Chicago Blackhawks – Close Predators out as stars deliver final blow


Chicago, IL – Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville always says “no one loves winning more than I do”, but I’m not so sure that the entire team is not comprised of individuals that share this same sentiment. Last night the Blackhawks had a second chance at putting away their competition and they did not miss the opportunity.

The “core” of this team stepped up as we have all seen them do in the past and maybe that is what separates this team from others and makes them special. It doesn’t matter if it’s Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Brent Seabrook, Nik Hjalmarsson or Patrick Sharp they all share a unique quality in that when moments are the most crucial they know how to respond and give their best.

We forget sometimes as fans, but this team is really an all star team. It is a team comprised of such unique talents that complement each other so well. This is a team of Olympic medalists, Stanley Cups winners and maybe most importantly team players.

Experience plays a big part as well. This team knows it doesn’t matter if your down 3-0 they still have the tools to get the job done and the know how to do it. In this first round series they reminded everyone again who the Chicago Blackhawks still are and the hockey talent this team still possess.

After the first game of the series which Duncan Keith won in overtime, Predators coach Peter Laviolette said “that’s a dangerous, dangerous team” and he is not wrong. I almost felt sorry for Laviolette when Patrick Kane scored the game tying goal. Laviolette looked like he just ate some bad tuna and was sick.

This is not the first time a Laviolette coached team’s dreams were squelched by Mr. Patrick Kane remember 2010. I wonder how many sleepless nights coach Laviolette has had because of Patrick Kane but I digress.

The problem is it’s not just Patrick Kane for coaches, but an entire team of players that are difference makers. Three of this series game winning goals came from defenseman Keith 2, Seabrook 1. The other big impact on this series in subtle but effective ways was Brandon Saad who scored the other gwg and also by legal contact knocked out Predators captain Shea Weber.

Duncan Keith was huge in this series not only for the game winning goals but the time on ice he logged and his being a threat every time he is on the ice forces other teams to cover him like you would a forward. On the goal to clinch the series he showed moves I have never seen him use and I have been watching the Hawks for a while. His instincts and savvy are top shelf to say the least. Seth Jones got schooled by a master.

There is also no question that Brent Seabrook’s marathon game winning goal probably turned the tide of the entire series had the Hawks lost that game not only would they have been tied but it has to take something out of you to lose a game like that. We all know how clutch Seabrook is, talk about stepping up in big moments this guy could give tutorials when he is done with his playing career on facing up to challenges.

Jonathan Toews there simply isn’t any words for other than this guy just does not accept defeat and leads the way in so many little ways. At the end of the series the best indicator of Toews being a leader was when he put his arms around both Crawford and Darling equally.

The other thing to come out of this series was the camaraderie between the team and their goalies and between the goalies themselves. This could teach us all about being a team player and taking one for the team. Both of the goalies while disappointed I’m sure never let ego get in their ways. That I believe they call character.

Neither Corey Crawford nor Scott Darling can really be blamed by the play of the team in front of them and the Blackhawks know this but maybe it was good it happened when it did as the team knows it has two outstanding net minders if it needs it. I don’t believe there has ever been a playoff series with two different starting net minders other than injury. Leave it to the Blackhawks to continue to break new ground.

Is the team perfect? No they are human and they have a lot to clean up before the next round regarding overall team defense and giving up too many turnovers in their own end. I mean Chicago is known for its pizzas but please let’s not serve up any on the ice. Also there is too many shots against given, which is leaving all the goalies out to dry. That really needs to be cleaned up but the Hawks know all this.

Listen they got through the first round not playing their best, they have time now to rest, work on cleaning things up, oh yeah, special teams could use a jolt too, but every series will be different and maybe what will win games will need to be different. This series it was well timed offense by your stars, maybe next series it will be special teams or defense or secondary scoring.

Whatever it takes for the Hawks to win is all that matters, but I suspect everyone in the Blackhawks locker room including the coaches would be the first to tell you that.

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Chicago Blackhawks – Becoming the Dragon


Chicago, IL — In Asian cultures dragons are mystical creatures that symbolize powers over waters like rainfalls, flood etcetera. They are a symbol of power, strength and good fortune. It is not uncommon to hear “may your child become a dragon.” meaning may they become exceptional.

