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Chicago Blackhawks – Deconstruction to a Picasso?


Image result for picasso cubism paintings

Chicago, IL — Pablo Picasso is one of the foremost twentieth century creative minds. His visionary art pushed the artistic envelope more than any other.

Not only did Picasso explore more different types of styles with his periods of Blue, Rose, African, Cubism, Classism & Surrealism but he employed different mediums as well.

Picasso used not only painting but sculpting, collage and ceramics this also illustrates an ingenuity with flexibility to change.

The Chicago Blackhawks can only hope to achieve some of this type of creativity and success with their recent changes.

Think the Picasso Bull deconstruction when thinking of the Blackhawks right now and Stan Bowman may only be on plate 4 in his abstract deconstruction.

What the final picture will be who knows. One can only hope it ends with a silver Cup.

Part of the deconstruction was the trading of Artemi Panarin for Brandon Saad which will definitely give the Hawks a much different look.

There is no question part of what will be leaving with Panarin is 20 offensive points but what the Hawks will gain is more of a two way play with Saad which hopefully leads to better possession numbers.

The other benefit to Saad’s game is he also had more D-zone starts as opposed to Panarin which gives the Hawks more flexibility as well with lines and players.

The other thing losing Panarin his points coming from the power play.

This leaves a spot there as well along the left half wall which will most likely be filled by Patrick Sharp.

Welcome back Patrick Sharp. I have no question about Sharp’s hip injury and his ability to be ready come day one.

I am a little more concerned with his concussions and I hope this is not an issue going forward as no one really understands what goes on with this.

For this reason I would prefer to see Sharp on the third line rather than the second line with more exposure being with Patrick Kane.

There is the possiblity of getting more hits with more visibility but we shall see how this plays out.

I’ve got to say Sharp has a great attitude any young player should watch him and learn. Sharp also brings more speed up front.

What will be missed is Hossa in a lot of different areas. He had 26 G and 19 A last year.

The Hawks are looking for Nick Schmaltz, Tomas Jurco  and maybe some youth in Alex DeBrincat or Graham Knott or Alex Fortin to step up and surprise. All of this will have to be sorted through come training camp.

With the Hossa departure it should not be forgotten his work on the power play and penalty kill which both Saad and Sharp should help with these.

Speaking of special teams in particular the penalty kill had a rough start and really never recovered due to the poor start.

With the departure of Kruger, Hossa, Rasmussen and probably Desi an entirely different look for Pk will be forthcoming. Sharp, Saad and newcomer Tommy Wingels can all fill in on the PK.

Speaking of which Stan Bowman really has changed the bottom six look with bringing in Tommy Wingels from Ottawa and Lance Bouma from Calgary both bring more physicality and direct straight line play. Hopefully more net front presence than what the Hawks have had as well.

How the bottom six shakes out will be interesting Bouma, Jurco, Hinostroza, Dauphin, Hayden will all be vying for spots in camp which again should be interesting to watch how this develops.

My concern is at the face off dot because outside of Jonathan Toews there is no one even now at center that is over 50%.

Coaching here will be the key. Wingels, Sharp and Bouma can all play center so we shall see who can improve here.

Perhaps though the scariest part of this deconstruction is the defense.

Outside of Keith and Seabrook there is a tremendous leap of faith that younger unproven guys can step up and in without giving up too much.

Eyes will be on Connor Murphy who will have to fill in for a great dman in Hjalmarsson leaving fair or not.

Murphy is more physical and younger but it remains to be seen what and how all the changes on the back end will affect the overall team defense.

Murphy, Rutta, Kempny, Forsling, Gustafsson and Jordan Oesterle like the forwards will all get their shot to show what they can bring and make the Hawks see they can’t do without them.

Toss in the Hawks also have new assistant coaches and you really aren’t sure if we have the next Picasso masterpiece or dogs playing poker poster.

To go from a known substance in how it looks and how it feels to an unknown new look that makes the surreal esthetically pleasing takes guts and skilled craftsmanship.

Unlike art tho sports depends on elements outside the artists control, making this endeavor extremely bold.

Only time will tell but one has to have faith and believe these decisions will work out the best maybe not this year but in the long run.

Question is can the critics (fans) see the vision or end game if there is no initial success to their standards?

