NHL Heading Back to Europe

As announced by the NHL, the league is heading back to Europe. As part of the 2017 SAP NHL Global Series, the league will host two regular season games in Stockholm, Sweden next season. The Colorado Avalanche and Ottawa Senators will take the trip across the pond and face off against each other twice on Swedish soil.

With so many Swedish players making their way over to the NHL in recent years, this seems like the perfect idea to grow the game and thank the country producing so much promising talent. Unlike in past seasons, the games will take place during the regular season, not preseason. This will be a testament to the players and league considering the travel and changes to hockey operations that will be involved.

This isn’t the first time the league has traveled to other countries and continents to play games. In 2011 the NHL played games in Germany, Finland, and Sweden. By playing NHL games overseas, the league is able to reach loyal fans that live too far to see a game in person as well as gain some new fans in the process.

Along with the benefit for international fans, the trip has proven to be positive for the teams. With teams like the Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks participating in the events in past years, they have gone on to have impressive seasons after starting in another country. Traveling to another country brings a team together. In the beginning of a season when there are new faces in a locker room, bonding and chemistry to vital to a teams success. Being away from home and in a country that isn’t yours and may not speak your language forces a team to rely and count on each other. I believe this is why so many teams were successful following their trips.

With the Avalanche falling out of the elite standings and down to the bottom of the leader-board, this trip and experience is just what they need. A time to regroup, reassess, and bond as a team in order to garner some success in the 2017-18 season. It will be interesting of course to see how the two teams cope with the games being during the regular season and not the pre-season. Hopefully it won’t fatigue them too much.

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Playoff Bound

In what has already proven to be an interesting season, we are getting closer and closer to the start of the playoffs. Just weeks away from the regular season ending, we are seeing more and more teams by the day securing their spot in the race to win the ultimate trophy, the Stanley Cup.

With the past few days, four elite teams have punched their tickets and started their preparations for the grueling four round playoffs. Not surprisingly, the Chicago Blackhawks, Washington Capitals, and Pittsburgh Penguins are of the teams that have a guaranteed spot. The surprising addition to the list is the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Since hiring John Tortorella as head coach, the Blue Jackets have completely turned their team and structure around. Being somewhat of a forgotten team in past season, the Jackets have climbed their way from the bottom of the leader board to clinching a playoff spot in the most competitive division in the NHL, the Metropolitan.

In general, this NHL season has seen a shift in team standings. Once revered as one of the best and most consistent team in the league, the Detroit Red Wings find themselves in a very unfamiliar position, out of the playoffs and at the bottom of the conference, only above the New Jersey Devils. With a coaching change and a 25 consecutive playoff appearance run flushed down the toilet, the team are in desperate need for a change next year.

Although they hadn’t had an almost mythical playoff run like the Red Wings, the Colorado Avalanche were shaping up to be a good team these past years. With good, young talent coming through the ranks, they were destined for greatness. But unfortunately this greatness never came, at least not yet. With so much young talent, it is easy for a team to lose their way, especially after different coaches coming and going. Hopefully next season will prove to be more positive after they bring new talent to the team. Standing at the last position in the league with only 43, god knows they need some help.

Of course it is fun to see the best teams in league compete against eachother for the cup, but when it is the same teams year after year, it tends to become a bit mundane. Even if its just one or two teams that are added into the mix, it brings a new sense of excitement. The unknown becomes a factor, will the team succeed or be swallowed up by the big dogs in the first round? The Stanley Cup playoffs don’t really need any more excitement and hype than it already has, but the new questions are fun to think about.

The Race for Art Ross

In what has already been a season of milestones and exciting times, the final weeks of the 2016-17 NHL season are blowing the other storylines from earlier on out of the water. Among the highly competitive and close playoff race, one of the most heated and exciting races thus far has to be the race for the scoring title, the Art Ross and Rocket Richard titles.

With three player’s names consistently in the mix for the highly difficult title, the race gets tighter and tighter by the game. Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby, and Brad Marchand are all vying for another trophy to add to their impressive resumes.

It seems like day by day fans are getting more and more app updates about who is leading, one day its Marchand, one day its McDavid and the next Crosby is recording a hattrick to put his name back in the mix.

With three, even four elite players competing for the title, it shows just how talented and competitive the NHL rosters are this season. From Crosby who has dominated the league for more than a decade, to Marchand who has been an elite player but not THE player up until this season, to McDavid who is in his sophomore season following a devastating shoulder injury, this season has definitely not disappointed in the aspect of talent.

US Women’s Team Boycotts Championships

In a world and country that is questioning why we need feminism, the United States Women’s Hockey team is showing the naysayers the exact reasons. Although women in the US do have the right to vote, we are not treated as equals. In the aspect of pay wages and respect no one sees this more than female athletes. We have already seen the women’s national soccer team speak out about the fact that they make far less than the men’s team, but now the women’s hockey team is getting involved.

In a sport that already doesn’t have the greatest following, women’s hockey is miles behind the men in viewership, respect, and of course wages. The national team isn’t just speaking out about the mistreatment by the United States Hockey Association, they are taking a very bold stand. The brave ladies are sticking up for themselves and their sport by boycotting the upcoming World Championships, which just so happen to be taking place on American soil.What kind of message does the host nation not participating send the rest of the world? That the women are done with being pushed around, they deserve to be treated better and they will be treated as equal.

Yes, the men’s league is more popular by a landslide, but the women’s league is up and coming and growing by the season. Not to mention, the Women’s Hockey games in the Olympics bring in very high ratings as compared to the men, especially when it revolves around the intense rivalry between the US and Canada.

