Canadians Should Cheer For The LA Kings, and Who American and European Fans Should Pull For in the 2013 Stanley Cup Final Four.
With the elimination of the Vancouver Canucks, Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Montreal Canadiens from the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs — and every year Canadian city based NHL teams are either eliminated from the playoffs or do not qualify — there is a certain level of Canadian fan disengagement from the NHL as Canada’s best hopes of bringing the Stanley Cup back north are snuffed out. But with nationalistic pride in mind, there are still plenty of – predominantly, in fact – Canadian born players to cheer for on the remaining four American based teams. Here are the numbers to show you which teams are in fact the most Canadian, American, and European, and to whom your drifting allegiances would be best to land upon:
Canadians: Nathan Horton, Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, Gregory Campbell, Johnny Boychuk, Daniel Paille, Tyler Seguin, Shawn Thornton, Dougie Hamilton, Adam McQuaid, Wade Redden, Rich Peverley, Andrew Ference, Chris Kelly.
Americans: Matt Bartkowski.
Europeans: Dennis Seidenberg (Germany), Jaromir Jagr (Czech Republic), Zdeno Chara (Slovakia), David Krejci (Czech Republic), Kaspars Daugavins (Latvia), Tuukka Rask (Finland).
22 total active players
Canadians: Patrick Sharp, Duncan Keith, Bryan Bickell, Andrew Shaw, Jonathan Toews, Brent Seabrook, Dave Bolland, Daniel Carcillo, Corey Crawford.
Americans: Nick Leddy, Brandon Saad, Patrick Kane, Brandon Bollig.
Europeans: Michal Rozsival (Czech Republic), Marian Hossa (Slovakia), Michal Handzus (Slovakia), Michael Frolik (Czech Republic), Johnny Oduya (Sweden), Marcus Kruger (Sweden), Niklas Hjalmarsson (Sweden), Viktor Stalberg (Sweden).
21 total active players
Los Angeles Kings:
Canadians: Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Justin Williams, Drew Doughty, Tyler Toffoli, Dustin Penner, Dwight King, Jake Muzzin, Robyn Regehr, Jarret Stoll, Colin Fraser, Kyle Clifford, Brad Richardson, Keaton Ellerby, Jordan Nolan, Tanner Pearson, Jonathan Bernier.
Americans: Jonathan Quick, Dustin Brown, Trevor Lewis, Rob Scuderi, Matt Greene, Alec Martinez.
Europeans: Slava Voynov (Russia), Anze Kopitar (Slovenia).
25 total active players
Canadians: Kris Letang, Sidney Crosby, Jarome Iginla, Pascal Dupuis, James Neal, Chris Kunitz, Tyler Kennedy, Brenden Morrow, Matt Cooke, Tanner Glass, Craig Adams, Deryk Engelland, Simon Despres, Marc-Andre Fleury.
Americans: Joe Vitale, Brooks Orpik, Matt Niskanen, Beau Bennett, Brandon Sutter, Mark Eaton, Paul Martin.
Europeans: Evgeni Malkin (Russia), Tomas Vokoun (Czech Republic), Douglas Murray (Sweden), Jussi Jokinen (Finland).
25 active players
So, with all that being said, if your favorite/regional team has been eliminated, and you are in the market for a new team to temporarily align with and would prefer to cheer for a new team and/or players based on nationality, you now should have all the information necessary to appropriately select your new allegiance.
Hockey Talkie: Bobrovsky, Skinner, Worlds, Chi-Van for Winter Classic, Quiet Room Exploit, Coyotes, and Thornton in Flip Flops.
I love TSN analyst Jay Onrait’s comparisons of Sergei Bobrovsky’s pulls and starts to a cop being pulled off a case, surrendering his gun and badge/getting them back & being reinstated on the case. The frequency of his being “hired” and “fired” from the “force” is comparable to George Steinbrenner’s yo-yo’ing of Billy Martin. It’s a classic tale of guy who’s dug himself a hole with a shot at redemption; but instead of realizing that potential, blows it and finds further condemnation, constantly restarting the cycle. For all we know, he could be living out a real-life hockey player/fictional cop version of Groundhog Day; having to get it right to proceed in life. The vids will clutter the blog up, but below are some links if you ‘re totally lost on what I’m talking about:
Also, why do Philadelphia and Washington refuse to spend money on a dependable goaltender?
