Archive for the ‘General’ Category

The biggest NHL star that Team Canada had at last year's Spengler Cup? Marty Turco. It's a different story this year. (Peter Schneider/Associated Press)

The Spengler Cup doesn’t generally get a lot of attention from Canadian hockey fans. The annual invitational tournament in Davos, Switzerland features some of the best teams in Europe, as well as a team representing Canada that is generally devoid of legitimate national team talent. The tournament normally has to battle for attention not only with the NHL, but also the World Junior Championship, with both tournaments starting on Boxing Day.

This time around, however, the Spengler Cup is well worth watching, with a bevy of locked out NHLers playing for almost every team in the tournament, including a stacked Team Canada. Add in the awkward scheduling of the World Junior Championship that has led to most Team Canada games being played in the middle of the night, and the Spengler Cup starts to look even more appealing.

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Photo via

For starters, I don’t think I recognize the difference between a stanchion and a seam.

The stanchion, from the best I remember, is the big, padded pole that Zdeno Chara guided Max Pacioretty’s head into last NHL season. The seams, the small pads that hold the panes of glass together, are entirely separate.

I’m not sure what the material is made out of, I just know they’re there because a few years ago there was an outbreak of injuries due to the seamless glass. I don’t exactly know the particulars because ergonomics isn’t my thing, but NHL arenas began to slowly implement solid slats that would keep the panes of glass together.

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Earlier last week, we Backhand Shelf regulars submitted our picks for Stanley Cup champ. Some people love to publish their predictions, but for me, it’s one of those necessary evils of being a hockey writer.

Prediction time is the equivalent of those dreaded annual reviews at my day job, except all the anxiety happens after the pick is published rather than before, as we wait for the results. We spend all season pouring our hearts and souls into writing factual, honest, well-thought-out pieces, and then prediction time comes along and it’s like, “Augh! Eff me. Just roll the dice. I dunno, man.”

So, this time, I rolled the dice on the New Jersey Devils to win the cup and Marty Brodeur to get the Conn Smythe (because goalies always get the credit for a win in my tendy-centric world).

I felt okay with my pick, and I wasn’t alone in thinking the Devils might take this thing (though certainly not in the majority either). But I’ll admit, I’m more of a Kings fan, so maybe there was a little part of me trying to reverse-jinx a win for the boys in black and sparkle.

But the quiet way the Devils got this far freaks me out a little. How can you bet against such a stealthy team? I couldn’t do it. Meanwhile, the Kings had Tic-Tacs in their pockets the whole way. You could kinda hear them advancing, but “Are they really that much better?” I asked myself. Just seemed jinxy that so many people were already planning the parade route through Los Angeles.

So, “Devils in 6,” I wrote, albeit reluctantly.

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Zdeno Chara, showing love to his lost friend.

Pavol Demitra was, for as long as I can remember, a mainstay on all Slovakian teams in international play. Slovakia isn’t exactly a hockey super-power, but when Canada was up against them, I always knew Demitra was one of their main threats and watched him closely.

This year Slovakia made a surprising run at the World Championships, claiming silver after falling to Russia in the finals.

Still, it was a big accomplishment for Slovakia, a major underdog when up against the likes of Canada, USA, Sweden, Finland, the Czechs and beyond.

The success was nice, but they greatly missed their dear teammate Demitra, who lost his life in the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl plane crash (along with many others) of September 2011.

Zdeno Chara wore his jersey when he went to accept a “Player of the Game” award at World’s, as pictured above. Slovak Tomas Kopecky wanted to honor his friend too – in a touching gesture, he took the silver medal to Demitra’s grave. Video below.

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Bottoms Up is a weekly feature on Backhand Shelf that admits that sometimes the underdog doesn’t win: sometimes they just lose and lose and lose some more. This week, two new teams joined the ranks of the underest of underdogs.

This week, two teams managed to escape the clutches of the cellar, if only temporarily. Both the New York Islanders and Anaheim Ducks have won 6 of their last 10 games and have managed to move into 13th in their respective conferences. In their place, we welcome the Tampa Bay Lightning and Edmonton Oilers to Bottoms Up.

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Drink whenever "Jarome" is mentioned by first name.

There will be a lot of media hype surrounding the results of this afternoon’s out-of-conference game in Boston, but there’s also a pretty significant historical event that could happen on national television tonight.

There hasn’t been a lot to cheer for in Calgary over the last few years. The team made the playoffs each of the first four post-lockout years, but they failed to advance past the first round in either. The last two years have them sitting in five points and three points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

They’re just one of those teams that are not pretty enough for the dance, and not quite ugly enough to make Daniel Wagner’s Bottoms-Up segment every week. This season, six points out at the halfway point, it looks unlikely that the Flames will make a post-season run, while not being bad enough to get good draft position for a potential game-changing player to be their next superstar.

That said, with a four-game homestand coming up on the schedule, starting tonight against the Minnesota Wild, Flames fans may be able to cheer for Jarome Iginla’s 500th goal.

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Marty Turco’s summer vacation must have been pretty disappointing and stressful. After a mediocre season in Chicago where he was replaced by rookie Corey Crawford as the starter, Turco was unable to find an NHL home in free agency. The uncertain future for himself and his family likely added some stress to the summer months, but he wasn’t willing to retire just yet.

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