What i admire most about these women is that they are standing by each other, the system as a whole is fighting together until they get what they want. These women are fighting for a livable pay wage when they are training and playing in games for their country, when they aren’t able to work outside of the team because of the demanding schedule.They are fighting for funding for the women’s hockey and developmental system in order to stay an elite team for years to come. The men are not only paid millions of dollars to play for the NHL, and are given money for playing in the Olympics and championships, but there is millions of dollars put into their developmental program.

Women deserve respect in the hockey and sports worlds. Within our country, the hockey and soccer teams are as good as their male counterparts, if not better Why is it right that they aren’t rewarded for representing their country well and to the best of their abilities when the men are. Hopefully this brave team of women will change how the world looks and treats women athletes.

Pavel Datsyuk Recieves Game Misconduct

In his most recent game in the KHL, former Detroit Red Wing and current SKA Saint Petersburg player Pavel Datsyuk was handed a game misconduct penalty following a big open ice hit on a HC Dynamo Moscow player. In the NHL the “Magic Man” was most known for his stick handling abilities and goal scoring techniques, he was never known for his physical play. The news of the hit and the penalty caused a bit of shock to hear that it was the typical strictly skilled player.

The high hit resulted in Datsyuk receiving nearly 25 penalty minuets in total, and caused quite the skirmish and tension between the two teams. Seems like Datsyuk is changing up his game in his first year away from the NHL and in the KHL. Time will tell if he does keep the intensity and grittiness in his style of play or the hit was a one time thing. One thing for sure is it good to see the Magic Man back in the headlines, even under these circumstances.

Injury Bug

After a nice Spring Break, I am back to blogging about the sport I love. Although I have not made an announcement or included it in my blogs up until this point, I don’t think it is any secret that my loyalty and heart lay with the Pittsburgh Penguins. In making this confession, I feel my readers will have a better understanding of my thought process as well as the posts I have made and the ones I will make in the future, including this one.

The time of the season has come where the Penguins have been hit with the injury bug, hard. In the past few weeks it has seemed that my NHL app has been breaking the news of another Penguin injury non stop. The latest blow being that Carl Hagelin will be out of action for at least four weeks following a lower body injury.

With the likes of Kris Letang, Hagelin, Patric Hornqvist Olli Maatta, Trevor Daley, Matt Cullen and Bryan Rust, all being sidelined with their own injuries, this seems to be the worst time of the season for this many players to be out.

Although the healthy players have found their ways to win in recent games, who knows how long that can last. All the players listed are key players who eat up significant playing times. With other players having to step up in their absence, more players may be joining them on the IR.

With it being so close to playoffs, teams don’t release the official injury report as a tactic to protect their players when they return to the lineup. But until their return fans are stuck waiting and wondering when their favorite players will make their comeback.

All I can really say on the matter is someone in Pittsburgh needs to go to the rink and bubble wrap Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Matt Murray before its too late.

 

Top Trades from the Trade Deadline

Every year the trade deadline becomes somewhat of a spectacle in the NHL world. With the fate of players hanging in the balance, the headlines write themselves. Although this year didn’t bring as many “Blockbuster” trades as seen in previous years, big name players were moved around before the 3 p.m deadline. What makes this year stand out from the rest is the incentives behind the trades. With the league expanding to Las Vegas next season, Vegas has to get their players from the other 30 teams in the league. For current teams the thought of losing a player for nothing in return didn’t seem like the best option.

Jordie Benn

Jordie Benn felt the issue of the expansion draft first hand. Benn has spent his entire career up until this point with the Dallas Stars, a team that also has Jordie’s little brother Jamie on the roster. With all of his connections and the time he spent in the city, it came as a bit of a shock that Jordie Benn was dealt to the Montreal Canadiens. When asked about the trade, head coach Lindy Ruff reiterated that although they respect Jordie as a player, it is a business. With the expansion draft looming the team felt that the only option was to deal Benn away and get something in return. Although the Benn brothers have now been seperated, Jordie Benn is starting a new chapter in his career, one that involved his being Jordie Benn, not just Jamie’s brother.

Kevin Shattenkirk

The biggest trade of this season goes to Kevin Shattenkirk. The solid blue-liner was dealt to Stanley Cup hopeful the Washington Capitals. This is a huge trade in the sense that Washington just added another puzzle piece to their nearly complete puzzle. For years the Caps have been considered one of the best teams in hockey as well as real cup contenders, riding on the back of future hall of famer Alex Ovechkin. But even with all the praise and expectation that has fallen on the team, they have always come up short. Shattenkirk can prove to be the difference. It is no secret that the Caps have incredible depth when it comes to offence, but defending hasn’t been one of the things that they are known for. Having talent and consistency in all aspects could bring them closer and closer to the cup.

Jarome Iginla

I’ll admit Iginla isn’t what he used to be. He has gotten older, his name isn’t in many of the headlines anymore. But this season he is back in the headlines with the continuation of his Stanley Cup tour. In recent years it has seemed that Iggy is going wherever he believes the cup will go. This tour has brought him to Boston, Pittsburgh, Colorado, and now on the latest stop Los Angeles. The news of Iggy heading out west didn’t come as much of a shock, but LA is an interesting choice for the veteran. With the recent signing of goalie Ben Bishop, LA are transitioning themselves to a playoff hopeful to a cup contender. Hopefully for Iginla’s sake all the new parts fit into the system, because i’m not sure about how many more seasons or teams he can make it to.