If the Hawks make another first round exit or heaven forbid don’t even make the playoffs what changes will then be made and where? To the front office, coaching, players?

It’s scary to deconstruct for everyone but it is probably the least scary for the fans because they know they’ll be back the following year regardless of how the team does.

The others can’t say the same which should provide plenty of motivation this year.

So Hawks fans if your feeling scared or unsure remember, to forge into greatness risks always need to be taken especially if they’re not initially understood.

In season changes and finer brush strokes also can be applied as well. Another thing you can never say the Chicago Blackhawks are dull or uninventive that’s for sure.
 

image is Picasso Cubism period

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NHL – Combine in the books onto Chicago


Chicago, IL — Yesterday the NHL completed a week long compilation of data gathered from fitness testings, interviews, psychological evaluations, measurings, weighings and medical evaluations.

If you think it is easy to get into the NHL I would suggest you take a look at the NHL’s site of what all these prospective NHLers have to go through just to get a shot at their dreams.

The week is mostly being interviewed with the final event being the fitness testing done this past Saturday. Me personally, I would find the physical testing a breeze after a weeks worth of interviewing and psychological evals. But hey that is just me.

For the geeks who want to see the results here is the link to the NHL site which gives you the results for top 25 players.   https://link.nhl.com/centralscouting/public/

I would definitely take a peek at the NHL sites also for player interviews and some had blogs/diaries for the entire event which you could check out as well. I took a brief look at goalie Jake Oettinger and forward Kailer Yamamoto’s and I can see you have got to expect the unexpected when teams interview you.

Also Sportsnet did an excellent job of showing what all the tests are with great graphics and who ended up being the top 10 in each category.

Again here is the link for you and I would suggest if you’re interested in this type of stuff go check it out. http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/2017-nhl-combine-results-top-10-drill/

There was also an older article done by Top End Sports which outlines what each test is and why it is used and what it tells scouts. Again here is the link for that http://www.topendsports.com/sport/icehockey/nhl-draft.htm

Now all the teams scouts have as much information as one can gather to make as well of an informed decision as possible going into the draft that will be held in Chicago.

There is still so much unknown however which makes this fun to watch and see player developments. These tests still can not tell you how someone will respond under pressure situations or their hearts that can only be known in observing them in all game situations over time.

This draft has even the most astute scouts and talent evaluators in disagreement which means this draft will be as unpredictable as the NHL’s current playoffs.

Every team evaluates differently and each team has different strengths and weaknesses which plays into their player valuing which contributes to how each team is constructed.

The NHL had the event on Saturday on Facebook live which I didn’t catch. I’m not a big Facebook person.

My only suggestion to the NHL is that I would have put this on NHL network in the US rather than re-run playoff games.

Other than the two teams in the Stanley Cup Final most other teams fan bases might be more interested in the combine as their team gets ready for the draft. Just a suggestion.

Believe it or not I do watch the NFL combine on their network and I’m not that really into the NFL. I use it as my own motivation for not only getting more physically fit but mentally fit as well.

I watch too because I am interested in the new talent coming into the league and never more than now is this also true of the NHL with the youth movement. It is no longer unusual to see 19-20 year olds in the NHL and that trend will continue with the emphasis now on speed.

People are interested in these kids and seeing them develop into the future NHLers and stars. That is why I watch the IIHF World Juniors. I watched Switzerland play this past year just to watch Nico Hischier and boy was I entertained by him.

I also see from my twitter timeline that there was a star not just that will be donning skates but the Wingate testing trainer they had #Bikeguy on twitter going viral. I would suggest people check that out.

The Las Vegas Golden Knights (who I already like)  had a great post on this guy here is the link https://www.nhl.com/goldenknights/news/getting-to-know-bikeguy-the-nhl-combines-viral-star/c-289760988

The guy is phenomenal and very entertaining. It doesn’t surprise me he is a martial artist because let me say from experience those guys know how to get the best out of you and how to push you.

His name is Jordan Marwin and to say he is motivating is an understatement. If I had this guy in my daily life I would conquer the world HA.

With this draft being so unpredictable it is also possible that the Chicago Blackhawks or other teams drafting late may end up getting a player that they had valued high. Yes there is that much of a difference in player assessment this year.

