The first messages fired in my brain this morning were the opening notes of CBC’s old Hockey Night in Canada theme song: dunt dudunt duduh… of course, up here in Canada TSN bought the rights, the CBC got a new song (it’s actually good, and could easily become as revered), and we were all reminded that tradition is BS and hockey is a business and nothing lasts forever, but ANYWAY: DUN DUNDUNT DUDAHHH!
The NHL season! Leafs/Habs! Blackhawks/Capitals! Oilers/Jets! Tonight, for real points and real stats! Awesome.
It’s an obvious statement, but from an individual standpoint, man is nice to get at least a point on that first night. Get the ball rolling, get off to a decent start, starting piling up those numbers – that’s the goal. Oh, and two points for the team would be nice too. More on Day One coming later today.
To the newsmobile!
Phil Kessel has made a point of saying “he won’t negotiate during the season,” so it kills me that the height of the negotiating period was apparently taking place the night before the first game of the season (arguably one of the times you’d like to be thinking most about hockey to get the mental aspect of the game back), and is still apparently taking place today. …Game day. …Again, the first one.
The rumors from Bob McKenzie are that Phil’s likely going to get paid somewhere in the eight-million per-season range for seven or eight years. That’s fair for what he’s done so far in the league, and what he’d command on the open market, so it would be tough for anyone to be too upset about that.
For a guy who gets it done by being lightning in transition and having a rocket shot, will he be worth it when he’s 30. 31, 32? Probably (with what the cap will be by then), maybe not, whatever – elite talent costs money and you can’t win without it. You certainly can’t let it walk.
Oh, and by the way: I love the Sedins attitude on getting their extensions done:
Talks gone quiet between Canucks, Sedins. Enough trust between sides that they’ll continue working on extension as season begins.
— Iain MacIntyre (@imacVanSun) October 1, 2013
Little less hostage-holding going on in that negotiation, but then, I suppose they aren’t working on deals with the same amount of term.
I weighed in on this when the news first broke yesterday:
Now, logically, if you could change any NHL rule so that it would keep a handful of players from getting seriously injured, and all you had to do was make a tweak that would result in a few more disputed calls, you would do it.
And so, logically (and surprisingly), the NHLPA has agreed to make said tweak. Cool, safety first and stuff!
BUT, if you’re viewing hockey as a product, it probably didn’t just get better.
We’ll still have the races to negate icing, but there will almost certainly be a number of times where they feel muted by a ref’s whistle before the action can develop. It’s like rooting for a hypothetical exciting moment. And, there will be moments when refs botch calls (as is bound to happen with human officials) and goals are incorrectly scored (or potential ones are negated), and we’ve got another reason for teams to scream and shout at the poor refs.
Practically, from a human viewpoint, the game is safer now, and that’s a good thing. An internet +1 for that. I’m just genuinely surprised the players made that call given their general penchant for being pro-hurting one another. (My hunch is that a lot of players who played with it in the American League last year had votes and gave it the thumbs up.)
The link at the top of the post will take you to the official wording of the rule, as well as some player feedback on it. I also tried to diagram it last season when the AHL adopted it here.
I’m not 100% sold that your average fan will love the decision, but your average fan hasn’t snapped a femur playing it the old way, so tough beans I guess.
Two quick Leafs notes, since they play tonight
James Reimer earned the right to start over Jonathan Bernier tonight, and 19-year-old Morgan Rielly made the team (for now).
There’s a funny thing that happens when you return to play a level you know you’re probably a little better than: you no longer feel like you need to take anyone’s s**t. Overall, it’s a really, really good thing. Some call it confidence. When I would go play in the American League on a call-up, then get sent back to the ECHL, I was less inclined to let a guy take whacks at me without turning around and decking him, but f*** this scrub, right?
I have no idea if that’s what happened in the case of Max Domi, but if you watch the video below, you’ll see Domi get run early in the shift and get shoved to the ice. Immediately after, the puck comes back to him, and he knows the guy who just ran him once is all full of adrenaline and licking his chops at the chance to hit Mr. Fancy Almost NHLer again, so, let’s set some ground rules: I, Max Domi, will not be tolerating getting run all year.
It’s a brutally cheap elbow he throws, and as much as what I’ve written above sounds like a defense, there has to be a better way to protect yourself than this:
They snuck under the cap by a whopping 25k, which is pretty remarkable when the cap is 60 million-plus. Their ace in the hole: hand in a 21-man roster for the day, put Pronger on LTIR, then have room to sign Hal Gill. Neat!
I don’t really get how – it seems a little naive to assume you’re going to be handed a roster spot at nine years old or whatever he is, but here we are.
He has to deal with life without Nathan MacKinnon on his line now, which ought to make things a little more difficult, but I have a hunch he’ll be just fine. Though apparently MacKinnon drove him everywhere too, so now he has to get his driver’s license, which is a real hassle.
…Y’know, on second thought, it sounds like the demotion might be for the better.
The last day of relaxation for Pavel Datsyuk
I love this guy. Good for him for taking advantage of his time away from the rink.
One last fishing day before the season! Getting super excited!!! pic.twitter.com/bJEGE32GSD
— Pavel Datsyuk (@Datsyuk13) September 30, 2013
Hey, nice Northern Pike, Jackfish, Muskie or whatever that is. Has to be one of those.