It is that time of year that the Chicago Blackhawks need to turn into dragons, the time they have been waiting for, the second season, the run to the most storied trophy in all of sports The Stanley Cup.

The Hawks have been been here before, but this year has been a different year. The defending champs are out and Canada’s teams are the darlings whether it is in the east or the west. So there have been some unusual occurrences in the regular season to say the least.

This second season is completely different than the grinding regular season in that you only have 28 chances at most so there is no time for delay or room for error. There are four separate and different opponents that a team will face and defeat if they are to hoist the Cup. Each will present their own obstacles and challenges.

In facing an opponent and learning how to gain the upper hand in a fight, I could not think of anyone better to take advise from than the late Martial Arts Master Bruce Lee.

I remembered one of his quotes “ Empty your mind. You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can flow or creep or drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.” 1

I know as westerners this all sounds so, well Zen, but Bruce Lee studied philosophies and believed in not having a style but being open and using and learning all styles and incorporating them into your own when he founded his own type of Martial Art Jeet Kune Do. You have to know when to act and when not to, when to expand and contract or when to flow or crash.

What does this have to do with the Hawks? In other words, the Hawks need to be flexible and take what the opponent gives them. If the situation calls for the puck to be carried in do so, if it can be passed in do so and if you have to dump and chase do so. Be flexible and adjust on the fly.

The Hawks have experience, they know what needs to be done on the ice, now is the time to just let the instincts that you have prepared for all your lives take over and trust those instincts. It is time for muscle memory and remain calm no matter what is going on around you or out of your control.

In looking back over the past two play off runs the Hawks have had there is also sometimes things that are out of your control, like officiating. Stay calm! We all remember what happened in the Red Wings series game 7 almost cost the Hawks a Cup but because the Hawks remained calm and did not get flustered they overcame.

Last year in the series against the Kings the same thing happened, there were two calls in game 7 that resulted in two goals by the Kings that should not have been allowed. One of the goals was an obvious off sides and the other was a goal that was high sticked in. The Hawks were almost but not quit able to over come two officiating fiascoes.

My point is officials are human with human error, you must stay strong mentally and persevere through. Be ready for these mishaps by the officials because they often happen. If you are ready they will be less likely to effect your on ice performances.

Also there will be injuries it is unavoidable. The good thing for the Hawks is they are well aware of this since the Patrick Kane injury. If there are injuries be prepared and the coaches have done this already in shuffling the lines so players can play with different line mates, positions or partners.

Also get those black aces whoever they may be ready as well. If the Blackhawks have to go through the Predators, Blues, Jets or Ducks you know injuries will occur so get the back-ups ready now.

Have respect for your opponent don’t take them lightly and know they have studied you. Especially the Hawks, other than the Kings I can not think of another teams that others have watched, patterned and targeted.

Even Ken Hitchcock admitted in one of the Blues/Hawks games on a power play goal that when they had studied the Hawks tendencies that play was not in their films anywhere.

Don’t make the mistake the LA Kings did in the regular season. They looked at their schedule and misjudged their opponents that they had at the end of the season as being weaker. There is no weak opponent do they have weaknesses yes, but so do you.

In closing I will leave with another quote by perhaps the greatest and oldest on war tactics, theoretician Sun Tzu –

“If your enemy is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him. If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them. If sovereign and subject are in accord, put division between them. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected .” 2

So here is to the Hawks knowing when to flow and when to crash and to becoming dragons that are comfortable in all waters, but can also breath fire when need be.

1. Bruce Lee – Bruce Lee: Artist of Life book Tuttle publishing 4/1/2001
2. Sun Tzu from the book The Art of War

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Chicago Blackhawks – emerging from the phone booth


Chicago, IL — Led by their captain Jonathan Toews, the Chicago Blackhawks had a week that saw them literally emerging from the phone booth like mild mannered Clark Kent and turn into a team of supermen. The per verbal switch you could say was definitely switched to the full blast on position and it all started with the captain.

Yes the Canadian dream initiated a Chicago yearning. For much of this 2015 year most Hawks fans have been clamoring for the Hawks to play, well like the Hawks and separate themselves from the rest of the pack and starting in Winnipeg that is exactly what they have done. They went into that game as Wild cards and came out putting the competition in the rear and now have a chance to even win their division.
focused towes2
Jonathan Toews in a matter of a week scored three game winning goals and assisted on another one. In the game against the Winnipeg Jets he crushed the hopes of his hometown with a deflected shot from the point with .30 seconds left in regulation to seal the win and a very valuable two points for the Blackhawks.

