October 11, 2015 by
Tracing the growth of elite hockey players is more difficult in some ways than following their counterparts in football or basketball. Unlike the other two sports, hockey does not have a major college following in much of the United States, so it can be difficult to find the best up and coming players and track their development. In fact, the top NHL players come from many different places, not just elite hockey schools. Some play professionally overseas before joining the NHL, and others are recruited from semi-pro and varsity leagues.
However, those who prefer to follow players from college to the pros could do worse than the Canadian hockey school the Athol Murray College of Notre Dame. This boarding school for boys and girls provides general education, but also has a top-notch hockey program that lures players from all over the world. The college has produced countless professional players over the years, including some of the biggest names in the NHL. Read the rest of this entry →
October 05, 2015 by
At this point it’s going to be something that they’re doing for the first time in 12 years and a lot isn’t known about it. There are several details that have been brought out by the NHL and a lot of fan and player reaction. In this article we’ll cover what it means for the regular season, what’s known about it at the time of writing and whether or not anyone’s going to tune in.
So here’s the thing: fans simply love hockey. They love to watch it, support it, talk about it, buy up popular merchandise, and remember all the best times that have happened in the history of the game. That’s precisely why this whole affair is going to be a bit of a mixed bag for the fans of the game. Part of the reason that they may love it: it’s hockey. But seriously, it’s going to be a whole bunch of the best players in the world competing at an extremely high level for country and for respect.
Here’s the problem though, the timing will cause it to coincide with pre-season. Although that doesn’t necessarily sound like a bad thing to the casual fan, as most people who follow the game know, there’s a huge amount of subtle teamwork that makes or breaks a season. Without the level of teamwork and cooperation that is engendered by gelling together during the pre-season (at the very least) players are going to be missing cues and making mistakes.
I mean just take a look at the Russian International team from the ‘70s and ‘80s, it was all the same guys. They were inarguably great players but they were made significantly better because they knew each other. They were able to read each other’s intentions and movements in ways that their opposition couldn’t. This allowed them to run circles around teams of talented people who didn’t know each other. Read the rest of this entry →
February 15, 2015 by
If the NHL Playoffs began today, the defending champion Los Angeles Kings would have no chance of repeating.
If the NHL season ended today, the defending Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings would be left on the outside looking in at the 2015 playoffs. However, a recent hot streak has the champs back within striking distance and they still have a chance to make the playoffs.
Beyond the Kings, the race to the Stanley Cup seems wide open with many teams capable of hoisting the Cup. The top sportsbooks at SportsbookNavigator.com rate several teams as good bets to claim the title.
Of all the major sports, regular season success historically has been the least important to the eventual champion in the NHL.
You need look no further than last season when the Kings were sixth in their conference and their finals opponents the New York Rangers fifth in theirs during the regular season only to pull out big wins at the right time during the playoffs.
So far this season, the Nashville Predators have the best record in the league at 38-12-6. Quite a turnaround for a squad that won 38 games all of last season while missing the playoffs for the second straight season. New coach Peter Laviolette and 20-year-old star Filip Forsberg (with a team best 50 points) have the Predators on track to finish first in the conference for the first time in team history. Read the rest of this entry →
February 14, 2014 by
Czechoslovakia was a hockey power during the 1940s and 1950s, winning gold medals in the World Championships in 1947 and 1949. The country’s national teams also won a silver medal in the 1948 Olympics, losing to Team Canada on goal differential. Unfortunately, two tragic events ended the careers of most of the players responsible for this success, launching Czechoslovakian hockey into a dark period where they did not win a major tournament for over 20 years.
The Plane Crash
In 1948, the Czechoslovakian team was on top of the world, having taken over as perhaps the most dominant hockey nation in the world. In preparation for the upcoming 1949 World Hockey Championships, the team scheduled a couple of exhibition games against Great Britain. The team would fly from Paris, where they had been staying, to London for these games.
Eight of the players flew out the day before the game and spent the night in a hotel. These players arrived without incident and made their way to Wembley Stadium the next day for the game. The remaining six players stayed in Paris for an extra night and left the morning of the game. These players, Miroslav Pokorny, Zdenek Svarc, Zdenek Jarkovsky, Karel Stibor, Vilibard Stovik and Ladislav Trojak, were never heard from again, as their plane vanished over the English Channel.
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December 31, 2013 by
Hockey is a game of “What Ifs.” What if Ken Dryden had a longer career? What If Brett Hull’s crease violation was called? What If Mario Lemieux didn’t get cancer? So many records and games could be changed by just the slightest details, and we often mull over them and ponder an alternate universe where Kerry Fraser doesn’t blow a call or Tim Thomas doesn’t go hide in a bunker. One of the biggest “What Ifs” involves the Pittsburgh Penguins and their constant injury issues. “What If the Penguins stars never got injured?” Ever since Crosby’s concussion in the Winter Classic, the Penguins have been setting records for man-games lost to injury. This season they’ve already racked up over 210 man-games lost, which is staggering not only in the amount, but the fact that it isn’t just 3rd and 4th liners, but some of their top stars like Malkin, Dupuis, Orpik and Letang. Fortunately, Pittsburgh is lucky enough to have one of the best farm systems in the NHL, and can pull from Wilkes-Barre Scranton and receive NHL-ready players while their starters watch the game from their physical therapy pools. Let’s take a look at a few of the call ups who have been outstanding in their time with the big club.
First, we’ll start with Robert Bortuzzo, who isn’t exactly a call-up, as he started the season with the Penguins, but injuries to regular starters required him to be moved up on a more permanent basis. Bortuzzo is like Brooks Orpik, only bigger and younger. He has the ability to deliver bone crushing checks, yet still has the heads-up awareness to move the puck well. This season has been his first real shot at staying on the roster, and he’s made a good case for an extension.
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December 09, 2013 by
The sport of Hockey has its roots on the frozen ponds and lakes of North America, and many of today’s top players grew up learning the sport on local canals and other outdoor rinks. Invented by Canadians in the late 1700’s, and first referenced in print in 1799, the game had always been an outdoor sport. It wasn’t for almost another hundred years that Ice Hockey would first move inside, where it has largely remained ever since.
The first indoor game was held on March 3rd, 1875 in Montreal, Quebec at Victoria Skating Center, and was viewed as a novelty event. However, the indoor version of the game took off, and by 1920, Olympic Hockey was inside, although the 1924 Games were once again outdoors. International Championships would range between indoor and outdoor until the mid 1950’s, including an outdoor Gold Medal game in 1957 between Sweden and the Soviet Union, which boasted 55,000 people in attendance, a record that stood for 40 years.
The NHL has always been a strictly indoor league, but there have been a few notable exceptions. The first such game is probably the most curious, as the 1954 Detroit Red Wings accepted an invitation to play the inmates of the Marquette State Prison in a friendly scrimmage on a rink built by Warden’s mate Oakie Brumm. The Wings defeated the Marquette Prison Pirates soundly. So soundly no one remembers the final score, although it was 18-0 after the 1st period. The Wings even swapped a few players with the inmates to even it up a bit.
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