I really, really dislike talking about the subjective, negative, soul-sucking topic that it is suspensions.

I mean, I do it when it’s necessary – obviously it’s a part of the great daily hockey debate – but if I can avoid them, I will.

As a blogger, you wake up and go “okay, what’s the big news of the day?” And since I can’t write about Albert Pujols signing a huge contract with the Angels, today it’s this:

Alex Ovechkin speared Chris Neil. Suspendable?

Andy Sutton hit Alexei Ponikarovsky high. Suspendable?

Villain Leino elbowed Matt Read. Suspendable?

Marc-Andre Bourdon hit Nathan Gerbe from behind. Suspendable?

AHHH. Enough.

I just wish we could wait until they actually suspend a guy before we deal with it. After it happens, we can break down what’s to follow: “This is how it’s going to affect this line, and in turn, this team tonight. Here’s who’s filling in for him. Here’s how the dynamic of the team changes.” But playing the morning game show “suspend or not?” is tiresome (that’s not a dig at Neil’s post yesterday, he was highlighting a Lucic-based point).

Since I don’t wanna touch those plays until we know that something is actually going to happen, I’m gonna sprinkle some sunshine in your life.

Here are five things that have been making me hockey happy lately:

Emerging stars

Back when Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin entered the league, they basically became the League. They were the faces on advertisements, their games got televised, they were all you saw. There were plenty of other terrific players, of course, but it was starting to feel almost stagnant – it was those two, then the rest of the NHL.

With Crosby’s concussion and Ovy’s recent slide, we needed some people to step into the limelight, and step up they have. Tyler Seguin (19) is a freak of nature. Claude Giroux (23) leads the NHL in points. Ryan-Nugent Hopkins (newborn) is 7th in the NHL in scoring. There’s so much talent on the come-up, the league looks to be in great shape for years to come, with or without our old (but young) buddies Sid and Alex.

Almost no one could find cause to complain about league realignment

While there was the odd dissenter, wasn’t it pretty awesome that the NHL made a major overhaul that made pretty much everyone go “….Huh. Yeah. …Yeah that does make a lot of sense.” Not too often you can get that many people from that many teams (and websites) on the same page.

Paul Bissonnette

Sure, his twitter feed is a lot of fun (and how cool is it that he hasn’t crossed the line and been kicked off yet), but I kinda teared up a touch when I saw that he paid to bring 100 homeless people to a Coyotes game the other night, and he bought them all food and drink tickets. He doesn’t have to do that. That wasn’t community service. He was just giving back. I love that.

Outliers that don’t correct

In this era of statistically-inclined sports fans and bloggers, everything “regresses to the mean,” right? Nothing is sustainable. No exceptional team or player can keep it up. Well, I LOVE when that regression doesn’t happen. I know they’re right for the most part, but sometimes humans and teams just genuinely make huge strides and improve. It’s December, and the Florida Panthers have won back to back games, and lead their division (3rd in the Conference). Joffrey Lupul is one of the NHL’s top-5 leading scorers. The Minnesota Wild are FIRST IN THE NHL by three points. While they’ll all likely drop down a number of spots, I like being surprised, and right now, the Wild are positively jaw-dropping.

People are starting to respect the NHL again

Remember all those columnists that didn’t really know hockey (but were forced to cover it because it mattered at one point) who were PUMPED to say “the NHL is having a lockout year? Than to hell with them, I’ll never watch another game?” Those guys dropped us like a bad habit. But with the NHL’s undeniable growth, they’re being forced to again comment on the league from time to time (see: Around the Horn), and they struuuggggggle.

The fact that they even have to go through the motions these days proves just how much the demand for NHL hockey has increased. And that makes me happy.

Hockey’s in good shape right now. This season has been fun.

 

Comments (9)

  1. At least Cowlishaw reps the NHL on around the horn. I love it when the late night weekend SC anchors have to do a hockey highlight and they just have no clue.