He then went on to assist on Duncan Keith’s game winning goal against the defending Stanley Cup Champ LA Kings in the following game. Was he through? No against the Vancouver Canucks, a team who also is needing of points to stay afloat in the Pacific scored the game winning goal to again seal a Hawks victory in regulation.

Perhaps though the most dramatic was the two goals he scored against the Buffalo Sabres in the closing minutes of the game to again gather valuable points and he has now positioned this team to make a legitimate run at the division title. Even his coach said that he is driven by something other players are not.

It always seems that Jonathan Toews knows exactly what is needed by his team and when but he’ll be the first to tell you it isn’t all him. With the absence of Patrick Kane alot of things have happened to put the Hawks where they currently are. Make no mistake though it is Toews that is leading this. It is only fitting he is a Bauer representative because he and the Hawks truly know what “owning the moment” is all about.

capt. serious2

So what else has gotten the Hawks here? Let’s take a look.

Andrew Shaw has consistently found the front of the oppositions nets and has established permanent residence there. Now he is taking a beating but Shaw knows that is where you get dirty goals, provide distractions, get in the opponents heads and provide screens for your team mates. If Shaw continues this and picks and chooses his spots the Hawks will be in good shape.

Corey Crawford what can you say about this guy. My Lord he has been spectacular and probably the most consistently good player on the ice. He has literally kept this team in the running since returning from injury. Many nights when the Hawks defensive game was floundering he stood on his head and kept the team in games.

Marian Hossa – another guy what can you say, even if the goals are not going in the net he plays a solid 200 ft. game that can in fact dictate a game. The game against the Kings he and Jonathan Toews were stifling on the back check even the Kings had to give them props.

Brandon Saad – His speed is a game changer for sure and he has and is learning from the best being on a line with Toews and Hossa. He is just now beginning to put everything together in his young career. Lately on a line with Shaw and Bickell, this kid is a monster.

Bryan Bickell – It is getting to that point in the year when Bicks shines. If he gets to the net like line mate Andrew Shaw with his big frame his goals will pick up. Look for Bicks to turn it up.

Patrick Sharp – is finding the back of nets and his mojo which is bad news for the opposition. When Sharp gets going he is like a goal scoring express train that can not be stopped

Scott Darling – talk about rise from the ashes like a Phoenix. The guy never seems to get rattled and just quietly comes in and takes care of business for the team. It’s nice to know you have that kind of reliability in net.

The Defensive core – Johnny Oduya since coming back from injury seems like a new man. Not sure what happened in his time off but Johnny please share with the rest of us because we’d all like to be rejuvenated like that.

Duncan Keith – is finding his offensive touch and has been scoring goals of late which will be needed from the defenseman to make up for the loss of Kane.

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Brent Seabrook paired with Kimmo Timonen has been the ultimate team guy and always is. He has stepped up big time to allow Timonen the time to get his legs and game back. Seabrook as usual just goes about his business in solid as a rock fashion. Kimmo Timonen is starting to get his legs and rhythm back and the man is solid positionally and everyone can learn about the art of the pinch from him.

Nik Hjalmarsson the warrior, continues to do what he does. I still think they need to check to make sure that his body is not made of steel like the terminator’s endoskeleton. He also has been jumping in on plays.

Brad Richards, Antoine Vermette and Kris Versteeg line – are getting close to a break out. Richards and Vermette are still getting comfortable with the Hawks system but seem more comfortable every game and playing with each other.

The fourth line of Marcus Kruger, Teuvo Teravainen and Andrew Desjardins seem to be providing offensive punch to go along with the stellar defensive play which will be key to keeping other teams guessing and honest. This line seems to have hit it off quickly with a combination of grit, skill and solid 2 way play.

FeddyJPG

The Hawks had an outstanding week and will probably need another one facing the St. Louis Blues twice and the Minnesota Wild. Is it necessary they win these games? No but it is a good tune up for the playoffs and fine tuning and executing your team game. The Hawks still need to work on turn overs in their own zone and giving up too many shots on their net minders but when the big moments need them to rise and stand tall if last week showed the Hawks fans anything it is that this team still can.