In fact I saw today on twitter NHL correspondent Mike Morreale say he had a talk with Chicago Blackhawks USA scout Mike Doneghey and he told him “This draft could be like 2012 where Teuvo Teravainen was there for us at #18.”

Now that has me pumped and it should for every other teams fan base as well as your team could be getting a player they really value and can help your team in the future.

Can June 23,24 get here sooner please. I can’t wait.

 

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Chicago Blackhawks – IIHF Men’s World Championships Panarin gets Bronze, Kruger gets Gold


Chicago, IL — The final day of the IIHF Men’s World Championships set out with Team Russia taking on Team Finland for the bronze medal which would be followed by Team Sweden taking on Team Canada for the gold and silver medals.

I was sad to see the close of this two-week event for several reasons. It was still giving those of us whose teams were no longer in the NHL playoffs a last chance to see some of our players before summer starts.

As a huge international hockey fan I always love seeing the teams in the countries sweaters compete for rights of whose country really is the best. Now more than ever I won’t be passing up opportunities to see international hockey competitions.

With the NHL foregoing PyeongChang, South Korea Olympics in 2018 this maybe the last time we get to see some of these players on the international stage.

I am still holding out hope the NHL changes their mind but I don’t know. If the NHL does not go one would have to think that Russia will be the favorite to win gold with the majority of their players being from the KHL.

I personally loved watching this Russian team play, of course I am partial to Artermi Panarin as a Blackhawks fan. Bias aside, they were just flat out fun to watch. Because of Panarin I was rooting for Russia to get the bronze and they did not disappoint.

Panarin was again on the third line with Nikita Kucherov and Evgeni Kuznetsov. If nothing else Team Russia is consistent with their lines thanks Oleg Znarok.

Team Russia ended up winning the game 5-3 and the Bronze but the game was not as close as the score seemed until the third period where Team Russia started to do a bit of an implosion like they did against Team Canada. Today however their skill prevailed.

Panarin had a relatively quiet day with one assist but he did have plenty of opportunities that just didn’t get finished off. There were a couple of times he was in the slot area and deferred to shot by passing. I was screaming at my TV SHOOT Artemi.

His assist came on the lethal Russian power play where to say he exercised patience in getting the defender to go down and slid the puck to Gusev for the tally which again showcased Panarin’s vision and hockey sense.

Panarin knows more about hockey than I do and he is a skilled playmaker but in the NHL I would like him to shoot more especially in the slot with an open line to the goalie.

It will keep goalies guessing and defenders won’t know what he is doing which may open up ice space. Patrick Kane had to learn this as well and look how things have worked out for him.

So Panarin ended the game with 1A, 1SOG and ended the tournament with 17 points – 4G, 13A in one less game due to injury good enough to be the leading scorer points wise in the entire tournament and was named top forward.I’d say the little Breadman did pretty well for himself and his team. He will probably be named to the All Stars one would think.

The one thing in watching this tournament it was very apparent that for Panarin to develop more he needs to play in the NHL on the smaller ice because on the big ice and against none NHLers Panarin just dominates and the game is just too easy for him.

Congratulations to Team Russia and Artemi Panarin on winning Bronze.

The final game of the tournament had Marcus Kruger and Team Sweden taking on Team Canada for Gold.

The game was a very close affair with the goalies taking center stage. You would have to say Team Canada dominated the play until Viktor Hedman scored on a really weird knuckler from the point that he got past Canadian goalie Calvin Pickard to put Team Sweden up 1-0 late in the second period but Team Canada tied it up in the third.

The game went tied late into the third period and was forced into overtime it was just an awesome game and fitting that it was the gold medal game and it would go to overtime that was just end to end exchanges of chances. The only bad thing is that this game was decided by a shoot out which don’t get me started on that.

That is my only complaint about how these international IIHF tournaments are structured. I just don’t think medal rounds should be decided by non-hockey skills competitions. Still be that as it may it was Sweden who walked away with the Gold leaving Canada with the Silver.

Kruger had himself a good tournament he ended up with 3A. We all know what Kruger does for a team is not measured on the score card or stats sheets per say.

Congratulations Team Sweden on being Golden.

Again I’ve got to think this tournament was a success the crowds were good the competition was great. There were some upsets like the Swiss beating Canada and the USA getting beat by both Germany and Finland.

