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?
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:
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.
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.