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Chicago Blackhawks – Slapping destiny and raising the stakes


Chicago, IL – The Chicago Blackhawks had a tough week last week when they lost arguably the league’s MVP – Patrick Kane. This reminded me of Humphrey Bogart’s character Rick Blaine in the cinema masterpiece Casablanca. A turn of events that was out of everyone’s control has Blaine stating “It seems destiny has taken a hand” 1

I’ve always said when destiny takes a hand slap it back with your free hand by taking control of the things that you can. That is exactly what the Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman did prior to the trade deadline.

The good thing is if there is one, is the timing of the Kane injury. Had Kane been injured a week later Stan Bowman and the Blackhawks would have been destiny’s victims rather than being in a position to take control and make statements.

As the trade deadline approached it was the LA Kings that actually set the market with their pickup of Carolina Hurricane’s Dman Sekera for a 1st round pick and a prospect.

Stan Bowman and the Blackhawks were supposedly in on Sekera yet listening to Bowman’s interview with the Chicago media he seemed almost giddy and sort of like the cat that ate all the cream which, is so unStan Bowman like it had me wondering what exactly was up his sleeves. You can see this interview on BHTV – http://video.blackhawks.nhl.com/videocenter/console?id=764316

Now I am a poker player. I fully appreciate the art of the bluff, gamesmanship, slow rolling, check raising and controlled aggressive play. In poker you try to sell your opponents a story, whether it is true or false it is in how you sell the story that makes or breaks winning a hand and negotiations is much like this.

Stan Bowman pulled up a chair and first stepped up to the poker table with a slow roll and check raise when he snagged seemingly out of nowhere Philadelphia defenseman Kimmo Timonen. Is it a gamble to bet on a 39 year old with previous health issues? Maybe, but if Timonen can stay healthy this maybe the biggest coo of the trade deadline. As I said I’m a poker player so I love a gamble and controlled aggressive play.

If you don’t know what slow rolling or check raising is watch the below YouTube final hand scene from the 1998 movie Rounders that illustrates this tactic when Matt Damon slow rolls and check raises John Malkovich’s character Russian mafia king Teddy KGB for all the nuts including Damon’s character’s life.

 

It has been said that this deal with the Flyers has been in the works for weeks before the trade deadline. Bravo Stan for slow rolling my respect for you which was always there just increased even more. Now I don’t know for certain that’s what Stan did but if so the man is brill.  The Blackhawks pick up a proven defenseman who is not only solid but hungry which is what the Hawks need. Kudos go to Stan Bowman for not only filling a roster spot, but bringing in a respected, intelligent player who just may spark the teams hunger as well.

Timonen only came back to the NHL to try and win a Stanley Cup and everyone should be pulling for him to get that dream realized.

Stan Bowman was not done however, 24 hours or so later he snagged the big fish of this deadline Arizone Coyotes’ Antoine Vermette. Like Timonen, Vermette should fit in with the Hawks pretty well and give them a solid center which you can never have enough of come playoff time. Both Arizona and the Hawks got what they wanted with the Coyotes getting Klas Dahlbeck and a first round draft pick.

It seems the Boston Bruins were in on Vermette but did not want to give up as much which is similar to a re-raise in poker which the Bruins were not willing to call. So Vermette is now a Hawk.

For those worried about the draft picks given up there is something in the summer called free agency and more trades are likely where the Hawks can recoup some of these picks so settle down folks.

Most importantly these moves illustrate the Chicago Blackhawks demise is far from reality even with the loss of Patrick Kane. Stan Bowman showed to his team, coaches, fan base and the league in a matter of 48 hours that the Chicago Blackhawks are indeed trying to win another Stanley Cup and will go down swinging.

If the team stays focused, garners points and puts all the distractions aside they have an opportunity now to really make a good playoff run. If they can make it until Patrick Kane can come back, which I believe they can,  there is no question that they will be a better team than before the Kane injury barring destiny taking a hand again.

 

1. 1942 film Casablanca release through Warner Brothers Studios based on the 1940s play Everyone comes to Rick’s written by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison

2. 1998 film Rounders released through Miramax studios written by David Levien and Brian Koppelman

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Chicago Blackhawks Patrick Kane – playing with Hart


Chicago, IL — In a year of ups and downs and inconsistencies the one thing that has been consistent is the player that is sporting the number 88 Indian head jersey. Patrick Kane is having himself a personal best year and is leading his team in points and hovering around the league lead as well.