Some perspective food-for thought…. With 63 pts this season, Jeff Skinner entered himself into the all-time-leading-scorer-as –an-18-yr-old conversation. As remarkable as it was for him (while simultaneously nullifying the Taylor/Tyler debate), that total still put him behind Sidney Crosby’s mark as an 18 year old…trailing him by 39 points (102); and also behind Wayne Gretzky (110 in WHA, 137 in NHL). As good as Skinner’s numbers were, they’re barely halfway to the best ever.
BUT consider this too: Skinner and Ilya Kovalchuk both had 31 goals this year, and Skinner ended up with 3 more total points than Kovy. The fiscal difference between them? $97.3 million in salary. So there’s that side of the coin as well.
Now Skinner’s competing for Canada at the 2011 IIHF World Hockey Championships, and doing just fine for himself. I may have touched on this before, but this tournament just isn’t a fair portrayal of the world’s talent in the game; and I maintain that the Olympic tournament should be the measuring stick in world rankings. Currently, Canada is ranked #2 behind Russia. But why? Because Russia does better in tournaments where the world’s best talent is still competing for NHL teams? In a tournament where rosters are seemingly allowed to change as frequently as teams desire? Canada destroyed Russia in the Olympic tournament where the world’s best players were ALL playing for their respective country. A true world championship should be contested by the world’s best players; the IIHF Tournament does not offer this. Why do they refuse to hold the tournament at a time where all players are available? The potential for credibility is right there, but it seems more like pride that is holding the IIHF back from changing more than anything else. In the meantime, Canada will continue to send the best they have available at the time and on short notice to top up their roster as best they can.
And a little further on Worlds rosters…. Toronto Maple Leafs’ Dion Phaneuf, James Reimer, and Luke Schenn were all good to go for Canada at the Worlds, but Phil Kessel said he was too tired to play for the US. Feel free to insert your own American joke. On the one hand, I think Kessel deserves the lambaste for this, but on the other, I think it speaks at least a little to how unimportant some players view this tournament. Playing for your country is an absolute privilege; it’s too bad that the IIHF refuses to present a tournament that all players wouldn’t waste a second thought on whether they would join their country’s roster or not.
Can the NHL go ahead and book the Chicago Blackhawks/Vancouver Canucks for next year’s Winter Classic? Great rivalry that has developed there; would make an entertaining HBO 24/7 special too. They’d need to do it in Chi-town though, unless they’re prepared to deal with hockey’s first ever rain delay.
Glen Healy is approaching Pierre McGuire-level ridiculousness in some of his HNIC on-air commentary. Though I hate the Vancouver Canucks, and a high-percentage of their fans, I do at least respect the Green Men. Healy has, for whatever reason, decided to make it his mission to slag these guys at every on-air opportunity he gets. Truth is, as annoying as they are, the Greenies are just fans who have paid their ticket money, are excited about and supportive of their team, and aren’t hurting anyone around them. If Glen Healy has a problem with fans, he might want to remind himself of who paid him his 14 years worth of NHL salary.
I thought about this when Brent Seabrook got concussed by Raffi Torres in the first round….The NHL’s new “quiet room” rule (a player that receives a headshot has to sit in a quiet room for 15 minutes and be evaluated by a doctor, good idea) seems easy for a team to exploit to get an opposing team’s good player off the ice for 15 solid minutes. I don’t know that any player/team would stoop that low, but when you think about it, if you can get a dangerous scoring threat or an impossible to beat defenceman off the ice for nearly an entire period, that doesn’t hurt your chances of winning the game.
It’d be too bad if the Phoenix Coyotes ceased to exist; I do like their red and white howling coyote jerseys. It’d be a shame to have to ditch them. Also, how unfair was it to the Coyotes that the media decided to talk about their pending relocation the entire time they were in the playoffs? They never had a chance this year. Oh, Glendale’s going to bail them out again next season now? Wow, glad we had to go through that unnecessary hype and conversation a few weeks ago.
Everytime the San Jose Sharks lose a game in the playoffs, I’m pretty sure Joe Thornton thinks to himself about how much more comfortable his flip-flops and boardshorts are than his hockey equipment at that moment.
Ok, back to me
I’m not even an official Chicago Blackhawks fan, but I hate seeing what’s happened to them.
