I was out today at lunch, and happened to pass by a store that had their magazine rack prominently displayed through their front window. As I strolled past, I stopped in my tracks when I noticed a specific magazine on their racks. The Hockey News has published their yearbook, and they make all the predictions and provide all the stats you could ever want in this issue. It literally doesn't leave my desk until sometime in mid-June. I have all of them since 1995, and they are a vast wealth of knowledge for even the most die-hard of hockey fans. That picture above of Ray Emery? We'll get to the reason shortly as to why I have him up there instead of the actual cover from this year's edition. However, here are some of the highlights from the 2009-10 edition of The Hockey News Yearbook.
- "I think Patrick Kane is a great player, don't get me wrong, but to me the guy you build the franchise around is the Toews kid. He's a will machine. He just keeps coming and coming." - Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock. Incidentally, he is also coaching Team Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympics, and Chicago Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews is one of the 46 men at the Canadian Olympic orientation camp. Does anyone think Toews doesn't have a good shot at making the Olympic squad? More from Babcock on Toews: "You need a great human being who's a workaholic to set the tone. And that's what you have in him".
- Great article by Kevin Oklobzija about players who are too good to be in the AHL, but can't seem to crack the NHL. He interviews two-time Calder Cup champion Darren Haydar about his 42 NHL games thus far in his career despite being 29 years-old and having all sorts of success at the AHL level. This is article worth reading just for some of Haydar's quotes about what he has faced, and where his future may lie.
- In what will surely delight Puck Daddy guru Greg Wyshynski, writer Jay Greenberg pens an article about how the charity point given to teams in extra time or the shootout is taking away from hockey's action and excitement. He makes a good argument, including the fact that "[t]wenty-three of 30 NHL teams had "winning" records last season, having nothing to do with parity; rather, inflation". If you hate the charity point, you'll love this article. If you like the charity point, you have to acknowledge that some of what Mr. Greenberg wrote is entirely true.
- The Top 50 NHL Players, as ranked by THN, will certainly be an article for debate. Just to add some intrigue as to who may be ranked as the top player, there are seven forwards, two defenceman, and a goaltender in the top ten. Of those ten players, four teams from the Eastern Conference are represented while three teams from the Western Conference are represented. I'm not revealing who the top ten are, though. Get yourself a copy of the magazine!
- Some good player interviews are in the magazine, including Detroit's Chris Osgood, Boston's Milan Lucic, Montreal's Carey Price, New York's John Tavares, and Anaheim's Ryan Getzlaf. THN also has an interview with Toronto head coach Ron Wilson on what it's like to coach in The Big Smoke.
- The examination of each team is included from page 63 onwards in the magazine, and is essentially the entire reason I buy this magazine each and every year. THN's writers hammer out the strengths and weaknesses of each team while providing in-depth analysis of the offence, defence, goalies, rookies, coaching, salary cap implications, and what the major buzz is surrounding each team. They provide their prognostications as to where each team will finish in their respective conferences, and what may push that ranking higher or lower. Also included is the depth chart, arrivals and departures, and the always-informative "future watch" section about each team's best prospects. This should be your bible for the upcoming hockey season. It should not leave your desk whatsoever for any reason.
- The reason for the Ray Emery picture above? According to THN, he could be the difference between the Flyers struggling to make the playoffs, and the Flyers hoisting the Stanley Cup. I'm not too certain about this, but wasn't that said about the Ottawa Senators too? They also note that each time that Chris Pronger has moved teams, the new team he plays for has gone on to the Stanley Cup Final (Edmonton in 2006, and Anaheim in 2007).
- With the Flyers as their pick for the upcoming season, they also state that another Detroit-Pittsburgh final is not out of the realm of possibilities. They also like the Bruins and Capitals from the Eastern Conference, and give some credence to Vancouver, Calgary, and Chicago coming out of the West. If you're an Islanders or Coyotes fan, it is their belief that you're looking at another long season as both are last in their respective conferences.
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!