Patrick Kane has always been noticeable on the ice but now it seems he never leaves the ice and is always involved in the play. Kane can also be spotted back checking and providing defensive support as well which, may not have always been a part of Patrick Kane’s game but it speaks to his maturity as a player on the ice and an understanding of position and how quick turnover and regaining possession leads to his teams offense.

Kane will always be an offensive virtuoso but adding this dimension to his game is putting him in the talks for the Hart Memorial Trophy. This is awarded to the player judged as most valuable to his team. What makes Patrick Kane so valuable besides his obvious talents is his competitive spirit and his desire to always be improving even with how skilled he already is.

Today for example the Blackhawks held an optional skate for the team and he was there. Why because Patrick Kane needs practice?  Because Patrick Kane has matured and realizes that in order to be great you have to constantly work at it and that attitude will make Patrick Kane one of the all time greats if he keeps at this pace. Kane   There is no question this year he has led the Blackhawks in every way that a player can. He is leading by example and constantly looking to improve and hone his craft and it shows on the ice and in his overall hockey IQ. Recently he was at the NHL All Star game in Columbus, Oh and the media and some players, his captain Nick Foligno of the Columbus Blue Jackets were astounded by the fact that Kane knew each and every opponent if they were right or left shooting.

Now this does not surprise me because Kane is a student of the game. He loves hockey and lives and breaths it so it is not surprising to me that he would study that and know it.

Again this just illustrates Kane’s overall understanding of the game and how one needs every advantage one can get against other quality players. If he brings this type of insights to his all star team who knows how much information and insights he brings to the Chicago Blackhawks.

Patrick Kane is a kaleidoscope of talents, a rich tapestry of hockey skills and intelligence and he is only just now entering his prime playing years. What is more remarkable is that he already has accomplished almost everything a hockey player can yet he is still striving to improve and be better. He understands there is no such thing as perfection yet it should be our goals to try at least to achieve it.

Yes Patrick Kane is still learning, but he is also teaching as well. He is teaching to never be satisfied with your accomplishments or talents. He is teaching don’t believe your hype you can still be even better. Perhaps what he is teaching us all is that legacy still matters even to a young man with all the accolades and achievements and that is what in the end truly matters.

Patrick Kane may not win the Hart Trophy this year but, when all is said and done in his NHL career his legacy and impact on generations of children and fans maybe even more valuable to the game of hockey than he even knew.

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Chicago Blackhawks – fighting apathy


Chicago, IL — The Chicago Blackhawks have definitely hit a wall in the season. Unfortunately they do not have that luxury in the division and the conference that they reside in. Other divisional foes are distancing themselves from the Hawks in what looks to be shaping up as a tight Western Conference. The question is for fans should we be concerned?

There are a couple of films that I always look to that I feel encompass most things we faces in life. One of my all time favorite films is George Lucas’ Star Wars series and in particular  episode V- the Empire Strikes back. You know the “I am your father” one. That is not the part of the film however, that I think applies here. It is Yoda, the Jedi Master’s assessment and evaluation of Luke Skywalker and whether or not he is focused and committed enough to become a Jedi.

 

Am I worried about the Hawks? No because of the leadership in the locker room and behind the bench. I think the Hawks just need to focus a little more on the details and maybe most importantly have some fun. Lately it has looked like work on the ice for a Blackhawks team that usually has fun.

Just as Yoda tells Luke that he has always looked to the future and his mind somewhere else so are the Hawks, they are looking ahead to the playoffs and yearning for that instead of making sure that they do in fact get there and working on their weaknesses now, say like the power play and clearing out their own crease and keeping their net minders clean. The Blackhawks know what it takes to be a champion and focus and as coach Q says purpose is essential.

We all are in the post holiday blues period before spring, but Blackhawks please I’m looking to you to help me get through this slow period. I’m being selfish, entertain me please.

Now what the Hawks can use I’m not sure to get out of the doldrums, other than focusing on the areas they have been lacking and listening to your coaches. Every game just about they all say they want more net front presence and to make life difficult on the opposing goalies and yet the Hawks for the most part are staying to the perimeter. Listen to your coaches they are right and my eye test can see there is not enough drive to the opposition net.

