the Jackets to be in the running for John Tavares.

Dallas Stars - What tricks does Sean Avery have up his sleeve?

Every NHL fan has seen Sean Avery's antics in last year's playoffs. Avery turned his back to the play and screened Martin Brodeur, which ultimately lead to a goal. Now, just a few months later, Avery has signed in Dallas where he'll bring his pesky style to the West. The question is, what will he do next?

Here are two of my guesses:

1. The Hidden Puck Trick
While the play is going on in the Dallas end, Avery will reveal a hidden puck and score on the opposing team. Instant replays will show that the puck went in the goal and that there is no way to prove which was the real one. The play stands.

2. The Jersey Switch-a-Roo
Newly signed Fabian Brunnstom is sure to receive some special attention in his first NHL season. Avery will convince him to trade jerseys with him so when someone decides to bother Brunnstrom, they'll really be dealing with Avery. The question is, will Brunnstrom be able to play the part of Avery?

Detroit Red Wings - Will we repeat?

The question could have been can we repeat, but I figure that the Wings are alread past that. Returning with practically the same roster, the Wings added superstar Marian Hossa in the offseason. If Chris Osgood and Ty Conklin can provide consistent goaltender, the Wings should be considered the favorites to win the Stanley Cup.

Edmonton Oilers - Burke or Lowe?

I doubt I'm the only one expecting an one-on-one death match featuring Ducks' GM Brian Burke and Oilers' GM Kevin Lowe. Lowe and Burke haven't been on good terms since that ridiculous offer sheet to Dustin Penner a few summers ago, and recently, Kevin Lowe has fired back at Burke.

"The guy is an absolute media junkie and I guess he's achieving what he wants because he gets his name in the headlines. But the reality is, I hate the fact that my name is linked to this.

"He won a Stanley Cup? Great. I've won six Stanley Cups, you want to count rings? Who cares? It's just a little pathetic that he carries on."
Bettman has, of course, issued a gag order on the whole situation, but there's no reason why the two can't settle their differences in a different forum. What about a live pay-per-view event in Vegas? And at the same time, the promotion for a new hockey team in the Sin City can begin.

Los Angeles Kings - Who is our goalie?

The following players are listed under "Goaltender" on the Kings' website:

Jonathan Bernier
Erik Ersberg
Jason LaBarbera
Jonathan Quick
Daniel Taylor
Jeff Zatkoff

While LaBarbera and Bernier have the best shots at sticking around, but Inside the Kings has this to say,

The goalies spent the past week up in Vancouver, working with goalie coach Bill Ranford. I don't know the exact number of goalies up there, but last I heard, LaBarbera, Bernier, Zatkoff, Quick and Taylor were all headed up there. Ersberg too, most likely, since he's now under contract.

Either way, it has to be one of theb igest question marks around the league at this point.

Minnesota Wild - Why is Martin Skoula on our roster?

Not sound harsh or anything, but Skoula was a -16 in the regular season last year and hasn't had more than 16 points since 2002-2003.

Sure, there are other questions that could be asked here. But every time I watch a Wild game, I chuckle when this guy is on the ice.

Nashville Predators - What's the KHL?

After Nashville's rising star Alexander Radulov signed in the newly formed Kontinental Hockey League, Nashville fans and even some regular NHL fans went into a panic.

What was this new league? Why were they taking our players? What the heck is an OMSK?

But really, all the KHL should be considered is a place where aging superstars (Jaromir Jagr) and overrated snipers (Ladislav Nagy) can find pilgrimage. Nevertheless, assuming Radulov doesn't suddenly come back to Nashville, Predator fans will be asking themselves this question all season long.

Phoenix Coyotoes - Did GM Don Maloney doom us?

His response: “To me this is a playoff team. We expect to make it this year. And that’s not just a wish or a dream. We’ve addressed our two biggest needs - acquiring a No. 1 center (Olli Jokinen) and adding more toughness (Todd Fedoruk and Brian McGrattan) - and we’re ready to go.”
The Desert Dog Blog
First of all, while I applaud the trade for Olli Jokinen, I have to say that I never thought I would see the day when concussion-king Todd Fedoruk would be considered a "key to making the playoffs." And even if he was, Maloney probably doomed them to the lottery anyway.