To see last year’s Stanley Cup champions reduced to backing into the 8th seed playoff spot via hopes of others’ misfortune, and now having their asses handed to them by their archrivals is really quite stark in contrast to the Hawks club that celebrated curbing the greatly publicized Chicago Cup drought not so long ago.
There are two things that strike me about the situation. One is that it really speaks to the team aspect – how many “cogs” working in harmony it takes to win a championship. When you think about the Chicago Blackhawks, the names that come to mind most often are probably Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Obviously they have other strong players, but those two are largely painted as the poster boys for that franchise; and rightfully so. When the team’s “gutting” unfolded last season, the optimistic ones surely felt that as long as those two were on the roster, they’d be ok. It’s right about now that the (at times) overshadowed, and perhaps underappreciated necessity of now delinquent Adam Burish, Ben Eager, John Madden, Kris Versteeg, Dustin Byfuglien, and Anti Niemi (the latter few got their share of attention, mind you) would be welcomed in their lineup. Even with guys like Hossa, Keith, Seabrook, heck even coach Joel Quenneville, they just can’t pull it back together to what it was.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying those dealt away are the secret to success, because with four of those players on teams not even in the playoffs this year, clearly that’s not the case. The point I want to make is to show another example of how a team will not necessarily survive on talent alone – look at Montreal again in these playoffs for example – and how necessary it is for the “stars to align” to bring that just-right mix of guys together who can truly function as a working unit and accomplish an ultimate goal. It’s a lot easier said than done; just ask Teemu Selanne and Paul Kariya about their conspiracy to both take less money to play together in Colorado to try and win a Cup in2003.
I really wanted good Canadian kid Jonathan Toews to come out on top, and prove everyone wrong by winning again. I sort of get the feeling Patrick Kane’s content with scoring the Cup winning goal last year (I would be too) and is more worried about looking cool while chewing on his mouthguard/negating it’s entire safety function in an era of hockey where the league is trying to reduce head injuries. Anyways, long point short, this year’s Blackhawks seem like a band that used to be really awesome, split up to do solo records, and never really recaptured the glory they once had; better together than apart. Unless there’s some miraculous 7-game comeback, we’re going to see a new Stanley Cup champion this year. I wonder if Dustin Byfuglien thinks now that taking less money to stay on a good team might have been a better idea now? They sure could use him in front of Luongo.
And since we’ve dipped into the head injury topic, my thoughts on Raffi Torres’ hit on Brent Seabrook are that the initial penalty called was correct – Seabrook did not have the puck. I wouldn’t have been surprised if there was a suspension, but I’m not upset there wasn’t. There were just so many intangibles to factor in to the result though; Seabrook has a concussion history (and it’s insane that he doesn’t wear a new-era memory foam concussion padded helmet), Torres has a suspension history, and the NHL gets eyeballed by the world every time a bodycheck is thrown. Torres is a role player that is, quite frankly, doing his job: blowing guys up with bodychecks and creating puck turnovers. The new NHL has been phasing out the fighter position for a while now, and the latest revelation seems to be the big-hitters are the next queued for extinction. You can see it right in Raffi’s facial expression to the referee after the call was made; while some would read it as a “I didn’t do anything ref!” look, I saw it as a guy who legitimately is unclear as to what he is and isn’t allowed to do anymore in terms of body checking anymore.
I really think that’s a huge notion to consider, especially in the playoffs. The quest for a championship requires such a level of focus and perfection that for a player to be second guessing his limitations on the ice will most certainly at some point be the difference of a player that would normally get hammered by Torres instead get around him, make him look ridiculous, and probably earn Raffi a spot on the pine, or worse, on the healthy scratch list next game.
It reminds me of one of my first games playing in France. Prior to playing there, I had largely defined my style of hockey as quite physical, because that’s what had brought me the most success at every other level. In fact, I had that style drilled into me since the age we were allowed to run into each other in minor hockey. We were playing a game on the road, and I went to finish my check on a guy into the boards who had just released the puck in enough of a time frame that I felt I was in the right to complete the hit, which I did; a pretty routine play back in North America. Whistles, a stoppage in play, and an escort to the penalty box later, I assumed I had done something wrong (though I couldn’t confirm it because everyone was talking in French). A teammate then joined me in the box. I asked him what was going on. He relayed to me that I had been assessed a 10-minute penalty for a “vicious” hit (I’ve hit guys a lot harder with worse results), and he was there to serve an extra two. When I finally got out of the box and back into the game, I played very tentative because I couldn’t understand what I was allowed to do (the language barrier didn’t help), and I was largely ineffective from there on in.
