Random thoughts on a random Friday in October…
• Chicago, Boston, Montreal, the Rangers, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have had their turns in recent years to the be the feel-good story among the NHL’s “Original 12”TM. This season, it’s up to St. Louis. Off to a 2-1-0 start, the Blues are young, talented, exciting and have sparked interest in the Gateway City.
Under the direction of John Davidson, the franchise has parlayed creative marketing and savvy personnel management into what looks to be a successful formula. The payoff: a surprise playoff berth last year and a spike in season ticket sales beyond 10,000. Heck, they may even top attendance figures from the Wayne Gretzky era.
Can the Blues continue their ascension? I like their chances because of the aforementioned youth, savvy veterans (including the rejuvenated Paul Kariya), solid goaltending, defense and excellent coaching. If this warm and fuzzy streak among the league’s senior teams is to continue beyond this season, the pressure will be on either Los Angeles or Toronto to get good, fast. It’s a tough call, but we’ll put our money on the Kings.
• It’s shaping up to be another strong year in the hockey book department. Among the subjects to watch for are Theo Fleury’s autobiography, a Jacques Plante expose, Peter Pocklington’s memoirs with a focus on why he’d trade Gretzky all over again, a Gretzky retrospective by Stephen Brunt, Bob McKenzie’s reflections on being a hockey dad, two (count ‘em, two) on why the Maple Leafs have been so stinky for so long, TSN’s 25th anniversary celebratory book and a new take on Rocket Richard.
Naturally, these all pale in comparison to The Hockey News’ Pursuit of Hockeyness: 99 things every hockey fan needs to do before they die; and Puck Funnies: Hockey humour, hilarity and hi-jinx, which, coincidentally, are available at bookstores everywhere.
• A rumor that won’t die: Tom Golisano wants out as Sabres owner because he doesn’t enjoy losing money.
• If the origin of “bag skate” is truly in reference to a part of the male anatomy, could we please delete it from the hockey lexicon? I’m no prude, but we’ve got to be able to come up with something more dignified.
• I’m still having a tough time adjusting to Saku Koivu in Ducks togs.
• If the NHL ends up owning the (upstart?) Coyotes, will Gary Bettman congratulate himself if they win the Cup?
• According to my in-depth research – 10 minutes of scanning rosters – the most tenured, active players who’ve only appeared in NHL games for one franchise are (with first full season in parentheses):
1. Mike Modano, Minnesota/Dallas (1989-90)
2. Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit (1991-92)
3. Martin Brodeur, New Jersey (1993-94)
4. Daniel Alfredsson, Ottawa (1995-96); Shane Doan, Winnipeg/Phoenix (1995-96)
Watch for Doan to be featured on the cover of an upcoming issue of The Hockey News.
Jason Kay is the editor in chief of The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Fridays.
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