The European crowds look like one big party with their singing, whistling, flag waving, banging drums and dancing in their seats and along the concourses. They seem to have more fun than we do over here in North America. I actually prefer the whistling to goalie chants just a side note.

After seeing this and the World Juniors I now have this on my bucket list to go to an IIHF event either Men’s Worlds or World Juniors because even on the TV it comes across as a blast. Well done.

Congrats to Artemi and Marcus you guys were awesome I would’ve preferred watching you in Chicago Blackhawks uniforms but glad I at least got to see you a little while longer. Enjoy your summers and I can’t wait to see you in Blackhawks training camp.

Is it September yet?

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Chicago Blackhawks – Game two of CHL Memorial Cup Alex DeBrincat and Otters win 4-2


Chicago, IL — The CHL’s Memorial Cup round robin tournament continued Saturday with its second game between OHL Champion Erie Otters featuring the Chicago Blackhawks 2016 2nd round pick Alex DeBrincat against WHL Champions Seattle Thunderbirds.

I have listened to the Otters games on the radio both in the regular season and their playoff because of DeBrincat but to say I was excited to see him play was an understatement.

Alex had a goal and assist in the game and was named first star of the game. What really impressed me though was when he had to back pedal to catch a defender when Erie was on the power play and they poked the puck to center he was fleet a foot enough to tie up the opponent and never really let him get a shot off. Now that son will endear you to Coach Quenneville. He loves his players to be defensively responsible.

The other thing that was very noticeable is DeBrincat is equally adept at passing as he is scoring. He has good on ice vision and really good hockey sense. He actually is good without the puck too.

DeBrincat’s shot though is a snipe he has a quick hard release that is NHL ready. He gets to the tough areas of the ice and doesn’t back down from physical play at all.

Now he won’t get that kind of time in the slot in the NHL but when you can score goals from anywhere and are a danger every time your on the ice some time your bound to get open.

His goal was a pure goal scorers goal. The hand eye coordination is unreal. He was at a bad angle with a knuckling puck but got enough on it with power to get it past the Thunderbirds goalie.

His assist was with his usual line mates Dylan Strome and Taylor Raddysh with DeBrincat getting the secondary assist. These guys just work together so well. In fact the entire Erie Otters teams is so well ran they are a well oiled machine.

DeBrincat and the Otters next take on St. John Sea Dogs on Monday night which should be a blast as St. John has two more prospects in Matthew Highmore and Nathan Noel. So this should be fun to watch how all the guys do.

Good Luck to al.

Tonight Graham Knott of the Windsor Spitfires takes on these Seattle Thunderbirds. Tune into NHL Network to catch Graham Knott.

 

 

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Chicago Blackhawks prospects in CHL’s Memorial Cup


Chicago, IL –Yesterday the Canadian Hockey League’s Memorial Cup tournament got underway with a good match-up for Blackhawks fans. The game between the favorite St. John Sea Dogs and Windsor Spitfires featured three Hawks prospects.

For the Sea Dogs 1st line center Matthew Highmore who the Hawks recently signed as a free agent and third line center Nathan Noel were featured. On the opposing Spitfires side was 2015 2nd round draft pick Graham Knott.

I have to admit I really enjoyed this game. Thank you NHL Network for showing the Canadian Sportsnet feed.  I wasn’t the only one enjoying the game in the house was Connor McDavid. McDavid the former Erie Otter seemed to enjoy the game.

This was the first time I actually got to see Highmore and Noel and let me just say I was impressed with these kids speed and two-way play.  I can’t wait to see them live.  Highmore controls the play well in the offensive zone but what really impressed me was he was very defensively responsible.

He had a glorious opportunity where he stole the puck from a defender in the offensive zone and took it to the net he just could not get it past the goalie. He also had another chance put couldn’t get the puck under control and missed a wide open net that would’ve tied the game.

Highmore went 13 or 24 in the face-off circle which anytime your over 50% you’re doing pretty well.

Nathan Noel oh my that boy is fierce he is a human fireball. He reminded me of Andrew Shaw how he battled along the boards and he has no regard for his body as he flings it into the boards and opposition.