It's not that Phoenix has a bad team, it's just that hockey people are supposed to be very aware of jinxes.

Patrick Roy used to avoid the blueline and talk to his goal posts.
Chris Chelios used to be the last one to put his uniform on before games.
Heck, Stephane Quintal used to never speak to anyone once it was 1:30.

So why would Maloney actually say his team was probably going to make the postseason. You don't see Ken Holland saying it. Pierre Lacroix never said it.

I hope he knocked on wood.

San Jose Sharks - Is Joe Thornton the "Peyton Manning of hockey?"

The San Jose Sharks have been the trendy pick over the past couple of years to win the Stanley Cup. And with stars Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Jonathon Cheechoo, and Evgeni Nabokov, it didn't seem that farfetched. But now, after three straight years of losing in the Conference Semifinals (always 4-2, by the way), the Sharks are no longer everyone's #1 bandwagon to jump on.

With new coach Todd McLellan behind the bench, the pressure will be directly on Joe Thornton's shoulders to lead this team to the Stanley Cup. He'll be making over 7.2 million this season and as San Jose's best player, needs to earn his money.

The biggest criticism of Thornton in Boston was that he couldn't get them to a Stanley Cup. Sadly, that appears to be the case in San Jose.

However, if Thornton is the "Peyton Manning of hockey," perhaps a Stanley Cup isn't too far off.

St. Louis Blues -Why does The Hockey News hate us?

THN's annual yearbook has finally been published and in its predictions section, The Hockey News is predicting the St. Louis Blues to finish dead last in the Western Conference. (Puck Daddy)

Ouch. Doesn't this team still have some talent?

Erik Johnson, Barret Jackman, and Eric Brewer lead a decent defensive group while Paul Kariya and Brad Boyes lead the forwards. In goal, Manny Legace and Chris Mason aren't spectacular, but should be considered a decent 1-2 combo.

If the Blues can get secondary scoring by David Perron, David Backes, Andy McDonald, and Lee Stempniak, they are certainly capable of finishing higher than deadlast.

Oh, who did THN to finish in 14th?

The Colorado Avalanche. Figures.

Vancouver Canucks - Can we get rid of our new nickname - the Vancouver CaSUCKS?"

Some members of Colorado's official forum have taken to calling Vancouver the "Casucks" for this upcoming season.

It's very witty. See, "Casucks" rhymes with "Canucks" and also describes a probably 5th place division finish for Vancouver this year.

For everyone out there who is rolling their eyes and saying that Vancouver will prove all the doubters wrong, remember, Mats Sundin isn't going to sign with Vancouver. Get over it.

In that case, who is going to score for this team? Daniel and Henrik Sedin? Pavol Demitra?

Maybe Kyle Wellwood will have a nifty 10-goal season!

Either way, it's the question Canuck, or should I say Casuck fans will be asking themselves all season long.

Bad humor, lots of links, and a harsh criticism of a division rival - isn't that what everyone loves in a blog post?

Look for Part 2 later this week. - Best Sports Blogs, Sports Blogger Rankings


Jibblescribbits said...

Ranked 28th in attendance last year , the Blue Jackets remained the only team in the NHL to have never made the playoffs.

As someone who lived in Columbus, I can say that this is a classic cause and effect thing. If the Blue Jackets ever start winning the fans will come out in droves.

excellent post

BReynolds said...

Excellent post! I am a huge Wild fan, thus my blog...

And why IS Martin Skoula on the roster. Lemaire seems to love the guy. 18568 fans in the stands can't be wrong though can they?

The guy is an idiot, a chump, and skates about as well as my grandma, and she's 90.

Thanks for not going after the Wild with something like... why doesn't anyone want to sign here? Or... Why does every offensive minded defenseman end up a chump here?

Geoff Rosenthal said...

Thanks for the positive feedback!

I wanted to keep the brutal attacks on teams to a minimum. I made a slight exception for the Canucks, though.

I might be a little harder on the East.

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