Sunday, 26 August 2012

My Favorite Annual Magazine

I picked up The Hockey News' Yearbook once again today, and I have to say that I find myself enjoying the articles once again. If there is one magazine that I pick up every time it is published, this one is it. I have all of them going back to 1995 sitting in my bookcase, and I refer to them a number of times per year when looking for old articles or simply doing research on what number a player wore in a specific year. Honestly, these annual publications are my "go-to" whenever I'm searching for specific details on a player's career. The Hockey News Yearbook is a hockey lover's bible for all important information in previous years.

I found myself a little bothered, however, as my copy has Jordan Eberle and Jarome Iginla on it. I realize that they publish multiple copies based on where the magazines are going to be distributed, but I'm quite certain that hockey fans who live in my area would like to see a cover with a Jets player on it. If I had to gripe about one thing, that would be it. Otherwise, I can't really complain about what I found inside the cover.

There are some interesting features like Calder Watch and Make It Or Break It!, but the first place I stopped was at the THN fan poll results. THN asked a lot of tough questions of the fans - "How do you feel about the officiating standard in the NHL's regular season?" and "How do you feel about fighting in the NHL?" - but the one question that stood out to me, as a fan, was "Are ticket prices at NHL games too high?" An overwhelming 90% of respondents answered that question with "Yes".

For a league that's fighting about how much money is made by either side, how about listening to the people that keep you rich? Nine out of ten people think you're both in the wrong when it comes to the obscene amounts of money you're making, NHL and NHLPA, so why not cut the fans some slack? I realize that we all need to earn a living, but the people who make you bazillionaires are sending a clear message: you're killing us with ticket prices.

While I'm not privy to having access to the Jets locker room, I did find the article about Zach Bogosian very interesting from a uniform perspective. Bogosian has decided to ditch #4 in favor of #44 this season, so there may be a number of jerseys worn by fans that will need some updating this season. But the rules surrounding number changes were far more fascinating to me.

There's a deadline in July that all players must adhere to when wanting to change their numbers. If a player misses the deadline, he must wait a full year until July rolls around again before he can request the number change. The only exceptions, however, are trade and free agent acquisitions or rookies. For example, the Jets signed Olli Jokinen who, previously, wore #13, but the Jets were still in negotiations with Kyle Wellwood, so the Jets' website showed Jokinen with no number for some time. And assigned numbers for rookies in preseason - Mark Scheifele wore #45 during the preseason last year - can be changed if they make the team out of camp with no league repercussions. Scheifele settled on #55 before being sent back to the OHL. I found that article very interesting!

There was a good article on Scott Hartnell, a very interesting article on Jamie Benn ("Being at the all-star game made me want to stay far away from Canada"), an article on the emerging American captains in the NHL, an inside look into Max Pacioretty, a quick piece on Martin Brodeur, a Q&A with Steven Stamkos, a one-page article about Joffrey Lupul in Toronto, a piece on Jordan Eberle, and a great look into the relationship between Barry Trotz and David Poile. Honestly, THN does excellent work in putting together these articles.

Like every year, though, I want to see the predictions made by the THN staff and editors as to which team will end up on top this season, and where the rest of the teams end up in the shuffle of the NHL season. Honestly, I was surprised at who THN picked to finish first in the Eastern Conference, but, if the stars align right, there's a good chance that Pittsburgh has the horses to push them to the top of the standings. Over in the Western Conference, it appears the THN staff feel that Ken Hitchcock's influence on the St. Louis Blues will continue as they ended up atop the heap in the West.

If you're a fan of one of the Canadian teams, I'll tell you right now that THN is forecasting that two of the seven teams from the Great White North make the playoffs. Outside of those two unnamed teams, the other five finish no higher than twelfth-place in either conference. Ouch.

I'm not going to reveal who THN picked as the Stanley Cup winner this season, but you'll have to remember that they picked Los Angeles to finish fourth in the Western Conference and New Jersey to finish eleventh in the Eastern Conference. Florida and Ottawa - two playoff teams last season - were picked to finish in fourteenth- and fifteen-place in the Eastern Conference, while the Phoenix Coyotes weren't supposed to be Western Conference finalists at fourteenth in the West. Needless to say, all predictions should be taken with a few grains of salt.

Overall, though, another excellent publication from The Hockey News!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!


Peter Santellan said...

When it comes to the Hockey News annual preview, I've gone out and bought them since 2002, with the exception of the 2006 version. It works in that all of the information is right there and I don't have to search here and there on the internet to do so. Of course, the internet will still be used to confirm something, like say, OHL and QMJHL stats, something that helps in identifying who to possibly watch for. Obviously, watching the actual games counts for a lot too, but for those like me who don't have regular TV access to any of the CHL action, it provides something.

Robert Ullman said...

You don't see The Hockey News too often here in ol' Virginny, even in the bigger bookstores like Barnes and Noble. But last year, the local grocery store down the street had both The Hockey News and the Sporting News hockey annuals on the shelf amidst their otherwise anemic offerings. I'll hafta drop by tomorrow, see if the trend continues!