This kid has speed to burn as well. He is fast and all over the ice. Like Highmore he is also a very good two-way player which coach Quenneville will be thrilled with. What the Blackhawks will like as well is Noel can play both sides of special teams penalty kill as well as power play.

He also scored a goal on the power play from about 25 ft. out. Noel is more of a set up man as you can tell his passing and on ice vision are very good for a young player.

Noel also did very well in the face-off circles he went a remarkable 10 for 13 or 73% Yeah alrighty kid you keep doing that I bet you will see ice-time in the NHL.

Now the host Windsor Spitfires pretty much dominated the game and ended up winning 3-2 as they survived the Sea Dogs late game heroics. Graham Knott gave me the best laugh of the game.

He snuck up on the Sea Dogs on ice huddle to hear what they were saying late in the game much to the displeasure of the Sea Dogs. Oh Graham you are special I see HA.

Seriously Graham Knott is a power forward in every sense of the words. He is big, strong and does skate with a powerful stride. He has a very long reach and uses his long reach well to dig out pucks in the boards.

He likes to get to the middle of the ice slot area, smart guy. He plays very physically and is like a one man wrecking ball. He has the type of size that again the Hawks are sorely lacking.

All in all I thought all of the Blackhawks prospects were very good and very involved in plays and noticeable on the ice. If you get a chance to tune into these games I would suggest doing so as this is the future of the Hawks.

Tomorrow I will have another recap on the Erie Otters game which is currently going on against the Seattle Thunderbirds. Alex DeBrincat already has a goal in the game. I will also finish up the IIHF Men’s Worlds with Artemi Panarin of Russia going for Bronze and Marcus Kruger of Sweden going for Gold.

 

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Chicago Blackhawks – CHL Championship help could be on the way


Chicago, IL — We are only in mid-May and the Chicago Blackhawks should still be playing right?

Well they are not so this Blackhawks fan’s attention has been focused on the IIHF Men’s Worlds where if you follow this blog at all you know I’m keeping track of our Hawks and how they are doing abroad.

Let us not forget though we have potential future Blackhawks right here still playing in North America.

In fact there are two teams that have earned championships one in the OHL with the Erie Otters and one in the QMJHL with the St. John’s Sea Dogs. Both of these teams will be competing in the Memorial Cup which is scheduled to start this Friday the 19th in Windsor.

Now I have to admit I did not follow the St. John’s Sea Dogs much this year but they do have two Hawks’ prospects Matthew Highmore and Nathan Noel who have just won the President’s Cup in the QMJHL.

They now have the opportunity to play for the CHL’s highest honor to be a champion amongst champions if they can win the Memorial Cup.

Matthew Highmore was signed by the Blackhawks this past March as a unsigned player. Highmore led his team in scoring during the regular season with 34 G, 55A in 64 games played. In the playoff he was second on his team in scoring with 6G, 18A in 18 games played. Now you can see why the Blackhawks were interested in getting this kid in the fold.

Nathan Noel was drafted by the Blackhawks in 2016 4th round. He missed several games this year due to injury but still had amassed good numbers with 24G, 26A in 52 regular season games and in the playoffs he had 2G, 7A in 18 games on the way to picking up the QMJHL championship. Congratulations to both Highmore and Noel on the QMJHL Championship.

Both Highmore and Noel play center and are fast a foot and skilled players. You can catch them in the first game of the Memorial Cup round robin tournament on NHL Network this Friday 5/19 when they take on the Windsor Spitfires who also have a Hawks prospect Graham Knott.

Alex DeBrincat if you have not heard of this name where have you been hiding? DeBrincat and his Erie Otters just won the OHL championship J. Ross Robertson Cup. Congrats to the Erie Otters and Alex well done.

 

I managed to listen to some of the Otters games both regular season and playoffs and let me say this team was very entertaining.

DeBrincat was on a line with some familiar names like Dylan Strome (prospect of AZ Coyotes) and Taylor Raddysh (prospect of Tampa Bay Lightning) and what a dynamic line they were all year long.

I was really upset when DeBrincat was not selected for Team USA in the world juniors but you know what maybe everything works out for the best. If this helped fire Alex it was all worth it.

He ended up winning the Red Tilson Trophy that is awarded the OHL’s most outstanding player. Now that is something even Mr. Patrick Kane didn’t do, so yeah this kid is good.

