In the Sept. 30, Season Opener issue of The Hockey News, readers will find THN’s annual predictions section. We polled all 30 of our NHL correspondents, five Globe and Mail writers and five THN staffers, asking them for their predictions on a number of season-related issues, ranging from who will win the Stanley Cup to which coach will be fired first.
We also asked everyone for a wacky prediction; anything to do with the NHL. Here are their responses. Enjoy.
ANAHEIM – Dan Wood
Mats Sundin will decide just before the trade deadline to resume his career, joining a Toronto Maple Leafs team already mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.
ATLANTA – Mike Knobler
An NHL player will disappear mid-season and be discovered a week later playing in the Kontinental League.
BOSTON – Mike Loftus
The NHL’s “Is This The Year?” ad campaign will be discontinued due to the “jinx” factor: Too many participants (Gretzky, Lecavalier, Staal, Miller) missed the ’07-08 playoffs.
BUFFALO – John Vogl
Gary Bettman and Alexander Medvedev settle things with a donnybrook in Jaromir Jagr’s rec room.
CALGARY – Randy Sportak
With Steve Ott and Sean Avery leading the charge, the Dallas Stars become the most hated team in hockey, to the point it takes a police escort to get them out of some cities.
CAROLINA – Luke DeCock
Jaromir Jagr will negotiate a release from his Russian contract and re-sign with the Rangers before opening night.
CHICAGO – Tim Sassone
Dallas Stars co-GM Brett Hull will pass on a chance to trade for Jeremy Roenick saying Roenick talks too much.
COLORADO – Adrian Dater
Scotty Bowman will coach the Blackhawks by the end of the year.
COLUMBUS – Aaron Portzline
KHL czar Alexander Medvedev gets fed up and decides to buy the NHL for $2 trillion. No more quibbling over players. No more dealing with the IIHF. Say hello to the Kolomna Blue Jackets!
DALLAS – Mike Heika
As a tribute to the NHL and the outdoor game, Chicago coach Denis Savard asks the recently hired senior advisor of hockey operations, Scotty Bowman, to coach the Blackhawks in their Jan. 1 game against the Red Wings at Wrigley Field. Bowman wins it for career victory 1,249.
DETROIT – Ansar Khan
Mats Sundin signs with the Red Wings for $500,000 and becomes a fourth-line center in an incredibly stacked lineup.
EDMONTON – Rob Tychkowski
Leafs win the Stanley Cup. Hey, that’s about as wacky as predictions get.
FLORIDA – Brian Biggane
In a particularly intense late-season game between Dallas and San Jose, Sean Avery climbs into the stands at the Shark Tank, grabs the purse of a woman heckler and hits her over the head with it.
LOS ANGELES – Rich Hammond
The Kings, who used seven goalies last season, will run out of options and consider asking Rogie Vachon to get his leather pads out of the attic.
MINNESOTA – Michael Russo
The Florida Panthers will make the playoffs in 2008-09 for the first time since 2000.
MONTREAL – Herb Zurkowsky
With the Lightning floundering, Len Barrie will come out of retirement, providing Oren Koules with the impetus for his next movie.
NASHVILLE – John Glennon
Minnesota’s Jacques Lemaire is fired after a slow start, but soon answers another call of the wild and predictably becomes…a trapper.
NEW JERSEY – Rich Chere
Already in the organization, Scotty Bowman takes over the coaching duties for the Chicago Blackhawks.
NY ISLANDERS – THN Staff
Ducks fire Brian Burke for mishandling salary cap and Maple Leafs decide they have better “free agents” to choose from for GM.
NY RANGERS – Larry Brooks
Sean Avery wears lipstick on return to MSG to face the Rangers; newly acquired Blueshirt Aaron Voros says Avery is still a pig.
OTTAWA – Bruce Garrioch
The date Mats Sundin makes his decision to play; June 1, 2009 he’ll join one of the teams headed to the Stanley Cup final and win his first title.
PHILADELPHIA – Wayne Fish
Seconds after the Spectrum’s demolition, an urn is filled with the ashes and spread from a helicopter over the Wachovia Center, ensuring better luck in the years ahead.
PHOENIX – Jim Gintonio
Winter Classic at Wrigley Field. Marian Hossa shot flying toward unattended Blackhawks net. Out of nowhere, skating wildly, wearing baseball glove, Steve Bartman to the rescue.
PITTSBURGH – Joe Starkey
Jaromir Jagr returns from exile to join the Tampa Bay Lightning for the playoffs; he and Barry Melrose grow matching mullets for old-time’s sake.
ST. LOUIS – Jeremy Rutherford
The ageless wonder, Chris Chelios, gets beaten like a pylon in the first half of the season and joins Mike Babcock’s coaching staff in Detroit.
SAN JOSE – David Pollak
A debate between Dallas’s Sean Avery and Steve Ott over who is more annoying ends with both simultaneously throwing punches and turtling.
TAMPA BAY – Damian Cristodero
To celebrate the Lightning’s Southeast Division championship, owner Oren Koules gives leading scorer Vinny Lecavalier a prominent role in his next Saw movie.
TORONTO – Mike Zeisberger
Movie producer Oren Koules completes his makeover of the Lightning by signing actor Tim Robbins of Bull Durham fame (Newk Lalouche) to attract publicity and to be the mucker on a line with Vinny Lecavalier and Martin St-Louis.
VANCOUVER – Elliott Pap
After two years of making me look idiotic for picking them, the Sharks are going to emerge from the tank and sink their teeth into Lord Stanley’s chalice.
WASHINGTON – Peter Kerzel
Chris Simon retires, joins WWE. Despite foreign object proficiency, chair shot to head causes ironic career-ending concussion.
Globe and Mail – Eric Duhatschek
Oren Koules, NHL executive of the year
Globe and Mail – Matthew Sekeres
A Sunbelt franchise will go bankrupt.
Globe and Mail – Tim Wharnsby
The Florida Panthers will need a victory on the final day of the regular season against the Washington Capitals, only to watch their post-season hopes go down the drain when Bryan McCabe scores the winner into his own net.
Globe and Mail – David Shoalts
Canucks GM Mike Gillis fires coach Alain Vigneault and hires John Tortorella. But the fiery coach angers management in record time and is fired and replaced by old Canuck Gino Odjick.
Globe and Mail – Sean Gordon
Barry Melrose’s coaching return touches off mullet-mania in south Florida.
THN – Sam McCaig
Former senior writer Mike Brophy says “booby” on national TV; returns to THN.
THN – Mike Brophy
Vancouver GM Mike Gillis trades the Sedin twins for the Olsen twins. The Canucks lose much-needed scoring, but attendance at their games goes through the roof.
THN – Jason Kay
The Panthers continue their relentless pursuit of all defensemen whose last names start with ‘B’, acquiring Blake, Bieksa, Beauchemin and Brewer to complement Bouwmeester, Ballard and Boynton.
THN – Brian Costello
Led by the best offense in the league, a young defense and exceptional goaltending from Mike Smith and Olaf Kolzig, the Tampa Bay Lightning surge from 30th overall to a Southeast Division title and third place in the Eastern Conference.
THN – Adam Proteau
Sean Avery demands a trade to Nashville so he can date Miley Cyrus, then rescinds it after realizing she lives in L.A.
And the winner is? The Tampa Bay Lightning.
Yes, seven of the 40 people polled answered with some sort of Lightning reference. Really not overly surprising considering the amount of news the organization has made in recent months.
Others to garner a lot of attention: Avery, the KHL, Sundin and Bowman.
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