In the Ask Adam mailbag system, the process is represented by two separate, yet equally important groups: the readers, who ask questions, and the writer, who answers them. These are their stories:
Adam, this year I have noticed the “Face Off” banner on both sides of the ice on NHL rinks. What is the purpose of this banner?
John Leach, Little Egg Harbor, N.J.
The banner’s purpose is to market the NHL’s message – in this case, to signify the start of another season. The league will do something similar when the post-season rolls around and etch a slogan like “Stanley Cup Playoffs” into the ice, or during the now-annual Winter Classic showcase.
Adam, I understand you can’t give credit for every player who scores in a shootout. If the goalie gets credit for the win included in his stats, why doesn’t the player scoring the winning goal in the shootout get credit for the goal included in his stats? It only seems fair. Thanks.
Mark A. Gallic, Johnstown, Pa.
At the heart of this issue is the often-touchy debate over the shootout itself. There are still many people in the NHL – players, coaches, GMs, media and fans – who see the concept as a less-than acceptable way to end games; to them, the idea of giving players an added statistical bonus as you suggest would only add insult to their injured sense of hockey rights and hockey wrongs.
Adam, what are the odds of Craig Anderson or Robert Esche cracking the U.S. Olympic team lineup? Why weren’t they invited to orientation? I know the Kontinental League isn’t as good as the NHL, but it seems like Esche should get extra consideration after his 2006 Olympic performance.
Geoff Collins, St. Charles, Ill.
Team USA GM Brian Burke would be certifiable if Anderson’s Hart/Vezina-worthy performance so far this year didn’t make him a candidate for a spot on the roster.
However, you hit on the main reason why Esche likely won’t be on the team – he’s been playing against inferior opponents for the past three years. Past performance is nice, but I’m sure you know as well as I do that pro sports are all about “what have you done for me lately?”
Hi Adam, I realize this may sound dated, but I just watched Like Mike with my family. I couldn’t help but notice all of the NBA players in it. I felt this helped the NBA’s image, and may even encourage those kids to be NBA fans.
Why doesn’t the NHL do something like this? Tag up with a hockey movie and insert some of their stars. It would be great publicity for the league. What do you think?
Joshua Lockhart, Sask.
The NBA is, without a doubt, one of the sports that understands the benefit of crossover marketing (pun intended – at least to those who understand hoops lingo).
The NHL has actually come a fair ways in terms of product placement on the silver screen; think of Mystery, Alaska, The Love Guru (but don’t pay to rent it), and Breakfast With Scott.
But honestly, would you really want a typical NHL star – say, Joe Sakic, for instance, or one of the Sedin twins – to attempt to emote on cue with an expensive camera capturing the results on celluloid?
The result would make Michael Jordan’s acting chops look like Sir John Gielgud’s in comparison.
Adam, I will admit I am a Leafs fan and my question is about the direction of Brian Burke’s rebuild.
With the Phil Kessel trade the Leafs have essentially moved back towards building through free agency with the loss of two first and two second round picks; is there any reason to believe this is anything but Burke building a one-shot team for a run at the Stanley Cup, say, next year (like the ’94 Rangers)?
It just doesn’t seem like he’s building for the future. Cheers, and keep it up.
Nicholas Blackaby, Perth, Western Australia
I’m not prepared to crap all over Burke just yet. And I completely understand his frustration with some media members who have taken his carefully-considered statements about making the playoffs – all he’s said is he expects the Maple Leafs to contend for a playoff spot – and extrapolated from them some notion of the Leafs as surefire Cup contenders in the next couple years.
He can’t say it for public consumption, but Burke and his staff are very aware of how much work lies ahead in their rebuild of the franchise. Yes, the Kessel trade helps them now, yet he also can help them for the next decade or so. Still, the biggest factor for the Leafs’ success is the player development process that’s always been back-burnered by previous Toronto GMs.
Burke has bulked up the Leafs’ scouting contingent and surrounded himself with solid hockey minds such as assistant GM Dave Nonis and vice president of hockey operations Dave Poulin. The decisions they make as a management team will have almost as much influence on Toronto’s future success as anyone on the NHL roster right now.
I do think Burke’s notion that the Toronto market wouldn’t accept a full-on, “cruddy-for-two-or-three-years-in-order-to-get-high-draft-picks program” is flawed. Long-suffering Torontonians would’ve been fine with stinking it up another year or two if it meant drafting a franchise player-level talent such as Taylor Hall.
But so long as Burke takes a holistic approach to solidifying the franchise, there’s still reason for Leafs fans to have optimism.