Archive for the ‘Good Point’ Category

Toronto: Hockey Town (?)

Neither of these teams will exist in a couple of months. Also, that’s Wojtek Wolski for Brampton. Retro!

We know the line of argument. Toronto, according to Torontonians, is the capital of the hockey world. However, Toronto, according to non-Torontonians, is the capital of Leafs town — in the heart of Loser Region — and if it disappeared off the map tomorrow nobody would be sad. Sound extreme? Sure, a little, but this is muted in comparison to some of the opinions I’ve received from friends who are Alberta or BC natives.

The non-hockey town line of thought is pretty defensible actually. Ever been to a non-Leafs game in Toronto? Crickets. You could fire off a cannon in most rinks under those circumstances and not even worry about killing someone. And now, with another Greater Toronto Area OHL team relocating, it looks as though the Toronto as hockey capital argument has been dealt a crippling blow.
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According to the IIHF’s world rankings page, there are 47 countries that play men’s hockey and 36 that play women’s hockey. Obviously the sport is played in plenty of other places without national programs, but those are the official numbers according to the world’s governing body and I’ll be damned if they aren’t given their due.

The pipelines of said countries are not created equal. Hockey Canada is a much more well put together and financially stable machine than Mongolian Ice Hockey Federation (a real thing) and as such the talent development is hardly comparable. An interesting twist in hockey is that anyone who becomes a citizen of a country that has lived their for two years can play for their national team. Are you an exceptionally talented beer league player of Greek heritage? Perhaps you’ve always wanted to live in Athens. Their team, 44th in the world, could use you! Just get your citizenship and an apartment.

It’s very simple, very effective but at what point does this stop being a legitimate rule and start being a workaround for countries?
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In a few days, the latest class of NHL Hall of Fame inductees will take their place in the Great Hall at the corner of Yonge and Front St. in Toronto. Pavel Bure, Adam Oates, Joe Sakic and Mats Sundin all deserve to take their place amongst legends after careers that spanned at least two decades apiece while amassing many accolades along the way.

The 1990s were a golden time for prolific talents. Many stars from the decade prior were still running out their string in impressive fashion while a new wave took the game over — imprinting a legacy and serving as a catalyst for the infinite number of changes we’ve had in the game since. Yet, for an era in perpetual flux, one player, in my mind at least, simultaneously imprinted his mark as the most feared player of the era and the most dismaying cautionary tale and I firmly believe he deserves a place in that Hall sooner rather than later.

For his dominance and the excitement it brought, Eric Lindros should be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
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The NHL needs its LeBron James

Let’s pretend there’s no lockout for a moment. The NHL, at its peak, has a massive identity crisis on its hands. I know we traditionally include it as one of “the big four” when looking at professional leagues — NFL, MLB, NBA being the others — but if we’re to do an honest appraisal of where it sits, perhaps “the big three and their semi-relevant friend” is more accurate.

It’s unfortunate. We know what a quality product the NHL is; any given night affords you the opportunity to have your mind blown by a thoroughly entertaining game. At some point though, the focus of the league has to be how to get additional interest in the daily goings on. The product is there, but the marketing plan is not. While it’s obviously a problem that cannot be solved overnight, there are cues to be taken from other leagues and applied to the game of hockey so this sport can be grown to its appropriate size in North America.

Step one won’t be easy, but it will be necessary. The NHL needs its LeBron James.
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The NHL off-season is nice for hockey players for all of about two or three weeks. After that it’s time to get back in the gym, which means rebuilding a lot of muscle you once had and managed to lose over the course of the season.

Some guys seek out a little help from trainers, whether that be for motivation or advice, and Gary Roberts has become synonymous with off-season training. Pretty much every player he’s worked with over the past few years has returned to the League in the best shape of their lives.

Roberts was able to be successful and intimidating late into his career because of his strict workout regimen, and it didn’t go unnoticed.

I came across this old picture of him today on TSN’s Facebook page.

Good point, FSN. Very good point. The crazy eyes are a nice touch.