  2. ATH and PTI will go back to regularly scheduled ignoring hockey once NBA comes back, don’t worry too much.

  3. Justin, as a Wild fan I have to say that I’m very happy that you’re actually showing the team respect.

    Most people are talking about the Wild like they’re going to just fall off the map and have a lottery pick by the end of the season and are shocked when they keep winning. You, on the other hand, actually talk about the team like you respect the fact that they’re winning when no one thought they could, and I love it.

  4. Everyone thinks that ESPN doesn’t promote or feature hockey stories because it doesn’t get ratings. Nay, they don’t promote hockey because Bettman pissed them off by going to Versus. The ESPN contract would have had individual hockey games connect with more eyes but the dollar amount was lower. The Versus contract gives exclusivity to a hockey channel and some NBC games and the dollar amount was higher. The NHL sacrificed viewership. Until the relationship between the NHL and ESPN is repaired (when the next commissioner comes in) hockey will be in the background of ESPN highlight packages and stories.

    Bourne, I think I love you. Now I’m obviously kidding but I really like where you are going with this 5 things that make you happy. There are so many people in the media mainstream and online) that try to focus so much on the negative or try to turn a positive into a negative that athletes are no longer portrayed as heroes. The most recent heroes, which is strangely enough portrayed by Gilette – go figure, were Jeter, Woods, and Federer. Woods ruined his own reputation with his personal antics but Jeter and Federer have remained relatively clean. Yet even these two are being attacked from every angle. It is not fun to watch a hero get hacked down especially when nobody is writing the feel-good stories about how good of a person an athlete is.

    Bissonette knows what he is doing, regardless of how he comes across. He makes his followers feel almost as if he’s patronizing homeless people but in all honesty, he has a huge soft spot for the homeless.He tries to help as much as he can and should be an example of how an athlete can use their personality and exposure to help the less fortunate. However, people don’t want the athlete to appear like this, it makes the readers feel like they aren’t helping enough. This gets the readers depressed and wanting to help. Well, depressed people with disposable incomes that want to help the less fortunate are not buying the most recent Lexus.

    Another great story was one Pizzo brought up while Bourne was talking on the porcelain phone: Gregory Campbell, after a game in Buffalo the night before Thanksgiving, flew back to Boston on a 1am flight and was up at 7am delivering pies to area shelters. As Pizzo said, he did it himself and did not send someone to do it for him.

    Those are the feel good stories we need again.

    BOURNE, make it happen regardless of what Lambert says. Friggin Hipster

  5. Talk about outliers, how about Brian Elliott? Coming into the year as the backup, and now is 11-2-0 with a 1.56 GAA and .944 SV%? Three SO, and only one game in which he’s let up more than 2 goals? You kiddin me? We’ll see how the rest of the season goes, but I’m hoping he can keep it up.

    • Ya pretty insane numbers Ells is puttin up!!

      The Blues are playing a great game in front of him. He’s playing the better teams, as Halak has stunk up his 1st 6-7 starts. The Blues feel more comfortable playing for Ells

  6. Thanks for the breath of fresh air… I too am getting sick of suspension mania and the crosby v ovi debate… blah blah blah… and I am a Pens fan! Its nice to hear what great things players do for the communities, just because they want to and have the means to.

  7. Justin, I was at my gym this morning at 9:15am (I Cougar hunt on Thursday’s & Friday’s) and there were so many 20-30 year old women crying this morning, I couldn’t figure it out…

    Then some old timer crushing the bar bells, pulls his 1980′s walkman off his head, and starts clamoring about Pujols being one GREEDY SOB!! LOL

    Then, everyone went on to talk about how he’s not really 31, more like 34-36, that’s why he didn’t sign with the Marlins (something about a clause in his contract, that if he wasn’t 31, it’d be null and void)

    Moral of the story, my trainer & I, had a longer than normal session… I’m pretty sure they’re might be some people jumping from the Arch, later today…

  8. I hate the Wild. They are owned by a Telemarketer.

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