Don’t worry Alex we want you here in Chicago on that you can be sure. With a Hawks scoring shortage in the playoffs this past year I can almost guarantee he will get a long hard look and top six minutes to start off in training camp.

I can already foresee him on a line with Jonathan Toews after all he did some damage with Strome oh and that McDavid guy as his center so I’m sure he will be able to do something with Captain Serious.

Here is his OHL records and as hard as it is to believe he actually improved this year. Thx again team USA for firing him up.

Regular season and playoffs

Regular season Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
2014–15 Erie Otters OHL 68 51 53 104 73 20 9 7 16 26
2015–16 Erie Otters OHL 60 51 50 101 28 13 8 11 19 13
2016–17 Erie Otters OHL 63 65 62 127 49 18 9 22 31 10
OHL totals 191 167 165 332 150 51 26 40 66 49

 

Will there be plenty of work on his part yes and I believe DeBrincat is a RW and that first line needs a LW but I’m sure DeBrincat can make the switch if need be he is a right shot. He does play more of a straight to the net type of game which would fit well with 19 and he does not back down hmm kind of sounds like 19.

He is more of a goal scorer and a battler at the net which to me sounds tailor made for what the Hawks were lacking this year. Only time will tell though if he can make the jump to the NHL seamlessly.

DeBrincat has worked on his two way play and speed in his game. I would say continue that if you want to play for Quenneville you have to be defensively responsible and a 200 ft player and work on winning board battles.

DeBrincat’s Erie Otter numbers were just sick he ended the regular season with 127 points in 63 games with 65G, 62A. these numbers are Patrick Kane ballpark numbers. He led his team in scoring both in the regular season and playoffs.

When Kane played for the OHL’s London Knights he ended the regular season with 145 points in 58 games (62G, 83A). Yes folks that is why he is Patrick Kane and he didn’t win the Red Tilson Trophy.

What is great about all of these prospects playing for championships is learning how to win and what it takes regardless of level. The competitive spirit is something you may have but it still needs to be honed in pressure situations and these guys are learning now which will only serve them come the next levels.

Alex DeBrincat and the Erie Otters will play next Saturday 5/20 against the WHL champion which is still to be decided. This will be broadcast on NHL Network or if you don’t have NHL Network tune into stream for Erie Otters radio. I guarantee you will like it.

If you want to catch the Memorial Cup here is the schedule and times – http://mastercardmemorialcup.ca/article/2017-mastercard-memorial-cup-schedule-and-game-times

The entire tournament runs from May 19 to the 28. I should say if you get a chance tune into these games. These kids are really good it’s scary it looks like you are watching NHL teams. I’ll be tuning in to see what our baby Hawks do.

Good Luck to all the Blackhawks prospects going for the Memorial Cup!

Video taken from YouTube

Stats taken from Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alex_DeBrincat

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NHL – foregoing the Olympics maybe a good thing for hockey


Chicago, IL — I’ve said for years the NHL is the NHL’s own worse enemy and in this past week they made the announcement that NHL players would not participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.

Now anyone that follows this blog knows I was a big proponent for the NHL to go for a lot of reasons.

I think they are doing a huge disservice to their fans and players.

I only hope this does not come back to bite them in contract negotiations in 2020 with the NHLPA but one has to think that it will but I’m praying I am wrong.

I still believe the NHL has just missed out on a huge opportunity to market their sport internationally to new fans. I still do not understand how you can pass this up with the majority of the planet watching.

Yes it is inconvenient that your sport has to stop for 2-3 weeks but for this time hockey and the NHL would have a captive audience which now they can not say will be the case as some of us will be watching the Olympics.

But so be it NHL you have made your rink now go skate on it.

I being a positive person look to the big picture and just maybe this will be the best thing for hockey on a global scale.

There is no question the Olympic hockey will not be as good without the NHL players, but that is not to say it won’t be as emotional and compelling to watch or even more so.

On a macro level by the NHL not participating maybe it will give the world and particularly North America a spotlight on some overlooked hockey like the AHL, NCAA, CHL, Women’s hockey, European leagues and yes even the KHL.

Coincidentally this week the NCAA Frozen Four championship was held in Chicago at the United Center and by the way Congratulations to the Denver Pioneers for capturing the NCAA title and the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs for making it to the finals.

