There are a pile of things that I've wanted to touch on over the past week, but I simply haven't had time with all the major stories going on in the hockey world. I still owe the Vernon Vipers an article, and I have not forgotten about it, but I'm still doing some research on their amazing run of success, so I'll publish that this week. However, there have been a pile of stories that have emerged in hockey over this past week that need to be examined, and I'll touch on as many as possible. Lots of links will be included, and I'll try to throw some photos up as well to break up all the reading. Get your walking shoes on, readers. We have a pile of sites to wander through, so let's get those feet moving!
- Let's start with a good news story, and one that I will undoubtedly expand on at a later date. As you may be aware, I'm a big supporter of NHL players and their respective charities as I believe that the NHLPA and the players are some of the best examples of athletes that give back. In saying that, I have nothing but respect for Maple Leafs' GM Brian Burke and his efforts in helping MyGSA.ca, a site that helps children in school escape bullying due to their sexual orientation. Burke also pledged during the announcement that he would march in Toronto's Pride Parade this year in honour of his late son, Brendan. Brendan, as you may know, came out this season as a gay man while working with the University of Miami-Ohio men's hockey team, and had his life tragically cut short in a traffic accident. Well done, Mr. Burke, and you have my full respect for making Brendan's fight your own. His legacy will never be forgotten because of your efforts.
- At the Memorial Cup in Brandon, the Windsor Spitfires await the winner of the Calgary Hitmen-Brandon Wheat Kings semi-final game to see who gets to hoist the Memorial Cup. The QMJHL Champion Moncton Wildcats are out of the tournament after losing all three round-robin games, finishing fourth. Calgary defeated Brandon in the final round-robin game by a 5-1 score, so there's a lot on the line for both teams when they meet again. The defending champs await the WHL semi-final winner!
- The Edmonton Oilers have named their new AHL franchise based in Oklahoma City. Ladies and gentlemen, here are your Oklahoma City Barons! Ok, the name leaves a lot to be desired considering the long history that Cleveland has had with that name in the AHL. And there was also that Cleveland-based NHL team of the same name. Could the Oilers not come up with something better? Thumbs-down to the name.
- This year's leader in penalty minutes in the AHL was Zack FitzGerald. Note how his name is spelled in Carolina Hurricanes' font. That's key because he actually spells his name with a capital "G" in FitzGerald. His previous team, the Manitoba Moose, correctly displayed his name on his jersey. The Albany River Rats, however, did not. There's a lot to be said for details, especially when it comes to names.
- Light The Lamp brings to light a ton of media coverage on the recent upwards trend in NHL ratings on Versus, and how ESPN has remained tight-lipped on the entire situation. This is a longer article, but it's worth the time. LTL does its homework well!
- Larry Brooks of the New York Post scribes a very good and very intelligent article about the New York Islanders, and how the fans and players deserve better in terms of where the Islanders franchise will be located in the near future. I'm not a Brooks fan by any means, but this is one of his best hockey articles ever.
- Raw Charge takes a look at the rumours swirling around the Lightning's vacant GM seat, and how Pierre McGuire fits into those plans. Or, rather, shouldn't be considered for any position above usher. Pro: he's no longer on Canadian hockey broadcasts. Con: he's still associated with the NHL. Personally, I wouldn't even have him drop off the mail, but that's just me. Mr. Vinik can decide who he wants running his team for himself.
- Some interesting news out of Grand Rapids as Griffins goaltender Daniel Larsson signed a two-year deal with HV-71 of the Swedish Elite League. I've seen enough of Larsson over the last two years to know he has enough talent to be a back-up in the NHL, but it appears that he got tired of riding the bus in the AHL. Larsson will earn significantly more in Sweden than he would have had he re-signed with Detroit and been assigned to Grand Rapids, but he still feels this is a good way to reach the NHL. Whether it will be with the Winged Wheels or not is a question that should be answered in time.
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!