So that brings me to my next point – for the sake of the players, and everyone’s general understanding, the NHL needs to clearly define some rules. No more shades of grey; whatever the ruling is, just tell us and the players, so they can go about figuring out how to play correctly, and we can all stop squabbling about it. The North American style of hockey is largely physical, and that’s what we were all raised on. There’s already (nearly) non-contact hockey in Europe. That’s their style and that’s fine and dandy for them. Over here, players run into each other and get blown up (as well as scoring goals periodically). This monster that’s been created by the new rules is something the league needs to learn to manage better before the NHL decides to introduce touch-football rules. Whether the game is supposed to be full of clutching, grabbing, and fighting, or speed, finesse, and concussions, please someone just let us all know so we can keep up and eliminate all the second-guessing for the sake of the game we all love.
Everyone remember the Double Championship Challenge (DCC) that I hosted over the last hockey season? You know, the one to see which players would win both the Olympic Gold Medal and Stanley Cup in the same season? Well after many candidates and contest entrants were eliminated, when Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, and Brent Seabrook did exactly that, we had a winner. Congratulations to Rich Abney of Kelowna, the first ever SDC Blogs’ Quadrennial DCC Champion! Here’s your fifteen minutes of fame (or however long until the next post). Rich wins the t-shirt you see pictured, and 4 years of bragging rights! [Doubly interesting because Rich works with the runner up, Ryley Herzog, at the same store] Stay tuned for the blog’s next contest… you could be our next winner!
Without further adieu, enjoy Serenity Now… The SDC Blogs’ first video blog!
Well here it is folks, the last DCC update before we declare a champion. Many have fallen, and only few remain standing. Only one can stand alone and be declared as THE SMARTEST MAN ALIVE! Our remaining contestants are Rich Abney with the Blackhawks, and Ryley Herzog with the Flyers. Ryley was a late entry, actually only committing when the Flyers were down 3-0 in the Boston series, so interesting turn of events there. Interesting side bet by Adam Whitmore, who’s banking on Patrick Kane to come up short again, and walk away with 2 second place finishes this year. Rough round for my bro Rob Cunning — had bet on the Sharks, and is also a Habs fan — and we all know how both those series turned out.
I gotta go with Chicago myself here. The media’s trying to spin Philadelphia into a team with that actually isn’t a grossly exaggerated underdog, but, come on, they are just that. In all honesty, Byfuglien for Conn Smythe doesn’t sound that crazy. Lots of good candidates for that hardware though. That mural that an overzealous Chicago artist (that consequently sucks at drawing faces; apparently local Chi-Town artists didn’t ascend from the “Dark Days” along with the team) doesn’t seem so crazy painting a pig wearing a Blackhawks jersey Jonathan Toews with the Stanley Cup in the background now, does he? Or is it more due to having signed Marion Hossa, in which case Chi-Town is screwed and Hossa will never be seen again after this season?? Hawks in 5???
We’ll see what pans out — good luck to our finalists!
Alright, an update on the Double Championship Challenge:
With Pittsburgh’s shocking (?) elimination also sees the departure of contestants Grant McMillan and Adam Whitmore.
Bergeron and the Bruins are done, but no one put any stock in them. Mark Recchi’s easily the NHL’s best “Old-Guard” player left. Scored a lot of goals this year, and did well for himself. I hope he sticks around for a few seasons yet. That is, unless he can’t take a hint like Chris Chelios went he got sent down to the AHL and kept hanging around. I think Mark’s value will be decent for a few seasons yet.
And easily my favorite elimination, the Canucks exit sees Casey Fodor and Jeff Bourne bow out. (my favorite because I hate the Canucks, not because of who picked them). I’ll admit, I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for Luongo after the Gold Medal, but not soft enough to cheer for him while there’s a whale on his chest. I’ve never seen so many people want a captain stripped of his captaincy so badly; sad really. I’m sure he’s doing a better job in that role than he’s being given credit for. I know I hate on the Canucks and their fans a lot, but I will miss the way the inhabitants of GM Place sing the Canadian national anthem together. If there’s one thing they’re doing right, it’s that. Anytime the singer can stick the mic in the air mid-song and have the crowd take it from there, you know you’ve got a good audience. Oilers fans at Rexall do it well too.
