Hockey Headlines

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Some Pre-Shopping Fun

Tomorrow is all about stocking up on what you need if you're an NHL general manager. I would say that July 1 is similar to December 25 for NHL teams in that everything you want is available, but it all depends on how good you've been over the last year when it comes to getting what you want. Needless to say, when the NHL free agency period opens tomorrow on July 1, there will be spending, overspending, and absolute insanity shown by NHL general managers as they look to piece together a championship roster.

Today, I just want to take a look at a few photos that I found the last few days thanks to watching some classic NHL games through my cable provider. These are just a few cool things that I totally didn't notice until I heard the announcers talking about some of the details, so we'll take a look at these photos.

  • I was lucky enough to catch the NY Rangers-NY Islanders playoff series from 1990 the other night on ESPN Classic Canada, and I was enjoying my dip into the past when I noticed that Pat LaFontaine's name was spelled "LA FONTAINE" on the back of his jersey. There was a clear space between the "LA" and the "FONTAINE", but he got hurt in Game One and that was the last I saw of him in the broadcast. So I did what anyone in my shoes would do: I took to the internet. Sure enough, here's Pat LaFontaine with a capital "A" on his jersey and no space, and here's LaFontaine with a little "A" and no space. That's three different ways that LaFontaine's name was spelled with the same team. Has any other player had this problem with the same team?
  • With Ed Belfour's inclusion into the Hockey Hall of Fame, I was doing a little reminiscing on the Eagle's career and checking out some images. What I didn't know was that Ed Belfour's nickname began appearing on his mask in a very noticeable place when he made his debut with the Dallas Stars which he continued using as he shuffled through a number of NHL cities. Did you see it in that picture? Here it is again, spelled out a little clearer. Until he was in Dallas, the "EAGLE" name didn't appear in the feathers of the eagle. Todd Miska came up with that design idea, and I think it's fabulous! It's so subtle that you hardly even notice - that's the mark of a great design! Or maybe I was just blind to it for the longest time.
  • Brian Lawton was a highly-regarded draft pick by the Minnesota North Stars who selected him first overall in 1983, but his choice of #98 earned him an interesting nickname. He was given the nickname "Notch" because he was one notch below Wayne Gretzky who wore #99. In searching for another North Stars-related photo, I came across Brian Lawton proudly displaying his new NHL number.
  • I received a great email from Gary Finkler who wanted to let me know that he is a graphic designer and sports fan. In his spare time, Gary publishes his own comics over on 7thInningSketch.com. The reason that Gary contacted me was for his most recent comic that he published that is entirely Winnipeg-centric. While most of his works are baseball-related, I have to say that this comic is pretty darn good! Thanks for the heads-up about your site, Gary, and I'll be checking in daily!
  • If you haven't been keeping up with KHL news over the summer thus far, there have been a few developments that you should know about as the KHL expands its borders. First off, it was announced that Slovakia's Lev Poprad will officially begin play in the KHL next season as part of the Bobrov Division in the Western Conference. Poprad's division rivals will include Spartak Moscow, CSKA Moscow, SKA St. Petersburg, Dynamo Moscow and Dinamo Riga, and they push the total number of teams in the KHL to 24 in five countries: Russia, Belarus, Latvia, Kazakhstan and Slovakia. With that development behind them, the KHL looked further south into Europe as HC Milano Rossoblu of Italy expressed interest in joining the KHL. Negotiations are ongoing in this expansion, but we could see a "European" division beginning soon if the KHL continues to expand!
  • Also from the KHL, we know which city will play host to the 2012 KHL All-Star Game. Arena Riga, home to Dinamo Riga, will play host to the annual midseason game, and Riga, Latvia will be the first time that the KHL All-Star Game has gone outside of Russia. Saturday, January 21 is day slated for the big game, and there appears to be one major change as it looks like Team Jagr will not participate this year due to Jaromir Jagr's interest in returning to the NHL. Whether or not that happens is still in the air, but if you believe the reports, Jagr will be donning an NHL jersey next season.
  • Finally, some scheduling notes from the KHL to report: the KHL season starts for the 2011-12 campaign on Wednesday, September 7. Each of the 24 teams will play 56 games over the 130 regular season days. The opening round of the Gagarin Cup Playoffs will begin on Wednesday, February 29. The latest possible date that the KHL will see action could be Wednesday, April 25 if the final series needs seven games.
That's all for today as we prepare for free agency to open tomorrow. I predict that Florida, who has to spend a pile of money to get to the floor of the salary cap, will do just that. I also expect that the Winnipeg Jets will be fairly quiet on the free agency front as the team looks to build from within. I guess the major questions will be where Jaromir Jagr ends up, which team's general manager will lose his mind, and which team will come out of free agency with the best team? We'll know more tomorrow!

Until then, keep your sticks on the ice!

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