Hockey Headlines

Monday, 24 September 2007

Milestones, Notes, and Random NHL Things

Hello and saultations, readers! It's that magical time of year! The kids are back in school, the ice has been painted and prepped, and the NHL is about to kick off another season. Today's little piece of writing will deal with the milestones that can be set or broken this season, the changes to the NHL in terms of looks and rules, and some other random stuff that I thought I should include. It should be entertaining... if you like words on a screen. I'm happy to have you onboard for this look at the 2007-08 NHL season, and look forward to the drop of the puck in London, England on Saturday, September 29 between the defending Stanley Cup Champion Anaheim Ducks and their Pacific-division rival, the Los Angeles Kings. Grab a beverage, and get settled in. We've got like a million games to watch this year if you include the AHL, the World Junior Championships, the CHL, the Spengler Cup, both the Mens' and Womens' World Championships, and the Frozen Four NCAA Tournament.

Milestones: In terms of NHL milestones this season, there are a few players looking to set new marks. Some of these are impressive, and some are surprising. In any case, here are a few milestones to keep your eyes on this season while watching the action:

- 48 victories. That's the mark set by Martin Brodeur in net last season. Can it be broken? Roberto Luongo took a run at it last season, and could very well come close to it this season if the Canucks play their normal defense-first game. Marty Turco is also a candidate for a chance at breaking Brodeur's mark, but keep your eyes on Luongo.

- 16 consecutive seasons. That doesn't sound impressive, but when you consider that the New York Rangers' Jaromir Jagr tied Mike Gartner's record of 15-straight seasons with 30 goals last year, you should know that this record will most likely be broken as long as Jagr stays healthy.

- 12 shutouts. That's all Martin Brodeur needs to break Terry Sawchuk's record of 103 career shutouts. He had 12 shutouts last season, and looks to follow that up with at least that many in Brent Sutter's defensively-minded system.

- 45 years. That's the age that Detroit's ageless wonder, Chris Chelios, will start the season at. His career started in 1983. Before compact discs. When computers were vacuum tubes and cost $5000 for nothing more than a brick. When there were still 21 NHL teams in four divisions. By the way, he'll move into second-place midway through the season to trail only one other player: former Detroit Red Wing and Hartford Whaler Gordie Howe.

Rule Changes: There have also been some rule changes, albeit small ones, for this upcoming season. The NHL has taken a hardline stance, it seems, against questionable hits. Here is a quick look at the four rule changes being instituted this season:

Rule No. 24: There are no more "gross" misconduct penalties. Any act deemed to be a gross misconduct will fall under the umbrella of game misconducts, and accumulation of game misconducts will result in fines and/or suspensions.

Rule No. 25: Penalty shots can now be awarded, at the referee's discretion, for fouls occurring on breakaways in the neutral zone.

Rule No. 56: Major penalties and misconducts can now be assessed for interference. Remember the hit Cam Janssen laid on Tomas Kaberle? Bodychecks occurring seconds after the play can now be given five minutes or more in the sin bin.

Rule No. 76: Faceoffs must take place at one of the nine faceoff dots on the ice. No more mid-zone faceoffs.

Jersey Changes: As you have been reading on this blog, you know there have been some jersey changes, thanks to our pals at Reebok. If you haven't seen them, feel free to scroll through the archived articles to the right. Or, if you're feeling less adventurous, click here for NHL.com's uniform gallery. Don't say I didn't warn you about some of the disasters.

Expansion?: The Hockey News' Bob Duff went out on a limb in an article written in their 2007-08 Yearbook. He actually suggests that the NHL should look seriously at contraction instead of expansion. In fact, he went as far back as the original expansion of the NHL from six to twelve teams. He writes, "Expansion, in general, has brought more headaches than success stories. Beyond Philadelphia, San Jose and Columbus, every expansion market has presented the league with at least one crisis situation".

Mr. Duff is correct if you're looking at the history of the NHL, but I don't think that should be the only reason. However, Mr. Duff also tacks on this note:

"The time has come to go in the other direction. Thirty franchises is already too many. More would be mortifying. Consider 1974-75 and its major league hockey record, with 32 teams between the NHL and World Hockey Association. The hockey was brutal. Remember how bad the Washington Capitals and Kansas City Scouts were? For sanity's sake, let's hope you don't. Instead, remember the 1980s. The NHL-WHA merger. Twenty-one teams, an odd number, but a surprisingly manageable one. Remember how exciting the hockey was? Remember the Isles? Remember the Oilers? Remember Gretzky? Less is more. Embrace the concept."