So, with those developments, we’re down to 3 contestants and teams. Here’s what we have left:
Jonathan Toews, Brent Seabrook, and Duncan Keith – represented by Rich Abney.
Mike Richards and Chris Pronger – represented by Ryley Herzog.
Dany Heatley, Joe Thornton, Dan Boyle, and Patrick Marleau – represented by Rob Cunning.
Did that big duface Chris Pronger and the Flyers make themselves contenders after pulling off the greatest playoff upset in history (only 3 teams in history have ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to win the series; the Flyers were the only of those teams to comeback from a deficit in the last game to win as well), or did they just burn themselves out to get lit up by Montreal next round? In that same notion, are the Canadiens a legit Cup contender now, after knocking off arguably the 2 best teams in the playoffs? As long as Montreal doesn’t keep spoiling everyone’s fun, one of our contestants will be our champion in 2 rounds of play.
Also, I think I’m going to allow someone to select Corey Perry, who has a chance to win 2 championships for Canada in the same year; that is, if Canada’s B Team can go all the way at the World Championships. As I’ve said before, that World Championship title doesn’t seem to mean a whole lot when the best players in the world are not competing for it. It’s far from a Stanley Cup, but it’d still be pretty cool. Any takers????
Can Jonathan Toews change his last name’s spelling to Tayves already, or some other phonetic spelling that makes sense? There really wouldn’t be any worry about disgracing the family name I’d think, Johnny’s easily the top Toews around. Just a thought.
As all of Canada is aware (and most of the US is pretending not to know anything about it or what we’re talking about) CANADA WON THE OLYMPICS AND WE’RE THE BEST IN WORLD AT MORE STUFF THAN EVERYONE ELSE ESPECIALLY HOCKEY STILL.
With that in mind, I was thinking the other day, that there’s a handful of Canadian hockey players that played for Team Canada this past Olympics and won gold there, that have teams that qualified for the NHL playoffs, and have a shot at winning the Stanley Cup this year. So for the following list of players (and coaches), there’s a HUGE opportunity to pretty much have the awesomest year of hockey possible, if they were to win both championships in the same season:
Vancouver Canucks – Roberto Luongo
Pittsburgh Penguins – Sidney Crosby, Marc-André Fleury (does it count if you didn’t play any games?)
New Jersey Devils – Martin Brodeur, Jacques Lemaire
Chicago Blackhawks – Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Jonathan Toews
Nashville Predators – Shea Weber
Los Angeles Kings – Drew Doughty
Philadelphia Flyers – Chris Pronger, Michael Richards
San Jose Sharks – Dan Boyle, Patrick Marleau, Dany Heatley, Joe Thornton (does it count if you didn’t contribute?)
Boston Bruins – Patrice Bergeron
Detroit Red Wings – Mike Babcock
Buffalo Sabres – Lindy Ruff
Members of the Sharks and Blackhawks have the most personnel with the opportunity. But don’t count out Sid and Fleury’s Pens (mostly Sid’s), Brodeur’s been playing out of his mind for Jersey so far, Doughty may be a darkhorse, wily ol’ Mike Babcock and the Wings always have a chance. You can count out Luongo.
So, here’s what I am proposing. I will allow people to post their bets for Stanley Cup Champs/Olympic Gold aka “Double Hockey Awesomeness & Supremacy” (name subject to change), via the comment board. Once the last team is eliminated in the first round (to the nearest millisecond) I will tally the final ballots, and close the wagering. Until the cutoff time, feel free to change your votes, but be warned, I will only take your last choice at the elimination of the final first round team. The person(s) who correctly choose the correct players/team that win it all this year will receive….something, from me. I’m thinking an SDC Blogs t-shirt that says “I’M THE SMARTEST MAN/WOMAN ALIVE”, or something like that. I’ll let you know when I get it nailed down. Whatever, everyone likes t-shirts, right?
*** SDC TRIVIA: Who was/were the last player/players to win the Stanley Cup /Olympic Gold aka “Double Hockey Awesomeness & Supremacy” in the same season?***
(no prize awarded for this one)
So with that, happy betting! Enjoy the playoffs, and may the best/luckiest person win!
GO KINGS GO!