Somehow the Hawks need to work on clearing out your own crease either with more active sticks and just putting a body on people. I would save the blocking shots til playoffs if possible we don’t want injuries that is the last thing the Hawks need now.  Try lifting sticks and plugging up lanes and just flat old without crosschecking people just push people out from in front of your goalie. I know easier said then done, but to compete against the big boy teams like the Ducks, Kings and Jets this will be necessary. May as well try this now before the playoffs.

That power play, just shoot the damn puck and get to the net maybe send two people to the net. Andrew Shaw and Jonathan Toews are taking a beating there a little help can never hurt. The zone entries sometimes need help which this critique feels is stuck on repeat.

Lately, the passing in general has not been crisp which forces readjustments which slows down the team. For this team supposedly built on possession and speed this is a bad thing.

The fourth line needs to somehow find a way to contribute offensively. Right now this team is so top heavy they are easy to defend and as a goalie easy to stop. I want more, more, more from the 3rd and 4th lines but in particular the 4th line. If nothing else start crshing the net even if you don’t score it will give goalies and defenses something to think about.

Be more prudent in your own zone with the puck. There have been way too many turn overs by Hawks in their own zone, would you leave your house with the door unlocked? Pay more attention in your own end.

The game in Minnesota even on twitter Wild fans were tweeting that the Hawks looked disengaged and bored. Now that is bad if they can tell and they don’t even watch this team all the time.

I know as fans we forget how young this team is since they have been through so much but you don’t want to fall into bad habits that are hard to get out of. Even when losing try to learn from it, it will come in handy later.

We all have days that we are not our best but the Hawks need to remember they are living their dreams and have, so keep that it mind you could be stuck in some ho hum job. There are two games against major division foes in the Jets and the Blues if you can not get motivated for these games I would suggest that maybe the playoffs will be a short excursion if you make them at all.

“So many people are responsible for your success but only you are responsible for your failure” – unknown

 

1) taken from George Lucas 1980 film the Empire Strikes Back produced by Lucasfilm  released by 20th Century Fox

2) Quote taken from addicted2success.com website.

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NHL – Outdoorsy,Worldly,Techie and Young


Chicago, IL — Yesterday a media press conference was held and for those who have NHLNetwork or could stream on NHL.com were also lucky enough to hear Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr and players — Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks, Anze Kopitar, LA Kings & Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins make the several announcements impacting the league for years to come.

The Commissioner started with the announcement of the outdoor games for 2016 which, we all knew ahead of time thanks to the power of social media. If you missed it the Winter Classic will be between the Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadians at Gillette Stadium near Boston. Then there is two Stadium series games one to be held on 2/21/16 in Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium between the Wild and the Chicago Blackhawks and finally a third game on 2/27/16 at Coors Field between the Colorado Avalanche and the Detroit Red Wings.

Ironically it was a beat writer from the Chicago media that asked the Commissioner about being concerned with overkill with the Chicago Blackhawks being in so many outdoor games and unfairness to other teams in the league. Luckily Commissioner Bettman is a smart man and knows when to ride a winning hand. I have to give the Commissioner his due on how he addressed the insanely unintelligent question he was posed.

To that reporter I would say, sports is not about local media, it is about the players and the fans not you, and who said life is fair anyway. First off the players love playing outdoors and you have a great team in the Chicago Blackhawks that are easily marketed and a great fan base that wants to attend these events and will travel and pump life into other economies. The league has done it’s research and all the fan polls I’ve seen people love these outdoor games.

Now, Minnesota may not need the Chicago Blackhawks money but towns like St. Louis and Nashville and yes Arizona could use it so there is that. Let us not forget as well Chicago Blackhawks fans will buy, buy, buy which puts more money in the NHL coffers which is a huge financial consideration and then there is the broadcasting draw. Let’s face it Chicago brings in more viewers than sorry Dallas, St. Louis and Nashville which is simply the truth.

The NHL is a business that is trying to make money and get as much fan interest as possible a game between the Wild and the Hawks let’s face it, is far more entertaining due to the recent playoff history of these two clubs, than say the Wild vs the Blues or Predators or Stars for that matter. Sometimes I wonder if reporters even watch NHL games other than the team they are covering but I digress.