Just for argument's sake, the Washington Capitals and Kansas City Scouts had records of 8-67-5 and 15-54-11, respectively, over the 1974-75 season. Do we really need a Las Vegas team and another Kansas City team? Mr. Duff may be right.

Predictions: According to the Hockey News, here are how the teams will play out their seasons. You can agree or disagree, but these aren't my rankings, so don't hate-mail me.

Western Conference
1. Detroit Red Wings - Central Division
2. Anaheim Ducks - Pacific Division
3. Calgary Flames - Northwest Division
4. San Jose Sharks - Pacific Division
5. Minnesota Wild - Northwest Division
6. Vancouver Canucks - Northwest Division
7. Nashville Predators - Central Division
8. Colorado Avalanche - Northwest Division
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9. St. Louis Blues - Central Division
10. Chicago Blackhawks - Central Division
11. Dallas Stars - Pacific Division
12. Los Angeles Kings - Pacific Division
13. Edmonton Oilers - Northwest Division
14. Columbus Blue Jackets - Central Division
15. Phoenix Coyotes - Pacific Division

Eastern Conference
1. Ottawa Senators - Northeast Division
2. New York Rangers - Atlantic Division
3. Carolina Hurricanes - Southeast Division
4. Pittsburgh Penguins - Atlantic Division
5. New Jersey Devils - Atlantic Division
6. Tampa Bay Lightning - Southeast Division
7. Barney Rubble Hairpieces - Northeast Division
8. Atlanta Thrashers - Southeast Division
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9. Philadelphia Flyers - Atlantic Division
10. Washington Capitals - Southeast Division
11. Toronto Maple Leafs - Northeast Division
12. Florida Panthers - Southeast Division
13. Montreal Canadiens - Northeast Division
14. Long Island Broncos - Atlantic Division
15. Boston Bruins - Northeast Division

Thanks, Eh!: And finally, to end this buffet of information, I want to send out a big "thank you" to Kirsten of Land Of Lakes And Hockey. She wrote me a great little thank-you note after having received a DVD copy of the Heritage Classic game that took place in 2003. Kirsten, it was my pleasure to get you a copy of that game. I'll keep reading if you keep reading. Thanks for the note, and I'll be in touch.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

5 comments:

Kirsten said...

I will definitely keep reading. Especially since you just ranked my team 5th in the west!

You can't imagine how pleased I was to recieve that DVD. I'm stuck in hockey hell, so anything hockey that I can get my hands on is totally awesome.

When you use the phrase "keep your stick on the ice", you wouldn't be referring specifically to Red Green, would you?

Becky said...

It surely has to be a reference to Red. Even in the U.S. we know Red. I know if anything was wrong with hockey, he'd fix it with duct tape! This is the first time I've commented on Tebbz' blog and when I saw his sign off I recognized it right away.

Hey Teebz, I'm a regular Uniwatcher and your blog is cool. I'll be more of a regular reader now. I clicked over today from there when Paul metioned your stuff on patches. I'm a Red Wing fan and Chris Chelios is the shiznit, isn't he? I hope he plays forever...

Teebz said...

Kirsten - you'll have to thank The Hockey News. Those were their rankings, although I can't see the Wild missing the playoffs. I have other DVDs of hockey as well. Email me if you're looking for more!

Becky - thanks for the kind words about my blog. I just do what I can to get hockey noticed. I am not a fan of Chelios, but what he does year in and year out cannot be denied. And I'm glad I have you aboard! The more, the merrier!

To both - the Red Green thing was not intended, but he is a part of Canadiana. To be honest, it was something my hockey coach used to tell us as we went on the ice as kids. However, if I ever come across Red Green, I'll be certain to interview him. That would rock! :o)

The Dark Ranger said...

Teebz, another great post outlining the potential milestones. It will be fun to see our Jags hit the record seasons with 30. Keeping it real in the blogosphere - keep it up!

Kirsten said...

Red Green is awesome. We in Minnesota are good friends with Mr. Green, as he is on public television on Friday nights. My hockey team and I watched every while on every road trip.

I still haven't gotten to read that copy of the hockey news, since it came about a day before I left for school. My mom has promised to mail me all the issues I'm behind on.

Excellent, I will surely do so, especially once it hits the end of October/November when I'm still a long ways from being able to go home and immerse myself in hockey again.