To a certain collection of young bucks, the 2004-2005 NHL lockout may seem like light years ago. Some may not even remember it. To most hockey fans, that lockout was like, yesterday. It feels like we just went through this whole CBA process.
Players that year had two options: do nothing, sit around and get fat and lose your edge, or go find another League to play in, if for no other reason than to try to stay remotely sharp.
I was going to University in Anchorage, Alaska, and had the distinct pleasure of having Scott Gomez come play for the local ECHL team (he’s from Anchorage, and had left his KHL team in the middle of the night due to some sketchy business, like being paid cash in a brown paper bag), and my god, was it hilarious.
Keep in mind, this was Scott Gomez in his prime – he skated like a water bug, controlled the play, and had ridiculous hands and vision.
The ice in Anchorage is Olympic-sized (200 x 100 of the best ice in the world), and with the noticeable difference between Gomez and his opponents being speed, he dominated the play in the most effortless, casual manner you can imagine. There’d be a foot race for the puck, and it was like only he got to hit the burst of speed button on his controller. I never saw him get hit.
At one point on a powerplay, he had the puck at the point and physically stood straight up, left one hand on his stick with the puck resting beside his blade, then directed traffic by pointing with his free hand. Two passes later, the puck was in the net.
It was like in rec league, how really dominant players (who aren’t assholes) try not to score, instead choosing to set up their teammates. He did that, and he could do it hungover, so needless to say he had a pretty good year.
That year Gomez led the league in points (86) by scoring a whopping 13 goals.
Rob Pizzo was reflecting on 04-05 and checked into the scoring titles of a few other leagues, and found some interesting results – apparently the lockout, while a major loss for a lot of fans, provided some serious star power in places they hadn’t been seen before.
1) ECHL: Scott Gomez wins scoring title and league MVP
2) AHL: Jason Spezza scores 117 points, wins scoring title and league MVP
3) SEL (Swedish Elite League): Henrik Zetterberg racks up 50 points, wins scoring title
4) SEL: Henrik Lundqvist wins league MVP and Best Goalie award
5) DEL (Deutsche Eishockey Liga, AKA German Hockey League): Mike York (wait, who?), 2nd in league scoring
6) DEL: Eric Cole, MVP of playoffs
Not bad. Not bad at all.
And while the lockout was a mere seven season back, the NHL has seen a remarkable turnover in its star players since. In fact, the majority of the NHLs top scorers weren’t even around to be a part of that debacle. Check ‘em out:
1) Evgeni Malkin - Not in NHL Yet
2) Steven Stamkos – Not in NHL Yet
3) Claude Girioux - Not in NHL Yet
4) Jason Spezza – AHL
5) Ilya Kovalchuk - Russian League
6) Phil Kessel - Not in NHL Yet
7) Henrik Sedin - SEL
8) Tavares - Not even in OHL yet (was in OPJHL)
9) James Neal - Not in NHL Yet
10) Erik Karlsson - Not in NHL Yet
11) Patrick Elias - Czech league
Maybe that lockout was a long time ago. Hmm.
While it’s a pretty entertaining thought to scatter our league’s best players about the globe again and watch just how dominant they can be over already fantastic players, it’d be a lot more fun to pit them against one another on this continent.
Does anyone know of any other worldwide dominance by an NHLer during that 04-05 lockout?