Wednesday, 28 September 2016

The Annual Review

While the publication has been out for a couple of weeks now, I ha the chance to relax and read through The Hockey News' annual publication called the Yearbook. As you can see to the left, there are two players featured on the cover that represent the "prairie" region in Canada despite there being three teams in that region. There were eight different covers produced this season, and the same two teams that The Hockey News conveniently forgets about every year were forgotten about again this season. In other words, it just feels right when it comes to the annual Yearbook! Let's work through the pages and discuss the highlights and low points of this season's hockey bible.

The magazine starts with its annual greeting from the editor-in-chief, Mr. Jason Kay, who highlights some of the big things to expect in 2016-17. I skipped most of that to get to the first article. It was contributed by Ken Campbell, and it's an article on Connor McDavid's growing value to his team, his sport, and himself. While Mr. Campbell puts forth a decent argument, I disagree with his assertion that McDavid will become the face of the league as long as Sidney Crosby is still playing the game. To each their own, I suppose.

I always like the fan survey results that The Hockey News publishes, and this year's results were very entertaining. According to fans, 22% believe the Penguins will repeat as Stanley Cup champions with 16% believing Chicago returns to the promised land while 14% selected the Tampa Bay Lightning. 21% of fans believe that the Capitals will repeat as the Presidents Trophy winners, and 29% believe that Connor McDavid will win the Art Ross Trophy. 27% believe that Sidney Crosby will be named as the Hart Trophy winner, 22% believe that Erik Karlsson will capture another Norris Trophy, 41% believe Alex Ovechkin will have another Richard Trophy on his mantle, 34% believe Carey Price will pick up the Vezina Trophy, and 32% of readers selected Patrik Laine as the Calder Trophy winner. Some interesting results there, to say the least.

In other articles, Down Goes Brown's Sean McIndoe looks at five NHL legends who waited a long time to win the Stanley Cup. Uffe Bodin takes a look at how Victor Hedman is becoming one of the most dependable defenders in the league. Ronnie Shuker has an in-depth look at PK Subban at a personal level and as one of the best defenders in the NHL. Randy Sportak introduces TJ Brodie to everyone who wasn't aware how good he is.

In his annual rating of the top-50 players, Ryan Kennedy breaks down which players are the best at their position and in the league. I'm not going to reveal the list, but the top goaltender is ranked at #3, the top defenceman is ranked at #6, and there are a lot of rankings with which I don't agree. While it's hard to suggest that John Tavares, Alexander Ovechkin, and Steven Stamkos should bump anyone out of the top-ten, you have to wonder how Logan Couture (#23 and just behind Stamkos), Ryan Getzlaf (#21 and just ahead of Stamkos), and Connor McDavid (#9 and ahead of all three) are ranked. I'd like to see the criteria on each of these players.

We jump into more articles as Pat Hickey writes a nice article about Brendan Gallagher, Ken Campbell looks at Joe Thornton's season last year and why the big guy in San Jose is one of the more unique guys in the game, and Jason Buckland scribes a quick piece on Jack Eichel. From there, we get to the reason why I purchase the annual examination of the league as The Hockey News presents its annual team reports.

Before we get to that, though, let's take a look at those eight covers.
Notice who is missing? Vancouver is on the west coast version, Calgary and Edmonton are on the prairie version, Toronto's Auston Matthews gets the Ontario version, and Carey Price gets Montreal and the Maritimes. If you're counting, there's no Ottawa and no Winnipeg which seems to happen EVERY SINGLE YEAR. Honestly, I'm tired of seeing the covers with Craig Conroy, Jordan Eberle, Jarome Iginla, and Taylor Hall every bloody year! Throw a Jet into the mix on that cover, and we'd be talking even coverage. Instead, those in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and northern Ontario are force-fed Johnny Hockey and Connor McJesus once again. That's ridiculous.

As for the team reports, The Hockey News has never once predicted the Stanley Cup champion and finalist correctly for as far back as I can remember. They do make some bold predictions in this edition of the Yearbook, though. For example, Vancouver ends up on the bottom of the Pacific Division, Toronto's rebuild continues as they finish last in the Atlantic Division, and the Central Division sees the entire division shuffled. Again, I'm not going to reveal the two finalists and the winner chosen by The Hockey News, but remember their continued success in picking the wrong finalists.

Overall, another interesting and informative look at the world of hockey through the eyes of some of the most-respected men in the business. Juts don't put money down on their picks unless you have money to burn. I'm not even sure it will burn with Canadian money be plastic.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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