Watching these young men compete and their skill gives me hope for USA hockey and I have no doubt that if the USA is represented by these young men we will be repped very well.

As I have said hockey in the USA at a grass-roots level has never been better.

Would they be at a huge disadvantage if they were to play a Russian National team comprised of professional KHL players yes but the USA has been there before.

It could also be debated that what actually helped hockey’s popularity in the US was not due to the NHL but in fact due to some American college kids who knew nothing but to listen to their coach and just give until they dropped and were fearless.

It’s arguable but there probably is no more compelling hockey story than the 1980 Miracle on Ice team USA and no team may have advanced the sport of hockey as much as that team in the USA.

It’s also notable this weekend was the start of the KHL’s Gagarin Cup Final. I happened to catch game 1 with St. Petersburg SKA representing the west versus east Metallurg Magnitogorsk based in Magnitogorsk, Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russia.

Game one saw SKA take it 5-4 and let me say I was highly entertained watching this game.

The game saw two players ejected one for Metallurg-  Oskar Osala and one for SKA, a very familiar name to NHL fans the SKA captain Ilya Kovalchuk. The game saw Evgenii Dadonov score two markers for SKA that led the charge for SKA to victory.

Perhaps though as an American sports fan the most riveting event was the IIHF Women’s World Championship that took place Saturday night in Plymouth, MI that saw team USA defeat their bitter rival Team Canada.

The women first had to fight USA hockey for equitable terms and almost boycotted the event, but luckily an agreement was met and the women then had to put politics behind them and put hockey to the forefront and go win a championship.

I’ve got to say the women did the USA proud not only on the ice but maybe more importantly off the ice for the future of not only women’s hockey but the game as a whole.

Women’s sporting events do not get much coverage on major networks. I remember really the only women’s sporting events you saw in the US were women’s tennis and golf.

Now I am not a golf person but tennis I do like. I can always remember it being said of the women’s game that the “ladies” played a nice game of tennis but it was not comparable to the men’s.

Hello have you watched Billi Jean King or Chris Evert or Martina Navratilova play and today the Williams sisters.

Anyone who thinks these athletes are not every bit as competitive as their male counterparts you have not been paying attention.

You think Serena doesn’t have killer instinct to battle her sister one on one? Please spare me she may have more than any sports male athletes.

The same holds true for women’s hockey these are competitive athletes that hate to lose no matter who the opponent is.

I for one can’t wait to see the USA vs Canada again for a rematch it should be epic.

The IIHF championship was full of pace skill and it was only fitting it went to OT. You may never have heard the names Hillary Knight, Amanda Kessel, Kacey Bellamy, Meghan Duggan or Nicole Hensley but maybe you will soon.

I guarantee if you watch these athletes you’ll be better for it.

I want to thank the NHL Network for airing these games in the US even though it was TSN Canadian coverage you have to start somewhere. I think you need more programming to include the women’s games people are interested and if hockey is truly for everyone then show the women’s games too.

As a side note why is there not a professional women’s hockey team in Chicago? I think we need one.

So to grow the game of hockey you don’t need the NHL maybe it will be better served and more relatable to everyone if the NHL is not involved at the Olympics.

It would be ironic if it was the CHL, NCAA that reached the youth in North America or the Women Professional hockey players that reached little girls everywhere to play hockey and maybe it will be the European leagues and the KHL that advances hockey worldwide.

It’s just a shame that the NHL players won’t be a part of something that is happening that could be great for their sport but putting the light on these other lesser known athletes may just be what the world and hockey needs.

Most professional male sports leagues are driven by money as they are businesses but that is not inspiring.

It seems the owners and the league simply can’t put aside their businessmen hats and just be fans or love the game on its own terms.

It could be a good thing because maybe just maybe, the Olympics should remain pure and done simply for the love of the games not with any agendas except to win for one’s country.

As a hockey fan and writer I can find a story in almost anything.

The absence of the NHL players who we are already familiar with will give the world stories on extraordinary athletes and people we might never get the chance to know but now thanks to the NHL not going we will.

Hockey is too great a game to be kept back or held down even by the NHL.  So whoever is donning that team USA jersey for both the men and the women this hockey fan will be all in cheering GO USA!

 

 

 

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