The trek from Chicago to Minnesota is not that far and lets face it tons of Blackhawks fans will go and that is a consideration for the league as well. Now there were some Blackhawks fans objects on twitter to those fans I would say don’t go, don’t watch and don’t buy if you really object that much to the Blackhawks constantly being in these outdoor games. Keep in mind however if you are a fan of this team, the players want to play and the organization as a whole as the Commissioner pointed out wants to be involved. I also suspect those fans complaining the most will be the first to buy a ticket to this event and get some jerseys as well.

World Cup returns

In September of 2016 for 9/17 to approx 10/1 the NHL World Cup is returning with eight teams involved. There is the usual six teams of the US, Canada, Sweden, Finland, Russia and the Czech Republic but the other two teams will be a European team comprised mainly of NHL players that would not fall within the other six teams. What I found really intriguing is the final team which will be a team of players under age 23 from the US and Canada.

This under 23 team will have the likes of Brandon Saad, Nathan McKinnon, Seth Jones, Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel on it potentially to name a few. As Patrick Kane said this is a young man’s game so what they lack in experience they may make up in speed. The only concern here is that team USA maybe hurt the most by this but as the Commissioner stated this is a work in progress. It is also a way to showcase the young talent in the league or that will be coming into the league.

Let’s face it, taking Brandon Saad as an example on a team like the Blackhawks he may get overshadowed nationally with the Kanes, Toews ect on the team. Chicago knows how good this kid is and what he brings but this is also a chance for him and the other young guys to hone their leadership skills and shine on a big stage.

Personally I’m all in favor of more international events for the NHL and hockey in general. One of the unique characeristics of the NHL is it’s international flavor why not capitalize on that and bring in new fans from overseas. Look how a small country like Latvia got behind thier NHL player Zemgus Girgensons in the All Star Game voting, so international interest in the NHL is there. If the NHL ever wants to expand into Europe this is a good way to test that ground now the time differentials that’s another thing but maybe one day we will have 24/7 hockey games that’s fine with me.

If the Olympics prove anything, international competition brings in the casual hockey viewer and once you get them in it might be easy to hook them if they happen to like a certain player they may end up following that players team.

Getting High Tech

The NHL also introduced two new partnerships that could forever change how we look at hockey and sports broadcasting. The first is a camera called the GOPRO Hero 4 that they had mounted on the helmets of certain players and goalies if you have not seen the video of this it is sick. I highly urge you to check it out either on the NHL’s site or YouTube.

It lets fans truley experience what it is the players see when stopping pucks, stick handling, skating ect.. never have fans been closer or literally right in the middle of the action. This I believe will draw in the younger audiences and the extreme sports crowds. Let’s face it of all the major sports, hockey is more closely connected to extreme sports due to it’s speed and inherent danger levels with pucks flying at you. Hockey is just flat out cool because of the speed of the game and the skill of the players. Don’t believe men watch the Skills Competition of any All Star game.

What I found totally intriguing was the NHL’s partnership with Sportsvision and how this new technology that will embed chips in the pucks and into the players clothing that will be tracked in the rink with infrared scans to capture all kinds of new data digitally. It may one day be possible to know who had the puck for how long and who matches up better against each other ect.

For example maybe Patrick Kane matches up better against Drew Doughty of the LA Kings than Jonathan Toews does but maybe Toews matches up better against Bruins’ Zedano Chara. Can you imagine what coaches would do with this kind of information, not to mention all the analytics geeks? The information and tracking is unparalleled and really a bold step into a new world for the NHL. The below link will take you to the NHL’s website to explain this new technology.

http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/console?id=734437&catid=49

To me this makes Corsi, Fenwick and PDO completely obsolete and brings us into a new revolutionary element to the game of hockey and the gaming industry as well. Personally I am very excited about this. I want to know is Patrick Kane better scoring from the left or the right or the slot and where the majority of his goals do come from. Is it easier to beat Corey Crawford, glove side, stick side or five hole or there is no difference.

The NHL loves their rivalries now they can sell, promote get advertisers on board with individual rivalries within each game. All in all announcing all these changes in the future whilst having your best talents on display at the All Stars Game made perfect sense and really for fans brings curiosity, excitement and hopefully wanting more.

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